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Military presence increased at Belgium’s nuclear power stations

safety-symbol1Belgium steps up security at nuclear sites in wake of attacks Military presence increased at Tihange and Doel plants as officials continue previous investigation of a secret video shot by man linked to Paris attacks, Guardian,  25 Mar 16 Belgian authorities have stepped up security at nuclear sites but safety officials said there was no concrete element to suggest a specific threat against the country’s reactors or plants.

Secret video footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official was found in November at the home of a Belgian man, Mohamed Bakkali, suspected to be part of the logistics network for November’s Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

The 10-hour video, shot by a hidden camera in a bush, showed a senior nuclear official coming and going out of his home in the Flanders region. …….

Earlier this month, the government had deployed 140 soldiers to guard nuclear sites………

Increased safety procedures in Belgium include system controls, screening who has access to the site, and strengthening the security in and around the site.

Belgian police are continuing to investigate a mysterious case of sabotage at part of the Doel power station in 2014. No explanation for the sabotage has yet been put forward.

In 2014, Belgian media reported that Ilyas Boughalab, 26, who was tried in absentia for his part in a “jihadi” recruitment network in Antwerp, had worked for three years as a technician for a sub-contractor with access to some areas the Doel nuclear plant. He died in Syria after leaving in 2012.


March 26, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Solar WINDOWS (not panels)

text-relevantAMAZING IOT #8: SOLAR WINDOWS (NOT PANELS!)  ST Smarter Together, 16 Mar 16 A handful of startups are heading toward a new window of opportunity: solar powered windows. If you think about all of the windows in the world – Manhattan alone has 10.7 million windows – creating a window that allows businesses to save on energy costs would be breaking into an almost unimaginably huge market.

Solar powered windows sound conceptually like an oxymoron: Solar panels absorb and reflect light while windows let light through. Various startups have proposed different solutions to this issue which, at its heart, is a serious one. The company Solaria, uses thin strips of photovoltaics on already existing glass, making windows appear pin-striped. Another startup called Oxford Photvoltaics uses perovskite – an oxide used for superconductors – in order to capture solar energy. ………. competitor Richard Lunt and his team at Michigan State University created solar panel windows with a new method called Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator (TSLC). This method has the photovoltaic strips on the edge of the glass, allowing the window to be more transparent than the other two……..

March 26, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, USA | 1 Comment

Kakrapar radiation leakage highlights need for investigation of All of India’s nuclear reactors

Kakrapar leakage: Call for stronger regulation, investigation  Of all nuclear reactors in the country, after determining what went wrong at the atomic power station, termed ‘lucky’ for having a radiation disaster averted, Business Standard,  BS Reporter  |  Ahmedabad March 26, 2016 Those worried say Kakrapar was lucky to have witnessed leakage of heavy and light water from the coolant channel without any serious damage to fuel bundles in the reactor

The recent leak in coolant channels of the unit-1 reactor at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Station (KAPS, near Surat in Gujarat) is a warning which necessitates thorough investigation of all such reactors in the country, experts say.

At 9 am on March 11, a leakage in the Primary Heat Transfer (PHT) system led to the reactor being shut down and a plant emergency declared at KAPS. It has two units of pressurised heavy water reactors of 220 Mw each;Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCI) is the operator.  According to site officials, one of the channels carrying the fuel bundles and the heavy water coolant had leaked. The high-grade radioactivity from the fuel itself was confined within the fuel bundles and no radioactive substances escaped from the reactor containment building.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has stated that, as of now, KAPS’ Unit-1 is in a shutdown state, even as all plant systems are “functioning normally”……

Any damage to fuel bundles could have resulted in thousands of times more severe  radiation leakage from the reactor, and some of it could have eventually escaped into the public domain, he said.

Seconding him is nuclear activist and physicist Surendra Gadekar, monitoring the Indian nuclear industry since 1987.  “The problem has been isolated but the fact is it took them 10 days to do that, with the plant emergency ending on March 22. They claim it is a ‘small leak’, which otherwise does not call for a plant emergency for 10 days. They were lucky that they didn’t find any radiation in a 20-km radius,” says Gadekar…….

March 26, 2016 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

Spent nuclear fuel staying put near closed San Onofre nuclear power station

san-onofre-deadfWhere is the San Onofre nuclear waste going? Spent fuel staying put for now, San Diego Union Tribune By Rob Nikolewski  March 25, 2016 Some 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste is stored at the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) but when the waste will be transferred and where it will end up are still very open questions.

“I think everyone can agree we want to get the spent fuel off the San Onofre site sooner rather than later,” said Garry Brown, executive director and CEO of the nonprofit clean water organization Orange County Coastkeeper, Thursday night at the quarterly meeting of the Community Engagement Panel.

After the California Coastal Commission approved a site permit last October, a plan was approved to bury the waste in concrete casks within 125 feet of a seawall and the beach on a low-lying plain at the plant operated by Southern California Edison.

“We need to de-energize the plant as soon as we can,” Tom Palmisano, chief nuclear officer at Southern California Edison, told the 18-member panel during a Powerpoint presentation in Oceanside.

 The panel was created two years ago to advise the co-owners of SONGS and give the public updates on the painstaking and complicated process to coordinate the multiple public, private and governmental entities needed to decommission the plant.

The prospect of casks on site has generated plenty of opposition. “We may never be able to move these,” said Gary Headrick, co-founder of San Clemente Green. “These storage containers are not reliable.”….

Among the problems is the near-paralysis on the part of the federal government to permanently deal with nuclear waste……..

March 26, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Vulnerability of San Onofre’s nuclear wastes

safety-symbol-SmwastesConcerns over nuclear waste stored at San Onofre Mar 26, 2016 SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – North County residents voice their concerns over the plan to store nuclear waste at the former San Onofre power plant Thursday.

The troubled plant closed four years ago, but the spent fuel could be there for much longer.The process of decommissioning it is expected to be complete by the year 2030.

Some say it’s a plan that has sparked concern over the public safety.

“This nuclear waste at this site is as vulnerable a target as you can possibly have for the terrorist to attack us here,” Mike Aguirre, San Diego Attorney said.

Representatives from Southern California Edison countered that the stored fuel would not be a vulnerable target.

“We have a well-trained security force, reviewed and approved by the NRC to meet, what they consider the credible threats that we need to meet,” Thomas Palmisano said.

The Department of Energy has made a push to create temporary storage sites in west Texas and New Mexico. If the plan gets the green light, it could expedite the removal of nuclear waste from San Onofre.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear industry in death spiral?

nuclear-dominoesHas U.S. Nuclear Power’s Death Spiral Begun? With carbon markets and subsidies in doubt, nuclear is no longer affordable  IEEE Spectrum, By Peter Fairley 25 Mar 2016 U.S. nuclear power plant operators are fighting a war on two fronts: Crashing prices for natural gas and accelerating market penetration of renewable energy have both contributed to dramatic drops in wholesale power price levels—in some states, they’ve fallen by more than two-thirds over the past decade. This has left nuclear power, whose operating costs are pretty much fixed, with few options other than surrender.

That marks quite a reversal, says Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “It’s been a widely held belief that nuclear is incredibly cheap to operate. That was the case 10 years ago, when nuclear plants were cash cows. That’s not the case today, especially as the plants age,” he says.

Fission is already giving ground. Two plants, in Wisconsin and Vermont, shut down in 2013 and 2014, respectively. More shutdowns are anticipated in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, and at least half a dozen more plants are teetering on the brink of insolvency.

Nuclear operators had been expecting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have established national carbon regulations and increased the cost of fossil-fuel-generated electricity, to offer them a reprieve. But their hope was short-lived: The U.S. Supreme Court decided in February to stay implementation of the plan.

Tax - payers

Operators’ next best hope is that state governments will be motivated to step in and save them. ……

By June, state regulators plan to detail special payments for New York’s nuclear plants. For companies that open their books and show that their plants are losing money, New York is vowing to make them whole.

“It’s probably the stickiest energy policy question there is in the electric sector,” says Julien Dumoulin-Smith, a senior power markets analyst with New York City–based UBS Investment Research.

New York is not alone. Several states, including Illinois and Ohio, are seeking to give nuclear power plants an extra boost. Exelon lists the dual-­reactor Quad Cities site in Illinois among its uncompetitive plants. Dumoulin-Smith says local power prices are being “pummeled” by wind power, noting that Quad Cities sits just across the border from Iowa, which leads the United States in wind power penetration.

Quad Cities, along with Exelon’s nine other reactors in Illinois, caught a break from regional grid operator PJM, which last year began offering more supplements to power plants that commit to staying in its energy market for several years, thus backstopping its power supply. Those Illinois plants raked in more than US $1.5 billion from PJM’s capacity market last September, ensuring that Quad Cities will remain in opera­tion through mid-2018.

But experts say that tougher times could lie ahead, as the extension of tax breaks for wind and solar power voted through the U.S. Congress in December fuels further growth in renewable generation. New York’s program appears to anticipate this, positing that assistance to nuclear reactors is more of a temporary lifeline than a long-term guarantee. State aid is, according to a white paper from the N.Y. Public Service Commission, a means of supporting “a smooth emission-free transition from nuclear to nonnuclear resources” in the event that energy prices “are not able to support the continued financial viability of the [fission] plants.”  This article appears in the March 2016 print issue as “U.S. Fission Fizzles.”

March 26, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment