Under pressure from GE and Westinghouse, the two American nuclear vendors hoping to sell billions of dollars worth of reactors to India, the Obama administration has demanded that Section 17(b) and Section 46 of the Indian liability law be deleted or amended.
Double standards? The irony is that American nuclear suppliers operate under a domestic liability regime that allows operators to sue them for recovery of damages in the event of an accident. That is how Metropolitan Edison, the operator of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, sued Babcock Wilcox after the infamous 1979 accident.
Why India should say no to US demand to dilute its nuclear liability law The Modi government should resist pressure from Barack Obama, who landed in New Delhi on Sunday morning, to change key provisions to favour foreign supplier of reactors. Siddharth Varadarajan Scroll.in 26 Jan 15
With the issue of nuclear liability emerging as an obstacle in the relationship between India and the US, the Modi government is under pressure to dilute the law in favour of foreign reactor suppliers. Without this, we are told, it will not be possible to operationalise the US-India nuclear agreement and provide the country with the electricity its people need.
In the event of a major nuclear accident in India, one which damages lives and property, what does the law say about how liability is to be apportioned? Continue reading
Insurers to offer Rs 750 cr capacity for nuclear pool; rest from govt, Standard.com M Saraswathy | Mumbai January 26, 2015
Both operators and suppliers would be provided as cover against associated risks The proposed nuclear risk pool that will be set up in India will have five government-owned insurance companies (General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), New India Assurance, Oriental India Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance) providing half the capacity for the Rs 1,500-crore pool. The rest will come from the central government.
Prime Minister Narendra Mdoi in his statement at the joint press interaction with President Barack Obama of America, said the civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our (India-US) transformed relationship, demonstrating new trust…….. Continue reading
The Short Walk Home. How PM Modi, President Barack Obama Clinched Nuclear Deal NDTV All India | Reported by Nidhi Razdan (with inputs from agencies) | January 25, 2015 Within hours of US President Barack Obama’s arrival in Delhi, a landmark breakthrough on nuclear trade was clinched with Prime Minister Narendra Modi……….
The agreement resolved differences over the liability of suppliers to India in the event of a nuclear accident and U.S. demands on tracking the whereabouts of material supplied to the country……..
India has offered to set up an insurance pool to indemnify companies that build reactors in the country
against liability in case of a nuclear accident.
Sources say America has forfeited its demand on insistence on “flagging” or tracking the nuclear material they supply to India, required under its rules to ensure it is not being used for military purposes. India said the demand was intrusive, especially because safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, are in place.
Nuclear commerce worth billions of dollars was meant to be the centrepiece of a new strategic relationship between the United States and India, allowing New Delhi access to nuclear technology and fuel without giving up its weapons.
But a tough liability law which was cleared by the Indian parliament in 2010 and holds equipment suppliers liable for damages for an accident had meant that billions of dollars in trade were held up by concerns over exposure to risk. The US said this is a sharp deviation from international norms that put the onus on the operator to maintain safety. For India, the law grew out of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the world’s deadliest industrial accident, at a factory owned by U.S. multinational Union Carbide Corp, which families are still pursuing for compensation.
The law had so far effectively shut out Western companies from a huge market, as energy-starved India seeks to ramp up nuclear power generation by 13 times, and also strained U.S-Indian relations. …http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/the-short-walk-home-how-pm-modi-president-barack-obama-clinched-nuclear-deal-653481
Obama and Modi agree to limit US liability in case of nuclear disaster, Guardian, Dan Roberts in Delhi @RobertsDan 26 Jan 15
Decision set to lead to contracts worth billions of dollars but hopes for a US-China-style air pollution deal are dashed. US industrial interests took centre-stage at the start of Barack Obama’s visit to India as he and the prime minister, Narendra Modi
, outlined a deal to limit the legal liability of US suppliers in the event of a nuclear power plant catastrophe.
Thirty years after an infamous chemical leak killed thousands at Union Carbide’s factory in Bhopal, the threat of tough Indian compensation laws has frustrated US hopes of an export boom in the energy sector – despite an agreement by former US president George W Bush to share civil nuclear technology in 2005.
After pressure from US diplomats, the Indian government was thought to have agreed a state-backed insurance scheme that would cap the exposure of nuclear suppliers and open the door to billions of dollars of new contracts. India will also allow closer tracking of spent fuel to limit the risk of it falling into terrorist hands.
“Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our civil nuclear cooperation,” Obama said on Sunday………
Details of the deal remain vague, however, and officials stressed they were still working out the finer arrangements of the scheme, which is designed to avoid the need to change Indian law……….
The two governments also said they had struck deals to share defence technology and improve dialogue in future, with a security hotline between Obama and Modi……….
“Nuclear liability remains the cinder in the eye of the relationship right now,” Rick Rossow, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said in Washington last week. “Nuclear cooperation was the high-water mark for our bilateral history and the fact that India’s nuclear liability law precludes American involvement, it stings.”
US suggestions of full legal indemnity for suppliers were knocked by the Indian government, which is wary of trying to overturn a 2010 nuclear liability law in parliament……. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/obama-modi-limit-us-liability-nuclear-disaster
Fukushima Watch: Tepco Two Months Behind on Cleaning Tainted Water http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/01/26/fukushima-watch-tepco-two-months-behind-on-cleaning-tainted-water/ By MARI IWATA Tokyo Electric Power Co. says it will need an additional two months to process all the highly contaminated water in storage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The power company previously said it would clean all the water by the end of March. A Tepco spokesman said Friday that the process had been slowed down by the need for workers to frequently clean the filters of the water processing system. He also said the system needed more initial adjustments than first expected when it came into use.
Tepco plans to give a more detailed outline of the water processing schedule in March, the spokesman said.
A large amount of groundwater keeps flowing underneath the reactors, creating about 300 to 400 tons a day of highly contaminated water. The water has been stored in about 1,000 tanks set up at the site.Tepco has been processing the water to remove most of the radioactive materials to reduce the contamination to a low level. The system is unable to remove tritium, a less harmful material.
The company now says it won’t finish processing the stored water until May. After that it will have sufficient capacity to deal with the daily inflows of groundwater.
INDIA BUILDS SOLAR PLANTS ATOP CANALS TO SAVE LAND, WATER. https://jpratt27.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/india-builds-solar-plants-atop-canals-to-save-land-water/As India moves to ramp up investment in solar power, it is exploring innovative places to install solar plants, including across the top of canals.
Last weekend, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon inaugurated a new “canal-top” solar energy plant in Vadodara district in India’s western state of Gujarat. “I saw more than glittering panels – I saw the future of India and the future of our world,” said Ban. “I saw India’s bright creativity, ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.”
Experts identify two major advantages in building solar plants atop canals: efficient and cheap land use, and reduced water evaporation from the channels underneath. business-standard.com
We very much support India’s ambitious goal for solar energy and stand ready to speed this advancement with additional financing,” Obama said during the news conference at Hyderabad House.
Modi Shifts on Climate Change With India Renewables Goal, Bloomberg By Reed Landberg and Natalie Obiko Pearson Jan 26, 2015 Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is ready to expand its use of renewable energy as a way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, a signal that his government is moving toward joining an international deal on global warming.
After a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in New Delhi, the prime minister said that his nation along with all others has an obligation to act on reducing the fossil-fuel emissions blamed for damaging the climate.
The remarks represent a shift in India’s tone on global warming………….
Environmental groups led by the World Resources Institute in Washington said Modi appeared to be moving toward a nationwide goal on renewables, expanding its current program of reaching 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022.
“This announcement builds on the recent progress on climate made between the U.S. and China,” Continue reading
Tepco suspends Fukushima No. 1 cleanup to probe fatal accidents Japan Times STAFF WRITER JAN 23, 2015 Tokyo Electric Power Co. has said it will suspend decommissioning work at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 power plant until it completes safety checks related to two fatal accidents at its facilities in the prefecture this week……http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/23/national/tepco-suspends-fukushima-no-1-cleanup-to-probe-fatal-accidents/#.VMWMHtKUcnm
Vietnam’s Slowing Growth and Safety Concerns Delay Nuclear Plans WSJ, By VU TRONG KHANH, 23 Jan 15 Vietnam’s plan to introduce nuclear power to its energy mix faced a fresh setback on Thursday as safety concerns and legal issues pushed back the planned construction of the country’s first nuclear plant by about five years from the initial schedule………
Construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant isn’t likely to begin until 2019, said Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency. The revised schedule comes after the government had already pushed its planned 2014 construction date to 2017……..
The need for the new plant had become less pressing recently, though, as Vietnam’s demand for electricity hasn’t risen as fast as previously forecast, Mr. Tuan said………
Phan Minh Tuan, director of Vietnam Electricity Group’s Nuclear Power & Renewable Energy Projects Pre-Investment Board, said safety concerns had also had an impact on the proposed construction start date……..
The country has chosen Russian utility and nuclear energy company Rosatom to build the first plant, the 2,000 megawatt Ninh Thuan 1. The Russian government has also pledged to lend Vietnam at least $8 billion for the project.
In 2011, Vietnam signed a contract with Japan Atomic Power for a feasibility study to build a second nuclear power plant nearby, the 2,000 MW Ninh Thuan 2, which is expected to use either Japanese or U.S. technology.
Mr. Tuan said Westinghouse is keen to supply its technology for the construction of the second plant, adding that the company earlier this month signed an agreement with Vietnam to train Vietnamese personnel to manage and operate nuclear power facilities in the country. http://blogs.wsj.com/frontiers/2015/01/23/vietnams-slowing-growth-and-safety-concerns-delay-nuclear-plans/
Japan’s deadly game of nuclear roulette, Japan Times, BY LEUREN MORET MAY 23 2004 Of all the places in all the world where no one in their right mind would build scores of nuclear power plants, Japan would be pretty near the top of the list.
The Japanese archipelago is located on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, a large active volcanic and tectonic zone ringing North and South America, Asia and island arcs in Southeast Asia. The major earthquakes and active volcanoes occurring there are caused by the westward movement of the Pacific tectonic plate and other plates leading to subduction under Asia.
Japan sits on top of four tectonic plates, at the edge of the subduction zone, and is in one of the most tectonically active regions of the world. It was extreme pressures and temperatures, resulting from the violent plate movements beneath the seafloor, that created the beautiful islands and volcanoes of Japan.
Nonetheless, like many countries around the world — where General Electric and Westinghouse designs are used in 85 percent of all commercial reactors — Japan has turned to nuclear power as a major energy source.
In fact the three top nuclear-energy countries are the United States, where the existence of 118 reactors was acknowledged by the Department of Energy in 2000, France with 72 and Japan, where 52 active reactors were cited in a December 2003 Cabinet White Paper.
The 52 reactors in Japan — which generate a little over 30 percent of its electricity — are located in an area the size of California, many within 150 km of each other and almost all built along the coast where seawater is available to cool them.
However, many of those reactors have been negligently sited on active faults, particularly in the subduction zone along the Pacific coast, where major earthquakes of magnitude 7-8 or more on the Richter scale occur frequently. The periodicity of major earthquakes in Japan is less than 10 years. There is almost no geologic setting in the world more dangerous for nuclear power than Japan — the third-ranked country in the world for nuclear reactors.
“I think the situation right now is very scary,” says Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist and professor at Kobe University. “It’s like a kamikaze terrorist wrapped in bombs just waiting to explode.”……..
Yoichi Kikuchi, a Japanese nuclear engineer who also became a whistle-blower, has told me personally of many safety problems at Japan’s nuclear power plants, such as cracks in pipes in the cooling system from vibrations in the reactor. He said the electric companies are “gambling in a dangerous game to increase profits and decrease government oversight.”
Sugaoka agreed, saying, “The scariest thing, on top of all the other problems, is that all nuclear power plants are aging, causing a deterioration of piping and joints which are always exposed to strong radiation and heat.”
Like most whistle-blowers, Sugaoka and Kikuchi are citizen heroes, but are now unemployed…….
It is not a question of whether or not a nuclear disaster will occur in Japan; it is a question of when it will occur. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2004/05/23/to-be-sorted/japans-deadly-game-of-nuclear-roulette/#.VMMMH9KUcnk
January 22, 2015
Japan’s nuclear watchdog gave the green light to the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant to discharge pumped up groundwater into the sea if radioactive substances in the water are within safety standards.
The Jan. 21 decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority concerns groundwater from 41 wells, called subdrains, close to the No. 1 to No. 4 reactor buildings at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be obliged to remove radioactive substances in the groundwater at its decontamination facilities.
The water must meet certain criteria before it is released into the sea.
The conditions per liter of water are: that radioactive cesium is less than 1 becquerel; radioactive substances that emit beta rays are less than 3 becquerels; and the level of tritium is less than 1,500 becquerels.
Although TEPCO does not have the means to remove tritium at its decontamination facilities, the levels of contamination must be within safety limits.
The NRA said the volume of groundwater that flows into the reactor buildings will be reduced by one-half.
However, it remains unclear if the plan will be implemented as TEPCO is keen to get the approval of local residents, many of whom depend on fishing for their livelihoods.
The utility has been holding meetings with local fishery cooperatives since the summer to explain what it involved. Some members of the cooperatives seemed receptive to the plan, but others were not.
Source: Asahi Shimbun
Jan 22, 2015
Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Thursday said it will suspend the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant until it completes safety checks related to two fatal accidents at its facilities in the prefecture earlier this week.
“The most important thing is to thoroughly conduct safety checks,” Tepco spokesman Shinichi Kawamura told a news conference in Fukushima.
Decommissioning the wrecked plant involves many processes, but “we can’t tell when we will finish the checks for all work at this point,” Kawamura said, adding that it won’t take weeks.
On Monday, a 55-year-old subcontractor hired to work at the Fukushima No. 1 plant fell into a 10-meter-deep water tank during an inspection Monday. He was taken to a hospital but died the following day. Although the man was wearing a safety belt, he did not appear to be using it at the time.
On Tuesday, a subcontractor in his 40s died at the nearby Fukushima No. 2 plant after his head got crushed by an object during a concentrator inspection. The object was supposed to be held in place by a crane.
Kawamura said Tepco wants to pinpoint potentially unsafe places at the site, improve employee safety habits and ensure the procedures they are performing are safe.
For instance, Tepco will check whether adequate safety steps are being taken when handling heavy objects.
Since decommissioning work often requires the use of special industrial tools, workers must follow the required procedures to ensure their safety, Kawamura added.
The suspension will not affect the fuel-cooling and water-filtering operations, the utility said.
Source: Japan Times
January 21st, 2015
TV: Gov’t approves plan to ‘drain’ Fukushima nuclear waste into ocean — Professor: Monitoring necessary to detect ‘worrisome signals’ —
NHK, Jan 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Regulators approve Fukushima wastewater drainage — Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved a plan by [TEPCO] to drain filtered wastewater from the firm’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant into the sea… The firm also plans to reduce the level of radioactive material in the water before releasing it into the nearby Pacific. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved TEPCO’s plan to install drainpipes and a pumping system and to reduce the level of radioactive cesium-137 to less than one becquerel per liter.
NHK Transcript, Jan 21, 2015: Japanese regulators have approved a controversial plan by [TEPCO]. They say TEPCO officials can flush filtered waste water into the ocean… Fisherman: “We can’t trust Tepco… If they proceed with their plan the situation will surely go back to how it was before. I’m worried the government and Tepco will act to suit themselves.”
Wall St Journal, Jan 21, 2015: Japan’s nuclear regulator has officially called on [Tepco] to work toward discharging low-level contaminated water… just two days after a worker fell into [a tank] used to store contaminated water… Tepco is using a processing system [that] is unable to take out the tritium [and] is reluctant to release it into the ocean to avoid… criticism from neighboring countries and some nations with a Pacific Ocean coastline… there is no detailed study about tritium’s long-time effect on animal genes. Mamoru Takata, a Kyoto University professor and expert on radiation’s long-term effects, said monitoring would be necessary to detect any worrisome signals.
TEPCO: [ALPS] is designed to remove most remaining radioactive contaminants
TEPCO (pdf): (ALPS) — Removal capacity: Reduce 62 nuclides below the density limit
Asahi Shimbun in Jan. 2012: “To prevent a further contamination of the sea [Tepco] plans to remove about 1,000 kinds of radioactive materials from water”
Japan Atomic Energy Agency (pdf), Feb 2014: TOPICS Fukushima — [W]e carried out detailed calculations… for 1,200 radionuclides, and the results were incorporated into a database.
Dr. Gordon Edwards, court-certified nuclear expert, Aug 8, 2014 (50:00 in): It can’t be dumped into the ocean, because it’s completely unsafe because of these fission products. They have built over 1,000 large tanks, huge tanks… that contain this very, very radioactively contaminated water. At the moment they’re trying to filter out these fission products… It’s impossible for them to remove all those hundreds of radioactive materials. They know how to remove about 62 of them, but there’s other ones that they cannot.
January 20, 2015
Fission Stories #180
In early August 2014, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that its latest analysis revealed the meltdown of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi was worse than previously estimated.
Recall children’s books with dots and numbers? Children connect the dots to reveal pictures of clowns and puppies and spaceships and such.
TEPCO is essentially painting pictures using very few dots with no numbers. They keep running computer studies that put numbers almost randomly on the few dots they have to see what picture emerges. “Lo and behold” to quote a professor I had in college, different pictures emerge.
TEPCO doesn’t know when the Unit 3 core damage began
Or how much of the reactor core was damaged.
Or how and when the damaged core relocated after melting.
Or how, when, and where the molten burned through the reactor pressure vessel.
Or how it moved after it fell onto the containment’s concrete floor.
And they don’t know how much water, if any, was on the containment floor when the molten core joined it.
TEPCO fills in these information gaps with guesses. And they keep revising their results because they keep revising their guesses.
I choose not to play rate-a-guess. It would take me away from helping my nephew finish his connect-the-dots drawing. Only seven numbers remain to be connected. While it resembles a race car now, it might yet turn out to be a giraffe. Or maybe even a kitten.
Before I decide which TEPCO picture I most prefer, they are going to have to fetch more dots and put real numbers on as many of them as possible.
At some point in the next few years, TEPCO will maneuver a robot into the reactor area. That will reveal what the former reactor core looks like now. This information won’t answer all the questions, but it’ll number several more dots to support a meaningful analysis of what happened when.
Until then, TEPCO is just keeping their computer jockeys busy. They could get results of similar value using Ouija boards—and it would reduce their carbon footprint.
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
“Implicates radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked”
January 21st, 2015
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (pdf), University of Florida College of Medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College, etc. (2014):
- The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident is an example of a contemporary nuclear plant accident with serious implications.
- The Fukushima NPP accident has had health implications due to the high levels of radiation released and vast area over which the radiation has disperse.
- The significant radiation release, as likened to Chernobyl, reflects the context and severity of the Fukushima accident.
- The level of 137Cs that was released is likened to Chernobyl levels, with 100,000 TBq released.
- Radioactive plume dispersion occurs worldwide, far exceeding 300 miles previously mentioned. This should implicate radiological hazard at distances otherwise overlooked.
Potassium Iodide Distribution
- Radioactive plumes from the Chernobyl accident containing 131I caused benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop, especially in children within a 310 miles radius of the incident.
- The current recommendation is for KI [potassium iodide] availability to people 200 miles from a NPP. Plume radii for nuclear events have been shown to exceed 300 [miles]. Extension of KI availability to 300 miles only further underscores the inadequacy of current preparedness plans.
- In regard to KI prophylaxis, TEPCO utilized 17,500 KI tablets for 2,000 onsite workers… with one individual receiving and taking 85 tablets.
- Radiological plumes containing 131I cause benign and malignant thyroid nodules to develop within a 300 mile radius… This necessitates KI pre-distribution to all schools, hospitals and other of-interest sites extending 300 miles from any nuclear reactor. Evacuation or sequestering is impossible in congested urban areas… There is currently virtually no compliance with [the] 20 miles radius KI pre-distribution law, section 127 of the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. In fact, there is little compliance with the 10 miles Ki pre-distribution radius law in the United States.
- Japan did not utilize KI for prophylaxis of the general public, acknowledging it was not prepared to act accordingly.