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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

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.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

World in Danger



How does the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown disaster show the enormous risk potential for the continued operation of the Diablo Canyon atomic reactor?

Filmed by Ecological Options Network (EON) at Point Reyes Station in California, Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen presents A World in Danger.

This presentation from the 2015 California speaking tour precedes a panel discussion “Tell All” between chief engineer Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds founder and president Maggie Gundersen, and EON co-directors Jim Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan. The follow-up conversation can be found here. 

EMCEE: (:47) I want to begin with a quote by that celebrated and famous American philosopher, W. C. Fields, who once said, “There comes a time in human events when we must seize the bull by the tail and stare the situation squarely in the face.” And that’s what we’re going to do tonight. So Arnie Gundersen, please take it away. (applause)

AG: The thing I’d like to talk about, and Tim alluded to it, is how the nuclear industry has so successfully framed this argument on nuclear. There’s a book Don’t Think of an Elephant. What’s the first thing you think of – it’s an elephant. And the person who frames the argument usually wins the argument. We wind up being labeled as anti-nuclear this’s or that’s. We never call them pro-nuclear zealots. They’ve been able to frame the argument.

Here’s an example. What’s wrong with this sentence – The Fukushima accident happened on March 11, 2011. (F: Accident) Accident. That’s one – there’s actually three, but the first – (F: It’s still happening) Yes. It’s still happening.

When the nuclear industry talks about Fukushima in the past tense, the fact of the matter is that it’s still bleeding into the Pacific and it will take 100 years and a half a trillion dollars to clean up but they want you to think it’s over. So (1) is it’s still happening; (2) is the world accident.

An accident is when you’re driving down the road and an owl flies in front of you and hits your window and takes you out. That’s an accident. You couldn’t foresee it. But the DIET commission – DIET is their parliament – has said this is not an accident. This was man-made. This was profoundly man-made. Engineers knew it for 40 years. So the wick on this time bomb was lit in 1967 when they started building it. And it happened to have exploded in 2011, but the accident was not an accident. It was a man-made disaster.

So I try to remove that from my vocabulary but it’s so ingrained because I was an engineer and I would bet everybody would call it an accident. It’s ingrained. It’s not an accident; it’s a disaster. And the last one is – I said the Fukushima accident.

Fukushima is a wonderful prefecture and they would much rather we call it Fukushima Daiichi, which stands for the first nuclear site at Fukushima, and then down the road about 6 miles is Fukushima Daini. It’s sort of like having the California accident. It means something to the people in Fukushima Prefecture that the disaster be properly phrased as the Daiichi accident.

Anyway, let’s get on with the show here. There’s four points I’d like to talk about.

The first is that nuclear accidents happen a lot more frequently than our regulators – (F: Nuclear events) – nuclear disasters – okay, there we go. Nuclear events happen a lot more frequently than our regulators would like you to know and that our politicians would like you to know and the nuclear industry would like you to know.

The second is that as time goes by, these disasters have been getting worse, not less worse.

The third one is, as bad as Fukushima Daiichi was, we’re lucky because it could have been much, much worse.

And the fourth, and it really hits here in California and the West Coast, is that radiation knows no borders.

So in my lifetime – here’s what I looked like right out of college – look at that tie, looks like I had a rug on or something – so that guy was brighter than the one who’s standing here, but probably was a little less wise. So I’d like to say that my wisdom might have increased but perhaps my intellect decayed a little bit. But over our joint career of 40-some-odd years, here’s what’s happened.

We’ve had a partial meltdown at Three Mile Island. We’ve had a complete meltdown at Chernobyl. We’ve had a complete meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, a complete meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi unit 2, and a complete meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi unit 3.

So in those 35 years from TMI to today, we’ve had 5 meltdowns. So if you take 35 and divide by 5, this is not rocket science – you get 7. About once every 7 years, about once a decade, you’re going to have a meltdown. That’s what history shows.

But yet, the regulators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear industry have been telling the political leaders that the chance of an accident is one in a million.

So if you take a million and divide that by 400 nuclear reactors, you get an accident – you get a disaster occurring about once every 2,500 years.

Well, history is telling us it’s once in 7 and yet regulators are basing their decision-making process on once in 2,500 years.

So this is an example how the argument has been distorted by the nuclear industry and, unfortunately, dramatically affects our Congressmen. Who in Congress would allow Diablo to run if they thought it was going to melt down in 7 years?

So the first point here is that policymakers are in one world and the real world data is in another. So the second issue is that accidents have become worse – disasters have become worse – I caught myself.

The first one is TMI. It was a partial meltdown, sort of like being partially pregnant. The team that took this picture – it’s an interesting story to talk about the mindset of nuclear power – they ran it about a year after the accident – the disaster – by the time I’m done here I’ll get this right. About a year after the disaster, they put a camera in from the top of the reactor. This is a true story from the people that were on that crew. They went down however many meters until where the reactor core should have been and they didn’t see it. So they pulled the camera up and said something’s wrong with our measurement. And they re-measured the wire and they put it back in a second time. And they didn’t see it. And they still pulled it back out again and said something’s wrong with our measurement. The core’s got to be there. They put it down a third time and they didn’t see it. And it was the third time that the person in charge of that said oh, my God, we have a meltdown.

Two years after with huge radiation releases and the psyche of the nuclear industry was such that they wouldn’t admit to themselves they had a meltdown until this picture came out.

So the consequences are not just in meltdowns. They’re also in casualties. If you go up on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s website, no one was hurt at Three Mile Island. And of course, the industry says that, too. This is Dr. Steve Wing. And the white line that runs diagonally through that from the – from here to there – that’s the Susquehanna River. This is Three Mile Island. And what Steve was able to do was look at the demographic data of lung cancer deaths 10 years after the accident. And he showed clearly that lung cancers in the river valley were awful compared to lung cancers on the hillsides. Why is that? When the accident happened, when the disaster happened, when the meltdown happened, there was a temperature inversion that day and it kept the radiation in the valley. Now the nuclear industry won’t admit this and Steve’s taken a lot of flack over it, but in fact this is what the data says. People did die after TMI.

This is a picture of the remnants of the nuclear core at Chernobyl. It’s called the elephant’s foot. It was taken by a robot about a year after the accident and – after the disaster, after the meltdown – and this elephant’s foot is so radioactive that if it were up here, we’d all be dead in about 2 minutes. That’s how much radiation is coming off that elephant’s foot right now. But we had a picture of what Three Mile Island looked like and we had a picture of what Chernobyl looked like within two years of the accident – disaster.

The next slide – first we all know that Europe was highly contaminated as a result of the meltdown at Chernobyl. Dr. Alexey Yablokov calculated that over a million people died from the radiation releases. The International Atomic Energy Agency says about 40 died. There’s a big difference there. (10:54)

So now let’s move on to Fukushima Daiichi. Where’s the cores? Nobody knows. We’re five years into this process and we don’t even have a picture of where those nuclear cores are. So the trend has been from a partial meltdown to a complete meltdown to three complete meltdowns and we don’t – the radiation levels are so high in that building that we can’t find those nuclear cores yet.

Next slide. This is a real quick sequence. This is from left to right, this is Fukushima Daiichi unit 1 – it’s already exploded – 2, 3, 4. I want you to keep an eye on 3 – that’s this one right here. Next slide. This can’t happen. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, you can’t have a hydrogen explosion and you can’t have a detonation shockwave at a nuclear power plant. So don’t worry. What you see here didn’t happen.

And the example is – Diablo Canyon can’t withstand this. And so what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says is that this event cannot happen. So therefore, Diablo Canyon can continue to operate. Well, that little slide here shows the initial burst of the explosion – the detonation shockwave. And the rest after that is ballistic. It just takes the roof off the building. But don’t worry, this can’t happen at Diablo Canyon.

I’m going to click it 21 times. (12:36 to 13:04) That’s not a detonation shockwave. There’s not a containment in the world that can withstand a detonation shockwave. So the regulator’s solution is to assume that a detonation shockwave can’t happen.

The next slide is another problem that the regulators have managed to corral. And that’s that containments don’t leak. That’s the dome at both Diablo and at San Onofre – that thing that looks like a half a hemisphere. That’s the containment dome. And I was discussing this – I was invited to talk to the advisory committee on reactor safeguards – the 17 wise men that guide the Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 2010, four months before Fukushima Daiichi. And I was arguing that containments do leak and that they need to change their regulations, especially on a new reactor.

After that, the next month, NRC staff – 4,000 staff members wrote a position paper to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and they said we assume the containment leak rate is zero.

So what happens here, this is an infrared picture of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 and it’s almost a month after the nuclear accident. The disaster. The big blob is the fuel pool which is boiling and mixing with air and you can see – there’s only a couple words on here that are in English – but it’s about 62 degrees centigrade, but that means it was about 130 degrees in the gases that are coming off. That was a big deal and it was also doing the same thing at unit 4 and in every other one. The fuel pools were boiling. But that’s not the key here. See that little dot right there? It says 128 degrees centigrade. What that means is that’s about 250 degrees. Remember, water boils at 212 at atmospheric conditions. What that tells me is that the containment was leaking like a sieve. There’s no containment integrity at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3.

This is another one of those issues that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pushed aside. There’s a telecoms between NRC and people in Tokyo and they estimate the containment was leaking at 300 percent per day.

If that number was applied to Diablo Canyon it would have to shut down immediately because the accident analysis – I can use it because it’s an NRC term – this says that they only assume a tenth of a percent per day. So this is another example of how the industry pushes the argument.

The next piece is a piece of nuclear fuel. This is in a scanning electron microscope and it was done by Marco Kaltofen at Worcester Polytechnic. The fascinating part of this was this was found 300 miles away from Fukushima Daiichi. So an accident/disaster doesn’t end at the site boundary. This is 300 miles away and if it’s on the – this was picked up in a vacuum cleaner bag. If it’s on the vacuum cleaner bags, it’s in your lungs because you’re breathing in whatever winds up on the floor. Next slide – these are car air filters. Each one of those black dots is a hot particle. If you look really carefully, we had a great slide projector – actually, we have one hot particle on a car air filter in Seattle – but the Fukushima City ones are obviously the worst. And a car breathes in just about what a person breathes in. So that the – God help us when these people get out 10 or 15 years and we start to see an increased incidence of lung cancer like Steve Wing discovered at TMI. But according to the NRC, TMI didn’t happen, either.

Okay. The last one in this series – Fairewinds asked for children’s shoes. And we got 7 pairs of shoes from Fukushima Daiichi and we compared them with 7 pairs of shoes in the United States. And basically, the shoes on the right are – that’s the lower limit of detection – that’s the best the instrument can do. The shoes of the U.S. kids are squeaky clean. And the shoes of the Japanese kids are loaded with cesium. Well, what do kids do? They tie their shoes, put their hands in their mouth and it’s all over the place in Japan.

So the second conclusion is that we went from a partial meltdown to a complete meltdown to three complete meltdowns. And the consequences are getting worse and the accident frequency is shortening. That’s not a good trend. And it’s actually going to get worse as these plants get older.

Diablo is now 30-plus years old in operating years, but it actually was designed in the 60’s and they built the reactor backward and things like that, that slowed down the construction. But we’re looking at a 1960’s technology with 1960’s concrete and as things get old, they all break down. My body keeps telling me. So conclusion number two is that disaster frequency – I’m sorry – disaster severity is increasing.

So the third piece of this revolves around the key piece of nuclear power that no one wants you to know about. Now we all know that when an uranium atom splits in half, it gives off lots of energy. That’s what makes nuclear power so cool and that’s what makes nuclear bombs explode. Take uranium, split it in half and you get lots of energy. If it stopped there, we wouldn’t have problem at Daiichi. But it doesn’t stop there, and this is what they don’t tell you about. That the explosion in the middle – the nuclear chain reaction in the middle – only gives off 93 percent of the heat. The other 7 percent comes from these pieces that are left over – that piece and that piece. They remain physically hot and radioactively hot for hundreds of years. (19:41)

So when Fukushima Daiichi had been safely shut down, it stopped the chain reaction. There were no new uranium atoms splitting. But the pieces left behind were still churning out 7 percent of the problem. 7 percent doesn’t sound like a whole heck of a lot except that – let’s look at Daiichi unit 2 – that was 4 million horsepower. 7 percent of 4 million is 270,000 horsepower of heat that it had to get rid of, and the nuclear core is only 12 x 12 x 12. So think about 270,000 horses in a space 12 x 12 x 12 and you’ve got to get rid of that heat and you can’t.

What happened at Daiichi was that – you all heard that the wave came in and knocked out the diesels and because the diesels couldn’t run there wasn’t cooling water. That’s true, but even if the diesels were on top of the Empire State Building, Daiichi still would have had a meltdown, and this is why.

Right along the water is a pile or rubble, and those are the cooling pumps that were designed to take away that quarter of a million horsepower from each reactor. The wave destroyed the cooling pumps. We call that the loss of the ultimate heat sink – LOUHS. So it doesn’t matter – and people will say well, at Diablo the reactor building is at 80 or 90 feet. Cooling pumps are at the water. So if a tsunami were to come, it’s not going to hit the building but it’s going to knock out the pumps along the water.

And the nuclear industry has phrased the problem as we don’t have a problem with Diablo because we’re way up on the cliff. The pumps aren’t up on the cliff because if they were, they couldn’t pump the water. The pumps are down at the water, and that’s a critical problem that was never addressed.

So on this issue, Fukushima could have been much worse. When the tsunami hit, it knocked out almost all the pumps. One pump survived at Daiichi, a couple down the road at Daini. But there were 14 nuclear power plants that lost their cooling water. 14 nuclear power plants lost their cooling water, which meant that – and of the diesels, there were 37 diesels – 24 failed to start. They only had 12 diesels to cool 14 nuclear power plants. And had it been just a hair worse, we would not have had 3 meltdowns like at Daiichi; we would have had 14. And that’s not a problem that can take out Japan. That’s the kind of problem that takes out the northern hemisphere. So the issue of luck plays an important piece of this.

So Daiichi could have been much worse. It was a complete technical failure. Every single system that was designed to work didn’t. And we owe our life in this hemisphere to the courage of a couple hundred Japanese workers on the site. And so courage is critical to this. The plant manager was highly respected by the people and when he stayed, they stayed. So I always dedicate my speeches to these couple hundred people – we call them the Fukushima Fifty. There was probably more than 50 but less than 200 people that stayed behind and now are getting leukemia as a results.

So that’s number one. The other piece is luck. When this accident happened – when this disaster happened, the wind was blowing out to sea about 80 percent of the time. Now had the wind been going the other way, as it does during some seasons in Japan, Japan would have been cut in half by the radiation releases just from those three nuclear reactors. You would have had northern Japan, southern Japan and this uninhabited belt in the middle.

So luck is that the wind was blowing in the right direction. The other piece of luck was that it happened during the day. There was 1,000 people at Daiichi on that Friday, including all the key managers. If it had happened 12 hours later in the middle of the night, there was 100 people there and no key managers. And the infrastructure for them to get into work was gone. It’s not like they could hop in the car and drive in to rescue the place. They could not have gotten there because the infrastructure had been destroyed. So were it not for a couple hundred courageous people and the luck of a 12-hour difference of when that earthquake and tsunami hit, this disaster at Daiichi would have taken out the country of Japan and highly contaminated the northern hemisphere as well.

This is Naoto Kan’s comment about the accident. Kan was the prime minister at the time of the accident, and he said “Our existence as a sovereign nation was at stake.” This parallels what Gorbachev said in his memoires. Gorbachev claims that the Soviet Union collapsed not because of Perestroika, but because of Chernobyl. So the two prime ministers who lived through this – one democratically elected, and one a communist leader – both came to the same conclusion, that this is a technology that is capable of destroying a country overnight. Unlike all the other things we live with, nuclear power can destroy the fabric of a country overnight.

So next slide – is nuclear power too big to fail? That would be the image I think you get when you look at this robust structure. But in fact, we’ve seen now three times, at Daiichi 1, Daiichi 2 and Daiichi 3 that that’s false. I like to say it this way. Sooner or later in any foolproof system, the fools are going to exceed the proofs.

So now last piece here is what does this mean for California and the west coast? It does mean that radiation knows no borders. It doesn’t stop at – it’s a Japanese accident and the radiation says oops, I’ve got to go back over the line and return to Japan. No. We’re all in this together. Radiation knows no borders.

What I was able to do is put together this little piece here that sort of explains the impact on California better than anything else I’ve seen. The meltdown at Daiichi caused 400 tons of water per day to be released into the Pacific. TEPCO’s frantically catching it in all these tanks. Those blue things and silver things. They weren’t there when the plant was built but they were building about a tank every two or three days trying to frantically catch this water, yet 400 tons a day was going into the Pacific. What does that mean? That’s the equivalent of 25,000 tractor loads of radioactive liquid being pumped into the Pacific. And it hasn’t stopped. That’s just in the first four years. Well, let’s talk about what that means. Should you be worried living in California?

And I’ll use this block as an example. The block is 10 x 10 x 10. So 10 x 10 x 10 – there’s 1,000 pieces in that block. Well, when I went to school, we were told dilution is the solution to pollution. And I think that the Daiichi issue is showing that we all live in a world that’s awfully small to dilute.

So let’s take a look at that first big block that’s 10 by 10 by 10. So let’s say each piece of that means a rem. A REM is a unit – Roentgen equivalent man – it’s a unit of radiation. You can think in Sieverts – 1,000 rem is 10 Sieverts. I grew up with REM so we’ll deal with REM. A thousand REM – if I gave you a block – here’s your block of a thousand REM – you’re dead in an hour. So now let’s take a tenth of that. Let’s split the block into 100. So now this is 10 by 10 by 1. So this is a block of 100 REM. So if I gave out 100 REM, 100 REM to the first 10 people here, one of the 10 of you would die of cancer. And we call this the linear no-threshold radiation theory. And what it means is, I keep cutting that block. I never get to the point where there’s some de minimus dose that we don’t have to worry about. Someone will get cancer from that radiation. So we’ve gone to 100 REM. One out of ten people exposed to 100 REM will die of cancer. So let’s go down – now we’re 10 – so 1 by 1 – so this is 10 REM. And if I spread that out to everybody in the room, there would be an increase of – one of you would get a cancer from that radiation. But what’s happening here, and I think you can see what the public policy people are counting on, is that statistically, about 40 percent of Americans die of cancer anyway. So to pick up that one extra person out of the 40 is epidemiologically really difficult. So the more it gets diluted, the less likely you are to know who’s going to die of cancer. But you can be sure that someone will.

And the last slide goes the same way. So as radiation gets diluted, it doesn’t mean that it hits some de minimus level and everybody’s safe. So when they talk about the fish in the Pacific are safe, really that’s not true. But what’s happening is there’s about 2 billion people in the Pacific and there’s a whole heck of a lot of these 10 by 10 by 10 cubes being thrown into the Pacific. So what you’re doing is you’ve got the cancer incidence down so it’s extraordinarily difficult for an epidemiologist to detect it in a population. But that there’ll be thousands and tens of thousands of cancers, you can count on. We just don’t know who. But is Fukushima causing cancers in the Pacific Basin? Absolutely.

So when I hear public health officials saying well, that fish only has 10 Becquerels so therefore, it’s safe to eat, it’s really not what they should be saying. That fish has 10 Becquerels so if you get cancer we won’t be able to prove it came from Fukushima. That’s the real way the statement should be made. So should you be worried? Personally, I’ve made the decision not to eat fish from the Pacific until my regulators measure the fish and tell me what’s in it. That’s a personal decision and there are people who are eating the fish.

There’s an issue called bioaccumulation which dilution is not related to. So as this radiation moves out into the environment, it gets picked up by the seaweed. We’ve already seen concentrations in the seaweed. Then the critters that eat the seaweed get even more. It’s almost like mercury and tuna – you know how it works its way up the food chain. And we will see over time increased concentrations of radiation at the top of the food chain – the salmon, the shark, the tuna, etc. So this issue of dilution is the solution to pollution only assumes that it’s in the water and it’s not bioaccumulating, which makes the problem even worse.

All right, well, thank you. As we say on our little button here: Radiation knows no borders. (32:33 Request to go back to a slide) What’s happening there is the concentration of radiation near Daiichi was large, but then as it moves out into the Pacific over time, it dilutes. But the same number of atoms are at play. So what you’re seeing in the Pacific now is the center of the Pacific is relatively uncontaminated compared to the Aleutian Islands down to Vancouver and down the California coast. And that will continue to move south until it gets to about the equator and starts to spin around again. But the source is not decaying. Ken Buesseler (33:18) and I have disagreements but one of the things I absolutely agree with Ken on is that the concentrations in the Pacific clearly show that the plant is continuing to bleed into the Pacific. If it had been a one-shot deal – if it happened in the first month and then was solved, we wouldn’t see this problem right now. So the fact Fukushima is continuing to bleed into the Pacific is I think one of the key issues at Woods Hole – who was very first to identify it – my hat’s off to them.


July 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

World’s largest nuclear project, UK’s Hinkley Point C, now in doubt

Hinkley planBritain casts doubt on EDF’s $24 billion nuclear project, Reuters LONDON | BY NINA CHESTNEY AND WILLIAM SCHOMBERG, 29 July 16   Britain has cast doubt on a $24 billion (18 billion pounds) project with French utility EDF to build the UK’s first new nuclear plant in decades, delaying a final decision on the plan just weeks after the Brexit vote ushered in a new prime minister.

The surprise decision to review the Hinkley Point C project was made public hours after the board of French state-controlled EDF voted to proceed with it.

The British government, which had been expected to sign contracts on Friday, said instead that it wanted to give the plans further consideration, postponing its verdict until early autumn.

The review came little more than a month after Britons voted to leave the EU in a referendum that forced the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron – whose administration gave the initial go-ahead to the project – and the accession of Theresa May.

The vote, and the resulting economic uncertainty, threw doubt on the future of major British infrastructure projects, including the nuclear plant……..

Analysts and unions said the review under new Prime Minister May would likely delay the project further……..

Although EDF and Chinese partner China General Nuclear are responsible for the 18-billion-pound ($24 billion) cost of the project, Britain has committed to pay a minimum price for the power generated by the plant for 35 years.

Critics, including some British lawmakers and academics, say the country would be overpaying at that minimum price, which equates to double current market levels.

“Because of the fall in the energy price over the past 12 months, the project does look very expensive and there have been a lot of calls for other projects to be considered or for this to be taken back to the drawing board,” said Oliver Salvesen, analyst at investment bank Jefferies………

The British review could lead to increased resistance in France to the project, which was only narrowly approved by the EDF board on Thursday……

If the project goes ahead after the government’s review, the plant would not come online until the 2030s, industry experts estimate.  EDF will still have to shoulder the costs of the long construction phase during which the investment will not generate any cash flow, which is credit negative for the firm, said Paul Marty, vice president and senior credit officer at Moody’s……..

July 30, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

USA Democrats will mobilise huge action on climate change, if elected

climate-changeUSA election 2016US Democrats endorse WW2-scale mobilisation on climate challenge  28/07/2016,   If elected president, Hillary Clinton will convene a climate summit in the first 100 days, according to platform endorsed at Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia   By Megan Darby

Hillary Clinton will mobilise a global effort on a scale not seen since the second world war to tackle climate change, if elected US president in November.

Gov. Jerry Brown: ‘Climate change is the existential threat of our time

That became official Democrat policy on Wednesday at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia.

Within 100 days of assuming office, Clinton promises to bring together engineers, scientists, policy experts and activists “to chart a course to solve the global climate crisis”. The party called for a clean energy revolution and a federal investigation into fossil fuel companies accused of misleading the public about the risks of climate change.

It did not embrace all the most climate hawkish proposals, rejecting a carbon tax, fracking ban and climate test for new energy infrastructure.

California governor Jerry Brown used his speech to drive home the divide between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump on global warming. “Combating climate change, the existential threat of our time, will take heroic efforts,” he said. “You would not know it to listen to Donald Trump.”

Trump did not mention climate change once in his 76-minute speech to last week’s Republican convention and recently denied that California was experiencing a drought, Brown noted: “Trump lies.”

Brown also rejected the idea there is a trade-off between economic growth and green policies, pointing out California is outpacing the US economy while embracing carbon cutting plans.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Philadelphia march of 10,000 protestors demanding climate action

climate-changeUSA election 2016Over 10,000 Climate Protesters March in Philadelphia on Day Before Democratic National Convention DeSmog Blog  By Sharon Kelly • Monday, July 25, 2016 Thousands of climate activists, public health advocates and others arrived in the streets before the first day of the Democratic National Convention, despite blazing heat that was just one degree shy of the hottest July 24 on record in Philadelphia. With temperatures in the mid-90s, a crowd that organizers estimated included over 10,000 marchers converged on Independence Mall near the home of the Liberty Bell.

“We’ve just wrapped up a Republican National Convention filled with climate denial and extreme energy talking points. Tomorrow we start the Democratic Convention, and the question to all these leaders and politicians is: Are you willing to take the action that science demands, or are you just another kind of climate denier?” said Drew Hudson, Director of Environmental Action. “Science tells us we need to keep 80% or more of fossil fuels in the ground: that means a ban on fracking, a halt to dirty trade deals like the TPP, and no more use of eminent domain for polluter gain. I’m marching today to tell all elected officials, if you’re not down to #KeepItInTheGround, you’re just another climate denier.”

Many of the protesters were local — noteworthy in a city long regarded as a Democratic stronghold. ……..

The protests in Philadelphia were already larger than those that confronted Trump and the Republican party in Ohio, according to those who attended both events. No arrests were reported on Sunday in Philadelphia, though one person was transported by ambulance to receive medical care for heat exhaustion.

At one point, the crowd of marchers nearly stretched the full length of the route between City Hall and Independence Mall.

“Our elected leaders must listen to the people,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, one of the main organizers of the protest, “which is why over a thousand groups from all 50 states endorsed the March for a Clean Energy Revolution and called for the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground and focus on renewable energy options that will create jobs, not destroy lives.”

July 30, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s nuclear wasteland may host world’s largest solar power plant

flag-UkraineWorld’s largest solar power plant planned for Chernobyl nuclear wasteland, Electrek, 30 July 16 John Fitzgerald Weaver  @SolarInMASS 

The world’s most famous and damaging nuclear meltdown is now being considered for the world’s largest solar power plant. The Ukrainian nuclear power station Chernobyl had a nuclear meltdown on April 26, 1986. Since then 1,600 square miles of land has been deemed an ‘exclusion zone’ as the radiation levels are too high for human health. But in a recent interview, Ukraine’s ecology minister said the government was negotiating with two US investment firms and four Canadian energy companies, which have expressed interest in the Chernobyl’s solar potential……
solar _photovoltaic_cells-wide
According to PVTech, the Ukrainian government is pushing for a 6 month construction cycle. Deploying this amount of solar power within such a time frame would involve significant resources being deployed. The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world’s largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) – but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl’s 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place…….
The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development has stated they would be interested in participating in the project, “so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank’s satisfaction.” A 2GW solar project – based upon a global market price of $1-1.5/W – would cost between $2 and $3 billion dollars. ……

July 30, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Ukraine | Leave a comment

New York on brink of decision to bail out nuclear industry

taxpayer bailoutNew York to Decide on $500 Million-a-Year Nuclear Power Lifeline,   jpolson9  Bloomberg, 29 July 16 

  • Upstate reactors may close if state bailout plan fails
  • Critics say subsidies will undermine clean energy goals
  • New York is poised to decide whether customers should spend about $500 million a year to save its money-losing nuclear reactors.

    If New York approves the subsidies Monday, it would be the first state to throw such a lifeline to nuclear plants and the emission-free power they produce. The proposal is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to get half the state’s power from renewable sources by 2030. It’s a far cry from the approach in other states where reactors are being allowed to fail under their own weight.

    Nuclear aid is among controversial measures the state Public Service Commission is weighing as renewable power becomes a larger part of its power portfolio. New York is also considering changes to regulations that require utilities to buy back excess power from homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar panels. So-called net metering rules have pitted utilities against renewable energy developers in states across the U.S.

  • “The public service commission and the governor intend to throw away billions of dollars on uneconomical, dirty nuclear plants when we should be investing in renewables and efficiency,” Jessica Azulay, program director for the Alliance for a Green Economy, based in Syracuse, New York, said by phone July 28. “New York needs a plan for a real long-term decarbonization of our energy system, not short-sighted bailouts.”

    Market Signals

    Exelon Corp. said it may close its Ginna and Nine Mile Point 1 units before their licenses expire unless subsidies are approved by September. Entergy Corp. plans to shut its FitzPatrick reactor around year-end, though Exelon said it’s willing to buy that plant and keep it running if subsidies are approved. Both companies back the proposal.

    Others aren’t so sure. Independent power producers say the financial aid will put them at a disadvantage by making their product more costly by comparison.

    “The competitive market is signaling that the nuclear facilities should be retired,” according to a filing by a group that includes Calpine Corp. and Dynegy Inc.

     The proposal would be a “a blatant exercise of buyer-side market power,” and would suppress revenue for other generators according to the filing………

July 30, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

All is not fine for India’s nuclear power programme

A study by the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, that was released recently by the A.P.-Telangana-based voluntary organisation Human Rights Forum, warns India that GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse nuclear reactors are neither cost-effective nor power-efficient and that they have a huge risk factor.

This time round, the CPI(M) has decided to take up the cause in a big way. Senior party leader Prakash Karat visited Kovvada and other villages to interact with fishermen and farmers and addressed a public meeting there on July 16. The CPI(M) has given a call for a broad-based struggle against the nuclear plant at Kovvada, which Karat said would be a white elephant considering its steep projected cost. “This project is a bonanza for American business


flag-indiaThe coast isn’t clear for India’s nuclear power quest, THE HINDU,  K. VENKATESHWARLU , 28 July 16 A cluster of plants promises to turn coastal Andhra Pradesh into the country’s nuclear energy hub, but at what cost? At Kovvada, first off the blocks, K. Venkateshwarlu discovers some uneasy answers. Continue reading

July 30, 2016 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

Retaliation and harassment is very, very real at Hanford

whistleblowerEx-Hanford nuclear facility employee gravely ill after inhaling toxic fumes Nuclear worker: ‘Retaliation is very real at Hanford’  Susannah Frame,,  July 29, 2016 A veteran worker at the Hanford Site says he was harassed, isolated and reassigned to cleaning tasks after he made repeated attempts to bring attention to safety problems in the lab where he works.

“Retaliation and harassment is very, very real at Hanford and that’s a fact. I lived it and I’m living it right now,” said Dave Lee, an instrument technician assigned to the 222-S Lab at Hanford. “I’m cleaning closets and I’m replacing filters and if that’s not degrading and retaliatory, explain to me what is.”

Ex-Hanford nuclear facility employee gravely ill after inhaling toxic fumes

The 222 S Lab is a 70,000 square foot facility operated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS). Work in the lab consists of analyzing samples of lethal radioactive nuclear waste taken from underground storage tanks.

Technicians also analyze vapors captured from the headspaces of the tanks. The vapors contain a mix of poisonous chemicals that were used to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods. Production took place at Hanford from the 1940s through the 1980s to support the country’s nuclear weapons program. Since then, work at the site has been exclusively dedicated to cleanup – one of biggest environmental remediation projects in the world.

Since last November, Lee says he’s repeatedly brought up safety concerns related to a piece of machinery used to analyze vapors. He noticed oil leaking from a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS) instrument. A GC-MC machine measures the presence of selected chemicals in materials fed into it.

His research of the GC-MC factory manuals found that oil in the GC-MC is contaminated with whatever is being tested. That means toxic vapors could be emanating from the oil, into the breathing space of lab workers, who don’t wear protective gloves or respiratory protection as WRPS has never required it.

According to the Clarus 560/600 MS Hardware Guide: “When using toxic samples, the mechanical pump oil is toxic waste….If you were running toxic samples, the oil is contaminated as toxic waste. Handle and dispose of waste oil appropriately.”

“I come to find out this roughing pump oil is part of the process stream (which means it’s in contact with contaminated substances),” said Lee. “I was mad (when I found out)……..

According to a discrimination complaint filed against WRPS with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Lee reported his concerns to many people, including his direct manager and other managers present in lab meetings, the maintenance manager of the lab, the site wide manager of the lab, a field representative from the Defense Facilities Nuclear Safety Board, members of the Department of Energy’s Employee Concerns Council, the Employee Concerns Council manager, in addition to writing up a Problem Evaluation Request (PER) about inadequate venting in the lab. PERs are designed to formally document a concern that is supposed to be addressed by the company.

Lee said after all that, nothing changed. Managers allegedly told him not to worry about it.

“’This is common practice, Dave. You’re fine,’” was the alleged response.

That led to a more dramatic action. On May 2, Lee issued what is called a stop work action at the lab. All Hanford workers have the right to shut work down if they feel the conditions are unsafe. Lee wanted no work to take place with the oil until it was fully analyzed to ascertain if it were indeed hazardous. The next day, WRPS human resources asked for his badge. He was sent home, placed on “investigative removal” for allegations of “extremely serious misconduct”……..

According to a newly released report from the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, Dave Lee’s experience isn’t isolated. The investigators found the U.S. Department of Energy routinely allows “unlawful retaliation” perpetrated by its contractors at sites such as Hanford.

“It’s clear the Department of Energy contractors are going to go to amazing lengths to send a signal to their employees that when you blow the whistle it is going to be the end of your career,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in response to the GAO findings………

Pattern at Hanford

Hanford has been embroiled in high-profile whistleblower retaliation cases in recent years. ……..

July 30, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry astonished as British government stalls plans to build Hinkley C nuclear power station

text Hinkley cancelledPlans to Build World’s Largest Nuclear Plant on Hold, EcoWatch,  Climate News Network 29 July 16 

The British government astonished the nuclear industry late last night by refusing to go ahead with plans to build the world’s largest nuclear plant until it has reviewed every aspect of the project.

The decision was announced hours after a bruising meeting of the board of the giant French energy company EDF, at which directors decided by 10 votes to seven to go ahead with the building of two 1,600 megawatt reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset, southwest England………

critics of the controversial project were delighted. John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace, said: “Theresa May now has the chance to stop this radioactive white elephant in its tracks.”

“She should look at the evidence and see that this deal would be a monumental disaster for the taxpayers and the bill payers. Countless experts have warned that for British families this power station will be terrible value for money, Sauven added.”

Until last night, the UK was the most positive country in Europe about nuclear power and planned to build a total of 10 nuclear power plants, Hinkley Point being the first of them. This was despite the fact that nuclear costs continue to escalate while its main competitors—renewables of all kinds—fall in price.

The Hinkley Point project is now more expensive than offshore wind power, which is the most expensive renewable and is far more costly than solar and onshore wind. Biogas and small-scale hydro projects in Britain, all so far underdeveloped, are also cheaper than nuclear…….

Safety Fears

The price of all renewables is going down as they develop, while the price rises for nuclear power, with safety fears and threats from terrorism pushing costs up.

It is also argued, even by the UK’s national electricity grid, that the day of the large power plant is over, to be replaced by small local generators providing electricity near to homes and factories—something that renewables are ideally suited for.

Even France, which has 58 reactors and is building a Hinkley prototype at Flamanville in Normandy, has no plans to build any more. All its new energy projects are renewables and it has plentiful supplies of untapped wind and solar power, which are cheaper……..

July 30, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s High Court rules that UK nuclear agency ‘manipulated’ £7bn clean-up contract

bribery handshakeflag-UKUK nuclear agency ‘manipulated’ £7bn clean-up contract High Court ruling exposes government to potential £200m damages claim  by: Catherine Belton, 30 July 16  Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority “manipulated” and “fudged” a tender process for a £7bn contract to clean up the country’s nuclear power plants, the High Court has ruled.

The judgment, handed down on Friday, raises fresh questions over the way government entities hand out multibillion-pound contracts and casts further doubt on the UK’s nuclear industry a day after the government’s decision to launch a review of the £18bn Hinkley Point project. It could eventually cost the government hundreds of millions of pounds in damages.

The NDA said it was considering its legal options after the ruling, which found that it had wrongly awarded one of the government’s largest contracts to Babcock, the UK engineering company, and Texas-based Fluor……..

The court found that the NDA had “manipulated” the valuation process in order to avoid disqualifying the Babcock-Fluor bid. “In my judgment the NDA sought to avoid the consequence of disqualification by fudging the evaluation,” Justice Fraser wrote in his ruling.

He found that the NDA “fell short” in meeting its obligations of “transparency and equal judgment”……..

he contract involves the clean-up of 12 of the UK’s 25 nuclear sites, including the Sizewell, Hinkley and Dungeness “Magnox” nuclear power stations built in the 1960s which have reached the end of their lives.

The government is facing increasing scrutiny over its procurement process following the referral of G4S and Serco to the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging on electronic tagging contracts for offenders, and the West Coast main line rail franchising debacle two years ago.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Astronauts 5 times more likely to die from heart disease due to cosmic radiation

radiation-warningCosmic radiation: Apollo astronauts 5 times more likely to die from heart disease, says study 29 Jul, 2016 The first study of Apollo astronauts – the only people to have traveled beyond Earth’s protective magnetic shield – has found that those who ventured to the moon are five times more likely to die from heart disease.

The NASA and Florida State University study revealed its findings on Thursday. They state that so far three Apollo astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, have died from cardiovascular disease, apparently as a result of the extreme cosmic radiation they were exposed to during their missions. The researchers concentrated on a small group for the study: 42 astronauts who flew in space, seven of whom were Apollo veterans, the other 35 being non-flight astronauts.

The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, found that Apollo astronauts are four to five times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease death than astronauts who either never entered space or only flew on low-altitude missions.

“These data suggest that human travel into deep space may be more hazardous to cardiovascular health than previously estimated,” it said.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, employment, health, radiation | Leave a comment

Climate change may be accelerating – Antarctic study reveals Earth’s lessened ability to absorb CO2

climate-changeEarth’s ability to absorb CO2 reduced by global warming, Antarctic study finds By Stephanie Smail  Global warming reduces the amount of carbon dioxide the earth can absorb, which could amplify climate change, landmark research in Antarctica has revealed.

CSIRO researchers extracted ice bubbles in pre-industrial polar ice to measure the planet’s sensitivity to changes in temperature.

They found that for every degree Celsius of global temperature rise, the equivalent of 20 parts per million less CO2 is stored by the land biosphere.

CSIRO principle research scientist Dr David Etheridge said the research confirmed the relationship for the first time and revealed how it impacted the cycles of carbon between land, ocean, and the atmosphere.

“That’s useful to know. It’s a bit concerning because it’s going to amplify the climate change, but it’s good news in a way because it can be used in modelling.”

The research team used ice core samples from the Australian Antarctic Program’s unique Law Dome site, together with ice cores from the British Antarctic Survey.

The study focused on CO2 changes preserved in ice before, during, and after a naturally-cool period known as the Little Ice Age (1500 to 1750 AD).

“It gives global planners something to work with, to help estimate what CO2 emissions are allowable to limit global warming to one and a half or two degrees Celsius,” Dr Etheridge said.

The finding is a result of a collaboration between CSIRO, the Seconda Universita di Napoli, University of Melbourne, British Antarctic Survey, University of East Anglia, Australian Antarctic Division, University of Tasmania, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Renewables deliver for EDF as Hinkley Point nuclear saga drags on 

By Andrew Lee in London , July 29 2016

French energy group EDF saw a strong performance from its renewables business amid a fall in half-year profits and further uncertainty over the controversial Hinkley Point UK nuclear project….(subscribers only)

July 30, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Inspector of welds at nuclear station falsified results

U.S. Attorney: Sulphur man inspecting Lake Charles nuclear facility lied about certification BY   | LCOOK@THEADVOCATE.COM JUL 29, 2016 A Sulphur man who lied about being certified to inspect welds on a Port of Lake Charles nuclear module will be sentenced in November after pleading guilty to a federal criminal charge for providing the false information, U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office announced Friday.

Joseph B. Burnworth, 35, admitted to one count of submission of false information as part of a plea agreement, the release states.

Burnworth’s plea agreement shows he conducted more than 150 visual inspections of welds on an under-construction nuclear module, a large metal structure designed to hold a nuclear reactor, from April 2013 to August …..2013.

July 30, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment