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Race to lock in nuclear dump before federal election via The Australian

A site for the country’s first ­nuclear waste dump will be settled before the next federal election and will likely be in South Australia’s mid-north, Resources Minister Matt Canavan says.

A ballot to gauge community support in the small towns of Kimba and Hawker, about 450km north of Adelaide, for the facility will be held on August 20, Senator Canavan said.

[…]

Senator Canavan told The Australian that economic benefits, including 45 direct jobs and a $10 million community fund, were behind support of more than 60 per cent in the communities affected by the proposal, following 18 months of consultation.

But Peter Woolfoord, president of a community group ­opposed to the facility, said Kimba was “completely divided” and insisted a waste repository should not be on agricultural land where “it poses unacceptable risks to our industry”.

Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said the site selection process “looks like an absolute sham” and claimed the Turnbull government was “determined to rush to select one of the South Australian sites despite there being a divided community”.

[…]

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Japan to cap plutonium stockpile to allay U.S. concerns via The Asahi Shimbun

Japan plans to boost measures to curb surplus plutonium extracted from the reprocessing of spent fuel at nuclear power plants, including capping the country’s stockpile of the highly toxic material.

The move followed the U.S. and other countries’ calls for Japan to reduce excess plutonium in light of nuclear nonproliferation and the threat of terrorist attacks involving nuclear materials.

The Cabinet Office’s Japan Atomic Energy Commission will incorporate the measures in the five-point basic nuclear policy expected at the end of this month, the first revision in 15 years.

A reduction in the volume of plutonium held by Japan will also be specified in the government’s basic energy plan, which will be revised next month.

Japan possesses about 10 tons of plutonium inside the country and about 37 tons in Britain and France, the two countries contracted to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. The total amount is equivalent to 6,000 of the atomic bomb that devastated Nagasaki in 1945.

In the policy, announced in 2003, the government vowed not to possess plutonium that has no useful purpose. The government has pledged not to have surplus plutonium to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But the prospect for substantially curtailing the country’s plutonium stockpile is becoming increasingly murky as the Monju prototype fast-breeder project has been abandoned.

The government decided in 2016 to decommission the Monju reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which has seldom been in operation over the the past two decades due to a slew of problems.

[…]

Japan can reprocess spent nuclear fuel under the Japan-U.S. Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

The 30-year pact is expected to be automatically extended beyond its expiration on July 16.

After the expiration, however, the pact will be scrapped six months after either Japan or the United States notifies the other side of its intention to do so.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono has expressed concern about the “unstable” future of the agreement after July, and Japan has worked to meet a request from Washington to clearly spell out steps to reduce Japan’s plutonium stocks.

The government’s draft policy calls for allowing retrieval of plutonium strictly based on the projected amount to be used at conventional nuclear reactors as mixed plutonium-uranium oxide fuel, commonly known as MOX fuel.

It will also step up oversight on utilities with the aim of reducing the amount of plutonium to a level allowing the nuclear reprocessing plant under construction in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, and other facilities to operate properly.

In addition, electric power companies will cooperate with each other in the use of MOX fuel, so that the amount of Japan’s surplus plutonium that is now overseas will be reduced.

For example, Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co., two utilities that began using MOX fuel ahead of other utilities, will consider using more MOX fuel at their nuclear plants for the benefit of Tokyo Electric Power Co., whose prospect of bringing its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture back on line remains uncertain.

When the 2.9 trillion yen ($26.37 billion) reprocessing plant in Rokkasho goes into full operation, about eight tons of new plutonium will be added annually as Japan’s surplus plutonium.

[…]

 

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 小泉氏「廃炉決断遅い」 福島第2原発 via 日本経済新聞

自民党の小泉進次郎筆頭副幹事長は15日、東京電力ホールディングスによる福島第2原子力発電所の廃炉の表明が遅すぎたとの認識を示した。「決断が遅すぎてどれだけ福島の復興が遅れたか。反省してもらいたい」と話した。

 

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原発の火山灰対策を視察 県安全専門委、蒸気発生器も via 讀賣新聞

九州電力川内原子力発電所(薩摩川内市)の安全性などを検証する県の専門委員会(座長=宮町宏樹・鹿児島大大学院教授、12人)は16日、火山灰対策の実施状況や取り換えが進む蒸気発生器などを視察した。

[…]

委員らは設備が原子力規制庁の規制基準を満たしていることや、訓練がスムーズに進んだことを評価する一方、「大量の降灰があった場合はマスクが必要で、ゴーグルがすりガラスのようになって視界が利かなくなる」などと指摘。川内原発の須藤礼所長は「アドバイスや指摘を前向きに活用し、安全、安定運転にしっかりと気を引き締めて取り組みたい」と述べた。

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No recall can protect us from nuclear radiation via Cape Cod Times

Elaine Dickerson makes the most compelling point of all about what is required to deal with the horrendous danger of radioactive waste from nuclear power generation: Stop making more of it (“Yucca Mountain is not a nuclear waste solution,” Letters, June 11).

Cars that have life-threatening faults get recalled, as do contaminated food products and medicines that pose dangers to the public. Recently, romaine lettuce was taken off the market accompanied by much public warning.

Yet despite everything we know about the dangers of radiation (from Hiroshima to Fukushima), our government continues to sanction the unremitting production of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, for which there is no safe disposal and from which living beings will have to be shielded for many generations to come.

Sanity about the future demands that, since we cannot recall this hazardous product, we at least stop producing more and more of it. […]

 

 

 

 

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Trouble-hit nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan resumes operations via The Mainichi

FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — A nuclear reactor at a trouble-hit complex in southwestern Japan restarted operations Saturday for the first time in more than six and a half years amid lingering safety concerns.

[…]

The restart sparked local protests, with around 100 people gathering in front of the plant.

Hajime Aoki, an 80-year-old farmer living about 6 kilometers away from the plant, said, “Everyone knows that nuclear plants are dangerous. If I think about the Fukushima nuclear accident, I certainly cannot agree to this.”

Recognizing the opposition of the local residents, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi promised to deal with the issue seriously, while Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, separately said the plant’s operation will proceed by taking into account “safety as a top priority.”

At the same time, there were some residents who said that while they were worried about plant safety, they also saw the economic benefits to having such plants in the area.

[…]

Some local residents opposed to the Genkai plant’s operation question the validity of safety standards and cite the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region. The Saga District Court rejected in March a request for an injunction to suspend the plant’s restart.

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玄海4号機が再稼働 新基準下、5原発9基目 via 東京新聞

 九州電力は十六日、玄海原発4号機(佐賀県玄海町)を再稼働した。東京電力福島第一原発事故後、安全対策を厳格化した新規制基準下での再稼働は、五月の関西電力大飯原発4号機(福井県おおい町)に続き五原発九基目。九電は既に再稼働した川内(せんだい)原発1、2号機(鹿児島県薩摩川内市)と玄海3号機を含め、目標としてきた四基体制が実現するが、現行の電気料金は原発の再稼働による効果を織り込んでいるとして維持する方針だ。

 玄海4号機の再稼働は、定期検査のため原子炉を停止した二〇一一年十二月以来、約六年半ぶり。

(略)

 玄海4号機は五月二十四日にも再稼働する予定だったが、一次冷却水を循環させるポンプで不具合が発生。三月二十三日に再稼働した3号機も、その一週間後に穴が開いた配管から蒸気が漏れるトラブルが起きた。佐賀県の山口祥義(よしのり)知事は再稼働を受け「県民の厳しい目をしっかり受け止め、緊張感を持って取り組んでほしい」とコメント。九電の瓜生(うりう)道明社長は「引き続き国の検査に真摯(しんし)に取り組み、安全確保を最優先に慎重に進める」とした。

(略)

ただ、原発の運転を停止した時期に赤字に転落して財務状況が悪化したことから、その回復を優先し当面は電気料金の値下げはしない方針だ。

全文は玄海4号機が再稼働 新基準下、5原発9基目

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福島第2原発廃炉 東電の決断は遅過ぎる via 中国新聞

地元が望む廃炉に進むのは当然だろう。しかしなぜこれほど時間がかかったのか。遅過ぎる決断と言わざるを得ない。

東京電力ホールディングスの小早川智明社長が、福島第2原発の全4基の廃炉を検討すると福島県の内堀雅雄知事に伝えた。福島第1の事故から7年余り、この時期の決断は先日の新潟県知事選で、各 いで原発再稼働に前向きな政権与党の推す候補が勝ったことも影響していよう。まだ先だが、東電にとっては新潟にある柏崎刈羽原発の再稼働が視野に入ったからだ。

(略)

福島第2の4基は、事故を起こした福島第1の南約12キロにある。東日本大震災では、炉心溶融(メルトダウン)は免れた。

その廃炉は「福島県民の総意」である。けんは20回以上も東電に要求して来た。県議会や、圏内の全市町村議会も決議や意見書で廃炉を求めていた。こうした状況で、再稼働を地元が認めることは考えられない。

(略)

なぜこのタイミングだったのか。秋にある知事選で、再選を目指すとみられる内堀氏との関係をより強くする狙いもあったのだろう。今回の決断で内堀氏が「県内の原発は全て廃炉」という公約を守ったことになれば、東電としては貸しをつくったことになるからだ。

福島第1の汚染水問題も絡んでいる。放射性のトリチウムが微量含まれるが、取り出すのは難しい。濃度を薄めた上で海に流す案を検討しているが、漁業関係者らの反発は必至だ。福島第2を廃炉にする代わりに汚染水では県から譲歩を引き出そうと考えているとの見方もある。

廃炉の会計制度を国が見直し、費用を単年ではなく数年に分けて負担できるようになったことも決断を後押しした。

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A Conversation with Helen Caldicott via The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

[…]

Dan Drollette:

That jumps straight into something I was curious about. I noticed there seem to be a lot of people in the anti-nuclear weapons movement with medical backgrounds.

Helen Caldicott:

It’s a medical problem. And explaining the medical dangers of nuclear war was a very good way to teach people what the danger is, and to bring it home to their city. That approach was – and is – very powerful. During the 1980s, when I was one of the leaders of the nuclear weapons freeze movement and one of the founding presidents of PSR, we at PSR held symposia on the medical effects of nuclear war at various universities, all around the country. It started at Harvard, where we had George Kistiakowsky, a physicist who had been in the Manhattan Project as an explosives expert (https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/george-kistiakowskys-interview). It was quite wonderful.

Although afterwards, some journalists did say: “What are doctors talking about this for, this is a political issue.” And we said no, it’s a medical issue, because it will create the final medical epidemic of the human race.

[…]

Then while I was working as an intern in 1971, someone leaked a report about radioactive materials in the Adelaide water supply, which was relatively radioactive because of the French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

So I wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper in Adelaide saying that this material concentrates in the food chain – including the milk – and some children could get leukemia or cancer from the French tests. That night, they had me on the television, and every time the French blew up a bomb, I was on television. So I kind of led that movement, teaching the people in Adelaide, and Australia, about the harmful effects of the French tests.

What I didn’t realize is that for historical and cultural reasons, the Australians don’t like the French much – they think they’re arrogant – and so they stopped buying French perfume, French wine, French cheese, everything. And in nine months, 75 percent of Australians rose up and said “We won’t have those bloody French blowing up their bombs in our area of the world.” Then our prime minister, along with the prime minister of New Zealand, took France to the World Court, and the French military was ultimately forced to test its nuclear weapons underground.

The whole experience brought home to me something that Thomas Jefferson had said: “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion.” Seventy-five percent of Australians rose up, and there were spontaneous marches in the city streets every weekend. It was quite extraordinary; whole pages of letters to the editor. It was really something.

[….]

And it was exacerbated when I went to medical school in 1956 and learned about radiation and genetics. At the time, Russia and America were testing bombs in the atmosphere like there’s no tomorrow. And as a young, innocent medical student, I couldn’t understand why these men were blanketing the northern hemisphere with radioactive fallout. It made me curious about nuclear weapons and why the hell they ever built them, and what it was all about.

[…]

Look, the reason I was so successful in the early ‘80s was that I happened to run into someone in the audience at our PSR symposium in Los Angeles, who came up to me after my talk was over and said: “I’m an agent in Hollywood, and I’d like to work with you, for free.” And she knew everyone – her film stars were Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, Tom Cruise, and all of them – and she was able through her connections to put me on all sorts of talk shows. The Merv Griffin Show was the first one I ever did – which was with Eva Gabor, who was pretty amazing; she was wearing diamond earrings the size of pears.

And that whole experience showed that while viewers didn’t want a boring old Australian doctor in tweed talking about nuclear war, if I went on the air with Sally Field and Lily Tomlin for an hour, people liked that sort of thing. A sizable audience tuned in. The agent sort of harnessed me to the film stars’ fame, and in that way we were able in five years to educate 80 percent of the American people about the horrors of nuclear war – and when I first started out in 1978 most Americans said to me: “It’s better to be dead than red.”

But when the audience learned about the medical effects of nuclear weapons, they all turned around in their thinking. That led to my meeting with Reagan in the White House, and lots of other things. It helped to bring the Cold War to an end. But unfortunately not the weapons.

[…]

Helen Caldicott:

If you want me to be really frank, I sometimes feel that my life has been a failure. That we almost did get to a point to eliminate nuclear weapons, but it hasn’t happened. So, I want on my tombstone the words: “She tried.”

And while getting the number of nuclear weapons down from 70,000 to 15,000 is good, we have to go farther. And we can’t settle for half-measures, like getting the number down to 1,000 nuclear weapons – even 1,000 bombs dropping on 100 cities would cause nuclear winter and the end of our life on Earth. So, we need to get our data straight. One thousand bombs on 100 cities equals annihilation. Counting the numbers is just silly. It’s like saying: “How many metastases of a melanoma do you need before you die” sort of thing.

[…]

 

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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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