Posts Tagged ‘sellafield’

On 2012 March 19, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the “city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” and today, Mainichi Daily News commented that Osaka had “stirred ripples”. Articles are reproduced below. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s suggestion to phase out of nuclear power, surely surprised KEPCO investors but also citizens for its unusual thoughtfulness.

Kansai is the western region of Japan where Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara cities lie and, depending on definition, the nuclear power plant shore-lined prefecture of Fukui, where a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 1% of population and completely damaged 79% of buildings in 1948. Besides, prevalent winds blow from Fukui towards the huge drinking water Biwako reservoir and aforementioned Kansai cities. Under the radioactive fallout in case of such an earthquake would also be prefectures of Gifu and Aichi, an industrial heartland centered on Nagoya city, where Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toray Industries (worldwide leader in the carbon fiber industry that should make Boeing Dreamliner fly someday) are based. A new powerful earthquake in Fukui would probably relegate Japan a few ladders down the economic rankings. Kansai is already under severe economic stress – it always was but for a brief decade of national euphoria called the “bubble”.

Since about 30 years ago, poor Japanese regions exchanged time and again their votes and security against subventions and nuclear power plants. Whenever subventions would dry up, they would agree for a new reactor building. Nowadays that these are idled and that subventions have run out, poor regions cannot start a new cycle and are pushing and being pulled to ramp up their radioactive waste “management” business. In the same vote buyout scheme as for nuclear power plants, over-sized incinerator plants have been built and left unused due to their capacity threshold being over the actual amount of waste. Poor prefectures now plan to upgrade these little used, dioxin-spitting facilities so that they could operate at a wider range of waste quantities and include some kind of filtering for radiation. This scheme represents a large economic boost promise in terms of construction work, which is the main employment outside large cities – and under the control of yakuza gangs, who request some sustained business to replace the drop in their recruiting services for nuclear plant workers.

Radioactive waste are largely above what is considered as “low-level waste” worldwide and its incineration in current facilities turn their prefecture into secondary radioactive sources, the primary being Fukushima, still emitting as of 2012 March 22, a year after. Current secondary radioactive sources include 23 wards in Tokyo, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Shimada (Shizuoka, where Japanese green tea comes from).

Many prefectures have requested to become secondary radioactive sources, including places where the transportation hazard, time and cost had prevented the Japanese government to push for it such as Okinawa. However, Okinawa is surviving only by the presence of the US army and its underlying economy is threatened by a possible redeployment in Japan, in Guam or elsewhere. Tourism has been declining since about 5 years ago in Okinawa and will not pick up when it will effectively become a secondary radioactive source. Food in supermarkets in Okinawa come from all over Japan as it does not produce much besides beef which become labeled “Kobe” beef after spending 1 year in that heavily industrialized city. Okinawa cows are rather skinny so it must be quite a terrible feeding process that turn them into extra-fatty meat one year later in Kobe warehouses. There have been some scandals of radioactive wood used to bake pizzas in Okinawa, schools have been forced by parents to cancel radioactive snowball gifts, some vegetation like mosses from irradiated areas have been planted in Okinawa, etc. Okinawa is not a nuclear-free land anymore: this concept does not apply to any Japanese territory anymore one year after the disaster. As an advice to nuclear refugees from the no man’s land, if you cannot leave Japan, it is safer to settle down in cities where you can work to sustain a healthier lifestyle, not necessarily to the far end of the archipelago where they have no job; no sense about radio-protection; no clean food choice – and where you will be stuck when they start incinerating radioactive waste.

How does the new denuclearization scheme fit in with the irradiated waste incineration plan and is it for real? Kansai is searching for ways to revitalize its broken economy and incineration is one leg. The other leg is nuclear decommissioning, a potentially profitable business. It takes 5 years for nuclear combustible to cool down, under active controlled systems (or not so controlled systems). Then the proper decommissioning operations begin (and probably never really end). As an actual example, if we look at Sellafield in the UK, a mere 2 square mile facility, the official planning states that decommissioning and closure of the site is planned for 2120 (right: 108 years from now). After this stage, management of radioactive materials is forever. Therefore, decommissioning of the 3 reactors in Mihama, 4 in Oi and 4 in Takahama – and maybe Monju / Tsuruga – all in Fukui prefecture and globally called the Nuclear Ginza, could create a 300 years business, not including the storage and monitoring of million-year long radioactive waste. It could easily give a job to anyone and sustain the local economy. Additional benefits would come from the development of health care – did we mention that Osaka was a biotech center ?

Japanese pharmaceutical companies had trouble to compete globally because their drugs are not properly tested and have resulted in accidents and because they lack innovation. However, in the grand Osaka renewal scheme of joint radioactive waste incineration and nuclear decommissioning, there would be plenty of test subjects and Japan would have an incomparable lead in radiation-induced diseases, even though they would not be marketed as such: auto-immune diseases such as the Kawasaki syndrome, pneumonia, heart attacks, leukemia and all sorts of cancers, or any other kinds of affections described by Pr. Bandazhevsky, even in children (sic).

How is it that decommissioning would make the population sick? Nuclear reactor decommissioning is a task forecast to take over 1 century in the case of Sellafield but nuclear projects always get behind schedule (Areva EPR project in Finland as a relevant example). As a rule of thumb, you can at least double the time (in the case for Olkiluoto, Finland, Areva started in 2005, due to be completed in 4 years – now maybe in 9 years, probably 12) and since it is impossible to rule out wars, economic depressions, natural disasters and social unrest over the period of a century, it could take 4 to 500 years to carry out. The probability of the job being properly done to the end is marginal and our grandchildren, if they ever live, will most likely have to deal with no man’s lands in every place there used to be a nuclear power plant in the 20th century. Working in a nuclear power plant make people sick, they have in Japan, as well documented, not only in Fukushima. Work ethics are shoddy here and tasks are carried out by the 6th level of untrained sub-contractors aka yakuza firms. Nuclear Ginza and other locations in Japan like Tokaimura and Genkai accumulate accidents and are regularly leaking radioactive material, not surprisingly. Now let us project this over the next 500 years for a large segment of society busy cleaning a mess and adding to it at the same time: everyone would get sick, even if Hosono, Noda and Edano, the devilish Trinity as it were, were not working so hard to distribute contaminated food over all the territory – which they are. Mutations get transmitted to people who are not involved in the multi-generational task, weakening the whole society. As a side-note, it is of course impossible to decommission Fukushima nuclear plant within 40 years: it will never be really clean, no matter the official whitewash.

Recently 2 Japanese researchers apologized because they had taken some bone-marrow samples from cancer patients during surgical operations without anybody knowing: with radiation-induced diseases, all Japanese medical researchers would be able to experiment, publish their results and test new drugs on unsuspecting patients. When the Japanese war criminal in charge for human live dissection and experimentation during the war became the head of the top medical institute in Tokyo and was never bothered except for a moment by the Chinese woman who recognized him, anything can happen. Unit 731, Masaji Kitano and Green Cross all over again. Kansai, with Nuclear Ginza, you invested in a future treasure trove for your biotech and pharmaceutical industry (sic) ! Just as some people do not get black humor, let us note here that we are being sarcastic and we do not wish this nightmarish scenario to happen, quite the contrary but we are at a loss as to how prevent it. Japan has yet to come to term with its dark past and its present shows that it is never far behind – humor is a way to get some relief in the terrible situation we are now, and black humor can be offensive. Current Japanese politics are just as offensive.

So it could be for real and it would be the least damaging, as the alternative would be to wait until the next great Fukui earthquake and a fireworks over Nuclear Ginza.

Another possibility is that Hashimoto does not really intend to denuclearize Kansai, but is only trying to gain more KEPCO shares, some financial compensation or a special investor status from KEPCO for Osaka city in exchange for a time extension, a percentage increase in nuclear-produced electricity or such compromise.

Whichever, the pain only begins.

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Sushi restaurants have popped up in recent years everywhere in the world, with many Chinese restaurants rebranding themselves to ride the trend. Tokyo Tsukiji fish market is the biggest in the world and exports worldwide, with a reported 60,000 employees. Not only this culinary trend threatens complete extinction of dwindling tuna population, but contrarily to popular belief of a Japanese healthy diet, it was a hazardous treat from the start given the level of mercury in big fish like tuna. Most Japanese restaurants worldwide are fake who serve “sushi” with non-Japanese rice to indiscriminate patrons, whereas Japanese rice is so different that it is not a question of detail. Yet, this year and forever on, if you eat genuine sushi, you’ll be ingesting radiation-tainted rice and fish on top of the usual mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. In Japan, expecting mothers are told by doctors that eating raw fish poses no special threat (even before 3-11), contrarily to many other countries. This sushi (and sashimi) death threat applies to anyone, anywhere, from New York city to London.

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Various blogs reported that French ambassador Philippe Faure left Japan this month. France was among the first country to advise expats to quickly leave Japan in March 2011 when the situation was not really critical in Tokyo, provoking mass hysteria in the French community. As reported in SurvivalJapan, it now is critical in Tokyo and the outlook for the whole of Japan is negative essentially due to dangerous policies. French Embassy website recommendations towards the French community repeats the same message as the Japanese government, i.e. all Japan is safe but Fukushima – meanwhile the ambassador left the country. French Embassy therefore joined German Embassy in its officials fleeing Japan (Cf. Nuclear Crisis Causes Vacant Posts at German Embassy in SurvivalJapan). It is rumored that Yukio Edano, chief Cabinet secretary in the previous administration and responsible for the nuclear crisis mismanagement before becoming the current Minister of Economy, had sent his family to safety in Singapore since March 11, but would sue anyone supporting this rumor. US ambassador John Roos still holds his position in Tokyo so far.

After Environment minister M. Goshi Hosono considered the possibility to spread radiation to the whole of Japan (Cf. Hosono’s Spread of Radioactivity Decision Promoted by Mainichi Daily News), Industry minister M. Yoshio Hachiro admitted in an article published yesterday by the same newspaper which regularly relays and supports the goverment policies, that Japan had received an offer from French nuclear power company Areva SA to take charge of spent nuclear fuel from Fukushima, and hence start spreading radiation from the disaster in other countries. France and Japan regularly share their nuclear waste. For instance, France (and UK) sent 1800 kg of plutonium in form of Mixed Oxide (MOX) to Japan in February 2009, enough to built 225 nuclear bombs, according to Greenpeace. In a precursor of the inanity that would follow during the whole mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis, half of the MOX was returned because of its poor quality and unusuability. Yet shipments continued with the latest not later than August 2011, according to a report from World Nuclear News. Since the article from Mainichi Daily News advertises a supposed plan by the government to move out of nuclear energy, this MOX shipment in the middle of the nuclear crisis casts some doubt about its real intentions. The purpose of this SurvivalJapan post is to illustrate that European expats who leave Japan may run from the devil into the deep blue sea. Indeed, the nuclear waste may follow them back home and this should be pondered in deciding of a survival strategy.

Today, Asahi Shimbun published an article which content focuses on the French proposal. Besides providing some background to this story, it reminds us that Japan is building its own reprocessing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori prefecture, at the northern tip of Honshu island. The facility is due for completion in 2012, to extract plutonium from domestic spent nuclear fuel… Besides the danger of the place, and to return to the Mainichi Daily News propaganda, if the Japanese government really meant to have zero nuclear power plant in the future, and given the poor state of its finance, wouldn’t it immediately stop the project for a reprocessing facility? The answer is clearly that the government is trying to calm down the public concern and gain some popularity and trust, yet by making untrustful statements which are not consistent with the current nuclear activities of MOX import and Rokkasho continuous project. Furthermore, the nuclear industry is the first source of local government profits and job creation in rural areas, as is explained in an excellent New York Times article titled “In Japan, a Culture That Promotes Nuclear Dependency”. Unfortunately, nuclear power plants are here to stay in Japan no matter what the government says – we should find where they are the least dangerous and the most far away (apparently only in Okinawa).

The Mainichi article / government propaganda is reproduced hereafter :

No. of Japan’s nuclear plants to be zero in future: Hachiro

The Hamaoka nuclear power plant operated by Chubu Electric Power Co. is pictured in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, from a Mainichi helicopter in this February 2011 photo. (Mainichi)

The Hamaoka nuclear power plant operated by Chubu Electric Power Co. is pictured in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, from a Mainichi helicopter in this February 2011 photo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Industry minister Yoshio Hachiro said Tuesday that the number of Japan’s nuclear power plants would be “zero” in the future, based on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s policy of not building new nuclear power plants and decommissioning aged ones.

“Considering the premier’s remarks at press conferences, it would be zero,” Hachiro told reporters in answer to the question whether the number of nuclear plants would reduce to none in the future.

Hachiro added that it would be “difficult” to proceed with plans to build new nuclear plants whose construction has yet to begin, such as Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Kaminoseki plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. “Public opinion is generally united in reducing (nuclear plants), instead of increasing them,” he said.

In this file photo, the Genkai nuclear power plant, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co., is seen in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on Dec. 7, 2009. (Mainichi)

In this file photo, the Genkai nuclear power plant, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co., is seen in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on Dec. 7, 2009. (Mainichi)

As for nuclear power plants whose construction has begun, such as Chugoku Electric’s Shimane plant’s No. 3 reactor in Shimane Prefecture and Electric Power Development Co.’s Oma nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, Hachiro said he intends to make a decision based on discussions at the ministry’s advisory committee on energy and natural resources.

Japan currently plans to set up 12 reactors nationwide, excluding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No. 7 and 8 reactors, whose construction plan was canceled by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the complex. But construction has not progressed much for most of the projects.

As for the resumption of reactors idled for regular checkups, Hachiro said that Noda has approved a plan to seek safety assessments from the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of the so-called nuclear “stress tests” introduced by the Japanese government given the Fukushima crisis.

Hachiro has said he aims to resume operations of the halted reactors nationwide soon once their safety is thoroughly checked and local municipalities hosting the plants approve their resumption.

A photograph shows the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.(Mainichi)

A photograph shows the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.(Mainichi)

Meanwhile, Hachiro admitted that Japan has received an offer from French nuclear power company Areva SA to take charge of spent nuclear fuel at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant, but he did not reveal Japan’s response to the offer.

(Mainichi Japan) September 6, 2011

The Asahi Shimbun article is reproduced hereafter :

French offered to take Fukushima fuel, Kan says

2011/09/07

Photo

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, left, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon at the OECD 50th Anniversary Forum at the OECD headquarters, in Paris, France, 25 May. (AP file photo)

France offered to dispose of spent fuel from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the nuclear disaster, but Japan has yet to reply to the proposal, Naoto Kan told The Asahi Shimbun on Sept. 5 in his first interview since stepping down as prime minister.

Kan said French Prime Minister Francois Fillon made the offer when they met at the Group of Eight summit in Deauville, France, in late May.

“France said it would be willing to carry back the spent nuclear fuel,” Kan said. “While it may have been a sort of business opportunity, I naturally passed on the suggestion to bureaucrats at the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry (METI),” Kan said.

He said the Japanese government is still discussing the French proposal. There is strong opposition from within METI because of a feeling among officials that allowing France to dispose of the spent nuclear fuel would upset the Japanese government’s established policy of recycling its own nuclear fuel domestically.

According to initial investigations by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, the spent nuclear fuel in the storage pools of the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors was not as badly damaged as fuel within the reactor cores. There were 3,108 nuclear fuel rods in the pools, of which 2,724 were spent.

France has some of the world’s most advanced fuel reprocessing technology, and disposing of the spent Fukushima rods would provide an opportunity to publicize those capabilities.

Japan no longer uses French facilities to reprocess spent fuel and has its own reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, that is scheduled for completion in 2012. The Rokkasho facility would extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel.

METI officials fear that giving France the Fukushima work could be taken as a sign that it has given up on its own recycling plan. No response was given to Paris about Fillon’s proposal, and the matter is still being considered by a government panel on energy and the environment.