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Probability of severe nuclear accidents every 10 – 20 years

The computer simulations revealed that, on average, only eight percent of the 137Cs particles are expected to deposit within an area of 50 kilometres around the nuclear accident site. Around 50 percent of the particles would be deposited outside a radius of 1,000 kilometres, and around 25 percent would spread even further than 2,000 kilometres.
These results underscore that reactor accidents are likely to cause radioactive contamination well beyond national borders.

If a single nuclear meltdown were to occur in Western Europe, around 28 million people on average would be affected by contamination of more than 40 kilobecquerels per square meter. This figure is even higher in southern Asia, due to the dense populations. A major nuclear accident there would affect around 34 million people, while in the eastern USA and in East Asia this would be 14 to 21 million people.

Severe Nuclear Reactor Accidents Likely Every 10 to 20 Years, European StudySuggests ScienceDaily (May 22, 2012)— Western Europe has the worldwide highest risk of radioactive contamination caused by major reactor accident. Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed.

Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) — some 200 times more often than estimated in the past.

The researchers also determined that, in the event of such a major accident, half of the radioactive caesium-137 would be spread over an area of more than 1,000 kilometres away from the nuclear reactor. Their results show that Western Europe is likely to be contaminated about once in 50 years by more than 40 kilobecquerel of caesium-137
per square meter. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, an area is defined as being contaminated with radiation from this amount onwards. In view of their findings, the researchers call for an in-depth analysis and reassessment of the risks associated with nuclear power plants. Continue reading


May 23, 2012 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

UK government’s folly in persisting with nuclear power plans

the UK, where the nuclear industry is so embedded in government it supplies staff free-of-charge to work within the energy ministry. Perhaps it’s no wonder that even when half of the UK’s big six energy companies bale out of nuclear on cost grounds, ministers plough on regardless.

while mass-produced renewable energy technologies are pushing the costs downwards, nuclear energy is completing the journey from “too cheap to meter” to “too expensive to count”

Only renewables – not nuclear – could be too cheap to meter  Damian Carrington, The Guardian UK, 22 May 12,  Germany’s long support for wind and solar energy is delivering zero-cost electricity at times. In contrast, the UK’s new energy policy seeks to underwrite the rising cost of nuclear  “Too cheap to meter”: that was the infamous boast of the nuclear powerindustry in its heyday. It has been catastrophically discredited by history. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Government’s nuclear dream will cost British householders

Electricity bills up £200 to pay for nuclear dream: Families hit to ensure profits for firms who build reactors Daily Mail By SEAN POULTER, CONSUMER AFFAIRS EDITOR  , 22 May 2012 Electricity bills could rise by up to £200 a year for each home under plans to guarantee high prices for firms building nuclear power stations  Details emerged yesterday as the Government unveiled a revolution in the way the nation produces its electricity.
Consumers will have to pay more to ensure companies make a profit on their multi-billion-pound investment….. the news has alarmed consumer groups who are worried about the impact on struggling householders.
At the same time, green campaigners are furious that the UK is backing nuclear power while other wealthy nations such as Germany are turning their backs on it……

May 23, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New book documents the nuclear power nightmare

“At the heart of the nuclear nightmare,” she writes, “is something no one wants to talk about: birth defects, a whitewash word for children born without the attributes we recognize as human.”

Fukushima Tour de Force: New Book Chronicles Nuclear Devil’s Tango HUFFNGTON POST, Jeff Biggers, 22 May 12With Japan now only weeks into its temporarymoratorium on nuclear power  plants, a chillingly prescient chapter in Cecile Pineda’s new

tour de force, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step , foretells the lasting impact of a “planetary catastrophe” in the time of powerful energy lobbies…..  ”It’s not easy for you, or me, or anyone to pay attention to the consequences of the nuclear energy cycle,” Pineda tells the reader in her foreword. “Why? Because you can’t see radiation.”

Unfolding through a series of beguiling, passionate and often revelatory entries in a daily chronicle, at times with a flair for scintillating satire, Pineda’s masterful framing of the urgency for readers to learn from the Japanese nuclear disaster and the machinations of its industry handlers makes Devil’s Tango one of the most important and required reads this year. She writes:

“You can’t see fallout, you can’t tell when you’re eating strontium by the spoonful. It’s invisible, you can’t see it, feel it, touch it, hear it; you can taste it only in your mouth — when the fallout is particularly dense — as a metallic taste in your mouth, which any number of people reported this past year in places as far apart as Seattle and Arizona. In a world that enshrines surfaces, the industry thinks invisibility is a sure bet you won’t ever find out.”…. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

Promote clean energy, don’t subsidise nuclear – says Scotland

”  the UK Government must recognise that the purpose of this reform is to support renewable energy, not to provide subsidies for nuclear energy.” 

Government: Renewables not nuclear Google News(UKPA) – 23 May 12, Planned reforms to the electricity market must focus on renewable energy rather than nuclear subsidies, according to the Scottish Government.
The comment follows publication of the draft UK Energy Bill which the British Government hopes will deliver the £110 billion investment needed to build new low-carbon capacity. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

UK will make consumers fund nuclear energy

UK wants consumers to fund nuclear through higher utility bills, Smart Planet,  By Mark Halper | May 22, 2012, The UK government will today propose legislation that would guarantee profits to nuclear power providers by permitting them to charge more on consumers’ bills, BBC radio is reporting….  By putting the financial burden on consumers, the UK would attempt to sidestep a European regulation that prohibits direct state subsidies of nuclear power, BBC presenter John Humphrys pointed out while interviewing Energy Secretary Ed Davey on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4  (audio link expires May 29)……

Even if the Government passes the draft bill, there’s no certainty that nuclear companies would invest in new plants. David Toke, senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, told the radio program that British nuclear would still remain “a dead duck.”  (Audio link expires May 29).

The UK’s existing nuclear fleet was built decades ago, when the British power industry was still nationalized. Meanwhile, several media outlets are reporting that the UK’s nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, now wants to extend the life of those reactors.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Britain setting up huge subsidies for nuclear industry, poorly hidden in consumers’ costs

Britain’s proposals appear to be drafted to sidestep E.U. restrictions on state aid that might prevent direct subsidies for the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Britain hopes that this guaranteed price, to be paid by businesses and consumers, will secure the financial commitment from energy utilities to construct nuclear reactors

This proposal has distorted policy in order to try to disguise the massive subsidies nuclear will need, but they remain so huge that the policy will fail anyway,” 

Britain Charts Way to Wider Nuclear Investment, NYT, By STEPHEN CASTLE, May 22, 2012 LONDON — Britain  announced plans Tuesday to finance a new generation of nuclear power plants and renewable energy facilities in a move that illustrates divergent energy policies within the European Union  as it grapples with the challenge of reconciling economic and environmental objectives. While Germany intends to phase out nuclear power and France’s new president, François Hollande, aims to reduce his country’s reliance on it, the British government appears to be moving in the opposite direction with its proposals, aimed at luring investment of £110 billion, or $175 billion, to build new reactors and renewable energy plants. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

USA govt and nuclear industry have got rid of too-thorough nuclear regulator Jaczko

the pressure became too great from both, several industry and government officials say. Both parties wanted to expand the use of nuclear facilities and further explore options for storing nuclear waste. Jaczko had largely put the kibosh on both

members of Congress, mostly senior Democrats, have defended Jaczko as a thoughtful and thorough regulator

Jaczko’s resignation still illustrates the influence of the nuclear industry. 

Nuclear Commission Gregory Jaczko Calls It Quits, The Daily Beast,  May 21, 2012 After a long campaign to drive the nation’s top nuclear regulator from office, NRC commissioner Greg Jaczko resigned Monday. Daniel Stone reports on how the industry claimed its casualty. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry lobbying hard to get Pilgrim plant relicensed

 the nuclear industry has been busy making its concerns known in Washington about the Pilgrim delays and what they could mean for other contentious relicensing cases.

Delays in Pilgrim nuclear plant’s relicensing draws the ire of some GOP leaders in Congress Mass. Market, 2012 May 22 by Jon Chesto Massachusetts politicians aren’t the only ones closely watching the fate of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth. A group of GOP congressmen, led by energy committee chairman Fred Upton, sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  on Monday, essentially scolding the NRC for taking so long with its review of Pilgrim. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Plutonium’s deadly history

The Manhattan Project’s Fatal “Demon Core”, Physics Central, May 21, 2012 Sixty six years ago today, Louis Slotin saw a flash of blue light in the depths of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Seconds before, all that separated the young scientist from a lethal dose of radiation was a thin screwdriver.

The screwdriver supported a reflective covering that encased a sphere of plutonium, and if the reflector fell into place, a nuclear chain reaction would commence. When Slotin’s hand slipped, a lethal burst of radiation hit him, and he died nine days later. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | - plutonium, history, Reference | Leave a comment

Baghdad nuclear talks offer real hope of progress between Iran and world powers

Iran nuclear talks: why optimism could be different this time, Christian Science Monitor, By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer / May 22, 2012 The meeting in Baghdad will discuss Iran’s nuclear program. The US and some of its partners are speaking more hopefully about prospects for these talks than at almost any point in the past.

The talks that open in Baghdad Wednesday between Iran and six world powers on curbing
Iran’s nuclear program may well determine whether Israel or the US launches airstrikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. The talks will also be a factor in the US presidential election this year.

But no one should expect to see Wednesday either a comprehensive agreement addressing more than a decade of concerns about Iran’s nuclear development, or a throwing in of the towel (by either side) that paves the way to war.

The more likely scenario, if the talks go well, is the launching of intensive, virtually constant negotiations, which would suggest that agreement on the key issues important to each side is possible and indeed achievable in some reasonably short time frame, some regional
experts say…..

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran agrees to let UN inspectors investigate suspected nuclear weapons site

Iran ‘to allow nuclear inspectors’, Herald Sun,  AP May 23, 2012 IRAN has agreed in principle to allow UN inspectors to restart investigations into a suspected nuclear weapons test site.

The tentative accord – announced as envoys headed to the Iraqi capital for negotiations – is likely to be used by Iran as added leverage to seek concessions from the West on sanctions.

But US officials have shown no willingness to shift into bargaining mode so quickly, setting the stage for possible tense moments after talks tentatively set for today resume in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

Still, Iran’s move raises the pressure on the West for some reciprocal gestures to keep dialogue on track and further highlights Tehran’s apparent aims of opening a long give-and-take process over its nuclear

A major breakthrough in the years-long impasse was not expected in Baghdad, with officials and experts saying both sides will seek to demonstrate enough progress to keep the process moving forward…..

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant is dangerous, say protestors

14 Protesters Arrested Outside Plymouth Nuclear Plant (includes audio)  May 21, 2012,  PLYMOUTH (CBS) – Fourteen members of the group Cape Downwinders were arrested Sunday while demonstrating at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, hoping to get it shut down. The demonstrators said their message is simple.

“The Pilgrim nuclear facility is a dangerous facility and it should be shut down,” said Paul Rifkin, a member of the group. The group wants to deliver a letter to Pilgrim’s owners, Entergy, demanding that they cease operations, pointing to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan as a wake-up call to action.

“It’s a 40-year-old plant and they want to license it for another 20 years. We don’t want the nuclear regulatory commission to re-license that plant,” said Rifkin.

In the letter, the group says the continued operation of the plant is an unacceptable threat to health and public safety and they also want an evacuation preparedness plan to include Cape Cod.

The group worries a power failure at the plant could be catastrophic, and the members have doubts about how a mass evacuation from the Cape, given its only two exit points, would work. We’re hoping that NRC upholds their mandate to provide for the public health and safety and not re-license the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth,” said Diane Turko, who was one of the protesters arrested for trespassing.

The plant’s current license expires June 8th and they are hoping to renew for another 20 years.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Shutdown of Pilgrim nuclear power plant

Pilgrim nuclear plant shut down, By Colin A. Young |  BOSTON GLOBE    MAY 22, 2012 Power production at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth was halted this afternoon when a condenser at the station lost vacuum pressure during a cleaning, forcing operators to shut down the entire plant, officials said.

Operators shut down the plant, which was operating at about 30 percent power at the time, according to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Plant operators initiated a manual “scram,” which “involves the control room operators inserting all of the control rods into the reactor core to halt the fissioning process,” according to Sheehan…..

May 23, 2012 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Australia’s uranium industry not looking good for the future

The uranium price tanked after the Fukushima disaster and so far there is no sign of a bounce.

Uranium flashpoint in the wild West,    The Drum, Jim Green, 22 May 12,  Interesting times in the uranium sector. The mining companies have had a few wins in the 14 months since the Fukushima disaster, but they’ve had more losses.

Bill Repard, organiser of the Paydirt Uranium Conference held in Adelaide in February, put on a brave face with this claim: The sector’s hiccups in the wake of Fukushima are now over with, the global development of new nuclear power stations continues unabated, and the Australian sector has literally commenced a U-turn in every sense.

Yet for all the hype, uranium accounts for a lousy 0.03 per cent of Australian export revenue and a negligible 0.02 per cent of Australian jobs. The industry’s future depends on the nuclear power ‘renaissance’, but global nuclear power capacity has been stagnant for the past 20 years, and if there is any growth at all in the next 20 years, it will be modest. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs | Leave a comment