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51% Show #1259

Kawamoto Takuo

Japan's nuclear regulatory authority is now dealing with a new emergency... contaminated water from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant has spilled over underground walls built to contain it. The watchdog group warns that levels of radioactivity in the Pacific Ocean will rapidly rise unless active measures are taken quickly. Tens of thousands of tons of radioactive water were dumped into the Pacific as an emergency measure shortly after the plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Credit Helen Caldicott Foundation

Fukushima had a massive impact on the global conversation about nuclear power. Germany vowed to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 in response to the Fukushima meltdown. Nobel Prize winner Dr. HelenCaldicott, an anti-nuclear activist, is featured in this report on the long term health impacts of nuclear accidents. Martha Baskin of Green Acres Radio also spoke with a documentary filmmaker whose film remembers the chaotic aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

Germany faces a massive problem as it tries to decommission its power plants – what to do with the nuclear waste? According to German nuclear experts, the operation and decommissioning of the country's reactors will produce over 6.1 million cubic feet of low to medium-level radioactive waste that has to be stored underground, safely, for a million years. 

It's a huge task that the Germans say they won't complete until 2080 "at the earliest."

Meanwhile, there are concerns in the US about Canada's plans for storing its nuclear waste.

Credit Ryan Stubbs

Ontario Power Generation is proposing construction of an underground permanent burial facility for all of Ontario’s low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario.

The proposed site is less than a mile inland from the shore of Lake Huron and about 120 miles upstream from the main drinking water intakes for southeastern Michigan. In May, the Michigan state senate unanimously voted to oppose the project.  Shawn Perich with WTIP has more.

The waste-storage project falls under Canada’s regulations, not those of the United States.

That report comes to us courtesy of producer Sean Perich of WTIP and Points North.

Credit Rodger McCutcheon

In June, a $940 billion House version of the five-year 2013 Farm Bill was defeated because of partisan disagreements over a food stamp cut included in the bill.  But that bill also funds twenty agricultural conservation programs  such as the Conservation Reserve Program.

The House's 2013 Farm Bill reduces conservation spending by $6 billion over the next five years, trims CRP's current enrollment by eight million acres, and eliminates several programs through consolidation.

For 27 years, the popular Conservation Reserve Program has transformed small parcels of land. It is credited with contributing to cleaner water, more habitat for migrating birds and less soil erosion. But as Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports from Iowa, the program has been enrolling fewer acres in recent years and it isn't just about government funding.

Credit Diego Torres Silvestre

Now let's look at the flip side of the coin – trying to preserve wildlife habitat in a densely populated city. Wildlife has made a comeback in New York City thanks to careful protection of what limited habitats there are. Urban sprawl has been shrinking the animals’ old habitats, yet the improving condition of urban lands and waterways has made the city more hospitable. But ongoing development threatens animals even in their new habitats. Call it "habitat squeeze." An excellent example was a proposed development in Staten Island – the construction of a Nascar short track that was expected to draw 80 thousand racing fans with a view of the NYC skyline.  Kristin Espeland filed this story when the battle between environmentalists and developers was heating up – a battle that actually led to police ending a 2006 meeting early to avert what they feared would be a riot.  Stay tuned after the story – it has a new, recent twist.

ISC dropped the project in 2006. Just this month, it announced it has sold the property to Staten Island Marine Development – which plans to the use site for commercial development and wetland restoration under an agreement it reached with the state. 

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme  music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.

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