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Radioactive Water Tank Leak at Fukushima Worst Since 2011 Disaster
By Justin McKeating
The seemingly endless torrent of scandals rushing from the damaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima continues with the news that a serious incident is underway at the stricken plant. Once again we see that Fukushima’s owner TEPCO is utterly unfit to deal with the ongoing disaster.
And the bad news just keeps coming. We have now heard that 300 tons of highly contaminated water has escaped from storage tanks at the site—the worst leak since the disaster began in March 2011.
Currently, the situation is being classified by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as a level three on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES)—a serious incident.
The source of the leak is a mystery and there is no confirmation from TEPCO that it has been stopped. Right now, TEPCO has denied the possibility that the water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean but we’ve heard these reassurances before. TEPCO’s announcements simply can’t be trusted. The radioactive waste is flowing into the soil and it is just a matter of time before it will be taken towards the ocean by groundwater.
Radiation levels found in one of the puddles are the highest recorder in the two and a half years since the reactors were destroyed. According to TEPCO, the leaked water contains 80 million Becquerel of beta radiation per liter. One location measured over 100 milliSievert per hour of radiation dose. The high contamination levels in the water means it will be extremely difficult for humans to clean it up—workers will easily be exposed to more than the maximum allowable limit of radiation.
Why wasn’t TEPCO monitoring these tanks properly? That such a massive amount of dangerous radiation could escape before anything was done is another damning scandal amid an ocean of damning scandals rushing from Fukushima.
How much more incompetence from TEPCO will the Japanese government tolerate? Why isn’t the company being held responsible? Nobody has been arrested or lost their jobs. Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe tours the world acting as salesman for the nuclear industry. The situation is absurd.
The chilling question now is: what might happen next? We’ve been saying things have been going from bad to worse for years. Things are now going from worse to what? Worser? We’re running out of ways to describe this never-ending nightmare.
It is long past time the Japanese government took over the disaster relief efforts and TEPCO’s executives were held to account. An urgent appeal for international assistance must be made immediately. This is an emergency none of us can afford to ignore.
Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.
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By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.
Company Safety Data Sheets on New Chemicals Frequently Lack the Worker Protections EPA Claims They Include
By Richard Denison
Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).
By Grant Smith
From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.
By Brett Walton
When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.
In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.
This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.
If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›