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“Fast nuclear reactors” not the solution to plutonium wastes

Ultimately, however, the core problem may be that such new reactors don’t eliminate the nuclear waste that has piled up so much as transmute it. Even with a fleet of such fast reactors, nations would nonetheless require an ultimate home for radioactive waste, one reason that a 2010 M.I.T. report on spent nuclear fuel dismissed such fast reactors.  

Can Fast Reactors Speedily Solve Plutonium Problems? The U.K. is grappling with how to get rid of weapons-grade plutonium and may employ a novel reactor design to consume it Scientific American By David Biello  | March 21, 2012 The U.K. has nearly 100 metric tons of plutonium—dubbed “the element from hell” by some—that it doesn’t know what to do with. The island nation does not need the potent powder to construct more nuclear weapons, and spends billions of British pounds to ensure that others don’t steal it for that purpose. The unstable element, which will remain radioactive for millennia, is the residue of ill-fated efforts to recycle used nuclear fuel.

One solution under consideration is to recycle the plutonium yet further—by using it as fuel in a pair of new, so-called “fast” reactors. Such nuclear reactors can actually “consume” plutonium via fission (transforming it into other forms of nuclear waste that are not as useful for weapons). The U.K. is considering a plan to build two of General Electric’s PRISM fast reactors, the latest in a series of fast-reactor designs that for several decades have attempted with mixed success to handle plutonium and other radioactive waste from nuclear power. The idea remains that fast reactors, which get their name because the neutrons that initiate fission in the reactor are zipping about faster than those in a conventional reactor, could offer a speedy solution to cleaning some nasty nuclear waste, which fissions better with fast neutrons, while also providing electricity as a by-product.

The U.K. is hardly alone in struggling to cope with nuclear waste, whether plutonium or otherwise. Continue reading


June 30, 2012 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, UK | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear reprocessing reactor’s astronomic costs

Fast breeder reactor far costlier than regular nuclear power generation TOKYO, June 29, Kyodo If the development of the controversial Monju prototype fast breeder reactor is continued, its costs will swell to over 1.4 trillion yen and its power generation costs will be 10,000 yen per kilowatt hour, roughly 1,000 times greater than a regular reactor, according to data compiled by Kyodo News.

 Construction of the Monju reactor started in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in 1985 as part of the government’s policy of establishing a nuclear fuel cycle to make use of spent nuclear fuel at conventional atomic plants that run on uranium. Monju uses a uranium and plutonium mix as fuel.

 The facility of the government-affiliated Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. first reached criticality, a situation where a chain reaction of nuclear fission is sustained, in 1994.

June 30, 2012 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

100,000 Japanese rally against restart of nuclear power

Huge Tokyo Rally Protests Nuclear Restart By MITSURU OBE And ELEANOR WARNOCK, WSJ, June 29, 2012, TOKYOTens of thousands of people protested against the nation’s first nuclear reactor restarts at the Japanese prime minister’s residence Friday, in one of the largest demonstrations since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last year set off wide opposition to nuclear power.

The massive demonstration was called to protest a government decision to restart Sunday two reactors at the Oi plant in western Japan. It was the 14th demonstration organized by a coalition of anti-nuclear groups outside the premier’s residence since March 29. Organizers estimated the number of participants to be more than 100,000. The National Police Agency, which also releases estimates, was unavailable for comment. The looming restart of the two Oi reactors, a decision
made by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s administration amid power-shortage concerns, seems to have galvanized support for Friday’s demonstration.

The sidewalks in front of the prime minister’s office and near the Parliament were overflowing with protesters. Some participants carried handwritten signs, while others held aloft elaborate placards reading ”No Restarts.” For more than two hours the crowd kept up a rhythmic cheer of “Against the restarts, against the restarts, against the restarts.”….

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Serious safety problems found in 8 of France’s nuclear reactors

This failure raises even more questions in risk facilities, such as the plant of Areva LaHague whose pools contain the equivalent of 130 cores of nuclear power plants …

Severe abnormalities detected on fuel pools of eight French reactors   Greenpeace France 29 June 12 Network “power without atoms” received and analyzed internal documents released today to EDF and IRSN  who report anomalies on fuel pools of nuclear reactors Paluel, Flamanville and St. Alban. Abnormalities that could have serious consequences in case of earthquake. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

USA joining with China to develop thorium nuclear reactors

What’s not clear is what, exactly, the U.S. will get from the collaboration….

U.S. partners with China on new nuclear, By Mark Halper Smart Planet  June 26, 2012 E Pluribus Thorium? U.S. Assistant Energy Secretary Peter Lyons and Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Jiang Mianheng have joined forces for thorium development. What’s in it for the U.S.?

The U.S. Department of Energy is quietly collaborating with China on an alternative nuclear power design known as a molten salt reactor that could run on thorium fuel Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | China, politics international, Reference, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Some respect entering in USA-Iran practical talks

Silver lining in Iran nuclear talks, Asia Times Online By Kaveh L Afrasiabi 27 June 12 Despite the deadlock at last week’s talks in Moscow between Iran and world powers on the former’s nuclear ambitions, it seems not all hope is lost.

The glimmer of progress lies in the support building for a technical agreement on a nuclear fuel swap, which is the subject of a technical follow-on meeting for July 3 in Istanbul, as well as in improved confidence-building measures between the US and Iran. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Distributed renewable energy is now a mainstream commercial factor in USA

The data submission forms the EIA uses do not catch every last TWh, and indeed, don’t include solar photovoltaic generation from systems less than 1 megawatt in size. This smaller capacity segment includes most residential and commercial distributed PV systems.

renewable energy is clearly moving beyond “niche” status. It’s a mainstream source that will increasingly challenge existing electricity generation and provision business models, particularly as distributed solutions (electric vehicles, demand response, PV, etc.) take off

Renewable Energy Supplies 7% US Electricity, Has Anyone Noticed? News, by Dan Seif, Rocky Mountain Institute, 29 June 12,  Between April 2011 and March 2012, the US generated 5% of its annual electricity from renewable sources, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

To be exact, the US generated 204 terawatt-hours (TWh) out of 4,070 TWh from non-hydro renewables – solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and small hydro.

Putting this annual total of non-hydro renewable generation in context, this is:

More than the total electrical use of 197 nations (92% of all nations), including Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey, and Thailand.
More than the combined electrical use of the Philippines, Switzerland, and Malaysia.
Enough electrical energy to power about 16 million American homes, deducting about 10% for transmission and distribution losses. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives a big boost to solar energy to

Big News for Renewable Energy: FERC Rules for Wind, Solar, Storage, Forbes, 29 June 12 “.…. A year ago, Wellinghoff told me: “[North American Electric Reliability Corporation] projects in its 2010 Long-Term Reliability Assessment that approximately 60 percent of all new resources expected to be added to the bulk power system by 2019 will be new wind and solar resources.”

The FERC aims to remove regulatory barriers to ensure that all of these resources can get access the grid and play a competitive role in the energy markets.

To that end, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission passed a rule last week to make it easier for solar and wind providers to distribute their power to the grid…. FERC says the ruling also benefits electric consumers by ensuring that services are provided at
reasonable rates. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Reference, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Czech Republic ‘s nuclear plans need government funding – anxiety in nuclear lobby

The global economic crisis has slashed demand for electricity and weakened the balance sheets of utilities, reducing their ability to finance expensive nuclear projects.

 “The chance Temelin will be built is about 50-50 with state guarantees…without them, it is about 10-90.”

Czech nuclear tender seen pivotal after Fukushima  
* Bids due for two reactors worth over $10 billion

* U.S., Russian, French firms in the running

* Economic crisis, cloudy energy sector outlook are obstacles

* Deal likely to need government guarantees

By Jan Lopatka PRAGUE, June 29 (Reuters) – As several European countries retreat from nuclear power, the Czech Republic is taking a big step forward in a tender to build new reactors which some in the industry see as a pivotal test of the technology’s future on the continent. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Stuxnet computer malaware affected USA too

When Stuxnet Hit the Homeland: Government Response to the Rescue abc News 29 June 12, An Iranian nuclear facility may have taken the brunt of the cyber superweapon Stuxnet believed to be built in part by the U.S., but the American government was concerned enough with its spread to a facility back home that a fast response team was deployed to deal with an infection, according to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security.
The report , released Thursday by the DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Computer Emergency Readiness Team (ICS-CERT), gives scant details on the incident, except to say that after Stuxnet was discovered on thousands of computer systems around the world in 2010, a DHS team “conducted an onsite incident response deployment to a manufacturing
facility infected with the Stuxnet malware and helped the organization identify all infected systems and eradicate the malware from their control system network.”

The worm was found on “all their engineering workstations as well as several other machines connected to the manufacturing control systems network,” the report said….

June 30, 2012 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Radiation incident at Rawatbhata atomic power station in Rajasthan

Two suffer radioactive exposure at Rawatbhata atomic power station, The Hindu, 29 June 12,  Two workers of the Rawatbhata atomic power station in Rajasthan are under observation after they were found to have been exposed to radioactive tritium vapour beyond the permissible limit.

The incident took place on June 23 at Unit 5 when a modification work was on during a routine biennial shutdown…. A report on the NPCIL website said the incident occurred due to an “inadvertent” rise in tritium levels in a localised area of the containment building of
reactor-5. “The localised increase in the tritium [in turn] occurred due to the opening of the moderator cover gas line, where welding jobs were to be performed.”

June 30, 2012 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

Danger in relicensing Indian Point nuclear plant, says Connecticut Attorney General

Mr. Jepsen said that continued operation of the plants would “result in the accumulation of two more decades’ worth of spent nuclear fuel at a facility that is already overloaded.”
Without a federal long-term storage facility, the spent fuel will remain on site indefinitely.

Attorney general opposes relicensing Indian Point nuclear plant Ridgefield Press,  by Susan Kinsman, , 29 June 2012   Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said Thursday he opposes relicensing two Indian Point nuclear reactors in Buchanan, N.Y. until a thorough and complete investigation is made of environmental impacts from continuing their operation for 20 years, including spent fuel storage, the potential threat to public drinking water supplies and relocating large numbers of people in the event of an accident. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear company Entergy suddenly cutting out health benefits for Pilgrim nuclear workers

The Louisiana-based Entergy is slashing benefits as part of a hard-line lockout, while inexperienced and lesser trained replacements try to manage the 40-year-old plant’s complex operations.

“Our members have literally risked their lives time and again to keep this community safe and to help Entergy make $1 million a day in profits,”

Entergy’s Countdown to Cruelty: 48 hours until Pilgrim Nuclear workers and families lose healthcare Just days after Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare for all, Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. set to end medical coverage for workers and families facing surgery, cancer treatment, childbirth and other healthcare issues

The Sacramento Bee, By Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 , Jun. 28, 2012 PLYMOUTH, Mass., June 29, 2012 —  Locked-out Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant
workers and their families are bracing for a devastating blow as Entergy Corp. prepares to end their healthcare coverage at midnight on Saturday, June 30. Continue reading

June 30, 2012 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

Scotland’s renewable energy success

About 35% of Scotland’s electricity needs would have come from renewables last year – assuming consumption levels were similar to 2010. This would exceed the Scottish Government’s interim target of 31%….. ”particularly encouraging when you consider that 2011 saw the highest output from renewable energy to date”.

The sector also already employs 11,000 people in Scotland

Renewable energy production doubles Jun 28 2012 Scotland produced a record amount of renewable energy last year, almost double the total from five years ago, according to UK Government figures. Continue reading

June 29, 2012 Posted by | renewable | Leave a comment

Group for Zero Nuclear Power – a new force in Japan’s Parliament

(Group for Zero Nuclear Power), made up of nine politicians from seven political parties

The lawmakers’ group plans to campaign for a phased scrapping of nuclear reactors, similar to the policy adopted by Germany.

Experts warn against restarting nuclear reactors in Japan, Times of India, Subodh Varma, TNN | Jun 28, 2012, NEW DELHI: Japan is in ferment as the date for restarting two of its nuclear reactors draws close after over an year’s shutdown. Hundreds have participated in protests at several places. Local councils are confused and divided. Two seismic experts publicly warned that the government is under-estimating the threat to these reactors which are located very near a seismic fault.

And a group of lawmakers cutting across political parties released a danger ranking of 50 nuclear reactors in Japan calling for their phased decommissioning. …. Continue reading

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment