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Surreal Serenity In Fukushima

Posted by on Jul 24, 2012 in Environmental News, Featured, Fukushima, International Sites, Japan | Comments Off

via In Fukushima, Surreal Serenity – NYTimes.com.

KORIYAMA, JAPAN — The traditional inn nestled amid the mountainous countryside offered all the luxurious comforts for which these old-style hotels are famous. An elegant and eye-pleasing eight-course dinner was served in our room. The outdoor hot-spring bath had a view of lush foliage covering a steep cliff, lit up to highlight the diverse shades of green. A soothing sound emanated from a river flowing below. I could have been anywhere in Japan enjoying the typically understated royal treatment.

Only this time, when I checked out, instead of a parting gift of a box of local confectionaries or a hand towel with the hotel’s name on it, the owner handed me a plastic bag containing a vinyl raincoat, cotton gloves and a gauze mask. “Just in case you need it,” he said. “Sometimes when it rains, the numbers are high.” He was referring to (more…)

Long-Term Storage Of Nuclear Waste

Posted by on Jul 19, 2012 in Featured, International Sites | Comments Off

Second in a two-part series about the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Read Part 1

The two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon power plant on California's central coast provide electricity for about 3 million households.Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

The two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon power plant on California’s central coast provide electricity for about 3 million households.

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on California’s central coast has more than 1,300 tons of nuclear waste sitting on its back porch, waiting for pickup. The problem is, there’s no one to pick it up.

The 103 other reactors in the country are in the same bind — it has now been more than 50 years since the first nuclear plant was switched on in the United States, and the federal government still hasn’t found a permanent home for the nation’s nuclear waste.

The two nuclear reactors at the plant generate steam that drives giant turbines, which in turn generate (more…)

A Swedish Approach To Nuclear Waste

Posted by on Jul 19, 2012 in Featured, International Sites | Comments Off

First in a two-part series about the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Read Part 2
Two of three reactors at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden. The country lacks oil reserves and gets about half its electricity from three commercial nuclear plants.
Enlarge Ingrid Becker/KQED

Two of three reactors at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden. The country lacks oil reserves and gets about half its electricity from three commercial nuclear plants.

At least two dozen countries around the globe get energy from nuclear power, yet not one has been able to pull off a permanent disposal site. Finding communities willing to live with such dangerous stuff has been a big sticking point. But in Sweden, two communities have stepped up, and are willing to take the country’s waste. (more…)

Thousands Rally in Tokyo to Protest Nuclear Restart

Posted by on Jul 17, 2012 in Featured, International Sites, Japan | Comments Off

Thousands Gather in Tokyo to Protest Nuclear Restart

TOKYO — In Japan’s largest antinuclear rally since the disaster at Fukushima, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a park in central Tokyo on Monday to urge the government to halt its restarting of the nation’s reactors.

A protester shouted slogans during a large antinuclear rally in Tokyo.

Organizers said 170,000 people filled a Tokyo square to sing songs, beat drums and cheer on a series of high-profile speakers who called for more Japanese to make their voices heard. The police put the number at 75,000, still making it the biggest gathering of antinuclear protesters since the Fukushima accident last year.

“To stay silent in the wake of Fukushima is inhuman,” the Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto told the crowd, which braved soaring temperatures to gather at Yoyogi Park.

Polls suggest that public opinion is still divided over the future of nuclear power in Japan. But a unilateral decision last month by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to start putting the country’s reactors back into use has angered many Japanese and galvanized the antinuclear camp.

Antinuclear protests have gained momentum especially here in the capital, (more…)

Special issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on the risks of exposure to low-level radiation

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in Health News, International Sites, Japan | Comments Off

http://bos.sagepub.com/content/68/3/10.full

Jan Beyea

Every time a release of radioactivity occurs, questions arise—not only about the true exposures, but also about the health risk at low doses. Predictably, debates unfold in the news media and galvanize social media networks. Sometimes these conversations enlighten the public, but often times they only exacerbate the confusion and fear about the significance and reality of exposure. Fukushima is the latest example of this warped communications strategy.

This special issue of the Bulletin examines what is new about the debate over radiation risk, specifically focusing on areas of agreement and disagreement, including quantitative estimates of cancer risk as a function of dose. In this issue, we don’t pretend to put the questions about the scientific jigsaw puzzle to rest, but we do hope to provide a sophisticated update for you, presented by people whose work has increased understanding within the field. For example, social scientist Paul Slovic updates his classic work on perception of radiation risk. Roger Kasperson, another social scientist, writes on the intriguing framework that he and colleagues developed about the social amplification of risk, which helps to explain public reactions to events like Fukushima and Chernobyl. By implication, Kasperson’s analysis raises a challenge for those who communicate risk information, (more…)

The Nuclear Neighborhood – Tests from 1945-1998

Posted by on Jul 8, 2012 in Featured, International Sites, U.S. Nuclear Sites | Comments Off

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

Short-Term and Long-Term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents

Posted by on Jul 8, 2012 in Featured, Health News, International Sites | Comments Off

John P. Christodouleas, M.D., M.P.H., Robert D. Forrest, C.H.P., Christopher G. Ainsley, Ph.D., Zelig Tochner, M.D., Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., and Eli Glatstein, M.D.     New England Journal of Medicine 2011; 364:2334-2341June 16, 2011

 

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of Japan. The total number of people who died in the earthquake and the tsunami that it generated is still being assessed, but the official estimation already exceeds 14,000.1 The natural disaster also caused substantial damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the consequences of which are still unclear. The purpose of this review is to put the emergency at the Japanese power plant, even as it is evolving, into the context of the extensive literature on nuclear-reactor accidents by analyzing the mechanisms and major short-term and long-term health risks of radiation exposure. In addition, we briefly discuss the accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in (more…)

Inquiry Declares Fukushima Crisis a Man-Made Disaster

Posted by on Jul 6, 2012 in Featured, International Sites | Comments Off

Rubble was removed on Thursday from the damaged building for Reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

From the New York Times.

TOKYO — The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry concluded Thursday.

The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.

(more…)