Nuclear Power news

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]

CERN discovers pentaquarks after 50-year hunt

Data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) outside Geneva appears to have proved the existence of particles made of five quarks, scientists said on Tuesday.  Quarks are the tiny ingredients of sub-atomic particles such as protons and neutrons, which are made of three quarks. The less common and more unstable mesons, particles found in cosmic rays, have four.  A five-quark version, or pentaquark, has been sought, but never found, ever since Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig theorised the existence of such sub-atomic particles in 1964.  Guy Wilkinson, spokesman for the LHCb experiment based at CERN, the physics research centre that houses the LHC, said a tell-tale “bump” seen in a graph of billions of particle collisions could only be explained by a five-quark particle.  “From the point of view of our experiment, we think it has fulfilled all criteria of discovery. We have no other way of explaining what we have ...
Read more [ sci & tech]

The unstoppable power of contagious courage

Thirty years ago, groups of individuals in New Zealand were preparing to leave their families, their jobs and their homes to set off in small boats across the Pacific Ocean into a nuclear weapons testing zone. They hoped that their presence there would be enough to stop nuclear bomb tests.

The French Government conducting the tests must have known it could not win against such a show of people power. So a few minutes before midnight on 10 July 1985, French secret service agents struck in Auckland harbour, New Zealand. They bombed and sank the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, one of the ships that was due to lead the flotilla into the nuclear test zone. The French agents murdered Fernando Pereira, a photographer and crew member.

Rainbow Warrior, sunk by two underwater mines placed by agents of the French Government in Marsden Wharf, New Zealand. 11 Jul, 1985 © Greenpeace / Miller

The government was mistaken if it believed that this would knock the courage out of a movement of millions. One of our supporters said it best: you can't sink a rainbow.

Thanks to public protest, nuclear tests in the Pacific were abandoned. People power made history. Not all of those people clambered into boats. But they all took a stand. Some by writing, some by marching, some by signing a petition. Some volunteered, some donated, some challenged their friends and family. Others changed minds simply by telling people where they stood. Each one of those single acts, by people just like you and me, reached into hearts and minds and ultimately brought an end to nuclear weapons testing.

Rainbow Warrior Memorial at Matauri Bay.

Today, we all face a different threat: climate change. Just as nuclear weapons threatened global catastrophe 30 years ago, so climate change threatens all of us now. Global warming means more flooding and bigger storms. We see severe weather events hitting the news with greater regularity. Millions of people suffer them at first hand, some losing their homes, livelihoods and even their lives.

It is already undermining security and is set to further exacerbate scarcities and tensions that fuel conflict.

But even as the world's seas are rising, the tide is turning. The ranks of the clean energy revolution are swelling. Between January and May this year, around three-quarters of new electricity capacity in the US was solar and wind. In Norway, the country's politicians voted unanimously to sell off coal investments from the US$900 billion Government Pension Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund on the planet. Just last month, the Pope called on the world's rich nations to tackle climate change, in a 180-page call for action. And, in the Netherlands, 900 Dutch citizens won a stunning legal victory in which the court ordered the Dutch state to cut more carbon pollution in the next five years.

Increasingly, people are standing up to the coal, oil and gas companies whose polluting products are fouling the air we breathe, the seas we fish and swim in, and the habitats on which we depend. It's partly due to the events of 30 years ago, where a wide and diverse group of people showed courage in standing up to the nuclear threat in the Pacific, that we know that people power can win.

Protest against Shell at Fredericia in Denmark.

In a few days' time Shell could start drilling for oil in the Arctic. Millions of people are taking a stand to protect this beautiful place and to say ‘no' to yet more fossil fuels and yet more global warming. Some people have shown courage by climbing Arctic-bound oil drilling rigs, or by clambering into kayaks and daring to paddle in front of these huge vessels; others by joining marches, writing letters and signing petitions - just as people did 30 years ago to stop Pacific nuclear weapons testing.

People in the Pacific region are also standing up against climate change and the polluters. Filipinos are calling on the country's Commission on Human Rights to investigate the big carbon polluters for human rights violations linked to the impacts of climate change. In Australia people are standing up to protect the Great Barrier Reef. On the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, the third Rainbow Warrior will be campaigning to protect the Reef - the largest living thing on the planet - from the coal industry.

The French Government didn't realise the strength of a people-powered movement. They thought two bombs could blow the movement away. They were wrong.

There are small and large acts that each of us can take to make the world a safer, cleaner, healthier, better place. To end the era of dependence on dirty fossil fuels and usher in the age of renewables, where all the world has access to clean energy. Stand up for what you believe in, in whatever way you can; celebrate those who do the same. It makes us all stronger.

Children in Dharnai Village in India.

As we remember Fernando Pereira, and dedicate this anniversary to the courage of the crew of that first Rainbow Warrior, we are asking everyone to share their own story of courage to this site:

Read about people just like you and me who oppose injustice and environmental abuse, and who are seized with infectious optimism for change, and a better future. 

Being courageous is not always easy. But courage is contagious. #CourageWorks and the world has never needed all of us to find the courage to take action as it does now.

Kumi Naidoo is Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Count on the nuclear industry to have strange things happen

It has been said often on the Nuclear Reaction blog but bears repeating: the nuclear industry really can't be trusted.

A good case in point is the bizarre antics in Finland right now. On June 30th, Fennovoima, a Finnish utility, submitted an application to the government to build a nuclear plant. One of the utility's partners is Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear corporation.

To apply for a license, the government requires the project to be 60% owned by companies from the European Union or the European Trade Association. The 60% criterion was put in place by the Finnish government in order to control Russian influence over the country's energy policy. And that means that Rosatom can't be the biggest player in this game.

But, a strange thing happened on the filing deadline of June 30. Out of the blue, a new financing partner was found so that the project could meet the 60% rule and could go ahead. At least, that's the claim.

Greenpeace Nordic decided to take a closer look at this strangely fortuitous development for Rosatom's Finnish nuclear project. We uncovered what appears to be quite a different story, from a serendipitous turn of events in the form of a new nuclear investment partner.

Instead of a viable European company with a track record that would suggest it is a credible business partner, Greenpeace found a Croatian company, Migrit Solarna Energija, that operates out of an apartment block in Zagreb. It has no employees, capital stock of only 26,000 Euros, and absolutely no income in 2012-2013. And yet, this company is supposedly going to be able to contribute 150 million Euros to the project?

More importantly, Greenpeace found what appear to be strong ties between this tiny company holed up in an apartment complex, and Russia's nuclear giant, Rosatom. The company, established by Russian Mikhail Zhukov, is closely linked to Titan enterprises. Migrit Solarna Energija and Titan enterprises share an office and a fax number. The owners of Migrit Solarna Energija are related to Titan Energija's director and a businessman with a background with Inteco. This raises the concern that this company, Migrit Solarna Energija, a subsidiary of Migrit Energija, does not fulfill the 60% criterion for the project to move forward.

There's more. Mikhail Zhukov heads up Inteco, which used to be owned by the richest woman in Russia, Yelena Baturina. She happens to be married to Yuri Lužkov, the former mayor of Moscow. Baturina sold Inteco to 50% state-owned Sberbank and to billionaire Mihail Shishkanov. Sberbank is an essential financier of Rosatom.

Given these unsettling findings, Greenpeace warned the Finnish government to carefully examine the license application by Fennovoima to ensure it meets ownership criteria and is in best interests of the country. But the concerns are bigger than Finland. As our Finnish program manager, Sini Harkki, said: "This game that Fennovoima and Rosatom appear to be playing should be a concern to any country that is in discussions with Rosatom regarding building nuclear reactors. If the state corporation is ready to play a game with something as simple as ownership rules, what else will it play games with in building a dangerous reactor?"

Rosatom is actively pursuing nuclear contracts around the world. And this warning is something many other countries should heed. In October 2014, Greenpeace released a report on the problems with Rosatom and the Russian nuclear industry. This ownership game appears to be consistent with the kinds of problems that plague Rosatom and should be required reading for politicians in any country thinking of cutting a deal with Rosatom.

Fennovoima and Rosatom looked for years for investors. Yet it only took a few days to expose what appears to be a hoax, and a front for Russian capital.

That's not the end of nuclear problems in Finland. The country is suffering through a protracted mess with Areva, the French nuclear company, over the building the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear plant. The project is years late and billions over budget with no end to the problems in sight.

With lessons like those from Rosatom and Areva's Finnish nuclear projects, it is no wonder that in Finland the public majority is against nuclear. In spite of the people's will, Finland's current energy strategy relies on nuclear. But with ample renewable resources to be developed and the usual mess with nuclear projects, it is time to reconsider that strategy, listen to the will of the Finnish citizens, and move into the nuclear-free clean-energy future.

Brian Blomme is a Communications Manager with Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Austria files legal complaint against UK Hinkley Point C nuclear plant

Guardian: Austria has filed a legal challenge at the European court of justice against EU-granted state subsidies for a new nuclear power plant in Britain, government officials have said. “Subsidies are there to support modern technologies that lie in the general interest of all EU member states. This is not the case with nuclear power,” the Austrian chancellor, Werner Faymann, said. The country argues that the Hinkley Point C project is in breach of European law and risks distorting the energy market....

Austria files lawsuit against EU Commission over UK nuclear plant

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria launched legal action on Monday against the European Commission over its backing of British plans for the 16 billion pound ($24.9 billion) development of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, Chancellor Werner Faymann said.

Read more [Reuters]

Austria files lawsuit against EU Commission over UK nuclear plant

Reuters: Austria launched legal action on Monday against the European Commission over its backing of British plans for the 16 billion pound ($24.9 billion) development of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, Chancellor Werner Faymann said. The project, to be built by French utility EDF at Hinkley Point in southwest England, is crucial for Britain's plan to replace a fifth of its aging nuclear power and coal plants over the coming decade while reducing carbon emissions. France sees Hinkley Point as a major...

It’s too late to save our world, so enjoy the spectacle of doom

Guardian: In the middle of a week of record temperatures, as if unaware of the irony, the business community celebrated the consolidation of its attempts to force the government’s hand to agree to a third filth-generating runway at Heathrow, tipping all species on Earth towards extinction. Everything will die soon, except for cockroaches, and Glastonbury favourite the Fall, who will survive even a nuclear holocaust, though they will still refuse to play their 80s chart hits. In Norfolk on Thursday, the...

White House goes quiet on role of nuclear power in Brazil climate deal

Washington Examiner: A new nuclear energy deal between the U.S. and Brazil got lost in the shuffle this week, as the White House sought instead to play up a pledge between the two countries to increase renewable energy. Nevertheless, the two countries did also agree to collaborate on nuclear energy development as part of a broad plan to address global warming agreed to earlier this week in Washington. The new agreement between the two nations comes as nations prepare for international negotiations on climate change...

Berlin says utilities can't dodge responsibility for nuclear waste

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Friday that if the provisions by utilities for shutting down nuclear power plants were not sufficient, the government needed to discuss asking the companies to make further payments.

Read more [Reuters]

Japan power group aims for 35 percent CO2 emissions cut by 2030: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's major power firms are seeking to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030 compared with 2013 levels by relying on nuclear power, the Nikkei business daily reported.

Read more [Reuters]

Pew survey: Most young Americans oppose offshore drilling, nuclear power

Associated Press: Age divides Americans on science issues just as much as political ideology, a new analysis of recent polling shows. There are dramatic generation gaps in opinions on global warming, offshore drilling, nuclear power, childhood vaccines, gene modification to reduce a baby’s disease risk, untested medicine use, lab tests on animals, and evolution, according to the Pew Research Center. Pew analyzed 22 different science issues in a survey of 2,002 people nationwide last August and a few later polls...

Joni Mitchell: A tribute to the artist

On 31 March, 2015, Joni Mitchell – who helped launch Greenpeace with a 1970 benefit concert, and emerged as one of the greatest songwriters and performers of the last 50 years – experienced a brain aneurysm. Friends found her unconscious at her home in Los Angeles. She regained consciousness in the ambulance and entered intensive care at UCLA Medical Center. She was alert and communicating before and after treatment.

"Joni is a strong-willed woman," her friend Leslie Morris said, "and is nowhere near giving up the fight." The public may send messages to Mitchell at We Love You, Joni!. Joni is now at home in Los Angeles and undergoing daily therapies. Although her condition is serious, a recovery is expected.

Vulnerable young artist

I first heard Joni Mitchell's music in the summer of 1969, when Stephen Stills introduced her at the Big Sur Folk Festival in California. A year later, I saw her at the Isle of Wight festival in England, with some 600,000 other music fans drawn by stars of 1960s music: The Doors, The Who, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell.

By Saturday, when Mitchell played, fans outside the fence – who could not afford the £3 (about £30 or €40 today) weekend ticket – had grown restless. They stormed the corrugated iron barriers and broke through, as Mitchell sang her new song "Woodstock … we are stardust, we are golden…"

Joni Mitchell, Isle of Wight Pop Festival Britain, 1970. © Brian Moody/Rex

A young man rushed onto the stage shouting that the festival should be free. A visibly shaken Mitchell – 26, and just beginning her career – stopped her performance. "Look, I've got feelings, too," she pleaded in a trembling voice. "It's very difficult to lay something down before an audience like this. Please be respectful." The vulnerable young artist broke down into tears and left the stage, but returned to perform her current radio hit, "Big Yellow Taxi," singing, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." She then left the stage, weeping in her manager's arms. The scene felt heartbreaking.

A year later, Mitchell headlined the concert in Vancouver, Canada that launched Greenpeace.

Canadian Prairie Girl

Joni Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson, on 7 November, 1943, in Fort Macleod, Alberta, where her Norwegian father instructed young World War II pilots at the Canadian airbase. Her Scots/Irish mother inspired a love for literature, her father urged her to study piano, and she taught herself guitar from a Pete Seeger instructional record.

Joni Mitchell youth in Saskatoon, Canada. ©

Polio struck her at the age of nine, and in the hospital, she performed songs for other patients. She recovered, but the polio limited her dexterity, and she found normal guitar fingerings difficult. She devised alternative tunings to make complex chords easier to play. By 1961, she was performing in Saskatchewan nightclubs and attending art school. In 1962, Joni played her first paid gig at the Louis Riel folk/jazz club in Saskatoon.

In 1964, at the age of 20, she left home to become a folk singer in Toronto, and wrote her first song, "Day After Day," on the train ride east. She became a well-loved phenomenon in Toronto clubs, met Michigan folk-singer Chuck Mitchell, married him, and began touring with him in Michigan, at the Rathskeller in Detroit and the The Folk Cellar in Port Huron. She appeared on the CBC folk music show, "Let's Sing Out."

By 1967, her marriage had dissolved, and Joni moved to New York City, performing as a solo artist at Cafe Au Go Go, the Gaslight, and other clubs. She learned more sophisticated guitar tunings from American musician Eric Andersen, and other artists began performing and recording Joni's songs. Tom Rush recorded "Urge For Going," Buffy Sainte-Marie covered "The Circle Game," and Judy Collins had a top ten hit with "Both Sides Now."

Joni Mitchell became known for her wide-ranging contralto voice; her use of modal, chromatic, and pedal tone harmonies; exotic guitar tunings; and extraordinary, lyrical songs. Throughout her career, Mitchell wrote songs in over fifty different guitar tunings that supported her unique harmonies.

As Mitchell's fame spread, Joan Baez attended her show in New York, and at a Florida club, she met David Crosby, who invited her to Los Angeles and convinced Reprise Records to record her first album, Song to a Seagull, produced by Crosby, with Stephen Stills, playing bass.

A year later, in 1969, she released her second album, Clouds, which earned her first Grammy Award. The collection includes hit songs "Chelsea Morning" and "Both Sides Now," the haunting chromatic "Songs to Aging Children Come," and the anti-Vietnam-War anthem "The Fiddle and the Drum." Later that year, she sang harmony vocals on David Crosby's first solo album and on James Taylor's inaugural album, Mud Slide Slim. She would help launch Taylor's career at the Greenpeace concert.

Stop the bombs

In Vancouver, Canada, in June 1970, the fledgling Greenpeace organization made plans to sail a boat into the US nuclear test zone in the Aleutian Islands. To raise money, co-founder Irving Stowe decided to stage a benefit concert, and wrote a letter to Joan Baez. Although Baez could not attend, she sent a check for $1,000, recommended he call Joni Mitchell and stalwart anti-war activist Phil Ochs, and gave Stowe their phone numbers. Both agreed to perform, and the date was set for 16 October, 1970 at the Vancouver Coliseum.

A week before the concert, Mitchell phoned Stowe at his home and asked if she could bring a guest. Stowe covered the phone and whispered to his family, "She wants to bring James Taylor. Who's James Taylor?" His fourteen year-old daughter Barbara thought he meant James Brown. "He's that black blues singer!" she said. Stowe nodded, and spoke into the phone, "Yeah, sure. Bring him."

The next day, they visited a record store and discovered that James Taylor had just released his second album, Sweet Baby James, already at the top of the charts, with hit song "Fire and Rain." The local producer added British Columbia band Chilliwack, with a hit single of their own, "Lydia Purple." There was no public advance notice of the mystery guest, James Taylor, but tickets sold out quickly.

Phil Ochs, opened the show and spoke directly to the raison d'etre of the evening with his song "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore." Chilliwack got the crowd into a rock-'n'-roll frenzy. James Taylor stunned the crowd with his cryptic "Carolina On My Mind" and "Fire and Rain." Joni Mitchell appeared visibly nervous, still uncertain about her headline status, but her popular songs "Chelsea Morning" and "Big Yellow Taxi" brought shrieks of joy from the audience. James Taylor joined her for an encore, singing Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man." Irving Stowe raising the peace sign and delivered flowers to Mitchell on stage. After expenses, the event netted $17,000. This money, and the attention from the concert, lifted the nascent Greenpeace to a new stature. Attendance at the meetings swelled, and money poured in.

Joni Mitchell, Amchitka benefit, 1970. © George Diack, Vancouver Sun

In 1973, after the first two Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigns, Joni Mitchell returned to Vancouver and appeared at an opening of her photographs, with Graham Nash, at the Gallery of Photography in North Vancouver. Greenpeace was still a modest group, planning the first whale campaign. We told Mitchell about our plans, and she promised to help if she could. Three years later, in 1976, after two successful whale campaigns confronting Russian whalers, Joni appeared at the "California Celebrates the Whale" benefit concert in Sacramento, with legendary jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, and world music percussionist Bobbye Hall, signalling a new direction in her extraordinary musical career.

Beyond folk-rock

At the time of the Sacramento whale concert, Mitchell was recording the spectacular Hejira album with Pastorius on bass and Hall on percussion. The innovative artist was blazing a new musical trail, inspired by classical and chamber jazz and rock-inspired jazz-fusion, driven with Latin and African rhythms.

She had recently released three jazz-inspired albums. For the Roses included Hall on percussion, Tom Scott from the jazz-fusion band L.A. Express on woodwinds and reeds, and Wilton Felder from Jazz Crusaders on bass. Some of these same musicians played on Court and Spark, with rock musicians David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Robbie Robertson, plus famed flamenco and bolero guitarist José Feliciano. The album sold over 2 million copies, earned "Best Album of the Year" from Village Voice, reached #1 on the Cashbox Album Charts, and won her second Grammy Award. The following album, Hissing of Summer Lawns, released in 1975, featured jazz pianist/percussionist Victor Feldman on congas and vibes, with John Guerin on the new Moog synthesizer.

Joni toured with L.A. Express, and released a live double album from their shows at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheater. The eighteen songs included jazz-influenced re-workings of her popular hits, "Big Yellow Taxi," "Woodstock," "Carey," and "Both Sides Now."

She appear on the Bob Dylan Rolling Thunder Review with Joan Baez, and then in 1976 performed at the Band's famous The Last Waltz concert, singing a version of "Coyote" in an unusual C9 tuning with extended chords, pushing the musicians, and raising the energy of the star-studded event.

Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Rolling Thunder tour. © AP 1975

In 1977, Mitchell released the spacey, improvisational, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, again mixing rock forms with jazz, accompanied by Pastorius, legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and percussionists Manolo Badrena and Alex Acuña.

Upon hearing this recent work, jazz legend Charles Mingus (right, photo by Sue Mingus, 1978.) asked Mitchell to work with him. Mingus died during the recordings, but Mitchell completed the album, Mingus, released in June 1979, which rose to #17 on Billboard album charts. She then toured the Mingus material, accompanied by Pastorius, Shorter, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Herbie Hancock, and percussionists Peter Erskine, Don Alias, and Emil Richards. The tour included a duet with the Persuasions on Motown classic, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?".

In 1982, Joni married Larry Klein, bassist on the album Wild Things Run Fast, who co-produced five albums with her and won Grammys for his work on Turbulent Indigo (1994) and Both Sides Now (2000). In 1983, they toured Japan, Australia, Ireland, UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and the US, producing the live video/DVD, Refuge of the Roads. Mitchell and Klein divorced in 1994, after 12 years of marriage, but continued to work together musically.

I last saw Joni in Vancouver, in 1998, when she toured with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, a stunning show by perhaps the three greatest songwriters of the rock era. Mitchell played with a jazz-based band, including Klein, sang "Black Crow" and "Amelia" from Hejira, an adaptation of the William Butler Yeats poem "The Second Coming," and performed an encore of "Big Yellow Taxi" (with a Dylan impersonation) and "Woodstock." The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Mitchell in 1997. In 2005, she released Songs of a Prairie Girl, a compilation of her songs that referenced Saskatchewan, and in 2007 she released her last studio album, Shine, with James Taylor playing guitar on the title track.

As of this writing, she remains at home in Los Angeles. She is not yet walking, but appears to be improving daily. Since her hospitalization, musical performers around the world have offered tributes to Joni Mitchell, one of the seminal musicians of our age, and an enduring advocate for the natural world.

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

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Germany’s Energy Revolution goes from strength to strength as the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor closes

One less nuclear reactor threat to the people of Europe with the early closure of the Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor.

Germany's 33 year-old Grafenrheinfeld nuclear reactor will be shut down permanently on June 27th as the country's phase out of nuclear power continues. It's the first reactor to close since Germany passed its Atomic Energy Act in July 2011 which requires the closure of all commercial nuclear reactors by the end of 2022.

The reactor is being shutdown seven months early as the disastrous economics of nuclear power and Germany's drive for clean and sustainable energy have made it impossible for its owner E.ON to operate the reactor and make a profit.

E.ON and other large nuclear utilities only have themselves to blame. They failed to anticipate the growth of renewable energy and so they failed to invest in it. At the same time, electricity prices have fallen making their nuclear power plants even less profitable.

That said, even E.ON is waking up to the new energy future of Germany. "The transformation of Europe's energy system continues to offer us attractive growth opportunities in renewables and distributed energy," said the company in a report from March this year.

But what are the implications of the closure of Grafenrheinfeld? Won't it leave an energy gap?

In short: no.

Since 1981, Grafenrheinfeld reactor was the cornerstone of electricity production in Bavaria but that was before the renewables revolution. Now its closure will be barely noticed. There will be no blackouts and the security of supply is guaranteed.

The simple explanation is that over the last 15 years Germany has embraced renewables. The share of renewable energy in electricity generation grew from six percent in 2000 to around 27 percent in 2014, spread across wind, solar, and bioenergy. Germany is a major net exporter of electricity, reaching record levels in 2013 and 2014.

"This is going smoothly... No one, no company, no private citizen will feel that the reactor power is off the grid," says Bavarian Economy and Energy Minister Ilse Aigner.

So what's next? It's clear that Germany doesn't need nuclear power and that renewables are more than up to the job of leading the country into a future of sustainable, safe electricity.

But the job isn't finished. At current growth rates, Germany is likely to reach its target of 35 percent by 2020 for renewable electricity. However, the overall share of renewable energy generation remains quite low at 11 percent because the power industry is being left to its own devices.

Germany will probably not reach its target of 20 percent of its total energy provision being renewable by the end of this decade without further government support.

So while it is excellent news from Grafenrheinfeld, there is still much to do. In the mean time, with the closure of this reactor, we see the victory of renewables over nuclear power. Germany is leading the way globally to the safe, clean energy future. The rest of the world needs to follow.

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

Read more [Greenpeace international]

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Then & Now: Launching a "Mind Bomb" to save the Arctic

Staring out at the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean, I feel a sense of past and present colliding. Forty-four years ago in these same waters off Canada's west coast, my father Robert Hunter and a group of Greenpeace co-founders sailed to stop nuclear testing on the Alaskan island of Amchitka. Today, we have just taken a similar passage on the west coast to disrupt Shell's plans for drilling in the Arctic this year.

For me, staring back at the same waves my father once encountered reminds me that we live a common story. While these events are separated by time, they are essentially the same struggle. For these are the defining issues of our eras and we are the dreamers that believe we can change them.

Greenpeace was founded by dreamers. People who believed they could turn the tides of history against a great sense of impossibility. They had a vision for what could be, and sparked that same imagination in others. They did this through what my father called "Mind Bombs" – an idea that our greatest tool for revolution is our own consciousness. If we can flip the switch mentally, society and the world at large can be moved.

In this fight to save the Arctic, we need "Mind Bombs" now more than ever.

First voyage with Greenpeace co-founders and Robert Hunter giving a revolutionary fist in the air (top, left).

Nuclear Bomb Vs. Climate Bomb

For the early Greenpeace co-founders in 1971, it seemed an impossible mission to stop Richard Nixon's nuclear test blast off an island called Amchitka. During the post Cold-War era where highly vested political and economic interests spurred the US into nuclear arms proliferation – at any costs. The blast was to hit a vulnerable ecosystem of Amchitka island, making this small island a symbol for a nuclear apocalypse. For the youth generation of the 1970's, protecting it meant saving the world.

Today's fight resembles that very first Greenpeace campaign, but with seemingly more impossible odds. In less than a few weeks, Shell wants to launch another kind of bomb - a "climate bomb" - by beginning to drill for oil in the newly ice-free parts of the Alaskan Arctic. But unlike any other place on Earth, the Arctic is a cooling system for our Earth's atmosphere. With upwards of 30-50% of sea ice gone, it's a place that is already in danger. Recklessly exploiting this region would seal our fate with runaway climate change. The Arctic is the symbol of our generation, because literally and metaphorically it is our tipping point on climate change.

So this year we have tried to disrupt Shell's plans at every turn. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, six brave volunteers scaled Shell's oil rig to shine a spotlight on their drilling plans. Hundreds of Kayaktivists blocked and protested the drilling rig for nearly a month. Recently, 16 activists were arrested trying to intervene as their vessels headed north. A First Nations delegation and Greenpeace team helped spread resistance along Canada's west coast, building a powerful allied movement. While just a few days ago, we took another action…

Last Wednesday I joined a team of Greenpeace and First Nations activists to confront Shell's oil rig, the Polar Pioneer as it headed north to Alaska. We felt small and tiny on our inflatable boats compared to the 300-foot-tall drilling rig attached to two massive tug boats. But the power of the moment was overwhelming, as Indigenous artists Audrey Siegl stood boldly and firmly face-to-face with Shell's machinery. Meanwhile, two swimmers, Victor Acton Pickering (from Fiji) and Mark Worthing (Canadian), swam directly in the path of the oncoming vessels. This was a #MindBomb moment.

But this wouldn't be the end of our story…

Emily on an inflatable boat with the action team, heading out to confront Shell's Arctic drilling rig the Polar Pioneer. © Emily Hunter

A Mind Bomb

In 1971 the first Greenpeace activists did not get to the blast in time, despite their best efforts. The Coast Guard stopped them before they could get to Amchitka, as they had illegally entered US waters and had to turn back. For us here today on the Esperanza, our action will not stop Shell. One action at one time cannot stop their machine. We know this reality.

But like the lessons of the past show, small groups of people taking action can help spark an idea. That idea can become far more powerful than anything we can do alone. It can become the #MindBomb switch in consciousness. It can galvanize more of us in this fight and it can transform the world. It is what helped to eventually end US underground nuclear testing after that first campaign. It launched Greenpeace into existence.

Today, the seeds of another #MindBomb grows in the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world. It is an idea that challenges an old story: that fossil fuels are somehow inevitable and oil companies are somehow invincible; a story we have too often been conditioned to believe is true. Instead, we replace it with a far more powerful idea: that companies like Shell are relics of the past and we must transition to renewable energy. We must put our concerns for people and the planet before profit.

First Nations activist Audrey Siegl stood boldly to confront Shell's drilling rig the Polar Pioneer.

We've seen this idea take hold with a student movement that is pushing to divest (the opposite of invest) billions of dollars from the fossil fuel industry. Pope Francis recently ordered a decree on faith that gives guidance on responding to scientific warnings on climate change. Economically, we see more energy being produced by renewable power than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And just last week the G7 summit agreed to make fossil fuels a thing of the past by the end of this century.

The #MindBomb is the tool that makes the world change. It was the consciousness switch that ultimately stopped the US nuclear testing in the 1970's. It will be our tool to ultimately win this fight against Arctic drilling as well.

Staring out at these waves in the Pacific Ocean, I know in my heart that the story of my father's time and the story of our time is only separated by that – time. Our struggles and our tools for revolution remain the same. An idea can change the world – but it is up to us to make it true.

To the dreamers in all of us making our dreams true!

Emily Hunter is a Digital Mobilizer for Greenpeace Canada.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

Cold War Resurgent: US Nukes Could Soon Return to Europe

Washington is once again talking about stationing nuclear warheads in Europe. Russia, too, is turning up the rhetoric. Europeans are concerned about becoming caught in the middle of a new Cold War. By SPIEGEL Staff
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Cold War Resurgent: US Nukes Could Soon Return to Europe

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German govt clashes with Bavaria over nuclear storage site plan

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Dozens of U.S. companies bet on nuclear power revolution: report

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Japan to speed up return of Fukushima area evacuees

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South Korea needs new facility for spent nuclear fuel: advisory group

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