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Japan approves 70-year plan to scrap nuclear reprocessing plant via The Japan Times

Japan’s nuclear watchdog approved a plan Wednesday to scrap a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant northeast of Tokyo over a 70-year period, with the cost projected at ¥1 trillion ($9 billion).

The facility in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, went into operation in 1977. It was Japan’s first spent-fuel reprocessing plant built under the nation’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, which aims to reprocess all spent nuclear fuel in order to reuse the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel in the resource-scarce country.

But the policy has run into a dead end as the completion of a separate fuel reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture, built using technological expertise developed through the Tokai plant, has been delayed by more than 20 years.

The decommissioning cost will be shouldered by taxpayers as the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which operates the Tokai plant, is backed by the state. Where to store the waste accumulated at the plant is undecided. In 2014, the agency decided to decommission the plant due to its age and the huge costs of running it under stricter safety rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

According to the plan approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, around 310 canisters of highly radioactive, vitrified waste and some 360 cubic meters of radioactive water are currently stored at the facility.

Spending of about ¥770 billion has been estimated for the disposal of such waste and decommissioning of the facility, and roughly ¥217 billion for the 10-year preparation work.

The Tokai facility, which reprocessed a total of 1,140 tons of spent nuclear fuel, has been monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, as the extracted plutonium could be repurposed for other uses.

Due to the scrapping of the Tokai plant, the agency has delayed transportation of spent nuclear fuel from its Fugen prototype advanced converter reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, by nine years, to fiscal 2026.

The Tokai facility received some of the fuel from the Fugen reactor, which operated between 1979 and 2003, but destinations for the remaining fuel have yet to be decided. The agency has been looking to transport it overseas.



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福島原発事故と子供の甲状腺がん via 北海道新聞




■過剰診断で発見数増加 国立がん研究センター 社会と健康研究センター長・津金昌一郎さん




■被ばく影響 否定できず 神戸大教授・牧野淳一郎さん










16年3月の中間報告では《1》推定される被ばく線量がチェルノブイリと比べて「はるかに」少ない《2》チェルノブイリで多発した事故当時5歳以下の子供のがんが見つかっていない―などを根拠に「被ばくの影響とは考えにくい」とした。今年3月に報告された最新データによると、昨年末までに196人が、がんまたはその疑いと診断され、事故当時5歳以下でも見つかっている。(報道センター 関口裕士)


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Our nuclear legacy is also our nuclear future via The Verge

Journalist Fred Pearce chronicles nuclear disasters throughout history in his new book, Fallout.

In the spring of 2016, journalist Fred Pearce spent an afternoon drinking what he suspected was radioactive vodka, flavored with herbs grown near the site of Chernobyl’s 1986 nuclear disaster. He was visiting a settler who had returned to live in his home within the 18-mile radius around Chernobyl that’s so heavily contaminated children still aren’t allowed to live there.

“I trusted that probably a couple drinks would be all right, but he’d been drinking this stuff for a long time,” says Pearce, who visited this self-settler in Chernobyl while researching his new book Fallout: Disasters, Lies, and the Legacy of the Nuclear Age. “It was a bizarre experience. All I can say is however radioactive he is, he’s still alive and seemed pretty fit to me.”

Pearce’s visit to Chernobyl is just one of his stops on a world tour of nuclear disasters and cleanups, chronicled in his book Fallout. Published by Beacon Press, the book investigates the toxic legacy left behind by the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the race to build more nukes, and the ongoing challenge of dealing with the nuclear energy industry’s waste. “It’s a pretty messy legacy, not least because most of the waste disposal problems created in the heyday of nuclear power haven’t been solved,” Pearce says.

The book originated as a story about just one site: “the heart of the British nuclear industry,” called Sellafield, Pearce says. It’s where plutonium was produced for the first British bombs, and it continues to reprocess waste produced by nuclear power. Back in the 1980s, when Pearce was a writer and editor at New Scientist magazine, “we had stories nearly every week at some new scandal down at Sellafield,” he says. So he went back to see what was going on there now. “Many of the buildings that hold the [waste] now crack, leak, corrode, sprout weeds, and accumulate dark radioactive sludge,” he writes in Fallout.


You talk about the messy legacy after more than a half century of nuclear power — both military and civil — why are we facing this toxic legacy?

We just never got to grips with the problem. Partly that’s because of environmentalists and other people who just said, ‘We don’t want this waste in our backyard,’ which is perfectly understandable. But the result is that the waste is in everybody’s backyard. In the US, 35 states have stores of spent fuel from nuclear reactors, with nowhere permanent for them to go. Nobody wants it. Nobody can agree on a site because partly we’re frightened of radioactive waste, understandably so, and partly the industry has just not organized itself to have a concerted effort to deal with the problem. Nobody has wanted to face up to this emerging legacy, which we’re now just passing on to future generations.


In the book, you talk about environmental contamination from weapons manufacturing and from nuclear power. Are you worried that you’ve conflated the legacies of the two?

No. The legacies are very similar, because the technologies are very similar. Nuclear reactors were developed to manufacture plutonium for bombs. It was clear that those reactors produced very large amounts of waste heat, which was a byproduct that wasn’t useful initially, but people realized very quickly that so much waste heat being produced in the reactors could be turned into power. And therefore, after the bomb-making of the 1940s and the 1950s, people turned these reactors of essentially the same design into reactors whose primary purpose was to produce energy rather than plutonium. But the reactor technology is essentially the same. You can turn the waste products that you produce out of every civilian reactor, you can reprocess it and turn it into plutonium. So even if the economic or public purpose of military and civilian reactors are different, the technology is the same and the waste products are the same.

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Nagasaki center: US nuclear stance inconsistent via NHK World Japan

A research center in western Japan has called the US nuclear stance inconsistent as the country works to modernize its arsenal while pressing North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition released its latest report on Wednesday. It’s based on information gathered from governments and research institutes around the world.

The center estimates there were about 14,450 nuclear warheads worldwide at the beginning of this month. That’s down 450 from a year earlier.

The center believes Russia and the US have 6,850 and 6,450 warheads, respectively. Together they make up more than 90 percent of the global total.

The center estimates North Korea has 10 to 20 nuclear warheads based on its 6 nuclear tests so far.


They are calling for the creation of a system to verify a state of complete denuclearization and a security framework in Northeast Asia.

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福島第1原発事故 飯舘で学校給食再開 生徒らできたて味わう /福島 via 毎日新聞




続きは福島第1原発事故 飯舘で学校給食再開 生徒らできたて味わう /福島

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Lax Oversight, Poor Management Raise Concerns at Los Alamos Nuclear Lab via Reader Supported News

By Joshua Eaton, ThinkProgress

he University of California will continue to manage one of the country’s most important nuclear labs alongside two partners, despite a series of accidents that raise serious concerns about the lab’s safety.

In a statement Friday, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it had awarded a new management contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory, located near Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the University of California, Battelle Memorial Institute, and Texas A&M University.

The partnership, called Triad National Security, has managed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California, for the past decade. Six for-profit companies will also serve in support roles at Los Alamos.


Los Alamos is the crown jewel in a system of national laboratories owned by the Department of Energy but managed privately. One of their key tasks is designing, building, and maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal — a dangerous task that involves handling highly enriched plutonium, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Critics worry the University of California’s continued involvement will staunch much-needed changes in the Los Alamos’ management and culture. A year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, published last June, found a long series of safety violations at the lab stretching back years.

Things got so bad that nearly all the lab’s nuclear safety personnel quit in protest after a near-miss incident in 2011, CPI found. Two years later, four nuclear safety experts convinced the National Nuclear Safety Administration to temporarily shut down a key part of Los Alamos over serious safety concerns.

Safety problems at the lab have come up in over 40 government reports in the past decade, CPI found.

“They’re not where we need them yet,” James McConnell, a top DOE safety official, said of safety at Los Alamos during a public hearing in Santa Fe last year.


“We need to give them a chance,” David Jonas, former general counsel of the National Nuclear Security Administration, told ProPublica. “The question is then, if nothing changes, then what? And of course I don’t have an answer for that.”



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日本原燃が六ケ所村「再処理工場」を公開 ずさん点検、完成延期…核燃サイクルの未来は? via 産経ニュース

日本原燃は6月8日、青森県六ケ所村で、使用済み核燃料再処理工場などの施設を報道陣に公開した。再利用可能なウランやプルトニウムを取り出す再処理工場は、国の核燃料サイクル政策の中心となる施設。原子力規制委員会の審査が大詰めを迎えているが、これまで24回もの完成延期を繰り返し、昨年には周辺施設を含めて長年点検がおろそかにされてきた実態が発覚するなど、トラブルも続いている。(社会部編集委員 鵜野光博)













全文は日本原燃が六ケ所村「再処理工場」を公開 ずさん点検、完成延期…核燃サイクルの未来は?

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Trump–Kim: an agenda for forgotten nuclear victims via The Interpreter


There is, however, one question that no one is asking. And it is a crucial one. 

What about the North Korean A-bomb victims, the only survivors of the US nuclear attacks on Japan, who have never had recourse to monetary redress? Will they be on the summit agenda?

The absence of this question in the summit discussions is unsurprising. North Koreans are the forgotten victims of the atomic bombs and represent a gap in global memory of nuclear issues. It is not commonly known that when the US dropped atomic bombs over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945, roughly 10% of the victims of these attacks were of Korean descent.

Koreans were residing in the A-bomb target cities in large numbers under colonial auspices: in many cases they had been brought there against their will, forced to perform labour in Japan’s military industrial factories.

And it is a virtually unknown fact that when Koreans were repatriated to their newly divided homeland in the years following Japan’s surrender, approximately 2000 of the A-bomb survivors wound up north of the 38th parallel, suffering from the unrelenting effects of the radiation blast. Many of them are still alive and ailing today.

In a further twist of fate, owing to the lack of diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Tokyo, North Korean victims were precluded from financial assistance provided by the Japanese government to overseas A-bomb survivors, including South Koreans, in later decades. This was premised on a belief that “the money would likely never reach them”.

The plight of the North Koreans would never have come to light at all were it not for an activist named Lee Sil-gun. I have sat with Lee in Hiroshima on a number of occasions to interview him about his advocacy efforts. He was born in Japan in 1929 to Korean parents, and became an atomic bomb victim by virtue of exposure to residual radiation in Hiroshima.


Lee began embarking on annual visits to Pyongyang in the 1990s in an attempt to reach out to the victims there. He was supported in this endeavour by a small group of dedicated Japanese anti-nuclear activists.

They found the North Koreans in a terrible predicament: without recourse to adequate medical care, the victims were resorting to various primitive methods to treat their radiation-related maladies. They were burning sulphur, for instance, and using the smoke to sterilise recurrent wounds.


Third, any settlement regarding the “denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula should reasonably entail the establishment of a specialist treatment facility for A-bomb victims in the North. Two years ago, I visited a nursing home that offers round-the-clock treatment to the South Korean victims in Hapcheon County; the patients reported to me that they were still having tiny shards of glass surgically removed from their faces all these decades down the track.

While I don’t wish to suggest that the South Koreans are better off – in fact, they are still suffering immensely – the North Koreans have been left without any such facility. If the 1945 chapter of nuclear history has still not been settled, how can we expect to settle the current one with North Korea?

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新知事、原発出直し選に再び言及 via Reuters




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The 60-Year Downfall of Nuclear Power in the U.S. Has Left a Huge Mess via The Atlantic

It was just another day in the life of the defunct Hanford nuclear site, a remote part of Washington State that made most of the plutonium in America’s Cold War arsenal. On the morning of May 9, 2017, alarms sounded. Around 2,000 site workers were told to take cover indoors, and aircraft were banned from flying over the site for several hours. The roof of a tunnel had collapsed, exposing railcars that had been loaded with radioactive waste from plutonium production and then shunted underground and sealed in decades before.

There was other stuff down there too. Nobody quite knew what. Record keeping was poor, but the contents of the tunnels certainly included carcasses from animal radiation experiments, including a reported 18 alligators. […]

Sprawling across 600 square miles of sagebrush semidesert, Hanford is a $100 billion cleanup burden, full of accidents waiting to happen. It is the biggest headache, but very far from being the only one, emerging in what increasingly look like the final years of America’s nuclear age.

It is 60 years since America’s first commercial nuclear power station was opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower at Shippingport, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 1958. But the hopes of a nuclear future with power “too cheap to meter” are now all but over. All that is left is the trillion-dollar cleanup.

Oyster Creek in New Jersey disconnects from the grid in October with 11 years left on its license. Indian Point in New York State is to shut by 2021 due to falling revenues and rising costs. In California, Diablo Canyon is being closed by state regulators in 2025. The reactor at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania that survived the 1979 accident will finally shut in 2019.

Shutdown is only the beginning of the end. Final closure and clearance of the sites can take decades, and the waste crisis created by decommissioning cannot be dodged. Lethal radioactive material is accumulating at dozens of power plants, military facilities, and interim stores across the country.

During the Cold War, Rocky Flats was secretly machining plutonium manufactured at Hanford into some 70,000 spheres that formed the explosive heart of each weapon in Uncle Sam’s nuclear arsenal. Plutonium pollution was routine. The plant had nowhere to get rid of the day-to-day plutonium waste, which was often dumped in hastily dug landfills or sprayed onto grassland around the plant. At an outdoor compound known as pad 903, where more than 5,000 drums of waste liquids contaminated with plutonium are stored, there’s been substantial leakage. An internal memo reported that rabbits living on the site were heavily contaminated, especially in their hind feet.






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