Tuesday, March 29, 2011




Source: BetterWorld

"There could be no clearer example of the prevailing dictatorship of economics… That nuclear fission represents an incredible, incomparable, and unique hazard for human life does not enter any calculation and is never mentioned."

To submit to the nuclear lobby, he continues, "is a transgression against life itself, a transgression infinitely more serious than any crime ever perpetrated by man. The idea that a civilisation could sustain itself on the basis of such a transgression is an ethical, spiritual, and metaphysical monstrosity."

- Schumacher on "the so-called peaceful use of atomic energy"

[For an interesting contrary view see: Small is Beautiful, even for Nuclear Fission Reactors By Rod Adams [‘Atomic Insights’ blog]

It was a shock to see the name E.F. Schumacher in The Observer on Sunday. He was the subject of a lengthy profile by Robert McCrum entitled ‘EF Schumacher: Cameron’s choice’

Back in the 1970s Schumacher was one of the thinkers of which we all took note, particularly his classic work ‘Small is Beautiful’

The key hook of McCrum’s piece, which does a good basic job of introducing Schumacher, is to highlight the claimed influence that Schumacher’s ideas have had on David Cameron personally and on the concept of the Big Society. The Generalist remains sceptical on this point. McCrum writes;

‘Long before our current crisis, Schumacher and his ideas were attracting attention here in the UK. Several of the better themes of David Cameron's widely disputed "big society" are indistinguishable in their ambition from parts of Small is Beautiful. The prime minister, indeed, has long been interested in Schumacher's ideas. Almost immediately after becoming leader of the Conservative party, Cameron addressed the Soil Association, engaging with key aspects of the Small Is Beautiful message. Schumacher always said that his arm would wither if he voted Conservative, but he turns out to be a natural godfather for the coalition.’



Wikipedia resources:

E. F. Schumacher

Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered

A Guide for the Perplexed

Small is Beautiful: An Introduction to E.F. Schumacher by Noah Enelow. [Source: Field Guide to the US Economy/5th Feb 2004]

Multiple translations of Schumacher’s essay Buddhist Economics

Organisations with direct links to SchumacherE F Schumacher, copyright Peter Barry Chowka

Practical Action, formerly called the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), was set up by Schumacher in 1965 to fill what he called the 'technology gap' in the developing world.

Schumacher UK promotes sustainable systems for social, economic and environmental development through the Schumacher Lectures, the Schumacher Briefings, the Schumacher Awards and the Schumacher Institute.

The Schumacher College in the UK provides individuals and groups from across the world with the opportunity to learn on numerous levels about subjects relating to environmental and social sustainability.

The Schumacher Society USA is an educational non-profit organization founded in 1980. The Society has ‘transitioned’ into the New Economics Institute which  works in close partnership with the New Economics Foundation in London

The Soil Association UK exists to research, develop and promote sustainable relationships between the soil, plants, animals, people and the biosphere, in order to produce healthy food and other products while protecting and enhancing the environment. Schumacher became President of the Soil Association in 1970.

Source: EF Schumacher

Monday, March 28, 2011



On The Road is an upcoming adventure drama movie directed by Walter Salles based on a script by Jose Rivera. It's a movie adaptation of Jack Kerouac's novel of the same name. The film is starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, and Viggo Mortensen. There's no official release date yet.

Source: http://on-the-road.film-trailer.com/

SEE ALSO: The 25 Best Road Movies From Around the World by Will Aitken


‘ON THE ROAD’ IS 50: The Scroll

‘ON THE ROAD’ IS 50: Critics, Movie, Lost Play, Estate

‘ON THE ROAD’ IS 50: A Digital Moment

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Headstrong: Protesters want nuclear energy gone



The signs read “Switch Off”

Around 210,000 demonstrators in Cologne, Berlin, Munich and Hamburg vented their anger at the government's nuclear policy on Saturday, supported by Germany's umbrella union body, the DGB, as well as politicians from the opposition Greens and Social Democrats.

Alarmed by the nuclear crisis in Japan, environmental and religious groups as well as unions organized the demonstrations, which kicked off in Cologne's city center, where nearly 40,000 people turned up to support the cause.

Around 90,000 people took to the streets in Berlin while in Hamburg, organizers counted around 50,000 demonstrators and in Munich the figure was estimated at 30,000.

Organizers said they were the biggest anti-nuclear protests Germany has ever seen.

Source: Deutsche Welle/26th March 2011

German nuclear power plants and their remaining lifespans German nuclear power plants and their remaining lifespans

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that seven reactors that went into operation before 1980 would be offline for three months while Europe's biggest economy reconsiders its plans to extend the life of its atomic power plants. A previous government decided a decade ago to shut all 17 German nuclear reactors by 2021, but Merkel's administration last year moved to extend their lives by an average 12 years.

Source: Topnews360


Next month sees the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident (April 26th 1986)


(Above: When Chernobyl Four reactor blew up in April 1986, spewing radioactive fallout across Belaruus, workers quickly slapped a giant concrete sarcophagus over the site to contain the hazard. It was supposed to be a temporary fix. Two decades later, the Ukrainian government is finally planning something more permanent.

The French construction company Novarka has design an arch-shaped steel structure – 843ft wide, 30 stories high, and weighing almost as much as two Eiffel Towers – to be assembled next to the reactor. The structure will be rolled into place on concrete tracks, straddling part of the adjacent building and enclosing the reactor. Set for completion in 2012, the so-called New Safe Confinement can’t come soon enough. According to a government spokesperson, the shelter will seal off “the lava-like formations that are destroying the current sarcophagus and creating radioactive dust.” And it could finally allow the demolition of the old concrete tomb and reactor. Sounds like a blast.

Peter Savodnik/Wired December 2007

Here’s the latest news

Chernobyl, 25 years on: cash plea for new roof to contain deadly remains ‘ by Terry Macalister/The Guardian 27th Feb 2011

(Image credits:Vivo (Ben) )

“Pripyat funfair was due to be opened on May 1st. The Chernobyl disaster happened April 26th. No one ever managed to ride the ferries wheel. It remains one of the most irradiated parts of Pripyat since the disaster, making it still dangerous today, 22 years on.” Read more: http://funny.funnyoldplanet.com/strange/the-chernobyl-story-told-in-pictures/


Aerial photo taken two or three days after the accident [AP Photo/Volodymir Repik]. Source: CTV.ca

‘ Russian Support for Nuclear Energy Weakeness As Chernobyl Anniversary Nears’ – James Brooke/Voice of America 27th March 2011.

[It should be noted that Voice of America (VOA) is the official external radio and television broadcasting service of the US Federal Goverment]

The article claims:

- That Innocent Saturday,a docudrama on the Chernobyl disaster, which opened in move theatres across Russia, is banned in Belarus, the country that suffered most from the disaster.

- Belarus has signed a deal with Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear power company, to build two new nuclear reactors.

- Rosatom is building one quarter of the 60 nuclear power plants under construction worldwide, in Turkey, Bulgaria, India, China and Iran. They plan to build 11 new reactors in Russia in the next decade.

- According to Vladimir Slivyak, head of Eco-Defense, a Russian environmental group,11 of the 32 nuclear reactors working in Russia are of the Chernobyl era, built with designs from the 1970s.

"On April 26th,  when the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl will happen, we are planning to organize bigger protests and probably more radical," says Slivyak .



Above: A promotional card for a five-and-a-half minute British Art Council film ‘Hokusai: An Animated Sketchbook’, directed by Tony White in 1979, which explores 60 of the more than 30,000 drawings Hokusai is reputed to have produced in his life time.

As if to bring attention to itself, this picture which was stuck on my wall, cam unstuck and landed on the desk in front of me, triggering off a chain of thought. Its is the most famous image in Japanese art which I was now looking at with fresh eyes. Was this a depiction of a tsunami. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, the answer was  found in the ‘Notes & Records of The Royal Society’, in a paper entitled ‘What Kind of Wave is Hokusai’s Great wave off Kanagawa? by Julyan H.E. Cartwright and Hisami Nakamura.

They report that: ‘The print is often reproduced as the artistic depiction of a tsunami’ and ask the question ‘Did Hokusai really have a tsunami in wind when he composed the work?’

They conclude that it is ‘more probable that Hokusai intended to depict an abnormally large storm wave.’ There is, they say, a great deal of scientific interest in these ‘freak’ or ‘rogue’ waves at present.


‘The great wave [the boats] are about to encounter is a plunging breaker, a gigantic ocean wave breaking into spray and spume, and at over 10m in height is so large in terms of waves in Tokyo Bay that it must be considered a freak or rogue wave.’

The paper, in addition, dissects every aspect of the image and the life and times of Hokusai, in forensic detail. Fascinating.

For instance, Benoit Mandelbrot noted in Hokusai’s print the fractal nature of the breaking wave  - a type known as a ‘plunging breaker’. Modern ocean observations and dynamic computer models both confirm that Hokusai accurately depicted the wave’s structure, more than a hundred years before it was confirmed by science.

Since the age of six, I had a habit of sketching from life. From fifty onwards I began producing a fair amount of art work, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If only I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I hope I may have a divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and ten I may have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May men of great age and virtue see that I am not hoping for too much!’

- The afterword to an 1834 collection of his work Fugaku Hyakkei (One hundred views of Mount Fuji) that he signed ‘Gakyo Rojin Manji’ (‘Manji the old man mad about art’)—he was then 74 years old.

Sunday, March 20, 2011



Nuclear Power

Top: Nuclear plants are built in earthquake zones around the world, a good example of integrating data sets to great effect. [Source: Simon Rogers/Datablog. The Guardian]

Bottom: The size of each territory indicates the amount of electricity generated in nuclear power plants. Only 30 out of 200 territories produce power in this way - and of those 30, 17 are in Europe. In 2002, Sweden produced the most nuclear power followed by France. NO nuclear power is generated in any of the territories in Central Africa, Northern Africa or Asia-Pacific and Australasia.  [Source: ‘The Atlas of the Real World’ by Daniel Dorling, Mark Newman and Anna Barford] [Thames & Hudson. 2008] Put together by the people behind worldmapper.org ]

See also:

The Nuclear world: interactive map [Financial Times]

Where are the world’s nuclear reactors [New Scientist]


[Source: The world’s nuclear reactors. October 2009. Originally published in The Guardian]

Power companies around the world currently rely on 440 nuclear reactors in 30 countries — 104 of them in the U.S. — to produce roughly 14 percent of global electrical supplies. To meet rising demand and reduce carbon emissions, power companies outside the U.S. are building 63 new plants. Another 158 plants are in the planning stages and 324 more have been proposed, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Europe and Japan are among the most heavily reliant on nuclear power. Sixteen countries get at least a quarter of their electrical power form nuclear, including Japan (30 percent), France (75 percent), Belgium (51 percent) Finland (33 percent) Germany (26 percent) Switzerland (40 percent) and Sweden (34 percent). Those countries have only a handful of new plants under construction.

China has by far the world’s most ambitious program to expand nuclear power with 27 plants under construction. That would more than triple the number of plants in China and boost nuclear power output roughly five-fold. Some 50 more plants are in the planning stages and another 110 have been proposed.

Source: Tihik.Com News


Japanese accident dims odds of US nuclear revival [Tihik.Com News/14th March 2011]

‘The Obama administration signalled Monday that the accident in Japan will force it to take another look at its policy of expanding nuclear power in the U.S. ..Building on the Bush administration’s efforts to revive construction, President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address proposed some $36 billion in government loan guarantees to jump-start construction of as many as 20 new nuclear power plants….the U.S. hasn't licensed a new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years…since the effort to revive nuclear power began a decade ago, a much more attractive alternative has popped up – natural gas.’

Japan crisis probably won’t end China’s commitment to nuclear power by Benjamin Haas [LA Times/19th March 2011]

‘Premier Wen Jiabao announced this week that China would put a moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants while it updates safety standards. But China's insatiable thirst for energy will probably ensure that its long-term commitment to nuclear power continues.

China is ‘building nuclear reactors faster than any other country in the world…Projects in China currently represent 60% of all new nuclear power plant construction worldwide.

‘Despite foreign assistance, China's nuclear industry is still playing catch-up, with most reactors being built with designs based on 30-year-old technology. Most of China's new reactors are being constructed along the nation's eastern coast, making them vulnerable to tsunamis, experts said. Questions also remain whether China will have enough qualified workers and safety regulators.’

Lee fights nuclear backlash by Kang Hyun-kyung [Korea Times/18 March 2011]

Amid the nuclear crisis in Japan, the reliability and safety of made-in-Korea nuclear reactors have become President Lee Myung-bak’s buzzwords this week.

The alleged caution creeping into the nuclear energy industry remains a fear factor for South Korea as it set the ambitious goal of taking up to 20 percent of the global market in the forthcoming years by exporting its nuclear technology.

Lee ordered the Ministry of Public Administration and Security to carry out regular training to prepare for possible nuclear accidents.

Japanese nuclear threat causes anti-nuclear backlash in Europe – DPA [March 14th]

France  gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants. It has 58 nuclear plants - three more than Japan - with an average age of 25 years. ‘While Europe faces lower seismic threats than Japan, at least six French plants, including the oldest facility in use since 1977, are located in areas of 'moderate seismicity', according to Liberation newspaper. ‘

‘In nuclear-free Italy… a referendum had already been scheduled for June, in an attempt to block proposals by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government to begin constructing nuclear power stations by 2013.  Italy is prone to violent seismic shifts and more than 300 people were killed in an earthquake in the central region of Abruzzo in 2009.’

Polish premier Donald Tusk also said that Japan's nuclear danger would not influence Warsaw's plans to build two nuclear power plants, the first of which will be built from 2016.

Russia also showed no signs of backing away from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's plans to construct 26 plants by the year 2030, aimed at doubling the nuclear share of energy to about a third.


Japan has 53 nuclear units that can produce 42,369 MWe distributed on the home  islands. Electric utilities with nuclear plants include - Hokkaido, Shikoku, Chubu, Tokyo, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Chugoku, Kansai, and Kyushu. Two other organizations with nuclear facilities are - Japan Atomic Power Company and Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute. The map below shows the location of each nuclear unit. Following is a description of each nuclear unit. The Japan Nuclear site provides a complete list of the Japanese plants with type, start date, utility as well as plants under construction, planned, closed, and non-commercial.

Source: http://www.nucleartourist.com/world/japan.htm

File:INES en.svg

This is the  International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which was introduced in 1990[1] by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) in order to enable prompt communication of safety significance information in case of nuclear accidents. The Fukushima accident is currently rated at Level 5: An Accident with wider consequences. 


Check the extraordinarily detailed Wikipedia entry on Fukushima nuclear accidents

Check the current situation at Fukushima on the IAEA News pages

This week has seen further details about the previous history of Japan’s nuclear accidents to add to the details in our PREVIOUS POST

Japan’s record of nuclear cover-ups and accidents by Peter Aldhous and Zena Lovino [New Scientist]

‘As this timeline shows, the readiness of Japan's reactors to survive major seismic events has been a growing concern. What's more, the nation's entire industry … has an undistinguished history of nuclear accidents and a poor record for transparency when things go wrong.’

Lapses, coverups color public view of nuclear plants by Yuri Kageyama [Japan Times ]

‘Behind the escalating nuclear crisis sits a scandal-ridden energy industry in a cozy relationship with government regulators, who are often willing to overlook safety lapses.

Leaks of radioactive steam and workers contaminated with radiation are just part of the disturbing catalog of accidents that have occurred over the years and been belatedly reported to the public, if at all.’

WIKILEAKS; nuclear cables


During the third meeting of the G8 Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG) held in Tokyo December 3-4 (2008)

‘On earthquakes and nuclear safety, the IAEA presenter noted the Agency has officials in Japan to learn from Japan's recent experience dealing with earthquakes and described several areas of IAEA focus. First, he explained that safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years and that the IAEA is now re-examining them. Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work. The IAEA is issuing a new guide on seismic evaluation to accompany existing guidelines on seismic hazard and design. Finally, the IAEA noted it had launched an International Seismic Safety Center at its September general conference to enhance safety, develop standards, pool and share knowledge.’

Note: IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority)


Voices From Three Mile Island

(Above): A Two-Hour Oral History Documentary from Turning Tide Productions

Fukushima crisis recalls Three Mile Island by Scott Dixon [Japan TImes]

CAMP HILL, Pa. — For residents near Three Mile Island, a nuclear power plant along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania, images of workers at the Fukushima No. 1 facility trigger reminders of their own traumatic experiences in 1979.

Accident Makes Japan Re-Examine A-PLants              by Howard W. French [New York Times/ Jan 13th 2000]

‘The brief meeting between the industry chief and the governor illustrated how sharply the ground has begun to shift under Japan's electric utilities since workers set off the accidental chain reaction at Tokaimura, 70 miles north of Tokyo.

The accident forced a partial evacuation of the town and set off a death watch for the irradiated workers. And, more than any event in a history full of serious mishaps, it rattled the ironclad coalition between industry and government that has long made Japan, a country with precious few domestic sources of energy, the world's most ambitious user of nuclear energy, providing one-third of its supplies. ‘

Friday, March 18, 2011



(Left): The Grateful Dead logo designed by Owsley Stanley and Bob Thomas

"There's nothing wrong with Bear that a few billion less brain cells wouldn't cure."

- Jerry Garcia

Let’s begin by celebrating Owsley’s sonic achievements as a sound engineer par excellence before delving into his genius as an LSD chemist. It can now be seen that his influence on music and modern culture is profound.


Augustus Owsley Stanley III should be remembered for more than his contribution to hallucinogenic drugs – he was an electronics genius who introduced the stage monitor, the travelling PA, separate miked stereo sound and live recordings to rock and roll.’

‘Bad trip end maestro’s kool-aid acid test’ By Simon Tatz

Remembering Owsley “Bear” Stanley (1935-2011) [Audio] by Jeff Weis [Pop & Hiss: The LA TImes Music Blog]

There is a lot of stuff on Owsley out there on the web. This is the boss piece. Extraordinary.

Owsley Stanley: The King of LSD by Robert Greenfield [Rolling Stone]



This is an interesting new account of Operation Julie, the celebrated LSD bust of the 1970s by Welsh journalist Lyn Ebenezer [pubished by yLolfa].

According to the blurb: ‘In March 1977, the largest police drugs bust in history cracked a drugs ring based near Tregaron in rural mid-Wales, Six million tabs of LSD were recovered by the police and 120 people were arrested throughout the UK and France. Stashes of LSD worth £100 million were also unearthed and £800,000 was discovered hidden in Swiss bank accounts. eventually 17 defendants were jailed for a total of 130 years in the wake of the investigation.’

This is not the first book-length account, as the author acknowledges.

Two books were published immediately after the trial - ‘Operation Julie’ by Dick Lee, the policeman who had led the investigation (co-written with Colin Pratt of the Express newspaper and ‘Busted’ by Martin Pritchard, also part of the Julie squad (written with Ed Laxton, and published by Mirror Books).

Three other books cover it in more or less detail:

‘The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’ by Stewart Tendler and David May (1984/rp2007), two investigative journalists who covered the case for The Times and the Sunday Times respectively [SEE PREVIOUS POST]

Acid: The Secret History of LSD’ by David Black {Vision Paperbacks. 1998)

Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain’ by Andy Roberts [SEE PREVIOUS POST]

This new book adds a lot of flavour and detail about the local Welsh scene, which the author knows well. It’s a complicated story with numerous locations and characters, both in the LSD rings and in the police investigation which can be quite confusing for the reader. There is a good photo section but a map, a list of dramatis personae and a chronology would have helped.

The Generalist was pleased to discover that the piece on Operation Julie that I wrote for the NME shortly after the trial is quoted extensively in Chapter 15. You can read the whole article here: INSIDE DOPE: OPERATION JULIE REVISITED

The Generalist Archive has a good selection of original clippings from the time, details of which are reproduced below:

LSD3875 LSD7879 LSD5877




(Top Left): Portrait of Julie Taylor, the policewoman whose name was used for the operation. She discovered during the trial that she had gone to the same school as one of the defendants, Christine Bott

(Top Right): Martin Pritchard in regular uniform and hippy disguise. [Daily Mirror( 9 March 1978)]

The Operation Julie squad celebrate after the trial. [Daily Mail (9 March 1978)]

HEADLINES: Evening Standard (8 March 1978); Daily Mirror( 9 March 1978); Daily Express (9 March 1978)




Friday, March 11, 2011


jJAPAN tv 003


Life is strange. Yesterday The Generalist’s HQ was visited by a Japanese film crew (with Marie as translator) who had come to interview me for a primetime documentary, due to air on NHK (the Japanese equivalent of the BBC) on April 8th.

The subject was Broken Arrows, the name given by the US Department of Defense (DOD) to serious accidents involving nuclear weapons – a subject that was included as part of the book ‘The Greenpeace Book of he Nuclear Age’ which was published 22 years ago.

The book was at the time of its publication the most detailed and complete summary of military and civil nuclear accidents. Whilst doing some background research and out of personal interest, I did some background reading on the current state of the Japanese nuclear industry and discovered that currently 34.5% of Japan’s electricity is generated by nuclear power. Japan is the third largest nuclear power user in the world with 53 reactors currently operating.

During the interview, I asked the crew whether they were concerned about all these reactors being built in a country prone to earthquakes and the cameraman admitted he was. The very next day, as you all now know, Japan was hit by the biggest earthquake in the last 100 years, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

At time of writing this is the state of play regarding Japan’s reactors, according to Bloomberg news:

Eleven reactors operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Asia’s biggest utility, Tohoku Electric Power Co., and Japan Atomic Power Co. were shut, the trade ministry said in an e- mailed statement.

A fire broke out at a turbine building at Tohoku Electric’s Onagawa reactor, company spokesman Kazuya Sugawara said, adding that there’s no risk of a radiation leak.

Japan issued an emergency warning after Tokyo Electric shut its nuclear reactors in Fukushima prefecture, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo.  “We are declaring an emergency situation in accordance with the law,” Edano said. “No leakage of nuclear material outside the facility has been confirmed. Therefore, residents in designated areas as well as visitors don’t need to take special action.”

Tokyo Electric shut seven reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi and Daini atomic plants while three reactors at Tohoku Electric’s Onagawa station were halted, the trade ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in the e-mailed statement. Japan Atomic Power shut the No. 2 reactor at its Tokai plant, the agency said.

 LATEST NEWS: The fire at the Onagawa plant has been extinguished, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Problem reactor is now Fukushima 1. Reactor has been shut down but they are having problems getting water into the reactor to cool the core.

The Guardian: 2:30

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, told a news conference. Kyodo news agency said around 3,000 residents were being moved out.

Work had begun on restoring the cooling function at the reactor, Jiji news agency quoted the trade ministry as saying.

Tepco confirmed that water levels inside the reactors were falling but it was working to maintain them to avert the exposure of nuclear fuel rods.

The company was trying to restore power to its emergency power system so it could add water to the reactors, a Tepco spokesman said.

"There is a falling trend (in water levels) but we have not confirmed an exposure of nuclear fuel rods," he said.



1973 March:

At the Japanese Mihama 1 reactor, in the prefecture of Fukui, a disturbance in the flow of coolant broke the top 70mm off two fuel rods, scattering pellets of uranium oxide through the cooling system in the reactor core. The uranium fuel may have partially melted. The Owners, Kansai Electrical Power Company, did not consider the incident to be worth reporting officially and kept it a secret for three years.

The Mihama I reactor had previously been plagued by leake in the steam generator tubes and has been repeatedly shut down for repairs. By 1973, one-fifth of the tubes were found to be defective and had to be repaired. Further repairs were carried out in early 1974 but, after its restart, the reactors ran for only 42 days at 40 per cent power before radiation leaks were again detected. Inspection of the Mihama 2 and Mihama 3 plants revealed similar problems.

Damage to the tubing was given as the sole reason for the final shutdown of the Mihama 1 plant in July 1074, but two years later a group of workers from the plant disclosed that damage to the core, caused by the 1073 accident, was the true reason. The owners and the government denied this, but a team from the Ministry of Trade and Industry examined the plant and publicly admitted that there was indeed a problem in the core.

In December 1976, the local anti-nuclear group discovered that the broken rods were to be transported by road to the government research station at Tokai-Mura before radiation had cfallen to the required level./ Trade unionists and political leadwrs joined a sit-down protest to block the gates of the plant, and 250 riot police were called in to break up the demonstration. Source: J Takagi (original contribution); Judith Cook – ‘Red Alert’ (New English Library 1986]

1975, January 10: At the Tsuruga-1 reactor complex in Japan, 13 tons of radioactive waste liquid leaked from a crack in the storage tank and onto the floor of the building. Decontamination teams were exposed to high levels of radiation.                                                                                Source: J Takagi (original contribution)

1977, July 27: In Japan, a routine inspection revealed one-inch deep cracks on the inside of the Fukushima 1 reactor pressure vessel, raising questions of safety at all Japanese boiling-water reactors. Workers carrying out repairs inside the vessel suffered radiation exposure. Source: J Takagi (original contribution)

1979, December 3: A loosened plug in the primary coolant circuit at the Japanese Takahama 2 reactor caused 80 tons of coolant to leak out over a period of nine hours. Source: J Takagi (original contribution)

1981, March 8: A radioactive waste storage tank at the Japanese Tsuruga 1 reactor overflowed and leaked into Wakasa Bay.The plant’s operators JAPCO kept the incident secret but it came to light a month later when a team from the Kyoto University School of Agriculture, who had been monitoring contamination in the bay for 10 years, took samples of seaweed near the plant’s drain outlet. They found 11 picocuries of cobalt-60 and 40 picocuries of manganese-54, 250 times the level of contamination that JAPCO had claimed was present in the bay.

An inquiry was demanded and the operators finally admitted the scale of an earlier accidental leak in 1975 and disclosed that this latest leakage, the tenth at the plant, had been caused by tons of contaminated water leaking into a drainage system for three hours. Fifty0six workers had been contaminated, as had the sub-contractors invol ved in the clean-up. Several of these had not worn protective clothing while clearing up the radioactive water with mops and buckets. JAPCO paid out 1.2 billion yen in compensation to local fishermen and the tourist industry.  Source: J Takagi (original contribution)

1985, August 31: While the Fukushima 1-1 reactor in Japan was shut down for a routine inspection, fire broke out in thee turbine building and destroyed most of the power cables, including those that supply auxiliary equipment in the reactor. Had the plant been operating at the time, the situation could have been extremely dangerous. Source: J Takagi (original contribution)

1986, June 23: Twelve people, including IAEA inspectors, were ‘slightly’ contaminated by plutonium whilst inspecting a store-room of the Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation, owned by the Japanese government, at Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo. Source: The Times / 24 Feb 1986

1989, January 6: A violently vibrating recirculation pump at the Fukushima II-3 reactor in Japan was allowed to run for 14 hours, with alarms signalling a fault, before the reactor was shut down. Investigations revealed that a 100kg bearing ri9ng had broken up and, by early March, pieces of metal had been found throughout the core, on 122 of rthe 764 fuel assemblies and at the bottom of the reactor vessel. The largest piece of metal was 10.5cms long and weighed nine grams. The reactor was expected to be out of action for at least nine months. Source: WISE (14 April 1989/28 April 1989); Nuke Info Tokyo (March/April 1989)


  • 1981: almost 300 workers were exposed to excessive levels of radiation after a fuel rod ruptured during repairs at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant.[6]
  • December 1995: the fast breeder Monju Nuclear Power Plant sodium leak.[6]
  • March 1997: the Tokai reprocessing waste explosion.[6]
  • 1999: a fuel loading system malfunctioned at a nuclear plant in the Fukui Prefecture and set off an uncontrolled nuclear reaction and explosion.[6]
  • September 1999: the criticality accident at the Tokai fuel fabrication facility.[6]
  • August 2002: a widespread falsification scandal starting in that lead to shut down all of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s 17 nuclear reactors; Tokyo Electric's officials had falsified inspection records and attempted to hide cracks in reactor vessel shrouds in 13 of its 17 units.[7]
  • 9 August 2004: five workers were killed after a steam explosion at the Mihama-3 station; the subsequent investigation revealed a serious lack in systematic inspection in Japanese nuclear plants, which led to a massive inspection program.[7]
  • 16 July 2007: a severe earthquake (measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale) hit the region where Tokyo Electric's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant is located and radioactive water spilled into the Sea of Japan; as of March 2009, all of the reactors remain shut down for damage verification and repairs; the plant with seven units was the largest single nuclear power station in the world.[7]
  • 2008: an earthquake cracked the reactor cooling towers at the Kurihara Nuclear Power Plant, spilling wastewater and damaging the reactor core.[6]

Source:  Benjamin K. Sovacool. A Critical Evaluation of Nuclear Power and Renewable Electricity in Asia, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 40, No. 3, August 2010, pp. 380.

Sunday, March 06, 2011



One of the most famous BioArt works to date: The green flourescent bunny created by bioartist Eduardo Kac, revealed to the public in 2000. The bunny only flouresces when under blue light. Details of the project at GFP Bunny


The other is the work Australian performance artist  Stelarc, who implanted a cell-cultivated ear beneath the skin of his forearm.  According to endgadget.com: ‘Stelarc apparently isn't satisfied with his newfound appendage just yet, however, and is reportedly planning another surgery to give the ear "more definition." What's more, he's also hoping to implant a microphone inside the ear that'll use a Bluetooth transmitter to, you guessed it, broadcast what it hears over the Internet.’ [This is a 2007 report so this may already have happened].

The Generalist was invited to Lighthouse in Brighton to attend a presentation of ‘Laboratory Life: An art-science production workshop and exhibition’. The five projects each involved an artist working with a small team of collaborators. The public, schoolkids and other interested parties were able to view, discuss and participate in the various projects over an eight-day period while they were being set-up, constructed and developed. A week-long exhibition of the finished work followed on. I was present for the final sum-up presentation by the project leaders.

BIOART 014Andy Gracie: The Quest for Drosophila titanus
Reappropriation of NASA space bio-science apparatus with the aim of creating astrobiological experiment chambers for Drosophila melanogaster. During the experiments flies will be exposed to aspects of the environments found on Saturn's  moon Titan, a key location in current astrobiological research. Via the post-experiment artificial selection of individual flies a breeding stock for a proposed new species will be cultured.

GENERALIST NOTES: Attempt to use selected breeding to produce fruit flies that could survive in the conditions found on Titan – in nine days ! Fruit flies I learnt are one of the most widely used laboratory animals because they breed quickly and contain 70% of the human genome. Fruit flies have been flying in space since the early 60s. Discussed the difficulties of sexing the flies and identifying the virgins.

Bruce Gilchrist: Public Misunderstandings of Science
Readings of biotech science and scientific practice will be presented in order to test the public understanding of science. Participants will invited to draw and illustrate their understandings of scientific information and protocol while listening to scientific discourse. The finished drawings will be compiled into an animated film soundtracked with the original discourse.

GENERALIST NOTES: Participants wore headphones and listened to a very dense scientific presentation, during which they were invited to scribble their visual impressions. Drew a parallel with surrealistic practices of automatic writing.  The results were combined into an ‘abstract narrative animation’. Much talk of ‘cross-over methodologies’, ‘stately terrains’ and ‘perplexity indexes’.


Kira O'Reilly: The Garden Shed lab
Garden Shed Lab encapsulates a space for tinkering, exploring and experimenting with the biological possibilities around us through a range of interlinked micro-projects. The making of simple DIY apparatus and reagents, and working with molds,
yeasts, eggs and plant tissues will form a counterpoint to the notion of the body as an implicit agent in our actions.

GENERALIST NOTES: Kira recommended employing good kitchen practices when tinkering with lab and tissue culture projects, reminding us that bacteria are the arch-enemy. Some of their projects created a giant stink when they got infected.

Adam Zaretsky: Tattoo Traits
This project examines and questions our understanding of the role of chance in the development and combination of DNA and the emergence of distinct species. Hybrid DNA extraction and accumulation processes will be followed by the adaptation of
tattoo gun with which to perform DNA tattoos. The rhetoric and dialogue which goes with these actions and ideas is central to the project.

GENERALIST NOTES: Adam came into the room via a wobbly  Skype video link-up from New York. It was a lively and amusing presentation. He talked about the DNA mash-up they created from a wide variety of living sources and how they use a tattoo gun to inject into other living things – vegetables, fruit etc. He does not recommend doing this genomic tattooing at home. He explored some of the bioethical and Health and Safety issues around this idea.

BIOART 010 Anna Dumitriu: Infective Textiles
The development of a series of textile based artworks that involve 'garage' and 'DIY' microbiological processes in their making. The microbiological processes involved in the project will reference and employ issue of antibiotics and engage discussion on emerging technologies of infection control. Locating, preparing and culturing bacteria  from the environment will be the starting point of the process.

GENERALIST NOTES: Anna’s team explored the world of bacteria and textiles, cultivating the one and infecting the other, creating a palette of colours. The Regency dress makes a link with Maria Fitzherbert, wife of George II; swabs were taken from Regency costumes in the Reserve Collection of the Brighton Museum. Variously coloured bacteria are growing on the dress

This was overall a very interesting experience. I found some of the language impenetrable and am concerned that we still feel we have to address the ridiculous ongoing barriers between science and art (so last century). But it was heartening to see the enthusiasm, humour and creativity. BioArt is an emerging field, still in its infancy, which promises to challenge our future perceptions.


BioArt is an art practice where artists work with live tissues, bacteria, living organisms, and life processes. Using scientific processes such as biotechnology (including technologies such as genetic engineering, tissue culture, and cloning) the artworks are produced in laboratories, galleries, or artist’s studios. The scope of BioArt is considered by some artists to be strictly limited to “living forms”, while other artists would include art that uses the imagery of contemporary medicine and biological research, or require that it address a controversy or blind spot posed by the very character of the life sciences. Although BioArtists work with living matter, there is some debate as to the stages at which matter can be considered to be alive or living. Creating living beings and practicing in the life sciences brings about ethical, social and aesthetic inquiry. The phrase "BioArt" was coined by Eduardo Kac in 1997 in relation to his artwork Time Capsule. Although it originated at the end of the 20th century through the works of pioneers like Joe Davis and artists at SymbioticA, BioArt started to be more widely practiced in the beginning of the 21st century.