TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts sorted by relevance for query fukushima. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query fukushima. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nuclear Leaks 32: Fukushima's Media Mirror


Critics of anti-nuclear critics take to the Web: Fukushima worries are being labeled as hoaxes. Image Source: Hoax-Slayer.

When the Fukushima disaster occurred in March 2011, one of the Russian scientists who participated in the clean up at Chernobyl warned that the immediate toxic effect would come not from radioactive fallout, but from governmental and nuclear industrial lies. This blog has covered the Japanese crisis since the moment it began. Throughout, I concur with that scientist, Natalia Manzurova, in the sense that the meta-reality of Fukushima's nuclear event is even worse than the event. From my first post on Fukushima:
On 12 March, physicist Ken Bergeron stated: "we're in uncharted territory, we're in a land where probability says we shouldn't be." As the crisis unfolded, the HuffPo announced that there was no word in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's glossary for 'meltdown.' In a way, that lack of vocabulary has characterized the whole story, which is a miasma of confused information.
How does one amend an absence of information from creditable sources, without discrediting oneself? In May 2011, Vivian Norris mused at HuffPo about the terrible consequences of media silence around Fukushima:
I received the following email a few days ago from a Russian nuclear physicist friend who is an expert on the kinds of gases being released at Fukushima. Here is what he wrote:
About Japan: the problem is that the reactor uses "dirty" fuel. It is a combination of plutonium and uranium (MOX). I suspect that the old fuel rods have bean spread out due to the explosion and the surrounding area is contaminated with plutonium which means you can never return to this place again. It is like a new Tchernobyl. Personally, I am not surprised that the authority has not informed people about this.
... Why is this not on the front page of every single newspaper in the world? Why are official agencies not measuring from many places around the world and reporting on what is going on in terms of contamination every single day since this disaster happened? Radioactivity has been being released now for almost two full months! Even small amounts when released continuously, and in fact especially continuous exposure to small amounts of radioactivity, can cause all kinds of increases in cancers.
Even at the very beginning of this disaster, Norris observed the Japanese government and TEPCO (which, in 2014, is soon to change its name and undergo corporate rebranding) released information to the international media indirectly and slowly:
While foreign media have scrambled to gather information about the Fukushima Reactor, they have been denied access to the direct information provided by the government and one consequence of this is that "rumor-rife news has been broadcast overseas."
In fact, access has been limited in two ways. First, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio holds twice daily press conferences for representatives of the big Japanese media, registered representatives of freelance and internet media are limited to a single press conference per week. Second, in contrast to Japanese media who are briefed regularly by Edano and periodically by Prime Miniser Kan, foreign media are briefed exclusively by administrative staff.
Uesugi also notes that at TEPCO press conferences, which are now being held at company headquarters, foreign correspondents and Japanese freelancers regularly ask probing questions while mainstream journalists simply record and report company statements reiterating that the situation is basically under control and there is nothing to worry about. One reason for this, Uesugi suggests, is that TEPCO, a giant media sponsor, has an annual 20 billion yen advertising budget.
Fukushima became a disastrous test of the Web's credibility as an unconventional media source when compared to the MSM. What Fukushima shows is that Japanese and nuclear authorities did not even need to lie in order to discredit their critics. All they needed to do was release little or no information, or release it too slowly. By creating an information vacuum, they opened the door to endless speculation, which is wonderfully self-defeating, because it can all be dismissed as speculation, as hoaxes, as ignorant fear-mongering.

When guesses and speculation about what has happened at Fukushima prove to be wrong - or are declared to be simply unproven - then a false argument is constructed, whereby any truths about the dangers of the Japanese nuclear disaster can also be tossed out. Genuinely serious concerns, like the employment of homeless people in the clean up, are drowned out or dismissed on the grounds that there is 'not enough information.' And to worry about things when there is 'not enough information' is to become a crank who makes things up. It is a locked circle of anti-logic.
Fukushima showed that the Web is not the bastion of free speech and unvarnished truth which its most idealistic supporters want and need it to be. Rather, the Internet is vulnerable to competing cultures of truth, in which data-driven arguments defend findings and counter-findings. Sub-cultures sprout up to defend different hierarchies of data-believability. But how can one get to the core, or corium, of truth in all of this?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 13: Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Image Source: D. McCandless via Gawker Assets.

In Japan, cherry trees blossom in the spring only briefly - usually for about a week or two. The blooms (or Sakura (桜 or 櫻; さくら)) are so beautiful and ephemeral that the nation tracks the expected dates when the trees will flower - and stops in a ritual of flower-viewing called Hanami (花見) to appreciate them when they arrive. Depending on the area of Japan, Hanami takes place between January and May; it usually reaches Tokyo in early April (in 2012, the best viewing in Tokyo wil be April 6-15, for other cities, see here). Hanami parties vary in style: on April 7, Vloggers in Japan are organizing a Hanami online Youtube party (see the invitation: Hanami 2012 - It's on bitches and here).

In these spring days,
when tranquil light encompasses
the four directions,
why do the blossoms scatter
with such uneasy hearts?

Ki no Tomonori (c. 850 – c. 904)

Cherry blossoms in Fukushima (2009). Ironically, Fukushima's rural setting was idyllic before 2011 crises. Image Source: Wiki.

Hanami arrives in Tokyo just as nuclear news headlines are starting to get even more dire. The paradox of natural beauty and natural toxicity is ironic and tragic, a symbol of 20th century science gone wrong. Governments have been quietly increasing the official amounts of safe radiation exposure (see here, here, here, here). The graphic at the top of this post is a standard radiation dosage chart (click on the image to enlarge). The death toll from the disaster currently stands at around 20,000.

While there are a lot of little MSM reports circulating (see my list of hyperlinked headlines below) about what is happening with nuclear fallout, the press are not giving these stories the daily full-blown coverage which would bring them front and centre to public attention. It is almost as though the world is holding its breath.  If this crisis tips over into an undeniable, cataclysmic catastrophe then the press will return to big coverage. Otherwise, the Internet gives those still following this mess the drip-drip-drip trickle of little horrors. Considering that nuclear power and the means to control it intimately depend on water, it is ironic that in Asian tradition, this is the year of the Water Dragon (see also here).

The press - as with this example in New Zealand - are being encouraged to publish 'feel good' human interest stories about how people in Japan are getting along despite worries and hardship, that is, "to grasp the total picture of recovery." (Expect to see some feel good Hanami stories - maybe?)  But on 3 March 2012, German TV (ZDF) warned in a program entitled, "The Fukushima Lies," that if the spent fuel which is precariously cooled in rickety Reactor 4 were to melt down because of a building collapse, work on the other reactors would cease. Japan would be ruined and the world would change (via Conspiracy.co). Here is a translated excerpt:
Narrator: Yukitero Naka and his people know what is really happening in the nuclear ruins. [...] Even if they were able to create enough qualified engineers and staff for the next 40 years, one problem remains that could change Japan and the world.

Question: Is the nuclear power plant safe now?

Yukitero Naka, Nuclear Engineer: Well, that’s what TEPCO and the government says, but the people in there don’t believe it. There is still a great danger. My personal concern is the fourth reactor block. The building has been strongly damaged by the earthquake.

There are approximately 1300 spent fuel rods in the cooling pond on level four. In the level above newer rods are stored as well as a lot of heavy machinery. This is all very, very heavy. If another earthquake occurs then the building could collapse and another chain reaction could very likely occur.

Narrator: So, a meltdown under the free sky which would be the end of Japan as we know it today. The radiation would be direct deadly. The work on the ground would be totally impossible. The most likely consequence is that reactors 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 get out of control. Armageddon!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nuclear Leaks 35: Fukushima Five Years On


Fukushima Reactor #3 (10 February 2016). Image Source: Reuters.

11 March 2016 is the fifth anniversary of the Tōhoku 9.0 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent level 7 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi power plant. I have discussed these events here, here, and here. Over 220,0000 people have been displaced; officially, almost 16,000 people died, with over 2,500 missing. It is a catastrophe which tests political and moral attitudes, values and perceptions. It depends how you interpret the information, because Fukushima sits right where the line of confident science and powerful technology breaks down, because everyone agrees that cleaning up the mess is beyond our current knowledge and capabilities. Unfortunately in Japan, there is also a conflation between showing a correct patriotic attitude and acknowledging a technological and environmental breakdown that affects us all.

RT (23 September 2015): The Fukushima disaster was preventable, and came about due to poor planning and engineering failures. Video Source: Youtube.

Despite Fukushima, there is an increased global commitment to nuclear electric power, due to increasing demands for electricity to run the Internet and to drive global development. In researching one related post for this blog, I found that several contracts were concluded in 2012 to build new nuclear plants around the world. The money is made now in short term business deals. When things go wrong with this technology, we pay the price for thousands of years. One could argue that the plant personnel were blameless, because the accident was caused by the horrific earthquake and tsunami. But the Japanese government showed distinct lack of foresight 45 years ago, when its officials decided to build rows of nuclear reactors, on unstable ground, by the sea, right on a giant earthquake fault. After Fukushima, only Germany instituted an Energiewende and stepped back from nuclear power, and their Chancellor is a physicist.

On 18 April 2015, Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) sent a robot into Reactor #1 to investigate, but the machine broke down due to radiation. Image Source: TEPCO via Fukushima Diary.

20 March 2015: Reactor #1 muon photography of the Reactor Pressure Vessel, with corium missing. Image Source: TEPCO via Extreme Tech.

The Japanese government is actually considering burying exposed coriums in the seabed, about eight miles off the coast of Japan; this is a bad idea, aside from the fact that it is impossible to do, because it is in an active seismic zone. In 2015, several reports surfaced that China Syndromes occurred at Fukushima, with three coriums from the first three Daiichi units melting through containment into the soil. TEPCO published muon photography at Reactor #1 in 2015 which confirmed that the corium 'had disappeared.' The corium at Reactor #2 is also 'missing,' confirmed by muon photography in 2015. On 28 October 2015, TEPCO found radiation levels at 9.4 sieverts per hour outside Reactor #2's containment vessel; a person directly exposed to that level of radiation will die in 45 minutes. Several other reports since 2011 have speculated where the molten coriums of Reactors #1, #2, and #3 are. At a 2012 IAEA meeting, Harri Tuomisto of Finland's Fortum Power commented that pools of molten coriums beneath the reactors are up to 2 storeys (20-23 feet) high each, although that should have made them easier to locate.

14 March 2011: The famous explosion at Reactor #3. Image Source: Japan's NTV network via Fox News.

Reactor #3 is the most worrisome, because it used plutonium-based MOX fuel. Reactor #3 exploded on 14 March 2011, and a plume appeared above it, inspiring further questions. More steam clouds were emitted from the ruins of Reactor #3 in July and December 2013. On 6 August 2014, TEPCO changed its November 2011 estimations about Reactor #3, admitting that the molten fuel had escaped containment and reached the concrete floor of the reactor:
"According to the new estimate, all the melted fuel penetrated the pressure vessel, fell onto the bottom of the containment vessel and melted about 68 cm into the concrete."
On 20 October 2015, TEPCO sent a robot into Reactor #3 to find out what had happened to the Primary Containment Vessel. The robot - a 3D-printed one with a smartphone attached, no less - gave limited results, here; its photos are below. On 17 December 2015, TEPCO finally admitted that from 14 to 16 March 2011, radioactive steam from Reactor #3 and MOX fuel leaked into the environment after a melt-through of the Primary Containment Vessel. They also confirmed that they observed "black smoke" rising from Reactor #3 from 21 to 23 March 2011.

Helicopter footage from  March 2011, supposedly of exposed molten corium flowing from Reactor #2, circulated widely on anti-nuclear Websites. The explosion at Reactor #2 took place on 15 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Full helicopter footage from which the above clip was taken, uploaded to Youtube on 17 March 2011. Video Source: Youtube.

Still from the above video. Image Source: Ah, Mephistophelis.

Move past the purposefully muddled and delayed information on the crippled power plants and beyond the human interest stories, and there is no clear estimation of how many people have died, or will die, due to radioactive fallout, contaminated agriculture and fisheries, pollution of soil and groundwater, and continuous radioactive leaks into the Pacific. It is impossible to determine the meaning of weird reports, such as the 8 February 2016 explosion near Iwaki city in the Onahama area, 60 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which shook buildings and windows. The impact on pregnant women and unborn children is unknown. Unlike Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, where (despite many problems) post-Chernobyl foetuses were carried to full term and deformed infants subsequently raised by heroic nurses and surrogate care-givers in special hospice facilities, there are rumours - unconfirmed, and often denied or dismissed - that post-Fukushima foetuses have been aborted. The government struggles to decontaminate large areas and make them habitable again, with workers and volunteers scrubbing houses and removing layers of topsoil in the exclusion zone.

16 October 2015: "Investigation Results inside Unit 3 Spent Fuel Pool using a Waterproof Camera in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

20 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

22 October 2015: "Investigation Results of the Inside of Unit 3 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Greenpeace via RT (10 February 2016): "Fukushima causes mutations & DNA damage with 'no end in sight.'" TEPCO workers outside Fukushima Reactors #3 and #4. Image Source: RT.

Mikhail Gorbachev, when discussing Chernobyl, described the possibility of a China Syndrome and contamination of the Black Sea as something that had to be prevented at all costs. At Chernobyl, it was prevented because the Soviet government brought in Siberian miners on a suicide mission to build a huge concrete barrier underneath the plant, to block the corium's path. At Fukushima, China Syndromes were not prevented. On 26 October 2015The Japan Times reported that 400 tonnes of radioactive water were being dumped into the Pacific Ocean every day.

The reports of mysterious wildlife die-offs in the Pacific go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Reputable sources deny that there is any connection between these mortality events and Fukushima; other reputable sources are not so sure. California air samples from 2014 detected plutonium 239 and 240, likely from Fukushima. The historic levels of marine animal deaths and marine organism population depletion on the Pacific west coast of North America may be related to Fukushima but are sometimes blamed on global warming. The warm water explanation may come from the anti-carbon lobby, and is more political than real when government tests show the presence of Fukushima-sourced radiocesium in marine life. Attempts to play down the severity of contamination in Japan may be motivated by more than pro-nuclear business interests or anti-global-warming environmental politics. The muted media treatment of Fukushima may reflect serious concerns to maintain global stability and prevent conflict in the entire surrounding region. On 6 March 2016, RT reported that Naoto Kan, Japan's former Prime Minister, admitted that Tokyo was almost evacuated in 2011, which would have displaced 50 million people and destabilized Asia.

Ōkuma in 2012. Image Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP via MIT Technology Review. 

4 March 2016: "Workers get changed into their protective clothing inside the anti-seismic building before working on the radiation decontamination process." Image Source: Gizmodo.

There are several films about the disaster, including Fukushima Never Again (2012); Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (2015); and Greetings from Fukushima (2016; Grüsse aus Fukushima). Meanwhile, there are currently serious ongoing incidents in America, with an "unusual event" fire at Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina; "uncontrollable radioactive flow" from Indian Point Energy Center in New York; and there was an "unusual event" fire at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, Tennessee overnight on 8-9 March 2016. In September 2015, horrible reports came out of Kazakhstan near a nuclear testing site, where a mass die-off of local antelopes started in the spring and persisted all year; that incident was attributed to bacteria. In future posts, I will summarize the Japanese situation, its impact on Japan's neighbours, and its international implications. Today's post shows recent photos and images associated with the Fukushima disaster.

22 April 2013: "Dead Mice Found in the Outdoor Transformer Box for Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Alternative Cooling System at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." Image Source: TEPCO.

Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection November 2014 closing remarks. Posted on Youtube on 23 October 2015; at time stamp 36:15 hear comments from Keith Baverstock, former World Health Organization regional adviser for radiation and public health: "I am really appalled by how the international system has failed. ... Quite frankly, we don't get anything through the media. ... There is no general understanding of the situation ... here in Europe because the media are not putting this view forward. In fact, I think many people would be very surprised that it was still a matter for discussion. And they would be even more surprised to learn that it was still an ongoing accident and that it hasn't terminated yet. And they would be even more surprised that nobody has any good ideas on how to stop it." He argued that the IAEA faces a conflict of interest when investigating nuclear disasters and that Japan is breaking international laws by dumping radioactive material into the ocean. Video Source: Youtube.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 12: China Syndrome at Fukushima? Pacify a Malevolent God

Graphic depicting situation in Fukushima Reactor 2 on 26 March 2012. Image Source: Daily Yomiuri Online.

Over the past 24 hours, the Internet has been buzzing with reports that TEPCO has effectively acknowledged that the China Syndrome is currently taking place, or almost taking place at Fukushima Reactor Two, while still denying it. This would be a historic first, and an absolute environmental catastrophe for Japan and the world. Basically, there is much less water covering the radioactive molten core than estimated; and this, in a situation where not all of the corium has fallen to the floor of the containment vessel yet.

The China Syndrome would involve a melt through the containment vessel. Once the corium gets through the containment vessel, it could easily melt the concrete floor of the building in a matter of hours and enter the environment. You can see message board debates on Berkeley's Department of Nuclear Engineering Web site here, regarding the possible outcome if the molten fuel from these reactors hits the water table. Since this has never happened, no one is quite sure what would occur. The fear is that there would be a series of hydrothermic nuclear or hydrovolcanic nuclear explosions, which would irradiate much of Japan and the planet's atmosphere.

The wording of yesterday's report on the Reactor 2 investigation is curious; it says that the molten core has 'splashed onto the floor and the walls.' We assume that means the floor and walls of the containment vessel and not the building around the containment vesselTEPCO acknowledges that the conditions in Reactors 1 and 3 are worse than those in Reactor 2. Reactors 1 and 3 are so radioactive that they cannot be directly investigated; hence, what is happening inside them is completely unknown.



Caption for the above photographs: Long-term plan: Architect Katsuhiro Miyamoto's novel means of safely mothballing the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and the highly radioactive fuel likely to remain there even after the current crisis is resolved, is to turn it into a Shinto shrine — seen here in a model and a computer rendering. KATSUHIRO MIYAMOTO.

The situation is so terrifying and out of control that the sentiment is drifting to religion. Over the longer term, Boomer Architect Katsuhiro Miyamoto wants to turn the reactors into Shinto shrines, "erecting giant shrine-style thatched roofs over each of the crippled reactor buildings — and so creating what he dubs 'The Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant Shrine.' This, he tells The Japan Times, will 'pacify a malevolent god.'" Um. Wouldn't building lead sarcophagi be more appropriate than designing thatched-roof temples? What the hell is going on in Japan? Are they serious?


Caption for the above photograph: In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a worker operates an endoscope to take photos of water in the Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel at the the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, March 26, 2012. TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear power plant, said the water level of the reactor container is only 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) from the bottom, indicating a large quantity of water injected to cool the melted fuel is leaking from the vessel. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

It's hard to find an MSM report on this, except some wires from the AP and the AFP. From the AP report, out today:
Tuesday's examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel has breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor.

Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to a dangerously high 70 sieverts per hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. ...

Three Dai-ichi reactors had meltdowns, but the No. 2 reactor is the only one that has been examined because radiation levels inside the reactor building are relatively low and its container is designed with a convenient slot to send in the endoscope.

The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest.

The high radiation levels inside the No. 2 reactor's chamber mean it's inaccessible to the workers, but parts of the reactor building are accessible for a few minutes at a time — with the workers wearing full protection.
TEPCO released a strange statement, based on an endoscope examination of the reactor, conducted Monday, 26 March (some reports erroneously state 27 March), via Daily Yomiuri Online:
The water level in the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is only about 60 centimeters deep, far shallower than previously assumed levels of about four meters, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The lower-than-expected water level was discovered for the first time when the power utility used an industrial endoscope to check the crippled reactor's interior on Monday, TEPCO said.

According to some experts, it is possible that nuclear fuel that melted through the reactor's pressure vessel and accumulated on the bottom of the containment vessel in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami may not be completely covered in the water.

TEPCO said the water temperature in the vessel remained relatively low within a range of 48.5 C to 50 C. The discovery of the unexpectedly shallow water level will not affect TEPCO's judgment that the reactor is in a state of "cold shutdown."
Reports out today indicate that the amount of radioactive fallout has been increasing, not decreasing, over the past few months. On February 18, Kobe University Professor Tomoya Yamauchi claimed in a lecture in Osaka that Fukushima City should be evacuated, which has sparked a still-ongoing row with the mayor.


Caption for the above photograph: In this photo taken by an endoscope and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a white thermometer, right, is seen through the surface of water in the Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel at the the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, March 26, 2012. TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear power plant, said the water level of the reactor container is only 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) from the bottom, indicating a large quantity of water injected to cool the melted fuel is leaking from the vessel. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Nuclear Culture 8: Fukushima Culture Arrives in North America

"A frame from [post-Fukushima Japanese film] 663114 shows a cicada being threatened by the powerful waves of an approaching tsunami." Image Source: HuffPo.

Online debate about Fukushima intensifies as problems at the site continue and fallout spreads. As I mentioned here, the mainstream media largely remain silent and Japanese officials release information in confusing bits. Only the German and Russian media offer regular coverage of this crisis. The information vacuum is otherwise filled by denial or reassuring complacency on the one hand - and online speculation, fear and conspiracy theories on the other.  As nuclear poisons move east-to-west culturally, and west-to-east geographically, Fukushima becomes a local issue in North America, not just a Japanese issue.  Each new local culture reshapes Fukushima in its own image. The very real danger is accompanied by a completely separate issue - the way in which that danger is perceived, discussed and interpreted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Nuclear Culture 10: Hot Headlines

American superheroes battle the 'Irradiated Man' in Tokyo: DC Comics (14 May 2012) solicitation with Perez's cover for World's Finest #4 (Aug. 2012). Image Source: CBR.

Remember when I said (here) that Fukushima had left the restrained, contained and edited world of the Japanese media and as the fallout has spread, the crisis has entered the Wild West that is the American World Wide Web? It is going to be a crazy ride.  But if we all survive, we might learn something about how national media cultures package reality. Canada is at risk from Fukushima's fallout as well. As a Canadian blogger, all I can say is that in Big Media terms, this issue is hitting America first. But I will talk about the Canadian reaction, and other national reactions beyond that, in due course.

The United States is not a country which takes an impending apocalypse (real or otherwise) lying down. You may not have heard anything much about Fukushima last year after the initial coverage of 3/11. This was partly because the Japanese media and government had a hold of the issue. It was still primarily a nationally-confined topic (or so it appeared). What came out in 2011 was the occasional, muted report, until the declaration of 'cold shutdown' at the end of the year. But I promise, you will hear about Fukushima now, from every conceivable quarter. US election year or no election year, the volume just got turned up to eleven.

Yesterday, news raced across the Web that prominent American-Japanese theoretical physicist Michio Kaku remarked on 9 May that the uranium core in Fukushima Daiichi's Reactor #2 had completely liquefied. Before I return to Kaku's comments in my next post, I'll note first how Kaku's viral report was just one of many American reports on Fukushima which surfaced in the past few days.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nuclear Leaks 33: Fukushima's Workers, Three Years On

Image Source: Kna Blog.

It has been nearly three years since the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. Some 19,000 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami; short- and long-term casualties from the nuclear fallout are unknown. Those most exposed, of course, are the workers at the site. In November 2013, nuclear critics claimed that several clean-up workers have died but their deaths are not reported, or are not counted if they die while they are away from the plant. Even the famous first responders - the Fukushima 50 - remain unknown and unheralded. In 2013, the BBC spent weeks tracking down one of the first responders, who spoke about that first response team on condition of anonymity:
"The person who sent us back didn't give us any explanation," he says. "It felt like we were being sent on a death mission."

I put it to him that what he and his colleagues did was heroic, that they should feel proud. He shakes his head, a slightly anguished look on his face.

"Ever since the disaster, I haven't had a day when I felt good about myself," he says.

"Even when I'm out with friends, it's impossible to feel happy. When people talk about Fukushima, I feel that I am responsible."
For an outsider, such a reaction is quite hard to fathom. For help, I turn to psychiatrist Dr Jun Shigemura at Japan's national defense university. He is one of two doctors who have studied the Fukushima workers.
His research suggests that half of those who fought the reactor meltdowns are suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms.
"The workers have been through multiple stresses," Dr Shigemura says.
"They experienced the plant explosions, the tsunami and perhaps radiation exposure. They are also victims of the disaster because they live in the area and have lost homes and family members. And the last thing is the discrimination."
Yes, discrimination. Not only are the workers not being celebrated, they are facing active hostility from some members of the public.
"The workers have tried to rent apartments," says Dr Shigemura. "But landlords turn them down, some have had plastic bottles thrown at them, some have had papers pinned on their apartment door saying 'Get out Tepco'."
Image Source: Kna Blog.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 15: Fukushima - Media Blackouts and Media Nightmares

Tape on Fukushima's leaky pipes. Image Source: AP via HuffPo.

Caption for the above photograph: "In this photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), a section of a hose, top, from which tons of highly radioactive water appears to have leaked into the ocean, is seen covered with vinyl tape at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)"

Hello darkness, my old friend. Fukushima (福島) means 'Island of Bliss,' or 'Island of Good Fortune,' but every new headline contradicts the name of the prefecture and its crippled Daiichi power plants. 'Shima' means island, and ironically the homonym 'fuku' (拭く) means '(to) wipe or mop (up).'  Because Fukushima's enemy is invisible, there is a lot of leeway for interpretation about what is happening. Journalists and bloggers complain of an international media blackout, possibly requested for diplomatic reasons by the Japanese government. At the same time, officials are reluctant to explain what is happening and cause panic among citizens. They likely fear that anything they say now could inadvertently confirm later liabilities. Adam Broinowski comments:
Stories of tragedy, heroism, resilience and recovery filled the daily news ... [after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami] ... [o]ne local from the area responded in poetry: The stars were amazingly beautiful, but I saw fire burning red beneath the black sky in the east. It was silent, but we could hear explosions somewhere, and the smell of burning was in the air. The Fukushima meltdowns have long been in gestation and were finally born from a movement of ocean and earth. Not so much an historical caesura as its ‘3/11' naming suggests, Fukushima is a re-telling of an old story, only in capitals.
Since 1971, Fukushima Daiichi's weaknesses have grown out of hubris and complacency, which persisted despite decades of international warnings (see here, here and here). Considering the noise against the nuclear industry and nuclear weapons in the 1970s and 1980s, the silence from the media now is deafening. The world's greatest ever environmental disaster is unfolding. Where are political environmental talkers, like Al Gore, who was all over the press a few years ago about global warming and melting ice caps? Why isn't a documentary film-maker political activist like Michael Moore getting to the bottom of corporate secrets in the nuclear industry in America? Silence, like a cancer, grows. Our words like silent raindrops fall, and echo in wells of silence.

MSM silence around Fukushima is a real problem. Local media and wire services are reporting events at the plants, but MSM news programs do not give the information high profile coverage. This silence is creating an information vacuum, increasingly filled by Internet chatter, and the latter exhibits troubling signs.

Hence, Fukushima is becoming a prime example of how the Internet is shaping Millennial consciousness. The Internet is now a strategic - possibly a decisive - factor in any unfolding disaster, because it can alter the generally perceived context of a crisis in the blink of an eye. In a similar way, the power of the Internet was initially demonstrated after 9/11, when online communications allowed 9/11 to become the subject of malevolent second-guessing of governmental, political and social authorities; Cyberspace, which was supposed to become the ultimate source of renewed democratic freedoms, enabled toxic reinterpretations of an increasingly frayed reality.

The first decade of the 2000s confirm that the media lessons of 9/11 were not lost on politicians and power-brokers, nor equally on little people, who realized that social networking and online media tools allowed them to craft the cachet of micro-fame. In this atmosphere, fake or ignorant online sincerity about a disaster looks more authentic than that of unplugged-in people, like the workers at Fukushima, who struggle to contain the actual disaster, and who may die trying to protect us.

Why would cyber-citizens trust their friendly neighbourhood online conspiracy theorist more than the representatives they elected to office? The very act of questioning authority on the Internet now bequeaths automatic, unsubstantiated and false credibility to any cyber-personality who bothers to engage that trope. And while some commentators are sincere and trying to engage in the world around them for the common good, others have agendas; and still others are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nuclear Leaks 23: Fukushima's World Citizens' Tribunal

Children in Fukushima city received dosimeters at school in autumn, 2011. Image Source: Japan Resilience System.

A local lawsuit over Japanese children's exposure to Fukushima radioactive fallout has sparked the inception of a curious thing: a global online tribunal. There were signs of this phenomenon in relation to this issue in 2012, but this is a new example. Perhaps this is an Internet first. No Internet cause is complete without its Big Names. And now, the intellectual media celebrity Noam Chomsky has lent his name to the cause of evacuating children from Fukushima. Incidentally, at the Daiichi plant on 1 February 2013, radiation levels measured by the press varied between 3.5 and 1,370 microsieverts per hour (Hat tip: ENE News). Fukushima City's tap water is being bottled and sold, with the label that it is "safe and delicious."

Fukushima City tap water bottled: safe and delicious. Image Source: Fukushima Minyu.

A number of posts at the opaquely pro-alternative-energy news aggregator ENE News have been covering the impact of Fukushima fallout on Japanese children (see related videos of radiation fallout around operating schools below the jump). In this case, the stated prevalence of thyroid damage is staggering:
... about the actual health condition of the children of Fukushima. On September 11 [2012?], the thyroid examinations found abnormalities such as nodules or cysts in 43% out of the 42,000 children tested. The numbers for girls are worse. 54% of girls from age 6 to 10 had these abnormalities, and 55% for age 11 to 15.
This report comes from the citizens' lawsuit against the city of Koriyama.

The people behind the 14 child plaintiffs also claim that the government has played down the dangers of Fukushima. They assert that there is a general culture of denial about Fukushima in Japan, since expressing alarm over the accident is perceived as a violation of acceptable social norms and national honour. This is a partial source: the defense's counter-arguments, data and documents are not included on the citizens' lawsuit blog.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs called on "the City of Koriyama to evacuate them so they can receive education in a safe place, with less than 1mSv/year atmospheric radiation." The plaintiffs' lawyer compares evacuation standards in Japan to conditions in Chernobyl and find Chernobyl's to have been more rigorous. Details on the court proceedings are online here and here. Supporting documents include statements on the long-term impact of Chernobyl fallout on children in Belarus. The proceedings have already been dismissed and reached an appeal stage before a higher court:
On June 24, 2011, 14 children in grade school in Koriyama filed a law suit against the City of Koriyama resorting to the court of law, so-called the “last bastion of human rights”, and demanded their right to study in a safe environment. In a response, the Koriyama District Court dismissed the case on December 16, 2011. This court decision is considered to be a damning violation of human rights. It does nothing but endorses the same violation committed by the national and city governments. As this decision was considered to be completely unacceptable, the plaintiffs of 14 the children, in order to correct what is wrong, filed a formal objection at the end of 2011, which is presently pending before the Sendai High Court.
The non-profit people behind the plaintiffs in the case have set up a curious new Web initiative - a Web court of global citizens - in parallel with proceedings in the conventional Sendai court. The Web court asks Netizens (here - scroll to the bottom of the page to participate in the World Citizens' Tribunal Judgment Form) to declare their support for the plaintiffs. The results of online responses are funneled into an Web-based spreadsheet, which you can see here.

The form of this 'online tribunal' is in fact merely a glorified blog poll and petition; but the contentiousness and seriousness of the poll topic arguably elevates the symbolic significance of this medium: online poll results are labeled at the plaintiffs' site as a "Jury judgment." The idea is that online responses will on the one hand contrast alleged Japanese government cover-ups about the advisable extent of the evacuation zone and foot-dragging over paid evacuation of those who cannot afford to leave radiated areas - with global expectations about protection of citizens in the event of a local nuclear accident on the other hand.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beltane's Faustian Bargains


Beltane Fountain. Image Source: Osgrid Gallery.

April 30 is Walpurgis Night. It is the eve of the May Day honouring of St. Walburga, a West Saxon princess by birth, and an 8th century English abbess. In the mid-700s, she traveled to Francia (to what is now Bavaria, Germany) with other English missionaries, to convert the Germans - who were still pagans at the time - to Christianity. In that work, she supported her famous uncle, St. Boniface, and her two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald.  Dark Dorset describes how the celebration of Saint Walburga overlaps with the older pagan May 1 spring festival of Beltane:
[H]er feast day also coincided with a much older pagan festival of Beltane ... [which] marked the beginning of summer. The eve of Beltane 30th April - 1st May became ... known as Walpurgisnacht, perhaps originally in an attempt to Christianise the festival. Like Halloween, it was also the night in which spirits wandered and witches favoured, as it was an auspicious time for holding their midnight sabbats and for conjuring spells. The most famous of all sabbats held on Walpurgisnacht was supposed to take place on the summit of the Brocken in the Harz Mountains of Germany as mentioned in Goethe's Faust [which you can read in German and English here, and watch here].
In Europe, the night of April 30 became a spring Hallowe'en, when witches and sorcerers held fertility rites around bonfires in wild areas. In earlier times, it was the time when livestock were driven out to pasture after a long winter, and charms were uttered over the animals as they ventured out into the wilds to protect them from harm. In the New World, Walpurgis Night is associated with the dark occult, including the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966 in San Francisco, California.

Thus, these two days, April 30 and May 1, centre on a moment of pagan-Christian ambiguity, a grey area between seasons and between evil and good, freedom and security, old and new. The sense is of turn-over, confronting the very last of winter's deaths and tests, and putting them behind to be open to spring growth. Dark Dorset summarizes these tensions:
On Walpurgisnacht it was customary for local folk to ring the bells of the church at night, cutting sprigs of blossom from the May bush (Hawthorn) and hung outside or inside the house as deterrent of witchcraft. The burning of Need-Fires and life size straw effigies of men or women which were made prior to burning and cursed with ill-health and ill-luck of the old year. Creating lots of noise by banging on drums, wood or firing of shotguns were all considered effective ways of ridding the area of witchcraft, evil spirits and dark forces. The very name St. Walburga (or Walpurgis, Waltpurde, Gauburge, Vaubourg, Falbourg, as known in other parts of Europe) and her image were also used as protective charms against witchcraft, plague, famine and storms.
In the first part of his great tragedy Faust, published in 1808, Goethe included a scene set on Walpurgis Night:
Now to the Brocken the witches ride;
The stubble is gold and the corn is green;
There is the carnival crew to be seen,
And Squire Urianus will come to preside.
So over the valleys our company floats,
With witches a-farting on stinking old goats.
Goethe's Faust explored the problems that symbolically arise around Walpurgis Night. His famous work principally concerned man's attempt to control the natural environment through scientific investigation and linear understanding, and the points at which faith and magic overtake that rational effort. Goethe's story describes Faust as a scholar, or alchemist, who makes a bargain with the devil to attain limitless knowledge. Faust's quest for infinite understanding automatically forces moral questions about how that knowledge might be exploited. Goethe insists: limitless knowledge can only be mitigated, and finally attained, by a leap of faith.

Image Source: Business Insider.

In the new Millennium, the moral dimension of limitless information, knowledge and technology is a huge problem. There are no St. Walburgas and St. Bonifaces standing now at the confluence of the environment and human knowledge of the environment. You may encounter many devils at the crossroads between environment and technology these days. For example, this week, Business Insider reported on a paper given last weekend at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, which concluded that one third of babies in the USA are using smart phones and tablets before they can walk and talk; and toddlers under the age of one use smart devices for at least one hour per day.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Ghosts of Fukushima

Fukushima exclusion zone (April 2011) © Donald Weber/Newsweek.

Today is the one year anniversary of the 9.0 Tōhoku earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (see my related posts, here, here, here, here, here, here and here). On cue, Fukushima was hit today by a 4.5 magnitude earthquake, followed by a 4.4 magnitude quake. The 3/11 picture is a picture of ghosts. One snapshot of this catastrophe comes from Ghost Hunting Theories, regarding local fears of haunted ruins:
The town of Ishinomaki has mixed feelings about the rebuilding. One shop owner believed that spirits were causing people rebuilding his store to become sick. One taxi driver admitted not wanting to pick up riders in one deadly part of the city because he worried they might be spirits. ... Shinto priests have been called in to clear certain areas of spirits and help them move on. At Buddhist ceremonies, many leave offerings in memory of the dead to hopefully find peace.
Some have called Fukushima, "a nuclear war without a war." There are other ghosts that haunt Japan and the world: radiation in a poisoned Pacific and fallout in Japan and abroad; 20 million tonnes of debris now floating toward the shores of North America; and the whole problem with energy policies worldwide. Developed and developing countries alike are hitting a wall. Science- and tech-hungry societies need vast amounts of energy. That need is driving conflict around oil production. Rising oil prices spurred nuclear power projects. But Fukushima exploded the myth that nuclear power is safe. More than the fallout, more than problems in the Middle East, more than fracking and Canada-to-US pipelines - energy haunts the world.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 19: Fukushima's Fallout, Industrial, Political and Generational

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #4 is supposedly ready to withstand a large earthquake (5 July 2012). Its rectangular spent fuel pool is now covered with metal plates, in the photo's foreground. Image Source: Kyodo News and Enformable via ENE News.

In Japan, finger-pointing and mass protests continue over the Fukushima nuclear crisis. In late June and early July 2012, Internet eco-chatter dubbed popular protests against the reopening of nuclear plants, the 'Hydrangea Revolution.' On 11 June 2012, 1,324 Fukushima residents lodged a criminal complaint against TEPCO and government officials for their responsibility in the disaster.

How can officials be held responsible for the outcome of a devastating earthquake and tsunami? On 5 July 2012, a parliamentary committee inquiring into the crisis decided that TEPCO had neglected safety measures at the plant for decades. The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were natural disasters, but the damage they helped cause at the Fukushima Daiichi site could have been completely avoided:
A Japanese parliament-appointed panel investigating the Fukushima plant disaster released a report the same day saying the calamity could have been prevented if regulators and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. had taken appropriate safety steps, calling it "clearly a man-made disaster."
Heads are rolling, although the people providing accusations and counter-accusations may have good reason to cover their own tracks and expose someone else's. If it weren't so tragic and horrible, it would have all the makings of a big budget cinematic thriller. By laying blame at TEPCO's feet, the ruling weirdly exonerates the nuclear industry in general. The message is: nuclear power plants are safe, as long as they are run according to high standards.

It's amazing how Millennial double-think and disinformation can contradict reality. On 27 June 2012, TEPCO announced that its workers sent a robot into Reactor #1 (see the robot's grim video, with radiation-speckled feed, here) and found record levels of radiation at the surface of coolant water, and levels thousands of times higher in the sediment in the containment vessel. From the Jarkarta Post:
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it detected 10,300 millisieverts [10 Sv] of radiation per hour in the basement of a building housing the No. 1 reactor of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the highest radiation recorded in the plant's reactor buildings.

According to the utility's announcement Wednesday, it would take about 20 seconds for a worker exposed to this level of radiation to reach the government-set, annual cumulative dose limit of 50 millisieverts. Acute symptoms of radiation exposure such as vomiting would develop in about six minutes.

TEPCO said it needs to identify and repair spots where radiation-contaminated water is leaking in the building as it moves toward decommissioning the No. 1 reactor. The power company said such work will be difficult, as the high radiation makes it necessary to use robots instead of human workers.
According to former nuclear industry engineer-turned-nuclear-critic, Arnie Gundersen, these radiation levels indicate that Reactor #1's containment vessel has been breached. In other words, he believes that the China Syndrome occurred in Reactor #1. In March 2012, the New York Times reported (via the Star Tribune) that China Syndromes took place at Reactors #1, #2 and #3:
Fukushima Daiichi's vital cooling systems were knocked out in the early stages of the crisis last year. The uranium cores at three of the plant's six reactors quickly melted down, breaching their containment vessels and triggering a massive radiation leak.
That NYT report also noted a radiation level of 72 Sv inside the containment vessel of Reactor #2. It is extraordinary that the world's media are not digging deeper into this story on a day-to-day basis. Three China Syndromes? Why are blogs, obscure little TV programmesfringe Web sites, ENE and Russia Today still the only regular sources on this story? Is the Fourth Estate really so impoverished? This is a lesson on how Old School journalism still rules as far as shaping conventionally-accepted truths is concerned. If 'viable,' established professional journalists do not report on a phenomenon, it need not be worried about, or even be seriously considered to exist. Pro-nuclear industry supporters can merely point to a wild-eyed vlog and disdainfully dismiss any such source of criticism. But in a mad world, madmen speak the truth, and might be sane.

Media silence arises because, despite Fukushima's dismal case, international corporate and government interests remain optimistic about further nuclear plant developments. A glance at the trade reports reveals that nuclear power is at a crossroads.

Ageing plants must be decomissioned, and so the industry is thriving, rushing to build new plants to fill the generational energy gaps in a flurry of high-powered horse-trading and bidding wars over big construction contracts. This is happening domestically in developed countries. These countries are also exporting their tech to developing countries, while striving to retain control of the nuclear science behind nuclear power plants (a futile exercise in this time of globalized graduate education). Indeed, the nuclear power industry is tied to the nuclear weapons industry. In other words, plutonium fallout or no plutonium fallout, it is business as usual (except for, or maybe including, Iran). Instead of taking Fukushima as an ominous warning to rethink our approach to fossil fuel alternatives, industry leaders are ignoring the crisis and its terrible impact. Who says colonialism is dead or that America is the only post-colonial, neo-imperial power? Rubbish. Imperialism is alive and well, enjoying a financial renaissance, evident in business buzz across the Internet.

For example, the Russians look to expand nuclear power systems at home and abroad. The Russians, incidentally, own 20 per cent of surplus American uranium on US territory; they are currently mining uranium in Wyoming. The head of Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, insists that advanced Russian technology makes nuclear energy systems perfectly safe and environmentally friendly, promising "post-Fukushima solutions for new nuclear power plants." Stidently offering total transparency, he acknowledges that nuclear weapons industries are intimately connected to nuclear power interests, and so the state will always retain control over the entire industry.

In Canada in November 2011, the paper version of the National Post ran an 8-page insert from Mediaplanet confidently proclaiming the stellar opportunities in the nuclear power industry. "Now Is The Time," one ad headline runs, "To Move Forward With New CANDU Reactors." Kivalliq Energy Corporation dominates a high-quality uranian project in the Arctic's Nunavut Territory. The President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Dr. Michael Binder, smiles benignly, in an article which promises that the "uranium mining and milling industry" is a "safely regulated resource" precisely because it is "the only mining industry in Canada that is licensed, regulated and monitored by the federal government." A panel of experts - Joseph Zwetolitz (Westinghouse), Denise Carpenter (Canadian Nuclear Association), Mark Morabito (Crosshair Energy Corporation), and Dr. Richard Spencer (U308 Corporation) - all trumpet Canada's virtues as an "energy superpower" (Zwetolitz); nuclear challenges as "opportunities" (Carpenter); reactors becoming defunct at age 40 means that this is the best time to build new ones (Morabito); and "Canadian explorers are ... advancing significant discoveries in emerging markets such as South America that are viewed as the next frontier for uranium development" (Spencer). Among other industry promises to find "A New Use For Old Nukes," Jeremy Whitlock of the Canadian Nuclear Society debunks "Radiation Fears and Myths." In June 2012, Prime Minister Harper struck a total of $3 billion in Canadian contracts to service China's energy sector.

In the United States, the Obama administration supports nuclear power. And the Republicans support it too. There are labour disputes at the older American nuclear plants, including the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts - the very birthplace of the country! There are also contracts coming up to support ageing plants and keep them running - one example is Vermont Yankee. New plants have been greenlit, a pair each in South Carolina and Georgia. Uranium mining remains hopeful, expecting American nuclear power to increase 10 per cent by 2035Politicians advise investors in Florida to support the nuclear industry because it is a source of so-called "green jobs." Even so, there are bumps in the road. There are real fears that Fukushima fallout has poisoned much of the western United States and Canada, and perhaps more of North America. On 8 June 2012, the US Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could not license or re-licence any nuclear power plants until environmental and safety issues had been thoroughly researched. This ruling arose in response to petitioners from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont.

In the United Kingdom, Chinese companies are bidding to build new nuclear power plants, along with the French company Areva and Russia's Rosatom. The Canadians are advising the Brits on building 6 CANDU nuclear plants which recycle fissile material stocks by burning (potentially deadly) MOX fuel. The Birmingham Policy Commission, released 2 July 2012, advised that the government must help carry the costs of building a new generation of nuclear power plants and also shoulder the burdens if anything goes wrong: "The fact is that the financial risks associated with building new nuclear power stations are beyond the balance sheets of many utility companies and therefore need to be shared between the public and private sectors." Ah, the cross-pollination of public and private, the new watchword of post-Recession hybridized economies. The Birmingham Policy Commission warned against the Brits' "drift" away from nuclear power and strongly advised the government must rebuild "the UK as a suitably qualified nuclear nation." The Commission drily stated that the after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami stood as: "testament to nuclear power’s credentials."

On 3 July 2012, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault promised the "government's commitment to reduce France's reliance on nuclear power for electricity production." But French nuclear companies are moving ahead - along with American, Chinese, Russian and other multinational firms - bidding to build nuclear plants in the UK (Areva and EDF); the Czech Republic (Areva); the UAE (Areva, EDF, GDF Suez SA, Total SA); South Africa (EDF); Finland (Framatome ANP/Areva); and India (Areva). Due to political troubles, French firms like Framatome, NPI and Areva lost bids to Chinese companies for contracts in Turkey.

There are other nuclear players offering or seeking contracts: ArgentinaSweden, South Korea, Taiwan, Lithuania, Mexico, Saudi Arabia (!), Vietnam and Malaysia, the Philippines, to name a few. Germany, Switzerland (although not quite yet), and Belgium are among the countries which have decided to phase out nuclear energy and search for classic alternatives as well as other technologies and options, giving rise to non-nuclear energy contracts. Win or lose, it's all about big money.