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Chernobyl 29 Years Later: What’s Left And Who Comes Back via International Business Times

A comparatively unknown region of the Soviet Union encompassing parts of Ukraine and Belarus shot into the international spotlight April 26, 1986, when Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, sending massive amounts of nuclear radiation into the environment. It was the world’s worst civil nuclear power plant accident: While only about 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster, the higher cancer rates in nearby populations either already has killed or could kill thousands.

Every year, survivors, their relatives and the families of the dead return to their abandoned homes to remember their lives before Reactor 4 blew up. The disaster happened close to the Eastern Orthodox holiday Radunitsa, or the Day of Rejoicing, when observers remember the dead. Many return on Radunitsa to visit the graves of loved ones buried in their hometowns before the disaster and to remember those killed as a result of the explosion or the radiation.

Many former residents come back to the place they once called home, which is now all but abandoned. In the days after the disaster, Soviet authorities declared a 1,004-square-mile region around the power plant had to be evacuated. That’s just a bit smaller than the area of Paris. The once-bustling villages and towns in the region are shadows of their former selves. Almost 30 years after the area was abandoned, the homes there are on the verge of collapse. People were in such a rush to leave that they left many of their personal belongings, some remaining right where they dropped.

But the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone isn’t entirely abandoned. Workers at the plant are frequently put up in nearby towns, and illegal squatters have taken up residence in many abandoned buildings. Fewer than 200 people were legally allowed to remain after the disaster because they refused to leave their homes. Mostly older people, they are called the Samosely, or self-settlers.

Amazingly, Chernobyl has become a tourist destination, with organizations running tours into the Exclusion Zone, which includes the city of Pripyat and Chernobyl, considered one of the most haunting locations on the planet. Click here to see more photographs taken inside the Exclusion Zone.

Continue reading at Chernobyl 29 Years Later: What’s Left And Who Comes Back 

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チェルノブイリ事故から29年 1~3号機解体を決定 via 東京新聞

【モスクワ共同】ソ連時代の1986年にウクライナで起きたチェルノブイリ原発事故から26日で29年。ウクライナ政府は、事故を起こした4号機を 新たなシェルターで覆い放射性物質の拡散を防ぐ作業を急ぐ一方、1~3号機の解体により同原発を廃止する決定を今月、正式に下した。

ウクライナは今後も原発を電力生産の主軸とする方針。同国政府は数十年の歳月をかけ、チェルノブイリ原発を核燃料の保管や再処理を賄う大規模な基地に変貌させる方針だ。

続きはチェルノブイリ事故から29年 1~3号機解体を決定 

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Listening:<ふるさと>原発事故49カ月 子と避難した姉妹、古里で両親は闘病 via 毎日新聞

 東日本大震災から3日たった2011年3月14日、東京電力福島第1原発の方角から爆発音が響いた。午前11時1分。第1原発の北約25キロの福 島県南相馬市内にいた新妻(にいづま)友加里さん(34)には、3号機の原子炉建屋の吹き飛ぶ音が「ボフン」と聞こえた。母子家庭で実家に身を寄せ、息子 2人は当時、小学4年生と2年生。両親や親類ら12人は行く当てがないまま計3台の車で古里を脱出した。

実姉の川里女久美(めぐみ)さん(37)も一緒に逃れた。震災2週間前に長男が生まれたばかり。「生き延びたくて必死で、まるで戦争のようだった」。栃木県内を移動中、浜松市中区で暮らす伯父と連絡が取れた。同市内で落ち合った時は出発から18時間たっていた。

姉妹がそれぞれ暮らしてきた南相馬市原町区の一部は「緊急時避難準備区域」に指定された。政府が住民に、いつでも屋内退避や避難ができるよう準備 を求めていた区域だ。11年秋に解除され、戻った両親は「帰ってこい。専門家も放射線の影響はもうなく、食材も安心できると言っている」。

しかし、被ばくの影響を受けやすい子どものことを考えると、不安で足がすくんだ。悩み抜いた末、浜松市内で生活していくために川里さんは夫(31)とともに定職に就いた。

(略)

生活の拠点を浜松に定めた姉妹だが、離れて暮らす両親は現在、がんと闘う。姉妹は「親が心配。帰ろうか」と悩む。

(略)

「どうして古里に戻ってこないの」。友人に聞かれるたびに、姉妹は張り裂けそうな気分になる。

全文は

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At Fukushima, the population is in an inextricable situation via CNRS Journal

Partager
Four years after the explosion of a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the fate of the victims is far from settled. Researcher Cécile Asanuma-Brice deciphers the policy that encourages these people to resettle into contaminated areas.
Residing in Japan for nearly fifteen years, Cecile Asanuma-Brice is working at the CNRS office in Tokyo and is a researcher associate at the research center of the Maison Franco-Japonaise of Tokyo and the International Associated Laboratory of “Human protection and disaster response” (HPDR), created by the CNRS and other French and Japanese institutions, following the Fukushima disaster on March 11th 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami caused the explosion of a nuclear power plant in the region, the following day.

How many people remain displaced? What conditions do they live under?
Cécile Asanuma-Brice: The Japanese government reported 118,812 people displaced, including 73,077 within the Fukushima prefecture and 45,735 outside of it. It represents a decrease since the same official statistics showed 160,000 displaced persons in 2011, a few months after the disaster. In reality, the number of displaced people is much higher than that. Because the registration system, set up by the Administration is extremely restrictive and a significant part of the population did not participate. I personally interviewed several families gathered in various associations who refused to register, because it led them to lose rights, particularly with regards to their free medical care and follow up.
Initially, the Japanese government had made available public housing across the territory for victims wishing to relocate for free. This directive was positive, even if it did not come with comprehensive employment support that would have eased these migrants into their host habitat. However, this directive was terminated in December 2012. Simultaneously, temporary housing were built, but partly on contaminated areas, if we refer to the contamination distribution map produced by the Japanese Government Ministry of Research.
The law stipulates that life in these “temporary” units is limited to two years, given the unsuitableness of these housings. But what was to be temporary had become an ongoing ordeal. Refugees living on these public lands on the outskirts of the city pay for electricity, gas, water and found themselves having to buy food they were otherwise producing themselves – as most being farmers. The 100,000 yen monthly compensation income (about 790 dollars) paid to them by Tepco, the nuclear plant management company, is insufficient to cover these costs. Consequently, discrimination is setting in, pointing refugees as “leeches”, which is extremely frowned upon in a country that places such a high value on work ethics.
[…]
You condemn the abuse of the concept of resilience – as you mentioned – in effect, confining the population to “house arrest”.
C. A.-B. : To convince people to return, governments rely heavily on this concept of resilience which, in this case, underlines an exploitation of an epistemological abuse. Intertwining psychological, environmental and urban resiliencies motivate residents to abandon any impulses of escaping – for those still following their primal instinct of anxiety in face of danger! To communicate on risks is important for this concept of resilience to thrive. We have to accept that we now live in a “risk society”, to quote a book title wherein Ulrich Beck theorized that idea. The risk society, according to him, is “a society where exceptional conditions threaten to become the norm”. In this case, protection standards are tampered with, to contain the spread of the zones to be evacuated and to nourish the illusion of an eventual return to normalcy.
Thus, levels of radioactivity in the air and on the ground in certain areas exceed 10 to 20 times the 1 mSv/year international standard of contamination allowed for the civilian population. By April 2011, authorities raised the standard to 20 mSv/year around the most contaminated areas and it is currently being pushed to 100 mSv/year! Same levels are implemented for food, for which the maximum standards also vary. This communication strategy was enforced in 2014 with a budget of over 2 million Euros, for the purpose of, dare I say, “educating” about health risks with hopes to restore confidence. For example, they organize workshops with topics on radiation and cancer for primary school children in Fukushima, distributing textbooks, teaching them how to adapt to their new contaminated environment. All this is made possible with the push of television campaigning for the safety of fresh products from contaminated areas, consequently touting the effectiveness of decontamination – which still has not been proven to this day.
This strategy is part of a program already in use in Chernobyl
C. A.-B. : The players involved in the management of the Japanese disaster are partly the same ones who were involved into “managing” the nuclear crisis in Chernobyl. This is the case of Jacques Lochard, director of CEPN (Center for study on radiation protection in the nuclear field) and Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, a member of the health survey committee, one of the first to have advocated raising the safety standard to 100 mSv / year and Professor Niwa of the Fukushima Medical University. Pr. Niwa is a psychiatrist who is pushing for the return of refugees, in response to climbing rates of depression and suicide cases, which are related to the pain of being separated from their homeland.

Therefore, refugees are forced to take decisions on their own, while being fully aware they are not given the means to escape or to truly reintegrate for those wanting to stay put. In other words, they are forced to manage their lives in a contaminated environment. It is precisely the purpose of the program Ethos Fukushima, which follows the course of the Ethos Chernobyl program, both led by Jacques Lochard and in which Dr Yamashita and Dr Niwa play a fundamental role. This program is based on the calculation of cost/benefit analysis in radiation risk management and aims to guide people on how to manage their lives in a contaminated environment, while evacuation is being considered too expensive.

The other goal of ETHOS is to boost the economy in regions affected by the disaster, encouraging the consumption of food products originating from contaminated areas. Business agreements are dealt with chains of supermarkets throughout the territory, which then direct their main distribution towards the sale of these products almost exclusively.

How do people react to this?
C. A.-B. : One must admit these methods of brainwashing are very efficient, despite a significant resistance facing this crucial health issue. Most assuredly, the politics of communication deployed here is very effective in manipulating people’s minds. Thus, workshops are organized for children evacuees to be reintroduced to their cultural land they left. Administrative staff from the Fukushima Prefecture, including psychologists, initiates contact with the families by traveling where they have evacuated to and request to them to participate in organized meetings between children of the same age, from shut down school classes in their region – so they don’t lose touch. Once they have returned, they make the children cook together, retracing, in particular, each ingredient’s origins (i.e mentioning grandparent’s harvest etc….). Thus, it fills them with nostalgic childhood memories and affects them with a strong sense of guilt for having abandoned friends and communities. This is all very well-orchestrated and unfortunately works. Children who were finally beginning to recreate new benchmarks in their new environment, return to their parents after these meetings and end up asking them when will they be able to return home to Fukushima. Some families are not fooled by this scheme and fight back by organizing entire networks to guide refugees who seek help to better fit in and organize sessions where they also warn of pitfalls in which not to fall for.

Read more.
Japanese translation is here.
French original is here.

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The Chances of Another Chernobyl Before 2050? 50%, Say Safety Specialists via Technology Review

And there’s a 50:50 chance of a Three Mile Island-scale disaster in the next 10 years, according to the largest statistical analysis of nuclear accidents ever undertaken.

The catastrophic disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima are among the worst humankind has had to deal with. Both were the result of the inability of scientists and engineers to foresee how seemingly small problems can snowball into disasters of almost unimaginable scale.

Given that most countries with nuclear power intend to keep their reactors running and that many new reactors are planned, an important goal is to better understand the nature of risk in the nuclear industry. What, for example, is the likelihood of another Chernobyl in the next few years?

Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Spencer Wheatley and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Benjamin Sovacool at Aarhus University in Denmark. These guys have compiled the most comprehensive list of nuclear accidents ever created and used it to calculate the likelihood of other accidents in future.

Their worrying conclusion is that the chances are 50:50 that a major nuclear disaster will occur somewhere in the world before 2050. “There is a 50 per cent chance that a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years,” they conclude.

The nuclear industry has long been criticised for its over-confident attitude to risk. But truly independent analyses are few and far between, partly because much of the data on accidents is compiled by the nuclear industry itself, which is reluctant to share it.

[…]

The top five accidents ranked by monetary cost are the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the Chernobyl explosion in April 1986, a fire at the Tsuruga nuclear plant in December 1995, a fire at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in September 1957 and an incident in March 1955 at Sellafield, then known as Windscale, two years before the infamous fire at the facility. Indeed, Sellafield appears five times in the list of the top 15 of most expensive nuclear accidents.

[…]

Nevertheless, Wheatley and co say their data suggests that the nuclear industry remains vulnerable dragon king events. “There is a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years,” they say.

Fukushima was by far the most expensive accident in history at a cost of $166 billion. That’s 60 per cent of the total cost of all other nuclear accidents added together.

The team calculate that a Chernobyl-scale event, the most severe in terms of radiation release, is as likely as not in the next 27 years. And they say a Three Mile Island event in the next 10 years has a probability of 50 percent.

Read more at The Chances of Another Chernobyl Before 2050? 50%, Say Safety Specialists 

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LETTERS: Safety of ‘bomb trains’ is public health priority via The Mercury

The Mercury article of Feb. 23, “We just have to hope that nothing happens” has profound implications to everyone in the Greater Philadelphia Region. We applaud the March 1 Mercury editorial conclusion, “Clearly, hope is not enough to maintain safety…”

So-called “bomb trains” containing up to 3 million gallons of explosive, flammable, hazardous crude oil travel right through Pottstown and the Limerick Nuclear Plant Site. A derailment, explosion and days-long fire ball near Limerick’s reactors and deadly fuel pools could trigger simultaneous meltdowns with catastrophic radioactive releases. Millions of Greater Philadelphia Region residents could lose everything forever.

[…]

Risks are increasing. Emergency responders are smart to be concerned. They shouldn’t be expected to be on the front lines of such devastating uncontrollable disasters.

Train derailment disasters should be anticipated. Sixty-five tank cars bound for Philadelphia had loose, leaking, or missing safety components to prevent flammable, hazardous contents from escaping (Hazmat report – last two years). A fuel-oil train already derailed a few miles from Philadelphia.

[…]

Safer trains aren’t the answer. A new safer-design derailed February 2015 in West Virginia, despite adhering to the speed limit. Hundreds of families had to flee their homes in frigid weather. Burning continued for days. Drinking water and electricity were lost. Leaking crude oil poisoned the water supply. Fireballs erupted from crumbled tank cars, underscoring volatility of crude oil’s propane, butane, etc.

Safe evacuation from our densely populated region is an illusion. Limerick Nuclear Plant’s evacuation plan is unworkable and unrealistic, not robust as claimed by a health official. Just consider work hour traffic combined with deteriorated roads and bridges. We encourage officials to visit www.acereport.org to view ACE’s 2012 video-blog series on the reality of Limerick’s evacuation plan. For a graphic presentation call (610) 326-2387.

Who pays to deal with irreversible devastation from train derailments and meltdowns? Clearly, not the oil industry, nuclear industry, railroad or government. We’d be on our own, despite:

1. Long-term ecological damage that would leave ghost towns that can’t be cleaned up safely.

2. Risking the vital drinking water resource for almost two million people (Pottstown to Philadelphia).

3. Millions of people losing their homes, businesses and health.

[…]

Hope is no solution! Neither is denying the reality of our unacceptable devastating risks.

The catastrophic disasters we face can, and must, be prevented with foresight and political will to face the facts and take action. Enough of corporate profits jeopardizing public safety.

Wake up! Speak up! Tell local, state and federal elected officials to stop this insanity!

Say no to dangerous crude oil trains traveling through our communities and the Limerick site.

Say no to continued Limerick Nuclear Plant operations to avoid meltdowns that can be triggered by cyber/terrorist attacks, embrittled/cracking reactors, earthquakes and now oil-train explosions/fires.

Read more at LETTERS: Safety of ‘bomb trains’ is public health priority

 

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Chernobyl arch faces €265m funding gap ahead of disaster’s 29th anniversary via The Guardian

World must plug funding gap for massive 100-metre steel arch being built to contain remaining radioactive waste at the site

A massive engineering project to make the Chernobyl nuclear power plant safe is facing a €265m (£190m) funding shortfall.

Next week a conference held by Germany in London will call on countries to make up the gap, but the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said it may have to ask its shareholders to make up the shortfall if donations dry up.

This Sunday marks the 29th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, when a power surge blew the roof off a reactor, spewing radioactive clouds across Russia, and eastern Europe.

A makeshift sarcophagus built in the explosion’s aftermath was supposed to protect the environment from radiation for at least 30 years. But it has since developed cracks.

The project to build a new radiation container had been due for completion this year but the deadline slipped to November 2017, as costs mushroomed from an initial estimate of €800m (£572m) to more than €2.15bn today.

Over 40 governments and the European commission have committed to help a Chernobyl Shelter Fund tasked with sealing off the 100 tonnes of uranium and one tonne of plutonium that remain within the site.

Continue reading at Chernobyl arch faces €265m funding gap ahead of disaster’s 29th anniversary 

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「高浜原発」は新聞によってこんなに違う 再稼動差し止め仮処分決定、社説は二分 via J-Cast News

福井県や関西の住民らが関西電力高浜原発3、4号機(同県高浜町)の再稼働差し止めを求めた仮処分申請について、福井地裁(樋口英明裁判長)が再稼働を認めない決定を出したことが波紋を広げている。

主要新聞は朝日新聞、毎日新聞、東京新聞が仮処分決定を評価したのに対して、読売新聞、日本経済新聞、産経新聞は一斉に批判した。原発の再稼動や原子力規制委員会の新規制基準をめぐる評価が分かれた。原発が立地する自治体の首長からの反響も相次いでいる。

両グループは真っ向から対立

朝日「司法の警告に耳を傾けよ」
毎日「司法が発した重い警告」
東京「国民を守る司法判断だ」
読売「規制基準否定した不合理判断」
日経「福井地裁の高浜原発差し止めは疑問多い」
産経「『負の影響』計り知れない」

仮処分決定から一夜明けた2015年4月15日の朝刊の社説は、見出しを比較するだけでも各社のスタンスが浮き彫りになる。脱原発を説く朝日、毎日、東京に対して、読売、日経、産経は原発事故後も原発を推進する立場で、両グループの主張は真っ向から対立する。

脱原発の論陣を張る朝日は「原発の再稼動を進める政府や電力会社への重い警告と受け止めるべきだ」と主張。「安倍政権は『安全審査に合格した 原発については再稼動を判断していく』と繰り返す。そんな言い方ではもう理解は得られない。司法による警告に、政権も耳を傾けるべきだ」とした。

毎日は「原発再稼動の是非は国民生活や経済活動に大きな影響を与える。ゼロリスクを求めて一切の再稼動を認めないことは性急に過ぎるが、いく つもの問題を先送りしたまま、見切り発車で再稼動すべきでないという警鐘は軽くない」と、政府や電力会社に慎重な対応を求めた。

これに対して、読売は「合理性を欠く決定と言わざるを得ない」「福島第1原発の事故後、原発再稼動に関し10件の判決・決定が出たが、差し止 めを認めたのは樋口裁判長が担当した2件しかない。偏った判断であり、事実に基づく公正性が欠かせない司法への信頼を損ないかねない」と、痛烈に批判し た。

原発が立地する自治体の首長の反応は様々だ。関電高浜原発が立地する福井県の西川一誠知事は「県としてはこれまで通り、安全確保を最優先に慎 重に対応していく」とコメントするにとどめた。西川知事はこれまで「現状で原発がゼロでは日本は成り立たない」と述べており、高浜原発3、4号機の再稼働 をめぐる県の同意については「政府が夏ごろにエネルギーミックス(電源構成の割合)を示すのと並行して進むだろう」と、容認する姿勢をにじませている。

続きは「高浜原発」は新聞によってこんなに違う 再稼動差し止め仮処分決定、社説は二分

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北野武が東京湾への原発建設を提案「その電力でカジノを」 – ライブドアニュース via Livedoor News

24日放送の「たまむすび」(TBSラジオ)で、ゲストの北野武が東京湾への原発建設を提案する一幕があった。

北野はこの日、同番組の「その筋の話」に登場し、レギュラーで弟子の玉袋筋太郎らとトークを展開した。

話題は2020年東京オリンピックにもおよんだ。玉袋は、オリンピック開催にあわせて東京都にカジノができる可能性があるのではないかと北野に話をふった。

北野は「考えてるんだろうな、カジノ構想とかって」と答え、「どうせやるんだったら、東京で首都高速全部使ってF1とかやらしてくれればいい」などと大胆な提案もした。

さらに北野は「東京湾のあそこに原発を作る。その電力でカジノ(を運営する)」ことを提案した。

北野は都の電力行政について「大体地方にね、原発を任すのがよくないんだ」と指摘し、「東京で犠牲もリスクも背負わなきゃいけないんだ」と原発問題にメスを入れた。

続きは北野武が東京湾への原発建設を提案「その電力でカジノを」

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Fukui man arrested for landing drone on Abe’s office says he was protesting nuclear policy via The Japan Times

A man was arrested Saturday in Fukui Prefecture for allegedly flying the drone found earlier this week on the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence, investigators said.

Yasuo Yamamoto, 40, of the city of Obama, presented himself to the Fukui Prefectural Police on Friday evening and said he landed the drone on the rooftop of the prime minister’s office to protest the government’s nuclear energy policy.

Yamamoto had sand with him and what appeared to be the controller for a drone, sources said. He was quoted as saying he had put sand from Fukushima Prefecture, home to the meltdown-ridden No. 1 nuclear plant, into a plastic bottle that was attached to the unmanned aircraft.

[…]

Fukui Prefecture is the nation’s nuclear heartland, hosting over a dozen nuclear reactors on the Sea of Japan coast. Last week, the Fukui District Court endorsed a citizens’ bid to halt Kansai Electric Power Co.’s effort to restart two idle reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant. The government says it has no plan to push for restarts, but the utility is appealing the injunction, granted on safety grounds.

Read more at Fukui man arrested for landing drone on Abe’s office says he was protesting nuclear policy 

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