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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Small Nuclear Power – Not Cheap, Not Beautiful, Not Safe – Not even NEW!

text-relevantWhen it comes to Nuclear Power, Small Isn’t Beautiful, Nor Safe Nor Cheap Nor Even New. USNRC NuScale Comment Deadline Monday Night 31 August, One Minute to text-SMRsMidnight NY-DC Time 30 SundayAug 2015 by

NuScale Power, LLC, Design-Specific Review Standard and Safety Review Matrix“Docket Folder Summaryhttp://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2015-0160 (If you don’t like the questions answer a different question, as per the advice that an MIT Ph.D. gave their grad student, and MIT is big on nuclear, the head of the US DOE, Moniz, teaches there, so it should be ok for this!)

NuScale in 2003 when it belonged to the US Gov and was called “MULTI-APPLICATION, SMALL, LIGHT WATER REACTOR (MASLWR)” INEEL/EXT-04-01626

Greenpeace’s Justin McKeating made an excellent analysis of NuScale last year (see below our commentary).

However, he overlooked that the US DOE actually invented NuScale under the name of MASLWR. So, this is at least a second round of government funding. The US government dropped MASLWR and former DOE workers picked it up, probably after the patent expired, dubbing it NuScale. And, they are still feeding off the taxpayer pork barrel dole.[1][2] Plus, it’s NuScale Not! The nuclear industry only knows how to recycle the same old stuff.

There doesn’t appear to be much, if anything, new about NuScale. The only known immediate nuclear deaths from a nuclear accident, in the US, were from a mini-SL-1 reactor that made nuclear fallout in rural Idaho. [3] In 1968, in Lucens Switzerland, there was a mini-underground nuclear reactor, which had a major accident. Although smaller than NuScale, 100 Rem (1 Sievert; 1000 mSv) was measured in the reactor cavern, and it is ranked as a major nuclear accident. Radiation was measured in the nearby village; it continues to leak radiation from the cavern. From the beginning the Lucens Reactor was plagued by leaks in the underground cavern and corrosion issues due to its underground location. [4] NuScale too will suffer from additional corrosion and extra problems of hydrogen attack because it is part underground and stuck in water on all sides. Underground nuclear isn’t a magic fix, on the contrary.

NuScale is apparently not really passive either “Conduction through the vessel wall is by itself not a sufficient mechanism for heat removal in the present design. A circulation path is required to effectively remove the core decay heat. The sump makeup system is required.” [5] Furthermore, Italian researchers found that if if “SUMP valves are not operated and the ADS vent valves stuck open“, then there was a six hour “grace” period before CHF [Critical Heat Flux] “conditions are reached at top of the core. The dryout cannot be quenched. Primary system coolant released thorugh the HTC top valve outside the contaiment” [6]. Six hour grace period to meltdown-nuclear accident. So, these are neither passive, nor perfectly safe. And, they are proposing putting them in large groups, which makes one wonder what’s the point. A quick look online shows that NuScale has just submitted a laundry list of patents (July 2015) which, looking at the list alone, sound less original, than trying to patent a chicken sandwich, as someone recently did.

From Greenpeace:
When it comes to nuclear power, small isn’t beautiful. Or safe or cheap.
Blogpost by Justin McKeating – June 19, 2014 at 11:55
Not beautiful, safe or cheap: a message to the United States, where the Obama administration has pledged to waste money financing the Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

SMRs are supposed to be small and prefab – constructed from parts made in a central location and slapped together onsite like a cheap prefab home. Those parts can then be shipped out and built by staff who don’t necessarily have the skills to build larger, more complex reactors.

The trouble is, this is merely old nuclear technology in new clothes. So why is the US Department of Energy (DoE) is giving $217 million dollars over five years to NuScale, a SMR manufacturer.

 

Let’s note, with a weary shake of the head, that this is yet another public subsidy for the failing economics of nuclear power, and take a look why this is a bad investment of taxpayer dollars by the Obama administration.

Dr. Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, has published a paper titled, The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low-Carbon Electricity Future: Why Small Modular Reactors Are Part of the Problem, Not the Solution.

In his paper, Dr. Cooper finds SMRs won’t be cheaper and, more worryingly, manufacturers and supporters of the technology want to short-circuit safety regulations to get them built.
With the Fukushima disaster in its fourth year and no real solution to the ongoing problems and massive contamination in the foreseeable future, maybe now is not the time to talk about reducing nuclear safety, particularly with experimental, untested technology.

 

Dr Cooper adds SMRs will be more expensive than traditional nuclear technologies and that up to $90 billion dollars will be needed to make SMRs commercially viable. That’s a huge sum that will drag financing away from renewable power projects that are vital in the fight against climate change.

We’ve been here before: the story of the nuclear industry wasting billions is an old one…….. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/when-it-comes-to-nuclear-power-small-isnt-beautiful-nor-safe-nor-cheap-nor-even-new-usnrc-nuscale-comment-deadline-monday-night-31-august-one-minute-to-midnight-ny-dc-time/

 

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

A splurge of spin for NuScale’s Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

text-relevantNuScale hopes to change the conversation on nuclear power, Corvallis Gazette Times. 30 Thorium-snake-oilAug 15 “…….On Aug. 20 he was in Corvallis, speaking to more than 200 like-minded souls gathered for a fancy dinner in the main ballroom of Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center for an exposition on nuclear energy sponsored by NuScale Power, a local company working to develop what it hopes will be the first small modular reactor approved for use in the United States.

Over plates of steak and scallops, Shellenberger painted a picture of a golden future in which human nuke-paranoiasuffering and environmental degradation could be overcome with the aid of affordable, plentiful, carbon-free energy — if only we can get past what he called our irrational bias against nuclear power.
“Saving nature in the 21st century,” he said, “is going to require that we confront our fears.”

It was a theme that came up over and over again during NuEx, a two-day trade show and networking extravaganza that reinforced NuScale’s status as the frontrunner to win the first Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification for a small modular reactor or SMR, a next-generation technology touted as cheaper, safer and more flexible than traditional large-scale nuclear power plants.

Some 230 nuclear industry representatives, investment bankers, political operatives and journalists descended on Corvallis for the event, where they were wined and dined, heard market forecasts and inspirational speeches, toured NuScale facilities and discussed possible business deals with the up-and-coming company……… Continue reading

August 31, 2015 Posted by | marketing of nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignores Recommendation on Plans to Address a Core-Melt Accident

HYPOCRISY-NRC-NRC Rejects Recommendation to Require Nuclear Plant Owners to Establish Plans to Address a Core-Melt Accident, UCS, Washington (August 28, 2015)

Commissioners Ignore Lessons of Fukushima

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has rejected the recommendation of the high-level task force it convened after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster to require nuclear plant owners to develop and maintain plans for coping with a core-melt accident. This decision will allow nuclear plants to continue to maintain those plans voluntarily and deny the agency the authority to review those plans or issue citations if they are deficient.

“Once again, the NRC is ignoring a key lesson of the Fukushima accident: Emergency plans are not worth the paper they are printed on unless they are rigorously developed, maintained and periodically exercised,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “When it comes to these critical safety measures, the NRC is allowing the industry to regulate itself.”

In a decision posted on the NRC’s ADAMS website on August 27, NRC commissioners instructed agency staff to remove a provision of a proposed draft rule aimed at protecting plants from Fukushima-type accidents that would require nuclear plants to establish Severe Accident Management Guidelines, or SAMGs. The staff’s proposal was in response to Recommendation 8 of the NRC’s post-Fukushima staff recommendations, which questioned the effectiveness of NRC’s current practice of allowing plant owners to develop and maintain the SAMGs on a voluntary basis.  ……

Yesterday’s decision also removes a provision from the proposed draft rule that would require new reactors to have additional design features to protect against Fukushima-type accidents. By eliminating this requirement, Lyman said, the NRC is relinquishing the opportunity to ensure that new reactors built in the United States will have stronger protection measures than the current reactor fleet.  http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/NRC-Rejects-Requiring-Core-Melt-Plans-0522#.VeOCWSWqpHw

August 31, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s super costly new bomb could ignite anew arms race

bomb B61-12Inside the Most Expensive Nuclear Bomb Ever Made http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/07/nuclear-weapon-obama-most-expensive-ever

Could America’s latest atomic weapon ignite a new arms race?

—By  and 

September/October 2015 issue Engineers at the United States’ nuclear weapons lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico,have spent the past few years designing and testing the B61-12, a high-tech addition to our nation’s atomic arsenal. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 is a guided nuclear bomb. A new tail kit assembly, made by Boeing, enables the bomb to hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors.
Engineers at the United States’ nuclear weapons lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico,have spent the past few years designing and testing the B61-12, a high-tech addition to our nation’s atomic arsenal. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 is a guided nuclear bomb. A new tail kit assembly, made by Boeing, enables the bomb to hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors.

Using “Dial-a-yield” technology, the bomb’s explosive force can be adjusted before launch from a high of 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent to a low of 300 tons—that’s 98 percentsmaller than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima 70 years ago.

Despite these innovations, the government doesn’t consider the B61-12 to be a new weapon but simply an upgrade. In the past, Congress has rejected funding for similar weapons, reasoning that more accurate, less powerful bombs were more likely to be used. In 2010, the Obama administrationannounced that it would not make any nuclear weapons with new capabilities. The White House and Pentagon insist that the B61-12 won’t violate that pledge.

The B61-12 could be deployed by the new generation of F-35 fighter jets, a prospect that worries Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “If the Russians put out a guided nuclear bomb on a stealthy fighter that could sneak through air defenses, would that add to the perception here that they were lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons?” he asks. “Absolutely.”

So far, most of the criticism of B61-12 has focused on its price tag. Once full production commences in 2020, the program will cost more than $11 billion for about 400 to 480 bombs—more than double the original estimate, making it the most expensive nuclear bomb ever built.

This story comes from our friends at Reveal. Read more of their coverage of the B61-12 and national security.

Len Ackland is a former newspaper reporter and editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine. He is the author of Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West.

Burt Hubbard is the editorial director of I-News. His numerous awards include two prestigious Best of the West awards, a National Education Award for investigative reporting, and Reporter of the Year in Colorado.

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Call for USA Department of Energy accountability on Idaho’s radioactive trash importation

these contractors are doing work for the Department of Energy, a federal agency using taxpayer dollars. The federal government must be held accountable in Idaho at all times.

Idaho’s role in the national nuclear waste and research strategy deserves more scrutiny. The proposed fuel rods contain some of the most radioactive material on earth. The industry and government have not determined how to “safely” handle and store waste that has a half-life longer than any human civilization has existed. Perhaps, instead of raising alarmist notions that Idaho’s economy depends on begging for nuclear waste imports, the DOE could first finish what it started with the waste we already have.

radioactive trashIdahoans should demand accountability on nuclear waste. BY KELSEY JAE NUNEZ HTTP://WWW.IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM/2015/08/29/3961694/GUEST-OPINION-IDAHOANS-SHOULD.HTML August 29, 2015 The state of Idaho should stand tall while demanding that the Department of Energy honor its commitments to the people of Idaho.

While the Idaho National Laboratory may be an economic force in our state, the history of the site is plagued by the federal government’s irresponsible and shortsighted practices involving disposal of nuclear waste. These actions contaminated the air, the soil, and the Snake River Aquifer with radioactive materials that will remain hazardous until the end of fathomable time. Real people suffered. Decades of dumping and controversial plans to continue shipping nuclear waste from around the world into Idaho caused outrage among many of its citizens. Litigation led to the now-famous 1995 Settlement Agreement, which is hardly outdated — the deadlines have just recently starting to come due.

The 1995 Settlement Agreement represents a set of negotiated promises from the federal government to Idahoans — promises to clean up the nuclear waste it brought here, and promises to limit the importation of more. Enforcing the agreement is Idaho’s legal and moral obligation, and the people should not tolerate manipulative tactics and attempts to bully Idaho into abandoning it. Continue reading

August 31, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Michigan residents urged to submit comments on Canada’s nuclear waste dump plan – Congressman Dan Kildee –

Bruce NGS Great Lakes Lake HuronCongressman Dan Kildee Urges Michiganders to Submit Comments on Canadian Plan to Bury Nuclear Waste on the Shores of the Great Lakes August 19, 2015 Current 90-Day Comment Period ‘Critical Opportunity’ for Citizens to Have Voices Heard and Stop Plan, Kildee Says

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today announced a new community initiative today to protect the Great Lakes and encourage Michigan residents to get involved to stop a Canadian plan to bury nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.

Currently, Canada has opened a 90-day comment period seeking comments from both U.S. and Canadian citizens on the proposed plan. Today Congressman Kildee, joined by Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich and concerned citizens, announced a new write-in campaign to the Canadian Minister of the Environment to ensure that Michiganders’ voices are heard on this important issue that threatens our Great Lakes. Instructions on how to submit public comments are below.

“We must protect the Great Lakes from harm, including from the threat of Canadian nuclear waste,” Congressman Kildee said. “Burying nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn’t make sense and is too much of a risk to take, especially considering nuclear material remains radioactive for thousands of years. There is growing opposition to this plan, both in the U.S. and Canada, and now Michiganders have a chance to be heard and express their views too. I encourage all Michigan residents to speak up and submit comments to Canadian officials during this open comment period to demonstrate that Michigan stands united against this threat to our Great Lakes.”

Today’s announcement in Flint is the latest effort by Congressman Kildee in recent weeks to raise awareness about the potential Canadian plan and stop the burying of nuclear waste so close to the Great Lakes. Last week, along with Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Congressman Kildee announced new legislation to invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 and mandate that a new study be conducted to examine the proposal’s risks………

To date, 168 municipalities – in both the U.S. and Canada – have passed resolutions opposing the plan, including Flint, Mich., Bay County, Mich.; Toronto, Ontario; Chicago, Ill.; Wayne County, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wisc.; Essex County, Ontario; and Rochester County, New York. The Michigan State Senate also has passed a resolution opposing the Canadian nuclear waste storage site.

To submit their comments, Michigan residents must write to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency by September 1, 2015. Comments can be submitted by mail or email.

Anyone who would like to submit comments by mail should send them to: Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency; 22nd Floor, 160 Elgin Street, Ottawa ON K1A 0H3

Anyone who would like to submit comments by email should send them to:ceaa.conditions.acee@ceaa-acee.gc.ca   http://dankildee.house.gov/congressman-dan-kildee-urges-michiganders-to-submit-comments-on-canadian-plan-to-bury-nuclear-waste-on-the-shores-of-the-great-lakes/

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Canada, politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Many baby seals dying of leukemia-linked disorder along California coast

Many baby seals dying of leukemia-linked disorder along California coast — Blamed for over 1/3 of recent deaths at San Francisco Bay rescue center

Of the 46 recently weaned northern elephant seals deaths reported by the San Francisco Bay Area’s Marine Mammal Center between April 20 and August 1 of this year, Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation was listed as a cause of death in 16 — over 1/3 of the total.

U.S. National Library of Medicine (emphasis added): Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become over active… Risk factors for DIC include: Blood transfusion reaction; Cancer, especially certain types of leukemia

DIC “is a pathological process characterized by the widespread activation of the clotting cascade that results in the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels throughout the body… and can ultimately lead to multiple organ damage… severe bleeding can occur from various sites. DIC does not occur by itself but only as a complicating factor from another underlying condition, usually in those with a critical illness… DIC can lead to multiorgan failure and widespread bleeding… Causes — DIC can occur in the following conditions: Solid tumors and blood cancers (particularly acute promyelocytic leukemia)… Sepsis or severe infection… Severe allergic or toxic reactions… Giant hemangiomas (Kasabach-Merritt syndrome) [and] Large aortic aneurysms.”

Acute promyelocytic leukemia is a subtype of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a cancer of the white blood cells. According to Wikipedia, “ionizing radiation exposure can increase the risk of AML. Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had an increased rate of AML, as did radiologists exposed to high levels of X-rays”

Journal of Intensive Care, 2014: Disseminated intravascular coagulation… with enhanced fibrinolysis is a DIC type usually seen in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)… The Scientific Standards Committee… defines DIC as ‘an acquired syndrome [that] can originate from and cause damage to the microvasculature, which if sufficiently severe, can produce organ dysfunction’… problems exist with this definition in terms of not taking into account the type of DIC often seen in acute leukemias (especially acute promyelocytic leukemia)

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 2013: A causal association with leukemia has only been documented to date for ionizing radiation, benzene and treatment with cytostatic drugs… A large number of studies included in the review referred to the effects of ionizing radiation, where new data suggest that the effects of exposure to small doses of ionizing radiation should probably be reevaluated… An update of [the Life Span Study (LSS) of A-Bomb survivors] has shown that exposure to ionizing radiation at doses as low as those usually recorded in occupational settings, leukemia incidence follows a quadratic dose response pattern… Moreover, there is uncertainty on whether the proposed safety limits from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) are appropriate, since revised LSS data show that the risk of leukemia remains increased even in groups with low cumulative exposure to radiation

Physics and Radiobiology of Nuclear Medicine (Springer), Jun 29, 2013: Leukemia is one of the most common cancers induced by radiation in humans, accounting for one in five mortalities from radiocarcinogenesis. Risk of leukemia varies with age, with younger persons being more prone to radiocarcinogenesis… Leukemia appears in as early as 2 to 3 years after the exposure, with an average latent period of 5 to 10 years.

Source: Enenews

http://enenews.com/many-seals-dying-leukemia-linked-disorder-along-california-coast-13-recent-deaths-san-francisco-bay-animal-research-hospital-caused-disseminated-intravascular-coagulation-chart?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

August 29, 2015 Posted by | USA | , | Leave a comment

Catholic hopes for Pope Francis to take nuclear disarmament message to USA Congress

Pope & St FrancisGroup hopes Francis will take issue of eliminating nuclear weapons to Congress, National Catholic Reporter, Thomas C. Fox  |  Aug. 28, 2015  Ira Helfand hopes Pope Francis will call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons when he addresses Congress in September and Helfand has reason for cautious optimism.

The Springfield, Mass., physician is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. It was awarded a Nobel Peace prize in 1985 “for spreading authoritative information and raising awareness of the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war.”

Helfand has worked for years to raise consciousness regarding the devastating humanitarian impact of nuclear war. In this context, he and John Pastore, a Boston cardiologist, sat down with Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley in June to share details of recent studies that show even a limited nuclear exchange would lead to the starvation of some 2 billion people. By far, the greatest impact of such a nuclear exchange would be on the poorest people of the planet. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Dr Ian Fairlie on US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation on radiation standards

highly-recommendedUS Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation. Dr Ian Fairlie Consultant on Radioactivity in the Environment LONDON United Kingdom www.ianfairlie.org, 28 Aug 15, 

Fairlea, Ian

Introduction On June 26 2015, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) stated it was seeking public comments by September 8, on petitions stating that the Linear No Threshold theory of radiation’s effects was not a valid basis for setting radiation standards and that the hormesis model should be used instead.

In more detail, the NRC has received three petitions for rulemaking requesting that the NRC amend its “Standards for Protection Against Radiation” regulations and change the basis of those regulations from the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model of radiation protection to the hormesis model. (See the Appendix for details of the petitions.) The LNT model assumes that biological damage from radiation is linearly related to exposure and is always harmful, ie without a threshold.

The hormesis model assumes that exposures to low radiation levels is beneficial and protects the human body against deleterious effects of high levels of radiation. The NRC has stated it is examining these petitions to determine whether they should be considered in rulemaking and is requesting public comments.

US environmental groups are concerned that, if the NRC agreed with the petitions, it would introduce rules to weaken radiation protection standards at US nuclear facilities. On the other hand, according to two NRC staffers (Brock and Sherbini, 2012), the NRC apparently pays attention to the evidence on risks of low levels of radiation………

No evidence below 100 mSv? It is necessary at this point to directly address the argument often raised by hormesis advocates – that there is little evidence of effects below 100 mSv.

This is incorrect.Older evidence exists -see http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/a-100-msv-threshold-forradiation-effects/for a list of studies and the newer evidence, as we have just seen, clearly shows this fact as well. B. Radiobiological Evidence Current radiobiological theory is consistent with a linear dose-response relationship down to low doses (ie below ~10 mSv). The radiobiological rationale for linearity comes from the stochastic nature of energy deposition of ionising radiation. It was explained by 15 of the world’s most eminent radiation biologists and epidemiologists in a famous article (Brenner et al, 2003) as follows: “1. Direct epidemiological evidence demonstrates that an organ dose of 10 mGy of diagnostic x-rays is associated with an increase in cancer risk………..

The Importance of LNT in Radiation Protection Regardless of dissenting views on LNT, the reality is that most concepts used in radiation protection today are fundamentally based on the LNT theory. For example, LNT underpins the concepts of absorbed dose, effective dose, committed dose, and the use of dose coefficients (ie Sv per Bq of a radionuclide). It also allows radiation doses (i) to be averaged within an organ or tissue, (ii) to be added from different organs, and (iii) to be added over time.

LNT also permits annual dose limits; optimization -ie comparison of practices; radiation risk assessment at low and very low doses; individual dosimetry with passive detectors; collective dose, and dose registers over long periods of time. 9 In fact, the LNT underpins all legal regulations in radiation protection in the US and in the rest of the world.

Indeed, if the LNT were not used, it’s hard to imagine our current radiation protection systems existing at all. However this statement should not be misconstrued to mean that the LNT is used just because it’s convenient: the LNT is used because the scientific evidence for it is comprehensive, cogent and compelling……..

 

Conclusions

(i) the debate The validity or otherwise of LNT and hormesis have been the subject of hundreds of scientific articles and debates over several decades. Unfortunately, much of the literature on hormesis or adaptive response is based on faulty science or on misconceptions, or on misinterpretations, or on all three.

HormesisThis is particularly the case with several US and UK journalists who write with confidence on how radiation risks are exaggerated. Their knowledge and experience of radiogenic risks are limited to say the least, but these journalists, almost on a weekly basis, misinform and mislead the public about radiation risks, so the existence of the US petitions is perhaps unsurprising.

However real scientists are increasingly standing up and opposing the poor science used by hormesis advocates. Very recently, four Swiss scientists from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern; the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel and the University of Basel published a study which revealed that exposure to high rates of background radiation resulted in increased cancer risks to children (Spycher et al, 2015). http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1408548/

In reply, 17 scientists (Siegel et al, 2015) mostly from the US, some of whom were members of a hormesis pressure group “Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information” objected to these findings. They alleged that the government would have to evacuate children living in higher radiation areas and relocate them to lower radiation areas. They stated that studies like this should not be taken seriously without public health policy implications being examined. (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1510111/)
The Swiss scientists in turn responded (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1510111R/) that the proposed evacuation was “nonsensical” in view of the very low numbers involved. In a spirited rejoinder, they refuted the poor science cited and added that “the Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information a priori exclude the possibility that low-dose radiation could increase the risk of cancer. They will therefore not accept studies that challenge their foregone conclusion”.
(ii) the petitions After briefly examining the three US petitions, my conclusion is that they do not merit serious consideration. It seems that the petitioners, who may or may not have axes to grind about radiation risks, have seized on the possible phenomenon of hormesis 11 to make ill-considered claims that radiation is protective or even good for you.

In other words, the petitions appear to be based on preconceptions, or even ideology, rather than the scientific evidence which points in the opposite direction. The petitions should not be used by the NRC to justify weakening regulatory standards at US nuclear facilities. A question remains whether the NRC should have accepted the petitions for review. Presumably the NRC has discretion not to review or to refer back spurious, mischievous, or ill-founded petitions.

 The NRC should seek guidance from the five US scientific agencies and Government departments mentioned above whose scientists have published evidence on the matter. Credits. Thanks to Dr Jan Beyea, Cindy Folkers, Dr Alfred Körblein, Xavier Rabilloud, Dr Marvin Reznikoff and Dr Gordon Thompson for comments on drafts. Any errors are my responsibility. References…….. http://www.ianfairlie.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/US-NRC-Consultation-4-1.pdf  (NRC):

 

August 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Has SNC-Lavalin fouled up again? Literally

bad-smell-nukeflag-canadaRaw sewage backups at MUHC superhospital test relations with SNC-Lavalin AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE August 26, 2015 ,Black sewer water that “smells worse than rotten fish” is backing up drains and pooling in patient bathrooms at the new Montreal Children’s Hospital, angering staff who say the problem is widespread and keeps popping up despite the fact that plumbers are called in regularly to snake the drains.

The plumbing problems are the latest in a series of glitches — as many as 14,000 — that continue to plague the $1.3-billion superhospital of the McGill University Health Centre, and are sorely testing relations between the MUHC and design-build contractor SNC-Lavalin.

The superhospital was built as a public-private partnership, with the Quebec engineering firm acting as the lead partner in a private consortium that is the landlord of the property. Unlike the Old Montreal Children’s where the MUHC could do what it wanted with the building as the sole owner, SNC-Lavalin is responsible for maintaining the superhospital and fixing plumbing, electrical and other problems.

But the MUHC has been at loggerheads with SNC-Lavalin over a wide range of “deficiencies” — from faulty wiring to leaking ceilings — since before the superhospital opened at the Glen site in the spring. The public-private partnership was supposed to transfer the risk of any cost overruns from the public sector to the private partner, but SNC-Lavalin is nonetheless seeking more than $172 million in “extras” from the MUHC over the construction……..
SNC-Lavalin won the contract in 2010 to build the MUHC superhospital after a competition with a Spanish-led consortium. Former SNC-Lavalin executives now face criminal charges alleging that they made $22.5 million in bribes to former MUHC officials to win the contract. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/raw-sewage-backups-at-muhc-superhospital-test-relations-with-snc-lavalin?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Three Mile Island nuclear plant could be headed for premature closure.

radiation-sign-sadFlag-USAThree Mile Island nuclear plant being considered for closure? Lancaster online, AD CRABLE | Staff Writer, 26 Aug 15,  Could the Three Mile Island nuclear plant be headed for premature closure? Last week, no one bought a year’s worth of TMI’s electricity at a key energy-buying auction held by PJM, the regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of power in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The PJM Capacity Auction is not the only place TMI owner Exelon can sell the plant’s electricity, but it’s a key and profitable one. The results have led to speculation that Exelon may be considering closing TMI as it is considering doing at three of its nuclear plants in Illinois.

Asked if the plant was in a troubled financial situation, Ralph DeSantis, Exelon’s spokesman at TMI, issued this statement: “The fact that TMI did not clear the 2018-2019 auction makes it clear the plant’s economics are challenged……..

In Illinois, Exelon has threatened to close as many as three of its money-losing nuclear plants because of competition from natural gas and subsidized wind energy. Two of those three plants are in the PJM, as is TMI, and neither of the Illinois plants were competititive enough to sell electricity in the last auction in May 2014.

Exelon has sought support from Illinois legislators and one bill being considered would require the state’s utilities to buy 70 percent of their power from “low carbon” sources such as that generated by nuclear plants. The utilities could offset that cost by charging ratepayers with a surcharge of up to 2 percent.

Eric Epstein of the clean-energy group Three Mile Island Alert had this to say about TMI’s shutout at the capacity auction: “Single reactor sites like TMI are more vulnerable to closure since they are unprofitable and require  government and ratepayer subsidies.

“Several developments this summer have weakened the nuclear industry and wrought havoc on Exelon’s corporate fortunes: EPA devalued nuclear’s role in combating carbon emissions, three Exleon plants, including TMI, did not clear PJM capacity auctions, and the DC Public Service Commission nixed the Exelon-Pepco merger.

“TMI’s shuttering creates long-term problems for the local community, and will intensify the shortfall in cleanup funding, and postpone the storage of high-level radioactive waste from spent fuel pools to dry casks.

 “It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Three Mile Island does not become a permanent nuclear garbage site in the middle of the Susquehanna River.”…….

owners of nuclear plants are hoping that the President Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut back on sources of carbon dioxide, such as coal plants, will raise the value of nuclear plants.

Says DeSantis, “Exelon is continuing its ongoing work to educate policymakers and others about the fact that markets are failing to properly value nuclear power’s environmental and reliability benefits and the need to find solutions that will correct that.”In 2009, Exelon received a license extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue operating TMI until 2034.

Exelon is the nation’s largest owner and operator of nuclear plants, with 22 reactors in 13 locations, including TMI and the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County…. http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/three-mile-island-nuclear-plant-being-considered-for-closure/article_b421e660-4c23-11e5-9906-57636793d31b.html

 

August 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Money running low for uranium cleanup in Ohio

Mass layoff possible in Portsmouth uranium cleanup, Columbus Dispatch,  By Kantele Franko ASSOCIATED PRESS  •  Friday August 28, 2015 Workers decontaminating and decommissioning a Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio are again being notified about hundreds of potential layoffs because of an anticipated funding gap, a reprise of warnings they heard a year ago for the same reason…….

Those layoffs could occur around Oct. 22, but the project’s director and other leaders remain hopeful they’ll get funding needed to continue their current pace, which costs roughly $387 million annually, Wagner said.

Hundreds of layoffs were averted last year because Congress approved extra funding. This time, the situation is a bit different.

About 70 percent of the project’s funding comes from a program in which the government sells uranium, but the amount that can be bartered has been reduced for 2016, so project officials must hope the balance is made up through appropriations, Wagner said……..

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said lawmakers will once again have to scramble to find funding. As he has repeatedly, the Ohio Republican called for adequate annual funding in the federal budget for the cleanup.

“It’s actually less expensive to the taxpayer over time to start moving to actual cleanup rather than almost maintaining the site, which is about all you can do with the low levels of funding,” Portman said Thursday in Columbus. “It may seem like it’s more money up front, but it’s actually billions of dollars less money over time — billions because they’re now pushing the cleanup really out to the 2050s.” http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/08/28/mass-layoff-possible-in-uranium-cleanup.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Uncertainty over future costs of Vogtle Nuclear Station

nukes-hungryBudget on Georgia nuclear plant level, uncertainty remains, WT,  By RAY HENRY – Associated Press – Friday, August 28, 2015 ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Power reported Friday the cost to build a nuclear plant was holding steady, but there’s significant uncertainty whether those numbers will stick.

The Southern Co. subsidiary owns a 46 percent stake in two new reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta. The utility now expects to spend roughly $7.5 billion to finish the project, or about 22 percent more than originally expected. The budget released Friday declined slightly from the company’s last financial filing in February. If they hold, the level spending figures would be welcome news for investors and customers. By law, Georgia Power’s customers will ultimately pay for construction costs unless state regulators object and force losses onto shareholders. However, project watchdogs say multiple problems could still raise costs.

The nuclear plants under construction in Georgia and South Carolina were approved before natural gas prices plummeted. As it became cheaper to build gas-fired plants, major power companies scrubbed plans to build nuclear reactors nationwide. If it wants to grow, the nuclear industry must prove it can build without the construction delays and cost overruns common years ago.

So far, the proof is lacking. The companies designing and building the plant, Westinghouse Electric Co. and Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., announced a new construction schedule this year that pushed back the completion of the first reactor in Georgia to June 2019, followed by the second reactor a year later. That means the construction effort is now running about three years behind schedule.

Even that latest schedule has slipped by three months……..Utilities in South Carolina building an identical nuclear plant have run into similar delays and cost overruns. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. reported this month that its share of costs had increased by roughly $1.1 billion. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/28/budget-on-georgia-nuclear-plant-level-uncertainty-/

August 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Koch brothers undermining Renewable Energy in Kansas – emails reveal.

he Koch political network has carefully singled out renewable energy while working to preserve government support for fossil fuels. Groups founded and funded by the Koch political network regard repealing oil and gas subsidies as a “tax hike” while deriding renewable energy subsidies as “a textbook case of corporate welfare.” Moreover, Koch’s lobbying campaign to distort climate science and prevent government action on greenhouse gas emissions transfers costs from the company, a major polluter, to the public.

Emails Show Koch Industries Backed Effort to Undermine Renewable Energy in Kansas Lee Fang https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/08/28/emails-show-koch-industries-backed-effort-undermine-renewable-energy-kansas/
Aug. 28 2015  Emails and financial documents released by the University of Kansas on Thursday reveal earmarked funding from Koch Industries to develop research used to lobby against the state renewable energy standard.

On November 12, 2013, Art Hall, the director of the university’s Center for Applied Economics, emailed Koch Industries’ Laura Hands to discuss a grant from a Koch-controlled foundation to fund research on the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Hall is the former chief economist for Koch Companies Public Sector, the lobbying subsidiary of Koch Industries, the largest privately owned company in America with a significant stake in oil refining, pipelines, gas production and coal. Hands is the current community affairs director at Koch Companies Public Sector.

The Koch money was part of an ongoing project Hall described as an effort to develop “intellectual products” to be used “as a tool in economic policy debates.” Hall’s center also provides special classes to teach about the virtues of capitalism. Koch-controlled foundations approved $40,000 for work that included the renewable energy standard, as well as at least $250,000 to the center in 2008 and $100,000 to the center in 2009.

Following his grant request, Hall testified before the Kansas legislature in 2014 in favor of repealing the state renewable energy portfolio, which calls for major utility companies to use an increasing ratio of renewable energy such as wind and solar.

The emails and financial documents were released in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request filed by KU student Schuyler Kraus, the president of Students for a Sustainable Future.

Hall also helped craft unprecedented tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and backed by Koch’s local political network. The tax cuts have been viewed roundly as a historic flop, resulting in a downgrade of the state bond rating and drastic education cuts that forced public schools to close early this year. Critics argue that the tax cut and ensuing budget chaos may have hurt employment as bordering states such as Missouri are quicklyoutpacing Kansas on job growth.

President Barack Obama recently criticized Koch Industries owners Charles and David Koch, scolding the billionaires for “pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards.” In response, Charles Koch said he is opposed to “crony capitalism” in all forms.

Though the Koch Industries chief executive has said that he opposes corporate subsidies or mandates of any kind, the Koch political network has carefully singled out renewable energy while working to preserve government support for fossil fuels. Groups founded and funded by the Koch political network regard repealing oil and gas subsidies as a “tax hike” while deriding renewable energy subsidies as “a textbook case of corporate welfare.” Moreover, Koch’s lobbying campaign to distort climate science and prevent government action on greenhouse gas emissions transfers costs from the company, a major polluter, to the public.    CONTACT THE AUTHOR:    Lee Fang✉lee.fang@​theintercept.comt@lhfang

August 29, 2015 Posted by | renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium mining’s threat to Grand Canyon’s groundwater

Claims that uranium mining near the Grand Canyon is safe don’t hold water, Guardian, David Kreamer, 25 Aug 15  Science shows we can’t assume that uranium deposits, when disturbed by mining, can’t leak into groundwater. We should be wary of claims to the contrary It only takes a few Grand Canyon hikes to realize the importance of its springs and other water sources. When refilling a water bottle in the cool depths below multi-colored rock walls, listening to a summer frog symphony at sunset or maybe snapping an icicle from a weeping ledge in winter, it’s clear that the living desert depends on its pockets of water.

grand-canyon

That’s why, as a hydrologist and longtime Grand Canyon hiker, boatman and scientist, I am profoundly concerned about continued uranium mining in or near it. It has great potential to irreparably harm Grand Canyon springs and the plants and animals that depend on them.

I am concerned because industry and agency officials are relying on a justification that isn’t supported by past investigations, research or data to promote uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region. Specifically, they claim that mining will have minimal impact on springs, people and ecosystems there.

Instead, the science shows that it is unreasonable to assume that uranium deposits, when disturbed by mining, can’t leak into groundwater. The deposits in the Grand Canyon are typically found in geologic features known as breccia pipes, formed millennia ago when caves in the main groundwater system collapsed, leaving shattered, rock-filled chimneys that extend upwards thousands of feet to the canyon’s rim. These chimneys act as conduits that have allowed groundwater to move vertically through the rock layers over thousands of years. The vertical movement of groundwater combined with low oxygen levels caused the uranium deposits to form over millennia. Inserting a mine shaft into these features disrupts geologic formations, increases the permeability and oxygenation of these vertical pipes and increases the ability of ore deposits to be suddenly dissolved, mobilized and carried with groundwater.

It is unreasonable to assume that elevated concentrations of dissolved uranium cannot be mobilized and will not reach the Grand Canyon’s springs. It is also risky for industry to assume that mining activities, such as the sinking of mining shafts and pumping of groundwater, have no potential to redirect groundwater movement and negatively impact spring flow and associated wildlife habitats……..

Some mining representatives have implied that the cosmetic fix of cleaning up the surface of old mining sites is evidence of zero subsurface pollution. But because groundwater flow can be very slow, the effects of groundwater contamination may take years, decades or even centuries to fully manifest. The lack of clear and consistent groundwater monitoring undercuts industry claims that mining near the Grand Canyon has caused and will cause no harm……….http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/25/uranium-mining-grand-canyon-groundwater-contamination

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment

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