This Week’s Featured Interview:
- Tim Deere-Jones is an independent marine pollution consultant and a specialist in the behavior and fate of marine pollutants in ocean, coastal and estuarine environments. He explains how radiation in the ocean from Fukushima and the UK’s Sellafield nuclear facility have impacted food safety at tremendous distances, as far away as the US West Coast. A jaw-dropping eye-opening report. This is an Encore presentation originally presented on Nuclear Hotseat #225 from October 13, 2015.
Numnutz of the Week:
The only thing “super” about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-Baby showing up dressed as Super Mario at the Rio Olympics is his gall at continuing to lie about the nuclear contamination awaiting anyone who dares to attend the 2020 Tokyo Radioactive NOlympics. (And that ball he’s holding is pure projection, if not delusion…)
People in northern Japan are dealing with the aftereffects of a powerful storm.
Lionrock ripped through the region devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
It has now moved out to the Sea of Japan and become a low pressure system.
People in Tohoku and the northern island of Hokkaido are dealing with heavy rains, strong winds and rough seas.
Officials also issued mudslide warnings.
They say many parts of the area had one month’s worth of rainfall in just 2 days.
The storm was the first typhoon to strike the Pacific side of Tohoku in recorded history.
Violent waves crash against the shore in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, as Typhoon No. 10 approaches the Tohoku region on the morning of Aug. 30.
Powerful Typhoon No. 10 struck the Tohoku region on the afternoon of Aug. 30 as expected.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a warning to residents of potential record rainfall. The potent storm made landfall in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, shortly before 6 p.m. and was moving north-northwest at a speed of 50 kph as of 6 p.m., according to the agency. The atmospheric pressure at the center of the typhoon, known as Typhoon Lionrock outside Japan, was 970 hectopascals.
The sustained wind speed near the center was 108 kph, while gusts can increase up to 162 kph.
The storm is expected to accelerate and keep moving north-northwest, reaching areas northwest of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, by nightfall. It will likely cut through the area into the Sea of Japan where it will then be termed an extratropical cyclone.
The northern part of the nation is expected to see heavy rainfall of more than 50 millimeters per hour on Aug. 30-31. With rain in some areas even likely to exceed 80 mm per hour, precipitation in northern Japan over the course of the two days could total the region’s average rainfall for the entire month of August.
Rainfall in the 24 hours until noon on Aug. 31 is expected to reach 250 mm in the Tohoku region and 200 mm in Hokkaido. The typhoon could bring on heavy rains in the region if the clouds are fed by the wet atmosphere located to the east of the nation.
As the intense rain could cause the radioactive groundwater accumulated on the premises of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in coastal Fukushima Prefecture to overflow, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. is pumping more groundwater from the wells at the facility than usual.
The utility said that groundwater levels are still up by about 20 centimeters since Typhoon No. 9, or Typhoon Mindulle, traveled through the Tohoku region on Aug. 22.
No. 10 is the first typhoon to make landfall in the Tohoku region from the Pacific Ocean side since the meteorological agency started keeping track of the storms in 1951.
Powerful typhoon strikes region of Japan devasted by 2011 tsunami
Hundreds of flights have been grounded and work suspended at damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor.
A powerful typhoon has struck an area in north-eastern Japan devastated by the 2011 tsunami.
More than 100 flights have been grounded and evacuation warning issued for thousands of people as Typhoon Lionrock reached the north-eastern Tohoku region, with wind speeds of up to 126 km recorded on Tuesday evening (30 August).
In 2011, the region was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami, damaging the Fukushima nuclear reactor and leaving more than 18,000 people dead.
More than 170,000 people were subject to evacuation, including 38,000 in Ofunato, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Approximately 10,000 homes in the northern region were without electricity, with power lines damaged from the winds, AP reported.
The typhoon was predicted to dump about 35 cm (14 inches) of rain on the north-eastern region by Wednesday morning, more than double the average rainfall for August, Reuters reported.
Airlines cancelled hundreds of flights to and from the northern region, while bullet train services to Tohoku and Hokkaido regions were suspended.
At Fukushima, some outdoor decommissioning work was suspended as the storm neared.
Parts of a flexible container bag buried under the couple’s home are seen at the top of this photo taken in Fukushima on Oct. 21, 2015.
FUKUSHIMA — A couple unknowingly built a new home in Fukushima on top of bags containing radioactive soil because they received an inaccurate waste storage sketch created by the Fukushima Municipal Government, it has been learned.
The couple has been unable to remove four flexible container bags of radioactive soil found buried under their home, as doing so could leave their house leaning. They say the city has not apologized.
“Far from admitting responsibility and apologizing, they haven’t even tried to examine the site. They have also been reluctant to release information, and have acted extremely insincerely,” a statement from the pair said.
The couple initially received a Fukushima Municipal Government sketch showing buried waste on a plot of land they purchased, but it contained no dimensions. About 66,000 similar sketches without dimensions have already been distributed, and it is possible that similar incidents could occur in the future as the storage of waste collected in the wake of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant becomes prolonged.
In five Fukushima prefectural municipalities, including the city of Fukushima, contaminated soil collected during decontamination work has mostly been stored onsite, while other local bodies have stored it at interim storage facilities. The city of Fukushima is the only one of the five municipalities to have handed landowners waste storage sketches without any dimensions. Those provided by the other four municipalities show dimensions. When land changes hands, the diagrams are normally handed from the previous landowner to the new one.
In November 2013, a man in Fukushima bought a 300-square-meter plot of decontaminated land, and received a “monitoring chart” from the previous landowner with a diagram showing where radioactive soil was buried, along with radiation measurements taken before and after the decontamination. Based on the diagram, the man built a new home, avoiding the northeast of the plot of land where the waste was shown to be buried.
However, when the city came to dig up the buried waste in October 2015, it was found that six flexible container bags with a total capacity of six cubic meters lay under the northeast part of the new home. Four of them could not be removed due to fears of the home being left leaning.
When the man made an official information request for documents on decontamination in May this year, he was given a diagram containing dimensions. This showed that the waste was buried several dozen centimeters closer to the southwest, nearer the center of the plot of land. The man says the actual burial spot was even further toward the center.
A Fukushima Municipal Government official said the purpose of the diagram without dimensions was to display the amount of radiation, and that the burial spot it showed was only a rough indication. The municipal government said the basis of the diagram with dimensions, on the other hand, was different, being used to record the burial spot of waste under the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Handling of Radioactive Pollution.
A city official commented that the decontaminated soil was supposed to be removed quickly and the officials had not expected it to be there until the time a land transaction was made and a home built. The city is considering replacing about 26,000 diagrams that are due to be distributed with ones that show dimensions. It is also considering publicly informing people that the diagrams that have been issued without dimensions are not accurate indications of where waste is buried.
This photo shows the diagram with dimensions, left, and the one without. The No. 3 marking on the second diagram is where radiation levels were measured.
Nuclear bombs transformed the planet and set off the Age of Humans, geologists say, WP By Sarah Kaplan August 29 16, Around 1950, as atomic bombs fell on empty deserts, crowded cities and island atolls; as highways carved concrete paths across the planet; as populations exploded; as consumption skyrocketed; and as the average global temperature began its dangerous upward creep in earnest, Earth entered the epoch of humans.
Monday, members of the group presented their findings at the annual International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/08/29/scientists-believe-the-age-of-humans-began-in-1950-now-they-have-to-prove-it/
South Korea Seeks Indigenous Missile Defense System To Deal With North, Raises 2017 Defense Budget, IBT, BY KUKIL BORA @KUKILBORA ON 08/30/16 The South Korean government on Tuesday raised the country’s 2017 defense budget to build a homegrown missile defense system to better counter growing North Korean missile and nuclear threats. The announcement came nearly a week after Pyongyang test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in an apparent response to the annual Seoul-Washington military drill that will continue till Friday.
According to the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the allotted defense budget of 40.3 trillion won ($36.1 billion) — up 4 percent from the previous year — for 2017 was proposed to build the country’s own “Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD)” system to deal with potential North Korean threats. In addition, some 39.9 billion won ($35.7 million) will be used to equip all military barracks with air conditioning systems, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
The KAMD, expected to be deployed by mid-2020s, includes medium-range surface-to-air missiles (M-SAM), long-range surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM), U.S. Patriot missiles and early-warning radars to shoot down missiles fired by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — the official title for the reclusive nation.
The sped-up efforts to develop the homegrown KAMD comes amid growing tensions in the Korean peninsula after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January, followed by the launch of a long-range rocket in February……http://www.ibtimes.com/south-korea-seeks-indigenous-missile-defense-system-deal-north-raises-2017-defense-2409128
Nasa: Earth is warming at a pace ‘unprecedented in 1,000 years’ Records of temperature that go back far further than 1800s suggest warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium, Guardian, Oliver Milman, 30 Aug 16, The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist.
This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat.
But Nasa said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, suggest that the warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium.
“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/30/nasa-climate-change-warning-earth-temperature-warming
Why Britain’s Hinkley nuclear reactor is a horror show, with or without China, South China Morning Post, Tom Holland 30 Aug 16, “…….The new British government of Prime Minister Theresa May would be right to pull the plug, regardless of any Chinese involvement……..
£18 billion construction cost now almost outweighs EDF’s entire market capitalisation of 22 billion euros. In other words, EDF’s management has bet the entire company on this one project. That sober realisation was behind the decision to bring in the state-owned China General Nuclear corporation as a 33 per cent co-investor. Even so, so far this year fears that the cost of building Hinkley will bankrupt EDF have triggered the resignations in protest of two of the French company’s directors, including its finance director.
Decommissioning costs: A blind spot in the nuclear power debate In nuclear policy, too little thought is given to the considerable costs of storing radioactive waste on site, Utility Dive By Christina Simeone | August 30, 2016 With over 10 GW of nuclear capacity at risk for premature retirement – defined as retirement before license expiration – many states are considering subsidy policies to keep these economically struggling reactors operating.
Arguments for subsidies focus on protecting local jobs, keeping low-cost baseload power, maintaining reliability, and preserving the zero-carbon resources needed to address climate change. Opponents argue that out-of-market subsidies distort competitive markets and amount to ratepayer bailouts of uneconomic generation.
Absent from the debate, however, is a focus on what happens to nuclear power plants when they retire and decommission. Specifically, how Americans like you and I will continue to pay more and be subjected to greater risks as nuclear power plants are converted to interim waste storage facilities.
This is the focus of a new report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, entitled “Nuclear Decommissioning: Paying More for Greater, Uncompensated Risks.”
Let me explain.
When most nuclear power plants were built, the expectation was spent fuel waste would either be reprocessed (for most plants built before 1977) or the government would take custody of the waste for permanent disposal, per the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Licensees that built the reactors were also required to establish financial mechanisms – such as trust funds – to ensure availability of funds to decontaminate equipment and decommission the plant site.
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act established a per-kilowatt-hour fee on nuclear power production that Licensees would pay in exchange for a contractual agreement committing the federal government to take custody of the waste – beginning in 1998 – for permanent geologic disposal. Licensees would recover these fees from electricity ratepayers that enjoyed low cost, baseload nuclear power.
In 1998, the federal government was not prepared to accept the waste. To date, the government has spent more than $7.5 billion to study the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada for geologic disposal, but political opposition from within that state killed the project. There are currently no plans underway to build a geologic disposal repository.
Meanwhile, there are over $34 billion in ratepayer funds sitting in a restricted government account that by law can only be spent on activities related to the geologic disposal site. (The ratepayer fee was suspended in 2014, a few years after the Yucca Mountain project was terminated.)
In the interim, nuclear reactor Licensees have been forced to make significant capital investments to expand their ability to store spent fuel on site at power plants. Licensees sued the federal government for financial damages caused by the government’s failure to accept nuclear waste for disposal, and the Licensees won.
The federal government is therefore using taxpayer money to pay back the Licensee’s costs of interim waste storage. As of 2015, more than $5 billion of taxpayer dollars were paid to reactor Licensees. The total cost of damages is estimated to range from $29 billion to $50 billion if the government begins to accept waste in 10 years. If this date slides, government liabilities increase by $500 million per year.
So today, all 100 operating nuclear power reactors are storing waste on site in wet and/or dry storage. When a full plant retires, the entire site cannot be decommissioned, because a portion of the site must continue to store waste.
With this background in mind, it is important that policymakers consider the following facts when contemplating the fate of struggling nuclear power facilities:
- Distributed, interim (if not perpetual) storage of spent fuel and high level radioactive waste is less safe and less secure than permanent geologic disposal, according to the IAEA.
- Costs of interim storage have been and will continue to be paid by taxpayers, and these costs will accumulate indefinitely. Meanwhile, there is no refund provided to the ratepayers who paid to have nuclear waste removed from their neighborhoods and into a permanent geologic disposal facility. Many Americans are paying twice for nuclear waste management.
- Communities hosting nuclear power facilities – that include ratepayers and taxpayers – are not being compensated for the increased risks of perpetually storing high level radioactive waste. And, when a plant or reactor retires, these communities are also losing the benefits of nuclear power.
An additional concern is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s formula for establishing upfront decontamination costs for reactor specific funds has widely been criticized to understate costs. When a reactor retires prematurely, these funds have less time to appreciate and may require additional financial guarantees from the Licensee. More research is needed to understand the ability of owners of at-risk generation to provide such guarantees, if needed……http://www.utilitydive.com/news/decommissioning-costs-a-blind-spot-in-the-nuclear-power-debate/425415/
UK government could approve Hinkley Point but delay Essex project Decision on the Bradwell reactor could be stalled to allow a discussion about security, potentially endangering deal with China, Guardian, Sean Farrell, 29 Aug 16, The government is considering a proposal to detach development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant from an agreement allowing China to build a reactor in Essex.
An option under consideration in Whitehall is to approve Hinkley Point but delay a decision on the Bradwell reactor to allow a discussion about its effect on British security, the Times said.
Any attempt to split Hinkley Point from the agreement to let China build reactors in Britain would endanger the whole deal because the Bradwell plant was meant to be a showcase for China’s nuclear technology in Europe.
Tension over Hinkley Point means May risks an awkward first G20 meeting of world leaders as prime minister. The meeting, on 4 and 5 September, takes place in the Hangzhou, China, and will be hosted by Xi Jinping, China’s president, who signed the Hinkley Point agreement last year.
EDF, the French state-owned energy group, approved the building of Hinkley Point in July after months of doubts about whether it was financially strong enough to take on the giant project……..https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/29/uk-government-could-approve-hinkley-point-delay-essex-project-bradwell-china
US-Ukraine Coproduction of Weapons to Boost Risk of Nuclear War, http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160830/1044759268/us-ukraine-weapons-production.htmlUS and Ukraine joint production of weapons would seriously boost the risk of nuclear war between the United States and Russia, global peace campaigner Helen Caldicott told Sputnik. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly proposed that Kiev and Washington should cooperate in producing weapons on Ukraine soil.
The system is reportedly thought to be capable of firing missiles at targets over 90 miles away. Independent, 31 Aug 16 Gabriel Samuels
The Fordow facility, situated roughly 60 miles south of the Iranian capital Tehran, is to be defended by a comprehensive S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system, supplied by the Russian government.
The system is thought to be capable of firing missiles at targets over 90 miles away and track potential threats within a 200 mile radius, carried on the back of large launcher trucks.
- Iranian state television broadcast footage showing the deployment of the system with General Farzad Esmaili telling reporters it was the air force’s “main priority” to protect the country’s nuclear facilities…….
- Operations at the Fordow uranium plant were thought to have ceased in January following an international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions on Tehran…….
Officials have stated the site is now primarily being used for nuclear research and the production of isotopes for medical purposes, after the facility was converted into a technology and science centre.
General Esmaili said the S-300 missiles were a mobile system which would be relocated often to protect a range of site across the area.
Iran says that it has never sought nuclear arms and that the security around the site is intended to protect it from American or Israeli airstrikes.
Russia began delivering the S-300 system this year under a contract signed in 2007, and Iran says the entire system should be in place by the end of the year. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-installs-air-missile-systems-around-former-nuclear-enrichment-plant-a7216846.html
As part of that state’s Clean Energy Standard, utilities will be required to buy “zero emission credits,” providing what is estimated to be a $500 million annual subsidy to keep the nuclear plants open. Nuclear power comprises nearly 30 percent of New York’s electricity supply.
The move came after nuclear operators warned they might be forced to shut down reactors early if they didn’t receive financial support for the zero-carbon fuel. Already, more than half a dozen nuclear plants across the country have been pegged for early retirement because they are losing money.
With victory in New York, it’s only natural for nuclear operators to use the momentum to go after subsidies in other states, wrote Kit Konolige, a senior utility industry analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, in a recent note.
“Companies probably will end up seeking billions of dollars from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Connecticut,” he wrote. “Closing nuclear plants could lead to higher carbon emissions and thousands of layoffs. Subsidizing them would boost electric bills and hurt rival generators’ margins.”
He speculated that the three operators of Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants — Akron-based FirstEnergy, Illinois-based Exelon, and Talen Energy, based in Allentown — “could unite in Pennsylvania aid push” on the heels of the New York decision.
It’s not yet clear what the ask will look like and if it will rely on regulations or laws to prop up struggling nuclear plants.
Mr. Konolige noted that while Exelon, which operates two plants in New York, was successful in getting support through that state’s public utility commission, efforts to push nuclear subsidies through the legislature in its home state of Illinois did not pan out.
“It’s too early to tell which route will be taken in Pennsylvania,” Mr. Konolige wrote.
Nuclear plants, for decades a source of baseload generation and 20 percent of the electricity in the U.S., are falling victim to the same market dynamics pushing out coal plants: the low price of natural gas, which tends to set the electricity price paid to all sources on the grid.
Natural gas power plants also can ramp up and down fairly quickly, while nuclear plants must run continuously. That means when the grid price is lower than the operating costs, nuclear reactors have no choice but to run and lose money…..
During a company earnings call last month, FirstEnergy’s CEO Chuck Jones said the company is considering selling off its nonregulated generation plants, such as Beaver Valley, because the market dynamics don’t reward their reliability. He also said FirstEnergy is delaying by two years replacing the steam generator at one of the Beaver Valley reactors……http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2016/08/30/After-New-York-props-up-nuclear-power-generation-sector-is-Pennsylvania-next/stories/201608300009
India US to advance talks on building six nuclear reactors Under the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement signed in October 2008, two US companies would build 12 atomic reactors, each with a capacity of 1000 MWs. Indian Express By: PTI | New Delhi :August 30, 2016 India and the US on Tuesday agreed to move forward on building six nuclear reactors and discussed ways to enhance cooperation in the field of atomic power and space.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State, who is here for the 2nd Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), said his country would want its civil nuclear cooperation with India to take shape in setting up of reactors.
“We have agreed now to move forward on six Westing House nuclear reactors which will provide energy for six million Indians, not to mention the enormous number of jobs (it will create)……
Under the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement signed in October 2008, two US companies would build 12 atomic reactors, each with a capacity of 1000 MWs. However, the US has often raised concern about hurdles faced by American companies over a series of issues.
Its major concerns like the liability clause in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 has already been addressed and talks between the WestingHouse Co, which will build six reactors, and the Indian side are on, sources said. The two sides are also cooperating in the field of space. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-us-to-advance-talks-on-building-six-nuclear-reactors-3004675/
The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age Experts say human impact on Earth so profound that Holocene must give way to epoch defined by nuclear tests, plastic pollution and domesticated chicken, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 29 Aug 16, Humanity’s impact on the Earth is now so profound that a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – needs to be declared, according to an official expert group who presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday.
The new epoch should begin about 1950, the experts said, and was likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests, although an array of other signals, including plastic pollution, soot from power stations, concrete, and even the bones left by the global proliferation of the domestic chicken were now under consideration.
The current epoch, the Holocene, is the 12,000 years of stable climate since the last ice age during which all human civilisation developed. But the striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time, the experts argue. The Earth is so profoundly changed that the Holocene must give way to the Anthropocene………
To define a new geological epoch, a signal must be found that occurs globally and will be incorporated into deposits in the future geological record. For example, the extinction of the dinosaurs 66m years ago at the end of the Cretaceous epoch is defined by a “golden spike” in sediments around the world of the metal iridium, which was dispersed from the meteorite that collided with Earth to end the dinosaur age.
For the Anthropocene, the best candidate for such a golden spike are radioactive elements from nuclear bomb tests, which were blown into the stratosphere before settling down to Earth. “The radionuclides are probably the sharpest – they really come on with a bang,” said Zalasiewicz. “But we are spoiled for choice. There are so many signals.”
Other spikes being considered as evidence of the onset of the Anthropocene include the tough, unburned carbon spheres emitted by power stations. “The Earth has been smoked, with signals very clearly around the world in the mid-20th century,” said Zalasiewicz.
Other candidates include plastic pollution, aluminium and concrete particles, and high levels of nitrogen and phosphate in soils, derived from artificial fertilisers. Although the world is currently seeing only the sixth mass extinction of species in the 700m-year history of complex life on Earth, this is unlikely to provide a useful golden spike as the animals are by definition very rare and rarely dispersed worldwide.
In contrast, some species have with human help spread rapidly across the world. ……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth
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