The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

West now keen to market nuclear fuel to Ukraine

flag-UkraineWestinghouse, Ukraine Near Deal on Nuclear Fuel for Reactors Extension of Contract Could Also Lessen Reliance of Other Former Communist States on Russia WSJ, By  SEAN
Buy-US-nukesCARNEY  April 3, 2014 
The United States and Ukraine are on the verge of deepening their ties in nuclear energy while lessening the influence of Russia on the former Soviet state’s economy and geopolitical orientation.

Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co. on Thursday said it’s in negotiations to extend its contract with Ukraine’s Energoatom and supply nuclear fuel for three reactors, a deal that would bolster Ukraine’s commitment to long-term cooperation with the West.

“Westinghouse is currently in discussions with Energoatom to agree on an amended fuel supply contract,” Westinghouse spokesman Hans Korteweg said.

Ilona Zayets, spokeswoman for state-owned Energoatom, said the two sides were in final negotiations on the deal and added that Energoatom hopes to sign the contract next week……….

The nuclear contract being negotiated would renew and extend for an unspecified number of years an existing fuel contract between Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, and Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom. ……..

A senior Westinghouse official late last year said the fuel deal is worth roughly $100 million for a five-year supply and that a renewal of the Ukraine supply contract was essential for the company in keeping its Swedish fuel processing plant in operation.

The Swedish plant is the sole non-Russian facility globally that produces fuel for use in Russian-designed reactors used in EU countries, and it is a crucial outpost as the West aims to check Russian influence in Europe’s eastern regions.

If the deal goes through as expected, it would also provide the Czech Republic and Bulgaria—which both have Russian VVER 1000-type reactors—with an alternative supplier of nuclear fuel in years to come.

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom and Westinghouse are the only producers of fuel for this reactor type.

Czech utility CEZ AS early in the last decade used Westinghouse fuel but later switched to Russian-made fuel.

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, which is the primary nuclear fuel supplier to Ukraine as well as most post-communist countries in Europe that use Russian VVER-type reactors, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

April 4, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine, Uranium | Leave a comment

Thanks to Putin, the Pentagon can push their case for new nuclear weapons

Atomic-Bomb-Smflag-UkraineUkraine Fallout: Putin Hands The Pentagon A Rationale For New Nuclear Weapons Loren Thompson, Forbes 20 Mar 14 There’s a plausible case to be made that Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea after 60 years of being attached to the Ukraine isn’t all that important, and the West is over-reacting.  Well don’t expect to find anybody in Washington pushing that view.  Today’s Washington Post features a lead editorial entitled, “A Dangerous Russian Doctrine,” and all four essays on the op-ed page explore the ominous implications of what Vladimir Putin has done.  The persistent drumbeat of disquieting coverage and commentary about Ukraine reminds me of a term I used often when I taught nuclear strategy at Georgetown — overkill.

 The North Atlantic Alliance isn’t likely to do anything direct or meaningful about Putin’s fait accompli, but the wheels are already turning within defense ministries and military think tanks about what indirect steps might be taken to deter further adventurism by Moscow.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this debate will end up in Washington: the delicate balance of terror — the nuclear balance — is back on the table as an active concern.  Why?  Because the White House was already reorienting (no pun intended) America’s military posture to East Asia, where both of our prospective adversaries possess atomic weapons, and now the world’s other nuclear superpower, Russia, has muscled its way back into U.S. military calculations.

As chance would have it, this strategic shift occurs at precisely the moment when modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has become a major issue among military planners. ……..   The Pentagon has plans for developing new subs and bombers before the current arsenal has to be retired, but funding is problematic — particularly with spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Although President Obama has not interfered with these plans, he has been more focused on arms control as a solution to the nation’s nuclear security.  …….

it  is inevitable that Pentagon officials will use the Ukraine crisis to build political support for their nuclear plans.  ……….

  Many people in Washington might have been prepared to forego spending money on a new generation of nuclear weapons before Putin made his move, but he has now changed the strategic calculation.

March 21, 2014 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The surreal problem of Chernobyl’s forests not decaying properly

Chernobyl-forest-14The Woods Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying 19 Mar 14, Like a landscape of the undead, the woods outside Chernobyl are having trouble decomposing. The catastrophic meltdown and ensuing radiation blast of April 1986 has had long-term effects on the very soil and ground cover of the forested region, essentially leaving the dead trees and leaf litter unable to decompose. The result is a forest full of “petrified-looking pine trees” that no longer seem capable of rotting. Indeed, Smithsonian reports, “decomposers — organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay — have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.”

All of that now has been slowed way down, as explored in a new study led by University of South Carolina biologist Timothy Mousseau, just published in Oecologica.Mouseeau and his colleagues explain that they would normally expect to see between 70 per cent and 90 per cent loss of dead plant matter over the course of a year as the discarded leaves and branches are consumed by local microbes; however, at the various test points they established throughout the Chernobyl forested region, the sampled vegetation had lost less than 40 per cent over the same time frame.

This means the woods are decaying approximately twice as slowly, stretching out their wildfire-nukeperiod of decay for years, if not decades, and, in the process, piling up fuel for future forest fires.

As Smithsonian also mentions, this is perhaps the most worrisome aspect of all of this, and all the more reason to be concerned about the radioactive side-effects of such a fire: “Other studies have found that the Chernobyl area is at risk of fire, and 27 years’ worth of leaf litter, Mousseau and his colleagues think, would likely make a good fuel source for such a forest fire. This poses a more worrying problem than just environmental destruction: Fires can potentially redistribute radioactive contaminants to places outside of the exclusion zone, Mousseau says. ‘There is growing concern that there could be a catastrophic fire in the coming years,’ he says.”

Either way, there is something immensely surreal in this dream-like vision of a dead forest that simply cannot decay, its branches lifeless yet ever-present, petrified or fossilized in place, its carpet of leaves always growing deeper and seeming to never go away.

March 19, 2014 Posted by | environment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine crisis could lead to a ‘nuclear impasse’

 “It is extraordinarily irresponsible to jump on the bandwagon of this dangerous regional crisis and make Ukrainians feel that they were wrong to rid their newly independent country of nuclear weapons in 1992 and join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states,” 

flag-UkraineUS -Russia standoff over Ukraine may trigger nuclear attack UNITED NATIONS: The US-Russian confrontation over Ukraine, which is threatening to undermine current bilateral talks on North Korea, Iran, Syria and Palestine, is also in danger of triggering a nuclear fallout., The International News, 17 MAr 14, 

 Secretary of State John Kerry told US legislators early this week that if the dispute results in punitive sanctions against Russia, things could “get ugly fast” and go “in multiple directions. ”Perhaps one such direction could lead to a nuclear impasse between the two big powers. Continue reading

March 18, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Highly dangerous and super expensive work to cover Chernobyl nuclear reactor

Workers can only spend a few hours at the reactor site before they reach the maximum radioactive exposure limit, and work is thus progressing at a snail’s pace

Despite the incredible lengths required to build the structure, it’s still only a band-aid


This Massive Steel Structure Will Entomb Chernobyl’s Reactor 4  (GREAT PHOTOS) KELSEY CAMPBELL-DOLLAGHAN 30 NOVEMBER 2013 When an unexpected power surge sparked the world’s worst nuclear accident in Chernobyl, nearly a quarter of a million construction workers risked their lives to build an ad hoc “sarcophagus” of concrete around the stricken reactor. It was a stop-gap measure — and now, almost 30 years later, one of the biggest engineering projects in history is underway to protect it.

The BBC reports on the $US2 billion project to protect the decaying metal sarcophagus, using an even larger metal shield called the New Safe Confinement, or NSC. In simple terms, the NSC is a massive steel archway that is designed to protect the surrounding region if the 27-year-old sarcophagus eventually collapses. Continue reading

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Reference, safety, Ukraine | 3 Comments

Smaller brains: effect of Chernobyl radiation on birds

text ionisingChernobyl Birds Have Smaller Brains PLOS 1 Anders Pape Møller mail, Andea Bonisoli-Alquati, Geir Rudolfsen, Timothy A. Mousseau   Abstract


Animals living in areas contaminated by radioactive material from Chernobyl suffer from increased oxidative stress and low levels of antioxidants. Therefore, normal development of the nervous system is jeopardized as reflected by high frequencies of developmental errors, reduced brain size and impaired cognitive abilities in humans. Alternatively, associations between psychological effects and radiation have been attributed to post-traumatic stress in humans.

Methodology/Principal Finding

Here we used an extensive sample of 550 birds belonging to 48 species to test the prediction that even in the absence of post-traumatic stress, there is a negative association between relative brain size and level of background radiation. We found a negative association between brain size as reflected by external head volume and level of background radiation, independent of structural body size and body mass. The observed reduction in brain size in relation to background radiation amounted to 5% across the range of almost a factor 5,000 in radiation level. Species differed significantly in reduction in brain size with increasing background radiation, and brain size was the only morphological character that showed a negative relationship with radiation. Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings than in older individuals.


Low dose radiation can have significant effects on normal brain development as reflected by brain size and therefore potentially cognitive ability. The fact that brain size was smaller in yearlings than in older individuals implies that there was significant directional selection on brain size with individuals with larger brains experiencing a viability advantage……..

November 12, 2013 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Cataracts in the eyes of birds in Chernobyl and Fukushima

 the key factor determining the presence of the disease was the intensity of local radiation, with cataract scores of over one proving to be far more common in areas that were above ten microseiverts per hour

Birds live with cataracts in Chernobyl The Economist, Sep 7th 2013 CATARACTS are relatively common in people who live to a ripe old age. They are sometimes seen in animals that live in zoos as well, but in the wild they are almost unheard of. The reason is simple. Losing eyesight is in effect a death sentence for a wild animal that must find its own food and, should that animal live long enough to develop the disease, starvation or predation would quickly follow|cataracts unrelated to age are surprisingly common in birds living near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

This is revealed in a new study by a pair of ornithologists, Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina and Anders Moller of the University of Paris-Sud, which is published in the Public Library of Science. That cataracts and ionising radiation are related is well known. As high energy ions, usually produced by the sun’s rays, slam into the water found next to the lenses of the eyes, free radicals are created that damage DNA and cause errors to develop in the formation of proteins that make up the lenses, resulting in cataracts.

This led the researchers to suspect that cataracts in birds might be common in areas where there are high levels of ionising radiation, and they turned to Chernobyl as a study area. Continue reading

September 6, 2013 Posted by | environment, Japan, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Lengthy, expensive process of new tomb for Chernobyl’s shattered nuclear reactor

flag-UkraineChernobyl copes with nuclear fallout a quarter-century on, Global Post Jakub Parusinski February 25, 2013  As a new structure around the destroyed nuclear reactor goes up, life for locals remains blighted. The so-called exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was once home to some 120,000 people, who were evacuated following the reactor meltdown at in 1986. Trees that sprouted in living rooms are now pushing through rooftops inside this highly contaminated, sealed off area, while wild horses and wolves roam the woods.

However, there are also some 7,000 people working here, including almost 3,000 at the plant itself.

An international fund managed by theEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development is spending an estimated $2 billion to build a new confinement shelter to protect the world from Chernobyl’s radioactivity for the next 100 years……

chernobyl_cover 2013

Built by a French-led consortium, the 360-foot giant hangar-like casing is being constructed with modern equipment on infrastructure that’s better maintained than in the capital Kyiv, 70 miles to the south. While hundreds in the Ukrainian capital injure themselves every day slipping on ice-covered sidewalks, roads in the exclusion zone are swept clean for a stream of cement trucks….. Completion of the reactor confinement structure, set for 2015, will calm longstanding fears about a collapse of the current sarcophagus. Those living around the zone face a less certain future. …

August 16, 2013 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s trees show radiation damage

text-radiationChernobyl’s legacy recorded in trees By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News Exposure to radiation from the 1986 Chernobyl accident had a lasting negative legacy on the area’s trees, a study has suggested.

Researchers said the worst effects were recorded in the “first few years” but surviving trees were left vulnerable to environmental stress, such as drought.

They added that young trees appeared to be particularly affected.

Writing in the journal Trees, the team said it was the first study to look at the impact at a landscape scale.

“Our field results were consistent with previous findings that were based on much smaller sample sizes,” explained co-author Tim Mousseau from the University of South Carolina, US.

“They are also consistent with the many reports of genetic impacts to these trees,” he told BBC News.

“Many of the trees show highly abnormal growth forms reflecting the effects of mutations and cell death resulting from radiation exposure.”…… Prof Mousseau and his team hope to follow up this study by carrying out similar work in the Fukushima region in Japan, where logging also had considerable economic importance and pine trees were widely dispersed.

August 10, 2013 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Climate change increases Chernobyl’s risk of radioactive wildfires

Women in their 20s living just outside the zone face the highest risk from exposure to radioactive smoke, the 2011 study found: 170 in 100,000 would have an increased chance of dying of cancer. Among men farther away in Kiev, 18 in 100,000 20 year olds would be at increased risk of dying of cancer.

the greatest danger from forest fire for most people would be consuming foods exposed to smoke. Milk, meat and other products would exceed safe levels, the 2011 study predicts. The Ukrainian government would almost certainly have to ban consumption of foodstuffs produced as far as 150 kilometres from the fire

wildfire-nukeWatching for a radioactive forest fire  JANE BRAXTON LITTLE, ABC Environment 8 JUL 2013  Tinder dry and radioactive: the forests around Chernobyl are an accident waiting to happen. For 27 years, forests around Chernobyl have been absorbing radioactive elements. A fire would send them skyward again – a growing concern as summers grow longer, hotter and drier. “…….Nikolay Ossienko patrols the forests surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,,,,,,, “Our number one job is to save the forest from fire,”…… It’s a job with international consequences.

For almost three decades the forests around the shuttered nuclear power plant have been absorbing contamination left from the 1986 reactor explosion. Now climate change and lack of management present a troubling predicament: If these forests burn, strontium 90, cesium 137, plutonium 238 and other radioactive elements would be released, according to an analysis of the human health impacts of wildfire in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone conducted by scientists in Germany, Scotland, Ukraine and the United States. Continue reading

July 12, 2013 Posted by | climate change, Reference, safety, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Radiation stored in forests of Chernobyl: the fire danger

text ionising27 Years Later, Radiation Still Hides Out in Chernobyl’s Trees (Fukushima’s Too) The April 26, 1986, meltdown of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power flag-UkrainePlant scattered radioactive material across 58,000 square miles of eastern Europe. In a ring 18 miles from the destroyed plant, authorities set up the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone—a place where no one is supposed to live (though of course some do.) Scientific American has the story of how, though the disaster took place decades ago, radiation persists in a huge area around the defunct power plant—ready to be re-released to the environment. 30 June 13

In the forests around Chernobyl, the trees have absorbed some of the radioactive fall-out. Washed from the air by the rain, radionuclides are taken up by trees and stored for long periods. The worry, says Scientific American, is that a forest fire could loose this radiation back to the environment.

For almost three decades the forests around the shuttered nuclear power plant have been absorbing contamination left from the 1986 reactor explosion. Now climate change and lack of management present a troubling predicament: If these forests burn, strontium 90, cesium 137, plutonium 238 and other radioactive elements would be released, according to an analysis of the human health impacts of wildfire in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone conducted by scientists in Germany, Scotland, Ukraine and the United States. Continue reading

July 1, 2013 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

27 years later, Chernobyl still leaking radiation, still dangerous

chernobylChornobyl, 27 years later, still dangerous April 26, 2013,   Ukraine — by Katya GorchinskayaSvitlana Tuchynska CHORNOBYL, Ukraine – A turbine hall adjoining Chornobyl’s destroyed fourth reactor has a gaping 600-square meter opening where the roof collapsed in February. The roof has not been fixed yet, letting in rainwater that mingles with radioactive dust and elements inside and oozes out.

April 26, 2013 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Fears in Ukraine that ageing nuclear reactors will be kept going

flag-UkraineNuclear Safety Plan Has Ukrainians Worried   By Pavol Stracansky KIEV, Mar 27 2013 (IPS) - A 300 million euro loan to improve nuclear safety in the Ukraine has been attacked by environmental groups who say it will instead be used to keep ageing reactors working well beyond their planned lifespans – increasing the risks of a nuclear accident – while doing nothing to address serious issues with the country’s energy intensity.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which approved the loan earlier this month, has said that the money will be used to upgrade safety at nuclear plants to international standards.

But environmentalists say it will instead be used by state energy company Energoatom to keep open or restart ageing reactors and that the EBRD should be helping the Ukraine move away from nuclear power and support renewable energy projects.

Iryna Holovko of the pan-European Bankwatch NGO, which together with other environmental groups has opposed the loan, told IPS: “Energoatom and the Ukrainian government is imposing another 20 years of additional nuclear risk – because of the increased risks associated with ageing of reactors – on the people of Ukraine without developing or offering an alternative option.”….

Environmental groups in the Ukraine point to an accident at the Rivne nuclear power plant’s Reactor 1. Its original lifespan had expired at the end of 2010 but it was given an extension for 20 years. One month later there was an accident, although no radiation leaked……

March 29, 2013 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Lest we forget – UN prediction of 3 million children’s health affected by Chernobyl nuclear accident

chernobyl3 million children require treatment because of Chernobyl, many will die prematurely -U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2000
February 28th, 2013
AP, April 26, 2000:
The United Nations released a new assessment of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown Tuesday, saying the worst health consequences for millions or people may be yet to come. [...]
“Chernobyl is a word we would all like to erase from our memory,” said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a foreword.

But, Annan added, “more than 7 million of our fellow human beings do not have die luxury of forgetting. They are still suffering, everyday, as a result of what happened.” He said the exact number of victims may never be known, but that 3 million children require treatment and “many will die prematurely.”

“Not until 2016, at the earliest, will be known the full number of those likely to develop serious medical conditions” because of delayed reactions to radiation exposure, he said.

Nearly 13 years  later: “Shameless”: U.N. agency’s report shockingly downplays health risks after Fukushima — “WHO and other organisations must stop hiding the impact”

March 2, 2013 Posted by | health, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Official data now estimates Chernobyl death toll at 1.5 million

Death toll estimate from Chernobyl now around 1.5 Million -Expert (VIDEO)
December 22nd, 2012 
 Title: Pr A.Yablokov and Pr C.Busby on Fukushima victim estimations 
Uploaded by: radioactivebsr
Date: April 6-8, 2011
Description: Interview by an unidentified Austrian radio reporter
h/t Nuclear_Problem

Prof. Alexey Yablokow, PhD, Centre for Russian Environmental Policy, N. K. Koltzoff Institute of Developmental Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences:

9,000 additional deaths from cancer, nothing more – This is official data from so called Chernobyl Forum, by International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization. [...]

And when I calculate this, of course it’s not precise. But level of death toll was more than 1 million. If you not only for 15 years, but for 25 years, maybe to close one and a half million – than 9,000 deaths which I mentioned before.

December 24, 2012 Posted by | health, Reference, Ukraine | 2 Comments


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