Tag Archives: radioactive

Leaks, Rats and Radioactivity: Fukushima’s Nuclear Cleanup Is Faltering

1 May

by Bryan Walsh, Cross Posted from Time:

JAPAN-DISASTER-ACCIDENT-NUCLEAR-ENERGY-IAEA

Honestly, if the consequences weren’t potentially so dire, the ongoing struggles to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan would be the stuff of comedy. In March, an extended blackout disabled power to a vital cooling system for days. The cause: a rat that had apparently been chewing on cables in a switchboard. As if that’s not enough, another dead rat was found in the plant’s electrical works just a few weeks ago, which led to another blackout, albeit of a less important system. The dead rats were just the latest screwups in a series of screwups by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the owner of the Fukushima plant, that goes back to the day of March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and the resulting tsunami touched off a nuclear disaster that isn’t actually finished yet. I’m not sure things could be much worse if Wile E. Coyote were TEPCO’s CEO.

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Another Worker dies at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant

14 May

Workers spraying resin on the ground near the reactor buildings to protect the spread of radioactive substances. (AFP/HO/TEPCO via Jiji Press)

By Mandie Sami, wires

A worker at Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has died.

It brings the total number of deaths at the complex to three since the massive earthquake and tsunami struck in March.

The man, aged in his 60s, started working at the plant on Friday.

Taichi Okazaki, a spokesman for plant owner TEPCO, says the man was exposed to 0.17 millisieverts of radiation on Saturday – far below the company’s safety threshold of 5 millisieverts.

Mr Okazaki says the cause of his death is not known.

“No radioactive substances were detected on the worker,” Mr Okazaki said. There were no signs of injury on the dead man.

The worker, who was not immediately identified, was carrying chainsaws with another worker inside a facility to treat contaminated water being released from the plant’s crippled reactors.

He fell ill 50 minutes after starting work at 6.00 am on Saturday (local time) and was brought to the plant’s medical room unconscious. He was later moved to a nearby hospital and confirmed dead.

Goshi Hosono, a special adviser to prime minister Naoto Kan and a ruling Democratic Party politician, voiced concerns about the working environment at the Fukushima complex on Wednesday.

“I would like to spend my energy to improve working conditions. Many people told us working environment (at the plant) is way too bad,” he told a news conference.

The March quake and tsunami triggered cooling system malfunctions at the plant, and caused radiation to leak into the atmosphere and the sea, prompting Mr Kan to review Japan’s nuclear-leaning energy policy from scratch.

Engineers are still struggling to bring the Fukushima plant under control. Two TEPCO employees went missing while patrolling the plant soon after the quake and were later found dead.

The most recent death comes as the operator of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant completes a total shutdown of the facility.

Mr Kan called for the closure last week to avoid a repeat of the disaster at the Fukushima plant, where engineers are still struggling to bring it under control.

Despite the ongoing nuclear crisis, Mr Kan is expected to announce that the country will keep using nuclear power at a G8 summit in France later this month.

Japan on “Maximum Alert” as radiation increases, New stong earthquake increases fears

29 Mar


Japan’s prime minister says the country is on “maximum alert” over its nuclear crisis as radiation continues to seep out of the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant and traces of plutonium have been found in the soil.

Radiation has been detected in the atmosphere on nearly every continent on Earth.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit northern Japan on Tuesday, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK said citing local meteorologists.

The tremor occurred just one hundred miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which was crippled by a powerful quake and ensuing tsunami earlier in March.

The epicenter of the new quake was registered at a depth of 18.2 kilometers (11.3 miles). No tsunami warning was issued after the latest earthquake.

Thousands Protest in Taiwan Against New Nuclear Plant

20 Mar


Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Environmental activists and opposition political figures staged a protest in Taipei Sunday against the government’s plan to continue the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, as Japan battled to bring its quake-damaged nuclear plants under control.

Dozens of environmental groups also called on the government to suspend plans to extend the life of Taiwan’s first, second, and third nuclear plants, and urged that safety checks be conducted at all the plants.

The protesters urged the government to reinforce the nuclear plants’ resistance to earthquakes. The power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale.

Furthermore, the government should immediately halt construction of the fourth nuclear plant, as it is located in a quake and tsunami-prone area, the protesters said.

Former Premier Su Tseng-chang, who declared his intention Sunday to seek the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential nomination, was among the demonstrators. He called for an end to the extended life of the three plants in operation.

Another former premier, Frank Hsieh, also of the DPP, said at the protest that when an advanced country like Japan could face such a serious nuclear crisis, it was only a matter of time before Taiwan would have to cope with a similar kind of danger.

A spokesperson for DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said that Tsai was not at the protest because she had other commitments in southern Taiwan but shared the views of her party colleagues.

Tsai was of the view that the allocations for the development of alternative energy should be increased, and she would be presenting her energy policy soon, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Annette Lu said Taiwan residents should push for an immediate halt to the construction on the fourth nuclear power plant, and she joined the call for an overall safety check on all nuclear power plants in Taiwan.

DPP legislator Pan Meng-An told reporters that if the government refused to suspend work on the fourth nuclear power plant for safety checks, the DPP would refuse to review the budget of the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), builder and owner of the plant, when it came up in the legislature on March 24.

Taiwan currently operates three nuclear power plants, with No.1 and 2 located in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City, the largest city in Taiwan in terms of population, and No.3 in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan.

A fourth nuclear power plant is under construction in Kungliao on the northeast coast, also in New Taipei City. It is scheduled to begin commercial operations at the end of next the year. (By Sophia Yeh, Justin Su, Lin Szu-yu, Angela Tsai, Kuan Jui-pin and Ann Chen)