Happy New Year, Everyone!

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority says no nukes will be restarted in the near future. The NRA has held 65 meetings to study the first nine restart applications submitted last year and decided none of the operators have “appropriately renewed their estimations of the scale of possible earthquakes”. The NRA’s Chair Shunichi Tanaka says he has no idea how long the screening process will take after this new finding. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140101_18.html (comment – Once again, the NRA shows its earthquake phobia, entirely ignoring that the worst quake in the history of Japan was successfully endured by all of the nukes on the Tohoku coast. When will this watchdog wake up and look at quake precautions in a realistic light? It was inadequate tsunami protection that caused the F. Daiichi accident. There was no safety compromise due to the quake. It seems the NRA has a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude toward earthquakes and nukes. I thought being independent meant avoidance of bias.)
  • The number of feral cats in the F. Daiichi evacuation zone is increasing. However, it should come as no surprise, says Hiro Yamasaki of the Animal Rescue System Fund. His Fund provides affordable spay and neuter services, and has been doing this in Kobe since the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The city became inundated with the feral offspring former pets whose owners were either dead or could not move them to quake evacuation centers that disallowed pets. Yamasaki explain the Kobe situation, “Sterilization is the most practical and humane way to curb the growing population of feral animals, and research backs this up. I then realized a bigger problem existed. In the years after the earthquake, the number of feral kittens in Kobe increased. I did some quite detailed statistical research and worked out how many animals various areas could support, and the optimum rate of spaying and neutering — 70 percent — that was necessary to achieve this.” However, tradition inhibited his work. Pet sterilization is the exception, and not the rule in Japan, plus most veterinarians make the operation expensive. Unwanted kittens were destroyed by residents, as an alternative to keeping them. Yamasaki opened his Kobe clinic in 2006 because “In the decade between the Hanshin earthquake and the Kobe clinic opening, the number of kittens being gassed by the city rose. However, following our efforts to sterilize the feral cats in the region, the killings dropped year on year between 2006 and 2012. The TNR (trap, neuter, return) model clearly works.” In 2012, he tried to open a new clinic near the F. Daiichi evacuation zone, but ran into strong opposition from local veterinarians. The “old-boys network” closed ranks to stop Yamasaki, “There’s a distinct inaka seishin (provincial mentality) in these communities. You can’t rock the boat if you want to fit in. The local government officials and businessmen like things to stay as they are.” Undaunted, he opened the Fukushima Spay Clinic near a Shirakawa shopping mall, about 100 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi. To date, nearly 1,500 animals have been treated economically and safely. Yamasaki laments, “Unfortunately, our clinic is the only one providing this kind of service. The local vets and bureaucrats have not responded adequately to the situation.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/12/30/issues/in-fukushima-abandoned-pets-are-multiplying/#.UsQT5suA0dUm  (comment – I live with three cats, and all are sterilized. Feral kittens show up occasionally because of a metro-park across the street where owners abandon their unwanted cats and they reproduce with other abandoned cats. The feral kittens won’t let me catch them and they keep their distance…such is the way of feral kittens. I give them some food, but it’s basically one-and done. I think the coyotes get them. Regardless, my heart goes out to each of them. Here’s the link for Yamasaki’s Fund…www.animalrescue-sf.org/fukushima_eng/index.html. I sent a small donation…how about a little help, folks?)
  • Government officials will soon be explaining details of low level waste storage to Fukushima residents. Intermediate storage facilities are intended for F. Daiichi’s two host communities, Futaba and Okuma. Over the next two months, Tokyo representatives will inform the estranged residents of the safety provisions that will be taken and the process for compensation to those whose land will be expropriated. Some locals object because they do not want to lose the land held by their families for generations. Others fear that the proposed facilities will actually be a detriment toward recovery efforts in the two towns. Tokyo wants to resolve these issues quickly in order to have the facilities in operation by January, 2015. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html