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Published on February 6th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

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Fukushima Pledges To Go 100% Renewable



Originally published on ThinkProgress.
By Ari Phillips.

Japan_fukushima_map_smallThe province of Fukushima in northeast Japan, devastated nearly three years ago by the earthquake and tsunami that caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, has pledged to go 100 percent renewable by 2040.

The energy will be generated through local community initiatives throughout the province of nearly two million. Announced at a Community Power Conference held in Fukushima this week, it goes against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda to reboot nuclear power throughout the country.

“The Japanese government is very much negative,” said Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies in Japan. “Local government like the Fukushima prefecture or the Tokyo metropolitan government are much more active, more progressive compared to the national government, which is occupied by the industry people.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa is running for mayor of Tokyo on an anti-nuclear platform. The February 9 election is seen as a referendum on Abe’s efforts to restart nuclear reactors and on the future of nuclear power in Japan in general.

“Tokyo is shoving nuclear power plants and nuclear waste to other regions, while enjoying the convenience (of electricity) as a big consumer,” Hosokawa said during a late January news conference. “The myth that nuclear power is clean and safe has collapsed. We don’t even have a place to store nuclear waste. Without that, restarting the plants would be a crime against future generations.”

Fukushima currently gets 22 percent of its energy from renewable sources. In November, a 2-megawatt offshore wind turbine started operating about 12 miles off Fukushima’s coast. Two more 7-megawatt turbines are in the planning stages. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has said that total offshore wind capacity may reach up to 1,000 megawatts.

“Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,” Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, said at the turbine’s opening ceremony. “Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.”

A 26-megawatt solar power station also just broke ground in the prefecture. Japan’s solar market is booming and far exceeded solar analysts’ 2013 predictions, in large part due to government incentives such as a feed-in tariff that was passed into law shortly after the Fukushima meltdown. The shuttering of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors after the incident forced the government to focus on alternative electricity sources.

“There’s still a long way to go in Japan because the official government position is still very pro-nuclear, so it would be naïve to say this is an easy way, that we just need to set an example and other regions will follow,” Stefan Schurig, Director of the Climate and Energy Department of the World Future Council, said at the Community Power Conference in Fukushima.

The debate over the future of nuclear power on a global scale is hardly a two-sided polemic. Nuclear power is still staggeringly expensive, and has not become cheaper over the decades as many expected. Yet James Hansen, a prominent climatologist advocating for immediate action on climate change and further investment in nuclear power recently told the National Journal, “It seems to me that there are a lot of environmentalists who are beginning to look into the facts and appreciate the potential environmental advantages of intelligent development of nuclear power.”

However in Japan the scars of nuclear catastrophe are still fresh in the public’s mind. A September, 2013 survey found that that 53 percent of Japanese people wanted to see nuclear power phased out gradually, and 23 percent wanted it immediately done with.

The local situation is still unresolved, with nuclear radiation around the Fukushima power plant about eight times government safety guidelines as of mid-January.

Radioactive water leaks from the plant have also been an ongoing issue of concern — both for locals and the international community — with about 300 metric tons of contaminated groundwater seeping into the ocean each day, according to Japan’s government. On Monday the government announced new guidelines for capturing water before it becomes contaminated and flows into the ocean.

The government is also negotiating with the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations to gain approval to dump groundwater from the Fukushima power plant into the ocean under the assertion that the radioactive contamination would be under the legal limit.

In the meantime, a Renewable Energy Village (REV) with 120 solar panels and plans for wind turbines has sprouted up on the contaminated farmland surrounding the power plant. This is an example of the type of project renewable energy advocates in the region hope to see more of in the quest toward the goal of 100 percent renewable power by 2040.

Radiation-tainted water from Fukushima is expected to arrive at American shores this year. In December, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane said that water would reach U.S. at levels less than 100 times lower than the accepted drinking water threshold. Scientists are prepared to test waters, but are skeptical that dangerous levels of contamination will be found.

“We don’t know if we’re going to find a signal of the radiation,” Matt Edwards, a UT San Diego scientist working on one such project, told RedOrbit. “And I personally don’t believe it’ll represent a health threat if there is one. But it’s worth asking whether there’s a reason to be concerned about a disaster that occurred on the other side of the planet some time ago.”

Image Credit: Fukushima map via Shigenobu AOKI

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  • CaptD

    What the Japanese “say they are going to do” may likely change if the Utility Gangs that run the Country decide that they no longer want to do whatever it is for any reason…

    We have seen this happen countless times since 3/11/11 and I predict we will continue to see it happen in the next 40 to 100 years that Fukushima’s “cleanup” is projected to take. It is especially important to note that these same Utility Gangs will be making huge profits because all work gets funneled through them, so I expect them to get even more protective of what they allow to happen in this very lucrative “nuclear make work project”. In reality, this is just another version of the Somali Pirate hostage scheme, where the rest of the world is being held hostage by the Japanese Utility Gangs control of Fukushima’s ongoing radioactive pollution.

    Because of the international concern over Fukushima, Japanese Leaders realize that they might need to defend themselves (and their control over their radioactive pollution). That is why we are now seeing many Japanese Leaders pushing for legalizing the ownership of nuclear weapons, instead of secretly just having all the components to assemble any number of them at short notice should they be needed , a situation that many believe has existed for many years.

    Additionally, Japan’s newly enacted secrecy laws and recent elections point out that although the majority of Japanese people want nothing to do with either nuclear reactors and/or nuclear weapons, those running the Country are simply doing what they want, while at the same time trying their best not make Japan look to much like N. Korea, where it is widely accepted that its people have no say at all.

  • CaptD

    Since the seawater issues is ow being discussed here is some other info:

    http://phys.org/news/2014-01-long-term-shift-pacific-ecosystem.html

    http://theenergycollective.com/nrdcswitchboard/311761/beyond-shellfish-ocean-acidification-bad-people#comment-100726

    Acidification affects everything that lives in a shell and acid dissolves calcium shells and coral!

    http://www.treehugger.com/ocean-conservation/closer-look-horrors-ocean-acidification.html

    And everything that doesn’t live in a shell because they eat critters with shells or the animals that eat krill or phytoplankton (veggies) that thrive in a narrow range of pH, from the bottom of the food chain to the top.

    This is only the beginning of Fukushima’s effect on the Ocean!

    +

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-01-long-term-shift-pacific-ecosystem.html#jCp
    HURL

    How about an update on Pacific ocean radiation changes measured since 03/11/11 and what possible effects they are having on the health of the Pacific Ocean and all those that depend upon it? I trust that just because you are associated with LLNL which is very much Pro Nuclear, your information will be unbiased, and therefore helpful to your readers…

    +

    I think the massive amounts of radiation released from Fukushima are having a negative effect on the Pacific Ocean’s life and therefore will also affect all those that depend upon the Ocean for food. Also it is important to add, that Fukushima’s radioactive pollution is now being spread globally via the jet stream, so it too will have an effect on the Earth, and especially the Earth’s upper atmosphere, since these are highly charged particles which I believe are having an effect on our current weather!

  • Suzuki Hiroshi

    5,000,000 Bq/L of Strontium-90 measured from groundwater 2013 July / Tokyo Electric NOT announced for half a year
    February 6th, 2014 Fukushima Diary

    On 2/6/2014, Tokyo Electric announced they measured 5,000,000 Bq/L of Strontium-90 from groundwater 2013 July.
    Tokyo Electric has NOT announced it for over half a year.
    The sampling location was the seaside of reactor2. From this sample, 380,000 Bq/L of Tritium was also measured.
    From this newly released data, Strontium-90 was measured from all the boring holes of the seaside of reactor2 and reactor3.

    Regarding the delayed disclosure of data, Tokyo Electric stated they were taking time to investigate the cause of wrong analysis. However after all, Tokyo Electric did NOT release the data, which strongly suggests the on-going sea contamination, before International Olympic Committee selected Tokyo as the host city of Olympic 2020.

    • jep

      This is quite little. When it reaches the sea it immediately gets diluted into insignificance. The relevance for the Olympics is zero.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “One of the samples of the 37 black sea bream specimens caught some 37 kilometers south of the crippled power plant tested at 12,400 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, making it 124 times deadlier than the threshold considered safe for human consumption, Japan’s Fisheries Research Agency announced.

        The samples were caught at the mouth of the Niidagawa river in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on November 17. Two other fish caught there also tested non-safe for human consumption, showing radiations levels of 426 and 197 becquerels per kilogram. The rest of the fish were reportedly within safety limits.”

        http://rt.com/news/fukushima-fish-cesium-radiation-548/

        It seems that your claim of “immediately gets diluted into insignificance” is flawed….

        • jep

          That something is “124 times more deadly” than a completely non-deadly amount is a fairly silly statement. These thresholds are extremely conservatively set. Experiments conducted show that when dogs are subjected to a whole body burden of 140,000,000 bequerels per kg bodyweight, they die within a month. When they get half of that amount, all of them survives at least a year.

          Now, we are talking about fish having 1/10000 of the amount, and of course, the fact that rare food samples has that level doesn’t give humans the same level of radiation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nuclear fanboys don’t give a rat’s ass about human life.

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