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Olympic Games Spin – Based on Olympic Sized Lies – theme for March 2018

Mar 14th 2018, 07:54, by Christina MacPherson

Fukushima today is the focus of the nuclear lobby’s most egregious lies. It’s hard to know where to start in examining them.


Let’s start with ionising radiation. This year’s March 11 report, by Shin-ichi Hayama, on the macaque monkeys of Fukushima reveals that they have radioactive cesium in their muscles, and significantly low white and red blood cell counts.  They have reduced growth rate and smaller head sizes.  These “snow monkeys” are close relatives to humans. Hayama’s 10 year study of the macaque provides a unique examination of the effects of  chronic low level radiation  affecting generations of monkeys.

New nuclear power for Japan, and nuclear technology as a profitable export?   A visitor from another planet might well marvel at these fantasies – noting  Fukushima’s  radioactive shattered reactors, and ever growing masses of radioactive water – with Japan’s vulnerability to earthquakes.

The social costs continue – the rise in childhood and adolescent thyroid cancer, the worried evacuees, the stigma to Fukushim survivors.   The financial costs of it all are unimaginable – and will be exacerbated by many legal cases won against the nuclear industry.

So – how does the global nuclear industry, backed by banks and governments respond?

Why – by deciding to hold the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and pretending that everything is safe, clean green under control in North Eastern Japan!

LET THE OLYMPIC  SPIN BEGIN –   the survival of the nuclear industry depends on it!!


Harmful effects of radiation on Fukushima’s macaque monkeys

Mar 14th 2018, 06:43, by Christina MacPherson

Stark health findings for Fukushima monkeys  by beyondnuclearinternational   By Cindy Folkers

Seven years after the Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster began, forcing evacuations of at least 160,000 people, research has uncovered significant health impacts affecting monkeys living in the area and exposed to the radiological contamination of their habitat.

Shin-ichi Hayama, a wild animal veterinarian, has been studying the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), or snow monkey, since before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, his research has shown that monkeys in Fukushima have significantly low white and red blood cell counts as well as a reduced growth rate for body weight and smaller head sizes.

Hayama, who began his macaque research in 2008, had access to monkeys culled by Fukushima City as a crop protection measure. He continued his work after the Fukushima nuclear explosions. As a result, he is uniquely positioned to discover how low, chronic radiation exposure can affect generations of monkeys.

The macaque is an old world monkey native to Japan, living in the coldest climates of all of the non-human primates. Like humans, macaques enjoy a good soak in the mountain hot springs in the region. It is even said that they have developed a “hot tub culture” and enjoy time at the pools to get warm during winter.

However, snow monkeys and humans share more than a love of hot springs. Human DNA differs from rhesus monkeys, a relative of the snow monkey, by just 7%. While that 7% can mean the difference between building vast cities to living unsheltered and outdoors, for basic processes like reproduction, these differences begin to fade. Consequently, what is happening to the macaques in Fukushima should send a warning about the implications for human health as well, and especially for evacuees now returning to a region that has been far from “cleaned up” to any satisfactory level.

Hayama’s research group has published two studies, each comparing data before and after the nuclear catastrophe began, and also between exposed and unexposed monkey populations. In a 2014 study, researchers compared monkeys from two regions of Japan, one group of monkeys from the Shimokita region, 400 Km north of Fukushima, and a second group of monkeys from contaminated land in Fukushima.

The monkeys in Fukushima had significantly low white and red blood cell counts. Other blood components were also reduced. The more a radioactive isotope called cesium was present in their muscles, the lower the white blood cell count, suggesting that the exposure to radioactive material contributed to the damaging blood changes. These blood levels have not recovered, even through 2017, meaning that this has become a chronic health issue.

Changes in blood are also found in people inhabiting contaminated areas around Chernobyl. Having a diminished number of white blood cells, which fight disease, can lead to a compromised immune system in monkeys as well as people, making both species unable to fight off all manner of disease.

Hayama followed up his 2014 study with another in 2017 examining the differences in monkey fetus growth before and after the disaster. The researchers measured fetuses collected between 2008 and 2016 from Fukushima City, approximately 70 km from the ruined reactors. Comparing the relative growth of 31 fetuses conceived prior to the disaster and 31 fetuses conceived after the disaster revealed that body weight growth rate and head size were significantly lower in fetuses conceived after the disaster. Yet, there was no significant difference in maternal nutrition, meaning that radiation could be responsible.

Smaller head size indicates that the fetal brain was developmentally retarded although researchers could not identify which part was affected. The mothers’ muscles still contained radioactive cesium as in the 2014 study, although the levels had decreased. These mothers had conceived after the initial disaster began, meaning that their fetuses’ health reflects a continuing exposure from environmental contamination. This study mirrors human studies around Chernobyl that show similar impacts as well as research from atomic bomb survivors. Studies of birds in Chernobyl contaminated areas show that they have smaller brains.

Although Hayama has approached radiation experts to aid with his research, he claims they have rejected it, saying they don’t have resources or time, preferring to focus on humans. But humans can remove themselves from contaminated areas, and many have chosen to stay away despite government policies encouraging return. Tragically, monkeys don’t know to leave, and relocating them is not under discussion, making study of radiation’s impact on their health vital to inform radiation research on humans, the environment, and any resettlement plans the government of Japan may have.

Hayama presented his work most recently as part of the University of Chicago’scommemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the first man-made controlled nuclear chain reaction. His work follows a long, important, and growing line of research demonstrating that radiation can not only damage in the obvious ways we have been told, but in subtle, yet destructive ways that were unexpected before. The implications for humans, other animals, and the environment, are stark.  Cindy Folkers is the radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Successful legal action against nuclear power, and more court cases to come

Mar 14th 2018, 06:41, by Christina MacPherson
Nuclear Power Facing a Tsunami of Litigation, Nippon, Shizume Saiji [2018.03.12]   In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake triggered a giant tsunami that crippled the cooling system at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, leading to a catastrophic accident that continues to reverberate seven years later. Science reporter Shizume Saiji surveys the legal fallout from the meltdown, from claims against the government and the operator to a raft of actions aimed at permanently shutting down the nation’s nuclear power industry………….

Complacency and Opacity

In the wake of the Fukushima accident, NISA (since replaced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority) was faulted for its lack of independence. The agency was under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, which promotes the use of nuclear power, and officials maintain that its regulatory powers were limited. In addition, a closed, inbred environment encouraged unhealthy ties between NISA and the electric power industry. As a consequence, NISA had fallen into the habit of accommodating and supporting the utilities instead of overseeing them. TEPCO, for its part, had developed a deeply rooted culture of denial, habitually concealing information that might supply ammunition to anti-nuclear activists or fuel fears among the local citizenry. The company brushed off the warnings, convincing itself that the danger from a giant tsunami was purely hypothetical.

So far, district courts have reached decisions on three major class-action suits, and in each case they have agreed with the plaintiffs that the state and TEPCO could have foreseen the danger from a major tsunami once the 2002 report on earthquake risks was released. Two of the district courts, Maebashi and Fukushima, found both the state and TEPCO negligent for failing to prevent the meltdowns. The Chiba District Court, on the other hand, dismissed claims against the state on the grounds that the government was focusing on earthquake safety at the time and may not have been able to formulate effective measures in time to protect Fukushima Daiichi against the March 2011 tsunami. With the government and TEPCO girding up to appeal the lower courts’ decisions, the cases could drag on for years……….

Fighting Nuclear Power, One Plant at a Time

On a different but related front, citizens’ groups and other plaintiffs are vigorously pursuing lawsuits and injunctions aimed directly at shutting down nuclear power plants around the country.

Efforts to block nuclear energy development through legal action date all the way back to the 1970s.

………. At present, almost all of Japan’s operable nuclear power plants are in the midst of some kind of litigation. In one case, the plaintiff is a local government: The city of Hakodate in Hokkaidō has filed a lawsuit to block the construction and operation of the Ōma Nuclear Power Station across the Tsugaru Strait in Aomori Prefecture.[Excellent graphs show 38 nuclear reactors suspended, and 3 operating]

Lawyers on a Mission

Lawyers Kawai Hiroyuki and Kaido Yūichi have been key figures in the fight against nuclear power since before the Fukushima accident. In the wake of the disaster, they founded the National Network of Counsels in Cases against Nuclear Power Plants, a group that has been pursuing legal action against nuclear facilities on behalf of citizens and other plaintiffs nationwide.

Kawai and Kaido are also representing the shareholders of TEPCO, who are suing the company’s former executives for an unprecedented ¥5.5 trillion. In addition, as lawyers for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the two attorneys are working alongside the prosecuting team in the criminal case against three TEPCO executives, which parallels the civil suit in terms of arguments, evidence, and testimony.

Even so, the trial—which officially opened last June and is expected to continue at least through the coming summer—is expected to attract intense media coverage as witness examinations begin this spring. More than 20 witnesses are scheduled to testify. The case also involves a massive volume of documentary evidence, including records of interviews conducted by the government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, along with countless pages of emails, internal memos, meeting minutes, and reports. Will all this information shed new light on the human factors behind the Fukushima accident? The nation will be watching closely.

(Originally published in Japanese on February 19, 2018).

Long expensive ?intractable, task of cleaning up Fukushima’s radioactive water and rubble

Mar 14th 2018, 06:38, by Christina MacPherson

Clearing the Radioactive Rubble Heap That Was Fukushima Daiichi, 7 Years On
The water is tainted, the wreckage is dangerous, and disposing of it will be a prolonged, complex and costly process, 
Scientific American, By Tim Hornyak on March 9, 2018  Seven years after one of the largest earthquakes on record unleashed a massive tsunami and triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials say they are at last getting a handle on the mammoth task of cleaning the site before it is ultimately dismantled. But the process is still expected to be a long, expensive slog, requiring as-yet untried feats of engineering—and not all the details have yet been worked out………

In the years since the disaster and the immediate effort to stanch the release of radioactive material, officials have been working out how to decontaminate the site without unleashing more radiation into the environment. It will take a complex engineering effort to deal with thousands of fuel rods, along with the mangled debris of the reactors and the water used to cool them. Despite setbacks, that effort is now moving forward in earnest, officials say. “We are still conducting studies on the location of the molten fuel, but despite this we have made the judgment that the units are stable,” says Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer for Daiichi.

Completely cleaning up and taking apart the plant could take a generation or more, and comes with a hefty price tag. In 2016 the government increased its cost estimate to about $75.7 billion, part of the overall Fukushima disaster price tag of $202.5 billion. The Japan Center for Economic Research, a private think tank, said the cleanup costs could mount to some $470 billion to $660 billion, however. ……….

The considerable time and expense are due to the cleanup being a veritable hydra that involves unprecedented engineering. TEPCO and its many contractors will be focusing on several battlefronts.


Water is being deliberately circulated through each reactor every day to cool the fuel within—but the plant lies on a slope, and water from precipitation keeps flowing into the buildings as well. Workers built an elaborate scrubbing system that removes cesium, strontium and dozens of other radioactive particles from the water; some of it is recirculated into the reactors, and some goes into row upon row of giant tanks at the site. There’s about one million tons of water kept in 1,000 tanks and the volume grows by 100 tons a day, down from 400 tons four years ago……….


A second major issue at Fukushima is how to handle the fuel¾the melted uranium cores as well as spent and unused fuel rods stored at the reactors. Using robotic probes and 3-D imaging with muons (a type of subatomic particle), workers have found pebbly deposits and debris at various areas inside the primary containment vessels in the three of the plant’s reactor units. These highly radioactive remains are thought to be melted fuel as well as supporting structures. TEPCO has not yet worked out how it can remove the remains, but it wants to start the job in 2021. There are few precedents for the task………

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, doubts the ambitious cleanup effort can be completed in the time cited, and questions whether the radioactivity can be completely contained. Until TEPCO can verify the conditions of the molten fuel, he says, “there can be no confirmation of what impact and damage the material has had” on the various components of the reactors—and therefore how radiation might leak into the environment in the future.

Although the utility managed to safely remove all 1,533 fuel bundles from the plant’s unit No. 4 reactor by December 2014, it still has to do the same for the hundreds of rods stored at the other three units. This involves clearing rubble, installing shields, dismantling the building roofs, and setting up platforms and special rooftop equipment to remove the rods. Last month a 55-ton dome roof was installed on unit No. 3 to facilitate the safe removal of the 533 fuel bundles that remain in a storage pool there. Whereas removal should begin at No. 3 sometime before April 2019, the fuel at units No. 1 and 2 will not be ready for transfer before 2023, according to TEPCO. And just where all the fuel and other radioactive solid debris on the site will be stored or disposed of long-term has yet to be decided; last month the site’s ninth solid waste storage building, with a capacity of about 61,000 cubic meters, went into operation.

As for what the site itself might look like decades from now, cleanup officials refuse to say. …….

Thousands of Taiwanese rally for an end to nuclear power

Mar 14th 2018, 06:33, by Christina MacPherson

Protest draws thousands calling for end to nuclear power,  – -By Wu Hsin-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)2018/03/11  Taipei, March 11 (CNA) An annual anti-nuclear march was held on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Sunday, drawing about 2,000 people calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Taiwan.

The protest, held on the seventh anniversary of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, was organized by the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform, an organization joined by hundreds of anti-nuclear civic groups from around Taiwan.

While pressing the government to decommission nuclear power plants as soon as possible, the other purpose of the Sunday’s demonstration was to prepare people for the potentially high cost of closing the nation’s three operating nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste, the organizer said.

Walking with protesters, Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) of the opposition New Power Party, said that as the government has already said Taiwan will be nuclear free by 2025, it should move forward with the plan, but is instead going backwards.

The recent approval of the reactivation of the second reactor at the Second Nuclear Power Plant after maintenance work is “obviously a backwards move,” Huang said.

The lawmaker named the nuclear plant as one of the most dangerous power plants on Earth due to its geographic position, in an area subject to volcanic, earthquake and tsunami activities, and raised safety concerns in the wake of reported radiation leaks and explosions in the past.

Three major demands were made during the protest, including on the disposal of nuclear waste, a transition to environmentally-friendly energy sources and the decommissioning or re-purposing of nuclear power plants in the country.

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Motion League member Chiang Ying-mei (江櫻梅) urged the government to proactively address the thorny problem of nuclear waste disposal, calling for the fast-tracking of three bills detailing the management of nuclear waste.

The bills include one on nuclear waste disposal, which is being considered by the Cabinet; the second on the establishment of a nuclear waste management center, which has been delivered to the Legislature for review; and the third involves revisions of provisions governing the management of radioactive materials.


Japan’s Fukushima Survivors are stigmatised

Mar 14th 2018, 05:27, by Christina MacPherson

‘You’re Contaminated’: The Stigma Against Japan’s Fukushima Survivors ,   A 2011 quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, killing thousands and displacing more. Two ‘nuclear refugees’ explain why returning home is more complicated than it seems., Bobbie van der List, MAR 13 2018, 

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the triple disaster that hit the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1 magnitude quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Almost 16,000 people were declared dead.

While the nuclear disaster is becoming a distant memory for most Japanese, for some others it is their everyday reality. Nuclear refugees and evacuees face discrimination, separation from loved ones, and in some cases, they are even forced to return to the former evacuation zone.

The government, worried about people getting exposed to radiation, declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the plant and uprooted close to 165,000 people. As of today, there are still 50,000 people who haven’t returned to Fukushima.

Keiko Owada, 66, is one of them. When I meet her in Tokyo, she refers to the Japanese capital as her home for the past seven years. That will soon change due to the government’s decision to withdraw her free housing subsidies.

Because decontamination work has made progress and food declared safe from radiation, it has been deemed safe to return to most villages within the evacuation zone. The same goes for Owada’s village Naraha, where the evacuation order was lifted two years ago.

Owada is not excited about the prospect of returning to Naraha. “Would I continue to get financial support for my apartment here in Tokyo, I would have stayed here, yes. I’ll tell you why: there is no hospital in Naraha, only a small hospital for first aid. There is no supermarket, only a small convenience store. And the reason is simple: only a few people have returned.”

Life as an evacuee hasn’t always been easy, Owada explains. “It wasn’t like people were treating me any different, but my neighbors never greeted me. I think it’s because of the compensation I received and the free housing. They knew I was from Fukushima, that’s why.”

According to Owada, some of the other evacuees in Tokyo she knows have faced harsher treatment. “I know of others whose cars were damaged on purpose because they had a Fukushima license plate. That’s why I never parked my car in the middle of the parking lot, but always in a corner, so no one could see it.”

If anything, Owada’s story illustrates how many evacuees continued to live in fear. Displaced from their homes, dropped in a new community—the disaster is anything but over for them.

As an evacuee in Tokyo, Owada went back to Fukushima on numerous occasions. She can still recall her first time back in June 2011. The town of Naraha was still a no-go-area, and she and her family only had one hour to visit. “We wore protective clothes against radiation, with only a small plastic bag for gathering some personal belongings. We had too little time, and the bag was too little for our entire family. But I can remember the smell—[there were] rats everywhere and small animals’ feces.”

Of course, there are things she misses about her old town, like growing vegetables and fruits on her land. But it doesn’t take away the concerns she has about the dangers of radiation exposure, despite the government’s reassurance that it is safe to live there.

“Even though the streets and houses are decontaminated, they didn’t even touch with mountains and forests. Radiation hasn’t been cleaned everywhere. My house is right next to the mountains, so my house might get contaminated.”

Akiko Kamata, 66, still remembers how she was surprised by the alarm warning for a tsunami in her village of Odaka. When I meet her at a Tokyo café, she recalls how she sheltered in Fukushima the first few weeks after the disaster. “I still remember taking my first bath after 10 days, it felt so good.”

When Kamata got in touch with relatives living in other parts of Japan, she was shocked to hear one sister-in-law’s initial response. “After the disaster, I wanted to flee to Chiba [a prefecture next to Tokyo], my sister-in-law picked up the telephone and told me I didn’t have to come to their house. ‘You’re contaminated,’ she told me.” 

Eventually she did manage to find a place in Chiba, the region she grew up in as a child. “People were nice to us in Chiba. But still I noticed some skepticism. After I asked the regional authorities for financial support their answer was, ‘No, people in Chiba are victims of the earthquake as well.’”

Kamata did receive a one-off compensation payment from TEPCO: 7 million yen per person, or just over $65,600. Her husband received a similar amount.

Although Kamata is thankful for the financial support, they have not been compensated for the loss of income from their family business in Odaka. “I’m thinking about calling in the help of an organization that specializes evacuees with these type of claims,” she says.

Kamata has decided not to return to Odaka. Her husband’s illness (he suffers from a nerve disease that makes him reliant on Kamata’s support) got worse during the evacuation. She fears that it might worsen if they move back to Fukushima.

As Kamata remembers what life was like back in Fukushima, she uses a handkerchief to wipe a tear from her cheek. She barely speaks to her friends anymore.

“The disaster divided our communities, both physically as well as mentally. People got separated. One friend of mine in Chiba is thinking about divorcing her husband. He wants her to come back to Fukushima, but she doesn’t want this. One reason is exposure to radiation, but there are more reasons, such as her child’s school and the fact that they’ve gotten used to life in Tokyo.”

There is one more story she would like to share, Kamata says while crying. “One friend of mine is a farmer in Odaka. She had 10 cows. They evacuated to Chiba just like me and couldn’t go back to Fukushima to feed the cows. Once they could return for the first time to check on the animals, only three of them were still alive. The others died from starvation, and they were all looking at the same direction—the road the farmers would come from to feed them.”

Media files:

Seven years after Fukushima disaster ghost towns remain

Mar 14th 2018, 05:25, by Christina MacPherson, Mar 13, 2018 “………On Sunday, residents along the coast gathered outdoors to remember the tragedy as sirens wailed at 2.46pm, the moment the magnitude-9.0 offshore earthquake that set off the tsunami struck on March 11, 2011……..

Cleaning up the still-radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant site remains a daunting challenge that is expected to take 30 to 40 years.

A government-commissioned group of experts concluded last Wednesday that a costly underground ice wall is only partially effective in reducing the ever-growing amount of contaminated water at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant, and said other measures are needed as well.

…….. The groundwater mixes with radioactive water leaking from the damaged reactors.

Contaminated water also results from rainwater that comes in contact with tainted soil and structures at the plant, which suffered meltdowns of three reactors after a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.……..

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What to do with Fukushima’s contaminated water?

Mar 14th 2018, 05:23, by Christina MacPherson

How long will treated water be stored at Fukushima nuclear plant?  Japan News,  March 09, 2018, The Yomiuri Shimbun Steadily progressing with the decommissioning of the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will accelerate Fukushima Prefecture’s recovery. TEPCO must make safety the top priority when doing this work.

According to a schedule drawn up by the government and TEPCO, fuel from reactor No. 3’s spent nuclear fuel pool is slated to be removed in fiscal 2018. Equipment necessary for this work is already in place.

The large volume of nuclear fuel should not be kept inside the heavily damaged reactor. It is vital to reduce the risks posed by this fuel.

The schedule stipulates that the method for removing molten nuclear fuel from Nos. 1, 2 and 3 reactors — which suffered meltdowns — will be decided in fiscal 2019. To accomplish this, it also will be necessary to more precisely gauge the extent of the damage to the nuclear reactors and the levels of radioactive contamination.

In January, a camera sent in from the side of reactor No. 2 captured images of sediment that appears to be melted fuel at the bottom of the reactor. Moving forward, it is essential to retrieve some of this fuel to confirm its exact condition. …….

the “frozen soil wall” — constructed at a cost of ¥34.5 billion from government coffers — has had some effect in preventing water from seeping into the buildings. The underground wall freezes soil in a perimeter around the building and prevents groundwater from flowing through. The volume of contaminated water generated has declined from about 500 tons per day to about 150 tons. ……..

The frozen soil wall was expected to be a trump card for reducing the volume of contaminated water. While it cannot be counted on to be quite so effective, the government’s Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment, a panel of experts, on Wednesday positively assessed the overall effort, saying, “A groundwater management system has been constructed.” It is vital to have multiple measures in place to prevent water contamination.

Yet challenges still abound. The committee pointed to the difficulties in dealing with heavy rain at the nuclear plant. Rainfall causes the volume of contaminated water to surge. Efforts to prevent rain from entering through damaged sections of the buildings and through drains must be sped up.

Contaminated water at the plant is treated and all radioactive materials, except tritium, are removed. What to do with this treated water also is a knotty problem. At other nuclear power facilities, treated water is released into the sea in accordance with discharge standards. About 850,000 tons of such water is being stored in tanks on the Fukushima nuclear plant grounds.

At some point, there will be no more room for new tanks. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has repeatedly said, “There is no option but to dilute the water and release it into the sea.” The government and TEPCO should not put off making a decision.

They will also need to take steps to thoroughly prevent harmful rumors from spreading, such as by ensuring that the safety of this process is widely known.

What if Pickering nuclear power plant had a Fukushima type accident?

Mar 14th 2018, 05:20, by Christina MacPherson

Report paints grim picture of Fukushima-scale nuclear accident in Pickering, A Fukushima-scale nuclear incident at Pickering would mean the loss of 154,000 Toronto-area homes for up to 100 years, says an environmental group.  The Star, By TESS KALINOWSKIStaff Reporter, Sun., March 11, 2018 

A Fukushima-scale meltdown at the Pickering nuclear power plant would exact a devastating human and economic toll on the province, causing 26,000 cases of cancer — nearly half of them fatal — and the evacuation of 154,000 homes in York and Durham regions and east Toronto.

Some areas would be uninhabitable for 100 years.

Losses from uninsured housing alone would be in the range of $125 billion.

That’s the catastrophic scenario outlined in a report by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, published on Sunday to coincide with the seventh anniversary of the earthquake that triggered the Japanese nuclear disaster.

The non-profit coalition, which opposes nuclear power generation, wants Ontario to dismantle its oldest nuclear generating station in Pickering and buy water-generated electricity from Hydro Quebec. But provincially-owned Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has applied to have the Pickering plant’s operating licence extended beyond its Aug. 31 expiry.

Could Fukushima happen in the Toronto area? It wouldn’t take the precise circumstances of the Japanese disaster to result in a similar accident here, said Jack Gibbons, chair of the Clean Air Alliance.

“There’s a risk. No one can say for sure what the exact probability of a serious accident is but everyone knows the probability is greater than zero,” he said.

Nobody is suggesting there will be a tsunami in Lake Ontario, said Gibbons. But the Toronto region is subject to some seismic activity. It could also be vulnerable to a plane crash or a cyberattack. Then there’s the possibility of human error, the number one cause of nuclear accidents, according to the report, in which Gibbons wrote the forward and British expert Ian Fairlie modelled the potential radiation impacts it outlines.

“Could an accident happen? Accidents do happen. The nuclear industry told us Chernobyl would never happen. They told us Three-Mile Island would never happen. They told us Fukushima would never happen. But they did,” Gibbons said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI reported that a Kansas plant, known as Wolf Creek, was the target of one such attack, according to the New York Times.

Cleaner electricity could be supplied more cheaply without the risk of human and economic devastation, said Gibbons.

The Clean Air Alliance says that the 47-year-old Pickering facility, the oldest nuclear generating station in the province, is running on 1960s and 1970s technology.

………… Its report overlays the impacts of Fukushima on the Pickering area. It notes that about 80 per cent of the Fukushima radioactive emissions were carried out to sea. If Ontario were subject to the same contamination levels and weather conditions as Japan, the highest doses of radiation would cover an area north of Lake Ontario between Toronto and Oshawa toward Barrie, and then southwest near London and Kitchener. Toronto to Hamilton would receive lower doses.Pickering, Markham, Newmarket, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Aurora and northern Scarborough would suffer the most devastating impacts. About 653,000 people would need to be evacuated and key transportation routes such as highways 401, 404 and 407, as well as CN, CP and GO Transit rails, would run through contaminated areas, says the report.

In 2015, the Durham Region Health Department and OPG did a mass mailing of potassium iodide tablets, known as K1, to residents and businesses within 10 kilometres of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations. Those within 50 kilometres of those facilities can order the tablets from any time, says the health unit.

OPG has an arrangement with Canada Post to automatically send the tablets to new addresses or to address changes registered with the post office that are within 10 kilometres of a nuclear plant.

OPG’s liability is capped at $1 billion — leaving most property losses unrecoverable, said Gibbons.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada confirmed to the Star that private insurers do not offer coverage for nuclear accidents. Earthquake insurance is not part of a standard homeowner policy although it is available as an add-on. About 31 per cent of Canadian policyholders buy it, said the industry group. That includes 45 per cent of policyholders in British Columbia and 4 per cent in Quebec, the areas most vulnerable to seismic activity.


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Prospects for any North Korea diplomatic breakthrough are clouded by senior State Department vacancies,

Mar 14th 2018, 05:15, by Christina MacPherson

The State Department is riddled with key vacancies as Trump seeks nuclear talks with North Korea  [excellent interactive graphics] John W. Schoen@johnwschoen

As President Donald Trump steps up efforts to engage North Korea in nuclear disarmament talks, the State Department is in the most turmoil since the president’s inauguration.

The latest upheaval came Tuesday with the sudden firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was dismissed with few details provided by the White House. Trump picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state.

The moves followed Trump’s abrupt announcement last week of a yet-to-be-arranged meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But the prospects for any diplomatic breakthrough are clouded by senior State Department vacancies, including a permanent U.S. ambassador to South Korea. The Trump administration has also yet to fill other positions critical to any talks with North Korea, including a permanent undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs, as well as a permanent assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Dozens of other key diplomatic jobs remain unfilled, including ambassadors to key U.S. allies such as Germany, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

 More than two dozen ambassador posts are waiting for nominations to be put forward; nominees for more than a dozen others are waiting for confirmation.

The vacancies have strained ties with key U.S. allies. On Tuesday, Germany’s Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth tweeted that Tillerson’s firing won’t help.

“The dismissal of Rex #Tillerson does not make anything better,” Roth said in a tweet.

Tillerson’s departure also adds to ongoing uncertainty about Trump’s promised reorganization of the State Department. Last fall, the senior official charged with overseeing that effort stepped down after less than four months on the job amid widespread criticism from current and former American diplomats.

Rumors about friction between Trump and Tillerson began circulating last year. In October, NBC News reported that Tillerson called the president a “moron,” something Tillerson never directly denied. Tillerson continued to insist his relationship with the president was solid and brushed off rumors of strain between them.

His departure is just the latest in a high-velocity revolving door that has dogged the Trump administration. Last week chief White House economic advisor Gary Cohn resigned after a heated dispute over Trump’s announcement of steep steel and aluminum tariffs, a move Cohn opposed.

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