Ask a Housewife

Would you build your home directly over an active fault, if you knew for certain that the fault was there and that is was active? I don't think so. What are these power plant makers thinking?!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tsuruga plant may sit atop active fault
Reactors' fate in limbo after NISA reverses safety assessment

Staff writer

Reversing an earlier assessment, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted an active and dangerous fault may be lurking directly beneath one of the two reactors of the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The surprising judgement by NISA, announced Tuesday night, would force Japan Atomic Power Co. to decommission the plant's reactor 2 if the fault is confirmed as active.

NISA would also find it difficult to restart reactor 1. Both reactors were shut down for regular checks, but have not been restarted in light of the meltdown crisis that hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011. In light of the Fukushima crisis, all reactors are subject to stress tests to gauge their disaster survivability.

The government's quake safety standards do not allow any nuclear reactor to be built right above an active fault or one that could move when a nearby fault causes an earthquake.

(from The Japan Times Online edition)


PS to Agent Orange in Okinawa

Here is something NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff wants the "powers that be" to recognize, too. It's not only the substances they scatter all over an innocent landscape.

Governments are great at asking people to donate their lives, but not so great at accepting the responsibility to treat the one irreplaceable item in the universe--the individual, human life--with care and respect.

This is from Mr. Kristoff:

Published: April 14, 2012

HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

Question: If all of these "wars" are about human rights, and these soldiers are human, what about their rights?


What do governments do best?

In some cases, they are very good at lies and denials. Or, as Sister Anne in 8th grade used to say: they "prevaricate". Is it right to use a person's labor, put them in danger, and then deny responsibility? Ordinary companies that employ labor are not allowed to do that. It's time for the governments responsible to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the workers they poisoned.

Read on about Agent Orange in Okinawa:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Okinawa bases stored toxic defoliant, ex-soldier says
U.S. vet pries lid off Agent Orange denials

Special to The Japan Times
JACKSONVILLE, Florida — Thousands of barrels of Agent Orange were unloaded on Okinawa Island and stored at the port of Naha, and at the U.S. military's Kadena and Camp Schwab bases between 1965 and 1966, an American veteran who served in Okinawa claims.

In an interview in early April with The Japan Times and Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting Co., a TV network based in Okinawa, former infantryman Larry Carlson, 67, also said that Okinawan stevedores were exposed to the highly toxic herbicide as they labored in the holds of ships, and that he even saw it being sprayed at Kadena Air Base.

Carlson is one of only three American servicemen who have won benefits from the U.S. government over exposure to the toxic defoliant on Okinawa — and the first of them to step forward and reveal that massive amounts of it were kept on the island.

If true, his claims, which are corroborated by five fellow soldiers and a 1966 U.S. government document, would debunk the Pentagon's consistent denials that Agent Orange was ever stored on Okinawa.

"The U.S. Department of Defense has searched and found no record that the aircraft or ships transporting (Agent) Orange to South Vietnam stopped at Okinawa on their way," Maj. Neal Fisher, deputy director of public affairs for U.S. forces in Japan, told The Japan Times recently.

But the VA's decision to grant Carlson benefits over his exposure to the herbicide would appear to buttress his account.

"I am the tip of the iceberg. There are many others like me who were poisoned but the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) is denying their claims," Carlson said during the interview at his Florida home. "I urge those men to dig in and plant their feet."

During his time in the U.S. Army, Carlson was assigned to the 44th Transportation Company at the U.S. military port in Naha between December 1965 and April 1967.

"Transport ships came in (from the United States) and we would move drums of Agent Orange. We worked 12 hours around the clock until we'd unloaded the ship," he said.

"A lot of the time, when they dropped the barrels in our truck they would leak. I got soaked at least three times and we couldn't do anything because we were driving (the barrels to storage sites) and couldn't shower until we got back to our barracks."

The USS Comet and the SS Transglobe, the most decorated American merchant vessel during the Vietnam War, were two of the ships used to transport Agent Orange to Okinawa, according to Carlson.

Deliveries arrived every two months on average, and 1966 was the busiest time in terms of shipments, he said.


When you are out of "X", use "Y"

Some countries declare war when they need a product that the other country has. Others apply themselves to finding a substitute. Here is a peaceful solution to the problem of hard-to-get materials like rare earth substances:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hitachi builds motor without rare metals

Hitachi Ltd. said Wednesday it has developed a high-efficiency industrial motor without using rare earth metals and is aiming to commercialize the product in the business year starting in April 2014.

The motor, for use in pumps and fans in factories and tunnels, adopts amorphous metals and is as efficient as motors using rare earths such as neodymium, Hitachi said.

"The prices of rare earth metals have been soaring in recent years," Hitachi Research Laboratory senior researcher Yuji Enomoto said at a Tokyo news conference. "We are facing the urgent need to not use rare earth metals."

Though prices of rare earths have been declining recently, they remain high, he said.

The company said it plans to adopt the technology to develop motors for other uses such as automobiles and home appliances in the future.


Bring on the Sun!

Here's some good news about solar power:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Softbank plans huge Hokkaido solar plant
With output of 200,000 kw, facility will be nation's largest

Softbank Corp. has selected Tomakomai, Hokkaido, as the site for Japan's largest solar power plant, with an output capacity of at least 200,000 kw, industry sources said Wednesday.

Softbank subsidiary SB Energy Corp. is planning the facility in anticipation of cashing in on the government system that starting in July will oblige power utilities to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources generated by households and other firms.

The plant will have a maximum output capacity of 340,000 kw to cover some 100,000 households, and SB Energy is negotiating with Hokkaido Electric Power Co. over electricity purchases through the so-called feed-in tariff system, according to the sources.

The utility has responded that it can accept some 200,000 kw, based on the existing infrastructure for electricity delivery, they said.