Who’s Watching the ‘Watchdogs?’
In this, the first 2012 edition of EON’s Nuclear News Digest, we cover recent developments, both encouraging and alarming, on this important issue. The take-home message of this edition is: informed consciousness and pushback is rising world-wide!
As radioactive debris from Fukushima begins to reach the North American West Coast, TEPCO’s Yakuza ties are revealed, and the Japanese government pushes to extend reactor operation to 60 years, thousands of anti-nuclear protestors have hit the streets in Yokohama, Japan in connection with a 2-day international conference calling for the worldwide shutdown of nuclear power – a goal supported by Japanese Bishops.
A critical Frontline doc is aired. Arnie Gundersen reports on nuclear waste dumping in Tokyo Bay and the dangers of radiation to children. Carl Grossman talks about the folly of U.S. nukes in space. Harvey Wasserman writes ‘This is the year we bury nuclear power.’
Fukushima’s radioactive cloud may already have killed some 14,000 Americans, according to a major study just published in the International Journal of Health Services.
PG&E’s application for a license extension for its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants has been denied.
Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon has been banned…for the time being – a major victory.
Though TEPCO is claiming a ‘cold shutdown’ of Fukushima has been achieved, Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org is asking – and answering – some tough questions in his latest video report.
Like: So what international authority is monitoring the on-going impact of Fukushima fallout? The so-called ‘watchdog agency’ the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Article II of the IAEA Charter reads: “The Agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.”
And where does the IAEA get its data? According to a recent Agency statement, “The IAEA receives information updates from a variety of official Japanese sources, through the national competent authorities.”
And who heads the IAEA? The current head of the IAEA is former Japanese nuclear regulator, Yukiya Amano – one of those ‘national competent authorities’ who was backed for the position by the U.S..
So, let us get this straight. The only agency monitoring Fukushima fallout has as its mission the PROMOTION of nuclear energy worldwide. Its only sources of data are Japan’s ‘national competent authorities’ who have shown their main mission is COVER-UP. And its head is one of Japan’s ‘national competent authorities.’
And, as Dr. Helen Caldicott keeps pointing out – to George Monbiot’s denialist consternation – the IAEA has a binding agreement with the World Health Organization (WHO) that the WHO cannot publish its own independent findings on the human and environmental impacts of radioactive pollution WITHOUT THE IAEA’s permission!
Then there’s the current attempt by the hardline coverup faction of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to unseat its Chairman Jaczko for telling the truth about Fukushima dangers.
In a controversial article cited below, “an estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new report in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services.”
But there’s plenty to be encouraged and empowered about, too. Planet-wide informed pushback against nuclear power and nuclear weapons – the Two Headed Dragon – is really revving up big time. Even the new FRONTLINE documentary ‘Nuclear Aftershocks,’ airing tomorrow, January 17, at 10:00 pm Eastern, is said to be hard hitting. Check it out with the rest of the crucial information below.
Its time to remember the old slogan: ‘Let’s get active now, so we won’t get radioactive tomorrow!’
Here’s the Digest – :
Fukushima Fallout: Thousands Protest Against Nuclear Power in Japan
– Common Dreams staff
Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Yokohama, Japan on Saturday afternoon calling for an end to nuclear energy in Japan after the Fukushima March 11, 2011 disaster that sparked the planet’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl. The protest began a 2-day conference committed to fostering global momentum against atomic power.
Anti-nuclear activists hold placards during a rally against nuclear energy in Yokohama, Japan. Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Yokohama on Saturday calling for an end to nuclear energy. Radiation fears have become part of daily life in Japan after cases of contaminated water, beef, vegetables, tea and seafood. They marched in the port city southwest of Tokyo chanting in chorus: “We don’t need nuclear power. Give back our hometown. Protect our children.”
Truth and consequences: FRONTLINE’s brilliant documentary on Fukushima
By Maggie Koerth-Baker at 9:35 am Monday, Jan 16
Nuclear Aftershocks is a new FRONTLINE documentary, airing January 17, at 10:00 pm Eastern. I watched an advance screener.
About halfway through Nuclear Aftershocks, a new FRONTLINE documentary about the physical and social fallout of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it becomes clear that correspondent Miles O’Brien and his production team are really going to piss some people off. In the best possible way.
Updates on Fukushima:
TEPCO Believes Mission Accomplished & Regulators Allow Radioactive Dumping in Tokyo Bay
Another new Arnie Gundersen Video:
Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated
Fairewinds analyzes cancer rates for young children near Fukushima using the National Academy of Science’s BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) VII Report. Based on BEIR VII, Fairewinds determines that at least one in every 100 young girls will develop cancer for every year they are exposed to 20 millisieverts [millisievert (1 mSv = 0.001 Sv)] of radiation. The 20-millisievert/ year figure is what the Japanese government is currently calculating as the legal limit of radiological exposure to allow habitation of contaminated areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Anti-nuke energy conference starts in Yokohama
By LOUIS TEMPLADO – the Asahi Shimbun
YOKOHAMA–Speeches, singing and a march through Yokohama’s port side area: Those are among events scheduled for just the opening day of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World that got under way Jan. 14 and closes the day after.
More than 8,000 people have applied to attend the event, which includes more than 100 forums and performances, an artists’ lounge and film screenings.
The conference will offer question and answer sessions with 39 international panelists from Taiwan, South Korea, China, Germany and elsewhere. Among the speakers are Mycle Schneider, a former adviser to Germany’s Environmental Ministry, and a chemical engineer and consultant on nuclear waste management. Both hail from Germany, which last year declared it would withdraw from nuclear energy.
Panel Challenges Japan’s Account of Nuclear Disaster
By HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: January 15, 2012
TOKYO — A powerful and independent panel of specialists appointed by Japan’s Parliament is challenging the government’s account of the accident at a Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and will start its own investigation into the disaster — including an inquiry into how much the March earthquake may have damaged the plant’s reactors even before the tsunami.
Amit Bhargava/Bloomberg News
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who leads the inquiry, vowed that it would have no sacred cows.
The bipartisan panel with powers of subpoena is part of Japan’s efforts to investigate the nuclear calamity, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, rendered wide swaths of land unusable for decades and spurred public criticism that the government has been more interested in protecting vested industry interests than in discovering how three reactors were allowed to melt down and release huge amounts of radiation.
Several investigations — including inquiries by the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, and the government — have blamed the scale of the tsunami that struck Japan’s northeastern coast in March, knocking out vital cooling systems at the plant.
But critics in Japan and overseas have called for a fuller accounting of whether Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, sufficiently considered historically documented tsunami risks, and whether it could have done more to minimize the damage once waves hit the plant.
Questions also linger as to the extent of damage to the plant caused by the earthquake even before the tsunami hit. Any evidence of serious quake damage at the plant would cast new doubt on the safety of other reactors in quake-prone Japan. Tsunamis are far less frequent.
In his first interview since the panel was appointed last month, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of the new Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said his investigation would have no sacred cows.
Japan Still Pushing Nuclear Power
New plan changes 40-year limit to 60 years; nuclear opponents outraged
– Common Dreams staff
The Japanese government’s decision to allow nuclear reactors to run as long as 60 years has anti-nuclear activists worried that lessons of Fukushima have not been learned. Read more…
Gregory Jaczko, NRC Chairman, Says Nuclear Industry Must Heed Lesson Of Japan
By MATTHEW DALY
WASHINGTON — The nation’s nuclear safety chief said Tuesday he is worried that U.S. nuclear plant operators have become complacent, just nine months after the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said recent instances of human error and other problems have endangered workers and threatened safety at a handful of the 65 nuclear power plants in the United States.
Workers at nuclear plants in Ohio and Nebraska were exposed to higher than expected radiation levels, Jaczko said, while three other plants were shut down for months because of safety concerns – the first time in more than decade that several plants have been shut down at the same time.
NRC’s squabbles hide serious safety lapses
Linda Pentz Gunter
Four of the five commissioners at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have charged their boss, Chairman Gregory Jaczko, with “causing serious damage to this institution.” That is tough talk coming from an agency where mismanagement under previous chairmanships actually did serious damage, not only to the regulatory integrity of the institution, but to safety integrity at nuclear reactors.
For example, in April 2000 the commission had photographic evidence of extensive corrosive leakage that put the Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo, Ohio, within a hair’s breadth of a meltdown. Yet, despite lava-like formations of rust roiling off the top of the reactor pressure vessel, the NRC allowed the reactor to restart, giving it the green light for two more years of operation. The NRC clearly needed a top-to-bottom safety shakeup. That’s when Chairman Jaczko showed up.
The grumbling over Jaczko is a convenient smokescreen to draw attention away from the fact that, for the first time in decades, the NRC actually has a chairman who, in his own words, is “a very passionate person about safety” at the country’s 104 operating nuclear reactors. That shows up the other four, who, much of the time, adhere to an old culture of capitulation to the demands of the nuclear power industry, a practice which almost invariably diminishes safety.
ATLANTA — The top U.S. nuclear official in Japan said Thursday that his team warned higher-ups that a spent fuel pool at a malfunctioning nuclear plant could be at risk of running dry, an issue that created a political controversy between U.S. officials and their Japanese counterparts.
WASHINGTON — Bill Magwood, the man at the center of an effort to overthrow the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his most likely successor if the move is successful, served as a consultant for Tepco, the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to information provided by Magwood as part of his nomination and confirmation process, which was obtained by The Huffington Post.
On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a letter signed by Magwood and three other commissioners attacking the panel’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, setting off a firestorm in the energy industry. Issa and the four commissioners framed the dispute as personal and managerial, but emails released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) show a political and ideological battle underway over post-Fukushima safety standards.
Japan’s bishops oppose nuclear power
Members of the Japanese Episcopal Conference met in Sendai, where they launched a strong message: “It’s time to come to terms with the Fukushima disaster”
Vatican Insider staff
Rome Members of the Japanese Episcopal Conference met in Sendai, where they launched a strong message: “It’s time to come to terms with the Fukushima disaster”
vatican insider staff – Rome
Japan’s Catholic spiritual leaders are in no doubt about the fact that it is necessary “to put an end to nuclear energy now: to come to terms with the disaster of the tragic Fukushima accident.” From Sendai, the province that was worst hit by the earthquake last March, and the place where the Japanese Episcopal Conference met to spread the message of a text in which the Church clearly favours an end to the era of nuclear power in Japan. The bishops’ position, which was reported by UCA news and picked up on by missionary news agencies Fides and MissiOnline, leaves no room for interpretation.
Published on Monday, January 16, 2012 by Common Dreams
Highly Radioactive Concrete Is Latest Scare for Fukushima Survivors
Radiation fears have since become part of daily life in Japan
– Common Dreams staff
The Japanese government announced today that radioactive concrete has been used to construct new apartment buildings in the Fukushima Prefecture, housing evacuees from a town near the site of the multiple nuclear plant meltdowns.
Q, Do you believe the government ?
A, No,I don’t even doubt. I know they tell just lies.
Q, Why do you stay in Minamisoma ?
A, To prove government is killing us by using my own body. On 3/14, I thought that was already too late to evacuate, taking it into consideration that the reactors had already exploded and Tepco had released tons of radionuclides by venting. My place is not in the evacuating zone. Government still keeps telling us it’s not dangerous, so I wanted to prove how a human becomes if they live as the government tells us to do. Everyone dies. I thought this would be my best way to burn the rest of my life. This is why I recorded details of my health problem, but honestly it was faster than I thought.
Q, How did the symptom go ?
A, From June to August, had diarrhea like water. At first I though I had something bad. I finally associated it with radiation on 8/13. My fingers ( except for the thumb and pointing finger) got numb. More and more area started feeling numb. It hurt too. Even the doctor couldn’t tell why. My arms and neck didn’t have numb. When one month and half have passed since the beginning, numb feeling disappeared. Doctor told me, the symptom might be on and off. From 8/18, my jaw started having terrible pain. Doctor couldn’t tell why either. got prescribed for pain killer and suppository but worked only for 3 hours.got a result of blood test on 8/25. The inflammation reaction turned out to have become worse but don’t know where the inflammation was.
The Yakuza and the Nuclear Mafia: Nationalization Looms for TEPCO
Jake Adelstein Dec 30, 2011 Atlantic
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the monolithic corporation that controls all electric power in Greater Tokyo, and runs the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant that experienced a triple meltdown following the March 11 earthquake, is on the brink of nationalization according to Japanese government sources. The official reason is that the firm may not be able to handle the massive compensation payments it owes to victims of the meltdown without going bankrupt. Unofficially, the firm has such long-standing ties to anti-social forces, including the yakuza—that some members of the Diet, Japan’s national legislature, feel the firm is beyond salvation and needs to be taken over and cleaned up. A Japanese Senator with the Liberal Democratic Party stated on background, “TEPCO’s involvement with anti-social forces and their inability to filter them out of the work-place is a national security issue. It is one reason that increasingly in the Diet we are talking de facto nationalization of the company. Nuclear energy shouldn’t be in the hands of the yakuza. They’re gamblers and an intelligent person doesn’t want them to have atomic dice to play with.”
n June we reported that yakuza were working at the Fukushima nuclear power plant as cleanup crews and manual labor, but the post-meltdown yakuza ties were only the tip of the iceberg. This month, a new book was published, Yakuza and The Nuclear Industry: Diary of An Undercover Reporter Working at the Fukushima Plant (ヤクザと原発-福島第一潜入記-鈴木-智彦) in which a former yakuza fan magazine editor Tomohiko Suzuki reports on the nuclear business-industrial-political and media complex in Japan known as the “nuclear mafia” and Japan’s actual mafia: the yakuza. The book is already generating controversy and renewed examination of Japan’s “dark empire” and its ties to the underworld. It presents more solid pieces of evidence that Japan’s nuclear industry is a black hole of criminal malfeasance, incompetence, and corruption.
Childhood Leukemia in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants in Germany
The causes of leukemia are largely unclear. The question whether leukemia rates are increased near nuclear power plants is controversial. The German Childhood Cancer Registry has published an epidemiological case-control study on childhood cancer and nuclear power plants.
Breaking news : Hydrogen explosion of reactor 4 may have happened on 1/9/2012
Hydrogen explosion may have happened at reactor 4 and been concealed by the government ,said on the blog of Katayama Satsuki, a member of the House of Councilors of Liberal Democratic Party.
By Alex Roslin, The Vancouver Sun
After the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, authorities in Canada said people living here were safe and faced no health risks from the fallout from Fukushima.
They said most of the radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant would fall into the ocean, where it would be diluted and not pose any danger.
Dr. Dale Dewar wasn’t convinced. Dewar, a family physician in Wynyard, Sask., doesn’t eat a lot of seafood herself, but when her grandchildren come to visit, she carefully checks seafood labels.
She wants to make sure she isn’t serving them anything that might come from the western Pacific Ocean.
Dewar, the executive director of Physicians for Global Survival, a Canadian anti-nuclear group, says the Canadian government has downplayed the radiation risks from Fukushima and is doing little to monitor them.
“We suspect we’re going to see more cancers, decreased fetal viability, decreased fertility, increased metabolic defects – and we expect them to be generational,” she said.
Evidence has emerged that the impacts of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean are worse than expected.
We’re happy to report the Interior Department has announced a prohibition on mining at the Grand Canyon and the surrounding watersheds for the next 20 years.
Wildalert members helped secure mining moratorium
New mining claims will be prohibited across more than 1 million acres of public lands making up Grand Canyon National Park’s watershed, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Jan. 9. Many thanks to our wildalert members who helped contribute to this win by sending thousands of letters to the Interior department over the past year.
Fukushima’s Impact on the Ocean Analyzed
11 January 2012—One month after the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident, ocean water at the plant’s wastewater discharge point had 45 million times the concentration of radioactive cesium-137 than before the accident, according to researchers in Japan and from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The numbers plummeted the next month because ocean currents moved the contaminants away from shore. By July, numbers were down to 10 000 times as high as normal.
This latest analysis, reported in the 1 December 2011 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, indicates that the concentration in ocean water poses no direct threat to humans or marine life. However, accumulation in marine sediment could be of concern for decades, says Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at Woods Hole who was involved in the research.
What’s also troubling is that cesium-137 concentrations have stayed at near constant levels since July,
HOT Michigan Rain 12/30/11 Pt 1
2012—The Year We Finally Bury Nuclear Power
Harvey Wasserman – Insight
The year 2012 has opened with news that Fukushima’s radioactive cloud may already have killed some 14,000 Americans, according to a major study just published in the International Journal of Health Services.
Some 100 million tons of tsunami trash—much of it radiated by Fukushima fallout—has begun contaminating the beaches of our Pacific coast.
Germany and Japan, the world’s third and fourth largest economies, along with numerous others countries, have definitively turned away from the “Peaceful Atom.”
But it hasn’t yet been buried. That’s up to us. And 2012 is the year to do it.
Stefanie Penn Spear – EcoWatch.org
When I began editing Harvey Wasserman’s Insights article for the EcoWatch.org site, I had great difficulty getting past the first sentence: “The year 2012 has opened with news that Fukushima’s radioactive cloud may already have killed some 14,000 Americans, according to a major study just published in the International Journal of Health Services.” I immediately clicked on the “according to a major study” link and read the report. I thought I was fairly well informed on the fallout of the disaster, but I now realize that I was lacking information on the impact Fukushima has had on the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the U.S.
The report by Joseph J. Mangano and Janette D. Sherman is frightening. The report opens by saying,
The multiple nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima plants beginning on March 11, 2011, are releasing large amounts of airborne radioactivity that has spread throughout Japan and to other nations; thus, studies of contamination and health hazards are merited. In the United States, Fukushima fallout arrived just six days after the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns. Some samples of radioactivity in precipitation, air, water, and milk, taken by the U.S. government, showed levels hundreds of times above normal; however, the small number of samples prohibits any credible analysis of temporal trends and spatial comparisons. U.S. health officials report weekly deaths by age in 122 cities, about 25 to 35 percent of the national total. Deaths rose 4.46 percent from 2010 to 2011 in the 14 weeks after the arrival of Japanese fallout, compared with a 2.34 percent increase in the prior 14 weeks. The number of infant deaths after Fukushima rose 1.80 percent, compared with a previous 8.37 percent decrease. Projecting these figures for the entire United States yields 13,983 total deaths and 822 infant deaths in excess of the expected. These preliminary data need to be followed up, especially in the light of similar preliminary U.S. mortality findings for the four months after Chernobyl fallout arrived in 1986, which approximated final figures.
The report follows with an explanation of these numbers and the increase in U.S. mortality since the Fukushima fallout. I encourage you to read it.
Fukushima’s U.S. Death Toll – ProgressiveRadioNetwork
Have 14,000 Americans already died from Fukushima’s radioactive fallout? Health researchers Dr. Janette Sherman and Joe Mangano’s recent peer-reviewed scientific survey says yes….and that many more of us will be dying as well. Covered in major media throughout the world, these findings have been vehemently denied by the nuke power industry—but supported by scientists. Join us for an hot hour on the true death toll of atomic energy, from Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to the daily emissions of your own nearby nukes.
A refreshingly frank and forward-looking report on the safety of French nuclear power plants in the wake of Fukushima should spur other countries to take a hard look at regulation of their own reactors.
Diablo Canyon Cost Recovery Denied
PG&E Can’t Charge Ratepayers $80 Million it Will Spend to Extend Life of Power Plant
By Nick Welsh – Santa Barbara Independent
Thursday, January 5, 2012
PG&E was denied permission to charge ratepayers $80 million for costs the utility giant estimates it will incur applying for permission to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Avila Beach another 20 years. Instead, an administrative judge with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) put PG&E on notice that it first must complete high-energy, three-dimensional offshore studies to determine the exact force and velocity of the new fault line discovered three years ago just a few hundred yards off the coast from the nuclear power plant.
The judge’s action came at the instigation of Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, an anti-nuclear watchdog group headquartered in San Luis Obispo. PG&E officials minimized the ruling, describing it as a ministerial action and pointing out that they had already agreed to a suspended approval, meaning that the new seismic studies needed to be completed before the relicensing application could be approved. David Weisman with the alliance insisted there was a significant difference between a suspension and a denial. With a suspended application, Weisman said, PG&E would have been allowed to use all the data it’s already collected as part of its relicensing application. But because the judge denied the application, he said, PG&E would have to use data collected only after the new seismic studies have been completed. In the intervening three to five years, Weisman said, the market forces that might impact the cost-benefit analysis required for the relicensing requirement could change dramatically. Solar and wind, he said, might be significantly cheaper in three years. Likewise, new requirements that PG&E take steps to better cool the water offloaded into the ocean by the reactors might make Diablo Canyon significantly more expensive. In the meantime, Weisman also confirmed that the alliance is also opposing PG&E’s effort to recover the costs associated with the three-dimensional seismic studies. PG&E, Weisman said, initially estimated the cost of such studies would be $18 million. Subsequently, he said, those costs have skyrocketed to $64 million. Until PG&E justifies that, Weisman said, the alliance would oppose the utility’s cost recovery application with the CPUC.
From: Boska, John
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:31 AM
To: Guzman, Richard
Cc: Pickett, Douglas
Subject: Developments in Japan
Rich, please review and comment, for distribution to our branch.
In a briefing with Joe Giitter that just ended, we were informed that the situation is now much worse in Japan. The walls of the Unit 4 spent fuel pool have collapsed, and there is no water in there. There were a large number of fuel assemblies in the pool, and the fuel may no longer be intact. The radiation levels are increasing so much that it may prove difficult to work on the other 5 reactors at the site, which could lead to more fuel damage and releases. […]
The Fukushima black box
A dangerous lack of urgency in drawing lessons from Japan’s nuclear disaster
Complex systems, jerry-rigged
For now, the risk is that the interim report does not get the attention it deserves. So far it seems to have aroused more interest on a techie website called Physics Forums, beloved of nuclear engineers, than in the Japanese press.
Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012
Fukushima lays bare Japanese media’s ties to top
By DAVID MCNEILL
Special to The Japan Times
Is the ongoing crisis surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being accurately reported in the Japanese media?
No, says independent journalist Shigeo Abe, who claims the authorities, and many journalists, have done a poor job of informing people about nuclear power in Japan both before and during the crisis — and that the clean-up costs are now being massively underestimated and underreported.
“The government says that as long as the radioactive leak can be dammed from the sides it can be stopped, but that’s wrong,” Abe insists. “They’re going to have to build a huge trench underneath the plant to contain the radiation — a giant diaper. That is a huge-scale construction and will cost a fortune. The government knows that but won’t reveal it.”
NRC says no cause yet for Davis-Besse cracks
Updated: Friday, 06 Jan 2012, 2:14 AM EST
Published : Thursday, 05 Jan 2012, 4:01 PM EST
* JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) – Federal inspectors are convinced that a nuclear reactor along Lake Erie is safe to operate even though they said Thursday it is not clear why small cracks appeared in a concrete shell that protects the plant.
Debris Field The Size Of California From Japanese Tsunami Begins To Litter West Coast
Debris From Japan Tsunami Starting to Wash Ashore in Tofino
Published on Sunday, January 15, 2012 by Common Dreams
Russia’s Radioactive Phobos-Grunt Space Probe Fell to Earth Sunday
by Karl Grossman
Russia’s Phobos-Grunt space probe, with 22 pounds of radioactive Cobalt-57 on board, fell to Earth Sunday. The probe was launched in November to go to Phobos, a moon of Mars, but its rocket system failed to fire it onward from low Earth orbit….
What happened demonstrates what could have occurred to the plutonium-fueled rover which NASA calls Curiosity which it launched on November 26 on a voyage to Mars. Curiosity’s launch went without incident. It is now on its way to Mars. But it could have ended up like Phobos-Grunt—falling back to Earth from orbit, its 10.6 pounds of plutonium released as deadly radioactive dust.
Moreover, the United States and Russia are both planning to launch other space devices with nuclear materials on board. Accidents involving discharge of nuclear materials is inevitable—they’ve already occurred in both the U.S. and Russian/Soviet space programs….
NUCLEAR SAFETY AND NUCLEAR ECONOMICS:
HISTORICALLY, ACCIDENTS DIM THE PROSPECTS FOR NUCLEAR REACTOR CONSTRUCTION; FUKUSHIMA WILL HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT
Download PDF here
MARK COOPER, PHD
Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis
Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School
History has shown that each major nuclear accident has caused a re-examination of the risks of nuclear power leading to more stringent safety requirement and higher costs. The failures that led to the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima are being scrutinized in the United States and other countries. An analysis of the current re-evaluations of nuclear power and a comparison with the substance and economic impact of past, post-accident reviews provides important insights into the prospects of new nuclear reactor construction in the decade after Fukushima.
Before Fukushima, the mythical “nuclear renaissance” had already proven to be a bubble with the air rapidly leaking out of it. Fukushima will make it even more difficult to inflate.
Fukushima is magnifying the economic problems that the “nuclear renaissance” faced, which are the very problems that have plagued nuclear power throughout its history. Nuclear power has always suffered from high cost and continuous cost escalation, high risk and uncertainty. With long lead-times and large sunk costs, nuclear is a risky investment in an environment filled with ambiguities. That is the reason that the “nuclear renaissance” never got started.
The nuclear reactor disaster at Fukushima will increase the cost and further undermine the economic viability of nuclear power in any country that conducts such a review.
The Japanese government has recently estimated that the cost of power from nuclear reactors will be 50 percent higher than estimated seven years ago.
This increase is consistent with the impact of past accidents.
Safety risks render the nuclear industry uninsurable in commercial markets. Fukushima reminds the financial markets that the liability of a major accident will instantaneously bankrupt the utility owner, absent the socialization of costs.
The cost of the Fukushima accident has been estimated as high as $250 billion and rising, which essentially bankrupted Tokyo Electric Power Co., the fourth largest utility in the world.
Estimates of the cost of a severe accident in the U.S. are in this range or higher.
Although the bailout of nuclear power cushions the blow, it also constrains the growth of profit, which makes the sector less attractive to investors.
Fukushima has stimulated vigorous reviews around the world in part because it is severe (the worst accident affecting a nuclear reactor in a market economy) and in part because it occurred in a nation that was assumed to have a high standard of safety and superb technical expertise. Although the technical challenges are different with each accident, the challenges perceived by those responsible for nuclear safety in the wake of the Fukushima accident are quite substantial and reflect general historic themes.
insufficient backup systems,
inadequate contingency plans, and
Even more striking are the persistent institutional failures revealed by a comparison between the post-accident evaluations of TMI and Fukushima, including
Failure of voluntary, self-regulation;
Denial of the reality of risk;
Lack of safety culture;
Lack of a comprehensive, consistent regulatory framework;
The challenge of continuous change and the failure to resolve outstanding safety issues;
Failure to require existing reactors to add safety measures because of cost; and,
Complexity, confusion and chaos in the response to a severe accident.
With the global nuclear safety institutions expressing strong concerns, particularly the advanced industrial nuclear nations, and the aftermath of Fukushima likely to command attention for years as the extent of the damage and the challenge of decommissioning unfold, the issues are likely to continue to have traction.
The reviews stimulated by accidents are not limited to safety issues. In the wake of Fukushima re-evaluations of energy options and nuclear risks and economics have substantially dimmed the prospects for construction of new nuclear reactors.
Major policy reviews by governments have led several nations to decide to scale back or abandon their commitments to nuclear power (including important large industrial national like Japan, Germany);
Financial institutions have conducted extensive reassessments of the economic prospects of nuclear power and concluded that the costs will rise;
Utilities with nuclear plans in several national have continued to be downgraded by the rating agencies, and
Several major firms have abandoned the sector altogether or been forced to scale back their activities.
As all stakeholders re-examine all aspect of energy policy, the risks of nuclear reactors increase and the attractiveness of nuclear power compared to other options decreases. From a big picture perspective, Fukushima has had and is likely to continue to have an electrifying impact on the development of nuclear power because it combines the most powerful message from TMI on cost escalation with the most powerful message from Chernobyl on the risk of nuclear reactors in a nation where it was not supposed to happen. And, it has taken place in an environment where information and images flow instantaneously around the world, so the public sees the drama and trauma of losing control of a nuclear reaction in real time.
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