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In first, Tepco admits ice wall can’t stop Fukushima No. 1 groundwater

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The much-hyped ice wall at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has failed to stop groundwater from flowing in and mixing with highly radioactive water inside the wrecked reactor buildings, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. has admitted.

Tepco officials also said at a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Tokyo that it is not the utility’s ultimate goal to shut out groundwater with the ice wall, which has been built around the four damaged reactor buildings at the plant.

Tuesday’s announcement was apparently the first time the utility publicly said it is technically incapable of blocking off groundwater with the frozen wall.

Five years after the March 2011 quake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis, Tepco continues to be plagued by radiation-tainted groundwater, mostly rainwater that is mixing with contaminated water in the basement of the damaged reactor buildings.

In response, Tepco has completed most of the 1.5-km-long sunken wall of frozen soil around the stricken reactors to keep groundwater out. It has also built “subdrain” wells around the buildings to pump up the tainted groundwater for treatment and ultimate discharge into the Pacific.

While the completed sections of the ice wall began operating in March, it has not made a visible impact in reducing the amount of groundwater inflows. According to Tepco, the amount of groundwater pumped up from subdrains averaged 321 tons per day in June, just 31 tons less than the daily average in May.

Asked whether Tepco plans to eventually block rainwater from seeping through the ice wall, a Tepco official said it is not technically feasible “to keep out the groundwater 100 percent,” according to a video of the meeting released Tuesday by the NRA.

We are aiming to control the amount of water going into the reactor buildings, with the ice wall and subdrains,” said Tomohiko Isogai, an official in charge of dismantling the plant.

Kiyoshi Takasaka, a nuclear expert at the Fukushima Prefectural Government, said it was the first time he had heard such a comment from Tepco, pressing the firm on whether it marked a “change of policy.”

A Tepco official denied this, saying that while it wants to “close off the wall as much as possible,” its ultimate goal has been to “curtail” groundwater inflow, not halt it.

Also at the meeting, NRA acting head Toyoshi Fuketa demanded that Tepco move quickly to reduce the amount of highly radioactive water inside the reactor buildings, saying such water presents the risk of escaping in the event of another monster tsunami. Some 60,000 tons of highly tainted water remain in the leaking basements of reactor buildings 1, 2, 3 and 4.

We want the amount of (radioactive water) inside the buildings to be reduced as much as possible,” he said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/20/national/first-tepco-admits-ice-wall-cant-stop-fukushima-no-1-groundwater/#.V4-CrvkrLIU

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July 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo jolted by third quake in four days

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Tokyo was struck by a third quake in four days on Jul 20, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.
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TOKYO – Tokyo was struck by a third earthquake in four days on Wednesday, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The 5.0 magnitude jolt was felt in Tokyo and areas of eastern Japan at 7.25am (5.25am Thailand time), the US Geological Survey said.

It was the third quake to shake the capital’s high-rise buildings in recent days — following a 4.8 magnitude quake on Tuesday and one of 5.0 on Sunday — but an official with the Japan Meteorological Agency said they weren’t a precursor of a major jolt.

“This is an area that sees frequent earthquakes” of a moderate size, Nariaki Ohkawara told AFP, adding that the latest quakes were part of that trend.

The epicentre of Wednesday’s quake was east of the capital in Ibaraki prefecture at a depth of about 44 kilometres, the USGS said.

There was no threat of a tsunami, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year, but rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even powerful tremors frequently do little damage.

A massive undersea quake that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In April, two strong earthquakes hit southern Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks, and left 49 dead and caused widespread damage.

The country routinely holds emergency drills to prepare for a major jolt, and the government stepped up its disaster response in the wake of the 2011 devastation.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/1039805/tokyo-jolted-by-third-quake-in-four-days

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Anti Trident nuclear protests in 36 Scottish cities, towns and villages,

protestThousands take to streets as Scotland voices its opposition to “ghastly” Trident submarine-missileweapons, Herald Scotland,  Andrew Whitaker, 17 July 16, IN what was thought to be the biggest national peace demonstration north of the Border since the last Iraq war, more than 10,000 Scots have taken part in anti-Trident protests ahead of tomorrow’s Commons vote on renewing the nuclear weapons system.

Anti-Trident protests were held yesterday (Sat) in 36 Scottish cities, towns and villages, with locations including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Dumfries and Largs, which were all organised within days of it being announced the Westminster vote would take place.

Armed forces veterans, anti-war campaigners, students, parents and their children carrying anti-nuclear banners and singing pro-peace songs sent a clear message to MPs that Scotland was overwhelmingly against renewing the Trident system, which the Ministry of Defence estimates will cost £31bn over 20 years.

The Scottish Scrap Trident coalition, which organised the demonstrations, said events in areas such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Paisley attracted hundreds, with others protests also held in Largs and Cromarty.

Coalition spokesman David Mackenzie suggested that the demonstrations were among the biggest since the 2003 Iraq war, and said: “Early calculations indicate that this is one of the biggest public demonstrations in Scotland for many years, showing just how people outraged people feel about this ghastly business.”………http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14624176.Thousands_take_to_streets_as_Scotland_voices_its_opposition_to__quot_ghastly_quot__Trident_weapons/

July 20, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

They’re STILL pretending there’s a “Nuclear Renaissance”

The Myth of the Nuclear Renaissance The game is already over for nuclear energy. U.S. News Linda Pentz Gunter July 18, 2016Desperate times for the nuclear industry call for desperate rhetoric. Hence the reach, once again, for “renaissance,” even though the facts support no such thing and the industry itself dare not even resurrect the mythological moniker. [“The New Nuclear Renaissance,” 6/11/2016]

With nuclear power priced out of the market – not only by natural gas but, more importantly for climate, by renewables – die-hard nuclear proponents are dressing up old reactors in new propaganda.

Sodium-cooled, fast and even small modular reactors are all designs that have been around – and rejected – for decades.

NUCLEAR-INDUSTRY-FIGHTS-ON

Sodium-cooled reactors are prone to fires, explosions and super-criticality accidents. A rapid power increase inside the core of such a reactor could vaporize the fuel and blow the core apart. Far from “walk away safe,” these on-paper designs have not been submitted to the kind of rigorous “all scenarios” testing that could definitively designate them as meltdown proof.

 The reactor that consumes its own radioactive waste as fuel is not the waste management panacea its sounds like. It could theoretically “transmute” wastes by reducing the proportion of long-lived isotopes contained in them. But radioactive fission products would remain, some of which are very long-lived. Management of these radioactive wastes would still be necessary for several hundred years. They would not magically vanish.

Small modular reactors that deliver lower amounts of electricity than large ones present an economy of scale that has proven to be a deterrent to investors. Capitol costs per kilowatt for these reactors are estimated at double those for a traditional light water reactor.

Furthermore, so-called “new” designs that are still on the drawing board will remain there for years to come, too late for climate change that can be answered quickly and far more cheaply by immediate and widespread implementation of wind and solar energy, whose prices are falling precipitously.

 Not that climate change is the agenda here: Sen. James Inhofe, for one, is the most notorious climate denier on Capitol Hill. Rather, this is a thinly-veiled effort to resurrect the Argonne laboratories from obsolescence while propping up an industry that otherwise will crumble under the weight of its own disastrous economics……

The real race the U.S. is letting China win is in the renewable energy field. China’s renewable investments in 2015 totaled $100 billion, according to the just released 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report,” more than five times the amount the country invested for new reactors, which was $18 billion.

The game is over for nuclear energy and there is no extra time, even in China. “Construction starts for new nuclear reactors fell to zero globally in the first half of 2016 as the atomic industry struggles against falling costs for renewables and a slowdown in Chinese building” the report found.

 If there is $1 billion to spare for energy “innovation,” why not spend it on renewables, energy sources that could not radioactively contaminate vast areas for decades, use no fuel and produce no waste? That would be truly “modern.”

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that bridged Medieval times to the so-called Early Modern Age. Like nuclear energy, it is of the past, not the future.  http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-07-18/stop-perpetuating-the-myth-of-the-nuclear-renaissance

July 20, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

UK’s House of Lords’ members, UK banks – financial interests in Trident nuclear programme

piggy-bank-nukeAccording to the House of Lords register of interests, around 15% of sitting members are directors of, or shareholders in, companies that are either directly contracted to the Trident programme or invest in it.

Specifically Barclays and HSBC. A report by Don’t Bank on the Bomb details the involvement of major financial institutions in the western nuclear weapons industry.

flag-UKThe truth about Trident: the shocking fact that would turn us all against paying for nukes, The Canary, JULY 18TH, 2016  STEVE TOPPLE As parliament debates the renewal of Trident, the UK’s “nuclear deterrent” – the arguments surrounding the controversial weapons system rage as fiercely as ever. But there’s one aspect which has been repeatedly overlooked. UK banks not only finance our nuclear deterrent, but also our supposed “enemy” Russia’s as well, and senior politicians enjoy a direct financial profit through keeping Trident.

The name Trident refers to the nuclear missiles that are carried on four Vanguard-Class submarines. Based out of Faslane, on the Clyde in Scotland, at any one time, there is one submarine on active patrol, another in service, another preparing to patrol and a final one on exercise.

Each submarine can carry 16 Trident missiles (but since 2010 this has been reduced to eight), and each missile can hold 40 warheads.

The cost of replacing the Trident system with “Successor” (which is what the parliamentary debate on Monday is about) is disputed. The official Ministry of Defence (MoD) line is £41 bn per submarine. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) says the true cost is around £205 bn for all four, when you included the cost of their upkeep.

The mainstream arguments for and against Trident are fairly clear cut………

However, there are two arguments that both sides fail to acknowledge – maybe because if they did, it would bring the whole military industry into question. The role of multinational banks and senior UK politicians.

All aboard the Westminster gravy train

The main companies involved in Trident are US multinational Lockheed Martin (who produce the missiles), BAE Systems, Babcock & Wilcox and Rolls-Royce – who are involved in the Successor programme – and also names like BechtelHoneywellRaytheon and Serco who are contracted or subcontracted in relation to the current Trident system.

According to the House of Lords register of interests, around 15% of sitting members are directors of, or shareholders in, companies that are either directly contracted to the Trident programme or invest in it.

Prominent names include Lord Hollick, a Labour Peer who is a director of Honeywell. Lord (William) Hague, chair of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). RUSI, who are supposedly impartial US and UK government defence advisors, are sponsored by Babcock, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Rolls-Royce.

But one of the most telling individuals is Labour’s Lord Hutton, defence secretary under Gordon Brown. He is an adviser to Bechtel, consultant for Lockheed Martin and chair of the Nuclear Industries Association (NIA). The revolving door (the phrase used to describe MP’s who, once finished in parliament, go into jobs related to their previous role) has never spun so quickly.

It may be no wonder then, that the majority of parliament (excluding the SNP and the Green party) are supportive of renewing Trident.

With reference to the role of multinational financial institutions, all the companies listed above, aside from being involved in Trident, share one other common denominator. They are all financed, or owned, by UK banks. Specifically Barclays and HSBC. A report by Don’t Bank on the Bomb details the involvement of major financial institutions in the western nuclear weapons industry. http://www.thecanary.co/2016/07/18/truth-trident-shocking-fact-turn-us-paying-nukes/

July 20, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Natural Resources officials to meet Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission about allegations of nuclear unsafety

safety-symbol-Smflag-canadaCNSC head to meet with officials to tackle allegations in anonymous letter, GLORIA GALLOWAY, OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Jul. 19, 2016 Natural Resources officials will meet with the head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to discuss allegations that information was withheld from commissioners as they made critical decisions about the licensing of the country’s nuclear plants.

An anonymous letter, purportedly written by specialists at the nuclear regulator, was sent five weeks ago to CNSC president Michael Binder. It points to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant information about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a nuclear plant into question…….

The anonymous letter writers say nuclear hazards have been underestimated, plant operators have been permitted to skip requirements of the licensing regime, and assessments outlining what could happen in the event of a major nuclear disaster – such as the one that occurred in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 – have been withheld from the commissioners and the public……

Among other allegations, the writers of the anonymous letter to Mr. Binder say an evaluation of the effects of a Fukushima-scale nuclear disaster in Canada has never been released to the commissioners or the public.

In a 2014 e-mail obtained by the environmental group Greenpeace under access to information laws, François Rinfret, a director at the regulator, said a scenario for a Fukushima-size disaster would “become the focal point of a licence renewal and, despite brilliant attempts to caution readers … would be used malevolently at a public hearing” by people concerned about nuclear energy. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/anonymous-letter-accuses-cnsc-of-withholding-critical-information/article30998523/

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

.The 15 most costly nuclear events

A Rethink of Nuclear Risk Assessment,  ETH Zurich,  Department of Management, Technology and Economics 11.07.2016 

exclamation-Sm“……..The 15 most costly nuclear events analysed by the team are:

1.       Chernobyl, Ukraine (1986) – $259 billion

2.       Fukushima, Japan (2011) – $166 billion

3.       Tsuruga, Japan (1995) – $15.5 billion

4.       TMI, Pennsylvania, USA (1979) – $11 billion

5.       Beloyarsk, USSR (1977) – $3.5 billion

6.       Sellafield, UK (1969) – $2.5 billion

7.       Athens, Alabama, USA (1985) – $2.1 billion

8.       Jaslovske Bohunice, Czechoslovakia (1977) – $2 billion

9.       Sellafield, UK (1968) – $1.9 billion

10.   Sellafield, UK (1971) – $1.3 billion

11.   Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA (1986) – $1.2 billion

12.   Chapelcross, UK (1967) – $1.1 billion

13.   Chernobyl, Ukraine (1982) – $1.1 billion

14.   Pickering, Canada (1983) – $1 billion

15.   Sellafield, UK (1973) – $1 billion

An open-source database of all 216 analysed events is available athttps://innovwiki.ethz.ch/index.php/Nuclear_events_database, containing dates, locations, cost in US dollars, and official magnitude ratings. This is the largest public database of nuclear accidents ever compiled. https://www.mtec.ethz.ch/news/d-mtec-news/2016/07/a-rethink-of-nuclear-risk-assessment.html

July 20, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, incidents, Reference | Leave a comment

As with tobacco, the climate wars are going to court

justiceclimate-change

Déjà vu: as with tobacco, the climate wars are going to court Skeptical Science 

18 July 2016 by dana1981, JohnMashey   Investigative journalism has uncovered a “web of denial” in which polluting industries pay “independent” groups to disseminate misinformation to the public and policymakers. The same groups and tactics were employed first by the tobacco industry, then fossil fuel companies. Big Tobacco has been to court and lost; now it’s Big Oil’s turn. Political leaders are choosing sides in this war.

Elizabeth Warren Rips Think Tanks & Policy Groups For Fake Climate Change Research

Research by Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon did top notch climate science research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which revealed the dangers its products posed via climate change. Soon thereafter, Exxon launched misinformation campaigns by funding “think tanks” and front groups to manufacture doubt about climate science and the expert consensus on human-caused global warming.Exxon wasn’t alone. Koch Industries, Peabody Energy, and other fossil companies have similarly funneled vast sums of money to these groups. Last week, Senate Democrats, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and vice presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken signed a Resolution expressing congressional disapproval of the fossil fuel industry’s misinformation campaign.19 Senate Democrats also took to the floor of the Senate to speak out against the web of denial, with repeated references to the tobacco/fossil connections.
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaking about the web of denial on the Senate floor.

The climate battle goes to court

The fossil fuel industry has already put forth its best scientific argument in court,and lost. Now 17 state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have formed a coalition to investigate ExxonMobil’s activities. As Schneiderman put it:

The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud

However, Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, along with his Republican colleagues last week issued subpoenas to Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, accusing them of violating Exxon’s First Amendment rights. As Smith claimed:

The Committee has a responsibility to protect First Amendment rights of companies, academic institutions, scientists, and nonprofit organizations. That is why the Committee is obligated to ask for information from the attorneys general and others.

In this battle of First Amendment claims, Big Oil & Coal use the same argument as Big Tobacco, who lost.

The fossil fuel industry copied the tobacco playbook

Last century, we saw a similar battle with tobacco. By the 1950s, the tobacco industry knew that its products caused cancer and other diseases. They still marketed their harmful products to children, and soon created pseudo-academic institutes like the Council for Tobacco Research to cast doubt on smoking’s damage. However, the institutes’ connections to the tobacco industry were too obvious; they wanted “independent” voices.In the 1980s the Koch brothers started creating a vast web of “think tanks” that could simulate credible independence, funded via dark money, often tax-exempt. Big Tobacco eagerly joined, to “quarterback behind the scenes.” They contributed great marketing talent, some later hired by Kochs.As extensively documented at DeSmogBlog, Big Tobacco has long funded science-denying think tanks, such as the Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, George Marshall Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Manhattan Institute, to name a few. ExxonMobil later funded these same groups.The fossil fuel industry has adopted the tobacco industry’s playbook, and shared the same web of denial. The Senate Resolution made this point, calling out both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries for having:

(A) developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, andobfuscate peer-reviewed science; and(B) used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest

Their tactics have grown more sophisticated, for example using money anonymizers like Donors Trust to ensure their “dark money” becomes even harder to trace.

The tobacco industry lost in court

In 1999, the US Justice Department filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups. In 2006, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruledthat the tobacco industry’s campaign to “maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public” about the health hazards of smoking amounted to a racketeering enterprise. She wrote a clear statement, appealed fruitlessly by tobacco companies:

The First Amendment Does Not Protect Defendants’ False and Misleading Public Statements

The attorneys general investigating Exxon have a strong case that the fossil fuel industry is similarly guilty of racketeering by deceiving the public in order to maximize profits. Exxon and other fossil fuel companies knew of the dangers of carbon pollution more than three decades ago, and yet funneled tens of millions of dollars to think tanks that disseminate misinformation to try to convince the public and policymakers otherwise.Sharon Eubanks led the Justice Department trial team, as documented in the book Bad Acts: The Racketeering Case Against the Tobacco Industry and was a key contributor to the report Establishing Accountability for Climate Change Damages. Of the Exxon case, she said:

I think a RICO action is plausible and should be considered
The First Amendment defense of the fossil fuel industry by House Republicans simply doesn’t hold water. Defending the fossil fuel industry today is no different than defending the tobacco industry in the 1990s, as did Lamar Smith’s colleague“Smokey Joe” Barton (R-TX).Unsurprisingly, oil & gas is the top industry donor to Lamar Smith. History books will reflect poorly on those who sold out millions of peoples’ health for personal gain or industry profits, and on those who worked to destabilize the climate on which future generations will rely for the sake of their own political power orExxonMobil’s record profitshttp://www.skepticalscience.com/deja-vu-climate-wars-going-to-court-like-tobacco.html

 

July 20, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Risk Assessment – more dangerous than previously thought

text-risk-assessmentA Rethink of Nuclear Risk Assessment,  ETH Zurich,  Department of Management, Technology and Economics 11.07.2016  Prof. Didier Sornette and Dr Spencer Wheatley, D-MTEC and a researcher at the University of Sussex, England, have carried out the biggest-ever statistical analysis of historical nuclear accidents. It suggests that nuclear power is a currently underappreciated extreme risk and that major changes will be needed to prevent future disasters.

A team of risk experts at the University of Sussex, in England, and ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, have analysed more than 200 nuclear accidents, and – estimating and controlling for effects of industry responses to previous disasters – provide a grim assessment of the risk of nuclear power: The next disaster on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima may happen much sooner than the public realizes.

Their worrying conclusion is that, while nuclear accidents have substantially decreased in frequency, this has been accomplished by the suppression of moderate-to-large events. They estimate that Fukushima- and Chernobyl-scale disasters are still more likely than not once or twice per century, and that accidents on the scale of the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island in the USA (a damage cost of about 10 Billion USD) are more likely than not to occur every 10-20 years.

As Dr Spencer Wheatley, the lead author, explains: “We have found that the risk level for nuclear power is extremely high. Although we were able to detect the positive impact of the industry responses to accidents such as Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, these did not sufficiently remove the possibility of extreme disasters such as Fukushima. To remove such a possibility would likely require enormous changes to the current fleet of reactors, which is predominantly second-generation technology.”

The studies, published in two papers in the summer issues of the journalsEnergy Research & Social Science and Risk Analysis, put fresh pressure on the nuclear industry to be more transparent with data on incidents. The articles have also been picked up by popular media, e.g. very recently by the German “Spiegel Online” (in German).

“Flawed and woefully incomplete” public data from the nuclear industry is leading to an over-confident attitude to risk, the study warns. The research team points to the fact that their own independent analysis contains three times as much data as that provided publicly by the industry itself. This is probably because the International Atomic Energy Agency, which compiles the reports, has a dual role of regulating the sector and promoting it.

The research team for this new study gathered their data from reports, academic papers, press releases, public documents and newspaper articles. The result is a dataset that is unprecedented – being twice the size of the next largest independent analysis. Further, the authors emphasize that the dataset is an important resource that needs to be continually developed and shared with the public.

Professor Benjamin Sovacool of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, who co-authored the studies, says: “Our results are sobering. They suggest that the standard methodology used by the International Atomic Energy Agency to predict accidents and incidents – particularly when focusing on consequences of extreme events – is problematic. The next nuclear accident may be much sooner or more severe than the public realizes.”

The team also calls for a fundamental rethink of how accidents are rated, arguing that the current method (the discrete seven-point INES scale) is highly imprecise, poorly defined, and often inconsistent.

In their new analysis, the research team provides a cost in US dollars for each incident, taking into account factors such as destruction of property, the cost of emergency response, environmental remediation, evacuation, fines, and insurance claims. And for each death, they added a cost of $6 million, which is the figure used by the US government to calculate the value of a human life.

That new analysis showed that the Fukushima accident in 2011 and the Chernobyl accident in 1986 cost a combined $425 billion – five times the sum of all the other events put together.

However, these two extremes are rated 7 – the maximum severity level – on the INES scale. Fukushima alone would need a score of between 10 and 11 to represent the true magnitude of consequences……..https://www.mtec.ethz.ch/news/d-mtec-news/2016/07/a-rethink-of-nuclear-risk-assessment.html

July 20, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Allegations that nuclear risk information was withheld from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

whistleblowerflag-canadaLetter claims info on nuclear risks withheld from safety commissioners GLORIA GALLOWAY OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Jul. 18, 2016  The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is investigating allegations contained in an anonymous letter claiming to be written by specialists at the nuclear regulator that says information has been withheld from commissioners while making critical decisions about the licensing of this country’s nuclear plants.

The letter, which was sent several weeks ago to CNSC president Michael Binder, points to five separate cases in which the commission’s staff sat on relevant material about risk or non-compliance that might have called the safety of a plant into question.

The letter says hazards have been underestimated, plant operators have been permitted to skip requirements of the licensing regime and assessments outlining what could happen in the event of a major-scale nuclear disaster – such as the one that occurred in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 – have been withheld from the commissioners and the public…….

The letter was also sent to representatives of two environmental groups, as well as to a current and former CNSC commissioner.

Although it is impossible to verify that the letter was written by CNSC specialists, environmentalists who received copies of the document say the level of detail, the manner of speaking and the amount of complexity suggest it was written by someone with inside knowledge. And, they say, the problems are symptomatic of a culture at the commission in which employees are expected to act as boosters of the nuclear industry rather than watchdogs of nuclear safety.

The letter writers, who say they are remaining anonymous because they are not confident of whistle-blower protection, are asking Dr. Binder to assign an independent expert to review the accuracy of their claims. They make eight additional recommendations for improving the licensing regime, many of them relating to specific issues at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station on Lake Ontario, just east of Toronto, and at the Bruce plant on Lake Huron.

“Our primary concern is that CNSC commissioners do not receive sufficient information to make balanced judgments,” the letter says. And “because insufficient information is made available, other branches of government cannot make informed decisions. For example, the government of Ontario cannot make a good decision about financing the refurbishment of Darlington without knowing all the facts.”

Dr. Binder was appointed by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper after it fired then-CNSC president Linda Keen when she balked at skirting safety rules. Ms. Keen now serves as a corporate director for various organizations and does consulting work.

“We’ve seen the CNSC become a cheerleader for the nuclear industry since the Harper government fired former CNSC president Linda Keen,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a senior energy analyst with Greenpeace Canada who was one of the two environmentalists to receive a copy of the letter. “The Trudeau government needs to restore the independence of Canada’s nuclear regulator,” he said.

The letter writers refer to a number of cases in which, they say, the commissioners have made decisions without knowing all of the facts…….

Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, who was the other environmentalist sent a copy of the letter, said actions of this sort – in which whistle-blowers make such specific allegations – are both rare and surprising. But, she said, she has no doubt it was written by someone inside the CNSC.

“We are often very concerned that commissioners are not getting the full story from the proponents or the regulatory staff,” Ms. McClenaghan said. “In the hearings, we really do see a frustrating amount of apologetics for the industry going on by staff.”

Mr. Stensil, of Greenpeace, said the most serious issue raised in the letter is the allegation suggesting that CNSC staff knows about additional risks being posed by reactors, but is ignoring them. That is what happened at Fukushima, he said.

“That’s not a nuts-and-bolts or an engineering issue,” Mr. Stensil said. “That’s a safety culture issue.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/anonymous-letter-claims-info-on-nuclear-risks-withheld-from-safety-commissioners/article30964195/

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against USA’s The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)’s rules disincentivising renewable energy

justiceFlag-USADid An Entire Region Of The U.S. Just Disincentivize Renewables? This Lawsuit Says Yes. Climate Progress BY SAMANTHA PAGE JUL 15, 2016 DURING THE POLAR VORTEX OF 2014, POWER COMPANIES STRUGGLED. THERE WASN’T ENOUGH NATURAL GAS POWER IN THE PIPELINE (PUN INTENDED), AND PRICES SKYROCKETED.

The shortage was expensive for homeowners — some saw their monthly bill go up five-fold from January to February — but for utilities, it was expensive, dangerous, and scary. No one wants to be on the hook for a bunch of families losing power in the middle of a -7°F night.

Following the prolonged cold snap, PJM, the entity that oversees utilities in the Mid-Atlantic and parts of Appalachia and the Midwest, put a plan into action: It would help the local utilities ensure that power was more reliable. To do this, PJM fast-tracked new rules for capacity resources — an industry phrase for guaranteed electricity supply. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the new rules last May.

But now four environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, have announced a lawsuit against FERC, saying the rules are going to cost consumers and are unduly burdensome to renewable energy.

Under the new rules, renewable energy providers, such as solar and wind companies, will have a hard time participating in PJM’s capacity market, where utilities pay to make sure that they have a certain amount of electricity guaranteed in future years. The new rules require the providers in the market to be able to provide consistent production year-round, whereas wind and solar perform better during different parts of the year.

“The new rules will funnel billions of dollars from electricity consumers to fossil and nuclear power plants while severely limiting clean energy participation in PJM’s capacity market,” writes Jennifer Chen, an attorney with NRDC’s Sustainable FERC project……..

Chen and her colleagues argue that making it difficult for renewables (and demand response) to participate in the capacity market will push the auction prices higher — prices that, again, will be passed on to consumers, while disincentivizing developers and investors from pursuing renewable energy projects in PJM.

“The way that PJM’s rules operate basically doesn’t acknowledge the contribution of anything but fossil fuel resources that operate year-round,” Casey Roberts, an attorney for the Sierra Club, told ThinkProgress. “What regulators need to bring about a smarter energy future is rules that are more flexible and recognize the different capabilities that different resources offer.”

The irony of the new PJM rules is that during the polar vortex, wind performed incredibly well, saving consumers $1 billion in electricity costs, according to research by the American Wind Energy Association……..

environmental groups will put the pressure on FERC to reconsider the rule. The lawsuit will be filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/15/3798275/renewables-deserve-capacity-markets-too/

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Legal, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

NDF Tries To Walk Back Fukushima Daiichi Sarcophagus Admission

Simply Info July 18th, 2016 After news inadvertently leaked via NHK that the decommissioning authority (NDF) for Fukushima Daiichi was considering a Chernobyl type sarcophagus for the plant, there is now an effort by the authority to walk that back.

Mayors for the impacted towns near the plant expressed obvious outrage to the media after hearing the news. This apparently caused NDF to try to do some damage control. They did confirm that this isn’t a done deal, but is an option they are considering……http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=15607

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

The $US2 trillions cost of climate change, as places too hot to work in

heat_waveMany places ‘too hot to work’ by 2030 http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/many-places-too-hot-to-work-by-2030/news-story/67761e405a9405d45d94279104016f7c Beh Lih Yi, AAP
July 20, 2016 

Rising temperatures caused by climate change may cost the world economy over $US2 trillion ($A2.63 trillion) in lost productivity by 2030 as hot weather makes it unbearable to work in some parts of the world, according to UN research.

It showed that in Southeast Asia alone, up to 20 per cent of annual work hours may already be lost in jobs with exposure to extreme heat with the figures set to double by 2050 as the effects of climate change deepen.

Across the globe, 43 countries will see a fall in their gross domestic product (GDP) due to reduced productivity, the majority of them in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Bangladesh, Tord Kjellstrom, a director at the New Zealand-based Health and Environment International Trust, said.  Indonesia and Thailand could see their GDP reduced by six per cent in 2030, while in China GDP could be reduced by 0.8 per cent and in India by 3.2 per cent.

Kjellstrom authored one of six papers on the impact of climate change on health that were put together by the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health in Kuala Lumpur and published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health.

Kjellstrom warned that the lowest-paid workers – those in heavy labour, agricultural and manufacturing – were most at risk of exposure to extreme heat.

The other papers in the series showed around 2.1 million people worldwide died between 1980 and 2012 due to nearly 21,000 natural catastrophes such as floods, mudslides, extreme heat, drought, high winds or fires.

In Asia Pacific, 1.2 billon people have been affected by 1215 disasters – mostly floods, cyclones and landslides – since 2000.

The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the planet’s warmest year since records began in the 19th century.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, employment | Leave a comment

UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal, funding fossil fuels

hypocrisy-scaleflag-UKflag_germanyUN criticises UK and Germany for betraying Paris climate deal
Climate change envoy singles out both countries for subsidising the fossil fuel industry and says the UK has lost its position as a climate leader,
Guardian, , 18 July 16, Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.

Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“They’ve [the British government] introduced new tax breaks for oil and gas in 2015 that will cost the UK taxpayer billions between 2015 and 2020, and at the same time they’ve cut support for renewables and for energy efficiency,” she told the Guardian…..

The criticism comes as Theresa May’s government has come under fire at home and abroad for its leadership on climate change after it abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Senior figures such as the outgoing UN climate change chief have urged the UK not to abandon its climate commitments as it leaves the EU. “Let us remember that the Brexit vote was not about climate change,” said Christiana Figueres.

Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green party, said: “This damning indictment of the UK’s energy policy comes just days after our new prime minister scrapped the Department of Energy and Climate Change and appointed an environment secretary who has consistently voted against measures to tackle climate change.

“I urge Theresa May to listen carefully to Robinson’s remarks and start reversing the damaging policies put in place by her predecessor – like giving tax breaks to fossil fuel companies while cutting subsidies for renewables.”

Robinson said that while Germany had made some positive steps such as aiding developing countries on climate change, it was sending mixed messages.

Germany says its on track to end coal subsidies by 2018 but the German government is also introducing new mechanisms that provide payment to power companies for their ability to provide a constant supply of electricity, even if they are polluting forms, such as diesel and coal,” she said. She called on Germany to make a real commitment to get out of coal.

But she said her criticism was far from limited to the two countries. “We want all countries to end [fossil fuel] subsidies,” she said…..

The likely US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has said he would try to unpick the deal, but Robinson said if it was ratified by the US this year “unwinding it would be very prolonged and difficult. I sincerely hope we won’t be facing that problem.”

However Hillary Clinton would be good on climate because she had been pushed by Bernie Sanders to adopt an ambitious climate change platform, she said.

Robinson said she been to Ethiopia recently and seen firsthand the way manmade climate change was exacerbating natural climate phenomenons such as El Niño, which brings drought to some parts of the world, and flooding to others. “I saw so many malnourished children, and it’s not tolerable.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/18/un-criticises-uk-and-german-for-betraying-the-spirit-of-the-paris-climate-deal

July 20, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Germany, UK | Leave a comment

Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India powered entirely by solar energy

sunflag-indiaThanks to solar power, this airport is no longer paying for electricity. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/thanks-to-solar-power-this-airport-is-no-longer-paying-for-electricity/  Jenny Soffel Website Editor, World Economic Forum 19 July 2016 [excellent graphs]   If you fly over Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India, you will find yourself staring down at over 46,000 solar panels. The airport, India’s seventh busiest, last year became the first airport in the world to run completely on solar power.

It started as a pilot project in 2013 with 400 panels on the airport rooftop, an attempt by management to lower the airport’s energy bills. After the installation of a 12 megawatt solar plant, the airport was able to run entirely on solar power.

The airport has now stopped paying for its electricity altogether, and even sends energy back to the grid.

Solar energy has become a cheap option in India – the price has dropped to a similar level to that of coal.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the country’s investment target for the source of renewable energy will be increased to $100 billion, five times greater than current levels, scaling solar power to more than 10% of India’s total energy sector by 2022.

The successful project has inspired other airports both nationally and internationally to invest in renewable energy. Kolkata’s international airport in India is now also looking to build a solar plant to reduce its electric bill by a third.

South Africa recently opened the continent’s first solar-powered airport in George, in the Western Cape. It’s expected to save an excess of 1.2 million litres of water every year, and will contribute to around 40% of the airport’s electricity needs.

July 20, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, India | Leave a comment