Thursday, January 24, 2013

2013-01-24 "Largest Sacramento Area Political Party Environmental Group Applauds New Congressional Move to Save Trees Along Sacramento's Levees"

*SACRAMENTO*-- The largest political party environmental organization in Sacramento hailed a Congressional proposal Wednesday that could save trees previously slated to be clear-cut along levees surrounding Sacramento.
A bill introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and cosponsored by Sacramento Congressional Democrats John Garamendi and Ami Bera, would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to decide how to manage trees along flood control levees on a regional basis instead of a "one size fits all" policy.
Corin Choppin, vice president of the Green Democratic Club of Sacramento County, said: "The Green Democrats believe that Trees deserve the benefit of the doubt, and when there is no direct evidence they pose a threat to our levees that they should be protected. It is our hope that new legislation proposed by Rep. Matsui will help protect our trees."
In a controversial decision, the Army Corps determined in recent years that all trees and shrubbery be removed from levees, despite California policies to allow trees to remain in areas that were stripped of them when the levees were originally built. California officials said the federal policy violated the Endangered Species Act and sued the Army Corps.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013-01-15 "Plutonium Pits Coming Back to Livermore"

by Tara Dorabji [], posted at []:
Plutonium pits are scheduled to routinely ship across three states, from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab to the Livermore nuclear weapons lab. On September 30, 2012, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s security status was downgraded. The Livermore Lab is no longer authorized to handle, test or store nuclear bomb usable quantities of plutonium, including these plutonium pits. Scott Yundt, the staff attorney for Tri-Valley CAREs discusses the dangerous plan and the upcoming community meeting (on Jan 30) to stop it.

Listen here (8:46):

Download here: []

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013-01-14 "San Joaquin Valley floodplain coaxed back; San Joaquin County Coaxing back floodplain can control disasters, nurture return of wildlife"

by Peter Fimrite from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Vernalis, San Joaquin County --
here isn't much that looks revolutionary at Dos Rios Ranch, a low-lying, 1,603-acre stretch of land at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers where corn, wheat and almonds grow.
 The flood-prone property near Modesto is nevertheless at the heart of an innovative movement combining flood management with ecosystem restoration that could change the face of the entire river corridor in the San Joaquin Valley.
 The ranch was purchased in April by the group River Partners, using $21.8 million in federal, state and local grant money. The plan is to transform the farmland, beginning this month, into a riparian floodplain, said John Carlon, president of the nonprofit, which has partnered with government agencies on restoration projects for 15 years.
 "A really major component of this project is flood control," said Carlon, who expects the project to take 10 years to complete. "If all these low areas near the river were acquired, theoretically you could store more water in the reservoirs because you could spill more out all at once without hurting the neighbors. It is a different way of looking at water supply management."

$10 million project -
The project, which is expected to cost $10 million, is the largest, most sophisticated effort yet to restore the ancient wetlands once used by migrating fish as well as hundreds of thousands of birds along the Pacific Flyway, one of the largest migratory bird paths in the world. The restoration will be funded using federal and state grants, local fines for sewage leaks and pollution violations, and donations.
The effort is one of several projects along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers to restore a natural system that humans altered. Some 95 percent of the historic floodplains in the Central Valley were filled in or blocked by levees after the Gold Rush.
 Restoring Dos Rios Ranch will involve the reintroduction of hundreds of native plants and trees, using a sophisticated computer model to maximize distribution of species and native wildlife habitat.
The work is a model for California's first-ever attempt to create a systemwide flood management plan for the state's major reservoirs. The $4.9 billion FloodSafe initiative, which was created by the Central Valley Flood Protection Act in 2006, is an attempt to increase public safety, promote long-term economic stability and improve environmental stewardship in the areas that have historically flooded during winter rains.

Controlled flooding -
The plan is to allow floodwater to breach the levees around Dos Rios during rainy winters and inundate the land, creating a mini-reservoir during peak flows. The flooding, combined with native plant restoration, will create the kind of marshland habitat favored by birds. It may also help avoid disasters like the one in 1997, when both the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers flooded, inundating much of the valley for weeks.
 "These are the kinds of projects we are hoping there will be more of in the future," said Tim Ramirez, one of seven members of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, who are appointed by the governor. "If you can create more space for the rivers in the winter, it creates a little more room for things downstream. We have to have more space. Floodplain restoration has to be part of the mix."
 The Central Valley was once a vast Serengeti-like bowl, with grizzly bears, elk, and a huge diversity of birds and wildlife along the rivers. Fisheries biologists believe that the loss of these vast floodplains is one reason California's once-ample population of chinook salmon has declined. Migrating juvenile salmon historically rested and fattened up in flooded marshlands during the winter before heading out to the ocean. The confluence of the San Joaquin and the Tuolumne was a prime spot for those fish.

Crucial marshlands -
Carlon said the new marshlands will be crucial as experts restore chinook farther upstream in the San Joaquin, where a long section dried up after Friant Dam was built in 1942.
The restoration work falls in line with an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore at least 26 miles of riverfront along the San Joaquin leading to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, said Kim Forrest, the manager of the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
 "It's basically a migrating bird freeway, but it is disjointed and broken now," said Forrest, who is working closely with River Partners. "We want to restore that freeway."
 Forrest is the caretaker of a living example of the kind of thing that is possible. Three Amigos Ranch is 3,200 acres of former farmland purchased by the federal government in 1998 directly across the San Joaquin River from Dos Rios.
The crops have been replaced by 14 different species of plants, willow trees and shrubs, laid out in a grid pattern containing 227 different species per acre. The planting is done by schoolchildren, the California Conservation Corps and local farmworkers, and the land is carefully watered and cultivated.

Expanded refuge -
The farm - now a natural landscape dotted with forest, wetlands and meadow - expanded the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, part of the San Luis complex. It is home to coyotes, beavers, river otters, weasels and the Riparian brush rabbit, which has been on the U.S. Endangered Species list since 2000.
 Flocks of Aleutian cackling geese flew over fields covered with tall Sandhill cranes standing shoulder to shoulder during a recent tour of the property led by Forrest and Carlon. The group passed a former tomato field that is now a wetland pond surrounded by tules and squawking birds. Doves covered a nearby tree and a hawk lurked nearby.
The land floods frequently in heavy winter rains. Dos Rios will eventually connect to - and, if everything works out, be part of - this lush wildlife refuge, which officials hope will eventually reach 12,000 acres, storing some 30,000 acre-feet of floodwater.
"We are trying to re-create a habitat that can withstand all of the interference that people bring," Carlon said. "It's a system that will all be driven by the river."

Delia Flores with the California Conservation Corps helps 227 different plant species per acre take root. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Left: Sandhill cranes take wing over the Dos Rios Ranch property. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

Kim Forrest, San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge manager, hopes to see the "migrating bird freeway" restored. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

2013-01-14 "Mystery of fatal raccoon disease solved"

"Fatal disease that causes animals to become listless and unafraid of people is linked to brain tumor and previously unknown virus" by Ellen Huet from "San Francisco Chronicle"
As someone who cares for about 100 raccoons a year, Melanie Piazza knows that a listless, placid raccoon is not a healthy one.
"A lot of the calls were, 'There's a raccoon sitting on my porch and he hasn't moved all day, and I open the door and he doesn't move,' and that's not normal," said Piazza, the director of animal care at WildCare, a wildlife refuge in San Rafael and one of several Bay Area care centers baffled in recent years by a rise in strange raccoon behavior.
The centers would occasionally collect raccoons like this and try to rehabilitate them, but their condition would only worsen and the animals would eventually die. Their symptoms were unlike those of any disease the center's staff had seen before.
"After some time in care, a lot of them would lose control of the back end of their body," Piazza said. "They would be walking and their hips would fall to the side. Head-trauma-type injuries can cause that, but it doesn't develop over time. And their eyes had a very different appearance. They seemed to be, for lack of a scientific term, bugging out of their heads."
The mystery affliction stumped wildlife refuge centers, which are on the front lines of dealing with wild animals in the Bay Area. But after veterinary scientists at UC Davis spent two years collecting raccoons from Sonoma, Marin and Contra Costa county wildlife centers, they found an answer: Each of the diseased raccoons had a brain tumor as well as a previously unknown virus.
Tumors are already rare in raccoons, and the emergence of a new virus that is highly correlated with the brain tumors is a startling find that makes perfect sense to Piazza and WildCare's staff, who had noticed the disease for years but often had to classify it as distemper, a different virus, because they didn't know what it was.
Staffers, frustrated with a seemingly unknown disease but unable to afford an exploratory necropsy, eventually found a donation to pay for the procedure. That raccoon was the first sent to UC Davis' veterinary pathology lab, and WildCare later provided numerous raccoons to the lab for inclusion in the study.
"It was incredibly validating, I have to say," said Piazza. "From 15 to 20 years of experience, we knew something was wrong but didn't have the scientific backup."
The findings, published in the January issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, analyzed 10 diseased raccoons collected between March 2010 and May 2012, mostly from the Bay Area with one from southern Oregon. The raccoons studied had all shown similar symptoms while alive and, after necropsies, similar tumors in their brains.
They also all tested positive for a specific virus in the polyoma family, called RacPyV, or raccoon polyomavirus. Other polyomaviruses affect humans and other mammals, and one particular virus is known to cause a rare kind of skin cancer in humans. That connection between the virus family and cancer tipped researchers off to testing the raccoon brains for RacPyV, said Patty Pesavento, an associate professor of veterinary pathology at UC Davis who worked on the project.
Scientists aren't sure whether other animals can carry or are affected by RacPyV, but don't think it's likely it can affect humans.
"Polyoma viruses are thought to be fairly species specific," Pesavento said. "But that being said, raccoons share their life, their water lines, our yards, garbage, everything. They're exposed intimately with opossums, cats, dogs, squirrels, rats and humans. We're looking at all those animals."
Pesavento's next question is: Does this virus cause the tumors? She's hoping to spread the word to local residents and refuge centers so that they know when they see a raccoon that might have a neurological disease - like if, for example, humans spot a raccoon during the day.
"Most of (the diseased raccoons) are very quiet, actually, not aggressive," Pesavento said. "They kind of walk in circles quietly, they're not scared of you."
Anyone who spots a raccoon with similar behavior should call their local wildlife rehab or animal control center.
But Pesavento and Piazza hope also to answer eventually the bigger question: Is there an environmental cause to the disease outbreak?
"Raccoons are a good sentinel species to what's going on in our back yard," Piazza said. "If they're getting cancers and living in our water sources and trash and back yards, then it's something to pay attention to."

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013-01-06 "EPA agrees to look into town's radiation concerns"

from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Information from: The Times, []
TOWN OF PINES, Ind. (AP) — Federal environmental officials will investigate concerns about radiation levels in a northwestern Indiana community after residents and activists raised concern.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified local officials late last month that the EPA would study the levels in The Pines early this year, The Times reported ( ).
Matthew Ohl, the EPA's project remedial manager, said NIPSCO, Brown, Inc., Ddalt Cop. and Bulk Transport Corp. proposed sampling in "certain residential yards in the Town of Pines."
The study was requested by a local environmental panel, which heard a presentation in November by Paul Kysel and Larry Jensen of PINES, or People in Need of Environmental Safety.
Jensen, a former EPA employee, conducted his own study of radiation levels and concluded that levels in the town are elevated.
The PINES group believes coal ash, which was used as fill in roads, could be the cause of elevated radiation levels. The Pines is home to a landfill operated by Brown Inc. and holds about 1 million tons of fly ash created by NIPSCO's burning of coal in its power plants.
The facility was cited in 2000 by the EPA for contaminating drinking water and was deemed a Superfund site.
Ohl's letter said samples from residential yards are expected to be collected early this year after the potentially responsible parties get permission from property owners and evaluate background samples.
"The sampling activities should help resolve many of the concerns expressed by some residents," Ohl wrote.
Kysel questioned whether the approach is sound.
He said Jensen's study found most areas in town do not have elevated radiation levels but those that do are significantly elevated. The EPA disputed that claim at the November meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's environmental committee.
"On the surface, wow, that's great, but it doesn't quite get there," Kysel said of the EPA's plan to conduct a study. "If you just walk into a sampling of residential properties, the chances of them getting a sample, finding it hot and doing further study are not probable."
Kysel said the PINES group wants the Town Council to ask the EPA to use the same methodology that his organization used in its study.
An EPA official in November said the methodology used by Jensen's study doesn't conform to current EPA standards.
NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said the utility is evaluating background samples taken over the last two months.
"If the results suggest additional sampling is required, we'll let everyone know," Meyer said.
Jensen has said he isn't aware of any radiation-related health problems suffered by the town's 780 residents but worries about problems down the road.

Friday, January 4, 2013

San Francisco River Otter

2013-01-03 "San Francisco River Otter Stumps Researchers" by JASON DEAREN from "Associated Press" newswire
SAN FRANCISCO — A rapt crowd followed a trail of bubbles that zipped over the surface of a seaside pond in the ruins of a 19th century bath in San Francisco.
San Francisco's newest star – the first river otter seen in the city in decades – surfaced its whiskery head furtively, a mouth full of sea grass. The crowd oohed as large waves pounded rocks just offshore, a briny smell and chill in the air.
The otter ducked back under water and took the sea grass underneath a concrete remnant of the historic baths, where the animal was building a nest.
"We came here to see the baths and this was just a bonus," said Eliza Durkin, who brought her son Jonathan to the site for a school project on historic places.
Beyond tourists, the otter has mystified and delighted conservationists, who are piecing together clues to figure out how he got there. The furry creature was first spotted by birdwatchers in September and has since settled into the City by the Bay.
River otters once thrived in the San Francisco Bay area, but development, hunting and environmental pollution in the 19th and 20th centuries has taken its toll on the once thriving local population.
The critters are a living barometer of water quality - if it's bad they cannot thrive. But new populations being seen north and east of San Francisco are giving hope to conservationists that years of environmental regulations and new technologies are making a difference.
"The fact that this otter is in San Francisco and doing so well in other regions of the Bay Area, it's a good message that there's hope for the watershed," said Megan Isadore, director of outreach and education for the River Otter Ecology Project, a group that studies otter populations further north and in the bay.
The group said until now it had no evidence the creatures had returned to San Francisco, and the last sighting was nearly a half-century ago as best they can tell.
The otter is nicknamed "Sutro Sam" after the old baths, which were named after former San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro, who built the building which at the time was an engineering marvel.
The facility opened in 1896 on a cliff facing the Pacific Ocean, its baths fed by the salty ocean tides and a freshwater seep. They were torn down and burned in a fire in 1966, and the building's carcass has long been a tourist draw on the city's rugged, western shoreline.
The aquatic mammal seems to have found the mix of the environment he needs to make a home, to the delight of tourists and local nature lovers.
"They do need freshwater to drink and keep their fur clean," Isadore said. "They are also happy in salt and brackish water – wherever there is food – and he is getting freshwater from seeps behind the baths."
River otters can be found in other regions of the San Francisco Bay area. To the north of the Golden Gate, the researchers are tracking a group in Marin County. They have also found river otters in shore-side San Francisco Bay area communities of Alameda, Richmond and Martinez.
"Habitat destruction had an impact on the river otters," said Dorren Gurrola, a science teacher at the Marine Mammal Center, which studies Sam's relatives, the sea otter. "So it's always exciting to see these animals return to their habitat."
Young males like Sam often are the ones that travel away from groups, looking for food. If they find a new, hospitable habitat, others including females may join and create the basis of a new colony, Gurrola said.
While there is no certain reason for Sam's appearance in San Francisco, Isadore and biologists working to unlock more clues have some leads to go on.
He could have swam across the bay's mouth from Marin County, and scat collected from Sam will be analyzed to see if there's a genetic link to that population. But now, Sam seems to be happy swimming around and munching on small fish, including goldfish discarded in the area.
"We're just trying to piece things together in a logical way," Isadore said. "River otters sometimes even stow away on boats, we just don't know."

Photos by Jouko van der Kruijssen, courtesy of SF Wildlife [], showing "Sutro Sam" the River Otter:

"S.F.’s only river otter at Sutro Baths" []:
The Sutro Baths is now home to a River Otter called "Sutro Sam" by biologists on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. According to the National Parks Service the Sutro Baths were abandoned since 1966 when a fire ravaged the structure. Photo: Sean Havey / SF

A River Otter named Sutro Sam by local biologists searches for fish to feed on at the Sutro Baths on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Sean Havey / SF

Jouko Van Der Kruijssen, who is a volunteer with The River Otter Ecology Project and regularly photographs the otter named "Sutro Sam" at the Sutro Baths on December 30, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif. Van Der Kruijssen has been monitoring Sutro Sam's activity since the the otter arrived sometime in October. Photo: Sean Havey, The Chronicle / SF

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fukushima disaster times 10, nuclear power is anti-Life

Updated information:
* Study of 2011 Japan Tsunami debris across Pacific gives insight into Fukushima's radioactive water flow across ocean, 2014-02 [link]
* California Scientists study radioactive water along the coast, 2014-02 [link]

"Nuclear pollution from Fukushima Daiichi comes to US"
2013-01-09 message from Dr. Carol Wolman:
Lots of radiation is still coming to the US west coast from Fukushima Daiichi, from the Pacific Ocean and the atmosphere. It's hard to get information, for example [], and [].
I have a simple radiation detector. Background radiation in Oakland CA has risen from average .07-.08 microseiverts/ hour to .10- .12 since last September.
When it rains, the count goes up to .18- .20- which is considered the upper limit of safety.
We recently learned that the cleanup is just spreading radioactivity.

2013-01-03 message from "Fukushima Response Bay Area":

Fukushima Response Bay Area      PO Box 6   Berkeley, Ca 94708 (212) 518-4677
Letter to potential Nominators for an international team of independent experts to solve the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crises
Dear ______________________
You are probably concerned, as are we, about the threat posed by the unresolved crisis at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan.  Our concern is heightened by the M 7.4 earthquake on Dec. 7, which may have caused further damage, increasing the danger of the spent fuel pools catching fire.  Many have called for an international team of experts, in the words of former plant manager Masao Yoshida, “the best minds in the world,” to form a plan for diminishing the threat.
We are launching a proactive effort to create an independent, international team of experts to formulate the best course of action for dealing with the situation.  We hope you will help us mobilize this response.  We fear that a team convened by government would call on industry insiders such as Shaw Group, Bechtel or Areva, which would promote a serious conflict of interest to the detriment of public safety.
We are delighted that Dale Bridenbaugh is the first to receive and accept our invitation.  We propose that the team be formed by nomination, the Nominators being nuclear experts in their own right, acting from a standpoint critical of the “nuclear village,” out of a concern for safety above all.  Experienced nuclear technicians are preferred candidates, as the plan will involve considerable radiological firefighting, engineering, and construction expertise.
By reply, you are invited to nominate members of the international team based on expertise, character, and their likely acceptance of nomination.  Nominators may also choose each other.  We will contact those selected and help organize the team.  We prefer to hand over the reins to experts as soon as is feasible; until then, we will be working to raise support of various kinds to enable this effort to go forward.
Once a team is mobilized that garners respect from other experts, it will take on a momentum of its own, wielding the gravitas necessary to command serious attention from government.  International awareness of this team will bring considerable pressure to bear as well.
We are working on a second list, to include public figures such as Senator Wyden, to help generate public awareness and support.
Please let us know if you are willing to be involved in helping us form an international response to the nuclear crisis in Japan.  Your participation could range from suggesting one or two nominees, to simply offering advice or feedback; and we would be happy to answer any questions you have.  We would be honored to have you endorse this endeavor publicly, but we will respect the level of privacy you choose.
Thank you for considering this request.  We hope our proposal will encourage you to act on our shared concerns;  working together we can do this.  The need is urgent.  We cordially invite you to take this step with us.
Sincerely yours,
[ signed ] Fukushima Response Bay Area
Dr. Carol Wolman, Phoebe Sorgen, and Nick Thabit: co-founders
Endorsing organizations:
* Fukushima Response Northern California
* No Nukes Action
* Ecological Options Network
* Environmentalists Against War (coalition of over 100 organizations)
* TRANSCEND USA Steering Committee
* BFUU Social Justice Committee
* Code Pink Portland and Golden Gate

"Fukushima Never Again"
 "Fukushima, Never Again" tells the story of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns in north east Japan in March of 2011 and exposes the cover-up by Tepco and the Japanese government.
 This is the first film that interviews the Mothers Of Fukushima, nuclear power experts and trade unionists who are fighting for justice and the protection of the children and the people of Japan and the world. The residents and citizens were forced to buy their own geiger counters and radiation dosimeters in order to test their communities to find out if they were in danger.
 The government said contaminated soil in children's school grounds was safe and then when the people found out it was contaminated and removed the top soil, the government and TEPCO refused to remove it from the school grounds.
 It also relays how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation and also the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management which built the plant in Fukushima. It also interviews Kei Sugaoka, the GE nulcear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE. This documentary allows the voices of the people and workers to speak out about the reality of the disaster and what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks the information blockade story line of the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that Fukushima is over.
* Production Of Labor Video Project [P.O. Box 720027, San Francisco, CA 94172] [] []
* For information on obtaining the video go to: []

2012-10-12 "Japan utility agrees nuclear crisis was avoidable" by MARI YAMAGUCHI from "Associated Press"
TOKYO (AP) — The utility behind Japan's nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year's tsunami triggered three meltdowns, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them.
"When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance," TEPCO's internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. "Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action" by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said.
The task force said TEPCO had feared efforts to better protect nuclear facilities from severe accidents such as tsunamis would trigger anti-nuclear sentiment, interfere with operations or increase litigation risks. TEPCO could have mitigated the impact of the accident if it had diversified power and cooling systems by paying closer attention to international standards and recommendations, the statement said. TEPCO also should have trained employees with practical crisis management skills rather than conduct obligatory drills as a formality, it said.
The admissions mark a major reversal for the utility, which had defended its preparedness and crisis management since the March 2011 tsunami. The disaster knocked out power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, leading to the meltdowns, which forced massive evacuations and will take decades to clean up.
The statement was released after TEPCO held its first internal reform committee meeting, led by former U.S. nuclear regulatory chief Dale Klein. His five-member committee oversees the task force's reform plans.
"It's very important for TEPCO to recognize the needs to reform and the committee is very anxious to facilitate the reform necessary for TEPCO to become a world-class company," Klein told a news conference. "The committee's goal is to ensure that TEPCO develops practices and procedures so an accident like this will never happen again."
The reform plans aim to use the lessons learned at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in northern Japan. The cash-strapped utility wants to restart that plant, but TEPCO officials denied the reform plans are aimed at improving public image to gain support for the plant's resumption.
"The reforms are intended to improve our safety culture, and we have no intention to link it to a possibility of resuming the (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa) plant," said Takafumi Anegawa, the TEPCO official in charge of nuclear asset management. "We don't have any preconditions for our reforms."
The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been substantially stabilized but is still running on makeshift equipment as workers continue their work to decommission the four damaged reactors, which could take several decades.
Additional safety measures have been installed at nuclear power plants nationwide since the accident under the government's instructions, including enhancing seawalls, adding backup power and cooling water sources, and developing better crisis management training. But plant operators will be required to take further steps as a new nuclear regulatory authority launched in September steps up safety requirements.
Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.
Despite records indicating a major tsunami had once hit off Japan's northern coast, TEPCO took the most optimistic view of the risk and insisted that its 5.7-meter-high seawall was good enough. The tsunami that struck Fukushima Dai-ichi was more than twice that height.
The company had said in its own accident probe report in June that the tsunami could not be anticipated and that the company did the best it could to bring the critically damaged plant under control, although there were shortfalls that they had to review. TEPCO bitterly criticized what it said was excessive interference from the government and the prime minister's office.
TEPCO's Anegawa said the task force plans to compile by the end of the year recommendations "that would have saved us from the accident if we turn the clock back."

ENE News: "Tepco doesn’t deny radioactive materials are seeping into Pacific (VIDEO)"[]:
Title: Still Struggling With Fukushima
 Source: NHK World News —- Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai
 Upload Date: Nov 14, 2012
At ~1:00 in
Reporter: Groundwater is flowing into the reactor buildings and becoming tainted with radioactive materials.
They’re trying to collect the water and store in the tanks for decontamination.
But, they don’t deny this polluted water is seeping into the Pacific Ocean.

2013-01-04 "CROOKED CLEANUP: Radioactive waste dumped into rivers during decontamination work in Fukushima; Some decontamination workers sorry for following orders; Government mishandled complaints about shoddy cleanup work" (This article was compiled from reports by Miki Aoki, Tamiyuki Kihara and Toshio Tada) from "THE ASAHI SHIMBUN":
Cleanup crews in Fukushima Prefecture have dumped soil and leaves contaminated with radioactive fallout into rivers. Water sprayed on contaminated buildings has been allowed to drain back into the environment. And supervisors have instructed workers to ignore rules on proper collection and disposal of the radioactive waste.
Decontamination is considered a crucial process in enabling thousands of evacuees to return to their homes around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and resume their normal lives.
But the decontamination work witnessed by a team of Asahi Shimbun reporters shows that contractual rules with the Environment Ministry have been regularly and blatantly ignored, and in some cases, could violate environmental laws.
"If the reports are true, it would be extremely regrettable," Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato said at his first news conference of the year on Jan. 4. "I hope everyone involved will clearly understand how important decontamination is to the people of Fukushima."
He called on the Environment Ministry to investigate and present a clear report to the prefectural government.
The shoddy practices may also raise questions about the decontamination program itself--and the huge amounts of money pumped into the program.
The central government initially set aside 650 billion yen ($7.4 billion) to decontaminate areas hit by radioactive substances from the March 11, 2011, accident at the Fukushima plant. Since last summer, the Environment Ministry has designated 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture for special decontamination work.
Work has already begun in four municipalities to remove radioactive substances from areas within 20 meters of buildings, roads and farmland.
The Environment Ministry itself does not have the know-how to decontaminate such a large area, so it has given contracts to joint ventures led by major construction companies to do the work.
A contract worth 18.8 billion yen to decontaminate the municipality of Naraha was awarded to a group that includes Maeda Corp. and Dai Nippon Construction. A 7.7-billion-yen contract for Iitate was signed with a group that includes Taisei Corp., while a 4.3-billion-yen contract for Kawauchi was given to a group led by Obayashi Corp. A consortium that includes Kajima Corp. was awarded a 3.3-billion-yen contract to clean up Tamura.
In signing the contracts, the Environment Ministry established work rules requiring the companies to place all collected soil and leaves into bags to ensure the radioactive materials would not spread further. The roofs and walls of homes must be wiped by hand or brushes. The use of pressurized sprayers is limited to gutters to avoid the spread of contaminated water. The water used in such cleaning must be properly collected under the ministry’s rules.
A special measures law for dealing with radioactive contamination of the environment prohibits the dumping of such waste materials. Violators face a maximum prison sentence of five years or a 10-million-yen fine.
From Dec. 11 to 18, four Asahi reporters spent 130 hours observing work at various locations in Fukushima Prefecture.
At 13 locations in Naraha, Iitate and Tamura, workers were seen simply dumping collected soil and leaves as well as water used for cleaning rather than securing them for proper disposal.
Photographs were taken at 11 of those locations.

The reporters also talked to about 20 workers who said they were following the instructions of employees of the contracted companies or their subcontractors in dumping the materials. A common response of the workers was that the decontamination work could never be completed if they adhered to the strict rules.
Asahi reporters obtained a recording of a supervisor at a site in Naraha instructing a worker to dump cut grass over the side of the road.
Officials of Maeda and Dai Nippon Construction have not responded to questions from The Asahi Shimbun.
Four workers at a site in Tamura said they were told to dispose of leaves and soil in a river. At another site in Tamura, reporters saw the leader of the subcontractor group kick a pile of leaves into the river.
A Kajima official said the company was investigating the incident.
Although the Environment Ministry has asked the construction companies to take radiation readings before and after decontamination work, the limits on measurement sites make it difficult to determine the extent to which decontamination is actually being conducted.
"We were told to clean up only those areas around a measurement site," one worker said.
Environment Ministry officials who work on-site said it is impossible to oversee every aspect of the decontamination effort. But they said they have begun investigating the practices revealed by The Asahi Shimbun.
The latest revelations will call into question whether taxpayer money is being properly used. Some living in Fukushima Prefecture have called for using the decontamination funds to support the lives of the evacuees instead.
The 650 billion yen for initial decontamination covers limited areas in only four municipalities. Questions will likely be raised on whether the decontamination program now being implemented is the best use of taxpayer money.

2013-01-07 "Japan’s Cleanup After a Nuclear Accident Is Denounced" by HIROKO TABUCHI, Makiko Inoue from "New York Times":
The decontamination crews at a deserted elementary school here are at the forefront of what Japan says is the most ambitious radiological cleanup the world has seen [...]
Recent reports in the local media of cleanup crews dumping contaminated soil and leaves into rivers has focused attention on the sloppiness of the cleanup.
[...] the central and local governments have handed over much of the 1 trillion yen decontamination effort to Japan’s largest construction companies. [...]
Kajima also built the reactor buildings for all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading some critics to question why control of the cleanup effort has been left to companies with deep ties to the nuclear industry. [...]

"3 Fukushima articles- crumbling concrete, rats, cost"
2012-12-28 from Carol Wolman:The damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi are deteriorating, costs are escalating, and the situation is getting worse, not better. Please keep sending out this petition. Peace, Carol Wolman []
2012-12-11 translation by "Fukushima Diary" from materials by Japanese journalist Iwakami Yasumi []
On December 11, 2012, Japanese journalist Iwakami Yasumi received this email from Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland. I received this message on 12/9/2012.
The pump of the SFP in reactor4 had been having the spotty trouble, but it went out of order on 12/8/2012 at the end. Nuclear workers were collected for emergency to replace the pump but it takes more 2~3 days to fix they say. (Extra workers were brought by helicopter even at night.)
According to a nuclear worker collected for emergency, the concrete to reinforce the SFP is terribly deteriorating to be in the "dangerous state".
[...] a former executive manager of a major company commented this, which is very insightful. "My fear has come into the truth. If it was merely the problem of the pump, it wouldn't be such an issue but if the base to support SFP4 has some damage where we can't see, the situation is much more serious." [...]
Ambassador Murata: "I sent this email to all the chief editors of national newspaper companies, NHK and influential people of major mass media but they all ignored it. I was shocked. I called the manager of disaster headquarter of Fukushima prefectural government but he didn't know that. It seems like they didn't report it to Fukushima local government. "
2012-12-20 “Atomic Rats, Fishing For Beams & Cleaning Up The Common Pool At Daiichi” from “SimplyInfo”, re-posted at []:
Atomic Rats [...]
Workers at the plant are reporting seeing rats at Daiichi. Worker Happy11311 mentioned seeing them and was worried they would damage cables at the plant. They could cause obvious safety problems if they chewed on electrical or water lines. Small animals also pose the risk of getting into equipment and causing issues by tripping electrical systems. Then there is the problem of rats being in contact with high levels of radiation then making them highly contaminated. This can cause problems as they then spread the contamination up the food chain or take it with them if they leave the immediate area.
2012-12-27 “TEPCO Can't Keep Up with Costs of Its Nuclear Disaster at Fukushima; Corporate utility looks for increased public funding yet again” by Jon Queally from “” []:
 Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the now infamous Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan admitted Thursday that it does not have enough funds make payments related to the disaster that continues to plague the communities in and around where the meltdown took place in early 2011.
 Now, the public-private fund set up to bail out the corporation will have to decide if it will increase payments to the company in order to meet what it says are bigger than estimated costs. This is the third time TEPCO has increased its estimate for funds.
 As Agence France-Presse reports:
 Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it had newly estimated the compensation costs at 3.24 trillion yen ($38 billion), up 697 billion yen from its last calculation in March.
 The utility has increased the estimate three times since it originally put the sum at 1.1 trillion yen in October last year, seven months after a massive earthquake and tsunami sparked reactor meltdowns at the plant, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
 TEPCO said it had already received about 1.5 trillion yen in such aid.

"Fukushima dumping of radioactive water into Pacific Ocean violates international law" []: The mass dumping of highly radioactive water (measured at 7.5 million times the normal allowed levels) into the Pacific Ocean is not just an environmental disaster; it’s also a violation of international law.

"Fukushima: Towards the Formation of a Radioactive Graveyard in the Pacific Ocean? Floating Radioactive Debris Reaching Hawaii Sooner Than Expected" []

"Radioactive Fish in the USA?" []: The FDA says it won’t monitor radiation in fish on the West Coast of the U.S.

"Tepco Dumps 11,500 Tons of Radioactive Water Into the Pacific" []:
Kyodo news reports: 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 [ ... ]

2012-06-01 "FUKUSHIMA: Pacific Ocean Will Not Dilute Dumped Radioactive Water According to Previously-Secret 1955 Government Report" from "Global Research"
The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has been dumping something like a thousand tons per day of radioactive water into the Pacific ocean [].
Remember, the reactors are “riddled with meltdown holes” [], building 4 – with more radiation than all nuclear bombs ever dropped or tested [] – is missing entire walls [], and building 3 is a pile of rubble [].
The whole complex is leaking like a sieve [], and the rivers of water pumped into the reactors every day are just pouring into the ocean (with only a slight delay) [].
Most people assume that the ocean will dilute the radiation from Fukushima enough that any radiation reaching the West Coast of the U.S. will be low.
For example, the Congressional Research Service wrote in April []: "Scientists have stated that radiation in the ocean very quickly becomes diluted and would not be a problem beyond the coast of Japan. [ ... ] U.S. fisheries are unlikely to be affected because radioactive material that enters the marine environment would be greatly diluted before reaching U.S. fishing grounds."
And a Woods Hole oceanographer said []: “The Kuroshio current is considered like the Gulf Stream of the Pacific, a very large current that can rapidly carry the radioactivity into the interior” [of the ocean, Buesseler said.] “But it also dilutes along the way, causing a lot of mixing and decreasing radioactivity as it moves offshore.”
But – just as we noted 2 days after the earthquake hit that the jet stream might carry radiation to the U.S. by wind [] [] – we are now warning that ocean currents might carry more radiation to the at least some portions of the West Coast of North America than is assumed.
Specifically, we noted more than a year ago []: "The ocean currents head from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S."
As AP notes []: "The floating debris will likely be carried by currents off of Japan toward Washington, Oregon and California before turning toward Hawaii and back again toward Asia, circulating in what is known as the North Pacific gyre, said Curt Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam. [ ... ] All this debris will find a way to reach the West coast or stop in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a swirling mass of concentrated marine litter in the Pacific Ocean, said Luca Centurioni, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego."
Here is what the North Pacific Gyre looks like []:

 NPR reports []:
[begin excerpt]
CNN said [] that “the Hawaiian islands may get a new and unwelcome addition in coming months — a giant new island of debris floating in from Japan.” It relied in part on work done by the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center, which predicts that []: “In three years, the [debris] plume will reach the U.S. West Coast, dumping debris on Californian beaches and the beaches of British Columbia, Alaska, and Baja California. The debris will then drift into the famous North Pacific Garbage Patch, where it will wander around and break into smaller and smaller pieces. In five years, Hawaii shores can expect to see another barrage of debris that is stronger and longer lastingthan the first one. Much of the debris leaving the North Pacific Garbage Patch ends up on Hawaii’s reefs and beaches.”
Indeed, CNN notes []: "The debris mass, which appears as an island from the air, contains cars, trucks, tractors, boats and entire houses floating in the current heading toward the U.S. and Canada, according to ABC News."
The bulk of the debris will likely not be radioactive, as it was presumably washed out to sea during the initial tsunami – before much radioactivity had leaked. But this shows the power of the currents from Japan to the West Coast.
[end excerpt]
An animated graphic from the University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center [] shows the projected dispersion of debris from Japan:

Indeed, an island of Japanese debris the size of California is hitting the West Coast of North America []… and some of it is radioactive [].
In addition to radioactive debris, MIT says that seawater which is itself radioactive may begin hitting the West Coast within 5 years []. Given that the debris is hitting faster than predicted, it is possible that the radioactive seawater will as well.
And the Congressional Research Service admitted: "However, there remains the slight potential for a relatively narrow corridor of highly contaminated water leading away from Japan [ … ] Transport by ocean currents is much slower, and additional radiation from this source might eventually also be detected in North Pacific waters under U.S. jurisdiction, even months after its release. Regardless of slow ocean transport, the long half-life of radioactive cesium isotopes means that radioactive contaminants could remain a valid concern for years."
Indeed, nuclear expert Robert Alvarez – senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999 – wrote yesterday: [begin excerpt]
According to a previously secret 1955 memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regarding concerns of the British government over contaminated tuna, “dissipation of radioactive fall-out in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific. We can speculate that tuna which now show radioactivity from ingested materials [this is in 1955, not today] have been living, in or have passed through, such pockets; or have been feeding on plant and animal life which has been exposed in those areas.”
[end excerpt]
Because of the huge amounts of radioactive water Tepco is dumping into the Pacific Ocean, and the fact that the current pushes waters from Japan to the West Coast of North America, at least some of these radioactive “streams” or “hot spots” will likely end up impacting the West Coast.

2012-08-17 "Fukushima disaster times 10, nuclear power is anti-Life"
Reported on by "Communities For Justice and Peace, Humboldt.Co. Ca." (Sending  out  reports  and research studies, exposing media bias, holding government accountable to "The People!"), with poems and context by Jack Nounnan (
Seeing through these controlling and contrived social, economic political vices!
What is it we have become?
  All Earth Beings Are Being Called Upon
    To Rise Up!

Please pass this on...
What is it we have become among these severest
  of limited industrial and dominant choices
    of our personal freedoms?

It's about new purpose arising out of seeing through
  our fixes of fettered, severely controlling and contrived
    gov/corp. social, economic political vises!

For Starts We've Got To End This Worldwide
  And Deadly Nuclear Power Industry!
    All Earth Beings Are Being Called Upon. . .

As a  7.3 earthquake is reported off their shores, as usual Japan tops the week in the news with an announcement for plans to restart 3 more reactors . . . with more protests and new scandals.
Japanese and US nuclear experts warn that another earthquake hitting Fukushima could spark a disaster 10 times the scale of Chernobyl, the situation inside Fukushima reactor number four is precarious.

Mobilizing To Stop Stabilize Fukushima now!
This 3 minute video, put together by Dan Villalva , a member of  the original Fukushima Response group, in Sonoma County, CA. as  more groups form around the country in:
1) Mobilizing an international effort to stabilize Fukushima now
2) Assessing and publicizing the impactof the disaster on California
3) Vigiling  Fridays in support of the Japanese people, who are turning out en masse every Friday to stop nuclear reactors in Japan.
If you want to start a group in your area, email me-
A matter of better organizing in our collective efforts now!
Also please see: [] []

San Onofre has many "fatal flaws", inadequate steam generators not nearly strong enough to survive large earthquakes that might occur in its vicinity.  Its tsunami wall isn't nearly high enough -- just like Fukushima's wasn't.  Its backup diesel generators have been left uninspected, have been mis-wired, have had their backup batteries fail, have had vibration detectors set improperly, have failed to start during tests, and their fuel is located below grade and would have to be pumped up through a flotilla of tsunami debris.  The sump pump for its emergency core cooling system could become clogged with debris.  Workers are intimidated or even fired for reporting safety violations.
2012-08-10 "San Onofre's MOST fatal flaw is... this... and this... and this..." by Ace Hoffman
If they thought about it at all, most SoCal residents used to think of San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station as reliable, although this view was false all along.
The false impression was accomplished in part because when one reactor would go down, the other would usually stay up, so the unreliability was masked from public scrutiny. Refueling outages were planned accordingly.
However, recent events have revealed the truth.  A widespread blackout less than a year ago brought SanO down for about a week -- both reactors -- as will just about every type of major disaster conceivable, whether it's SanO's fault or not.  San Onofre has to shut down if it loses offsite power, which is nearly inevitable in most major natural disasters.
But even if SanO were more reliable, it's two operating units have several basic design flaws.  For example, each of the two reactors has only two steam generators.  That is a basic design flaw that cannot be fixed.
Most Pressurized Water Reactors have three or four steam generators.  Having ONLY a single backup steam generator if one of the two fails has become a serious issue because of SanO's attempts to restart Unit 2 at reduced power due to design flaws inside their new steam generators.
All four steam generators were replaced in 2010 and 2011 with a new design that was supposed to last longer and wear better.  But on January 31st, 2012 one of Unit 3's two new steam generators sprung a leak, and a closer inspection of Unit 2's steam generator tubing revealed excessive wear there as well.  Technically, Unit 3 is "trashed" as one expert put it recently, but Unit 2 might still be operated at lower power -- if you don't mind risking losing Southern California to do it.
However, so far no one can figure out a "workable" power level.  As of this writing, Southern California Edison hasn't applied for permission to restart either reactor.
On the intakes to the steam generators they sometimes put devices called "restrictors".  The restrictors narrow the inlets to physically limit the maximum flow of water into the steam generator.  If they want to run at reduced power, they probably will need to put properly-sized restrictors on, because it would not only be against regulations to run at a higher flow rate, but it would also potentially be very dangerous.
However, this presents a problem if there's an emergency.  If one steam generator fails, they would have to cool the reactor with the other steam generator running at significantly reduced maximum flow!  That might not be possible.
Why not just set the "maximum flow rate" to the amount that might be needed in an emergency, and run at less than that?
The answer is that they have to limit the flow because a catastrophic accident might occur if the flow rates are too high.  So in essence, they will already be operating at their maximum permissible flow rates.  That's why simply telling the operators: "Don't turn that dial past 50%!" won't be sufficient.  The entire system is designed to push water through those steam generators as fast as practical, and normally that's supposed to keep happening unless they insert the control rods to shut down the reactor and it starts to cool.
But in San Onofre's case, increased flow in the primary loop can cause overheating of the water in the secondary loop, causing there to be more steam than water in the upper area of the steam generator, which can cause tube-to-tube collisions and wear, because steam doesn't dampen vibration as well as water does.  This is what caused the radiation leak that occurred in January.  So even in an emergency, you can't have excess flow.
So that's one problem:  Only one backup steam generator.  If the potential failure point of concern was somewhere other than a steam generator, that would be one thing, and maybe two steam generators per reactor is enough.  But with the potential point of failure being the steam generators themselves, this becomes a "fatal flaw".
Another "fatal flaw" at San Onofre is that the problem with the steam generator tubes banging into each other and wearing out too fast can't be fixed by going back to the old design.
The old design was made with an alloy (Inconel 600) that had a 10% better heat transfer rate.  But that alloy had flow induced vibration problems (i.e., it was too wobbly) AND premature wearing and aging problems (i.e., the "super" alloy wasn't so super after all).  Those problems were only partially relieved by the industry's newest alloy (Inconel 690) that the new tubes were made with.  There are nearly 10,000 of these tubes inside each steam generator.  If one fails, it could cause the whole bundle to fail in quick succession (known as a "cascading" failure).
The new tubes had to be thinner to fit in the same space and have the same overall total heat transfer rate as the old tube bundle had.  It's possible the designers purposely tried to make the heat transfer rate even higher so they could produce more steam.  In any event, they succeeded way too much.
They took out a "stay cylinder" in the center of the steam generators in order to fit more heat transfer tubes, which may have added to their vibration problems.
In fact, they thought they had lots of better ideas for various other parts of the steam generators -- dozens of areas were redesigned along the way.  The whole process took about 10 years.  There were hearings, cost estimates, attempts by citizens (including this one) to stop it... same as what's happening today, except the reactors were running at the time.
The NRC was assured by SCE that the new steam generators were "like-for-like" and were going to be "plug compatible" after they tore a hole in the containment domes to cram the new steam generators in and take the old ones out.  The assurance of "like-for-like" replacement avoided a layer of public scrutiny that might have stopped the project -- or found the problem.
At least one Unit 3 steam generator registered a "1.3 g" deviation on all three of its accelerometers somewhere along its journey from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe, Japan to SanO.  That bump may have contributed to its excessive wear: 1,300,000 pounds (the weight of over 16 fully-loaded tractor-trailer trucks) doesn't take kindly to being knocked around.
Before they left the factory, some of the steam generators were rotated many extra times during repairs of cracks found during inspections.
Steam generator problems aside, an even bigger problem is all the used reactor cores that are stored on site at San Onofre.
Used reactor cores are called "spent fuel" even though they actually are entire reactor core assembly modules, each weighing thousands of pounds.  They ARE the "reactor."  When they are removed from the reactor pressure vessel, they are thermally and radioactively "hot", and are chock full of "fission products" (i.e., radioactive decay products that are, themselves, radioactive).
These fuel bundle assemblies are yet a third fatal flaw at San Onofre -- and at every reactor.  Every 18 to 22 months, a third of the reactor core is removed from the reactor and set aside -- forever.  For the first five years the reactor cores must be stored deep under water, they are so hot.  After that they are precariously loaded into "dry casks" which are recipes for disaster as well.
The older the fuel, the cooler it is both thermally and radioactively.  Therefore, the safer and safer it becomes -- slowly.
San Onofre has many more "fatal flaws" than just these.  For example, it's not nearly strong enough to survive large earthquakes that might occur in its vicinity.  Its tsunami wall isn't nearly high enough -- just like Fukushima's wasn't.  Its backup diesel generators have been left uninspected, have been mis-wired, have had their backup batteries fail, have had vibration detectors set improperly, have failed to start during tests, and their fuel is located below grade and would have to be pumped up through a flotilla of tsunami debris.  The sump pump for its emergency core cooling system could become clogged with debris.  Workers are intimidated or even fired for reporting safety violations.
Any of these problems -- and many more -- might be "fatal flaws" for San Onofre.
The solution is to keep it shut down forever, and turn to renewables.
The amount of energy from San Onofre (about 2,200 megawatts) has been "replaced" many times over since SanO was built -- sometimes with clean energy, sometimes with cheap natural gas.  SanO should immediately be decommissioned and alternative energy options utilized instead.

2012-06-25 "Experts warn of another disaster awaiting at Fukushima" transcript from "Australian Broadcasting Corporation"
[], begin excerpt:
In the gloom of this pool, a 1,331 highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel assemblies each containing dozens of rods,  contains 5,000 times more cesium than was released by the Hiroshima bomb and the pool is just hanging there. We don't know when it could collapse, five storeys above the ground next to the reactor, the reactor building looking now like a hydrogen explosion blew it apart. The blast tore off the roof and caused a reinforced wall of the fuel pool to bulge by up to 3.5 centimetres, the hundreds of tonnes of spent fuel, until this month its only protection from the elements by a white plastic sheet. Some nuclear experts warn Japan is literally playing with fire.
HIROAKI KOIDE: If there's a crack in the pool and water drains out, the fuel rods will be exposed. It will then be impossible to cool the fuel. So if an accident happens, 10 times more cesium than has already been released by the Fukushima meltdown will go into the atmosphere. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, Tokyo could become uninhabitable. As soon as possible, those fuel rods should be removed. Earthquakes are striking almost every day around the Fukushima plant...This warning is echoed by international nuclear safety experts, among them, Robert Alvarez, a former advisor to the US Secretary of Energy.
ROBERT ALVAREZ: You have a very, very large concentration of radioactivity where the only thing that keeps that radioactivity from being released through a catastrophic fire is a pool of water. That pool is 100 feet off the ground in a structurally damaged building in a high-risk earthquake zone. I mean, what more you can be worried about?
MARK WILLACY: Ever since the meltdowns, TEPCO has maintained a veil of secrecy over what's happening at Fukushima. But one man has managed to penetrate it. Tomohiko Suzuki is a rarity in Japanese journalism: a reporter prepared to put his health on the line to get to the truth.
TOMOHIKO SUZUKI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): When I went undercover as a worker at the Fukushima plant, I wore protection gear, but over my sleeve I wore this watch, which has a secret camera inside.
MARK WILLACY: With his secret camera watch and other hidden devices, Suzuki recorded life inside the Fukushima plant. Working next to the reactor four building, he was shocked by what he was told about the fuel pool 30 metres above him.
TOMOHIKO SUZUKI (voiceover translation): I spoke to a worker who helped reinforce the reactor four building. He said the spent fuel pool has vast amounts of heavy water in it and that the steel support frames were damaged, but he told me that the reinforcement of the pool was jerry-rigged, so if a typhoon or a tornado hits, it will be dangerous.
Meanwhile TEPCO says the fuel pool can withstand the next big earthquake, but I can't believe this.
[end excerpt]


Fuku Kids Unwitting Radioactive Guinea Pigs
  What is it we have become among these despicable
     and limited industrial and dominant choices?

2012-07-24 "Fukushima - Local Children Unwitting (and Unwilling) Radioactive Guinea Pigs" by John Daly from ""
Benefit From the Latest Energy Trends and Investment Opportunities before the mainstream media and investing public are aware they even exist. The Free Energy Intelligence Report gives you this and much more. Click here to find out more.
Seventeen months after the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s six–reactor complex at its Fukushima Daiichi, discussions continue about the possible effects of the radiation “dusting” the prefecture’s inhabitants received, and their consequences.
Far outside most media coverage, 2012 is shaping up to be the media battleground between the massed proponents of the ongoing ‘safety’ of nuclear power, as opposed to a motley coalition of environmentalists, renegade nuclear scientists and anti-nuclear opponents, largely bereft of media contact.
The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami double punch that effectively destroyed Tokyo Electric Power Company’s power plant complex has effectively become the newest “ground zero” in the debate over nuclear power. Advocates pro and con debate the implications of everything from the amount of damage to the release of radionuclides to the long term health effects on the Japanese population.
The stakes are high – quite aside from Japan’s multi-billion dollar investment in civilian nuclear energy, dating back to the 1960s, there remains the issues of Fukushima’s radioactive debris polluting neighbours.
All sides in the debate are playing for massive stakes, with the Japanese government and the nuclear industry broadly indicating the issue is under control. Accordingly, every issue from the amount of radiation released to the long term health consequences of the Fukushima disaster are subject to acrimonious debate.
That said, there is an involuntary irradiated “test” Fukushima group monitored since March 2011 displaying disturbing health abnormalities that may ultimately decide the debate, should the global media report it, forcing governments to debate its consequences.

The children of Fukushima -
The issue of nuclear radiation on human health cites besides Fukushima the August 1945 U.S nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the April 1986 explosion of the Chernobyl reactor complex in Ukraine, but in reality, there are no comparisons to evaluate Fukushima.
The 1945 U.S. Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were weapon “air bursts,” raising no nuclear debris from the ground. Furthermore, the Japanese medical establishment had no experience with the problem and when U.S. military forces arrived over a month later, information about the human cost of the bombings was censored for decades. Showing pictures of destroyed buildings, okay – showing victims with kimono patterns seared into their skin, no.
As for Chernobyl, the 26 April 1986 catastrophe represented a major black eye for Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev’s “glasnost” policy. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Soviet emergency workers, the Chernobyl smoking nuclear roman candle burned for nine days before being extinguished.
In contrast, Fukushima Daiichi has been like a suppurating wound, leaching radionuclides into the environment since March 2011, and since then furious arguments have swirled about not only how much radiation Fukushima released, but the potential long term health consequences.
But both disputes ultimately devolve into pure speculation. 
Only two months ago TEPCO stated that the Fukushima debacle may have released twice as much radioactivity than Japan’s government initially estimated.
Accordingly, how can anyone estimate long term health effects when actual exposure rates are unknown?
That said, scientists do have a well defined test group – the population of Fukushima Prefecture surrounding the stricken NPP.
And the sixth report of the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, which was released in April, revealed after the survey examined 38,114 local children that 36 percent of Fukushima children have abnormal thyroid growths [].
The Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey revealed that 13,460 children, or 35.3 percent, had thyroid cysts or nodules up to 0.197 inches long growing on their thyroids and 0.5 percent of the children had growths larger than 0.197 inches.
So, why might this be significant? According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), thyroid problems from nuclear events occur when radioactive iodine is leaked into the atmosphere and thyroid cells that absorb too much of this radioactive iodine may become cancerous, with children being particularly susceptible.
Furthermore, the ATA reports noted that thyroid cancer "seems to be the only cancer whose incidence rises after a radioactive iodine release" and that that babies and children are at highest risk. The estimated lifetime radiation doses among the children are still low, but they do exist, the Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences stated at a10 July international symposium in Chiba Prefecture.
Who cares about such an arcane issue? Well, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences conclusions refute the government’s assertion that Japanese children in effect received zero thyroid radiation doses from Fukushima.
Re: Fukushima children’s health, the news just gets better. Two months ago Tokyo Shinbum reported that 60 percent of Fukushima children under 12 have tested positive for diabetes, according to Dr. Miura, the director of Iwase’s general hospital [].

Why, possibly?
Because the Strontium-90 radioactive isotope quickly decays to become Yttrium-90, which can concentrate in the pancreas, causing pancreatic cancer or diabetes. That said, while noting the abnormality, Dr. Miura declined to link it to Fukushima radiation exposure.
So, where does the Japanese government go from here?
It might do worse than to follow the advice of Australian pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott, who after observing that "It is extremely rare to find cysts and thyroid nodules in children," added that "you would not expect abnormalities to appear so early - within the first year or so - therefore one can assume that they must have received a high dose of (radiation)" before concluding, "it is impossible to know, from what (Japanese officials) are saying, what these lesions are." []
Calidcott also noted that Japanese officials are not sharing the ultrasound results with foremost experts of thyroid nodules in children before noting, "The data should be made available. And they should be consulting with international experts ASAP. And the lesions on the ultrasounds should all be biopsied and they're not being biopsied. And if they're not being biopsied then that's ultimate medical irresponsibility. Because if some of these children have cancer and they're not treated they're going to die."
Nothing to see here, move along – unless your child is part of that 35.3 percentile.
Still, something for Westerners to think about the next time their government promotes building a nuclear power plant nearby - or if you live close to an existing one.

2012-07-20 "Fukushima deceptions" message from Carol Wolman:
Thanks so much, everybody- 3 days ago, I sent out a plea for 123 more signatures, to reach 1000. Now, there are 1019 signatures! Let's keep it up- US pressure and help is urgently needed to get the situation there under control, and clean up the mess. []
 I've been reading lots of stories about coverups and lies on the part of Tepco and the Japanese government about the damage at Fukushima, the amount of radiation released, the current status. Because I believe that pointing fingers isn't helpful; what's needed is cooperation, I haven't been sending these reports out. But it's becoming clear that deception is a big part of the problem. If the full extent of the damage and of the danger were made generally known, much more would be done much more quickly. It would cost much more, Tepco and Japan would lose money and control of the situation, and the whole nuclear industry would be shaken even more than it already has been, so the coverups continue.
 An independent investigation was carried out by the Japanese parliament. []
 The report blames "government- industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture".
 "The commission accused the government, Tepco and nuclear regulators of failing to carry out basic safety measures despite being aware of the risks posed by earthquakes, tsunamis and other events that might cut off power systems. Even though the government-appointed Nuclear Safety Commission revised earthquake resistance standards in 2006 and ordered nuclear operators around the country to inspect their reactors, for example, Tepco did not carry out any checks, and regulators did not follow up, the report said."
 Since the disaster, outside inspections have not been permitted, and internal inspections are every few months. There is no overall project management; Tepco has subcontracted endlessly, so the work is done by a hodgepodge of companies, according to Yastel Yamada, founder of Skilled Veterans Corps of Fukushima. This group of elderly workers have not been able to replace younger workers, although they are willing to tolerate much more exposure, because there is no overall hiring policy. Each subcontractor does its own hiring, so no one has authority to bring in these noble volunteers.
 Mr. Yamada and an associate, Mr. Okamoto, will be touring the US in August to ask for US assistance to internationalize the situation so appropriate measures will be taken. To meet with them, contact Robert Mendelson elijah18901@
 Let's continue to mobilize to save our lives, our children's lives, and the lives all living creatures.

"Senators Boxer and Feinstein: Investigate the ongoing danger from the Fukushima nuclear reactors"
Created By Carol Wolman of Oakland, CA
Petitioning Senators Boxer and Feinstein
The spent fuel pools at Fukushima are a bomb waiting to go off. Each pool contains irradiated fuel from several years of operation, making for an extremely large radioactive inventory without a strong containment structure that encloses the reactor cores;
Several pools are now completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions; they are about 100 feet above ground and could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake;
The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding – resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds of miles.
Fukushima is in an active earthquake zone.
The urgency of the situation is underscored by the ongoing seismic activity around NE Japan in which 13 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 - 5.7 have occurred off the NE coast of Honshu last week in the 4 days between 4/14 and 4/17.
This has been the norm since the first quake and tsunami hit the site on March 11th of last year. Larger quakes are expected closer to the power plant. []
California is downwind from Japan. Radiation from the earthquake hit is increasing. []
A Chernobyl type explosion from the spent fuel pools could force coastal California to evacuate for decades.
Tepco and the Japanese government lack the staggering resources- up to $250 billion- to clean up Fukushima before another disaster happens. Tepco's timeline is way too slow- 10 years to contain the spent fuel ponds.
We urge the California Senators to join Oregon Senator Wyden in touring Fukushima, and then investigate the risks, with an eye to mobilizing US and international support for the cleanup.

2012-06-19 "Local official publishes post alluding to possible additional explosions/incidents at Fukushima Daiichi between March 15 to 21 last year" from "ENENews"
June 16, 2012 post by Koichi Oyama, MInamisoma city council member, translated by Dissensus Japan:
A portion Introduction from a blog Urban Prepper:
After i had evacuated, I saw a special program about radiation on TV, I called a person I know living in Fukushima and she said that there was a comedy program on TV at the same hour.
All Medias in Fukushima Prefecture even hid the information of the hydrogen explosion as if they teamed up as a group.
I knew that Fukushima Prefecture controlled the informations in the early stages.
The TV directors consciously wanted to film those images from the beginning.
All the footages of explosions of nuclear power plants should be open to the public anyhow! I heard that on March 15 and after the explosions of Unit 2 & Unit 4 before March 20, 21, something happened as well.
Comment 2012-06-19 by majia -
Wasn't that when unit 4 exploded?
A timeline excerpt from my chapter:
Fukushima reactor number 1 reactor exploded Saturday March 12 after venting failed to release pressure.
On Monday March 14th an explosion occurred at the number 3 reactor. After the second explosion reported on March 15, officials at the Fukushima plant reported “there was no serious radiation leak, but acknowledged they had moved workers for safety reasons as a precaution.”
Furthermore, it was reported at this time that the “containment structures of the three reactors—which house the all-important reactor vessels—remain intact, Japanese official stressed, preventing large-scale radiation leaks.”
Later in the day on March 15, an explosion occurred in reactor number 2. No definitive information about the state of the number 2 reactor was provided. At the end of March, Japanese officials reported to the press that they suspected only a “partial meltdown” had occurred in reactor 2.

2012-04-03 "Fukushima Radiation Moving Steadily Across Pacific; Concentrated levels found as scientists sample the Pacific for signs of Fukushima"
from "" []:
Teams of scientists have already found debris and levels of radiation far off the coast of Japan, one year after the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. Reports are now suggesting that nuclear radiation has traveled at a steady pace. That contaminated debris and marine life could reach the US coast as soon as one year from now, depending on ocean currents.
Radiation from Fukushima's nuclear disaster is appearing in concentrated levels in sea creatures and ocean water up to 186 miles off of the coast of Japan. The levels of radiation are 'hundreds to thousands of times higher than would be expected naturally' according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Researchers are questioning how the radioactive accumulation on the seafloor will effect the marine ecosystem in the future.
"What this means for the marine environment of the Northwest Pacific over the long term is something that we need to keep our eyes on," said the WHOI.
* * *
Fukushima Radiation Tracked Across Pacific Ocean (Live Science) []:
"We saw a telephone pole," study leader Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist and oceanographer at WHOI, told LiveScience. "There were lots of chemical plants. A lot of stuff got washed into the ocean."
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, led to large releases of radioactive elements from the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plants into the Pacific Ocean. To find out how that radiation spread in the waters off Japan, in June researchers released "drifters" — small monitoring devices that move with the current and take measurements of the surrounding water.
The drifters are tracked via GPS, showing the direction of currents over a period of about five months. Meanwhile, the team also took samples of zooplankton (tiny floating animals) and fish, measuring the concentration of radioactive cesium in the water.
Small amounts of radioactive cesium-137, which takes about 30 years for half the material to decay (called its half-life), would be expected in the water, largely left over from atmospheric nuclear tests in the 1960s and the Chernobyl accident in 1986. But the expedition scientists found nearly equal parts of both cesium-137 and cesium-134, which has a half-life of only two years. Any "naturally" occurring cesium-134 would be long gone. [...]
The team also looked at the amounts of cesium isotopes in the local sea life, including zooplankton, copepods (tiny crustaceans), shrimp and fish. They found both cesium-137 and cesium-134 in the animals, sometimes at concentrations hundreds of times that of the surrounding water. Average radioactivity was about 10 to 15 Bq per kilogram, depending on whether it was zooplankton or fish (concentrations were lowest in the fish).
* * *
Sampling the Pacific for Signs of Fukushima (WHOI) []:
An international research team is reporting the results of a research cruise they organized to study the amount, spread, and impacts of radiation released into the ocean from the tsunami-crippled reactors in Fukushima, Japan. The group of 17 researchers and technicians from eight institutions spent 15 days at sea in June 2011 studying ocean currents, and sampling water and marine organisms up to the edge of the exclusion zone around the reactors.
Led by Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist and marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the team found that the concentration of several key radioactive substances, or radionuclides, were elevated but varied widely across the study area, reflecting the complex nature of the marine environment. In addition, although levels of radioactivity in marine life sampled during the cruise were well below levels of concern for humans and the organisms themselves, the researchers leave open the question of whether radioactive materials are accumulating on the seafloor sediments and, if so, whether these might pose a long-term threat to the marine ecosystem. The results appear in the online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
 "Our goal was to provide an independent assessment of what the Japanese were reporting and also to get further off shore to sample in places where we thought the currents would be carrying most of the radionuclides," said Buesseler. "We also wanted to provide as wide ranging a look as possible at potential impacts on the marine system to give a better idea of what was going on in the region, but also to provide a stronger baseline from which to measure future changes." [...]
Another open question is why radiation levels in the waters around Fukushima have not decreased since the Japanese stopped emergency cooling operations. According to Buesseler, it may be an indication that the ground surrounding the reactors has become saturated with contaminated water that is slowly seeping out in to the ocean. It may also be a sign that radionuclides in ocean sediments have become remobilized.
"What this means for the marine environment of the Northwest Pacific over the long term is something that we need to keep our eyes on," said Buesseler.

2012-03-30 "As Fukushima Worsens, US Approves New Nukes; Nuclear Regulatory Commission OKs New Nuclear Plants in South Carolina" from "Common Dreams"
Despite reports this week that the Fukushima nuclear situation may be even worse than previously thought [], the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has given approval today for two combined licenses for two nuclear reactors in South Carolina, only the second time in the last three decades that new nuclear plants have been approved in the nation [].
 The Vogtle nuclear power plant, which was given the first license since the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in 1979
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., a unit of SCANA Corp., and Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility, will begin construction on the reactors in Fairfield County, S.C. at the Summer nuclear power site.
The NRC's decision to approve the license passed by a 4-1 vote, with the lone dissent vote coming from NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko due to safety measures raised by the Fukushima disaster. Jaczko wrote in his dissent, "I continue to believe that we should require that all Fukushima-related safety enhancements are implemented before these new reactors begin operating.”
The nuclear reactors will use Westinghouse's AP1000 design. But in November nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen warned of several unreviewed safety concerns with this design and said that Westinghouse’s assumption of zero probability of reactor and/or spent fuel cooling failure “is a blatant manipulation of a safety code designed to protect public health and safety.” []
In February the NRC also voted to extend licenses to build two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. []
Earlier this month, Amy Goodman noted that "Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing: they're going to force nuclear power on the public, despite the astronomically high risks, both financial and environmental." []
* * *
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: NRC Concludes Hearing on Summer New Reactors, Combined Licenses to Be Issued (pdf) []:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded its mandatory hearing on the South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper application for two Combined Licenses (COL) at the Summer site in South Carolina. In a 4-1 vote the Commission found the NRC staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC’s Office of New Reactors (NRO) to issue the COLs.
* * *
The Hill: Regulators approve construction of nuclear reactors in South Carolina []
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4-1 to approve a license allowing construction and conditional operation of two new reactors at Scana Corp.’s Virgil C. Summer nuclear power plant in Fairfield County, S.C. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was the lone vote against approving the license. [...]
Friday’s decision is a major victory for the nuclear power industry, which has struggled for years to receive the necessary regulatory approvals to build new reactors.
In his dissent, Jaczko reiterated his long-standing call for the commission to include in the license a requirement that the plant operator – in this case Scana subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas – comply with all post-Fukushima safety standards. [...]
“I fully support the decision by my colleagues to include this license condition and I consider this important progress in incorporating the lessons from Fukushima,” he wrote in his dissent. “However, I continue to believe that we should require that all Fukushima-related safety enhancements are implemented before these new reactors begin operating.”
Jaczko was also the lone dissenting voice in February when the commission approved the Vogtle license. At the time, he raised similar concerns about incorporating the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster into the license.
* * *
POWERGRID International: NRC approves COLs for SCE&G, Santee Cooper Nuclear Units []
About 1,000 workers are currently engaged in early-site preparation work at the V.C. Summer construction site. The project will peak at about 3,000 construction craft workers over the course of three to four years. The two units, each with a capacity of 1,117 MW, will then add 600 to 800 permanent jobs when they start generating electricity. The two AP1000 nuclear reactors will be fabricated by Westinghouse.
V.C. Summer Station is about 20 miles northwest of Columbia, S.C., and includes the now-decommissioned Carolinas-Virginia Tube Reactor unit. The plant comprises one 1,000 MW Westinghouse 3-loop pressurized water reactor currently licensed to run through 2042.
* * *
Common Dreams: Experts: Radiation at Fukushima Plant Far Worse Than Thought; Water at surprisingly low levels; damage "worse than expected" []
Radiation levels inside Fukushima's reactor 2 have reached fatally high levels, and levels of water are far lower than previously thought, experts say today.
The current radiation levels are so high that even robots cannot enter. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) says that new robots and equipment will need to be developed to deal with the lethal levels of radiation.
TEPCO spokesperson Junichi Matsumoto told the Associated Press, "We have to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation" when locating and removing melted fuel during the decommissioning.
At ten times the lethal dose, the radiation levels are at their highest point yet.
At the current level of 73 sieverts, the data gathering robots can only stand two to three hours of exposure. But, Tsuyoshi Misawa, a reactor physics and engineering professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, told The Japan Times, "Two or three hours would be too short. At least five or six hours would be necessary." He added that "the shallowness of the water level is a surprise, and the radiation level is awfully high."
* * *
Amy Goodman: Big Nuclear's Cozy Relationship with the Obama Administration []
Super Tuesday demonstrated the rancor rife in Republican ranks, as the four remaining major candidates slug it out to see how far to the right of President Barack Obama they can go. While attacking him daily for the high cost of gasoline, both sides are traveling down the same perilous road in their support of nuclear power.
This is mind-boggling, on the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission warning that lessons from Fukushima have not been implemented in this country []. Nevertheless, Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing: they're going to force nuclear power on the public, despite the astronomically high risks, both financial and environmental.
One year ago, on 11 March 2011, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan, causing more than 15,000 deaths, with 3,000 more missing and thousands of injuries. Japan is still reeling from the devastation – environmentally, economically, socially and politically. Naoto Kan, Japan's prime minister at the time, said last July;
"We will aim to bring about a society that can exist without nuclear power."
He resigned in August after shutting down production at several power plants. He said that another catastrophe could force the mass evacuation of Tokyo, and even threaten "Japan's very existence". Only two of the 54 Japanese power plants that were online at the time of the Fukushima disaster are currently producing power. Kan's successor, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, supports nuclear power, but faces growing public opposition to it.
This stands in stark contrast to the United States. Just about a year before Fukushima, President Obama announced $8bn in loan guarantees to the Southern Company, the largest energy producer in the southeastern US, for the construction of two new nuclear power plants in Waynesboro, Georgia, at the Vogtle power plant, on the South Carolina border.
Since the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, and then the catastrophe at Chernobyl in 1986, there have been no new nuclear power plants built in the US. The 104 existing nuclear plants are all increasing in age, many nearing their originally slated life expectancy of 40 years.
While campaigning for president in 2008, Barack Obama promised that nuclear power would remain part of the US's "energy mix". His chief adviser, David Axelrod, had consulted in the past for Illinois energy company ComEd, a subsidiary of Exelon, a major nuclear-energy producer. Obama's former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel played a key role in the formation of Exelon. In the past four years, Exelon employees have contributed more than $244,000 to the Obama campaign – and that is not counting any soft-money contributions to PACs, or direct, corporate contributions to the new Super Pacs. Lamented by many for breaking key campaign promises (like closing Guantánamo, or accepting Super Pac money), President Obama is fulfilling his promise to push nuclear power.
That is why several groups sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month. The NRC granted approval to the Southern Company to build the new reactors at the Vogtle plant despite a no vote from the NRC chair, Gregory Jaczko. He objected to the licenses over the absence of guarantees to implement recommendations made following the Japanese disaster. Jaczko said, "I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened."
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the NRC, explained how advocates for nuclear power "distort market forces", since private investors simply don't want to touch nuclear:
"They've asked the federal government for loan guarantees to support the project, and they have not revealed the terms of that loan guarantee … it's socializing the risk and privatizing the profits."
The Nuclear Information and Resource Service, noting the ongoing Republican attack on President Obama's loan guarantee to the failed solar power company Solyndra, said:
"The potential for taxpayer losses that would dwarf the Solyndra debacle is extraordinarily high … this loan would be 15 times larger than the Solyndra loan, and is probably 50 times riskier."
As long as our politicians dance to the tune of their donors, the threat of nuclear disaster will never be far off.
* * *
Nuclear Expert Cites New Concerns about Westinghouse Reactor Design Based on Fukushima Disaster []:
DURHAM, N.C. - November 10 - Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has documented at least six areas of unreviewed safety concern involving the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear plant design based on the ongoing Fukushima disaster, and he says these problems require full technical review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission before the plant design can be “certified.” Today public interest groups filed his report – which expands on problems identified by a federal task force – with NRC commissioners who are considering a final vote on the plant design without responding to a long list of problems raised earlier by experts within and outside the industry.
The report was commissioned by NC WARN and Friends of the Earth, who say the NRC staff has avoided resolving the earlier problems – along with others the NRC’s Fukushima Task Force said apply to new reactors – in order to meet the nuclear industry’s AP1000 construction schedule. In a legal motion accompanying today’s report, the groups say federal regulations require correction of the multiple problems during the design certification phase – not after full construction of the AP1000 begins in Georgia and South Carolina.
Gundersen, of Fairewinds Associates, reports multiple “failure modes that the NRC and Westinghouse have not considered … impacting the ability of the Westinghouse passive design to cool” the reactor and spent fuel pools. The former nuclear industry senior vice-president says Westinghouse’s assumption of zero probability of reactor and/or spent fuel cooling failure “is a blatant manipulation of a safety code designed to protect public health and safety.”
“Fukushima Unit 4 released enormous amounts of radiation when its spent fuel pool cooling system was shut down during the tsunami – and the lessons learned from this disaster must be applied in the design phase of the AP1000,” Gundersen said during a press conference today. “This same sequence is possible on the AP1000, but the NRC and Westinghouse-Toshiba have factored a zero percent chance of such an accident occurring.”

2012-03-30 "California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation; Fukushima Radiation Plume Hit Southern and Central California" from "WashingtonsBlog"
The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California’s seaweed tested over 500% higher for radioactive  iodine-131 than anywhere else in the U.S. and Canada []:
[begin excerpt]
Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3
[end excerpt]
Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.
EneNews summarizes the data []:
[begin excerpt]

* Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California) 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
* Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California) 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed
* Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima: “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun []
* Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO []
* No results after March 28 were reported
[end excerpt]
In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast []. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, radioactive rain-outs will continue for some time … even on the Pacific Coast [].
Of course, the government is doing everything it can to help citizens cover up what’s occurring. We pointed out in January []:
[begin excerpt]

Instead of doing much to try to protect their citizens from Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. and the EU all just raised the radiation levels they deem “safe”.
Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says [] that high-level friends in the State Department told him that Hillary Clinton signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite that food not being tested for radioactive materials (see this []).
And the Department of Energy is trying to replace the scientifically accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation []….
[end excerpt]
Indeed []:
[begin excerpt]

American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels. [])
So – as in Japan – radiation is usually discovered by citizens and the handful of research scientists with funding to check, and not the government. See this [],
this [],
this [],
this [],
this []
and this [].
The Japanese government’s entire strategy from day one has been to cover up the severity of the Fukushima accident []. This has likely led to unnecessary, additional deaths [].
Indeed, the core problem is that all of the world’s nuclear agencies are wholly captured by the nuclear industry [] … as are virtually all of the supposedly independent health agencies.
So the failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening [].
[end excerpt]
And it’s not just radiation from Japan.  An effort by the Southern California Edison power company to secretly ramp up production to avoid public disclosure may have led to a leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant [].

And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:
* Anaheim, CA has highest amount of radioactive fallout of any EPA air monitoring station in Continental U.S. for iodine-131 []
* Over EPA limit: Cesium levels in San Francisco area milk now higher than 6 months ago []
* USGS: Los Angeles area had highest cesium deposition in US after Fukushima []
* “Tends to concentrate in the testicles”: 360+ atoms of radioactive sulfur per day may have been inhaled by Californians after Fukushima []
* Unprecedented Spike: 1501 atoms of radioactive sulfur per meter³ was detected in California air [³-was-detected-in-california-air]
* Radioactive sulfur in California spiked to highest levels ever detected: University researchers []
* Controversy after US gov’t estimate showed 40,000 microsievert thyroid dose for California infants from Fukushima — Data not released to public — “Very high doses to children” []
* Spike in radiation levels for West Coast? “Abnormal” readings on 8 of 18 EPA monitors for California, Oregon, Washington — Devices now “undergoing quality review” []
* Nuclear policy expert: “Striking” that radioactive iodine-131 in California rainwater is so far above level permitted in drinking water []
* Uranium-234 detected in Hawaii, Southern California, and Seattle []

2012-03-28 "Experts: Radiation at Fukushima Plant Far Worse Than Thought; Water at surprisingly low levels; damage "worse than expected" from "Common Dreams"
Radiation levels inside Fukushima's reactor 2 have reached fatally high levels, and levels of water are far lower than previously thought, experts say today.
The current radiation levels are so high that even robots cannot enter. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) says that new robots and equipment will need to be developed to deal with the lethal levels of radiation.
TEPCO spokesperson Junichi Matsumoto told the Associated Press, "We have to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation" when locating and removing melted fuel during the decommissioning.
At ten times the lethal dose, the radiation levels are at their highest point yet.
At the current level of 73 sieverts, the data gathering robots can only stand two to three hours of exposure. But, Tsuyoshi Misawa, a reactor physics and engineering professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, told The Japan Times, "Two or three hours would be too short. At least five or six hours would be necessary." He added that "the shallowness of the water level is a surprise, and the radiation level is awfully high."
* * *
The Japan Times: "Reactor 2 radiation too high for access; 73 sieverts laid to low water; dose too high even for robots" []:
Radiation inside the reactor 2 containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has reached a lethal 73 sieverts per hour and any attempt to send robots in will require them to have greater resistance than currently available, experts said Wednesday.
Exposure to 73 sieverts for a minute would cause nausea and seven minutes would cause death within a month , Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
The experts said the high radiation level is due to the shallow level of coolant water — 60 cm — in the containment vessel, which Tepco said in January was believed to be 4 meters deep. Tepco has only peeked inside the reactor 2 containment vessel. It has few clues as to the status of reactors 1 and 3, which also suffered meltdowns, because there is no access to their insides.
The utility said the radiation level in the reactor 2 containment vessel is too high for robots, endoscopes and other devices to function properly.
* * *
BBC News: Probe finds high radiation in damaged Fukushima reactor []:
The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has said damage to one of the reactors is much worse than previously thought. [...]
On Tuesday workers managed to insert a probe into reactor number two for only the second time and found damage worse than expected.
Radiation was up to 10 times the fatal dose, the highest yet recorded at the plant. The level of water cooling the melted-down nuclear fuel was also far lower than expected.
The other two melted-down reactors, which are yet to be examined closely, could be in an even worse state, our correspondent adds.

What is important is the fact that both Japan and the USA have sustained a policy of censorship over the reality of how radioactive and spread-out are the pollution form the Fukushima nuclear reactor explosion...

2012-03-27 "Censored: Japan Cuts Emperor Akihito's Nuclear Comments from TV" from "Common Dreams"
On the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, March 11, Japan's Emperor Akihito gave a speech at a government-sponsored memorial ceremony in Tokyo.
The emperor, who had just been released from the hospital a week earlier from a heart bypass surgery, said in his address that people who had lived in areas marked as danger zones had been forced to leave their homes and said, "In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task."
While the address was seen in its entirety live and in the morning newspapers, The Atlantic reports that by the evening, major news programs took out his nuclear comments and made no mention of them []. The Atlantic points out that social media forum quickly made note of the omission and accused networks of censorship.
* * *
Kyodo News: Emperor Akihito offers condolences to victims of March disaster
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Emperor Akihito, who is recuperating from heart bypass surgery, offered condolences Sunday to the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami at a government-sponsored memorial ceremony in Tokyo to mark the first anniversary of the disaster in northeastern Japan.
"I would like to express my deepest condolences for the many people who lost their lives in this earthquake," the emperor said in his speech at the ceremony held at the National Theater in central Tokyo. With Empress Michiko at his side, the royal couple observed a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m., the time the earthquake struck last year. [...]
The emperor acknowledged that due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, people in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods when compelled to leave where they lived.
"In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task," the emperor said.
* * *
Michael McAteer: The Atlantic
 Japan in Uproar Over Censorship of Emperor's Anti-Nuclear Speech
There is a particularly sensitive accusation reverberating through online discussion boards and social media in Japan: that Emperor Akihito's speech on the one year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami was censored on TV for his comments about the nuclear disaster at Fukushima. [...]
["In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task," said the emperor.]
While this statement may seem more obvious than radical to outsiders, underneath the Imperial-grade Japanese understatement were two ideas that have become quietly explosive. First, he seemed to suggest that the nuclear crisis is not over, a "formidable task" yet to be overcome. This noticeably contradicts the government's official stance that Fukushima has achieved a cold shutdown and, for all practical purposes, the crisis is over. Second, it implies that it is not yet safe for people to return to areas stricken with high levels of radiation, at least not before the "formidable task" is "overcome." This, again, contradicts the government's position that it is now safe for people to return to almost all areas and that neither Tokyo Electric Power Company nor the national government are obliged to assist in long term evacuations. [...]
[M]any Japanese were shocked when TV media began cutting out the emperor's dramatic statement. Live daytime broadcasts of the event contained the whole speech and newspapers printed it in its entirety. But, by that evening, all of the major news programs aired edited versions of the speech without his nuclear comments, which also went unmentioned and undiscussed on the heavily watches news shows. The vast majority of Japanese, who don't watch TV news during the day, missed the comments entirely.
Blogs and chat-rooms quickly filled with angry accusations that TV networks were censoring an important communication by the Emperor to his people at a time when his guidance is most sought.