Nuclear Power news

Entergy reports radioactive tritium leak at Indian Point

(Reuters) - Entergy Corp said on Wednesday it found elevated levels of tritium, a weak radioactive isotope of hydrogen, in groundwater samples at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York state.

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French energy law could close third of EDF's reactors: report

PARIS (Reuters) - France's energy transition law could force state-controlled utility EDF to close up to a third of its 58 nuclear reactors by 2025, the state audit office said in its annual report on Wednesday.

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U.S. budget proposes scrapping plutonium disposal project

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday proposed scrapping a multibillion project in South Carolina to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium by turning it into fuel for nuclear reactors, and moved to bury the waste in New Mexico instead.

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Japanese volcano erupts, nearby nuclear plant unaffected

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese volcano about 50 km (30 miles) from a nuclear plant erupted on Friday, shooting ash nearly 2 km into the night sky along with fountains of lava, but there were no immediate report of damage and operations at the power station were not affected.

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Evaluating the Paris Deal

Hope and failure coexist in the Paris climate agreement. One may want to curse or cheer the deal, but it is history now, and we have to get on with it. The agreement provides an opportunity to assess our ecological progress and prepare to be effective in the future.

The journey to Paris

The road to a Paris climate agreement began two centuries ago in Paris, at the French Academy of Science, when Joseph Fourier researched ice age cycles and determined that atmospheric gases trap solar heat. A generation later, in 1896, Swedish chemist Svente Arrhenius calculated that doubling atmospheric CO2 would increase Earth's average temperature by 5-6°C.

Governments at the time showed no visible interest, as cheap energy from coal, oil, and gas fuelled the Industrial Revolution and accelerated population growth, consumption, and waste, especially carbon dioxide. By the 1950s, scientists understood complex climate feedbacks, including methane release and forest cover, and warned of a methane release from melting permafrost.

The emerging environmental movement caught on quickly. In 1964, Murray Bookchin, warned in Ecology and Revolutionary Thought, that "carbon dioxide … will lead to rising atmospheric temperatures … more destructive storm patterns, … melting of the polar ice caps… rising sea levels, and the inundation of vast land areas." A Science Advisory Committee report to US president Lyndon Johnston stated, "The melting of the Antarctic ice cap would raise sea level by 400 feet," and warned of "marked changes in climate, not controllable through local or national efforts."

In 1979, over a century after Fourier had identified the risk, the United Nations convened the world's first Climate Conference in Geneva. In that same year, British scientist James Lovelock sent the nascent Greenpeace Foundation a hand-drawn graph of atmospheric CO2 rising. We pinned the graph to the wall at our first office in Vancouver and opened a climate file.

In 1988, the hottest on record at that time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of a 2-5°C average temperature increase during the next century, and urged governments to reduce carbon emissions. The following year, the petroleum industry began funding the climate denial campaign to cast doubt on the previous 150 years of science. The fight was on.

Siberia speaks

The IPCC met in Kyoto in 1990, the year intended to serve as the baseline for future carbon emissions reductions, but that is not how things turned out. Two years after Kyoto, in Rio, the nations formally recognized the risk and agreed to a "framework" for a deal. That framework appeared a quarter-century ago. Compare the pace of climate action to the pace at which human enterprise built a nuclear bomb after discovering the science that made it possible.

In 1995, as the Antarctic ice shelves began breaking up, the UN sponsored the first Conference of the Parties (COP 1) in Berlin. Two years later, the parties agreed to a Kyoto Protocol for action, but the emission targets remained too weak to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gases. The US refused to ratify the deal, Canada withdrew, the UK and Australia missed their targets, and global carbon emissions continued to increase. Throughout the 1990s, nations signed about 15 international climate agreements every month, thousands of deals, none of which slowed total carbon emissions.

Then, in 2008, the International Siberian Shelf Study recorded methane — which traps 70-times the heat of CO2 within a 20 year period — rising from the arctic shelf, as scientists and ecologists had warned, and which threatened runaway global heating. The study estimated some 1,400 billion tons (Gt) of carbon locked in Arctic permafrost methane, and that a "highly possible" sudden release of 50 Gt would increase atmospheric methane by a factor of twelve. The following year, Woods Hole scientists predicted warming of 5 to 7°C this century, at which point runaway heating would be well underway.

When scientists first understood global warming, in the 1880s, human industry emitted some 50 million tons of carbon annually. As delegates assembled in Paris, in December 2015, global carbon emissions had grown by 200-times and reached over 10 billion tons annually. Japan's Meteorological Agency recorded December temperatures at 1.4 C above 1890, reflecting a strong El Niño year and continued greenhouse gas accumulation. Methane from melting permafrost had pushed the atmospheric gas heat forcing to an equivalent of 485 parts per million (ppm) of CO2, compared to pre-industrial 280ppm. For the first time in recorded human history, the North Pole could be observed melting in mid-winter.


In Paris, after 36 years of climate meetings, world governments targeted a maximum warming to 2°C, and even mentioned an "effort" to limit warming to 1.5°C. Nations submitted voluntary pledges to contribute to this effort. Predictably, the governments involved, and many environmentalists, celebrated the Paris deal as an historical moment. Time will tell, but governments are in the business of being popular, and as serious ecologists, we have a responsibility to be realistic.

The Paris "deal" is not actually a deal, as it remains non-binding. Since the 1990 Kyoto climate meeting, global emissions have increased by 67 percent. Government climate promises have a poor historic track record.

Secondly, talk about a 1.5° or 2°C warming limit may be delusional. To remain below 2°C, humanity can emit no more than about 771 Gt of carbon (2,900 Gt of carbon-dioxide). We have already emitted about two-thirds of that, emissions are still growing at about 2% per year, and at this rate, we would reach the carbon limit around 2040. The 2°C warming may already be baked into the cake.

If every nation signing the Paris agreement actually met its goal, we would still reach the limit around 2050, well on our way to 3°C or more. According to Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, at the University of Manchester, the combined pledges will result in a 4-6°C temperature increase, a 40-50% decline in agriculture, more droughts and violent storms, sea rise, and flooding. We already observe signs of potential runaway heating at 1°C, so at 2°C or more, we risk losing our ability to change the trend.

Furthermore, the pledges are not effective until 2020, so the nations are committing to five years of doing nothing. Steffen Kallbekken, Director of the Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy, explains, "by the time the pledges come into force in 2020, we will probably have used the entire carbon budget consistent with 1.5°C warming."

In the 1960s, when scientists warned political leaders, Earth's temperature was warming at about + 0.3°C/century. Today, fifty years later, Earth's temperature is warming at the rate of about +1.4°C/century. If this was our child, in bed with a fever, would we not feel the urgency and question our strategy?


The greater challenge, of course, is that global warming is a symptom, just as a child's temperature is a symptom. We need to understand and treat the underlying cause.

Global warming, species decline, desertification, nutrient cycle disruption, and so forth are symptoms telling us humanity has overshot the capacity of Earth's ecosystem to provide resources and process our waste. To reverse any of these trends, human enterprise, particularly the rich industrial nations, have to stop growing and ultimately must contract both population and consumption trends.

Pope Francis emerged as the leader who most clearly understood the deeper dilemma: "Even to limit warming below 3°C," Francis said, "a radical transformation of capitalism will be necessary." No governments, and few environmental groups, appear willing to accept this conclusion. Capitalism demands growth, but when a species overshoots its habitat, nature will insist that it stop growing, and nature doesn't negotiate.

As Albert Bates wrote in Paris Scherzo, "The Paris climate conference is really an economic conference, perched on the brink of a market crash in the fossil fuel sector." Some observers credited the Paris agreement with signalling the "end of the fossil fuel era," but the fossil fuel industry was already in decline, chasing the dregs of expensive, low-net-energy tar sands crude oil and shale gas, and fighting trillion-dollar wars to hang onto the declining mideast oil fields. M. King Hubbert had predicted this as the end of the fossil fuel era in the 1950s. The fossil fuel era will end, and we will build more renewable energy systems, but the fossil fuel producers show no signs of slowing down production.

Most nations in Paris did not promise to reduce emissions at all, but rather promised to improve "emissions efficiency," which means emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or economic activity. So, if a nation's economy is growing at 4% per year, and they reduce carbon emissions growth to 3% per year, they can claim to be improving "emissions efficiency," even though their carbon emissions would still double in about 23 years. Some nations measure emission targets against "business as usual," based on their own expected growth rate, and in both cases, emission can continue to rise.

Bolivia and Costa Rica, however, showed that they understand the deeper challenges. Bolivia pledged to end illegal deforestation by 2020 and to double their renewables to 80% of national supply by 2030. They formally rejected neoliberal capitalism, including carbon market schemes that help rich nations hog the carbon budget. Instead, they proposed a strict carbon budget consistent with the 2°C goal, with most of that budget available to the world's developing nations.

Costa Rica used a "business as usual" formula that equalled a real 25% reduction from 2012 emissions, and they expect to be carbon neutral by 2021, partially through reforestation. However, Bolivia and Costa Rica together comprise about 1.3% of global carbon emissions, so even if they reduced their emissions by half, global emissions would keep growing.

China, the emissions champion, producing about 24% of world carbon, promised to cut emissions versus GDP by 60% of 2005 levels. However, for two decades, China's GDP has doubled roughly every eight years, and both China and the International Monetary Fund project growth to continue. China's emissions could double by 2030, when they claim the emissions might level off. China makes no promise of reducing actual emissions.

The US, Europe, and their NATO allies Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, comprise another quarter of world emissions, and they've pledged to try to reduce emissions, albeit with plenty of loopholes and exclusions. The US pledged to reduce domestic emissions 26% versus 2005, within ten years, not including their military, aviation, and transport emissions. Canada promised a 30% reduction by 2030, but new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returned home from Paris and began hedging on tar sands pipelines for the sake of the struggling Canadian economy. Australia pledged 26% emissions reduction by 2030, but the Australian Financial Review stated that coal exports would continue "rising quite significantly," undermining that pledge.

The EU pledged a 40% reduction in domestic emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, a more ambitious target. The EU has already reduced emissions by 20% since 1990, although this reduction is partially due to economic recession and it excludes military, deforestation, and land use changes. The EU provides a tenuously hopeful sign, but not nearly enough to avoid a 2°C warming.

The language of "domestic reductions" provides another loophole. Although the earlier Copenhagen draft included aviation and shipping emissions, equal to Britain and Germany combined, the Paris agreement exempts both and exempts military emissions. Global militarism remains the world's largest fossil fuel consumer, and maritime shipping is the 6th largest emitter. According to the Sail Transport Network, just 16 of the largest ships, from the world fleet of some 90,000 large cargo ships, emit as much pollutants as all the world's cars. They get a pass.

Tech dreams

The Paris agreement attempts to cover up these failures by invoking future geo-engineering technologies, sometime after 2050, to pull carbon back from the atmosphere. Kevin Anderson calls this take-back scheme a "fantasy," and Canadian energy geologist David Hughes says, "The IPCC realizes it is politically incorrect to tell people the truth. The outrageous assumption of massive amounts of CCS [carbon capture and storage] is just a convenient technofix to balance the books in its scenarios, even though it is likely impossible."

Naomi Klein called the agreement "scientifically inadequate," noting that the deal, even if achieved, would lead to a 3-4°C warming. The New Internationalist calls the Paris agreement an "epic fail," and a "disaster" for world's most vulnerable people. The agreement only mentions indigenous groups in a comment about indigenous ecological knowledge, without any commitment to protect that knowledge by protecting those communities. The UK, Norway, US, and EU all objected to any binding indigenous recognition.

Earth's advocates have nothing to apologize for by addressing these troubling realities. Asking for better is not asking for perfection, and exposing the loopholes in the Paris deal is not "pessimism," but realism. For the environmental movement, the Paris experience simply sends us back to work. We know a better world is possible. A realistic path for getting there remains the challenge. Patting ourselves on the back may not help.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Doomsday Clock stays unchanged at three minutes to midnight

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iran nuclear deal and movement on climate change prompted the scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe, to keep it unchanged on Tuesday at three minutes to midnight.

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Nuclear plants along Mississippi, Missouri rivers not seen hurt by heavy rain -NRC

(Reuters) - The nuclear plants along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers are not expected to be adversely affected by flooding and heavy rains, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday.

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Japan court clears way to restarting Kansai Electric nuclear plants

FUKUI, Japan (Reuters) - A Japanese court on Thursday cleared the way for Kansai Electric Power Co to restart four nuclear reactors, rejecting legal claims against Japan's second-biggest utility to keep the reactors idled over safety concerns.

Read more [Reuters]

Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey

Dear Friends, 

As I look out my window here in Amsterdam, winter is nearly here, and with it comes the retreat of another year, and the passing of what has been to make way for the spring and the new. As the days get shorter and the weather colder, I'm thinking ahead to days of renewal and new beginnings.

As many of you know, I'm soon moving on from my post as Executive Director of Greenpeace International. I don't think of it as leaving Greenpeace, however. I think of it as exchanging my lofty title for a far more powerful one: that of a Greenpeace Volunteer. It's been an amazing journey with all of you, and I've loved every minute of challenge, every day of struggle, every week of progress, every month of triumph, every year we've been building a better world together.

It's hugely gratifying to be able to depart knowing the Paris climate agreement unanimously signalled the end of the era of fossil fuels by 2050. As imperfect as the agreement may be in how we get there, it marks a stark contrast and a huge advance over my first days with Greenpeace at the Copenhagen climate summit, and it gives me some small notion of closure: the world has taken an important step down a very long and difficult road, but the journey has now unquestionably begun.

Greenpeace had me stepping out of my comfort zone many times. And that, of course, is the place where you learn the most about yourself, when you stand at that line between courage and fear, weighing personal risk against what you believe to be right. I've spoken to so many of you who have had the same experience. People who spoke out, or stood up, who volunteered or took some small step or giant leap for the sake of a better future. So often those steps and leaps take us beyond what we thought we'd ever do – either because we were inspired, or angered, or feeling a bond of unity with others. If anything Greenpeace has ever done has catalysed one of those moments, we're doing our job. We're setting off a chain reaction of contagious courage.

For me, a series of ever escalating life choices eventually led me to a moment I will always cherish from my time at Greenpeace: the boarding of an oil rig in the Arctic, having an icy water cannon trained on me as I struggled to climb a ladder to oppose the absurdity of Arctic oil drilling. Experiences like that change you. And by “like that” I don't necessarily mean that extreme form of activism: I mean any action that disrupts your sense of self or your idea of who you are and puts it in a larger context of the human journey and the future of our world. It resets your notion of what you're capable of. And in so doing resets your notion of what humanity is capable of. And in so doing redefines your sense of what's possible.

I came to Greenpeace wanting to break the dichotomy between the environment and development. I knew, rationally, that there is a link between addressing poverty and human rights and addressing environmental injustice and climate injustice. But my time with Greenpeace drove this awareness deeper into my heart. Once you see it, you can't stop seeing it. From the woman who can no longer fish the African coasts for her family because European factory trawlers have emptied her seas, to the child in India choking on ash and coal dust in a village pillaged by the coal industry, to the infant breathing in toxic fumes in an electronic waste dump in China while his mother sets fire to a circuit board to scavenge components, to the devastated family living in a cardboard box after their home was destroyed by typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines: the people who pay the highest price for overconsumption and pollution are those who see the least benefit.

Greenpeace strengthened my belief in the power of nonviolent direct action and my conviction that civil disobedience is essential to addressing this core injustice, to bringing about a truly transformational change not only in the way we feed and fuel our world, but in how we think about wealth, growth, and value – how we reinvent the future in the face of what Naomi Klein has described as an incredible opportunity disguised as a crisis.

In the six years I've been with Greenpeace, we've secured so many victories – from Shell's decision to abandon Arctic Drilling to Italian energy giant ENEL's turning its back on fossil fuels. From dozens of major retailers agreeing to Detox their clothing lines to agreements with major deforesters to end peatland destruction in Indonesia. From Facebook's agreement to friend renewable energy to new Marine Reserves that have increased the size of our protected waters. But these are but small contributions to the vast changes that a far wider movement is driving – from the unprecedented court decision in the Netherlands that the government is negligent of its duty to protect its people if it doesn't cut CO2 by 25% by 2020 – driven by tiny NGO Urgenda – to Elon Musk's decision to open source the design of the Tesla electric car and the PowerWall smart battery, to crowdfunding campaigns for oceans plastic cleanup and prototype solar roadways to new models in the sharing economy to The Guardian's coal divestment campaign. I have found myself on podium after podium speaking from the same agenda of climate urgency as Sharan Burrow, the head of the global trade union movement. I leapt from my chair in celebration after reading the Pope's recent encyclical on stewardship over the Earth. From every category of human endeavour, from every continent, we're witnessing an awakening – an unprecedented conspiracy of courage and commitment to change.

To my successor I leave unfinished business and great challenges. The organisation is still licking its wounds from setbacks that have occurred on my watch – times when we have failed to live up to the values we champion. And while we can never promise to stop falling short of our own standards and expectations, we can commit to learning from those failures. They make us stronger.

My greatest hope is that my successor will continue the unfinished journey of ensuring that Greenpeace becomes more truly global and diverse, more open, better able to unleash the energy and creativity of our supporters and volunteers, more articulate about what we stand for and the solutions we champion, more cooperative in working with movement partners and using our reach to lift up the work of others, more willing to dare to risk – and achieve – the impossible.

As for me, I'm returning to one of the most beautiful places I know in Africa, Rustlers Valley in the Free State, South Africa near the border with Lesotho. There I will continue to work with the EarthRise Trust that is developing an activist school, ecological farming projects, educational development, and economic empowerment programmes. I'll be working alongside Greenpeace in the struggle against nuclear power and to reform the rules of the financial world to stop the flow of money toward projects which are holding back a more beautiful, sustainable, and equitable future for all humanity.

My friends, I leave you with a final thought. As you look around you, remember what the history of the human journey teaches us. The greatest struggle we face is not inventing clean technologies or fundamentally changing the way we produce value or measure growth: these are small challenges compared with how we have changed the world and our own civilization over the course of the few centuries that we've risen up. I refuse to believe that the pace of change for survival will be slower than the pace of change for profit. In times of war, in times of threat to our families or nations we've found unforeseen strength, and we've done impossible things.

But there's an essential ingredient. Without it, the burst of efforts and evidence of change that we see today will remain too little, too late.

That ingredient is hope. It's the belief that change is possible. I saw with my own eyes what happened to the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa once people in large numbers came to believe change was possible. I look around today, and I see more and more evidence that we can beat the worst ravages of climate change. It will take fast action. It will take courage like we have never witnessed on a global scale before – from banks, from corporations, from artists, governments, religious and labour leaders, the charity sector, the billionaires, and from every one of us. Every time the world takes a step forward, be it Apple powering all of its data centres on renewable energy, be it Obama saying no to Arctic oil, be it your university's decision to divest from coal, your neighbor's decision to grow their own vegetables, your parent's decision to volunteer for a cause, or your colleague's decision to eat less meat – whenever anyone makes a contribution to building that better world we know in our hearts it is possible, we have a duty. A duty to share. To tell the world. To make that courage contagious. Make it a norm. Make it an expectation that this is how the world works. Belief requires evidence, and the stories we tell one another evidence our beliefs: some stories propel us forward. Others hold us back. We can believe that change is impossible, or too expensive, or naive, and consign the fate of this earth to death by business as usual. Or we can fight back. We can stand up and say that a better world is not only possible, it's being built right now, by the individual and collective acts of courage of every one of us.

To all of you reading this, to all my colleagues at Greenpeace, to all of us working for a better world, thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I wish you strength. I wish you happiness. I wish you courage.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

California lieutenant governor orders environmental review of nuclear plant

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's lieutenant governor on Friday directed the State Lands Commission to draw up a plan for a thorough environmental review of PG&E's Diablo Canyon power plant, the state's last operational nuclear power plant.

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Japan’s nuclear watchdog isn’t policing its own safety standards

A watchdog that isn’t watching is no watchdog at all.

It emerged last week that Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is failing to conduct adequate safety checks at the country’s nuclear reactors.

It’s like this: in 2012, in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the then nuclear watchdog (more like nuclear lapdog), the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) was abolished. NISA was a branch of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and also had the responsibility to promote nuclear energy in Japan.

You can see the problem. An organisation that was supposed to hold the nuclear industry to account while promoting nuclear energy? NISA had to go.

And so the NRA was born with a mandate enshrined in law to draw up and police safety procedures and protocols that would aim to prevent another Fukushima.

In the light of recent events, it would seem the NRA is failing miserably in its duty.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced that approximately 2,000 cables have been incorrectly installed at two of its nuclear power plants - Kashiwazaki-Kariwa and Fukushima Daini (the sister plant of Fukushima Daiichi which was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami).

It was found that cables used for the day to day running of the plants’ reactors were not separate from cables for the safety systems as they should be.

It’s basic common sense: if the safety cables aren’t separate from the rest of the system and there’s an accident, the safety system is compromised along with everything else. If your safety system is compromised, you’re in big trouble.

The kicker?

The Nuclear Regulation Authority failed to conduct on-site inspections to determine if safety equipment cables were installed separately from other cables.

The NRA doesn’t conduct visual inspections of these cables! It relies completely on the honesty on the nuclear operators.

As we’ve seen in the past, this isn’t a very sensible policy. For example, TEPCO was warned in 2008 that tsunami defences at Fukushima No. 1 were inadequate but ignored and covered up the warning. We all know what happened three years later: earthquake, tsunami and meltdown.

This is just two nuclear plants we’re talking about right now. How many more might be compromised? How can the problem be fixed? The NRA simply doesn’t know.

“At present, we can’t deny the possibility that other cables are mixed at pressurized-water reactors, but how to handle the problem has yet to be decided,” it has said.

The Japanese government and nuclear industry are currently in a reckless, headlong rush to restart the country’s idle nuclear reactors in the face of major concerns about those reactors’ safety.

The last thing the Japanese people need is a nuclear “watchdog” asleep on the job.

The potential risks from this problem cannot be understated - but it is just one of multiple nuclear  safety issues that remain unresolved, ignored and brushed aside both by nuclear power utilities and the NRA.

In the coming months, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will conduct a review of the NRA - the first since its inception in 2012. If the IAEA were up to the job, its review would be robust, critical and transparent.

Unfortunately, we have no confidence that it will be. One international nuclear lapdog reviewing another domestic lapdog is no way to oversee an industry that, in the event of an accident, can threaten the existence of a society. That was the reality faced by Japanese Prime Minister Kan after Japan's Atomic Energy Commission gave him the then-confidential worst case scenario for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe while the disaster was still unfolding in March 2011.

The majority of the people of Japan do not believe that nuclear power can be made safe - one of the primary reasons that at the end of 2015 only two reactors out of a possible 43 are operating. Japanese civil society, including Greenpeace, will continue the fight into next year to stop further nuclear reactor restarts. We are committed to helping to bring about the energy future that is affordable, attainable and that guarantees no future nuclear reactor disasters or nuclear victims – and that is a Japanese society based on renewable energy.

In the year of the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident and thirty years after the Chernobyl accident the nuclear-free, renewable energy future is not only possible, but is what Japan, and the rest of the world, deserve and will achieve. 

Justin McKeating is a nuclear blogger for Greenpeace International, based in the UK.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Mini-reactors could crack nuclear industry's financing problem: Moniz

PARIS (Reuters) - Mini-versions of current-generation nuclear reactors could be the solution for the industry's problems in finding financing for new atomic power stations, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Wednesday.

Read more [Reuters]

Town mayor's approval of Takahama reactor restarts is premature and inadequate

The decision by Takahama Town's mayor ignores the Japanese people's constitutionally protected right to human dignity.

In making his decision to approve the restart of the Takahama 3 and 4 reactors, Mayor Yukata Nose has ignored significant unsolved safety issues with these reactors. He also represents only the host community – a tiny fraction of the many millions of people in both Fukui prefecture and the wider Kansai region. His approval can hardly be construed as meeting the need for public consent prior to restart.

Not that he had much of a choice. Takahama Town, like many nuclear host communities, has been held in economic captivity by the industry for decades. Instead of providing a viable path out of the shadow of nuclear risks, the Abe government and KEPCO have only sought to deepen their dependency for years to come.

Even with the local economic predicament in Takahama Town itself, the majority of town residents agree that potentially impacted people outside their community should have a say in whether the reactors restart – with over 60% indicating so in a recent NHK poll. The poll also found that roughly half of Takahama Town residents are concerned about the inadequate evacuation plan and are dissatisfied with the public briefings regarding any restarts.

The powerful Union of Kansai Governments, representing 21 million potentially impacted people in the region, has twice demanded a formal role in the restart process and issued lists of demands that need to be met prior to restart.

To date, those demands remain largely unanswered and unacknowledged.

Yet, even with this town's approval, the restart of Takahama 3 and 4 is barred by an injunction issued by the Fukui District Court.

The court ruled in April 2015 that restarting the two reactors, owned by Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO), would be a violation of citizens' constitutionally protected right to human dignity due to significant unresolved safety problems.

Put simply, Mayor Nose has given his approval to restart reactors whose operation is so risky in their present state that it would violate Japanese citizens' human rights, according to the unanimous decision of a 3 judge panel after weighing extensive expert testimony and technical analysis on the current unresolved problems.

The unresolved issues at Takahama 3 and 4 include, their potential vulnerability to earthquakes, lack of proper safeguards for their nuclear waste storage facilities, and the lack of an adequate offsite emergency command center.

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) has yet to complete inspections at the two reactors.

In addition, there is no feasible emergency plan in place. Sections of the only available evacuation road away from the area are in a tsunami flood zone.

Not only is Mayor Nose risking the safety of his own town's citizens but also potentially that of people beyond Takahama. The potential impact of a nuclear accident at the town's reactors stretches far further than the immediate vicinity. The Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters taught us that the hard way.

The Fukui prefectural governor has yet to grant his consent for restart. Let us hope he steps forward as a truly strong leader, for the people of Japan – not just in Fukui, but all those millions of lives at risk by these restarts throughout the region – and refuses to bend to nuclear industry interests.

Also, any consent given for the restarts must include all communities that are potentially impacted by a disaster.

It comes down to this: to restart the reactors without that broader consent would be yet another failure on the part of Japan's nuclear industry to learn the lessons of the Fukushima disaster.

And while that nuclear crisis is ongoing, decontamination largely ineffective and failing, and lives still in limbo nearly five years later, the people of Japan deserve strong leaders with the courage to stand on the right side of history and against this dirty, dangerous, and outdated technology.

Kendra Ulrich is Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

No place for nuclear waste: bearing witness to a dangerous delivery

When a Greenpeace investigation found that nuclear waste returning to Australia by ship from France has been classified as high-level waste by French authorities, contradicting Australia's claims over its radioactivity, we knew we had to act.

So this weekend, Greenpeace activists and volunteers followed the dodgy waste from port in Wollongong all the way to Lucas Heights in south Sydney.

Find out what went down on Storify.

Act now: Don't turn Australia into the world's nuclear waste dump

Write to Minister Christopher Pyne and ask him to rule out turning Australia into the world's toxic waste dump.

Rashini Suriyaarachchi is the Digital Communications Officer at Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

The critical state of Mother Earth, 2015

In September of this year, Chief Phil Lane Jr. (Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations) asked me to help prepare a document for presentation at the Indigenous World Wisdom Gathering, during the climate conference in Paris. The gathering is being held at Chateau Millemont, west of Paris. The opening statement of the Sacred Circle of Millemont was presented in this video: Convening the People. For the full document, please see "The Critical State of Mother Earth" at Four Worlds International.

For environmental activists, the Indigenous perspective may prove valuable. Some people find the full story of ecological destruction depressing. Of course, these feelings are legitimate, but I notice that most Indigenous cultures do not find this news depressing because they already know, firsthand, that industrial society is destroying the richness of the world their ancestors inhabited, the world that sustains our lives. These communities have suffered five centuries of European colonisation and ecological deterioration. They know that embracing the truth of our predicament helps reveal the genuine path to recovery.

Ta'ah, Grandmother, Tsleil Waututh elder, who participated in Greenpeace action to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and oil tankers in British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Zach Emery.

The introduction to the Millemont document and the proposed actions at the end provide a sense of this Indigenous perspective. Here is Chief Phil Lane's introduction:

Very Beloved Relatives,

More than 40 years ago during the early years of North American's "new" ecological consciousness, my grandfather, Vine Deloria Sr. had a conversation with one of his elder cousins on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. As his cousin loved to learn new words in English, he asked my grandfather to explain to him what the word "ecology" meant. "Well," my grandfather said, "you know, we have places where you can go and learn to read and study books. Then you learn how to write about what you have read about. Finally you learn to talk about what you have learned to read and write about!

"This is how our young people of today learn about life. Some people have learned this way for many, many years. After they have read enough books, written about what they have read about and talked about what they have written about, they are given a piece of paper that says they are a Doctor or a Wise Person of Life. These Doctors and Wise People of Life then get jobs where they earn a lot of money, so they can read, write, and talk some more. They even have invented machines that can look at things that are very small and make them look big. There are other machines they have invented that can look at things far away and make them look close.

"They even put different parts of Mother Earth in containers and pour them back and forth so they can find out more about the truth of Mother Earth. Anyway, they have spent a lot of time and money and studied Mother Earth for many, many years. From all this work they have made a new discovery. They found out that everything is interrelated. They found out that when you pollute the air which all living things breathe and pollute the water which all living things drink, you pollute all living things. What do you think about that?"

My Grandfather's elder cousin smiled knowingly and shook his head. "I was wondering when they would get around to this understanding! Just look at what we do to our beloved Mother Earth. We cut her hair where it should not be cut and rip up her skin where it should not be ripped up, and then we drill holes inside her and suck all of her blood out and put things inside of her and blow her bones up."

Then he looked deeply into the eyes of my grandfather, shook his finger and said, "And what would happen if you did that to your mother? She would die! And this is exactly what is going to happen to all of us if we do not learn to respect and understand the Spirit and Sacredness of our Mother Earth."

Fast forward more than forty years and it is clear to see that what our wise elders and visionaries have prophesied for so many years is now upon us. Our sacred Mother Earth – who gives life to all living things – is critically wounded, degraded, poisoned, and depleted by the activity of our Human Family. Colonialism, industrialism, consumerism, warfare, and a lack of spiritual understanding are primary drivers of this growing, relentless assault on our beloved Mother Earth. Our ancestors have long understood and wisely shared, that these destructive forces are, in turn, driven by greed, selfishness, ignorance, fear, and materialism.

In recent decades we have heard repeatedly, from the best of our world's scientific, educational, social, and environmental institutions, that our collective human activity is threatening the future generations of our children and rapidly destroying our Mother Earth.

A tsunami of evidence

The 2009 Planetary Boundaries report in the science journal Nature, showed that human activity has pushed nine critical systems – biodiversity, temperature, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, land use, fresh water, ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosols, and chemical pollution – near or beyond critical tipping points. They found that four systems – climate change, species loss, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles – have already crossed the safe, tipping point boundaries.

In 2012, Nature published "Approaching a State Shift in Earth's Biosphere," by 22 international scientists, warning that human activity is forcing a planetary-scale transition, far beyond simple global heating, with the potential to transform Mother Earth "rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience." Canadian co-author, biologist Arne Mooers, said: "humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst. My colleagues … are terrified."

Dr. William Rees, creator of "ecological footprint" analysis at the University of British Columbia, has compiled data to show that humanity has overshot Earth's productive capacity, using at least 50% more resources annually than Earth systems can replenish. In "The Way Forward" in Solutions Journal, Rees warns: "Climate change is just one symptom of generalised human ecological dysfunction. A virtual tsunami of evidence suggests that the global community is living beyond its ecological means." Rees points out that the human community is now living "by depleting natural capital and overfilling waste sinks." He warns that genuine solutions require that we change our economic system to "replace a culturally constructed economic growth fetish."

The effects of overshooting global habitats are now well known, including the critical case of climate disruption. The current crisis of forced migration and war refugees is partly due to degraded ecosystems that cannot support human communities. Over 1.2 billion members of our human family lack adequate water every day. Over 2.3 billion people, 1/3 of our human family, lack fresh, clean drinking water.

Warfare is the greatest single source of ecological destruction. The wealthy industrial nations spend some $2 trillion each year on weapons and military destruction, at the cost of millions of lives, destroyed communities, and devastated ecosystems. Imagine if these resources were instead expended on uplifting our human family.

Taking Action

All of this may appear to us overwhelming. Where do we begin? How do we change these dangerous trends? The Indigenous traditions can teach us about genuine solutions. Those solutions will involve a new modesty, not the ability to manage nature, but to become students of nature. Ecologists and environmental activists may find an important perspective in the following Indigenous recipe for change, which starts with recognising the sacredness of all life. This action plan was presented by Chief Phil Lane and others to The Sacred Circle of Chateau Millemont, December 2015, in Millemont, France:

1. Restore the sacred: We must remind ourselves and our Human Family, through living, sacred prayers, songs, ceremony and our ancient prophecies, that Mother Earth is our sacred provider of life, not to be treated as an endless storehouse, a limitless dump for our waste, and to satisfy our appetite for the material dimension of life. This includes preserving and protecting sacred sites world-wide and returning heirloom sacred objects that have been taken from their rightful owners. To ensure that these sacred sites and objects may again be used for their original cultural and spiritual purposes.

2. Youth Participation: Support the global emergence of the "Seventh Generation", as promised, by fostering youth participation, leadership, and wisdom in all decision making processes impacting all life on Mother Earth.

In the personal dimension, we can spend time with the natural world, let our feet touch the soil, and practice ceremony that honors Mother Earth.

3. Reduce consumption: This reduction of consumption must start in the rich nations, among the wealthy and comfortable, to restore the values of simplicity and humility. Our Human Family can live much happier and more rewarding lives with less consumption of Mother Earth’s body and energy.

4. Restore women’s rights to stabilize human population: We’ve grown past Mother Earth’s capacity, and our human population simply cannot keep growing. Our ancient relatives knew that their communities had to fit their habitat. Natural patterns of creation were practiced that resulted in extended families in balance with the natural world.

Today, over a billion of our human relatives are hungry daily, and 10 million of these relatives starve to death every year. We must stabilize the population of our Human Family. It’s essential to ensure women everywhere have equal rights and respect. Wherever women have rights over their own reproduction, and where contraception is freely available, the birth rate naturally declines. Universal education, social justice, and ecological justice allow communities to limit their own population growth.

5. Transition to sustainable energy sources: We must take every action to reduce and eliminate hydrocarbon energy use — coal, oil, gas — and build the renewable energy infrastructure: solar, wind, and hydro power, where it is acceptable and is approved through a process of free, prior and informed consent. Conservation will be an important part of any genuine energy transition, using energy modestly and carefully, to minimize rather than maximize energy consumption.

Nation states everywhere on Mother Earth need to remove all taxes and tariffs on solar technology and other proven alternative energy sources. In addition, nation states must increase carbon taxes, eliminate subsidies to the petroleum industry, and use those revenues to subsidize renewable energy research and installation.

6. Restore natural ecological function on a planetary scale: Reverse the decline of forests, coral reefs, wetlands, and other productive ecosystems. We must replant, restore, and protect the wild forests to provide natural species diversity to grow again, and to supply human communities with materials and energy for modest lives that are connected to productive living systems. To achieve this, we require a paradigm shift in economics, a shift from growth and extraction to preservation of the real wealth: our natural ecosystems. Rather than attempt to monetize nature, we must do the opposite and naturalize the economy.

7. Permit only organic and traditional farming: End the industrial farming methods that have destroyed soils and spread toxins throughout our environment. For our people, organic farming is traditional farming.

8. Build a strong infrastructure for public transportation: Eliminate cars and restore efficient public transportation systems, light-rail, electric trains, and trolleys. Rebuild our communities so people can access their needs by walking and bicycle.

9. Build Peace: War is the greatest consumer of oil and energy, the greatest contributor to ecological destruction, and the most destructive force among the Human Family. War benefits only the powerful, the wealthy, and the weapons industry. We must make peace a global priority, refuse to fund war machines, refuse to participate in war-making, and stop glorifying war. Eliminate the weapons industry that lives off the misery of the victims among our relatives. The realization of world peace can only be established on the full spiritual awareness of the Oneness of the Human Family and the elimination of prejudice in all forms, including anything that causes a human being or society to feel superior to another.

10. Restore and Promote the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: The industrial economies have consistently pushed Indigenous communities from their productive land. By restoring the rights of all Indigenous communities, of all members of the Human Family, who know how to live in harmony with the natural world, we take a major step forward in healing our Mother Earth. This includes the full legal implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and make the principle of free, prior and informed consent a universal standard for all members of the Human Family!

11. Clean Toxic Waste: All Nation States and Multinational Corporations responsible for generating toxic waste – including nuclear, petroleum, chemical, agricultural, and any other toxic waste – immediately develop a global plan to eliminate those toxins from all ecosystems, air, land, and water, by 2020.

12. Implement universal gender equality: The realization of full equality among women and men is a prerequisite of peace. The denial of such equality is an injustice against half of the world’s population and promotes harmful attitudes and habits among men, from the family to the workplace, into political life and international relations. Ultimately, any gender discrimination, including gender violence, leads directly to a destructive relationship with Mother Earth. There are no grounds — moral, practical or biological — upon which such denial can be justified. Only when women and men are equally included in full partnership, in all fields of human endeavor, will we be able to create the moral and psychological climate to fully realize international peace.

13. Seventh Generation decision-making: Facilitate decision-making by leaders, so that decisions remain beneficial for seven generations into the future, a policy known by Indigenous people as "Seven Generations" decision-making. In the Ihanktowan Dakota Traditions, the thirteenth tepee pole is the women's pole, around which the hide or canvas is wrapped. The other twelve poles are erected first, and then the thirteenth pole is lifted into place and the skin of the tepee is unwrapped around the others, covering all. Without this pole, of course, there is no shelter.

Scientific evidence shows that the toxic pollution of industrial culture is poisoning the wombs of woman-kind , infecting our future generations, causing disease, diabetes, obesity, birth defects, and cancers. This is chemical violence. These toxics are breaking the thirteenth pole, harming our women and all women, endangering unborn children, so that there may not be a seventh generation. Short term decision-making for money is the opposite of seventh generation decision-making.

14. Proclaim and implement Bioregional Marine Sanctuaries throughout Mother Earth as soon as possible.

Bioregional Marine Sanctuaries are named areas of Earth, Water and Air where natural animal populations are protected and restored to more than 50% of historic levels as soon as possible. Water quality and forest biomass levels are also protected and restored to very high levels.

Bioregional Marine Sanctuary boundaries generally correspond to natural features, such as watershed topography, vegetation types, oceanic continental shelves and margins. All rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, estuaries and aquifers are included.

15. Fully understand and recognize we are One Human Family: Since we are all part of the Sacred Circle of Life, we are all Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth. This makes every Human Being responsible for the wellbeing of one another and for all living things upon our Mother Earth. Historically, governments and corporations, after 21 years of climate conferences, have accomplish nothing to solve the climate challenge and have, in fact, subsidized the petroleum energy industry that increases climate change. We hold these governments and corporations responsible to make genuine progress, but we do not rely on them to restore the harmony and balance of life. The majority of the work to protect and restore the sacredness of life remains with each and every one of us.

16. Unprecedented, unified action: To reverse climate change and bring our Human Family back into harmony with the natural world requires unprecedented, unified action. Therefore, whether or not the nation states, multinational corporations, or international development agencies are willing or able to participate with us at this time, Indigenous Peoples and other members of the Human Family are moving forward with increasing strength and unity to rebuild and reunify all peoples and nations of Mother Earth, through the Natural Laws and Guiding Principles inherent in our Indigenous World View and Legal Order, based on a spiritual, enduring, and eternal foundation.

The New vision is an ancient vision

Finally, the Sacred Circle of Chateau Millemont Wisdom Gathering adds this closing statement:

It is clear that piecemeal ecology isn't working. We must recognise, as our wise Elders who walked the Path before us, that we are all parts of a dynamic, interrelated, living system. Our reckless industrial activity now disrupts these natural systems at their fundamental core. We are unraveling the very web of nature itself. Our Mother Earth is resilient and will endure, but our careless actions are destroying life for millions of other species and ultimately for ourselves. We must remember that the "Hurt of One is the Hurt of All, and the Honor of One is the Honor of All!"

We have critical decisions before us. Will we continue to walk the destructive path that has brought us to these growing global challenges, or will we choose to walk the life enhancing, principle-centred path of protecting and restoring the Human Family, our future generations, and our beloved Mother Earth?

The path we choose has clear consequences and the choice is ours. Our Mother Earth is in a Critical State. We can choose to urgently take unprecedented unified action to protect and restore our beloved Mother Earth, or we will witness the end of life as we know it, for ourselves and our future generations. As the age-old realisation of the Oneness of the Human Family and all life returns with greater understanding, it is clear to see that by choosing to walk the Red Road of love, forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation, and by standing up for our beloved Mother Earth, we will fully realise the fulfilment of the prophecies, long foretold by our Wise Elders and Spiritual Leaders.

Chief Phil Lane, Jr. (middle, left), Tsleil-Waututh Sundance Chief Rueben George, and Brazilian Indigenous leaders at the Rio Climate Conference, 2012. Photo courtesy of Phil Lane.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores

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Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores

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Renewables: the smart way out of crisis in Southern Europe

Even though autumn is in full, colourful swing and we’re slowly getting ready for winter in Europe, Greenpeace is turning up the heat and not letting go of summer just yet.

I still have a picture in my mind of hundreds of volunteers, tourists and local residents heading to the most popular beaches of Croatia, Greece, Italy and Spain, demanding that their governments protect their beloved holiday destinations from dirty energy and make use of what these countries are never lacking: sun and wind.

One would think that in Southern Europe, where sun and wind are so abundant, clean energy sources would be the obvious choice for energy solutions. However, the reality is quite the opposite, and most Southern European governments are responding to economic struggles with plans for new coal power plants and offshore oil-drilling. All this in spite of irrefutable scientific proof that we need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. 

The transition to clean energy is not only possible, but it is the best way to go. It’s a way out of the economic crisis and towards a fresh clean future where renewable energy ensures new jobs, enhances a new sustainable economy, protects ecosystems and mitigates climate change.

To show that this transition is possible, we commissioned expert studies in Spain, Greece, Italy and Croatia to prove the potential and economic added-value of renewable energy and energy savings projects in those countries.

So what did the numbers show?

  • In Croatia, we proved the multiple positive effects of adopting clean energy solutions at hotels, camps, schools and farms on the Croatian coast, islands and mainland. The transition towards 100% renewable energy would create several thousands of new jobs and help the country save € 4 to € 5 billion annually by ending expensive energy imports.

  • In Greece, despite the tough economic situation and strict austerity regime, our experts are showing that it is still possible to cut electricity costs, reduce energy poverty and provide clean energy. Following the energy efficiency and solarization plan that Greenpeace is suggesting, the Greeks would save billions of Euros and create thousands of new jobs every year!

  • Similarly, in Italy, on 20 small islands that are not connected to the grid, electricity is produced through dirty and expensive diesel systems. And since many islands around the world are facing similar conditions, the Italian study could be seen  as a model that can be used in other islands to calculate their own pathway to 100% renewable energy.

  • ​​In Spain, we focused on a possible renewable energy transition in the Canary Islands, which are far from mainland Spain. The entire archipelago is currently powered by expensive, dirty diesel generators. With our Energy [R]evolution scenario for the Canaries we proved that a switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050 is possible. We showed that up to € 42 billion could be saved by investing € 20 billion in renewable energy.

The sun is not good only for our summer holidays. It creates opportunities to revive economies and it’s a resource that can be locally produced and owned. It can also create thousands of jobs. It is time the Mediterranean countries show the rest of Europe the true power of energy from the Sun.

Join the climate movement

With only a few weeks left before the international climate conference in Paris we want to say loud and clear that fossil fuels must stay in the ground and be replaced by renewable energy.

Join the movement for a just energy transition and demand our political and business leaders make the big switch from dirty energy such as oil, coal and nuclear to 100% renewables. We can power our lives with energy models that protect the environment, are in harmony with our health as well as environment and are socially just and economically viable. Nothing stops climate change faster than our actions.

Tina Peternel is the Coordinator of the Solutions for Mediterranean Project with Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

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Saving the last Japanese dugongs

The home of the last few Japanese dugongs is about to be landfilled to make way for two airstrips - part of the expansion of a US military base on the island of Okinawa. But a movement nearly 18 years old is standing up to say NO. That’s why our ship the Rainbow Warrior is en route to join them...

The first thing that drew me to Greenpeace as a young New Zealander was actually the “peace” side of things. Nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific had drawn strong opposition from local people and from Greenpeace. Ultimately, that opposition cost Greenpeace its ship, the Rainbow Warrior – bombed and sunk by the French government in an act of state sponsored terrorism – and the life of photographer Fernando Pereira. But it also helped win a nuclear free New Zealand.

I was at school, and we were studying the horrors of nuclear war, something that felt like a very real threat at the time. The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior made the issue a whole lot more real.

Many years later, after environmental studies and the start of a career in marine conservation, I found myself in 2005 setting sail with the second Rainbow Warrior to help protect Okinawa’s small population of dugongs, which were under threat from plans to construct a US military airstrip right across a coral reef.

It’s hard to imagine a more peaceful sea creature than the dugong, a hefty vegetarian sea animal that grazes on sea grasses, meanders around coastal waters and was allegedly the basis of mermaid folklore.

The campaign brought together everything that had drawn me to Greenpeace. Protecting endangered ocean creatures – not just dugongs, but the myriad of other coral reef creatures of Henoko Bay, including a huge diversity of clown fish (Nemo, and his various  colourful cousins) and other inhabitants of coral reef and seagrass ecosystems.

The struggle to protect Okinawa’s dugongs is a struggle for existence itself.

There are extremely few dugongs left, and Japan risks losing its only population. It’s also a struggle for peace for the people of Okinawa. For many decades, military bases have dominated the island, and have raised many concerns from local communities. Building a new military airstrip – on the habitat of the last few dugongs – is symbolic of military power bulldozing over local and natural values. Local values that include both “green” – protecting native wildlife and the surrounding oceans - and “peace”, building a society where non-violence finally prevails over warfare and conflict. 

For me, it's both happy and sad to return to Okinawa ten years later. It’s sad because in a decade those voices, despite their strength and defiance, have not been listened to. The plans to drill coral, pave over reefs with concrete and construct a monstrosity from which to launch military aircraft have not been abandoned, as they should have been in 2005.

But it also makes me happy. Happy to see local leaders standing up for peace and for the environment. Happy to arrive on board the new Rainbow Warrior – the third Greenpeace ship bearing this name – to Okinawa.

Once again, we have sailed here in support of the local people that want to save the dugongs, protect the ocean and spread peace.

Take action to save the dugong and Henoko Bay.

Karli Thomas is an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace New Zealand.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Earthquake risk analysis shows U.S. nuclear plants safe: NRC

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