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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

NUCLEAR POWER and RADIOACTIVE WASTES – theme for February 16

The world faces a dangerous and ever more pressing problem – nuclear wastes.

The logical steps to deal with nuclear wastes are:

1. Stop making the stuff.  Close down the commercial and military nuclear reactors that produce plutonium and other long-lived radioactive materials

2. Choose the “least worst” option to dispose of the existing nuclear wastes   – (a) Interim storage of radioactive wastes into above ground containers (b) Deep burial underground permanent repositories.

The nuclear lobby, desperate to stave off the death of its industry, comes up with grand promises of new Generation IV systems, reactors that will reprocess, “recycle” plutonium wastes into Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX)  to fuel for other Gen IV reactors.  At the end, highly toxic radioactive wastes are still produced.

And all this – despite the enormous costs, the very dangerous transport of plutonium, the risks of terrorism, the increased risks of weapons proliferation.

The nuclear lobby’s cries for Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR)s, Super Critical Water Reactors (SCWR)s,  Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)s, Gas Cooled Fast rectors (GCFR)s, Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (SCFR)s, Lead Cooled Fast Reactors (LCFR)s –  all desperate and conflicting cries for their own salvation, rather than any solution to wastes, costs, climate change, energy needs.

The worry is that the nuclear lobby might win, by manipulating governments and populations into buying their expensive and dangerous new toys –  because nobody really wants a nuclear waste tomb in their area.

The trouble is – nuclear cemeteries, however unappealing, are still the least worst option.

January 18, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes | 7 Comments

Sunset for Nuclear Power? Nuclear Showdown in California

Flag-USAWhy the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You, Sunset for Nuclear Power?  CounterPunch, by JAMES HEDDLE FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Does the dream of nuclear power still ‘look bright’ as one enthusiastic investment advisor gushed less than a year ago, or is it the “the dream that failed,” as the Economist asserted as far back as March of 2012?

Approaching 5 years this March 11 after the still on-going Fukushima nuclear disaster, the debate goes on, enveloped in a miasma of mis-, dis-, and conflicting information generated by industry ‘merchants of doubt,’ but rarely leavened by rational analysis of What’s Really What.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015 by Mycle Schneider, Antony Froggatt et al went a long way toward settling the issue with just that – a data-based rational analysis.

Its conclusion: worldwide, despite a few troubled construction starts over budget and behind schedule, “The nuclear industry remains in decline.”

You’d never know it from the pro-nuclear happytalk and proposed subsidy and bailout bills being floated in Congress, but all around the world the global nuclear power industry is fighting for its life.

Nuclear Showdown in California

Nowhere is that battle closer to being decisively lost by the industry than in California, where the Sunshine State’s ‘last nuke standing’ – PG&E’s Diablo Canyon – faces a very uncertain future. A showdown between those who want to shut it down, and those who want to keep it going.

Diablo nuclear power plant
It is a microcosmic drama with all the elements of a movie thriller:

· A corrupt California Public Utilities Commission racked in scandals.
· A compromised Nuclear Regulatory Commission captured by nuclear interests.
· A resurgent peoples’ movement determined to shut Diablo down and responsibly manage the state’s thousands of tons of lethal radioactive waste.
· The growing vision of a nuclear-energy-free West Coast and a solartopian transition.
· A handful of atomic denialists clamoring to ‘save Diablo.’
· All this in the context of deepening climate change and the battle for decentralized, clean, renewable power.

A Diablo shutdown in California would be a shot heard in nuclear boardrooms around the world, and would continue this bellwether state’s well-earned reputation as being ‘no country for old nukes.’

A quick look at the history of California’s Nuclear Free Movement tells the tale.

Back last century, then-President Nixon predicted 1000 nuclear reactors in the US by the year 2000.

In the 60’s, PG&E announced plans to build 63 reactors every 25 miles up and down the California coast.

Thanks to informed popular resistance interventions in the courts, in the legislatures, and in the streets, that didn’t happen.

Only 9 of those planned power reactors ever got built: 1 at Humboldt Bay, 1 at Pleasanton, 2 at Rancho Secco, 3 at San Onofre, and 2 at Diablo Canyon.

Today, only 2 are still in operation, those at Diablo Canyon.

From a planned 63 nuclear power plants in the 1960’s, down to 1 in 2015.

Not a bad track record for the effectiveness of informed non-violent, popular resistance…and a demonstration of the non-viability of nuclear energy – vulnerable as it is to public opposition, industry incompetence, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and what renowned energy expert Amory Lovins long ago called ‘a terminal overdose of market forces.’……… http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/12/why-the-current-nuclear-showdown-in-california-should-matter-to-you/

February 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Epidemiology studies needed around nuclear facilities. Why is this ignored by authorities?

 Childhood leukemialow birth weightcompromised neural development are all associated with exposure to radiation during pregnancy and early childhood.

Astonishingly, no official body in the United States is seriously investigating these impacts. In fact, the U. S. federal government appears not to conduct public health impact studies of populations around nuclear power reactor sites.

text Epidemiology

Who is monitoring the health of populations around nuclear power
questionplants?, 
http://enformable.com/2016/02/who-is-monitoring-health-of-populations-around-nuclear-power-plants/ Enformable, Cindy Folkers Author’s note: I wrote this blog post with knowledge of the ongoing tritium leaks plaguing a number of  nuclear power reactors in the U.S., but before the latest high levels of tritium released from the Indian Point reactor in New York were reported. These recent unplanned and largely unaccounted for releases bring into stark relief the need to measure in real time the releases we DO initially control; further, it is reasonable to request public access to these data.

Humans have known of natural radioactivity since about the turn of the 20th century when Marie Curie carried around vials of radioactive substances in her pocket, admiring the glow-in-the-dark “fairy lights” they would give off. Long-term exposure to these “fairly lights” made Curie chronically ill, physically scarred, and nearly blind from cataracts. At the age of 66, she succumbed to a radiation-induced disease (either leukemia or aplastic anemia, sources differ), as did her daughter and son-in-law. Despite being deeply troubled by deaths of colleagues and radiation workers, the Curies never really admitted radioactivity played a role in their diseases; Marie even recommended sickened radium dial painters eat calf’s liver to combat anemia. Daughter Eva, who outlived her sister by 50 years, died at 102 and recognized the role radiation played in the shortened lives of her female kin.

This denial of the dangers of radioactivity has carried through to the present day. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its first-ever radiation exposure standards in 1977, the US was only 20 years into the atomic energy age, barely long enough to see many of the health impacts radioactivity may have had. Man-made radioactivity had been around for about 40 years with the building of the bomb, well before EPA was established, but well after some very nasty health effects from larger doses were recognized.  Now, in 2015, EPA is considering revising its radiation standards – the first major revision since 1977.

EPA is responsible for regulating radioactive emissions that migrate off of a site that releases such material. These off site releases can expose members of the public and their environment. Revision of these nearly 40-year old standards should be a good thing; adding protection for women who are 50 % more sensitive to radioactivity than men; and providing proper protection for pregnancy and childhood development —life stages that are particularly, in some cases uniquely, sensitive to exposure to radioactivity. But old habits, and nuclear industry interference, die hard. Continue reading

February 13, 2016 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

USA Government quietly funding billionaires’ nuclear folly

Breakthrough Energy CoalitionThe Breakthrough Energy Coalition is Bill Gates again, and loaded to the hilt with his fellow billionaires all salivating at the prospect of old nuclear pots to mend. 

But given the Breakthrough Coalition is entirely “separate” and “private,” what is it doing even being mentioned in a government budget rollout?

Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget  CounterPunch, by LINDA PENTZ GUNTER  FEBRUARY 12, 2016 “……..Cut to page 19 of the Office of Management and Budget’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget document.  Here we find “clean energy,” a phrase no longer to be trusted at face value, having been purloined into meaning at times something quite the reverse.  For example, nuclear energy tends to hide beneath the “clean energy” mantel, muddling the message and undermining cause for optimism.

…….. let’s gerund away anyway and see what lurks beneath the section entitled, “Doubling the Investment in Clean Energy R&D.”  Here we learn that the U.S. Government indeed intends to double its current $6.4 billion investment in clean energy for 2016 to arrive at $12.8 billion by 2021.  A hefty chunk — $7.7 billion — will be given as discretionary funding to the Department of Energy in 2017 alone for “clean energy R&D.”

But for what, exactly?  “About 76 percent of the funding is directed to DOE for critical clean energy development activities, including over $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies,” the Budget document reads.  Just two billion dollars for energy efficiency and renewable energy combined?   That leaves $5.7 billion for something else that the DOE considers “clean energy.”  One of those claimants undoubtedly is nuclear power.

More clues to the likely destination of this unassigned mystery money can be found in a later section where the Budget document reveals that the $7.7 billion is actually earmarked as funding for the “first step toward the Mission Innovation doubling goal.”…….

there is only one logical explanation for this “fair and balanced” energy policy nonsense: corporate captivity.

To oversimplify: Barack Obama, the Senator from Illinois, emerged from Rahm Emanuel’s clamshell, and Emanuel invented Exelon and Exelon is today the country’s leading nuclear behemoth.  Exelon’s chief lobbyist in the early days was David Axelrod.  Team Obama was born in the country’s nuclear cradle, then.  Nevertheless, it’s high time that a U.S. president as committed to renewables as Obama, ceased tossing favors — aka our money— to his corporate nuclear cronies.

And so it goes on. Sitting on that Paris stage last December for the Mission Innovation announcement was Bill Gates, whose only energy agenda is tinkering around with nuclear unicorns, an exercise so devoid of relevance to the urgent battle to address climate change that every dime spent there is a dime wasted.  OK they are his dimes, trillions of them.  But think what he could really do for climate change if he spent his riches wisely.

Let’s follow the trail of budget breadcrumbs a little further.  The OMB goes on to say: “Mission Innovation is complemented by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a separate, private sector-led effort whose purpose is to mobilize substantial levels of private capital to support the most cutting-edge clean energy technologies emerging from the R&D pipeline.”

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is Bill Gates again, and loaded to the hilt with his fellow billionaires all salivating at the prospect of old nuclear pots to mend.  But given the Breakthrough Coalition is entirely “separate” and “private,” what is it doing even being mentioned in a government budget rollout?

What comes out of the Clean Energy R&D pipeline rather depends on what goes into it.   It would be good if that turned out to be a true renewable energy revolution and not more deadly radioactive effluent from an obsolete fleet of new nuclear power plants.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She also serves as director of media and development. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/12/radioactive-handouts-the-nuclear-subsidies-buried-inside-obamas-clean-energy-budget/

February 13, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

87 US Senators blithely voted for more spending on nuclear energy

Renouncing nuclear, then, is the ultimate act of patriotism. Love of country (or “cournty”as the typo-loving Ted Cruz campaign would say) should mean making decisions that protect it, not letting it turn into a radioactive wasteland.

Which makes it so hard to understand why any US political leader on the Left or Right  – but especially those Freedom Fries-loving, jingoistic wall-building, Make-America-Great-Again saber rattlers – would continue to support, promote and secure funds for an industry that could kill tens of thousands of people and exile even more.

With very little fanfare, 87 senators were happy to endorse the squandering of likely billions more taxpayer dollars on yet another nuclear snipe hunt, dreaming of fusion and fast reactors, when solar and wind would do very nicely instead.

Kan, NaotoFukushima PM Naoto Kan: ‘if you love your country, let nuclear go!’, Ecologist Linda Pentz Gunter 12th February 2016   Nuclear power is a uniquely hazardous technology that can destroy entire nations, Japan’s prime minister at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster has warned British MPs. The lessons of from such catastrophes must be heeded in other countries that believe that nuclear fission can be harnessed safely, writes Linda Pentz Gunter – or they, and the world, will reap the whirlwind…….

 no coincidence that the leaders at the time of the two countries that have experienced the world’s most catastrophic nuclear disasters, are fervent campaigners against any further use of nuclear energy.

They see the choice to continue with nuclear power, knowing the risk to the nation they swear an oath to protect, as tantamount to declaring war on your own country.

Former leaders during nuclear meltdowns, now oppose nuclear power

Former Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, who led the then USSR during the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine; and Naoto Kan who was prime minister of Japan when the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began, both now travel the speakers’ circuit extolling the need to abolish nuclear power.

Kan, now 69, who resigned the premiership in August 2011, has become a ubiquitous and compelling voice for the global anti-nuclear movement. Gorbachev is equally on board but, due to age and infirmity (he turns 85 on March 2nd) is less often in evidence.

Kan made his case in January during a presentation at the UK’s House of Commons co-organized by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Green Cross International (the group Gorbachev founded) and Nuclear Consulting Group. Gorbachev was scheduled but had to cancel.

Kan compared the potential worst-case devastation that could be caused by a nuclear power plant meltdown as tantamount only to “a great world war. Nothing else has the same impact.”

Japan escaped such a dire fate during the Fukushima disaster, said Kan only “due to luck”. But he is clearly haunted by the map his advisors showed him in the early days of the still unfolding triple meltdowns, one he screened for his London audience:

“I was shown this map with a 250km radius around Fukushima. An area home to 50 million people. One quarter of the country’s population would have had to flee if all the fuel had escaped at Fukushima. We came that close. If 50 million people had had to evacuate Japan, as a state our very survival would have been questioned.”

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few Continue reading

February 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

The role of LEAD in damaging brains and contributing to violence

an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century……

 It’s the only hypothesis that persuasively explains both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and its fall beginning in the ’90s.

text Epidemiology

A second study found that high exposure to lead during childhood was linked to a permanent loss of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain associated with aggression control as well as what psychologists call “executive functions”: emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.

highly-recommendedLEAD – America’s real criminal element. Mother Jones, By Kevin Drum, February 16    “…………IN 1994, RICK NEVIN WAS A CONSULTANT working for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development on the costs and benefits of removing lead paint from old houses. This has been a topic of intense study because of the growing body of research linking lead exposure in small children with a whole raft of complications later in life, including lower IQ, hyperactivity, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities.

But as Nevin was working on that assignment, his client suggested they might be missing something. A recent study had suggested a link between childhood lead exposure and juvenile delinquency later on. Maybe reducing lead exposure had an effect on violent crime too?

That tip took Nevin in a different direction. The biggest source of lead in the postwar era, it turns out, wasn’t paint. It was leaded gasoline. And if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early ’40s through the early ’70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

Gasoline lead may explain as much as 90 percent of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century. Continue reading

February 13, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health, Reference | Leave a comment

In France, Greenpeace activists blocked convoy to Flamanville nuclear project

Greenpeace activists block truck convoy from French nuclear plant, Euronews, 13 Feb 16   Greenpeace activists blocked a truck convoy from reaching a French nuclear plant early on Friday (February 12) to protest nuclear power in France.

The convoy was carrying the lid to the nuclear vat at the Flamanville EPR reactor (Evolutionary Power Reactor) in north-western France — the sole nuclear reactor under construction in France……..After the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the French government voted to cap nuclear capacity at current levels and to reduce its share in the power mix to 50 percent by 2025, but Greenpeace says they have done little to achieve that goal.

French President Francois Hollande would have to close four to five nuclear reactors by the end of his term in 2017 in order to stay on track, Greenpeace said in a statement. http://www.euronews.com/2016/02/12/greenpeace-activists-block-truck-convoy-from-french-nuclear-plant/

February 13, 2016 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby did not win over governments in its lobbying at Paris climate conferemce

Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You, Sunset for Nuclear Power?  CounterPunch, by JAMES HEDDLE FEBRUARY 12, 2016

“…….Nuclear Denialists Panic

That may be why, in what looks like the plant’s eleventh hour, self-styled ‘environmentalist’ and hyper-technophile Michael Shallenberger has founded the SaveDiabloCoallition and launched a campaign claiming that (not even a Colbert could make this up) a Diablo shutdown would lead to an ‘environmental disaster.’

Charging that public fears of nuclear risks – based on incontrovertible evidence and undeniable past experience – are ‘overblown’ and ‘irrational,’ Shallenberger, with surprising media attention, has become a new mouthpiece for the view that, because of its ‘low’ carbon emissions, nuclear power is a ‘clean’ source of energy and therefore a major solution to climate change.

That was a view promoted at the recent CoP21 Paris climate talks by such luminaries as James Hansen. With no great result it turns out. The Ecologist reports:

The nuclear power industry’s malaise was all too evident at the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris in December. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted:

“It was entirely predictable that the nuclear industry achieved precisely nothing at the recent Paris COP21 talks and in the subsequent international agreement. …

“Analysis of the submissions of the 196 governments that signed up to the Paris agreement, demonstrating their own individual schemes on how to reduce national carbon emissions, show that nearly all of them exclude nuclear power.

“The future is likely to repeat the experience of 2015 when 10 new reactors came into operation worldwide but 8 shut down. So as things stand, the industry is essentially running to stand still.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/12/why-the-current-nuclear-showdown-in-california-should-matter-to-you/

February 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Radioactive packages lost or stolen in Canada

safety-symbol-Smflag-canadaNuclear and Radioactive Packages Keep Going Missing in Canada, VICE News By Justin Ling
February 13, 2016 
If you’ve ever lost your wallet or car keys, you’ve got something in common with the people who run Canada’s nuclear facilities, who keep misplacing nuclear and radiological material.

Last year alone, 14 radioactive packages were lost or stolen, according to the annual report from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and less than half were later recovered. That’s on top of the dozen of other nuclear packages from recent years that have yet to be found.

The report doesn’t detail the circumstances of the losses or thefts, except to say that they were either “sealed sources” — a secure container carrying nuclear or radioactive material — or “radioactive devices.”

The lapses, at a time when security services pledge neurotic devotion to tracking and recovering dangerous goods that could reach the black market, are thanks in part to a handful of private companies that are mishandling radioactive material. n the nuclear watchdog’s 2014/2015 annual report, it identified 27 companies that were mislabeling or mishandling nuclear material, or which had inadequate security protections.

In some cases, CNSC lightly rapped the knuckles of companies, including a New Brunswick brewery which, according to the government body, had “several non-compliances related to safety requirements for nuclear gauges.”

Pump House Brewery, at the time, told CBC News that the problem amounted to some missed paperwork.

In other cases, the problems were more serious and resulted in fines…….https://news.vice.com/article/nuclear-and-radioactive-packages-keep-going-missing-in-canada

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Canada, incidents | Leave a comment

Nuclear corporate giants get away with fraud and dodgy deals

Designers of PRISM, General Electric and Hitachi are frauds whose criminality could have put the public at dire risk. They were hit with a $2.7 million penalty by the US DoJ.
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/general-electric-hitachi-nuclear-energy-americas-agrees-pay-27-million-alleged-false-claims

Ecocidal maniac GE has a rap sheet which is despicable yet they don’t lose their licence to meddle with the atom. Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme got him 150 years in prison yet the GE beasts remain free to run amok with impunity.
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/mm2001/01july-august/julyaug01corp4.html

February 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pyongyang orders South Koreans out of Kaesong, labels closure of industrial zone ‘declaration of war’

North Korea says it is kicking out all South Koreans from the jointly run Kaesong industrial zone and freezing the assets of companies operating there, calling the South’s move to suspend operations a “declaration of war”…….
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-11/north-korea-says-south-kaesong-withdrawl-declaration-of-war/7161700

 

February 13, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Russia will fund building of nuclear power, an attractive deal for South Africa?

Russian-BearRussia, China front runners in South Africa’s nuclear project-source 

 
 * Russia, a poltical favorite, ability to fund plants, a bonus* South Africa to build pressurised water reactors

* Other countries could be included in building plants

Reuters, By Peroshni Govender JOHANNESBURG, Feb 12 South Africa will finalise requirements for its 9,600 megawatt nuclear power plant by April, with Russia and China the front-runners to win the bid, a government official involved in the negotiations told Reuters.

Pretoria has earmarked billions of rand for much needed power generation but its nuclear build of 9,600 megawatts by 2030 at a price tag of up to 1 trillion rand ($63.46 billion) has raised concerns over whether it would be affordable.

Fears that what could be the most expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny have been raised by the opposition, claims the government has rejected.

“From what I have seen, the Russians do have a case and so do the Chinese. If we go with two countries, it could include the Chinese,” said the official, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “If we go for one country, it would be the Russians.”

Political alliances, Pretoria and Moscow’s membership of the BRICS association of five emerging economies and Russia’s ability to fund the project have put them as the favourites, the official said.

Russia’s willingness to build the plant at its own expense, operate it for 20 years and charge South Africa for the power and running costs had given that country an even better chance to clinch the deal, the official said.

Officials at the nuclear unit in the energy department were not available to comment…..http://uk.reuters.com/article/safrica-nuclear-idUKL8N15Q3MN

February 13, 2016 Posted by | marketing of nuclear, politics international, South Africa | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry increases global warming

global warming nuke2Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You, Sunset for Nuclear Power?  CounterPunch, by JAMES HEDDLE FEBRUARY 12, 2016

“……..Comparisons are Odious…and Misleading

The contention that nuclear energy is ‘carbon free’ is a piece of disinformation. Yes, relative to those of coal, oil, and gas, the total carbon emissions from the nuclear fuel chain is lowER.

But, by no stretch of the data, are they zero.

When you add together all the fossil fuel-dependent earth-moving machines, transportation, milling and processing operations, security and grappling with transporting and storing tons of radioactive waste lethal for thousands of years, it becomes clear how big the actual carbon footprint of the nuclear energy industry really is.

But, not only does the nuclear fuel chain emit carbon at every stage, it also emits DNA and public health destroying radioactive pollution.

Every day, ‘routine emissions’ from every nuclear reactor in the world contaminate the surrounding environment and population with radiological pollution. It’s all about our genetic heritage, you see.

A Pro-Nuclear Henny Penny

Like denialist counterparts in the asbestos, tobacco, oil and GMO industries, Shallenberger and his coalition colleagues poopoo the risks of their product. But they think the sky will fall if Diablo is shutdown. …..

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/12/why-the-current-nuclear-showdown-in-california-should-matter-to-you/

February 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Russia’s aging nuclear reactors, and the Kola station shutdown

Kola nuclear plant shutdown blamed on deteriorated cable, ending silence on the malfunction, Bellona,  February 11, 2016 by , The cause of a surprise reactor shutdown at Russia’s Kola Nuclear Power Plant’s No 4 reactor on Tuesday was finally explained by the station’s press service as “deterioration of the insulation of a power cable in the course of conducting scheduled tests on an auxiliary systems’ pump.

The initial emergency shutdown of the reactor on Tuesday morning at about 9:37 am Moscow time was originally reported without an explanation – something nuclear experts on Russia said is exceedingly rare, and cause for concern.

The reactor’s age and clearances to run above nominal generating capacity near the city of Murmansk added to worries during the day-long silence on why the No 4 unit had been pulled from the grid……..

To what extent the burnt-out cable represents any threats to safety, however, will only be clear after an investigation by a committee to be appointed by Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Nuclear Oversight.

According to Andrei Ozharovsky, a Moscow-based nuclear adviser with Bellona, such investigations can be protracted for months, and their results aren’t generally made public.

Worries arose about the sudden, and initially unexplained shutdown because of two aspects in the reactor’s operational history.

First, the reactor, which is a VVER- 440 unit, is running on a 25-year engineering lifespan extension, meaning it will not be taken out of service until 2039, when it’s 60 years old….

Second, the reactor since 2012 has been a part of an experiment to run at various intervals at 107 percent its nominal production capacity. The reactor had also been run at expanded capacities in 1986 and 1987 under Soviet rule, but the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 mothballed that for almost a decade and a half.

Alexander Nikitin, chairman of the Environmental Rights Center Bellona said on Thursday by email that, “it’s not important here how long the reactor has worked or will work – what’s important is that they allowed [such extensions] to begin with.”

As to the experiments in boosting No 4’s power output, Nikitin said, “Difficulties can arise when a reactor is operated at any power, even at the minimum controllable level – but the official decision to stretch the power output and all other corresponding parameters to above normal, of course, adds to risks.”……

The Kola Nuclear Plant’s No 3 reactor in 2011 received 25-year operational extension, pushing its closure back to 2036.

The plant is likewise expecting to get the nod to run the No 3 reactor at boosted power outputs of 104 to 107 percent.

The boosted power regimens are not specific to Russia’s Kola nuclear station. Another six of Russia’s 31 reactors are operating above nominal capacity.

All four of the Balakovo nuclear stations periodically operate at 104 percent, and one of the reactors at the Rostov nuclear plant has clearance to run at 107 percent. http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2016-02-kola-nuclear-plant-shutdown-blamed-on-deteriorated-cable-ending-silence-on-the-malfunction

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

South African President’s very problematic nuclear deal with Russia

Five things you should know about Sona 2016, Mail & Guardian 12 FEB 2016  MG REPORTER From nuclear to belt-tightening: If you didn’t last through Jacob Zuma’s speech, we’ve got you covered with these five quick highlights………..3. Zuma may be pressurised into scaling back on his nuclear ambitions

The proposed deal to acquire 9 600MW nuclear power stations will dwarf the controversial arms deal and has already caused concerns with reports that Russia was allegedly the preferred bidder in what appears  to be a very problematic deal. It also seemed to be one of many points of contention between Nene and Zuma, with treasury estimating a cost of R1.4-trillion and  the pro-nuclear cabal putting it at just R600-billion.

A subdued Zuma, who has been chastised by business and his party for axing Nene, reaffirmed that the “nuclear energy expansion programme remains part of the future energy mix” but added that government would “test the market to ascertain the true cost of building modern nuclear plants”’ and emphasised that “we will only procure nuclear on a scale and pace that our country can afford”.

Current finance minister Pravin Gordhan was thought to have had a strong hand in this speech and may well have re-asserted Nene’s cautions around cost. ……..http://mg.co.za/article/2016-02-12-five-things-you-should-know-about-sona-2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Greenpeace slams President Jacob Zuma ‘s avoidance of environmental issues

Greenpeace bemoan Zuma’s SONA address. IOL  12 February 2016   By: ANA Reporter Cape Town – Greenpeace Africa has expressed dismay that President Jacob Zuma did not provide sustainable solutions to important environmental matters that threaten South Africa’s resources, when he delivered his State of The Nation Address (SONA) this week.

It is disheartening that the President continues to show a complete lack of leadership in adequately tackling the key environmental issues plaguing South Africa,” the environmental organisation said.

The organisation pointed out that Zuma “failed to provide sustainable solutions to combat the severe drought that is currently decimating our already water scarce country”.

Greenpeace said the fact that nuclear procurement was going ahead was “indicative of the short-sightedness of the current leadership”……… The organisation said it believed that the country needed to steer away from the use of fossil fuels and turn toward renewable energy sources that did not “compromise the country’s scarce water resources”. http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/greenpeace-bemoan-zumas-sona-address-1983950

February 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

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