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Suicide of Fukushima farmer: TEPCO admits culpability

Fukushima operator admits culpability by: Shingo Ito From: AAP June 06,  JAPAN’S Tokyo Electric Power has conceded the Fukushima disaster played a part in a farmer’s suicide, lawyers said, its first admission of culpability in such a case.

The utility, known as TEPCO, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the bereaved family of Hisashi Tarukawa, a Fukushima farmer who took his own life days after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown.

It was the first time the company has accepted in a settlement that the nuclear disaster at its plant was a factor in a suicide, the lawyers said, adding that terms of the settlement package were not being made public. The 64-year-old hanged himself from a tree in a vegetable field after authorities banned shipments of some farm produce from Fukushima because of fears it was contaminated by radiation.

“I just didn’t want TEPCO to keep saying no one was killed because of the nuclear accident,” said Kazuya Tarukawa, the dead man’s 37-year-old son.He said he still wanted the company to make an official apology for his father’s suicide.

“Does TEPCO think everything is finished if money is paid?” he said.”I want them to come to my house under the name of the company and bow to my father’s altar. My fight is not over yet.”

TEPCO refused to comment on the details of the settlement.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation release was made worse by operator error

Asahi: Tepco ‘failure’ may have increased Fukushima radiation release — Concern over ‘lethal levels’ escaping from ruptured containment vessel See also: NHK: “The unimaginable was happening” — Workers say part of Reactor 2 containment vessel destroyed — After alarming pressure readings, “we heard a loud bang… pressure is now zero” (VIDEO)
Title: TEPCO’s failure at math may have increased radiation release at Fukushima plant
Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
Date: June 05, 2013

Workers miscalculated pressure levels inside a reactor during the early stages of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, leading to a reduction in cooling water and a possible increase in the volume of radioactive materials released.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. estimated the pressure inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel at 400 kilopascals […]

The actual pressure was 40 kilopascals, far below the 101 kilopascals of the surrounding atmosphere, suggesting that a large amount of radioactive materials escaped from the reactor.

TEPCO later discovered the mistake but did not announce it. […]

“I think the airtightness (of the containment vessel) has not been maintained,” [Tadayuki Yokomura] said, according to a video footage of a TEPCO teleconference. […]

The difficulty in venting fueled concerns that mounting pressure could rupture the containment vessel and release lethal levels of radioactive materials.

Early on March 15, TEPCO temporarily evacuated all but the minimum required 70 or so workers from the plant compound. […]

See also: NHK: “The unimaginable was happening” — Workers say part of Reactor 2 containment vessel destroyed — After alarming pressure readings, “we heard a loud bang… pressure is now zero” (VIDEO)

June 8, 2013 Posted by | - Fukushima 2011, Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

New Mexico’s huge solar energy farm goes ahead

New Mexico’s Largest Solar Farm To Proceed,  7 June 13,  New Mexico’s largest solar energy plant, the 50-megawatt Macho Springs Solar Project, will go ahead after a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed by the New Mexico Public Regulator and El Paso Electric Power.

Under the arrangement, El Paso Electric – which services almost 390,000 customers in West Texas and the Rio Grande valley – will purchase the entire output from the solar farm for the duration of the PPA.
Construction of the plant is set to begin in July and will be completed in 2014. Sited on about 500 acres of state land in Luna County, New Mexico, Macho Springs is expected to generate enough power to provide electricity for around 18,000 homes.

The project will avoid 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road, and save up to 340,000 tons of water each year.
The Macho Springs project will create 300 new jobs during its year-long construction phase and three full-time maintenance and operation positions. State Land Commissioner Ray Powell said in a statement that the lease payments from the solar plant could generate as much as $40 million for state land trust beneficiaries over the 40-year term of the lease.

The Macho Springs Solar plant is another addition to First Solar Inc’s stable of utility-scale solar power plants, including California’s massive 550-megawattTopaz and Desert Sunlight solar farms.

“We are very pleased to support El Paso Electric’s efforts to provide clean, reliable, renewable power to its customers, and contribute economic benefits and green jobs created by utility-scale solar development to Luna County,” said Michael Hatfield, First Solar Director of Project Development.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Mongolia plans to become a renewable energy hub

Mongolia eyes renewable energy as climate warms SMH June 5, 2013  Mongolia, which is banking on a mining-led investment boom to develop its economy, is aiming to turn itself into a regional renewable energy hub as it tries to fight off the pressures of global warming, the country’s president said.

“Mongolia is regarded as one of the centres of this region for wind power. We have high mountains and the Gobi. We have great potential to generate power,” president Tsakhia Elbegdorj told reporters.
“We have some ideas of how Mongolia can be Asia’s super grid for wind power and solar power, and other renewable energies. If we use all the wind power (potential) in the country, we can enhance the energy supply of China and all over Asia.”

Mongolia was chosen to host the U.N.’s World Environment Day on June 5, and at a news conference to mark the occasion, officials said the country also planned to better regulate a mining sector that is polluting an already fragile environment……..

Mongolia is suffering “more pasture degradation, permafrost thawing, and glacial melt”, Sanjaasuren Oyunm, minister of environment and green development, told Reuters.

Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme told Reuters during a visit this week that Mongolia had seen average temperatures rise 2.1 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) in the past 60 to 70 years – about three times faster than the global average.

Its high altitude and sparse vegetation in many regions made the nation vulnerable…..

Environment Minister Oyun said she was introducing new environmental regulations, including obliging companies to pay compensation for the use and consumption of non-extracted resources such as water and timber……..

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Mongolia, renewable | Leave a comment

Spain’s increasing solar radiation

Solar Radiation Increasing In Spain Red Orbit, June 6, 2013 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and TechnologySolar radiation in Spain has increased by 2.3% every decade since the 1980s, according to a study by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. This increase is linked to the decreased presence of clouds, which has increased the amount of direct radiation reaching us from the Sun.

“The mean annual G series over Spain shows a tendency to increase during the 1985-2010 period, with a significant linear trend of + 3.9 W m-2 [2.3% more] per decade.” This is the main conclusion of a study published in the magazine ‘Global and Planetary Change‘ by researchers from the University of Girona and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH, Switzerland).

The season-by-season data show the same “significant” increase in solar radiation impacting the nation: + 6.5 W/m2 per decade during the summer, + 4.1 W/m2 in autumn, + 3.2 W/m2 in spring and + 1.7 W/m2 in winter.

“These data relate to global solar radiation, in other words the increase in direct radiation reaching us from the Sun plus diffuse radiation which is scattered previously by clouds, atmospheric gases and aerosols,” explains one of the authors, Arturo Sánchez-Lorenzo, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Girona…… According to the scientists, this increase may also go hand in hand with more ultraviolet rays, an excess of which presents a health risk, potentially leading to skin cancer.

More global brightening

The increase in global solar radiation is a phenomenon that has been observed in other parts of the world for almost 30 years, especially in developed countries, and it has been named “global brightening”. The fall in the diffuse component has also been observed in Central European and Eastern countries.

The team behind the study has not yet analyzed the solar radiation data for 2011-2013 provided by the Spanish State Meteorological Agency, but the data from other European weather stations suggests that this brightening is still on the rise.

“Studies such as these may be of interest to the solar energy industry, especially in countries like Spain, where not only do we already have a lot of direct solar radiation but now we are getting even more,” affirms one of the other authors, Josep Calbó, who is a professor at the University of Girona.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

South Korean government sacks nuclear power bosses

South Korea’s top nuclear plant operator sacked Channel News Asia : 07 Jun 2013   South Korea on Thursday fired the head of the state-run company that oversees the country’s 23 nuclear reactors over a forged documentation scandal that has shut a host of those reactors down. SEOUL – South Korea on Thursday fired the head of the state-run company that oversees the country’s 23 nuclear reactors over a forged documentation scandal that has shut a host of those reactors down.

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power president Kim Kyun-Seop was dismissed from his post for the scandal involving parts provided with fake safety certificates, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

It added that An Seung-Kyoo, CEO of KEPCO Engineering and Construction, which is responsible for nuclear power plant design and technology, would also be sacked at a board meeting on Friday.

The ministry had vowed stern punitive action against any senior officials of the two companies if they were found involved in the scandal.

The move came after President Park Geun-Hye demanded action over what she called “unpardonable” corruption in the nuclear power sector.

State prosecutors have launched an extensive probe into the case which forced the shutdown of two reactors on May 28 and delayed the scheduled start of operations at two more.

At proper capacity, South Korea’s nuclear reactors supply more than 35 percent of national electricity needs.

But 10 of 23 reactors are currently offline for various reasons, prompting government warnings of serious power shortages……

June 8, 2013 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

USA’s B61 bomb – useless and a waste of money

B61-bombingThe nuclear bomb we don’t need, L A Times, By Steve Andersen June 6, 2013 The American B61 is a massively expensive investment that provides no real military capability and no real deterrence in today’s Europe………s President Obama prepares to unveil a nuclear weapons policy initiative for his second term, no one is suggesting that the United States should slash defense spending to Russian levels. Defense cuts of that size would be inconsistent with the national interests of America and its allies. But policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic ought to be more inclined than they have been to trim defense programs tailored for a Cold War that has been over for two decades, in particular during an era of sequestration in Washington and austerity in Europe.

Enter the American B61 nuclear bomb …… Throughout the Cold War, thousands of tactical nuclear weapons — short-range nuclear artillery shells, missiles and bombs — were deployed by the United States to deter the Soviets from exploiting their advantages in Europe to mount a lightning attack.

It worked. After the Soviet Union collapsed, President George H. W. Bush ordered the return of almost all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, leaving only a few hundred air-delivered gravity bombs — the B61 — in European bunkers.

Over the last 20 years, the military rationale for continuing these deployments has evaporated. …..When allocating limited defense resources against real defense priorities, including Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Syria, nuclear proliferation, terrorism — today’s “guns versus guns” measurements — the B61 simply doesn’t pass muster……   If Americans understood that their government plans to spend about the same amount of money this year, $537 million, on the B61 bomb as it will spend on Alzheimer’s research, while financing nearly three-quarters of NATO’s military spending, the B61 would deservedly become a dead man walking.

So who will make this case? Four American statesmen — George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn — who in a landmark 2007 Op-Ed article called for “eliminating short-range nuclear weapons designed to be forward deployed” — laid the foundation. Since then, a number of European senior statesmen — including defense and foreign secretaries across the political spectrum — have echoed their call.

Obama should connect the dots as part of an initiative to implement the ambitious agenda for nuclear threat reduction he laid out in Prague four years ago, which was endorsed by NATO. Or even better, maybe it will be a European leader who has the iron to seize the initiative and call attention to the obvious: In today’s Europe, tactical nuclear weapons make no sense.,0,4306971.story

June 8, 2013 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

All of Tennessee Valley Authority.s nuclear power plants have notices of safety violations

All of TVA’s nuclear power plants operating under notices of safety violations  Lucas W Hixson The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federally owned corporation in the United States, which is already facing the threat of being sold as it carries some $25 billion in debt -just under the $30 million debt limit set by Congress, is facing increased oversight after having been found to having improperly assessed safety violations at two nuclear power plants.  TVA owns and operates the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah, and Watts Barr nuclear power plants, all of which are operating under notices of safety violations.  In 2011, the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant was issued a red finding due to the failure of a safety valve and TVA’s failure to recognize the problem.

This week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission put the Sequoyah nuclear power plant and Watts Bar nuclear power plant on increased oversight after determining that TVA violated nuclear safety standards in how the utility analyzed and prepared its flood assessment risk at the two nuclear power plants, both of which are located on the Tennessee River.

In late April of this year, the NRC staff held a conference with TVA officials to discuss the risk significance of the issues with the flood protection area.  After reviewing information presented by TVA and previous NRC inspections, the NRC staff concluded that the licensee had not met safety standards in multiple areas at both nuclear power plants.  The NRC concluded that TVA did not adequately establish flooding protection for scenarios involving the failure of upstream dams and also had not taken necessary measures to prevent water from flooding the intake pumping station.  Additionally, TVA was cited for an additional violation for not promptly notifying the NRC after discovering that the potential failure of upstream dams could result in an unanalyzed condition affecting plant safety.

In response to the violations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also increased its oversight at the nuclear power plants, an expense that TVA will have to pay for, putting all three nuclear facilities operated by TVA under increased oversight due to safety violations.  The NRC did not choose to impose further civil penalties and fines on TVA beyond the expense of the additional inspections and oversight.

June 8, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders upgrades for 31 nuclear reactors

Upgraded vent systems ordered for 31 nuclear reactors, including two at Peach Bottom Nuclear Regulatory Commission says move is a safety measure By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun, June 6, 2013   The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday that it has ordered a venting upgrade for nearly a third of the reactors in the country, including ones at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station just north of Harford County.

Peach Bottom, in Delta, Pa., has two of the 31 reactors that must now have venting systems that can better handle accidents. The commission’s order is part of its review effort following the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, after an earthquake and tsunami.

Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said officials want venting systems in place that can operate “under a wider set of conditions and keep doing the job they’re designed for” — releasing pressure and hydrogen so containment buildings can hold on to radioactive material…..,0,3084896.story#ixzz2VZ6s598g

June 8, 2013 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Energy firm pulls out of its $billion nuclear power plans

$1 Billion Nuclear Power Plans Abandoned In Iowa Clean Technica,  June 6, 2013  Plans for Iowa’s second nuclear power plant have been dropped by Mid American Energy. No design has been approved for the type of nuclear plant the company had intended, so they have let the idea go. It was reported that ratepayers will be refunded the $8.8 million they paid for a completed feasibility study. Sites not far from Council Bluffs and Davenport were being considered for the plant….

Friends of the Earth interpreted the decision more broadly saying it is an indication that massive public subsidies for new nuclear power might not be as popular an idea any longer. A poll of Iowans conducted in 2012 found 77% were against a funding arrangement that would have required residents to have to pay the energy company up front for construction of the nuclear plant. Proposed legislation could have made such an arrangement possible, but it was opposed by a number of non-profit advocacy organizations, so it didn’t go through. t

June 8, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear waste policy is a mess

Feds Fail on Nuclear Waste, Mational Review Online, Jack Spencer, June 6,The federal government assumed responsibility for nuclear-waste management more than 30 years ago. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 created an ostensibly simple system: Nuclear utilities would pay the U.S. Treasury a fee, collected from their customers, to cover the costs, and the government would see to it that the waste was taken care of. The act and its amendments over the years specified every detail of the disposal process. They stipulated how the waste would be disposed of, where, and who would be responsible.

Surprise! Despite the politicians’ and bureaucrats’ best efforts to centrally plan a long-term solution, the system doesn’t work. Although the government successfully collects money from the consumers of nuclear-generated electricity — nearly $30 billion since 1982 — it has collected zero nuclear waste. And as the waste — nearly 70,000 tons and counting — continues to build up at nuclear plants around the country, the government continues to dither. It literally has no plan to collect and dispose of the waste.

To address this, earlier this spring four senators released a draft of another “solution”: the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013. Unfortunately, the NWAA does nothing to fix the failed system. Instead, it accepts the notion that the feds, not waste producers themselves, should be responsible for nuclear-waste management, and it continues the policy of having waste producers pay a flat fee for these services…….

June 8, 2013 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment