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For USA’s nuclear industry – could things get any worse?

Nuclear’s Annus Horribilis, AOL, Margaret Ryan, November 30, 2011 For the nuclear industry, 2011 was Biblical. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Tornadoes. Floods. Fires. 2011 had everything but plagues of locusts.

Since 2001, nuclear critics had been worried about airplanes smashing into plants or dirty bombs. This year nature reminded everyone it can still throw a haymaker, and the reverberations from 2011’s onslaught appear set to dominate US nuclear power in 2011

March 2011 brought the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off northeastern Japan that sparked a tsunami whose waves may have exceeded 45 feet. Tokyo Electric Power Company’s oldest nuclear station, Fukushima Daiichi, apparently survived the earthquake, but its four oldest reactors didn’t survive that wall of water. Nuclear experts are still figuring out what all went wrong, and tens of thousands still haven’t returned home as Japanese authorities try to decontaminate radioactive hot spots.

In April, massive tornadoes that devastated the southeast swept near the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Browns Ferry plant.

In June, droughts sparked wildfires across the Southwest, including one that threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where nuclear weapons materials are stored.

June also brought record floods across the upper Midwest. For weeks Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant was essentially an island.

August saw the 5.8 magnitude Virginia earthquake just 11 miles from Dominion Energy’s North Anna plant. The plant shut safely, and returned to service mid-November after extensive checks found no damage even though ground motion briefly exceeded the plant’s design.

Aging Generation Giants All these challenges resurrected questions about the robustness of America’s nuclear fleet as reactors begin to pass the 40-year mark. That was once considered the operating limit, but with safety backfits, regular material checks and planned component replacements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says reactors can operate for 60 years. More than half of the 104 reactors in the US have been licensed to do so…..

“most” people in the industry recognize the need to take 2011’s warnings seriously. “They don’t want to be the next Fukushima,”….. “No one wants to lose a billion dollar asset.”….

December 1, 2011 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Governor calls for scrapping of all of Fukushima’s 10 nuclear reactors

Scrap all 10 Fukushima nuclear reactors: Governor, Straits Times, Nov 30, 2011,TOKYO (AFP) The governor of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture called on Wednesday for all 10 of the area’s reactors to be scrapped as it attempts to recover from an ongoing nuclear crisis.

Yuhei Sato said he would include the demand in the prefecture’s reconstruction plan to be compiled by the end of this year following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that sparked the nuclear disaster.

The Fukushima prefectural assembly has already adopted a petition to seek the decommissioning of the 10 reactors housed at Fukushima’s Daiichi and Daini plants, both run by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco).

‘I decided to stipulate the reactor decommissioning in the reconstruction plan so that young people can live here without worries,’ Mr Sato told a news conference.

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents learn at first hand the success of renewable energy projects

“It is important for the Japanese to realize that renewable energy can work on a large scale, and that people can make money from it,” said Yamamoto, 

Fukushima residents tour German renewable village; learn about non-nuclear energy sources Washington Post, By Associated Press,  November 30 FELDHEIM, Germany — A group of residents from the radiation-stricken area around Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear reactors and a Tokyo actor are visiting Germany to learn how renewable energy could work in their

The group, organized and led by representatives of Greenpeace Japan, arrived Wednesday in the northeastern German village of Feldheim to learn how its 145 residents have taken advantage of the energy generated by a nearby windfarm and a biofuel plant that burns the
waste from a local pig farm to become an entirely self-sustaining, energy-positive village….. Continue reading

December 1, 2011 Posted by | decentralised, Germany | Leave a comment

TEPCO admits complete meltdown of nuclear fuel rods in Fukushima reactor No.1

Tepco Details Nuclear Fuel Damage, WSJ, By MITSURU OBE, 30 Nov 11 TOKYO—The stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant came a lot closer to a full “China Syndrome” meltdown than previous company analyses had indicated, though there is no danger of further damage now, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday.

The nuclear-fuel rods in reactor No. 1 likely melted completely, Tepco and the Japanese government said for the first time—burning a hole through one surrounding vessel and eating through up to three-quarters of the concrete base at the bottom of a second containment vessel meant as a last barrier between the radioactive core and the outside
world. Continue reading

December 1, 2011 Posted by | - Fukushima 2011 | Leave a comment

Deliberate explosion damaged Iran’s uranium enrichment facility

‘Blast in Iran struck uranium enrichment facility’, By JPOST.COM STAFF AND YAAKOV KATZ, 11/30/2011  Satellite imagery confirms Isfahan facility rocked by blast was a
nuclear facility, ‘The Times’ reports, citing Israeli intel officials. Satellite imagery “clearly showing billowing smoke and destruction” has proven that an explosion Monday damaged a nuclear facility in the Iranian city of Ifsahan, according to aWednesday Times of London
report .

The report quoted Israeli intelligence officials as saying that there was “no doubt” that the blast damaged a uranium enrichment site, and asserted that it was “no accident.”
Officials from Isfahan have been denying that the city had been hit by an explosion. …

December 1, 2011 Posted by | incidents, Iran | Leave a comment

Appeal to save Grand Canyon’s sacred lands, biodiversity, water – from uranium mining

Pollution from past uranium mining already plagues the Grand Canyon and surrounding region. Proposals for new mining have prompted protests, litigation and proposed legislation. Scientists, tribal and local governments and businesses have voiced opposition. Additional mining threatens to industrialize iconic and regionally sacred wildlands, destroy wildlife habitat and permanently pollute or deplete aquifers feeding Grand Canyon’s biologically rich springs and creeks.

Appeal Challenges Uranium Mine Threatening Grand Canyon, 1 Dec 11, GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz—Conservation groups and American Indian tribes today filed an appeal  in the 9th Circuit Court challenging a lower court ruling that allowed a uranium mine near Grand Canyon National Park to re-open without updating decades-old environmental reviews. The Arizona 1 uranium mine is located near Kanab Creek immediately north of Grand Canyon National Park.  Continue reading

December 1, 2011 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Secret Martial Law Act in USA – imprisonment without charge, without trial

Senate approves Martial Law: Military can jail indefinitely, no charge, no trial, Human Rights Examiner November 30, 2011 Human rights campaign to prevent codification of Martial Law in America fails

Although the Obama administration has threatened to veto what is being called the “Secret Martial Law Act” if Congress approved it, on Tuesday, the Senate, mainly with Republican backing, voted 61 to 37 in favor of it, empowering the military to imprison “terror suspects” including people arrested inside the United States, without charge or trial and to hold them indefinitely, a Constitutional and human rights violation that even the national-security team has said is unacceptable and that the U.S. has used military aggression to end in foreign countries.

Continue reading on Senate approves Martial Law: Military can jail indefinitely, no charge, no trial – National Human Rights |

December 1, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Keeping one’s cancer risks down – avoid airport radiation scanners

Radiation: Why I choose the patdown at airports, Sun Sentinel By Lois Solomon, November 30, 2011 This story today confirmed my decision to get patted down at airports rather than get irradiated by people who promise it won’t harm me.

 European airports have banned body scanners because studies have linked them to cancer in small numbers of people. The TSA continues to defend the technology.

Everyone knows radiation in the atmosphere hits us every day and there is little we can do about it. On top of that, we get dental X-rays, orthodontic scans, cell phone radiation and other potential waves that we can reject if we choose. Radiologists say it accumulates in our bodies over the course of a lifetime.

When I flew for Thanksgiving, I asked for a patdown instead of going through the scanner at Fort Lauderdale’s airport. The TSA guard assured me I wouldn’t be seen naked; I told him I was more concerned about the radiation. He told me I get more in my cellphone, but called for the female attendant to pat me down. It was definitely intrusive but hopefully lessened my exposure to future cancers.

December 1, 2011 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

USA to use drone aircraft to target U.S. citizens?

Drone shoots Targeted Individual in New York , Human Rights Examiner, November 30, 2011 Drone aircraft, known for human rights violations of killing innocent children and other civilians, reported as destroying “terrorist” hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, might be spotted in American neighborhoods soon, and some people might have already seen one. One Targeted Individual has given his account to the Examiner of seeing a drone in New York, and its applying high-tech “less than lethal” directed energy weaponry on him. Continue reading on Drone shoots Targeted Individual in New York – National Human Rights |

December 1, 2011 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

As nuclear industry dries up in the Western world – the push to sell to dodgy regimes

So what’s driving the world’s nuclear suppliers to service such nuclear pariahs?

 First and foremost: cash. As the prospects for reactor sales in the world’s advanced economies have dried up, most nuclear vendors have been forced to go after less developed—and potentially quite lucrative—markets in the Middle and Far East. In fact, vendors are falling all over themselves to do this, particularly South Korea, which made its debut as a nuclear exporter with a $20 billion deal to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates.

Nuclear Power Goes RogueThe Daily Beast, Henry Sokolski, Nov 28, 2011  “………What, then, is the good news for nuclear power? A handful of new reactors may be built in Eastern Europe and the U.K., and several more in South Korea, but in the North that’s pretty much it. If you head south, though, nuclear power’s prospects look much brighter. Continue reading

December 1, 2011 Posted by | 2 WORLD, marketing | Leave a comment

Renewable energy investment in South Africa

South Africa Becoming a Renewable Energy Hub Afribiz, Dec 1 South Africa is fast becoming a preferred renewable energy investment destination for both private and public sector investors – good news for the country’s growing electricity demands, emerging clean energy sector and the economy.

The World Bank recently approved a $250-million (R1.5- billion) loan to South African power utility Eskom to develop a wind and solar plant, which will help the country reduce its reliance on coal-based power generation.

The World Bank, which granted the funding through its Clean Technology Fund, will finance a 100-megawatt solar power plant in Upington in the Northern Cape province and a 100-megawatt wind power project north of Cape Town in the Western Cape….

December 1, 2011 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

Brazil’s nuclear plans a cash cow for France and a weapons worry

Brazil’s nuclear plans stir up debate, RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Brazil’s nuclear program, including its ambitious moves to develop a nuclear-powered submarine with French help, is stirring debate that puts focus on the Latin American country’s long-term aims in the field.

Both Brazil and Argentina began developing nuclear capabilities while under military rule. While Argentina has expanded its nuclear power generation capacity Brazil has gone into nuclear fuel processing and hopes to deploy the technology into a nuclear-powered submarine it plans to build with French help.

Agreements for the joint defense production program are in place but, as the implementation nears, questions are being asked about its nuclear component. French President Nicolas Sarkozy spearheaded a marketing drive that secured France much needed cash in a deal that includes the supply and joint construction of four diesel-electric submarines and a fifth nuclear-powered submarine….. Brazil has an advanced nuclear program dating to the 1950s that has drawn support at various stages from France, Germany and the United States. ….

Brazilian analysts who disagree with the nuclear bomb thesis say a program that includes deployment of nuclear power in weapons wouldn’t pass congressional approval or win public endorsement….

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA now saying that Burma is not pursuing nuclear weapons

No sign of major Burma nuclear drive: US, SMH, 30 Nov 11 The United States sees no sign of a major nuclear weapons program in Burma and hopes that the new regime will boost cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog, a US official said.

“We’ve looked at this fairly carefully and we do not see signs of a substantial effort at this time” on nuclear arms, the official told reporters accompanying Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a landmark visit.

While Clinton will raise concerns about links to North Korea, the State Department official downplayed accounts by defectors that Burma has worked with Pyongyang to develop an advanced nuclear weapons system…..

A UN report released in November 2010 said North Korea was supplying banned nuclear and ballistic equipment to Burma, along with Iran and Syria.

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Burma, weapons and war | Leave a comment