(democracynow.org) Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, new radiation “hot spots” may require the evacuation of more areas further from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant’s reactors, and more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. “What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean,” says our guest Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. “As [the radiation] goes up the food chain, it accumulates. By the time it reaches people who consume this food, the levels are higher than they originally were when they entered the environment.” Alvarez also discusses his new report on the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at U.S. reactors in the United States. Then we go to Tokyo to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action. She says citizens leading their own monitoring efforts are calling for additional evacuations, especially for young children and pregnant women.
(AFP) TOKYO — Thousands of people rallied in Japan Saturday to demand a shift away from nuclear power after an earthquake and tsunami sparked the world’s worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago.
Braving spring drizzle, thousands of demonstrators gathered at a park in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, many holding hand-made banners reading: “Nuclear is old!” and “We want a shift in energy policy!”
The protest came a day after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called a halt to operations at a nuclear plant southwest of Tokyo because it is near a tectonic faultline, fearing a disaster like that which hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March.
“I’m happy to see the prime minister finally taking action,” said protester Manami Inoue, 28, who had a black and yellow “No” sign around her neck. “But I want to know when the plant will really stop operations,” she said.
(mainichi.jp) A member of a panel advising the government on reconstruction plans in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake told the Mainichi in an interview that he wants Fukushima Prefecture to abandon nuclear power generation.
“I want Fukushima to make the decision to abandon nuclear power, independent from government policy discussion,” the 57-year-old panel member, Norio Akasaka, told the Mainichi.
Akasaka, who also serves as curator of the Fukushima Museum, said that the prefecture has been left behind in efforts to recover from the March 11 quake and tsunami as it struggles with the continuing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
“The wounds inflicted by the nuclear power plant accident have left us a problem on a completely different level from that of the natural disasters,” he said.
Akasaka quoted an acquaintance working at a shelter in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Minami-Soma, which lies near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, as telling him, “To us, the idea of restoration to the old Fukushima seems very wrong. If we have anything, it will be a rebirth into a new Fukushima.”
Akasaka said the nuclear plant crisis had inflicted a damaging blow on the prefecture, but measures could be taken to turn the situation around.
“The agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries and the manufacturing industry have been hit at their roots. Prefectural residents have been the victims of discriminatory rumors while living in fear of radiation contamination. But only responding to that with criticism will cause a negative atmosphere to set in, and it takes time to clear that away.
“Instead, we can take a more positive approach, establishing research facilities to collect data related to radiation decontamination and people’s health over the long-term and to come up with practical responses to our problems. Furthermore, by positively investing in renewable energy research facilities for power and hospitals that specialize in radiation treatment as we work heal the wounds that the nuclear power plant inflicted, we will surely receive the world’s support, and others will help us.
“The Tohoku region has continued to serve as a base supplying Tokyo with food, human resources and electricity, but from now on we need to switch to a more independent model, and the people of the Tohoku region need to consider what kind of picture will be painted for the future.”
(dawnwires) The Japan genius continues to shine through all the gloom as the government proposed to generate over 10MW of power through burning of debris. The Japanese agricultural ministry is planning to use wooden debris from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami to generate power. The ministry hopes the effort will compensate for electricity shortages expected this summer.
The ministry says 100,000 tons of wood can produce about 10,000 kilowatts of power. It says 75 percent of about 25-million tons of wreckage is wood.
A draft supplementary budget for the reconstruction effort, to be submitted to the Diet this month, will include about 3.6 million dollars to buy heavy machinery to clear the debris. The funds would cover half the cost of operations by local governments and private companies.
Six power generation facilities in the Tohoku and Kanto regions have already shown interest in making wood chips from debris.
(Reuters) – Japan plans to set up a government-backed insurance fund to put money into Tokyo Electric Power and pay compensation stemming from the disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the Nikkei newspaper said.
Aimed at saving Tokyo Electric from collapse, the plan would have the state initially shoulder the massive compensation costs, which the power company would then repay over several years via special dividends, the paper said.
Asia’s largest utility, also known as TEPCO, has yet to determine how much it will have to pay residents and business near the Fukushima plant, who were forced to evacuate after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused deadly radiation leaks.
“The bottom line is, TEPCO is too big to fail,” said Jason Rogers, a credit analyst at Barclays Capital in Singapore.
“But that is not to say they won’t be held accountable. It’s impossible to quantify the financial impact at this point, but this disaster is likely to drag on for some time.”
TEPCO, which supplies roughly a third of electricity in the world’s third-largest economy, had $91 billion of debt on its books before the March crisis, and has since taken on a $24 billion bank loan.
JP Morgan has estimated TEPCO could face 2 trillion yen ($24 billion) in compensation losses in the financial year that started this month, while Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has said the bill could reach $130 billion if the crisis continues.
TEPCO will make an initial compensation payment of 50 billion yen, President Masataka Shimizu told a news conference Friday, adding he did not know how much the final bill would be.
Facing sometimes hostile questions from reporters, Shimizu said the power company would be aggressive in cutting costs.
“We want to streamline operations with no exceptions in what we consider,” he said during the conference, where he apologized and bowed.
“We are obviously thinking about pay cuts for our board and managers.”
Japanese media later reported TEPCO will sell $1.2 billion worth of real estate to help pay victims. TEPCO said it was not discussing property sales for now but needed to consider it.
GOVT TO GUARANTEE LOANS
Payments could be set at about 1 million yen per household, with all of those living within a 30 km radius of the plant eligible, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a separate news conference Friday.
More than 200,000 people were living in the 30 km Fukushima exclusion zone before the disaster. TEPCO estimates about 50,000 households are eligible for the initial payments.
Sunday, Apr 17, 2011
(Democracy Now!) The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, even as it has raised the severity rating of the crisis to the highest possible level. “Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all,” says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and the City College of New York. “The slightest disturbance could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.”