In the news (1 to 7 October 2013)

Japan’s unholy alliance

Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don’t have to speak, as she defends me
A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one

The “she” in Robbie Robertson’s 1969 ballad “Up on Cripple Creek,” performed by The Band, was Bessie.

Japan’s nuclear village, represented among others by Keidanren, the voice of Japanese big business, has its own forgiving Bessie too, in the shape of Japan’s Ministry of Energy Trade and Industry (METI).

Atomic Reporters may take some salutary lessons in following the consequence of the accident at Fukushima Daichi; where there’s nuclear there’s usually a village and village life, well…it’s village life.

The latest announcement from Japan’s troubled nuclear village – is that Keidanren, supported by METI, has declared its intention to take the low road away from climate goals while nuclear power remains switched off. Keidanren is the name given to the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations.

And METI,  you may recall, was the ministry that controlled the  discredited Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) before it was reincarnated as the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), and may have more than its fair share of blame for the current misfortune. SimplyInfo, a crowd sources site carried this comment on METI’s competence from August 23.

See also Jeff Kingston’s latest review as to why 94 per cent of Japanese don’t believe the Fukushima disaster has been brought under control. Keep in mind, METI has been put in charge of the leaks springing from waste water tanks at the Fukushima site.

It’s not only in Japan that the nuclear village life has such national dominion. Reporters in newcomer states such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Turkey, Belarus, the UAE and others, would be well advised to heed the Japanese nuclear saga, and persistently challenge smiling faces.

This is how news media best fulfills its public function – not to cast any aspersions on Japan’s own news media, where some of the most dogged and critical journalism has been accomplished by local as well as national journalists. But Fukushima,  and before it Chernobyl, and before it, TMI, and Windscale – Mayak is not overlooked – all share a common denominator,  they were the consequence of cavalier behavior, of business  conducted out of critical public view and oversight.

Question: Is the irony well appreciated that an industry seeking to position itself as a rational low carbon alternative to fossil fuel power is willing to push for the abandonment of carbon emission targets, and how does this sit with the global nuclear village?

More from Fukushima

Tepco’s credibility is again under fire, as a U.S. researcher challenges the company’s statement that that the radioactive groundwater leaking out of Fukushima will only affect the coastline. In an interview with Bloomberg Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has conducted his own tests of Japanese waters called the Tepco’s claim that all irradiated water would remain  within 0.3 square kilometers of the bay “not true to the science” and “silly.”

Nuclear Industry

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Walter Tamosaitis, a lifelong worker and senior scientist at URS Corp was fired on Thursday. URS operates the largest radioactive waste treatment facility in Hanford, Washington, and Tamosaitis was the man whose technical concerns about the $12.3-billion  plant’s design brought construction to a halt, so it’s no wonder that whistleblowing watchdog Hanford Challenge called it “another act of retribution against Walter Tamosaitis.”

The White House and Iran

Julie Pace, White House correspondent for AP, conducted an in-depth interview with US President Barack Obama on Saturday. The section that most interests Atomic Reporters comes about midway, when Pace asks him to comment on Iran.  Obama believes Rouhani represents a positive step for Iran and lets slip that America’s March estimation, that Iran is at least a year away from being able to even produce nuclear weapons, is the same as it was then.

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