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The week’s nuke news


Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Medical Nuclear reactor not needed to produce top medical isotope .  New breast cancers, in certain circumstances promoted by radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Canada refuses asylum to Japanese nuclear refugee

Thorium nuclear reactors not all they’re cracked up to be, especially, uneconomic.

USA. Vermont Attorney General appeals court, in move to retain Vermont’s power to shut down  a nuclear reactor. In Georgia, USA Energy Secretary Steven Chu on a mission to sell nuclear power to the public, as USA approves $14 billion expansion of Vogtle nuclear plant. Meanwhile Vogtle’s nuclear waste continues to pile up. Obama putting the brakes on nuclear loan guarantee program.

UK and French leaders get together, to bolster France’s flagging nuclear export industry, by promoting French nukes in Britain. Protestors occupy Hinkley nuclear site.

France – all sorts of spy stuff and dodgy doings going on with AREVA nuclear corporation and its treatment of its former CEO Anne Lauvergeon

Russia to get new nuclear submarines, thanks to money from oil billionaires.


February 21, 2012 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Top medical isotope can be produced without nuclear reactor

Nuclear medicine has long been touted as a selling point for nuclear power  –  a kin do healthy fig leaf put over a n unhealthy, toxic industry.Christina Macpherson

Nuclear Reactors Not Needed to Make the Most Common Medical Isotope, Science Now by Robert F. Service on 20 February 2012 In recent years, hospitals worldwide have been grappling with short supplies of technetium-99 (Tc-99), the most commonly used radioisotope in medical imaging scans. But help may be at hand: A team of Canadian researchers reported today that they’ve made critical progress in developing a stable new supply of the isotope.

Tc-99 is currently produced in nuclear reactors fueled with highly enriched uranium, which has raised concerns that the nuclear fuel could be intercepted by terrorists to make a nuclear weapon. The new setupproduces Tc-99 with a medical cyclotron, thereby eliminating proliferation concerns. But economic and technical considerations may make it more practical for shoring up Tc-99 supplies in Canada than in the United States. Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Canada, health, technology | 1 Comment

Thorium reactors won’t save the nuclear industry

Nuclear power entrepreneurs push thorium as a fuel, Washington Post, 20 Feb 12,   “…..  a small group of scientists, entrepreneurs and advocates see the post-Fukushima era as the perfect opportunity to get the United States to consider a proposal they have made with no success for years. What about trying a new fuel, they say, and maybe a new kind of reactor?…..  They’re pushing the idea of adapting plants to use thorium as a fuel or replacing them with a completely new kind of reactor called a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor, or LFTR (pronounced “lifter”). The LFTR would use a mixture of molten chemical salts to cool the reactor and to transfer energy from the fission reaction to a turbine..

….‘Small boatloads of fanatics’ Although the idea of thorium power has been around for decades — and some countries are planning to build thorium-powered plants — it has not caught on with the companies that design and build nuclear plants in the United States or with the national research labs charged with investigating future energy sources.

“There are small boatloads of fanatics on thorium that don’t see the downsides,” said Dan Ingersoll, senior project manager for nuclear technology at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. For one thing, he said, it would be too expensive to replace or convert the nuclear power plants already running in this country: “A thorium-based fuel cycle has some advantages, but it’s not compelling for infrastructure and investments.”

He also pointed out that thorium would still have some radioactive byproducts — just not as much as uranium and not as long-lived — and that there is no ready stockpile of thorium in the United States. It would have to be mined.

Overall, he says the benefits don’t outweigh the huge costs of switching technologies. “I’m looking for something compelling enough to trash billions of dollars of infrastructure that we have already and I don’t see that.”……    most U.S. nuclear energy industry executives are wary of both approaches to thorium, saying that neither utilities nor investors are eager to gamble on an unfamiliar technology….

February 21, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

South Korea’s nuclear program falters, as public opposition increases

 the reactor has had 51 malfunctions since it went online, “due to flaws in machinery and components, including radiation leaks, coolant leaks and reactor shutdowns,” 

South Korea to boost nuclear power? SEOUL, Feb. 20 (UPI) — South Korea’s plans to boost nuclear power face increasing resistance from civic and environmental groups, post Fukushima, the Japanese reactor site hit by an earthquake and tsunami last year… Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Decentralised renewable energy taking off in Britain’s small businesses

London Small and Medium Enterprises  plan to generate their own renewable energy – and one in eight already do London Loves Business 20 February 2012 A number of London’s SMEs have invested in generating their own energy and even more plan to follow within the next five years, according to a survey.

About 13 per cent of the capital’s small and medium-sized firms now generate at least some of their own energy, higher than the national average of six per cent, Opus Energy’s research found.

The amount of SMEs based in London that could be producing their own energy by 2017 is set to rise to 38 per cent, if they carry out investment plans. One in 10 of London’s firms said they hoped to start generating renewable power on their business’ premises within the next
12 months….

February 21, 2012 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear crisis resulting in its record trade deficit

Japan’s trade deficit ballons to record high as nuclear crisis pushes up fuel imports Washington Times, By Associated Press,  February 19 TOKYO — Japan posted a record high trade deficit in January after its nuclear crisis shut down nearly all the nation’s reactors for tougher checks, sending fuel imports surging. Exports were hurt by a strong yen and weak demand.

The 1.48 trillion yen ($18.7 billion) deficit reported Monday highlights Japan’s increased dependence on imported fuel after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sent the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into multiple meltdowns….

February 21, 2012 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Britain’s opportunity to lead in exporting marine energy technologies

UK could become leading exporter of wave and tidal power, say MPs New report from Energy and Climate Change Committee calls on government to establish long term goals for marine energy,   20 February 2012 The government will today be called on to increase its support for wave and tidal power in a new report from MPs warning the UK is at risk of repeating mistakes which allowed the country to lose its early lead in the developing wind power industry.

MPs on the Commons’ Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC) on Monday released a report on the future of marine renewables, which will claim the UK could become a leading exporter of wave and tidal power equipment and expertise if the government adopts a more visionary approach to developing marine energy.

Seven of the the eight full-scale prototype devices installed worldwide are in UK waters, making the country the current world leader in the development of wave and tidal energy technologies. Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Russia’s oil billionaires’ money finances new nuclear submarines

Putin Thanks Oil Billionaires for Rescuing Nuclear Sub Base, Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he owed a debt of gratitude to oil companies TNK and OAO Surgutneftegas for providing the cash needed to keep Russia’s seaborne nuclear forces in the Pacific afloat in 2002.

Then-President Putin asked the non-state companies to fund the Vilyuchinsk base on the Kamchatka Peninsula after the military proposed closing the facility, Putin said in an article published today in government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

“Now we have a modern base at Vilyuchinsk that will soon” be home to a new generation of nuclear submarines, he wrote…….

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Great potential for decentralised solar and wind energy in Kenya

Kenya receives an estimated 4 to 6 kWh per square meter per day of solar insolation, equivalent to about 300 million tonnes of oil according to African Energy Policy Research Network 2004. 

Kenya has one of the best wind resources in the world averaging between 3 and 10m/s with northern Kenya recording speeds of up to 11m/s.

Innovation and Diversification Are Key for Kenya’s Renewable Energy Industry, Renewable Energy World, By Peter Kahare,  February 20, 2012  KENYA — Decentralizing and diversifying renewable energy power generation technologies could be the panacea to save Kenyans from unreliable and expensive power supplied by hydro and thermal power generation, a recent study has found.

The new study by Christian Aid, an international agency that seeks solutions to chronic poverty in various nations says that empowering communities in rural areas in Kenya to produce power through renewable, cleaner sources could reduce overreliance on hydropower and fully exploit the renewable energy potential while offering opportunity to unlock economic growth. Participation of local communities in renewable energy technology projects such as
small/micro hydro, wind, solar, bagasse cogeneration and improved stoves could increase energy security and mitigate against climate change effects that badly affect the hydro power generation technology,” says Alison Doig, the report’s lead author and senior climate change advisor at Christian aid. Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | decentralised, Kenya | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy unaffordable and unwise, for Kenya

Heed UN caution on nuclear energy quest, Business Daily, February 19  2012, The government may have stumbled in its quest for nuclear energy after the United Nations cautioned it last week against entering the venture.The government announced plans to start generating nuclear energy for her electricity needs by 2020. It plans to construct a plant along the Coast and is awaiting approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

While we believe it is prudent to look for other alternative and viable energy sources, given that the hydro-electric power that provides around 65 per cent of the country’s needs is not reliable especially during periods of drought, the government should adopt cheaper and renewable sources.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya has other sustainable sources of energy that can meet her needs. We believe that the agency has a point as what the government needs to do is to invest more in renewable energy sources like wind and geothermal.

It should also heed the caution from the UN that the cost of decommissioning a power plant is quite prohibitive and that there are no permanent disposal sites form nuclear waste.

The UN says that the cost of decommissioning a nuclear plant would currently cost close to a trillion shillings, which begs the question; can Kenya afford it?…

February 21, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

“Baseload power” soon to be outmoded by smart grids, flexible energy sources

the concept of baseload and peaking power – the current model for electricity grids worldwide – will be replaced by a system of flexible and inflexible energy sources……    a smart grid system.

The end of baseload? It may come sooner than you think, RENeweconomy, By    20 February 2012 One of the principal architects of Germany’s push into renewable energy technologies, Hans-Josef Fell, believes that the country could achieve 100 per cent renewables in its electricity sector by 2030 – and may do it quicker. The rest of the world could follow soon after. Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Canada denies asylum to Japanese nuclear refugee

Japan’s nuclear evacuees denied Canadian refuge CNews  Canada, By Tom Godfrey, QMI Agency , 20 Feb 12,  TORONTO – A Japanese woman who claimed exposure to radiation from damaged nuclear reactors has been denied refugee status in Canada The woman’s identity has not been released by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), since she’s seeking asylum in Canada. She is among several dozen Japanese nationals who filed refugee claims to stay in Canada following the disaster, and the decision in her case is one of the first to be reached by the IRB.

“The claimant feared risks of exposure to radiation,” an IRB member said in a ruling. “She was not convinced by the Japanese government’s assurances of safety from radiation.”

The woman was one of hundreds of Japanese citizens who sought refuge in other countries following the March 11, 2011 catastrophe …. A board member said the claimant’s risk “is characterized as being widespread and prevalent in Japan.”

The woman can still appeal her case to the Federal Court of Canada, and that decision can still be appealed. She claimed her life was in danger from radioactive contaminants that spewed into the environment from the Fukushima plant. …..

February 21, 2012 Posted by | Canada, politics international | Leave a comment

Developing world is losing its faith in nuclear power

Globally nuclear power is unpopular and has become even more so after Fukushima. A 24 country public opinion study carried out in May 2011 by IPSOS Mori found that 62% of those asked now opposed it, with opposition is some developing countries being very high, and similar to that in much of Europe.

Nuclear power and the developing world, Environmental Research Web, 20 Feb 12,  “…….There seems to be a belief in the region, similar to that that existed in the 1970s in Japan, that buying in advanced nuclear technology is the way ahead. It may then have come as a shock when, after the major nuclear disaster at Fukushima in March 2011, Japan decided to abandon its nuclear expansion plans, and high tech Germany launched a nuclear phase out programme- both of them backing renewables instead. So did Switzerland. Italy too backed off nuclear, thus joining Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Greece as non-nuclear states.

China is also reassessing its nuclear programme. It currently gets under 2% of its electricity from nuclear and had planned to expand that to around 4% by 2020. That may be a small percentage, but given the size of the country it represents a very large programme. However it may be cut back to 63 GW, compared to the current official 2020 target of 80 GW. But to put that in perspective, China is aiming to get 15% of its total energy (not just electricity) from renewable and other low carbon options by 2020. Its wind potential is huge – 1000 GW or more. Continue reading

February 21, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Wind and solar alone provided 70% of new European electricity capacity

More than 68% of New European Electricity Capacity Came from Wind and Solar in 2011, by . February 18, 2012 by Stephen Lacey, ThinkProgress As the sovereign debt crisis unfolds in Europe, onlookers have questioned whether the region will stay committed to renewable energy. The answer so far is “yes.”
Even with a few countries pulling back on government support of the industry because of fiscal troubles, 2011 was still a huge year for deployment — with wind and solar alone representing almost 70% of new capacity.That’s almost a 10-fold increase over deployment in 2000, when only 3.5 GW of renewable energy projects were installed. Last year, 32 GW of renewables — mostly wind and solar — were deployed across European countries.

The figures come from the European Wind Energy Association, which just released a report on industry growth.

Growth in Europe has consistently outstripped forecasts. The EU currently has a target of getting 20% of its final energy (heat, electricity and fuels) from renewable energy. Numerous countries have already surpassed their needed targets in the electricity and heating sectors, and it’s likely that the entire region will move past the goal well ahead of schedule.

It’s expected that renewable electricity sources will meet 34% of demand in Europe by 2020, with 25 of 27 countries to surpass their targets beforehand.

In 2011, solar PV accounted for 26.7% of capacity additions, wind power accounted for 21.4% of additions, and natural gas made up 22% of installations. Below that was coal at 4.8%, fuel oil at 1.6%, large hydro at 1.3%, and concentrating solar power at 1.1% of capacity….

February 21, 2012 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Historical record shows that USA’s Republicans cut nuclear arms

GOP takes lead in nuclear arms cuts, Times Union .com Associated Press,   February 18, 2012 WASHINGTON The Obama administration’s consideration of severe cuts in nuclear weapons generated a flurry of GOP criticism — “reckless lunacy” in the words of Arizona Rep. Trent Franks. But the historical record shows that in the two decades since the Cold War ended, Republicans have been the boldest cutters of the nuclear arsenal.

“Republican presidents seem to have a thing for 50 percent nuclear reductions,” says Hans Kristensen, a nuclear arms specialist with the Federation of American Scientists, a think tank founded by many of the scientists who built the first atomic bombs.

On President George H.W. Bush‘s watch, the number of deployed weapons as well as those held in reserve was nearly cut in half, from 22,217 to 13,708 warheads, according to official government figures. President George W. Bush went further, cutting the total stockpile by 50 percent, from 10,526 to 5,273 warheads.

Democratic President Bill Clinton trimmed just a little more than 2,000 warheads from the stockpile…… Read more:

February 21, 2012 Posted by | history, politics, USA | Leave a comment