Peter Wynn Kirby

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Last month, the British government signed off on what might be the most controversial and least promising plan for a nuclear power station in a generation.

Why did it do this? Because the project isn’t just about energy: It’s also a stealth initiative to bolster Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

For years, the British government has been promoting a plan to build two so-called European Pressurized Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point C, in southwest England.

It estimates that the facility will produce about 7 percent of the nation’s total electricity from 2025, the year it is expected to be completed. The EPR’s designer, Areva, claims that the reactor is reliable, efficient and so safe that it could withstand a collision with an airliner.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the five years since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns that devastated Fukushima Prefecture, the Japanese government has undertaken mammoth efforts to decontaminate irradiated communities.

Thousands of workers have removed millions of tons of radioactive debris from backyards and fields, roadsides and school grounds. They have scraped away acres and acres of tainted soil, collected surface vegetal matter, wiped down entire buildings and hosed and scrubbed streets and sidewalks.

The cleanup effort is staggering in scale, and unprecedented. Japan’s leaders hope to restore for human habitation more than 100 cities, towns and villages scattered over hundreds of square miles. The government has allocated more than $15 billion for this work.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Japan marked the 70th anniversary of Nagasaki’s obliteration by a plutonium bomb on Aug. 9, its own cache of weapons-usable plutonium was more than 47 metric tons — enough to make nearly 6,000 warheads like the one that flattened Nagasaki.

Japan, an industrial powerhouse but resource-poor, has long depended on nuclear energy. Before the earthquake and meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, it was generating nearly one-third of its electricity from nuclear power, and had plans to increase that share to 50 percent by 2030. Japan’s 48 standard reactors burn uranium fuel, a process that yields plutonium, a highly radioactive and extremely toxic substance.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Big Lie Behind Japanese Whaling

The International Court of Justice’s decision last March to prohibit Japan’s annual whale hunt in Antarctic waters was greeted by many as an historic step against a reprehensible practice. Yet last month, despite the enormous diplomatic toll, Japan vowed to continue its whaling activities under a controversial research program of dubious scientific merit.

Japan’s determination may seem puzzling, but only if you assume its whaling activities are about science, or that its purportedly scientific whaling is a cover for commercial whaling. In fact, Japan’s pro-whaling stance isn’t really about whales at all; instead, it is about ensuring access to other fishing resources.…  Seguir leyendo »