nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Glum future for nuclear industry as wind and solar power get ever cheaper

sun-champion“Even if the government can get over that hurdle, there are many problems to overcome—for example, the designs of the stations have to be finalised. The process could take years, by which time wind, solar and other renewables will have expanded so much it will make nuclear redundant.”

Boom-or-Doom Riddle for Nuclear Industry, truthdig, 27 July 14  “………The figures show that nuclear production is currently in decline from a peak in 2006, and is now producing less than 10% of the world’s electricity needs.

World solar capacity, on the other hand, increased by 35% in 2013, and wind power by 12.5%—although, added together, they still do not produce as much power as nuclear.

All the evidence is that wind and solar will continue to grow strongly, and particularly solar, where technological advances and quantity of production means that prices have dropped dramatically.

Costs of producing energy are hard to compare because solar is small and local and dependent on sunshine, while nuclear is large and distant and must be kept on all the time. However, research suggests that solar is already producing cheaper power per kilowatt hour than nuclear, the costs of which have not come down.

Commercial market

Both costs and time seem to be major factors in deciding which technology will gain market share. Nuclear stations are expensive and a long time passes before electricity is produced, making them almost impossible to finance in a normal commercial market. Solar panels, in contrast, can be up and running in days, and wind turbines within weeks.

Historically, nuclear power plants have always been built with government subsidy—a pattern that is continuing across the world. For example, the two countries with the largest number of reactors under construction—China, with 29, and Russia, with 10—have populations with no democratic say in the matter.

Critics of the WNA figures say that while the claims for reactors planned and proposed might be real, the chances of most of them actually being built are remote.The US is said to have five reactors under construction, five more planned and 17 proposed—but with existing nuclear stations closing because they cannot compete with gas on price, it is unlikely that all of these will be completed by 2030.

The UK, which has a government keen to build nuclear stations, is said to have four stations planned and seven more proposed. The first of these stations was due to be opened by 2017, but work has not yet been started. The earliest completion date is now expected to be 2024, and the rest will follow that.

The delay in Britain is partly because the subsidies offered to French, Chinese and Japanese companies to build the UK reactors are under investigation by the European Commission to see if they breach competition rules.

Massive subsidies

Martin Forward is from the English Lake District, where one of the four nuclear stations is planned, and runs Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. He said: “I cannot see how nuclear has any future in Europe because of cost. Nuclear needs massive subsidies to be financially viable, but these are currently illegal under European law, so it is unlikely that the British ones will be built.

“Even if the government can get over that hurdle, there are many problems to overcome—for example, the designs of the stations have to be finalised. The process could take years, by which time wind, solar and other renewables will have expanded so much it will make nuclear redundant.”…….http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/boom-or-doom_riddle_for_nuclear_industry_20140727

July 28, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Serious effects on Europe’s nuclear power if Europe puts sanctions on Russia

exclamation-Smflag-EUSanctions on Russia have potential for nuclear impact, PennEnergy, July 23, 2014  International Digital Editor  Recent events in Ukraine have put Europe’s energy security again under scrutiny, and while there is great concern about the bloc’s vulnerability to Russia retaliating to sanctions by turning of the gas, not as much attention has been paid to the nuclear power aspect.

Russia is highly influential in terms of the EU’s nuclear power capability.

It is an important supplier of the raw material for nuclear fuel, uranium, accounting for 18 per cent of EU supplies.

The BBC reports that 30 per cent of the enrichment work to make uranium suitable for power generation is done by Russian companies.

Meanwhile, many countries within the EU have a significant number of older, Russian-designed nuclear reactors – 18 in all. Finland has two – and all the reactors in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (who are in deals with Russia to build two more) are Russian-designed.

These states are heavily reliant on their nuclear capacity, with 50 per cent of Slovakia’s electricity and 45 per cent of Hungary’s being accounted for by these plants.The fuel for a reactor also has to be supplied in a form – called a fuel assembly – that meets the specifications of the particular reactor, and for Russian-designed nuclear reactors the fuel comes from a Russian company, TVEL. Anything that disrupts the supply of the fuel assemblies needed for these countries’ reactors would be a serious problem for them. A recent European Commission report argued that, “Ideally, diversification of fuel assembly manufacturing should take place, but this would require some technological efforts because of the different reactor designs.”

Because of the implications to countries’ power sectors and, subsequently, their economies, many are reluctant to back aggressive sanctions against Russia……..http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pei/2014/07/sanctions-on-russia-have-potential-for-nuclear-impact.html

July 28, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Russia, Ukraine | Leave a comment

USA’s new nuclear power construction is not working out

nukes-sad-Flag-USAPromises of easier nuclear construction fall short, Tri City Herald,  BY RAY HENRY Associated Press July 26, 2014 WAYNESBORO, GA.   The U.S. nuclear industry has started building its first new plants in decades using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and money and revive the once promising energy source.

So far, it’s not working.

Quality and cost problems have cropped up again, raising questions about whether nuclear power will ever be able to compete with other electricity sources. The first two reactors built after a 16-year lull, Southern Co.’s Vogtle plant in Georgia and SCANA Corp.’s VC Summer plant in South Carolina, are being assembled in large modules. Large chunks of the modules are built off-site, in an effort to improve quality and avoid the chronic cost overruns that all but killed the nuclear industry when the first wave of plants was being built in the 1960s and 1970s.

Analysts say engineers created designs that were hard or impossible to make, according to interviews and regulatory filings reviewed by The Associated Press. The factory in Louisiana that constructed the prefabricated sections struggled to meet strict quality rules. Utility companies got early warnings but proved unable to avoid the problems. Now the firms leading the project are phasing out the Louisiana factory for work on the biggest modules and contracting with new manufacturers………

Inspectors for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission halted their first review of the plant the following month, saying it was not ready for in-depth scrutiny. Follow-up inspections found more issues with the plant’s quality assurance programs. NRC officials proposed a $36,400 fine against The Shaw Group for firing a quality insurance supervisor elsewhere in its company who warned a potentially faulty part may have been shipped to a project in New Mexico. The fine was dropped after the company agreed to changes. The agency also said workers at the Lake Charles facility feared raising safety and quality concerns to their supervisors………http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/07/26/3079384/promises-of-easier-nuclear-construction.html?sp=/99/915/

July 28, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Japanese residents near Sendai to get iodine tablets, in case of nuclear power accident

flag-japanKagoshima residents near Sendai nuclear plant given iodine tablets http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/27/national/kagoshima-residents-near-sendai-nuclear-plant-given-iodine-tablets/#.U9bY_ONdUnk KYODO JUL 27, 2014 Local authorities in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday started handing out iodine tablets to residents living within 5 km of the Sendai nuclear power plant, which may be restarted in the fall.

It is the first time iodine tablets have been distributed under guidelines instituted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was set up in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Iodine tablets help people protect their thyroid glands from radiation.potassium-iodate-pills

The move by the Kagoshima prefectural and Satsumasendai municipal governments came after Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant cleared a key safety hurdle for restarting operations earlier this month.

About 2,700 of the roughly 4,700 residents over 3 who live within the 5-km radius were given a supply of tablets after hearing an official briefing, submitting medical interview sheets and receiving the green light from doctors, according to prefectural officials.

Briefings for the remaining residents will resume in September, they said.

A total of 39 residents declined to receive the tablets. Children under 3 will receive the equivalent at shelters in the event of a nuclear accident, the officials said.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | health, Japan | Leave a comment

Delaware residents to get iodine tablets just in case of nuclear [power accident

potassium-iodate-pillsDel. distributing radiation protection tablets http://newsok.com/del.-distributing-radiation-protection-tablets/article/feed/715584 July 26, 2014  MIDDLETOWN, Del. (AP) — Officials say they’ll be distributing free potassium iodide tablets to Delaware residents who live within 10 miles of the Salem/Hope Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey.

 The tablets will be distributed Thursday and Aug. 28 at two locations in Middleton. Officials say the tablets can protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, which a plant may release in an emergency. Evacuation is the primary way Delaware residents would get out of harm’s way in an emergency, but the tablets offer additional protection.

If a radiation emergency were to occur, officials would inform the public through the use of emergency alert system radio stations. The information would include evacuation instructions as well as instructions on when to take the potassium iodide tablets.

July 28, 2014 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Tokyo’s growing nuclear radiation danger

radiation-warningflag-japanTokyo should no longer be inhabited,’ Japanese doctor warns residents regarding radiation http://www.naturalnews.com/046112_radiation_fukushima_tokyo.html 25 July 14 (NaturalNews)In an essay addressed to his colleagues, Japanese doctor Shigeru Mita has explained why he recently moved away from Tokyo to restart his practice in western Japan: He believes that Tokyo is no longer safe to inhabit due to radioactive contamination caused by the March 11, 2011, meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The essay, titled “Why did I leave Tokyo?” was published in the newsletter of the Association of Doctors in Kodaira, metropolitan Tokyo.
Soil tests prove contamination

Dr. Mita opens his essay by contextualizing his decision to leave, noting that he had a long history as a doctor in Tokyo.

“I closed the clinic in March 2014, which had served the community of Kodaira for more than 50 years, since my father’s generation, and I have started a new Mita clinic in Okayama-city on April 21,” he wrote.

Dr. Mita notes that, for the past 10 years, he had been working to persuade the municipal government of Tokyo to stock iodine pills to distribute to the population in the case of a nuclear accident. Dr. Mita’s concern had been that an earthquake might trigger a meltdown at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant. All of his requests were rejected, however, under the excuse that there was no reason to expect such an accident.

When the disaster did occur — albeit at a different plant than Dr. Mita had feared — Tokyo did not act to protect its population, and still has taken no measures. Yet, based on soil surveys, Dr. Mita noted, “It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation.”Dr. Mita compares radioactive contamination of the soil (measured in becquerels per kilogram, Bq/kg) in various parts of Tokyo with that observed in various portions of Europe following the Chernobyl disaster.

Prior to 2011, Shinjuku (the region of Tokyo that houses the municipal government) tested at only 0.5-1.5 Bq/kg. Today, levels at nearby Kodaira are at 200-300 Bq/kg.

“Within the 23 districts of Metropolitan Tokyo, contamination in the east part is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and the west part is 300-1000 Bq/kg,” Dr. Mita wrote.

For comparison, Kiev (capital of the Ukraine) has soil tested at 500 Bq/kg (Cs-137 only). Following the Chernobyl accident, West Germany and Italy reported levels of 90-100 Bq/kg, and both experienced measurable health effects on their populations.

Dr. Mita notes that the radiation situation in Tokyo is getting worse, not better, due to urban practices of concentrating solid waste in small areas such as municipal dumps and sewage plants. That is why, he says, radiation levels in Tokyo riverbeds have actually been increasing over the prior two years.

“Tokyo should no longer be inhabited, and… those who insist on living in Tokyo must take regular breaks in safer areas,” Dr. Mita writes. “Issues such as depopulation and state decline continue to burden the lives of second and third generation Ukrainians and Belarusians today, and I fear that this may be the future of Eastern Japan.”Patients showing radiation-induced sickness

Dr. Mita’s essay also chronicles the many cases he has observed of patients presenting with radiation-induced health problems. He notes that, since 2011, he has observed while blood cell counts declining in children under the age of 10, including in children under one year old. In all of these cases, symptoms typically improve if the children move to western Japan. He has similarly observed persistent respiratory symptoms that improve in patients who move away.

Other patients have shown symptoms including “nosebleed, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary hemorrhage, skin inflammations, coughs and various other non-specific symptoms.” He also notes high occurrences of rheumatic muscle symptoms similar to those observed following the Chernobyl disaster.

“Ever since 3.11, everybody living in Eastern Japan including Tokyo is a victim, and everybody is involved,” he wrote.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org

http://science.naturalnews.com

July 26, 2014 Posted by | environment, Japan, radiation | Leave a comment

Time that Nuclear Regulatory Commission paid more attention to external nuclear safety threats

safety-symbol1Flag-USANuclear Plants Should Focus on Risks Posed by External Events, Study Says NYT. By  JULY 24, 2014 Engineers at American nuclear plants have been much better at calculating the risk of an internal problem that would lead to an accident than they have at figuring the probability and consequences of accidents caused by events outside a plant, a report released Thursday by the National Academy of Science said.

Accidents that American reactors are designed to withstand, like a major pipe break, are “stylized” and do not reflect the bigger source of risk, which is external, according to the study. That conclusion is one of the major lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, which began after an earthquake at sea caused a tsunami.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission calculates which problems are most likely and most troublesome, and aims to find components or systems that should be improved. B. John Garrick, a nuclear engineering consultant and vice chairman of the two-year study, said that engineers had more experience calculating the probability of failure in a valve or a pipe than in predicting earthquakes or floods. Better predictions of such events were possible, he said.

The study, ordered by Congress after the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors, said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the American nuclear industry should focus on the main sources of risk: accidents set off by “extreme external events,” like earthquakes or floods; multiple human or equipment failures; and “violations of operational protocols.”……….

In addition, the study said that safety officials should take into account the reduced capacity and maneuverability of outsiders to help a nuclear plant in trouble after a major earthquake or flood.

The United States should study costs not currently accounted for in making cost-benefit analyses about safety, like the expense of decontaminating areas distant from the plant, which the authors said was another lesson of Fukushima.

Psychological and social costs of evacuation or “sheltering in place,” meaning the confinement of people to homes, should also be considered, the study said, and so should decision-making about resettling people who had been evacuated because of the release of radioactive material.

And if two reactors at the same site had an accident at the same time, the study said that staffing might be inadequate for an event of long duration.

Congress also asked the academy to study the safety of spent-fuel storage,an area of concern since the Japanese accident. In the Fukushima accident, American officials became convinced — mistakenly — that water had drained or boiled from a pool of spent fuel and they urged Americans in Japan to stay 50 miles away. But the academy has not finished that part of its study.http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/us/nuclear-plants-should-focus-on-risks-posed-by-external-events-study-says.html?_r=0

July 26, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

New Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule (same nonsense under a new name?)

any-fool-would-know

 

 

the only sane thing is to stop making the stuff

Waste Confidence Final Rule Now Before the Commission http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2014/07/24/waste-confidence-final-rule-now-before-the-commission/  July 24, 2014 Andy Imboden Communications Branch Chief Waste Confidence Directorate

 Waste Confidence 1

After thousands of public comments, dozens of meetings and hundreds of written pages, the NRC Commissioners are now deliberating the draft final rule and draft generic environmental impact statement on the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel – what used to be called “waste confidence.”

Under NRC procedures, and in support of our agency’s transparency and openness goals, we are making three documents including the draft final rule and environmental impact statement available – you can find them on the NRC’swaste confidence webpage:

  • A staff paper, SECY-14-0072: Final Rule: Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel;
  • A draft Federal Register notice on the final rule; and
  • A draft NUREG-2157: Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel – Final Report (GEIS).

To be clear, the draft final rule and draft GEIS are not yet final and are not for public comment. NUREG-2157 includes a lengthy Appendix D that summarizes and responds to more than 33,000 written comments we received when the draft GEIS and proposed rule were published for comment last year. They are “draft final” documents because they need Commission approval before they become final agency action. The Commission may approve, modify, or disapprove them.

Some important points to remember: The final Continued Storage rule represents a generic finding on the environmental impacts of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel beyond the licensed operating life of a reactor. It does not license or approve any storage facility or any nuclear power reactors. The facilities are licensed – or licenses are renewed – based on site-specific application reviews.

The rule is to be used as a part of the overall environmental review for new reactor license applications, current reactor renewal applications, and spent fuel storage facility license reviews in these site-specific proceedings. The GEIS serves as the regulatory basis for the rule, and does not replace the staff’s comprehensive environmental review in individual licensing proceedings.

The name change from “waste confidence” to “continued storage” is just one way the new rule differs from previous versions, including the 2010 version that was struck down by the D.C. Circuit U.S. Appeals Court. (That ruling two years ago prompted the current rulemaking effort.) The name change and other changes are in part due to public comment, and are further explained in the staff paper and the Federal Register notice. The latter also includes an extensive question-and-answer section about the staff’s review and conclusions.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

UK will pay communities just to “think about” hosting nuclear wastes

bribery-1flag-UKCommunities could be paid £40m for considering nuclear waste dump   The Guardian, Thursday 24 July 2014  Renewed effort to find site for underground disposal site will not allow veto for any one level of local government Local communities could be paid over £40m by government for simply considering the building of an underground nuclear waste disposal facility in their area, ministers announced on Thursday.

The renewed effort to find a permanent solution for the UK’s growing stockpile of nuclear waste comes after Cumbria council vetoed a proposed waste dump site in January 2013. But the new approach will not allow any one level of local government to veto future site decisions.

The plan allows for communities to get up to £1m a year for about five years whilst local consultations take place. If the community moves to accepting exploratory drilling, which would take five to 15 years, they would get up to £2.5m a year, meaning a total of over £40m before a decision is taken on whether or not to build the waste burial facility.

Additional and much higher community investment would follow a decision to build the facility. There is no cap on the number of communities that could apply for local consultation.

The Liberal Democrat energy secretary, Ed Davey, said: “Geological disposal provides the secure, long-term solution we need to deal with the radioactive waste we have been creating for more than 60 years.

“Building and running a geological disposal facility will be a multi-billion pound infrastructure project, which will bring significant economic benefits to a community.” He said the new process was “based on a fundamental principle of listening to people”.

But the plan was immediately attacked by the president of the LibDems, Tim Farron, who is a Cumbrian MP. “The geological disposal facility should not be foisted on a community without their wholehearted support. The mooted plans to remove the veto for local councils against a nuclear repository is undemocratic and makes an absolute mockery of the idea of localism.”

Anti-nuclear campaigners dismissed the “no-strings-attached” payments to local communities as “bribes”.

Oscar-wastesFollowing the government’s failure to persuade Cumbria to accept a deep nuclear waste disposal site, the new plan represents another return to the drawing board. Ministers have been trying without success to find a suitable site for over two decades.

David Cameron said in 2007: “The problems of nuclear waste have not been dealt with and they have got to be dealt with to make any new investment possible.” However, the government has already given the green light for a new EDF nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset…………http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/24/communities-could-be-paid-40m-for-considering-nuclear-waste-dump

July 26, 2014 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Belarus’ new nuclear reactors bypass regulations and international conventions

safety-symbol-SmBelarus anti-nuclear activist fears for ‘another Chernobyl’ on her doorstep  theguardian.com, Friday 25 July 2014 Tatyana Novikova says new Russian-funded nuclear power plant bypassed official planning regulations and violates international conventions

In 2009, Tatyana Novikova bought a wooden house near the border between Belarus and Lithuania. She chose the area carefully, she says. It’s next to a lake, untouched by industry and – crucially for the mathematician who worked on contamination models in the aftermath of Chernobyl – unaffected by the fallout from the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

But six months after she bought her dream home, Belarus announced that a new nuclear power station, financed by Russia, would be built nearby in Ostrovets.

“I’m completely devastated,” says Novikova, who says the government bypassed official planning regulations, ignored safety concerns and failed to carry out an adequate environmental impact assessment for the plant.

Her experience with Chernobyl, when radioactive contamination forced around 350,000 people to leave their homes and led to an unknown number of deaths, have left her cautious about nuclear power and distrustful of government safety promises.

“Another Chernobyl cannot happen,” she says.

Novikova has appealed to international environmental authorities to try to stop the NPP project, without any success. In the meantime authorities have already started work on construction.

“The problem is that [Belarusian president Alexander] Lukashenko does not give his citizens a voice,” she says.

In a country which does not tolerate activism or public protest – the annual Chernobyl anniversary marches she organises often end in arrests – Novikova has taken her opposition abroad.

She is in London to raise awareness about the issue and hopes to spur the EU to put pressure on Belarus, as the plant would be 60km from Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

text-Please-NoteA group of Belarusian activists, including the theatre company Belarus Free Theatre, have launched a petition against the power station – and have won support from some high-profile figures:

sign-thisAnother Chernobyl?! No thanks! Join me – sign petition to block dodgy new nuclear plant in Belarus http://chn.ge/1pNrmGO 

The petition cites several problems with the plant:

  • Construction was started before design plans were in place, and before a license had been issued
  • The design is experimental and has not been properly tested
  • An assessment by more that 50 independent experts found gaping holes in the government’s environmental impact assessment

Novikova says the plans flaunt international regulations; Belarus is a signatory of the Espoo and Aarhus conventions, which specify environmental protections and monitor requirements such as public consultations over construction projects.

She approached the Aarhus committee in Maastricht in June, asking them to prevent the power plant because Belarus had violated the convention by not obtaining official planning permission. The committee came back to her with bad news; they would only issue what she calls a “caution of a caution” to Belarus, believing the government wouldn’t listen anyway. …….http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/25/belarus-anti-nuclear-chernobyl-on-her-doorstep

July 26, 2014 Posted by | ACTION, Belarus, safety | Leave a comment

Russian firms to star in nuclear materials, nuclear weapons sales festival in London

Russian-Bearflag-UKDiary: Russians selling nuclear weapons expertise in Westminster? What’s not to like? Reception at Westminster Abbey, gala dinner in Kensington, maybe even a night of top-flight football at the Crabble. Business as usual for Alexander, Lyudmila and comrades, you might say 

Will there be a resounding silence in September at the World Nuclear Association symposium and exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster?

The world’s nuclear industries will be strutting their stuff: 700 business and leaders from 30 countries discussing such issues as the fuel cycle front-end (no, me neither), the security of nuclear fuel supplies, financing new builds, and uranium resources. There will be a reception at Westminster Abbey and a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum.

And, to crown it all, a discussion panel. That is due to feature Alexander Lokshin, deputy director general of Rosatom, the organisation that controls Russia’s nuclear weapons companies, research institutes and safety agencies; and Lyudmila Zalimskaya of Tenex, which exports the country’s nuclear materials, such as enriched uranium, and is big in the Emirates and China. So far 34 Russian delegates have booked (last year there were 70), but it’s early days. “We have not been told that they will not be allowed to come,” says an organiser. So, business as usual. Maybe…….http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/24/stephen-bates-diary-tenex-crabble

July 26, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

USA Senate report: nuclear materials vulnerable to theft

CriminalFlag-USAU.S. Nuclear Material Vulnerable to Theft, Panel Fears http://blogs.rollcall.com/five-by-five/u-s-nuclear-material-vulnerable-to-theft-panel-fears/?dcz= By Tim Starks  July 25, 2014 The Senate Appropriations Committee is perturbed at a whole host of things contributing to large quantities of nuclear and radiological materials — including in the United States — being “still unsecure and vulnerable to theft.”

That’s the word from John M. Donnelly, writing for CQ.com subscribers. He details how the panel, in its fiscal 2015 Energy-Water bill committee report, restores nuclear non-proliferation funding and chides the administration for abandoning a 2025 goal of securing 2,900 buildings, such at medical facilities and universities, where there is “little or no security.”

Also from the committee report, by this author for the Energy Xtra blog, is another nuclear-related buildings issue: the fact that the National Nuclear Security Administration is sitting on 450 unused facilities, and has a maintenance backlog that has made some of the buildings still being used dangerous.

July 26, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear power plants not prepared for big accidents

safety-symbol-SmFlag-USANuclear plants ill-prepared for worst-case scenarios, report says, LA Times,  By MAYA SRIKRISHNAN, 25 JULY 14  THe current approaches for regulating nuclear plant safety in the U.S. are “clearly inadequate” for preventing meltdowns and “mitigating their consequences,” according to a report released Thursday.

U.S. safety regulations traditionally ensure that plants are designed to withstand ordinary equipment failures, power losses and the loss of ability to cool the reactor core — the part of a plant where the nuclear reactions take place. But this is not enough, according to the report by the National Academy of Sciences.

“To what extent are they proactive versus reactive?” said Najmedin Meshkati, an engineering professor at USC who worked on the report. “Complacency and hubris are the worst enemies to nuclear safety.”

The U.S. nuclear industry should prepare for unlikely, worst-case scenarios when designing, building and regulating plants, the report recommends.

That is the big lesson the industry should take away from the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan, the report says. Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, solar storms and situations that seem rare are precisely the events that triggered the world’s three major nuclear disasters: Fukushima, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

The report said the accident at Fukushima — caused by an earthquake, which knocked out power, and a tsunami, which inundated the plant — should not have come as a surprise………..

Officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said they were reviewing the report and would provide detailed comments later. http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nuclear-safety-20140724-story.html

July 26, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Hot weather forcing Sweden to cut nuclear reactors’ output

nuke-hotflag-SwedenSweden’s nuclear plants forced to cut output due to warm weather Planet Ark,  24-Jul-14  Balazs Koranyi Sweden’s top nuclear power generators have been forced to cut output because of exceptionally warm weather in Scandinavia, and their output could be reduced for over a week, their operators said on Wednesday.

Oskarshamn, part of Germany’s E.ON and Forsmark, operated by Swedish utility Vattenfall have both cut output because warm sea water temperatures are limiting their ability to cool down.

“For each degree above 23 decrees Celsius in the cooling water, each unit has to decrease power by 3 percent,” Forsmark said in a market message. “It is uncertain how long this will last, but according to meteorologists, the warm weather will last for at least 11 more days.”

Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees in the southern part of Scandinavia this week, hitting their highest level in years…….http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/71927

July 26, 2014 Posted by | climate change, Sweden | Leave a comment

Shut down Indian point nuclear plant for summer – say environmental regulators

nuke-hotFlag-USANew York environment regulators seek summer shutdown at Indian Point Planet Ark, : 22-Jul-14 Scott DiSavino  New York state environmental regulators are proposing shutting the giant Indian Point nuclear power plant to protect fish in the Hudson River during summer months, when demand for electricity for air-conditioning is greatest…………The DEC said in an email that the proposal, which will be discussed in a public meeting on Tuesday, is similar to what Consolidated Edison Inc did when it owned the reactors and is consistent with the practice of other facilities on the Hudson……

The DEC proposal is the latest salvo in a lengthy battle between Entergy Corp, which owns Indian Point and wants to keep the plant operating for another 20 years, and state environmental regulators, who are seeking to protect fish and other aquatic life.

Indian Point withdraws up to 2.5 billion gallons of water per day from the Hudson to cool equipment, and then discharges that water back into the river  warmer than before.

Environmental groups and the DEC have long argued that Indian Point’s water intake system kills about a billion fish, fish eggs and larvae each year, and the plant should install cooling towers to reduce the use of river water by recycling it…….Before the NRC can grant new licenses, the state must approve water permits. http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/71913

July 26, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

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