Exactly 11 months ago today.
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Published on Friday, February 10, 2012 by Common Dreams
We May Yet Lose Tokyo… Not to Mention Alaska… and Now Georgia, Too
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves a construction/operating license for two new reactors in Georgia, alarming reports from Japan indicate the Fukushima catastrophe is far from over. Reactor pushers have welcomed the NRC’s approval of the new Westinghouse AP-1000 design for Georgia’s Vogtle. Two reactors operate there now, and the two newly approved ones are being funded with $8.3 billion in federally guaranteed loans and state-based rate hikes levied in advance of the reactors’ being completed.
Thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel are still in serious jeopardy. Radioactive trash and water are spewing into the environment. And nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen reports that during the string of disasters following March 11, 2011’s earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima 1’s containment cap may actually have lifted off its base,releasing dangerously radioactive gasses and opening a gap for an ensuing hydrogen explosion.
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Yes, Arnie Gundersen described the cap being lifted from the containment in his video update yesterday, but apparently this was suggested by a researcher back on 18 March of last year. You can view the presentation (with English translator) at:
The discussion of pressure and high temperatures causing the cap to lift begins around 1:38:31 in the video. (This info via the Safecast listserv.)
(Updated) Gift of Snow from Fukushima Children to Okinawa Children
probably to the horror of mothers who took their small children to Okinawa to escape radiation contamination in east Japan.
It’s not that they are sending a ton of snow but only 5 20-centimeter containers. It is only a symbolic gesture of …. uhhh goodwill and friendship?
Fukushima Prefecture is supposed to be measuring the radiation levels of snow, but the result won’t be available until March.
From NNN News (2/9/2012):
2 elementary school children, as “friendship ambassadors of snowman”, flew off this morning to Okinawa to bring Fukushima snow as a gift to Okinawa.
It is the 11th year of the project by the Fukushima government. The purpose is to promote friendship between children of Fukushima and children of Okinawa by giving the snow from Fukushima to Okinawa children. The two will deliver 5 snowmen in 20-centimeter tall styrofoam containers [shaped like a snowman] to Okinawa.
The friendship ambassadors are a boy and a girl. The boy says he wants to appeal the beautiful scenery and great food of Fukushima. In the news clip at the link, the girl doesn’t seem one bit thrilled.
Using the children to promote agendas of the adults has been ongoing on both sides – the governments (national and local) and the citizens’ groups demanding anything from stopping the nuke plants in Japan to compensating the voluntary evacuees.
PM asks local gov’ts across Japan to help dispose of quake, tsunami rubble
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda asked local governments across Japan to help dispose of the massive amount of rubble from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami as the Reconstruction Agency was launched on Feb. 10.
“Disaster-hit areas’ capacity to dispose of rubble is limited. Iwate and Miyagi prefectures have rubble it would take them 11 and 19 years to deal with, respectively, and they can’t handle it on their own,” Noda told a news conference. “It’s indispensable for all areas across the country to share the disposal of safe rubble (that isn’t contaminated with radioactive substances from the Fukushima nuclear disaster).”
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And just who do we trust with the job of making sure it is NOT contaminated?
Over 100,000 signatures collected for Tokai nuclear plant scrapping
MITO (Kyodo) — Civic groups submitted to the Ibaraki governor on Friday about 51,000 signatures and a petition demanding that the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power station be scrapped, bringing the total number of signatures they have collected against the plant operation to more than 100,000.
Last November, about 50,000 signatures against the resumption of the plant’s operation, halted since last year, were already submitted to Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto.
The petition submitted Friday urges the prefectural government not to allow the Tokai power station to resume operation, saying, “We should not allow a recurrence of the irretrievable sacrifice and loss as experienced in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.”
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Antinuke petitioners to lobby assembly
Majority support needed to press for plebiscite on ditching reactors
A citizens’ group pushing for a referendum in Tokyo on scrapping Tepco’s nuclear reactors has to persuade metropolitan assembly members to back its plan — a daunting, and potentially insurmountable, step.
“It depends on how each metropolitan assembly member views the issue. After (Tokyo Gov. Shintaro) Ishihara’s (critical) comments (in December), it’s clear he doesn’t support the plan,” Eiko Nakamura, head of the group Let’s Decide Together/Citizen-initiated National Referendum on Nuclear Power’s Tokyo branch, said Friday.
“Seeing as a majority of assembly members will likely go along with Ishihara’s (position)” it will be tough to persuade them otherwise, Nakamura said.
Ishihara in December called the group’s campaign “sentimental and hysteric” and has shown no indication that his stance has changed, dimming the prospects of a referendum actually taking place.
The group started collecting signatures from Tokyo residents Dec. 10 to hold a vote on abolishing nuclear reactors in Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s service area.
The campaign ended Thursday, and the group announced it had collected about 250,000 signatures — more than enough to ask the governor to submit an ordinance to the metropolitan assembly for a plebiscite on nuclear energy.
But a majority of assembly members must vote in favor of the proposal in order for a referendum to be held, and Nakamura said the group plans to lobby each one individually.
“I think that assembly members can’t make entirely independent decisions because they have to vote in line with the policies of their political parties. So we must press each member to find out their own opinion, and lobbying them will be crucial,” she said.
Her group plans to submit the signatures to the electoral council in each municipality in Tokyo for verification, and if the number of valid signatures exceeds the legally required minimum, the group will ask Ishihara to submit an referendum ordinance to the metropolitan assembly.
“A plebiscite is a way for all citizens to express their opinions on an equal footing, regardless of their beliefs. . . . I believe that’s very important,” Nakamura said.
The group has also been collecting signatures in the city of Osaka to hold a referendum on atomic energy in Kansai Electric Power Co.’s service area, and says it now has enough to ask Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to submit a plebiscite ordinance to the municipal assembly Monday.
“We’ve been handing out fliers to assembly members in Osaka and making phone calls to each member asking for their support . . . but I don’t know” what the outcome will be, the group’s Nakamura said.
Another signature drive for a nuclear referendum is planned by the group in Shizuoka Prefecture, and will likely start around the end of March.
Radioactive Firewood, This Time from Miyagi Prefecture: 730 Bq/kg Cesium in Wood Would Become 130K Bq/kg in Ashes
The Ministry of the Environment survey found the firewood from southern Miyagi tested high in radioactive cesium, with the maximum of 730 becquerels/kg in one town. If you burn this wood, the resulting ashes would contain 132,860 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.
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11 months on, Reconstruction Agency makes official debut
The Reconstruction Agency finally made its official debut Friday, 11 months since the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake, and its mission is to speed up the process of rebuilding the Tohoku region.
Tatsuo Hirano has been appointed as the minister of the agency, which is headquartered in Tokyo but has three bureaus and six branches in the disaster area — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures — to quickly address the needs of people in the disaster zone.
“I want to take the lead to speed up the process of reconstruction and restoration,” Hirano, a native of Iwate, said Friday morning.
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Oil tank swept by tsunami to be kept as monument
A fish processing company in Ishinomaki City has decided to keep an oil tank that was swept away by tsunami 11 months ago as a memorial.
The tank measures 11 meters in height and 9 meters in diameter and is shaped like a can of seafood. The tank is lying on a road 300 meters away from where it was originally located.
The tank and the images painted on its surface were designed to make it look like a can of seafood produced by the company. Before the disaster, it served as advertising.
The seafood firm says it will move the tank back to the company’s premises where it will put it on display.
A vice president of the company says some people originally wanted the tank dismantled because it brought back sad memories. But he now says such memories should be remembered for future generations.
He says if people come to see the salvaged oil tank, it will help with the city’s reconstruction.
Saturday, February 11, 2012 13:04 +0900 (JST)
TEPCO says no damage to spent fuel at Fukushima
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has found no damage to spent fuel rods that will be the first to be removed from the plant’s reactors.
Tokyo Electric Power Company on Friday released video of the storage pool at the No.4 reactor building taken by an underwater camera the previous day.
The utility says the footage shows debris fell onto the rack containing the fuel rods but apparently caused no damage. Visibility in the pool is reportedly about 5 meters.
Tokyo Electric aims to start removing more than 1,500 rods from the pool next year as the first step in a 40-year plan for decommissioning the plant.
The No.4 reactor was offline and had no active fuel when a powerful earthquake and tsunami disabled the plant on March 11th last year.
But a hydrogen explosion blew off the reactor’s roof and sent wreckage into the pool, making it difficult to assess conditions inside.
Friday, February 10, 2012 20:37 +0900 (JST)