Guardian: “Almost two years after the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi power plant sent shockwaves around the world, Japan‘s government is attempting to resell the nuclear dream to a traumatised public.” Read more
Guardian: “Yoshizawa and several Tepco colleagues decided they had no choice but to return to Fukushima Daiichi. As they left the crisis headquarters, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and nuclear officials lined up to salute them.” Read more
Guardian: “The move to close all 50 of the country’s functioning reactors by around 2040 marks a dramatic change of course by a country that had previously championed atomic energy, putting Japan alongside Germany and Switzerland, which also turned away from nuclear power following the disaster. Japan, the world’s third biggest user of nuclear power before the disaster, had planned to increase nuclear’s share of the energy mix to 50% by 2030.”
Guardian: “Last year’s accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was a manmade disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, the operator and the industry’s watchdog, a report has said.” Read more
Radiation leaks from the three reactor meltdowns have forced more than 100,000 people to abandon homes and polluted some 3 per cent of Japan’s land mass to levels requiring decontamination.
So writes Sylvia Pfeifer in the FT. More than 500 reactors planned or proposed, a market worth thousands of billions of dollars, are at risk from the Fukushima fallout, the dire progress in Finland, and the collapse in public trust.
The FT describes how far the ward of the state is from returning to its $65 bn monopoly business as usual. Japan has retreated from a pre-disaster target of lifting nuclear in the mix to 50%, and many mayors and governors are refusing to let reactors start up again.
Eight months on, the first journalists allowed inside the plant report chaotic scenes. They are allowed nowhere near the reactors,, and are told by the environment minister that it may take 30 years to decommission the plant.
The reactor, in Kyushu, had been shut down after a cooling incident.
Six countries have notified the IAEA that they abandoned plans as a result of the disaster. The UK looks like being the largest western market in the decade ahead.
Naoto Kan, former PM, in the Guardian: “Withdrawing from the plant was out of the question. If that had happened, Tokyo would be deserted by now. It was a critical moment for Japan’s survival. It could have been a led to leaks of dozens of times more radiation than Chernobyl.” He also says Tepco were not telling him the true situation.
The 90,000 evacuated residents had all been expecting to return home. Of 50 sites monitored, 35 have levels exceeding 20 millisieverts of radiation exposure a year, the level at which the government considers evacuation becomes necessary. At Okuma, a town 3km from the nuclear power plant, the reading was 508.1 millisieverts per year. With the stable cooling of the reactors completed in July, the government expects a cold shutdown of the plant to be completed in January.
A investigation by the Independent: “Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it was the earthquake that knocked out the plant’s electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant’s back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world’s first triple meltdown.” But plant workers are telling reporters that the cooling system had failed pre tsunami.
Trace amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137 have been found in urine from children from Fukushima city, 37 miles (60km) away from the plant. A Japanese civic group and Acro, a French body tested 10, and all were positive. Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University told reporters “this won’t be a problem if they don’t eat vegetables or other contaminated products. But it will be difficult for people to continue living in these areas.” Tens of thousands of children are to be given radiation dosimeters in Fukushima city.
Internal e-mails seen by the Guardian show how officials approached EDF, Areva and Westinghouse wanting to script a PR campaign to ensure the UK reactor-building programme was not derailed, well ahead of any clear knowledge of how bad the incident was. BIS official, name redacted: “This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally. We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear.” John Vidal in the Guardian on this “Orwellian” revelation: “What the emails shows is a weak government, captured by a powerful industry colluding to at least misinform and very probably lie to the public and the media. When the emails were sent, no one, least of all the industry and its friends in and out of government, had any idea how serious the situation at Fukushima was or might become.”
A new opinion poll from Ipsos MORI tells us how the battle for hearts and minds is going: 62% of citizens in 24 countries across the world oppose the use of nuclear energy, with a quarter of those having change their minds after Fukushima. In the UK, the split is 50:50. In France, 67% are opposed. The Guardian environment editor finds himself impressed with the data. Solar is the most popular energy technology.
So says Damian Carrington in the Guardian, commenting on the IAEA report on the Fukushima disaster. ” The first “independent” review of the safety failures during Japan’s nuclear disaster reveals some chillingly obvious “lessons” to be learned”.
The rapid rise was unexpected, and Tepco cannot say when decontamination work can begin again. 30 of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants are still out of operation.
The fuel may have melted through the pressure vessels in the three reactors, not just the cores. This would leaves it sitting on the concrete floor, a much more serious situation than hitherto admitted..
The UN team, led by the UK’s Mike Weightman, concludes that the tsunami risk was underestimated but….
Melted fuel is being cooled at the bottom of pressure vessels, the utility says. Number 3 started melting March 13 (Day 3) and number 2 March 14. This on top of the first reactor meltdown already announced.
In light of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Mark Lynas and Jeremy Leggett give their opinions in The Environmentalist.