A containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is seen from the abandoned town of Pripyat, Ukraine, in this April 23, 2013 file photo. A general view shows the sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Ukraine, in this May 1, 2015 file photo. According to scientific tests conducted on behalf of the environmental campaigning group, overall contamination from key isotopes such as caesium-137 and strontium-90 has fallen somewhat, but lingers, especially in places such as forests. People in affected areas are still coming into daily contact with dangerously high levels of radiation from the April, 1986 explosion at the nuclear plant that sent a plume of radioactive fallout across large swathes of Europe. "It is in what they eat and what they drink. It is in the wood they use for construction and burn to keep warm," the Greenpeace report, entitled "Nuclear Scars: The Lasting legacies of Chernobyl and Fukushima" says. The research report seen by Reuters ahead of publication on Wednesday said Ukraine "no longer has sufficient funds to finance the programmes needed to properly protect the public... this means the radiation exposure of people still living in the contaminated areas is likely increasing." Ukraine is suffering economic hardship, worsened by a pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern territories, while Russia and Belarus are also experiencing financial pressures. The report found that in some cases, such as in grain, radiation levels in the contaminated areas - where an estimated 5 million people live - had actually increased. "And just as this contamination will be with them for decades to come, so will the related impacts on their health. Thousands of children, even those born 30 years after Chernobyl, still have to drink radioactively contaminated milk." Russia's ministries of health and natural resources did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report. In Ukraine, the health, agriculture and ecology ministries did not immediately respond. Greenpeace said it had also conducted tests in areas contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan where an earthquake and tsunami damaged a nuclear plant and caused a substantial radiation leak. As with Chernobyl, forests around the accident site were found to have become repositories of radioactive contamination that could not be cleaned up. "They will pose a risk to the population for decades or even centuries to come," the report said. Greenpeace said the Japanese government's decontamination efforts had so far been inadequate and left the door open to recontamination of areas deemed to have been cleaned. Long-term exposure to radiation can lead to severe illnesses. Doctors in the areas worst affected by Chernobyl have long reported a sharp rise in certain cancer rates. Victor Khanayev, a surgeon in the Russian district of Novozybkov, said many people were too poor to ensure they only ate food that was not contaminated. "It is impossible for rural people and even the district town's residents to refuse local produce from the land and their garden, especially with the official monetary compensation being so small," he told researchers. Halina Chmulevych, a single mother of two living in a village in Ukraine's Rivne region, was cited in the report as saying she too sometimes had little choice but to feed her children contaminated food. "We have milk and bake bread ourselves that yes is with radiation," she was quoted as saying. "Everything here is with radiation. Of course it worries me, but what can I do?"
Onahama (Japan) (AFP) - Fish market vendor Satoshi Nakano knows which fish caught in the radiation tainted sea off the Fukushima coast should be kept away from dinner tables. Yet five years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl there is still no consensus on the true extent of the damage -- exacerbating consumer fears about what is safe to eat. Environmentalists are at odds with authorities, warning the huge amounts of radiation that seeped into coastal waters after a powerful tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, could cause problems for decades. The Japanese government is confident it has stemmed the flow of radioactive water into the ocean, but campaigners insist contaminated ground water has continued to seep into the Pacific Ocean, and the situation needs further investigation. "It was the single largest release of radioactivity to the marine environment in history," Greenpeace nuclear expert Shaun Burnie told AFP on the deck of the campaign group's flagship Rainbow Warrior, which has sailed in to support a three-week marine survey of the area the environmental watchdog is conducting. He added: "The whole idea that this accident happened five years ago and that Fukushima and Japan have moved on is completely wrong." Existing contamination means fishermen are banned from operating within a 20-kilometre (12.4-mile) radius from the plant. Although there are no figures for attitudes on seafood alone, the latest official survey by the government's Consumer Affairs Agency showed in September that more than 17 percent of Japanese are reluctant to eat food from Fukushima. Nakano knows it's best for business to carefully consider the type of seafood he sells, in the hope it will quell consumer fears. "High levels of radioactivity are usually detected in fish that move little and stick to the seabed. I am not an expert, but I think those kinds of fish suck up the dirt of the ocean floor," he told AFP from his hometown of Onahama by the sea. Greenpeace is surveying waters near the Fukushima plant, dredging up sediment from the ocean floor to check both for radiation "hotspots" as well as places that are not contaminated. On Monday, the Rainbow Warrior sailed within a mile (1.6 kilometres) of the Fukushima coast as part of the project -- the third such test it's conducted but the closest to the plant since the nuclear accident. Researchers Tuesday sent down a remote-controlled vehicle attached with a camera and scoop, in order to take samples from the seabed, which will then be analysed in independent laboratories in Japan and France. "It's very important (to see) where is more contaminated and where is less or even almost not contaminated," Greenpeace's Jan Vande Putte told AFP, stressing the importance of such findings for the fishing industry. Local fishermen have put coastal catches on the market after thorough testing, which includes placing certain specimens seen as high risk through radiation screening -- a programme Greenpeace lauds as one of the most advanced in the world. The tests make sure no fish containing more than half of the government safety standard for radiation goes onto the market. The 2011 disaster was caused by a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast which then sparked a massive tsunami that swamped cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, run by operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO). Today, about 1,000 huge tanks for storing contaminated water occupy large parts of the site, but as 400 tonnes of groundwater a day flows into the damaged reactor buildings, many more will be needed. TEPCO have said they are taking measures to stop water flowing into the site, including building an underground wall, freezing the land itself and syphoning underground water. The government too insist the situation is under control. "The impact of the contaminated water is completely contained inside the port of the Fukushima plant," Tsuyoshi Takagi, the Cabinet minister in charge of disaster reconstruction, told reporters on Tuesday. But Greenpeace's Burnie says stopping the groundwater flow is crucial to protecting the region. "What impact is this having on the local ecology and the marine life, which is going on over years, decades?", Burnie asked. He added: "We can come back in 50 years and still be talking about radiological problems" at the nuclear plant as well as along the coast, he said.
News Article | March 30, 2016
The nuclear regulator in Japan has OK’d the use of a frozen wall of soil to prevent water entering the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Just a little over 5 years ago, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered the world’s second largest nuclear disaster, and the Japanese Government and electricity utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), have been working flat out ever since to mitigate the scale of the disaster. In the past month alone, numerous reports have been published investigating just how damaging the disaster has been in the immediate aftermath, and in the five years following. Greenpeace, in its stereotypical inflammatory manner, recently published a report saying that the Japanese Government’s “massive decontamination program will have almost no impact on reducing the ecological threat” of the disaster. At the same time, a study published by a Stanford University professor highlighted three key lessons that must be taken away from the Fukushima disaster. This week, however, the Japanese nuclear regulator has given approval to activate what is being called an “unprecedented refrigeration structure,” which will create a massive frozen barrier of soil to prevent any more water entering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant premises, thus mitigating the continual build-up of contaminated water. According to a note published by The Associated Press, the government-funded project costs 35 billion yen ($312 million), and is built using pipes designed to freeze the surrounding soil, eventually forming a massive 1.5 kilometer long wall around the reactor and turbine buildings. The premise of the wall — a technology which is not new, but has never been designed at this size — is to keep groundwater coming down from the nearby hills from entering the area, and to keep existing contaminated water within — contaminated water which has provided a massive problem for Tepco and the Japanese Government, and is only recently being dealt with with much effectiveness. “In the last half-year we have made significant progress in water treatment,” Akira Ono, chief of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, said last week during a tour of the facility. Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
A photo from 2007 by Greenpeace to promote their Congo report shows a log park in Madjoko, Bandundu, Democratic Republic of Congo (AFP Photo/Kate Davison) More Kinshasa (AFP) - A coalition of environmental campaign groups on Wednesday urged the Democratic Republic of Congo to maintain its moratorium on new logging licences to protect its tropical rainforest. The campaigners warned that an area of rainforest twice the size of France was at risk of being cut down if Congo goes ahead with plans to lift the ban on new logging licences, in place since 2002. The 12 organisations said Congo's Environment Minister Robert Bopolo had recently announced that steps were being taken to lift the moratorium. Bopolo confirmed to AFP the government's intention to look at the issue in the interests of boosting the country's finances. "It is on our agenda, we must debate it, it's among our concerns," he said. The campaigners accused Kinshasa of backsliding on commitments it made at last year's UN climate conference in Paris. "At a time when the global community is working together to protect the world’s last rainforests, a vital defence against climate change, the DR Congo government seems to be undermining the commitment to reducing emissions that it presented in Paris," Lars Lovold of Rainforest Foundation Norway, part of the coalition, said. In 2002, the Congolese government launched a process to convert existing logging rights into concessions and impose a temporary freeze on further concessions. The aim was to bring order to the sector and cut down the illegal logging of precious timber. Five times the size of France, DR Congo is home to more than 60 percent of the dense forests of the Congo basin, the world's second largest tropical rainforest, after the Amazon. Illegal logging is a major problem in many developing countries including Congo, where poverty and decades of instability have put enormous pressure on natural resources.
News Article | August 22, 2016
Originally published on EdenKeeper.org Navigating through the icy waters of the Arctic, the Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” is delivering solar panels to the Inuit community of Clyde River, Nunavut. Delivering solar panels and a team to install the systems for the Clyde River community is Greenpeace’s way of offering a better solution to meet increasing demands for energy. The launch of its #SolarNotSeismics campaign has helped Greenpeace amplify Inuit voices and concerns to an international audience. It also helps direct attention to alternative energy solutions because oil drilling in the Arctic must be prohibited at all costs. The fossil fuel industry is the biggest offender in the crime against humanity called Climate Change. Currently depending on polluting diesel generators for electricity, Clyde River will soon become one of the northernmost solar installations in the world. With the help of Greenpeace and a renewable energy co-op, the Inuit People are proving to the world that clean, renewable energy is the best energy solution. Clyde River, Nunavut, is one of the most remote communities in the world. Home to the indigenous Inuit People, Nunavut is a huge, sparsely populated region of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. This icy Arctic island chain is dotted with remote villages, many only accessible by boat or plane. Clyde River is one such village, served only by air and an annual sealift delivering supplies. Located in the Baffin Mountains on the shore of Baffin Island’s Patricia Bay, Clyde River is home to around 1,000 Inuit People. The area is also home to caribou, polar bears, narwhals, beluga and bowhead whales, and many other arctic creatures. This icy, pristine ecosystem is already under attack by the forces of global warming, but new threats are looming to further endanger the environment and its vulnerable inhabitants. Without Inuit consent, a five-year oil exploration project off the coast of Clyde River was approved by the Canadian government two years ago. Seismic blasting, a process of firing sonic booms into the ocean, has been planned as a first step in the oil exploration process. By launching the #SolarNotSeismics campaign, Greenpeace has helped draw attention to the Inuit’s plight and promote indigenous peoples’ rights to protect their endangered arctic homelands. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to protecting Inuit rights, as set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. However, approving actions that jeopardize Inuit waters, livelihoods, and the regional wildlife without obtaining Inuit consent has rendered Trudeau’s commitment effectively worthless. For two years, Greenpeace and the Inuit community have been taking legal action to prevent seismic blasting in waters off Clyde River. Finally, Canada’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Inuit’s case on November 30, 2016. The Clyde River community will face the National Energy Board and proponents of seismic blasting at the Canadian Supreme Court. The Inuit People intend to overturn the seismic exploration permits issued for the warming waters of the Baffin Bay and the Davis Strait. This case will also set an important precedent for indigenous people’s consent prior to approval of Canada’s future oil and gas projects. Many special guests have joined the Greenpeace crew on the Arctic Sunrise, including solar installer Duncan Martin, whale expert and bio-acoustician Dr. Lindy Weilgart, and physics and energy professor Chris Williams. Three Clyde River VIPs include Mayor James Qillaq, Former Mayor Jerry Natanine, and Jerry’s daughter, Clara Natanine. “For the first time,” says Jerry Natanine, “we have the opportunity to sail through the very region we have been fighting so hard to protect.” He adds, “Baffin Bay and Davis Strait are home to many marine mammals that are important for our culture, our way of life, and our ability to survive sustainably off the land and sea.” It’s not just the dangers of oil drilling that the Inuit are protesting. Seismic blasting poses a risk to marine animals inhabiting the water. The loud explosions can disrupt the migration paths of whales, cause permanent hearing loss, and sometimes even kill marine life. This not only seriously endangers marine animals’ lives, it also endangers the livelihoods of the Inuit People. Natanine warns, “If it’s not stopped, seismic blasting could very literally destroy our way of life.” Dr. Lindy Weilgart explains, “Whales depend on sound for every aspect of their lives from communication to food finding, and navigation.” Weilgart has been supporting Clyde River’s battle for the past two years. She adds, “Seismic air guns are so loud they can permanently damage the hearing of marine mammals nearby, and at a greater distance can drastically reduce the area over which they can communicate.” Jerry Natanine speaks eloquently of his people’s future: “By rejecting the climate change causing energy industry and embracing renewable energy,” he states, “we are working hard to protect Inuit lands and waters, wildlife and people, present and future generations. We are sailing to our home, towards a future full of hope.” Greenpeace Arctic Campaigner Farrah Khan says, “The Inuit of Clyde River are courageously asserting their Indigenous rights and resisting oil development in the Canadian Arctic and we are honoured to support their opposition to seismic blasting and transition away from fossil fuels.” Khan adds, “This solar project is a landmark on Clyde River’s path to energy independence and away from costly and polluting diesel fuel.” Exciting activities are planned, once the Arctic Sunrise arrives in Clyde River. Oscar-winning actress and activist Emma Thompson will join Greenpeace and the Inuit community, together with Emma’s daughter Gaia Wise, and the YouTube science duo, AsapSCIENCE. You can get on board, too! Learn more by watching and sharing this Greenpeace Facebook video. Please stand with the brave Inuit community by signing an international statement to stop seismic blasting in Inuit waters. You may also like to sign a petition specifically asking Prime Minister Trudeau to honor his word to protect the rights of indigenous people. Drive an electric car? Complete one of our short surveys for our next electric car report. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.