This week’s Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers is being hosted by Next Big Future and includes the following topics – U-233 is a valuable resource, Japan’s new nuclear regulatory agency is already clouded in controversy, X-rays are explained, pro-nuclear events occurring in New England, nuclear waste as a solution to public health problems, the current situation with San Onofre NPS in California, and Japan’s resumption of nuke construction. Here’s the link…

  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited the Fukushima Daiichi power complex on Sunday to inspect the plant and meet with its workers to express his gratitude for their dedication to duty. He is the first prime minister to enter one of the buildings devastated by a hydrogen explosion. After donning white coveralls and a full face-mask, he was taken to the refueling deck of unit #4 reactor building. The #4 deck has been cleared of most debris and is the one reactor building space accessible to such a visit. The prime minister stated that tackling the Fukushima crisis is his administration’s number one task, which begs the question as to the importance of tsunami recovery and the deplorable condition of Japan’s energy infrastructure. In addition, Noda used the opportunity to make statements which seem designed to support his predecessor, Naoto Kan. It was Kan who made his nuclear-naïve apocalyptic nightmares public saying he feared that massive radiation releases from F. Daiichi could have forced him to evacuate Tokyo, signaling the end of Japan as we know it. On Sunday, Noda praised the “Fukushima 50”, who remained in their control rooms March 14th-16th during a brief evacuation of non-essential personnel, by saying, “I believe that Japan has survived as we see it now thanks to your dedicated work.” Later, he exposed his own level of personal nuclear fears when he praised some of those working to keep cooling systems running and cleaning up the debris-strewn areas near units #1-#4, “I want to thank you for exerting yourself in a frightening and demanding environment.” Finally, he made a statement clearly intended to buttress his government’s recent announcement of an energy policy that will abolish nuclear energy in about 50 years, “Without Fukushima’s revival, Japan’s revival will never happen. I want you to make further efforts toward the decommissioning of the reactors.” (Japan Today; Yomiuri Shimbun; Mainichi Shimbun; Japan Times; Kyodo News)
  • It seems no-one in the Japanese government wants to take responsibility for authorizing restarts for currently-idled nukes. New Japanese National Policy Minister Seiji Maehara says that once nuclear plants pass the new regulatory standards, there will be no need for Tokyo to make a political decision on restarts. This contradicts the Nuclear Regulatory Authority position that they will only establish whether or not nukes meet safety standards, but will not authorize permission to restart. Maehara stressed that the NRA has the responsibility to allow restarts…not Tokyo. “We made sure the NRA was set up as a completely independent entity, and for the government to hand down a separate judgment after it confirms a reactor’s safety would therefore be inconsistent and illogical. Once the safety of a reactor is guaranteed, it will be brought back online.” In addition, he said, “If safety is approved, such reactors would be considered as an important power source. We should rely on nuclear as an energy option for the time being.” He then did an about-face by saying that his Party, the DPJ, is fully committed to the abolition of nuclear energy. He finally took a political jab at the Liberal Democratic Party by saying they could abandon the new energy policy if they come to power, “I am aware that the LDP has different opinions and I believe that (nuclear power) will be one of the major issues in the next general election.” One thing is clear; the nuclear energy issue has galvanized the political framework of Japan. The DPJ wants to make it the central issue of the upcoming national election. (Japan Times; Japan Today)
  • In apparent defiance to the DPJ’s no-nukes energy policy, Chugoku Electric Company has applied to extend its construction license for a future nuke. Yomiguchi Prefecture will examine the application and make a decision in “about a month”. Sources say approval is unlikely. Tokyo has said there should be no further nuclear construction in Japan, with the exception of the three already being built. Chugoku Electric’s move has spurred Industry Minister Yukio Edano to react negatively, saying the Chugoku request is “subject to the principle of not constructing new reactors,” which means Tokyo will not stand for it…at least while the DPJ is in control of the government. Edano also said he felt slighted by the electric company not informing him of their decision to apply for a construction permit extension. In Japan, construction permits are a prefectural matter and not a responsibility of the central government. Yamaguchi Prefecture approved the 4-year permit in 2008. The property at the proposed site was being prepared for physical construction when, in 2009, residents of a small island 4 kilometers off-shore opposed the nuke being built, temporarily halting the work. In December of that year, the utility filed a request to build the plant with Tokyo, which would have effectively blocked the local opposition. However, the DPJ had come to power and nothing has happened with respect to the request since. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • The admittedly-antinuclear Asahi Shimbun claims that Tokyo may have manipulated the radiation readings reported for Fukushima Prefecture. Local citizens, using hand-held radiation monitors, say they have found the government’s locations for fixed monitors were selected to show lower radiation levels than is actually the case. The group says their readings, a few meters from some of the Tokyo-based locations, show radiation levels as much as 50% higher. Some of the group members are scientists, which makes Asahi present the group’s objections as being correct and place the government’s legitimacy in question. The Asahi clearly wants to keep distrust of the government alive with respect to radiation fears.