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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

July 28 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ The European summer heat wave of 2003 has been a focal point for scientists studying whether and how human-caused climate change influences extreme weather events. It was the first weather event to be the subject of an attribution study. A new study examines the numbers of fatalities attributable to climate change. [CleanTechnica]

Rhein at Dettenheim during 2003 heat wave. Photo by BlueBreezeWiki. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons. The River Rhine at Dettenheim during the 2003 heat wave.
Photo by BlueBreezeWiki. CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikimedia Commons.

World:

¶ China has installed 22 GW of grid-connected solar PV in the first half of 2016. According to PV-Tech, China’s National Energy Administration announced at an industry event in Beijing that the country had logged 22 GW of grid-connected solar PV in the first half of the year, with 11.3 GW in June alone. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Over the past few days, three separate announcements have been made about Australian wind…

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July 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fuel in the Fukushima Reactor 2 Playing Hide and seek

In June 2016 Tepco released preliminary information announcing that the unit 2 muon scan showed no fuel  in the reactor vessel, that the full scan would be completed by mid-July and should confirm any fuel findings, or lack thereof.

The scanner can detect masses of fuel 1 meter or larger.

The scans had identified the fuel in the spent fuel pool, confirming that the system was working properly and that the results were accurate.

The image below is the actual muon scan results with darker blue indicating areas where fuel is. The internal structures of the reactor are drawn in by TEPCO.

TEPCO originally thought there was fuel remaining in the bottom head of the reactor vessel. The scan clearly showed no significant amount of fuel remaining in the core region where the fuel was before the meltdown or in the bottom of the reactor vessel.

u2_muon_scan_2016_actual_2.jpg

 

Tepco stating that the final scan report in July might refine the imagery but that it would unlikely change the results.

TEPCO handouts :

https://www.dropbox.com/s/i2bffm237u8osz6/muon%20unit%202%20handouts_160526_01-e.pdf?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/76w6rryxiwjbhoz/muonscan_2_daiichi_160526_06.pdf?dl=0

Now this Thursday July 28, 2016, one month later, Tepco announces that most of the melted nuclear fuel inside the No. 2 reactor is LIKELY located at the bottom of its pressure vessel.

That a study using muon imaging system was carried out by a team involving Tokyo Electric and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Ibaraki Prefecture, that an ESTIMATED 130 tons of the so-called fuel debris REMAINS at the bottom of the vessel, that it is the first time the location and amount of the melted fuel have been estimated.

As high radiation levels are continuing to hamper direct access to the reactors, researchers have tracked muon elementary particles, which are produced as cosmic rays collide with atmospheric particles and change course when coming into contact with nuclear fuel.

The No. 2 reactor was in operation when the nuclear crisis was triggered by a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast.

About 160 tons of fuel assemblies are estimated to have been present inside the reactor vessel prior to the crisis. Most of the fuel is BELIEVED to have fallen to the bottom of the pressure vessel and mixed with nearby structures to form debris.

In the nuclear crisis, massive amounts of radioactive substances were released into the environment, with the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactor buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions.

The No. 4 reactor was offline for periodic maintenance work and all of its fuel was stored in the spent fuel pool, avoiding a meltdown.

The finding IF TRUE would be important as the data could help the operator to narrow down methods to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging task in decommissioning the plant’s Nos. 1 to 3 reactors that experienced meltdowns in the nuclear crisis that began in March 2011.

However, in mid-June 2016 using the same muon imaging system Tepco could not detect any fuel at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel, now one month later Tepco announces that there is an estimated 130 tons of the so-called fuel debris remaining at the bottom of the vessel.

Question : has that fuel been playing hide and seek  with Tepco?

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/28/national/bulk-melted-fuel-bottom-fukushima-no-2-reactor-vessel-tepco/#.V5o0l45UXdR

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Gov’t cited as second-least reliable source of info on nuclear accidents: survey

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Respondents to a survey in Shizuoka Prefecture, which houses Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, have cited the government as the second-least reliable source of information on nuclear accidents.

A total of 29.2 percent of respondents in the survey by Hirotada Hirose, a professor emeritus at Tokyo Women’s Christian University, cited the central government and its ministries and agencies as the least reliable source of information in the event of a nuclear accident. The figure was topped only by “social networking services (SNS), at 36.7 percent, highlighting deep-rooted mistrust in the government as a source of information.

Conducted between May and June, the survey targeted the city of Omaezaki, where the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant stands, and 10 municipalities within a 31-kilometer radius of the plant, designated as urgent protective action planning zones (UPZs). A total of 360 people between the ages of 18 and 79 were interviewed directly by researchers.

The respondents were asked to choose from nine sources of information, not including nuclear power companies, which would be responsible for the incidents. Besides SNS and the central government and its ministries and agencies, the next most commonly cited unreliable sources of information were “independent reports by TV stations” at 11.9 percent, and “international organizations such as the United Nations,” at 4.4 percent. “Independent reports by newspapers” came in at 2.2 percent.

When asked for the “most reliable” source, respondents’ top answer was “prefectures and municipalities,” at 41.4 percent, while “the government, its ministries and agencies,” was selected by 11.7 percent of respondents.

“If the credibility level of the government is this low, it could have a negative effect during evacuations. If the government is moving to restart nuclear reactors, then it first should make an effort to clear away the sense of mistrust,” Hirose said.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160726/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Doubts about nuclear plant’s quake resistance

Doubts about nuclear plant’s quake resistance shake trust in NRA

Trust in Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), has been jolted. At hand is an issue raised by Kunihiko Shimazaki, former acting chairman of the NRA. Shimazaki pointed out that Kansai Electric Power Co. underestimated the maximum shaking that could occur during an earthquake at its Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Shimazaki is an authority on seismology, having formerly served as president of the Seismological Society of Japan. While serving in the NRA, he handled screening of power companies’ earthquake predictions for nuclear power plants including the Oi nuclear plant.

After he stepped down two years ago, he re-examined data and found the method of calculating standard ground motion (the maximum shaking that would occur during an earthquake) was inappropriate in some cases, depending on the type of fault. This could lead power companies to underestimate figures, he apparently found in his research.

If Shimazaki’s argument is correct, the Oi Nuclear Power Plant could come under pressure to provide even greater reinforcement against quakes.

The NRA had for the most part accepted Kansai Electric’s data, but following the claim by Shimazaki, a new calculation on ground motion was performed using a method differing from that adopted by the power company. As the figure was below that presented by Kansai Electric, it determined that the utility had not underestimated the shaking, and during a regular meeting on July 13, it decided against revising Kansai Electric’s figure.

Shimazaki, however, objected, saying that the recalculated figure should have greatly surpassed the original figure for standard ground motion. The reason is that during screening, the outcome of calculations is normally multiplied by 1.5 to provide an added element of safety, but this wasn’t done.

The new calculation was performed by the secretariat of the NRA. A member of the secretariat who talked with Shimazaki admitted that the renewed calculation was repeatedly stretched, and had “no accuracy.” The member added, “It’s not known how much leeway should be given.” It couldn’t be helped if the secretariat were accused of adopting its approach to avoid criticism that the estimate for envisaged damage was too low. The fact that the NRA accepted without questions its secretariat’s explanation that Kansai Electric’s estimate was sufficient raises doubts about its competence.

There are no experts on seismology among the NRA’s five commissioners. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has expressed the opinion that the calculated figure for standard ground motion at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant doesn’t have to be reviewed. We worry whether quake resistance has been calculated properly.

Shimazaki has suggested to the NRA that it listen to a wide range of opinions from experts in seismology and incorporate the good ones into its screening. Even if experts differ in their evaluations of Shimazaki’s research results, his suggestion to the NRA itself is appropriate.

Tanaka, however, commented, “We don’t have the leeway to do that and it’s not our job to do it either.” We can only be skeptical about such a stance.

The NRA is supposed to be the final fortress in ensuring nuclear safety. We hope that it will try to make improvements to methods of calculating quake resistance of its own accord.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160725/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

NRA sees no need to review maximum quake estimate at Oi nuke plant

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on July 27 concluded that there is no need to review the maximum possible earthquake estimate — known as the standard ground motion — for Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The NRA reached the conclusion at a regular meeting after former acting NRA chairman Kunihiko Shimazaki pointed out that Kansai Electric had “underestimated” the calculated standard ground motion for its Oi plant. The NRA said that the result of Kansai Electric’s calculation was reasonable. The NRA then dismissed Shimazaki’s argument by saying that calculation methods other than the current one used for the Oi plant “have not reached a degree of scientific and technological maturity.”

Shimazaki had earlier suggested that the so-called “Irikura-Miyake method” used by Kansai Electric was the cause of the underestimated standard ground motion. The NRA’s secretariat checked the validity of other methods such as the “Takemura method,” but it concluded that ways of taking into account the “uncertainties” involved in predicting standard ground motions have not been established. Five NRA commissioners approved the secretariat’s verification results.

A string of issues over the calculations of standard ground motions raised questions about the NRA’s expertise.

After recalculating the estimated standard ground motion for the Oi plant using the “Irikura-Miyake method” — the same method used by Kansai Electric — the NRA secretariat found that the recalculated estimate was 356 gals, “gal” being a unit of acceleration. Its recalculation based on the “Takemura” method showed 644 gals. These two figures fell below Kansai Electric’s estimate of 856 gals. Therefore, the NRA secretariat determined that Kansai Electric’s figure was not “underestimated.” The NRA approved the secretariat’s findings on July 13.

On July 19, the NRA secretariat effectively withdrew its findings, saying that “They were unreasonable calculations.” Thus, it came to light that the NRA had confirmed the secretariat’s findings without verifying the validity of the calculations. It also came to light that the NRA had not grasped the detailed process of Kansai Electric’s calculation as the secretariat’s calculation result conflicted with that of Kansai Electric. The NRA approved Kansai Electric’s calculation of the standard ground motion in the autumn of 2014, but questions were subsequently raised about the way in which the screening was conducted.

Among the five NRA commissioners is a geologist, but there is no expert on ground motion. At a news conference on July 27, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka acknowledged that his group was lacking expertise, saying, “That’s what we need to reflect on.” But when he met Shimazaki on July 19, Tanaka bluntly said, “There is no room for listening to outside experts nor am I in a position to do so.” As the biggest lesson learned from the Fukushima nuclear crisis ought to be that the most up-to-date expertise should be reflected in safety measures, the NRA is urged to listen to arguments and suggestions from outside experts.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160728/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Climate change a focus for the USA Democrats election policy

climate-changeUSA election 2016Finally, Climate Change Gets Stage Time At The Democratic Convention“This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. Huffington Post, 
 26/07/2016 
Just one night into the Democratic National Convention, things are looking a whole lot brighter for the environment under a potential Hillary Clinton presidency than anything we heard in Cleveland last week.
Climate change, fossil fuels and clean energy were all mentioned on Monday by leading Democrats, who have crafted a party platform heavy on environmental action and a belief in science. Such views were noticeably absent at the Republican National Convention, where many party leaders receive hefty donations from fossil fuel companies, and climate denial remains a badge of honor.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), long a champion of climate action, dedicated a large portion of his speech in Philadelphia on Monday addressing “the greatest environmental crisis on our planet.”……

Those sentiments were echoed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) just moments earlier. In her keynote address, Warren called out the fossil fuel industry while praising Clinton’s inclusion of climate action as a key part of her campaign……..

The inclusion of climate topics at the DNC is a far cry from the almost nonexistent mention of climate change and fossil fuel money at last week’s RNC. Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax” and said he isn’t a “great believer” in man-made global warming, didn’t mention the environment onceduring his acceptance speech.

The only person to speak about the issue on the RNC stage was Harold Hamm, a fracking mogul who said, “climate change isn’t our biggest problem,”  and instead called for more oil and gas production, Grist reported.

Scientists have long called for extreme action to halt the worst effect of climate change. Representatives from 195 nations reached a landmark deal in Paris last year pledging to lower greenhouse gas emissions…….http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/climate-change-dnc_us_5796e480e4b0d3568f84585a

July 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Why is New York Times shilling for the clearly failing technology of nuclear power, while dismissing renewables?

media-propagandaNew York Times Shills For Moribund Nuclear Power, Disses Renewables Revolution, Climate Progress BY JOE ROMM JUL 25, 2016 Why does The New York Times keep pushing nuclear power, whose prices keep rising even as demand has collapsed in every market economy? And why do they keep dissing renewables, whose prices have dropped precipitously while demand has grown beyond expectation here and around the world?

This month alone, the Times managed to publish two pieces whining that the poor, neglected nuclear power industry is having trouble competing with renewables because solar and wind have become … so darn cheap.

Utterly lost on the Times is the irony that nuclear power was originally touted as a key part of a future where electricity was “too cheap to meter.” Now it’s just another inflexible but powerful dinosaur industry being crushed in the marketplace by a superior product — kind of like mainframe computers or the horse and buggy or … print newspapers.

The fact is that on a purely economic basis, nuclear power has to a great extent priced itself out of the market for new power, even for new carbon-free power. Heck, even the French can’t build an affordable, on-schedule next generation nuclear plant in their own nuclear-friendly country!!

But rather than report accurately on the renewable energy miracle, as, say, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) have, the Times manages to publish articles in its business section headlined, “How Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course.” Seriously.

I will be debunking this wildly misleading piece — which is by Eduardo Porter, an economics correspondent (!) — point by point in my next post, but for now, let me just post some actual numbers (and quantified projections). In its latest report on the subject, “The Low Carbon Economy: Our Thesis In 60 CHARTS,” Goldman Sachs has several charts on “Emissions: How low carbon technologies begin to bend the curve.” Here’s just one: [on original]

Goldman Sachs concludes, “On our wind and solar numbers, emissions in IEA scenarios could peak as early as c.2020, rather than 2030.” So, yeah, “Renewable Energy Is Blowing Climate Change Efforts Off Course” — off course from failure to possible success.

The Times piece is the kind of nonsense you would expect to see on an ultra-conservative website with the headline “There Are Serious Problems With Wind And Solar.” Still, it’s probably just a coincidence that the ultra-conservative Daily Caller website repackaged the Times piece with that headline, and this lead: “Wind and solar power have been expensive boondoggles that won’t develop fast enough to affect global warming, according to a New York Times (NYT) article published Wednesday.”

It’s probably just a coincidence that the Times has a history of inflating nukes and deflating renewables….

It’s probably just a coincidence that one of the leading energy reporters for the Times, 30+ year veteran Matt Wald, after leaving the paper joined the Nuclear Energy Institute to become senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning last year.

It’s probably just a coincidence that the Times has been running this sponsored post from a pro-nuke group: http://paidpost.nytimes.com/nuclear-matters/nuclear-energy-in-the-us.html#. Don’t worry, that’s all made clear in small type to readers who can breathe easy that “The news and editorial staffs of The New York Times had no role in this post’s preparation.”

OK, on closer inspection, it does not appear to be a coincidence that, for a long time now, ridiculous stories dissing renewables and favoring nukes have been the norm (see, for instance, my 2009 post “NYT’s Matt Wald blows the ‘Alternative and Renewable Energy’ story, quotes only industry sources, ignores efficiency and huge cost of inaction” and my 2011 post, “The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati”). I will examine a number of more recent pieces below………

Let’s look at some pieces in just the last year that reveal the Times’ apparent ongoing slant……

For decades, the entire conservative political establishment and right-wing media have devoted themselves to blocking all climate action, to spreading disinformation on climate action, and, sometimes, even opposing the use of the word “climate change.” They have also generally devoted themselves to spreading misinformation on clean energy and opposing policies that promote it. For decades, the liberal Democratic “establishment” has supported nuclear power and enacted pro-nuclear policies in national energy bill after national energy bill — including tax incentives andloan guarantees for new plants. And let’s not forget the repeated renewal of the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industry Indemnity Act, which puts the taxpayer on the hook for the cost of a truly major disaster and is probably a $100 billion-dollar subsidy by itself.

In any case, even with all those subsidies, new nuclear power has priced itself out of the marketplace, something this article [from New York Times] never mentions — and so it is perfectly rational for someone who is concerned about climate change to understand that new nuclear power is at best a relatively modest piece of the solution (as the IEA and Nuclear Energy Agency concluded last year), and at worst a very expensive distraction……

And you don’t have to take my word — or the Times’ word. “Ever since the completion of the first wave of nuclear reactors in 1970, and continuing with the ongoing construction of new reactors in Europe, nuclear power seems to be doomed with the curse of cost escalation,” read one 2015 journal article, “Revisiting the Cost Escalation Curse of Nuclear Power.”

Then there’s the Financial Times reporting last October on France’s newest Normandy plant, which originally was projected to cost €3bn ($3.3 billion) and start producing power in 2012. Instead, it “will not start until 2018 at a cost of €10.5bn [$11.3 billion].” Yes, even the French can’t build an affordable, on-schedule next-generation nuclear plant in their own nuclear-friendly country. Does that make them anti-science, too?…..

The key question is why does the Times have a pattern in which it overhypes nuclear power well beyond what the facts warrant — while at the same time generally underselling and minimizing the solar and wind well beyond what the facts warrant? Perhaps, just for the sake of appearance, they should stop running paid pro-nuke ads (that are virtually indistinguishable from their own unbalanced pro-nuke pieces) until they can answer this question. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/07/25/3800630/nuclear-power-renewables-times/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Germany an example to the world of the massive radioactive waste costs of the nuclear industry

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT  German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to rapidly phase out the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors has left the government and utilities with a massive problem: How to clean up and store large amounts of nuclear waste and other radioactive material. by joel stonington 26 july 16  The cavern of the salt mine is 2,159 feet beneath the surface of central Germany. Stepping out of a dust-covered Jeep on an underground road, we enter the grotto and are met by the sound of running water — a steady flow that adds up to 3,302 gallons per day.

wastes-1

“This is the biggest problem,” Ina Stelljes, spokesperson for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, tells me, gesturing to a massive tank in the middle of the room where water waits to be pumped to the surface.

The leaking water wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the 125,000 barrels of low- and medium-level nuclear waste stored a few hundred feet below. Most of the material originated from 14 nuclear power plants, and the German government secretly moved it to the mine from 1967 until 1978. For now, the water leaking into the mine is believed to be contained, although it remains unclear if water has seeped into areas with waste and rusted the barrels inside.

The mine — Asse II — has become a touchstone in the debate about nuclear waste in the wake of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2011 decision to end the use of nuclear power following Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The ongoing closures have created a new urgency to clean up these nuclear facilities and, most importantly, to find a way to safely store the additional radioactive waste from newly decommissioned nuclear reactors. Nine of the country’s 17 nuclear power reactors have been shut down and all are expected to be phased out by 2022.

In addition to Asse II, two other major lower-level nuclear waste sites exist in Germany, and a third has been approved. But the costs associated with nuclear waste sites are proving to be more expensive, controversial, and complex than originally expected.

And Germany still hasn’t figured out what to do with the high-level waste — mostly spent fuel rods — that is now in a dozen interim storage areas comprised of specialized warehouses near nuclear power plants. Any future waste repository will have to contain the radiation from spent uranium fuel for up to a million years.

Given the time frames involved, it’s not surprising that no country has built a final repository for high-level waste. In Germany, a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste spent the last two years working on a 700-page report, released this month, that was supposed to recommend a location. Instead, the report estimated that Germany’s final storage facility would be ready “in the next century.” Costs are expected to be astronomical.

“Nobody can say how much it will cost to store high-level waste. What we know is that it will be very costly – much higher costs can be expected than [what] the German ministry calculates,” said Claudia Kemfert, head of energy, transportation, and environment at the German Institute for Economic Research. The exact number, she said, “cannot be predicted, since experience shows that costs have always been higher than initially expected. ”

At the Asse II mine, roughly $680 million has been spent in the six years since the cleanup began, and the price tag for operations last year totaled $216 million. A 2015 report by Germany’s Environment Ministry noted, “There are currently no technical plans available for the envisaged waste recovery project which would allow a reliable estimate of the costs.”

No one expects to start moving the barrels at the mine until 2033, and estimates of finishing the process extend to 2065. Total costs for moving the waste to a future storage site will almost certainly be in the billions of dollars, with current estimates of just disposing of the recovered waste at $5.5 billion.

The waste issue is one reason nuclear power has been so controversial in Germany and why there is broad support among the public for phasing it out, with three-quarters of the German population saying they are in favor of Merkel’s decision, according to a survey this year by the Renewable Energy Hamburg Cluster.

“Nuclear in Germany is not popular,” Kemfert said. “Everybody knows it is dangerous and causes a lot of environmental difficulties. Nuclear has been replaced by renewables – we have no need for nuclear power any more.”…………..

With both nuclear waste storage and decommissioning, governments and power companies around the world have often opted for halfway solutions, storing waste in temporary depots and partially decommissioning plants. Worldwide, 447 operational nuclear reactors exist and an additional 157 are in various stages of decommissioning. Just 17 have been fully decommissioned.

In Europe, a recent report by the European Union Commission estimated that funds set aside for waste storage and decommissioning of nuclear plants in the EU’s 16 nuclear nations have fallen short by $137 billion. Dealing with nuclear waste in the United Kingdom is also a highly charged issue. At one location — a former weapons-manufacturing, fuel-reprocessing, and decommissioning site called Sellafield — the expected cleanup cost increased from $59 billion in 2005 to $155 billion in 2015. ……

despite recently completing a new plant, the United States is also struggling with decommissioning. The cost estimates of shuttering U.S. nuclear plants increased fourfold between 1988 and 2013, according toBloomberg News. Many governments are slowly starting to realize how much those costs have been underestimated.

As Antony Froggatt, a nuclear expert and researcher at Chatham House — a London-based think tank— put it, “The question is, how do you create a fair cost to cover what will happen far into the future?”  http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Hottest year on record – 2016 shaping up to be that

climate-change2016 set to be world’s hottest year on record, says UN, Guardian, 26 July 16 
June marked 14th month of record heat for land and oceans with average global temperature reaching 1.3C above the pre-industrial era 
The world is on track for its hottest year on record and levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached new highs, further fuelling global warming, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has said.

June marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans, the United Nations agency said on Thursday. It called for the speedy implementation of a pact reached last December to limit climate change by shifting from fossil fuels to green energy by 2100.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3C warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th century, according to Nasa.

“This underlines more starkly than ever the need to approve and implement the Paris climate change agreement, and to speed up the shift to low carbon economies and renewable energy,” said the WMO secretary general, Petteri Taalas…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/21/2016-worlds-hottest-year-on-record-un-wmo

July 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

German situation shows the complex problem of who pays for nuclear wastes disposal

scrutiny-on-costsSticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT “…….In Germany, negotiations with utilities over who will pay the denuclearization costs have often centered on how much the utilities can afford. The four nuclear utilities in Germany – publicly-traded RWE; E.ON; EnBW, which is majority publicly-owned; and Swedish-owned Vattenfall – are struggling economically as decentralized wind and solar power have undercut wholesale electricity prices and eaten into profits. Last year, E.ON, Germany’s largest utility, lost $7.7 billion.

The four companies have already set aside $45 billion for decommissioning nuclear power plants. But in April, Germany’s Commission to Review the Financing for the Phase-Out of Nuclear Energy recommended that the utilities pay an additional $26.4 billion into a government-controlled fund meant to cover the costs of long-term storage of nuclear waste.

The utilities were unhappy with the commission’s conclusions and released a joint statement saying $26.4 billion would “overburden energy companies’ economic capabilities.” Even so, few experts expect those sums to cover the total eventual costs.

“Some billions now are better than making them bankrupt,” said Michael Mueller, who chairs a government commission on highly radioactive nuclear waste. “So, it’s a compromise that had to be made.”

The utilities are clear about where they see the responsibility: “The temporary and final storage of nuclear waste in Germany is an operative task of the German government, which is politically responsible for this,” the utilities said in a statement. Indeed, if the commission’s recommendation becomes law, then the German government will be on the hook for any storage costs beyond the $26.4 billion paid by the utilities.

“Asse II shows us that radioactive waste storage is a complex problem that is not just about dumping it somewhere,” said Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear energy expert at Greenpeace. “There are many open questions, and those questions are going to lead to a lot more costs………” http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium stays for 3 years in bodies of Fukushima nuclear clean-up workers

Cesium-137THREE-YEAR RETENTION OF RADIOACTIVE CAESIUM IN THE BODY OF TEPCO WORKERS INVOLVED IN THE FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI NUCLEAR POWER STATION ACCIDENT http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/03/14/rpd.ncw036.abstract

  1. T. Nakano*,
  2. K. Tani,
  3. E. Kim,
  4. O. Kurihara,
  5. K. Sakai and
  6. M. Akashi

+Author Affiliations


  1. Research Program for Radiation Dosimetry, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, 4-9-1 Anagawa Inage-ku, Chiba-shi 263-8555, Japan
  1. *Corresponding author: nakano@nirs.go.jp

Abstract

Direct measurements of seven highly exposed workers at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident have been performed continuously since June 2011. Caesium clearance in the monitored workers is in agreement with the biokinetic models proposed by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. After 500 d from the initial measurement, however, the caesium clearance slowed. It was thought to be unlikely that additional Cs intake had occurred after the initial intake, as activity in foods was kept low. And, the contribution from the detector over the chest was enhanced with time. This indicates that insoluble Cs particles were inhaled and a long metabolic rate showed.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Germany still struggling with legacy of old nuclear wastes

Sticker Shock: The Soaring Costs Of Germany’s Nuclear Shutdown, Yale Environment 360 25 JUL 2016: REPORT“……….Radioactive water was first detected leaking at Asse II in 2008, and the German Bundestag passed a law five years later that mandated removal of the waste. Above ground, the complex is just a few fenced-in buildings amid forests and farms. Underground, passageways have closed or collapsed. One main elevator shaft going down into the mine can be used for transporting large machinery, such as front loaders, some of which has to be welded together in underground workshops. As for the areas with actual waste, workers have spent years drilling into just one of 13 chambers to test for gas and radioactivity.

“No one goes in,” said Stelljes. “We haven’t even developed the machines we would need for moving the waste.”

Asse was intended as a secret stopgap solution when West Germany first starting shipping nuclear waste there in 1967. The problem is, no one seems to have come up with anything better since. Germany still doesn’t have a permanent nuclear waste storage facility. One other underground site, Morsleben — a salt mine used as a nuclear dump by the former East German government — is slated for a cleanup expected to cost at least $1.6 billion.

wastes-Gorleben-salt-mine

A former iron mine, Konrad, is being converted into a site to store low- and medium-level waste; it is expected to be completed in 2022. Low- and medium-level waste account for 90 percent of Germany’s total nuclear waste, but just 0.1 percent of the total radioactivity of the nation’s waste.

The most dangerous and controversial waste is heavy-metal-laden, heat-producing waste from spent fuel rods. Germany expects the total of that high-level waste to take up 28,100 cubic meters (1 million cubic feet) — a fraction of the volume of low- and medium-level waste the country must eventually store. Preliminary plans from Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection call for a high-level waste repository to be built by 2050, with storage complete by 2130, and final sealing of the repository as late as 2170.

“No one has a finished concept [for storage of high-level waste], so no one can give us a finished budget,” Haverkamp said. “I won’t give an estimate anymore, but the numbers are in the billions. How many? No one knows. That’s the problem in Germany, you have to reserve a certain amount of money, but how much?” ….   http://e360.yale.edu/feature/soaring_cost_german_nuclear_shutdown/3019/

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

French government propping up nuclear company EDF with a cash boost

AREVA EDF crumblingflag-franceFrench nuclear company EDF to get cash infusion http://www.dw.com/en/french-nuclear-company-edf-to-get-cash-infusion/a-19428058

The French government has said it will go ahead with a 4-billion-euro share issue for state-controlled electricity firm EDF. The move will help finance the construction of two controversial nuclear reactors in the UK. The French state – which holds 85 percent of EDF – said it will buy three billion euros’ worth of the newly issued EDF shares sometime this year. The fourth billion will be chipped in by other investors.

EDF’s board of directors is expected to give final investment approval this week for the construction of two EPR nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in southwestern England, home to two old Magnox reactors that are no longer in operation and two AGR gas-cooled reactors whose construction began in 1967 and are still in operation, but whose decommissioning date is currently set for 2023.

EDF had delayed the final investment decision on the new Hinkley Point reactors several times, as it sought other investors to share the costs amid concerns the heavily indebted company will struggle to meet its financial commitments.

Internal skeptics abound  The six labor-union representatives sitting on EDF’s 18-member board have repeatedly opposed the project. They wanted to see it delayed by three years to give EDF time to complete the construction of similar reactors in France, Finland and China, which are several years behind schedule.

The company’s works council secretary, Jean-Luc Magnaval, told the news agency Reuters that his union had filed a complaint on the matter with a Paris court, which has scheduled a hearing on the case for August 2.

EDF’s chief financial officer has resigned over the threat the project represents to the company’s finances.

EDF is also planning to speed up renovation of its 58 nuclear reactors in France, a task expected to cost about 51 billion euros.

EDF, which has already spent about 3 billion euros on Hinkley Point C, needs the project “to maintain its know-how and prepare for the retirement and renewal of its aging French and British nuclear fleet,” chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told shareholders on Tuesday. He added that the new capital would also help the bolster the company’s credit rating and its ability to refinance its 37.4 billion euro debt.

Sparing no expense  The Hinkley Point project is a joint venture between EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation. It’s one of the world’s most costly nuclear power plant projects.

The most recently projected price tag was a whopping 18 billion pounds ($24 billion, 21.7 billion euros), before Brexit lowered the value of the pound.

However, a complex system of subsidies approved by former UK finance minister, George Osborne, could cost up to 37 billion pounds, according to a recent estimate published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Nuclear renaissance?

The UK’s environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, recently reiterated that the Hinkley Point project will kick-start a “nuclear renaissance” in Britain that would see 18 gigawatts of new capacity added if sites at Sizewell, Bradwell, Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury are developed along with Hinkley Point C.

Nuclear power accounts for around 16 percent of the UK’s energy requirements, which could drop to three per cent in 2030 unless new reactors are built in the meantime, Leadsom said.

EPR reactors are third-generation nuclear reactors which use pressurised water as their cooling fluid. At present, most operating reactors around the world are second-generation reactors; only around a dozen Generation 3 reactors are in operation so far.

A variety of Generation 4 reactor designs, which engineers hope will be more inherently safe and more cost-efficient than previous generations, are in various stages of prototype development, but none are expected to be commercially available before about 2030 or 2040.

By that time, however, renewable energy technologies and battery storage systems may have attainedsuch a low cost that construction of new nuclear power stations may prove a tough sell financially. That’s already the case for the Hinkley Point C project and for EDF’s other three existing EPR reactor projects around the world, all of which have proven to be far more expensive than optimistic early estimates, and very likely none of which would be getting built had they not been supported by heavy government subsidies.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

‘Stop Hinkley’ campaign urges UK govt to switch to renewables, and yes, to Stop Hinkley nuclear

poster renewables not nuclearCampaigners call on government to stop Hinkley Point http://www.energylivenews.com/2016/07/26/campaigners-call-on-government-to-stop-hinkley-point/  Jul 26, 2016   A group of campaigners are calling on the government to ditch the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset.

Called ‘Stop Hinkley’, the group has sent a letter to Business, Energy and Industry Strategy Secretary Greg Clark ahead of a final investment decision for the project by EDF’s Board onThursday. They say a final investment decision for Hinkley would be “little more than spin as problems mount for nuclear delusion”.

They believe the nuclear project is too expensive, will kill British manufacturing, is bad for consumers, the taxpayer, business and potentially the environment and is a total waste of money.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects could be implemented very quickly and much more cheaply, they added.

They stated ditching EDF’s plans for HPC would provide the country with a “wonderful” opportunity to turn Somerset into a sustainable energy hub for England.Allan Jeffery from Stop Hinkley said: “Now even the financial press says Hinkley Point C has become a laughing stock. The cost keeps rising while the cost of renewables is falling rapidly and the potential to make savings with energy efficiency is huge. We could replace Hinkley much more quickly and cheaply without the safety fears and without producing dangerous waste we don’t know what to do with.”

According to the former Department of Energy and Climate Change, the estimated cost of the Hinkley Point C project over its lifetime could reach £37 billion.

French authorities have raided EDF’s headquarters in France before the Hinkley decision.

ELN has contacted BEIS for a comment.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Japan Atomic Energy Agency again fails to do safety tests at Monju fast-breeder nuclear reactor

fast-breeder-MonjuJapan Atomic again flubs maintenance checks at Monju reactor http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/22/national/japan-atomic-again-flubs-maintenance-checks-at-monju-reactor/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+japantimes+%28The+Japan+Times%3A+All+Stories%29#.V5gV29J97Gj JIJI The Japan Atomic Energy Agency again failed to conduct checks on a device at its experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor and overlooked a warning signal from a maintenance management system for about three months, it was learned Friday.

The state-affiliated agency, which recently came under fire for failing to inspect thousands of devices at Monju, is investigating the cause of the latest mishap and devising measures to prevent a recurrence.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the device in question controls the temperature of sodium coolant for the prototype reactor, which is situated in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

The JAEA was slated to complete the inspection by the end of March, after moving up the previous deadline, which was set at the end of May

Around the end of February, the maintenance management system installed at Monju started to display a warning signal. But it was not until May 27 that agency officials noticed it, the sources said.

JAEA reported the problems to the Nuclear Regulation Authority and completed the inspection of the temperature-controlling device on May 31, the sources said.

A massive sodium leak and coverup bid in December 1995 caused Monju’s operations to be suspended. It was eventually brought back online in May 2010, but halted again by a different problem in August the same year.

In November 2012, it was found that JAEA failed to carry out maintenance checks on more than 10,000 devices at Monju. After that, the NRA effectively banned the JAEA from operating the reactor.

In November last year, the NRA recommended to science and technology minister Hiroshi Hase that JAEA be replaced as Monju’s operator. The ministry is studying the matter.

July 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Report questions value of new nuclear projects in Wales compared with renewables

nuclear-costsflag-UKNew nuclear projects in Wales must be ‘cost-competitive’ with renewables, say MPs , Business Green, 26 July 16  Planned nuclear sites in North Wales should only go ahead if government can prove development is ‘value for money’, as Business Secretary Greg Clark visits Japan to fan investor interest in UK nuclear projects

 Any new nuclear plant in Wales must be able to compete with renewable energy on cost, a Committee of MPs have told the government today.

Lawmakers on the Welsh Affairs Committee have published a new report insisting that before proposed nuclear developments at Wylfa Newydd and Trawsfynydd in North Wales go ahead the government must prove the financial viability and community benefit of the projects.

“The government must prove that the cost of any nuclear development is well understood and competitive with renewable sources. These costs must be made public in a format that can be easily understood,” Committee chair David Davies MP said.

“There has to be a demonstrable benefit for the local community as well,” he added. “Local businesses must form a key part of the supply-chain and be given sufficient information to allow this to happen.”………

The report concludes the government should only support the development at Wylfa Newydd if the strike price for the project’s electricity is competitive with renewables and below that of Hinkley Point C, EDF’s controversial nuclear project in Somerset which is due to receive a final investment decision this week. Hinkley’s strike price is £92.50 per MWh – more than double the current market price of power. In comparison, the strike price for onshore wind is around £80 per MWh with some experts now arguing new onshore wind farms can be built at a lower levelised cost than new gas power plants. ……..

Cost estimates for Wylfa Newydd must cover the lifetime of the project, including decommissioning and waste disposal, MPs said, after concerns were raised during their investigation that nuclear power projects are often subject to delays and cost schedule overruns. Cost estimates for Hinkley Point C have ballooned from £16bn in 2012 to almost £21bn earlier this year, while last week EDF’s Paris headquarters were raided by the French finance authorities investigating concerns about its reporting of maintenance and development costs………http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2465917/new-nuclear-projects-in-wales-must-be-cost-competitive-with-renewables-say-mps

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July 28, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment