The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Greatest nuclear risk is that of accidental war

apocalypseThe Top 10 Reasons to Reduce the Risk of Accidental Nuclear War, Huffington Post,  02/26/2016 Max Tegmark MIT physicist, author of “Our Mathematical Universe”

What’s the number one military threat to the U.S.?

  1. Terrorism
  2. A deliberate nuclear attack
  3. Accidental nuclear war with Russia

Based on the recent political debates, you’d think it would be 1 or 2, but if you do the numbers, 3 wins hands down. Here’s why. Let’s compare the expected number of Americans killed during the year ahead, i.e., the number of Americans who’d get killed if the threat comes true times the probability of this happening during the coming year. For terrorism, one of the worst-case scenarios is a nuclear explosion in downtown New York killing millions of people. If we very pessimistically multiply this by a 10% chance of happening in 2016 (it’s probably much less likely), the expected number of casualties is a few hundred thousand per year.

For an all-out nuclear war with Russia, there’s a huge uncertainty in casualties. If nuclear winter is as severe as some modern forecasts and ruins global food production with freezing summers for years, then it’s plausible that over 5 billion of the 7.4 people on Earth will perish. If for some poorly understood reason there’s no nuclear winter at all, we can use a 1979 report by the U.S. Government from before nuclear winter was discovered, estimating that 28%-88% of Americans and 22%-50% of Soviets (150-450 million people with today’s populations) would die.

What’s the chance of this happening during the year ahead? Before answering, please check out this timeline of near-misses when it almost happened by mistake (highlights below). John F. Kennedy estimated the probability of the Cuban Missile Crisis escalating to nuclear war between 33% and 50%, and near-misses keep occurring regularly. Even if the risk of accidental nuclear war is as low at 1% per year, the expected deaths are 1.5-50 million people per year depending on your nuclear winter assumptions, way more than for terrorism. It’s likely that the chance of a deliberate unprovoked all-out nuclear attack by the U.S. or Russia is much smaller than 1%, given that this entails national suicide with over 7,000 nuclear weapons on the opposing side, many on hair-trigger alert.

A robust defense against terrorism and belligerent adversaries is clearly crucial, but U.S. military strategy can’t afford to be soft against the greatest threat of all: accidental nuclear war. When you hear about the U.S. plan to spend about $1 trillion modernizing and upgrading our nuclear arsenal, it at first sounds like a step in the right direction, reducing this risk. Unfortunately, looking at what the money is actually for reveals that it instead increases the risk. Please check out the disturbing incidents below: Which of these risks would be reduced by the planned more accurate missile targeting, improving first-strike incentive? By the new nuclear-tipped cruise missile? By the new gravity bomb? None! We’re spending money to make ourselves less safe by fueling a destabilizing arms race. We’ll be safer if those 1 trillion dollars were spent on non-nuclear parts of the U.S. military and on strengthening our society in other ways.

Top-10 list of near-misses

(Sources and more incidents here.)

10) January 1, 1961: H-bombs Dropped on North Carolina…….. 

9) October 24, 1962: Soviet Satellite Explodes During Cuban Missile Crisis………

8) January 25 1995: Norwegian Rocket Mistaken for ICBM…….

7) October 26, 1962: US F102A Fighters vs. Soviet MIG interceptors……

6) June 6, 1980: Faulty Chip Signals Soviet Attack……..

5) November 11, 1983: Soviets Misinterpret U.S. Nuclear War Games ……..

4) November 9, 1979: Simulated Soviet Attack Mistaken for Real…….

3) September 9, 1983: Soviet Union Detects Incoming Missiles……

2) October 27, 1962: Soviet Sub Captain Decides to Fire Nuclear Torpedo During Cuban Missile Crisis……..

1) The incidents that keep happening
These are only a sample of over two dozen close calls that we’ve catalogued in this timeline, and there are almost certainly more, since some have been revealed only decades later. Also, although most nuclear incidents were reported by U.S. sources, there’s no reason to believe that the opposing superpower had fewer incidents, or that there have been zero incidents in China, the UK, France, Israel, India, Pakistan or North Korea. Moreover, near-misses keep happening. Although some argue that the superpowers should keep their current nuclear arsenals forever, simple mathematics shows that nuclear deterrence isn’t a viable long-term strategy unless the risk of accidental nuclear war can be reduced to zero: Even if the annual risk of global nuclear war is as low as 1%, we’ll probably have one within a century and almost certainly within a few hundred years. This future nuclear war would almost certainly take more lives than nuclear deterrence ever saved. If you want to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war, please help raise awareness by sharing this timeline.



February 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increasing safety risks as nuclear reactors age

Flag-USAsafety-symbol-SmNuclear power in the future: risks of a lifetime DAVID LOCHBAUM, 26 Feb 16,  A nuclear safety engineer,Lochbaum is one of the nation’s top independent experts on nuclear power.

Following the March 1979 reactor core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) established a safety policy that sought to limit the chance of another meltdown to no more than once every 10,000 years of reactor operation—reasonably remote odds for a reactor licensed to operate for 40 years. But since that safety goal was established, the NRC has extended the operating licenses of more than three quarters of the US fleet of 100 reactors by 20 years and is contemplating extending the licenses for an additional 20 years. The new license process, called Subsequent License Renewal, would extend operations from 60 years to 80 years. Although some reactors in unregulated markets have retired early because they can’t compete economically with cheap natural gas, reactors in regulated markets face a very different set of economic circumstances and may be kept in service well past their originally planned retirement dates.

The chance of one reactor experiencing a meltdown among a fleet of 100 reactors operating within the NRC’s safety goal for 40 years is nearly one in three (32.97 percent), or slightly higher than the risk from taking two turns on a six-chamber revolver during Russian roulette. The chance of a meltdown from that fleet operating for 60 years rises to 45.12 percent, or slightly higher than taking three Russian roulette turns. And the meltdown risk from the fleet operating for 80 years is 55.07 percent, or roughly the risk from taking four and one-half Russian roulette turns.

Time is a risk factor being ignored by the NRC. The agency’s safety goal put the risk of meltdown at one-in-three for the 100 reactors licensed for 40 years. When the NRC began renewing licenses for 20 and perhaps now 40 additional years, the agency did not revisit its safety goal and seems tolerant of the meltdown risk rising to one-in-two or greater. This is a failure to recognize that aging takes a significant safety toll on nuclear reactors—not just because parts wear out over time, but also because refurbishment and replacement sometimes have unanticipated consequences.

The bathtub curve. The NRC’s safety goal is a constant number for all reactors at every point during their operation. In reality, the risk over a reactor’s lifetime varies by what is called the bathtub curve due to its shape.

graph Nuclear reactor risks

A reactor begins operating with relatively high risk due to material imperfections, assembly errors, worker mistakes, and other break-in problems. The risk levels off during mid-life and then rises late in life due to age-related degradation.

The US fleet of reactors is heading toward, if not already in, the wear-out portion of the bathtub curve where risk increases. Continue reading

February 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | 1 Comment

France’s nuclear giant AREVA in deep financial mess – again!

AREVA crumblingNuclear group Areva in the red again Nuclear power group Areva has reported a full-year net loss of 2.038 billion euros, its fifth consecutive annual loss.

The French state-controlled firm blamed extra costs at a reactor project in Finland for half of that.

The rest was due to restructuring expenses and other costs related to market conditions including reduced demand for uranium, nuclear fuel and services.

The group said it has enough funds for this year thanks to bank loans and will sell five billion euros worth of new shares by the first quarter of 2017 to stay afloat.

 Areva’s stock has lost more than 60 percent of its value over the past 12 months, most of that in the last six months with investors worried about its ability to repay its debt.

Areva is 87 percent state-owned and the French government has promised to subscribe to the new share issue.


February 27, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

‘uncontrollable radioactive flow’ from Indian Point nuclear station into the Hudson River

water-radiationFlag-USANew York City’s nuclear power plant leaking ‘uncontrollable radioactive flow’ into Hudson River, Inhabitat, by , 27 Feb 16 New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for an investigation after Indian Point, a nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, reported a leak of radioactive material flowing into the groundwater. Now, new samples taken from the local groundwater show that contamination levels are 80% higher than previous samples, prompting experts to claim this leak is spreading in “a disaster waiting to happen” and calling for the plant to be shut down completely. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located just 25 miles north of New York City, and it’s a crucial source of of power for over 23 million people living in the greater NYC metropolitan region.

The Indian Point plant is located upriver from NYC, and it’s a serious threat to the whole region, according to watchdog group Riverkeeper. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, told CBS News. Indian Point has been operating for around 40 years, and generates about 25 percent of the electric power for Westchester and New York City. The plant, owned by Entergy, is leaking tritium, a radioactive substance. Three of the forty Indian Point wells showed an increase in radioactive material, and one of the wells showed a 65,000 percent increase. Entergy states that this leak will not harm local inhabitants, as the groundwater is located on their property. John J. Kelly, former director of licensing for Indian Point and a certified healthy physicist, said that tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is found naturally. “It’s more of a regulatory problem than an environmental problem,” said Kelly.
This isn’t the first problem at the plant, though. Power failures, fires and an alarm failure have all plagued the site in the past year. “This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause, and potential impacts to the environment and public health,” Cuomo said in an official statement.
“For over 40 years, Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary…New York is home to four commercial nuclear facilities. When properly located and safely functioning, these facilities are regarded as important generators of electricity… However, by virtue of its location as well as its operations, the Department cannot make the same finding as to Indian Point,” Secretary of State Cesar Perales said.

Indian Point has experienced other leaks in the past, and the investigation may influence whether the power plant continues to operate in the future.

Via NY Daily NewsCBS NewsEcoWatch

February 27, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

No straightforward answers to nuclear waste – except to stop making it

More money and some jobs would be offset by the stigma inevitably attached to radioactivity and by the risks involved, including accidents, radioactive leaks to underground water systems, and radioactive emissions to the air.

Recent accidents at nuclear waste dumps in Germany, New Mexico and France are deeply concerning. It is difficult to credibly predict cumulative environmental effects should a radioactive incident occur underground.

There are no straightforward answers. Given the dangers of radioactive waste, McKenna should invoke the precautionary principle which is enshrined in environmental laws worldwide. It states projects should not be undertaken if they might have serious adverse consequences, even if we don’t know whether these consequences will happen.

text-wise-owlThe next step would be to stop making more nuclear waste.

Dealing with nuclear waste is so difficult that phasing out nuclear power would be the best option Erika Simpson and Ian Fairlie, Special to Postmedia Network    Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has dealt a setback to Ontario Power Generation’s plan for a nuclear waste burial site on the shores of Lake Huron. In a letter to interested parties last week,

McKenna delayed a decision on whether to approve the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste and set a short April 18 deadline for OPG to furnish a timeframe within which it could provide an updated list of commitments to mitigate potential damage from the site.

Furthermore, she stated she will seek a further extension for the review from cabinet at a later date. We are probably in for long delays. Continue reading

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

As far away as Tokyo, highly radioactive black sand from Fukushima meltdowns is found

New Meltdown Byproduct Found Far From Fukushima Daiichi, Simply Info  February 4th, 2016  Another type of material has been found by researchers that is tied to the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. We have reported extensively over the years on the finding of “black stuff” around mainland Japan. This is a highly radioactive black sand like material that had gathered in gutters and roads as far away as Tokyo. Analysis of materials of that type has linked them to the meltdowns inside the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. This new finding is also linked directly to the reactor meltdowns……..

February 27, 2016 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2016, Japan | Leave a comment

Radioactive leak – but Japanese nuclear reactor still to restart

water-radiationflag-japanJapan nuclear reactor to resume operations despite radioactive leak.  By Elizabeth Shim TOKYO, Feb. 25 –– A Japanese nuclear power plant reactor that had shown signs of radioactive leaks is to resume operations.

Takahama nuclear power plant’s No. 4 reactor is scheduled to return online Friday, the Asahi Shimbun reported, following the return of two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan, and the resumption of operations at the Takahama plant of reactors No. 1, 2 and 3. The No. 4 reactor was suspended in July 2011 after a regular inspection and is returning online after four years and seven months.

But prior to the announcement, the plant’s parent company Kansai Electric Power had said 36 quarts of contaminated water had been found in a structure next to the No. 4 reactor……….Reactors No. 1 and 2 at Takahama have been operating for more than 40 years.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

For the Nobel Peace Prize – an anti nuclear recommendation – Professor Roger Clark

Nobel-Peace-PrizeAnti-nuclear Nobel nomination ‘exciting’‘exciting‘   Alexa Cook, 26 Feb 16 –

A New Zealander working on a lawsuit to hold nuclear powers to account is excited about the team’s nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Professor Roger Clark is part of an international team representing the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which includes Bikini Atoll.

 The islands have launched a legal bid at the International Court of Justice in The Hague to hold accountable the nine countries in possession of nuclear weapons.

Mr Clark said the team of eight lawyers had done a lot of hard work, and he was thrilled to be part of it.

“It’s an exciting thing. I think it’s a really important case and, of course, the nomination is for former RMI [Republic of the Marshall Islands] Foreign Minister [Tony] De Brum and the whole team that is working on the case.

“What we are arguing about in March is the quite technical question of jurisdiction.”

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States detonated 60 nuclear weapons on the islands, the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima bombs detonated daily for a dozen years.

Professor Clark, who began his law studies at Victoria University, and is now based at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said the case would be hard to win but he thought they had a shot.

The legal system in the court was quite different to others and there had been a lot of hard work, particularly in the past few weeks, he said.

“Co-ordinating eight lawyers from Italy, the UK, the US and Holland is an interesting feat and the most complicated piece of litigation I’ve ever engaged in.”

It was a strange court to argue in, he said. “You have to give them a written copy of your oral argument beforehand and then you basically read the oral argument.

“It’s not like in New Zealand or Australian court where you can have an interchange with judges.”

statement from Rutgers University said if the team’s arguments were successful it could “further the cause of total nuclear disarmament”.

The case, which is being taken against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan, accuses nuclear-armed states of breaching obligations under international law to negotiate in good faith to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.

“The hearings in March explore whether these three states have properly accepted the jurisdiction of the court over the cases,” the statement said.

“The United States has declined to accept the court’s jurisdiction over these issues.”

Professor Clark had previously presented a case at the International Court of Justice on behalf of Samoa in 1995 and 1996 to outlaw nuclear weapons.

Hearings on the Marshall Islands case begin in March.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureates will be announced in October, with a ceremony in Oslo in December.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

New Canadian govt still backs nuclear industry

Federal Support Confirmed For Nuclear Industry , Blackburn News, By  on February 26, 2016 Canada’s parliamentary secretary has told the Canadian Nuclear Association Conference that Canada supports the nuclear industry as a contributor to a low carbon energy mix.Kim Rudd emphasized the importance of investing in clean energy, of addressing nuclear waste responsibilities.

She was speaking on behalf of Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr yesterday.

The federal government has asked for more information about the planned underground nuclear waste storage site in Kincardine before giving final approval…….

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

New USA nuclear missile test

missile-moneyU.S. conducts nuclear missile test amid N. Korea tensions, CBS News, February 26, 2016, VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California Like a giant pen stroke in the sky, an unarmed Minuteman 3 nuclear missile roared out of its underground bunker on the California coastline Thursday and soared over the Pacific, inscribing the signature of American power amid growing worry about North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capable of reaching U.S. soil.
When it comes to deterring an attack by North Korea or other potential adversaries, the missile is the message……

February 27, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India about to get a nuclear-armed submarine

India close to first nuclear-armed submarine, SMH, February 27, 2016 N.C. BipindraNew Delhi: India is close to becoming the world’s sixth country to put a nuclear-armed attack submarine into operation, a move that would give it a leg up on neighbouring Pakistan and intensify a race for more underwater weapons in Asia.

The 6000-tonne Arihant, developed over the past three decades under a secret government program, is completing its final trials in the Bay of Bengal, according to a senior navy officer who declined to be identified because he’s not authorised to speak about the program. The vessel will be operated by the navy yet remain under the direct control of India’s Nuclear Command Authority headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi​.

The deployment would complete India’s nuclear triad, allowing it to deliver atomic weapons from land, sea and air. Only the US and Russia are considered full-fledged nuclear triad powers now, with China and India’s capabilities still largely untested………

February 27, 2016 Posted by | India, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is abiding by nuclear agreement

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran Abiding by Nuclear Deal, UN Agency Says International Atomic Energy Agency’s report says Tehran keeping within limits of July agreement, WSJK  By LAURENCE NORMAN Feb. 26, 2016 Iran has carried out most of its commitments under the nuclear agreement reached in July, the United Nations’ atomic agency said Friday, although for a time it exceeded the permitted amount of heavy water, which can be used to produce plutonium.

In its first report on Iran’s compliance deal since the agreement went into effect in mid-January, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s stock of heavy water had reached 130.9 tons, above the 130 tons limited permitted by the deal, the diplomats said.

However, the stockpile fell when Iran shipped 20 tons of heavy water out of the country on Wednesday. The IAEA verified the amount that was shipped, the report said.

One diplomat said the IAEA allows for a margin of error of 1 percentage point in such measurements, which means that Iran wasn’t technically over the limit…..

The nuclear deal saw Iran agree to scale back its nuclear activities and infrastructure in exchange for the lifting of tight, related sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations…….

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | 10 Comments

Taipei readies for big anti-nuclear protest in March

Protest-No!flag-TaiwanAnti-nuclear protests are now planned for March 12 TAIPEI--A national anti-nuclear alliance is scheduled to hold a protest march in Taipei March 12, demanding that the government make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025 by decommissioning the nation’s three functioning nuclear plants and abolishing the mothballed fourth nuclear power plant in New Taipei’s Gongliao District.

The National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform, which is organizing the march, announced Thursday that it will be held to mark the fifth anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 and raise public awareness of the dangers of nuclear power and the pressing problem of nuclear waste management.The anti-nuclear activists will also demand that the government come up with solutions to the storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste and to the problem of environmental injustice in nuclear waste siting policies.

They are also seeking the establishment of a mechanism that will allow public participation in policy-making regarding nuclear waste management.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Disastrous problem of nuclear waste just won’t go away

text-wise-owlA disaster waiting to happen: nuclear waste and Lake Huron, Michigan Radio, By  , 25 Feb 16 Michigan has been so preoccupied with our own environmental disaster in Flint that we may have missed the announcement that Canada last week indefinitely delayed a decision about whether to bury low-level nuclear waste near Lake Huron……..

Had the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper been reelected last fall, the decision announced last week would almost certainly have been to bury the waste here. But Harper’s party lost in an unexpected landslide to Justin Trudeau’s more environmentally conscious liberals.

The outcome may be especially welcome in poor, battered Flint. The city hopes to eventually switch to a new water provider using Lake Huron, and the last thing anyone wants to worry about is radioactive waste leaching into the water, as unlikely as that may be.

But this also means we still don’t have an answer to what is to be done with 200,000 cubic feet of nuclear waste, currently stored in above-ground containers near Ontario’s immense Bruce nuclear generating station.

Even more important is finding a permanent home for all those highly radioactive, spent nuclear fuel rods in both our nations. Scientific American estimated seven years ago that the United States alone had produced 64,000 metric tons of those rods.

There’s more now, and any effort to establish a permanent burial site has been killed by narrow, NIMBY, not-in-my-backyard thinking, as it has in Canada.

This is a disaster waiting to happen – there’s tons of this stuff in “temporary,” above-ground storage everywhere from Monroe to Charlevoix, where an old nuclear plant was torn down nearly twenty years ago.

If the apparent decision to not bury low-level waste near Lake Huron makes us forget this far bigger problem, then it is no kind of victory at all.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

CPS Energy writes off $millions from Texas nuclear expansion project

financial-disaster-1CPS Energy writes off $391.4 million from South Texas Project nuclear expansion San Antonio Express News, 24 Feb 16 CPS Energy revealed Wednesday it has written off $391.4 million in costs associated with its partnership of the unbuilt — and highly criticized — Units 3 and 4 of the South Texas Project nuclear plant……..

Longtime opponents of the nuclear expansion said CPS Energy made the correct move to write off its costs so far.

“CPS’ decision shows that proposed nuclear reactors are worthless. There’s no market for their rate raising, high-cost, high-risk power,” Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen’s Texas office in Austin said in an email. “The proposed reactor price tag rose from $5.9 billion to $18.2 billion, even before a license was ever issued. Delays, construction problems and lawsuits are the norm for nuclear reactors. They cost so much that even with all the federal subsidies, no bank will loan money to build them. CPS did the smart thing and wrote off this worthless investment.”

Controversy erupted in 2009 over the expansion project, which already had received intense opposition over concerns about storage of waste fuel and estimated cost of $13 billion.

It was revealed that a new cost estimate from partner Toshiba Inc. — $4 million higher than the previous one — had been withheld by utility executives from the CPS board and City Council while additional financing was under consideration……….

“The NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) can license these reactors, but they won’t get built,” added Karen Hadden of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition. “Renewable energy is cheaper these days and much safer. Nuclear power creates radioactive waste that remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.”……..

By David Hendricks

February 24, 2016

February 27, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment