Nuclear Power news

Nature thrives in Chernobyl, site of worst nuclear disaster

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - - Some 30 years after the world's worst nuclear accident blasted radiation across Chernobyl, the site has evolved from a disaster zone into a nature reserve, teeming with elk, deer and wolves, scientists said on Monday.

Read more [Reuters]

Green energy, not nuclear the way to go: German official

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Green energy is cheap in the long run and clean compared to "dirty" coal and costly nuclear power, a senior German energy official said on the sidelines of a Cape Town conference, at a time when South Africa plans to expand atomic power generation.

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International Atomic Energy Agency’s Fukushima Report puts the interests of the nuclear industry first

The recently released IAEA Fukushima Daiichi Accident Report on Japan’s on-going nuclear disaster in the wake of the 2011 triple reactor core meltdowns and catastrophic containment building failure reads more like nuclear industry propaganda than the so-called authoritative and balanced scientific assessment the agency attempts to claim it is.

The report draws conclusions when it should be highlighting major uncertainties and a lack of data surrounding the Fukushima disaster. It downplays the ongoing environmental and health effects of the disaster and misrepresents the current radiological crisis in the Fukushima region.

It’s clear that the IAEA is putting the interests of the nuclear industry before those of the disaster’s many victims. Its report does not accurately reflect the utter failure of the nuclear industry, and most nuclear regulators globally, to learn and implement the lessons of the Fukushima disaster. Not only that, it glosses over the seriously flawed nature of nuclear safety regulation in Japan right now.

And so Greenpeace Japan, together with Japanese civil society organisations, has sent a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano, challenging the conclusions of the IAEA’s Fukushima report as inadequate and flawed.

The IAEA says no discernible health consequences are expected as a result of the Fukushima disaster. This, while it admits uncertainties about both radiation exposure and its long-term effects.

The truth is that nobody knows how much radiation citizens were exposed to in the immediate days following the disaster. If the IAEA can’t give accurate figures about radiation exposure, how can it say there won’t be any consequences? This is political spin and PR, not science.

Not only that, but the report supports the Japanese government’s agenda to make it appear that things can return to normal after a nuclear disaster.

Why else would the IAEA seek to justify Japanese government policy of lifting evacuation orders in increasingly contaminated areas in Fukushima? This strips returning evacuees of much needed and deserved compensation and may force many to return to areas where radiation levels remain dangerously high.

This is all part of the propaganda push to overcome huge public opposition in Japan to restarting Japan’s 42 shutdown nuclear reactors. It’s about normalising the Fukushima disaster. There is nothing normal about the exposure rates that former Fukushima citizens are being asked to return to. 

Only a truly independent international commission that can investigate the causes, consequences, and implications of the accident can provide the Japanese people and the wider world with the unbiased information and accountability they need.

The nuclear industry will continue putting profit before people and safety – that’s what it does. But the IAEA should begin protecting people from the nuclear industry, not acting as its PR company. Justice demands it.

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Renewable energy for all. Is it possible?

A world powered 100% by renewables seems like a faraway fantasy. But is it actually possible?

"100% renewables!"

It's a buzz-phrase that loves being thrown around by environmentalists, passionate protesters and science geeks alike. From activists, to companies or start-ups spruiking their latest eco-powered device, renewable anything is a steadily growing industry.

If you're reading this then you already know the motivation behind this growing trend. Climate change, pollution, increasingly warm oceans, water and food shortages – these are just some of the factors that are driving us towards an energy poor world. If we continue towards this path we could be living in a world reminiscent of Total Recall – an oxygen starved "Waterworld" with only a handful of habitable cities. With fossil fuels being one of the biggest drivers behind climate change we know that if we change our practices now and turn to renewables we can keep within the 2 degrees safety limit that scientists warn us about.

But 100% renewable energy? Really? Don’t we need just a little bit of coal/nuclear power to keep the world spinning?

Greenpeace International, in collaboration with the Institute of Engineering Thermodynamics, Systems Analysis & Technology Assessment at the German Aerospace Center, have just made the impossible possible. A 100% renewable energy world by 2050, and it could start in as little as three months from now with a binding agreement at the COP 21 conference in Paris. According to the report, what we need is:

"A strong, long-term goal, phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear power by 2050 through a just transition to 100% renewable energy, as well as the protection and restoration of forests."

What's more, not only is this transition possible, but it will create jobs and is cost-competitive, with the necessary investment more than covered by savings in future fuel costs. The average additional investment needed in renewables until 2050 is about $1 trillion a year. Because renewables don't require fuel, the savings are $1.07 trillion a year, so they more than meet the costs of the required investment.

In jobs, the solar industry could employ 9.7 million people by 2030, more than 10 times as many as it does today, and equal to the number currently employed in the coal industry.

Already, the seemingly major polluting countries are seeing the investment in renewables. In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global energy-related CO2 emissions remained stable in spite of continued economic growth, thanks mainly to declining coal consumption in China.

Entrepreneurs – from the university educated to the village Einsteins – are coming up with clever ways to power and profit using nature's gift; and almost every day there's a "world first" – from a completely solar powered airport to a country running (almost) completely on renewables.

We also know that renewables have the potential to power up (pun intended) economies, and our "Solarize Greece" crowd-funding campaign is an example of how we're helping to rid the country of the burden of fossil fuels that are holding it down economically and for Greece to fight its way back out of the crisis.

Slowly but surely the world is waking up to the stark reality that fossil fuels are a finite resource with renewables being an additional economic and employment boost. What's more is that there are no major economic or technical barriers to moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2050.

So, maybe the fantasy isn’t so far off anymore.

Take action. Join the Energy [R]evolution!

Shuk-Wah Chung is a Content Editor at Greenpeace East Asia.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

The Story of Greenpeace & the story Greenpeace tells

The documentary film How To Change the World has just splashed out on cinema screens in nine countries. It is by far the best telling of the origin story of Greenpeace I've ever seen, and I've seen a few. As someone who has been with the organisation since 1982 – nearly three quarters of Greenpeace's life and more than half of my own, I've been reflecting on what's different and what's unchanged today from the organisation I joined. To answer that, I have to begin at the beginning.

It was the winter of 1980. I was living in a cabin in the woods with no electricity, no running water, no TV. WiFi and internet were yet to be invented. The snow had been piling up for weeks, and what was normally a couple hour's hike to the nearest town and back could no longer be completed in the little daylight New Hampshire had to spare in January. I was running low on supplies. But worse, I was running out of books. When I had finished reading everything I'd brought with me and started on the modest shelf left behind by the owner and the cabin's seasonal occupants, I picked up something that would change my world. Despite being as far out of the media mainstream as anyone could be, I got hit right between the eyes with a "mind bomb" that had been detonated ten years earlier.

The book I picked up that day was Bob Hunter's Warriors of the Rainbow. It was the story of the founding of an environmental activist group I had never heard of before called "Greenpeace." I was mesmerised.

Here was a group going out and confronting some of the greatest forces on the planet, exposing environmental abuse where it was happening, packaging up those stories for the medium of the day, television, and hurling them into the zeitgeist like cultural hand grenades full of dandelion seeds.

Whether it was a boatload of peace activists sailing into the forbidden zone around a nuclear weapons test site or a tiny rubber boat defying a harpoon or mud-covered monkey-wrenchers shutting down a toxic waste pipe, they were creating simple, black and white stories of ordinary people who believed a better world was possible, standing up against the impossibly powerful forces of militarism, social conformity, and profit-at-any-cost capitalism.

Like artists, they were amplifying the weak signals so many were picking up on that something was amiss with our relationship with nature. It's hard to believe today that this was once a genuinely new idea.

Every one of those stories, implicitly or explicitly, asked a simple question: There's the harpoon, there's the activist. What's going to happen next? And which side are you on?

When I answered that question, I took a step over an invisible line. I became an activist. Millions of people did the same in reaction to the stories that Greenpeace told, the work of Rachel Carson, Edward Abbey, the Sierra Club, CND, artists, singers, culture hackers and relentless investigative journalism that exposed atrocities of human suffering and inhumane abuses of nature. On the back of all of that, a movement was born.

Bob's story of Greenpeace's beginnings is now being retold in Jerry Rothwell's award-winning documentary, How to Change the World. It's the story of a rag-tag mission to stop an American nuclear weapon test in Vancouver's backyard and how it became one of the world's most powerful environmental organisations. One which was forged in the oppositional politics of the North American anti-war movement, tempered with the social upheaval of a global youth rebellion, and infused with the mystic hippy conviction that alternate realities co-exist with and can sometimes overtake the monolithic consensual hallucination we call "the way things are." Both the book and the film are endearing, and enchanting, glimpses into the brilliant and bumbling adventures of a group of friends, "not all of them brave or good," as they literally set course by following the moon and chasing rainbows, making history along the way.

Arguably, the naivety of which they were accused was their greatest strength: they were a bunch of young people who thought they could change the world. Not knowing any better, they did.

It's a story of a different time, and a different organisation.

Or is it? Over the course of my 34-year voyage under the Greenpeace flag, the world has changed profoundly. The cold war ended. Nuclear weapons tests, whose fallout was once declared "perfectly safe" (until it started showing up in children's teeth) are no longer a fortnightly global ritual. Antarctica was declared a land of peace and research, off limits to oil and gas exploration. Radioactive waste is no longer dumped into the sea. The commercial hunting of whales has been reduced to a tiny fraction of the former wholesale slaughter. The ozone hole is in retreat. Entire classes of toxic chemicals that were once simply dumped into rivers are now banned. Greenpeace and the work of hundreds of other organisations and the decisions of millions of individuals made these things happen, all sprung from the same inspiration that moved Bob and his bedraggled boatload of fellow activists.

And Greenpeace has certainly changed. Telex machines have given way to tweets. We speak to a globally connected audience in memes and viral video. Our ships can broadcast, live, from any ocean in the world rather than waiting weeks to deliver film rolls to shore. The organisation has spread from two North American offices that squabbled like teen agers to have presences on every continent with some of our most important work being done in China, Brazil, India, and Africa. We've learned, imperfectly, to squabble like adults.

We've also reaped the rewards, and paid the price, of becoming an institution in the global spotlight. Our name is a calling card that will get us in the door at most corporate headquarters — though often with an additional security check. Through the generosity of millions, we've been able to keep three ships and offices in 55 countries going without soliciting or accepting corporate funding. Greenpeace is the most recognised name in environmental activism, to the dismay of organisations that work for decades on an issue only to have Greenpeace get all the press, and to an entire movement's peril when we publically fail, as we sometimes do, to live up to the values we champion.

When I look at How To Change the World, I think the biggest shift is in that early, uneasy balance of power between what Bob called the "mystics" and the "mechanics." The mechanics won, hands down. The last time I saw a copy of the I-Ching on a Greenpeace ship it was my own. Spiritual journeys or magical coincidences — beyond the occasional rainbow's arrival on the scene at precisely the right time — tend to be kept below the decks and under the table rather than being a part of planning meetings. Maximizing wind power, fuel efficiency, overheads, and arriving on time in a port are what determine our ships' courses these days. There's no chasing moonbeams, and there are fewer people about who would align themselves with Bob's belief that "We were part of a reflex, summoned to action by the Earth itself."

Greenpeace is an organisation dedicated to change, and one which has perennially changed itself to meet changing times. Steve Sawyer, a former Greenpeace leader and mentor to many Greenpeace activists of my generation remembers talk of the "good old days" as far back as the 70s. But to my thinking, there's one thing that hasn't shifted a millimeter from when we started, and that's the story at the core of Greenpeace.

We may tell it in different voices, in different mediums, and through different actions. Where once we disdained the idea of ever taking our story to the boardrooms of our "enemies" or to any audience that required we wear a tie, we learned to work the levers of those strange machines. We learned the story was strong enough to go anywhere.

The Greenpeace story is simple. It's this: We believe a better, more sustainable world is possible, and that brave collective and individual action can bring it to life. What we say today is exactly what we said in 1972: we can change the way we feed and fuel our world, we can live in greater harmony with our planet and ourselves. It's that simple.

If there's a change in the wind these days, I'd say it's being truer to that message than we ever have been. It's reminding ourselves collectively that what binds us all together, whether we got involved thirty years or three days ago, is the fierce optimism of belief that change is possible, despite the apparent odds.

When it comes to real change, the long view is the only one that matters. Whether it was the overthrow of Apartheid, India's struggle for independence, the civil rights or women's suffrage movements, every one of those movements was once dedicated to a seemingly impossible goal. Greenpeace has been an effective voice of alarm, a voice of anger, a voice of "no," a voice of "stop." The world is heeding, albeit too slowly, that warning. At some point, however, shouting "FIRE" in a burning building starts to get in the way of actually putting it out, if that's all you do. Today, we're more defined by what we stand against than what we stand for. Yet at it's core, the story we tell is fundamentally one of hope, optimism, creativity, and courage. What does the green and peaceful future we want actually look like? That's a question I would love to see all of us who believe in a better future tackle together.

A friend reminded me the other day of William Gibson's saying that "the future is already here, it's just not very evenly distributed." A future which can support 7 billion people without destroying our future is already out there. It lives in Elon Musk's decision to open source the Tesla electric car and the "Powerwall" batteries which will enable intermittent renewable sources to reliably power entire buildings. It lives in Costa Rica's decision to abolish its military and repurpose its resources toward health and education. It lives in the Guardian's "Keep it in the Ground" fossil fuel divestment campaign – a thrilling acknowledgment that truth-tellers have a social obligation to activism when it comes to global peril. It lives in adventures like the Solar Impulse's historic crossing of the Pacific in a sun-powered plane without a drop of fuel, in ambitious prototypes like solar bike paths and solar roadways, in buildings fitted with vertical organic farms to feed their occupants, in the sharing economy, in the global investment community that added more new renewable energy capacity last year than oil, coal, and gas combined.

All that evidence reminds us that the most relevant lesson from How To Change the World to Greenpeace today is rule #5: Let the Power Go. As Paul Watson says in the documentary, "The real lesson of those days is that a small group of people can make a difference without many resources." That's never been truer than today. New ideas can travel the world at the speed of thought. Government policy and corporate behaviour can be changed by a few inspired people and a hashtag.

Any force strong enough to truly change the world won't be harnessed or held. It has to be unleashed. The power to change our future doesn't reside with Greenpeace, the environmental institution, it resides with every human being confronted with the fiercely urgent evidence that we need to embrace transformational change, or perish in our commitment to business as usual.

The forces of an entrenched status quo, be they oil companies, coal barons, or the beneficiaries of an economic system more attuned to greed than need will tell us that change is impossible. That it's too expensive. That it's naive. That those hippies in that documentary were wrong, misguided.

The forces that believe a better world is possible say otherwise. We say that when people in large numbers come to believe change is possible, change becomes possible.

Which side are you on?

Brian Fitzgerald is a Story Advisor at Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

German utilities defend nuclear provisions after report

FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) - German utilities rebutted a media report that nuclear operators could be as much as 30 billion euros ($34 billion) short in their provisioning for waste disposal.

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German energy firms need to set aside more money for nuclear exit - Spiegel Online

BERLIN (Reuters) - German energy companies are short of as much as 30 billion euros ($34 billion) of the money they need to set aside to build a safe disposal site for nuclear waste as part of the country's exit from nuclear power, Spiegel Online reported on Monday.

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World nuclear capacity set to grow by 45 percent by 2035

LONDON (Reuters) - Global nuclear power generation capacity could increase by more than 45 percent in the next 20 years but the pace of growth will still fall short of what is needed to curb climate change, an industry organization report showed on Thursday.

Read more [Reuters]

How to Change the World: Film review

Greenpeace has been documented in hundreds of books, films, television specials, magazine articles, blogs, university courses and doctoral dissertations. On 9 September, in some 600 cinemas in the UK and US, Picturehouse and Met Films release their new Greenpeace documentary, How to Change the World. This film, by director Jerry Rothwell, may be the best, most insightful film document yet made about the motivations, inspirations, challenges, and ultimate success of Greenpeace, which introduced non-violent, direct action to restore and preserve Earth's ecosystems.

The film has been seven years in the making. Rothwell uncovered hundreds of hours of original 16mm film footage from the 1970s, and selected historic, previously unseen moments from the creation of Greenpeace.

Since its beginning, Greenpeace has been a large, extended family. Nevertheless, the film is based on the written memoirs of Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter. He was certainly not alone in conceiving of an "ecology movement" on the scale of the peace and civil rights movements, but it is appropriate that this film follows his story.

Friends and family remember Hunter, who passed away in 2005, as a visionary. He saw the shape of an ecology movement before most people had ever heard the word. He wrote groundbreaking journalism, coined the term "mind bomb" to describe using media to inculcate ideas into human culture at the largest scale, and he helped fashion the Greenpeace tradition of creative direct action.

Rex Weyler, John Cormack, and Bob Hunter on board the Phyllis Cormack. 1 Jun, 1975

His two early books The Storming of the Mind and The Enemies of Anarchy provide brilliant analysis of the 1960s global social revolution and the impact of emerging electronic media. He chronicled Greenpeace's early years in Warriors of the Rainbow, won a Canadian governor general's award for Occupied Canada, and provided an intimate exploration of youthful angst in his novel, Erebus.

I worked with Hunter for a decade as a journalist and Greenpeace activist. He was not an organizational man, but he possessed genuine leadership, a talent for encouraging participation, devising dramatic protests, and making activism fun.

How to Change the World premiered at the Sundance film festival this spring, where it won the special jury award for editing and the candescent award for best social change documentary. The film earned top ten audience favourite honours at Hot Docs 2015, and best feature honours at both the Sebastopol and EcoFilm festivals.

Starting in 1971, the film follows the small band of friends from Vancouver, Canada, sailing into nuclear test zones, blockading Russian whaling ships, disrupting the Canadian harp seal slaughter, and launching the modern environmental movement.

The extended family is often in dispute with itself, ridiculed and mocked by outsiders, and nearly torn apart by competing egos. Through all of this, we witness the challenges of changing society, the resistance of the status quo, and the very human frailties of the heroes and heroines.

Later this fall, the film will appear on Sky networks in the UK, on Netflix in the US, and other cable networks internationally.

For more information about this film, please visit

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

VIDEO: Watch Greenpeace prank Finland's prime minister

See what happened when a Greenpeace activist turned himself into a representative of Russian nuclear company Rosatom and participated in a gala dinner with the Finnish prime minister.

The Tsar Bomba our guy Dima speaks about in the video is the nickname for the AN602 hydrogen bomb, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Its test on 30 October, 1961 remains the most powerful artificial explosion in human history.

What does this have to do with our campaign? Well, Rosatom and Russia are celebrating their 70-year nuclear journey. They have an exhibition of Russian nuclear technology in Moscow and the main piece on display there is a replica of this gigantic A-bomb.

So we built a replica of the Tsar Bomba that we call Fenno Bomba (Fennovoima is the name of the new nuclear plant that Rosatom is building in Finland). Then a team of our activists dressed up and took our Fenno Bomba in the very door step of a gala dinner organised by Fennovoima. There they gave leaflets and presented the Fenno Bomba to the guests (including the Finnish prime minister).

The gala was attended also by a "representative" of Russia's Rosatom. After the prime minister made his speech, the Russian wanted to say a few words. The rest is already a legend.

We wanted to highlight the absurdity of the fact that Finland is building a new nuclear plant with a Russian nuclear company Rosatom that displays a gigantic bomb as a proof of its nuclear know-how. 

Our action shows the farce of the Fennovoima nuclear project, but sadly the truth is even more unbelievable. The project is highly controversial, and has run into many problems before reaching the stage where it's still waiting for the building permit. Core issues include weak ownership, lack of financing and zero credibility, both in Fennovoima and its main business partner Rosatom.

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior: 30 years later, the first apology

Only a few months ago, Greenpeace supporters worldwide marked the 30-year anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, when French government agents used limpet mines to sink the ship in Auckland, killing Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira.

But it came as a surprise when Jean-Luc Kister, one of the agents responsible for the attack, apologised in an interview with New Zealand TV channel TVNZ and on the French news site Mediapart (French), on Sunday.

The apology came three decades late, and from just one of the agents responsible, but confirms that the attack was a deliberate act of violence against the ship and its crew during their protests against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Pete Willcox, who was captain of the ship at the time - and who is skipper on board the new Rainbow Warrior in the Pacific right now, as it campaigns against human slavery and overfishing in the tuna industry – reacted:

"I felt that Kister was sincere in his apology last night. And I accept it. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. People and governments alike.

"But Mr Kister was a part of state sponsored terrorism, and there can be no quibbling on this. This includes the late President Mitterrand and the rest of the team that both planned and executed the crime.

"Mr Kister wants us to believe that they were incompetent when they planted the bombs on the Rainbow Warrior, and that they never meant to kill anyone. I believe they were indifferent, not incompetent.

"What did they think would happen? They blew a 2 x 2.5 meter hole in the hull below the waterline. The boat sank in about 45 seconds. About one minute after the first bomb, the second bomb that killed Fernando went off. This was a highly trained military team. Could they really have been that bad at their job? They could have used, and I am guessing here, one quarter of the explosives, and sunk the boat, giving us time to get off.

"There is no doubt in my mind that had the bombs gone off 30 minutes sooner, we would have lost the dozen or so persons who were left from the meeting of the Peace Fleet crews in the cargo hold. They would have never have had time to get off.

"And I can not forget how this event tore a hole in the life of the Pereira family that has never healed."

In a statement (French), Jean-François Julliard, Executive Director of Greenpeace France, said:

"The French government’s planned bombing of the Rainbow Warrior was thirty years ago. Sadly, decades passed before just one of the agents responsible for the bombing apologised.

"While the deadly bombing did manage to sink our ship that day, it never managed to knock the courage a movement of millions still calling for a green and peaceful future.

"This confession confirms what Greenpeace always known to be true: the death of Fernando Pereira and the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior was a deliberate act of violence.

"This confession is a reminder to all that aim to silence the call for a better world – and all who seek to repress peaceful mobilisation with violence – that you cannot halt the courage of millions and you can never sink a rainbow."

Pete Willcox added: "While Mr Kister has apologised last night, the government of France, on behalf of the French state, never has – not to Greenpeace; not to the Pereira family. We are done asking. It up is to them."

The website CourageWorks is dedicated to the memory of Fernando Pereira and to the rest of the 1985 crew of the Rainbow Warrior.

Watch the 2005 documentary about the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, The Boat and the Bomb here. Or watch the teaser here.

More info on the history of the bombing can be found here.

Tom Lowe is Multimedia Editor at Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

The potential of wind power

Imagine an advanced, industrialised country with a sophisticated economy and high energy needs being powered just by renewable energy. To be precise, wind power.

This isn't some futuristic vision. It's already happened. For a short time in July, 140 percent of Denmark's electricity demand was met by wind farms. So much power was generated, Denmark was able to sell the surplus to Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Admittedly, it was an unusually windy day. But it shows the potential of wind power, which is the fastest-growing renewable energy. Greenpeace believes wind power could provide 20% of global energy needs by 2030, if governments take the right decisions to reduce fossil fuel-based energies.

Wind farms are sprouting across the world, from the US to Europe to China – the number of wind turbines have quadrupled in the last eight years. Wind power is the third largest source of electricity in China, providing more energy than nuclear. It's central to President Obama's Clean Power Act and some European countries are exceeding their targets for wind-powered energy.

Most wind turbines are on land, but there are ambitious plans for huge wind farms at sea where winds are stronger and more persistent, so even more electricity can be produced.

And with that expansion, costs are tumbling. The cost of using wind power to produce electricity has more than halved in the last five years, and even without subsidies it's now a cheaper alternative than coal and oil – which, in any case, continue to benefit from huge subsidies around the world.

So with technology improving and costs falling, orders are surging and the wind turbine makers are seeing record profits.

Every region of the world can benefit from wind resources. The US alone has enough wind potential to supply its energy needs three times over.

All that's required is the political will, and technological vision, to achieve a wind revolution.

Joanna Mills is a Communications Strategist for Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Solar power supplies 10 percent of Japan peak summer power: Asahi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Solar power generation contributed to about 10 percent of peak summer power supplies of Japan's nine major utilities, equivalent to more than 10 nuclear reactors, the Asahi newspaper reported on Thursday.

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Washington state sues U.S. over toxic vapors at nuclear waste site

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The U.S. government has failed to adequately safeguard crews involved in the decades-long cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, leaving workers sickened by exposure to toxic vapors, the state said in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

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Nuclear is not the answer to the phase-out of fossil fuels

A hundred and sixty thousand people made homeless, with limited compensation and the prospect for many tens of thousands of never returning to their former homes.

That's not the cost of a war, but of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. The financial cost alone could well be more than half a trillion dollars.

Broken lives and contaminated land. Is that the future we want in order to keep the lights on?

The nuclear power industry wants to think so, especially with the world waking up to the climate-related dangers of fossil fuels. It's trying to use climate change as an excuse to save and even expand its ailing business.

Most of the reactors which are operating in Europe, the US, Russia and Japan are coming to the end of their lives. No precise cost is known – but decommissioning costs could well reach $ 200 billion over the next 25 years. Even the International Energy Agency, which promotes nuclear power, says there are lots of uncertainties about how much the final bill will be.

New nuclear power stations routinely go way over budget and behind schedule during construction, locking consumers into higher energy bills.

And then there's the environmental cost. The world has built more than 430 commercial nuclear reactors since the start of the nuclear era, and we still don't know how to deal with the waste. There is more than 350 thousand tonnes of spent nuclear fuel rods, highly reactive and with a very long half-life – which means it will remain a threat for thousands of years. And yet, to date, no country has built a permanent facility to store it safely.

It's hard to think of anything more reckless.

The nuclear industry is in trouble. Globally it has been in decline for two decades – currently producing less than 11% of the world's electricity – and 4.4% of primary energy. That's the lowest since 1984.  

France (the European country which relies most on nuclear energy) has committed to reducing its share from 75% to 50% by 2025; Germany has committed to a complete phase-out of nuclear energy by 2022; and Japan's nuclear industry remains in crisis after the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, with one reactor operating and 42 shutdown.

The nuclear industry must not be allowed to use climate change to resurrect its business. Nuclear is not the answer to the phase-out of fossil fuels.

We should not be conned into accepting one environmental threat on the premise that it will avert another, when a future free of both nuclear and dangerous climate change is possible through the speedy deployment and development of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency.


  • "350,000 tonnes of highly-radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods - and nowhere to permanently store it. The true cost and legacy of nuclear energy"

Joanna Mills is a Communications Strategist for Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Japan nuclear power outlook bleak despite first reactor restart

TOKYO (Reuters) - The number of Japanese nuclear reactors likely to restart in the next few years has halved, hit by legal challenges and worries about meeting tougher safety standards imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a Reuters analysis shows.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan nuclear power outlook bleak despite first reactor restart

TOKYO (Reuters) - The number of Japanese nuclear reactors likely to restart in the next few years has halved, hit by legal challenges and worries about meeting tougher safety standards imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a Reuters analysis shows.

Read more [Reuters]

Ex Schröder Aide on 9/11: 'We Thought the Americans Would Overreact'

Michael Steiner was in Prague in 1989 and at Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's side on Sept. 11, 2001. In an interview, he tells SPIEGEL how the US considered a nuclear attack on Afghanistan and about finding a bug in his phone at the Chancellery.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Back from golf course, Obama tees up renewable energy, Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, fresh from vacation and nine rounds of golf in Martha’s Vineyard, launched into a busy two weeks promoting renewable energy and his nuclear deal with Iran.

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Back from golf course, Obama tees up renewable energy, Iran

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, fresh from vacation and nine rounds of golf on Martha’s Vineyard, is launching into a busy two weeks promoting renewable energy and his nuclear deal with Iran.

Read more [Reuters]

Evacuation advisory lifted for Japan volcano near nuclear plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's southwestern city of Kagoshima on Saturday lifted an evacuation advisory on three areas within a 3-km (two-mile) radius of an active volcano 50 km (30 miles) from the Sendai nuclear plant that restarted operations last week.

Read more [Reuters]

Volcano poses no threat to the Sendai nuclear plant – yep, we’ve heard that one before

After being nuclear free for two years, Japan is restarting its reactors. But there’s a problem – they’re old, unsafe, and oh, did we tell you there’s an active volcano nearby?

At the southwestern tip of Japan in Kagoshima Prefecture, sea turtles swim to shore between May and August each year, and dig into the sandy beach to spawn their eggs. Out of hundreds, only a few will hatch, and the newly born turtles will climb onto the sand and swim into the ocean to begin their new life cycle.

Among the deep blue sea, rolling green hills and beautiful big sky, it’s one of nature’s most precious attractions. But there’s one unnatural, glaring sight placed on the shoreline – a giant nuclear power plant.

The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is the first reactor to reopen since the devastating Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March 2011. Sitting on the southern coast with an “ocean view” its two massive cylindrical structures are painted with a blue and green wave – presumably to “match” the surrounding environment. But the locals are not impressed. After Fukushima, tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate, emptying entire villages. As a result, Japan closed all of its reactors and re-evaluated safety standards and procedures. Locals know the danger of having a nuclear facility right at their doorstep, and they want it shut down.

Having only been reopened on August 11 this year, the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant already poses a threat. Mount Sakurajima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes situated 50 km near the Plant, is showing signs of an imminent large eruption. Residents have been warned to evacuate and the Meteorological Agency has raised the warning level from level 3 to 4. The highest is 5, which means necessary evacuation.

Sakurajima Volcano is 50km away from the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Photo: Masaya Noda)

Despite this, the government, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), and Kyushu Electric Power Co., which runs the Sendai nuclear facility have all ignored warnings and have said operations will be as normal. But with the majority of people in Japan being opposed to nuclear, the stories from those who have experienced a nuclear disaster exposes the truth.

At demonstrations opposing the opening of the Sendai Plant at the beginning of the month, I met Ms Masumi Kowata, a teacher from Okuma town in Fukushima. When the Great Tohoku Earthquake happened, the event that triggered the Fukushima disaster, she told me about how a large number of people died because of lung cancer, illness and even suicide.

 Ms Masumi Kowata speaking at the Sendai nuclear plant protests

An ex-student of hers, who was working at the Fukushima nuclear plant when the earthquake hit, said to Ms Kowata, “The pipes of the nuclear plant are becoming a mess. A friend got trapped and died. I couldn’t help.”

The former student was forced to leave behind his friend. Ms Kowata grappled with the student’s pain. How many people were living in the pain that the Fukushima disaster had caused? How many have lost their lives because of the Fukushima disaster? How many more lives will be lost because of nuclear disasters?

Standing with the 2000 or so protesters I join their calls; and from my work at Greenpeace I know the cold, hard truth: our analysis has shown that even without lava reaching the plant, volcanic ash from a large eruption could cause a major nuclear disaster at the site. What is very clear is that this risk is totally unnecessary, and completely unacceptable.

Greenpeace Japan campaigner, Mamoru Sekiguchi, protests with local people in front of the Sendai nuclear plant on 11 August, 2015

We have operated without a single reactor online for almost two years. Sendai should be shut down immediately in light of the increased volcanic activity. Rather than putting citizens at risk of yet another nuclear disaster, Japan’s Abe government should be leading the way to a safe, clean, renewable energy future.

By Mamoru Sekiguchi, Greenpeace Japan Energy Campaigner in Tokyo

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Japan nuclear utility says no special precautions over volcano

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese utility Kyushu Electric Power said on Monday that it was monitoring activity at a volcano near its Sendai nuclear plant, but did not need to take any special precautions after authorities warned of the risk of a larger-than-usual eruption.

Read more [Reuters]

Fukushima operator's mounting legal woes to fuel nuclear opposition

IWAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Four and a half years after the Fukushima disaster, and as Japan tentatively restarts nuclear power elsewhere, the legal challenges are mounting for the crippled plant's operator.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan raises warning level on volcano not far from nuclear plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan warned on Saturday that a volcano 50 km (31 miles) from a just-restarted nuclear reactor is showing signs of increased activity, and said nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan restarts reactor in test of Abe's nuclear policy

TOKYO/SATSUMASENDAI (Reuters) - Japan has restarted a nuclear reactor for the first time under new safety standards put in place since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to reassure a nervous public that the industry is now safe.

Read more [Reuters]

WWF-France is sad to announce the disappearance of Philippe Germa

Isabelle Autissier, Chairperson of WWF-France, the members of the Board as well as all our WWF family are deeply saddened by the announcement of Philippe Germa's sudden disappearance at sea.
In this difficult time, each and every member of our teams would like to issue their prayers and wishes to his family.

Philippe was passionate about oceans and the marine world, and was more than a leader from the environmental movement.  He was profoundly humanistic, passionate about his ecological vision and desire to leave a living planet to future generations.

Named Director General in February 2013, Philippe joined WWF-France originally in 2008 as a Board trustee, and then becoming Treasurer in 2012. During this time, he actively participated in the national debates in France on the energy transition, on behalf of WWF-France.

Early in his career in the 1970s, Philippe was already convinced that  environmental protection would be in the 21st century what the economy was in the previous century. 

He  joined the "Friends of the Earth".  In 1981, he actively participated in the presidential campaign of the green party.  He was the inspiration for the slogan "En vert et contre tous", and participated in the campaigns against nuclear power plants in France.

In May 1988, under the Michel Rocard government, Philippe Germa was  appointed Technical Advisor in the cabinet of the Minister of Environment.  He worked alongside the Minister for 5 years, where he was the communications advisor, as well as responsible for strategic dossiers including legislative reform to eliminate CFC, the elimination of phosphates from detergents, the decree on the creation of eco-organisms including "Eco-packaging", legislative reforms on water quality, and waste...

In 1993, he struck out into the world of green business and set up an environmental investment fund as part of the Dutch bank ABN Amro. The company, whose first managing director he was, was taken over by the Caisse des Dépôts, later renamed Natixis Environnement & Infrastructures and now manages €1.5 billion of investments across some 60 projects especially renewable energy and sustainable infrastructures.

In 1990, he participated in the creation of the « Ecology Generation » political party.  He was promoted to the rank of "Chevalier" of the French Legion of Honour in 2004.

As our friend and a friend of our Planet, we already miss Philippe terribly.

Read more [WWF]

Japan to restart reactor in test of Abe's nuclear policy

TOKYO/SATSUMASENDAI (Reuters) - Japan is due to switch on a nuclear reactor for the first time in nearly two years on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to reassure a nervous public that tougher standards mean the sector is now safe after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan's nuclear regulator says no repeat of Fukushima under new safety rules - media

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear regulator said an accident on the scale of the 2011 Fukushima disaster would not occur under new safety rules imposed on reactors such as Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai No.1, set to be the first to restart since Fukushima, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.

Read more [Reuters]

Israeli Defense Minister: 'We Can in No Way Tolerate an Iran with Nuclear Weapons'

In an interview, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon explains why he considers the nuclear deal with Iran to be an historical error. He also addresses recent crimes committed by extremist Israelis.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: remembering the power of peace

More than most, Japan is a nation whose modern history is tragically linked to the quest to use and tame nuclear power. This nuclear history is not noteworthy for its successes, but for how it reflects humanity's capacity for destruction – and peace.

It has been 70 years since the United States atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 400,000 people, and affecting generations more through nuclear radiation. The horror of these bombings has been imprinted on our consciousness, holding at bay the further use of nuclear weapons in warfare.

These humanitarian catastrophes sparked a powerful peace movement in Japan that has been influential worldwide. It also gave rise to the country's unique 1947 "Peace Constitution," which renounces war and armed forces to resolve conflicts, except in self-defense. This legacy of peace has served Japan well, but it is now under threat. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for deeply unpopular legislation to allow Japan to fight in foreign conflicts, effectively rewriting a part of the constitution that has become ingrained in the nation's psyche.

The campaign towards achieving global nuclear disarmament meanwhile remains a long way off. At the start of 2015, some 15,850 nuclear weapons were held in stock by nine states: the USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Britain, France, and North Korea; roughly 1,800 of these weapons are on high operational alert, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. These nine states continue to upgrade their nuclear weapons and research new ones.

We only have to look to the political wrangling over the breakthrough nuclear deal with Iran last month to witness the intractable nature of debates over who gets to wield the threat of nuclear weapons. The lack of political will on achieving disarmament meant no real progress was made in the latest review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), held in May; the United Nations itself was forced to admit parties could not agree on substantive parts of the meeting's final document.

Greenpeace itself has a history that is intertwined with nuclear energy: Our organization's foundation campaign was the 1971 attempt by a small group of activists to stop US nuclear tests on the island of Amchitka, Alaska. Forty-four years later, our understanding of the dangers of nuclear weapons proliferation, and the attendant threats from nuclear energy, has only deepened, along with our core commitment to see it phased out. Nuclear energy, whether for military or civil purposes, is never peaceful. No nuclear program can ever be considered purely civil and always carries the threat of nuclear weapons development. And as the history of catastrophes in the nuclear energy sector proves, nuclear energy is neither safe, nor clean.

Nuclear energy, with its inherent environmental dangers and high costs, is increasingly unattractive as an alternative to fossil fuels. Instead, interest in renewable energy sources is surging in forward-looking economies and among investors, who know that continued fossil fuel dependence only drives conflict and distorts foreign policies.

But the threats are still there.

Nearly four and a half years ago, an earthquake sparked a triple-core reactor meltdown in a nuclear power plant in Japan, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes. After investigations, Greenpeace Japan revealed last month that radiation in one of the most contaminated districts is still so widespread and at such a high level that those who were evacuated cannot return home safely, despite decontamination efforts.

Japan's operating reactors are currently shut pending safety checks, but the nation is planning to restart its first nuclear reactor this month. These plans have met overwhelming public opposition, with polls showing the majority of Japanese people are against restarting nuclear reactors. A Greenpeace petition opposing the nuclear restart has gathered tens of thousands of signatures.

At the core of Greenpeace is a conviction that conflict, and the ways it manifests in violent struggles over our natural resources, will destroy our planet, and all of us. So we have to find better ways to resolve these issues. Our non-proliferation campaign over the decades is part of a global peace movement that aspires to social justice and environmental sustainability. Even as we see setbacks to achieving peace in our time, we are convinced that non-violent resistance and protest will achieve this change. History shows that peaceful opposition is far more effective than violence will ever be.

It should be unthinkable that the horror in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago would ever be revisited upon anyone anywhere in our world today. Neither should the trauma felt by Japanese people after the Fukushima accident – and also by thousands of people affected by other nuclear disasters, such as Chernobyl – ever again be endured. Our remembrances for this occasion are also reminders to continue our journey towards peaceful change.

Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

This story first appeared on The Diplomat.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Mikhail Gorbachev: US Military an 'Insurmountable Obstacle to a Nuclear-Free World'

In a SPIEGEL interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev discusses morals and politics in the nuclear age, the crisis in Russian-American relations and his fear that an atomic weapon will some day be used.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Japan's nuclear history and the power of peace

The fight against nuclear is steeped in Greenpeace history. On the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings we're reminded of the consequences of nuclear energy and the people's movement to campaign for nuclear disarmament to create a safer and sustainable future for the people of Japan and the world.

Greenpeace volunteer at the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in Japan, 2005.

Seventy years ago, the world's first atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, creating a "mushroom cloud" and killing more than 450,000 people. The horror of these bombings has been an eternal memory for survivors, imprinted on the consciousness of people around the world, and a reminder of holding the further use of nuclear weapons in warfare at bay.

A girl with her face painted with the words 'No war' during a protest in March 2003 against the impending US-led war against Iraq.

Fast-forward to 2011 when a tsunami, triggered by a magnitude earthquake measuring 9.0 rocked the northern part of Japan, resulting in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. As the largest nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, tens of thousands of people living within 20km of the zone were forced to evacuate, uprooting livelihoods and turning entire villages into ghost towns.

The Yokosuka peace fleet protest the presence of a nuclear armed US warships in Yokosuka harbour, Japan, in July 1990.

Despite government efforts to decontaminate the zone Greenpeace Japan investigations continue to find that radiation levels radiation levels are still far too high for former residents to safely return. In the Iitate district in the northeast of Fukushima prefecture, one of the worst affected and highly contaminated areas, radiation is still so widespread and at such a high level that those who were evacuated cannot return home safely. However, the Japanese government wants to bring them back, announcing a “forced return policy” by March 2017 and terminating compensation by 2018.

The Yokosuka Peace Fleet protest aginst the presence of the nuclear warship USS MIDWAY in Yokosuka, Japan, in April 1991.

The Abe administration seems determined to ignore the lessons of the past. It is doggedly pursuing the restart of nuclear reactors, in spite of the ongoing nuclear crisis in the Fukushima Daiichi impacted regions. In addition, the current Abe administration has changed Japan's long running peace constitution, which was adopted shortly after World War II, to enable Japanese troops to participate in armed combat.

Protest on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing in 1990, in Hiroshima, Japan.

We've seen the effects of war. We've seen the effects of nuclear. Greenpeace believes that peace is the best self-defence, and that war is the biggest threat to the environment. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, should promise 'no war and lasting peace' to honour the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and more importantly to leave a peaceful world for generations to come.

Junichi Sato is the Executive Director at Greenpeace Japan.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Honeywell unit probed in toxic gas leak in Illinois

(Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has begun a special inspection at Honeywell Metropolis Works in Illinois to assess a uranium hexafluoride leak that occurred during maintenance activity on Saturday evening.

Read more [Reuters]

U.S. nuclear operators try to save plants with carbon emission rule

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. nuclear industry has made a last-minute push to urge the Obama administration to protect the country's 100 nuclear units in its forthcoming carbon rule and prevent the early retirement of several plants.

Read more [Reuters]

12 photos that got the world's attention

The Quaker concept of bearing witness is one of the guiding principles of Greenpeace. Nowhere is this more manifest than in the images we produce.

One of the founders of Greenpeace, Bob Hunter, proposed the notion of 'Mind Bombs' – when an image is so powerful it is like a bomb going off in your head.

Today, in a world saturated by images, a photograph still has the power to move one to action. We take a look back through the lens at some of the Greenpeace images that have helped to change the world for the better.

In 1971, the environment movement became a modern cultural phenomenon with the formation of Greenpeace. Since then, the world has seen the environment become one of the planet's major concerns – never more so than today when we face catastrophic climate change.

This is a photographic record by Robert Keziere of the very first Greenpeace voyage, which departed Vancouver on 15 September, 1971. The aim of the trip was to halt nuclear tests in Amchitka Island by sailing into the restricted area.

The crew on board the ship formed the original group that became Greenpeace. Clockwise from top left, they are: Hunter, Moore, Cummings, Metcalfe, Birmingham, Cormack, Darnell, Simmons, Bohlen, Thurston, and Fineberg.

Non-Violent Direct Action was foundational to Greenpeace as it became a movement of people willing to put their lives on the line for a greater good.

In this photo, Greenpeace activists in inflatable boats protest against the dumping of nuclear waste by dumpship Rijnborg. Two barrels are dropped from the dump ship on top of a Greenpeace inflatable causing it to capsize and seriously injure Willem Groenier, the pilot of the inflatable.

The dumping of nuclear waste at sea is now illegal thanks to actions such as these.

In 1985, the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French secret service agents, tragically killing Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira. The ship and crew were in Auckland protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific.

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior caused global headlines, making people around the world realise the powerful forces that groups like Greenpeace were up against.

After a long and seemingly impossible campaign, Antarctica was declared a World Park, proving that dedication and never giving up will deliver results. This photo captures the final day of establishing the World Park Base in 1992.

This photo depicts Greenpeace's second occupation of Shell's disused North Sea oil installation in two months in 1995.

With the campaign against the Brent Spar oil platform we saw how good strategies and determined action can change the world – the dumping of toxic materials in the North Sea is now banned.

Greenpeace brought the reality of whaling to the world – and photography was an incredibly powerful medium for this communication.

Here, a Greenpeace inflatable boat hooks onto a Japanese whaling boat while it is pulling a caught whale on board.

Here, a small Chinese child is sitting among cables and e-waste, in Guiyu, China. This photo helped bring the world's eyes to the impacts of electronic waste.

Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, the US and Japan to countries in Asia as it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards.

This practice exposes the workers and communities involved in dismantling e-waste to serious, environmental problems, danger and health hazards. Greenpeace is strongly urging major manufactures to exclude toxic materials from their products.

This activist, part of the 2007 Kingsnorth action in the UK, went through a lengthy and historic trial resulting in acquittal.

In the trial, the judge summated that the activists were taking action for the greater good of humanity by preventing CO2 emissions. The case has since been used as a precedent and shows a shift towards global climate justice.

In 2010, workers attempting to fix an underwater pump after a pipeline blast at the Dalian Port, China, ran into trouble. During oil spill cleanup operations, the workers struggled in thick oil slick, and tragically, one firefighter was killed.

This image travelled the world as a defining photo of the dangers faced by workers associated with extractive industry.

Diver Joel Gonzaga of the Philippine purse seiner 'Vergene' at work using only a single air compressor hose to the surface, in and around a skipjack tuna purse seine net, in the international waters of high seas pocket.

Fish stocks are plummeting around the world, especially tuna stocks. Photos like this help capture and communicate the impact of overfishing.

This powerful photograph shows adult brown pelicans waiting in a holding pen to be cleaned by volunteers at the Fort Jackson International Bird Rescue Research Center in Buras.

These birds were covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead disaster. The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded on 20 April, 2010 and sank after burning.

The photo which brought the world's attention to the extreme measures the Russian authorities would take to protect their Arctic oil interests: a member of the Russian coast guard points a gun at a Greenpeace International activist as peaceful protestors attempt to climb the Prirazlomnaya, an oil platform in Russia's Pechora Sea which is operated by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

The activists were there to stop the Prirazlomnaya from becoming the first rig to produce oil from the ice-filled waters of the Arctic.

Greenpeace is a movement of people like you, standing up for our forests, oceans, and climate. Together, we're working towards a green and peaceful future where humans intellect results in sustainable innovation, not greed and destruction.

Your world needs you – get involved.
Read more [Greenpeace international]

Japanese Government – aided by the IAEA – puts nuclear victims at risk with forced resettlement scheme

The worst nuclear disaster in a generation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – which began in March 2011 – is still very much an ongoing crisis that will not be solved for the many many decades. Most of the massive radioactive releases were carried out to the Pacific Ocean by the prevailing winds at that time of year. But, on the nights of March 15th and 16th, the winds turned, carrying an enormous amount of radiation inland. Fukushima prefecture, especially to the northwest of the crippled reactor site, was heavily contaminated.

The Japanese government is undertaking decontamination efforts with the intention of lifting evacuation orders by Mach 2017. But Greenpeace investigations have made a shocking discovery: in Iitate – one of the priority targets of the Abe Government’s plan – radiation dose levels are comparable to those inside the 30km exclusion zone around Chernobyl. Even more surprising, this was true even around homes that had already been supposedly “decontaminated.”

What on earth would motivate the Japanese Government to do such a thing to the tens of thousands of nuclear victims and decontamination workers?

To answer that question, it is first important to understand a bit of background on Iitate:  – referred to as IitateVillage – is actually a 200 km2 area of heavily forested hills, mountains, and lakes, interspersed with farm fields, and homes. It lies 28 – 47 km to the northwest of the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in the direct path of the heaviest on-land radioactive fallout.

Although the Abe Government has stated on its website that it is “decontaminating” Iitate – even going so far as to say on the Ministry of Environment website that 100% of the forest has already been decontaminated – you have to dig through several different pages to discover that they are only referring to about a ¼ of the land area of Iitate.

In other words, of the 200 km2 of Iitate Village only 56 km2 are targeted for decontamination. Of that fraction, most of the focus has been on fields, 10-20 m strips of forest either side of public roads, and in the small immediate area around people’s houses.

Even the limited amount of targeted forest isn’t finished and will continue for at least another year or longer.

And what strikes you when you see it is not just the swarms of workers raking away at the woodland floor and trimming blades of grasses by hand in these first 10-20m of forest along the roads, but the enormity of the vast mountains upon mountains of dense, lush forest stretching out behind them as far as the eye can see.

You feel sorry for them. You also admire their intensive effort, meticulous work, and commitment. They are working in sweltering heat, in protective clothing, boots, gloves masks and goggles; not even their eyes are visible. And they are doing intense physical labor for almost no impact. Many of these workers are the residents of other impacted areas, like Minamisoma, who lost their jobs in farming, forestry, fishing or services due to the nuclear disaster. So many are working on their former home areas which are now heavily contaminated with radioactivity..

It’s surreal. And it’s heartbreaking.

On March 27, 2011, Greenpeace radiation investigations in Iitate had revealed extremely high levels of contamination, which led our organisation to urgently recommend to the Japanese government the immediate evacuation of the more than 6000 residents.Until that point, the residents of Iitate had been told that evacuation was not required. Evacuation did not begin until April 22. And still, eight weeks after the start of the accident, in early June, over 1200 people remained in Iitate. As a result, the people of Iitate were the most exposed to radiation of all citizens of Fukushima prefecture.

Iitate has since become an iconic area within the story of Fukushima: a constant reminder to the Japanese public and the international community that a major nuclear disaster is not confined to a small “emergency planning” zone around the reactor site. The impacts are far reaching, destroy entire regions and communities, rip people from the fabric of their lives, and cannot be repaired.

Over four years after the triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to any nuclear restart. The country has been completely nuclear-free for nearly two years, thanks in large part to significant public opposition, in spite of the massive pressure from nuclear utilities and the Abe government on local city governments.

However, these utilities are massively powerful and the Abe government is wholly in bed with them.

In an effort to reduce public opposition, Abe has been pushing forward the pro-nuclear agenda to 'normalize' a nuclear disaster. If the public can be convinced that less than five years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, citizens can go home and return to life the way it was before the disaster – with no additional health risks – then that is a powerful argument against the majority of Japanese citizens who oppose  nuclear reactor restarts.

The effort to minimize the impact of the disaster on the nuclear industry has been aided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency charged with the promotion of nuclear energy in its charter. The IAEA has sought to downplay the radiological risks to the population since the early days in 2011.  In fact, it produced two documents that can be said to have laid the foundation and justification for Abe’s current policy of de facto forced resettlement.

The reality is this myth making requires that the people of Fukushima prefecture – especially the people of Iitate – be the sacrificial lambs for the nuclear industry. This is not only wholly unjust, but is a violation of their human rights. 

They have already been exposed to more radiation than any other population in the region.To deliberately force the people of Iitate, especially women and children, back to areas where dose rates reach up to 20 millisieverts per year puts them at significant, unacceptable, and unnecessary risk.

After all, this is not the confusion that ensues after a nuclear disaster. This is a thought-out plan of forcing people back into their heavily contaminated former homes, no matter what the cost – both in wasteful, ineffective decontamination of these areas and in human health risks.

Compounding the gross injustice of the Abe Government’s forced resettlement policy, by focusing on creating a myth of a return to normalcy – and therefore investing vast amounts in expensive and futile decontamination – it is therefore utterly neglecting the contaminated areas that were never evacuated. Rather than addressing this urgent need to reduce the radiation risks to these populations, whom are currently living in contaminated areas, the government is more interested in deceiving the public in Japan and globally by creating illusions in places like Iitate.

What is clear is that the damage done to the people of Fukushima prefecture, and especially Iitate, is irreversible and irreparable. Their entire communities and way of life were destroyed by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, with no prospect for a safe return in the foreseeable future.

At minimum, we as Greenpeace, demand: 1) no lifting of the evacuation order in Iitate; 2) Exemptions and Government support for those determined to return after having full and accurate information regarding the risks; and, 3) full compensation for their loss of livelihood, property, community, mental distress, and health risks incurred, so that they may fully support themselves to move forward to pursue whatever life they so choose.

To keep the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in limbo, many crammed into tiny temporary housing cubicles, for nearly five years is inhumane. To force these citizens back into such heavily contaminated areas via the economic leverage the Government holds over them is a gross iniquity. And for the International Atomic Energy Agency to assist the Japanese Government in the propaganda war being waged on Fukushima victims not only undermines whatever credibility it may have, but amounts to it being an accomplice in a crime against the people of Japan.

Kendra Ulrich is Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

UK’s proposed Hinkley C nuclear power plant faces resistance on all sides

The plans for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley in the UK are too expensive, too late, won't help cut greenhouse gas emissions, violate EU competition law, and will distort Europe's energy markets.

On 6 July 2015, Greenpeace Energy, together with German and Austrian energy utilities, filed a legal challenge in the European Courts against the EU Commission's decision to rubberstamp billions of euros in state subsidies for new nuclear reactors at the Hinkley nuclear power plant in the UK.

The filing argues these massively subsidised reactors will influence energy prices in Europe and grossly distort competition.

In a similar filing, the Austrian government submitted a complaint to the European Court against the European Commission for failing to properly implement EU law when it approved the UK's nuclear welfare package. As Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said in a statement, nuclear power "is not an innovative technology and is therefore not worthy of subsidy."

In short, the Hinkley reactors threaten to block the road to a safe, clean renewable future. "The EU Commission's decision threatens to have negative consequences for our environmentally sound production plants," says Dr. Achim Kötzle, Managing Director of Stadtwerke Tübingen on behalf of the eight municipal utilities in the action.  

Here's the situation:

The price of the electricity generated by the new Hinkley C reactors has been guaranteed by the British government for 35 years. This means that, no matter the fluctuations in the price of electricity, Hinkley owner EDF will always get its money.

With renewable energy getting cheaper all the time, and the Hinkley reactors not expected to be in operation before the middle of the next decade, you can see why EDF wanted to fix its prices.

Figures commissioned by Greenpeace Energy (an organisation independent of Greenpeace) show that this is a gift to EDF of some 108 billion euros of public funds. In addition, the British government has made guarantees of more than 20 billion to investors in the construction of the new nuclear plant.

As Sönke Tanger, Managing Director of Greenpeace Energy says: "We are taking legal action against these exorbitant nuclear subsidies because they appear to be ecologically and economically senseless and signify serious disadvantages for other energy providers, for renewables, and for consumers."

The approval of this state funding of nuclear reactors also sets a bad example for the rest of Europe. If Hinkley succeeds, countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are likely to follow.

There are also huge doubts about the European Nuclear Reactor (EPR) technology EDF wishes to build at Hinkley C. The ones being built in Finland and France are massively over budget, years behind schedule, and have experienced huge technical problems.

Why wait ten years (at least) for new expensive and unsafe nuclear reactors when renewable energy projects are ready to go right now? Hinkley C must be stopped before it irreparably damages our future.

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Amazon gets serious on wind power announced this week that it would purchase its electricity from a new 208 megawatt wind farm in North Carolina, the largest wind farm in the entire southeastern United States.

The deal confirms two things: First, that Amazon is serious about its goal to power its Amazon Web Services division with 100% renewable energy, and second, that utilities and state governments better get equally serious about providing renewable energy if they intend to win more business from the biggest companies of the internet economy.

Amazon deserves praise for helping to catalyze the first large-scale wind farm in the southeastern US, and Amazon Web Services customers should feel good knowing that AWS is listening to their requests for more renewable energy.

It's also encouraging that Amazon explicitly expressed that it would continue to push utilities for more renewable energy and that it would support renewable energy tax incentives from governments, as its advocacy for strong renewable energy policies will be a key component of how it reaches 100% renewable energy in the long run. From Amazon's press release:

"We're far from being done. We'll continue pursuing projects that deliver clean energy to the various energy grids that serve AWS data centers, we'll continue working with our power providers to increase their renewable energy quotient, and we'll continue to strongly encourage our partners in government to extend the tax incentives that make it more viable for renewable projects to get off the ground."

That statement should provoke serious questions of government and utility leaders in the southeast. For North Carolina's govenor Pat McCrory, who praised the new wind farm at a press conference: Will he support extending North Carolina's solar tax credits so that North Carolina can stay competitive at drawing large tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to the state?

For Dominion, Amazon's main utility provider in the state of Virginia: will they start providing more renewable energy to its customers that clearly are demanding it, and in this case, going elsewhere to purchase it since Dominion isn't responsive to those needs?

For Virginia's legislators: will they start enacting renewable energy friendly policies to keep hundreds of millions of dollars worth of investment from internet leaders like Amazon at home, instead of going across state borders to North Carolina?


Amazon's investment, plus its commitment to do more and to keep pushing utilities and US state officials, all puts it on the right path to becoming a green internet leader, but there is a catch: While Amazon is now competing with Apple, Facebook and Google in the race to build a 100% renewably powered internet, it still lags far behind those companies for its lack of transparency about its energy use with customers and the public. Given the progress that AWS has made with its new wind and solar farms, it's a wonder that Amazon still has yet to publish data to its customers or the public about its energy footprint.

Without publishing information about its energy usage, crucial questions remain unanswered about this deal, including:

  • How much of Amazon's electricity use will actually be covered by this new wind farm? Amazon still has yet to disclose the energy use of its data center regions or its total footprint, unlike many of its peers. Until Amazon's does so, customers will be unable to gauge just how much of a dent the wind or solar farms are making in its energy and carbon footprints.

  • How much coal, gas and nuclear power is Amazon still consuming to power its data centers in Virginia? More information is needed especially because Dominion is pursuing expansions of gas and nuclear power plants, justified by the growth of data centers like Amazon's.

Amazon can put those questions to rest by publishing information about its energy footprint, as its peers have done. Overall though, this is good news worth celebrating. Amazon, the company responsible for the fastest growing infrastructure underpinning our internet, is accelerating its pace toward 100% renewable energy, and now large-scale wind energy will finally come to a part of the country in desperate need of it because of that fact.

Greenpeace will update our scores of Amazon from our most recent Clicking Clean report later this year, and provide further analysis of how Amazon can embrace greater transparency and move faster toward its goal of 100% renewable energy.

David Pomerantz is a Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.

This blog was originally published by Greenpeace USA.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Renewables outpace nuclear in economies making up 45 percent of world population: report

TOKYO (Reuters) - Solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy besides hydro-electric dams now supply more electricity than nuclear in Japan, China, India and five other major economies accounting for about half the world's population, an atomic industry report shows.

Read more [Reuters]

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