Here are three articles about nuclear power you may find interesting.
Germany's coalition government decided early Monday to shut down all of the country's nuclear power plants by 2022, a policy change prompted by Japan's nuclear disaster, the environment minister said.
Through March — before the seven reactors were taken offline — just under a quarter of Germany's electricity was produced by nuclear power, about the same share as in the U.S.
Energy from wind, solar and hydroelectric power currently produces about 17 percent of the country's electricity, but the government aims to boost its share to around 50 percent in the coming decades.
Many Germans have been vehemently opposed to nuclear power since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster sent radioactive fallout over the country. Tens of thousands repeatedly took to the street in the wake of Fukushima to urge the government to shut all reactors.
Radioactive soil in pockets of areas near Japan’s crippled nuclear plant have reached the same level as Chernobyl, where a “dead zone” remains 25 years after the reactor in the former Soviet Union exploded.
Soil samples in areas outside the 20-kilometer (12 miles) exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant measured more than 1.48 million becquerels a square meter, the standard used for evacuating residents after the Chernobyl accident, Tomio Kawata, a fellow at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, said in a research report published May 24 and given to the government.
Radiation from the plant has spread over 600 square kilometers (230 square miles), according to the report. The extent of contamination shows the government must move fast to avoid the same future for the area around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Dai-Ichi plant as Chernobyl, scientists said.
Soil samples showed one site with radiation from Cesium-137 exceeding 5 million becquerels per square meter about 25 kilometers to the northwest of the Fukushima plant, according to Kawata’s study. Five more sites about 30 kilometers from Dai- Ichi showed radiation exceeding 1.48 million becquerels per square meter.
When asked to comment on the report today, Tokyo Electric spokesman Tetsuya Terasawa said the radiation levels are in line with those found after a nuclear bomb test, which disperses plutonium. He declined to comment further.
Sadly, we learn that in Belarus which was most affected by the Chernobyl explosion “about 23 percent of the country’s land was contaminated, according to a Belarus embassy website. About a fifth of the country’s agricultural land has been rendered unusable, which means some $700 million in losses each year.”
John M. Glionna and Kenji Hall, of the Los Angeles Times files this report from Tokyo
The parents were furious: Why, they demanded, had Japanese officials raised the acceptable level of radiation exposure for schoolchildren near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant?
At a government-convened meeting here this month, parents demanded that authorities reinstate stricter radioactivity standards and begin stripping the top layer of soil off contaminated playgrounds. But officials stood their ground. ... Under the new guidelines, the government set the upper limit of safe radiation exposure for children at 20 millisieverts per year, from 1 millisievert previously.
On Friday, Japan's Education Ministry pulled an about-face, announcing plans to return exposure limits for children at school to 1 millisievert a year. Officials said they would also cover the cost of removing the surface soil from schoolyards where the limit is exceeded.
The government's initial raising of the exposure limit for schoolchildren prompted one key nuclear advisor to quit in protest. At times fighting back tears, Toshio Kosako, a professor at the University of Tokyo and an expert on radiation exposure, told reporters in late April that he was against what he considered inappropriate radiation limits.
Do you also get the impression that the political systems of other countries respond more quickly and objectively to changes in the external evironment? We need to have Congressional reviews of safety issues in US nuclear reactors, and lessons learned from Japan. We should support Representative Ed Markey who seems to be leading the way, in US Congressional Oversight.
I am going to write Ed Markey asking him to explain his plans to us, so we better know how to support him in leading us towards the best, most scientific, and objective examination of these issues possible.
He is a Kossack who has posted many excellent articles here. Don't you agree it's time to hear from him again, soon?
4:04 AM PT: I just wrote Ed Markey whose Kossack UID here is Congressman Ed Markey alerting him to our support here for his efforts. But, I forgot to link the article. I've included here also, a link to his Congressional Website, and the update from his Website, on his recent Nuclear Safety efforts.
Dear Congressman Ed Markey,
Thank you for your much appreciated efforts to initiate congressional oversight hearings on nuclear safety issues, and lessons learned from the Fukushima accidents, before we license or relicense, any more nuclear reactors.
Please check out this most recent of many articles I've written supporting your efforts.
I've promised our Kossacks that I would ask you to write another diary here, updating us on your most recent efforts, and letting us know how we can assist you in leading America to safer, wiser, and more cost efficient sustainable, clean, and renewable energy options such as solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, conservastion, and efficiency improvements through technological advance.
Thank you for you excellent leadership.
The HoundDog from Daily Kos.
Here is Ed Markeys congressional website link
From Ed Markey's Website
Nuclear Plant Safety
The ongoing disaster in Japan highlights the fragility of nuclear power plants and the potential consequences associated with a radiological release caused by earthquake-related damage. Our nation must ensure its nuclear power plants can withstand a catastrophic event and abide by the absolute highest standards for safety.
In the last few weeks, Rep. Markey has written to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking for more information on the impact of Japan’s earthquake on its nuclear facilities and implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. Rep. Markey also urged Pres. Obama to consider specific policies here in the US to ensure increased nuclear safety.
Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 5:22 PM PT: In the previous version of this diary, I used too many quotations from the LA Times, thereby unintentionally, breaking the Daily Kos "Fair Use" guidelnes and potentially infringing on the copyrights of the LA Times.
I've editted that section down, in this version.
I apologize to the LA Times and Daily Kos community, for this transgression.