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This week in nuclear news

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Fukushima is even in the mainstream news, as Prime Minister Abe acknowledges the radioactive water crisis there.  Japan’s new nuclear regulator is not pulling punches, stating that it is an emergency situation.  Radioactive water has been leaking out for 2 years, with the amount reaching 300 tonnes a day. Water accumulating below the nuclear reactors is causing the ground to sink. There’s  a very real risk of the buildings collapsing.  This would be especially dire in the case of reactor no 4, which has an elevated pool of radioactive spent fuel rods.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days being recognised around the world, with calls for a Nuclear Weapons Convention – a process to ban nuclear weapons, as similar processes have closed down chemical and biological weapons, and land mines.   An international poll conducted in 26 countries found that 78 percent of people support a treaty that would outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. Similarly, 151 of 195 UN member nations have a stated policy supporting a ban on nuclear weapons.

  • USA. The Pentagon’s plan for AirSea Battle  entails a pre-emptve attack on China.  This new posture  is quietly being adopted without public awareness.
  • The decline in nuclear power is gathering pace.  EDF, the world’s largest nuclear company announced that it now abandons nuclear power projects in USA, and will focus on renewable energy.
  • Global warming is taking its toll on nuclear reactors, with Entergy’s Cape Cod Bay’s Pilgrim nuclear plant forced to cut back due to excess heat.
  • The Attorneys General of New York and Vermont have joined the fight against California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant in an effort to stop federal regulators from erasing all record of a judicial ruling that the public has a right to intervene before major amendments are granted to an operating license.  An important battle – it means upholding the Supreme Court’s power, rather than having the Nuclear Regulatory Commission overriding it.

South Korea’s nuclear industry is in somewhat of a turmoil, with continuing revelations of corruption, falsification of safety documents.

UK. The supposedly anti nuclear Liberal Democrats are on the verge of selling out, to join the Tories in a pro nuclear policy, as both parties try to organise a subsidy for new nuclear, but one that doesn’t look like a subsidy.


August 8, 2013 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Each week, OLympic swimming pool sized highy radioactive leak from Fukushima

water-radiationAn official from the newly created nuclear watchdog told Reuters on Monday that the highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Fukushima was creating an “emergency” that Tepco was not containing on its own.

flag-japanHighly radioactive water pouring out of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant  Reuters  August 07, 2013 TokyoHighly radioactive water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tonnes a day, officials said today, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.

The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.
Calling water containment at the Fukushima Daiichi station an “urgent issue,” Abe ordered the government for the first time to get involved to help struggling Tepco handle the crisis.
The leak from the plant 220 km northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week.  Continue reading

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013 | Leave a comment

Fukushima reactor buildings risk collapse as water accumulates underground

The Fukushima plant sits smack in the middle of an underground aquifer. Deep beneath the ground, the site is rapidly being overwhelmed by water.

What happens when you pour hundreds of thousands of tons of water (400 metric tons each day times 2.5 years times 365 days in a year equals 365,000 metric tons of water)  onto soil which sits above a massive aquifer?

The spent fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4 is the top short-term threat to humanity, and is a national security issue for America.
As such, it is disturbing news that the ground beneath unit 4 is sinking.


Fukushima: Japan’s Nuclear Accident Response Director Warns that Tepco’s Actions Might Cause Reactor BuIldings to Collapse   By Washington’s Blog Global Research, August 07, 2013 Tepco’s ill-considered efforts to change soil permeability and water flow have caused severe problems at the site … including highly radioactive groundwater bubbling up to the surface.

NHK notes:

The vice governor of Fukushima Prefecture has asked the government to take the lead in handling the matter and stop the leakage. Masao Uchibori told an official from the Nuclear Regulation Authority that some of Tepco’s measures have increased the risk of further leaks. Continue reading

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Japan, safety | 4 Comments

Now is the time for a Nuclear Weapons Convention

weapons1the manufacture and maintenance of nuclear warheads and the missiles, planes and submarines to deliver them anywhere in the world has grown into a huge business. In excess of $50 billion a year, this business — including Air Force bases, nuclear laboratories, manufacturing plants and other facilities — employs people in almost every congressional district, though far more Americans could be employed rebuilding infrastructure teaching, or providing health care if an equivalent sum were spent creating those jobs. The corporations that manufacture and manage these facilities spend millions a year in campaign contributions and lobbyists persuading our representatives in Congress not to cut the budget from any part of this huge “defense” conglomerate.

There is now a draft convention for the abolition of nuclear weapons at the United Nations, similar to those that ended chemical and germ warfare. 

Peter G. Cohen: Time for a convention to abolish nuclear weapons  The Cap Times,  PETER G. COHEN | author of   7 Aug 13  We now know that nuclear winter, ozone layer destruction, phytoplankton reduction and other effects of a nuclear exchange would massively affect health and life everywhere on Earth. How peace ccan we respond to something so overwhelming, so huge, so threatening that there is nowhere to hide except in denial? We’ve been trying that for almost 70 years. The numbers of weapons are down, their accuracy and lethality are up. It is time to try something new.

After the disaster of Fukushima, several nations, including Germany, abandoned nuclear generation because of its dangers. But 13 nations are now constructing new power reactors. The problem is that the refinement of nuclear reactor fuel, if carried further, becomes weapons-grade highly enriched uranium. The operation of nuclear plants results in the byproduct of plutonium, which also can be used to make a bomb. Continue reading

August 8, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Abe better focus on Fukushima radiation crisis, not on nuclear power restart

The first thing Abe must do is shift the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s focus away from evaluating the safety of atomic plants for restart, back to the fast-growing crisis of toxic sludge flowing into the sea around Fukushima. Really folks, first things first. Let’s first make sure children living within a 100 mile radius won’t develop cancer 10 years from now.

Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare  Bloomberg By William Pesek Aug 7, 2013 “………It also would have been great if Abe himself had cared more about nuclear safety than dollars when he assumed the premiership in December. His focus was on restarting the 52 reactors taken offline out of an abundance of caution after the earthquake. Never mind that most Japanese want them to remain mothballed. Japan’s potent “nuclear village,” the nexus of power companies and pro-nuclear regulators, bureaucrats and researchers, packs way too much political firepower.


This nuclear-industrial complex is one of the nation’s biggest advertisers, which keeps the Japanese media in line. That’s partly why international campaigners like Greenpeace received so few column inches as they presented report after report showing radiation levels far above what Tepco would admit. (Tepco was eventually forced to come clean.)

So, is Abe’s sudden interest in Fukushima’s radiation mess for real? Well, it has to be at this point. Aside from the risk to his approval ratings, Tokyo is actively vying for the 2020 Summer Olympics. International Olympic Committee officials might find the threat of protests in Istanbul preferable to jokes about Tokyo hosting the Chernobyl Games. Continue reading

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013 | Leave a comment

Prime Minister Abe sees Fukushima clean-up as urgent government problem

Abe,-Shinzo-nuke-1Japan’s leader weighs into nuclear clean-up debacle (includes video)  The Age, August 7, 2013 – Japan’s prime minister says the government will get more involved in cleaning up the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, as he described as “urgent” a battle to stop radioactive water from leaking into the ocean.

The government’s more prominent role comes as critics slam plant operator Tokyo Electric Power and its handling of the more than two-year-old atomic crisis, the worst nuclear accident in a generation.

The embattled power company, kept afloat by a government bail-out, last month admitted for the first time that radioactive groundwater had been leaking outside the plant, confirming long-held suspicions of ocean contamination from its shattered reactors.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Energy storage available in wind turbines

Wind Turbines Store Energy For Less Breezy Days HUFF POST, 7 Aug 13  “……a new wind turbine that generates more electricity at lower wind speeds, stores some excess energy for sale to the grid later (allowing owners to take advantage of higher prices), and also does a better job of analyzing and predicting the supply of wind energy too. In short, many clean energy advocates are pretty excited about GE’s 1.6-100 and 1.7-100 wind turbines and power management system.

Specifically, here are some of the features that clean tech geeks are getting excited about:

  • Improved blade designs resulting in a 47 percent increase in “swept area” (the square feet of the rotor) compared to previous models – meaning a 20-24 percent increase in power.
  • More energy harvested at lower wind speeds, resulting in a class-leading capacity factor of 54 percent. (Detail alert: the capacity factor is the actual power output over time, compared as a percentage to the theoretical power output of the turbine if it was producing at its maximum output at all times.)
  • A battery storage system that allows wind turbine operators to save excess electricity — either because they are producing more electricity than the grid needs at a given moment, or because they’ll get a better price for it later.
  • A sophisticated package of analytics equipment and software, which helps owners predict both when power will be needed and when the wind will be blowing, allowing communication between turbines in what’s been described as “an industrial Internet”.

Individually, each of the developments represented in the Brilliant turbines are a big deal. Collectively, says Andrew Burger of CleanTechnica, they have the potential to be game changing. In an enthusiastic, three-part series on the Brilliant turbines (see alsopart two, and part three), Burger explains why all this really matters to the rest of us – namely that the cost of wind energy has come down by 60 percent in recent years, making it competitive with new coal and natural gas plants. And that’s before you even start calculating all the hidden, but very real economic costs caused by our reliance on fossil fuels….

August 8, 2013 Posted by | energy storage, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Iowa turns against nuclear power – and not to gas, but to renewables

Like with any energy source, burning natural gas should be considered in the context of its entire lifecycle. In that context, its greenhouse gas emissions are not much better than coal, if not worse,
depending upon the amount of methane leakage

Flag-USAIowa’s Campaign to Stop Nuclear Power, Blog For Iowa, August 7, 2013 | Author Paul Deaton Nuclear Neighborhoods: 11,000 Generations Prepared remarks delivered by Paul Deaton at the Iowa City Public
Library on the 68th Anniversary of Hiroshima, Aug. 6, 2013.

Well we held back new nuclear power in Iowa. Isn’t that great?

In February 2010, I wrote the first of a long series of posts on Blog
for Iowa about what I believed to be the legislature’s infatuation
with nuclear power during the last four sessions of the Iowa General
Assembly.   I wrote, “I heard the words ‘zero sum gain’ applied to
MidAmerican Energy’s process toward change for the first time. It
seems to fit. A zero sum gain is a situation in which a participant’s
gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other
participant(s). If the state wants to move forward with nuclear power,
it’s okay with MidAmerican Energy, but they are a business, so the
customers will have to pay.”

The customers will have to pay. That pretty much sums it up. What’s
missing is no one knew how much a new nuclear power plant would cost,
then, or now. For this and other reasons, the people of Iowa decided
there were better ways to generate electricity…….. Continue reading

August 8, 2013 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Solar powered lap-top is not costly

sunSOL – The Affordable Solar Powered Laptop  8 Aug 13 SOL can be run entirely on the power of the sun and could make a big difference to education and communications in developing countries.
Developed by Canadian R&D corporation WeWi Telecommunications, Inc.; SOL is a laptop initially aimed at the 1 in 4 people in the world who have little to no access to reliable power.

Able to run 8-10 hours on a full charge, the laptop features an Intel Atom D2500 1.86 GHz Duo Core processor, 2-4 gigabytes of RAM and a 320 gigabyte hard drive; plus a 13.3 inch display, WiFi, 3G/4G modem and a camera. Multiple external ports extend SOL’s capabilities.

Cutting the cost of software to run the laptop has been achieved through the use of the free Ubuntu operating system.

While information on the capacity of the detachable folding solar panels doesn’t appear to be on the SOL web site; according to the FAQ, the battery can be fully recharged in a little over 2 hours.

Far from being a fragile device that wouldn’t survive long in target markets, WeWi claims it was developed with “durable, reinforced materials, complex military industrial design and architecture that are meant to keep the laptop in good shape.”

The standard unit is expected to sell for around USD $350 and a submersible version, approximately USD $400. It will be initially rolled out in Ghana before other markets. While geared towards developing nations; SOL will ultimately be available globally and the company intends developing “adventurer” versions of the laptop with enhanced capabilities.

WeWi Telecommunications, Inc originally launched as a B2B Internet Service Provider and then evolved into a global solutions provider with an advanced research division specializing in security, telecom and innovative energy products.

Read more on the Sol web site.

August 8, 2013 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | 1 Comment

Duke Energy cancels nuclear power projects, agreement includes payout to customers

Duke Energy Settlement with Consumer Advocates Affects Nuclear, Coal Plants POWERnews, 7 Aug 13, A revised settlement agreement reached between Duke Energy Florida, the Office of Public Counsel, and other consumer advocates addresses cost recovery issues related to a retired nuclear reactor, a proposed nuclear project, and two coal units.

Under the settlement agreement, Duke Energy will address cost recovery issues for the retired Crystal River 3 plant and accept the Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL) mediator’s proposals. 

Duke will also terminate the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) agreement for the cancelled Levy nuclear project. And it will write off $295 million associated with Crystal River 3 and $65 million related to the wholesale allocation of investments in the Levy nuclear plant.

Following its merger with Progress Energy in February 2013, Duke Energy opted to scrap the Crystal River 3 plant rather than “attempt a complex and costly first-of-a-kind repair.” The plant had been offline since late 2009 due to damage to its containment building caused while workers were creating an opening in the structure to facilitate replacement of the steam generators inside. Repair of the damaged containment structure hovered between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion.

Under terms of the mediator’s proposal, customers and the Crystal River 3 joint owners will receive $835 million in insurance proceeds—the largest claim payout in the history of NEIL.

Duke Energy also definitively cancelled a 2008-proposed plan to built two 1,100-MW reactors in Levy County, Fla…….

August 8, 2013 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment