Sunday, December 13, 2015


PNN brings Political Commentators Brook Hines and Brian Stettan, PDA Peace Activist Sandy Davies and Holographer Mark Diamond
PNN brings Political Commentators Brook Hines and Brian Stettan, PDA Peace Activist Sandy Davies and  Holographer Mark Diamond

Brook Hines
will bring us her Progressive Democratic insights from her wide experience in National and State Democratic affairs

Brian Stettan
is a long time blogger and progressive Webcaster and commentator will offer his critique of our current treaty-scape. 

Sandy Davies
long time peace activist will assess the non-expanding, non-war that requires more troops, more drones and more and more military bases in a bakers dozen countries. Sandy is a longtime PDA activist   

Mark Diamond,
is an internationally recognized holographic artist/scientist we'll learn a little about the art and science of holography.


PNN 12/13/15
1. The number of bags of waste from decontamination efforts around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached a little under 9.16 million as of the end of September according to Fukushima Prefecture and the Environment Ministry.


The 1-cubic-meter bags are found at some 114,700 interim storage or decontamination sites across the prefecture. In the town of Tomioka -- covered by a nuclear disaster evacuation order -- mounds of bags have grown so tall that they obscure the power shovels used to move and stack the waste, the black balls covering every sliver of landscape.
The bags of waste are typically stacked four layer high, with a fifth layer of uncontaminated soil laid on top to block radiation. Waterproof sheets are also used to stop rainwater from getting into the bags and becoming contaminated.
Negotiations with the towns of Okuma and Futaba -- both under evacuation orders -- to establish mid-term waste storage facilities there have been hard-going, and the start of construction is nowhere in sight.

2. unseasonably high temperature severe wind, and rain hit japan
Heavy rain and powerful winds hit wide areas of Japan on Dec. 11 after a frontal depression destabilized atmospheric conditions, while temperatures topped an unseasonably high 25 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.
In central Tokyo, the temperature reached 23.8 degrees around noon, the second highest for the month of December. In Mie and other prefectures, the temperature rose to 25 degrees or higher, after warm and moist air from the south blew in with the low-pressure system.

The rain and winds intensified from the evening of Dec. 10 through the following morning, pushing up the hourly rainfall to a record high in the month of December at over 130 locations. The maximum instantaneous wind speed surpassed 30 meters per second in the Shikoku, Kinki and other regions.
In Kochi Prefecture, a 73-year-old man went missing after going out to check the swollen Shimanto River on Dec. 11. The man had his boat moored on the riverbank and had told his family that he was going to see if the boat was safe when he left home at around 2 a.m.

In Wakayama Prefecture, a 499-ton container vessel ran aground on a tetrapod breakwater at the mouth of the Kinokawa River in the city of Wakayama in the predawn hours of Dec. 11, after strong winds wrested the boat off of its moorings. All five passengers aboard the ship were rescued unscathed by a Japan Coast Guard helicopter about 4 1/2 hours after the incident was initially reported.
In central Tokyo, the hourly rainfall climbed to 18 millimeters shortly past 9 a.m. on Dec. 11, while the maximum instantaneous wind velocity reached 22 meters per second at around 11:30 a.m.

The abnormal weather disrupted public transport systems in many parts of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Service on the JR Keiyo Line was suspended from shortly before 10 a.m., while service on the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line was temporarily halted between Nishi-funabashi and Toyocho stations. The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line highway was also closed to traffic.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., power outages affected some 5,900 households in Yokohama, as well as 1,100 households in Ichihara and 600 households in Minamiboso, both in Chiba Prefecture.


3. Nuclear evacuees surveyed about living in public housing later became non-eligible

Fukushima Prefecture included more people in surveys for 2013 estimates on demand for new public housing after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns than it ended up allowing into the housing, and the estimates based on those surveys were never publically released, it has been learned.

The estimates were reported in a document obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun. This document was created in May 2013 by a Tokyo consulting company paid around 30 million yen by the Fukushima Prefectural Government for the work. The estimates were based on fiscal 2012 surveys by the Reconstruction Agency and the Fukushima Prefectural Government of evacuees from 11 municipalities near the crippled plant.

The estimates were made based on three types of evacuees seeking a place in the housing: people wanting to live there until evacuation orders for their home municipalities were lifted; people wanting to live there after evacuation orders for their home municipalities were lifted but until a livable environment had been established; and people wanting to live in the housing permanently.

The estimated numbers of residences required for the three types of evacuees were between 3,136 and 5,663 for the first group; between 2,743 and 4,172 for the second group; and between 3,366 and 4,837 for the third group. Only the first category, however, matches up with the standards for "long-term evacuees" -- the only type of evacuee allowed to apply for the residences. Additionally, two of the 11 municipalities covered by the estimates, the city of Tamura and the town of Naraha, had their evacuation orders lifted in April 2014 and September 2015, respectively, making their residents ineligible for the housing.

The units were first proposed during the Democratic Party of Japan administration, and in September 2012 the Fukushima Prefectural Government announced preparations to build the first 500 residences. At this point, the project was being funded from reconstruction funds, and which evacuees would be eligible for a place had not yet been decided. At the end of that year, however, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito took over the government, and at a January 2013 meeting on disaster recovery, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the creation of a plan to allow evacuees to return home quickly, and to secure homes for long-term evacuees. The Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima was revised in April 2013 to allow special government funding for the new housing, and to restrict eligibility to long-term evacuees.

The unreleased documents obtained by the Mainichi state explicitly that "under the current system to restrict entry into publically-managed housing to long-term evacuees," others hoping to keep living in the units after their evacuation orders have been lifted "may not be included."
A representative for the Fukushima Prefectural Government said, "It's not good to say that the national government 'toyed with us' by its policy shift, but the survey on evacuees' wishes and the establishment of the new fund (with its eligibility restrictions) happened in parallel." The official added that prefectural staff had to start applying the restrictions "in a hurry" to keep in line with national government policy.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government has announced 4,890 planned public housing units for nuclear disaster evacuees, but even when combined with around 2,800 such residences for tsunami survivors, the number of residences covers only 17 percent of the around 43,700 Fukushima households that remained without a permanent home as of the end of last year.


4. Nuclear Watch: Engineers' dissatisfactionwith lax security (Pt. 42)

"I designed that window," says Muneo Morokuzu, former specially appointed professor at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Public Policy. He refers to a window at the uranium enrichment plant of Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, through which a JNFL public relations official says visitors can see a centrifuge inside the facility.

The materials, size and performance of the centrifuge should be kept secret. When asked whether the size of the device could be measured if viewed from outside through the window, Morokuzu said, "I designed it so that only part of the centrifuge could be seen. Even professionals who view the device through the window wouldn't know its size."

Apart from JNFL, the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. (PNC), which conducted research and development of enrichment technology with Toshiba Corp. and other manufacturers, strictly controlled sensitive technologies from the viewpoint of nuclear non-proliferation. Researchers in these entities had to gain permission from their bosses to file patent applications and release research papers.

"We were unable to get even a single centrifuge-related technology patented. I'm sad about that as an engineer," says Morokuzu.
Toshiba's enrichment division was disbanded in 2000 even though it made certain achievements. At the time, there was at least one engineer who was unable to return to the division he had originally belonged to even though he wished to because he had not got even a single technology patented.
Tsutomu Yanagisawa, 72, who was involved in the development of a fast-breeder nuclear reactor at PNC, says, "Researchers and engineers want to announce their achievements in technological development and want to have their achievements recognized. Those involved in nuclear technologies are doing so secretly. However, they do so for the country and the public. They do nothing wrong."

The number of research papers that engineers and researchers have published and technologies they gain patents for are important standards for personnel evaluation.

Companies that participate in research and development projects where controls on technological information are lax -- like those at the Laser Atomic Separation Engineering Research Association of Japan (LASER-J) that was founded mainly by electric power companies -- file patent applications for relevant technologies one after another.

At LASER-J, even important documents were put in unlocked drawers and management was so lax that even cleaners could have taken such materials out of the office. A total of 187 technologies developed at LASER-J were patented and part of the information leaked overseas. Morokuzu points out that Japan's personnel evaluation system is a factor that causes unintended nuclear proliferation.

There are engineers who laugh while others cry. Amid such a situation, Japan's nuclear technologies are proliferated through patents.
Hisamitsu Arai, 71, former commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, says, "Japan's atomic energy technology is for peaceful purposes. As such, we must think not only about Japanese people but also peace for the entire world. To that end, we need a drastic change like the Copernican Revolution" in astronomy, emphasizing that Japan's patent system needs to be fundamentally reformed. (By Haruyuki Aikawa, Senior Writer)

5. Radiation spikes in Fukushima underground ducts
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says levels of radioactivity in underground tunnels have sharply risen.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has detected 482,000 becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium in water samples taken from the tunnels on December 3rd. That's 4000 times higher than data taken in December last year.

The samples also contained 500,000 becquerels of a beta-ray-emitting substance, up 4,100 times from the same period.

Around 400 to 500 tons of radioactive water, including seawater washed ashore in the March 2011 tsunami, is still pooled in the tunnels.

The tunnels lie next to a structure used to temporarily store highly radioactive water, which cooled melted nuclear fuel inside the damaged reactors.

TEPCO officials say it is unlikely the wastewater stored in the building has seeped into the tunnels.

They say the water level in the tunnels is higher than that in the building and measures are in place to stop the toxic water from leaking out.

They plan to investigate what caused the spike in radiation.

They say there has been no leakage out of the tunnels as radiation levels in underground water nearby have not risen.

International Monitoring Station


6. Editorial: Fracking unbound

Published: December 12, 2015
We are not among those who view fracking as an unmitigated horror. The practice has produced an abundant supply of cheap energy, increased U.S. oil to near record highs and is helping make the nation energy self-sufficient. And because the natural gas it produces burns cleaner than oil, it even has helped reduced the United States’ carbon emissions.

Nevertheless, Floridians should be alarmed by fracking legislation that would rob local elected officials of any say over whether the practice could take place in their communities.

It is a typical Tallahassee ploy: seize control of such decisions at the urging of industry lobbyists, who know they are unlikely to get their way with the local elected officials who would have to live with the consequences.

In fracking, a mixture of water, sand and caustic chemicals is pumped deep into the ground to fracture shale rocks and release natural gas. On its face, such a process would seem unsuitable for most of Florida, with porous limestone below the surface and underground aquifers providing most of the state’s drinking water.

It’s true a comprehensive study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found no evidence the process had a widespread impact on drinking water, but the places where fracking is taking place now do not have Florida’s geology, nor its critical water needs.

As Dr. Lonnie Draper, a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, told The Associated Press, the very process is designed to create leaks in the layers of earth that contain oil and gas, increasing the risk to Florida’s underground water supply.

The EPA study, after all, did document cases of damaging spills and leaks. Fracking also has been linked to minor earthquakes, hardly an insignificant concern to homeowners and builders.

For such reasons, as The Associated Press reports, about 20 Florida counties and 40 cities have banned fracking. Yet the legislation advancing in Tallahassee eliminates local control, not only over fracking but over any decisions concerning the processing, storage or transportation of oil and gas. A similar bill made it through the House last session but not the Senate.

The Florida League of Cities opposes the measure because it strips local governments of the ability to protect residents. As Tom Shelly, a Belleair commissioner, says, “We would lose our authority over land decisions. We couldn’t stop fracking even it was planned next to a school.”

If lawmakers do anything, they should adopt minimum safety standards. But local governments should retain the authority to adopt whatever regulations they deem necessary, or to prohibit the mining altogether.

Environmentalists are pushing for a statewide ban on fracking. That may be an overreaction, but is more responsible than stripping local governments of any say over such critical decisions and essentially encouraging companies to pursue fracking here.

Florida, already the nation’s third-largest state, cannot continue to grow and prosper if it does not rigorously protect its water sources and natural appeal. Lawmakers should bury the fracking push.


7. Big Cypress under threat
Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve is facing an unprecedented threat, as Big Oil gears up to turn this iconic landscape into an industrial oil drilling zone.

Right now, the National Park Service is inviting comments on risky new plans to explore for oil and gas in preparation for fracking in the heart of this irreplaceable wild wetland.

Thousands of NRDC supporters like you sent messages of opposition to the National Park Service when we first learned of the plan last August. Now that NPS had decided to move forward with this ill-conceived scheme, we must take the next step and make our voices heard once again to block this assault on our natural heritage.


8. The Environmental Protection Agency's draft national assessment on fracking's potential to pollute drinking water is still under review. If it is to reflect science over policy, some dramatic changes to the wording of the study's conclusions are needed, EPA's review panel was told during a public comment teleconference on Thursday.
Back in 2010, when Congress first tasked EPA with investigating the risks that hydraulic fracturing poses to American drinking water supplies, relatively little was known about the scale and significance of the onshore drilling rush's environmental impacts.

Over the past half decade, the pace of scientific research into fracking has accelerated dramatically. In 2009, only a handful of peer-reviewed studies (the gold standard for scientific research) on the environmental risks of shale and tight gas extraction were published; by contrast, over 150 studies were published in 2014, according to a review of the literature by Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Health Energy. 
That scientific evidence has overwhelmingly found that shale and tight gas extraction has the potential to harm – and has harmed – air, water and people's health, that group wrote in an analysis released this year.
For politicians seeking to keep federal regulations for the industry at bay and for those backing an “all of the above” energy strategy, the growing evidence of a broad range of hazards related to fracking is bad news. In Pennsylvania alone, state regulators have documented hundreds of cases of water contamination, making it more challenging for supporters to argue that the industry is well-policed and operating safely.

But the final word on all of this research, as far as many federal policy-makers are concerned, will likely be the EPA's take on fracking's risks.
When the draft assessment was released, the door should have been closed on a favorite industry talking point – the (oft-debunked) claim that there has never been a documented case where fracking contaminated underground drinking water supplies. The EPA's draft assessment reported multiple documented instances where that precise problem occurred.

But a single phrase from the study's executive summary – saying that the EPA “did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States” – managed to leave a door open. That phrase continues to be quoted in headlines and media coverage about the report.

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