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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Hot debate in Japan as communities reject nuclear power plant restart

protestor-JapanAs Communities Block Nuclear Restart, Japan’s 48 Operable Reactors Idle, Forbes, 17 Oct 14,  Nothing is as hotly debated in Japan right now as the restarting of the 48 inactive nuclear plants which closed one after the other for scheduled maintenance after the Fukushima disaster three years ago. Near Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai plant in southwest Japan, communities are thwarting revival plans despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urging on the restart plan after Sendai was found to meet the new safety guidelines set by the independent nuclear regulator.

The Sendai plant, located about 600 miles from Tokyo, is the first to receive the clearances but with the consensus process involving communities and local governments has become complex. The reactor’s restarting could be months away. Over three years have lapsed since the nuclear reactors run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co in Fukushima suffered a meltdown following an earthquake-triggered-tsunami. The accident in May 2011 was the worst disaster since Chernobyl. The contaminated towns near Fukushima are still out of bounds and could be for years while the clean-up process continues.

Since the Fukushima disaster, regulatory lapses have come to light and communities have rallied against plants and fought to keep the reactors idle as they closed for regular maintenance. The last of the reactors shut a year ago.

There is also the fact that Japan is prone to natural disasters and frequently hit by earthquakes and typhoons. After the volcanic eruption in Mount Ontake in September, fresh fears are being raised on nuclear safety during volcanic activity. Sendai, for instance, is about 30 miles from an active volcano……..http://www.forbes.com/sites/saritharai/2014/10/16/as-communities-block-nuclear-restart-japans-48-operable-reactors-idle/

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Handicaps to Japan’s nuclear power restart

flag-japanJapan’s nuclear restart unlikely this year, local vote expected in December http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/72335 16-Oct-14  JAPAN  Kentaro HamadaAs Japan pitches an unpopular nuclear restart to residents near Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, local politicians say approval is unlikely until December, delaying an already fraught process to revive the country’s idled reactors.

More than three years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the worst disaster since Chernobyl, Japan’s nuclear plants remain offline nationwide even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to restart reactors that meet new safety guidelines set by an independent regulator.

The focus has switched to townships located near the Sendai reactors, the nation’s first to receive safety clearance from regulators. The debate over restarts pits host communities that get direct benefits from siting reactors against other nearby communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Funds running out for completion of massively expensive cover over crumbling Chernobyl nuclear reactor

Funding woes delay new Chernobyl cover, DW 17 Oct 14  The casing around the ruined nuclear reactor at Chernobyl is crumbling, causing a renewed radioactive contamination risk. A new cover for the site is under construction – but the project is running out of funding. “There’s no precedent for this anywhere in the world,” Jochen Flasbarth said. “Of course there is uncertainty.”

The German Ministry of the Environment’s senior civil servant was talking about the New Safe Confinement – a new protective cover that is to be built over the stricken reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine: 100 meters high, 165 meters long, built at a safe distance from the still radioactive ruin.

The cover will slide over the reactor on rails. It will be three times as large as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – if it is finished. But at the moment there is no money – that’s the “uncertainty” Flasbarth was talking about.

Chernobyl-tomb-14

There will be a shortfall of 600 million euros by the end of the year. Construction is proving to be more expensive than expected, and funding more difficult to obtain. A Ukrainian government construction freeze now threatens the project.

New containment, new money

Flasbarth, who is responsible for energy issues at his ministry, intends to speak with his counterparts from the G7 Group on Nuclear Issues in Bonn in mid-October. The G8 – as it was known before Russia was ejected from the group earlier in 2014 – had promised years ago to help Ukraine build the containment system. Now new money is required……….

The total damage has been estimated at 180 billion dollars. The area around the stricken reactor is still highly contaminated, and the concrete sarcophagus poured over the reactor in a rush after the accident has become unstable.

Years of effort

That’s why a French consortium has spent the last few years building the new protective cover. One part is finished, and a second is still being worked on. Meanwhile, Reactor 4 is crumbling – and threatening to expose 200 tons of highly radioactive material to the environment, including the destroyed fuel rods.

The removal of these materials can begin only when the New Safe Confinement is finished, which means over 30 years will have passed since the accident. No one now expects the construction to be finished next year as planned……..http://www.dw.de/funding-woes-delay-new-chernobyl-cover/a-17997493

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

With Fran ce’s nuclear reactors all too close, Luxembourg hands out iodine pill sto 500,000 residents

potassium-iodate-pillsLuxembourg hands out iodine pills over fears of French nuclear mishap TONY PATERSON http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/luxembourg-hands-out-iodine-pills-over-fears-of-french-nuclear-mishap-9802668.html   FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014 A series of accidents at France’s controversial Cattenom nuclear power station has prompted the government in neighbouring Luxembourg to take the unprecedented step of issuing free iodine pills to its half a million citizens to help protect them in the event of a serious nuclear incident at the plant.  Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion still in the realm of fantasy, despite Lockheed’s hype

nuclear-fusion-pie-Sm

Contain your excitement

While the rewards of fusion power are substantial, so are the challenges of making it a reality. The deuterium-tritium reaction is the easiest fusion reaction to initiate, yet the optimal temperature needed is 100 million degrees C, which is six to seven times hotter than the core of the Sun.

Don’t get too excited, no one has cracked nuclear fusion yet, The Conversation, Matthew Hole 17 October 2014 Senior Research Fellow, Plasma Research Laboratory at Australian National University Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s announcement this week that it could make small-scale nuclear fusion power a reality in the next decade has understandably generated excitement in the media. Physicists, however, aren’t getting their hopes up just yet.

I recently returned from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Fusion Energy Conference in St Petersburg, Russia, the world’s leading conference on the development of fusion power. There was no announcement of research by Lockheed Martin, and the company did not field any scientists to report on their claims. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

United Nations call for clean-up of depleted uranium contaminated countries

flag-UN-Smdepleted-uraniumNew United Nations depleted uranium resolution calls for states to help with clean-up A fifth United Nations resolution has been tabled which calls for states to provide assistance to countries affected by contamination and for research into DU’s health and environmental effects. 17 October 2014 – ICBUW

The Non-Aligned Movement has submitted a fifth resolution on depleted uranium weapons (DU) at the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. As with previous years, new language has been added to the resolution. This year the wording includes a call for states to assist countries affected by the weapons…….http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/new-un-depleted-uranium-resolution-calls-for-clean

October 18, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium | Leave a comment

So called “cloud” computing is huge user of electricity

text-cat-question  I can’t understand why the world is not curbing its gargantuan appetite for storing every little bit of trivia that anybody ever put   on the internet – every little email, comment etc. Even years after you’re dead, all your useless stuff will be there.  But not sweetly up in the sky – No, stored in some dirty great data pile of computers somehwere – using up space and gobbling electricity.

It’s good that tech firms  are going for efficiency and renewable energy. But for goodness sake, can’t we all just eliminate a lot of this cyber rubbish ?

ENOUGH-the-concept

For tech firms, the cloud makes carbon curbs compulsory BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI NEW YORK Thu Oct 16, 2014 (Reuters) - As mobile devices proliferate and big business turns to cloud computing to cut costs and improve efficiency, technology companies are facing a double challenge: powering energy-hungry data centers to expand the cloud while keeping carbon emissions from skyrocketing.

Cloud computing has paved the way for technologies such as video conferencing and smart building management that can make corporations greener. But it is also shifting a larger share of electricity consumption – and the carbon output associated with it – onto firms such as Google (GOOGL.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) that run the data centers or manufacture computer servers.

The trend has made low-carbon energy access and conservation a competitive necessity in the technology sector. Faster, smaller servers and renewable energy contracts accomplish both, industry sources said.

“As you take a look at the fact that the cloud today uses as much energy as the country of Japan every year, you know it doesn’t take much longer until we run out of energy,” Gabi Zedlmayer, chief progress officer at Hewlett Packard (HPQ.N), said in an interview as part of the Reuters Global Summit on Climate change from Oct 13. to Oct. 16………

THE CLOUD IS SIXTH-LARGEST ELECTRICITY USER

The growth of cloud computing and current use of the Internet results in a electricity demand that would rank sixth as a country in current rankings, according to an April report on greening the Internet by environmental group Greenpeace.

Demand could grow by 60 percent or more by 2020, the report said, as the online population grows globally.

The group said there is a compelling business case for companies to rapidly shift to renewable energy to power their data centers since renewable energy costs are dropping……..http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/us-climatechange-summit-cloud-computing-idUSKCN0I51Z620141016

October 18, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Treasury advised against getting Russian nuclear reactors, but Putin is pushing for the sale

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaVladimir Putin’s quest for a nuclear monopoly, Mail & Guardian, South Acfric17 OCT 2014 00:00 QAANITAH HUNTER  Somehow Russia has persuaded President Jacob Zuma into agreeing to a deal for a nuclear fleet that the treasury opposed. The Russians are coming. The nuclear deal with Russia is to dominate the agenda when the South Africa-Russia joint intergovernmental committee on trade and economic co-operation meets next month.

Even though the South African government insists it has not entered into the procurement phase for the nuclear fleet, it has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sway President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson into giving Russia the entirety of the deal.

Zuma and his most trusted Cabinet ministers went against the strict advice of the national treasury and his senior advisers when a nuclear energy “agreement” was signed with Russia last month.

Two sources who also advised against it revealed this week to the Mail & Guardian that an initial bid made by Russian nuclear company Rosatom last year was rejected by the treasury and a number of Zuma’s advisers. A third credible source who was close to the negotiations confirmed their version of events.

The treasury this week did not deny advising against the initial Russian proposal.

“Nuclear would be a substantial financial commitment and government can only make that kind of commitment after careful and thorough-going modelling and an affordability assessment,” said spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane.

He said they had yet to discuss how the treasury would pay for nuclear energy.

Exclusive rights
It has emerged that the Russians wanted exclusive rights to South Africa’s nuclear industry. This was substantiated by a statement made by Putin in March last year, ­following his visit to South Africa, saying his country did not want to merely build the nuclear plants but would bid to run the entire nuclear industry here.

South Africa plans to enhance its energy mix by creating 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030.

The M&G spoke to three highly placed sources – all of them indicated that:

  • The initial Russian proposal was not affordable and the treasury rejected it;
  • The technology proposed was sub standard and dangerous;
  • It would exclude and be damaging to local industries; and
  • Even public servants who seemed loyal to Zuma had concerns about it.

One source close to the nuclear talks said the signing of the agreement was a result of about two years of courting by the Russians……….http://mg.co.za/article/2014-10-16-vladimir-putins-quest-for-a-nuclear-monopoly

October 18, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Partial report by NRC creates false impression that Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan could go ahead

Yucca-MtOfficials from the state of Nevada, which has fought against Yucca Mountain, challenged the report. Robert Halstead, director of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the NRC staff did not fully consider all the probabilities that could affect safety.

“It’s a pretty meek endorsement,” Halstead said. A review of the license application by state scientists and lawyers came up with 229 technical challenges, or contentions, that Nevada is prepared to pursue if the Yucca program moves forward.

The release of only a partial report “creates a false impression that the safety review has been completed,”

NRC staff: Yucca Mountain could meet safety needs http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/nrc-staff-yucca-mountain-could-meet-safety-needs by STEVE TETREAULT STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU WASHINGTON  17 Oct 14 — A long-awaited report issued Thursday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found the Yucca Mountain site — once considered by the government but halted by the Obama administration — could be safe to store nuclear waste.

The federal agency released a staff analysis of a plan that the Department of Energy submitted for a license in 2008 but later disavowed. The 781-page document concluded that the site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas “with reasonable expectation” could satisfy licensing rules.

The report immediately was seized by supportive lawmakers on Capitol Hill and executives in the nuclear industry as evidence the Yucca Mountain program largely dismantled by the Obama administration should be reassembled.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the NRC study shows the Nevada site is “a safe, worthwhile investment” that should be allowed to move forward.

If Republicans capture Senate control in the midterm elections next month, Murkowski would likely become chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Other Republicans have said that fresh votes on Yucca would be among the priorities in a GOP-controlled Congress.

Officials from the state of Nevada, which has fought against Yucca Mountain, challenged the report. Robert Halstead, director of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the NRC staff did not fully consider all the probabilities that could affect safety.

“It’s a pretty meek endorsement,” Halstead said. A review of the license application by state scientists and lawyers came up with 229 technical challenges, or contentions, that Nevada is prepared to pursue if the Yucca program moves forward.

The NRC staff report analyzed the most far-reaching aspect of the repository plan: Whether the natural geology of Yucca Mountain coupled with a system of man-made barriers that would be built within the mountain could keep decaying radioactive particles from leaking into groundwater over periods of up to a million years.

After dissecting relevant parts of the license application, NRC analysts concluded it was reasonable to expect it “satisfies the requirements” for long-term nuclear waste storage.

Other aspects of the plan are still being studied by the NRC staff, and are expected to be discussed in other evaluation reports scheduled to be released before the end of the year. The report issued Thursday was Volume 3 of what is envisioned to be a five-volume study. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

As UK’s nuclear energy gets billions of pounds subsidy, Europe’s citizen energy movement is growing

flag-EUCitizens’ energy movement calls for support as nuclear gets billions of pounds subsidy http://www.foe.co.uk/blog/citizens-energy-movement-calls-support-nuclear-gets-billions-pounds-subsidy Susi Scherbarth 15 October 2014 Last week the European Commission gave the UK the green light to billions of pounds of subsidies for Hinkley nuclear power plant, and the European Parliament approved a Spanish oil baron, Miguel Arias Cañete, as the EU’s next climate and energy chief.

This hardly bodes well when EU leaders are due to agree climate and energy targets for the year 2030 at a summit next week.

But against this, Europe’s citizens energy movement is providing reasons for optimism. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

For centuries to come, ice sheets will keep melting

we cannot ignore it, because the sheer volume of land ice on Earth is enormous – equivalent to more than 65m of global sea level rise; Greenland alone accounts for 6 to 7m, West Antarctica for some 5-6m, and East Antarctica for the remainder. These melting ice sheets will dominate major sea level changes for centuries to come.

ice-sheets-melting

Why ice sheets will keep melting for centuries to come,Skeptical Science By Eelco Rohling, University of Southampton 17 Oct 14    Ice sheets respond slowly to changes in climate, because they are so massive that they themselves dominate the climate conditions over and around them. But once they start flowing faster towards the shore and melting into the ocean the process takes centuries to reverse. Ice sheets are nature’s freight trains: tough to start moving, even harder to stop. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

South Korea monitors products, very aware of nuclear radiation from Japan

text-radiationflag-S-Koreaflag-japanSouth Koreans Still Fear Radiation From Japan WSJ, 17 Oct 14 More than three years have passed since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, but some South Koreans are still leery over possible radioactive contamination from their neighbor.

Environmental activists and residents of Changwon, a city on South Korea’s southeastern coast, staged a rally Tuesday in front of a steel company to protest its import of scrap steel from Japan through a nearby port of Masan.

The protesters demanded local steel companies stop importing Japanese steel for recycling through seaports that aren’t equipped with radioactive detection devices, such as Masan.

“A case in August, in which imports of scrap steel from Japan were found to contain radioactive material and sent back to Japan clearly shows we’re exposed to a real risk,” said Park Jong-kwon, chairman of the Masan Changwon Jinhae Korea Federation of Environmental Movements.

Mr. Park said his group will continue to demand the government divert such imports to other ports until Masan has a radiation detection system.

Concerns have heightened after the Seoul government in August found some imported scrap metal from Japan bore traces of radiation and ordered the importer to return the items to Japan.

The protest in Changwon followed similar complaints earlier this week by a civic group in another port city of Gunsan, southwest of Seoul, that the country should stop steel imports from Japan.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said Aug. 11 that it had returned some steel scrap imported from Japan due to radiation contamination, the first returned shipment since Seoul heightened nuclear safety checks in 2012………

One of Korea’s industries hit hardest by Japan’s latest nuclear disaster was seafood as domestic sales of marine products plummeted following leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

Since September last year, the Seoul government has blocked all fishery imports from prefectures surrounding the Fukushima plant. http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/10/15/south-koreans-still-fear-radiation-from-japan/

October 18, 2014 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

World Bank leader calls for development banks to mobilise climate funds

piggy-ban-renewablesDevelopment banks should mobilize climate funds: World Bank’s Kim  BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI   REPORTING BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI,; EDITING BY ROS KRASNY AND FRANCES KERRY) WASHINGTON Thu Oct 16 (Reuters) – The World Bank and other multilateral financeinstitutions should pool their resources to help developing countries combat and adapt to climate change, helping smooth the path to a global climate agreement in Paris next year, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Thursday.

One important disagreement looming over the climate talks is how countries will reach an agreed target of raising $100 billion in annual funding for climate change projects in developing countries by 2020, Kim told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit.

The World Bank, other multilateral organizations, climate funds and regional development banks can help mobilize money prior to the Paris talks to give developing countries confidence in the negotiating process, he said.

“We are doing everything we can to really make sure that issue doesn’t stop the proceedings,” Kim said.

“Can we take all of the money that is floating around out there, and put it together in a package that would make the developing countries feel a lot better about the available financing for tackling both mitigation and adaptation?”……….

Beyond the financing question, Kim said strong signs of an agreement between the United States and China on climate would set a “strong foundation” for the Paris meeting.

He added that a declaration by 74 countries and over 1,000 private companies announced at the U.N. Climate summit in September, in support of carbon pricing measures such asmarkets and taxes, could also bolster prospects for success in Paris.

Kim said the decision by China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, to sign the declaration was a surprise to World Bank officials, and had raised the pressure on other countries……..http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/us-climatechange-summit-worldbank-idUSKCN0I52QK20141016

October 18, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, renewable | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear radiation near to USA West Coast

map-radioactive-ocean-12Fukushima radiation nearing West Coast http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2014/10/17/fukushima-radiation-nearing-west-coast/17437081/ Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal October 17, 2014 Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching the West Coast, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is reporting.

sample taken Aug. 2 about 1,200 kilometers west of Vancouver, B.C. tested positive for Cesium 134, the Fukushima “fingerprint” of Fukushima.

It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

The sample is the first of about 40 offshore test results that will be made public next month, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole.

Further results, which Buesseler will release at a conference Nov. 13, will show offshore Fukushima radiation down the coast into California, he said, including some samples that are closer to shore. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | oceans, USA | Leave a comment

UK plants turn down energy out put because of cracks developing

nuke-plant-sadflag-UKNuclear reactor heat turned down to stop boilers cracking  Two nuclear plants shut amid safety fears may be restarted at just 75pc usual power output to prevent more cracks developing, EDF says   Telegraph, By , Energy Editor 17 Oct 14, Power output at two UK nuclear plants will be curbed for up to two years in order to reduce the heat in their boilers and prevent cracks developing, EDF has announced.

The two twin-reactor plants at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool have been shut down since August amid safety fears following the discovery of cracks in one boiler structure at Heysham.

The ageing reactors are likely to be restarted in coming months at just 75pc-80pc of their usual output in order to prevent high temperatures causing further cracks, EDF said on Friday.

The move will further worsen the risk of power shortages this winter and next.

The temporary closure of the plants, which produce enough power to meet about 4pc of peak winter demand, has already forced National Grid to invoke emergency measures to bolster power supplies this winter, by paying mothballed power stations to fire up.

EDF warned in September that the reactors – initially expected to be shut for two months – would only be restarted gradually between the end of October and late December, once safety checks on each reactor’s eight boilers were finished.

On Friday it further revised the likely dates of the restarts. The restart of the reactor with cracks has been pushed back a month, from the end of November to the end of December. Two other reactors have been pushed back from the end of October to November 9, and the fourth reactor has been brought forward from November 30 to November 22………

The cracks at Heysham 1 are in a “boiler spine”. The Office for Nuclear Regulation said that the spine “supports the weight of an entire boiler and its failure could lead to water entering the reactor vessel”.

“The potential worst consequences of water entering the reactor vessel is an over-pressurisation of the reactor which could result in lifting of the reactor pressure relief valves. If this was to occur co-incidentally with fuel damage then there could be a direct path to the environment and a release of radiation,” it said……..

As well as firing up mothballed power plants, National Grid is also using emergency plans to pay factories to switch off on winter weekdays to ease demand to help ensure households’ lights are kept on. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/11169625/Nuclear-reactor-heat-turned-down-to-stop-boilers-cracking.html

October 18, 2014 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

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