Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

“Small” Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) – the nuclear lobby’s latest confidence trick – theme for September 19

For a start – they’re not small.  Uneconomic to set up as individual reactors, these SMRs are now being marketed by NuScale in groups of 12 or more.

“SMR” is now touted as Small and Medium Reactors.

But they’re still uneconomic. – SO – taxpayers have to buy them, as nobody else will.

Why is the nuclear industry so desperate to sell them to governments?

Well, that’s because:

(a) SMRs are the last hope of the failing”peaceful” nuclear industry

(b) The thriving nuclear weapons industry needs the technology and expertise that can be developed in “small nuclear reactors”.  It’s easier to attract people to work in “peaceful nukes” – then they later can transition to the real nuclear industry – weapons.

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September 7, 2019 Posted by | Christina themes | Leave a comment

Submission for the public good: to Federal Nuclear Inquiry – Noel Wauchope

Recommendation. There is no need to change Australia’s laws prohibiting nuclear activities. They were devised to protect Australians from the health, and safety risks of nuclear facilities, – far-sighted in that they have saved Australia from the unnecessary expense of a now collapsing industry. Meanwhile Australia is very well placed to put energy and funds into truly modern developments, and could become a world leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To start with, the title of this Inquiry , featuring the word  “prerequisite” really makes clear the major issue.

What is the major prerequisite?

Obviously the one important  prerequisite is to repeal Australia’s laws banning nuclear activities. 

First the Federal Law would have to be repealed. (a1)

Then – State Laws –  Victoria’s  NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES (PROHIBITIONS) ACT (a2) -and South Australia’s Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act 2000 (a3)

(a1)    https://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/what-is-protected/nuclear-actions

(a2)   http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/vic/consol_act/naa1983337/

(a3) https://www.legislation.sa.gov.au/LZ/C/A/NUCLEAR%20WASTE%20STORAGE%20FACILITY%20(PROHIBITION)%20ACT%202000.aspx

Once these laws are repealed, then nuclear industry proponents will be free to spend much money on publicising the benefits of the industry. With helpful politicians and press, particularly from the predominant Murdoch media, this will give the industry huge boost. As Australia moves further into drought and water shortages, they will claim that nuclear power is essential to solve climate change.  (Even if nuclear power could combat climate change, it would take decades to establish, and by then it would be too late.)

So – that is what the global nuclear industry needs, especially for South Australia, which has specific legislation against spending public money on promoting the nuclear industry .

While Australians have concerns about cost, safety, environment , health, wastes, Aboriginal rights, weapons proliferation etc, I am sure that the nuclear lobby will be able to overcome those hesitations, with an effective programme.

So, I have my doubts that the Terms of Reference matter all that much, but – here goes.  I understand that the emphasis in this Inquiry is on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

a . waste management, transport and storage.    Continue reading

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison and Donald Trump happily together against climate change action

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

A warming world means an increased danger from nuclear wastes

 

Can Nuclear Power’s Deadly Waste Be Contained in a Warming World?  PART OF THE SERIES  Covering Climate Now, Truthout. Karen Charman 23 Sept 19, ‘…………Nuclear Energy Is Not “Clean”

Ever since the nuclear industry became a global pariah following Three Mile Island and the much more severe accident at Chernobyl in 1986, it has been desperately trying to make a comeback.

In the late 1980s, then-chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix began touting the idea that nuclear power should play a significant role in combating climate change because it does not release carbon while generating electricity, a position he continues to promote.

Several prominent advocates for addressing the climate crisis have taken up this call, some of the latest being Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Andrew Yang.

……… Because of the huge volume of deadly poisons that the nuclear fission process creates, nuclear reactors need an uninterrupted electricity supply to run the cooling systems that keep the reactors from melting down, a requirement that may be increasingly difficult to guarantee in a world of climate-fueled megastorms and other disasters.

The ongoing accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 demonstrates the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to such disasters.

Nuclear boosters have been remarkably successful in ignoring and erasing the health effects of radiation exposure, enabling them to downplay the impacts of serious accidents. In truth, reactor meltdowns, depending on where they occur, can kill and injure enormous numbers of people and contaminate the air, water, land and food supply over thousands of miles with radiation. A 1982 study by the Sandia National Laboratory, one of the labs run by the U.S. Department of Energy, calculated deaths and injuries within a year of a core meltdown and subsequent cancer deaths at 76 different nuclear power plant sites, many of which were only proposed at that time. According to this study, the Salem nuclear plant outside Philadelphia could kill 100,000 people within a year, result in 40,000 subsequent cancer deaths and give another 70,000-75,000 people a range of radiation-related injuries. A 1997 report by Brookhaven National Laboratory on the potential consequences of a spent fuel accident also forecasted large numbers of fatalities.

Fission 101

The risks of radiation exposure are downplayed and easily dismissed as “irrational fear” because the physics and chemistry of the fission process and the radioactive elements it produces are complex and not understood by the general public and also because, except in cases of acute radiation poisoning, radiation is invisible.

Radioactive fission products are “variant forms of the ordinary chemicals which are the building blocks of all material and living things,” explains Dr. Rosalie Bertell in her book, No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth. The difference is that stable, non-radioactive atoms have an equal number of protons and electrons.

Nuclear fission creates an imbalance between protons and electrons, producing enormous quantities of hundreds of different radioactive elements — the high-level waste and activation products — all of which seek to return to a stable state. These unstable atoms become stable by knocking out the extra particles fission created, a process she says takes hundreds of thousands of years.

“Every such release of energy is an explosion on the microscopic level,” Bertell says. Radiation exposure is particularly damaging to the structure of cells, which is why it is necessary to keep these radioactive elements, known as radionuclides or radioisotopes, out of the bodies of humans, other living beings and the environment.

As climate models have long predicted, our warming world is now experiencing much larger and stronger storms with significantly more rainfall in the Earth’s wetter areas and more sustained and severe drought and wildfires in the drier regions. In 2019, the hottest June on record triggered an unprecedented fire season in the Arctic, with over 100 intense fires. The summer of 2019 also saw 55 billion tons of water melt off Greenland’s ice sheet in just five days, a rate scientists hadn’t expected for 50 years.

A month before the massive ice loss in Greenland, scientists predicted sea levels could rise 6.5 feet by the end of the century, submerging nearly 700,000 square miles of land.

Most nuclear power plants are located beside rivers, lakes, dams or oceans because they need a continuous source of water to cool the reactors. In August 2018, Ensia reported that at least 100 nuclear power plants built a few meters above sea level in the U.S., Europe and Asia would likely experience flooding due to sea level rise and storm surges.

Though nuclear reactors vary in generating capacity, 1,000 megawatts is common. A reactor of that size contains 100 metric tons of enriched uranium fuel, roughly a third of which needs to be replaced with fresh fuel each year. According to radioactive waste expert Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, the spent fuel, also known as high-level waste, becomes 2.5 million times more radioactive after undergoing nuclear fission in the reactor core.

In a May 2011 report, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) senior scholar Robert Alvarez, a top official at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1993 to 1999, described the danger of high-level waste this way: “Spent fuel rods give off about 1 million rems (10,000 sieverts) of radiation per hour at a distance of one foot — enough radiation to kill people in a matter of seconds.”

The intense radioactivity the fission process creates is why reactor cores are surrounded by five-feet thick reinforced concrete containment structures and spent fuel must be shielded by at least 20 feet of water in pools for several years after it leaves the reactor.

As of September 2019, 444 nuclear reactors are operating in the world, with 54 under construction, 111 planned and 330 more proposed.https://truthout.org/articles/can-nuclear-powers-deadly-waste-be-contained-in-a-warming-world/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=a5fbaf3b-857d-46f7-9571-6774775ad709

September 24, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian schoolgirl attends United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

Australian climate striker Harriet O’Shea Carre takes fight to New York  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-23/australian-climate-striker-15-takes-fight-to-new-york/11539354, By Kirsten Robb  23 Sept 19, Every Friday night, 15-year-old Harriet O’Shea Carre can be found hanging upside down from an aerial hoop in an old train shed in Castlemaine, Victoria.

It takes an impressive amount of upper body and core strength to hoist herself up and twist her body into unnatural shapes on the apparatus. But Ms O’Shea Carre says performing in her aerial circus class is much easier than her other hobby: taking on politicians and big business in the fight against climate change.

She is one of the founding members of the School Strike For Climate (SS4C) movement in Australia. Ms O’Shea Carre has just taken her fight all the way to New York City, where she was invited to attend Saturday’s United Nations Youth Climate Summit.

Around the world on Friday, millions of students — including Ms O’Shea Carre — and their supporters skipped school and work to attend what was touted as the biggest climate protest in world history.

Organisers estimated around 4 million people in more than 163 countries turned out, including an estimated 300,000 Australians.

It was in October last year that the “Castlemaine Three” — Ms O’Shea Carre and her friends Milou Albrecht and Callum Neilson-Bridgefoot — started the Australian SS4C movement in the town of Castlemaine, 120 kilometres north-west of Melbourne.

The teens stumbled across an article about Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has been credited with beginning the global student climate movement.

“Milou read an article about Greta Thunberg when she was pretty much solo striking,” Ms O’Shea Carre said.

“She was really excited about it and she came to me on the school bus and was like, ‘Harriet, there’s this awesome article I read about this girl who’s doing this school strike.'”

After penning an impassioned letter to the editor of a Melbourne newspaper, the three teenagers and about two dozen classmates took the train from Castlemaine to Bendigo to protest outside the offices of their federal members of parliament, MP Lisa Chesters and Senator Bridget McKenzie.

The Castlemaine strikers then decided to hold a global SS4C on November 30. When their rally went viral, Prime Minister Scott Morrison famously called for “more learning in schools and less activism in schools”.

David Carre, Ms O’Shea Carre’s father, says the Prime Minister could not have helped more to galvanise the youth.

“It was probably the best thing he could have said in terms of mobilising these young people.

“To be so dismissive of them, and to suggest that they’re trying to get away with wagging school, that is just quite offensive.”

More than 10,000 went on strike on November 30. Another was held in March 2019, with 1.5 million striking around the world.

“We’re at a point in time where it’s an emergency, and we’re not seeing any action from our leaders,” Ms O’Shea Carre said.

“And if the people who are leading us aren’t doing any leadership, then I will.”

Ms O’Shea Carre was invited to attend the first United Nations Youth Climate Summit in New York City alongside Ms Thunberg.

While her parents and friends marched from Castlemaine to Melbourne, Ms O’Shea Carre joined the rally through the streets of Manhattan.

“It’s so inspiring to be here,” she told 7.30 from New York.

“There are so many people, I’m really excited to be involved in it.”

Ms O’Shea Carre says the group will keep striking until they get action.

“We’re not going to stop because there’s no point in having an education on a dead planet, and at this stage, that’s what we’re headed for.

“We’re going to keep going and keep fighting because we’re not going to let our future go away.”

September 24, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Greta Thunberg socks it to world leaders at UN Climate Summit

Climate Action summit: Greta Thunberg rips into leaders over ‘mass extinction’   https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/climate-action-summit-greta-thunberg-rips-into-leaders-over-mass-extinction/news-story/2c8d4aac13cb60507a41b48c2ef3d8f2

A teen has ripped into world leaders at a UN summit and stared down US President Donald Trump as they crossed paths in a surprise encounter.

Megan Palin@megan_palinA schoolgirl has stared down Donald Trump during a chance encounter in New York before she went on to give the world’s most powerful leaders a sensational serve.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, crossed paths with the US President in the United Nations foyer on Monday. She was there to speak at the Climate Action Summit.

Mr Trump – who has denied climate change, called it a Chinese hoax and repealed US carbon-reduction policies – was not scheduled to attend but made the surprise visit before leaving to attend a religious freedoms meeting.

Video footage of the frosty exchange shows Mr Trump appearing to ignore Ms Thunberg as he walks straight past her with his entourage. She can be seen with her eyes fixed on him, holding her steely gaze as he moves through the corridor.

Later, Ms Thunberg made an emotional appeal at the summit in which she chided the leaders with the repeated phrase, “How dare you”.Heads of state from around the world, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have descended on the Big Apple this week to make new pledges to curb global-warming emissions.

Ms Thunberg accused them of ignoring 30 years of “crystal clear” science behind the climate crisis, saying: “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth — how dare you.”

The Swedish schoolgirl, who travelled from Europe to New York for the summit on a zero-emissions sailboat, first came to worldwide attention when she started a lone protest outside her country’s parliament more than a year ago. It was that very decision which culminated in Friday’s global climate strikes.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” she told the international heads of state.

“I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean.

“Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words, and yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.

“You say you hear us, and that you understand the urgency…I do not want to believe that. “Because if you really understood the situation, and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.”

She told the UN that even the strictest emission cuts being talked about only gives the world a 50 per cent chance of limiting future warming to another 0.4C from now, which is a global goal. Those odds are not good enough, she said.

“We will not let you get away with this,” Ms Thunberg continued. “Right now is where we draw the line.”

Following Ms Thunberg’s speech, she and 15 other children filed a complaint with the UN alleging that five of the world’s major economies have violated their human rights by not taking adequate action to stop the unfolding climate crisis.

The 2019 Climate Action Summit kicked off at the UN on Monday, where world leaders gathered to discuss serious strategies to mitigate climate change. Representatives of participating nations were told by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to come up with “concrete, realistic plans” to further their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and get to net zero emissions by 2050.

Leader after leader told the UN that they will do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels. But as they made their pledges, they conceded it was not enough.

Sixty-six countries have promised to have more ambitious climate goals and 30 swore to be carbon neutral by midcentury, said Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique, who is hosting the next climate negotiations later this year. Heads of nations such as Finland and Germany promised to ban coal within a decade. Several also mentioned goals of climate neutrality — when a country is not adding more heat-trapping carbon to the air than is being removed by plants and perhaps technology — by 2050.

Mr Trump dropped by, listened to German Chancellor Angela Merkel make detailed pledges, including going coal-free, and left without saying anything.

The US did not ask to have someone speak at the summit, UN officials said. And the UN Secretary-General had told countries they couldn’t be on the agenda without making bold new proposals. Even though there was no speech by Mr Trump, he was repeatedly referenced.

In a none-too-subtle gibe at Mr Trump’s plans to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Chinese state councillor Wang Yi said countries “must honour our commitments and follow through on the Paris Agreement”.

“The withdrawal of certain parties will not shake the collective goal of the world community,” Mr Wang said to applause.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the UN’s special climate envoy, thanked Mr Trump for stopping by, adding that it might prove useful “when you formulate climate policy”, drawing laughter and applause on the floor of the General Assembly.

Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands, said she represented “the most climate vulnerable people on Earth”.

Her tiny country has increased its emission cut proposals in a way that would limit warming to that tight goal of 1.5C since pre-industrial times. “We are now calling on others to join us,” Ms Heine said.

UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres opened the summit Monday by saying: “Earth is issuing a chilling cry: Stop.” “Time is running out,” Mr Guterres said. “But it is not too late.    megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

September 23, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

September 23 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Our Failed-Businessman President Is Working To Tank Another US Industry” • Whether it’s due to pure business ignorance, immense ignorance in general, or poisonous malice, our current president, a consistent business failure over the past several decades, is working feverishly to destroy another major US industry – the auto industry. [CleanTechnica] ¶ “What […]

via September 23 Energy News — geoharvey

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Behind closed doors: Australia pushes reputation as world’s leading fossil fuel dealer — RenewEconomy

Scott Morrison opts to spend time touring a US box factory owned by a Liberal Party donor, instead of attending the UN climate leaders summit in New York. The post Behind closed doors: Australia pushes reputation as world’s leading fossil fuel dealer appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Behind closed doors: Australia pushes reputation as world’s leading fossil fuel dealer — RenewEconomy

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Small but “smart” Kanowna solar farm comes on line in northern NSW — RenewEconomy

Small but potentially significant solar farm officially opened in NSW that state agriculture minister says is a glimpse of the future for regional areas. The post Small but “smart” Kanowna solar farm comes on line in northern NSW appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Small but “smart” Kanowna solar farm comes on line in northern NSW — RenewEconomy

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s main grid copes just fine with minimal amount of coal — RenewEconomy

More than 11 large coal units were offline at various times last week, and the grid coped just fine. But we still deserve better planning for a renewable future. The post Australia’s main grid copes just fine with minimal amount of coal appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Australia’s main grid copes just fine with minimal amount of coal — RenewEconomy

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CEFC and NFF back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers — RenewEconomy

In an Australian first, the CEFC and the NFF have collaborated to back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers, with the twin goals of increasing on-farm efficiency and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The post CEFC and NFF back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via CEFC and NFF back ready-made clean energy solutions for Australian farmers — RenewEconomy

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They’re Outgrowing Subsidies – Bloomberg — Renewable Energy Tariff UK

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-09-19/solar-and-wind-power-so-cheap-they-re-outgrowing-subsidies Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They’re Outgrowing Subsidies The government aid renewable energy developers once relied on is fading away More stories by Mark Chediak19 September 2019, 11:00 BST Solar panels redirect the sun’s rays near Seville, Spain. Photographer: Markel Redondo/Bloomberg By Mark Chediak and Brian Eckhouse From LISTEN TO ARTICLE For years, […]

via Solar and Wind Power So Cheap They’re Outgrowing Subsidies – Bloomberg — Renewable Energy Tariff UK

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To 23 September – Nuclear (and Climate) News Australia

It’s been an important week for the world’s climate. Today, the world’s leaders meet in New York for a Climate Action Summit. The United Nations is trying to pressure the world into faster action on climate change.  On Friday, millions, led by children demonstrated in cities around the world, for action, for abandoning fossil fuels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXXAkt2492c. I was at the Melbourne protest, and I have never seen a rally so massive, paralysing the central business district.  So many children! It’s their future.

Some good news – The ozone layer is repairing – international co-operation pays off.

AUSTRALIA

NUCLEAR.

Found – historic film of Aboriginal resistance to uranium mining

CLIMATE. Australian children, and adults who care, march in their hundreds of thousands, for Action on Climate Change.  Resources Minister Matthew Canavan blasts ‘hypocritical, self-indulgent activists’ holding back mining sector.

Coal’s servant, P.M. Morrison makes Australia an international pariah at UN Climate Summit. He is in USA, but won’t attend the Summit.    UN bars coal nations from climate stage. (especially Australia).  Setting only long term zero carbon targets is code for “we’re doing nothing now”.  National Party disdains report from Farmers for Climate Action.

Australian Labor Party standing firm on its climate policies.

Climate change already damaging Australia’s ecosystems. Hot, dry summer to increase Victoria’s bushfire risk . Australian Capital Territory leads the nation in the climate emergency.

Rare earths. Morrison and Trump open new front in China trade war with rare earth ‘action plan’.

RENEWABLE ENERGY. Revealed: Josh Frydenberg was behind the strange Environment Department decision to block wind turbines on Lord Howe Island.  ANU to explore renewable energy exports for Australia, with Taylor’s backing.

Australia’s capital to be first city outside Europe to transition to 100% renewables.  ACT’s 100% renewable electricity target is saving households cash.

Victoria solar demand still sizzling: another 3,250 rebates gone in 20 minutes. Victoria locks in new solar farm planning guidelines. Another solar farm starts up in Queensland as daytime prices stuck near zero.

INTERNATIONAL

Nature is being exterminated: the Climate Strikes are just the beginning of our fight back. Climate Emergency – ‘We’re losing the race’. From space, the human impact on the Amazon is clearly visible. The good, the bad and the ugly: the nations leading and failing on climate action.

The health impacts of climate change.

Rising temperatures, rising seas – the growing climate change menace to nuclear power.

The catastrophe that would be a “limited nuclear war“. Dramatic rise in the risk of a US-Russia nuclear war, which would kill mega millions.

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian..

September 23, 2019 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Climate Strike – a beginning in the battle against the extermination of nature

September 22, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Trump tries to pull Scott Morrison, ‘man of titanium’, into a military coalition

Donald Trump suggests China ‘a threat to the world’ while praising Scott Morrison as a ‘man of titanium’.  US president signalled he would raise with Morrison a military contribution in Iran but then indicated he did not do so, Guardian,  Katharine Murphy Political editor

 @murpharoo  21 Sep 2019 Donald Trump has declared China is a threat to the world “in a sense” and raised the spectre of Australia joining a coalition of military action against Iran as he characterised his ally Scott Morrison, as a “man of titanium”.

Following a ceremonial welcome for Morrison on Friday Washington time attended by more than 4,000 guests, Trump praised Morrison’s personal fortitude, describing him as “a man of real, real strength, and a great guy”.

The American president signalled he would raise with Morrison a possible military contribution in Iran beyond the current freedom of navigation commitment in the Strait of Hormuz, but later in the day indicated he had not, in fact, raised the issue during a bilateral meeting at the White House.

The Australian prime minister made a point of praising the president’s restraint in relation to Iran to date and made no commitment beyond saying the government would consider any request from the administration on its merits.

…….Trump said he was interested in building a coalition for military action with Australian participation, but then told reporters at a subsequent press conference Iran wasn’t discussed, and Morrison then described Australia’s possible participation as “moot”…….. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/21/donald-trump-suggests-china-a-threat-to-the-world-while-praising-scott-morrison-as-a-man-of-titanium

September 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international | Leave a comment

Fukushima not guilty verdict , but radioactive legacy remains

Fukushima trial ends in not guilty verdict, but nuclear disaster will haunt Japan for decades to come, By James Griffiths, CNN, September 19, 2019  The only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has ended in not guilty verdicts, in a blow to families displaced by the meltdown, as the fallout promises to haunt northern Japan for decades to come.

A court in Tokyo acquitted the former chairman and two former vice presidents of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the firm which operated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to public broadcaster NHK. The trio were accused negligence for failing to implement safety measures, all three pleaded not guilty. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro argued they could not have reasonably foreseen the disaster and thus were not responsible for its effects, including the premature deaths of 44 hospital patients linked to the emergency evacuation.
Japanese prosecutors had previously refused to charge the men, and only took up the case after a concerted legal effort by the families of the dead and those who were evacuated from the area around Fukushima.
The cleanup from the disaster — caused when an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the plant — is expected to take decades, and cost billions of dollars. Tens of thousands of people still remain displaced, eight years after the original meltdown.
This month, officials said that water pumped into the stricken plant to cool its nuclear cores might have to be dumped into the ocean, due to a lack of storage space for the thousands of tons of contaminated liquid. Around 300 to 400 tons of highly radioactive water is generated every day; it’s currently stored in hundreds of tanks at the site, from which there have been multiple leaks in the years since decommissioning started.
“There are no other options,” environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said of dumping the water into the sea, though other officials claimed a final decision has not yet been made.
The suggestion of dumping even diluted radioactive runoff raised alarm in neighboring South Korea, and could effect the Japanese fishing industry over fears of contamination, regardless of whether these are valid. The original disaster sparked panics in China and on the United States West Coast, where radioactive isotopes have been detected in the California wine crop.
Tepco has previously estimated the Fukushima cleanup could take up to 40 years, at a cost of some $50 billion……….
Tepco’s liability has been a key point of contention since the meltdown.
The firm has firmly maintained that the disaster was just that, a catastrophic event that could not have been planned for. The Tohoku earthquake was the fourth largest in world history, the largest ever to strike Japan, and Tepco’s position is that it simply could not have been expected to guard against such a disaster.
But evacuees — some of whom may never be able to return to their homes — have argued this lets plant officials off the hook.
Certainly, Tepco’s response in aftermath the disaster has provided plenty of ammunition for critics, such as the delay in announcing a meltdown was taking place, Tepco’s own admitted downplaying of safety concerns, and multiple leaks of contaminated water during the cleanup process.
In 2012, a Japanese government report found that measures taken by Tepco and the Japanese nuclear regulator to prepare for disasters were “insufficient” and response to the crisis “inadequate.” That came in the wake of a study presented in parliament which said the disaster, far from being an act of nature, was a “man-made” catastrophe which should have been predicted and prepared for.
In fact, of all the studies of the disaster, only Tepco’s own internal report found that no one could have predicted the scale of the earthquake and tsunami and prepared for them. A parliamentary panel said that “the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011.”
Despite these damning findings, however, Japanese authorities have shown little desire to hold Tepco officials accountable. Prosecutors twice refused to bring charges, and this week’s court case only occurred after residents appealed.
Thursday’s decision now closes the legal chapter on Fukushima. But as tons and tons of contaminated water continue to build up at the site of the former plant, and fuel rods remain to be cleared, the ghosts of the disaster will be with Japan for decades to come.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed reporting from Tokyo. https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/19/asia/japan-fukushima-trial-intl-hnk/index.html

September 22, 2019 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment