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Danger of Chernobyl nuclear reactor wreck will remain for thousands of years

Ruined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years @mattschodcnews  BY MATTHEW SCHOFIELD , Miami Herald, 24 Apr 16,

  • 30 years since Chernobyl may seem like a long time, but it’s really just the start
  • Below reactor’s ruins is a 2,000-ton radioactive mass that can’t be removed 
  • How do you protect a site for as long a time as Western civilization has existed? 


….It will be 30 years ago on 26 April  that Pripyat and the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant became synonymous with nuclear disaster, that the word Chernobyl came to mean more than just a little village in rural Ukraine, and this place became more than just another spot in the shadowy Soviet Union.

Even 30 years later – 25 years after the country that built it ceased to exist – the full damage of that day is still argued.

Death toll estimates run from hundreds to millions. The area near the reactor is both a teeming wildlife refuge and an irradiated ghost-scape. Much of eastern and central Europe continues to deal with fallout aftermath. The infamous Reactor Number 4 remains a problem that is neither solved nor solvable………..

 Chernobyl’s irradiated geography  When an explosion destroyed Reactor No. 4 at the Soviet-run Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in northern Ukraine on April 26, 1986, an estimated 10 tons of radioactive fuel and debris were thrown into the atmosphere. The most toxic ground is the Exclusion Zone, and the evacuated ghost town of Pripyat……….

All told, about 4,000 people would eventually die from the accident, according to a report by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Others say those numbers are wildly low. Alexey Yablokov, a former environment adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, estimated the global death toll to be 1.44 million. Other reports placed the cancer death totals at 30,000 to 60,000. Belarusian physicist Georgiy Lepin, a vice president of the association of liquidators of Chernobyl, the men brought in to fight the fire and clean up, estimated that within a few years, 13,000 rescue workers had died and another 70,000 were left unfit for work. The official number of disabled Chernobyl rescue workers today in Ukraine is 106,000.

A United Nations study says that “5 million people currently live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that are contaminated with radionuclides due to the accident; about 100,000 of them live in areas classified in the past by government authorities as areas of ‘strict control.’ ”……….

What they figured out was the worst nuclear-energy disaster in human history, far worse than the explosion at Kyshtym nuclear complex in 1957 in what was then the Soviet Union, which released 70 tons of radioactive material into the air, or the 1957 fire at the Windscale Nuclear Reactor in northwestern England, which forced a ban on milk sales for a month, or the Three Mile Island disaster in Pennsylvania on March 29, 1979, where a cooling malfunction led to a partial meltdown.

All of central and eastern Europe was at risk. Even today, in Bavaria in southern Germany, wildlife officials warn hunters not to eat the meat of wild boars, which continue to show high levels of radiation contamination……..


April 25, 2016 Posted by | Reference, safety, Ukraine, wastes | 1 Comment

France’s government says decison on Hinkley nuclear plant is again delayed

Hinkley costsflag-franceHinkley Point C nuclear power plant decision delayed again by EDF  French economy minister says the energy giant’s green light on the £18bn project is now not expected until September, Guardian, , 25 Apr 16 The decision on whether to go ahead with the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power project has been delayed again, after France’s economy minister said the country’s energy giant EDF may not give it the green light until September.

Emmanuel Macron’s comments come a week after he said EDF would deliver its verdict on Hinkley Point, which is set to meet 7% of the UK’s energy needs, in “the coming week or month”.

EDF said just days ago that it was expecting to make a final decision in the summer, having previously promised to do so by the time of its annual general meeting on 12 May.

The fresh delay raises the prospect that even if the project does go ahead, it will not meet its scheduled completion date of 2025, already eight years later than originally planned.

Macron told a French newspaper that three conditions must be in place before EDF, which is 85% government-owned, could proceed with building two reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

He cited an improvement in EDF’s financial position, consultation with French trade unions and unspecified measures to ensure construction goes according to plan……..

[EDF has]approved a £3.1bn capital injection funded partly by the state, in a bid to shore up its finances ahead of the Hinkley decision……

Greenpeace’s director, John Sauven, responded to EDF’s previous announcement that a decision would not come until the summer by cautioning that the project was doomed…….

April 25, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Further delay for UK Hinkley nuclear project, as EDF decides to consult unions

text Hinkley cancelledflag-franceFresh setback for Hinkley Point as EDF consults French unions, Telegraph UK   Alan Tovey 22 APRIL 2016  Plans by EDF to build the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station have been further delayed after the French energy company said it would consult with unions before announcing its final investment decision.

After a board meeting on Friday, the company said it had agreed a “significant” recapitalisation that would make it “possible for EDF to proceed with its strategic investment programme – including Hinkley Point C”.

However, the directors added they would go through a formal consultation process with unions over the decision. Although it will not be binding on the board, this statutory process would take 60 days, pushing it close to the June 23 referendum on whether or not Britain will remain in the UK.

Sources close to the French government – which is EDF’s majority shareholder with an 85pc stake – said administrative delays could easily push this consultation past the date of the Brexit vote.

The recapitalisation will see EDF raise €4bn (£3bn) to support its investment plans, with the Paris government planning to sign up for €3bn of the fundraising.

Consulting the unions over the decision presents fresh hurdles to the muchdelayed plan to build the Hinkley Point power station, the first in a fleet of new nuclear power stations for the UK.

Ten years ago, EDF was predicting Hinkley would be supplying power by 2017.

Unions are sceptical about whether EDF can afford the investment – which the French firm is financing two thirds of, with the rest coming from Chinese investors – and have made public their opposition to the scheme.

Some senior staff at EDF are also against the power company’s involvement in such a huge project…….

April 25, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, employment, France, UK | Leave a comment

European law mean sit is illegal for France’s govt to fund EDF’s Hinkley nuclear project

justiceflag-EUFrance funding Hinkley C ‘would be illegal’ under EU competition rules say Greenpeace and Ecotricity By Cheddar Valley Gazette   April 24, 2016 The European Commission is ‘almost certain’ to block the French Government spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to make sure the Hinkley C nuclear power station project is completed.

That was the view of a coalition of West environmentalists today, who said if the French president Francois Hollande was to plunge £3 billion into Hinkley C, it would breach European state aid rules.

The European Union forbids states using taxpayers’ money to invest in projects which favour one company over another – and a new report revealed this morning by a leading London law firm says that would clearly be illegal under EU competition rules.

EDF, the firm planning to build a third nuclear power station in west Somerset, is majority-owned by the French Government anyway, but Greenpeace, Stroud-based renewable energy firm Ecotricity and the Green Party’s South West MEP, Molly Scott Cato, have all said they would challenge that decision, and ask the European Commission to block any state investment by France.

EDF is putting in half the £18 billion Hinkley C project cost, two Chinese nuclear energy firms are investing a third, but attempts by EDF to find that shortfall – one-sixth, or around £3 billion – have failed amid fears the project would be uneconomic.

The firm has gone to French Government ministers to ask for state backing, and that is ‘expected’ to be ratified and the project get the go-ahead in the next couple of weeks.

But the environmentalists who have long campaigned against Hinkley C said this morning that would breach EU competition rules, arguing the French Government should not be allowed to use taxpayers’ money to compete against energy providers in this country who receive no such help.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said his firm would consider legal action to stop Hinkley C. “It’s time for everyone to realise that we’ve reached the end of the road for Hinkley Point – it’s not going to happen,” he said.

“Illegal state aid is one thing, and we’ll work with Greenpeace to challenge that if it happens, but it’s not just financial issues, there are technical problems with Hinkley Point too – EDF are yet to build one of these reactors and their first two attempts are, between them, 16 years late and billions over budget.

“Our government needs to change its stance on green energy, which powered a quarter of the country last year and could do so much more if the sector received even a fraction of the economic and political support given the nuclear industry,” he added.

Greenpeace have yesterday wrote to energy minister Amber Rudd and chancellor George Osborne warning the ministers not to proceed with the project unless and until the French state support has been notified to and approved by the EU Commission.

“The only way Hinkley can be kept alive is on the life support machine of state aid,” said Greenpeace boss John Sauven. “EDF, if it is to stay in business, needs a new vision which is not looking backwards. And the UK Government needs to stop penalising the UK renewable energy industry in favour of propping up an ailing state owned nuclear industry in France.

“Globally, the nuclear market is shrinking year by year overtaken by the huge surge in renewable energy. The UK should be a haven for renewable energy investment given the massive potential for wind, solar and tidal to cost effectively meet our energy needs,” he added.

The legal opinion is given by Jon Turner QC, Ben Rayment and Julian Gregory, three eminent competition and EU law barristers from Monckton Chambers.

It sets out how the French government’s reported refinancing plans for EDF are likely to be illegal under EU law unless and until they are approved by the European Commission.

The European Commission’s investigation of state aid takes around a year, and it is doubtful that approval would be given.

“The numbers for the Hinkley deal have never stacked up and it is clear that the commercial case for this white elephant is dead,” said Green MEP for the south west, Molly Scott Cato.

“We have now a political battle where the stakes for both the UK and France are just too high to admit failure. But we cannot let this override EU rules on state aid or fair competition.”

“With EDF close to bankruptcy and serious questions over the legality of state aid for the project the French government and the French President are showing themselves to be totally irresponsible. The Board of EDF must put the interests of its shareholders and employees first and avoid committing economic suicide by rejecting a final investment decision,” she added.

EDF has consistently denied claims it was benefiting from illegal state aid, and robustly defended the legal action from Austria that the British Government’s agreement to pay EDF double the current electricity price for the energy Hinkley C will produce.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | France, Legal | 1 Comment

France’s tax-payers €3bn to save debt-ridden nuclear corporation EDF

text-my-money-2flag-franceState pays €3bn to bail out EDF April 24, 2016

THE GOVERNMENT has agreed to bail out struggling electricity company EDF to the tune of €3billion, months after it agreed a similar capital injection for nuclear energy giant Areva.

On Friday, EDF announced a €4billion capital investment programme, and the state – which owns an 85% stake in the company – has agreed to pay 75% of the cost.

The electricity giant has been fighting to bring its massive debts under control in the face of weak European electricity prices. It has also invested in several major projects, including a new British nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point.

The government said it would accept EDF shares as its dividend in 2016 and 2017, rather than cash. “The State reaffirms its confidence in the management of the company and all its employees for the success of EDF as part of a quality social dialogue,” argued the Ministries of Economy and Finance in a joint statement.

In return, EDF said it would aim to reduce its costs by €1billion in 2019 compared to 2015, and shave €2billion off its investment plans over the next three years. It had originally planned to make €700million in savings over three years. The group also plans to raise €10 billion by selling off gas, coal and oil interests.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Employee’s legal threat hangs over EDF’s U.K. Nuclear Project

justiceflag-franceEDF Unions Threaten to Go to Court Over U.K. Nuclear Project, Bloomberg, April 22, 2016

  • Employee representatives ask to be consulted before decision
  • Trade unions say they’ll sue if not consulted in advance
  • Electricite de France SA’s unions are threatening to take the company to court if employees are not consulted in advance on a decision concerning a proposed 18 billion-pound ($25.8 billion) U.K. atomic plant project.

    EDF’s workers committee, which includes representatives from the biggest unions, met near Paris and voted to take legal action should the company fail to consult employees on Hinkley Point, according to a statement Thursday. The project is key to EDF earnings and has prompted disagreements between management and unions, it said.

    “We ask that the workers’ committee is consulted before any decision by management or the board,” the committee said. If that didn’t happen then “the committee would be forced to take legal action to have any decision linked to the Hinkley Point project suspended or annulled.”

     The threat marks the latest attempt by workers to delay a decision, given concerns about EDF’s finances amid falling power prices across Europe. Union FO has already threatened to call for a strike. EAS, an association of EDF employees holding the company’s shares, is asking the stock market regulator to require that the French government, which owns 85 percent of EDF, repurchases shares at the initial public offering price…..

April 25, 2016 Posted by | employment, France, Legal | Leave a comment

Idaho nuclear waste treatment plant runs into trouble

the DOE and Idaho Treatment Group have run into recent problems. A New Mexico waste repository where much of the waste needs to be sent remains closed after an accident last year. That means about

20,000 ready-to-ship containers of waste have stacked up, with nowhere to go.

radioactive trashFlag-USALooming deadline for nuclear waste plant, future in limbo , WT,   By LUKE RAMSETH – Associated Press , April 24, 2016 IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) – A darkened central control room with more than 25 computer screens watches over nearly everything occurring inside this radioactive waste treatment plant west of Idaho Falls.

The room is where employees at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, or AMWTP, monitor and manipulate the facility’s dangerous waste treatment process from afar.  Decades-old metal boxes and drums filled with radioactive waste travel through a series of conveyor belts and elevators. At various stages the waste is remotely sorted, repackaged, smashed up, and then packaged again. A final product of multiple 55-gallon drums is shipped on trucks to waste repositories located in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.

The facility – which employs about 700 and has operated for more than a dozen years – is undergoing an approximately $10 million overhaul. Officials hope the new infrastructure will help finish the job of treating some 65,000 cubic meters of Idaho’s transuranic nuclear waste before a looming 2018 deadline.

Meanwhile, U.S. Department of Energy officials are pondering what to do with the specialized plant once its current mission is complete. One tentative post-2018 plan would mean shipping nuclear waste to the Idaho facility from DOE sites spread around the country. The waste would be treated and packaged here, then sent onward to a final resting place outside the state……

The AMWTP was built to treat 65,000 cubic meters of transuranic waste that was buried nearby in the Arco desert in the 1970s and ‘80s. It came from the now-closed Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, where nuclear weapon components were made.

Held in slowly deteriorating metal, wooden and fiberglass boxes and metal drums, the waste includes tools, rags, clothing, sludge and dirt – anything contaminated with a transuranic element, such as plutonium, during the weapon-making process.

Workers at the facility have been chipping away at the massive pile of waste for years. It’s a painfully slow process that since 2011 has been handled by Idaho Treatment Group. This summer a new government contractor, Fluor, will take over management of the job, along with other waste cleanup duties on the desert site.

Richardson said there are about 12,000 cubic meters still to get through. All the waste is supposed to be treated and shipped out of Idaho by the end of 2018 under a state deadline laid out in the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement with the DOE.

But the DOE and Idaho Treatment Group have run into recent problems. A New Mexico waste repository where much of the waste needs to be sent remains closed after an accident last year. That means about 20,000 ready-to-ship containers of waste have stacked up, with nowhere to go…….

April 25, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

A solar-powered flight across the Pacific – the Solar Impulse 2 arrives in California

Solar-powered plane reaches California after journey across Pacific Mashable Australia, BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS , 24 Apr 16, MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — A solar-powered airplane landed in California on Saturday, completing a risky, three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean as part of its journey around the world.

solar plane 2016

Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse 2 in Mountain View, south of San Francisco, at 11:45 p.m. local time following a 62-hour, nonstop solo flight without fuel. The plane taxied into a huge tent erected on Moffett Airfield where Piccard was greeted by project’s team……..

Piccard and fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg have been taking turns flying the plane on an around-the-world trip since taking off from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in March 2015. It made stops in Oman, Myanmar, China, Japan and Hawaii.

The trans-Pacific leg was the riskiest part of the plane’s global travels because of the lack of emergency landing sites…….

April 25, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment

USA Republicans now liking renewable energy – for financial, not climate, reasons

USA election 2016Republicans Are Warming Up to Renewable Energy , Bloomberg,  April 21, 2016  

  • Some Republicans embrace renewables as Paris accord signed
  • They argue that jobs and cost cuts make renewables attractive
  • “……..The leading Republican candidates for president, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, reject any role of humans in global warming, as do most party leaders. But a small and growing number of once-skeptical Republicans is embracing wind and solar. They see the clean energy sources delivering cheap electricity, bolstering America’s energy independence and fueling economic development in impoverished rural areas.
  •  In turn, renewables are adding jobs in North Carolina, Georgia and Texas and other conservative states, creating a formidable clean-energy constituency in a party whose energy mantra was “drill, baby drill.”…..
  • Past SupportSupport for clean energy is not new for all U.S. Republicans. Some conservative state lawmakers in Iowa, Texas and elsewhere have long promoted it. When he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush pushed through legislation requiring utilities to buy renewable power, leading to widespread development of wind farms.Republican enthusiasm is based largely on economics, not climate science, and does not necessarily translate into support for the Paris agreement or other efforts to curb greenhouse gases.
  • Wind and solar farms are often built on farmland, which is typically flat, cheap and treeless. That has provided rental income for farmers and created a groundswell of construction jobs. Wind and solar companies employed nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. in 2015, roughly four times more than the coal industry. All of the top 10 wind-energy producing congressional districts are represented by Republicans, according to The American Wind Energy Association.“It gives us a real leg up on economic development,” said Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state ranks third nationally in wind energy.A push for renewables, meanwhile, is bubbling up from within party ranks……..
  • Government Subsidies

    Meanwhile, clean energy has become less reliant on the government subsidies that fueled its growth, making it a less problematic issue for Republicans.

    The average long-term contract price for wind power paid by utilities has dropped 60 percent since 2009, falling in some instances below $20 per megawatt hour. Those prices, which include subsidies, are on par with off-peak power prices in some regions, BNEF analyst Nathan Serota said. The solar price drop has been even steeper, falling 65 percent with contracts as low as $37 per megawatt hour, Serota said.

    A Texas Believer

    Drew Darby, a Texas state Republican representative whose district encompasses nine counties at the edge of oil country, said the proliferation of cheap wind power since the state spent more than $7 billion on new transmission lines has made him a believer.

    “Republicans all over the country ought to be paying attention to what Texas did,” Darby said in an interview……..

April 25, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Global nuclear salesmen still not happy with India’s Nuclear Liability Law

fighters-marketing-1Concern Over India’s Nuclear Liability Law Still Remains: French Firm EDF

All India | Press Trust of India April 24, 2016  NEW DELHI:  A month after India and France signed an agreement to take forward a deal to supply six nuclear reactors for Jaitapur plant, French firm EDF has said concern over India’s liability law still remains and that it will give a fresh pricing proposal for these units.

The fresh techno-commercial proposal will also take into account India’s concern over high per unit tariff, French government officials said.

 “EDF has raised concerns about the Right to Recourse pertaining to Clause 17 (a), (b) and (c) and Clause 46 of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act 2010,” the official said.

“The French feel that there is a lot of ambiguity in Clause 46 and there is fear in the minds of suppliers. We have raised this issue both with NPCIL and the Department of Atomic Energy,” said a French official.

Clause 46 of the CLND Act says, “The provisions of this Act shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other law for the time being in force, and nothing contained herein shall exempt the operator from any proceedings which might, apart from this Act, be instituted against such operator.”

Last month, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) had signed an agreement for building six European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) as against the earlier proposal of two such reactors.

The delay in the project, which was first signed in 2008, and concern over India’s liability law came in the wake of nuclear firms Areva and EDF merging their reactor businesses into a joint venture controlled by EDF, as part of a broad restructuring last year.

In 2014, the US too had raised similar concerns about Clause 46 in particular.

Following this, just before President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, India announced plans to build a Nuclear Insurance Pool to address the issue.

In April last year, Areva had also signed an agreement with NPCIL to expedite the programme.

“Things are unclear over how much insurance cover does supplier have to take. There is still a lot of ambiguity in this,” the French official said.

The French government officials said the liability issue is still “manageable” but pricing still remains a major hurdle.

While the cost of the electricity generated by Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) Units I and II hovers between Rs. 3 to 3.50 per unit, for JNPP, it is expected to be Rs. 9.14 per unit. India is not ready to go beyond Rs. 6.50 per unit.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | India, Legal, marketing of nuclear, Reference | Leave a comment

The intractable thousands of years problem of Chernobyl’s radioactive debris

flag-UkraineRuined Chernobyl nuclear plant will remain a threat for 3,000 years  @mattschodcnews  BY MATTHEW SCHOFIELD , Miami Herald, 24 Apr 16, 
30 years since Chernobyl may seem like a long time, but it’s really just the start  

Below reactor’s ruins is a 2,000-ton radioactive mass that can’t be removed 
How do you protect a site for as long a time as Western civilization has existed?

“…………When the steam burst through the roof of Reactor Number 4 in 1986, it took with it 5 percent of the enriched uranium. That means 10 tons vanished. It also means 95 percent, or 190 tons, remained. They’re still there.

After the blasted reactor partially collapsed into the nuclear material, it created a radioactive blob of uranium, concrete, steel and assorted junk weighing about 2,000 tons. Ideally, Ukraine would remove the material. Sergiy Parashyn grabs a pen and paper as he talks about the problems with that.

“We do not know how to do this,” he explains. “We do not have the technology to do this. It must be something new.”……

“One problem is that the material is decaying and is brittle, and when we cut it up to transport it to disposal bins, it will very likely fill the air with radioactive dust,” he explains. So the tractor has to be able to operate in a radioactive environment, it has to be able to control and eliminate any dust and it has to operate in an area that will not be at all safe for humans. “Maybe something like this would work, maybe it wouldn’t. We don’t know. That’s a problem.”

It’s a problem because while 5 percent of the radioactive material caused problems that continue 30 years later and will continue to cause problems for eons to come, the other 95 percent of the material could represent about 20 times the problems.

For instance, if mistakes are made and the brittle material is released into the atmosphere, they’re back to square one. If the material gets into the Pripyat River, it will flow into the Dnieper River. The Dnieper River is the water source for Kiev. The Dnieper is the primary water source for much of Ukraine.

This is why Ukrainian officials are counting on what they call a sarcophagus to contain the site, a massive structure that looks like a Quonset hut being assembled behind a wall that is intended to deflect radiation from the decaying plant from workers.


When finished, it will be rolled across the crumbling concrete of the surrounding ground to cover and further seal the dangerous reactor. The work is expected to be completed in 2018, though that is just a guess. It’s expected to last 100 years. It’s not nearly long enough.

Reactor Number 4 today is essentially an unplanned nuclear-waste dump. To serve in that role requires it to last for 3,000 years. That means the area surrounding Chernobyl will be safe to inhabit by people again in the year 4986.

How likely is that? To get an idea of what it means to contain and control a deadly and potentially devastating radioactive pile in Ukraine for 3,000 years, consider what the world looked like 3,000 years ago:……

Detlef Appel, a geologist who runs PanGeo, a Hamburg, Germany, company that consults on such nuclear storage issues, notes that 3,000 years probably isn’t long enough. He suggests that truly safe radioactive waste storage needs to extend a million years into the future. Think back to when man’s earliest relative began to walk the Earth.

“We can trust human endeavor, perhaps, for a few hundred years, though that is doubtful,” he said. “Storage implies a way to retrieve the materials. It requires trained personnel, maintenance, updating and security. Clearly, nothing man made is more than temporary, and therefore it isn’t adequate.”

Even the continents will have moved in a million years.

Tetiana Verbytska, an energy policy expert at the National Ecological Center of Ukraine, worries that people are far too easygoing about Chernobyl. Among government officials right now, mindful of the 30-year anniversary, there is a movement to shrink the radius of the highly contaminated no man’s land from 18 miles to 6.

“The move to reduce the highly contaminated zone has nothing to do with science and everything to do with public relations,” she says. “In Ukraine, each April we make wonderful speeches about our commitment to dealing with this problem, and the rest of each year we hope the problem will just go away.”

There are other reasons to worry. Ukraine is creaking under a civil war against insurgents backed by Russia and scraping by with an economy that in the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been looted by a series of oligarchs. It doesn’t have the money to fund an educational system that can be expected to create legions of top scientists and engineers.

Officials speak very proudly of the new sarcophagus roof that is being put into place. But the finish date on that has been repeatedly backed up, and there’s no guarantee that its 2018 date won’t be moved again.

A variety of disasters could still strike. The site’s existing covering, built in haste after the accident, could collapse, shattering the brittle mix of radioactive materials below and sending nuclear dust into the atmosphere to mix with rain. There could be an earthquake. The entire site is fragile.

Olga Kosharna, the lead scientist at the Ukrainian Department of Energy and Nuclear Safety in Kiev who oversaw safety at Chernobyl in the 1990s, recalls walking the roof above the shattered reactor and being horrified to find holes that had been burned through the concrete.

The shoes she wore that day were highly contaminated and had to be destroyed.

Alexandre Polack, a spokesman for the European Union, notes in an email that the date to begin removing radioactive material from the site is still 20 to 30 years away. “The current shelter covering destroyed Reactor 4 was reinforced in recent years and seems stable,” he writes. “However it was built in haste after the accident and never intended as a long-term solution.”

Verbytska emphasizes that the mass of uranium debris inside Reactor Number 4 is now a mess that goes beyond human ability to clean up. Others dismiss the situation as a problem, but one that technology can fix.

“We don’t have the technology to fix the problem,” she says. “We don’t have the process to develop the technology to fix the problem, and we don’t have the money to support the process to develop the technology to fix the problem. The solutions for our Chernobyl problems are very much ‘seal it for now.’ We will have smart children and smart grandchildren who in 100 years or so will figure out what to do.”

After the disaster, radiation burned off the tops of the trees. Soviet officials ordered the trees cut down and buried deep. But they failed to properly encase the buried wood. As a new forest grew unchecked above the radioactive remains of the old forest, the new wood was also highly radioactive. The whole thing will have to be dug up and encased and buried again, properly.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Reference, safety, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Michael Douglas wants presidential candidates to start talking about nuclear weapons.

USA election 2016Tribeca: Michael Douglas Calls for Presidential Candidates to Talk Nuclear Weapons  The actor is working on a doc about a San Fernando Valley family who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s. “[It] basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer,” says Douglas. 4/23/2016 by Ashley Lee

 Michael Douglas is ready for the presidential candidates to start talking about nuclear weapons.

At a 2016 Tribeca Film Festival discussion before the immersive closing-night film the bomb, Douglas said the world is “on the advent of a new Cold War advancement in nuclear weapons — the U.S. is talking about a trillion dollars to spend, the Russians have their new missiles out,” he explained. “It’s just very difficult to believe. … Maybe, just maybe, we can look at a new generation to look at what I think is the most serious issue that we have on the planet right now.”

Even more so, “we’ve got elections coming up this year. Once we get through these primaries and once more attention is brought to just how this arms race is continuing now, there should be a huge discussion coming this fall,” said the actor and longtime advocate of nuclear non-proliferation. “It looks like it’s gonna be [Donald] Trump and Hillary Clinton, with diametrically different opinions on this important issue — one who wants to nuke ‘em, and somebody else.”

Command & Control director Robert Kenner added, “If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, I think there will be more discussion on nuclear weapons because he is the best argument for abolition that we can make.”

As seen in action flicks like Pacific Rim and Independence Day, Hollywood tends to portray nuclear weapons onscreen as the ultimate and necessary arsenal, and Douglas said that won’t change anytime soon. “Not in Hollywood — we’re based on a business of balances, commerce with filmmaking. Commerce has to win out,” said the actor. “Any movie where the message gets ahead of the drama … unless you’re doing documentaries, you can’t get ahead of yourself. They’re not interested.”

Still, Douglas said he’s working on a documentary “about a young man living in the San Fernando Valley who grew up near a Boeing plant which had a nuclear accident in the 1950s and basically poisoned the whole neighborhood. The whole family has thyroid cancer.”

The panel — also featuring Command & Control author Eric Schlosser, Emma Belcher of the MacArthur Foundation and the bomb filmmaker Smriti Keshari — discussed that nuclear weapons and climate change are the two most important global issues, and because of the visual proof of climate change that’s emerged, the world has begun responding with urgency.

“The terrifying thing about the nuclear issue is … you’re really gonna have to wait for a dirty bomb. It’s gonna make 9/11, Paris, Brussels, everything a miniscule amount before the amount of people who are going to be killed [by a nuclear bomb],” said Douglas. “The only optimism I see, is of these two major issues, the two most important in the world, we can eliminate nuclear weapons. It’s really easy. … We as humans can do something about it — we actually can, it’s within our grasp.”

Douglas began his activism against nuclear weapons after making The China Syndrome, James Bridges’ 1979 film co-starring Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon about a cover-up of safety hazards at a nuclear power plant. To prepare for its finale, the shoot included consultations with General Electric quality assurance experts who “gave us a breakdown of the most logical accident that might happen at a power plant,” the actor and producer recalled. “That power plant was the ultimate villain — it’s a horror picture.

“Thirteen days after the movie came out, Three Mile Island happened in Pennsylvania,” said Douglas, as news outlets ran split-screen footage of the real-life tragedy and the film. “It was an epiphany for me, the closest thing to a religious experience I might have ever had.”

April 25, 2016 Posted by | media, USA, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

World record for wind power goes to Denmark, yet again

wind-turb-smflag-Denmark1Denmark just broke its own wind power record for the second year in a row by , 18 Apr 16, VIEW SLIDESHOW 

 In Denmark, the wind is strong and the people are smart. They must be, because Denmark just beat its own wind power generation record—again. According to a new report issued last week, wind power now makes up 42.1 percent of total electricity consumption in the country, which is the highest share anywhere in the world. Energinet, the agency responsible for Denmark’s power grids, released the final figures for 2015 after tallying up all of the wind hours for the year. Experts say the increase over the previous year’s energy generation means Denmark is on target to reach its future goals for renewable energy.

This time last year, Denmark celebrated the world record achievement of generating 39.1 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind power in 2014. This means that, for two years running, Denmark has generated more electricity from wind power than any other country on Earth. Wind power also makes up a larger share of electricity sources there than in other nations. Essentially, Denmark is blazing the trail for other European countries to push forward with renewable energy projects.

Related: All Netherlands Railways trains will be 100% wind powered by 2018

“It’s not unusual that we have hours where the wind production is greater than the actual consumption. But in the western part of the country, it has sometimes been 16 percent more, and that illustrates that with a volatile electricity production, we are able to import and export across our borders,” Energinet’s Carsten Vittrup said in a statement. Indeed, wind power generation has been known to peak as high as140 percent of the country’s electricity needs on particularly windy days.

Danish parliament aims to get at least half of the country’s electricity from wind by 2020, and that seems easily achievable given the current upward trend. A corresponding goal is to rely on renewable energy for 90 percent of the electricity and heating throughout the nation, which also seems likely. Currently, Denmark is exporting some of its wind power to Norway, Sweden, and Germany, while buying hydropower from Norway and solar power from Germany. Mixing energy sources is important to ensure a consistent supply to the power grid, regardless of weather conditions, so coal and biomass power plants are still being used as a safety net. However, it’s logical to expect a decline in those sources as renewable methods continue to take over.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Denmark, renewable | Leave a comment

Impressive solar panel array on Port Alberni hospital, Vancouver Island, Canada

sunflag-canadaPort Alberni hospital has Vancouver Island’s largest array of solar power Solar power could help with high hydro rates during peak hours on hot days By Liam Britten, CBC News  Apr 23, 2016  

Who loves the sun? — turns out West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni does. That building is home to 400 solar panels — the largest power-generating array on Vancouver Island, in fact.

The panels will be doing their work in the weeks and months ahead to see how much money Island Health Authority can save by using the power of the sun.

“When it’s really hot and sunny and we’re using a lot of power to keep the hospital cool, the rates get very high with BC Hydro,” Deanna Fourt, director of energy efficiency and conservation with Island Health Authority told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

“So it’s going to work very nicely with the solar. This is what we’re thinking, because it’s going to be offsetting those really high-rate days or high-rate times.”……..

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Canada, decentralised | Leave a comment

USA wind energy investment – over $128 Billion

green-collarBy staying on track to supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, wind energy could support 380,000 well-paying jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That number could grow to 600,000 by supplying 35 percent by 2050

More Than $128 Billion Dollars Invested in U.S. Economy by New Wind Power Projects,Wind Systems, 25 Apr 16  Building new wind farms in the U.S. added $13 billion per year on average to the American economy over the past five years, according to information recently released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“By building new wind farms across the country throughout the past decade, wind companies have invested $128 billion into the U.S. economy,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Over this time, wind has rapidly scaled-up. Now, there is enough wind power installed to reliably produce electricity for more than 19 million American homes. Continuing to invest in world-class wind resources here at home will help keep our lights on, grow state economies, and keep more money in the pockets of homeowners and businesses.”

Wind energy was the number-one source for new electric capacity additions in 2015 with 8,598 MW installed. That number translates to $14.7 billion dollars in wind project investments in one year — a 73-percent increase over the $8.5 billion invested in new projects in 2014 and a more than seven-fold increase over investments by wind in 2013……..

The new investment figures made by wind come shortly after a new accord that was announced by a bipartisan group of 17 governors who made the pledge to accelerate clean energy growth, including wind power, as a way to build “a new energy future.” The accord said that creating this new energy path will result in a “more durable and resilient infrastructure and [will] enable economic growth while protecting the health of our communities and natural resources.”

Wind power costs two-thirds less than it did six years ago because of American innovation and improved domestic manufacturing, with more than 500 factories across 43 states building wind turbine parts and materials, and those savings are being passed on to U.S. consumers. Wind power saved consumers $1 billion over just two days across the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic states during the 2014 Polar Vortex event.

Wind energy in the U.S. produces enough electricity for more than 19 million American homes, and American wind power supports 73,000 well-paying jobs across every state, including nearly 20,000 manufacturing jobs.

By staying on track to supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, wind energy could support 380,000 well-paying jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That number could grow to 600,000 by supplying 35 percent by 2050.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, USA | Leave a comment