Video: The Animals of Chernobyl

Public Radio Exchange, Donna Descoteaux, Oct. 2013: Dr. Timothy Mousseau, a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina [...] shares with us the results of his research at Chernobyl and Fukushima, which shows significant increases in genetic damage, birth defects in animals and humans, increased tumor rates and developmental abnormalities, biodiversity in decline, local extinction of some species and transmission of mutations over generations. [...] Dr. Mousseau’s research is critical and alarming [...]

Interview with Dr. Mousseau:
At 17:00 – Barn swallows in Fukushima, many of them, perhaps 10% so far that have been surveyed are showing patches of these white feathers, just as we documented for Chernobyl. So it looks like the same thing is happening in Fukushima […] It was really shocking to us to see these tumors [...] as high as we were seeing them. We just published a paper summarizing the results of this 10+ years survey […] Much to our surprise — many species of birds were showing signs of decline in the most contaminated parts of Fukushima Prefecture and we then found that again the pattern was very similar to what had occurred in Chernobyl. When we looked at 14 species that were identical in both areas we found that they showed the same sort of pattern but that the strength of the response of the negative response to radiation was more than 2 times in Fukushima as what we currently see in Chernobyl — implying that the effects are stronger in Fukushima, right now at least.
At 23:30 in — I just got back from Japan and initial survey of barn swallow population in the most contaminated areas. Anecdotally, things are not looking good for the birds in these very heavily contaminated areas — there’s just very few of them left.
Full interview here
New York Times, May 5, 2014: Mousseau [...] and colleagues have reported [...] higher frequencies of tumors and physical abnormalities like deformed beaks [...] and a decline in the populations of insects and spiders [...] Abnormalities and other effects of radiation are seen at much lower radiation levels than in lab-based studies, he said. [...] Dr. Mousseau has expanded his work to include similar studies in Japan — he’s made about 10 trips there. Already, he said, he is seeing some Chernobyl-like effects [...]
New York Times Video, May 5, 2014 (at 2:00 in): — Dr. Tim Mousseau: “An overall decrease in the biodiversity on the order of 50% fewer species in the hotter areas [...] It occurred to us after visiting Fukushima last year that some of those spider webs looked a little strange and so we thought we would test that hypothesis.

See it on, via FUKUSHIMA 311 WATCHDOGS


Japan investigating whether prefectures have sufficient iodine supplies for residents

Iodine tablets scandal in Niigata Pref.

Last month an official from Niigata Prefecture admitted to pretending to order 1.3 million iodine tablets, which are meant to be distributed to residents 30 kilometers around the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in case of a nuclear emergency.

Documents provided by the prefecture showed that the tablets were ordered, and the prefecture received an 8 million yen subsidy, but later the official confessed to forging and falsifying documents which supported his claim to have ordered the tablets.

Next week officials from Japan’s central government, who are in charge of nuclear disaster prevention, will visit Niigata Prefecture to investigate the case.

In response to the findings in Niigata Prefecture, the central government has also initiated an investigation into whether other prefectures have necessary iodine supplies for their residents who live within 30 kilometers of a nuclear power plant.

The post Japan investigating whether prefectures have sufficient iodine supplies for residents appeared first on Enformable.


WIPP Update; May Be Closed For 3 Years, Los Alamos Waste Considered Suspect

Another town hall was held last night and brought forth a number of new admissions on the situation at WIPP in New Mexico

The underground facility may be shut down for 18 months to three years.Waste from Los Alamos is thought to be the likely cause but this is not yet confirmed
They are considering the possibility of a “chemical explosion” in room 7 as a possible cause Waste began being loaded into room 7 in January 2014 Los Alamos waste shipments to a private temporary facility in TX have been stopped as a precaution

The waste from Los Alamos has been being sent to a temporary facility. There were also a number of received canisters on truck trailers that had been in WIPP’s parking lot. Those were being considered for transfer to the TX facility. Exactly where those waste shipments are currently was not explained. There was also no explanation what DOE may be …


Fukushima worker sues TEPCO for exposure to radiation - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun

A worker at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant who was exposed to high levels of radiation in the early days of the disaster is seeking compensation from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other parties. It is the first such lawsuit by a Fukushima worker, according to the man’s lawyers. Their client’s identity was withheld.

“I wish (the utility) had informed us of possible risks in advance,” the 48-year-old man said at a news conference in Tokyo on May 7. “I want (TEPCO) to create safer conditions for workers because the decommissioning of the reactors will not finish anytime soon.”

Arguing that he was unnecessarily exposed to high levels of radiation due to slipshod instructions from TEPCO, the man is seeking 11 million yen ($107,000) in compensation. The lawsuit was filed at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court.

Just 13 days after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, the man was among the six workers from TEPCO’s original contractor and its subcontractor who entered the basement of the No. 3 reactor turbine building, which had been flooded by tsunami, to install cables.

Three of the workers waded through contaminated water up to their ankles and were exposed to up to 180 millisieverts of radiation. They were later hospitalized.

According to the man’s complaint and other documents, he did not enter the radioactive water, but worked near a puddle of contaminated water for 90 minutes. He estimated that he received a radiation dose of at least 20 millisieverts at that time.

The man argued that TEPCO should have been aware of the risks of working in the basement because it had previously discovered highly contaminated water around the No. 1 reactor on March 18. The man insists that the utility, however, told the six workers that the basement was safe to work in.

“That is a breach of responsibility to ensure safety,” the man said. “(The utility) put us in a position of being exposed to high doses of radiation unnecessarily.”

So far, the man has suffered no health issues.

“After carefully examining the contents of the demand and his arguments, we will sincerely respond to the claim,” TEPCO said in a statement issued the same day.

See it on, via FUKUSHIMA 311 WATCHDOGS


Japan seeking international assistance with Fukushima Daiichi fuel removal

IAEA review mission members examine recovery work at TEPCO's No.4 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

On Friday, officials from the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) in Japan attending a seminar asked for input from engineers in Japan and across the world on removing melted nuclear fuel from the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Tokyo Electric plans to fill the containment vessels with water in order to shield the workers from the high levels of radiation they would be exposed to while retrieving the damaged fuel. The roadmap for decommissioning developed by the utility estimates fuel removal activities could begin by 2020, or later.

At the seminar, IRID officials announced to any engineers interested in giving their input that the plan to fill the containment vessels may not be feasible, as not all leaks may be located or plugged prior to fuel removal.

The announcement infers that the containment vessels may be more damaged than initially estimated by Tokyo Electric. Even if the containment vessels were able of holding the water there are also questions as to whether they would be structurally sound enough to hold the additional weight of the water required for shielding.

Engineers are invited to submit their input on technology that can identify and remove fuel debris in a highly radioactive atmosphere while protecting workers without the aid of shielding by water. The Japanese government will begin accepting proposals in June.

The post Japan seeking international assistance with Fukushima Daiichi fuel removal appeared first on Enformable.


Puzzling rare birth defects in Eastern Washington

There were seven cases of the defect called anencephaly in 2013 in Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties for a rate of 8.7 cases per 10,000 births for the three-county area, while the average rate for the years from 2010-12 was 8.4 cases per 10,000 births — both at least four times the national rate of 2.1. The explanation might be a combination of social, economic, genetic and environmental factors, said epidemiologist Mandy Stahre, who is assigned to Washington state by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What we’ve been trying to target is if there’s something other than that, but you can’t ignore the social determinants of health: health disparities, high rates of obesity, lack of access to healthy foods, lack of access to prenatal care. … Investigators have mapped the cases, asked the mothers what they ate and where they bought groceries, talked about pesticides, and looked at family history of birth defects. The committee will include birth defect experts from the CDC, researchers, local health care providers, public health officials and community leaders.


DOE blames management, safety and oversight for radiation release from WIPP

A photo provided by the Department of Energy showing workers inside of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for the first time since the radiation release on February 14th.

Investigators from the Department of Energy previewed findings of an investigation of the leak from the Waste Isolation Pilot Project Wednesday night and blamed the radiation release on poor management, ineffective safety and maintenance programs, and a lack of proper oversight.

Ted Wyka, chairman of the Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board said, “The bottom line is they failed to believe the initial indications of the release.”

The full investigative report will be released on Thursday.

The post DOE blames management, safety and oversight for radiation release from WIPP appeared first on Enformable.


New report says renewables make up most of planned new U.S. generating capacity–and the reality is even better.


If there was any lingering doubt that the tide has swung away from nuclear power and fossil fuels, consider this: a new report from SNL Financial finds that renewables represent–by a large margin–most of the new electrical generating capacity currently planned to be built in the U.S.

Fully 56.58% of new capacity is to come from renewables, according to the report, with wind making up the majority of the renewable installations. Natural gas comes in second at 30.52%. In total, the report says a total of 349,858 MW of new capacity is planned; wind is the largest single source at 111,936 MW.

The report includes only projects that have reached at least the stage of being announced by utilities, and the large majority of the projects of all fuel types are either in that very initial phase or in what is considered early development. Less than 19% of this proposed new capacity is in either advanced development or actually under construction, meaning that the generation types could change depending on economic and environmental circumstances in coming years.

With that caveat in mind, when we look more closely at the numbers, the news is even better than it may appear.

You see, SNL Financial is relying on and aggregating information provided by utilities–and in some cases that information is either outdated or represented wishful thinking, especially when it comes to nuclear power.

First, let’s take a look at the graph from the report reproduced immediately above.

You’ll note that nuclear power is projected for 36,993 MW of new capacity, of which 5,538 MW is under construction. That represents the Vogtle and Summer nuclear projects in Georgia and South Carolina, which are indeed under construction. Then you’ll see 2,234 MW of nuclear projects under “advanced development.” About half of that is likely the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar-2 reactor, which TVA is attempting to make the world’s longest construction project–it received its construction permit from the NRC in January 1973. We have no idea what SNL considers as another nuclear project in the U.S. as under “advanced development.” There are none.

Then, note that the vast majority–23,011 MW or about two-thirds-of the supposed new nuclear capacity–is considered in early development, and another 1550 MW is listed as “announced.” Those numbers represent the failed “nuclear renaissance.” Most of those reactors have either already been cancelled or never got off the ground. Only a handful–North Anna in Virginia, Fermi-3 in Michigan, Lee in the Carolinas–are threats for construction, and those are all on shaky ground. But, because the utilities involved have not officially withdrawn their plans, they’re still included.

We can see, from the map at the top of this page, what some of these nuclear projects are: a project in Idaho that never got off the ground; the Green River project in Utah, which officially lumbers on despite having no financing, no market and no license application; Grand Gulf-2 in Mississippi, an Entergy project abandoned years ago; Calvert-Cliffs-3 in Maryland, which was denied a license and has now officially been ended; the Bell Bend Areva EPR in Pennsylvania, which even its backers admitted would cost $15 Billion for a single reactor; a phantom project in southern Ohio, presumably to power USEC’s failed uranium enrichment plant that it wants to build there but can’t because the company is bankrupt; Ameren’s cancelled Callaway-2 reactor in Missouri. In short, nearly all of this supposed new nuclear capacity will never be built.

Then consider this: the report states that some 25,000 MW of coal plants are scheduled to be retired by 2018. That’s great news for everyone concerned about climate change, but it could and should grow even higher. Here’s why: the report only considers retirements already announced by utilities; it doesn’t try to provide its own projections. Thus, for nuclear power, the report includes only those reactors closed last year plus Vermont Yankee, scheduled to close this year. But the odds that all of the aging reactors–more than a dozen currently–confronting the reality that their electricity is more expensive than alternatives will be able to stay open are slim. Indeed, the pace of reactor shutdowns is more likely to accelerate than it is to fall to zero. A number of coal plants in similar markets are in similar situations, and the disparity will only grow as more renewables come online.

Finally, note this: the report is based on utility plans and thus appears to completely ignore rooftop solar. Since rooftop solar usually shows up on utility balance sheets as power not sold (or in some cases, as power purchased when homeowners sell unused power back to the grid) rather than power generated, that makes sense to them. But the rapid rise of rooftop solar–especially as projected over the next several years, is likely to lead, as stated above, to accelerated shutdown of unnecessary and costly nuclear and coal plants.

The map at the top of the page, for example, includes only utility-scale projects of 25 MW or more, meaning that a lot of small solar power plants, in addition to rooftop solar, are not included. However, it is unclear whether the map reflects all new planned capacity or just that above the 25 MW threshhold.

In any case, the gap between renewables and nuclear is growing wider and even the utilities know it, whether they want to admit it or not….

But one entity that seems to not want to admit it is the U.S. government. Ken Bossong of the Sun Day Campaign today warned that the Energy Information Administration is planning to issue its 2014 Annual Energy Outlook next Wednesday, April 30. As Sun Day pointed out last week, EIA in a December preview of the Outlook, projected renewables would grow from 12% of U.S. electricity capacity in 2012 to only 16% by 2040–a projection that is simply not credible given the rapid growth of renewables and the SNL report on planned capacity.

As Bossong states, “We believe this projection does not pass the laugh test. More importantly, it is highly likely that EIA’s projections will be broadly reiterated in the media and risks becoming the accepted basis for future decisions by policy-makers, regulators, investors, and others. Obviously, unrealistically low forecasts provide ammunition for those arguing that investments in renewable energy are not cost-effective and that new fossil fuel and nuclear construction is necessary because renewables cannot meet the nation’s future energy needs. As such, EIA’s projections can have multiple adverse impacts on the renewable energy industry as well as on the nation’s environmental and energy future.”

Because of the criticism EIA has received over that projection, there is at least some small chance it will change its numbers. But it’s a small chance. We’ll let you know as soon as we receive their report–and, if it continues to mislead, an action you can take to help get better projections from our government.

Michael Mariotte

April 23, 2014


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Filed under: energy future Tagged: coal, Energy Information Administration, renewables, SNL Financial, solar power, Sun Day Campaign


TEPCO rejects settlement proposals over compensation to staff victims of nuclear disaster - 毎日新聞

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) rejected some 20 proposals made by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center (ADR) to settle disputes with TEPCO employees and their families over compensation for damages stemming from the 2011 outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant, it has been learned.

TEPCO, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power complex, turned down six such proposals during a one-month period through March 26. All of the proposals were made at the request of TEPCO employees and their families, and there were two cases in March alone that were brought to court. Other TEPCO employees are also considering filing lawsuits against the utility. The unusual situation in Japan in which employees and their company confront each other is becoming increasingly serious.

According to people concerned, there were 21 cases as of March 26 in which procedures for ADR-brokered settlements broke down because TEPCO refused to reach out-of-court settlements. TEPCO rejected all of the compromise proposals made by the ADR to order the utility to pay compensation to TEPCO employees or their families. There were 15 cases that had been handled by the ADR for about two and a half years between August 2011 when the ADR was established and Feb. 25, 2014. That means, however, that TEPCO rejected six sets of compromise proposals during only one month thereafter.

A 45-year-old male employee filed a lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court on March 4 and a 23-year-old male employee filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court on March 10. The man who filed the suit with the Fukushima District Court was living alone in an apartment in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Okuma near the troubled nuclear power station when the nuclear accident occurred. He is currently living in Fukushima city, and he filed the lawsuit demanding the utility pay about 7 million yen in damages including psychological distress. His lawyer Mitsugu Araki said, “There is no rational reason why only TEPCO employees should not be granted compensation.”

The man who filed the suit with the Tokyo District Court is a young TEPCO employee who joined the utility four years ago. In the wake of the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, he slept in his car after evacuating from a company residence in Okuma near the crippled nuclear plant. He then moved to a corporate dormitory at the “J-Village” facility in Hirono and Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, in August 2011.

The man lived in a three-tatami-mat private room while trying not to make any noise. Thus, he had a series of sleepless nights. In October 2011, he lied down in the room but could not get to sleep. He later found out that he had taken one month’s worth of sleep-inducing tablets by the following morning. Doctors diagnosed him with an adjustment disorder. He could not adapt to the environment and started to suffer from depression and insomnia. In the ADR-mediated procedures, TEPCO insisted, “His evacuation finished when he moved to Iwaki city.” Because of all this, the man moved ahead to file the lawsuit demanding TEPCO pay about 18 million yen in damages.

The man says that many young TEPCO employees have been leaving the company because of the utility’s discriminatory handling of its employees. His friend who joined the utility the same year left the company, saying, “I can’t work at a company that does not see a person as a human.” The man asked himself, “Should I seek compensation even by suing the company?” After agonizing over the issue, he decided to file the lawsuit against TEPCO, saying, “For the sake of other employees who cannot raise their voices, I want the company to acknowledge its responsibility.” His lawyer Motomitsu Nakagawa said, “TEPCO and the state should think about the fact that there are many employees in the background who cannot raise their voices.”

According to other lawyers, there are at least two people who are preparing to file lawsuits against TEPCO. Although the situation represents a confrontation between labor and management, there are no signs that the Tokyo Electric Power Worker’s Union will take any action. The union told the Mainichi Shimbun, “Because compensation is an issue to be handled by individuals, the union has no plans to negotiate with the company.”


TEPCO ordered to act on contaminated water problem

Japan’s nuclear regulator has ordered the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to strengthen safety measures for handling contaminated water. The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced a mishandling incident at the plant and the regulator wants to prevent a reoccurrence.

Workers at the plant inject water into damaged reactors to cool melted fuel. The water becomes highly radioactive in the process, and is supposed to be held in storage buildings before being sent to a decontaminating facility.

On Monday TEPCO learned that more than 200,000 liters of highly contaminated water was mistaken pumped to the basement of a building in the compound. The company says 4 pumps for emergency use directed the water.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa called for stronger measures at a regular meeting of the group on Wednesday. He suggested steps such as setting up security cameras and locking the pumps’ switch boxes.

The regulator ordered the utility to come up with preventative measures and report them at an experts’ panel scheduled for Friday.

TEPCO has yet to determine who turned on the pumps and how the incident came about. The regulator has also asked to be briefed on the results of TEPCO’s investigation.