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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

UK’s £14bn Hinkley project – future now in doubt, as faults found in identical French project

Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantUK nuclear strategy faces meltdown as faults are found in identical French projecThe faults could also scare off the Chinese state investors who are supposed to cover part of the cost of the £14bn Hinkley project Independent JOHN LICHFIELD Author Biography PARIS Friday 17 April 2015 A “very serious” fault has been discovered in a French nuclear power station which is at the heart of David Cameron’s strategy to “keep the lights on” in Britain in the next decade.

The future of two nuclear reactors planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset has been thrown into doubt by the discovery of a potentially catastrophic mistake in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Normandy.

“It is a serious fault, even a very serious fault, because it involves a crucial part of the nuclear reactor,” said Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France’s nuclear safety inspectorate.

A second investigation has been ordered into the quality of the steel used to make a 50ft-high safety casing, or “pressure vessel”, which encloses the groundbreaking new reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg. If the steel proves to be defective, the completion of the prototype EPR plant – already behind schedule and nearly three times over budget – could be delayed for several years.

Mr Chevet also revealed that the same manufacturing techniques had been used in the steel for the identical safety casings destined for Hinkley Point, which “have already been manufactured”.

The fault could undermine the already fragile finances of the French state-owned nuclear construction company Areva, which is supposed to build two EPR reactors at Hinkley by 2023 and a third at Sizewell in Suffolk. It could also scare off the Chinese state investors who are supposed to cover part of the cost of the £14bn Hinkley project, intended to supply six per cent of Britain’s energy needs for six decades.

A final “investment” decision for Hinkley, several times delayed, is now expected in June. The French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called a crisis meeting on 17 April to discuss the threat posed by the fault to France’s nuclear construction industry – the largest in the world.

Mark Hackett, a councillor in Manchester who chairs Nuclear Free Local Authorities, said: “This is a devastating blow to proponents of new-build nuclear power stations in the UK. It is likely to scare off the Chinese backers. If I was a betting man, I would now bet that Hinkley Point will never be built.”

Yannick Rousselet, of Greenpeace France, said the latest problems to beset the prototype power station in Normandy are “clearly the coup de grâce for the EPR idea”. He asked: “What foreign client would want to buy this reactor when France itself is not capable of completing its construction?”

Apart from Britain, the United States and China are in the process of buying versions of the new generation of European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) – supposedly safer and more efficient – from France. Both Areva and Eléctricité de France (EDF), the French energy giant which will own and operate Hinkley Point, have refused to comment in detail………

Sources in the French nuclear industry told the newspaper Le Parisien yesterday that dismantling the faulty pressure vessel and ordering and manufacturing a new one could take several years. “If the weakness of the steel is proved, I don’t hold out much hope for the survival of the EPR project,” a former senior nuclear safety official told Le Parisien………..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-nuclear-strategy-faces-meltdown-as-faults-are-found-in-identical-french-project-10186163.html

April 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Damaging effect of prolonged low level radiation, on birds and animals (?us too)

bird barn swallow“There are so few barn swallows left,” Mousseau added. “We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left.”

“Both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.”

For Fukushima Birds, Things are Getting Worse Even as Radiation Abates, Nature World News, By Brian Stallard follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS Apr 17, 2015  The destructive earthquake and tsunami that triggered a catastrophe at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant are now four years behind us, but the effects of that disaster are still being felt today. Now a new study has revealed that even as ecosystems slowly recover, Fukushima’s native bird population is actually dwindling more than ever – and researchers think they know why………

“A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” Timothy Mousseau, a lead researcher behind one of many ongoing investigations, announced last August.

He explained that a common theme researchers have noticed is that prolonged exposure to low doses of radiation has a very different effect on organisms compared to sudden high-level exposure, as seen at Chernobyl. This came to be called Fukushima’s “insidious effect” and was expected to abate, with lingering radiation levels, by 2016.

Unfortunately, new research detailed in the Journal of Ornithology shows that birds may be facing trouble for even longer. “The declines have been really dramatic,” study author and biologist Tim Mousseau, of the University of South Carolina, said in a recent statement. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Mayors list reasons why Florida should NOT have new nuclear reactors

logo-NO-nuclear-SmMayors make case against FPL nuclear expansion BY JENNY STALETOVICH  JSTALETOVICH@MIAMIHERALD.COM 17 Apr 15 

The long-running campaign to derail Florida Power & Light’s plans to add two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point revved up Wednesday with mayors from three South Florida cities ticking off a long list of concerns ranging from inadequate evacuation zones to ugly new power lines and heightened risks from rising sea levels.

The mayors — Tomas Regalado of Miami,, Philip Stoddard of South Miami and Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest — held a joint conference with one clear goal: Boost opposition to a controversial expansion that will be the subject of two public hearings federal regulators have scheduled next week in Miami-Dade.

“We are looking at a population base within 50 miles of 2.5 million people,’’ said Lerner. “Who in their right mind would put two new nuclear plants at sea level with storm surge?” Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Not in South Carolina’s interest to continue to host nuclear wastes

In addition to legal issues compromised if proposed German3 and other international spent fuel is sent to SRS, international waste will require the use of aging facilities, long-term oversight, management, and financial responsibilities. Waste imports continue to be contrary to South Carolina interests.

wastes-1 Continued nuclear waste storage not in S.C.’s interest http://www.statehousereport.com/2015/04/17/my-turn-continued-nuclear-waste-storage-not-in-s-c-s-interest/04/17/2015 By Suzanne Rhodes | Nuclear wastes at Savannah River Site (SRS) have been leaking for decades. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina has been observing the slow progress of managing the legacy weapons wastes for over 30 years. It now appears likely that not only wastes from SRS, but also international wastes, will stay at the Aiken County site for the foreseeable future.

Two reports released late in 2014 indicate legal and political opposition will obstruct current U.S. nuclear waste storage plans. Neither Yucca Mountain nor any other site for geologic high-level waste disposal — not even “interim” storage of commercial spent fuel — is likely to develop, according to the Government Accountability Office. It blames the public’s lack of confidence in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). GAO is an arm of Congress, which should have been the origin and supporter of nuclear waste management policy. Instead, Congress has consistently undermined progress at Yucca Mountain through inattention, program changes and unreliable funding.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission states that DOE lacks the land rights and water rights necessary to license the site, according to its 5-volume Safety Evaluation Report on Yucca Mountain. A series of Nevada governors and attorneys general — NOT just U.S. Sen. Harry Reid — has opposed Yucca Mountain. Nevada seems to have succeeded in blocking the repository. [See Volume 4 of the report.]

If/when a geologic repository becomes available, the nuclear power industry will have political influence and community support to move commercial spent fuel off to a repository. Weapons wastes were included in the 1980s legislation only because three highly-regarded governors and their delegations were concerned about weapons wastes abandoned in their states. Decades ago, they united to initiate the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which is now basically obsolete. Unfortunately, we lack such leadership today.

S.C. Sen. Tom Young of Aiken established last summer that international wastes have been received at SRS, have not been treated and there are no plans for treatment. The League’s strongest ally has been Tom Clements of SRS Watch, who has been concerned about nuclear waste issues since the Allied General Nuclear Services plant was proposed ‘next door’ to SRS back in the 1970s. One of his many successes has been uncovering mysterious, long-planned international shipments of wastes to SRS from very capable countries that potentially could become regional leaders in international nuclear waste management.

Fortunately, all of the puzzling ‘transuranic’ wastes at SRS have been successfully packaged for shipment to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. There was a tragic explosion at WIPP in February 2014 and it appears unlikely to reopen. The League has repeatedly praised the SRS technical staff for tackling the old legacy packages, which were poorly documented and might have been ignored at another weapons facility. The remaining wastes will remain at SRS, packaged for shipping, unless the state of New Mexico allows reopening of WIPP.

Fortunately, SRS technical staff has done an outstanding job of making wastes as safe as practicable, thus far. However, staff engineering design goals have been for temporary storage at SRS in forms ultimately suitable for the Yucca Mountain repository site or WIPP. Up to 50 more years of congressional appropriations and successful cleanup will be required to continue to treat the wastes now at SRS. Delays have been the result of lack of appropriations from Congress. Recent budget cuts have slowed SRS cleanup for more than a decade.

In addition to legal issues compromised if proposed German3 and other international spent fuel is sent to SRS, international waste will require the use of aging facilities, long-term oversight, management, and financial responsibilities. Waste imports continue to be contrary to South Carolina interests.

Suzanne Rhodes of Columbia is coordinator or nuclear waste policy with the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.

April 18, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Future of the entire Flamanville-3 project with more problems at EPR nuclear reactor

safety-symbol-Smflag-franceMore Problems for the EPR, NuClear News April 15  The French Nuclear Safety Regulator, ASN, announced on 7th April that it had been informed by AREVA of an anomaly in the composition of the steel in certain zones of the reactor vessel head and reactor vessel bottom head of the Flamanville EPR. (1) These fabrication defects are very serious mechanical faults. Quality inspectors found an abnormally high concentration of carbon in steel parts capping the reactor vessel’s top and bottom during a series of tests carried outpressure vessel 1 by French nuclear company Areva, which is building the reactor. The excessive carbon would lead to “lower than expected mechanical toughness values”, nuclear regulator ASN said in a press statement on its website. This obviously raises a question-mark over the safety case for the EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) currently under construction in Normandy. The reason why a well‐known material heterogeneity problem was not mastered during the forging of the pieces at Areva’s Le Creusot plant has yet to be investigated. The reason why the defects were detected or publicly released so late, at a moment when the pressure vessel was already in place in the reactor building, also needs to be scrutinised.
Areva will face a very difficult challenge in justifying the safety case of the flawed pressure vessel. The only alternative to demonstrating safety in spite of the faults would be to repair or replace the faulty components, which appears hardly feasible and particularly expensive in the case of the bottom piece. Therefore the future of the entire Flamanville-3 project is at stake. The No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.73, April 2015 3 problem has also international implications, since at least some of the upper and/or lower heads of the Taishan-1 and 2 EPRs, under construction in China, are apparently also concerned. …..http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo73.pdf

April 18, 2015 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Next week’s round of talks with Iran on the difficult path to a final nuclear deal

diplomacy-not-bombsNext Round of Nuclear Talks With Iran Set for Next Week http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/17/world/middleeast/next-round-of-nuclear-talks-with-iran-set-for-next-week.html?_r=0 By  APRIL 16, 2015 TEHRAN — The next round of nuclear talks between world powers andIran is scheduled for next week in Vienna, as the two sides begin to address the issues they left unresolved earlier this month in Lausanne, Switzerland, and try to conclude a comprehensive agreement by the end of June.

The European Union, the host of the talks, said in a statement released on Thursday that its senior negotiator, Helga Schmid, will meet with Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, on Wednesday, to pursue an agreement that would restrict Iran to peaceful research in the nuclear area in exchange for the phased lifting of economic sanctions.

After the parties reached a framework agreement in Lausanne, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, complicated matters by insisting that all sanctions would have to be lifted immediately and that all military sites would be off limits to inspectors.

President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday acknowledged the problems but said he remained optimistic that the negotiators would reach a deal. “There is a difficult path ahead of us towards the final deal,” he said at a news conference during a trip to northern Iran, but the country’s “will and decision is to continue the negotiations until a final deal is reached.”

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Dozens of USA nuclear reactors at risk of closure for economic reasons.

nukes-hungryAs many as three dozen reactors are considered at risk of closure for economic reasons.
Utility watchdogs note that in the 1980s utility customers paid billions of dollars to construct reactors and then billions more when many states deregulated their electricity markets in the late 1990s.
 
Nuclear Power Goes Begging, Likely at Consumers’ Expense Operators of nuclear power plants are seeking rate increases to avoid closures in deregulated market, WSJ,  By 

REBECCA SMITH April 17, 2015 

Electricity producers in several states are asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in financial support to keep costly nuclear power plants in business—a move that is likely to boost customers’ power bills. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Jean-Paul Baquiast – a nuclear war against Russia would finish USA

atomic-bomb-lUS Will Not Survive a Nuclear War Against Russia – Jean-Paul Baquiast
 http://sputniknews.com/us/20150417/1021016791.html#ixzz3Xd8u2w8E A nuclear strikes exchange between the United States and Russia will lead to the complete destruction of the United States, leaving Russia and China in a far better position, editor of the French portal Europesolidaire Jean-Paul Baquiast said.

 A potential nuclear war with Russia will have fatal consequences for the US, whose territory would be completely destroyed in the event of mutual rocket exchange, Jean-Paul Baquiast said.

His comment came in the wake of recent internet speculation about the US’ possible intent to carry out a preemptive nuclear attack on Russia. The concerns have risen after General Robin Rand was appointed as head of the US Air Force Global Strike Command.

There are assumptions that he might take an example from American General Curtis LeMay who became famous in 1949 for preparing a plan for a massive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

Unable to subdue Russia by conventional methods, Washington is preparing to destroy it with its armed forces, Jean-Paul Baquiast wrote. In the event of an armed conflict, American politicians may carry out a preemptive nuclear strike.

“Chances of the United States to destroy Russia without consequences for itself are small,” Baquiast said.

However, even the highly efficient S-500 missile system, which Russia is currently working on, would be unable to protect the country against a massive launch of ballistic missiles from US submarines, he noted.

In turn, Russia would launch its missiles from its submarines off the coast of the United States. And if the Americans manage to hit only a part of the Russian territory due to its large size, the US will be destroyed completely, the journalist wrote.

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Russia, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

No easy fix for France’s multi-billion dollar Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR)

exclamation-flag-franceFrance’s nuclear power giant beset by setbacks France 24 17 April 15  France, which has one of the most advanced nuclear energy systems in the world, is struggling to remain a major player in the nuclear field as its state-owned company Areva leaks cash and faces safety concerns.

France’s nuclear security authority ASN (Autorité de surete nucléaire) last week declared that a multi-billion dollar Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) being built by Areva in Flamanville, Normandy has “a serious anomaly”.

The anomaly comes at a difficult time for the French company as it faces a host of setbacks related to the construction of nuclear power plants around the world. ……..

“Either EDF abandons the project or it takes out the vessel and starts building a new one… this would be a very heavy operation in terms of cost and delay,” Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of the ASN, told the French daily ‘Le Parisien’.

So what next for the EPR?

Overall, there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix.

Yannick Rousselet, a nuclear specialist at Greenpeace in France, says that replacing the tank in Flamanville is more difficult than one might think.

“The tank is the only element that you cannot move easily,” Rousselet told FRANCE 24.

“Historically, tanks were not designed with the idea of dismantling them. In addition, the one at Flamanville is already welded in place, and fixed to the pipe of the reactor.”

Because EDF is state-owned, tax payers will ultimately pay the bill for the expensive project, says Rousselet.

“It’s the French who will pay for the mistakes. Officials collectively took us to a dead end.”…….http://www.france24.com/en/20150417-french-nuclear-company-faces-major-setbacks/

April 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, France, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – a really dirty form of energy – big mistake for Japan to restart it

‘Fukushima lessons: Any notion that nuclear power is clean is obsolete’ Rt.com : April 17, 2015 The world must phase out nuclear power because it is absolutely not clean from the mining processing of uranium to the generation of high-level radioactive waste, Kevin Kamps for the radioactive waste watchdog Beyond Nuclear, told RT.

It’s been four years since the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant. All of Japan’s 43 operable reactors have been shut down since 2013, because of safety checks required after the accident. The operator of the nuclear plant has sent a second robot inside the Fukushima reactor to collect data from it. The first robot became immovable after recording some footage from inside the reactor.

RT: Since the disaster, Japan has allocated more than $15 billion to an unprecedented project to lower radiation in towns near the power plant. However few locals believe Tokyo’s assurances that the site will eventually be cleaned up. Do you think their fears are reasonable?

Kevin Kamps: Yes, it is an unprecedented catastrophe. Of course there was Chernobyl, but in this area of Japan – it is so densely populated all over. So when they are trying to clear the landscape down to a certain depth, it is going to be more and more expensive. When you add all of the projects from decommissioning of the nuclear power plant to trying to clean up the landscape to loss of economic activity – we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars all together. It is going to be very difficult for anything like normal life ever to return there.

RT: In addition to massive radioactive remains, Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise following the increase in coal-fired power. Should environmentalists sound the alarm here?

KK: Just in recent days there have been the admissions by high-ranking Tokyo Electric officials that the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant could take more like 200 years because of the lack of technology to do the job. They are going to have to invent all of these robotic systems and engineering processes to try to remove the melted cores at Fukushima Daiichi because that is their current plan unlike Chernobyl with the sarcophagus. The current plan in Japan is to remove those melted cores to somewhere else – perhaps to geologic disposal, they haven’t said. But it is going to be very challenging…………http://rt.com/op-edge/250509-fukushima-nuclear-power-danger-disaster/

April 18, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

New report indicates that deep burial of plutonium better and cheaper than MOX reprocessing

text-wise-owlNuClear News, April 15  Alternatives to MOX A new report by Frank von Hippel and Gordon MacKerron reviews programs in France, Japan, the UK and the US to dispose of large stocks of separated plutonium in nuclear power reactor mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Most of these efforts have suffered long delays and large cost increases and all have failed to reduce plutonium stockpiles. This has led some of these countries to consider alternatives.

A less costly and more effective approach may be to treat plutonium as a waste to be processed into a stable form and deeply buried. These alternative approaches include disposal with radioactive waste or spent fuel or disposal down a 3-mile (5-kilometer) deep borehole. The report recommends that more than one direct-disposal approach be pursued. It also recommends that the countries that share the problem of plutonium disposal collaborate on exploring direct-disposal options.

Wastes-Deep-Borehole-Inject

Finally, it recommends that the quantities of plutonium disposed by the weapon states be verified by the IAEA. The huge cost overruns in the under-construction MOX plant at the DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina led the Obama Administration to conclude in 2013 that plutonium disposal via MOX “may be unaffordable.”

This has revived policy interest in the U.S. in the possibilities of direct disposal of plutonium as a waste. Efforts to convert foreign separated plutonium into MOX fuel encountered technical problems in the UK, forcing the abandonment of the Sellafield MOX Plant. The UK has therefore looked, in at least a pro forma way, at direct-disposal alternatives.

In the late 1990s, the U.S. studied in considerable depth a “can-in-canister” option in which immobilized plutonium would be embedded in some of the high-level reprocessing waste from which it had been originally separated. This was a way to create a radiation barrier around the plutonium like that around the plutonium in spent fuel, which makes plutonium inaccessible except via chemical and mechanical operations controlled remotely from behind thick radiation shields.

The can-in-canister approach also shares the merit with MOX that it just adds marginally to the quantity of an already existing waste form for which a geological repository has to be found in any case. This option may still be of particular interest in the US, which will be disposing of reprocessing waste for several decades into the future.

In France and the UK, where high-level waste vitrification has been ongoing in parallel with reprocessing, it may be impossible to pursue the “can-in-canister” option unless it is planned well before reprocessing ends. There are other options, however. One that appears increasingly attractive is deep borehole disposal. It does not involve a radiation barrier, but retrieval would be much more difficult than from a closed geological repository.http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo73.pdf

April 18, 2015 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear restart is stalled – causing yet more depression in the uranium market

Japanese Court Blocks Reactor Restarts on Safety Concerns, Uranium Investing News 
April 16, 2015, By Staff Writer  
The U3O8 spot price has floundered a little since the start of April. Though it was sitting at $39.50 at the beginning of the month, it’s since dropped down to $39 per pound.

graph-down-uraniumCompounding that stagnancy, the uranium market was dealt a heavy hit this week when a Japanese court issued an injunction to block the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Company’s (TSE:9503) Takahama nuclear power plant. Reactor restarts are a key psychological catalyst for the uranium market, and the news is expected to have a negative impact on the space.

Safety concerns

Nuclear power is not looked upon favorably in all areas of Japan, and the Fukui Prefecture, where the Takahama plant is located, is one such place. It’s thus perhaps not too surprising that the Fukui District Court shelved plans to restart the two reactors.

The court’s decision was reportedly made on the basis of safety concerns and is the first injunction against any nuclear power plant in Japan in 50 years. Specifically, the court ruled that regulations implemented after the 2011 Fukushima disaster are no guarantee against another accident.

“The new regulations are not reasonable, therefore there is no need to study whether the Takahama plant satisfies them,” the court said, adding that the regulations are “so loose that compliance with these regulations wouldn’t secure the safety of this plant.”

According to NHK, residents of the Fukui Prefecture are in favor of blocking the reactors, and have “argu[ed] that the government’s plans ignored or underestimated risks and failed to meet tougher safety standards that were imposed after the Fukushima crisis.”

Kansai Electric is working on getting the injunction lifted. Originally, the reactors were scheduled to restart later this year, but that is now unlikely given the setback……..

It it is unclear if Japan’s pro-nuclear central government will be able overturn district courts like the one in Fukui Prefecture. In addition, the court’s decision could still have a negative impact on equities, and could slow down the process of bringing nuclear power back to Japan. Sadowski also believes that if more utilities are blocked, the uranium price could bear the burden, sinking lower as the market factors in the implications…….

investors would do well to watch not only what’s going on in Fukui Prefecture, but also what’s happening in Kagoshima Prefecture. According to NDTV, activists there are seeking an injunction to stop the restart of reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Company’s (TSE:9508) Sendai nuclear power plant. A court ruling is expected there on April 22. http://uraniuminvestingnews.com/21492/japan-kansai-electric-power-takahama-nuclear-power-plant.html

April 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

DOE, National Nuclear Security Administration and the Nuclear Waste Partnership, all to blame for WIPP radiation leak

Report: Nuke dump radiation leak could have been prevented, KRQE News 13 
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press April 17, 2015, 
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – A radiation leak that forced the indefinite closure of the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository could have been prevented, a team of investigators said Thursday.

A combination of poor management, lapses in safety and a lack of proper procedures were outlined in a final report released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board. Officials reviewed the findings Thursday night during a community meeting in Carlsbad.

The investigators spent more than a year looking into the cause of the radiation release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

Like a separate team of technical experts, they too found that a chemical reaction inside a drum of waste that had been packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory forced the lid open, allowing radiation to escape. The contents included nitrate salt residues and organic cat litter that was used to soak up moisture in the waste.

Aside from lab managers, the report places blame on Energy Department headquarters, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that manages the repository. It highlights numerous failures – from Los Alamos lab not having an adequate system for identifying and controlling hazards to federal nuclear officials not ensuring the existence of a “strong safety culture” at the lab.

Investigators found a failure by managers to resolve employee concerns that could have pointed out problems before the waste was shipped from Los Alamos to the repository.

Accident Investigation Board Chair Ted Wyka said during the town hall that some workers reported seeing foaming and yellowish smoke while repackaging waste. After short discussions with their supervisors, they went back to work on the assembly line.

That information did not make it up to lab managers, he said…….

The Energy Department and its contractors are facing $54 million in fines from the state of New Mexico for the failures that led to the mishap. Negotiations are ongoing, and the state has suggested more financial penalties are possible.

With the repository closed indefinitely, efforts to clean up decades of Cold War-era waste at federal facilities around the country are stalled. Federal officials say resuming full operations at the repository could take years and cost more than a half-billion dollars…….http://krqe.com/2015/04/17/report-nuke-dump-radiation-leak-could-have-been-prevented/

April 18, 2015 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Florida nuclear utility allowed to draw water from national park’s source

nuke-tapFPL nuclear plant to draw water from national park’s source, April 17, 2015 | The water in the canal system that cools the reactors at Florida Power & Light Co.’s nuclear plant on the edge of Biscayne Bay is too hot and too salty as temperatures rise and rainfall is sparse.

Starting June 1, as a temporary fix, the company will be allowed to withdraw up to 100 million gallons of fresh water a day from a nearby drainage canal to keep the Turkey Point nuclear plant’s cooling canal system from going above 104 degrees…..http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/business/fpl-nuclear-plant-to-draw-water-from-national-park/nkw47/

April 18, 2015 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Increased risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, with Canada-India uranium sales deal

Canada-India uranium deal will spur proliferation, experts warn Arms control experts say Canada sends the wrong signal to countries that play by the rules By Evan Dyer, CBC News 17 Apr 15 India test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile Thursday, just hours after signing a deal to buy 3,000 tons of Canadian uranium.The Agni-III missile, which has a range of over 3,000 kilometres, was fired from the Indian army’s test range on Wheeler Island in the Bay of Bengal. India declared the test a success…….While the terms of this week’s deal are not public, the nuclear cooperation agreement, first announced in 2010 and finalized in 2013, includes assurances that India use Canadian material for civilian purposes only……..

some nuclear proliferation experts say India has been able to make such a deal without abiding by the rules set out for most other countries that abide by the international non-proliferation regime. And they warn that countries the West has been attempting to bring into the rules-based system — such as Iran — will be less inclined to submit when they see the rules don’t apply to India.

Canadian technology used to gain bomb…..Of particular concern to the rest of the world was that India developed its bomb using nuclear material from a reactor it had acquired from Canada ostensibly for civilian use……..

Some experts fear Canada appears to be selling India uranium with fewer controls and conditions than it typically demands from NNPT member countries that do play by the rules.

“Normally there’s some sort of tracking and accounting system so that Canada would be receiving information from India very specifically about what Canada-sourced material is being used for,” says Trevor Findlay, a senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Managing the Atom project.

“In this case, because the agreement [to buy the uranium] is secret, we have no idea whether that’s in place, and it probably isn’t because the Indians have been pushing against that,” he told The Current.

Findlay and other experts warn that the special treatment for India shows other governments a country can ignore the rules, build the bomb, tough it out for a few decades and emerge on the other side as an accepted nuclear weapons power.

Already, Pakistan says the deals give India a strategic advantage, and Pakistan has blocked preliminary talks on the most important arms control initiative in years: a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty that would ban future production of weapons-grade material.http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-india-uranium-deal-will-spur-proliferation-experts-warn-1.3036540

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Canada, India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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