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Nuclear power – Asia and Middle East – theme for November 2013

The original and greatest nuclear power country – USA – now finds nuclear power costly and dangerous,  The imperative is to somehow make money out of this mess. The answer? – just as with asbestos and cigarettes – sell it off to Asia and the Middle East.  France and Russia join in the nuclear marketing frenzy – as does Japan, too (desperate to pretend that all is well at Fukushima.)

marketing-to-M-East-and-Asi

And why do Asian and Middle Eastern countries want this poisonous industry?   I can only suppose that, along with fashion, consumerism, cars, etc – everything Western is perhaps seen as ‘progress’.

And there’s that other factor, too. It would perhaps be nice to have the option of nuclear weapons.  If you want nuclear weapons, you must first have nuclear power.

And you might just think that  nuclear weapons might be a good idea.  (After all, would Iraq have been invaded if it had nuclear weapons?)

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Christina's themes | 3 Comments

Fukushima’s radiation leaks – a slowly unfolding environmental misery

Fukushima-wate-rtank-leakin

”There is no precedent for what is happening, so we are on untrodden ground.”

The Fukushima plant’s tainted water continues to contaminate the sea,  Canberra Times, Martin Fackler and Hiroko Tabuchi, 28 Oct 13,  FOR MONTHS now, it has been hard to escape the continuing deluge of bad news from the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Even after the company that operates the plant admitted this summer that tonnes of contaminated groundwater were leaking into the Pacific Ocean every day, new accidents have added to the uncontrolled releases of radioactive materials. Last month, newly tainted rainwater overflowed dykes. Two weeks before that, workers mistakenly disconnected a pipe, dumping 10 more tons of contaminated water onto the ground and dousing themselves in the process.

Those accidents have raised questions about whether the continuing leaks are putting the environment, and by extension the Japanese people, in new danger more than 2½ years after the original disaster – and long after many had hoped natural radioactive decay would have allowed healing to begin.

Interviews with scientists suggest they are struggling to determine which effects – including newly discovered hot spots on a wide swath of the ocean floor near Fukushima – are from recent leaks and which are leftovers from the original disaster. But evidence collected by them and the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co, or TEPCO, shows worrying trends.

The latest releases appear to be carrying much more contaminated water than before into the Pacific. And that flow may not slow until at least 2015, when an ice wall around the damaged reactors is supposed to be completed. Beyond that, although many Japanese believed that the plant had stopped spewing radioactive materials long ago, they have continued to seep into the air.

”This has become a slowly unfolding environmental misery,” said Atsunao Marui, a geochemist at the Geological Survey of Japan who has studied contaminated groundwater flowing from the plant. ”If we don’t put a stop to the releases, we risk creating a new man-made disaster.”…… Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2013, Japan | 2 Comments

Just under 100 years to clean up UK nuclear plant – if they’re lucky

The final decommissioning at Trawsfynydd and elsewhere depends on finding a safe long term solution for where to deposit the ILW as well as the High Level Waste (HLW) currently stored at Sellafield. This includes the spent nuclear fuel which was removed when the plant closed.

Trawsfynydd timeline

1959: Construction started

1965 to 1991: Electricity generation
1993 to 1995: Decommissioning starts – fuel removed and sent to Sellafield
1995 to 2016: Recovery of waste and preparations to put the plant into a ‘passively safe’ state
2020-26: Reduction in height of reactor buildings
2040s: Scheduled removal of Intermediate Level Waste to deep geological storage
2074: Final site clearance starts
2083: Site returned to pre-existing state

reactor-Trawsfynydd-UK

How do you close a nuclear power station? BBC  By Steven Green 28 Oct 13 As the UK embarks on building what could be a new generation of nuclear power plants, work continues to decommission the first generation of nuclear power stations at sites including Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia which will take an estimated 90 years to complete. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, UK | 1 Comment

UK govrenment’s sham presentation of the dodgy new nuclear power plan

No wonder the private sector has declined to take this opportunity.

Behind the nuclear smoke and mirrors http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/other_comments/2134515/behind_the_nuclear_smoke_and_mirrors.html Tom Burke 26th October 2013   There is an important question to be asked of Mr Davey. If there is no public subsidy for Hinkley C why are you having to make an application to the Brussels for state aid clearance?

UK-subsidy

The most important decision in this issue is EDF’s decision to order the major components for Hinkley. Only when that has happened will it become too expensive not to go ahead.

If that has not been done, no deal has actually been made. All that has happened is that the price the British Government will pay for the output from Hinkley has been announced.

It is very unlikely that any such order will be made until after state aid clearance has been granted.

As far as I can see the following is what the combination of Osborne and Davey’s announcements adds up to:-

Two Chinese companies will take a minority stake in EDF’s proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley point.

At some future point Chinese companies may be allowed to take a majority stake in other nuclear power stations if they are built.

Under the current levy control cap there is no money even to build the second EDF station let alone any Chinese stations.

The Chinese simply bought – for nothing – an option to participate in something that may never happen. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

France’s Flamanville EPR fiasco – not a good look for UK’s new nuclear reactors

Dr Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute at University College, London, believes the British public is facing a turbulent nuclear future. He says: ‘It’s extremely likely that the construction at Hinkley Point will be over-budget and late. It is unfortunate because it will be the UK taxpayer and consumer, no doubt, who will be picking up the bill.’…..

Professor Steve Thomas, an energy policy expert at the University of Greenwich, has written a damning report on the EPR project, claiming, in 2010, that the entire design and construction was ‘in crisis’. His 26-page report catalogued the errors at Flamanville and in Finland, and concluded construction had gone ‘dramatically wrong’.

Reactor-EPR-Flamanville

Deaths, chilling safety lapses, lawsuits, huge cost over-runs and delays: Why we can’t trust the French with Britain’s nuclear future, Daily mail UK, , 26 October 2013,  By STEVE BIRD

  • EDF’s nuclear reactor plant at Flamanville, Normandy, is beset by financial mismanagement and the deaths of workers
  • EDF, along with French nuclear group Areva and investors from China, are due to start work on a £16bn plant in Hinkley Point in Somerset in 2017 It will be the first nuclear reactor in the UK in nearly 20 years – and also first European Pressurised Reactor (EPR)
  • … yet no reactor of this design is yet working anywhere in the world……
  • The optimism and excitement of that first day of construction is now long gone.Since then, the predicted cost of just under £3 billion has rocketed to more than £7 billion (it could go up still further). Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

What do do with Britain’s radioactive trash from nuclear submarines?

Oscar-wastesRadioactive waste from submarines is divided into three categories: high-level waste (HLW) from the reactor pressure vessel, intermediate level waste (ILW) that includes spent fuel, and low level waste (LLW) including contaminated equipment.

“As long as we cling on to the idea that we need a seaborne nuclear deterrent, we’re going to have the problem of what to do with the dangerous waste it creates.”

Naval bases could become nuclear dumps http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/naval-bases-could-become-nuclear-dumps-8906452.html Fears grow in dockyard cities over removal of radioactive material from decommissioned subs SAM MASTERS SUNDAY 27 OCTOBER 2013 Fears that two major naval bases sited near large British cities could become nuclear waste storage facilities “by default” have grown after it was revealed the Ministry of Defence proposes to remove low-level radioactive waste from the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet.

According to minutes of a submarine dismantling meeting, the “early removal of low-level waste” has been proposed at two major dockyards: Rosyth, in the Forth estuary, Fife, and Devonport, in Plymouth. Experts warned that removing radioactive waste would need to be explained “carefully” to ensure dismantling sites on bases near major population centres did not become waste storage areas “by default”. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | UK, wastes | 1 Comment

AUDIO: Japan’s new Bill to restrict freedom of information

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Japanese secrets legislation prompts rights concerns Radio Australia,  28 October civil-liberty-2sm2013,  A legislative push by Japan’s government to clamp down on intelligence leaks is set to pass the country’s parliament, sparking major concerns about Freedom of Information. Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has given cabinet approval for a State secrets bill, which will give government departments free reign to classify information if they deem it sensitive. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Junichiro Koizumi, politician in harmony with Japan’s anti nuclear mood

“There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” Koizumi said, marking a stunning reversal for an LDP stalwart…….

Koizumi siding with the anti-nuclear movement is important for two reasons. One, he’s an extraordinarily perceptive politician with a unique ability to read the public mood and sell sweeping change to the masses. Two, he’s calling for a kind of Manhattan Project in reverse

A Quake Revives Japan’s Nuclear Nightmare Bloomberg, By William Pesek Oct 28, 2013 As Tokyo shook early Saturday morning and loud shrieks from mobile-phone earthquake-warning alarms filled bedrooms around the city, one word immediately sprung to mind:Fukushima.

Those who don’t reside 135 miles away from the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl won’t understand this reaction. But the first thing most of Tokyo’s 13 million residents do once things stop wobbling is check if all’s well at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant still leaking radiation into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean…… Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health, social effects | Leave a comment

How long can China’s nuclear industry stay “safe”?

safety-symbol-Smflag-ChinaChinese nuclear disaster ‘highly probable’ by 2030 The Ecologist, He Zuoxiu 25th October 2013  “……But if China sticks to plans to build another 30 third-generation power stations between 2015 and 2020, the risks rocket. No AP1000 reactors – one of the key third-generation designs – have yet been built anywhere in the world, meaning there are no reactor-years of experience. Only the figures of 267 reactor-years from Three Mile Island’s 267 reactor years and Chernobyl’s 162 reactor-years can be used as reference.

Even if we take the larger of those numbers, that brings the “most probable” period for a nuclear accident in China forward to between 2020 and 2030.

Some may say that “theoretically” third-generation reactors are safer than their second-generation equivalents. In fact, these 30 nuclear power plants will use reactors that have not been operationally tested. They are all being built inland and all face problems with water supply. Several third-generation plants, including Pengze in Jiangxi and Taohuajiang in Hunan, each with six reactors, cheated during the environmental impact assessment process, with no action taken by the National Nuclear Safety Administration.

For safety’s sake, it would be better to stop at 41 reactors, a number due to be reached in 2015. The Great Leap Forward mentality

Why did the US and former Soviet Union see nuclear accidents so soon? Apart from a lack of experience and immature technology, another factor was the Cold War mentality – both were fighting to be the world’s number one nuclear power.

Similar attitudes exist in China today. Nuclear decision-makers aim to build up to 500 nuclear power stations by 2050, exceeding the current global total of 443, and allowing the country to claim the world’s number one spot.

This is nothing but Great Leap Forward thinking. If these attitudes continue, we will likely see “most probable” will become the “actual”.

This article was first published by China Dialogue under a Creative Commons “Some Rights Reserved” licence.  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2133281/chinese_nuclear_disaster_highly_probable_by_2030.html

 

October 29, 2013 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Storm shuts down two UK nuclear reactors

UK storm causes two Dungeness nuclear reactors to close LONDON | Mon Oct 28, 2013   (Reuters) – The storm that swept across southern Britain on Monday morning caused nuclear poweroutages at the Dungeness B21 and B22 units, operator EDF Energy said……http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/28/us-energy-britain-nuclear-idUSBRE99R0FG20131028

October 29, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

LED lights a better option than nuclear power plants

Can LED Bulbs Make Nuclear Plants Obsolete? http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/technology/chi-nsc-can-led-bulbs-make-nuclear-plants-obsolete-20131028,0,6700085.story Michael Kanellos Forbes  October 28, 2013

Bulbs or reactors?
energy-efficiency

Businesses, voters, utilities and politicians will be asking that question-or an equivalent form of it-several times over the next two decades. Should they invest in technology and projects that generate power or into products like solid-state lights or dynamic air conditioners that conserve electricity?

By a sheer coincidence, LED lights and nuclear power provide an intriguing way to study the issue. Nuclear power plants generate approximately19% of the electric power in the U.S. Lighting accounts for approximately 19% of the power used. Thus, you can argue the fleet of 104 commercial nuclear reactors exists to keep the lights on. If you want to increase functional capacity by 20 percent, you can build 21 nuclear reactors or reduce light power by 20 percent.

The picture stays roughly the same when you look globally. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | 1 Comment

Corruption scandals in S Korea make nuclear power future uncertain

Scandal may cause South Korea to abandon nuclear power http://www.salon.com/2013/10/28/scandal_may_cause_south_korea_to_abandon_nuclear_power/singleton/  BY  Amid a safety scandal in which 100 people have been indicted for corruption and that has shut down three of the country’s 23 nuclear generators, South Korea is reconsidering its reliance on nuclear power, Reuters reports. The shift from nuclear, which currently provides nearly a third of the country’s power while only accounting for about 3-4 percent of its energy costs, could cost tens of billions of dollars a year in imports of liquified natural gas, oil or coal.

At a congressional hearing today, politicians estimated that the scandals have already cost the country’s nuclear operator $2.8 billion. From Reuters: The chaos in the industry comes as a government working group recommended on October 13 a cut in South Korea’s reliance on nuclear power, pointing to a drop in public confidence in safety that has been exacerbated by Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

The study recommended nuclear power capacity be kept between 22 and 29 percent of the total by 2035, well below existing plans to grow the sector to 41 percent in less than 20 years.

The government will hold public hearings to decide whether to back the recommendation before finalizing its energy policy in December.

Consumers may be asked to shoulder much of the estimated fivefold increase in energy costs by 2030, according to local media reports — or just start using less electricity.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea | Leave a comment

Irradiated horses cared for by compassionate Japanese horse breeder

As Iitate’s population plummeted in the spring of 2011, Hosokawa managed to find new homes for more than 80 of his horses. Then, in January this year, he noticed that several among the 30 that remained, mainly foals, had become unsteady on their feet.

Within weeks, 16 had died in mysterious circumstances. Autopsies on four of the horses found no evidence of disease and tests revealed caesium levels at 200 becquerels per kilo – twice as high as the government-set safety limit for agricultural produce, 

Fukushima horse breeder braves high radiation levels to care for animals Despite the departure of all his neighbours and the unexplained deaths of some of his stock, Tokue Hosokawa refuses to budge  in Iitate theguardian.com, Monday 28 October 2013 Until March 2011, Tokue Hosokawa had only to peer through the window of his home in Iitate village to confirm that all was well with his 100-year-old family business.

The 130 or so horses that once roamed this sprawling farm in Fukushimaprefecture have sustained three generations of Hosokawa’s family. Some were sold for their meat – a local delicacy – but his animals were better known for their appearances in commercials, period TV dramas and films, and local festivals celebrating the region’s samurai heritage.

For decades, the 62-year-old horse breeder barely registered that his farm was just 25 miles north-west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerplant. But the rural idyll was shattered on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, when the facility was hit by a towering tsunami that caused meltdowns in three of its reactors…….

two and half years after the accident, Iitate has become a nuclear ghost town. When Hosokawa looks out of his window these days, it is at empty, irradiated fields. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2013, Japan, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator is in an unwinnable position

safety-symbol-Smflag-japanNuclear regulators can’t win, Japan Times , 27 Oct 13  THE NUCLEAR REGULATION AUTHORITY – , which observed the first anniversary of its creation on Sept. 19, faces two diametrically opposed criticisms. Proponents of nuclear power generation criticize the NRA as the root cause of the delay in the government’s policy to promote nuclear power, while “no-nuke” groups brand the body as a mouthpiece of the “nuclear power village” (the strong network of public organizations and power companies that work toward expansion of nuclear power).

These bitter criticisms coming from both ends of a spectrum seem to summarize the contradictions of Japan’s nuclear power policy. The NRA has become a skewed organization because the idea behind creating it was to satisfy both proponents and opponents of nuclear power. That has resulted in the lack of capabilities to execute its missions, thus making nuclear power plants in Japan even more dangerous than before. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear safety prospects are not good

China is projected to have 71 nuclear power stations by 2020. If we use the figure of 4,922 reactor-years as explained above, then China will “most probably” suffer a major nuclear accident within the next 69 years.

Chinese nuclear technology can be regarded as approaching global levels, with similar design, safety and operational standards. But to reduce costs, Chinese designs often cut back on safety. In the past, earthquake-resilience was lower than in Japan, for example. China also has much less experience of this sector than Japan.

safety-symbol-Smflag-ChinaChinese nuclear disaster ‘highly probable’ by 2030 The Ecologist, He Zuoxiu 25th October 2013 As the UK prepares to build a fleet of new nuclear power stations with Chinese capital and expertise, a former state nuclear expert warns: China itself is heading for nuclear catastrophe. Some members of the nuclear power industry rely too much on theoretical calculations, when only experience can provide real accuracy.

The lifetime of nuclear reactors is calculated in “reactor-years”. One reactor year means one reactor operating for one year. The world’s 443 nuclear power plants have been running for a total of 14,767 reactor-years, during which time there have been 23 accidents involving a reactor core melting. That’s one major accident every 642 reactor years.

But according to the design requirements, an accident of that scale should only happen once every 20,000 reactor years. The actual incidence is 32 times higher than the theory allows. Continue reading

October 29, 2013 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment