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Significant setback to Japan’s #nuclear revival

Japan’s nuclear revival in trouble

The Japanese Government’s plans to revive its nuclear power plants have taken a significant blow according to Reuters.

The news outlet reports that of the 42 still operable reactors in the country, just 7 are likely to return to service in the next few years, down from 14 that had been planned 12 months earlier. According to Reuters the halving in reactors planned for restart in the next few years is due to legal challenges and concerns about their ability to meet stricter safety standards imposed after the Fukishima nuclear plant explosion.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Washington State sues US Energy Dept over Hanford workers made sick by toxic fumes

Washington state sues U.S. over toxic vapors at nuclear waste site, Reuters 2 Sept 15 SEATTLE | BY ERIC M. JOHNSON The U.S. government has failed to adequately safeguard crews involved in the decades-long cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, leaving workers sickened by exposure to toxic vapors, the state said in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

The 18-page complaint, filed in federal court in Spokane, cited more than 50 instances since January 2014 of workers being exposed to hazardous fumes at the sprawling World War Two-era site along the Columbia River.

One worker was treated last year for chemical pneumonitis, an inflammation of the lungs caused by chemical exposure, the complaint said.

Hanford, occupying 586 square miles (1,517 sq km) in southeastern Washington, produced plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program from 1943 to 1987 and now ranks as one of the most contaminated sites in North America.

The main activity there now is removal of 56 million gallons (212 million liters) of hazardous waste, much of it radioactive, kept in 177 underground storage tanks, a number of them with known leaks.

The U.S. Energy Department is responsible for cleanup at the site, including the hiring of contractors and workers to extract the waste from tanks for safe disposal.

As a result of lax safety practices amid leaks and releases of toxic vapors in the vicinity of the storage tanks, workers have been continually put at risk and left ill from chemical exposure, the lawsuit said.

“Enough is enough. The health risks are real, and the state is taking action today to ensure the federal government protects these workers now and in the future,” state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

Watchdog group Hanford Challenge said it believes several hundred workers have received medical treatment or evaluation due to exposures over the last 10 years.

The state is seeking a legally enforceable agreement requiring all tank-area workers to wear respiratory protection, among other safety improvements.

Ferguson announced last November that he intended to sue the federal government……….(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Beech)  http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/02/us-usa-nuclear-hanford-idUSKCN0R229720150902

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission scraps public rulemaking on weak GE containments,

NRC-jpgA Fukushima Lesson Unlearned: NRC scraps public rulemaking on weak GE containments, Enformable  Paul Gunter 4 Sept 15  The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) typically begins its narrative on the “lessons learned” from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe with Japan’s March 11, 2011 accident. Not surprisingly, the agency has avoided addressing the most critical lesson recognized in the accident’s official investigative report by Japan’s National Diet. In their finding, the unfolding radiological catastrophe is “manmade” and the result of “willful negligence” of government, regulator and industry colluding to protect Tokyo Electric Power Company’s financial interests.  Likewise, here in the US, addressing identical reactor vulnerabilities remain subject to a convoluted corporate-government strategy of “keep away” with public safety as the “monkey in the middle” going back more than four decades and, for now, three nuclear meltdowns later.

In the latest development, by a 3-1 vote issued on August 19, 2015, the majority of the four sitting Commissioners with NRC ruled not to proceed with their own proposed rulemaking and bar public comment and independent expert analyses on the installation of “enhanced” hardened containment vents on 30 U.S. reactors. In the event of a severe nuclear accident, roughly one-third of U.S. atomic power plants currently rely upon a flawed radiation protection barrier system at General Electric (GE) Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors that are essentially identical to the destroyed and permanently closed units at Fukushima Daiichi. The nuclear catastrophe has resulted in widespread radioactive contamination, massive population relocation, severe economic dislocation and mounting costs projected into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Fundamentally at fault, the GE Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor “pressure suppression containment system” designed for internalizing such a nuclear accident is roughly one-sixth the volumetric size of pressurized water reactor containment designs like Three Mile Island. Under accident conditions, the reactor pressure vessel and the operation of the emergency core cooling system is depressurized into the “drywell” containment component which in turn routes steam, heat, combustible gases and radioactivity into the “wetwell” component where it is supposed to be quenched and scrubbed in a million gallons of water.  The GE design was first identified as too small to contain potential accident conditions in 1972 by Atomic Energy Commission memos. The internal communications would eventually be released years later under the Freedom of Information Act after more GE reactors were granted operating licenses. The memos revealed that the undersized containment system is highly vulnerable to catastrophic failure from over-pressurization in the event of a severe accident. This long recognized chink in GE’s “defense-in-depth” armor was graphically confirmed with the global broadcast of the Fukushima explosions.

Fukushima further demonstrated that “voluntary” GE containment modifications requested by NRC in the early 1990’s are not reliable under real accident conditions.  Most U.S. Mark I operators voluntarily installed a hardened vent on the “wetwell” or “torus” containment component. The same modification was installed in Japanese reactors including Fukushima Daiichi. The voluntary containment modifications in the U.S. were carried out under a NRC regulation (10 CFR 50.59) that avoids licensee disclosures in the public hearing process, claiming that the design changes did not raise significant safety issues. Other than the paper trail, even the NRC inspectors were not aware of the final as-built containment modifications…………

The Commission’s August 19th majority vote is effectively a gag order on the American public’s opportunity for formal input to fortify the continued operation of GE Mark I and Mark II reactors against the next nuclear catastrophe. Ironically, the international nuclear industry is simultaneously cashing in on the effort to restart Japan’s nuclear power plants where their Nuclear Regulation Authority has ordered state-of-the-art engineered external filters on severe accident capable hardened containment vents as a prerequisite to resume operation.  On August 17, 2015, AREVA issued  a press release announcing that it had just delivered it fourteenth filtered containment vent system to the Hamaoka Unit 4 reactor operated by Chubu Electric Power Company where 70% of the Japanese public no longer trust the industry and its regulator  and remain opposed to any further nuclear power  operations. http://enformable.com/2015/09/a-fukushima-lesson-unlearned-nrc-scraps-public-rulemaking-on-weak-ge-containments/

September 5, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Former head of Brazil’s nuclear company will face trial

Judge accepts charges filed against former head of Brazil nuclear power firm Fox News, 3 Sept 15 SAO PAULO –  A federal judge Thursday accepted the charges filed by prosecutors against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva will face trial for allegedly taking 4.5 million reals ($1.22 million) in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Judge Sergio Fernando Moro said in a statement that he also accepted the charges filed against 14 others, including Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter, Ana Cristina Toniolo…….http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/03/judge-accepts-charges-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power-firm/

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Russia spying on Czech Republic’s nuclear installations

Czech counter-intelligence agency: Russian spies are focusing on Czech nuclear energy sector http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/09/04/czech-counter-intelligence-agency-russian-spies-are-focusing-on-czech-nuclear/ PRAGUE –  The Czech Republic’s counter-intelligence agency says the number of Russian spies remains high and they are particularly interested in the country’s nuclear program.

The agency, also known as BIS, says in its annual report published Friday: “Russia does not consider a fight over the Czech nuclear energy sector a lost battle.”

BIS says the Russian spies focus on a recently approved government plan to build at least one more reactor at the Temelin nuclear plant and another at the Dukovany plant. They also target anyone whose task is to make this plan reality, it says. Kremlin is also trying to take control over the Russian community’s organizations here, BIS charges, and is building a spy network in Europe, similar to what the Soviet Union did before World War II.

September 5, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

“Everything I was Dreaming of is Gone” — How Climate Change is Spurring a Global Refugee Crisis to Rapidly Worsen

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

“Over the past two weeks, news of the plight of a swelling wave of refugees fleeing to Europe has filled the mainstream media. We looked on in horror at reports of innocent human beings fleeing destabilized countries in the Middle East, of people suffocating while stuffed into the backs of trucks, of drowned children washed up on the shores of nations their families had hoped would care for them.

“It’s all a part of a growing global mass migration. A tragic dislocation and diaspora. But this time it’s not only birds, or polar bears, or fish, or walruses, or insects, or plants that are being forced to move by habitat and food loss, by toxified environments or by increasingly dangerous weather. It’s human beings too.

In the video we are rightfully compelled to compassion for a drowned boy and his family. A family suffering in a country ripped apart by…

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September 5, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the face of war, immigration, and climate change, let’s take care of our human family

jpratt27

Sometimes being a parent feels like a tedious vigil against death. The other day, when I asked my 4-year-old not to show me her somersault skills at the top of an unusually steep flight of stairs, she looked at me with wounded confusion.
“Why?” she asked.
“Well,” I said, “because there’s a small chance you might fall, and you would land on the stairs, so you would keep falling, faster and faster, and every time you hit the ground you might break a bone, and maybe the broken end of your arm bone would be sticking through your skin, and there would be blood everywhere, or maybe you would break your spine, and you might not ever be able to walk or dance again.”
“But, papa,” she said. “I’m not going to fall.”
There’s no winning. In the game of life, “parent” is a defensive position: You stand about midfield…

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September 5, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wildfires

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Massive Wildfires in US Northwest Destroy Habitats, Threaten Wildlife A heavy toll may be exacted on elk, moose and other wildlife whose habitat has been destroyed by wildfires that have charred hundreds of thousands of acres (hectares) of forests…Sourced through Scoop.it from: elispiritweaver.wordpress.com

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September 5, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment