Mar 11 2013

Fukushima 2 years on

Thousands across Japan march against nuclear power


9 hours ago

TOKYO – Anti-nuclear rallies took place across Japan, on the eve of the second anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster, urging Japan’s new government to abandon nuclear power.

Tens of thousands gathered in Hibiya park in central Tokyo, where activists and unionists packed a concert hall to voice their opposition.

Similar rallies were held elsewhere in Tokyo and across the rest of the nation, with local media reporting as many as 150 anti-nuclear events planned for the weekend and on Monday.

Protesters are calling for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office late December following his party’s election win, to dismantle all nuclear plants.

Fukushima Toxic Waste Swells as Japan Marks March 11 Disaster

By Jason Clenfield, Bloomberg News

Mar 10, 2013 11:01 AM ET

Radiation danger prevents workers from approaching a tangle of metal and upturned cars surrounding Unit 3, which was ripped apart by a hydrogen gas explosion after the tsunami. Remote controlled cranes are used to pull steel and concrete rubble from the top of the structure.

It will be years before even robots can work inside the steel- and concrete-encased core, according to Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Burlington, Vermont-based energy consultant Fairewinds Associates Inc.

“Unit 3 is in a condition that none of us has ever imagined,” he said by phone. “The entire structure is inaccessible to human beings right now.”

While clearing debris helps reduce radiation levels, it’s also filling the plant with toxic waste for which the utility has no ultimate disposal plan. More than 73,000 cubic meters of contaminated concrete, 58,000 cubic meters of irradiated trees and bushes, and 157,710 gallons of toxic sludge has built up, according to the utility.

Then there’s the water.

Tanks of it now cover an area equal to 37 football fields and the utility is clearing forest to make room for more. Some 400 tons of ground water each day seeps into reactor buildings and is contaminated.

There are 480 cesium-clogged filters, each weighing 15 tons, already warehoused in what the utility calls temporary storage.

“These filters will have to be stored for 300 years because cesium has a 30-year half-life and the rule of thumb is 10 half-lives,” Fairewinds’ Gundersen said.

Tokyo Electric has “no plans” for what to do with the water once its filtered, plant manager Takahashi said. It will probably wind up back in tanks, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai said, standing in front of the new treatment facility.

Graft and corruption is rampant.

Japan’s cleanup of radiation, other toxins from tsunami and nuclear fiasco anything but clean

By Associated Press

Updated: Sunday, March 10, 1:02 AM

To clear, sort and process the rubble – and a vastly larger amount of radiation-contaminated soil and other debris near the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the government is relying on big construction companies whose multi-layer subcontracting systems are infiltrated by criminal gangs, or yakuza.

In January, police arrested a senior member of Japan’s second-largest yakuza group, Sumiyoshi Kai, on suspicion of illegally dispatching three contract workers to Date, a city in Fukushima struggling with relatively high radioactive contamination, through another construction company and pocketing one-third of their pay.

Labor shortages, lax oversight and massive amounts of funds budgeted for the clean-up are a recipe for cheating. And plenty of money is at stake: the cleanup of a 20-kilometer (12-mile) segment of an expressway whose worst contamination exceeds allowable radiation limits by 10 times will cost 2.1 billion yen ($22.5 billion), said Yoshinari Yoshida, an Environment Ministry official.

Move along, nothing to see here.

Nuclear chief: US plants safer after Japan crisis

By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

March 10, 2013 1:35 PM

All but five of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of 2012, (Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison) Macfarlane said, citing a recent NRC report. “You can’t engage that many reactors and not have a few that are going to have difficulty,” she said.

But the watchdog group, the Union of Concerned Scientists, has issued a scathing report saying nearly one in six U.S. nuclear reactors experienced safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight. The group accused the NRC of “tolerating the intolerable.”

Using the agency’s own data, the scientists group said 14 serious incidents, ranging from broken or impaired safety equipment to a cooling water leak, were reported last year. Over the past three years, 40 of the 104 U.S. reactors experienced one or more serious safety-related incidents that required additional action by the NRC, the report said.

“The NRC has repeatedly failed to enforce essential safety regulations,” wrote David Lochbaum, director of the group’s Nuclear Safety Project and author of the study. “Failing to enforce existing safety regulations is literally a gamble that places lives at stake.”

Problem-plagued plants in Florida and Wisconsin are slated for closure, and four other reactors remain offline because of safety concerns. Shut-down reactors include two at the beleaguered San Onofre nuclear power plant in southern California, which hasn’t produced electricity since January 2012, when a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

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