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Not our neighborhood? via The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

By Bruce Cumings

In the late summer of 1880, Korean envoy Kim Hong-jip spent several weeks in Tokyo consulting with Japanese and Chinese diplomats. On September 6, Huang Zunxian, a counselor in China’s mission to Tokyo, presented him with a radical proposal called “A Strategy for Korea.” Korea could no longer maintain its seclusion policy, he said. It needed to buy time to strengthen itself, and new alliances were the answer—following a novel concept called “the balance of power.” Russia threatened Korea, but Japan—while preoccupied with reform for the time being—was the real future danger. Meanwhile the United States, Huang thought, “has always upheld justice” and had never allowed the European powers “to freely perpetrate their evil deeds.” If that might not turn out to be true, at least the United States was well across the Pacific, minding its own business. Huang therefore recommended that Korea remain intimate with China, associate with Japan, and form an alliance with the United State—which could be furthered by negotiating a treaty of mutual benefit.

[…]

For a quarter-century the North Koreans have been pregnant with an idea whose time never came—perhaps until now. That idea was to somehow draw the United States in to solve Pyongyang’s profound isolation and vulnerability, after the Soviet Union collapsed and China opened a broad relationship with South Korea. It was never easy to discern this—and hard for the North to say it out loud—amid their limitless farrago of anti-American propaganda. But it was a central if unspoken part of their diplomacy with Washington in the 1990s.

 

Their strategy almost worked in the last two years of the Clinton administration, which had frozen the North’s entire plutonium complex in 1994, and was on the verge of an indirect buyout of North Korea’s medium and long-range missiles in December of 2000 in return for normalization of relations with the United States. However the incoming George W. Bush administration in general and John Bolton in particular quickly made hash of that remarkable breakthrough. As Nicholas Kristof pointed out in his New York Times OpEd of May 24 of this year, “Bolton is smart and well-informed, and he hit the trifecta: On Iraq, Iran and North Korea alike, he has a perfect record of disastrous decisions. He was a champion of the invasion of Iraq, he helped kill nuclear deals with Iran both 14 years ago and again this year, and he helped destroy an agreement with North Korea in 2002 in addition to derailing the latest summit plan.

 

If there were a Nobel Prize for Distinguished Warmongering, Bolton would be a shoo-in.”

[…]

More remarkable, perhaps, is South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s role. He seized on Pyongyang’s willingness to attend the Pyeongchang winter Olympics to begin a diplomatic process that has culminated in the Singapore summit—he is the one, after all, who told Trump about Kim’s interest in meeting with him. Less obvious was Moon’s statement while visiting Xi Jin-ping last winter, that the United States was an ally but Japan was not—a fact for decades, but one rarely voiced. It might have been an addendum to Huang’s memorandum—and note that today Japan is on the outside looking in.

 

It may be hard to understand that North Korea has always chafed at America’s unwillingness to recognize it—to give it the respect and dignity that is at the core of its ideological system ofchuch’e, or self-reliance. Whether Washington is finally willing to do that now, 70 years after the regime was founded, is still unclear. Trump recently said that “That’s their neighborhood; it’s not our neighborhood,” and rumors in Washington suggest that he wants to withdraw US troops from the South. But Kim Jong-un seems no longer to care about expelling those troops; instead he appears willing to follow the Counselor’s advice—which Huang summed up in a pithy, typically Chinese phrase: qin Zhong, jie Ri, lian Mei: stay close to China, associate with Japan, ally with America.

 

 

 

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Study: Traces of radioactive contamination found in homes of six Hanford workers via The Seattle Times

The levels are low, but if some microparticles are inhaled or ingested by nuclear-site workers or their families, the radioactive dust is a “potential source of internal radiation exposure,” the study’s author writes.

Dust samples from the homes of six Hanford nuclear-site workers in the Tri-City area contained traces of radioactive contamination, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science.

The levels are low, but if some microparticles are inhaled or ingested by the workers or their families, the radioactive dust is a “potential source of internal radiation exposure,” writes Marco Kaltofen, a civil engineer whose peer-reviewed study also found radioactive particles in dust samples in nuclear workers’ homes near the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the former Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado.

The particles were found in samples collected over a period of years from the homes of the nuclear workers and those of their neighbors. Inhalation of the particles, which included uranium, thorium, plutonium and americium, can increase the risk of cancer.

[…]

“These radioactive particles are tiny and difficult to detect once you get a few inches away,” said Kaltofen, who is affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. “But once inside the body, the distance from our tissue is essentially zero.”

Kaltofen said his research indicates that some other homes likely have low levels of radioactive contamination, and he recommended more testing.

[…]

“A special population”

Kaltofen obtained many of these samples through a yearslong collaborative effort with Hanford Challenge, a Seattle-based organization that focuses on accountability in the federal cleanup of decades of plutonium production for atomic bombs at the 562-square-mile federal site near Richland.

[…]

Kaltofen, through the course of his study, found three of the highest levels of thorium radioactivity in the dust of three Hanford workers’ homes. Two of these dust samples were collected from older homes built in Richland for Hanford workers during the 1940s.

The third home was a newer suburban house outside the Tri-City areas owned by a Hanford employee who worked at a tank farm that stores radioactive and chemical wastes.

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原発処理作業者、ドイツで過酷労働や健康被害訴え via Alterna

チェルノブイリと福島の原発事故処理にそれぞれ従事したウクライナ人と日本人が4月、ドイツ北部にある7つの学校の特別授業で過酷な労働体験を語った。2人は14歳以上の生徒や教師ら約800人に対して、作業現場のずさんな被ばく管理や健康上の問題、十分な治療の保証が受けられない現状などを訴えた。(ドイツ・キール=川崎陽子)

特別授業は、IBB(国際教育交流)による「欧州アクション・ウイーク:チェルノブイリと福島後の未来のために」の一環で、7年目の今年は欧州約150カ所で開催された。

ドイツ国内40の主催者の一つ、ハインリヒ・ベル基金のシュレスヴィヒ・ホルシュタイン州支部は、原発事故を体験した証言者を毎年、旧ソビエト連邦の国々や日本から招聘してきた。

今年は、ウクライナ人のオレグ・ゲラシュチェンコさん(68)と日本人の桐島瞬さん(52)が、同州における原発事故の大惨事を語り継ぐ学校行事や市民団体、政治団体で、体験談を語った。

■2カ月公表されなかった「メルトダウン」

軍の消防士だったゲラシュチェンコさんは、1986年6月末から1カ月間、チェルノブイリ原発から20キロ圏内の立入禁止区域で事故処理に従事した。任務に就く前には10日間、10人のリーダーの1人としてチェルノブイリと同じ型の原発内で、内部構造を詳しく知るための講習を受けた。

職業上、比較的早く情報を得られたゲラシュチェンコさんは、「原発事故の4日後に初めて報道があったが、内容は嘘だった」と語った。

ジャーナリストの桐島さんが、東電福島第一原発で働くことを決意した理由は、自分の目で現場を確かめて真実を報道したかったからだ。桐島さんは原発事故の約2週間後、誰もいないオフサイトセンター(緊急事態応急対策拠点施設)で「メルトダウン、3月12日」と書かれたメモを見つけた。だが、政府が公表したのは2カ月も後で、国民の間で政府への不信感が高まっていた。

■暑さと被ばくとの闘い

(略)

ゲラシュチェンコさんは、長さ800mのタービン建屋で、2〜3分おきに入れ替わる溶接作業、現場で発生した火災の消火、建屋や機械の除染など、あらゆる作業を行った。

「線量計を身に付けていたが、作業後に秘密情報機関に渡さねばならず、被ばく量はすぐには知らされなかった。被ばく上限は通常50ミリシーベルト(※1)、私たちは250ミリシーベルトだった。だが十分な防護ができなかった人たちは、それ以上被ばくした」(ゲラシュチェンコさん)

桐島さんは、2012年の半年間、防護服を着て体感温度が摂氏50度を超える状態で作業をしながら、マスク内にたまった汗で呼吸がしづらくなるなど、暑さと被ばくとの闘いだったと語った。

「例えば汚染水タンクの表面は、普通の人が60年間で浴びるほどの線量だった。現場には、もっとはるかに線量が高い場所がたくさんあった。移動用の車の座席(毎時0.35ミリシーベルト)や、マスクをはずしてくつろげる唯一の休憩場所(毎時0.014ミリシーベルト)も汚染されていた。私は、4時間の労働で皆さんが1年間に浴びて良い1ミリシーベルトを超える被ばくをした」(桐島さん)

■救済処置の欠如も

7カ所の授業で、必ず生徒が2人に尋ねたことが一つだけあった。「健康被害はあったか」という質問だ。

ゲラシュチェンコさんは、チェルノブイリから戻ったあと白血球が減少し免疫力が低下していることが分かり、小さい脳梗塞、視力低下、皮膚のびらん、硬変症、性機能障害を経験した。

現在は、高血圧、糖尿病、皮膚ガン、肝臓疾患があり、頭の中で常に音が鳴り続けているというゲラシュチェンコさんは、「頭痛もひどいが、痛みに耐えきれずに自殺した人ほどではない」と付け加えた。

毎晩スポーツジムに通って、できるだけ放射性物質を体外に出すように努めたと語った桐島さんは、生徒からの質問にこう答えた。

「福島から東京に戻ったあと、3カ月間毎日のように鼻血が出て、ひどくだるかった。避難した人たちに取材したときも、福島から離れてから鼻血が出たという話をよく聞いた。低線量被ばくの症状といわれ、イラク戦争後の米国兵士が劣化ウラン弾で同じような症状が出たという報告がある。甲状腺検査で結節が見つかったので、定期的な検診が必要と言われた」

しかし、将来健康被害が起きた際に政府からの支援が保証されているのは、2011年12月末までに働いた人たちだけだと、桐島さん。

全文は原発処理作業者、ドイツで過酷労働や健康被害訴え

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As Nuclear Struggles, A New Generation Of Engineers Is Motivated By Climate Change via NPR

The number of people graduating with nuclear engineering degrees has more than tripled since a low point in 2001, and many are passionate about their motivation.

[…]

Fein is among those who argue that nuclear plants should be recognized as clean energy, and paid for the public benefit of not emitting greenhouse gasses or other pollutants. It’s a strategy that’s worked in other states: Illinois, New York and — most recently — New Jersey.

David Fein, senior vice president of State Governmental and Regulatory Affairs at Exelon, which owns Three Mile Island Unit 1.

Jeff Brady/NPR

In Pennsylvania’s capitol in Harrisburg, opponents of new subsidies include anti-nuclear activist Eric Epstein with the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert.

“If you consider nuclear green then you have to ignore high-level radioactive waste,” he says.

The federal government still doesn’t have permanent storage for that waste, and Epstein says there are the environmental costs of uranium mining to consider as well.

Others question giving nuclear plants public money that could be used for renewable energy instead.

[…]

Ann Bisconti does opinion research for the industry and says a lot fewer people oppose nuclear energy now than just after the Three Mile Island accident.

“People have moved, very much, into middle positions — they’re very mushy on nuclear energy,” Bisconti says. And she says that creates an opportunity to win them over by talking about the need for nuclear to limit the effects of climate change.

“You can’t get there without nuclear in the fuel mix,” says Chris Wolfe, who works as a generation planning engineer at South Carolina Electric and Gas and is on the board of of North American Young Generation in Nuclear.

[…]

Molly Samuel of WABE contributed to this report.

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Blowback Over Japanese Plan to Reuse Tainted Soil From Fukushima via Bloomberg

By Brian Yap

Japan’s plan to reuse soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident for agriculture is sparking something of its own nuclear reaction.

Residents and other critics don’t want any part of it.

“Pollutants contained in crops will surely pollute air, water and soil, thereby contaminating food to be consumed by human beings,” Kazuki Kumamoto, professor emeritus at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo told Bloomberg Environment. Contaminated crops “could trigger the release of radiation.”

The Ministry of the Environment released its latest plan June 3 for reusing the soil as part of a decontamination project associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. The accident occurred after a tsunami disabled the facility’s power supply and caused its emergency generators to fail, leading to meltdowns in three reactors, hydrogen-air explosions, and the release of radioactive material.

The ministry’s plan calls for using the soil to develop farmland in Fukushima Prefecture for horticultural crops that won’t be consumed by humans, the June 3 document said. It builds on the ministry’s 2017 plan to use the contaminated soil for road construction.

[…]

Safety issues

The reuse projects for road construction and agricultural land have met heavy opposition from residents living close to where such projects have been planned, according to Akira Nagasaki, environmental law partner at City-Yuwa Partners in Tokyo.

Key among their concerns are the changes Japan made to its benchmark.

Contaminated soil isn’t classified as nuclear waste under the law and therefore isn’t required to be treated by special facilities, Kumamoto said. That’s because Japan relaxed its benchmark, based on one set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, for determining at what level of contamination radioactive waste must be treated and disposed using more protective measures.

The international agency standard is 100 becquerel, a measure of radioactivity, per kilogram. Japan revised its limit to 8,000 becquerel per kilogram for nuclear waste and soil, exempting a greater amount of contaminated soil from strict treatment requirements and allowing it to be reused for public works projects and agricultural land.

[…]

Unfair Compensation

Another concern is how the government plans to compensate the owners of the land where these sites would be located.

Most of the more than 2,300 property owners in the area have refused to sell their land to the government for the storage sites because they don’t think they’re being fairly compensated, said Yoshiharu Monma, chairman of the Association of Landowners in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government agreed to compensate the owners for what the land was worth before the 2011 disaster if that property was to be used for the temporary storage sites, Monma said. But if the land has been designated for interim storage facilities, the government will only pay half of its value before the disaster.

Read more at Blowback Over Japanese Plan to Reuse Tainted Soil From Fukushima 

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福島の全原発廃炉へ 第2の4基も再稼働断念 via 毎日新聞

東京電力ホールディングス(HD)は14日、福島第2原発(福島県楢葉町、富岡町)1~4号機を廃炉にする方針を表明した。2011年3月の福島第1原発事故後、第2原発もすべて運転を停止している。既に全6基の廃炉が決まった第1原発に続き全4基が廃炉となれば、地元自治体が求めてきた県内の全原発廃炉が実現する。

 

 東電HDの小早川智明社長が同日、福島県庁で内堀雅雄知事と面会し「福島第2原発を全号機、廃炉の方向で検討に入りたい」と述べた。東電が廃炉方針を明言したのは初めて。第1原発の廃炉作業の進捗(しんちょく)や風評対策への取り組みについて東電側が説明した後、内堀知事が「県民の強い思いだ」として、改めて県内の全原発の廃炉を求めたことに応じた。

[…]

第2原発は1982年に1号機が営業運転を開始。87年から全4基体制で稼働してきたが、東日本大震災に伴う津波による被害を受け、全4基が運転を停止した。第1原発のような炉心溶融事故は免れたものの、一時、冷却機能を失うなど損傷が最も大きい1号機については既に廃炉にする方針を固めていた。比較的被害の少ない2~4号機は、原子力規制委員会の審査に合格すれば再稼働する可能性が残っていたが、地元の根強い反対を受け、断念する方向となった。

 第1原発の廃炉費用は21. 5兆円に上る見込みだが、16年に基金を設立して費用を積み立てるなどの枠組みが決定した。【和田憲二、柿沼秀行】

 

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「放射能汚染水飲むしかなく、赤ん坊に母乳も」福島からの避難者 via 神戸新聞Next

福島第1原発事故で大阪市内に母子避難をしている森松明希子さん(44)=兵庫県伊丹市出身=がこのほど、大阪府高槻市内で、スイス・ジュネーブの国連人権理事会本会議でスピーチした際の様子などを報告した。合わせてフランスの市民団体に招かれて講演もし、多くの市民の関心を集めたという。

東京電力や国に賠償を求める関西訴訟原告団の代表を務める森松さんは、仕事で福島県郡山市に残った夫と離れて暮らす。3月、同様に母子避難をしている車田まみさんら親子8人でスイスへ。スピーチは国際環境保護団体「グリーンピース」の発言者として行った。

森松さんは「事故後、放射能汚染は広がったが、情報は知らされず、無用な被ばくを重ねた。空気、水、土壌がひどく汚染される中、汚染した水を飲むしかなく、赤ん坊に母乳を与えてしまった」と当時の状況を説明。「日本政府は市民を守るための施策はほとんど実施してきていない。(原発事故の被災者支援継続などを求めた)国連人権理事会での勧告を直ちに受け入れ、実施してほしい」と訴えた。各国政府代表からも注目され内外で広く報道された。

市民団体に招かれた仏グルノーブルの講演では、事故当時東京にいたという女性が立ち上がり「被ばくから逃げるため、フランス政府のチャーター便で直後に離れた。日本国内で避難することもままならない子どもたちの現状を知り、苦しい」と話したという

続きは「放射能汚染水飲むしかなく、赤ん坊に母乳も」福島からの避難者

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Hiroshima survivor urges University of Waterloo grads to find a cause to make their own via The Record

Nobel Peace Prize winner Setsuko Thurlow urges grads to find a cause to make their own

WATERLOO — Hiroshima bombing survivor and activist Setsuko Thurlow recounted the horrors she witnessed, and urged University of Waterloo students to take up the cause of forever banishing all nuclear weapons.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke Wednesday at a convocation ceremony at the university, where she received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Thurlow was 13 when a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, suddenly turning a “bright summer morning” into one of Japan’s darkest days, as the sky filled with smoke and dust from the mushroom cloud.

[…]

The victims who survived were convinced no human being should have to experience what they did that day, nor the unspeakable pain that haunts them still.

“Our mission was to warn the world about the danger of this ultimate evil,” she said.

Thurlow, who immigrated to Canada in 1962 where she earned a master’s degree in social work at University of Toronto, has dedicated her life to advocating for a ban on nuclear weapons.

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Japanese utility eyes scrapping 2nd Fukushima nuclear plant via Washington Post

TOKYO — The operator of a nuclear power plant in northeast Japan that suffered meltdowns seven years ago said Thursday for the first time publicly that it will start making concrete plans to decommission another plant in Fukushima that narrowly escaped the crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings said it will decide on the timeline and other details before formally announcing the dismantling of four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ni, or No. 2, plant, which has never restarted since the 2011 disaster.

[…]

An additional decommissioning in Fukushima would mean all 10 of TEPCO’s reactors in Fukushima would be dismantled eventually.

TEPCO has said a Fukushima No. 2 decommissioning would cost about 280 billion yen ($2.5 billion), in addition to the estimated 22 trillion yen ($200 billion) needed for the ongoing Fukushima No. 1 cleanup.

[…]

“We thought prolonging the ambiguity would hamper local reconstruction,” Kobayakawa said.

Uchibori welcomed the decision, saying TEPCO’s plan for Fukushima No. 2 decommissioning would help alleviate negative image and safety concern

[…]

In addition, its four reactors are more than 30 years old and would have required TEPCO to make huge investments to improve safety to get approvals for restarts.

TEPCO would be left with only Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata, northern Japan, to produce nuclear power. Local restart approvals for two of its seven reactors are pending.

[…]

Nuclear energy now accounts for less than 2 percent of Japan’s energy mix since most reactors were idled after the 2011 disaster. Only five reactors have since restarted.

While the government of pro-business Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to start up as many reactors as possible, restarts are coming slowly as anti-nuclear sentiment remains strong and regulators have stepped up screening process.

Still, the government says nuclear energy should account for 20-22 percent of Japan’s energy mix by fiscal 2030 in a draft energy plan that experts say as unrealistic.

Mari Yamaguchi | AP

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福島第二原発「廃炉の方向で具体的に検討」 東電社長 via 朝日新聞

東京電力の小早川智明社長は14日、福島県庁で内堀雅雄知事と面会し、福島県楢葉町と富岡町にまたがる福島第二原発について、「廃炉の方向で具体的な検討に入りたい」と述べた。東電が第二原発廃炉の方針を明言するのは初めて。福島県では第一原発の原子炉6基すべての廃炉が決まっており、第二原発の4基が廃炉となれば県内から原発がなくなることになる。

(略)

第二原発は東日本大震災で自動停止して以降、動いていない。現在は使用済み燃料プールに約1万体の核燃料が保管されている。

県や地元自治体は、原発事故の被害や住民感情を踏まえ、第二原発の「全基廃炉」を求めていたが、東電はこれまで、再稼働するか、廃炉にするかの判断を示していなかった。

第二原発は1号機が1982年に運転を開始。最も新しい4号機が87年で、出力はいずれも110万キロワット。すべてが運転開始から30年を超え、原則の運転期限である40年に近づいていた。原発を動かせる状態に戻すだけで1400億円程度かかる見通しで、再稼働に向けて新規制基準に対応するには、数千億円規模の追加投資が必要だった。(石塚広志)

全文は福島第二原発「廃炉の方向で具体的に検討」 東電社長

関連記事:福島第2原発廃炉、全4基を検討 東電、県内全10基に高い壁 via 47 News

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