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

Renewable energy news – more fun, and much more is happening than in the nuclear industry

Journalism highlights of the week :

*Australia’s revolving doorfrom politician to mining executive and back again: how miners control Australian government policy.

*The horrendous truth about just how big a mess nuclear corporation EDF is in.

a-cat-CANYes, I do get tired of all the doom and gloom – about the nuclear industry – both in its harmful effects, and in its dismal future prospects.

Meanwhile – when I start looking at renewable energy news – well, there’s miles of it! And, not to be discounted, even where I live, I see new solar panels popping up in the neighbourhood every week!


Climate Change Champion – Leonardo Di Caprio.

USA  Design flaws in America’s nuclear reactors: NRC engineers call for shutdown, if not fixed.  ‘uncontrollable radioactive flow’ from Indian Point nuclear station into the Hudson River.  Radioactive leak just one of many nuclear problems at Indian Point, USA. The end of the nuclear age – foreshadowed as Indian Point nuclear station leaks radioactivity. The danger of flying nuclear materials between UK and USA. Russia & USA Pointing Nuclear Missiles at Asteroids – bonanza for Lockheed Martin etc. High costs and construction delays cast gloom over nuclear industry. The Price of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

JAPAN – Fukushima.  TEPCO Lied To The World About Fukushima Meltdowns. Court case will unveil ‘the hidden truths’ of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. ‘Keep pro nuclear signs’ as reminder of Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. How solar energy can turn lives around in nuclear-devastatedFukushima. ‘deep freeze’ of soil wall at Fukushima plant. TEPCO now burning thousands of radioactive work clothes. As far away as Tokyo, highly radioactive black sand from Fukushima meltdowns is found. Radioactive contamination still a very real crisis for Fukushima fishermen. Very few return to “re-opened” town in Fukushima.

Strontium 90 – Japanese Preserving Deciduous Teeth Network.

WEAPONS & WAR Huge rally in Britain against Trident nuclear missile system. UK govt to spend £642 million developing new submarines for Trident nuclear missiles. Russia to test launch ballistic missiles from nuclear-powered submarines. Kim Jong-un orders nuclear weapons readied for use ‘at any time’ India about to get a nuclear-armed submarine. New USA nuclear missile test.

FRANCE.  The horrendous truth about just how big a mess nuclear corporation EDF is in. Francepromises more compensation to Pacific nuclear test victims. France prepared to extend life of nuclear reactors: energy minister. France sued by Geneva over dangerous and polluting nuclear station. France’s nuclear giant AREVA in deep financial mess – again!

GERMANY‘s nuclear utilities will have to transfer nuclear clean-up cash by 2022.

IRAN Big win for Rouhani and Reform in Iran elections. International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is abiding by nuclear agreement.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear industry remains in crisis, as criminal prosecution of Tepco executives proceeds

TEPCO Prosecution: A Sign That Japan’s Nuclear Industry Is in Free Fall The criminal prosecution of TEPCO is another step in the process to end nuclear power in Japan. By Shaun Burnie March 04, 2016  The decision this week to indict executives of Japan’s largest energy utility, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), for their failure to prevent the meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi is a major step forward for the people of Japan.

The fact that this criminal prosecution is taking place at all is a vindication for the thousands of citizens andtheir dedicated lawyers who are challenging the nation’s largest power company and the establishment system. It is a devastating blow to the obsessively pro-nuclear Abe government, which is truly fearful of the effects the trial will have on nuclear policy and public opinion over the coming years.

For the eight other nuclear power companies in Japan, including their executives, the signal is clear – ignore nuclear safety and there is every prospect that when the next nuclear accident happens at your plant you will end up in court. For an industry that disregarded safety violations and falsified inspection results through its entire existence, the prosecution of TEPCO will be shocking.

But it would be naive to think that profound behavioral change will inevitably follow. In fact, in the five years after the accident, Japan’s nuclear industry has not just failed to learn the lessons of the accident, it is still actively ignoring them. In the three years since nuclear plant operators applied to restart their shutdown nuclear fleet, the evidence shows that when it comes to nuclear safety the bottom line is not safety, but money.

Leaving aside the inherent risks of another severe nuclear accident, the new safety agency in Japan, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is overwhelmed, incapable and inadequate.

Back in 2008, TEPCO produced an internal report that predicted a maximum credible tsunami of 15.7 meters, but continued to insist that it would not reach the nuclear plant at Fukushima, which sits at a height of 10 meters. The cooling pumps for the reactor cores and spent fuel pools were located at just four metres above sea level.

Historical evidence that a major tsunami would impact the eastern Pacific coast of Ibaraki, Fukushima and Miyagi was well known. Modelling suggested that the next major tsunami was overdue and would inundate the coastal plain about 2.5 to 3 km inland. In 2009, Japanese nuclear regulators questioned the vulnerability of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors to a large-scale tsunami and asked TEPCO to “consider” concrete steps against tsunami waves at the plant. TEPCO responded: Do you think you can stop the reactors?

This relaxed attitude is not just limited to TEPCO. In recent weeks, Kyushu Electric informed the NRA that the emergency seismic proof isolation building that they committed to build by March of this year would not be built after all, despite being  a condition to secure approval to restart the two Sendai reactors. The NRA expressed its disappointment, but the Sendai reactors restarted in August and continue to operate.

At the Takahama nuclear plant, owned by Kansai Electric the NRA admitted in the last month that they do not know if the reactors comply with fire safety regulations requiring essential electric safety cabling to be adequately separated and protected.

The loss of safety cable function sounds mundane, but the risks are considered more severe than all other failures at a nuclear plant combined. Without electricity, vital safety systems do not work and control of the reactor is lost. A severe accident at Takahama would threaten millions of residents of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and the wider Kansai region.

Nonetheless, the NRA granted Kansai Electric an exemption to avoid delaying restart. Takahama reactor-3 resumed operation in late January, while Reactor 4 at Takahama resumed operations for less than three days before shutting down again on 29 February due to an electrical failure.

These examples are the tip of the atomic iceberg that threatens the next nuclear disaster in Japan. With three reactors now operating, the industry remains in crisis. Having sat on idle assets for the last few years, the utilities are desperate to resume operations, while the nuclear obsessed Abe government is happy to support them. It’s time to put people first.

Nuclear power is a financial disaster which will only get worse as the electricity market opens to new suppliers and renewable energies out-price them. And the vast majority in Japan realize this: 60 percent of Japanese are opposed to the phase-in of nuclear, and there are more than 300 lawyers fighting reactor by reactor to prevent restart on behalf of citizens. At this rate, the Abe government and the nuclear industry will never see the target of 35 reactors restarted by 2030.

The criminal prosecution of TEPCO, long in coming, is another step in the process to end nuclear power in Japan and for a transformation of its energy system to renewables.

Shaun Burnie is a nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, currently working as part of a Greenpeace radiation survey team in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Fukushima

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Radiation damage – mutations appearing in Fukushima forests

text ionisingflag-japanMutations, DNA damage seen in Fukushima forests: Greenpeace, Phys Org,  March 4, 2016 Conservation group Greenpeace warned on Friday that the environmental impact of the Fukushima nuclear crisis five years ago on nearby forests is just beginning to be seen and will remain a source of contamination for years to come………

As the fifth anniversary of the disaster approaches, Greenpeace said signs of mutations in trees and DNA-damaged worms were beginning to appear, while “vast stocks of radiation” mean that forests cannot be decontaminated………..

In a report, Greenpeace cited “apparent increases in growth mutations of fir trees… heritable mutations in pale blue grass butterfly populations” as well as “DNA-damaged worms in highly contaminated areas”, it said.

The report came as the government intends to lift many evacuation orders in villages around the Fukushima plant by March 2017, if its massive decontamination effort progresses as it hopes.

For now, only residential areas are being cleaned in the short-term, and the worst-hit parts of the countryside are being omitted, a recommendation made by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

But such selective efforts will confine returnees to a relatively small area of their old hometowns, while the strategy could lead to re-contamination as woodlands will act as a radiation reservoir, with pollutants washed out by rains, Greenpeace warned.

The conservation group said its report relies largely on research published in peer-reviewed international journals.

But “most of the findings in it have never been covered outside of the close circles of academia”, report author Kendra Ulrich told AFP.

The Japanese government’s push to resettle contaminated areas and also restart nuclear reactors in Japan that had been shut down in the aftermath of the crisis are a cause for concern, Ulrich said, stressing it and the IAEA are using the opportunity of the anniversary to play down radiation impacts.

“In the interest of human rights—especially for victims of the disaster—it is ever more urgent to ensure accurate and complete information is publicly available and the misleading rhetoric of these entities challenged,” she said.

Scientists, including a researcher who found mutations of Fukushima butterflies, have warned, however, that more data are needed to determine the ultimate impact of the Fukushima accident on animals in general.

Researchers and medical doctors have so far denied that the accident at Fukushima would cause an elevated incidence of cancer or leukaemia, diseases that are often associated with radiation exposure.

But they also noted that long-term medical examination is needed especially due to concerns over thyroid cancer among young people—a particular problem for people following the Chernobyl catastrophe.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | environment, Fukushima 2016, Japan | Leave a comment

Authorities withheld information on serious incident at Fessenheim nuclear facility in France

Reports: Fessenheim nuclear accident played down by authorities

An incident at the Fessenheim nuclear facility in France in 2014 was more serious than previously known. German media reports claim the authorities withheld information detailing the gravity of the situation. Both the French nuclear authority, ASN, and the company operating the two Fessenheim nuclear reactors, French energy giant EDF, allegedly did not divulge the gravity of the incident on April 9, 2014, when one of the reactors had to be shut down after water was found leaking from several places.

map France's nuclear stations

Researchers from German daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and public broadcaster WDR claim the incident at Fessenheim, which is in Alsace near the border with Germany, could turn out to be one of “most dramatic nuclear accidents ever in Western Europe.”

They are basing the claim on a document they say they have obtained, sent by ASN to the then-head of the facility on April 24, 2014.

The letter and subsequent reply reveal that the reactor could not be shut down in an ordinary fashion due to control rods being jammed. The reactor had to be shut down by adding boron to the pressure vessel, an unprecedented procedure in Western Europe, according to an expert.

“I don’t know of any reactor here in Western Europe that had to be shut down after an accident by adding boron,” Manfred Mertins, expert and government advisor on nuclear reactor safety, told WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The reports say the official report ASN released did not contain information on adding boron nor the jammed control rods. It was also not reported in that way to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Fessenheim reactors went online in 1977 and 1978, making them France’s oldest. The government has repeatedly said it would shut down the facility after fierce criticism from politicians at home, as well as from neighboring Germany and Switzerland.

On Friday, Eveline Lemke, environment minister for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which borders Alsace, called for Fessenheim to be shut down immediately. She said she was “dismayed to hear about yet another incident involving a French reactor,” adding that France’s nuclear watchdog was “evidently failing.”

Germany has also been at loggerheads with Belgium over the country’s Tihange nuclear reactor near their shared border. It was shut down in March 2014, but went back online in December last year, despite concerns over cracks in its pressure vessels.

Nuclear power still provides three-quarters of France’s energy needs, but the government passed legislation last summer to cut the country’s dependence on atomic energy.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Murder of indigenous activist Green Nobel winner Berta Caceres

Environmental activist, Green Nobel winner Berta Caceres killed  AFP MARCH 5, 2016 TEGUCIGALPA: Honduran indigenous activist Berta Caceres, an award-winning environmentalist, has been shot and killed in her home, her family labelling her death an assassination.

Ms Caceres won the 2015 Goldman Prize, the world’s top award for grassroots environmental activism, for leading the indigenous Lenca people in a struggle against a hydro-electric dam project that would flood native lands and cut off water supplies to hundreds.

Her mother, Berta Flores, said yesterday police had indicated her daughter was killed in a robbery, “but we all know it was because of her struggle”.

The 43-year-old mother of four, who had received death threats for her activism, was shot dead in the early hours of Thursday at her home in the western town of La Esperanza.

In awarding her the prize, the Goldman organisation commended her for carrying on her campaign despite the threats, writing: “Her murder would not surprise her colleagues, who keep a eulogy — but hope to never have to use it. “Despite these risks, she maintains a public presence in order to continue her work”.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez called the killing “a crime against Honduras” and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, and secretary-general of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro condemned the crime as “horrific.”

As Ms Caceres’s body lay in a hall at a union headquarters in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa yesterday, supporters outside shouted, “Berta is alive, the fight goes on”. About 3000 students blocked a road elsewhere in Tegucigalpa before police dispersed them with tear gas.

Security Minister Julian Pacheco said a security guard at the complex where Ms Caceres lived and another suspect who was wounded had been arrested.

Ms Caceres had won a ruling by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granting her special security measures. Police formerly provided her with an around-the-clock guard, but switched to an occasional security detail at her request, Mr Pacheco said. But the Centre for Justice and International Law denied that Ms Caceres had turned down bodyguards and accused the government of providing “deficient” security.

Mr Pacheco said Ms Caceres had spent the night away from the home that was registered with the authorities. Fellow activists said she had moved to a safe house, fearing for her life. Gustavo Castro, a Mexican activist who was with Ms Caceres at the time of the attack, was grazed with a bullet.

Labor leader Carlos Reyes joined Ms Caceres’s mother in insisting that she was not just another victim of violent crime.“The information from the police is that attackers broke into her home from the back and shot her twice, but we all know it’s a lie, that they killed her because of her struggle,” he said. “It’s a political crime by the government.”

Ms Flores said her daughter had recently had a “very big altercation” with soldiers and representatives of a hydro-electric company during a visit to the Gualcarque River.

Ms Caceres founded the Civic Council of Indigenous and People’s Organisations in 1993 with her then husband Salvador Zuniga. She was best known for her battle to save the Gualcarque River, which earned her the Goldman Prize — dubbed the “Green Nobel” — last year.

On accepting the prize, Ms Caceres linked her environmentalism to her indigenous roots.“In our cosmic vision we are beings born of the Earth, the water and the maize plant. We are the ancestral custodians of the rivers,” she said.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

USA’s B-52 nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Iraq and Syria

US sending nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to ISIS fight  The United States is sending nuclear-capable B-52 aircraft to drop bombs on the Islamic State terror group, defense officials confirmed to Fox News Friday. 4 Mar 16 

The B-52 Stratofortress will start its first bombing campaign against ISIS in April, the Air Force Times reports. It’s not clear how many B-52s or airmen will be involved.

Officials say the aircraft will replace nuclear-capable B-1 Lancers hitting ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.

The Lancers returned to home bases in the U.S. in January. They flew only 3% of all strike missions against ISIS, but had dropped 40% of the bombs and other munitions. B-1s could loiter over the battlefield for 10 hours, much longer than jet fighters, and also could fly supersonic, reaching targets across Iraq and Syria within minutes.

“The B-1s are rotated out, so they’re not here right now, they’ve gone back to do some upgrades,” Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander at U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters. Each B-52 can carry up to 70,000 pounds of payload, officials say. The aircraft, sometimes nicknamed the “Big Ugly Fat Fella,” first took to the skies in 1954 and regularly takes part in military exercises around the world.

The B-52s are based in Louisiana and North Dakota.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Iraq, Syria, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One day before Washington deadline Workers begin removing nuclear waste from leaking Hanford tank

Hanford-waste-tanksWorkers begin removing nuclear waste from leaking Hanford tank March 4, 2016 Workers have started removing nuclear waste from a leaking tank at the Hanford Site just one day before a state of Washington deadline. By  The Associated Press KENNEWICK, Wash. — Workers have started removing nuclear waste from a leaking tank at the Hanford Site just one day before a state of Washington deadline.

The Tri-City Herald reports that Hanford workers began pumping waste from the nuclear reservation’s oldest double-shell tank Thursday afternoon.

 The tank is leaking radioactive waste into the space between its inner and outer shells.

The tank contains about 150,000 gallons of radioactive sludge covered by about 650,000 gallons of liquid waste. The liquid could be removed by early next week if things go smoothly, but removing the sludge is more complicated.

The Washington Department of Ecology had ordered the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to begin emptying the waste by March 4 and finish the work within a year.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment