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FACTBOX-German utilities seek billions in nuclear lawsuits via Reuters

Feb 3 Germany’s big four utilities are seeking more than 24 billion euros ($26 billion) in various lawsuits related to the country’s nuclear policy, including its planned exit from of the technology completely by 2022.
[…]
THREE-MONTH NUCLEAR SHUTDOWN IN SUMMER 2011:
[…]
NUCLEAR EXIT
[…]
– The German Constitutional Court has scheduled a hearing on the lawsuits for March 15-16.
– In June 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled that Germany’s tax on the use of nuclear energy did not breach European Union laws, dealing a blow to utilities’ hopes for a multi-billion euro refund.

– The German Constitutional Court, the country’s highest, is expected to present a separate final ruling this year on the matter, which could theoretically still scrap the tax.

The fuel element tax, introduced in 2011 and due to expire 2016, requires firms to pay 145 euros per gram of nuclear fuel each time they exchange a fuel rod, usually about twice a year. Germany’s utilities have so far paid at least 4.6 billion euros in the tax.
STORAGE OF RE-PROCESSED NUCLEAR WASTE:

– E.ON and Vattenfall have filed lawsuits against three German states (Bavaria, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein) and the federal government, rejecting a 2014 law that banned transporting re-processed nuclear waste to a central storage site at Gorleben and stipulating it be stored at sites near nuclear reactors instead. The utilities say the transport ban is politically motivated and on-site storage incurs additional costs they should not have to bear.

[…]

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Denmark and Greenland confirm uranium agreements via World Nuclear News

The governments of Denmark and Greenland have confirmed the signing of a series of agreements last month setting the framework for future cooperation on foreign, defence and security policy issues related to the mining and commercial export of uranium.

On 19 January, Denmark and Greenland announced they had reached agreements concerning the export control and security of uranium and other radioactive substances from Greenland and the definition of competences in the raw materials sector.

In separate statements yesterday, the governments said that a set of four agreements had been signed specifying responsibilities and tasks between Danish and Greenland authorities in connection with possible future mining and export of uranium.

[…]

The island of Greenland introduced a zero-tolerance policy concerning the mining of uranium and other radioactive elements in 1988, while under Danish direct rule. It took a step towards greater autonomy from Denmark in 2009 with the official transition from ‘home rule’ to ‘self rule’. This saw Greenland assume full authority over its mineral and hydrocarbon rights, which had formerly been overseen by Denmark. However, Greenland remains part of the kingdom of Denmark and its defence and foreign policies are still determined by Copenhagen.

In October 2013, Greenland’s parliament voted to remove the ban on the extraction of radioactive materials, opening up the possibility for companies to begin mining uranium and rare earth minerals.

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Nuke Secrets Dumped in Unprotected Trash by Government Employees via The Daily Beast

Documents marked classified were thrown into garbage bags at a national security facility in Tennessee for 20 years. One worker’s trash could’ve been a spy’s treasure.

In June 2014, a worker at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee was surprised to find U.S. nuclear secrets inside a trash bag marked for disposal along with standard rubbish. Taking a closer look, the worker found 19 more documents in the bag that were either marked classified or were later determined to contain information that should have been labeled secret.

A dozen more bags of trash sat nearby, awaiting transport to an open landfill where Y-12 workers routinely dump garbage with no bearing on national security. When employees of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC, the contractor responsible for running the site at that time, poked inside two of these additional bags, they found more top-secret documents.

“(They) then decided not to search any additional containers because they were, given the prior results, presumed likely to contain additional classified information,” a preliminary notice of violation issued Feb. 2 by the Energy Department’s enforcement arm said.

Many of the records discovered that day detailed how the department’s employees and contractors worked with nuclear explosive materials, such as highly enriched uranium, housed at the Y-12 complex. But it quickly got worse: Further investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees such work, led officials to conclude that nuclear secrets had been thrown away with lax security at the Tennessee plant for more than 20 years.

[…]

Many of the workers investigators interviewed mistakenly believed the waste was trucked off to a dump approved for disposal of classified material and guarded to prevent theft. Since 2005, they were transported by a truck driver without clearances to an unprotected landfill; before then, it’s unclear where they went, but the report says that no special precautions were taken even then for discarding the classified material.

Protection of nuclear materials and secrets at Y-12 has been under scrutiny since July 28, 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two more peace protestors penetrated the security perimeter and advanced far enough to scrawl graffiti on a storage vault full of weapon-grade nuclear materials.

The guard force responsible during the 2012 security breach at Y-12 had faked its way through proficiency drills by obtaining details of mock sieges in advance, according to a report by the Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General.

[…]

Los Alamos’ violation involved the disappearance of unspecified classified matter that was supposed to be shipped to another nuclear site in Nevada, but five years later hadn’t arrived. Contractor staff at Los Alamos told investigators the item had probably been destroyed, but the NNSA regarded the explanation as implausible, and the mysterious item remains missing.

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浜岡原発タービン撤去へ=廃炉1、2号機、第2段階に via 時事ドットコム

中部電力は3日、2009年に運転を終えた浜岡原発1、2号機(静岡県御前崎市)の廃炉計画について、タービンなど原子炉の周辺設備を撤去する第2段階に入ったと発表した。原子力規制委員会が同日付で認可した。早ければ2週間以内に撤去作業を開始する。

(略)

核燃料の搬出や配管の除染など第1段階が終了したため、中部電は昨年3月、第2段階への移行を規制委に申請していた。22年度までにタービンや復水器、排気筒を解体する。

約4000トンの放射性廃棄物が発生する見込みで、処分方法が決まるまで1、2号機建屋内に保管する。

全文は浜岡原発タービン撤去へ=廃炉1、2号機、第2段階に

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German scientists to conduct nuclear fusion experiment via The Guardian

Angela Merkel to attend test in which team will heat hydrogen until it becomes plasma in bid for clean nuclear power

Scientists in Germany are poised to conduct a nuclear fusion experiment they hope will advance the quest for a clean and safe form of nuclear powe

In a test expected to be attended by Angela Merkel, the chancellor, researchers will inject a tiny amount of hydrogen into a special device and heat it until it becomes a super-hot gas known as plasma – mimicking conditions inside the sun.

The experiment at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald, north-east Germany, is part of a worldwide effort to harness nuclear fusion – a process in which atoms join at extremely high temperatures and release large amounts of energy.

[…]

Advocates of nuclear fusion acknowledge the technology is probably decades away but argue that it could replace fossil fuels and conventional nuclear fission reactors.

[…]

While critics have said the pursuit of nuclear fusion is a waste of money that could be better spent on other projects, Germany has forged ahead in funding the project, which in the past 20 years has cost €1.06bn if staff salaries are included.

Over the coming years, W7-X, which isn’t designed to produce any energy itself, will test many of the extreme conditions such devices will be subjected to if they are ever to generate power, said John Jelonnek, a physicist at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany.

Jelonnek’s team is responsible for a key component of the device, the massive microwave ovens that will turn hydrogen into plasma, eventually reaching 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million Fahrenheit).

Compared with nuclear fission, which produces huge amounts of radioactive material that will be around for thousands of years, the waste from nuclear fusion would be negligible, he said.

“It’s a very clean source of power, the cleanest you could possibly wish for. We’re not doing this for us but for our children and grandchildren.”

Read more at German scientists to conduct nuclear fusion experiment

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規制委、第1原発視察へ 事故5年で状況確認 via 産経ニュース

原子力規制委員会の田中俊一委員長は3日、東京電力福島第1原発事故から5年を迎えるのに際し、自身を含めた委員5人と原子力規制庁の清水康弘長官が同原発を視察すると明らかにした。「規制委発足の原点をもう一度確認する」のが目的という。

同日の記者会見で田中氏は「廃止措置をいかに安全に、速やかに進めるかが大事だ。避難先から帰還する人たちの不安の解消に向け、規制委が何をするべきか確認したい」と述べた。

現地視察では廃炉作業の現状や作業員の労働環境の改善状況を見て回るほか、東電福島第1廃炉推進カンパニーの増田尚宏最高責任者と意見交換する。

続きは 規制委、第1原発視察へ 事故5年で状況確認

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写真は嘘をつくのか via ニュースカフェ

フォトジャーナリズムを志向する月刊誌「DAYSJAPAN」(発行人・広河隆一)12月号に掲載された写真がネットで話題になっています。掲げられたタ イトルが「『どこが収束か事故後5年目を迎える福島原発事故が奪った村」でした。話題になったといっても、「捏造ではないか」と騒がれたのです。

掲載された写真は草が茂っている中で、放置されている車が写っています。写真説明は、いかにも原子力災害のため、人々が乗り捨てた車を印象付けています。しかし、震災前からの配車置き場だというのです。同誌は2日、Facebookで訂正文を発表しました。

撮影したのはポーランドの写真家、ポドニエシンスキー氏。自身のホームページで写真を公開しています。日本語版もあります。原発災害の写真をまとめたものの一枚が、問題の写真です。

(略)

さらに、同じ頃、ツイッターでも話題になっていて、2009年にも車が置かれていたことがわかったのです。ということは、震災前から廃車置き場だった可能性があります。

「DAYSJAPAN」 の写真説明でも、「人々が乗り捨てて逃げた車」とあったのですが、乗り捨てたわりには車間距離が狭すぎますし、周囲の風景からして、道路ではありません。 訂正の説明では、写真家のホームページに、「恐らく、車が放射能に汚染されたため、避難住民たちがやむなく捨てていったのだと思った。車に近づいていった 次の瞬間、放射能測定器が鳴り始め、その推測が正しいことを証明した」と書いていることから、編集部がそれを前提に写真説明をアレンジした、というので す。

そもそも、放射能に汚染されたから、車を乗り捨てたかどうかを住民が認識できたのかどうかは、当時を取材していればわかると思います。富岡町の住民は発災 翌日の3月12日に避難をしています。大型バスに乗ったり、自家用車で避難をした人が多かったとは思います。自家用車を置いていった人がいるとしたら、バ スに乗った人か、津波にのまれたか、ガソリンが不足していたためか、故障していたためではないかと思われます。

(略)

ツイッターのまとめである「トゥギャッター」では、話題になったツイートを編集した上で、「『原発事故で人が住めなくなった村』という印象操作の手口」と タイトル付けされてしまっています。フォトジャーナリズムを志向する雑誌の編集者なら、そもそもネットで見つけた写真を精査する時間もなく掲載するのは問 題があるのではないでしょうか。

また、原発災害を取材する人たち、あるいは当事者である避難者たちと雑誌の編集者とネットワークが希薄ということが明るみになってしまったと言えるでしょう。自戒を込めていいますが、きちんしたつながりがあれば、今回のようなミスはなかったのではないでしょうか。

「写真は嘘をつく」というつぶやきも見ましたが、今回は、写真そのものは嘘をついていません。写真説明が間違っており、その結果、原発災害のイメージをわい曲させたということでしょう。

全文は写真は嘘をつくのか

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Never-Before-Seen Images Reveal How The Fukushima Exclusion Zone Was Swallowed By Nature via BoredPanda

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Belgium’s ageing nuclear plants worry neighbours via BBC News

Belgium’s neighbours have expressed alarm at its plans to extend the life of 40-year-old nuclear reactors, seen by critics as dangerous.
Just across the border, the German city of Aachen and the Dutch city of Maastricht have announced they are considering taking legal action. They want to force Belgium to shut the reactors down.
Belgium has two nuclear plants at Doel, near the port of Antwerp, and at Tihange near Liege. They have a total of seven reactors, which produce around 60% of the country’s energy needs.

But several incidents in the past few years have cast doubt on their safety:
One of Doel’s four reactors, Doel 4, was hit by an unresolved case of sabotage
Another, Doel 3, was shut down for 21 months after the discovery of micro-cracks in the reactor’s pressure vessels
A few days after being restarted, Doel 3 was shut down again on New Year’s Eve after a water leak was found
At Tihange, a fire started in the electricity supply system on 27 December
Micro-cracks were also found in the pressure vessels of a Tihange reactor
In both cases at Tihange, operator Electrabel said an external audit had been done and the structural integrity was guaranteed.
But the neighbours are unimpressed. While neighbouring Germany looks to close down all its commercial nuclear reactors by 2022, Belgium appears to be taking the opposite course.
[…]

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歌声に連なりたいvia 東京新聞

われらゆるがず/われらゆるがず/水辺に立てる木のごとく/われらゆるがず
 先週、東京都内で発足した「福島原発刑事訴訟支援団」の集会を締めくくったのは参加者全員による合唱だった。黒人霊歌のメロディーを生かした曲は一九八〇年代、英国グリーナムコモン米軍基地での核ミサイル配備に反対した女たちの間で歌い継がれた抵抗の歌。舞台と客席の四百人がひとつになった。
 福島原発事故は人びとに深刻な放射能汚染をもたらし、今も大量の被ばく労働者を生んでいる。これだけ多くの人を苦しめながら、だれひとり刑事罰を問われなくていいのか。被害者が求めているのは「市民の正義」だ。
 東電元会長らに対する業務上過失致死傷罪での告訴を検察は不起訴にしたが、被害者たちの涙ぐましい運動が実り、市民から選ばれた検察審査会の議決によって、三月までに強制起訴されることになった。なぜ、あの事故は防げなかったのか。事故から五年。ようやく法廷で真相が問われることになる。
 長い困難な裁判になるのだろうが、みんな裁判にかけている。団長の前いわき市議佐藤和良さんは「有罪に持ち込むため、スクラムを組もう」と訴えた。副団長の武藤類子さんも「最悪の事故を経験した大人として、未来に対して何ができるか」と問うた。私も、市民の正義を求める人びととともに「われらゆるがず」の歌声に連なりたい。 (佐藤直子)

私説・論説室から

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Radioactive waste dogs Germany despite abandoning nuclear power via New Scientist

Major problems at a salt mine where 126,000 drums of radioactive debris are stored are fuelling public distrust of long-term waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce from Asse, Germany

Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface.

It could take decades to resolve. In the meantime, excavations needed to extract the drums could cause new collapses and make the problem worse.

[…]

Some 300,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level waste requiring long-term shielding, including what is dug from the Asse mine, is earmarked for final burial at the Konrad iron mine in Lower Saxony.

What will happen to the high-level waste, the spent fuel and other highly radioactive waste that must be kept safe for up to a million years is still debated.

Later this year, a Final Storage Commission of politicians and scientists will advise on criteria for choosing a site where deep burial or long-term storage should be under way by 2050.

[…]

The abandoned mine was bought by the German government in 1965, ostensibly to research the suitability of salt domes for disposing of radioactive waste. Yet after two years, without waiting for scientific reports, the authorities secretly turned it into a cheap and supposedly permanent nuclear dump.

By then, 90 per cent of the mine’s 5 million cubic metres of salt had been excavated, and the mine was already buckling under the weight of the rocks above, says Ingo Bautz of the BfS, who oversees activities at the site.

As the walls bent, cracks formed. And because the miners had dug to within 10 metres of the impervious rock, in 1988, underground water started to trickle in.

The true state of affairs only became public knowledge in 2008. Despite hurried backfilling of much of the mine, the degradation continues. Brine seeps in at a rate of around 12,000 litres a day, threatening to flush radioactive material to the surface. “It is a disastrous situation,” says Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Environment.

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