The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Computer worm uploaded into South Korean Nuclear Plants

computer-worm-nukeflag-S-KoreaHackers Uploaded a Worm to South Korean Nuclear Plants  Adam Clark Estes  30 Dec 14 Here’s a scary thing that happened: South Korean authorities found evidence that a worm was recently removed from devices connected to nuclear power facilities. The news comes a little over a week after the country’s nuclear plant operator received warnings on Twitter that its network had been compromised. Thankfully, the reactor controls were not infected.

The specific details of the low-risk worm remain unclear. South Korea’s Energy Ministry says that the malware probably ended up on the nuclear power facilities through an unauthorized USB device. The reactor controls of Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), the state-run utility affected, are not connected to any external networks. However, somewhat surprisingly, Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick told parliament that the worm was not connected to the other hacking incidents, a claim that “[drew] skepticism from some lawmakers,” according to Reuters. Either way, the worm and them hacks do not reflect well on the state of South Korea’s cybersecurity.

This is an especially worrisome attack in South Korea, since a third of the country’s power comes from nuclear reactors. Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that North Korea is to blame, and KHCP is beefing up its cybersecurity staff from 53 to 70. That still seems like a small number of people to guard 23 nuclear reactors, huh? [Reuters]

December 31, 2014 Posted by | incidents, South Korea | Leave a comment

Three South Korean workers died after accident at nuclear plant construction site

South Korea workers die at nuclear plant site, Sky News 27 Dec 14  Three South Korean workers have died after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by South Korea’s monopoly nuclear power company, which has come under recent threats by hackers.

The accident at the construction site in the southeastern city of Ulsan came as the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co was on high alert over a series of threats by hackers who claim they can disable the control systems of its plants.

December 27, 2014 Posted by | incidents, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea wants China’s help to investigate hacking attempts on nuclear power company

flag-S-KoreaKorea calls on China for help following hack attempt on nuclear power company IP address used in the hack traced to city on China-North Korea border. Ars Technica by  – Dec 24 2014

Last week, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, which runs South Korea’s 23 nuclear plants, suffered a security breach in which personnel records, public health monitoring data, and reactor designs were obtained from the company’s systems and posted online. The attacker, which linked to the materials on an anti-nuclear activist site, also threatened to release further information unless three of the company’s plants were shut down by tomorrow.

Now, Korean investigators have identified a Chinese IP address as the source of the attacks and are asking the Chinese government for assistance in the investigation.

According to a report in The Korea Times, the attacks were routed through three different VPN service providers in the US, Japan, and Korea. By obtaining these records, the initial IP address that launched the attack were traced to the city of Shenyang, which is on the China-North Korea border.An article from Australia’s ABC indicates that this city hosts one end of North Korea’s main Internet connection to the outside world, which was severed earlier this week.

A number of sources confirm that South Korea has asked for China’s assistance in the matter and quote an unnamed official as saying the country isn’t pointing the finger at its neighbor: “There is a possibility that the IP addresses in China are not the final source but used in a routing.” But suspicion isn’t directed at China itself; rather, it’s suspected that North Korean agents were using the Chinese city for their activities……..

December 26, 2014 Posted by | incidents, South Korea | Leave a comment

Y-12 nuclear weapons plant has chemical spill, causing evacuation

Chemical spill at Y-12; building evacuated as part of emergency response

Spill has been contained Frank Munger  Dec 16, 2014 OAK RIDGE — Federal spokesman Steven Wyatt confirmed that a chemical spill occurred Tuesday morning inside a building at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

The building has been evacuated, but Wyatt could not immediately say how many people had been evacuated. He confirmed that the chemical involved was acetonitrile, a flammable and toxic solvent that can cause respiratory problems if breathed.

Wyatt said the building was the Purification Facility. He said the chemical had been contained in the “affected area.” All employees have been accounted for, with no injuries reported, he said.

The Purification Facility is known to be the facility where Fogbank — a classified substance used in some thermonuclear weapons — is produced. But Wyatt declined to say whether or not the spill was associated with that mission.

December 17, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | 4 Comments

Torness nuclear power station needs safety probe: too many faults in UK nuclear reactors

safety-symbol-Smflag-UKCalls for nuclear safety probe over station faults 14 Dec 14, Torness is one of 15 nuclear power stations across the UK that have been forced to shut down due to faults over the last three years – with campaigners calling for an urgent review into the reliability of nuclear energy.

Analysis for local councils revealed that 15 reactors have had 62 unplanned shut-downs since 2011, with Torness near Dunbar forced to close twice last year due to the build-up of seaweed clogging the plant’s filters.

The research – which was carried out by Edinburgh-based nuclear consultant Pete Roche – found plants hit by a range of faults including cracks and electrical, boiler and valve defects.

And now the 50-strong group of local authorities who commissioned the report are raising fears over safety and the UK’s future energy supply.

Manchester councillor Mark Hackett, who chairs the group, said: “I call upon the UK Government, the National Grid and the nuclear regulators to urgently review the safety issues around such a large number of unplanned shutdowns.

“The Government also has to prioritise alternatives over the next 12 months to ensure the unreliability of nuclear power does not lead to the lights going off around the country.”

Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent had to be shut down 21 times between 2012 and 2014.

December 15, 2014 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

In secret project Oak Ridge nuclear workers exposed to radiation

Oak Ridge workers exposed to radiation during secret project, The Tennessean Associated Press OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A top official at Oak Ridge National Laboratory says at least eight workers received internal radiation while carrying out a classified project earlier this year at the facility.

The Knoxville News Sentinel ( reports that ORNL Deputy Director Jeff Smith confirmed the Aug. 25 incident, which involved an unexpected airborne release of radioactive material…………Smith said some employees at ORNL have jobs in which it’s anticipated they’ll receive some low-level radiation exposures. The lab tries not to have any unplanned radiation exposures, but it’s not unusual for there to be one or maybe two per year, he said.

December 15, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Record breaking Radiation detection in Texas Panhandle!

A repost from NukePro:

“Breaking …

Quote: “Update: 12/14/14, 8:06 A.M. – Record breaking Radiation detection in Texas Panhandle!

On the late afternoon of December 4th, a long time running station located in Bolger, Texas, northeast of Amarillo, set off our Alert system, recording readings as high as 25,000 CPM!!! In fact, the radiation levels were well into the 000’s for so many minutes that the software almost could not keep up. ( graph ). For context, he is operating the pancake-tubed Inspector Alert indoors from the second story of his home. His normal baseline background is about 40 CPM.

A storm was rolling through at the time, accompanied by rain, and the Jet Stream map shows its active precipitating fringe directly over the panhandle at the time of the alert – see map below. Wind was from the south. The fact that it was raining set up an opportunity to collect a water sample to confirm that the radiation was related to the storm. So the operator did successive 10 minute average scans of the exact same sample of rainwater to first confirm its radioactive nature, then secondly to measure its radiation level, and thirdly (and of critical importance) to measure the decay rate to to the end of ruling in or out various isotopes of known half life. i.e. the “Poor Man’s Isotope Identifying Test”, using a Geiger counter.

Results: The rainwater was in fact radioactive, starting out around 300 CPM, and its radioactive constituent decayed very rapidly, indicating a half life of a few hours, such that by the following morning, the same rainwater sample measured no more than background.

Conclusions: Because of the short half life, many fission by-products can be ruled out, and so the initial tendency would be to implicate naturally occurring Radon washout. However, we have never seen raw environmental readings of Radon daughters this high – yes, commonly in the 00’s of CPM, even over 1,000 CPM, but never to our knowledge averaging well into the 000’s and in this case, as high as 25,000 CPM.

So the working theory we have now, (if not Radon washout), among the station operator and a few of our members involved in the analysis that evening, is a possible detection of some sort of radioactive release from the Pantex plant located only 25 miles to the southwest. Pantex is involved in the disassembly of nuclear weapons at that site. Interestingly, this same Texas monitoring station recorded a possible radiation detection from Pantex on a couple of previous occasions – search the Archives for the Updates of 4/15/13 and 11/24/12″

Quoted from:
Credit for my relay:

Quote of Bobby1: “I am having a severe relapse of ME. It is possible this is being triggered by radiation. But it’s hard to tell with this damned disease.”

He could probably use some friendly visitors to his site to warm his heart.”

December 14, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Palisades Nuclear Plant safety violation

safety-symbol-SmNRC finds Palisades Nuclear Plant safety violation involving monitoring workers for radiation By Emily Monacelli | COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI, 11 Dec 14   Federal regulators found a safety violation involving monitoring of workers for radiation exposure at the Palisades nuclear power plant inCovert Township early this year, according to a report……. David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project, expressed concern Thursday about a report recently released that showed NRC inspectors examined 20 components at Palisades and found 10 low-level safety violations. Lochbaum said it is alarming that the problems were found by NRC inspectors and not first by Entergy workers.

“You have to do more than fix these violations,” Lochbaum said, adding that to prevent recurrences requires that Palisades operators get to the root of the problems.

December 13, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium smuggling gang arrested in Moldova

Moldova police arrest ‘uranium-smuggling gang’
Moldovan police say they have arrested seven people suspected of smuggling uranium from Russia to sell it on.About 200g (7oz) of the material was seized in a raid last week, with a black market value of about $2.1m (£1.3m; €1.7m).It was allegedly smuggled into Moldova in a special container on a train.

Those arrested had experience of handling radioactive substances, and have admitted their guilt, Moldovan police added.A kilogram of another hazardous material, mercury, was also seized.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation aided the police in their investigation, the Associated Press news agency reports.In 2011, Moldovan police arrested six people trying to sell a kilogram of uranium to buyers in Africa.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, incidents | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission reveals that workers inhaled uranium during spill at an in-situ mine

In-Situ-LeachingNuclear regulatory agency: 6 workers inhaled uranium at Wyoming mine after yellowcake spill, Star Tribune by: MEAD GRUVER , Associated Press : December 5, 2014  CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Six workers at a Wyoming uranium mine inhaled the radioactive element while cleaning up a spill inside a processing building just days before the mine delivered its first shipment last year, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The workers’ urine tested positive for uranium at close to seven times the federal agency’s permissible level, the federal agency alleges in a Nov. 14 violation notice against Lost Creek LLC ISR, a subsidiary of Littleton, Colorado-based Ur-Energy.

The spill happened Nov. 28, 2013, at the Lost Creek in-situ uranium mine in south-central Wyoming. In-situ mining involves pumping fluids underground to release uranium into a solution that is pumped to the surface. No shafts or tunnels are dug.

Some 1,500 pounds of yellowcake, a precursor of enriched uranium, surged onto the floor of a processing building while a worker was filling a 55-gallon drum with the dry, powdery substance, according to the notice…….

December 8, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Ukraine government had to admit to nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhya power plant

Nuclear Accident In Ukraine: Largest Nuke Plant In Europe Shut Down, But ‘No Threat,’ Gov’t Claims, INQUISITR, 3 Dec 14  A nuclear accident at a power plant in Ukraine, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, shut the plant down last Friday, but the Ukraine government did not reveal the alarming mishap until Wednesday, claiming that the accident posed “no threat” to the public from radiation.


 The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is also the fifth-largest nuclear plant in the world, consists of six nuclear reactors, the first of which went on line in 1985, with the sixth finally becoming operational 10 years later.

The nuclear plant is located just 120 miles from the war-torn eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian separatist rebels who have battled the Ukraine government in heavy fighting for much of 2014.

Donetsk is the region where on July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down by, it is widely believed, a rebel anti-aircraft missile, killing all 298 people on board.

Nuclear experts have raised the alarm that the power plant could be vulnerable to artillery fire from the war zone nearby………

December 5, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Belgian nuclear reactor shut down due to fire: Belgium phasing out nuclear power

safety-symbol1Fire shuts down Belgian nuclear reactor Belgian nuclear reactor has shut down after a fire broke out at the plant in the east of the country, the Belga news agency reported. The incident on Sunday could put a further strain on Belgium’s electricity grid, after warnings in August that outages at other nuclear plants could lead to power cuts in the approaching winter.

The Tihange 3 power station, situated 70 kilometres south-west of the German town of Aachen, shut down automatically after one of its transformers reportedly caught fire. The fire, which has since been extinguished, was caused by an explosion, Sudpresse newspaper group reported on its website.

It was unclear Sunday how long the 1,048-megawatt reactor will remain out of service.Tihange 3 is now the fourth Belgian nuclear reactor to be out of service, as another plant at Tihange and two at Doel have been shut down due to defects or security concerns.

The Tihange 1 reactor was not affected by Sunday’s incident, however. Belgium has adopted a nuclear phaseout plan that foresees the complete abandonment of nuclear energy by 2025.

December 1, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, incidents | Leave a comment

Pickering nuclear power station has radioactive leak

Radioactive leak at Pickering nuclear station, Caledon Enterprise, 26 Nov 14 
Heavy water contained inside reactor; no impact to public, environment 
Pickering News Advertiser

PICKERING — Thousands of litres of radioactive heavy water leaked in a reactor at the Pickering nuclear station Friday.

The incident happened in Unit 7, which was undergoing a scheduled maintenance outage, at about 4 p.m. on Nov. 21.

A valve on the moderator system opened inside the reactor building, Ontario Power Generation reported on Twitter….. 6,900 litres of heavy water leaked……

November 26, 2014 Posted by | Canada, incidents | Leave a comment

Powerful earthquake hits Japan

flag-japanPowerful quake rocks Japan, 6- out of 7 on intensity scale — Officials warn of strong aftershocks, around 50 so far — Helicopters find “more extensive damage than earlier thought” — Major roads collapsed, buildings flattened — Witnesses: “Strongest ever felt… Shaking was enormous” (VIDEOS)
Reuters: 6.8 [quake] jolted central Japan on Saturday evening… felt in the capital Tokyo 180 km away…  an advanced party of Japan’s military had been sent… “the tremor was too strong to stand,” said… an NHK employee.

AP: Helicopter surveys on Sunday showed more extensive damage than earlier thought from an overnight earthquake… footage showed buildings in various states of collapse, some flattened and others leaning… and deep cracks in the roads… The quake was followed by more than 45 aftershocks… [Officials] urged residents to watch out for landslides.

Voice of America: A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake… halted high-speed train service, caused several major roads to collapse and shut down others because of landslides.

Xinhua: Nagano prefecture government has enforced the disaster relief law… [Officials] warned of possible strong aftershocks… the government has set up a disaster relief office.

AP: One of the strongest ever felt in recent years by residents… Ryo Nishino, a restaurant owner… “never experienced a quake that shook so hard… shaking was enormous.”… The earthquake was felt across much of northern Japan… the Meteorological Agency… warned of further aftershocks.

ABC Australia: 21 aftershocks in the 90 minutes following the quake [and] tremors continued… “an aftershock registering upper 5 could occur in the coming week,” an agency official said… The quake was felt in wide areas from [including] Tohoku in north-eastern Japan… train systems in… Tohoku, Yamagata, Akita, Joetsu and Nagano… temporarily stopped.

AFP: Footage showed flattened wooden houses… “It’s quite a strong earthquake for an inland one,” an official at the Japanese agency told a midnight press conference. “We are worried about the extent of damage to houses and buildings,” he said… police and municipal officials said they were still scrambling to collect information as they were operating in the dark… The meteorological agency warned strong aftershocks could still occur in the coming week.

NHKJapanese officials warn of quake aftershocks — Officials at Japan’s Meteorological Agency are warning people to be on the alert for aftershocks in the days ahead after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake… The tremor registered intensities of 6-minus on the Japanese scale of 7.

Fox News: Fukushima is about 155 miles northeast of where Saturday’s earthquake occurred.

Video: NHK here | CBS here | Fox News here

November 23, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Radioactive release to air resulting from fire at Dounreay nuclear power station.

text-radiationDounreay nuclear plant fire led to ‘unauthorised’ radioactivity release Investigation identifies ‘unacceptable practices by staff’ relating to 7 October fire at site being decommissioned , Guardian, Terry Macalister, 22 Nov 14 
 Dounreay nuclear power station. The reactor stopped operating in 1994 and is more than halfway through decommissioning.  A fire at the Dounreay nuclear plant in the north of Scotland resulted in an “unauthorised”release of radioactivity, an investigation has found.

The nuclear plant has been censured by safety regulators after admitting human error led to the release of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

The criticism comes just weeks after another nuclear plant, Sellafield in Cumbria, was also tackled by the safety regulator over its management of asbestos while pictures emerged of badly corroded storage ponds there.

Environmentalists said the problems highlighted dangers from building a new generation of nuclear plants which however well designed would be vulnerable to human fallibility………

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), controlled by a consortium involving the engineering group Babcock, is involved in a £1.6bn contract to dismantle Dounreay, a prototype “fast reactor” built to experiment with nuclear fission in the 1950s and 60s……….


John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the problems at Dounreay were disturbing. “Until we can clone enough popes to staff all the world’s nuclear reactor control rooms, there will always be a fallible human component in nuclear power stations. This worrying news demonstrates why it’s important to remember that even a reactor design which looks safe on paper can never completely design out the actions of human beings. Its why renewable energy always scores better on safety, because far less can go wrong.”

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat, the local government voice on nuclear issues, described the Dounreay incident as “alarming” and called for more information.

“To hear that critical staff were not fully conversant in fire safety procedures and that a release of tritium occurred; putting into danger staff and the wider public; is quite disgraceful at such a sensitive nuclear site like Dounreay,” said councillor Mark Hackett, the NFLA’s chair.

The nuclear industry has had a difficult week after Areva, one of the companies involved in the management of Sellafield, issued a profit warning and said it might need a cash injection……..

November 22, 2014 Posted by | incidents, UK | 1 Comment


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