The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The week that was in things nuclear

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Fukushima.  disturbing revelations today on the very high radioactivity inside the reactors, and the low level of cooling water within them

Nuclear Security Summit.  Despite progress made on reducing the world’s stocks of enriched uranium, the Summit ended with no firm plans for action on nuclear security or on nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, alongside the Summit, went military and commercial developments. USA to increase its nuclear submarines visiting Australia, and Australia to host USA base for drone aircraft. South Korea pitching nuclear sales talk to India. Nigeria impressing on the safety of its nuclear power program, despite the well known insecurity of its gas and oil industries.

India; after 8 days, anti nuclear protestors stop their hunger strike, seeing that the Tamil Nadu government agrees to their demands to release imprisoned protestors. But the anti nuclear fight will continue

World:  global warming getting close to tipping point.


March 28, 2012 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Alarming news about the state of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors today

Very high radiation, little water in Japan reactorSydney Morning Herald, MARI YAMAGUCHI, March 28, 2012 One of Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and much less water to cool it than officials had estimated, according to an internal examination that renews doubts about the plant’s stability.

A tool equipped with a tiny video camera, a thermometer, a dosimeter and a water gauge was used to assess damage inside the No. 2 reactor’s containment chamber for the second time since the tsunami swept into the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant a year ago.

The data collected Tuesday showed the damage from the disaster is so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades. The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape. The No. 2 reactor is the
only one officials have been able to closely examine so far.

Tuesday’s examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. Plant officials previously said more than half of the melted fuel has breached the core and dropped to the floor of the primary containment vessel, some of it splashing against the wall or the floor.

Particles from melted fuel have probably sent radiation levels up to a dangerously high 70 sieverts per hour inside the container, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. The figure far exceeds the highest level previously detected, 10 sieverts per hour, which was detected around an exhaust duct shared by No. 1 and 2 units last year.

“It’s extremely high,” he said, adding that an endoscope would last only 14 hours in those conditions. “We have to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation” when locating and removing melted fuel during the decommissioning.

The probe also found that the containment vessel _ a beaker-shaped container enclosing the core _ had cooling water up to only 60 centimeters (2 feet) from the bottom, far below the 10 meters (yards) estimated when the government declared the plant stable in December.
The plant is continuing to pump water into the reactor……
The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest.

The high radiation levels inside the No. 2 reactor’s chamber mean it’s inaccessible to the workers, but parts of the reactor building are accessible for a few minutes at a time _ with the workers wearing full protection….

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Yes, Virginia, a nuclear bomb would effectively destroy our Washington DC

A nuclear blast of any size would end D.C. as we know it Washington Post, By Mike DeBonis, 27 March 12,  Last November, federal researchers issued a report  commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security on what would happen if a relatively small nuclear device — the kind a terrorist group would most likely come to possess — were detonated at 16th and K streets NW.

“National Capital Region: Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism” was little noticed until the Federation of American Scientists posted a copy of the study  on its Secrecy News blog. It was then picked up by this newspaperGizmodo  and others.

Today, the Associated Press wrote up a story on the report, and it’s a good summation of the aftermath of a terrorist nuclear blast in all its awful detail. But it moved across the wire with an unfortunate headline: “Gov’t report: DC nuke blast wouldn’t destroy city.”

Make no mistake, a nuclear blast of any size would destroy D.C. as we know it.

Yes, the loss of life (45,000 dead) and damage to property caused by a 10-kiloton ground blast — approximately Hiroshima-level — would be nowhere as apocalyptic as the multiple, multi-megaton air bursts that the city would absorb during a Cold War-type nuclear exchange.

Most of the city’s residents would survive and most of its residential neighborhoods would remain intact, but any nuclear blast would be an existential dagger for Washington as a center for government and commerce — a death knell for D.C. as a city worthy of that word…..

March 28, 2012 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No definite actions decided on by Nuclear Security Summit

no specific reduction targets [for enriched uranium and plutonium]

The Nuclear Security Summit has no legally binding force to get other countries to reduce nuclear materials. It must rely on the voluntary pledges of participating countries to abide by the communiqué.

Another weakness of the communiqué is that it states no mechanism to verify the commitments made by each country.

Nuclear Security Summit Ends Without Clear Targets,  The Chosunilbo, 28 March 12,
The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit ended Tuesday with the leaders of 53 countries unanimously adopting a communiqué that encourages nations to take all possible steps and cooperate to secure vulnerableweapons-grade fissile material by 2014.    President Lee Myung-bak, who chaired the summit, told reporters its main achievement was steps to
reduce highly enriched uranium and plutonium, which are key to preventing nuclear terrorism. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Tamil Nadu govt agrees to release prisoners, so anti nuclear activists cease hunger strike

Nuclear activists end fast, but say they will continue their protest TNN | Mar 28, 2012,  anti-nuclear activist S P Udayakumar, who is spearheading the protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, and others on Tuesday ended their fast unto death following assurances by the state government.

The protesters said the government had agreed to their demand of dropping cases and releasing the arrested activists. Udayakumar, convenor of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), and 14 others, including seven women, withdrew their fast around 7pm after Tirunelveli district collector R Selvaraj held several rounds of talks with their representatives.

However, Udayakumar said the protest against the nuclear plant would continue. “We have decided to withdraw the fast respecting the request of Tuticorin bishop Yvonne Ambrose and a number of our well-wishers. But our protest will continue. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | India, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

8 days of Indian anti nuclear protestors’ hunger strike

“Idanthikarai reveals how cruel governments can be” On the eighth day of the hunger strike, anti nuclear plant protestors say they continue to wait for the Central and state government to come talk to them Tekelka, Jeemon Jacob, 27 Mar 12 Idanthikarai/ Thiruvananthapuram  A woman protester was shifted to hospital even as the anti-nuclear plant protests entered the eighth day. Forty-year-old Melred Raj, was shifted to the local hospital on Sunday 25 March, after she fainted at the protest venue. Her condition is said to be stable now  Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

NRC forbids San Onofre nuclear power plant to restart

San Onofre nuclear power plant prohibited from restarting The Nuclear Regulatory Commission lays out steps that Southern California Edison must take before the troubled San Onofre plant will be allowed to come back on line. By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times March 28, 2012 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, citing serious concerns about
equipment failures at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, has prohibited Southern California Edison from restarting the plant until the problems are thoroughly understood and fixed. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Runaway global warming – it may soon be irreversible

Global Warming Close To Becoming Irreversible-Scientists, Planet Ark,  27-Mar-12, LONDON, Nina Chestney  The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Success of solar photovoltaic power is worrying utility companies

Why power generators are terrified of solar by Giles Parkinson, of RenewEconomy, 28 March 12,  “….. the merit order effect and the impact that solar is having on electricity prices in Germany; and why utilities there and elsewhere are desperate to try to rein in the growth of solar PV in Europe. It may also explain why Australian generators are fighting so hard against the extension of feed-in tariffs in this country….. that solar PV is not just licking the cream off the profits of the fossil fuel generators — as happens in Australia with a more modest rollout of PV — it is in fact eating their entire cake…..

Deutsche Bank solar analyst Vishal Shah noted in a report last month that EPEX data was showing solar PV was cutting peak electricity prices by up to 40%, a situation that utilities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe were finding intolerable. “With Germany adopting a drastic cut, we expect major utilities in other European countries to push for similar cuts as well,” Shah noted.

Analysts elsewhere said one quarter of Germany’s gas-fired capacity may be closed, because of the impact of surging solar and wind capacity. Enel, the biggest utility in Italy, which had the most solar PV installed in 2011, highlighted its exposure to reduced peaking prices when it said that a €5/MWh fall in average wholesale prices would translate into a one-third slump in earnings from the generation division……


March 28, 2012 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Loan guarantees to nuclear power not scrutinised like solar loans

why do we continue to nurture nuclear power so much more generously than safer and less costly sources of electricity?

The Nurture of Nuclear Power, NYT, By NANCY FOLBRE , 27 March 12,  Free enterprise? States’ rights? Public opinion? These concepts seem to bounce off the nuclear power industry like a pebble tossed at a reactor containment vessel.

Remember the brouhaha about $563 million in Obama administration loan guarantees to Solyndra , the solar panel manufacturer that went belly up last fall? Neither President Obama nor Republicans in Congress have voiced opposition to an expected $8.3 billion Energy Department guarantee  to help the Southern Company, a utility giant, build nuclear reactors in Georgia. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Council of Renewable Energy puts the case for renewable energy for Nigeria

Renewable energy, panacea to incessant power outages, Vanguard,  MARCH 27, 2012 · “……….National Coordinator for the Council of Renewable Energy in Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Ugah Unimke, spoke on the current state of renewable energy in Nigeria, “it is quite impressive and viable option in Nigeria in terms of power supply”. Continue reading

March 28, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nigeria’s President sure that Nigeria’s nuclear power will be safe

Jonathan assures the world of Nigeria’s nuclear safety, Vanguard,  MARCH 26, 2012 · By Emma Ujah ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the global community that Nigeria will  ensure that adequate safety measures are deployed when the country introduces nuclear power into its energy mix.

Speaking at the opening of the Nuclear Security Summit in the South Korean capital, President Jonathan declared that Nigeria remained fully committed to complying with all international legal and regulatory requirements for safety and security in the use of nuclear

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Nigeria, politics | Leave a comment

Insecurity in Nigeria, with crooked practices in oil and gas industry

Nigeria loses over $20bn to illegal bunkering, oil theft yearly – Presidential aide Nigerian Tribune, 26 March 2012 EVERY year, Nigeria loses about 40 million metric tonnes of petroleum products amounting to about $20 billion (N3 trillion) to crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, Mr Leke Oyewole, a Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Affairs has said….. He said the loss was sequel to sharp practices characterised by numerous leakages, adulteration of products, as well as diversion of refined imported products by some of the players in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry……NIMASA and NPA ought to collaborate to address issues in the offshore operations in the oil industry and mitigate the insecurity arising therefrom…….

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Nigeria, safety | Leave a comment

India’s Prime Minister disapproves of foreign anti nuclear activists, but welcomes foreign nuclear investors

PM Woos South Korean Investors for Nuclear Energy,  WSJ, By Vibhuti Agarwal , 27 March 12 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might disapprove of foreign funds supporting anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tamil Nadu but he laid out the welcome mat for foreign – namely, Korean – companies to invest in developing nuclear energy in India……

President Lee also requested the Indian government to “allocate a site for Korean nuclear reactors,” a joint statement  issued by India’s foreign ministry said Monday.

“Recognizing the criticality of non-polluting nuclear energy in the economic development of countries, they [India and South Korea] agreed to discuss specific items of cooperation with the ongoing review of the safety and security aspects of operating nuclear plants,” the statement said. ..

March 28, 2012 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

South Korea keen to sell nuclear reactors to India

S Korea offers nuke reactors to India TNN | Mar 26, 2012,“…..South Korea has offered to build nuclear reactors in India and sought land for the project. ….  A joint statement said, “The two leaders proposed that the concerned agencies of both countries study the possible cooperation in future space activities, including launching a nano-satellite developed by Korean students on an Indian launch vehicle.”….

March 28, 2012 Posted by | business and costs, India, South Korea | Leave a comment