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2016 Washington Summit on Nuclear Security

safety-symbol1The 2016 Washington Summit: Time to Open the Next Chapter in Nuclear Security Council of Councils,  Artur Kacprzyk, Analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs Feb 24, 2016 The fourth and almost certainly final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) will take place from March 31 to April 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. Washington hosted the first such meeting of heads of states and government in 2010, followed by summits in Seoul (2012) and the Hague (2014). Though the NSS process is about to end, the struggle to prevent nuclear terrorism is not, and at present there is no vehicle with which to carry these efforts forward in a concerted manner. The NSS process has led to significant achievements in securing nuclear materials worldwide, but much more remains to be done.

As terrorist threats persist, nuclear and radioactive materials in numerous countries are still vulnerable, and the international nuclear security architecture continues to be fragmented and predominantly based on nonbinding measures. Although the last summit cannot conclusively resolve nuclear security problems, it presents leaders with an opportunity to chart a new direction of cooperation that would comprehensively address underlying challenges and ensure NSS’s enduring legacy.

Successes of the NSS Process

The NSS process was launched in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague, in which he described the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security” and pledged to lead an initiative to lock down in four years worldwide stocks of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium—materials that could be stolen and used to construct a nuclear weapon. Both HEU and plutonium are used for both military and civilian purposes.

Falling short of reaching the four-year goal, the NSS has still enabled progress in multiple areas. ………

NSS Shortcomings and Flaws in Nuclear Security Architecture

Despite NSS accomplishments, the process has also suffered from a number of shortcomings, compounded by current adverse international factors. According to the recently published NTI Nuclear Security Index 2016, progress in the implementation of NSS goals has slowed. This is partially due to a series of crises distracting leaders’ attention and summit fatigue. This trend will likely worsen without an appropriate successor to the NSS. At the same time, twenty-four countries still hold nearly two thousand tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials.

So far, one of the most notable shortcomings of the NSS process has been the lack of fundamental changes to global nuclear security architecture. Despite a growing number of ratifications, membership in key international agreements remains limited. Ninety-three states are party to the International Convention on Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, while the 2005 amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) requires twelve more ratifications to enter into force. Additionally, more specific security standards contained in IAEA guidelines are voluntary and not universally implemented. The same applies to IAEA review missions. Above all, there is no obligatory and comprehensive system that would hold states accountable for their nuclear security commitments and require them to share necessary information……….

Conclusions and Recommendations

The 2016 NSS in Washington faces two main tasks. First, participants should take new commitments on issues neglected in previous meetings, particularly related to military stocks and civilian minimization, and expand the endorsement of current gift baskets, especially the Trilateral Initiative. Second, the NSS must clearly determine the way forward for continued efforts.

There is an undeniable need for a new, broad legal instrument that would set the current nuclear security architecture in place and complement existing mechanisms by filling the gaps in terms of standards, transparency, and accountability. Nevertheless, the process of negotiating and ratifying such an agreement would be lengthy. Therefore, there is a need for an additional track of regular consultation to continue the momentum started by the NSS, energizing a wider group of countries, enabling incremental progress, and thus reinforcing parallel negotiations on a treaty………

February 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

TEPCO kept secret for 2 months that Fukushima nuclear meltdown occurred

Fukushima nuclear plant operator kept meltdown quiet for 2 months Company says officials were unaware meltdown defined as damage exceeding 5% of a reactor’s fuel CBC News, The Associated Press Feb 25, 2016  The operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Thursday it failed for two months to announce that meltdowns had occurred in the cores of three of the reactors.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said its officials were unaware of a company emergency manual that defined a meltdown as damage exceeding five per cent of a reactor’s fuel.

Instead, TEPCO described the condition of the reactors as less serious “core damage” for two months after the plant was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, despite early damage estimates ranging from 25 to 55 per cent…….

In May 2011, TEPCO finally adopted the term “meltdown” after a computer simulation showed fuel in one reactor had almost entirely melted and fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, and that two other reactor cores had melted significantly……

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

Radioactive contamination still a very real crisis for Fukushima fishermen

Nuclear water: Fukushima still faces contamination crisis, Phys Org, February 25, 2016 by Harumi Ozawa, Quentin Tyberghien Fish market vendor Satoshi Nakano knows which fish caught in the radiation tainted sea off the Fukushima coast should be kept away from dinner tables.

 Yet five years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl there is still no consensus on the true extent of the damage—exacerbating consumer fears about what is safe to eat……..

“It was the single largest release of radioactivity to the marine environment in history,” Greenpeace nuclear expert Shaun Burnie told AFP on the deck of the campaign group’s flagship Rainbow Warrior, which has sailed in to support a three-week marine survey of the area the environmental watchdog is conducting.

Fukushima is facing an “enormous nuclear water crisis,” Burnie warned. He added: “The whole idea that this accident happened five years ago and that Fukushima and Japan have moved on is completely wrong.”

Safe to eat?

Existing contamination means fishermen are banned from operating within a 20-kilometre (12.4-mile) radius from the plant……..

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

Illegal dumping of nuclear waste in Kentucky

Nuclear waste dumped illegally in Ky., Courier journal   February 25, 2016
Drilling wastes containing concentrated but naturally occurring radio active materials made their way into Kentucky, state officials confirmed on Thursday. After learning in January that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations had been dumped illegally in Kentucky last year, state officials are warning this week that all landfills be on the lookout and to not accept any of the radioactive material.

Kentucky Division of Waste Management Director Tony Hatton said officials have confirmed that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia was sent to a landfill in Estill County between July and November. Officials are also investigating possible illegal shipments of similar waste to a landfill in Greenup County……..

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