Tag Archives: Japan

NRC asked to take a breather

On Friday, April 15, 2011, the good Bob Audette, staff reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer, reported that “forty-five groups and individuals either opposed to or in support of increased safety measures at nuclear power plants around the nation submitted a petition Thursday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking it suspend all re-licensing activities of existing plants and all licensing activities of proposed plants.” in order to give the NRC the opportunity to determine what lessons can be learned from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. (http://www.reformer.com/ci_17851311)

One spokesperson, attorney Diane Curran, who specializes in nuclear safety and security, has gone so far as to state that the NRC has violated the law in granting the 20-year license extension to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee within days of the damage done to reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

It seems quite reasonable that the NRC — whose role is to REGULATE nuclear power plants — would want to wait and see and carefully consider the events at Fukushima before granting a twenty year license extension to a leaking plant at the end of the lifespan it was designed for. Remember that Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor, the same type as the plant in Fukushima.

Japanese nuclear regulators declared this week that the severity of the disaster at Fukushima has been classified a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, putting it on par with the 1986 accident at Chernobyl. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/france-wants-nato-to-fight-harder-against-gaddafis-forces/2011/04/12/AFxrFEND_story.html and http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/16/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=T2)

The license extension for Vermont Yankee is one of 21 proposed nuclear reactor projects in 15 states that would be placed on hold until the post-crisis analysis can be completed. There was a year and a half hold on nuclear projects after the accident at Three Mile Island. It is good common sense to step back now and learn everything possible about the events in Japan so that we can carefully assess our risk potential in light of this new and quite tangible information.

I wish to extend my thanks to the organizations like the New England Coalition and Pilgrim Watch — and the many individuals who comprise them — for their continued efforts to enforce common sense through legal channels, especially when the regulatory body we rely on does not appear to have the best interests of the public as their foremost priority.

Now is the time for continued damage control, thorough assessment, and thoughtful conclusions so that all current and future nuclear projects can be reviewed with greater clarity and accuracy.

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U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Photo: Public Domain

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/world/asia/06nuclear.html?_r=1&src=twrhp

Is there any amount of radioactive material too small to pose a health risk?

Nuclear Plant Logs 3rd Radiation Leak

Published: July 20, 2007

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan, July 19 — Troubles at a Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by an earthquake on Monday continued Thursday when the plant’s operator reported that it had detected a third radiation leak.

In a statement, Tokyo Electric Power, the operator, said that it had found tiny amounts of radioactive material in an exhaust filter at the plant, which was shut down Monday during a magnitude-6.8 earthquake near this city in northwestern Japan. The material was detected Wednesday, meaning it might have leaked a day or two after the earthquake, Tokyo Electric said.

The company said the amount of radioactive material was too small to pose a health risk. Still, the discovery is sure to add to criticism of Tokyo Electric, which has repeatedly apologized for delays and mistakes in reporting the extent of damage at the plant.

The company said the force of the earthquake set off a string of accidents, including a spill of slightly radioactive water and an earlier leak of radioactive material into an exhaust filter.

We left behind a glowing reminder on our visit to Japan

U.S. Sub May Have Leaked Radiation While in Japan

Published: August 3, 2008

TOKYO — An American nuclear-powered submarine may have leaked a small amount of radiation as it stopped by Japan in the spring and was then deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese government said Saturday.

The Japanese government said that it was informed Friday by the United States Navy that the submarine, the Houston, might have discharged an amount of radiation that was too small to be considered harmful.

The chief government spokesman, Nobutaka Machimura, said in a news conference that the radioactive amount — estimated at less than half a microcurie — was too insignificant to “affect the human body or the environment.”

The submarine spent a week in March in Sasebo, in western Japan, before cruising to Guam and then Hawaii, where the leak was discovered during an inspection late last month, the Japanese government said.

The Japanese government and American military have been trying to ease public resistance to the stationing in September of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the George Washington, in Yokokusa, southwest of Tokyo. The scheduled arrival of the George Washington, which will replace the diesel-powered aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, has caused protests in Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

The announcement also was an embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who shuffled his cabinet on Friday in a bid to raise his low approval ratings. Government officials learned of the leak Saturday from television reports even though the United States Navy had informed the Japanese Foreign Ministry a day earlier.

“I, too, came to know about it this morning on television,” the foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, said at a news conference on Saturday.

Last winter, a Japanese warship collided with a fishing boat early one morning, killing the boat’s two passengers. But naval officials were criticized for taking more than an hour to inform the defense minister at the time.

The original article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/world/asia/03japan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company