If you go to Wikipedia, you will find bewildering lists of the many nuclear accidents. Not so many uranium-related accidents – probably because these most often affect people in remote and rural areas, – especially indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples have always been exploited by the nuclear industry.
Here we have space to consider just a few of the forgotten nuclear disasters. The most prominent of these is the ongoing tragedy of Chelyabinsk province of Russia
Everybody knows of the nuclear catastrophes of Chernobyl and Fukushima But how many know of the Mayak nuclear nightmare?
The Mayak nuclear plant in the Southern Urals was one of the dark secrets of the cold war. It was the Soviet Union’s primary nuclear complex, a massive set of plutonium production reactors, fuel production facilities, and reprocessing and waste storage buildings.
In 1957 a storage tank with highly radioactive liquid waste exploded. More than half the amount of radioactive waste released by the accident in Chernobyl was blasted into the atmosphere. A few villagers were evacuated, but most were not. 217 towns and at least 272,000 people were exposed to chronic levels of radiation. The plume was 50 kilometers wide and 1,000 kilometers long.
But the explosion wasn’t the only incident of contamination. Between 1948 and 1956 radioactive waste was poured straight into the Techa River, the source of drinking water for many villages. It exposed 124,000 people to medium and high levels of radiation. Nuclear waste was also dumped into the lakes of West Siberia, where storms blew nuclear dust across a vast area around the lake. - more on this story on the sidebar, lower right
Nuclear ‘hard to justify’, says GE chief FT.com By Pilita Clark, 31 July 12, Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become “really hard” to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment.
“It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes “permanently cheap”…. It’s just hard to justify
nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really, economics rule,” Mr Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London at the weekend. “So I think some combination of gas, and either wind or solar … that’s where we see most countries around the world going.”
Mr Immelt’s comments underline the impact on the global energy landscape of the US shale gas revolution, Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown and falling prices for some types of renewable power…..
a 75 per cent fall in solar panel market prices in the past three years has made solar power competitive with daytime retail electricity prices in some countries, according to a recent report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, while offshore wind turbine prices have steadily declined.
Such factors pose dilemmas for countries such as the UK, which is trying to build new nuclear plants without public subsidy……
Analysts estimate GE’s nuclear revenues, from a joint venture with Japan’s Hitachi, at an estimated $1bn, or less than 1 per cent of annual global sales. …. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/60189878-d982-11e1-8529-00144feab49a.html#axzz22EdFcsHr
Adrian Simper, the strategy director of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, warned last November in an internal memorandum that fast reactors were “not credible” as a solution to Britain’s plutonium problem because they had “still to be demonstrated commercially” and could not be deployed within 25 years.
the plutonium metal, once prepared for the reactor, would be even more vulnerable to theft for making bombs than the powdered oxide.
Are fast-breeder reactors the answer to our nuclear waste nightmare? The Guardian 30 July 12 The battle is intensifying on a decision over a major fast-breeder reactor to deal with the plutonium waste at Sellafield. Fred Pearce “…….Britain has a history of embarrassing failures with MOX, including the closure last year of a $2 billion blending plant that spent 10 years producing a scant amount of fuel. And critics say that, even if it works properly, MOX fuel is an expensive way of generating not much energy, while leaving most of the plutonium intact, albeit in a less dangerous form.
Only fast reactors can consume the plutonium. Many think that will ultimately be the UK choice. If so, the PRISM plant would take five years to license, five years to build, and could destroy probably the world’s most dangerous stockpile of plutonium by the end of the 2020s. GEH has not publicly put a cost on building the plant, but it says it will foot the bill, with the British government only paying by results, as the plutonium is destroyed.
The idea of fast breeders as the ultimate goal of nuclear power engineering goes back to the 1950s, when experts predicted that fast-breeders would generate all Britain’s electricity by the 1970s. But the Clinton administration eventually shut down the U.S.’s research program in 1994. Britain followed soon after, shutting its Dounreay fast-breeder reactor on the north coast of Scotland in 1995. Continue reading
Nuclear Power Opposed By 70% At Japan Hearings, Asahi Reports http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-29/nuclear-power-opposed-by-70-at-japan-hearings-asahi-reports.html By Andy Sharp – Jul 29, 2012 Around 70 percent of participants in public hearings to gauge opinion on Japan’s energy policyhave said the nation should end nuclear-power generation by 2030, the Asahi newspaper reported.
The government held meetings in Hiroshima and Naha yesterday, the seventh and eight hearings in which members of the public debate what proportion of the nation’s energy should be nuclear-generated.
Eleven percent of the 1,253 people to take part in the meetings so far said atomic power should make up 15 percent of the nation’s energy mix, with 17 percent of people favoring 20-25 percent, according to the Asahi.
The government will take results of the hearings into account in finalizing its energy policy. Final hearings will take place in Fukushima on Aug. 1, and Takamatsu and Fukuoka on Aug. 4, the report said.
There may not be agreement on the size or shape of the future force, but there is a growing consensus that revising the outdated nuclear posture will not only save billions of dollars,
but also make for a more effective national security strategy.
The call for a revised nuclear strategy THE HILL, By Mary Kaszynski, policy analyst, American Security Project – 07/30/12 There may not be agreement on the size and shape of the future force, but there is growing consensus among the nation’s leaders that it’s time to bring U.S. nuclear strategy into the 21st century. This consensus includes two former commanders of U.S. Strategic Command….
“The current U.S. nuclear force remains sized and organized operationally for fighting the “last war” – the Cold War – even though threats from that era posed by the Soviet Union and China have greatly diminished or disappeared,” reads Gen. Cartwright’s joint testimony with Ambassador Thomas Pickering before the Senate Appropriations Committeelast week.
“The U.S. (and Russian) arsenal is thus over-stocked. Ample latitude exists for further nuclear cuts,” the testimony concludes, reflecting the analysis of a panel Gen. Cartwright chaired, which included former Senator Chuck Hagel and General Jack Shaheen.
Gen. Cartwright is not the only STRATCOM commander to determine that the U.S. nuclear force, which numbers some 8,000 warheads, is unsuited to today’s strategic environment. Continue reading
The plutonium facility was designed and built in the 1970s and lacks the earthquake resistance required by modern building codes
Safety Board Calls Nuclear Lab’s Earthquake Resistance Analysis ‘Technically Inadequate’ HUFFINGTON POST, Mia SteinleInvestigator, Project On Government Oversight, 30 july 12, An ongoing government analysis of an important nuclear weapons laboratory’s ability to withstand earthquakes may be flawed, according to a federal oversight panel. Continue reading
Anti-nuclear campaigners launch Japan’s first green party http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/30/japan-green-party-nuclear-power?newsfeed=true Greens Japan promises voters to put environment first and abolish nuclear power plants
Justin McCurry in Tokyo guardian.co.uk, 30 July 2012 Anti-nuclear campaigners in Japan have launched the country’s first green party, more than a year after the triple meltdown at FukushimaDaiichi power plant created a groundswell of opposition to atomic energy.
Greens Japan, created by local politicians and activists, hopes to satisfy the legal requirements to become an officially recognised political party in time for the general election, which must be held by next summer but could come much earlier.
The party said it would offer voters a viable alternative to the two main parties, both of which have retained their support for nuclear power, particularly after the recent decision to restart two nuclear reactors in western Japan. Continue reading
Closed Cities & Nuclear Entrepreneurship In Russia JULY 30, 2012 by EDWARD PERELLO Faced with a dearth of opportunity, the aged nuclear scientist would not need much imagination, nor would he have to look far, to find a buyer interested in an exchange that would provide him with a hefty retirement package with which to live out his remaining
.Russia’s ten nuclear cities contain the former Soviet Union’s principal nuclear weapons research, design and production facilities, and to the ordinary citizen, they weren’t really there. Nuclear cities were not officially recognised as existing until 1992 as they were amongst the Soviet unions many “closed cities” that were involved in certain sensitive activities. Located in remote regions around the country, closed cities were not labelled on any
publicly-available map and were isolated from the world. Continue reading
Leave the Multi-Billion-Dollar Nuclear Decisions to the Experts POGO, Project on Government Oversight, 30 July 12, Mia Steinle When the president released his Fiscal Year 2013 federal budget proposal earlier this year, opponents of government waste took heart: the budget zeroed out funding for a proposed nuclear weapons facility that had been plagued by massive cost overruns and schedule delays for about a decade. Now it seems that eight senators are trying to undermine the president’s proposal and put funding back into the New Mexico facility, even though the agency and congressional overseers who know the project best say it’s unnecessary. Continue reading
Island nation of Tokelau gets ready to go solar Gizmag, By Antonio Pasolini, July 30, 2012 Adopting renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is a great way to reduce emissions and produce energy locally.
In places like remote Pacific islands, however, those benefits are potentially a key to independence. For that reason Tokelau, a 10 sq. km. (3.86 sq. mi) island nation that lies around 500 km (311 mi) north of Samoa and which is a territory of New Zealand, is about to ditch diesel as a source of electricity and switch to solar power. Continue reading
National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Solar Has The Most Potential Of Any Renewable Energy Source Think Progress, Jul 30, 2012 A recently released study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, estimates that the technical potential of photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power (CSP) in the United States is as much as 200,000 Gigawatts, enough to generate about400,000 TWh of energy annually.
The report dismisses economic and political impacts on the solar industry and focuses solely on the scientific and engineering limitations. The types of solar power studied in the report were Urban Utility-Scale Photovoltaics, Rural Utility-Scale Photovoltaics, Rooftop Photovoltaics, and Concentrated Solar Power, which is a utility-scale project “in which the solar heat energy is collected in a central location.”
The report broke down each type of solar array: Continue reading
Gundersen: A ton of plutonium was in each Fukushima reactor — Host shocked (VIDEO) July 30th, 2012 By ENENews Title: Arnold Gundersen with the latest on Fukushima: its effects on Japan, and the global risks posed by the No. 4 reactor Source: If You Love This Planet Radio Author: Dr. Helen Caldicott Date: July 27, 2012
Arnold Gundersen, Nuclear Engineer: Unit 3 had 30 bundles of MOX fuel… All the reactors have plutonium in them… Uranium-238 becomes plutonium-239 when it absorbs a neutron… There was close to a ton of plutonium in each of the reactors… scattered throughout the fuel… A ton of plutonium in each reactor… you and I know how dangerous plutonium can be… makes the cleanup that much more difficult.
See also: Physician: “A millionth of a gram of plutonium, or less, can induce cancer, or will induce cancer” http://enenews.com/gundersen-a-ton-of-plutonium-was-in-each-fukushima-reactor-host-stunned-video
Gundersen: Powdered nuclear fuel laying outside containment at Reactor No. 2 (VIDEO)July 30th, 2012 By ENENews Title: Arnold Gundersen with the latest on Fukushima: its effects on Japan, and the global risks posed by the No. 4 reactor Source: If You Love This Planet Radio Author: Dr. Helen CaldicottDate: July 27, 2012
This week, Dr. Caldicott has a new conversation with nuclear engineer Arnold Gundersen about the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant and its effects on Japan and the rest of the world.
Arnold Gundersen, Nuclear Engineer: At Reactor 2… the conclusion is that fine pieces of nuclear fuel have escaped the containment and are lying as a powder on the bottom of the torus room.
Gundersen: The particles escaped the torus… that’s what’s fascinating… these are outside containment… it’s quite clear that the junction between the torus and the dry part of the containment failed. http://enenews.com/gundersen-powdered-nuclear-fuel-lying-containment-vessel-reactor-2-video
Bangladesh sees surge in use of solar energy , 31 Jul 2012 Alertnet By Syful Islam DHAKA, Bangladesh As costs fall and incomes rise, power-hungry Bangladesh is seeing a surge in the adaptation home solar energy systems.
Last year, close to 40,000 units a month were installed on average across the country; this year installations have surged to 55,000 a month, according to Ruhul Quddus, head of the Rural Services Foundation, a Bangladeshi charity. His charity is installing 11,000 solar power systems a month, up from 8,000 a month last year, he said.
Altogether, 30 percent more homes are using solar power in Bangladesh than a year ago – a change driven by a rise in purchasing capacity and falling prices.
“Rural people now want to improve their quality of life,” including by trading kerosene lamps for solar and using the latest electrical appliances, said Abser Kamal, chief executive office of Grameen Shakti, a pioneering organisation in renewable energy in Bangladesh.
Per capita income has been rising in Bangladesh in recent years as the country’s growth rate has improved. During the last fiscal year, per capita hit income hit $848 a year, up from $676 three years ago, according to government figures. The country’s growth rate during the last fiscal year was 6.32 percent, and this year the government is targeting growth of 7.2 percent.
Installing solar power in their homes helps families with a variety of tasks, Kamal said.
A RANGE OF BENEFITS….. http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/bangladesh-sees-surge-in-use-of-solar-energy
Australian TV Program Exposes Julian Assange Frame-up http://www.democraticunderground.com/101636930 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jul2012/assa-j28.shtml “Four Corners”, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs program, this week broadcast what amounted to an exposé of the frame-up of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange on allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. Assange remains inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, seeking political asylum from the threat of being removed to Sweden, which would in turn facilitate extradition to the US.
The program provided substantial evidence that the allegations against him were false and politically motivated. The unproven accusations were used to blacken his name in Sweden and around the world, and counter the widespread public support that he and WikiLeaks had won for courageously exposing the crimes and machinations of the US and other powers.
Assange has still not been charged with any crime.
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