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Nuclear Hotseat 126: Wasserman, Gundersen on TEPCO, SFP4 & Activism now! -Audio

Nuclear Hotseat Podcast

The Activist Voice of the Anti-Nuclear Movement

Produced and Hosted by Libbe HaLevy

Spent Fuel Pool 4 at Fukushima

November 19, 2013


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Nuclear Hotseat is the weekly international news magazine keeping you up to date on all things anti-nuclear.  Produced and Hosted by Three Mile Island survivor Libbe HaLevy, each podcast contains the week’s international nuclear news, at least one expert interview, ways to protect physical health of yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of radiation exposure, and activist opportunities.

Among the nuclear experts interviewed by Nuclear Hotseat in its first two years:

  • Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer, head of Fairewinds Energy Education
  • Dr. Helen Caldicott, founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Dr. Janette Sherman and Joseph Mangano, authors of “An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Follows Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima:  Is There a Correlation?”
  • Karl Grossman, Journalist, host of “Enviro Close-Up”
  • Daniel Hirsch, Nuclear Policy Lecturer, UC Santa Cruz
  • Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • Mochizuki Iori, blogger, Fukushima Diary
  • Nuclear Whistleblowers
  • …and many more.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear news for the week

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Fukushima is really the only story this week. Many commentators have expressed anxiety, as TEPCO is now proceeding to remove the 1500 assemblies of nuclear fuel rods from the pool above Reactor No 4. Each worker can stay no longer than 2 hours at the site. Later, the same dangerous removal must be done for the other reactors on site taking some 40 years.     With all the worry and anger about mismanagement at the site, we might spare  a thought for these workers. As well as the radiation hazard, there will be the constant risk of any slip that would bring about a nuclear catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

UK. The saga of Britain’s exorbitantly expensive new nuclear project goes on. Now South Korea, – notorious for the corruption scandals in its nuclear industry – is moving to join China and France in setting up Britain’s nuclear reactors

USA – Kentucky –  Tornado hits nuclear facility – Uranium enrichment building damaged — Parts of cooling towers destroyed — Alert declared for ‘emergency condition’


November 20, 2013 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Ice wall around Fukushima – a 10,000 year science fiction story?

TV: Work at Fukushima plant to go on for 10,000 years? Nuclear Expert: “It’s longer than human history” (VIDEO)

Arirang’s ‘Prime Talk’,, August 30, 2013 (at 1:45 in):

Dr. Suh Kune-yull, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Seoul National University: [Freezing the soil around Fukushima reactors] sounds more like a sci-fi story, science fiction. We call this permafrost — frosting the soil — for 50 years and as long as 10,000 years. It’s longer than human history, it’s just unrealistic.
Watch the broadcast here

Arirang’s ‘Prime Talk’, ’, August 30, 2013 (at 1:30 in):

Dr. Suh Kune-yull, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Seoul National University: I call this permafrost which [is] really freezing the soil but to me sounds more like a science fiction because they have to be doing this for work at least 50 years and as long as 10,000 years. So I think they were probably going to give this up one of these months. […]

Watch the broadcast here

See also: Japan Professor: 1,000 years from now contaminated water from Fukushima may still be entering Pacific Ocean — It’s necessary to keep monitoring during that time

More: UC Berkeley Nuclear Professor: May be impossible to get Fukushima melted fuel — Work at site to go on for ‘thousands of years’ if not removed (AUDIO)

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Reference, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Damage and destruction: Tornado hits U.S. nuclear facility

safety-symbol-SmFlag-USATornado hits U.S. nuclear facility – Uranium enrichment building damaged — Parts of cooling towers destroyed — Alert declared for ‘emergency condition’ (PHOTOS)

Portsmouth Daily Times,, Nov. 18, 2013: Tornado hit Paducah plant Sunday [in Kentucky]

WPSD,, Nov. 17, 2013: One of the plant’s four enrichment production buildings, the adjacent cooling towers and nearby electrical switchyard sustained most of the damage. Several of the transite panels that cover the building were torn off or broken. Electrical power poles, wiring and other electrical circuits were also damaged. The shrouds or collars that surround the fans on this set of cooling towers were destroyed.

Damaged cooling tower (SOURCE: USEC)
NBC Lexington, KY, , Nov. 18, 2013: Officials were continuing to monitor the facility Monday, but said there had been no hazardous material releases, according to the statement.

NRC Report,, Nov. 17, 2013: [A]n alert was declared at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant due to an apparent tornado strike/severe weather event. […] “This event is reportable under 10 CFR 76.120(a)(4) where an emergency condition has been declared an Alert. […]”

The Courier Journal, Nov. 18, 2013: USEC stopped enriching uranium there in June.

Nearly all news outlets covering the Paducah tornado claim the plant stopped enriching uranium earlier this year. However, according to this report,  (Emphasis Added) “On 14 November 2013 Russia has shipped the last batch of low-enriched uranium […] The cargo will be delivered to Baltimore and then to USEC’sPaducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, where the uranium will be used to manufacture fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants.”

Also note the vast majority of reports only say that no “hazardous materials” were released — releases of “radioactive material” are not denied or admitted (see USEC’s twitter feed) The plant’s internal documents clearly distinguish between “hazardous” and “radioactive”. For example, APPENDIX F  reads, “Categories of waste evaluated were LLW [low-level radioactive waste], TRU [transuranic waste], hazardous waste […] All low-level mixed (radioactive and hazardous) waste (LLMW) and hazardous waste at these sites are transported off site.”

Interestingly, USEC’s last tweet before the tornado hits is a message promoting a local showing of CNN’s much maligned pro-nuclear film ‘Pandora’s Promise‘, an event they appear to be sponsoring.

See more photos of the damage at the plant on USEC’s twitter feed here

November 20, 2013 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The coming epidemic of nuclear reactor shutdowns: where to put the wastes?

The NRC believes the fuel can be safely stored for at least 100 in casks. But the radioactive half life is 16 million years, with a defined hazardous life of 160 million years. The world will soon be dotted with these ad-hoc radioactive dumps. 

DecommissioningFor aging nuclear reactors, a coming surge of shutdowns How safe will these ad-hoc radioactive dumps be?, Kevin Gray, SmartPlanet, 20 Nov 13

When it first fired up its twin reactors in 1973, the Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois — roughly 40 miles north of Chicago — was the largest in the world. It was a stunning work of technology that supplied electricity to some two million homes. And it could have easily lived on into the new century. But in 1998, its parent company, the energy giant Exelon Corp, turned off its lights and shuttered the facility rather than face some costly upgrades.For 12 years, Zion sat dormant on prime Lake Michigan shorefront as Exelon shelled out $10 million a year to maintain it and protect it with round-the-clock patrols of armed guards. By 2010, the facility had become home to drifting weeds and nesting falcons.

But that year, the federal government — in an arrangement never tried before — agreed to allow Exelon to transfer custody of the plant to EnergySolutions, a nuclear-waste storage outfit. The deal was worth a potential $1 billion in clean-up fees to EnergySolutions. It would be the largest nuclear power plant decommissioning ever undertaken in the United States. And it pledged to return the 375-acre site back to Exelon as grass and local shrubbery at the end of 10 years……..


 Ripping and shipping
Rows of ominous-looking concrete casks now rise on the gravel site. They stand 18 feet, 9 inches high, measure more than 11 feet in diameter and, when loaded, will weigh 157 tons each. They can withstand a tornado with winds up to 360 miles per hour, 4,000-pound wind-blown projectiles hurtling at speeds of 126 miles per hour, flooding, fire and even accidental tipping over. And they will soon house all 2.2 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel — and another 80,000 pounds of radioactive material — from the site.In a process known as “rip and ship,” the company will next tear down sections of the plant and move them by rail to its radioactive waste facility in Clive, Utah, where they will be dumped wholesale and entombed beneath rock and clay. EnergySolutions expects to ship some 500,000 cubic feet of material — enough to fill 80 rail cars — everything from concrete walls, pipes, wiring, machinery, desks and chairs, much of it contaminated with low-level radiation. But the hottest stuff — the spent fuel — will remain right where it is.

EnergySolutions has spent the past year removing Zion’s fuel rods from a cooling pool and putting them into the canisters and casks for dry storage. The fuel, which is still about 400 degrees, can now be air cooled. Christian expects the company to begin moving the casks, via a heavy-haul rail, 100 yards south of the reactors by mid-October.

They will remain there until the feds come up with an alternative to Yucca Mountain. “Until we have a national repository open, this spent fuel has to stay where it is,” says Lawrence Boing, a nuclear decommissioning specialist at Argonne National Laboratory’s nuclear engineering division. “The big question now is what do we do with this stuff?” Continue reading

November 20, 2013 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, USA | 1 Comment

UN experts to visit Fukushima again, check on shutdown plan

UN nuclear experts to revisit Fukushima to review shutdown plan, 7 News   November 20, 2013 Vienna (AFP) – UN nuclear experts will visit Japan again next week to review government efforts to shut down the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant and prevent further worrying leaks, the IAEA said Tuesday.

“An IAEA expert team will visit Japan this month at the request of the Japanese government to review the efforts and plans to decommission TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

The 19-strong mission will take place from November 25 to December 4, it said……

November 20, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Delay in Japan’s nuclear safety checks, no date for restarting reactors

safety-symbol-Smflag-japanJapan Won’t Set Dates for Restarting 50 Idled Nuclear Reactors, Bloomberg By Jacob Adelman & Masumi Suga – Nov 18, 2013 Japan’s nuclear regulator said it has no fixed schedule to complete safety checks at idled  atomic plants, possibly delaying reactor restarts and the supply of cheaper energy the government wants to drive economic growth.

Speculation on when some of Japan’s 50 reactors would restart increased this year as the Nuclear Regulation Authority introduced stricter safety tests in July in response to the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said at the time the inspections would take about six months, suggesting some atomic plants may restart in January.

The NRA now says Tanaka was speaking generally and not citing a set schedule. “We are not sure when inspections will complete because the period of inspections depends largely on operators’ response,” NRA spokesman Tadashi Yamada said in an e-mailed response on Nov. 14. “We do not have a time frame.”

Any delays will be a setback for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which wants to restart some of the reactors to help drive Japan out of decades of economic stagnation. Delays also may foster growing public disapproval of nuclear power and dissent within his own party on the issue……..

Inspectors Wanted

The NRA has an advertisement for job openings for more inspectors on its website. The agency hasn’t decided how many inspectors it will hire, according to spokesman Yamada. The electricity utilities submitted restart applications for 10 reactors when the NRA began accepting inspection requests on July 8. Applications for another four units have since been filed…….

The inspections are taking place against a backdrop of repeated accidents and radioactive water leaks at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima plant, further eroding support in the country for nuclear power.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Hanford cracks down on safety whistleblowers

Hanford 2011Hanford nuclear site clean-up: The mess gets worse NBC News Investigations, By Rebecca LaFlure, The Center for Public Integrity 18 Nov 13 “……….In addition to the cost increases, construction delays and critical reports, employees and independent agencies have said DOE and contractor officials overseeing the project created a workplace climate that discourages employees from raising technical and safety concerns.

The most prominent of the plant’s whistleblowers is Walter Tamosaitis, the project’s former research and technical manager for URS, the prime subcontractor to Bechtel.

Tamosaitis’s troubles began after a 2010 meeting with Bechtel and URS managers, at which he turned over a list of technical issues that he said could affect plant safety, including continuing uncertainties about how the wastes should be kept mixed to stop them from settling into a critical mass and causing a chain reaction. If that happened, the resulting explosion would release deadly radiation.

Two days later, on July 2, URS, acting under orders from a Bechtel executive, pulled him from the project, according to a federal court complaint Tamosaitis filed in November 2011. He was reassigned to a basement office and stripped of supervisory responsibilities…….

Other technical managers have also alleged retaliation for expressing safety concerns. Donna Busche, a URS employee and the plant’s manager of environmental and nuclear safety, filed a lawsuit against Bechtel and URS in February claiming the companies treated her as a “roadblock to meeting deadlines.” URS and Bechtel officials excluded her from meetings and belittled her authority, she alleged. The companies deny it.

Busche said her troubles escalated after she questioned DOE’s judgment at an Oct. 7, 2010, safety board hearing about how much radiation might escape in the event of an accident at the plant. Board officials had expressed concern that DOE’s calculations may underestimate the threat, but Ines Triay, then DOE’s assistant secretary for environmental management, defended the calculations…….

November 20, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Scandal-ridden South Korea wants a piece of the UK nuclear action!

Buy-S-Korea-nukesScandal-hit Korean group makes UK nuclear bid,, 19 Nov 13 By Guy ChazanA Korean nuclear company that has been rocked by a domestic safety scandal is close to becoming a major investor in the UK – a development that could hit public confidence in the country’s much-vaunted nuclear renaissance. Korea Electric Power, or Kepco, is in talks to join the NuGen consortium, which has an option to build a reactor near Sellafield in Cumbria……

 Some UK industry figures have expressed concern.

“Why would you want anyone with that kind of safety record?” said one person with knowledge of the NuGen negotiations. He said it risked “damaging the public perception of nuclear in the UK”.

But such concerns are likely to grow as more and more overseas state-owned groups enter the British marketplace. “If major pieces of UK energy infrastructure – not just nuclear – are owned by investors from afar, it’s going to give rise to a level of public disquiet that we haven’t seen so far,” said Nick Pidgeon, head of the Understanding Risk Research Group at Cardiff University.

The NuGen development highlights how reliant the UK is on foreign investors for its nuclear renaissance. Continue reading

November 20, 2013 Posted by | marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

Australia – now a world pariah with its anti climate action

Australia turns into ‘anti-climate’ force at Warsaw REneweconomy, By  on 19 November 2013It has taken just 7 days, but already the reputation of Australia as a constructive force in international climate policy has been completely trashed – both in terms of its domestic actions and in the wrecking ball tactics it has sent to Warsaw.

Australia is now seen as an “anti-climate” nation that is actively working against any consensus at these talks, as its domestic policies are translated onto the international stage.

Australia has – many times over the 20-plus years of UN-led climate talks – been seen as an outlier, courtesy of its huge reliance on coal power and exports. But its actions in Warsaw have come as a shock to negotiators who are dealing with familiar faces who had been constructive, if not progressive, at previous conferences.

As mentioned in our report yesterday, the most common refrain being heard by Australian representatives is: What is going on down there? Continue reading

November 20, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Stolen uranium seized in Durban

Durban uranium stash sparks nuclear alert 2013-11-19  Rowan Philip and Jonathan Erasmus, The Witness  Durban – A shopping bag filled with stolen uranium has been seized in a sting operation in Durban, triggering alarm among local and international nuclear watchdog agencies.

The kilogram of the radioactive material confiscated is believed to be a mere sample from a much larger batch, for which police are now hunting.

In a joint operation involving the Durban organised crime unit, crime intelligence and the department of minerals and energy, two men were arrested in their car opposite a shopping centre on the Bluff, following an informant’s tip-off…..


November 20, 2013 Posted by | incidents, South Africa | Leave a comment

Chernobyl radiation still there – in Italian jam

text-radiationOrganic Italian jam found to contain radiation from decades-old Chernobyl accident – what is Fukushima doing to our food supply? November 17, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, (NaturalNews) More than 5,000 jars of organic wild blueberry jam made in Italy have been intercepted and recalled by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in Japan after multiple batches of the fruit spread tested positive for unacceptable levels of radioactive cesium-137. According to the Japanese news source Shukan Asahi, the blueberries used in the Fiordifrutta brand jam, which originated in Bulgaria, were affected by radiation not from a flag-Italyrecent nuclear event like Fukushima but rather from the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

This shocking revelation came as officials began tracing the source of the contaminated fruit, which tested as high as 164 becquerels (Bq) per kilogram (kg) of cesium-137, according to the paper. Located some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away, the fields where the tainted blueberries were grown somehow came into contact with residual radiation from an accident that took place nearly 30 years ago, illustrating the harrowing long-term effects of nuclear disasters………

“The reality is that pollution caused by the Chernobyl nuclear accident 27 years ago is still upon us,” reads a rough English translation of the Shukan Asahi report.
Very little imported food is tested for radiation, so contamination rates could be far higher

The paper admits that only a tiny fraction, less than 10 percent, of food imported into the country is tested for radiation. This means that there could be far more affected products than just the jam that millions of people could be consuming unwittingly. And since countries like the U.S. and many in Europe have lower radiation standards for food, this is even more of a possibility in Japan……..

“The point here is that the contamination comes from the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986,” adds Rose. “For people that are paying attention, this illustrates the ever-growing nature of the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, which promises to contaminate the entire Pacific Basin over the next 7 years or so.”

The original Shukan Asahi report in Japanese can be accessed here:

November 20, 2013 Posted by | environment, Italy | Leave a comment

Don’t get angry, get involved! Make GE pay for their nuclear mistakes


It’s time for us to start focussing on what’s happening in Fukushima.  It may seem a faraway matter, on a distant continent – but disaster at Fukushima could mean disaster for us all.  If any of the reactors fully dispatch their toxic contents into the atmosphere, it is the end of Japan – and a global catastrophe.

The impacts are already being felt.

An average of 1.7 people per 100,000 in the general population between the ages of 15 and 19 contracted Thyroid cancer in 2007.  This year, 12 per 100,000 people younger than 18 at the time of the disaster in Fukushima were diagnosed with the disease.

According to Physicians for Social Responsibility:

“The precise value of the abandoned cities, towns, agricultural lands, businesses, homes and property located within the roughly 310 sq miles (800 sq km) of the exclusion zones has not been established.  Estimates of the total economic loss range from $250[iv]-$500[v] billion US.  As for the human costs, in September 2012 Fukushima officials stated that 159,128 people had been evicted from the exclusion zones, losing their homes and virtually all their possessions. Most have received only a small compensation to cover their costs of living as evacuees.  Many are forced to make mortgage payments on the homes they left inside the exclusion zones. They have not been told that their homes will never again be habitable.”

In spite of all this, TEPCO continue to turn a profit and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe plans to restart Japan’s nuclear power stations.

Don’t get angry, get involved!

Greenpeace have launched a petition demanding that GE pay up for their mistakes at Fukushima

Join the Facebook Page and Petition for the UN to take over responsibility for the crisis, and the world to unite to prevent a global disaster.


November 20, 2013 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the myth of smaller, better nuclear power plants

“Chernobyl Was Transparent Compared to Fukushima”: Harvey Wasserman on Ongoing Crisis TRUTH OUT, 19 November 2013    By Laura Flanders,  “……..LF: What about the next generation of nuclear power plants? Obama tells us there are two new ones in the works that will be better, safer, smaller, a whole different generation.


HW: It’s a myth. They are saying the same stuff about those nuclear plants that they said about the original ones, 50 years ago. It’s not going to happen. The money isn’t there; we’ve seen those technologies; they’ve failed. You know Bill Gates and Paul Allen from Microsoft put in a few 100 million dollars, pocket change to them; they will write it off of their taxes; they’ll spend and spend and spend public money; it’ll fail, and we’ll have to clean up the mess. The reality is that renewables do work; nuclear power is a disaster, and it will continue to be a disaster, and thankfully we have the Solartopian options in hand.

LF: Do you have a message to the athletes; should they go to Tokyo?

HW: I was in Japan in the mid-70s. I actually wrote an article about Fukushima in 1977 in the progressive magazine, and everyone in Japan was saying, why are you building a nuclear plant in an earthquake-tsunami zone? TEPCO and the Japanese said, don’t worry it won’t happen, we can handle it. Now they are saying the same thing about a new generation of reactors. There is every reason not to believe them. …….

November 20, 2013 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

Nuclear fuel removal underway at Fukushima, amidst grave safety concerns

NHK: Fuel removal at Unit 4 underway — BBC: Concern casks not watertight, rods would contact air — WSJ: Exposure to air can cause sustained nuclear reaction — AFP: Tokyo evacuations if uncontrolled nuclear conflagration? AP: Rods contain plutonium, experts concerned quake to hit during process

NHK,, Nov. 18, 2013: The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has begun removing nuclear fuel from a storage pool at a damaged reactor building. Workers placed a special fuel transport container in the storage pool […] At around 3PM on Monday, the workers started to hoist the unused fuel units into the steel container […] debris in the pool of the Number 4 reactor building could obstruct the work. […] The removal work requires extreme caution, as any damage to the units could release high-level radiation.

WSJ, Nov. 18, 2013: “We plan to begin the removal process from around 3 pm today, and work until around 7 pm,” said Tepco spokesman Tsuyoshi Numajiri. […] The units are kept in a pool of cool water to prevent exposure to air, which can cause the radioactive material to heat up and could trigger a sustained nuclear reaction.

BBC,, Nov. 18, 2013: [It’s a critical issue] whether the casks remain watertight so the rods have no contact with air.

AFP,, Nov. 18, 2013: Each rod contains uranium and a small amount of plutonium. If they are exposed to the air […] they would start to heat up, a process that, left unchecked, could lead to a self-sustaining nuclear reaction – known as “criticality”. […] Sceptics say with so many unknowables in an operation that has never been attempted under these conditions, there is potential for a catastrophe. Government modelling in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster […] suggested that an uncontrolled nuclear conflagration at Fukushima could start a chain reaction in other nearby nuclear plants. That worst-case scenario said a huge evacuation area could encompass a large part of greater Tokyo […]

AP,, Nov.18, 2013: […] [Experts] raised concern about a major earthquake hitting during the removal work. Japanese nuclear engineers were on Monday preparing to move uranium and plutonium fuel rods at Fukushima […] Experts have warned that slip-ups could quickly cause the situation to deteriorate. […]
Kyodo News, , Nov. 18, 2013: Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has said the work requires “great prudence” because the pools are strewn with small pieces of rubble […] “The fuel has to be handled very carefully. There is a need to make sure that a fuel assembly is not pulled out (from the fuel rack) by force when it gets stuck because of the rubble,” he said.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment