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TEPCO to Halt Most Work at Fukushima N-Plant for G-7 Summit

Tokyo, May 24 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will suspend most work at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant for three days from Wednesday as Japan will host the Group of Seven summit this week.
During the three days, TEPCO will continue minimum necessary work, including operations for cooling the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors, which suffered meltdowns, and running a system to process radioactive water at the plant, which was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to the company.
But the company will halt the construction of tanks for storing radioactive water and preparations for removing nuclear fuel from the No. 3 reactor pool, along with other work.
TEPCO has been carrying out those operations as part of the decommissioning processes.
A TEPCO official said the company will suspend the work at the plant out of a sense of caution, while noting that the company is always ready to detect any problem at the plant quickly.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Japan should learn lessons from Chernobyl — Russian expert

MOSCOW, May 24 (Xinhua) — The improper handling of the Fukushima aftermath by the Japanese government has had grave consequences and that’s partly attributed to the fact that Japan didn’t learn lessons from the Chernobyl tragedy, a Russian radiation expert has said.

For starters, Japan followed the suit of the former Soviet Union in playing down the disastrous consequences, said Valery Stepanenko, a leading specialist in medical and environmental dosimetry and radiation safety, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

In stead of timely reporting complete information to the public, the Japanese government attempted to hide the truth in the beginning, wasting precious time for evacuation of more people from the polluted area, the expert said.

After the disaster, lies and contradictive information emerged, making it impossible to decide the level of exposure to radioactive iodine of pregnant women and children using tap water.

“There have been many reports about the necessity to develop international standards for providing timely information during such accidents, but there has been no progress so far, probably, due to the complexity of elaboration of such standards,” said Stepanenko.

He also called for immediate data of radiation levels after the accident, especially the internal exposure of residents who drunk polluted water in the affected area, because such exposure poses threat to the thyroid gland.

At the first stage of the Fukushima accident, “a very limited number of practical estimates of radiation levels in the population was made,” said Stepanenko.

“Subsequently, Japan started carrying out very detailed checks of children and adolescents who had radiation exposure, but data of internal exposure were still left out,” he said.

“Radiation suffered by children at that time remain unknown, but they are very important for proper follow-up treatment,” the Russian expert said.

The consequence is dire. Till now, more than 160 teenagers in Fukushima Prefecture have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, including suspect cases, according to a report by the local healthy authority.

However, the Fukushima government rebutted the link between the disease and the nuclear accident in March, 2011. Some Japanese experts claimed that no evidence can prove the relationship between thyroid cancer and radiation.

Stepanenko said he has tried to pursue why there was no retrospective analysis of the radiation levels received by the population, but he has come empty handed after all these years.

The Fukushima crisis suggested that, according to Stepanenko, nuclear plants should not be built in areas of high seismic activity and those built in such areas should be shut down.

A number of nuclear plants in Japan are built on the coast, where an earthquake and tsunami, or a combination of both, is expected at any moment.

“Indeed, you can build a wall to resist a tsunami. The Fukushima had a six-meter wall to protect the nuclear plant, but the waves reaching a height of 12-13 meters destroyed the plant after all,” said Stepanenko.

After Fukushima accident, the Japanese started to realize their mistakes and started to revive their nuclear power network, taking into account the new, post-Fukushima safety requirements, the expert said.

But perhaps Japan should be the last region to build any nuclear plants under the current technological basis given its location in risky earthquake zone, he added.

The leaking radiation is still polluting the underground water of Fukushima which flows to the Pacific in uncountable amounts. Consumers in Japan’s neighboring countries are widely cautious about consuming the imported food from near Fukushima.

Three decades ago, the radiation dust threatened a considerable area of Europe after the Chernobyl accident. Likewise, the affected population of the Fukushima crisis is not only the Japanese people.

Given the fact that the United Stated registered elevated levels of radiation on the Pacific coast, Japan’s neighbors should be thankful to the wind blowing eastwards following the Fukushima disaster, said Stepanenko.

“Who knows how the wind will blow next time when another nuclear accident happens in such a country with high earthquake risks?” asked Stepanenko.



May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Radiation Map



This map show ca 4,500 up-to-date radiation measurements, collected from various official sources. On roll-over information is provided for that particular location – radiation levels are visualized by the colored square’s size. Locations marked with the + sign reveal more locations on zoom-in. Logging since march 2011, the accumulated data contains now 100,000,000+ records, available for research. Click here for more details




May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel

The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery.

In an exclusive interview with Foreign Correspondent, the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to pinpoint the position of the fuel and begin removing it from 2021.

But he admitted the technology needed to remove the fuel has to be invented.

“Once we can find out the condition of the melted fuel and identify its location, I believe we can develop the necessary tools to retrieve it,” Mr Masuda said.

“So it’s important to find it as soon as possible.”

Clean-up to take decades, cost tens of billions of dollars

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in the hours and days after a giant tsunami swamped the facility on 11 March, 2011.

Thousands of workers are braving elevated radiation levels to stabilise and decommission the plant.

TEPCO says the process will take 30 to 40 years and tens of billions of dollars.

“In Reactor 1, all of the fuel has melted down from inside the pressure vessel,” Mr Masuda said.

“In reactors 2 and 3, about 30 per cent to 50 per cent remains in the pressure vessel and the rest has melted down. But unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where [the fuel] is.”

The head of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved, saying such an operation has never been done before.

“Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time,” said Gregory Jaczko in an interview with Foreign Correspondent in Washington.

“It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is.”

Radiation killing search robots inside reactor

For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down after the tsunami swamped the plant.

“It’s estimated that approximately 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit,” said TEPCO’s Naohiro Masuda.

“So in total, about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”

TEPCO has attempted to use custom-built robots to access high-dose radiation parts of the reactor buildings where humans cannot go.

“All the robots have been disabled, the instrumentation, the camera … have been disabled because of the high radiation fields,” former NRC boss Gregory Jaczko said.

Appointed to head the US nuclear watchdog by President Barack Obama in 2009, Dr Jaczko resigned a year after the Fukushima disaster.

A particle physicist, he now questions the safety of nuclear power.

“You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants, wherever they are in the world … that you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident and you can release a significant amount of radiation and have a decade long clean-up effort on your hands,” he said.

10 million bags of contaminated soil in gigantic waste dumps

Another supporter turned opponent of nuclear power is Naoto Kan, who was the Japanese prime minister at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns.

He says those who argue that nuclear power is a safe, cheap source of energy are misguided.

“So far, the government is paying $70 billion to support TEPCO,” Mr Kan said.

“But that is not enough. It will probably cost more than $240 billion. I think 40 years [to decommission the plant] is an optimistic view.”

More than 100,000 Japanese are still unable to return home because their communities lie in elevated radiation zones.

Some people have returned to their towns and villages since the completion of decontamination work, which often involves the removal of up to 15 centimetres of topsoil from fields and from around homes.

More than 10 million large bags of contaminated soil and waste have so far been collected. The bags are now stored in thousands of sites around Fukushima, with some of the piles several storeys high.

“In order for people to come back, we need to show that the Fukushima plant is in a stable condition,” Naohiro Masuda said.

“We need to make that the situation … we’re working on something [for] which there is no textbook.”

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

There is simply no reason to continue Monju reactor program

An expert council on the Monju fast-breeder reactor program started debate last week on a draft report it will submit to the science and technology ministry.

The panel’s work is a response to the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s recommendation last year that the operator of the troubled experimental reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, should be replaced.

After a series of revelations about omitted safety inspections and other problems, the NRA in November urged science and technology minister Hiroshi Hase to find a new entity to replace the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency as the reactor’s operator.

But the council’s draft report, released on May 20, doesn’t name a candidate for the mission. It only mentions a set of conditions the new operator should fulfill, which are nothing new and all part of conventional wisdom.

It says, for instance, the new operator should have “the ability to develop and implement operation and maintenance plans based on the characteristics of the reactor that is still in the experimental stage.” It also says the new operator should be able to respond appropriately to the interests and needs of society.

The draft report also points to the failure of a series of reforms that have been carried out to save the trouble-plagued program. It offers no reason to believe this time is different and the proposed replacement of the operator will bring about sufficient improvements in the management of the Monju.

The fast-breeder reactor requires as much as 20 billion yen ($182 million) in annual maintenance costs. In addition, there is not even an estimate of the certainly huge costs for necessary safety measures.

All these facts make a compelling case for decommissioning the reactor.

The biggest problem, as some members of the ministry panel have noted, is the lack of serious debate on the cost-effectiveness of the Monju program.

Who needs this program and how strong is the need? How much more money is the government ready to spend to develop and operate the reactor? These and other key questions about whether the program makes economic sense have been left unaddressed.

The Monju is now in a precarious position even in the government’s nuclear energy policy.

The reactor was once touted as the core facility for the government’s plan to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system in which plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel is burned in a fast-breeder reactor.

For more than two decades since a sodium coolant leak accident in 1995, however, the Monju has remained mostly idle.

Over the period, the need for a nuclear fuel recycling system has kept diminishing. There are now few people in the private sector calling for the development of a fast-breeder reactor.

When it drew up a research plan using the Monju three years ago, the science and technology ministry had to focus on the topic of nuclear waste disposal rather than fast-breeder reactor technology itself.

Still, the government has refused to pull the plug on the Monju program because it is concerned about possible repercussions on its nuclear fuel recycling policy as a whole.

But this vision is now almost a fantasy. If the government admits this fact, however, the issue of how to dispose of the large amounts of spent nuclear fuel stored at nuclear power plants across the nation will no doubt come under the spotlight.

Continuing the Monju program simply to gloss over this grim reality would be too foolish.

A small experimental reactor is enough and more efficient for use in research in nuclear waste disposal, which is still in a rudimentary stage. The need for such research offers no rationale for keeping the Monju program alive.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Opinion: Tokyo’s handling of Fukushima aftermath lacks responsibility

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — In the story of one famous Chinese idiom, a man plugs his ears while trying to steal a bell, foolishly believing that by doing so others won’t hear the sound of the bell when it is moved away.

Of course they do, and he gets caught.

The cautionary tale of burying one’s head in the sand aptly applies to the handling of the Fukushima incident by the Japanese government, which has chosen to turn a deaf ear to the aftermath of the worst nuclear accident in decades triggered by quake-related Tsunami five years ago.

Tokyo’s irresponsible attitudes and acts such as speeding up the return of displaced residents to some nuclear disaster-affected areas of Fukushima Prefecture and reluctance to share relevant information, have sparked doubt and anger domestically and internationally.

A joint opinion poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, a national daily, and the Fukushima local press in 2015 showed that over 70 percent of the Fukushima residents were unsatisfied with the government’s response.

In an editorial published on the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, French newspaper “Le Monde” said the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “eager to turn over the page of Fukushima” and has shown a “willingness to forget.”

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s eastern coast and triggered a 15-meter tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and sent its nuclear reactors into meltdown. The nuclear disaster was the worst since the Chernobyl incident in 1986.

As a result, up to 120,000 Japanese were relocated as “nuclear refugees” from the region.

A 2015 research found that children living near the Fukushima nuclear facilities are significantly up to 50 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer compared to those children living elsewhere in Japan.

Data on radiation levels collected by Japanese volunteers near the Daiichi nuclear power plant is 8 to 10 times higher than the official number.

At least 300 tons of radiation-contaminated underground water kept pouring into the ocean each day in 2013, but Abe, then vying for Tokyo’s right to host the Olympics, claimed that nuclear contamination was “totally under control.”

Questions over the Fukushima aftermath have never ceased to pop up.

The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, a global organization, sent a message to the Japanese government this January expressing worry over the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children in the Fukushima region and offering as a professional organization to support the investigation on this matter.

The Japanese government, however, gracefully declined the offer.

The lack of transparency and independent investigation has led to limited access to information about the accident, one of the only two level-seven nuclear disasters according to the international nuclear watchdog.

Tokyo’s approach shows a weak sense of responsibility and the intention to avoid political pressure ahead of the G7 summit later this week and the 2020 Olympic Games.

Japan is concerned with its national image, food security, tourism, nuclear policy, medical compensation and possibility of public lawsuits. But not single one of them should be the country’s excuse for preventing the post-disaster situation from being known to the public.

Given the scale and impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is no ground for Tokyo to stay secretive and evasive over the handling of the issue.

The international community should urge the Japanese government, if it sticks to the passive attitude, to make public relevant information and its post-disaster management.

The selective amnesia over a disaster out of political or any other purposes is even more terrifying than the disaster itself. Tokyo owes an explanation to the world.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Spotlight: Five years on, Fukushima remains shrouded in untold stories

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — In front of the local government of Iidate Village in Japan‘s Fukushima Prefecture stands a big radiation measuring device. On its spotless dashboard flashes a red number: 0.38 microsieverts/hour.

The spot is about 40 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the monstrous earthquake-triggered tsunami in March 2011.

Looking at the display, Yoichi Tao, a volunteer with a physics background, smiled in mockery. “The figure is too low,” he said, pointing to a humble measuring device not far away. “This is a measuring equipment we set up ourselves,” he said. “The figure of radiation is eight to 10 times of the official one.”

Tao’s feeling presents a stark contrast to the Japanese government’s official statements, which claimed that the crisis was “totally under control” and that “any negative impact of radioactive water on the environment is completely blocked.”

Tao was suspicious and angry, and the like-minded are many. Some of them suffer from radioactive-related diseases, and some are seeking help but having nobody to turn to.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On the latter, various investigations and commemorations have never ceased over the past three decades. Yet on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, probes have always been wrapped in an ominous cloak for the past five years.

How many years are needed to handle the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident? What are the exact ecological impacts on the environment? How much progress has been made in the decontamination process? How should the nuclear waste be disposed of?

As regards those questions, many experts around the world give a similar answer:” It’s hard to tell, as we don’t have enough information.”


Why are the radiation measuring figures 10 times different? “This shining measuring device was set up by the government later than us,” explained Tao. “It dispatched the military to wipe out the nearby nuclear radiation on the ground in advance, so the official figure looks very low. That’s how the government did it.”

However, concealing the truth will not lead people’s memory to oblivion, but arouse anger.

A joint opinion poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, a national daily, and the Fukushima local press in 2015 showed that over 70 percent of the Fukushima residents were unsatisfied with the government’s response. One focal point is the local children’s poor health, especially thyroid cancer, possibly triggered by nuclear radiation.

Toshihide Tsuda, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Japan’s Okayama University, found that the incidence of thyroid cancer among children in Fukushima Prefecture was 20 to 50 times higher than the national average as of 2014, three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

His finding, however, fell on deaf ears of the central and local authorities. The Fukushima prefectural government attributed the phenomenon to a surge of “over-diagnosis.” The local government insisted that the cancer incidents and nuclear radiation were not related.

The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, a global organization, sent a message to the Japanese government this January expressing worry over the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children in the Fukushima region and offering as a professional organization to support the investigation on this matter. However, its offer has been gracefully declined by the Japanese government.

At the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the parents of the children who were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Fukushima formed a mutual help group to demand that the government provide convincing evidence that their children’s sufferings were not related to the nuclear accident.


In an editorial published on the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, French newspaper “Le Monde” said the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “eager to turn over the page of Fukushima” and has shown a “willingness to forget.”

The Japanese government admitted in August 2013 that at least 300 tons of highly-contaminated water flowed freely into the Pacific Ocean every day and the problem might linger for ages.

However, in September the same year, when Japan was bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, Abe told the international community that the crisis was “totally under control.”

It has also been revealed this February that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukishima nuclear power plant, had knowledge of multiple meltdowns at the plant’s reactors following the tsunami, but intentionally withheld that information until months later.

Yuko Yoshida, secretary-general of Japan Women’s Network for Chernobyl Health Survey and Health-Care Support for the Victims, noticed the different attitudes of the Japanese media reporting the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents.

She pointed out that during the past three decades, mainstream Japanese media have been constantly fixing their eyes on Chernobyl. Yet after Fukushima, they have basically refrained from in-depth investigation and reporting on the health hazards caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Similar attitudes existed in the research community. Professor Valery Stepanenko, a leading Russian specialist in medical and environmental dosimetry and radiation safety, told Xinhua that he asked his Japanese counterparts why Japan had not performed a retrospective analysis of the radiation doses received by the population, but the Japanese scholars were either silent or vague about it.

“As a result, doses of iodine tablets received by children at that time remain unknown, but they are very important for proper follow-up treatment,” Stepanenko said.


According to Ken Buesseler, a senior researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a U.S. private non-profit organization, the Japanese government has not been doing a good job communicating with the public.

Information disclosure needs to be improved, so that the general public would know more about the level of nuclear contamination and its influence on health, he suggested.

The expert, who has been studying the Fukushima nuclear accident’s impact on maritime environment since 2011, told Xinhua that the impact was unprecedented, as 80 percent of the leaked radioactive substance has flown to the sea.

However, the Japanese government has kept claiming that everything is “completely under control” and that any negative impact on the environment “is completely blocked.”

Observers from around the world have pointed out that the Japanese side has deliberately toned down the nuclear accident’s long-term impact on health, food safety and the environment. Adding to Tokyo’s worry are concerns that the image of Japan would be stained and the safety of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics be questioned.

However, underestimating the long-term impact of the accident could lead to slack supervision on affected food, and might also produce unrealistic optimism in the Japanese government that could result in careless handling of the aftermath, experts warned.

According to Chen Xiaoqiu, deputy chief engineer with the Radioactive Safety Center of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, remedial efforts include restoring the environment, cleaning up nuclear contamination and processing nuclear waste and studying the biological survival environment and the radiation impact on human bodies.

Given Japan’s handling of the incident, an independent investigation initiated by international experts is necessary to reveal the truth of the disaster whose aftermath spills well beyond the Japanese border, said Buesseler.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

May 24 Energy News



¶ The private sector is leapfrogging inefficient state-owned utilities in Africa to deliver electricity to rural people, according to a report by consulting firm PwC. An estimated 80% of those without electricity live in rural areas, where transmission are excessively expensive. [BDlive]

Renewable energy programs aim to bring power to remote locations. File picture: CIRCA Renewable energy programs aim to bring power
to remote locations. File picture: CIRCA

¶ A strike over new labor laws has spread to all of France’s eight oil refineries, the CGT union says, in an escalating dispute with the government. An estimated 20% of gas stations have either run dry or are low on supplies. Clashes broke out at the refinery at Fos-sur-Mer in Marseille. [BBC]

¶ The owner of London Taxi Company, the manufacturer of London’s iconic black cabs, has reportedly raised $400 million in new funding through a green bonds sale. These new funds will reportedly be used to electrify the…

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May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

HEPA Filter Failures at Nuclear Reactors or Other Nuclear Sites Can Lead to Increased Radiation Exposure for the Public and Workers

Mining Awareness +

The information notice below was in 1999, but the problem remains with the topic showing up in the US NRC “DRAFT 10 CFR Part 21 Reporting of Defects and Noncompliance, Meeting with the Industry and Stakeholders March 16, 2016“, where they note that a HEPA filter failure may mean that radioactive discharges are less filtered than usual, leading to higher levels of exposure to radiation by the public and environment (20 times or more greater than allowed by the US EPA).

Click to access ML031040519.pdf

In March of 2016 the USNRC states: “High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and/or dust collection systems on airborne effluent stacks. The equipment failure of a HEPA or a dust collection system on a high-flow airborne effluent stack could result in a release of licensed material“. [i.e. more Radioactive Discharges than legally allowed] “If the equipment failure is unidentified due…

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May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 100% club


Recently Portugal has managed to pass that key milestone of achieving 100% of its electricity from renewables over several days, an improvement on the 70% of a few years ago. Granted its more normally an average of 48% from renewables, through a combination of wind, hydro and solar. This is encouraging news, as it debunks the many myths regarding renewables (that you can’t get 100% of power from renewables, or that it will lead to an increase in emissions, etc.). And it also makes Portugal another (although only occasional for the moment) member of that exclusive club of countries (or regions) who are able to get 100% of their electricity from renewables.

RTEmagicC_Portugal_RE_Generation_Apren.JPG Figure 1: Renewables growth in Portugal [Source: Renewables Int. (2016)] Long term members of this club are of course Norway, Iceland, Uruguay and Paraquay. However several regions of other countries are also members. Quebec for…

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May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 23 Energy News



¶ “Solar panels and battery systems power off-grid living as a lifestyle choice” • For some people, off-grid living is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity due to his home’s isolated location. Others choose to live off-grid. In either case, no compromise on lifestyle is necessary. [Domain News]

Peter Long’s off-grid family home near Gunnedah, NSW. Photo: Supplied. Off-grid family home near Gunnedah, NSW. Photo: Supplied.


¶ Solar system owners in regional Queensland will start receiving a more generous rate for their solar electricity exports from July. The Queensland Competition Authority announced the new feed-in tariff for regional customers in 2016-17 is 7.448¢/kWh, 17.3% higher than 2015-16. [Energy Matters]

¶ A community hydropower scheme on the Thames at Teddington lock and weirs won planning permission and defeated a judicial review from the Lensbury club, but the club is now seeking to appeal against the judicial review decision. The Lensbury club is owned by…

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May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Defective ABB Breakers for Nuclear Power Station(s) – “Substantial Safety Hazard”

Mining Awareness +

Hazardous Problem of ABB breakers as described and illustrated by the utility, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut to the US NRC on March 13, 2015: “DOMINION NUCLEAR CONNECTICUT. INC. MILLSTONE POWER STATION UNIT 3 10 CFR PART 21 REPORT OF BINDING IN ABB K-L CLOSE LATCHES (PART NUMBER 716610K01)
Serial No. 15-109 Docket No. 50-423 Attachment 1, Page 4 of 4 Figure 1 Defective ABB K-Line Secondary Close Latch

Click to access ML15079A398.pdf

[Note what looks like green patina on the defective one:
The material doesn’t appear appropriate for something so important as a nuclear power station. It’s apparently supposed to be new, or almost new. So, why does it have the green patina? ]

Swedish Swiss ABB clearly has dangerous issues with quality assessment-quality control, at least as recently as last year.

From the Dominion Report:
For this type of breaker, after opening, the closing spring charging motor runs to charge the closing springs and configure the breaker for the next closing demand. With a stuck…

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May 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima could have been even worst than it is already

San_Onofre_spent fuel.jpg

A spent fuel pool at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente, California.

Near miss at Fukushima is a warning for U.S., panel says

By Richard Stone May. 20, 2016

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary called it “the devil’s scenario.” Two weeks after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing three nuclear reactors to melt down and release radioactive plumes, officials were bracing for even worse. They feared that spent fuel stored in the reactor halls would catch fire and send radioactive smoke across a much wider swath of eastern Japan, including Tokyo.

Thanks to a lucky break detailed in a report released today by the U.S. National Academies, Japan dodged that bullet. The near calamity “should serve as a wake-up call for the industry,” says Joseph Shepherd, a mechanical engineer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena who chaired the academy committee that produced the report. Spent fuel accumulating at U.S. nuclear reactor plants is also vulnerable, the report warns. A major spent fuel fire at a U.S. nuclear plant “could dwarf the horrific consequences of the Fukushima accident,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., who was not on the panel.

After spent fuel is removed from a reactor core, the fission products continue to decay radioactively, generating heat. Many nuclear plants, like Fukushima, store the fuel onsite at the bottom of deep pools for at least 5 years while it slowly cools. It is seriously vulnerable there, as the Fukushima accident demonstrated, and so the academy panel recommends that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and nuclear plant operators beef up systems for monitoring the pools and topping up water levels in case a facility is damaged. It also calls for more robust security measures after a disaster. “Disruptions create opportunities for malevolent acts,” Shepherd says.

At Fukushima, the earthquake and tsunami cut power to pumps that circulated coolant through the reactor cores and cooled water in the spent fuel pools. The pump failure led to the core meltdowns. In the pools, found in all six of Fukushima’s reactor halls, radioactive decay gradually heated the water. Of preeminent concern were the pools in reactor Units 1 through 4: Those buildings had sustained heavy damage on 11 March and in subsequent days, when explosions occurred in Units 1, 3, and 4.

The “devil’s scenario” nearly played out in Unit 4, where the reactor was shut down for maintenance. The entire reactor core—all 548 assemblies—was in the spent fuel pool, and was hotter than fuel in the other pools. When an explosion blew off Unit 4’s roof on 15 March, plant operators assumed the cause was hydrogen—and they feared it had come from fuel in the pool that had been exposed to air. They could not confirm that, because the blast had destroyed instrumentation for monitoring the pool. (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator, later suggested that the hydrogen that had exploded had come not from exposed spent fuel but from the melted reactor core in the adjacent Unit 3.) But the possibility that the fuel had been exposed was plausible and alarming enough for then-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko on 16 March to urge more extensive evacuations than the Japanese government had advised—beyond a 20-kilometer radius from the plant.

Later that day, however, concerns abated after a helicopter overflight captured video of sunlight glinting off water in the spent fuel pool. In fact, the crisis was worsening: The pool’s water was boiling away because of the hot fuel. As the level fell perilously close to the top of the fuel assemblies, something “fortuitous” happened, Shepherd says. As part of routine maintenance, workers had flooded Unit 4’s reactor well, where the core normally sits. Separating the well and the spent fuel pool is a gate through which fuel assemblies are transferred. The gate allowed water from the reactor well to leak into the spent fuel pool, partially refilling it. Without that leakage, the academy panel’s own modeling predicted that the tops of the fuel assemblies would have been exposed by early April; as the water continued to evaporate, the odds of the assemblies’ zirconium cladding catching fire would have skyrocketed. Only good fortune and makeshift measures to pump or spray water into all the spent fuel pools averted that disaster, the academy panel notes.

At U.S. nuclear plants, spent fuel is equally vulnerable. It is for the most part densely packed in pools, heightening the fire risk if cooling systems were to fail. NRC has estimated that a major fire in a U.S. spent fuel pool would displace, on average, 3.4 million people from an area larger than New Jersey. “We’re talking about trillion-dollar consequences,” says panelist Frank von Hippel, a nuclear security expert at Princeton University.

Besides developing better systems for monitoring the pools, the panel recommends that NRC take another look at the benefits of moving spent fuel to other storage as quickly as possible. Spent fuel can be shifted to concrete containers called dry casks as soon as it cools sufficiently, and the academy panel recommends that NRC “assess the risks and potential benefits of expedited transfer.” A wholesale transfer to dry casks at U.S. plants would cost roughly $4 billion.

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment