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Trio of approvals in Fukushima seals deal for radioactive soil dump via The Asahi Shimbun

Ending a prolonged and often contentious process, Fukushima Prefecture and two town governments agreed to host an interim storage facility for contaminated debris from the 2011 nuclear crisis.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba met Feb. 25 with Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki and Wataru Takeshita, the reconstruction minister, to sign safety agreements, an important hurdle in the process.

Under the deal, the facility will store tainted soil generated from decontamination work for a maximum of 30 years.

Despite the agreement, the mayors said the decision was not easy.

“This is an agonizing decision, but it is unavoidable,” said Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe.

Referring to future negotiations to purchase the land in question, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said, “I hope there will be no heavy-handed methods that will only lead to criticism from the local community.”
Around that time, the prefectural government stipulated five conditions that would have to be met before approval was given. One was that a law be enacted clearly designating a location outside Fukushima Prefecture as the final storage site after the 30-year period for the interim facility ends.

The final condition was the safety agreement signed Feb. 25.

Local governments signed onto the agreement after the central government agreed to their demands related to the site, including a provision that gives them the right to request a halt to the delivery of radiation-contaminated soil.

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Fukushima fishermen blast TEPCO over failure to disclose radioactive water flow via The Asahi Shimbun

Fukushima fishermen appear to have finally run out of patience with Tokyo Electric Power Co.

They lambasted TEPCO at a meeting on Feb. 25 over the utility’s failure for half a year to disclose the flow into the ocean of water contaminated with radioactive materials from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“This is a situation that will shake our relationship of trust with TEPCO,” Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, told reporters after the meeting.

Nozaki indicated that further negotiations would be put on hold concerning part of TEPCO’s overall strategy of decommissioning the reactors at the plant.

Fukushima fishermen have repeatedly expressed anger and frustration at TEPCO’s plans, mishaps and belated disclosures in its handling of huge volumes of contaminated water generated daily and stored on the grounds of the crippled plant.

The Feb. 25 meeting of chairmen of local fisheries cooperatives was initially called to discuss TEPCO’s “subdrain plan” to pump up groundwater in the vicinity of reactor and other buildings at the Fukushima No. 1 plant site. The water would be decontaminated and released into the ocean.

Discussions on that plan were shelved as TEPCO officials spent most of the meeting being bombarded by angry remarks from the fishermen.

TEPCO officials started the meeting by apologizing for not releasing information about higher concentrations of radioactive materials in water flowing along a drainage ditch whenever it rained.

TEPCO officials released the information on Feb. 24.

Fishermen at the meeting demanded to know why TEPCO did not immediately disclose that information. Some accused TEPCO of a cover-up.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori also expressed anger at TEPCO at a meeting of prefectural government and other high-ranking officials the same day.

“It is extremely regrettable that it failed to expediently release the information and also because the fundamental point of thoroughly holding such a stance (of releasing information) was not in place,” Uchibori said.

Central government officials did not appear as concerned as the Fukushima officials or the fishermen.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga noted that concentrations of radioactive materials in seawater into which the contaminated water flowed were low.

“The effects of contaminated water on the ocean outside of the harbor have been completely blocked,” Suga said at his Feb. 25 news conference. “The situation is under control.”

However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority was also not informed about the detection of higher levels of radioactive materials until a few days ago.

“Anything that affects the environment should be announced as soon as possible,” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told reporters on Feb. 25.

TEPCO has been criticized in the past for failing to release information about the analysis of radioactive materials and the flow of contaminated water into the ocean.

Company officials had been considering the subdrain plan for some time as a measure to deal with the increasing volume of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 plant site. The subdrain plan was only made known to local fishermen in August 2014.

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福島汚染水流出:県漁連「信頼関係崩れた」via 毎日新聞

東京電力が福島第1原発の排水路から汚染水が外洋流出しているのを把握しながら約10カ月間公表しなかった問題で、福島県漁連(野崎哲会長)は25 日の組合長会議で東電に「情報隠しであり、信頼関係は崩れた」との見解を伝えた。県漁連はこの日、汚染地下水を浄化後に海洋放出する「サブドレン(井戸) 計画」承認に向け意見集約する予定だったが、問題発覚を受け、納得できる説明があるまで計画を容認しない方針も示した。

組合長会議は同県いわき市で開かれ、相馬双葉漁協やいわき市漁協の幹部らが出席。東電から事実関係の説明を受けた。東電福島復興本社の新妻常正・ 副代表らは、昨年4月以降に第1原発の港湾外につながっている原子炉建屋西側の排水路で放射性物質濃度の上昇が確認されていたことを説明。漁協幹部からは 「なぜ公表しなかったのか」との批判が集中した。新妻副代表は「(公表より)原因究明を優先してしまった。漁業者には報告しなければならなかったと反省し ている」と陳謝した。

いわき市漁協の矢吹正一組合長は「(震災から)4年も顔を合わせてきた東電幹部から裏切られた」と不快感を隠さなかった。相馬双葉漁協の佐藤弘行 組合長も「汚染水問題の解決には信頼関係が最重要だとの考えでやってきた。その前提が崩れてしまったことで、漁業者はサブドレン計画に納得しないだろう」 と述べた。





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経産省前テントの撤去命令=脱原発運動の拠点-東京地裁 via 時事ドットコム

経済産業省の敷地内に設置された脱原発市民グループのテントについて、国が不法占拠だとして代表者2人に撤去などを求めた訴訟の判決が26日、東京地裁で あった。村上正敏裁判長はテント撤去と敷地明け渡しに加え、土地使用料などとして約1140万円の支払いを命じた。判決確定前に強制執行できる仮執行も認 めた。



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Pennsylvania nuclear power plant in ‘Hot Shutdown’ over valve closure via lehigh valley live

A southeastern Pennsylvania nuclear power reactor unexpectedly shut down Monday night, and the owner was trying to find out why.

Unit 1 at Exelon Corp.’s Limerick Generating Station in Montgomery County automatically shut down about 9:40 p.m. after a valve on a main steam line closed, Exelon said Tuesday.

“Plant equipment responded as designed during the shutdown,” the company said in a statement. “Station operators responded appropriately and technical experts are working to determine the cause of the valve closure.”

An Exelon spokeswoman could not say Tuesday night how long the repairs were expected to last.


The Limerick plant about 30 miles south of Allentown and 21 miles northwest of Philadelphia has a second reactor that was unaffected and continued Tuesday to generate electricity, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “event notification report.”

At full capacity, the plant’s twin, 1,200-megawatt reactors provide electricity for the equivalent of 2 million homes, Exelon says.

The Norristown, Pennsylvania-based Times Herald reports the valve closed due to a leak in the nitrogen supply line, which is the gas used in the hydraulic system to operate the valve, citing U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan.

“During an accident, the (main steam isolation valves) would be closed to prevent the release of radioactivity from the containment building, which houses the reactor,” Sheehan told The Times Herald in an email.

The valve closure caused “reactor pressure to rise, exceeding the reactor protection system (RPS) setpoint …,” the NRC says in its report.

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圧力容器に最大18センチのひび ベルギー、停止中の原発 via 中日新聞


問題の2基は北部のドール原発3号機と南部のティアンジュ原発2号機。2012年に圧力容器に微細なひびが見つかったとして運転を停止した。当局は13年 に運転再開を許可したが、14年3月に圧力容器の耐久性に関する別の検査で安全性に疑問が生じる結果が出て、再び停止した。

続きは圧力容器に最大18センチのひび ベルギー、停止中の原発


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America’s Radioactive National Park via Who, What, Why

By Paul DiRienzo

Among the items in the $600 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last year is a measure establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which encompasses three sites central to the development of nuclear weapons.
Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a vocal opponent of commemorating the Manhattan Project, had blocked passage of the park proposal until he lost his 2012 re-election bid. Responding to the park’s supporters, who claim the monument is a celebration of technological achievement and not the bombing of civilians, Kucinich replied: “The technology which created the bomb cannot be separated from the horror which the bomb created.”

At the end of his second term, President Bill Clinton used his executive power to establish the 300-square-mile Hanford Reach National Monument in the former security zone across the Columbia River. The 50-mile stretch had been spared development as the rest of the region grew to stop spies from observing the plant in operation.

Today the Reach provides a stark, unrestricted vantage point of the Columbia River overlooking the reactors where plutonium was produced for 40 years.

Hanford was a small farm town until 1943, when the United States Army forced local farmers and indigenous people to sell their land for a secret project. A year later, the first structure, called the B-Reactor, was up and running, with a workforce of 50,000 dedicated to manufacturing a single product: plutonium.
In 1986, a catastrophic explosion at the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant spread radiation around the globe and raised the specter of an accident at Hanford. As questions about Hanford mounted, citizen groups formed and turned up pressure on the U.S. government to release classified information about the site.

The Department of Energy eventually turned over 19,000 declassified documents that informed an exposé penned by newspaper reporter Karen Dorn Steele. Her reports inspired a group of activists who became known as the “downwinders”–mostly descendants of the technicians and scientists who had worked at Hanford. Some downwinders, such as Trisha Pritikin, wear the “Hanford necklace,” a thin scar across the throat marking where their thyroid glands were surgically removed.

Pritikin told WhoWhatWhy that she first made a connection between thyroid cancer and the Hanford plant in 1986, when she read about the Green Run, a secret experiment in the late 1940s that purposely released radioactive iodine into the environment. The exact purpose of the iodine release remains a mystery, although historians believe the experiment was designed to test special equipment to spy on Soviet nuclear tests.

The results were successful, but with a poisonous side effect. This highly radioactive man-made element has a propensity for “fission” –splitting apart in a reaction that releases vast amounts of energy. In the course of four decades of plutonium production billions of gallons of radioactive waste were created at Hanford and discharged into the environment.

Until 1971, Hanford dumped the radioactive water used for cooling its reactors directly into the Columbia River. That pushed radiation 200 miles down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean where the contamination washed up on the beaches of Oregon, according to a 1994 report by a government contractor, the Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
The Hanford Health Information Network, a new public organization, worked with the Washington State Department of Health to gather radiation exposure data and publicized the health effects to residents who had lived in the shadow of the plant. After the groups pressured the DOE, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eventually launched a project to estimate how much of a radiation dose the public received.

The CDC report was a blow to the downwinders’ case, stating: “The risks of thyroid disease in study participants were about the same…” no matter what dose of radiation they received between 1944-57, the peak years of Hanford operations. The CDC report didn’t stop hundreds of cases from being filed against the government.

In 2012, the government offered Hanford downwinders a puny sum of about $6,700 each to drop their claims—compensation that would have to be funded by taxpayers. That’s because of an agreement reached in the early days of the Manhattan Project, which indemnified government contractors involved in nuclear research and weapons production.

Currently so-called bellwether cases are winding through the courts; Pritikin’s claims are being argued in initial tests of each side’s legal arguments before hundreds more cases are brought to trial.
On the front lines of that waste are Native American people living near the Hanford site. An independent study published in 2009 by ethnographer Deward E. Walker found that one such group, the Yakama people had an estimated 1-in-50 chance of developing cancer.


Russell Jim, 78, a Yakama elder and cancer survivor, said the most important issue for the tribe is “protection and respect for treaty-reserved rights,” which he asserts are violated by underground plumes of radioactive waste and toxic chemicals flowing toward the Columbia. Some plumes are just 400 yards from the river, threatening the salmon runs that sustain Yakama culture.
Steve Buckingham, a 92-year old retired atomic worker with an infectious laugh, described how plutonium was recovered with minimal regard for safety. “It was wartime,” said Buckingham, who admits that “radioactive iodine was released in large brown clouds of gas as buckets of irradiated uranium were dissolved in a pool of acid.”

Passing from one cell to the next, two tons of irradiated uranium would be reduced to a nine-gallon bucket of plutonium nitrate —the rest left behind as waste.
The Hanford nuclear site is expected to draw 100,000 curious visitors each year, according to Hanford boosters. By glorifying this grim moment in our past, what face is the United States showing the world—and ourselves?

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Former Japanese PM Naoto Kan: ‘Fukushima radically changed my perspective’ via DW

How has the Fukushima disaster changed Japan? Former PM Naoto Kan talks to DW about the influence of the nuclear industry lobby while criticizing the current government for its push to restart the idled nuclear reactors.


In an exclusive DW interview, Naoto Kan talks about his views on government plans to restart nuclear reactors, what Japan can learn from Germany’s nuclear phase-out, and why Japan has no choice but to invest in alternative sources of energy.

DW: Four years on, what lessons should Japan learn from this disaster and have any of them been realized?

Naoto Kan: Unfortunately, I have the impression that neither the Japanese public nor the experts have learned the right lessons from the disaster. If the accident had been a bit more severe, we would have had to evacuate people within a radius of 250 kilometers for a long period of time. It would have also affected the Tokyo area, and thus an estimated 50 million people. Such colossal damage usually occurs only after a crushing defeat in war.


Japan’s anti-nuclear movement seems to have been losing ground in recent months. What are the reasons for this and what do you urge the Japanese people to do?

The Japanese anti-nuclear movement has not lost strength in the past few months. Even today, opinion polls show that a large majority of the population wants to phase out nuclear power. It is because of this strong public opposition that the Abe-led government has so far been unable to restart nuclear reactors.

Unfortunately, nuclear energy failed to become a key issue during the three elections that have been held since the disaster, with economic issues taking center stage. Even though 60 to 70 percent of the population backs a nuclear energy phase-out, 60 to 70 percent of MPs support nuclear power. It is necessary for us to challenge this distortion and make MPs change their stance and truly represent public opinion.

There are many who argue that it would be too costly to simply give up the use of nuclear energy. What can Japan learn from Germany in terms of making the transition from nuclear energy to alternative sources of energy?

Claims by the nuclear power lobbyists that atomic energy is cheaper than oil or natural gas are simply false. This has already been acknowledged by many experts. As soon as you take into account potential compensation claims and the costs of permanently disposing of the nuclear waste, you will find that it is more expensive than oil or natural gas.

Japan faces a challenge in terms of nuclear waste disposal, says Kan

Both Germany and Japan have state-of the-art technology as far as energy production from renewable sources is concerned. Unfortunately, we in Japan began twenty years after Germany set up tariffs to regulate how this renewable energy is to be fed into the power grid. In Japan, this only happened after the Fukushima disaster.

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Sellafield not the place to store waste from submarines via in-cumbria

Sellafield should not be selected by the Ministry of Defence to store radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear submarines.

That’s the view of Copeland Council, which has formally objected to the nuclear site being chosen to store intermediate-level waste from 27 soon-to-be dismantled Royal Navy subs.

Leader Elaine Woodburn, with the backing of the council’s Strategic Nuclear and Energy Board, says that it “would not be in the best interests of the local community” if Sellafield is chosen by the MoD.


She added: “The proposed project offers little community benefit in the way of providing a need for specialising skills and creates very few jobs. The MoD has stated that it will not be offering any financial community benefit.”

The radioactive waste from the subs will be stored at either Sellafield, Chapelcross (Annan), Aldermaston, Burghfield (Berkshire), or Capenhurst (Cheshire).

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4 yrs on, problems accumulate at TEPCO’s Fukushima plant via The Japan News (The Yomiuri Shimbun)


In an area where storage tanks are located, workers were constructing additional large tanks with capacities between 1,200 tons and 2,900 tons, welding and hoisting parts with heavy machinery. As contaminated water treated by a system dubbed ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) is stored in tanks at the nuclear power plant, the number of tanks is increasing by one each day. The number of concrete containers for radioactive waste — such as absorbent materials used by water purification equipment — has been increasing, indicating the ongoing difficulties and the prolonged nature of the decommissioning process.

Outside the No. 4 reactor building, thin silver-colored pipes were stuck into the ground at one-meter intervals. This is the construction site for the underground so-called frozen soil walls intended to block the flow of groundwater to prevent it from becoming contaminated. Currently about 300 tons of groundwater flows into the building every day. TEPCO estimates that the amount will decrease to 30 tons when the frozen soil walls are put in place.

On Sunday, the plant’s drainage ditches reportedly discharged water containing radioactive substances at a density that exceeded normal levels by a factor of more than 70, and some of the water flowed into the plant’s port. As the ditches have covers, rainwater containing radioactive substances is said to be prevented from running into the ditches. The TEPCO official repeatedly stated, “We can’t figure out the reason [for the contaminated-water discharge],” his comment shedding light on the current situation in which the issue of contaminated water has yet to be solved even four years after the accident.Speech

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