Stop Rokkasho

Musical activists are opposing a Japanese nuclear reprocessing plant. What’s in it for you: free musical downloads opposing contamination by nuclear radiation. (Any pro-radiation readers will have to look elsewhere.) Nuclear reprocessing is a way of reclaiming spent nuclear fuels. Sounds great, right — recycling and whatnot? Unfortunately, there are serious risks involved. The plant, Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant in Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, is under fire because:

  1. Just two weeks into testing, after the plant opened last year, radioactive water containing plutonium and uranium spilled inside the plant.
  2. According to a recent report, this particular plant has a design flaw that makes it susceptible to Japan’s frequent earthquakes — and the plant maker is alleged to have kept this flaw secret for eleven years.
  3. Reprocessing in general has been criticized for increasing the risk of global nuclear terrorism.
  4. Using nuclear energy as a power source poses numerous risks throughout the fuel cycle both in terms of the environment and terror targets.
  5. Personally, they had me at the radioactive water.

Stop Rokkasho.org: Hear [Music downloads]
Via the good peoples of Synthtopia

Music with political agendas has been controversial among readers of this site. But when high-profile musicians like Ryuichi Sakamoto are organizing musical protests, and the likes of Kraftwerk contribute songs, there’s no question these events have an impact. In this case, you can listen to a podcast, learn about the issues involved, and download a huge string of music. And maybe that’s not forcing anything — music has the power to evoke strong emotions and deep attachments. All around the world, it’s been employed on various sides of political issues. Agree or not, there’s no keeping musicians out of debates — little surprise, given our vocation is literally making noise.

As for this issue in question, I find every time I open my mouth on an issue, there’s an expert lurking in the wings to speak up. So please do. When I was working on behalf of international human rights and more transparent global trade policy (really; I’ve had some unusual hobbies), a staffer once joked that [unnamed organization] was opposed to energy in all its forms. Indeed, whereas nuclear power was once hailed for being environmentally friendly, its tendency to produce massively dangerous waste that’s nearly impossible to get rid of has now made it arguably one of the worst forms of energy. In this case, if nothing else, this campaign is likely to increase oversight of such projects in Japan.

But regardless of how you feel, I hope you enjoy the tunes.

  • FoodMasta

    Yeah, I mean global warming is bad, but global warming is much better than a CO2-free energy source that in the worse case Chernobal-style scenario still produces less cancer than a typical coal plant.

    Remember, support this music and help do your part to promote global warming!

  • bliss

    Yeah, that radioactive water is a doozy! Doesn't Sweden rely almost exclusively on nuclear energy? That country is rated as having some of the best air in the world, I think. So maybe there's a way to do nuclear energy right. Always a risk, though.

  • anon

    The point is, we use too much energy, period.

    The solution to that problem, is to use less energy, not to find a new source. Once we find a cheap and proven clean source, a process which will take at least 50 years from the discovery of that source (as evident in our assumption that fossil fuels were 'clean enough' until pretty much this year, despite the greenies warning us all for the last decade or three), then we could consider something else, but until then, we need to learn to not be so damn decadent and hedonistic.

    I don't walk and catch the bus cause it's fun, I catch the bus because I get the irrits watching one guy in a 5 litre car revving his way to work like he never considered that it might be a problem, and the 1000's of others surrounding him doing just the same. Everyone knows that they have a direct responsibility but nobody wants to do their part. It's like some hoard of new roman zombies in a self deluded trance, happily tapping on the wheel while they use as much energy as it took to heat their takeaway coffee every time the subwoofer pumps. In gridlock. I dig a nice drive and a tune and hate the smell of urine on the train like anyone else, but I just can't allow myself to be a part of that culture. It's not a big sacrifice really. In my house, there's no air-con, in summer (up to 45C) we just strip off, and take a cool shower if we get real hot. In winter (down to -5C) we use the heater but we rug up first. No need for a heater if you can put a sweater on instead. There's only ever one light on in the house at a time, and we pay attention to adjust the doors and windows and curtains to help keep the house at a good temperature. Just those things reduced my energy consumption by half. It's not hard.

    Over consumption aside, we all know fossil fuels are dangerous, we all know nuclear is dangerous. So does it take a freakin' rocket scientist to nut out that we shouldn't use either? Why are we so hesitant to say "look, it seemed like a good idea, but it's turned out no good, let's launch the spent fuel rods at the sun and move on to the next attempt"?

  • http://debsinha.com deb

    amen anon, about the reducing energy bit and no one wanting to do their part. here in ontario the provincial government is going to phase out the crappy energy wasting light bulbs for the, um, better kind (can't remember the name). on a recent trip to india, i noticed that almost everyone, including many roadside slapdash stalls, had the compact flourescent bulbs. it just makes sense.

    and on another note, i know we have a pretty broad range of ideas about music, but i have to say its pretty sad that people think "political" music is not a good idea or makes no difference or whatever. whatever gets someone to sign up for amnesty or what have you, well, how can that be wrong? ok so then people do one tiny thing and then their guilt is gone and they don't do anything else. doesn't mean they never will. i could go on but i think i may have done something bad already according to comment etiquette so i'll stop….

  • poopoo

    right on FoodMasta.

    Unless we stop using carbon based fuels NOW we are not going to slow global warming. Nuclear fuel is a short term solution while a better "greener" solution is found.

  • velocipede

    Japan has tons of nuclear facilities and most Japanese seem to accept them. Something like 50% of the nation's energy comes from nuclear power. The problem is this project seems to have serious flaws and is being pushed over the will of the local people. The controversy is compounded by numerous cases of coverups in the nuclear power industry here in recent years. The long term solution is free nuclear fusion conducted by the sun and harnessed by increasingly efficient solar cells.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Thanks, velocipede; hoped we'd get the Japanese perspective on this.

    I've seen some really compelling stuff happening in both solar and wind power. As for the CDM side of power consumption, I'd sure like to see more efficient electronics, particularly all these redundant power transformers and AC/DC adapters.

    I read your comment wrong at first, though, velocipede, and thought you were advocating Earth-bound nuclear fission. Using the Sun is great! :)

  • anon

    Thx deb. On a sideline note, those fluoro bulbs, which I have used everywhere for years, have just this week been shown to cause problems after disposal as a result of high mercury levels. D'oh! It's got me thinking about LED lighting but I'm not sure about that…

    It would be nice if our government commissioned research into these things and disseminated the information to us, rather than it just being a marketing thing, or a matter of a select few doing their own research, possibly being misinformed, and never being heard…

    "i could go on but i think i may have done something bad already according to comment etiquette so i’ll stop…."

    Hahaha yeh… Sometimes it's hard to draw that line between activism and accidentally making people think you're trolling :) I think this is all pretty chilled though?

    As for harnessing the sun, that's a pretty obvious solution huh… virtually unlimited juice, if we can just harness it. It's interesting to see the different methods people are using to do that. Hydro generators at dams are probably the oldest example – yes it's gravity that pulls the water through the turbine but it's the sun's heat that makes the rain that fills the dam… There's wind power (actually that might be the oldest, windmills aren't new) and solar cells which our financial models are prohibiting the use of … Then there's newer stuff like harnessing waves, and the salt lake generators.

    The last example brings up an interesting point – there may not necessarily be a singular solution. The salt lake thing is fantastic in Australia where we have a great deal of land and sun, but in Japan where real estate is slim and the sun is not quite as strong, it would be completely impractical.

    The growth in nanotech is really making things change here too… But of course there's always the catch that manufacturing the devices we use to solve one problem, might cause another, as with the CFL bulbs mentioned up top, or with hydrogen cars, and nanotech is a field where that is a greater possibility of side effects than mechanical means…

    The thing that worries me, is that our society has proven that it will most likely adopt a flawed solution as a result of corruption and financial concerns – which are the main reasons this conversation didn't happen 20 years ago. Now, as demonstrated in poopoo's comment above, people are concerned with fossil fuel use because of the global warming issues having a lot of media coverage (at last)… But greenhouse gases are not the only concern with these fuels, not by a long shot. Screw global warming (which may, or may not, be caused or exacerbated by us) … Worry about cancer from vehicle and factory exhausts.. Worry about habitat destruction.. Worry about allergies.. Worry about unnatural clothing fabrics.. Worry about non biodegradable plastics that are flogged cheap because they are essentially industrial waste.. Worry about exploitation of the third world… Heck, I won't rant on, google it ;)

    Anyway just to include something about music in my political comment…

    I was brought up by a parent who was fairly conservative in most respects, and I thank goodness for the hip hop lyrics that taught me to apply a healthy dose of scepticism to what I see around me. It and reggae and rave culture and all the 'underground' cultures that it led me to, taught me to look twice at a lot of things… It kinda planted a seed that's been fed by my environment and grown over time.

    The effects of that, as with many others from my generation, are only now beginning to become visible to the general public, and similarly I don't think we'll really know what effect today's political music has, until today's teens are adults and gain recognition of their own.

    I think it's important that political music focus on broader scale change over a longer time frame. It's great to get someone to buy a Legacy pin or sign a partition today, but it's even better if you help to make an activist who, in ten or twenty years time, will really fight for the cause that they believe in because they have been educated outside of the mainstream train of thought and won't stand for wrongdoing.

    What a rant. STFU anon!

  • anon

    Thought this news was relevant… http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6616651

    Much nicer to look at than a reactor stack!