508 Demos really reaching Noda????


(h/t FukushimaDiary)

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Antinuclear demonstrators meet with lawmakers, seek talks with Noda

Staff writer

Organizers of the growing weekly antinuclear demonstrations outside the prime minister’s office asked a group of lawmakers Tuesday to help them arrange a meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda so they can make a direct appeal to end Japan’s use of nuclear power.

The demonstrators made their pitch in a meeting with more than 10 Diet members who are pushing the government to reduce dependence on nuclear power, including former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, former Upper House President Satsuki Eda and members of opposition parties.

The meeting indicated that the rallies organized by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, a group of various nonprofit organizations, are having an impact on lawmakers. The politicians told the citizens’ groups that Noda should not ignore the voice of the demonstrators, whose weekly actions continue to attract large numbers of people.

“As organizers that have attracted thousands of people, it’s really important that we directly hand our requests (to Noda) in writing,” said Misao Redwolf, one of the organizers’ representatives.

Kan told the group that in a recent meeting with Noda he observed that the demonstrations were having an impact on him.

“He has told me that he is not reluctant to meet with you,” Kan said, adding he wants to help arrange a meeting.

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Restrict public’s movements, rights in times of disaster, say experts



The movements and personal rights of the public should be restricted more to maintain order in case of a major disaster, an expert panel to the government has recommended.

The panel within the government’s Central Disaster Prevention Council, which has been reviewing the government’s disaster-prevention policy based on lessons learned from last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, drew up a final report on July 31. In the report, the panel underscored the need to expand the scope of such emergency measures as restricting the private rights of the public so that their movements and actions can be limited in case of a major catastrophe tantamount to a national crisis.

Furthermore, the panel advised the government to drastically revise the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law and other related laws, calling for greater utilization of the name lists of people in need to quickly grasp and support them without restrictions by the Personal Information Protection Law.

Defining the protection of the public from disasters as “one of the ultimate responsibilities of politics,” the final report urges the government to fully ensure the reduction of damage in every field of disaster countermeasures.

The current Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law encompasses such emergency measures as restrictions on the transfer of daily necessities, price control, and a moratorium on debt repayments in case of a disaster. In its final report, the panel calls on the government to expand the scope of emergency steps beyond those economic measures, in light of maintenance of security and helping people who are deprived of a means to return home. To that end, the report stresses the need to restrict people’s movements and actions.

The panel also demanded the government consider simplifying the procedures to obtain disaster-victim certificates by utilizing the so-called “my number system,” or the social security numbering system. A bill calling for the introduction of the system has been submitted to the current Diet session.

The government revised the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law in June, on the heels of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, but revisions to the clauses pertaining to the rights and duties of the people had been put off on the grounds that they need more discussion.

Minister of State for Disaster Prevention Masaharu Nakagawa was receptive of the panel’s proposal to expand emergency measures. “The government is highly likely to suffer difficulties in responding to disasters within the current legal framework,” he said during a press conference.

August 01, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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Having power company officials debate Japan’s energy policy as private citizens is like having McDonald’s as the official restaurant of the Olympics.

Gov’t won’t stop power company officials from taking part in energy policy polls


The government will not exclude power company officials from participating in the upcoming deliberative polls aimed at hearing public opinion on the country’s future energy policy, it has been learned.

Criticism has arisen over the selection of participants in previous deliberative poll sessions, in which utility officials voiced their opinions in support of the promotion of nuclear power. The government, in response, had once decided to exclude utility workers from taking part in those hearings, but it determined that there will be no problem if utility workers happen to be chosen on a random basis in deliberative polling starting from Aug. 4.

The government is conducting deliberative polling on top of public hearings at 11 locations across the country over what percentage nuclear power should account for in the country’s future energy mix by 2030 — 0 percent, 15 percent, or 20-25 percent. In contrast to ordinary public hearings, deliberative polls allow participants to debate issues and deepen their understanding before they express their opinions.

The organizing committee for the deliberative polling conducted a nationwide telephone survey on men and women aged 20 or older between July 7 and 22, to which 6,849 responded. After confirming their will to participate in deliberative polling, 301 had become eligible to take part as of July 28. The committee said it asked respondents about their age, address and occupation, but that it withheld from asking the names of their workplaces, leaving the possibility that utility workers may be among participants of deliberative polling.

“If we screen participants, it’ll be tantamount to manipulating public opinion and constitutes a ‘set-up,'” said an official of the organizing committee.

August 01, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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Green party launched in Japan to oppose nuclear energy


TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Japanese civic group held an inaugural meeting of a green party Saturday in Tokyo with an aim to field candidates in national elections on the environmental platform including opposition to nuclear energy.

As a political organization, which has not met legal requirements as a political party, Greens Japan will seek cooperation with other civic groups and local parties for the time being, while making arrangements with an eye on the next House of Representatives election and next summer’s House of Councillors election, it said.

Comprising about 70 members such as citizens and local assembly members, the group intends to model its political activities after green parties in Europe, which have strong influence in environmental policy-making.

Its platform features swiftly breaking away from nuclear power generation and introducing renewable energy, the group said.

“As the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party have both approved the restart of nuclear reactors, voters are deprived of the option to realize the stance ‘breakaway from nuclear power and objection to the resumption’,” said Akira Miyabe, the group’s 59-year-old deputy head.

“A party that strongly pursues environmental policies is needed,” he said.

July 29, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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Fukushima octopus shipped to Tokyo, Nagoya

Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture have shipped radiation-free octopus for sale in the Tokyo and Nagoya areas.

Wednesday’s shipment of some 200 kilograms of octopus is the first batch of marine product from waters off Fukushima to hit markets in large Japanese cities after last year’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

After having refrained from fishing off Fukushima for more than 15 months, local fishermen in June resumed taking in 2 kinds of octopus and 1 kind of shellfish on a trial basis in waters off Soma city.

The fishing is happening in areas more than 50 kilometers northeast of the crippled nuclear plant, and no radiation has been detected so far in the 3 products.

Until now the catch has been sold in Fukushima and neighboring Miyagi prefectures.

A federation of fisheries cooperatives in Fukushima says it will study resuming fishing on full-fledged basis after seeing how sales go in big markets like Tokyo.

A senior official at a local fisheries cooperative says their catch was welcomed in Fukushima and Miyagi, but reactions in the big cities may not be the same.

The octopus shipped to Tokyo will be sold on Thursday at Tsukiji market.

Aug. 1, 2012 – Updated 04:50 UTC (13:50 JST)

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New nuclear body chief keen for reactors not to operate after 40 yrs

TOKYO, Aug. 1, Kyodo

The government’s candidate to head Japan’s new nuclear regulatory authority said Wednesday he is committed to upholding a government policy to basically limit the operation of nuclear reactors to 40 years.

“This system is needed to ensure the safety of old power plants,” Shunichi Tanaka, former vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, said at a parliamentary session. “We should strictly check nuclear reactors and take the stance of not allowing those beyond 40 years to operate.”

Tanaka was being questioned by lower house lawmakers who together with their colleagues in the upper house will vote early this month on whether to approve his appointment.

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Fukushima I Nuke Plant “Roadmap” Monthly Progress Report (1): Workers Picking Up Radioactive Debris for Future Testing, Getting 0.3 Millisievert for 1-Hour Work

Hardly anyone seems to pay serious attention to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant itself these days, except occasional, perfunctory mentions of how radioactive materials are still spewing from the reactors and how the groundwater is being contaminated because the basements are leaking (almost always without citing the actual numbers).

All the talk about imminent collapse of Reactor 4 has all but died down, and no sensational stories about the plant are circulating on Japanese Twitter.

So what is TEPCO, now officially the government company with the capital infusion of 1 trillion yen (US$12.8 billion), doing these days at the plant?

Very prosaic, mundane jobs like picking up concrete debris to save for later testing, trying to unclog the pipe to insert a thermocouplehosing down the fuel assembly. They have been also building the multi-nuclide absorption towers (Toshiba), trying to replace Kanaflex hose for the transport of contaminated water, trying to clean the subdrain pit water, and asking workers from affiliate companies how they are doing.

This post is the first installment from the monthly report, about the workers picking bits of concrete rubble near the blown-up reactors at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. In the report, it is the last item, but it stuck with me as I browsed through the report yesterday while listening to the press conference given by Naoto Kan and his “Zero Nuke” group of politicians.

The workers got 0.3 millisievert radiation exposure for one-hour work of picking up concrete bits, and the concrete bits are not very “radioactive” in Fuku-I standard (it would be considered extremely high outside the plant), at 2,000 microsieverts/hour (or 2 millisieverts/hour).

Where is that former Prime Minister who supposedly scolded top executives at TEPCO and urged them to go to Fukushima I Nuke Plant, saying he himself would go with them? Why isn’t he picking up the pieces of radioactive rubble, instead of the workers who may be paid only 8,000 yen (US$102) per day for their work?

From TEPCO’s July 30, 2012 monthly progress report on the “Roadmap to decommissioning the reactors at Fukushima (available in Japanese only), pages 84 to 89 (I added the labels):

The former Prime Minister Naoto Kan was busy trying to re-invent himself as champion of “ordinary citizens” who are against nuclear power plants and as key man who can connect these citizens with the power that be (Prime Minister Noda and his high-ranking ministers like Mr. Edano), when he and his supposedly anti-nuclear group of politicians held a press conference and the closed meeting with those “citizens” on July 31. But that will be another post.


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Ha! Imagine. You build nuclear power plants to reduce global warming that comes from CO2 emissions (not caring that nuclear power plants generate enormous amounts of heat), and then when the temps go up too much (from global warming), you have to slow down the nuclear power plants to keep them cool enough so they down melt down. This logic escapes me.

Heat Sends U.S. Nuclear Power Production to 9-Year Low

By Christine Harvey on July 26, 2012

Nuclear-power production in the U.S. is at the lowest seasonal levels in nine years as drought and heat force reactors from Ohio to Vermont to slow output.

Generation for the 104 plants in the U.S. fell 0.4 percent from yesterday to 94,171 megawatts, or 93 percent of capacity, the lowest level for this time of year since 2003, according to reports from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and data compiled by Bloomberg. The total is down 2.6 percent from the five-year average for today of 96,725 megawatts.

“We’ve had a fast decay of summer output this month and that corresponds to the high heat and droughts,” Pax Saunders, an analyst at Gelber & Associates in Houston, said. “Plants are not able to operate at the levels they can.”

FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) (FE)’s Perry 1 reactor in Ohio lowered production to 95 percent of capacity today because of above- average temperatures, while Entergy Corp. (ETR) (ETR)’s Vermont Yankee has limited output four times this month. Nuclear plants require sufficient water to cool during operation, and rivers or lakes may get overheated or fall in times of high temperatures and drought, according to the NRC.

Dry conditions have worsened in the past week, with at least 63.9 percent of the contiguous 48 U.S. states now affected by moderate to severe drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor said today. That compares with 63.5 in the previous week.

High Temperatures

Temperatures will rise about 3 degrees above normal in the U.S. Northeast from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8 and computer modeling shows another heat wave may arrive the week of Aug. 6, according to Commodity Weather Group President Matt Rogers.

“Heat is the main issue, because if the river is getting warmer the water going into the plant is warmer and makes it harder to cool,” David McIntyre, an NRC spokesman, said.

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