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TEPCO’s nuclear commercials draw disgust from evacuees

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A TV commercial about the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

The narration over uplifting music boasts of repeated safety drills and enhanced capabilities to judge and act in nuclear plant emergencies.

Workers in blue uniforms and hard hats appear, declaring: “We will devote our entire energy to drills so that we can deal with any circumstance.”

This TV commercial in Niigata Prefecture never fails to draw a look of disgust from a 41-year-old woman.

The woman and her two children, then aged 1 and 3, were forced to flee their home in Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata Prefecture after the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The crippled plant is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the producer of that commercial.

The mess caused by the nuclear accident has yet to be cleaned up,” she said. “There are still evacuees facing hardships because they have no prospects for the future. If TEPCO has money to use for commercials, it should use it to support the evacuees.”

TEPCO, in fact, created six different commercials for an advertising campaign that started in June last year. The commercials have been aired a total of 320 times a month on four private broadcasting stations based in Niigata Prefecture, according to the utility.

By promoting the safety of nuclear power through the commercials, TEPCO hopes to gain support for its plan to resume operations at some of the seven reactors of its now-idle Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the prefecture.

The commercials have drawn the opposite reaction from many of about 3,000 evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture who currently live in Niigata Prefecture.

In April this year, residents and evacuees in Niigata Prefecture visited TEPCO’s head office in Tokyo and submitted a letter of protest along with about 1,900 signatures. They demanded the company suspend the commercials and disclose the costs for the campaign.

Complaints have also been directed at Chubu Electric Power Co.’s TV commercials for nuclear power generation in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The company’s first post-3/11 commercial started airing on four private broadcasting stations in 2012, mainly explaining the company’s safety measures.

In July 2015, the utility began to air an eight-part series of commercials, in which employees working at a nuclear power plant appear with the lovely voice of a female vocalist in the background.

In order to protect this place even at midnight,” and “We will engage in a drill again today” are among the captions shown in one part titled, “Nighttime training.”

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded, Nagoya-based Chubu Electric Power suspended all reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, under the request of the then Democratic Party of Japan-led government headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The utility is preparing to resume operations at some of the Hamaoka reactors, despite anxieties about the safety of the nuclear plant. The plant has been described as the most dangerous in Japan, given its proximity to a long-expected huge earthquake off the prefecture.

In 2012, a civic group made a request to Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu to hold a referendum on whether the Hamaoka plant should be restarted.

The group also presented about 165,000 signatures.

The commercials on nuclear power plants are a unilateral strategy to improve image they project,” Shigeki Nishihara, mayor of Makinohara, located next to Omaezaki, said. “It is necessary for Chubu Electric Power to repeatedly hold dialogue and discussions with the people who have anxieties and doubts about nuclear power plants in order to educate itself.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606170058.html

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan court rejects appeal, keeps ban on restarting 2 nuclear reactors

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The No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, from left to right, are pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on June 15, 2016.

OTSU, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court kept its ban on operation of two nuclear reactors at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture on Friday by rejecting the plant operator’s request to suspend an injunction it had issued over the reactivated reactors.

The Otsu District Court’s decision concerns the injunction issued in March over the Nos. 3 and 4 units at the Kansai Electric Power Co. plant that marked a major setback for the government’s push to ramp up nuclear power generation. Local residents had filed for the injunction on safety concerns.

In Friday’s decision, the court said it “cannot conclude that (the reactors) are safe, merely because they have met new regulatory standards on nuclear power plants.” New, more stringent safety rules were introduced in 2013 in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

“Kansai Electric should at least explain how the regulations on operation and designs of nuclear power plants were toughened and how it responded to them,” the decision said.

The decision, issued under the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, as the injunction in March, marks the final word on one process regarding the injunction because Kansai Electric cannot take further action on it.

The two reactors will remain offline as long as the injunction is not invalidated through a separate track examining an objection filed by Kansai Electric when the court issued the injunction. This track is also being presided over by the same judge.

The March 9 injunction was the first of its kind affecting operating reactors. One of the reactors was taken offline one day after the order. The other reactor was already offline.

The court said then there are “problematic points” in planned responses for major accidents and “questions” on tsunami countermeasures and evacuation planning, in light of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The Osaka-based utility subsequently sought to suspend the injunction, saying its safety measures are thoroughly proven and the court’s decision was scientifically and technologically groundless. It also said the suspension of the reactors has cost the company 300 million yen ($2.88 million) in losses daily.

The Takahama plant had cleared the post-Fukushima safety regulations in February last year, allowing Kansai Electric to reactivate the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors on Jan. 29 and Feb. 26, respectively. But their operations were beset with problems, with the No. 4 unit shutting down automatically due to a trouble just three days after it was rebooted.

The residents of Shiga Prefecture living within 70 kilometers of the four-reactor plant had filed the injunction as they worried about their safety in the event of a nuclear accident or disaster.

The plaintiffs argued that safety measures are insufficient and feared residents’ exposure to radiation in case of a severe accident.

A part of Shiga falls within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant, which is set by the central government as an evacuation preparedness zone.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160617/p2g/00m/0dm/039000c

 

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June 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Wrap up of week’s nuclear news

 

a-cat-CANCLIMATE. May Marks 8th Consecutive Record Hot Month in NASA’s Global Temperature Measure. Dozens of USA climate denial groups funded by biggest US coal company.  Parts of Philippines May Submerge Due to Global Warming.

NUCLEAR.   Nuclear disasters and “normalization” of contaminated areas

UKRAINE‘s  very dangerous nuclear waste storage situation. The media ignored the fiasco of AREVA’s nuclear waste storage facility at Chernobyl.

INDIA. Nuclear marketers see India as a saviour of nuclear industry.

USA.

JAPAN. Fukushima: 173 Children Thyroid Cancers in Fukushima Prefecture Another evacuation order lifted.   Tepco chief likely banned use of ‘meltdown’ under government pressure: report. Tepco to inject cement instead of frozen water wall.  Japan report on Chernobyl disaster’s health effects to be publicly released.

SOUTH KOREA‘s  nuclear waste dilemma: will have to build waste dump

RUSSIA.  Government Against Rights Groups (Includes Environmental Groups). Russia’s powerful new nuclear icebreaker.

TAIWAN’nuclear waste problem – sees overseas reprocessing as the answer.

IRAN. US agencies and prosecutors influence Europe’s banks to impede Iran nuclear deal. Time that USA government backed its Iran nuclear deal and promoted investment.

KUWAITKuwaitis (KIA) Want Out of French State Owned Nuclear Group Areva

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s very dangerous nuclear waste storage situation

radioactive trashflag-UkraineNuclear waste stored in ‘shocking’ way 120 miles from Ukrainian front line, Guardian, , 13 May 2015,  Experts raise concerns over waste stored in the open air at Europe’s largest nuclear power station, as the conflict increases Ukraine’s reliance on power from its ageing plants  C

oncerns have been raised by environmentalists and atomic power experts over the way waste is being stored at Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in crisis-ridden Ukraine.

More than 3,000 spent nuclear fuel rods are kept inside metal casks within towering concrete containers in an open-air yard close to a perimeter fence at Zaporizhia, the Guardian discovered on a recent visit to the plant, which is 124 miles (200km) from the current front line.

“With a war around the corner, it is shocking that the spent fuel rod containers are standing under the open sky, with just a metal gate and some security guards waltzing up and down for protection,” said Patricia Lorenz, a Friends of the Earth nuclear spokeswoman who visited the plant on a fact-finding mission.

“I have never seen anything like it,” she added. “It is unheard of when, in Germany, interim storage operators have been ordered by the court to terror-proof their casks with roofs and reinforced walls.”

Industry experts said that ideally the waste store would have a secondary containment system such as a roof…….

Plant security at Zaporizhia is now at a ‘high readiness’ level, while air force protection and training exercises have been stepped up. Officials say that if fighting reaches the plant, there are plans for the closure of access roads and deployment of soldiers.

But they say that no containment design could take the stresses of military conflict into account. “Given the current state of warfare, I cannot say what could be done to completely protect installations from attack, except to build them on Mars,” Sergiy Bozhko, the chairman of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) told the Guardian……

Antony Froggatt, a senior research fellow and European nuclear specialist at Chatham House agreed that a secondary containment system would offer greater protection from internal or external explosions.

“It is obvious that if you do not have an array of dry cast [interim] stores with secondary containment around it, then that will have a greater risk of release of radioactive material,” he said…..

Sources at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) told the Guardian that any funding request from Ukraine for such a structure would be seriously considered. The bank has already made €300m available for nuclear lifetime extension programmes in Ukraine, before the regulators have even signed off on them.

We know about the weak links in the plant [security]… But I doubt that that these should be disclosed

A pall was cast over security arrangements at Zaporizhia last May when the plant was the scene of an armed confrontation between security guards and paramilitaries from the ultra-nationalist ‘right sector’, which is allied with neo-Nazi groups. The gunmen reportedly wanted to ‘protect’ the plant from pro-Russian forces, but were stopped by guards at a checkpoint…….

Westinghouse has lobbied the Ukrainian government at ministerial level to commit to buying their fuel for at least five reactors. Plant managers say that it will be used in Zaporizhia by 2017.

But local people in the reactor’s shadow say they fear the consequences of a patched up Soviet-era plant cranking up to generate electricity into the 2020s.

“History teaches us that history doesn’t teach us anything,” Ivanovic said. “Another catastrophe could happen again.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/06/nuclear-waste-stored-in-shocking-way-120-miles-from-ukraine-front-line

June 17, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

The media ignored the fiasco of AREVA’s nuclear waste storage facility at Chernobyl

Chernobyl storage spent fuelAreva’s Incredible Fiasco in Chernobyl  http://journaldelenergie.com/nucleaire/arevas-incredible-fiasco-in-chernobyl/


Le 17 février 2016 par Martin Leers  INVESTIGATION. The EPR reactor is not Areva’s first failure in the field of nuclear engineering. The French nuclear company was involved in another disgraceful fiasco in Chernobyl, which the press has not wasted any time exposing.

In the heart of the exclusion zone, just 2.5 kilometers from the ruins of Chernobyl’s reactor no. 4, lies a strange pile of concrete boxes, and two horizontal beams with multiple oval holes drilled into them extending for hundreds of meters. This unusual assemblage is called ISF2, which stands for “Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility 2”. It is a nuclear waste storage facility, which Ukraine commissioned Areva to build. The French nuclear group made a major design error in the facility, which has rendered it inoperable. This facility, considered by the international community to be as vital to the nuclear safety of Chernobyl as the giant arch over the damaged reactor, is still not functioning to this day, largely because of Areva’s initial errors.

After the explosion of Chernobyl’s reactor no. 4, 29 years ago, the nuclear power plant, which housed three additional units, continued to operate for more than 14 years.[1] The dismantling of these three reactors and the management of their nuclear waste is the other major project for Chernobyl’s nuclear safety, concurrent with the giant arch meant to cover the “sarcophagus” of the ruined reactor.

Areva pledged to produce a « turnkey » installation where spent nuclear fuel from Chernobyl’s reactors no. 1, 2 and 3 would be stored for at least 100 years

 In 1999, Areva’s branch devoted to nuclear reactors and engineering (Areva NP then Framatome) signed a contract with the Ukrainian government corporation Energoatom to build ISF2, a center for dry cask storage where the spent nuclear fuel from Chernobyl’s reactors no. 1, 2 and 3 would be stored for at least 100 years. This marked a first for storing fuel from Soviet-designed RBMK nuclear reactors.[2] Areva pledged to produce a « turnkey facility » by the Summer of 2005 and began construction in the Spring of 2000. This storage facility was financed mainly by 16 donor countries from a fund reserved for “urgent nuclear safety improvements” managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which also contributed to it. The European Union (EU) and nine EU member countries have been major contributors to this fund, which is separate from the fund earmarked for financing works on the containment of reactor no. 4. Continue reading

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Reference, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear marketers see India as a saviour of nuclear industry

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Nuclear power plant builders see new opportunities in India, Nikkei Asian ReviewJune 16, 2016 YUJI KURONUMA and SHUNSUKE TABETA, Nikkei staff writers NEW DELHI/TOKYO U.S., Japanese and French companies are eyeing the Indian nuclear power plant market as demand for new reactors stagnates in developed economies, and as concerns mount regarding China’s growing presence in the industry.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed at a June 7 summit that U.S. nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba, would build power plants in the South Asian nation. In a statement following their meeting in Washington, Modi and Obama said they welcomed the announcement by the Nuclear Power Corp. of India and Westinghouse that they would finalize a contract by June 2017. The two companies had said they would immediately begin the work of designing reactors and selecting locations.

 Westinghouse plans to build six reactors in India by 2030, with a total generating capacity of 6 million kW. The total project cost, which has not been disclosed, is estimated at $20 billion…….

As the nation opens its market for nuclear plants, competition is likely to intensify between the U.S., France, Japan and other countries seeking a greater market share.

France reached an agreement early this year to start a development project in western India in 2017. Although a formal agreement has yet to be signed, the country will compete with the U.S. to become the first Western country in about 40 years to deliver a reactor to India. Japan also reached a broad agreement with India in late 2015……..http://asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20160616-POWER-PERFORMERS-of-the-Asia300/Business/Nuclear-power-plant-builders-see-new-opportunities-in-India

June 17, 2016 Posted by | India, marketing | Leave a comment

India paying high cost to save Westinghouse’s nuclear business

Modi,-Narendra-USAThe Cost of Modi’s US Visit: Offering Rs. 2.8 lakh crore to Westinghouse, News Click,  Prabir Purkayastha, June 09, 2016

The 4th visit of Modi to the US has very little to show as achievements. No wonder, the headlines screamed about “the start of the preparatory work” on six nuclear reactors as a major achievement. Not content with this, the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors were even hyped as 5th generation reactors, skipping two whole generations of reactors in between. The earlier AP 600 reactors are recognised as 2nd generation reactors, making the AP 1000 the 3rd generation, which is how they are known in the rest of the world – except to certain gentlemen in the Indian media.

The reality is that after 8 years of negotiations on the Westinghouse reactors, India has now shifted the location from Toshiba WestinghouseMithivirdhi in Gujarat to Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. The negotiations for the deal with Westinghouse are still stuck, and only a new beginning is being sought with this new site. All that Westinghouse has agreed is that they will do some preliminary work for this new site — “start of the preparatory work”.

In today’s world, nuclear energy is a dying technology. Its costs are too high, its ability to build to schedule is non existent and it faces the challenge of renewables – wind and solar – the costs of which are dropping rapidly. The US, after a brief flirtation with nuclear energy – the so-called nuclear renaissance – has pretty much decided not to invest any further in this technology.

It is only China and India that can revive the dying nuclear industry of the US. Both Westinghouse and GE are without any further orders in the US and in the EU. So it is not the US showing its willingness to “give” us nuclear reactors to India that is the issue; it is India helping to revive a patient – the US nuclear industry – which has currently one foot already in the grave.

How much are we committing to pay to revive a dying Westinghouse? Continue reading

June 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, India, marketing, politics international | Leave a comment

South Korea’s nuclear waste dilemma: will have to build waste dump

flag-S-KoreaSouth Korea looks to build used fuel store http://www.neimagazine.com/news/newssouth-korea-looks-to-build-used-fuel-store-4907688  30 May 2016 South Korea will select a site for an underground storage facility to permanently dispose used nuclear fuel, or high-level radioactive waste, by 2028 and complete the construction of the facility by 2053, according to the first roadmap for the project released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on 25 May.

“A further delay in building the facility will put a drag on future generations, considering the saturation level of interim storage units located in the nuclear power complexes nationwide, ” Chae Hee-bong, the ministry’s energy policy director, told a press briefing.

Korea has 24 nuclear power units which produce more than 700t of used nuclear fuel annually. According to ministry data, the first used fuel storage unit to become full will be at the Wolsong NPP in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, in 2019.
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Korea has no other choice than storage as it is strictly banned from reprocessing under a 1973 treaty with the USA. The government has been trying to find a site for the wastes since 1983, but has failed nine times because of local protests. The government said the country is running out of storage units.

To minimize public resistance in the course of a site selection, the ministry will adopt an open competition among geologically qualified sites. It will launch an independent committee to lead the site selection next year, following an approval by the National Assembly on the roadmap in the latter part of this year. The roadmap will be updated in five years embracing changing external conditions, the ministry added.

The ministry’s ‘road map’ is based on recommendations from the Public Engagement Commission, an independent advisory group set up in 2013. The ministry will hold a public hearing next month, followed by an inter-agency meeting chaired by the prime minister in July.

Park Dong-il, director of the nuclear power environment division at the ministry said: “It will take about 12 years to select the location and we will hear what they want to receive from the government and make deals during this period,” said. He added that the government will decide what kind of benefits or incentives to give to areas that want to build storage facilities.

According to the ministry, it will take the government about eight years to select the site and get feedback from local residents, and another four years to investigate the geological chracteristics of the site. The project was expected to cost some KRW53,000bn ($44.8bn) in 2013 but a government official said it is now looking at an estimated cost of KRW63,000bn.

Meanwhile, the Korean government opened its first low-and intermediate-level radioactive waste facility in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, last year. The government wanted to build a high-level facility there but faced opposition from residents.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Taiwan’s nuclear waste problem – sees overseas reprocessing as the answer

Reprocessing- proliferationTaiwan wants to send nuclear waste overseas for reprocessing, Japan Times, AFP-JIJI 16 June 16 TAIPEI – Taiwan has unveiled a plan to process nuclear waste overseas for the first time as it runs out of storage space at its power plants, sparking criticism from environmental groups.

The state-run Taiwan Power Co. on Tuesday began soliciting bids from overseas reprocessing companies for 1,200 used fuel rods from the island’s first and second nuclear plants.

The two plants, which currently store the spent fuel rods, were launched in 1978 and 1981 and will each be decommissioned once they have been operational for 40 years.

But Taipower has said it may be forced to shut down or decommission the plants earlier than scheduled, as they are reaching storage capacity for spent nuclear fuel.

Some environmental groups accused Taipower of seeking ways to keep the two plants in operation even though they are set to be decommissioned.

“We strongly protest the plan. It’s absurd to send the fuel rods abroad to be reprocessed since Taiwan is no longer building nuclear power plants,” said the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform.

“It’s clear that Taipower is in a rush to ship the nuclear waste abroad because the first nuclear power plant will be shut down if it fails to do so, which will mean that its plan to push for extended operation of the plant will fall through.”

The government is under growing public pressure over its unpopular nuclear facilities as safety concerns have mounted since the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster in 2011.

Like Japan, Taiwan regularly suffers earthquakes. In September 1999 a magnitude-7.6 quake killed around 2,400 people in the island’s deadliest natural disaster in recent history.

Last year the authorities were forced to seal off a new power plant due to open in 2015, pending a referendum on its future…….

Companies from England, France and Russia have expressed interest in bidding for the work, which is expected to cost $11.25 billion New Taiwan dollars ($356 million), local media reported. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/18/asia-pacific/taiwan-wants-to-send-nuclear-waste-overseas-for-reprocessing/#.V2Mxz9J97Gj

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

Time that USA government backed its Iran nuclear deal and promoted investment

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag-IranThe Obama Administration Needs to Double Down on the Iran Deal  http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/06/16/the-obama-administration-needs-to-double-down-on-the-iran-deal/If Washington doesn’t move to help get banks and business into Iran, the nuclear deal will collapse.   esident Barack Obama spent enormous political capital to cement an agreement with Iran that constrained its nuclear program for more than a decade. That agreement, however, is now at risk of unraveling.

The danger of the agreement collapsing, to the detriment of U.S. interests, is now evident. Under the nuclear accord, Iran agreed to constrain its nuclear program in return for economic reprieve from U.S. sanctions. While Iran has so far lived up to its nuclear-related obligations — addressing U.S. concerns over its nuclear program by reducing its number of operating centrifuges, reconfiguring its heavy-water reactor, and permitting an unprecedented inspections regime — the United States has struggled to fulfill its end of the nuclear bargain.

The British law firm Clyde & Co. conducted a recent survey of business executives interested in engaging Iran. Respondents stated that the major barrier to market entry into Iran is U.S. sanctions, which are inhibiting access to trade finance and insurance and effectively preventing banks from bolstering their business ties with Iran. As a result, Iran has faced persistent difficulties receiving practical value from the lifting of sanctions, which is placing the nuclear accord at risk.

Hard-liners in Iran are touting the sanctions issue as an example of why the United States cannot be trusted.That message is having an effect: Recent pollingindicates that the Iranian people are growing increasingly skeptical that Washington is acting in good faith in meeting its commitments. Iranian moderates who support the accord, meanwhile, risk being undermined by this development. Absent a turn in Iran’s economic fortunes, the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people will continue to be denied and their political engagement — as evidenced by recent parliamentary elections, in which Iranian hard-liners were dealt a significant defeat — stymied.

To its credit, the Obama administration is actively seeking to resolve concerns over the sanctions-lifting. A few weeks ago, Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of the British Bankers Association to encourage major European banks to re-engage their Iranian counterparts. High-level U.S. officials have likewise been touring the world, seeking to provide practical guidance on what the lifting of sanctions means and the scope of remaining U.S. sanctions. More public written guidance will soon be forthcoming.

But such guidance has been insufficient — and is likely to remain so. Following their meeting with Kerry, most of the banks in attendance stated publicly that they would not engage in Iran-related business for the foreseeable future, due to persistent U.S. sanctions risks. Without major European banks willing to re-engage Iran, financing will be unavailable for some of Iran’s bigger trade and investment opportunities.

The Obama administration needs a new game plan.Just as it expended political capital to secure the deal, it must expend the political capital to sustain it. Otherwise, the administration risks snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory and upending this historic diplomatic achievement.

Such additional steps come in two parts. First, the Obama administration will need to provide detailed written guidance to foreign banks and companies explaining what steps are required to ensure that they do not risk exposure to U.S. sanctions. Absent such guidance, non-U.S. banks and companies will continue to lack the confidence to engage in Iran-related dealings.

The Obama administration reportedly has been reluctant to provide the level of detail necessary to instill confidence in companies that they can do business in Iran. For instance, companies have long sought to understand the necessary level of due diligence to avoid exposure to U.S. sanctions — perhaps through a checklist of sorts. But U.S. officials, unwilling to act outside their comfort zone, have rejected calls to provide such detailed guidance, thus failing to address many firms’ primary concern.

Second, the Obama administration will need to take action to ease market entry into Iran. Banks have been hesitant to facilitate trade with Iran so long as Iran remains cut off from the U.S. financial system, and large foreign enterprises have been reluctant to pursue trade and investment opportunities in Iran so long as the U.S. primary trade embargo remains intact.

The administration can resolve these persistent concerns through a broader licensing scheme. For instance, the United States could re-authorize the U-turn license, which permitted U.S. dollar transactions involving Iran to be cleared through a U.S. bank, or license American banks to provide dollars to foreign financial institutions so that dollar-clearing can take place offshore. Similarly, the administration could take a hard look at the sense of maintaining a unilateral trade embargo with Iran while it is encouraging foreign parties to engage in trade with Iran. In lieu of those more dramatic steps, the administration could also license U.S. persons to facilitate certain transactions with Iran, particularly if those U.S. persons are employed in non-U.S. companies.

The politics of such action may not prove appetizing. Uber-hawks in Congress are bent on denying the Obama administration this diplomatic success and will try to block any action aimed at resolving sanctions concerns. But the sustainability of the nuclear accord is dependent on the Obama administration taking these steps. Absent such measures, the Iran deal threatens to unravel with the United States being the scapegoat, as Iran will continue to be denied the benefit of its bargain.

Passing off current problems with the lifting of sanctions to the next administration is not an option. Obama has made a big investment in limiting Iran’s nuclear program — the time is now to secure that investment.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US agencies and prosecutors influence Europe’s banks to impede Iran nuclear deal

Why our nuclear deal with Iran is turning to dust, The Independent, Robert Fisk  @indyvoices  16 June 16 

Many of Europe’s largest banks won’t do business with Iran for fear of breaching other US sanctions, which have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement – but a lot to do with US agencies and prosecutors.

The Middle East is littered with missed opportunities, lost chances and dreams turned to dust. The Iranian nuclear deal is now heading in the same direction. President Hassan Rohani, hero of the hour and Iran’s new Mr Good Guy in America, even obtained the support of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, when he signed off on the agreement with six world powers last year to reduce the country’s nuclear activities in return for an end to Western sanctions. But he’s beginning to look like a patsy.

And all of the old Iranian revolutionaries, the sons of martyrs and the war veterans and the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the managers of its billion-dollar conglomerates are turning out to have been right all along. The sanctions have been lifted – but they haven’t been lifted. Western investments are not, despite all the promises, pouring into Iran because banks – especially European banks – are too frightened of breaching the rest of America’s sanctions laws to do business with the Islamic Republic. Washington both giveth and taketh away; it’s a slogan that every Iranian president should learn.

Mohamed Khatami was the only real statesman the Middle East produced in half a century and he was elected president of Iran in 1997. He wanted a “civil society”, the nearest you can get to a secular nation ruled by Shiite democracy-necrology-government for and by the dead. But the United States treated Khatami with scorn – and so the crackpot Mahoud Ahmedinejad became the next president, a man with whose ravings America’s right-wing felt far more comfortable.

Hadn’t they said all along that Iran’s leaders were anti-Semitic nuclear crazies, even – this from the Israelis – worse than Hitler? Now Rohani, the man-America-could-do-business-with, may lose next year’s presidential election because he, too, forgot the slogan which, at its simplest, reads: don’t trust America.

Iran has not been reintegrated into the global financial system – and it’s not going to be – though the Chinese will be happy to do business. Khamenei’s supporters are now suggesting that the Supreme Leader – not the shrewd but naïve president – is the great hero of modern Iranian history (after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, of course). The banks, he says, fear the Americans who “have not acted on their promises and [only] removed the sanctions on paper”. Worse still, he’s right. “Khamenei’s life is the one you should be writing about,” one of his believers announced last week. “He is the saviour.” Yes, thanks to America.

For many of Europe’s largest banks won’t do business with Iran for fear of breaching other US sanctions, which have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement – but a lot to do with US agencies and prosecutors, hunting for evidence of Iranian money laundering, the financing of “terrorism” and monetary crime. The French BNP Paribas shelled out £6.3bn for its Iranian dealings a couple of years ago – over five years, along with StanChart and HSBC, the figure comes to a whopping £10.7bn.

So why should the UK’s Standard Chartered, Societe Generale, Credit Suisse or Deutsche Bank line up to pay more fines just because their governments want to do business in Tehran? Some American bankers – this from the Economist – won’t even hand over their business cards to Iranians. Now that’s what you call fear………

While Iran cannot break free of sanctions from which it thought it had been unshackled, its own paid militia in Lebanon – a nation which a Shiite prelate once described as “the lung through which Iran breathes” – is being caught up in the same financial net. So it’s not difficult for the Iranians to spot what they call in Persian the “dasisa” – and what the Hezbollah, in Arabic, refer to as the “muamara” – which means, quite simply: THE PLOT.

Decide for yourself if it’s true. But in Iran, the lifting of sanctions is a promise un-kept, the Revolutionary Guards are smiling and the nuclear deal is, surely, going downhill. A dream, in other words, fast turning into dust http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-our-nuclear-deal-with-iran-is-turning-to-dust-a7084981.html

June 17, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Watts Bar-2 nuclear reactor – 43 years to build – shut down after 2 days

Nuclear fail: New reactor took 43 years to build, shut down after 2 days, REneweconomy, By  on 16 June 2016 Renewables International

More than four decades after construction began, the Watts Bar-2 reactor was finally connected to the grid on 3 June 2016. However, two days later, while operating at 12.5 percent power, the reactor automatically shut down.

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the reactor tripped when a high pressure turbine valve failed to open. As of 8 June 2016, the reactor has not restarted and no restart schedule has been fixed yet, according to a spokesperson for plant owner the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)……….

TVA filed the construction license application for Watts Bar on 18 May 1971. On 18 September 1972, TVA applied for the exceptional authorization of certain site preparation activities, although it had not transmitted the final environmental impact statement and the construction license was still pending. TVA argued that startup of unit 1 by May 1977 “is vital in order to permit-TVA to meet its summer 1977 peak loads” and beyond:

“The present schedule for constructing the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant is predicated on beginning construction in October 1972. This schedule is extremely tight and failure to begin construction in October casts serious doubts on TVA’s ability to meet its load commitments in the 1977-78 period.”

TVA also insisted that cost of any delay be passed on to the ratepayer:

…………In February 2013, the NRC censured TVA that they had been using outdated and inaccurate calculations in estimating the maximum potential flood threat should upriver dams be breached, the end result of which could be loss of cooling function and reactor meltdown. In February 2016, the TVA board announced that flood prevention measures built at the plant to meet post Fukushima requirements, had risen to US$ 300 million, compared to the US$ 120 million estimated four years ago…….
Watts Bar-2 is the first commercial reactor to be connected to the grid in the United States since 1996, when Watts Bar-1 started up, 23 years after construction start. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/nuclear-fail-new-reactor-took-43-years-to-build-shut-down-after-2-days-92176

June 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

Fort Calhoun nuclear plant too expensive to run

radiation-sign-sadFlag-USAOPPD’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant has become too expensive to run, company says, Omaha.com  By Cole Epley / World-Herald staff writer

The nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun is simply too expensive to run when compared to other, cheaper forms of power, the Omaha Public Power District’s chief executive said Thursday. So it needs to shut down by the end of the year, he said.

OPPD President and Chief Executive Tim Burke told the utility’s board of directors that it no longer makes financial sense to continue operations at Fort Calhoun, which is the smallest nuclear power plant in the United States. The site for the plant was purchased in 1965.

The board will reconvene on June 16 to make a decision on Burke’s recommendation.

Closing the plant would mean lower overhead costs when it comes to complying with federal nuclear regulations and other expenses — including the $20 million a year OPPD pays an outside firm to run the plant. That firm, Exelon, has run Fort Calhoun since 2013 after OPPD was rapped hard by federal regulators for serious safety lapses; the plant was shut from mid-2011 until December 2013 as the utility dealt with Missouri River flooding and correcting violations of federal nuclear safety rules.

Shutting the plant permanently would move the utility away from relatively expensive-to-generate nuclear energy in an era of low-priced natural gas and an increasing reliance on wind power.

The recommendation to shut the plant comes with a guarantee, Burke said: Ratepayers won’t see a general rate increase until at least 2022 because of the savings from shuttering Fort Calhoun.

“You have to say enough is enough and curb the costs,” OPPD board member Tom Barrett said. “That’s the cold, hard facts of this business.”

The costs of nuclear generation put it at a disadvantage to wind and natural gas, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. The EIA in June of last year reported the total costs per megawatt-hour for a new nuclear plant to be about $95. In comparison, the cheapest natural gas-fired generation is about $75 or less per megawatt-hour and wind generation is about $74 per megawatt-hour…….

John Keeley, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry advocate, said the Fort Calhoun situation is an example of the vulnerability of similar nuclear plants to market conditions — mainly, the sources of energy that, at the moment, can produce electricity more cheaply, like natural gas and wind. (Five nuclear plants have closed in the past few years; two others are set to close.)…….

OPPD ratepayer Mark Welsch, who attended Thursday’s meeting, commended the utility’s management team and board for taking up the issue. Welsch is the head of the Omaha chapter of the advocacy group Nebraskans for Peace. He said the utility should be tilting toward renewable sources of energy, like wind.

“I’m very proud to be a customer-owner of OPPD right now,” he said. “The board is taking a hard look at a very hard potential decision it will have to make.”

If the board follows through on the recommendation, OPPD’s wind and renewable generation will make up 49 percent of its energy portfolio by 2020, up from 38 percent that is currently forecast.

OPPD’s relationship with renewables grew in 2014 when the utility approved a long-term generation plan that included the phase-out some of its coal-burning units, conversion of others to natural gas and the addition of 400 megawatts of wind power from a massive wind farm near O’Neill, Nebraska.

Under the plan presented Thursday, those plans would remain intact, but Burke said the most economically viable course is one that does not include nuclear power and effectively ends more than 40 years of nuclear generation…….

Decommissioning can take 10 years under a process known as Decon, under which a plant is dismantled and contaminated materials are either decontaminated or removed. In a deferred dismantling process known as Safstor, facilities are maintained for a period of up to 60 years and radioactivity decays to a safe level.

OPPD in its 2015 annual report estimated that the costs to decommission Fort Calhoun would be about $884 million. The utility has socked away about $373 million for those costs.

The board will take 30 days to consider management’s proposal, during which time it will field concerns and suggestions from stakeholders and ratepayers…………. Contact the writer: 402-444-1534cole.epley@owh.com    http://www.omaha.com/money/oppd-s-fort-calhoun-nuclear-plant-has-become-too-expensive/article_f8b86658-184e-11e6-b852-8f5144170b67.html

June 17, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s powerful new nuclear icebreaker

Russia unveils ‘world’s biggest’ nuclear icebreaker, Yahoo News June 17, 2016,  Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Thursday floated out a new nuclear-powered icebreaker, said to be the world’s biggest and most powerful, to be used for hauling liquefied natural gas from its Arctic terminal.

Arktika, ordered by Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear agency, was built at the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, and will be ready to use by the end of next year.

“There are no icebreakers like it in the world,” said Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko at the ceremony, according to a company statement. “The Arktika icebreaker presents truly new opportunities for our country.”…….It can cut through ice of up to 2.8 metres (nine feet) thick. https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/31854163/russia-unveils-worlds-biggest-nuclear-icebreaker/#page1

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station decrepit facility with radioactive waste problem

radioactive trashFlag-USAOF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Pilgrim’s nuclear waste dilemma http://plymouth.wickedlocal.com/news/20160616/of-nuclear-interest-pilgrims-nuclear-waste-dilemm Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is a decrepit facility based on 1950s design.  By Janet Azarovitz Jun. 16, 2016 

Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is a decrepit facility based on 1950s design. The design was acknowledged to be substandard by the time Pilgrim went online in December 1972. Its main design flaw is in the containment vessel, which is known to be incapable of “containing” the radiation if an accident in the reactor were to occur. The design also led to the construction of the “spent fuel pool” within the reactor building to store “spent” fuel rods, which are made of uranium and packaged in assemblies.

For the past 44 years and until Pilgrim shuts down in 2019, every 18 months one-third of Pilgrim’s fuel rods in the reactor core become spent. This means that they become too hot to control in the reactor and must be replaced. These spent rods must be kept in 40 feet of water in the spent fuel pool to shield radiation and be constantly cooled to prevent a fire that would release huge amounts of radioactivity.

Although Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool was originally designed to hold 880 assemblies, it now holds more than 3,000. Since there is no offsite national repository planned (i.e., Yucca Mountain was not approved), Pilgrim’s spent fuel pool is seriously over-crowded. There are currently discussions about centralized siting of nuclear waste by the U.S. Department of Energy, however it will be a long time before these discussions help those of us living in the shadow of Pilgrim. Even after Pilgrim shuts down in 2019, the pool will contain highly unstable radioactive fuel for many years.

America’s Hometown will be a hazardous waste dump for this nuclear fuel for many years to come. When the pool is finally emptied, the spent nuclear fuel will still be stored onsite. Entergy, the present owner of Pilgrim, has designed and constructed an “Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation” (ISFSI) for the storage of spent fuel in “dry casks.” Three casks have been filled so far and approximately 100 casks will be needed to hold all of Pilgrim’s nuclear waste.

These dry casks are supposed to last 100 years, but we know that some don’t. Generally, scientists agree that dry cask storage is a safer system than wet pool storage, because electricity and pumping water are not required for cooling casks. Nor do casks require the critical, yet high-maintenance, boron panels that the densely packed pools need to prevent a nuclear reaction from occurring. For decades these panels have been known to deteriorate. A recent incident of “boron slippage” was reported last month at Pilgrim.

Unfortunately, no one, not the town of Plymouth, nor the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviewed the location of Entergy’s ISFSI. The facility is about 120 feet from Cape Cod Bay and only a few short feet higher than the outdated flood zone. There is currently a citizen lawsuit challenging the town of Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals’ decision that allowed the construction of the ISFSI without review. The trial will occur this August, and if successful residents will have another opportunity to get real answers.

It is critically important that the problem of Pilgrim’s nuclear waste storage is addressed and its spent fuel is moved to dry casks as quickly as possible, and sited in a safe location away from flooding and extremists. It is essential that regulatory agencies deal with where this dangerous material will go and how it will get there, since leaving it by the ocean when the sea level is rising and storms are getting worse is clearly a recipe for disaster.

Janet Azarovitz is a Falmouth resident and a member of Cape Downwinders Cooperative, which works to protect the welfare of residents of the Cape and the Islands from nuclear-related risks. She is also a representative of the Pilgrim Legislative Advisory Coalition, which seeks to achieve passage of nuclear-related legislation. Cape Downwinders Cooperative works collaboratively with Cape Cod Bay Watch.

June 17, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment