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Sweden:Malmo shut down nuclear plants, 1st carbon-neutral neighborhood; Japan:reactor re-activated despite disaster&mass protest


By WcP.Observer - Posted on 11 July 2012

The Western Harbour neighborhood in Malmö, Sweden, has led strides in sustainability.

officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima nuclear plant

(quote)
Västra Hamnen, also known as the City of Tomorrow, was transformed from a former shipyard in 2001 and is now home to 4,000 people.

Europe’s ‘First Carbon-Neutral Neighborhood’: Western Harbour
With a smart heating and cooling system and renewable energy, the city district of Västra Hamnen (Western Harbor), in Malmö, Sweden has established itself as the first carbon-neutral neighborhood in Europe, says Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu.

Västra Hamnen, also known as the City of Tomorrow, was transformed from a former shipyard in 2001 and is now home to 4,000 people.

The district uses an aquifer thermal energy storage system to store water collected during the summer 70 meters (230 feet) underground and pump it up with wind energy to heat the homes during the winter. The chilled water is then reused to cool buildings in the summer. “There’s no need for air-conditioners in the district,” Reepalu proudly told the audience at the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize Forum, held during the World Cities Summit on July 2 in Singapore.

The city of Malmö received a Special Mention award at the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize jointly with Copenhagen, Denmark for their “close collaboration at government and business levels, and shared vision of a holistic set of economic, environmental and socially sustainable goals.”

Reepalu said Malmö shut down its two nuclear power plants of 1,000-megawatt capacity in 2002 and 2005 respectively and the city aims to become carbon-neutral by 2030 by relying 100% on renewable energy sources. (More from Reepalu in the video above.)

Video: protests as Japan restarts nuclear power plant
Protesters shout and dance at the gate of a nuclear power plant, the first to go back online since Japan shut down all of its reactors following the Fukushima disaster

Japanese Nuclear Reactor Re-activated Despite Mass Protest
A Japanese nuclear power reactor restarted on Sunday—the first to reopen since the March 2011 Fukushima earthquake disaster—despite deepening popular opposition, reflected in a huge demonstration last Friday.

Organisers estimated that between 150,000 and 180,000 people joined the rally outside Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s official residence in central Tokyo, making it one of the largest protests in Japan in recent years. The turnout by far exceeded the estimated 45,000 people who attended a rally the week before.

The Asahi Shimbun reported that chants of “Saikado hantai! (We oppose the restart of the reactors) filled the streets. A wide cross-section of people, including mothers with children, pensioners and businessmen, carried placards and banners denouncing the government’s decision last month to order the reactivation of two reactors at Oi, on Japan’s western shore.

On the same day, smaller rallies were held in other cities, including Osaka, Nagoya, Nagasaki and Kumamoto. On Sunday, another 10,000-strong demonstration took place in Tokyo, and about 700 protesters blockaded the entrance to the Oi facility.

These demonstrations, organised primarily via social media, undoubtedly give voice to a wider public sentiment. A June 5 Pew opinion poll found 70 percent of respondents favouring a reduction in the country’s dependence on nuclear energy.

Nevertheless, the protests failed to stop the restarting of the No. 3 reactor at Oi. Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), the utility that operates the plant, said on its web site that a nuclear reaction occurred on Sunday, a key step toward electricity generation.

Seishu Makino, Japan’s senior vice industry minister, defied the protest blockade at Oi to attend the reopening, standing alongside KEPCO vice president Hideki Toyomatsu in order to underscore the government’s determination to proceed. KEPCO’s second approved reactor at Oi—No. 4—is due to go online as early as July 17. Other reactors are already being lined up to follow, including those operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the company responsible for the Fukushima catastrophe.

All of Japan’s 50 reactors had been shut down since May, certainly for maintenance or upgrading; but significantly due to the public unease produced by last year’s partial meltdown of three Fukushima reactors, which forced about 87,000 residents to evacuate their homes.

Even as KEPCO’s No. 3 Oi reactor was being reactivated, TEPCO reported another problem at the crippled Fukushima plant. The company said the cooling system for the spent nuclear fuel pool at its reactor No. 4 broke down on Saturday, and a temporary system was set up on Sunday. TEPCO said the cooling system had to be restored, or temperatures would have risen beyond safe levels.

Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone regions on the planet. Two seismologists, Mitsuhisa Watanabe of Toyo University, and Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor emeritus at Kobe University, last week warned that KEPCO’s Oi plant sits atop four major tectonic faults, and one minor one. KEPCO’s emergency procedures foresee only two faults moving at once. The plant is located on Wakasa Bay, home to 13 reactors and not far from two major cities, Kyoto and Osaka.

Across Japan, the Fukushima catastrophe has reinforced deeply-felt fears about the destructive and deadly dangers of nuclear technology...

Protests mark restart of Japan nuclear reactor
Tens of thousands of people have gathered on Friday evenings around Noda's official residence, chanting "Saikado hantai", or "No to nuclear restarts".

All 50 of Japan's working reactors were gradually turned off following last year's massive earthquake and tsunami, which sent the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant into multiple meltdowns, setting off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Protesters such as Taisuke Kohno, a 41-year-old musician among the 200 people trying to blockade the Ohi plant, aren't so sure. He said protesters were facing off against riot police and planned to stay there day and night. "It's a lie that nuclear energy is clean," he said. "After experiencing the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how can Japan possibly want nuclear power?"

(unquote)

Images courtesy heureux / Flickr, Reuters

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