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Why George Monbiot is wrong on nuclear power

By Ricardo Sequeiros Coelho

“This is a very serious accident by all standards. And it is not yet over.” – Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

March 29, 2011 -- Cool the Earth -- George Monbiot, the well-known environmentalist and journalist, managed to surpass the nuclear power lobby in the downplaying of the Fukushima disaster. First, he wrote that the disaster should not lead to an end of nuclear power, since that would mean more coal plants, so we should build more nuclear plants (Monbiot.com). Then, he wrote that since no one died from Fukushima he is now a nuclear power advocate (Monbiot.com). Amazing.

His arguments are as far fetched as they are deceiving. It is worth discussing them in detail, going through the four strategies that he uses to make his point.

Cherry picking: playing with statistics to downplay the health effects of ratiation

Nuclear power enthusiasts like to say that the damage to human health from Chernobyl was negligible. Monbiot with them and quotes the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) figure of 28 deaths from Chernobyl’s staff and emergency workers, caused by radiation exposure, and 15 additional deaths from thyroid cancer from people living in the surroundings (link). The figure appears in the Chernobyl Forum, a regular meeting of IAEA and several UN agencies, reports.

But Monbiot forgot to add to this figure the estimated 4000 deaths from thyroid cancer. He also didn’t notice that the Chernobyl Forum, while avoiding estimates of cancer deaths among the most exposed to radiation because of the significant uncertainties regarding the treatment of data, it admitted that they could amount to thousands (PDF). Worse still, he forgot to mention how these estimates are contested.

In 2006, Greenpeace commissioned a report on the health effects from Chernobyl, in which it is estimated that about 200,000 people may die from cancers caused by radiation exposure (PDF). The Chernobyl Forum dismissed this study as “ideological” and “non-scientific” but its results were backed by many scientific studies.

In the same year, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) estimated that more than 10,000 people were affected by thyroid cancer, to which 50,000 more cases are expected in the future should be added. The IPPNW report (link) is highly critical of the Chernobyl Forum’s evaluation of the scientific literature, as the references it quotes mention 10,000 to 25,000 additional deaths due to cancer but the number was somehow crushed to 4000 and as statistics regarding the increase in several health problems and deaths among rescue workers were ignored.

More importantly, in 2007, a book published by the New York Academy of Sciences, called Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe of the People and the Environment (Google Books) estimated a whopping 985,000 deaths as a result of the radioactivity released in the 1986-2004 period. The book used as a reference more than 1000 published scientific articles and more than 5000 internet and printed publications, mostly from Slavic origin, which were ignored by the Chernobyl Forum.

I’m no expert on the matter, so I won’t discuss the differences in methodology among these studies. It is worthy of note that we still know little about the effects of radiation on human health because there aren’t a lot of subjects to study. The estimates we have now on safe levels of radiation are based on data from the survivors of the infamous bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately, it is still impossible to find other populations that were exposed to high levels of radiation, so all we can do is extrapolate from this data and try to estimate the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

Yet, it seems evident to me that one should be suspicious of the Chernobyl Forum’s estimates, as one of the main participants is the powerful pro-nuclear lobby, the IAEA. As someone who states “I despise and fear the nuclear industry as much as any other green”, Monbiot should do the same, instead of just assuming that the “green” side of the argument is wrong and arguing that “some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution”.

Crystal ball: pretending to have the ability to guess the future

The danger of a nuclear meltdown on Fukushima is still long from gone. The rescue team has managed to put the power back on and start pumping water but, according to the engineers running the operation, the hardest tasks are still ahead and only two weeks from now, if all goes well, can we be sure that the worse was prevented. We still don’t know how much radiation was leaked into the surrounding area, how many people are going to be exposed and what the consequences will be. But Monbiot assures us that the problem was solved: “Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small.”

Unless Monbiot has psychic abilities, it is hard to imagine how he can know that, no matter what happens in the next days, the impact of the leaked radiation on human health and on the environment will be negligible. Personally, I don’t believe that Monbiot can guess the future, so I can only conclude that he is being cynical and wonder if he would have the guts to tell the residents from Fukushima that there’s nothing to worry about.

Deceitfulness: playing with words to fool the reader

Monbiot bases his argument for nuclear power on the false choice between nuclear winter and global warming. If we don’t have nuclear power, the argument goes, we will need to use coal, and we’ll all die from climate change. If we use nuclear power instead, only some people die. In his words: “Nuclear causes calamities when it goes wrong, coal causes calamities when it goes right, and coal goes right a lot more often than nuclear goes wrong.”

He goes then to show that even the main problem of nuclear power, radioactivity, is present in coal-fired plants, by quoting a Scientific American article (link) stating “the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy”. From this, Monbiot concludes that, on every measure, coal is 100 times worse than nuclear, even considering radioactivity. But reading the quoted article, one can easily see how misleading this conclusion is.

What the article is quoting is a figure from a 1978 study that compared the radioactivity present in fly ash and the radioactivity present in the surroundings of a nuclear plant, where radioactive waste is sealed. It is no wonder that the former is greater than the latter, despite still not being high enough to cause health problems. To jump from this to comparisons between burning coal and being exposed to radioactivity from nuclear fuel when there is a leak or a meltdown makes no sense.

The editors note on the article says it all: “As a general clarification, ounce for ounce, coal ash released from a power plant delivers more radiation than nuclear waste shielded via water or dry cask storage.” So, the comparison is between a certain event with negligible health effects or a low-probability event with significant health effects. Monbiot clearly thinks that the former is more acceptable than the latter, after leaving aside the possibility of neither being acceptable. He should have been honest enough to make this point clearly, instead of playing with words.

Twilight zone: what is true in this reality can be untrue in another dimension

To us the coal-vs-nuclear blackmail (which is the only convincing pro-nuclear argument an environmentalist can offer), Monbiot has to prove that we cannot have 100% renewable energy. It should not come as a surprise that he chooses to evade the hard question.

There are several reports which show that we can abandon both fossil fuels and nuclear power and still provide energy to everyone’s needs. Both WWF (link) and Greenpeace (link) published reports showing possible pathways to achieve this goal by 2050. A similar study was made for Australia by Beyond Zero Emissions (link).

There are also several scientific papers on the subject, based on case studies from a single country. A paper in Energy (abstract) concluded that reaching 100% renewables by 2050 is feasible for Denmark. Another paper in Applied Energy (abstract) concludes that “a 100% renewable energy-system is not only feasible in Ireland, but that there are numerous methods of achieving this”, leaving as an object of future research how and when to achieve this goal.

I could go on showing examples but the point is that while Monbiot crossed his arms and assumed that getting rid of fossil fuels and nuclear is impossible in the next decades, experts around the world are using their brains to figure out how we can phase out non-renewable energy starting now.

Then there’s the problem of cost. The main argument given against the expansion of renewables is their high cost, but nuclear power is even more expensive. Back in 2003, already a comprehensive study by the MIT concluded that nuclear power can only be competitive against fossil fuels if its cost decreases and a high carbon tax is imposed (link), and the conclusion was again present in the 2009 update and in the 2010 evaluation of the nuclear fuel cycle (PDF). MIT then recommended that taxpayers’ money should be used to subsidise the nuclear power industry, as a temporary measure until its cost decreases enough to make it competitive in deregulated markets. But last year, Citibank issued a report showing that the cost of nuclear power has been increasing and predicting that it will not decrease in the future (PDF). Further, the cost estimates that MIT uses are much lower than the estimates from consultancies and the historical data from the industry (Nuclear Information and Resource Service).

Nuclear power isn’t even cost-efficient compared to renewables. A study from the Rocky Mountain Institute, for instance, estimates that reducing emissions through expansion of nuclear power is two to 10 times more expensive and takes 20 to 40 times as much time as reducing emissions by investing in efficiency, renewables and co-generation (link). Talk about wasting money.

Monbiot’s answer to these claims is laughable. In the debate with Green MP Caroline Lucas (Guardian), he makes the following point: “When you have a relatively low penetration of renewables on the grid – 10, 20, 30, even 50%, the costs will not be that high. But once you get beyond 50% or maybe 70%, they are likely to escalate dramatically, because you need a lot more redundancy and storage. So while you can say wind at the moment costs less than nuclear, it’s much harder to be confident that wind, once we’ve got 60% of all our electricity being produced by renewables, will cost less than nuclear. My guess, because I haven’t yet seen a comparative study, and I don’t believe one exists, is that when we get up to those sorts of levels, nuclear is likely to be quite a lot cheaper.”

To put it in other words, while it is true that nuclear is not cost-effective now, it might be true that it will be cost-effective when we have a high percentage of renewables (even though their cost is decreasing) and this possibility justifies the investment in new nuclear power plants.

This “what if” argument is present in a different form in one of his articles: “It may well be the case (I have yet to see a comparative study) that up to a certain grid penetration – 50 or 70% perhaps? – renewables have smaller carbon impacts than nukes, while beyond that point, nukes have smaller impacts than renewables.” When everything else fails, Monbiot turns to guessing the future games.

Flip-flop leads to discredit

In December 2009, I saw George Monbiot in a debate on nuclear power in the KlimaForum. Among environmental activists, he claimed that he changed his stance from neutrality to opposition to nuclear power because the risks are too high. Among other things, he mentioned how there is no regulatory system that is reliable enough to assure us that radioactive waste won’t be just thrown into the sea, as some has been in the last decades. Now, he uses the most ridiculous, cynical and even dishonest arguments to support nuclear energy, destroying the image of a journalist who is serious about his use of sources.

It is one thing to change one’s mind and only an idiot doesn’t do that several times over her life. It’s another thing to engage in an intensive flip-flop and become someone who has no opinion of his/her own. Maybe someday Monbiot will change his mind again and turn anti-nuclear again, but I for one can’t take him seriously anymore.

[This article first appeared at Ricardo Sequeiros Coelho's website, Cool the Earth. He is a Portugal-based ecosocialist.]

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Tokyo Electric disposing of low radioactive water in Pacific

<http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/04/83119.html>


TOKYO, April 5, Kyodo


Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday took the unprecedented measure of

dumping 10,000 tons of low-level radioactive water in the Pacific

Ocean from a facility at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power

complex to make room for the storage of more highly contaminated

water, which is hampering restoration work at the plant.


With the total amount of water to reach 11,500 tons, including

contaminated groundwater from near the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, the

government said the disposal was unavoidable in order to secure

safety. The level of radioactive substances in the water is up to 500

times the legal limit permitted for release in the environment.


The government's nuclear agency said the disposal will pose ''no major

health risk'' and experts say that the radioactive materials are

likely to be diluted in the sea, but it remains uncertain how the

marine environment will be affected when taking into account the

impact of highly radioactive water already leaking into the sea from

the plant located on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.


The utility known as TEPCO used colored powder Monday morning to

determine how the highly radioactive water, believed to originate from

the No. 2 reactor, made its way into the sea. But the Nuclear and

Industrial Safety Agency said that it was not able to confirm the

route of flow.


In announcing the decision to dispose of the low-level radioactive

water, top government spokesman Yukio Edano said, ''We've placed

priority on not letting the highly radioactive water flow into the

sea.''


Massive tsunami waves that hit the plant after the March 11 earthquake

left water inside the plant's facilities, and the 10,000 tons of water

found in the facility for nuclear waste disposal is believed to be

part of the seawater, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear

agency said.


By removing the water containing low-level radioactive substances in

the waste disposal facility, TEPCO plans to instead fill the facility

with a massive amount of highly radioactive water currently in the No.

2 reactor's turbine building and underground tunnel-like trench that

is connected to the building, Nishiyama said.


Removal of contaminated water at the turbine buildings of several

reactors is necessary to reduce the risk of workers being exposed to

radioactive substances, which is hindering efforts to restore vital

cooling functions to cool down the reactors and spent nuclear fuel

pools.


Nishiyama also said that it had become necessary to release 1,500 tons

of groundwater, also containing radioactive materials, found near the

Nos. 5 and 6 reactor turbine buildings out of concern that the water

could drown safety-related equipment.


Of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the Nos. 5 and 6

reactors have achieved ''cold shutdown,'' but Nishiyama said that he

is afraid their cooling functions could be lost if the water level

increases inside the buildings.


As for the impact of the disposal of the 11,500 tons of water, TEPCO

said an adult's annual dose would be around 0.6 millisieverts if the

person ate seaweed and fish caught nearby every day for a year, which

is still about a quarter of the annual dose a person is usually

exposed to from natural sources.


TEPCO is also stepping up efforts to stop highly radioactive water

from leaking into the sea, and the company poured 13 kilograms of

white bath agent into the trench connected to the No. 2 reactor

turbine building to trace the source of highly radioactive water

leaking into the sea.


But colored water did not come out from a seaside pit where a

20-centimeter crack has been found to be leaking radioactive water

into the Pacific Ocean, Nishiyama said.


Highly radioactive water has been filling up the basement of the No. 2

reactor turbine building and the trench connected to it. Meanwhile,

the water in the pit is believed to have come from the No. 2 reactor

core, where fuel rods have partially melted.


TEPCO has revealed that radioactive iodine-131 more than 10,000 times

the legal concentration limit was detected in the water found in the

pit.


''We must prevent radioactive water from spreading in the sea as soon

as possible,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano said earlier in the day,

adding that the longer the contamination continued, the larger the

impact on the sea would be, even if radioactive materials were diluted

in the sea.


In an effort to prevent further spread of seawater contamination,

TEPCO is considering installing ''silt fence'' barriers in the sea

where radioactive water is suspected to be flowing in, Nishiyama said,

although he added that it would likely take several days to complete

the work.


The barriers basically consist of curtains attached with weights,

which TEPCO hopes will contain the contaminated water. One of the

barriers would be placed in front of the No. 2 reactor's water intake,

close to the pit in question, among other places.

 

    

Study: world can be powered by alternative energy

 

The world can be powered by alternative energy, using today's technology, in 20-40 years, says Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson

A new study – co-authored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson and UC-Davis researcher Mark A. Delucchi – analyzing what is needed to convert the world's energy supplies to clean and sustainable sources says that it can be done with today's technology at costs roughly comparable to conventional energy. But converting will be a massive undertaking on the scale of the moon landings. What is needed most is the societal and political will to make it happen.

Justin Warren and Mark Shwartz

The researchers' plan calls for wind and solar power to contribute 90 percent of needed energy.

BY LOUIS BERGERON

If someone told you there was a way you could save 2.5 million to 3 million lives a year and simultaneously halt global warming, reduce air and water pollution and develop secure, reliable energy sources – nearly all with existing technology and at costs comparable with what we spend on energy today – why wouldn't you do it?

According to a new study coauthored by Stanford researcher Mark Z. Jacobson, we could accomplish all that by converting the world to clean, renewable energy sources and forgoing fossil fuels.

"Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. "It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will."

He and Mark Delucchi, of the University of California-Davis, have written a two-part paper in Energy Policy in which they assess the costs, technology and material requirements of converting the planet, using a plan they developed.

The world they envision would run largely on electricity. Their plan calls for using wind, water and solar energy to generate power, with wind and solar power contributing 90 percent of the needed energy.

Geothermal and hydroelectric sources would each contribute about 4 percent in their plan (70 percent of the hydroelectric is already in place), with the remaining 2 percent from wave and tidal power. 

Vehicles, ships and trains would be powered by electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. Aircraft would run on liquid hydrogen. Homes would be cooled and warmed with electric heaters – no more natural gas or coal – and water would be preheated by the sun.

Commercial processes would be powered by electricity and hydrogen. In all cases, the hydrogen would be produced from electricity. Thus, wind, water and sun would power the world.

The researchers approached the conversion with the goal that by 2030, all new energy generation would come from wind, water and solar, and by 2050, all pre-existing energy production would be converted as well.

L.A. Cicero Mark Z. Jacobson

"There are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources," said Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

"We wanted to quantify what is necessary in order to replace all the current energy infrastructure – for all purposes – with a really clean and sustainable energy infrastructure within 20 to 40 years," said Jacobson.

One of the benefits of the plan is that it results in a 30 percent reduction in world energy demand since it involves converting combustion processes to electrical or hydrogen fuel cell processes. Electricity is much more efficient than combustion.

That reduction in the amount of power needed, along with the millions of lives saved by the reduction in air pollution from elimination of fossil fuels, would help keep the costs of the conversion down.

"When you actually account for all the costs to society – including medical costs – of the current fuel structure, the costs of our plan are relatively similar to what we have today," Jacobson said.

One of the biggest hurdles with wind and solar energy is that both can be highly variable, which has raised doubts about whether either source is reliable enough to provide "base load" energy, the minimum amount of energy that must be available to customers at any given hour of the day.

Jacobson said that the variability can be overcome.

"The most important thing is to combine renewable energy sources into a bundle," he said. "If you combine them as one commodity and use hydroelectric to fill in gaps, it is a lot easier to match demand."

Wind and solar are complementary, Jacobson said, as wind often peaks at night and sunlight peaks during the day. Using hydroelectric power to fill in the gaps, as it does in our current infrastructure, allows demand to be precisely met by supply in most cases. Other renewable sources such as geothermal and tidal power can also be used to supplement the power from wind and solar sources.

"One of the most promising methods of insuring that supply matches demand is using long-distance transmission to connect widely dispersed sites," said Delucchi. Even if conditions are poor for wind or solar energy generation in one area on a given day, a few hundred miles away the winds could be blowing steadily and the sun shining.

"With a system that is 100 percent wind, water and solar, you can't use normal methods for matching supply and demand.  You have to have what people call a supergrid, with long-distance transmission and really good management," he said.

Another method of meeting demand could entail building a bigger renewable-energy infrastructure to match peak hourly demand and use the off-hours excess electricity to produce hydrogen for the industrial and transportation sectors.

Using pricing to control peak demands, a tool that is used today, would also help.

Jacobson and Delucchi assessed whether their plan might run into problems with the amounts of material needed to build all the turbines, solar collectors and other devices.

They found that even materials such as platinum and the rare earth metals, the most obvious potential supply bottlenecks, are available in sufficient amounts. And recycling could effectively extend the supply. 

"For solar cells there are different materials, but there are so many choices that if one becomes short, you can switch," Jacobson said. "Major materials for wind energy are concrete and steel and there is no shortage of those."

Jacobson and Delucchi calculated the number of wind turbines needed to implement their plan, as well as the number of solar plants, rooftop photovoltaic cells, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal and wave-energy installations.

They found that to power 100 percent of the world for all purposes from wind, water and solar resources, the footprint needed is about 0.4 percent of the world's land (mostly solar footprint) and the spacing between installations is another 0.6 percent of the world's land (mostly wind-turbine spacing), Jacobson said.

One of the criticisms of wind power is that wind farms require large amounts of land, due to the spacing required between the windmills to prevent interference of turbulence from one turbine on another.

"Most of the land between wind turbines is available for other uses, such as pasture or farming," Jacobson said.  "The actual footprint required by wind turbines to power half the world's energy is less than the area of Manhattan." If half the wind farms were located offshore, a single Manhattan would suffice.

Jacobson said that about 1 percent of the wind turbines required are already in place, and a lesser percentage for solar power.

"This really involves a large scale transformation," he said. "It would require an effort comparable to the Apollo moon project or constructing the interstate highway system."

"But it is possible, without even having to go to new technologies," Jacobson said.  "We really need to just decide collectively that this is the direction we want to head as a society."

Jacobson is the director of Stanford's Atmosphere/Energy Program and a senior fellow at Stanford's Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.

 

Japan Govt did not reveal high level radiation estimate

<http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/04_10.html>

It has been learned that the Japanese government withheld the release
of computer projections indicating high levels of radioactivity in
areas more than 30 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant.

The estimates were made on March 16th following explosions at the
plant by an institute commissioned by the government using a computer
system called SPEEDI. The system made its projections on the
assumption that radioactive substances had been released for 24 hours
from midnight on March 14th, based on the available data.

But the government was reluctant to reveal the SPEEDI projections, and
did not release them until March 23rd.
The released data showed that higher levels of radioactive substances
would flow over areas to the northwest and southwest of the plant.

The estimates showed that the radiation would exceed 100 millisieverts
in some areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant if people
remained outdoors for 24 hours between March 12th and 24th.

That is 100 times higher than the 1 millisievert-per-year long-term
reference level for humans as recommended by the International
Commission on Radiological Protection.

The Nuclear Safety Commission says it did not release the projections
because the location or the amount of radioactive leakage was not
specified at the time.

Professor emeritus Shigenobu Nagataki of Nagasaki University, says the
government should release more data about the dangers of possible
radiation exposure and draw up evacuation plans and other measures
together with residents.

Monday, April 04, 2011 12:38 +0900 (JST)

Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times

<http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110405x1.html>
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Radioactivity in sea up 7.5 million times
Marine life contamination well beyond Japan feared

By KANAKO TAKAHARA
Staff writer

Radioactive iodine-131 readings taken from seawater near the water
intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant's No. 2 reactor reached
7.5 million times the legal limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted
Tuesday.

The sample that yielded the high reading was taken Saturday, before
Tepco announced Monday it would start releasing radioactive water into
the sea, and experts fear the contamination may spread well beyond
Japan's shores to affect seafood overseas.

The unstoppable radioactive discharge into the Pacific has prompted
experts to sound the alarm, as cesium, which has a much longer
half-life than iodine, is expected to concentrate in the upper food
chain.

According to Tepco, some 300,000 becquerels per sq. centimeter of
radioactive iodine-131 was detected Saturday, while the amount of
cesium-134 was 2 million times the maximum amount permitted and
cesium-137 was 1.3 million times the amount allowable.

The amount of iodine-131 dropped to 79,000 becquerels per sq.
centimeter Sunday but shot up again Monday to 200,000 becquerels, 5
million times the permissible amount.

The level of radioactive iodine in the polluted water inside reactor
2's cracked storage pit had an even higher concentration. A water
sample Saturday had 5.2 million becquerels of iodine per sq.
centimeter, or 130 million times the maximum amount allowable, and
water leaking from the crack had a reading of 5.4 million becquerels,
Tepco said.

"It is a considerably high amount," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman
for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Masayoshi Yamamoto, a professor of radiology at Kanazawa University,
said the high level of cesium is the more worrisome find.

"By the time radioactive iodine is taken in by plankton, which is
eaten by smaller fish and then by bigger fish, it will be diluted by
the sea and the amount will decrease because of its eight-day
half-life," Yamamoto said. "But cesium is a bigger problem."

The half-life of cesium-137 is 30 years, while that for cesium-134 is
two years. The longer half-life means it will probably concentrate in
the upper food chain.

Yamamoto said such radioactive materials are likely to be detected in
fish and other marine products in Japan and other nations in the short
and long run, posing a serious threat to the seafood industry in other
nations as well.

"All of Japan's sea products will probably be labeled unsafe and other
nations will blame Japan if radiation is detected in their marine
products," Yamamoto said.

Tepco on Monday began the release into the sea of 11,500 tons of
low-level radioactive water to make room to store high-level
radiation-polluted water in the No. 2 turbine building. The discharge
continued Tuesday.

"It is important to transfer the water in the No. 2 turbine building
and store it in a place where there is no leak," Nishiyama of the NISA
said. "We want to keep the contamination of the sea to a minimum."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano apologized for the release of
radioactive water into the sea but said it was unavoidable to prevent
the spread of higher-level radiation.

Fisheries minister Michihiko Kano said the ministry plans to increase
its inspections of fish and other marine products for radiation.

On Monday, 4,080 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive iodine was
detected in lance fish caught off Ibaraki Prefecture. Fishermen
voluntarily suspended its shipment. The health ministry plans to
compile radiation criteria for banning marine products.

Three days after Tepco discovered the crack in the reactor 2 storage
pit it still hadn't found the source of the high radiation leak
seeping into the Pacific.

Tepco initially believed the leak was somewhere in the cable trench
that connects the No. 2 turbine building and the pit. But after using
milky white bath salt to trace the flow, which appeared to prove that
was not the case, the utility began to think it may be seeping through
a layer of small stones below the cable trench.

Japanese Communist Party on Fukushima

Shift from the present nuclear energy policy: JCP

March 28, 2011

http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=1686

With the hazards associated with nuclear power plants, the Japanese Communist Party is urging the government to undertake a thorough inspection of all 54 nuclear power reactors operating throughout Japan and to shift from the present nuclear energy administration policy to a policy that places priority on safety.

The JCP demands that new safety standards be established based on lessons from the Great East Japan Disaster and on the relevant international requirements, and that the government inspect all the reactors to ensure that they meet the new standards.

In addition, the JCP proposes that the government cancel its plan to add an additional 14 reactors; that the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station in Shizuoka’s Omaezaki City be shut down on the grounds that it is located right at the focal zone of a possible Tokai earthquake; that aging reactors be retired; that operations of the fast breeder reactor Monju be shut down; and that the government disallow the nuclear fuel-cycle method of using plutonium such as plutonium-thermal power generation.

It is imperative for the government to separate the nuclear regulatory organization from the nuclear promoting Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the JCP states.

The party also argues for the necessity of a change in energy policy from reliance on nuclear power to a full-fledged use of renewable energy.

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