Germany says using tax money for nuclear power ‘out of the question’ BY BARBARA LEWIS AND TOM KOERKEMEIER BRUSSELS Thu Mar 5, 2015 (Reuters) – Using taxpayers’ money to fund nuclear power is “absolutely out of the question”, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, in an apparent swipe at British plans to finance new atomic generation.
Gabriel was arriving for talks in Brussels on the European Commission’s proposal for an energy union, which would deepen cross-border cooperation on energy across the 28-member EU…….
“There are countries in the EU that want to support nuclear power with tax money. We think that is absolutely out of the question,” Gabriel said.
“We will not agree by any means that nuclear energy be supported by public money. Nuclear energy is the most expensive kind of generation. It has now been around for 50 years, it is not new and it is dangerous.”
Gabriel did not directly mention Britain’s plans to finance new nuclear generation to be built by French utility EDF at Hinkley Point in southwest England.
The European Commission last year approved state aid for the 16 billion pound ($25 billion) plan, drawing fierce criticism and legal action from those who say the subsidy distorts competition.
On Wednesday, a German energy cooperative announced it would take legal action against Britain’s plan to pay a guaranteed price for power produced at Hinkley Point….. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/05/us-eu-energy-nuclear-idUSKBN0M115Q20150305
The talks will resume on March 15, probably in Geneva, as the latest deadline for agreement looms at the end of the month.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said a deal was “very close”,telling NBC that he and his team were prepared to carry on working through the Persian New Year celebration of Nowruz starting on March 21. Continue reading
Energy firm sues EU over Brit nuclear plant http://www.thelocal.de/20150305/green-energy-company-to-sue-eu-over-nuclear-energy 05 Mar 2015 Renewable energy provider Greenpeace Energy plans to sue the European Commission over its decision last year to allow the UK to build a new nuclear reactor. The Hamburg company says that the huge subsidies involved in the UK project will upset German energy markets and harm small renewable energy providers, and argues that the the European Commission (EC) should not have given the project the go ahead because the subsidies would distort competition.
Silvia Brugger, director of the Climate and Energy Programme at the Heinrich-Böll Foundation – closely linked to Germany’s Green party – told The Local that the lawsuit is “justified” and an “important signal,” and denied that a favourable ruling would threaten Germany’s subsidy programme for renewable energy.
“[This process] should expose the full costs of nuclear energy and conversely highlight the competitive advantages of renewable energy,” said Brugger. Continue reading
Outcry and fear as Pakistan builds new nuclear reactors in dangerous Karachi WP, By Tim Craig March 5 KARACHI, Pakistan — World leaders have fretted for years that terrorists may try to steal one of Pakistan’s nuclear bombs and detonate it in a foreign country. But some Karachi residents say the real nuclear nightmare is unfolding here in Pakistan’s largest and most volatile city. Continue reading
*Injunctions could delay nuclear restarts by years
* Activist lawyers to contest every unit that passes safety checks
* Judge in Takahama case same that ruled against Ohi restart
By Mari Saito and Kentaro Hamada TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - The fight over restarting Japan’s nuclear industry is moving to the courts, where power companies face the risk of further delays in firing up idled reactors if judges side with local residents worried about nuclear safety.
Four reactors owned by two utilities cleared regulatory safety checks in recent months, potentially soon ending more than a year without atomic power in Japan, the first such spell in the four decades the nation has been using nuclear energy.
And while ruling politicians and Japan’s bureaucracy are pushing the restarts, the judiciary – which typically sided with power companies before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster – may be shifting its attitude.
Judges are now considering injunctions that could halt the restarts and indefinitely extend the countrywide shutdown of Japan’s 48 reactors that followed Fukushima, posing a threat to power companies already surviving on government support.
“Japan’s courts have always been hesitant to properly check the state and its legislative process,” but the shift in public opinion against nuclear power may have turned some judges in favour of residents, said Hiroshi Segi, a former judge turned critic of Japan’s judicial system.
The court decisions, which might come this month – four years after the earthquake and tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima reactors – could mean months, even years of delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for Kansai Electric Power and Kyushu Electric Power…..
The plaintiffs contend the utilities are underestimating the earthquake risks at Sendai and Takahama and not meeting tougher post-Fukushima standards. Residents also say the government has not set credible evacuation plans in case of a nuclear accident.
Kaido’s team of anti-nuclear lawyers are planning to seek injunctions on every plant that wins regulatory approval.
“Judges must know that their decision could stop the next nuclear accident,” Kaido said…….
The lead judge in the Takahama case, Hideaki Higuchi, ruled against restarting Kansai Electric’s Ohi plant in May last year, a rare victory for activists.
“I think residents could win the (Takahama) shutdown in Fukui District Court,” said Akihiro Sawa, a former official with the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, which oversees electric power companies.
Sawa, now a research director at the 21st Century Public Policy Institute, affiliated with Japan’s biggest business lobby, said he has been warning utility executives to take the lawsuits seriously…….
In the Ohi decision last May, the Fukui court judge said protecting residents’ health from a potential nuclear accident was more important than any financial gains the country may get from restarting stalled plants.
“I am hopeful that the Sendai judge will feel the same,” Kaido said. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/japan-nuclear-idUSL1N0VR09720150304
Future nuclear power plant development in the U.S. looks dismal as cost overruns and multiyear delays plague four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina.
Southern Co. , the Atlanta-based power utility that dominates much of the Southeastern U.S., recently told Georgia regulators that costs have ballooned by $1.4 billion for its minority stake in the Vogtle nuclear power plant expansion in Waynesboro, Ga. The company’s Georgia Power utility is now on the hook to spend $7.5 billion for its 46% share, while municipal utilities own the rest.
Southern is trying to recoup some of the cost from its vendors, but the company recently notified the state utility commission that it may try to pass on much of the expense to customers, protecting its shareholders from the hit.
The company’s disclosure shines a light on a persistent industry problem. What was once seen as a major strength of new nuclear reactor designs—a streamlined construction method —is now proving to be an Achilles’ heel……http://www.wsj.com/articles/nuclear-power-firms-feel-squeeze-1425591380
Sellafield clean-up costs rise to £53bn, says NAO BBC News 4 Mar 15 The cost of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria has increased by £5bn to £53bn, says the National Audit Office.
Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which commissioned the report, said the cost hike was “astonishing.”
A year ago, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the body responsible for the clean up, said the cost would be £48bn.
The work is also behind schedule, the report said.
The Authority gave the £9bn Sellafield clean-up contract to Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), but following criticism of NMP’s competence, decided in January to cancel the contract.
“It is galling that breaking the contract will cost the public purse £430,000,” said Mrs Hodge, whose committee recommended the Authority consider doing this a year ago.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, NMP, and Sellafield Ltd. are due to appear before the Committee on 11 March.
Mrs Hodge said she expected them to “tell me how the escalation in cost of cleaning up Sellafield will be stopped and performance put back on track.”
Chris Jukes, regional officer of the GMB union, said: “GMB has been absolutely clear all along that the NMP model did not work at Sellafield…….
The total cost of cleaning up the UK’s 17 nuclear sites is “around £70bn”, the NAO says.
Sellafield is the “UK’s largest and most hazardous nuclear site”, including two nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, waste management and storage plants, as well as storage ponds and silos containing waste from the UK’s first nuclear plants.
The Authority aims to clear the site by 2120. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31725365
Hinkley C nuclear power station faces legal challenge BBC News 5 Mar 15 “The planned Hinkley C nuclear power station in Somerset is the subject of a new legal challenge. A German energy co-operative founded by environmental lobby group Greenpeace is to launch a legal action against the European Commission.
It accuses the Commission of wrongly approving the nuclear reactor project in October following a lengthy state aid inquiry…….Unfair state aid?
Soenke Tangermann, managing director of Greenpeace Energy, said the “highly subsidised” electricity produced by the plant would “noticeably distort European competitiveness.”
The energy cooperative was founded by Greenpeace 15 years ago and now operates as an independent company.
“This effect will have economic disadvantages for committed green [energy] providers like us and that’s why we are going to court,” Mr Tangermann said.
Greenpeace Energy says the subsidies planned for the controversial scheme are far higher than those for wind and solar power in Germany.
Austria – which opposes nuclear power – has also signalled it will launch its own legal challenge against the project, arguing that subsidies ought to be restricted to renewable energy sources.
Greenpeace Energy is also calling on the German government to take action against what it calls “the unfair state aid approval.”…….http://www.bbc.com/news/business-31732679
Report: Fukushima fallout detected in U.S. fish — Dose equal to samples caught 100 miles from plant — Persistently high levels detected in marine life offshore “not anticipated… orders of magnitude” more than expected — “Measurements needed… along predicted plume trajectory” http://enenews.com/report-fallout-japan-reactors-detected-freshwater-fish-radioactive-dose-equivalent-fish-caught-100-miles-fukushima-reactors-ongoing-measurements-needed-along-predicted-plume-trajectory
Excerpts from ‘Radiological Dose Rates to Marine Fish from the Fukushima Daiichi Accident: The First Three Years Across the North Pacific’, includes authors from Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences and Oregon St. Univ., 2015 (emphasis added):
- A more complete record is emerging of radionuclide measurements in fish [from]across the Pacific… Fish 100–200 km east of [Fukushima], coastal fish in the Aleutian Islands… and trans-Pacific migratory species, all had increased dose rates as a consequence of the FDNPP accident.
- FDNPP produced the largest single-event influx of radioactive cesium isotopes into the Pacific [137Cs up to 90 PBq; Chernobyl total: 70-85 PBq].
- Dose rates to the most impacted fish species near the FDNPP have remained above benchmark levels for potential dose effects at least three years longer than was indicated by previous, data-limited, evaluations.
- [Strontium-90] was estimated to contribute up to approximately one-half of the total 2013 dose rate to fish near the FDNPP.
- Evaluations… suggested that the dose rates to fish near the FDNPP… only briefly remained above the benchmark levels for potential harmful effects… However, subsequent data have indicated highly elevated and persistent accumulation of Cs.
- Maximally exposed fish near the FDNPP [had] an increase of more than six orders of magnitude… The elevated activity concentrations were not isolated to one sample, or one species. In 2013, activity concentrations of 134,137Cs exceeding [100,000 Bq] kg were measured in more than 100 fish from ten species sampled from FDNPP port… concentrations in [some species] are orders of magnitude higher than predicted.
- Some of the released radionuclides are being carried long distances…
- At Amchitka Island [in Alaska] the 134,137Cs dose rates to [greenling and rockfish] were only slightly higher than pre-event levels… The increase… appears to be due to atmospheric transport from Fukushima as 134Cs was measured… in freshwater fish[11 Bq/kg in trout].
- Detections of 134Cs in California water samples gathered in August 2014… suggest incremental dose rate increases to resident fish.
- Fish at 100–200 km east of the FDNPP, coastal fish in the Aleutian Islands, and trans-Pacific migratory species all had increased dose rates.
- Persistence of the radionuclides in fish was not anticipated by existing models…ongoing measurements are needed at locations near the FDNPP and further along the predicted plume trajectory… Some areas that have experienced air deposition in 2011 (e.g. Aleutian Islands), should continue monitoring as they may experience a second arrival of 134,137Cs in subsequent years via an oceanic plume.
- This study was in collaboration with the… IAEA
Areas in Creighton, Saskatchewan and Schreiber assessed, not likley to be suitable for nuclear wastes
they should stop making radioactive trash – with nowhere to put it
NWMO Concludes Studies in Creighton, Saskatchewan and Schreiber, Ontario TORONTO, March 3, 2015 – The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is concluding preliminary assessment work in two communities engaged in learning about Adaptive Phased Management (APM), Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel.
Eurus Energy brings two Japan projects online in Fukushima and Miyagi regions http://www.pv-tech.org/news/eurus_energy_brings_two_more_japan_projects_online By Liam Stoker – 04 March 2015 Operations at two new large-scale solar projects in the earthquake-affected Japanese prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima have been started by Eurus Energy Group.
The new mega-solar projects – the Eurus Tenmyo Solar Park in Miyagi and the Eurus Yabukinakajima Solar Park in Fukushima – will have a total output of 14 MW and 8MW respectively, making them the largest solar plants in their respective prefectures.
The projects have both been eligible for subsidies under the Projects for Developing and Implementing Measures for Promotion of Power Generation Facilities Based on Renewable Energies, a plan prompted by the region’s earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster in April 2011.
The feed-in tariff introduced in July 2012 to trigger more PV development has resulted in Japan establishing a significant solar pipeline, with these two projects the latest to contribute towards the country’s PV boom that has placed it in the top three solar nations in the world in terms of deployment.
Canadian Solar, which has significantly stepped up its interest in various segments of the Japanese PV market, has supplied modules for the Miyagi-based solar park while Japan’s Kyocera Corporation has supplied modules for the Fukushima-based project, a development that comes despite last month’s news that the electronics firm’s solar module sales revenues in Q4 2014 had been weaker than expected.
Power generated from the two projects is to be sold to Tohoku Electric Power Company while their completion has taken Eurus’ solar capacity in the country to 84 MW.
Vermont joined the petition to the NRC almost two years after it was filed by a consortium of anti-nuclear groups, including the Citizens Awareness Network.
Scot Kline, an assistant Vermont attorney general, said Wednesday the state had been “monitoring” the petition before the NRC, and decided in January to file a formal request with the NRC.
“We have had consultations with the New York attorney general and the Massachusetts attorney general,” Kline said. “This was an appropriate time for us to join.”
In a two-page letter dated Jan. 27, William Griffin, the chief assistant attorney general, and Christopher Recchia, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, said they were concerned about Entergy’s finances and its corporate parent’s ability to cover the costs of decommissioning the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
Entergy’s latest estimates put the full cost of decommissioning at $1.2 billion in 2014 costs……..http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20150305/NEWS02/703059883
Former Idaho Governors Aim to Stop Nuclear Waste Shipments MagicValley.com KEITH RIDLER Associated Press OISE (AP) 5 Mar 15 | Former Idaho Govs. Phil Batt and Cecil Andrus have filed a notice of their
intent to sue the federal government over proposed shipments of spent commercial nuclear fuel rods to Idaho.
The former governors sent the notice Thursday to the U.S. Department of Energy seeking to halt the shipments scheduled to arrive in June and December at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho.
Batt, a Republican, and Andrus, a Democrat, both fought commercial nuclear waste shipments during their terms that spanned portions of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, culminating with a 1995 agreement, often called the Batt Agreement. That agreement bans commercial nuclear waste shipments and requires cleanup of nuclear waste stored at the Idaho National Laboratory.
Specifically, the governors contend in the possible lawsuit that the Department of Energy will be violating federal environmental laws by shipping the waste to Idaho………http://magicvalley.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/update-former-idaho-governors-aim-to-stop-nuclear-waste-shipments/article_433b083e-c369-11e4-926a-83ba5c8b914a.html
Can’t We Just Throw Our Nuclear Waste Down A Deep Hole? http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/03/05/cant-we-just-throw-our-nuclear-waste-down-a-deep-hole/ James Conca 5 Mar 15 Um…yes, we can. It’s called Deep Borehole Disposal and is pretty easy for some nuclear waste. Especially some highly radioactive materials that have sat in some fairly small capsules for almost 40 years.
This was exactly the topic of discussion in Washington this week when Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz answered questions from Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) at a House Science, Space and Technology committee hearing (Tri-City Herald).
The answer from Moniz was positive. He discussed a pilot project that would demonstrate the idea of deep borehole disposal using these capsules.
Deep borehole disposal is simple. Drill a very deep hole – 3 miles or so – put the waste in it and fill it up with some special layers, but mainly crushed rock and cement. As geologists, we know how many millions of years it takes for anything to get up from that depth in the Earth’s crust.
As long as you don’t put it under an active volcano!
The nice thing about deep borehole disposal is that it doesn’t matter where you put it in the country. At that depth, you’re so deep in the crust that the overlying rocks don’t matter. The water table doesn’t matter. The climate doesn’t matter. Human activities don’t matter.
But why these capsules? Because the material, cesium-137 and strontium-90 chloride salts (137CsCl and 90SrCl2), is in an easy waste form compared to that sludgy gooey stuff that makes up most of the tank waste left over from weapons production. These capsules are dry solid material in relatively small containers – less than 3-inches in diameter and only 2-feet long – very small compared to the large spent fuel assemblies and high-level waste glass logs usually discussed in geologic disposal plans.
Deep borehole disposal for the larger waste containers is trickier and more expensive because we haven’t yet drilled large-diameter holes that deep. Like all technological advances, we will (Sandia National Labs; Ethan Bates et al 2014). But these capsules are less than 3-inches wide, and we’ve drilled 6 and 8 inch holes that deep many times, so nothing really new needs to be developed for this project.
There are 1,936 capsules filled with radioactive 137CsCl and 90SrCl2 that are stored underwater at the Waste Encapsulation Storage Facility at DOE’s Hanford site in Washington State. Because these radionuclides, left over from plutonium production for weapons, are the primary heat-generator in nuclear waste, they were separated from the rest of the waste almost 40 years ago to reduce heat in the tanks, as well as to use in research.
But there is a time-sensitive nature to these capsules. Although CsCl doesn’t melt until 645°C (1,193°F), it goes through a bizarre solid-state phase change at 450°C (842°F). This means that without melting it’s atoms change their arrangement in space from one structure to another with a very different density. So as the temperature changes across this boundary, the material swells and shrinks. And that tends to degrade the containers it’s in.
The existing containers are beginning to get a little degraded, so best to get rid of them as soon as possible. They’re small, so deep borehole disposal would be cheap and easy.
Since there isn’t much of this boutique nuclear waste, only 5 cubic yards, and it’s in a great form, this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate deep borehole disposal and clean out this facility.
Like all really hot nuclear waste, these capsules were destined for the proposed deep geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, which was halted in 2010. Since a new permanent federal repository for high-level waste won’t be chosen for decades, we need to rethink our nuclear disposal program.
And this is a good idea, one of the few looked at by thePresident’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future that was formed to come up with a new strategy in the wake of Yucca Mountain’s closure. Their recommendations were basically to pick disposal options suited to the waste and the need. And to get everyone to buy off on them before you start!
These capsules “could be very well suited perhaps for much earlier disposal through a borehole approach,” Moniz said. “We have to drill — we have to do the demonstration project, do the science, which is what we want to do in 2016.”
Budget proposal documents show $2 million for technology development to support plans in fiscal 2016 for what is anticipated to be a multi-year test using a non-radioactive waste substitute. Since Yucca Mountain was projected to cost over $200 billion, this is a steal.
The test would demonstrate technology for sealing the borehole, tools to characterize waste in the borehole and controls on waste isolation. DOE has also sought communities interested in being the site for the borehole test.
3,000 construction jobs for 3 years To change the world of transportation and leave oil behind in favor of clean sources of energy, you need batteries. Lots of them. Cheaply. That’s what Tesla is trying to do with its Gigafactory project — make as many advanced lithium-ion batteries in one location as the whole world is making today, driving down costs by at least 30%. This Gigafactory will be making 50 GWh of battery capacity per year by 2020, enough for 500,000 Tesla cars (mostly the cheaper upcoming Model 3), and the whole factory will be powered by clean energy. This is a $5 billion investment that will create 6,500 on-site jobs……http://www.treehugger.com/cars/construction-tesla-5-billion-solar-powered-gigafactory-nevada-progressing-nicely.html
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