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Nuclear industry hampered by unsolved problem of radioactve wastes

text-wise-owlAnother Reactor Closes, Punctuating New Reality for U.S. Nuclear Power As Vermont Yankee shuts down, the U.S. has yet to address industry issues that span decades Christina Nunez National Geographic JANUARY 1, 2015“……….Another pain point: The U.S. still has no federal repository for nuclear waste, a political football game seemingly longer than the half-life of uranium. The fight over plans to create such a repository under Yucca Mountain in Nevada has dragged on since the 1980s.

Instead, the waste is stored at the plants, where the owners are responsible for keeping it secure. Most of the decommissioning cost for Vermont Yankee after 2016 will go toward security measures and staff for the stored waste, Entergy’s Cohn said.

Meanwhile, new nuclear development is haltingly under way. In 2012, the NRC approved licenses for the first new reactor construction in decades, but the projects—Vogtle in Georgia and V.C. Summer in South Carolina—have suffered delays and ballooning costs.

In a final rule issued this year, the NRC said that spent fuel could be stored safely at nuclear sites for 60 years or more. Timothy Frazier, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which advocates for a federal waste site, says that decision contributed to a lack of urgency in Washington to hammer out a long-term solution to the nation’s nuclear waste.

“It can sit for 60 years, or it can sit for 100 years,” says Frazier, noting that spent nuclear fuel has to be isolated for hundreds of thousands of years as a potential hazard to people and the environment. “That’s not the end of the problem.”

On Twitter: Follow Christina Nunez and get more environment and energy coverage at NatGeoGreen.

The story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge


January 2, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Lists of nuclear facilities exchanged between India and Pakistan

India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear facilities Times of India 
PTI | Jan 1, 2015 NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan on Thursday exchanged the list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that bars them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.
This is the 24th consecutive exchange of such list between the two countries, the first one having taken place on January 1, 1992. ……

January 2, 2015 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

In response to USA ‘encirclement’ China taking nuclear weapons underwater

China Takes Nuclear Weapons Underwater Where Prying Eyes Can’t See East Asian News and Politics 2 Jan 15  From Bloomberg News China is preparing to arm its stealthiest submarines with nuclear missiles that could reach the U.S., cloaking its arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike.

Fifty years after China carried out its first nuclear test, patrols by the almost impossible-to-detect JIN class submarines armed with nuclear JL–2 ballistic missiles will give President Xi Jinping greater agility to respond to an attack.

The nuclear-powered subs will probably conduct initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to an annual report to Congress submitted in November by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

Deploying the vessels will burnish China’s prestige as Xi seeks to end what he calls the “cold war” mentality that resulted in U.S. dominance of Asia-Pacific security. Since coming to power, Xi has increased military spending with a focus on longer-range capacity, including plans to add to the country’s tally of a single aircraft carrier.

“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”…………….

First Use

“We must continue to modernize our nuclear capabilities,” Admiral Harry Harris said Dec. 2 at his nomination hearing to become commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, when asked how the U.S. should respond to China’s build up. Harris said that he considered North Korea, which is developing its own nuclear arsenal, to be the biggest threat to security in Asia.

Analysts don’t expect China to modify its longstanding “no-first-use” nuclear policy that states its weapons will only be used if China comes under nuclear attack.

Having enhanced its nuclear-deterrence capability, China may begin to communicate more about the planned evolution of its nuclear forces, Giacometti said.

“More openness on China’s side might then open up more space for confidence-building measures and lay the ground for future arms control discussions,” he said.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | China, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Video shows time and cost of Decommissioning Nuclear Plant

see-this.wayVIDEO: Decommissioning Nuclear Plant Lengthy, Costly Process The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant stopped producing electricity this week for New England’s energy grid, but that doesn’t mean all operations at the plant will cease.

The plant now needs to be decommissioned — a process that is very expensive and can take decades.

Edwin Lyman, an expert on nuclear power safety and security and a senior scientist for theUnion of Concerned Scientists, tells Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd what it takes to decommission a nuclear plant and why the future of nuclear power depends on economics.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Loss of Arctic snow cover means that sea absorbs more solar heat

Sea absorbs more radiation as Arctic ice fades 1 Jan 15 The dangers of melting Arctic sea ice have been laid bare after new research suggests that the loss of huge areas of the ocean’s snow cover have made a significant contribution to global warming in the past 15 years.

As increasing quantities of ice gives way to water during the summer months, the amount of the sun’s energy being absorbed by the sea has greatly increased, according to the report.

Scientists have calculated the impact of the melting Arctic ice for the first time and believe it is responsible for a 5 per cent increase since 2000 in the amount of solar radiation the ocean is absorbing during June, July and August – a finding that will fuel concerns about a ‘feedback loop’ of ever-greater rises in temperatures and snow thawing.


“While a 5 per cent increase may not seem like much, consider that the rate globally has remained essentially flat during that same time. No other region on Earth shows a trend of potential long-term change,” said Norman Loeb, of NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton,  Virginia.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Problems in Czech Republic’s Temelin NPP because of inappropriate USA nuclear fuel

Use of US nuclear fuel at Czech Republic’s Temelin NPP causes problems — experts Tass December 31, Europe advises its counterparts in other countries not to replace the nuclear fuel specifically designed for this type of reactors with unauthorized substitutes, the company ALTA said PRAGUE, December 31. /TASS/. Attempts to use nuclear fuel from the US manufacturer Westinghouse inside reactors of the Czech Republic’s Soviet-designed Temelin nuclear power plant in the past repeatedly caused many unexpected situations and problems, the provider of Russian fuel assemblies for Czech NPPs, ALTA, told TASS.

“In particular, such incidents occurred at Hungary’s Paks NPP and the Czech Republic’s Temelin,” the company said. “Europe still remembers that and advises its counterparts in other countries not to repeat their mistakes by replacing the nuclear fuel specifically designed for this type of reactors with unauthorized substitutes.”

In May 2007, the Czech Republic made a decision to remove Westinghouse fuel assemblies from the NPP Temelin’s reactors ahead of schedule because in the process of operation they had become strongly deformed, thus causing disruptions to the power plant’s operation. The worst incident occurred at Temelin in January 2007, when problems with fuel caused an emergency shutdown of the entire first unit. The reactor was restarted only three months later. In 2010, the Czech Republic’s largest nuclear power plant Temelin had to resume the use of Russia-manufactured fuel…….

January 2, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear clean-up contract in Idaho altered by DOE

Feds alter nuclear cleanup contract in Idaho  Casper Star Tribune, The Associated Press 2 Jan 15 The U.S. Department of Energy has altered a proposed contract for radioactive waste cleanup after potential bidders warned that they could pull out of the process.. Last week, the agency issued a new plan that eliminated language requiring a contractor to pay for all cost overruns exceeding $150 million.

The Department of Energy’s Idaho Cleanup Project Core, known as ICP Core, is a five-year contract that also includes monitoring of spent nuclear fuel at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The new contract is set to begin in 2016 and consolidate responsibilities of the two primary nuclear waste contractors now working at the nuclear facility in southeast Idaho………..

In a 1995 agreement struck between the federal government and then-Gov. Phil Batt, a Republican, the Department of Energy was required to remove all high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel from Idaho by 2035.

The fear was that buried nuclear waste would seep into the huge Eastern Snake Plain aquifer, which provides water to much of the state’s agriculture industry.

But several problems have surfaced. In November, federal officials said a waste treatment facility planned to be operational by now won’t be ready for months.

The Department of Energy said malfunctions with the $571 million Integrated Waste Treatment Unit continue to cause delays in turning 900,000 gallons of liquid waste into a solid form.

The high-level radioactive waste came from the processing of spent nuclear fuel from Navy ships. It’s now stored in tanks at the INL’s Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center.

And in December, the federal agency said low-level radioactive waste that’s supposed to be sent out of Idaho is backing up because an underground nuclear waste repository in southern New Mexico is not taking shipments because of recent mishaps.

Officials said it’s not clear when those shipments will resume.

January 2, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Uranium company desperate to get funding

Uranium company struggles to find funding Nuclear industry feels sting from oil boom KRQE News, By Angela Ollison December 29, 2014, HOBBS, N.M. (KRQE) – An Idaho based company is struggling to find funding for a $125 million dollar uranium deconversion plant in southeastern New Mexico.

The president of International Isotopes told the Hobbs-News Sun that with oil prices falling and a surplus on the market, no one wants to invest in nuclear projects……..

January 2, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment