Sunday News Roundup – April 1 Version (No Fooling)

Politics Still Evolving

Japan’s New nuclear agency now isn’t happening. It was not clear if there will be any attempts to continue to develop the new agency. Blame the Diet, they failed to do their part to get things in place, or even really started.

Japan Nuclear Fuels has resumed construction on the MOX plant at Rokkasho. With no clear decision on restarting nuclear power plants or if Japan will continue with reprocessing spent fuel into MOX, it isn’t clear if the plant will ever produce any fuel.

The Osaka city council rejected the petition to allow the public to vote on nuclear power in the area. The mayor is against it too. But they both cite the cost of running the public vote and the fact that it is obvious by recent events that the public in the area is largely against nuclear power. Hashimoto (the mayor) was voted in on an anti-nuclear power platform and took steps to pressure KEPCO to phase out nuclear power using the region’s shares in the company.

Kan and some DPJ members are working to coordinate a political group to push for the phase out of nuclear power in Japan. With 80% of the public wanting this, it should prove popular with voters.

Local residents of Kyoto staged a very considerable and angry protest against the head of the Environment Ministry. He showed up to try to convince the public that they should burn disaster debris in their city. This took place at a JR train station in Kyoto. Protesters shouted down the minister and told him to “go back”. A small group of staged “supporters” showed up in suits on the weekend, with commercially printed signs. One threatened the person who took the photos found here.  Meanwhile 5 cities in Niigata have agreed to burn debris.

Contamination Still Everywhere
Considerable contamination is being found in river fish around Fukushima prefecture. Landlocked masu salmon, caught in the Niida River in Iitate had 18,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. This is also higher than contaminated fish found last year. “the 14,400 becquerels per kilogram detected in sand eels in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in April 2011

River fish in Ibaraki prefecture are being found contaminated and over the government limits. Trout in rivers associated with Lake Kitaura had 200-300 bq/kg. Eels in Lake Kasumigaura had 101 bq/kg of contamination and 104 at a location near Soma.

Canned salmon tested by a food coop was found to have 18 bq/kg of contamination. While the level is under the government limits, it shows how widespread contaminated food is among what is found at grocery stores. The coop also found contaminated citrus fruits. The salmon in question.

The bark of fruit trees in Date City was found to have 40,000 bq/kg. Last year’s peach crop had 80-90 bq/kg of contamination. Farmers are struggling with the decision to grow and harvest fruit this year or not. Many have attempted decontamination in their trees but don’t know if it will result in a zero contamination fruit or if there will be a market for Fukushima fruit as consumers no longer trust the food system.

Stronium is being found in river mud and near dams in Gunma prefecture. Exact amounts were not clear through the machine translation.
Nuclear Power Elsewhere Still Struggles
Chernobyl will finally begin the process to put a 1.2 billion dollar cover over the destroyed reactor.  It will take until 2015 to finish and was funded by donations from various countries around the world. 26 years later there is still no solution to clean up the disaster site and the costs are too much for Ukraine to bear on their own.

Another expert has declared commercial nuclear power to be economically unviable. The new safety changes needed and without large subsidies the math makes it un-affordable and most companies couldn’t shoulder the risk of a failed or unprofitable project.

The government loan guarantees needed to fund the new reactors at Vogtle NPP in Georgia may not happen. The DOE process has become difficult for Southern Company to meet the standards and NEI has complained the fees are too high. Obtaining the actual loans from DOE has slowed down the project and now may scuttle the entire project to build the first 2 AP1000 reactors in the US. The AP1000 is a so far untested design and a plant has yet to be completed and run anywhere in the world.

SCANA (a publicly traded company) has won approval from the NRC to build 2 AP1000 reactors in South Carolina at the Virgil nuclear plant. SCANA and Santee Cooper would share the cost of building the reactors. It is not clear who all is invested in SCANA, but Goldman Sachs has heavily gambled on nuclear power in recent years. These two units appear more likely to be completed unless there is some unforseen complication or the companies involved run out of cash.

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
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