Archive for category Japan

Najib should give full report to Parliament on the previous “bad experience” with nuclear power which former PM Mahathir had mentioned

The Cabinet meeting yesterday was a great letdown and disappointment.

In the wake of the Japanese nuclear meltdown crisis triggered by the double calamity of 9.0 earthquake and tsunami last week, the failure of the Cabinet Ministers yesterday to discuss widespread concerns in the country about Malaysia’s nuclear power plans is the height of irresponsibility and negligence.

The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili did not tell anything new when he said after the Cabinet meeting that the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation would proceed with accepting tenders for companies to conduct a feasibility study on the government’s plans to build two 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plants by 2022.

What really shocked Malaysians is his revelation that the Cabinet had not discussed this matter at its meeting yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan’s Unsavory Options

Daniel Wagner
The Huffington Post
March 17, 2011

Japan’s first week of this crisis has revealed to the world what many Japan watchers have known for many years — that it was woefully unprepared to deal with an inevitable severe earthquake and its repercussions.

TEPCO (the Tokyo Electric Power Company) and the Japanese government have unfortunately fulfilled the expectations of many who are familiar with their histories addressing crises, in which they have proven either inept or purposely misleading in delivering trustworthy information to the public. To proclaim, as one Japanese minister did last weekend, that the amount of radiation released at that time was equivalent to a CAT scan was simply absurd. We should not have expected more from TEPCO, which has in previous instances delivered purposely misleading information. But the Japanese government had an opportunity to shine in managing this crisis; it has regrettably fallen fall short of the mark.

Had TEPCO and the government either had a handle on what was occurring at the Fukushima nuclear complex, or been honest and forthright in reporting what was occurring, they might have put themselves in a position to reach out for international assistance more rapidly, and the events over the past week at the complex may not necessarily have unfolded as they have.

U.S. government officials have expressed alarm at how this ordeal has been handled and envision a possible ‘dead zone’ in Northeast Japan for decades. We could see a scenario in which a large swathe of northeast Japan becomes permanently uninhabitable. Were that to occur, the impact on the Japanese economy would clearly be severe and would preclude the idea of rebuilding areas impacted by the quake and tsunami. As bad as that would be, the impact on companies expecting to participate in the rebuilding effort would be unwelcome, and the anticipated ‘bounce’ in global share prices as a result of spending an anticipated $200 billion to rebuild the area would prove to be premature, since it may not happen at all. Read the rest of this entry »


Comparing Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Accidents: Q&A

By Adi Narayan
Mar 17, 2011

March 15 (Bloomberg) — Radiation leaks from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s earthquake-stricken reactors in northeastern Japan represent the worst nuclear power accident since the meltdown at Chernobyl, Ukraine, almost 25 years ago, scientists say.

Military helicopters are dumping water on containers holding spent uranium fuel to prevent them from overheating after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disabled a cooling system, Tokyo Electric spokesman Kaoru Yoshida told reporters yesterday. Once exposed, the spent fuel rods may catch fire and melt, spewing radiation into the atmosphere.

“Radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional panel in Washington yesterday.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the accidents at Fukushima, Chernobyl in 1986 and Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979. The information is drawn from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, the World Health Organization in Geneva and interviews with radiation safety experts in the U.S., Australia and India. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan steps closer to a full-blown nuclear catastrophe

By Steven Mufson
The Washington Post
Monday, March 14, 11

Japan stepped closer to a full blown nuclear catastrophe Tuesday after the third explosion in four days appeared to have damaged equipment inside the reactor, apparently creating a path for the escape of radioactive materials, and a fire broke out at a separate reactor where spent fuel and hydrogen ignited. Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the seaside nuclear complex, ordered the evacuation of all but the 50 most essential workers and the Japanese Prime Minister addressed the nation urging people within 19 miles to stay indoors and remain calm.

Officials from Tokyo Electric Power, the plant owner, said the 6:14 a.m. explosion took place in the unit 2 reactor at or near the suppression pool, which collects water and radioactive elements from the containment vessel.

Experts said that, unlike the two previous explosions that destroyed outer buildings, this one might have damaged valves and drain pipes, possibly creating a path for radioactive materials to escape.

The explosion — more serious than the earlier blasts — was followed by a brief drop in pressure in the vessel and a spike in radioactivity outside the reactor to levels more than eight times what people ordinarily receive in a year, the company said. Tokyo Electric, which over the weekend said it had 1,400 people working at the complex, said it was evacuating all nonessential personnel, leaving about 50 people there. Read the rest of this entry »


Death toll of ‘ten thousands’ predicted in Japan

500,000 forced to evacuate; shelters low on supplies


Monday, March 14, 2011
By Barbara Demick

SENDAI, Japan – Japanese authorities say thousands might have died in the massive earthquake and tsunami, which left many survivors stranded or shivering in makeshift evacuation centers that were running low on supplies today.

In Miyagi, one the three hardest-hit prefectures, at least 10,000 were killed, police spokesman Go Sugawara told the Associated Press late last night. Only 400 people had been confirmed dead in Miyagi, which has a population of 2.3 million.

Elsewhere, about 1,800 people were confirmed dead yesterday – including 200 bodies found along the coast. About 1,900 were injured, and more than 1,400 were missing.

More than 500,000 people have been forced to evacuate from quake- and tsunami-affected regions, Kyodo News reported. Read the rest of this entry »