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Inspectors urge Japan to dump water from Fukushima plant into ocean

la-fg-iaea-japan-water-fukushima-plant-2015021-001February 17, 2015

Nearly four years after Japan’s massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the country has made “significant progress” toward stabilizing and decommissioning the ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, international nuclear inspectors said Tuesday.

However, the nearly 160 million gallons of contaminated water stored on-site pose massive logistical challenges, and examiners strongly urged Japan to consider controlled discharges of the liquid into the Pacific Ocean once it is treated.

The situation at the crippled plant remains “very complex” and “the benefits [of discharges] could be very, very huge” said Juan Carlos Lentijo, who led the team of 15 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency on a nine-day mission that follows surveys in April and November 2013.

Japanese officials have been reluctant to take such a step at the plant 160 miles northeast of Tokyo, fearing it might further antagonize local fishermen and other residents affected by the initial accident and its aftermath.

In the past year, Japan has succeeded in removing spent and fresh fuel from one reactor, Unit 4, and reduced the inflow of groundwater into the facility. It has also taken steps to clarify which entities are responsible for particular jobs, the IAEA team noted.

But about 80,000 gallons of groundwater continue to enter the plant per day, and building and maintaining storage tanks is increasingly taxing for the 7,000 workers toiling at the site, Lentijo’s team noted. In January, a laborer in his 50s who was inspecting an empty, 33-foot-tall storage tank fell into the vessel and died.

In wake of that accident, Japan’s nuclear regulator called on plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to move toward discharges of treated water.

About half of the water stored on-site has been treated to remove most radioactive contaminants, the IAEA team noted, though current technology does not allow for the easy removal of tritium, an isotope of hydrogen.

Unlike other contaminants, which are suspended or dissolved in water, tritium actually modifies the water molecules and therefore is difficult to separate out.

Still, tritium is considered one of the least hazardous radioactive materials produced by nuclear power plants, and Lentijo said “controlled discharges are a normal practice in the industry.”

“Most of the nuclear power plants are discharging treated water,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo. “This is accomplished with negligible impact on the environment and the safety of the people.”

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has solicited demonstration projects from several companies for technology that might effectively treat the tritiated water. Orange County-based Kurion said it was awarded a $10-million grant in November for a pilot programs of its technology in Japan to see if it would be effective at Fukushima.

Among its other recommendations, the IAEA team encouraged Japan to narrow down the number of options being considered for the overall decommissioning plan and to reinforce “safety leadership and safety culture” systems.

A final report from the IAEA team is expected in late March.

Source: Los Angeles Times

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

Radiation spike at Daiichi Unit 1 discharge canal


  1. A significant spike in contaminated water levels at Fukushima Daiichi in the unit 1 discharge canal was reported today.
  2. The only new work began between the 14th and 18th is the concreting of the unit 4 seawater piping trench.
  3. Readings between Feb 14th and Feb 18th saw a considerable jump beyond normal fluctuations for these two locations.

Source: Tepco

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Thousands more cracks found Belgian nuclear reactors

pressure-vessel-cracksMore cracks found in Belgian nuclear reactors, 18 February 2015,Greenpeace International Brussels, 17 February 2015 – Following the discovery of thousands of additional cracks in critical components of two Belgian nuclear reactors, Greenpeace today called for immediate checks of nuclear power plants worldwide.Thousands more cracks found in Belgian nuclear reactors, Belgian regulatory head warns of global implications

The cracks were found in the steel nuclear reactor pressure vessels in nuclear reactors Doel 3 and Tihange 2 in Belgium. The vessels contain highly radioactive nuclear fuel cores. The failure of these components can cause catastrophic nuclear accidents. On February 13th, two leading material scientists announced that the pervasive and unexpected cracking could be related to corrosion from normal operation, with potential implications for reactors worldwide.

Greenpeace Belgium energy campaigner, Eloi Glorieux, said:

“What we are seeing in Belgium is potentially devastating for nuclear reactors globally due to the increased risk of a catastrophic failure. Nuclear regulators worldwide must require reactor inspections as soon as possible, and no later than the next scheduled maintenance shutdown. If damage is discovered, the reactors must remain shut down until and unless safety and pressure vessel integrity can be guaranteed. The nuclear industry, already in crisis, is faced with an ageing nuclear reactor fleet at increasing risk of severe disaster.”

In reaction to the findings, the Director-General of the Belgian nuclear regulator of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), Jan Bens, has said that this could be a problem for the entire nuclear industry globally. He added that the solution is to begin the careful inspection of 430 nuclear power plants worldwide [1]……

The recent announcements of the materials scientists, whose concerns were echoed by Director-General Bens, indicate that this problem could be far beyond manufacturing. If confirmed, it means that the safety of every nuclear reactor on the planet could be significantly compromised.

There are 435 commercial nuclear reactors worldwide, with an average age of 28.5 years in mid 2014. Of these, 170 reactors (44 percent of the total) have been operating for 30 years or more and 39 reactors have operated for over 40 years.

As of 2015, Doel 3 has been operating for 33 years; Tihange 2 for 32 years.

“As we approach the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear disaster, evidence has emerged that demands immediate action to prevent another catastrophe. Thousands of previously unknown cracks in critical components of two reactors point to a potentially endemic and significant safety problem for reactors globally. Continuing to operate any reactor with such cracking would be an absolutely unacceptable risk to public safety. Greenpeace demands detailed inspections of all nuclear reactors worldwide, as conducted in Belgium, and the public release and scrutiny of the results. Any reactor with such cracking must be kept offline, until and unless the cracking is understood and safety is guaranteed. Anything less would be insane given the risk of a severe nuclear accident,” continued

February 18, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

A global nuclear industry problem as tests show 1000s of cracks in Belgian nuclear reactor

pressure-vessel-cracksTests revealed a stunning 13 047 cracks in Doel 3; and 3 149 cracks in Tihange 2

the Director General of the Belgian nuclear regulator, The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), admitted that, “This may be a global problem for the entire nuclear industry.

Thousands of cracks in Belgian reactors, potentially a global nuclear problem  by Kendra Ulrich and Eloi Glorieux – 17 February, 2015 

Picture a 33 year-old asphalt road: weathered with time, bearing the cracks and crags of decades of harmless-seeming water trickling into its crevices, freezing, expanding, breaking up the road from within.

Most people wouldn’t want to trust their car to the safety of a road like this.

And it certainly isn’t the image anyone wants to invoke when talking about critical equipment in nuclear reactors.

Yet, on Friday the 13th, two leading materials scientists announced that the Belgian reactors, Doel 3 and Tihange 2, may be experiencing the nuclear equivalent in their reactor pressure vessels; essentially the piece of equipment that contains the highly radioactive nuclear fuel core being comparable to an old, busted up road.

Thousands of cracks have been discovered in the pressure vessels of both reactors. This component is required to be integrally sound, with no risk of failure, due to the potentially catastrophic nuclear disaster resulting from the failure of a pressure vessel. Continue reading

February 18, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Northeast Japan coast hit with magnitude 6.9 earthquake

Quake near Magnitude 7 hits off northeast Japan — Country’s strongest since 2013 — Felt along entire Pacific coastline, distance of over 1,000 kilometers — Followed by multiple aftershocks, one centered at Japan Trench — Official: Event related to massive 3/11 quake (VIDEO)

The Guardian
, Feb 16, 2015: Japanese coastal towns evacuated as earthquake hits Pacific… Evacuations were ordered for towns closest to the coast in Iwate prefecture in Japan early on Tuesday morning after a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 was recorded… The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning and Japanese broadcaster NHK warned residents a one metre-high wave was expected to hit the coast of Iwate. The quake was measured at a depth of about six miles and shook much of north-east Japan even being felt in Tokyo, 430 miles away.

NBC News, Feb 16, 2015: Japan’s Meteorological Agency cast the quake as an aftershock of the 9.0 temblor that rocked Japan on March 11, 2011… “Because the 3/11 earthquake had such a strong impact, and because it’s an area where it was affected by the 3/11 Earthquake, we are describing this as an ‘aftershock,’” said agency seismologist, Yasuhiro Yoshida… USGS wasn’t characterizing Tuesday’s quake as an aftershock, considering it a separate event.

USGS quake list:

  • M6.7 — 02-16 23:06:27 UTC
  • M4.7 — 02-17 00:50:02 UTC
  • M4.6 — 02-17 01:15:02 UTC
  • M4.9 — 02-17 02:29:51 UTC
  • M4.3 — 02-17 02:45:12 UTC (Japan Trench)

The quake was felt from Chiba to Hokkaido, a distance of over 1,000 kilometers.

This is the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan since a M7.1 on Oct. 25, 2013.

Watch NHK’s report here

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

How the nuclear lobby changes its sales pitch over the years

nuclear-marketing-crapThe sixty-year pitch.From a dancing housewife to Homer Simpson and beyond, here are some memorable moments in the long grind to sell nuclear power to a wary public. Environmental Health News Third of three parts. Part 1: Last Tango for nuclear?; Part 2: Atomic Balm. February 13, 2015 By Peter Dykstra    The nuclear power industry has often been its own worst enemy through its marketing.

At the height of the Cold War in 1953, President Eisenhower rolled out the “Atoms for Peace” campaign, envisioning everything from electrical generation to harnessing atomic bombs to dredging harbors and damming rivers. The following year, Atomic Energy Commission Chair Lewis Strauss upped the ante, envisioning a day when “our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter.”

The Atom and Eve

Strauss was placing his bets on nuclear fusion, which, sixty years later, is still on the drawing board. And the meters are still ticking away.

Eager to invest in nukes, utilities took their cue from the AEC Chairman. The Atomic Industrial Forum, the first nuclear power trade association, led the way in messages equating nuclear power with easy living and patriotism. Utilities ran ad campaigns that promised cheap nuclear energy.

From hot times to deep freeze

Nuclear power plant construction hit its Golden Era in the 1960’s. A late Sixties video touting proposed New England nukes, “The Atom and Eve,” is a memorable example from the era: Eve is a dancing housewife, reveling in the virtues of an all-electric kitchen powered by clean, safe nuclear energy. The video’s cigarette-smoking safety engineer looks like he was plucked out of the fission edition of Mad Men, but it’s Eve’s show. She pirouettes around household appliances, caressing the refrigerator, fondling an electric range, and (viewer advisory!) at about the 8:45 mark, she pretty much makes it to third base with an electric washer-dryer combo.

By the end of the decade, rising protests at nuclear plant construction sites and the near-calamity of Three Mile Island changed the game. Public mistrust grew, particularly after Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers accused Pennsylvania officials and Three Mile Island’s operators of downplaying risks……

Nervous Nineties and beyond
In 1998, industry advertising was whacked by the Better Business Bureau, which ruled in favor of environmental groups and a windmill power producer that nuclear ads could not boast of producing “environmentally clean” power. When those claims continued, the groups won a similar ruling from the Federal Trade Commission a year later.

As the 21st Century rolled in, the industry increasingly marketed itself as a remedy to climate change concerns, with a parade of prominent citizens, some of them paid spokespeople, plugging nuclear.

Then, in 2011, came Fukushima, and the industry’s umpteenth redemption pitch was in doubt. And Japan, by reputation one of the best-prepared and most safety-conscious nation on Earth, went into damage control mode, including at least one world-class PR overreach: Tokyo Electric Power’s legal team argued in court that radiation released by the Fukushima meltdowns was no longer the company’s responsibility.

It was now “owned” by the people it fell on.

The court was not amused.

Today, the domestic nuclear industry is relying heavily on selling nuke plants as a climate change solution. ……

February 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, marketing | Leave a comment

Another $8 billion added to the $14 billion cost of Nuclear Plant Vogtle

nukes-hungryFlag-USAMonitors: Southern Co. might spend $8B on nuclear plant February 16, 2015 By Ray Henry, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — Southern Co. might spend more than $8 billion to finish building a nuclear power plant in Georgia, or roughly 30 percent more than it originally budgeted, according to a recent analysis prepared for state utility regulators.

Power company officials disclosed in January that builders expect it will take three years longer than first expected to construct two new reactors at Plant Vogtle. Construction delays can significantly run up the cost of building and financing a nuclear plant.

Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power would spend about $8 billion if construction is delayed just short of three years, according to an analysis that the head of the Public Service Commission’s utilities division sent Jan. 8 to an elected regulator. That estimate is consistent with the potential delays Southern Co. and other Vogtle owners announced later in January, after the analysis was written.

Ongoing lawsuits could raise costs. Georgia Power’s cost would rise to $8.3 billion if the power company paid half the money the plant’s designer, Westinghouse Electric Co., and builder, Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., are seeking in a lawsuit.

Georgia Power spokesman Brian Green said the company could not immediately comment on the state agency’s analysis. Utility officials last projected Georgia Power would spend $6.7 billion on its share of the plant. Company officials will file an updated budget Feb. 27 that is expected to show roughly $720 million in additional charges due to delays.

A project using the same plant design in South Carolina previously announced similar delays priced at more than $1 billion.

Overall we continue to maintain that building these units correctly, and safely, is more important than building them quickly,” Green said.

Georgia Power’s customers will pay for the cost of the new plant unless state regulators intervene. The documents show staffers at the Public Service Commission are compiling a record of testimony showing how Southern Co. executives promised the plant’s original cost estimate was reasonable and rejected suggestions they budget more for the possibility of delays or other difficulties.

Georgia Power owns a 46 percent stake in the new reactors at Plant Vogtle. The other owners include Oglethorpe Power Corp., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton.

The owners estimated the plant would cost a total of $14 billion. Estimating the precise cost now is difficult because each utility faces different borrowing costs and other charges. If the other companies faced costs similar to Georgia Power, the plant’s total price tag would stand at more than $17 billion.

February 18, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s government wrestles with the unsolved problem of nuclear wastes

text-wise-owlGovernment explores options on how to store nuclear waste in the long term, Japan Times, 18 Feb 15 
The government said Tuesday it will consider pursuing a final storage site for nuclear waste that can be opened in the event that policies change or better techniques become available to deal with it.

Officials aim to include the plan in a revised basic policy on the final disposal of highly radioactive waste. The government is currently considering the vexed question of what to do with waste in the long-term, as some of it may need management for tens of thousands of years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration wants to fire up nuclear reactors again following the hiatus caused by the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, but public opinion remains opposed.

Critics accuse the government of pushing a return to nuclear without answering the question of where the waste will go.

Also on Tuesday, the Science Council of Japan, a representative organization of various scientists, rapped the government’s stance as “irresponsible,” urging it and power companies to develop concrete measures for handling nuclear waste as a prerequisite for restarting reactors.

To fend off such criticism, the revised policy will also declare that the “current generation” is not only responsible for generating the waste it will also take action on the storage question. However, it falls short of mentioning a time frame for deciding on the final storage……..

As for how Japan would store its waste, a policy adopted in 2008 envisions reprocessing the waste, then vitrifying it and placing it deep underground…….

This implies a possible review of Japan’s long-standing but stalled policy of a nuclear fuel cycle that aims to reprocess all spent fuel and reuse the extracted plutonium and uranium as reactor fuel…….

The process of finding local governments willing to host a final repository started in 2002, but there was overwhelming opposition and little progress was made.

The government now plans to choose candidate sites based on their scientific value, rather than waiting for municipalities to step forward.

The Science Council of Japan also suggested that waste be temporarily kept in above-ground dry storage for 50 years in principle, during which the government should try to build a consensus on the issue. It also called for national discussions on how to curb, or setting limitations, on the amount of nuclear waste to be generated.

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

In the 21st Century Nuclear Command-and-Control has become too complex

The humbling truth is that strategic analysts have no clue as to what unanticipated event or events in combination may trigger nuclear war in the 21st century. It behooves us to start thinking about it

text-relevantNuclear command-and-control in the Millenials era Nautilus Institute by Peter Hayes17 February, 2015 


In this report Peter Hayes writes about the risk of nuclear war and complexity. He states that “very few leaders or even strategic scholars pay attention to the new complexity of the operating environment in which national nuclear command-and-control systems operate, or the new characteristics of the command-and-control systems and their supporting CISR systems that may contribute to the problem of loss-of-control and rapid escalation to nuclear war.

“Today, the underlying ground is moving beneath the feet of nuclear-armed states. The enormous flow across borders of people, containers, and information, and the growth of connectivity between cities, corporations, and communities across borders, is recasting the essential nature of security itself to a networked flux of events and circumstances that no agency or state can control. The meta-system of nuclear command-and control systems has emerged in this new post-modern human condition.”

Peter Hayes is Co-founder and Executive Director of Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability; Honorary Professor at the Center for International Security Studies, Sydney University, Australia………… Continue reading

February 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Southern California Edison plotted to stop investigation into un-safety at San Onofre nuclear facility

 secret-agentFlag-USASCE Admits to plotting nuke fail cover-up Southern California Edison makes  official admission of colluding with  Peevey in nuke cover-up scheme Charles Langley <>Mon, Feb 16, 2015

In a jaw-dropping official admission, SCE’s spokeperson
confirmed that Michael Peevey solicited the help of
Southern California Edison Executives in planning a
cover-up to kill an investigation into the $5 Billion nuke
failure and near-miss safety disaster at San Onofre.
This is what Southern California Edison’s Media
Relations Project Manager Maureen Brown, said 
in a recorded interview on Friday:  
According to Mr. Picket, Mr.
Peevey outlined key elements
of what Mr. Peevey regarded as
potential elements of a settle-
ment of the Commission’s
investigation into the technical
and shut-down issues at San
The statement appears at minute 7:20 of a KBPS 
Television story on corruption at CPUC featuring 
an interview with Utility Fraud Investigator Maria 
Severson from the law firm of Aguirre & Severson. 
It is obvious that Peevey was soliciting help from 
SCE in covering up his malfeasance (and SCE’s)
as outlined in yesterday’s front page story in the San
Diego U~T.  Contact Charles Langley at (858) 752-4600
to arrange an interview. 

February 18, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s serious radioactive water problems, and fatal fall of worker into tank

Japan orders Fukushima waste to be released into ocean after worker falls into tank of radioactive water and dies Sunday, February 15, 2015 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer (NaturalNews) With nowhere else to put it and workers constantly being exposed to it, radiation from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan has been ordered to be dumped into the ocean by Japanese regulators, according to new reports. This was just two days after a plant employee accidentally fell into one of the onsite storage tanks filled with radioactive water, resulting in his death.

………Following the incident, Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority met to discuss options for disposing of the radioactive waste, which continues to pose health threats at the facility. The Wall Street Journal reports that the regulatory body’s chairman isn’t pleased with the way the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has handled the disaster, which continues to wreak havoc……..
Japanese regulators suggest that TEPCO start disposing of radioactive water in 2017 A draft recommendation was made at the meeting that proposes a 2017 start date for discharging the water
But the power operator has yet to take action, which has resulted in massive contamination of local groundwater. Reports indicate that up to 400 tons of highly contaminated water is added to the site every day, an insurmountable level that will only make it that much worse to clean up in the future.

TEPCO’s water purification process can’t remove tritium; operator running out of room for storage tanksTEPCO is currently trying to remove radioactive material from the tainted water before dumping it into the ocean. But the system it currently has in place to do this is unable to remove radioactive tritium, which is why the power operator has begun moving the water into large storage tanks onsite.

There are currently about 1,000-and-counting storage tanks at the facility, but TEPCO is quickly running out of space to add more. Besides this, TEPCO is having to continue working towards removing spent fuel rods and replacing cooling equipment to prevent further problems at the plant, which show no signs of relent.

Worker injuries increasing at Fukushima, suggesting sloppier safety measuresThe plant’s decommissioning process, which is expected to take several decades, currently involves some 7,000 workers laboring day and night to get things under control. Between April and November of 2014, however, there were 40 injuries at the plant compared to 12 the year prior, suggesting that safety measures are degrading……..

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

India builds up nuclear submarines

Govt approves construction of 7 stealth frigates, 6 nuclear-powered submarines,TNN | Feb 18, 2015, NEW DELHI: In a major step towards building a formidable blue-water Navy for the future, the Modi government has cleared the indigenous construction of seven stealth frigates and six nuclear-powered attack submarines, which together will cost well upwards of Rs 1 lakh crore. ……

February 18, 2015 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive water problem at Fukushima continues to grow

Growing Toxic Water Problem At Japan Nuclear Plant Worries IAEA
Agency Report— Feb 17, 2015 A team of international experts on Tuesday expressed concern about increasing amounts of radiation-contaminated water at a crippled Japanese nuclear plant.

Juan Lentijo, head of the 15-member International Atomic Energy Agency team, said at the end of its 9-day mission.

Lentijo said over 350 tonnes of toxic water was generated daily in the process of cooling three reactors at the Fukushima plant that suffered meltdowns during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“The situation remains very complex, with the increasing amount of contaminated water posing a short-term challenge at the plant.

“The need to remove highly radioactive spent fuel, including damaged fuel and fuel debris, from the reactors that suffered meltdowns poses a huge long-term challenge,’’ he said.

The team said other challenges include persistent underground water ingress to main buildings, the long-term management of radioactive waste and problems related to the removal of nuclear fuel. “Japan has made significant progress in its efforts to plan and implement the decommissioning of the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“The team is expected to issue its final report by the end of March, although the path ahead is long, complex and challenging.

“Japan is progressing step-by-step and plans are taking shape, which is a welcome development,’’ Lentijo said. (dpa/NAN)

February 18, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

Now India too wants to sell nuclear reactors overseas!

Modi-Buy-NukesIndia to supply nuclear reactors to Sri Lanka By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | 17 Feb, 2015 NEW DELHI: With an eye on checking China’s growing ambitions in South Asia, India has signed a landmark civil nuclear pact with Sri Lanka – the first such agreement to supply nuclear power reactors to a foreign nation – and decided to expand defence and security cooperation to address Colombo’s requirements.

This is the first civil nuclear pact that Sri Lanka has signed with any country. The agreement signed after Modi-Sirisena talks would help bilateral cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including use of radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. India also plans to supply indigenously made light small-scale nuclear reactors to Lanka which wants to establish 600 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030, government officials said. Delhi has been contemplating to export smaller sized nuclear reactors to friendly countries for few years now.


February 18, 2015 Posted by | India, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power and Saving the Climate-fraudulent claims

globalnukeNOflag-UK NuClear news, February 2015 Keith Barnham Emeritus Professor of Physics at Imperial College says claims that nuclear power is a ‘low carbon’ energy source fall apart under scrutiny.
Far from coming in at six grams of CO2 per unit of electricity for Hinkley C, as the Climate Change Committee believes, the true figure is probably well above 50 grams – breaching the CCC’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.
He says given the difficulties it is entirely possible that the planned Hinkley C reactor will not be completed until 2030 or beyond. It will then be subsidised for the first 35 years of its projected 60 year lifetime – taking us through until 2090.
In a recent paper in Energy Policy, Daniel Nugent and Benjamin Sovacool critically reviewed the published Life Cycle Analyses of renewable electricity generators. All the renewable technologies came in below the 50gCO2/kWh limit. The lowest was large-scale hydropower with a carbon footprint one fifth of the CCC limit (10 gCO2/kWh). A close second was biogas electricity from anaerobic digestion (11 gCO2/kWh). The mean figure for wind energy is 34 gCO2/kWh, and solar PV comes in a shade under the 50g limit, at 49.9 gCO2/kWh. Bear in mind that rapidly evolving PV technology means that this last figure is constantly falling.
There have been nearly three hundred papers on the carbon footprint of nuclear power in scientific journals and reports in recent years. Two peer-reviewed papers have critically assessed the literature in the way Nugent and Sovacool compared renewable LCAs. The first was by Benjamin Sovacool himself. He reviewed 103 published LCA studies and filtered them down to 19, which had an acceptably rigorous scientific approach. The carbon footprints ranged from 3 to 200gCO2/kWh. The average carbon footprint was 66gCO2/kWh, which is above the CCC limit. Barnham says his conclusion from looking at the eight most rigorous LCAs is that it is as likely that the carbon footprint of nuclear is above 50 gCO2/kWh as it is below.
 The evidence so far in the scientific literature cannot clarify whether the carbon footprint of nuclear power is below the limit which all electricity generation should respect by 2030 according to the CCC. The variation in the nuclear carbon footprint seems to result from assumptions about the greenhouse emissions of the energy mix used to produce the nuclear fuel. And the carbon footprint of nuclear power depends strongly on the concentration of the uranium in the ore. The inescapable fact is that the lower the concentration of uranium in the ore, the higher the fossil fuel energy required to extract uranium.
Barnham’s survey of the scientific literature suggests that it is quite possible that the carbon footprint of Hinkley Point C could be as high as that of electricity generation from natural gas before it closes in 2090. Meanwhile, Steve Kidd, an independent nuclear consultant who used to work for the World Nuclear Association says the climate change argument may not be the best argument to use to promote the nuclear industry. The other benefits of nuclear power such as reliability and security of supply deserve more emphasis. He says nuclear advocates have failed to make much progress with gaining public acceptance over the past few years. He wants to abandon climate change as a prime argument for supporting a much higher use of nuclear power. (2)

February 18, 2015 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment