Photographs of Sellafield nuclear plant prompt fears over radioactive risk Nuclear safety expert claims there is ‘significant risk’ due to poor condition of storage ponds containing highly radioactive fuel rods John Vidal and Rob Edwards The Guardian, Thursday 30 October 2014
Previously unseen pictures of two storage ponds containing hundreds of highly radioactive fuel rods at the Sellafield nuclear plant show cracked concrete, seagulls bathing in the water and weeds growing around derelict machinery. But a spokesman for owners Sellafield Ltd said the 60-year-old ponds will not be cleaned up for decades, despite concern that they are in a dangerous state and could cause a large release of radioactive material if they are allowed to deteriorate further.
“The concrete is in dreadful condition, degraded and fractured, and if the ponds drain, the Magnox fuel will ignite and that would lead to a massive release of radioactive material,” nuclear safety expert John Large told the Ecologist magazine. “I am very disturbed at the run-down condition of the structures and support services. In my opinion there is a significant risk that the system could fail.
“It’s like an concrete dock full of water. If you got a breach of the wall by accident or by terrorist attack, the Magnox fuel would burn. I would say there’s many hundreds of tonnes in there. It could give rise to a very big radioactive release. It’s not for me to make comparisons with Chernobyl or Fukushima, but it could certainly cause serious contamination over a wide area and for a very long time.”
Gordon Thompson, executive director of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who is an expert at assessing radiological risk, said: “[Sellafield] contains large inventories of radioactive material that could be released to the environment in a variety of ways. The site’s overall radiological risk has never been properly assessed by the responsible authorities. [The] photos, showing disgracefully degraded open-air ponds at Sellafield, indicate that a thorough assessment of risk is overdue.”
The images, taken over a period seven years and leaked via a local nuclear watchdog group to the Ecologist, are said to show two ponds that were commissioned in 1952 and used until the mid-1970s as short-term storage for spent fuel until it could be reprocessed, producing plutonium for military use. One is open to the elements……..
Aggressive Thyroid Cancers Linked to Radiation Exposure http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834000 Roxanne Nelson October 28, 2014 Researchers who have followed the children and adolescents exposed to radioactive fallout from the the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident have highlighted the fact that the thyroid cancers seen in these individuals are particularly aggressive. They say their work has implications for individuals affected by the 2011 nuclear reactor incidents in Fukushima, Japan.
The study is published online October 28 in Cancer.
The research team screened nearly 12,000 individuals from Belarus several times over a course of 9 years. Study participants were all under age 18 years when they were exposed to the Chernobyl radioactive fallout.
All individuals underwent up to three cycles of thyroid screening from 1997 to 2008. Radioactive iodine-131 (I-131) thyroid doses were estimated from individual thyroid activity measurements taken within 2 months after the accident, along with dosimetric data from questionnaires.
A total of 158 thyroid cancers were diagnosed in the 11,664-person cohort during 3 rounds of screening, which were conducted at roughly 2-year intervals.
The researchers found that higher I-131 thyroid doses were associated with higher frequency of solid or diffuse sclerosing variants of thyroid cancer (P < 0.01), as well as histologic features of cancer aggressiveness, such as lymphatic vessel invasion, intrathyroidal infiltration, and multifocality (all P < .03).
First author Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, explained that her group has previously shown that radioactive iodine exposure significantly increases the risk for thyroid cancer in a dose-dependent manner. But this new study demonstrates that exposure to I-131 is associated with distinct clinical features indicating more aggressive tumors.
“Our study has very important implications for clinical practice,” Dr Zablotska told Medscape Medical News, especially as they relate to radiation exposure that resulted from the 2011 nuclear reactor incidents in Fukushima, Japan. Continue reading
EU on track to meet 2020 renewable energy targets, Hydroworld, BRUSSELS 10/28/2014 By Michael Harris Online Editor Greenhouse gas emissions within the European Union fell by almost 2% between 2012 and 2013, putting the EU close to its 2020 reduction target, according to data released this week by the European Environment Agency.
“According to latest estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 fell by 1.8% compared to 2012 and reached the lowest levels since 1990,” an EU statement said. “So not only is the EU well on track to reach the 2020 target, it is also well on track to overachieve it.”
Hydroelectric power has been an integral component of the EU’s efforts in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions and producing 20% of its power with renewable sources.
The EEA’s analysis of member states’ own projections show the EU is likely to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 21% of 1990 levels by 2020, surpassing its 20% target. Meanwhile, the report shows 14% of the EU’s energy was generated by renewable sources in 2012, which is ahead of its projections to hit the 20% mark by the end of the decade.
“Our analysis shows that Europe is on track towards its 2020 targets,” EEA executive director Hans Bruyinickx said. “Even against the backdrop of economic recession in recent years, we can see that policies and measures are working and have played a key role in reaching this interim result.”…….The EU has said that it’s longer-term objectives include decarbonizing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050. http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/2014/10/eu-on-track-to-meet-2020-renewable-energy-targets.html
“……..Last year, renewables accounted for 24 per cent of the country’s electricity.The German government introduced generous subsidies to kick-start the sector, amounting to 16 billion euros last year. But the government claims the program has already saved billions in fuel costs for the heavily import-reliant country.
“We have created new businesses worth 40 billion euros per year,” Ecologic Institute analyst Andreas Kraemer said.”We have created additional employment for up to 400,000 people. They all pay taxes, they all pay social security charges.”
German households and small business pay the largest share for the renewable turnaround.They pay around 29 euro cents per kilowatt hour and much of that goes towards a renewable energy surcharge.
Big industrial users are exempt from the surcharge and pay just 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour……..
A new-look energy market The energy turnaround has clouded the future for the dominant utility companies in Germany.Germany’s big four, Vattenfall, E.on, RWE and EnBW, have enjoyed an oligopoly driven by nuclear power and fossil fuels………
Investors look for exposure to renewables market The makeup of the German energy market already looks very different, with hundreds of companies and cooperatives being formed in a decentralised industry.
While banks, industry, and project developers own 40 per cent of renewable installations, farmers and private investors own half.A number of new investment vehicles have formed to take advantage of the new industry. Crowd funding start up Bettervest has financed 14 projects since its inception a year ago.
Company spokesman Julien Schroder-Gianoncelli said investors are attracted by the projects and the returns,\. “We are offering 5-10 per cent in interest, which is pretty good at the moment,” he said.
Ceramic Fuel Cells believes Germany’s regulations, incentives and market make it the place to be. Mr Obernitz said that, for the time being at least, there are no incentives available in Australia.
“I’m not sure if that is going to change,” he said.
“We would favour that because we have invented the technology in Australia, and it’s something that will change the world.”……… https://au.news.yahoo.com/vic/a/25372077/germanys-renewable-energy-incentives-and-regulations-attracting-australian-companies/
U.S. Said to Join Russia in Blocking Nuclear Safety Moves, Bloomberg By Jonathan Tirone Oct 23, 2014 The U.S. and Russia are joining forces to block a European plan to raise the protection of nuclear reactors against natural disasters after the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant, diplomats say.
Envoys from both countries are trying to derail a Swiss-led initiative that would force nuclear operators to invest more on safety, undermining attempts to harmonize global safety regulation, according to eight European and U.S. diplomats who attended meetings in Vienna last week. All asked not to be named in line with rules kept by the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the legal body overseeing the talks……….
The U.S.-Russia collaboration reflects a nuclear-safety convention whose secrecy is laid bare in documents obtained by Bloomberg News under a Freedom of Information Act request.
It also underscores the high stakes for an industry trying to bounce back after the Fukushima accident. European attempts to impose higher safety standards would make nuclear power more costly just as plant operators come under price pressure from cheaper natural gas………
U.S. regulators aren’t requiring the same stringent modifications, according to Edwin Lyman of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. European utilities pay as much as five times more to fit out plants to withstand earthquakes and floods as a result, he said………..
While nuclear meltdowns are considered cross-border incidents because of the radioactive fallout that can result, no international authority exists to compel countries to adopt safety standards. Instead, regulators from around the world routinely review each other’s practices to figure out which works best. Laggards face peer criticism that can make them look bad in forums like the convention.
At the convention’s 2008 meeting — the last before Fukushima — Japan was criticized by peers for being slow to overhaul a reporting system that had been caught using “falsified inspection data,” the documents show. Participants also urged Japan, then the world’s third-largest nuclear-power generator, to review how safe its reactors were against earthquakes……..http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-23/u-s-said-to-join-russia-in-blocking-nuclear-safety-moves.html
Revealed: chilling nuclear safety blunders plague Scots bomb base, Questions to be raised in house of commons as Mod comes under fire Herald Scotland, by Rob Edwards Environment Editor Saturday 25 October 2014 There has been a sharp rise in the number of “chilling” safety blunders at the nuclear bomb and submarine bases on the Clyde, according to internal reports from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). In the last five years there have been 316 “nuclear safety events”, 2044 fire alarm incidents and 71 fires at the Royal Navy’s controversial facilities at Faslane and Coulport near Helensburgh.
There have also been more than 3000 “near miss” industrial accidents, a positive test for illegal drugs and a series of difficulties with wild animals.
The revelations have been described as “chilling” by Angus Robertson MP, the Scottish National Party’s leader at Westminster and its defence spokesman. He is planning to raise them urgently in the House of Commons, and is demanding action from the MoD.
The new figures showed that nuclear safety breaches at the Clyde bases were “widespread”, he said……….
Independent nuclear expert John Large was scathing about the MoD’s safety standards. He said: “From these reports, one gets the distinct impression that health and safety operations at HMNB Clyde are more akin to those practiced in a backstreet car repair shop than a naval base servicing advanced and armed warships, some of which are carrying nuclear weapons and propelled by nuclear reactors.”
Safety problems were increasing, the number of false fire alarms was “totally unacceptable” and the MoD reports were “muddled and at times misleading”, Large alleged.
He added: “The regulation of health and safety matters at the base should be taken from the military and put squarely under the control of a civilian operated regulatory regime.”
The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament accused the MoD of failing to gain control of the risks of handling nuclear weapons and submarines.
“The sharp rise in nuclear weapons safety events is particularly worrying,” said the campaign’s co-ordinator, John Ainslie. “If the safety record continues to decline, then it is only a matter of time before there is a major problem.”…….http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/revealed-chilling-nuclear-safety-blunders-plague-scots-bomb-base.25691690
ANOTHER investigation into the controversial Hinkley C deal has begun.
Just two weeks ago, the European Commission approved plans for the £16bn nuclear power plant.
They had been investigating whether the subsidy deal between energy company EDF and the Government constituted as illegal State aid.
While the project was approved, the National Audit Office has now begun investigating the deal to make sure the subsidy price of £92 a megawatt hour represented value for money.
The NAO is a financial watchdog which scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament……….
The Stop Hinkley Campaign welcomed the news about the investigation. Spokesperson Allan Jeffrey said: “This is an extraordinarily bad deal, locking consumers into high prices until almost 2060.
“Worse still, it will use up most of the money available to subsidise non-fossil fuel energy, leaving almost nothing available for renewables at a time when their costs are plummeting.
“The European Commission’s ill-thought through decision has turned UK Energy Policy into even more of a dog’s breakfast than it was to begin with…….
Energy supplier Ecotricity has said it is considering taking legal action against the deal along with the Austrian Government and Germany………http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk/news/11554761.Hinkley_C_deal_goes_under_scrutiny_again/
Wind farms outstrip nuclear power BBC News, By Roger Harrabin, 21 Oct 14 BBC environment analyst The UK’s wind farms generated more power than its nuclear power stations on Tuesday, the National Grid says.
The energy network operator said it was caused by a combination of high winds and faults in nuclear plants………Wind made up 14.2% of all generation and nuclear offered 13.2%.
It follows another milestone on Saturday, when wind generated a record amount of power – 6,372 MW, according to National Grid.
This formed nearly 20% of the the UK’s electricity, albeit at a time at the weekend when demand is relatively low………The government is offering more generous subsidies to nuclear than wind in the long term.
But Jennifer Webber, a spokeswoman for RenewableUK, the trade body, said: “Wind power is often used as a convenient whipping boy by political opponents and vested interests.
“All the while, it’s been quietly powering millions of homes across the UK and providing a robust response to its vocal detractors.” http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29715796
They relate to the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) first signed in 1958, which, according to the government, enables the UK and the US “nuclear warhead communities to collaborate on all aspects of nuclear deterrence including nuclear warhead design and manufacture”.
One amendment refers to potential threats from “state or non-state actors”. But the amendments are for the most part arcane and their significance cannot be understood in the absence of information which is kept secret.
The MDA does not have to be debated or voted on in parliament, as I have remarked before. Though the agreement is incorporated in US law, it has no legal status in Britain.
Yet the matters covered by the treaty, which is renewed only at 10 year intervals, are hugely important. Successive British governments have made clear a proper debate on the issues involved would not be welcome.
“A debate on the renewal of the MDA would be used by some as an opportunity to raise wider questions concerning the possible renewal of the nuclear deterrent…and our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty,” notes an internal MoD paper, dated 2004. The paper was released only earlier this year through a freedom of information act request by the independent Nuclear Information Service……….
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) says the UK-US agreement flew in the face Britain’s commitments as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“It is appalling that David Cameron is signing secretive nuclear deals behind Parliament’s back. In no other area of government would such a sinister sidestepping of democratic process be tolerated.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/defence-and-security-blog/2014/oct/20/nuclear-weapons-uk-us
Is France’s Love Affair with Nuclear Over? Oil Price, By Chris Dalby | Sun, 19 October 2014 French President Francois Hollande has promised to limit the growth of the country’s nuclear power, many older reactors have been targeted for decommissioning, and Greenpeace and other environmental groups have been relentless in their anti-nuclear campaigning. But until now, it seemed unlikely that France would ever truly rethink its love affair with nuclear power.
Last week, it did. On Oct. 10, France’s parliament voted to begin moving to undo decades of nuclear growth and to reduce its importance to the country’s energy mix. Over the next 11 years, France will reduce the amount of electricity coming from nuclear by one-quarter — from 75 percent to 50 percent. To do that, estimates are that as many as 20 of France’s 58 reactors would have to be closed.
The vote was part of a package of legal reforms in France’s long-awaited energy transition law, a main pillar of which was slowing nuclear power production and then maintaining it at the new lower level before progressively lowering it over the next 10 years.
The second pillar was removing bureaucratic hurdles that prevented renewable energy projects from getting off the ground. A trial period will see wind, solar, bio-gas and small hydro projects receive streamlined authorization in seven French regions.
A comparison of the contribution of renewables versus nuclear in France’s energy mix shows the massive disparity that the government is seeking to address. In June, France had 8,592MW of onshore wind installations and 5,095MW of PV, translating to 3.8 percent and 1 percent of the country’s energy needs. This compares to 63.2GWe of nuclear capacity.
The energy transition law aims to erase this imbalance. At 50 percent of national energy production, nuclear will remain the biggest source, but will be supported by a boosted renewables sector, with wind and solar levels similar to Germany’s…………
In March, around 60 Greenpeace protesters managed to spectacularly infiltrate Fessenheim in northeastern France, the country’s oldest nuclear power plant, which is set to be decommissioned in 2016. The activists deployed a huge banner on one of Fessenheim’s reactors, reading “Stop Risking Europe”, in support of their argument that France’s aging nuclear installations put all of Europe at risk, much like Chernobyl. Europe-Ecologie Les Verts (EELV), backed the protest at the time, widening a rift with Hollande’s Socialist Party that the energy transition law hopes to close……..
the pressure is on. Germany, Belgium and Switzerland are all abandoning nuclear power. Flagship nuclear firm Areva, which builds nuclear plants around the world, is not the profit-making juggernaut it once was. Nuclear is no longer as cost-competitive as it used to be compared to natural gas, wind and PV…….http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/Is-Frances-Love-Affair-with-Nuclear-Over.html
Where Shall We Store Our Radioactive Waste? Red Baron’s Blog, 18 Oct 14, From September 20 to 22, 2014 the Deutsch-Schweizer Fachverband für Strahlenschutz (Swiss-German Radiation Protection Association) held a symposium in Mainz dealing with the topic: Zwischenlager – Dauerlager – Endlager: Wohin mit unserem radioaktiven Abfall? (Intermediate, permanent and final storage: Where shall we store our radioactive waste?)
The Federal Government has set up a commission of 33 persons to deal with the deposition of highly-radioactive waste according to the Standortauswahlgesetz(Law for selecting a site). The German government called scientists, members of environmental associations, representatives of the Churches!!, economy, trade unions, members of parliament and state governments into the commission to find a consensus on a site until December 31, 2015. In their initial sessions the members of the commission lost their time on points of order; so I doubt that they will meet the deadline set by the government…….http://mhoefert.blogspot.com.au/
Funds running out for completion of massively expensive cover over crumbling Chernobyl nuclear reactor
Funding woes delay new Chernobyl cover, DW 17 Oct 14 The casing around the ruined nuclear reactor at Chernobyl is crumbling, causing a renewed radioactive contamination risk. A new cover for the site is under construction – but the project is running out of funding. “There’s no precedent for this anywhere in the world,” Jochen Flasbarth said. “Of course there is uncertainty.”
The German Ministry of the Environment’s senior civil servant was talking about the New Safe Confinement – a new protective cover that is to be built over the stricken reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine: 100 meters high, 165 meters long, built at a safe distance from the still radioactive ruin.
The cover will slide over the reactor on rails. It will be three times as large as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – if it is finished. But at the moment there is no money – that’s the “uncertainty” Flasbarth was talking about.
There will be a shortfall of 600 million euros by the end of the year. Construction is proving to be more expensive than expected, and funding more difficult to obtain. A Ukrainian government construction freeze now threatens the project.
New containment, new money
Flasbarth, who is responsible for energy issues at his ministry, intends to speak with his counterparts from the G7 Group on Nuclear Issues in Bonn in mid-October. The G8 – as it was known before Russia was ejected from the group earlier in 2014 – had promised years ago to help Ukraine build the containment system. Now new money is required……….
The total damage has been estimated at 180 billion dollars. The area around the stricken reactor is still highly contaminated, and the concrete sarcophagus poured over the reactor in a rush after the accident has become unstable.
Years of effort
That’s why a French consortium has spent the last few years building the new protective cover. One part is finished, and a second is still being worked on. Meanwhile, Reactor 4 is crumbling – and threatening to expose 200 tons of highly radioactive material to the environment, including the destroyed fuel rods.
The removal of these materials can begin only when the New Safe Confinement is finished, which means over 30 years will have passed since the accident. No one now expects the construction to be finished next year as planned……..http://www.dw.de/funding-woes-delay-new-chernobyl-cover/a-17997493
With Fran ce’s nuclear reactors all too close, Luxembourg hands out iodine pill sto 500,000 residents
Luxembourg hands out iodine pills over fears of French nuclear mishap TONY PATERSON http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/luxembourg-hands-out-iodine-pills-over-fears-of-french-nuclear-mishap-9802668.html FRIDAY 17 OCTOBER 2014 A series of accidents at France’s controversial Cattenom nuclear power station has prompted the government in neighbouring Luxembourg to take the unprecedented step of issuing free iodine pills to its half a million citizens to help protect them in the event of a serious nuclear incident at the plant. Continue reading
South Africa’s Treasury advised against getting Russian nuclear reactors, but Putin is pushing for the sale
Vladimir Putin’s quest for a nuclear monopoly, Mail & Guardian, South Acfrica 17 OCT 2014 00:00 QAANITAH HUNTER Somehow Russia has persuaded President Jacob Zuma into agreeing to a deal for a nuclear fleet that the treasury opposed. The Russians are coming. The nuclear deal with Russia is to dominate the agenda when the South Africa-Russia joint intergovernmental committee on trade and economic co-operation meets next month.
Even though the South African government insists it has not entered into the procurement phase for the nuclear fleet, it has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sway President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson into giving Russia the entirety of the deal.
Zuma and his most trusted Cabinet ministers went against the strict advice of the national treasury and his senior advisers when a nuclear energy “agreement” was signed with Russia last month.
Two sources who also advised against it revealed this week to the Mail & Guardian that an initial bid made by Russian nuclear company Rosatom last year was rejected by the treasury and a number of Zuma’s advisers. A third credible source who was close to the negotiations confirmed their version of events.
The treasury this week did not deny advising against the initial Russian proposal.
“Nuclear would be a substantial financial commitment and government can only make that kind of commitment after careful and thorough-going modelling and an affordability assessment,” said spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane.
He said they had yet to discuss how the treasury would pay for nuclear energy.
It has emerged that the Russians wanted exclusive rights to South Africa’s nuclear industry. This was substantiated by a statement made by Putin in March last year, following his visit to South Africa, saying his country did not want to merely build the nuclear plants but would bid to run the entire nuclear industry here.
South Africa plans to enhance its energy mix by creating 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030.
The M&G spoke to three highly placed sources – all of them indicated that:
- The initial Russian proposal was not affordable and the treasury rejected it;
- The technology proposed was sub standard and dangerous;
- It would exclude and be damaging to local industries; and
- Even public servants who seemed loyal to Zuma had concerns about it.
One source close to the nuclear talks said the signing of the agreement was a result of about two years of courting by the Russians……….http://mg.co.za/article/2014-10-16-vladimir-putins-quest-for-a-nuclear-monopoly
Citizens’ energy movement calls for support as nuclear gets billions of pounds subsidy http://www.foe.co.uk/blog/citizens-energy-movement-calls-support-nuclear-gets-billions-pounds-subsidy Susi Scherbarth 15 October 2014 Last week the European Commission gave the UK the green light to billions of pounds of subsidies for Hinkley nuclear power plant, and the European Parliament approved a Spanish oil baron, Miguel Arias Cañete, as the EU’s next climate and energy chief.
This hardly bodes well when EU leaders are due to agree climate and energy targets for the year 2030 at a summit next week.
But against this, Europe’s citizens energy movement is providing reasons for optimism. Continue reading
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