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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe concerned over USA’s nuclear deal with Ukraine

safety-symbol-Smflag-UkraineOSCE shares Moscow’s concerns over Ukraine’s nuclear deal with US Rt August 28, 2014 The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe shares Moscow’s concern on world nuclear safety and the potential threat that possible US atomic fuel supplies to Ukraine might cause as the country remains in crisis.

Buy-US-nukesThe head of the OSCE and Swiss president Didier Burkhalter says he is concerned about nuclear safety in connection with the US intention to supply the country with nuclear fuel, according to a reply letter to Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Industry Vladimir Gutenev.

Switzerland “shares the view concerning nuclear safety,” Burkhalter wrote, as cited by Itar-Tass,……..

In early June, Gutenev sent a letter to Burkhalter warning of security threats that European nations will face in case of a potential industrial nuclear disaster at one of Ukraine’s power plants, as Kiev is planning to sign a contract with American Westinghouse Electric Company. He highlighted the fact that Soviet made nuclear plants are not compatible with fuel assembly type TBC-W offered by the Americans, as previous trials have shown.

“The nuclear reactors in Ukraine are of Russian (Soviet) design, which are only designed for fuel that has passed a special certification. Therefore, further attempts to use non-adapted fuel assemblies of American production without a corresponding adjustment increase the risk of failure of the Ukrainian reactors and dramatically increase the likelihood of man-made disasters,” Gutenev wrote in June, calling on the OSCE to consider the issue.

In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR-developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor together with Russian fuel rods. By 2008 Ukraine signed a contract with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply. However, the experiment showed that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core. The reason is simple – Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while Americans produce fuel assemblies of square section.

By 2012, after the failed test, exploitation of US nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine and the fuel rods were returned to the producer “to get fixed” while Russian scientists came to the rescue. The Energoatom Company of Ukraine lost an estimated $175 million in this trial.

Now the Kiev regime has renewed the 2008 nuclear fuel deal till 2020, to replace 25 percent of the Russian-made fuel rods with an option to “provide more if needed.”…….http://rt.com/news/183248-nuclear-ukraine-threat-osce/

August 29, 2014 Posted by | marketing, safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Westinghouse fighting Areva as both try to sell radioactive trash technology to South Africa

Westinghouse challenges South Africa nuclear contract awarded to Areva Thu Aug 28, 2014 JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Westinghouse Electric Company said on Thursday it had filed an interdict in a South African court to reopen the bidding process for a contract awarded to French rival Areva to replace six steam generators at a nuclear power plant…… Westinghouse, the world’s largest nuclear fuel producer and part of Japan’s Toshiba group, said in a statement it had gone to the Johannesburg High Court about the matter. http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFKBN0GS1LJ20140828

fighters-marketing-1

 

August 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Uranium industry has poor future selling to Japan, says former Japan P.M. Naoto Kan

graph-down-uraniumBetter Market Your Uranium Someplace Else, Japan Appetite No Longer Huge as Before – Former PM Tells Australia Queensland Premier Campbell NewmanInternational Business Times, By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 28, 2014 Campbell Newman, premier of Australia‘s Queensland state, has gotten an advice from former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and that is to market the country’s uranium to someplace else. This, as a new study said the bill of damages from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown will zoom to over $105 billion, double than the earlier estimates released by authorities in 2011.

While Japan may restart some of its 54 idled nuclear power plants, Kan said Japan’s appetite for the yellow cake uranium won’t be “anywhere the same levels of uranium it has in the past.”

Kan was in Australia last week on a trip sponsored by the Australian Conservation Foundation. A previous staunch supporter of nuclear power, Kan is now against uranium mining, having seen the effects of the Fukushima Daiichinuclear power plant meltdowns in March 2011.

Kan was Japan’s prime minister at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster three years ago.

“Even if some did restart it would be practically impossible to return to the kind of levels of operation that were in place before the March 2011 disaster,” Brisbane Times quoted Kan………

He also stressed the appeal of the yellow cake to fuel nuclear power plants had simmered down, and thus Queensland has China as the only potential country it can export its primary product.

“The trends we are seeing in the United States and Europe – and also because of the very high costs of nuclear power – we are not seeing a growth in this market,” he said………http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/564339/20140828/uranium-japan-appetite-kan-australia-queensland-newman.htm#.VADXudJdUnk

August 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, Uranium | Leave a comment

Georgia’s new nuclear power plant getting stymied by costs and delays?

nukes-hungryFlag-USAConstruction time uncertain for Ga. nuclear plant Star Telegram, Aug. 28, 2014 BY RAY HENRY Associated Press ATLANTA — Georgia Power said its $6.7 billion budget to build a new nuclear plant is holding steady, but it reported Thursday that builders face “challenges” sticking to the construction schedule and costs could change in the future…….Georgia Power has so far spent $2.8 billion on the project, according to company filings. The other owners, Oglethorpe Power Corp., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton, do not report their spending to the Public Service Commission.

The latest cost estimates are uncertain. Utility officials and regulators have previously said Georgia Power does not have a schedule from the companies designing and building the plant, Westinghouse Electric Co. and Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., that detail construction activities past the end of 2015.

“The Company expects the Contractor to employ all possible means to meet the current schedule targets; however, schedule pressures continue to challenge the project,” the report said.

Project schedules have slid since the plant was first approved. The first new reactor was supposed to start producing power in April 2016, with the second following a year later. Georgia Power has since pushed that schedule back to late 2017 and late 2018. Delays are bad for the nuclear industry and electric customers. The longer it takes to build a nuclear plant, the more Georgia Power and its co-owners must pay to finance construction and pay for other charges.

Ultimately, customers pay those expenses unless regulators intervene………

Analysts have been watching Georgia Power’s filings for any signs of additional delays or costs. The current budget does not earmark any money for resolving an ongoing lawsuit between the new plant’s owners and the firms who are designing and building it…….http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/08/28/6075221/construction-time-uncertain-for.html

August 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

$105 billion is the estimated cost of Fukushima nuclear clean-up

scrutiny-on-costsflag-japanBetter Market Your Uranium Someplace Else, Japan Appetite No Longer Huge as Before – Former PM Tells Australia Queensland Premier Campbell Newman International Business Times, By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 28,

“……….In the research made by Kenichi Oshima, environmental economics professor at Ritsumeikan University, and Masafumi Yokemoto, professor of environment policy at Osaka City University, they said the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant tragedy will cost 11.08 trillion yen ($105 billion). The figure ballooned to include radiation clean-up and compensation to residents.

Specifically, the expenses will include

  • 4.91 trillion yen ($47 billion) for compensation to residents in the affected area of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
  • 2.48 trillion yen ($23 billion) will be involved in the radiation cleanup of the territories
  • 2.17 trillion yen to scrap the disaster-hit plant
  • 1.06 trillion yen for the temporal storage of radioactive soil

Nevertheless, the researchers noted the amount still exclude costs for the final disposal of radioactive substances, compensation and plant decommissioning.

Oshima and Yokemoto said the cost will be shouldered by the Japanese people through taxes and utility bills.http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/564339/20140828/uranium-japan-appetite-kan-australia-queensland-newman.htm#.VADXudJdUnk

August 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Fukushima 2014, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment

Japan’s “nuclear restart” fades into the doubtful future

piggy-bank--nuke-sadflag-japanDon’t bank on nuclear restarts, Japan Times 24 Aug 14 Power companies are moving again to raise their electricity rates to get out of dire financial straits ………..Electricity charges are estimated to have already increased by roughly 20 percent for households and nearly 30 percent for businesses compared with 2010 levels.

Additional hikes could weigh heavily on households and businesses alike, and for that reason many are calling for a quick restart of the idled nuclear reactors — to remove an obstacle to Japan’s economic growth. That, however, does not warrant a return to business as usual for nuclear power in Japan.

While minimizing the inevitable rate hikes by introducing more streamlining and efficiency in their operations, the utility firms should begin an effort to change their cost structure and reduce their reliance on nuclear power by taking a more realistic view of the situation since the Fukushima disaster.

The Abe administration also needs to set down more specific goals in Japan’s energy policy that will incorporate efforts to reduce “as much as possible” the nation’s dependence on nuclear power — as it says in the government’s latest basic energy plan — to set a clear direction for the utility industry……..

When it raised its rates 11 months ago, Hokkaido Electric assumed that its Tomari Nuclear Power Plant would resume operations by June this year.

When Kansai Electric raised its electricity charges in the spring of 2013, it similarly calculated that its Oi and Takahama nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture would be up and running.

In its reconstruction plans approved by the government last December, Tepco also assumed that it would start reactivating reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture by July this year — adding that it might need to raise its rates again by up to 10 percent if the restart of the plant was delayed.

All of these forecasts by utilities have proven too optimistic. Of the 20 reactors at 13 nuclear power plants under safety review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority since July last year, the two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture have effectively cleared the NRA screening, but their actual restart is not likely before the end of this year due to pending procedures…….

The entire process for restarting the nuclear plants, including the necessary approvals from host municipalities and prefectures, is going to be tough and will take a long time. At present, only 20 of the nation’s 48 reactors are under NRA review……

as long as the power companies keep drawing up business plans based on the hope of once again being be able to operate nuclear power plants as they did before 2011, consumers and businesses can bet on the certainty of more hikes in the future. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/08/24/editorials/dont-bank-nuclear-restarts/#.U_u6scVdUnk

August 25, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Westinghouse desperate to sell nuclear equipment to Europe

Buy-Japan's-nukes-2Note about Westinghouse Westinghouse hasn’t been a US corp. for 15 or more years. First it became British and now is Toshiba. The biggest pushers of new reactors are thus Japan, Russia and France. GE is Hitachi Japan. France is Areva and EDF and the Russian gov has Rosatom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westinghouse_Electric_Company#Westinghouse_Electric_Company.27s_history_1999-present

Comment by miningawareness | August 26, 2014

Westinghouse seeks EU aid to weaken Russia’s nuclear fuel role in Europe ITar-Tass   August 21,  Michael Kirst, Westinghouse’s vice-president for strategy, says Europe needed the second supplier in case of technical failures and possible political sanctions LONDON, August 21. /ITAR-TASS/. US-based Westinghouse has asked the European Union to introduce competition rules on the nuclear fuel market with the aim of reducing Europe’s dependence on the Russian fuel supplies, the Financial Times reported on Thursday………

Finland is one of the European states depending heavily on supplies of Russian nuclear fuel, while Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic are entirely dependent on the Russian deliveries.

The FT reports that, according to Westinghouse “the EU’s weak spot lies in Russian VVER reactors across the former communist bloc and Finland, for which the Russian company TVEL is the only supplier.”

Westinghouse presses the EU for diversification in the Eastern Europe, since the US-based company is the only alternative for supplies of nuclear fuel for VVER-440 reactors.

The company said it needs an investment of $20 million to reprise the nuclear fuel production for the VVER-440 reactors, however, the work would take up to two years. http://en.itar-tass.com/world/746081

August 22, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 2 Comments

Reinstatement of nuclear whistleblower ordered by USA Feds

whistleblowerFeds Order Reinstatement of Nuclear Whistleblower abc news, SEATTLE — Aug 21, 2014 The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor to reinstate a worker who the department says was fired for voicing concerns about nuclear and environmental safety, officials announced Wednesday.

Richland-based Washington River Protection Solutions, a subsidiary of URS Corporation and Energy Solutions, was also ordered to pay $220,000 in back wages and other expenses.

The company denies the allegations that the worker was fired in retaliation.

But the labor department said the contractor violated federal whistleblower provisions. The worker first blew the whistle on nuclear and environmental safety and permit and record-keeping violations in 2009, according to the labor department. The worker was fired two years later and unsuccessfully re-applied for the job in 2012. The reason for the initial firing was “poor performance.”

“The people most able to identify hazards are often the workers who are threatened by them,” Galen Lemke, the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration acting regional administrator, said in a statement. “Employees must never be punished for sounding an alarm when they see a problem that could injure, sicken or kill someone, or harm the environment.”…….http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/feds-order-reinstatement-nuclear-whistleblower-25063970

August 22, 2014 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry’s survival hangs on tax-payer funding – World Nuclear News

text-my-money-2Banking on nuclear, World Nuclear News,  18 August 2014The nuclear industry needs to satisfy the multi-criteria approach to risk that banks take when they decide whether to invest in a large infrastructure project. Only then, can it expect to attract this form of financing to nuclear new build projects, writes Ron Cameron.

Specifically, banks look for long-term certainty on price, stable government policy, industry reputation, regulatory certainty, the process for addressing planning and environmental issues and public acceptance, in addition to the economics of the project.

European wholesale electricity markets are currently not favourable to nuclear power,……..

there is a real difficulty in seeing where nuclear new build is going to come from in Europe, without government action. ……the UK is trying to do something about the market disadvantage which is keeping investors away from nuclear. ……

Other countries, too, are making clear that the State is behind nuclear new build. For example, in the US, new nuclear power plants are being built with loan guarantees and tax credits. …….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/E-Banking-on-nuclear-1808201401.html

August 20, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Banks won’t lend for new nuclear projects. Industry wants tax-payers to fund them

Banking on nuclear, World Nuclear News,  18 August 2014 “……..Banks are reluctant to become involved with first-of-a-kind projects, whether that concerns a new reactor technology or a country embarking on nuclear power for the first time.

fleecing-taxpayer

 

Our focus then should perhaps be on trying to get banks into new projects at existing sites, such as plant life extensions. The latter is a lower risk process because the banks would be funding the cost of upgrades needed for plants whose construction costs have been essentially amortized and yet which could run for another 20 years.

And there are usually no great public concerns attached to life extensions, since the plant has already operated for some time. If the banks got involved with those and became familiar with nuclear industry issues, then they could one day be willing to join a consortium in new build projects. Banks look particularly at the track record of the industries that they are working with. And of course there is always the concern of delays for them. So some certainty that the government is behind these projects and prepared to support them with some form of guarantee is important………

Banks also monitor public opinion, but even more importantly, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are driven by the appetite from their member countries for financing nuclear power projects. It is up to the consortia of countries that are in favour of nuclear power to have more of a say on the banks’ boards. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/E-Banking-on-nuclear-1808201401.html

August 20, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Europe’s aging reactors: increasing safety and cost problems

safety-symbol1With exposure to radiation, high temperatures and pressure, the components of nuclear plants take a battering over time. “They can, for example, become more brittle, susceptible to cracking or less able to cope with temperature extremes,” said Anthony Froggatt, senior research fellow at London-based thinktank Chatham House.

Insight: The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants LONDON (Reuters)
flag-EU18 Aug 14
, -
Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many millions of dollars.

Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union’s electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc’s 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years.

And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds…….

as nuclear plants age, performance can suffer, and outages – both scheduled and unplanned – rise.

With nuclear safety in the spotlight since the 2011 reactor meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima plant – which in turn prompted Germany to call time on its entire nuclear fleet – operators can take no chances with their elderly plants, but the outages get longer and more difficult.

“These reactors were designed over 30 years ago. The people involved are either retired or dead, and most of the companies involved no longer exist,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority.

Jean Tandonnet, EDF Group’s nuclear safety inspector, said in January that its French fleet last year had a series of “problematic unit outages”, and scheduled outages were extended by an average of more than 26 days. Regular maintenance and major equipment replacement jobs had increased by 60 percent in the last six years, he said. France is the EU’s nuclear leader, its 58 reactors producing nearly three quarters of the country’s electricity. France’s nuclear watchdog will make a final decision on whether to extend the life of the French fleet to 50 years in 2018 or 2019. EDF has estimated the extension would cost 55 billion euros.

“The average age of the (French) reactors is now about 30 years, which raises questions about the investment needed to enable them to continue operating, as ageing reactors increasingly need parts to be replaced,” according to the World Nuclear Industry Status report 2014.

SAFETY FIRST

Though the EU has conducted risk and safety tests on the bloc’s nuclear plants, environmental campaigners say the tests failed to address risks associated with ageing technology, among other things.

With exposure to radiation, high temperatures and pressure, the components of nuclear plants take a battering over time. “They can, for example, become more brittle, susceptible to cracking or less able to cope with temperature extremes,” said Anthony Froggatt, senior research fellow at London-based thinktank Chatham House.

“While this can be monitored, it can be problematic if ageing occurs at a greater rate than anticipated or it occurs in areas which are difficult to access or monitor,” he added.

As reactors age, there is also a risk of finding a generic design flaw that could affect all the reactors in a country if they are of the same design. ………..Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels and Geert de Clercq in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman) http://www.firstpost.com/world/insight-the-cost-of-caring-for-europes-elderly-nuclear-plants-1668443.html

August 18, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Expensive delays pile up for USA’s new nuclear plants in Georgia andSouth Carolina

nuclear-costs1Flag-USADelays for SC nuclear plant further pressure industry; questions over potential delays in Ga. ATLANTA -Nanaimo daily news, 17 Aug 14,  Expensive delays are piling up for the companies building new nuclear power plants, raising fresh questions about whether they can control the construction costs that crippled the industry years ago.

The latest announcement came this week from executives at SCANA Corp., which has been warned by its builders the startup of the first of two new reactors in South Carolina could be delayed two years or more. SCANA Corp. and plant co-owner Santee Cooper have not accepted that timeline from the companies designing and building the reactors, nor have they accepted responsibility for additional costs.

That announcement may well foreshadow more delays for a sister project in eastern Georgia, and they have caught the attention of regulators and Wall Street.

“Delays generally cause cost increases, and the question becomes who’s going to bear the costs?” said C. Dukes Scott, executive director of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, a watchdog agency that monitors SCANA Corp.’s spending.

None of this is helpful for the nuclear power industry, which had hoped its newest generation of plants in Georgia and South Carolina would prove it could build without the delays and cost overruns so endemic years ago. When construction slows down, it costs more money to employ the thousands of workers needed to build a nuclear plant. Meanwhile, interest charges add up on the money borrowed to finance construction.

A single day of delay in Georgia could cost $2 million, according to an analysis by utility regulators. Utility consumers often end up paying for these extra charges in the form of pricier electricity bills, unless the government intervenes and forces shareholders to absorb all or some of the losses………

Additional delays could prove unwelcome news for two pro-nuclear Republicans seeking re-election in November to Georgia’s Public Service Commission, H. Doug Everett and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. -……….http://www.nanaimodailynews.com/business/delays-for-sc-nuclear-plant-further-pressure-industry-questions-over-potential-delays-in-ga-1.1316089#sthash.Yp8aLYvT.dpuf

August 18, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Geriatric disorders in old nuclear reactors – Britain, France and Belgium

safety-symbol1Insight: The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants LONDON (Reuters) 18 Aug 14 

“…………...GERIATRIC DISORDERS  Britain has 16 reactors in operation that came online from the 1970s to 1990s, and all but one will be retired by 2023 unless they get extensions.

At the Wylfa plant in Wales – Britain’s oldest, at 43 years – the one remaining operational reactor was out of service for seven months this year. It was first taken down for maintenance, but the restart was delayed as new problems were discovered.

The reactor is scheduled to be taken out of service for good in September, but operator Magnox is seeking an extension to December 2015.

This week, EDF Energy took offline three of its nuclear reactors at its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants in Britain for inspection which are both 31 years old, after a crack was discovered on a boiler spine of another Heysham 1 reactor with a similar boiler design, which had already been taken offline in June. [POWER/GB]

The boilers will be checked for defects with thermal imagery done using robotics, and the firm will know more about what caused the fault after the inspections, which should take around eight weeks, the EDF Energy spokeswoman said. EDF Energy has been incorporating extra checks into its strategy for its ageing nuclear plants since it inherited them from previous operator British Energy, she said.

British Energy was delisted in 2009 following financial collapse. Several unplanned outages had reduced its power output, and its load factor – the ratio of actual output to its maximum capacity – fell to its lowest level of 56 percent in 2009, Britain’s National Archives show.

This compares with EDF’s average load factor for its French nuclear fleet of 73 percent in 2013, which is also down from its highest level of 77.6 percent in 2005, the company’s 2013 results show.

The fleet’s net output of electricity has declined from 429 terawatt hours in 2005 to 404 TWh last year, though this could be for a range of reasons, including weak energy demand.

Apart from reducing the reliability of Europe’s electricity supply, operators stand to lose many millions of euros from a single outage from lost electricity sales alone. Reuters calculations, based on industry estimates of lost daily electricity sales, show the outages at two EDF Energy plants could cost the firm some 155 million pounds during the outages from when they began in June or August to October, not including the costs of inspection and maintenance work.

Industry sources say the lost revenue from the loss of output at a 1 gigawatt plant could reach 1 million pounds a day.

British utility Centrica, which owns 20 percent of EDF Energy’s nuclear fleet, said on Monday the reduction in output would reduce its earnings per share by around 0.3 pence this year.

More than half of Belgium’s nuclear capacity is offline for maintenance. The three closed reactors are 29, 31 and 32 years old.

Though it doesn’t break out the nuclear data separately, statistics from Europe’s electricity industry association Eurelectric show both planned and unplanned outages mostly increased at thermal power plants in eight European countries examined, and periods of energy unavailability increased from around 12.8 percent in 2002 to 18.3 percent in 2011.

As the plants age, that can only increase. Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels and Geert de Clercq in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman)   http://www.firstpost.com/world/insight-the-cost-of-caring-for-europes-elderly-nuclear-plants-1668443.html

August 18, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, France, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear power restart is just not really happening

flag-japanAfter the Fukushima meltdown, Japan’s nuclear restart is stalled, WP By Daniel Aldrich and James Platte August 15……Last month, the two reactors at the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear power plant were the first to pass new, stricter safety tests, but the actual restart date has been pushed back into the winter of 2015. Residents within 5 km of the plant now have potassium-iodide pills in the event of another accident, and some nine towns within 30 km of the plant have finally designed evacuation plans in case of a meltdown. These changes were a direct result of the Fukushima accident, which also spurred the creation of a new, independent nuclear industry regulator.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) replaced a patchwork of bureaucrats who controlled the industry before the disaster — many of whom were simultaneously tasked with promoting the field through incentives and grants to local communities. ……..

Beyond changing the regulatory environment in Japan, the Fukushima meltdowns caused a sea change in public opinion on nuclear power. Before the accidents, some two-thirds of respondents regularly supported increasing the number of nuclear power plants. Now, the same percentage of residents oppose the use of nuclear power in Japan, and a national poll at the end of July found nearly 60 percent of respondents opposed the restart of the Sendai nuclear plant.

Communities that directly host the facilities continue to — with some exceptions — support the restart of these facilities. Their support derives primarily from financial reasons: the central government provides up to $10 million a year to the small, rural, coastal towns that have these projects in their back yards. Research published by one economist showed that even for these communities the actual benefits to individuals vary widely.

But towns more than 5 km from the plant receive few, if any, financial benefits and have been vocal in their opposition to restarts. Further, because of a longstanding gentlemen’s agreement between utilities and local communities, mayors and governors hold unofficial veto power over the process. Without their support, power utilities will be unable to restart their plants…….

all of Japan’s power utilities that operate nuclear power plants are struggling financially, consistently posting large losses since 2011.  TEPCO was effectively nationalized to prevent it from failing, and in April, the state-owned Development Bank of Japan announced a total of nearly$1.5 billion in preferred stock investments into Kyushu Electric Power Company and Hokkaido Electric Power Company. Kyushu and Kansai Electric Power Company both recorded losses of over $900 million last year.

The ultimate question is how many reactors will restart and by when……..

While restarting some reactors will help generate revenue for Japan’s struggling power utilities, the cost of decommissioning about half of Japan’s pre-Fukushima reactor fleet will be significant. Despite the nuclear revival ambitions of the LDP and industrial leaders, Japan’s nuclear sector appears to have a long, difficult road ahead of it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/08/15/after-the-fukushima-meltdown-japans-nuclear-restart-is-stalled/

August 16, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Thorium lobby’s misinformation is hampering rare earths industry

Thorium-snake-oilIt’s anybody’s guess how long Thorium, with its “peacenik” aura, will take to get traction in corridors well-trodden by the US nuclear energy lobby, who have singularly shown zero interest in the blandishments of Thorium.

Thorium lobby thunder intent on hijacking rare earths’ coattails   Investor Intel August 12, 2014 by  Anyone in the Rare Earths space knows that Thorium frequently appears as an unwanted guest at the party. Explorers have worked on various ways to get around the issue. However there is a small group out there who we would call the “deniers”. They absolutely love Thorium. They are like Swedes liberated from the sauna in the dead of winter and would roll around in the stuff naked, if they could, to prove their commitment. While greater love hath no man to a chemical element than the Thorium crowd to their object of desire, the more measured amongst us realize that the mineral has been stuck for decades like a racehorse suffering a starting-gate malfunction.

What are we talking of here Continue reading

August 14, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

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