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Nuclear waste is the really most serious problem

nuclear waste lasts forever. That’s the real horror of Fukushima – that the spread of radioactive material could make an entire chunk of Japan uninhabitable. We could afford to be smug if we knew how to deal with our nuclear waste. But we don’t.

Forget meltdowns. The real nuclear problem is waste, thestar.com Thomas Walkom , 21 March 11, For Canada, the danger of nuclear power lies not in a Japanese-style meltdown. When industry boosters say such an event is unlikely here, they are right.

But what the boosters don’t talk about is radioactive waste.

That’s the main hazard, the part of the nuclear question that has never been properly addressed. No one knows what to do with nuclear fuel rods that remain highly radioactive for thousands of years.

The industry talks of burying them. But this is not a real solution. Sealed containers leak. Ground shifts. Over decades, unforeseen events occur. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Canada, wastes | 5 Comments

Wide area around Fukushima nuclear plant will be radioactively contaminated for decades

“Given the weather, it is likely that contaminations have occurred beyond that, up to 100 kilometres or so.”…..

Contamination at Fukushima nuclear plant for decades, says France’s Nuclear Safety Authority | Herald Sun, From: NewsCore * March 22, 2011 LOCAL contamination from Japan’s quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant would be a problem that would last “for decades and decades”, France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | - Fukushima 2011, environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) faked nuclear safety records

for many in Japan, Tepco’s track record of safety issues and attempts to cover them up add to suspicion over a flow of opaque, erratic information about Fukushima.

Power company failed to maintain safety checks, Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura SMH March 21, 2011 OSAKA: Days before Japan plunged into an atomic crisis after a giant earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the ageing Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator had admitted faking repair records.

The revelation raises more questions about the scandal-tainted past of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and the government’s perceived soft regulation of the industry. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | - Fukushima 2011, Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Poll shows British rejection of nuclear power future

Fewer than 10 per cent of people now believe nuclear should be the priority for energy investment in coming years, while more than 75 per cent think that the Government’s top energy investment priority should be either renewable energy, or energy saving…

Britain goes cold on new plants in Fukushima’s wake, The Indpendent  By Michael McCarthy,   22 March Japan’s nuclear crisis has stalled the growing support for a UK “nuclear renaissance”, a new poll reveals. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Radiation in air, seawater and food show seriousness of Japan’s nuclear disaster

the measurements from food and water were important because they helped confirm that “there has been a very serious release of radioactivity” at Fukushima…..

UPDATE 4-Japan nuclear progress tempered by seawater concern,  By Scott DiSavino and Kate Kelland. NEW YORK/LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) – The reconnection of power at the earthquake-damaged reactors in Japan is a big step in managing the nuclear crisis, experts said on Monday, but concerns about radiation in the air, seawater and food showed the dangers are far from over. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Political push to close down Quebec’s nuclear plant

It’s not necessary to refurbish the plant at such an elevated price when Quebec has the means – through energy efficiency, renewable energy and its hydro electricity – to avoid nuclear.’—PQ Leader Pauline Marois……The PQ said it would immediately close the plant if it were elected.

Coalition fights Quebec’s nuclear plant – Montreal – CBC News, 21 March 11, A Quebec coalition of politicians and activists is calling for the permanent closure of the province’s lone nuclear facility in light of the crisis in Japan. The group says maintaining Quebec’s Gentilly-2 power plant is dangerous, given the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

US senator calls for a stop to re-licensing nuclear power plants

US Sen. Sanders: Slow down on nuclear relicensing Bloomberg,  BusinessWeek 21 march11, MONTPELIER, Vt.U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling for a moratorium on the licensing of new nuclear plants and relicensing of existing ones, as well as other steps that would put the brakes on what’s been touted as a nuclear renaissance in the United States…. US Sen. Sanders: Slow down on nuclear relicensing – BusinessWeek

March 22, 2011 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Questions over the safety of USA’s spent nuclear fuel cooling ponds

President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear plant safety.

Martha Coakley asks feds to re-examine nuclear storage – BostonHerald.com, March 21, 2011 BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging federal energy officials to re-examine the safety of the wet storage of spent fuel at nuclear power plants, including the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.In a letter sent Monday to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, Coakley said federal regulators need to take another look at the wet storage protocol, which is also used at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant near the Massachusetts border.

It was also used at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plan in Japan…….. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Design flaw in General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Nuclear Reactors

a design flaw that does appear to be at the heart of the crisis at Fukushima – the extraordinary practice of putting the pool where the highly radioactive used fuel is stored on an upper floor of the reactor building,

Nuclear accidents will happen: human error can’t ever be eliminated, Telegraph UK,  By Geoffrey Lean,  March 21st, 2011,Thirty-nine years ago, one of the most senior nuclear safety officials in the United States penned a stark memorandum to colleagues. It warned that a key bulwark against a catastrophic accident in the kind of reactors now in meltdown at Fukushima was so flawed it should be banned.

He got a reaction within a week. The idea of a ban was “attractive”, wrote an even more senior official, who went on to head the main US nuclear safety agency. But implementing it “could well be the end of nuclear power”. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Distributed energy makes more sense than nuclear, or any centralised system

there are also massive losses of energy as we step it down from the plant to the grid to our homes and buildings. Instead, why not build a far more distributed energy system (or at least invest only in distributed energy going forward)?

Does nuclear power make sense?, Huffington Post, 22 march 11 Who really knows what the outcome might be from the frightening breakdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant ( the radioactive releases could go on for months)? But the speculation about what this means for a much-touted nuclear “renaissance” in the U.S. began in earnest last week. As the New York Times reported, “U.S. Nuclear Industry Faces New Uncertainty.”…. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment

China, Germany, now USA, put the brakes on nuclear development

corporations are bracing for a potential U.S. regulatory backlash that will elevate costs. Governments from China to Germany moved swiftly last week to brake further nuclear development,

UPDATE 3-NRG, eyeing Japan, first to slow US nuclear plant work | Reuters, 22 March 11, NRG pull-back is first sign of U.S. impact from quake * US nuclear builders face uncertainty amid NRC review, By Eileen O’Grady, HOUSTON, March 21 (Reuters) – U.S. nuclear power developer. NRG Energy Inc has all but stopped work on a majo project in Texas, the first U.S. company to slow down ambitious growth plans in the wake of the crisis in Japan.

NRG, which has worked closely with Tokyo Electric Power Co to develop the Texas reactors, said there was too much regulatory uncertainty to continue pouring cash into the project.NRG’s move is the first sign that

as regulators sought time to apply any lessons learned from the crisis on Japan’s east coast.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s order for a review of all plants raises uncertainty about potential design changes and timing of new license approvals, NRG Chief Executive David Crane said. He also noted that low natural gas prices are challenging the economics of new nuclear power plants.

“The economics related to the capital budget are right on the edge of viability,” Crane told Reuters in an interview.

NRG and its partner Toshiba Corp (6502.T) will reduce the scope of development work at Nuclear Innovation North America, which has been working to build new units at the South Texas Project nuclear station in Matagorda County, 90 miles (145 km)southwest of Houston.

UPDATE 3-NRG, eyeing Japan, first to slow US nuclear plant work | Reuters

March 22, 2011 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Viability of USA’s nuclear power now called into question

“Today everybody is worried about the spent fuel pools………..New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking a review of the Indian Point power plant, about 40 miles north of New York City. More than 21 million people live within 50 miles of the plant……
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said the crisis called into question the viability of nuclear power in the United States.

Nuclear crisis may affect placement of US reactors, Google News 21 march 11, “………The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said his agency will again review how U.S. nuclear plants store spent-fuel from nuclear reactors. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Britain likely to stall plans for new nuclear reactors

“Globally, this undoubtedly casts a shadow over the renaissance of the nuclear industry. That is blindingly obvious.”

Chris Huhne: Britain may scale back nuclear plans after Japan disaster. telegraph, 21 march 11 Britain may scale back its plans to build a new generation of nuclear plants in the wake of the Japanese disaster, the Energy Secretary indicated on Sunday. Continue reading

March 22, 2011 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

As nuclear plants become more complex, human error becomes more likely

“Plants grow more complex,” said one leading nuclear engineer after Three Mile Island. “Safety hangs increasingly on the human error factor, and we can’t eliminate it. Many of our operators have seen emergencies only on a simulator. The real thing can look quite different, and they may have just 60 terrified seconds to act.”

Nuclear future – proceed with caution, Telegraph UK, 21 March, New reactors have been designed to be much safer, with the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) – planned to be built here over the next few years – especially so. But official documents show that the EPR will produce several times more of the radioactive iodine and caesium that would be rapidly released in an accident than do present-day reactors.

The trouble is that human beings have a way of overriding safety systems. The 1957 Windscale fire occurred when a physicist threw a switch too soon when carrying out a routine operation. The Three Mile Island accident was caused by a whole series of human errors, while at Chernobyl, operators under pressure to complete a test deliberately and progressively switched off every one of its safety systems until, in the words of the chief investigator into the catastrophe, the reactor “was free to do as it wished”.”Plants grow more complex,” said one leading nuclear engineer after Three Mile Island. “Safety hangs increasingly on the human error factor, and we can’t eliminate it. Many of our operators have seen emergencies only on a simulator. The real thing can look quite different, and they may have just 60 terrified seconds to act.”

 

March 22, 2011 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Germany’s nuclear operators might scrap payments to renewables fund

UPDATE 1-German nuclear firms dodge green fund issue | Reuters, Mar 21, 2011 Report says they might scrap payments FRANKFURT,   – Germany’s nuclear operators dodged addressing a report that they might scrap payments of 300 million euros ($425.3 million) this year into a fund subsidising green energy after they had to close plants for safety checks.Sueddeutsche Zeitung, citing company sources, said last week’s enforced shutdown of reactors built before 1980 for security checks in light of the nuclear crisis in Japan, had prompted the four German operators to consider stopping the payments. [POWER/DE]…..UPDATE 1-German nuclear firms dodge green fund issue | Reuters

March 22, 2011 Posted by | business and costs, Germany | Leave a comment