nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

New nuclear power essentially connected to nuclear weapons – theme for May 2017

The “new nuclear” lobby spruiks Generation IV nuclear reactors as helping prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There are two reasons why the development of Generation IV nuclear reactors promotes nuclear proliferation.

  1. Every new nuclear reactor, of whatever kind, brings the risk of being used for nuclear weapons.
  2. The nuclear weapons industry badly needs a new “nuclear renaissance” for the continuing research, training education of nuclear experts.

This week, I’ll outline that first reason.

All nuclear power concepts, including Gen IVs, connect to  to the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)  For example, Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) would breed their own fuel (plutonium-239) from uranium-238 from depleted uranium. Theoretically, the process would make it very difficult or impossible to use the plutonium directly in nuclear weapons. But a special cycle could be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Thorium fuelled reactors could also be used to irradiate uranium to produce weapon grade plutonium. The Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) or plutonium, used to start the thorium reactor, could be diverted for weapons production.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)  retain all the risks associated with supplying, maintaining, safeguarding, and dismantling large nuclear reactors, including weapons risks,  – only now those risks would be multiplied and decentralised. Although proponents of small reactors argue that stealing fissile material from the reactors is near impossible (via features such as a sealed core and the ability to bury the core underground), the risk is still higher than that of a large reactor. In addition, the smaller facilities required (e.g. containment structures) mean that attacks intending to destroy plants and spread nuclear waste may be more of a danger.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

At UK’s Sizewell nuclear power stations, armed soldiers replace nuclear police

Military replaces nuclear police at Sizewell in Operation Temperer response to Manchester terrorist bombing  East Anglian Daily Times , 24 May 2017 

Armed soldiers are at Sizewell nuclear power stations in Suffolk as part of the security response to Monday’s terrorist bombing in Manchester. The military presence is part of the Government’s Operation Temperer providing up to 3,800 troops to support police in their security operations, following the attack at Manchester Arena, which left 22 people dead.

A spokesman for EDF Energy, which operates Sizewell, moved to reassure people that the threat level was unchanged on site, where there is always an armed presence. The soldiers are replacing armed officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), who had been redeployed as part of Operation Temperer.

The CNC said it had provided a number authorised firearms officers to support colleagues in Home Office forces.

“Our civil nuclear sites remain fully protected and the CNC will continue to carry out their core role of protecting nuclear sites and materials, while also being part of the strategic reserve supporting communities across the country,” a spokesman added.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday the terrorism threat was “critical” – the highest alert level – meaning an attack may be imminent. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said 984 military personnel were being deployed in support of the police……http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/armed-soldiers-at-sizewell-as-part-of-operation-temperer-response-to-manchester-terrorist-bombing-1-5033142

May 26, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Consternation at the Pentagon: Trump divulged nuclear submarine information to Philippines President

The Pentagon Can’t Believe Trump Told Another President About Nuclear Subs Near North Korea
“We never talk about subs!” three defense officials told BuzzFeed News after a transcript of a call between President Trump and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was published.
 BuzzFeeed News,  May 25, 2017,Nancy A. Youssef BuzzFeed News World Reporter Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart revealed that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump’s budget cuts would make UN peacekeeping ‘impossible’

BBC News  24 May 2017  The United Nations has warned that President Donald Trump’s plans to cut contributions to peacekeeping will make such work “impossible”.

The US administration signalled heavy cuts to UN operations, in its budget proposals released on Tuesday. The US foots more than a quarter of the UN’s $7.9bn (£6.1bn) peacekeeping bill.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the organisation was willing to discuss how peacekeeping could be made more cost-effective.

Mr Trump’s budget proposal declares new “attention on the appropriate US share of international spending at the United Nations”.

The document does not provide a detailed breakdown, but Reuters news agency reports the drop in funding for the operations could amount to $1bn.

The spokesman said the UN was studying Mr Trump’s plan. “The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the UN to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance,” he said.

The BBC’s Nick Bryant at the UN says such a warning from the organisation is unusually blunt……http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40035837

May 26, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A predictable nuclear accident at Hanford

A predictable nuclear accident at Hanford http://thebulletin.org/predictable-nuclear-accident-hanford10774, Hugh Gusterson, May 17 Last week’s accident at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation should have come as no surprise.

On May 9, workers discovered a 20-foot-diameter hole where the roof had collapsed on a makeshift nuclear waste site: a tunnel, sealed in 1965, encasing old railroad cars and equipment contaminated with radiation through years of plutonium processing. Potential radiation levels were high enough that some workers were told to shelter in place while others donned respirators and protective suits as they repaired the hole.

The Hanford complex, which dates back to 1943, produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Half the size of Rhode Island, it is often described as the most contaminated place in the United States. Until its last reactor closed in 1987, it churned out plutonium for the roughly 70,000 nuclear weapons the United States built during the Cold War. As the historian Kate Brown documents in her book Plutopia, which explores the uncanny similarities between Hanford and its Soviet counterpart Ozersk, Hanford has been a slow-motion environmental disaster since its opening, constantly excreting radioactive contaminants into the air and water.

More dangerous than the tunnels are the giant tanks of liquid nuclear waste: 177 of them containing 56 million gallons of radioactive soup whose composition is only approximately known. The contents of some have to be stirred periodically to prevent the formation of hydrogen bubbles that would cause the tanks to explode. One million gallons of this witches’ brew have already leaked into the groundwater from tanks that were built to last only 20 years. The US government projects that it will cost more than $107 billion to clean up the site, with remediation finished by 2060. Few knowledgeable people put much credence in either number. Continue reading

May 26, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

In Greenland, abandoned nuclear base could be unearthed by global warming

Climate Change Could Uncover An Abandoned Arctic Nuclear Base, HuffPost Canada  |  By Sarah Rieger, 05/25/2017

Climate change is causing record levels of ice to disappear from the Arctic, and the melt is unearthing something that was supposed to stay buried for centuries — an abandoned U.S. nuclear base.

The US army’s top secret arctic city Under the Ice! “Camp Century” Restored Classified Film 

Camp Century was built in Greenland in 1959 during the peak of the Cold War. The subterranean base held between 85 and 200 soldiers year-round. The base was built under the pretense that it would be a centre for scientific experiments on the icecap and a space to test construction techniques in Arctic conditions.

The base was really part of “Project Iceworm,” a top secret U.S. army program that intended to build a network of missile launch sites under the ice sheet.

The camp was essentially a small town under the ice. When abandoned in 1967, the trenches and buildings — including houses, a town store and even a hospital — were left behind, too.

The engineers stationed there also abandoned a nuclear generator that was “minimally” decommissioned, as they assumed it would be “‘preserved for eternity‘ by perpetual snowfall,” according to a 2016 study by Geophysical Research Letters. Other than the nuclear reaction chamber, all of the infrastructure and nuclear waste at the site was left intact.

The researchers weren’t totally off-base with their belief that the site wouldn’t melt. The camp was established on what’s known as the “dry snow zone” of the Greenland ice sheet, where almost no surface melting was known to occur at the time.

According to NASA’s Earth Science Communications Team, geoscientists in the ’60s believed that the climate could only change on a large timescale, over thousands of years. It wasn’t until 1979 that it was proven that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would result in significant negative changes to the earth’s climate.

Climate change is hitting the Arctic hard. Surface ice melt in Northern Canada grew by 900 per cent between 2005 and 2015, a recent study found, and melting glaciers have begun to release pollutants like DDT and PCBs into the environment.

If the ice melts at Camp Century, it will release an abundance of PCBs as well as other physical, chemical, biological and radiological wastes (including thousands of barrels of diesel) that could eventually be swept to Canada through the same Arctic currents that bring spectacular icebergs to Newfoundland’s coast every year……..http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/05/23/climate-change-arctic_n_16792324.html

May 26, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, wastes | Leave a comment

Trump’s new budget would slash spending on cleaning up Hanford

Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Budget Slashed in Energy Proposal, Bloomberg Business,  By Chuck McCutcheon, 25 May 17  Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, scene of a recent collapse of a tunnel containing nuclear waste, would see its funding slashed under President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal…..

Trump’s budget blueprint calls for reducing cleanup at Hanford from $921 million to $716 million, a 22 percent reduction. That comes as the budget proposes to boost overall departmental defense-related environmental cleanup of materials from $5.28 billion to $5.54 billion.

Hanford Cleanup Needed

Washington state’s congressional delegation, including Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, long have pressed various administrations to commit to cleaning up Hanford. The site in eastern Washington has milllons of gallons of highly radioactive wastes stored in 177 aging underground tanks, some of which have leaked.

“Previous administrations and Congress have repeatedly supported the legal and moral obligation of the federal government to clean up the Hanford site, and we urge you to continue this important work to protect health and safety,” the two senators and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) said in a May 19 letter to Perry.

The Hanford tunnel, containing radioactive wastes that were byproducts of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, partially collapsed on May 9, prompting nearby workers to evacuate. A worker’s clothing also was exposed to radioactive contamination in what Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) called an “alarming incident.”…. https://www.bna.com/hanford-nuclear-cleanup-n73014451452/

May 26, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

A Pox on the Mox – Trump budget to stop Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility

Platts 23rd May 2017  The Trump administration is proposing to end construction of a facility deigned to convert 34 mt of plutonium from surplus nuclear weapons to nuclear reactor fuel, concluding it would “be irresponsible to pursue this approach when a more cost-effective alternative exists.”

The administration, which Tuesday unveiled its proposed fiscal 2018 budget, said it will direct CB&I Areva MOX Services to develop a plan “as soon as practical,” to halt construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and securely shut the facility by late 2018.

The 2018 fiscal year starts October 1. Congress must authorize and appropriate fiscal 2018 spending and the president must sign the budget bill. The $340 million that Congress appropriated in an omnibus budget resolution for fiscal 2017 was earmarked primarily for the installation of ductwork and to seal openings in the facility used during
construction.

The fiscal 2018 proposal states appropriations for the MOX project after this fiscal year are “to be determined,” with no dollar amount specified. A justification for terminating the MOX project that the US Department of Energy provided Tuesday noted that the facility’s $4.8 billion cost projected in 2007, with a startup date of 2015, had ballooned
to $17.2 billion by 2016, with 2048 the earliest date, by which mix-oxide fuel could be produced. DOE now estimates the completion cost at up to $26 billion.

DOE noted that analysis it and “external independent analyses” have conducted “have consistently concluded that the MOX approach to plutonium disposition is significantly costlier and would require a much higher annual budget than an alternate disposition method, ‘Dilute and Dispose.'”  https://www.platts.com/latest-news

May 26, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby in a bit of a panic – urging for ‘aggressive’ propaganda spin

Korsnick calls for concerted nuclear advocacy effort, World Nuclear News 24 May 2017

The US nuclear energy industry must work together to strengthen existing relationships and build new coalitions among supporters of nuclear energy’s different attributes, according to Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) president and CEO Maria Korsnick….

Korsnick said the industry has developed the National Nuclear Energy Strategy to communicate nuclear energy’s benefits “more aggressively, more widely and more consistently than we ever have before”. The industry has “stepped up our advocacy efforts not just a notch or two, but by a great margin”, she said……..

“this remains a time of great stress for the nuclear energy industry”, she said, stressing that the industry must ensure nuclear energy remains part of the conversation on clean energy.

“Like me, you know exactly which aspects of this fascinating field have kept you a passionate believer in its promise for the future,” she said. “What I’d like you to do is go out and spread the passion in the ways you know best.”  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Korsnick-calls-for-concerted-nuclear-advocacy-effort-2405175.html

May 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Three Mile Island nuclear station – unprofitable for past 5 years, close to shutting down

Nuclear Reactor Involved In US History’s Worst Meltdown At Risk Of Shutting Down, Daily Caller ,ANDREW FOLLETT, Energy and Science Reporter, 24 May 17  THE PENNSYLVANIA POWER PLANT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LARGEST NUCLEAR MELTDOWN IN U.S. HISTORY FACES EARLY RETIREMENT, ACCORDING TO NUCLEAR INDUSTRY OFFICIALS.

Exelon Corporation announced Wednesday that it would have trouble selling electricity generated by the Three Mile Island (TMI) and Quad Cities nuclear power plants in 2020. Exelon didn’t sell any of the stations’ power during advanced auction in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

Exelon’s other nuclear plants in the region were able to sell their power for the 2020-2021 planning year, but the company says TMI hasn’t been profitable for five years — the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in the 1970s.

“The failure of the TMI plant, in particular, to clear the PJM capacity auction is the latest data point that all is not well with the U.S. electricity marketplace and that nuclear energy plants are at risk for premature closure if the current market is not reformed and innovated,” David Blee, executive director of the Nuclear Infrastructure Council, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In March 1979, TMI’s number 2 reactor partially melted down, causing the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear operating history. The event spurred environmentalist campaigns to prevent other nuclear power plants from being built, and has tarnished the industry’s reputation ever since….

…..TMI’s possible closure is not an isolated incident. About half of U.S. nuclear reactors are at risk of closing early…In the past two years, six states have shut down nuclear plants, and “dozens” of other plants across the U.S. are facing challenging economic conditions, placing them at risk of imminent retirement. Decommissioning reactors can cost up to $1.5 billion and take up to 60 years to complete….

May 26, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Almost 10 million jobs already, in renewable energy

Renewable Energy Powers Jobs for Almost 10 Million People https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-23/renewable-energy-powers-jobs-for-almost-10-million-people [excellent graphs, diagrams)  by  Mahmoud Habboush May 24, 2017,

  • China employment at 3.6 million vs 777,000 in U.S.: Irena

The renewable energy industry employed 9.8 million people last year, up 1.1 percent from 2015, led by the solar photovoltaic business, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s annual report on the industry.

Growth has slowed in the past two years, while the solar photovoltaic category, with 3.09 million jobs, and wind business more than doubled their respective employee numbers since 2012, the first year assessed, Irena said in the report.

“The nature of jobs is changing a little bit, with more emphasis on the installation, operational and maintenance side,” Adnan Amin, Irena’s director general, said Wednesday in an interview in Abu Dhabi. “That doesn’t grow as fast as the growth in manufacturing, which was very quick because the technology cost was coming down and you had this huge explosion in equipment.”

Jobs will continue to grow in developing countries, especially in Asia, he said.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

  • Global renewables employment has climbed every year since 2012, with solar photovoltaic becoming the largest segment by total jobs in 2016.
  • Solar photovoltaic employed 3.09 million people, followed by liquid biofuels at 1.7 million. The wind industry had 1.2 million employees, a 7 percent increase from 2015.
  • Employment in renewables, excluding large hydro power, increased 2.8 percent last year to 8.3 million people, with China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Japan and Germany the leading job markets. Asian countries accounted for 62 percent of total jobs in 2016 compared with 50 percent in 2013.

Renewables jobs could total 24 million in 2030, as more countries take steps to combat climate change, Irena said.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, employment, renewable | Leave a comment

False nuclear emergency alert scares New Jersey area

‘Coding error’ caused false nuclear alert to reach public, BY BILL GALLO JR. bgallo@njadvancemedia.comFor NJ.com 25 May 17 LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP.— Authorities say a “coding error” is to blame for an inaccurate emergency alert broadcast Tuesday night that said there was a problem at one of Salem County’s nuclear power plants.

The alert was sent out during a regularly scheduled drill to test the readiness of emergency officials in case of an actual emergency at PSEG Nuclear’s Artificial Island generating complex in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

“At 8:45 p.m., a training message was created in order to test an electronic communications system,” New Jersey State Police said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

“The message was intended for a small group of emergency management personnel who were participating in the exercise. As a result of a coding error, the message was publicly broadcast. The coding error has since been identified and corrected.”…….http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2017/05/coding_error_caused_false_nuclear_alert_to_reach_p.html

May 26, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Despite government subsidy, U.S. Nuclear Plant Still Fails at Auction

Buoyed by State Aid, U.S. Nuclear Plant Still Fails at Auction, Bloomberg, by Jim Polson, May 25, 2017

  • Three Mile Island at risk of early retirement: Exelon

    Even the promise of state subsidies wasn’t enough to help a struggling nuclear power plant in the biggest electricity market emerge a victor in a closely watched auction.

    Exelon Corp. said its Quad Cities plant in Illinois didn’t clear at the annual auction of capacity rights by PJM Interconnection LLC. It was the first time the grid operator had held a sale since a handful of nuclear reactors in Illinois and New York won subsidies to stay open.

    In the run-up to the auction, opponents of subsidies had feared Exelon might undercut rivals in the knowledge that Quad Cities would be a recipient of state aid. With reactors reeling under competition from cheap shale gas and renewables, more states could now face pressure to help out ailing nuclear plants, according to Kit Konolige, a utilities analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

    “Exelon could make the other argument, that even with the subsidy it wasn’t able to clear,” Konolige said by phone on Wednesday. “That’s how bad its economics were.”……..

    Exelon said the plant has not yet been selected to receive zero emissions credits under the Future Energy Jobs Act, which is designed to promote a clean energy future for Illinois, and is expected to come into force in June…..

    Exelon’s Three Mile Island station, scene of the worst accident in the history of U.S. commercial nuclear energy, may not be so lucky. After failing to clear at the past three PJM auctions, the plant is at risk of early retirement. It hasn’t made a profit in five years and remains “economically challenged” given the lack of federal or Pennsylvania energy policies that value zero-emissions nuclear power, the company said.Exelon’s other nuclear plants in PJM cleared in the auction. Oyster Creek didn’t take part, since it’s scheduled to shut in 2019. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-24/buoyed-by-state-aid-u-s-nuclear-plant-still-fails-at-auction

May 26, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Canadian town wants upgraded nuclear response plan, – too close to American nuclear station

Amherstburg Wants Nuclear Response Plan Update, Blackburn News, The town of Amherstburg is hoping to get provincial cooperation as it updates its nuclear response plan. The town has delegated the responsibility of updating the plan to deputy fire chief Lee Tome, who has been lobbying the province to put some cash behind a plan update, as well as draft guidelines similar to those already in place at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Tiverton.  These guidelines would be set in the event of a nuclear incident at the nearby Fermi II nuclear power plant in Michigan.

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo says the town has pretty much been on its own as far as coming up with an emergency response plan.

“We obviously do not have that kind of control, as it’s in the United States,” says DiCarlo.  “So when you read the provincial guidelines, they’re very specific to the nuclear plant in the province, and we don’t have that.”

The current plan places responsibility for a response to a nuclear accident at Fermi on the shoulders of the town.  The updated plan would reduce the primary emergency zone from the current 23km to the standard 16km that is the U.S. standard, as well as provide for distribution of the K-I pill, a potassium iodide tablet taken to reduce or prevent the effects of radioactivity.  A report on the updated plan was presented to Amherstburg town council on Tuesday night.

DiCarlo, though, has a hard time understanding why the province has not recognized the unusual situation Amherstburg is in.

“As I understand it, we are the only one in Canada with exposure from another country, so we are very unique,” says DiCarlo. ….. http://blackburnnews.com/windsor/windsor-news/2017/05/25/amherstburg-wants-nuclear-response-plan-update/

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

UK’s “Small nuclear” lobby spruiking its wares, downgrading Hinkley Point nuclear project

Britain’s on the brink of a small-scale nuclear reactor revolution, The Register, Marcus Gibson  Sure, there are hurdles, but no £18bn hole on the other side like Hinkley Point   ……. a cheaper and smaller alternative is emerging if activity from British entrepreneurs and academics is anything to judge by – the small “modular” nuclear reactor, or SMR…….

No nuclear industry programme has yet produced a series of reactors along factory production lines, but a large order for SMRs could change all that.

Tony Roulstone, course director at Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre, believes a production line operation could fulfil the promise of continuous improvements, of more efficient designs over the years, and the real prize of being manufactured in the UK…….

Dr Jenifer Baxter, lead author of the report, said: “Pushing ahead on the demonstration and commercialisation of SMRs would be a key way for the UK to once again become a world leader in the sector.”

This view was backed by a House of Lords committee that criticised the government’s “failure to deliver on a multimillion-pound competition to develop mini atomic power stations,” which it said “hurt the nuclear sector and risks international companies walking away from the UK.”

SMRs also ensure that the British government can avoid a repetition of the growing fiasco over the cost of Hinkley Point. An expert in engineering capacity and financing energy plants, who spoke to The Reg on condition of anonymity, said Hinkley Point “could cost the UK as much as £81bn if maximum financing costs are included”……

And yet SMRs face daunting development costs, and mind-boggling technical uncertainties. Like all nuclear sites they inevitably involve high costs, the problems of expensive decommissioning, the risk of accidents and waste disposal.

Sceptics include former government adviser professor Gordon MacKerron, who has described SMRs as “a classic case of supply-push technology development – no potential user of SMRs, mostly electric utilities, has expressed any serious interest in them.”…….https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/24/mini_nuclear_reactors_for_british_power/

May 26, 2017 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Renewable energy jobs could “offset” fossil-fuel job losses by 2030

Energy Voice 24th May 2017, Renewable energy jobs could “offset” fossil-fuel job losses by 2030, report shows. Jobs in renewable energy could cancel out fossil fuel-job losses and become an economic driver by 2030, according to the director of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
https://www.energyvoice.com/uncategorized/140162/renewable-energy-jobs-offset-fossil-fuel-job-losses-2030-renewable-director-says/

May 26, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment