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Does US NRC Think They are Chimps or Robots? Similar Isn’t the Same: Zircaloy and Areva’s M5 Alloy are not the same

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How does French State owned nuclear behemoth Areva spell regulatory relief? Like Holtec and others: “US NRC”. While the underfunded and understaffed French regulator, the ASN, has been holding Areva’s feet to the fire over defects, of late, the overfunded and overstaffed USNRC continues to coddle Areva. The US NRC claimed that they would receive more information from Areva on potentially flawed Areva-Le Creusot Forge nuclear parts in the US by the end of July. No information can be found. In its stead one finds information about two NRC regulatory exemptions for Areva. The first exemption has to do with spent fuel cask welding defects (still pending). The second, found below, has to do with helping a utility change to an apparently unapproved Areva M5 fuel cladding by granting an exemption, for reasons unknown. In stark contrast, the French regulatory, ASN, continues to provide information on potential Areva defects…

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August 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

August 9 Energy News



¶ “Wisconsin Wind Industry Finally Shakes Off Koch Brothers” • Wisconsin has been a wind energy wallflower despite its prime location for wind. But now it seems cracks are beginning to appear in the state’s anti-wind armor. The state hasn’t seen a new wind farm in five years, but at least two are now in development. [CleanTechnica]

Wind potential in Wisconsin. Please click on image to enlarge. Wind potential in Wisconsin. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

¶ “Tesla Poised To Deliver Knockout Punch To Fossil Fuels In The Next Decade” • Tesla Motors has a stated mission that flies directly in the face of carbon-emitting fossil fuels. It is bringing about sustainable energy. Electric cars, battery storage, and solar power could be a potent combination in the fight to replace fossil fuels. [CleanTechnica]


¶ A prolonged electricity blackout affecting two of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland has…

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August 9, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2016

Nagasaki City Peace Hall.jpg


Nuclear weapons are cruel weapons that destroy human beings.

The instant that the single nuclear bomb dropped by a U.S. military aircraft on Nagasaki City at 11:02 AM on August 9, 1945, exploded in the air, it struck the city with a furious blast and heat wave. Nagasaki City was transformed into a hell on earth; a hell of black-charred corpses, people covered in blistering burns, people with their internal organs spilling out, and people cut and studded by the countless fragments of flying glass that had penetrated their bodies.

The radiation released by the bomb pierced people’s bodies, resulting in illnesses and disabilities that still afflict those who narrowly managed to survive the bombing.

Nuclear weapons are cruel weapons that continue to destroy human beings.

In May this year, President Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, a city which was bombed with a nuclear weapon. In doing so, the President showed the rest of the world the importance of seeing, listening and feeling things for oneself.

I appeal to the leaders of states which possess nuclear weapons and other countries, and to the people of the world: please come and visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Find out for yourselves what happened to human beings beneath the mushroom cloud. Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons.

This year at the United Nations Office at Geneva, sessions are being held to deliberate a legal framework that will take forward nuclear disarmament negotiations. The creation of a forum for legal discussions is a huge step forward. However, countries in possession of nuclear weapons have not attended these meetings, the results of which will be compiled shortly. Moreover, conflict continues between the nations that are dependent on nuclear deterrence and those that are urging for a start of negotiations to prohibit nuclear weapons. If this situation continues, then the meetings will end without the creation of a roadmap for nuclear weapons abolition.

Leaders of countries possessing nuclear weapons, it is not yet too late. Please attend the meetings and participate in the debate.

I appeal to the United Nations, governments and national assemblies, and the civil society including NGOs. We must not allow the eradication of these forums where we can discuss legal frameworks for the abolition of nuclear weapons. At the United Nations General Assembly this fall, please provide a forum for discussing and negotiating a legal framework aimed at the realization of a world without nuclear weapons. And as members of human society, I ask you all to continue to make every effort to seek out a viable solution.

Countries which possess nuclear weapons are currently carrying out plans to make their nuclear weapons even more sophisticated. If this situation continues, the realization of a world without nuclear weapons will become even more unlikely.

Now is the time for all of you to bring together as much of your collective wisdom as you possibly can, and act so that we do not destroy the future of mankind.

The Government of Japan, while advocating nuclear weapons abolition, still relies on nuclear deterrence. As a method to overcome this contradictory state of affairs, please enshrine the Three Non-Nuclear Principles in law, and create a “Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone”

(NEA-NWFZ) as a framework for security that does not rely on nuclear deterrence. As the only nation in the world to have suffered a nuclear bombing during wartime, and as a nation that understands only too well the inhumanity of these weapons, I ask the Government of Japan to display leadership in taking concrete action regarding the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone, a concept that embodies mankind’s wisdom.
The history of nuclear weapons is also the history of distrust.

In the midst of this distrust between nations, countries with nuclear weapons have developed evermore destructive weapons with increasingly distant target ranges. There are still over 15,000 nuclear warheads in existence, and there is the ever-present danger that they may be used in war, by accident, or as an act of terrorism.

One way of stemming this flow and turning the cycle of distrust into a cycle of trust is to continue with persistent efforts to create trust.

In line with the peaceful ethos of the Constitution of Japan, we have endeavored to spread trust throughout the world by contributing to global society through efforts such as humanitarian aid. In order that we never again descend into war, Japan must continue to follow this path as a peaceful nation.

There is also something that each and every one of us can do as members of civil society. This is to mutually understand the differences in each other’s languages, cultures and ways of thinking, and to create trust on a familiar level by taking part in exchange with people regardless of their nationality. The warm reception given to President Obama by the people of Hiroshima is one example of this. The conduct of civil society may appear small on an individual basis, but it is in fact a powerful and irreplaceable tool for building up relationships of trust between nations.

Seventy-one years after the atomic bombings, the average age of the hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, exceeds 80. The world is steadily edging towards “an era without any hibakusha.” The question we face now is how to hand down to future generations the experiences of war and the atomic bombing that was the result of that war.

You who are the young generation, all the daily things that you take for granted – your mother’s gentle hands, your father’s kind look, chatting with your friends, the smiling face of the person you like – war takes these from you, forever.

Please take the time to listen to war experiences, and the experiences of the hibakusha. Talking about such terrible experiences is not easy. I want you all to realize that the reason these people still talk about what they went through is because they want to protect the people of the future.

Nagasaki has started activities in which the children and grandchildren of the hibakusha are conveying the experiences of their elders. We are also pursuing activities to have the bombed schoolhouse at Shiroyama Elementary School, and other sites, registered as Historic Sites of Japan, so that they can be left for future generations.

Young people, for the sake of the future, will you face up to the past and thereby take a step forward?

It is now over five years since the nuclear reactor accident in Fukushima. As a place that has suffered from radiation exposure, Nagasaki will continue to support Fukushima.

As for the Government of Japan, we strongly demand that wide -ranging improvements are made to the support provided to the hibakusha, who still to this day suffer from the aftereffects of the bombing, and that swift aid is given to all those who experienced the bombing, including the expansion of the area designated as having been affected by the atomic bomb.

We, the citizens of Nagasaki, offer our most heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives to the atomic bomb. We hereby declare that together with the people of the world, we will continue to use all our strength to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and to realize everlasting peace.

Tomihisa Taue
Mayor of Nagasaki
August 9, 2016

Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2016

Nagasaki City Peace Hall.jpg

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Bombing 71st Anniversary


Colorful lanterns float down the Motoyasu River near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward on the evening of Aug. 6, 2016, in memory of the victims of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city in 1945 and in prayer for peace around the globe. Hiroshima marked the 71st anniversary of the bombing with numerous memorial services across the city. Among attendees at the peace ceremony held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park were representatives from 91 countries and the European Union.


Colorful lanterns float down the Motoyasu River near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward on the evening of Aug. 6, 2016.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nagasaki commemorates 71st anniversary of atomic bombing

nagasaki peace park.jpg

Students of Nagasaki Municipal Yamazato Elementary School sing at Nagasaki Peace Park during a memorial ceremony for the Nagasaki atomic bombing, on Aug. 9, 2016.


NAGASAKI (Kyodo) — Nagasaki began marking Tuesday the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city, with Mayor Tomihisa Taue expected later in the day to urge international society to draw upon collective wisdom in order to realize a world without nuclear weapons.

Full text of Nagasaki peace declaration on 71st anniversary of atomic bombing

In his Peace Declaration to be delivered at an annual ceremony in the city’s Peace Park, at which representatives of 53 nations and the European Union, as well as the United Nations, will attend, Taue plans to urge the Japanese government to enshrine into law its three non-nuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.

He will also urge the government to create a nuclear weapons free zone as a security scheme without relying on nuclear deterrence.

In his speech, Taue plans to touch on the significance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Hiroshima visit in May and call on the leaders of all countries to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to see the reality of atomic bombings.

Three days after the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, it dropped a second nuclear weapon on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. An estimated 74,000 people died from the bombing and its aftereffects by the end of the year.

The number of hibakusha — atomic bomb survivors with documents certifying they experienced a nuclear attack in 1945 — at home and abroad stood at 174,080 as of March — of which 32,547 lived in Nagasaki — and their average age was 80.86.

The Nagasaki city government has confirmed the deaths of 3,487 hibakusha over the past year, bringing the death toll to 172,230.


August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nagasaki urges world to draw on wisdom to abolish nuclear weapons

Nagasaki one day after the atomic bombing seen in newly-discovered pictures..jpg


Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue on Tuesday urged the international community to draw upon its “collective wisdom” to realize a world without nuclear weapons, as the southwestern Japan city marked the 71st anniversary of its atomic bombing by the United States in the final stages of World War II.

In his Peace Declaration delivered at an annual ceremony in the city’s Peace Park, Taue said new frameworks aimed at containing nuclear proliferation are necessary if mankind is not to destroy its future. “Now is the time for all of you to bring together as much of your collective wisdom as you possibly can, and act,” he said.

Touching on a U.N. working group on nuclear disarmament being held in Geneva, Taue said the creation of the forum to recommend legal measures to bring about nuclear weapons abolition is “a huge step forward.”

But noting that many of the nuclear powers are not attending the debate, he said that without their participation, the discussions “will end without the creation of a roadmap for nuclear weapons abolition.”

Compared to a similar declaration issued by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui three days earlier on the occasion of the western Japan city’s own anniversary of its 1945 A-bombing by the United States, Taue was more blunt in both his suggestions for steps to achieve a nuclear-free world and his criticism of the Japanese government.

Taue criticized Japan’s policy of advocating the elimination of nuclear weapons while relying on the United States for nuclear deterrence, calling it “contradictory.” He also urged the government to enshrine into law its three non-nuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory, which are currently non-binding.

He further pressed the government to work to create what he called a “Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone” as a security framework that does not rely on nuclear deterrence.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in his speech, vowed to continue to make various efforts to bring about a “world free of nuclear weapons,” without referring to any concrete steps. His statements were almost identical to those he delivered during a similar ceremony in Hiroshima on Saturday.

Taue touched on the significance of U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima in May, and called on the leaders of every country to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima to see the reality of atomic bombings.

By visiting, the president exhibited to the world “the importance of seeing, listening, and feeling things for oneself,” Taue said, adding, “Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons.”

Obama was the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima.

Taue, meanwhile, called on younger generations to listen to the testimonies of atomic-bomb survivors.

He also expressed his support for areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.

At 11:02 a.m., the exact time the bomb detonated over Nagasaki 71 years ago, participants at the ceremony offered silent prayers for the victims of the nuclear attack.

Three days after Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. An estimated 74,000 people were killed by the end of the year.

The number of hibakusha—atomic bomb survivors with documents certifying that they experienced the nuclear attacks in 1945—at home and abroad stood at 174,080 as of March, and their average age was 80.86. The Nagasaki city government has confirmed the deaths of 3,487 hibakusha over the past year, bringing the death toll to 172,230.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Thousands in Eastern Chinese City Protest Nuclear Waste Project


Jean-Bernard Lévy, left, chief executive of the French power company EDF, with Qian Zhimin, center, president of the China National Nuclear Corporation, and Philippe Knoche, chief executive of Areva, in Paris last year.

BEIJING — China’s efforts to expand its nuclear power sector suffered a backlash in one eastern seaboard city over the weekend, as thousands of residents took to the streets to oppose any decision to build a reprocessing plant in the area for spent nuclear fuel.

The government of Lianyungang, a city in Jiangsu Province, tried to calm residents on Sunday, a day after thousands of people defied police warnings and gathered near the city center, chanting slogans, according to Chinese news reports and photographs of the protests shared online.

They chanted “no nuclear fuel recycling project,” the state-run Global Times reported, citing footage from the scene. “It is unsafe to see another nuclear project coming and besieging us,” one resident told the paper.

Residents used WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging service, to share video footage showing downtown Lianyungang at night crowded with hundreds of people, many of them middle-aged, walking down a broad street in waves and chanting loudly, “Oppose nuclear waste, defend our home.”

The city government responded with the mix of reassurances and warnings that Chinese officials often use in the face of protests over pollution and environmental concerns. “Currently, the project is still at the stage of preliminary assessment and comparing potential sites, and nothing has been finally decided,” the city government said in a statement issued on Sunday.

But officials did not rule out that the site chosen might be somewhere near Lianyungang, and they warned against any more protests. “The relevant departments will use the law to strike hard against a tiny number of lawbreakers who concoct and spread rumors and disturb the social order,” the city government said.

On Monday, there were no signs of renewed demonstrations in the city. But the residents had made their point: Another possible building block of China’s nuclear power expansion had come under passionate public attack, defying the police warnings and government attempts to defuse alarm.

The Chinese government has said that it will accelerate building nuclear power and processing plants to wean the economy more quickly off coal. In March, the national legislature endorsed a five-year plan that promises to push forward with more nuclear power plants and a reprocessing plant for used fuel from China’s growing number of reactors. Japan also has plans to open a reprocessing plant.

But in Lianyungang and elsewhere, fears over the safety of nuclear power — magnified by the Fukushima calamity in Japan in 2011 — could frustrate those plans.

Lianyungang is just 20 miles southwest of a coastal nuclear power plant at Tianwan, which has two units operating, two under construction and approval to build two more. But the idea that used nuclear fuel might be reprocessed in the area seemed to renew anxieties about radiation risks.

A 2010 survey of 1,616 residents in the area already showed widespread apprehension about the Tianwan plant: 83.5 percent of respondents said they “worried about improper handling of nuclear waste.”

Complaints over industrial pollution, waste incinerators, toxic soil and other environmental issues have become one of the biggest causes of mass protest in China. And nuclear facilities have also become a source of worry for many.

In July 2013, officials in southern China shelved plans for a nuclear fuel fabrication plant after hundreds of nearby residents protested. Proposals for new nuclear power stations have also been met by online denunciations and petitions.

The demonstrations in Lianyungang broke out on Saturday after rumors spread that the area had been chosen as the site for a nuclear fuel processing and recycling plant to be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation, in cooperation with a French company, Areva. The companies have said construction will start in 2020 and be finished by 2030.

The companies have not reported settling on a site, nor have they revealed many other details about the proposed plant. But when China’s premier, Li Keqiang, visited France in June of last year, the companies agreed “to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible time frame.”

Last month, a unit of the China National Nuclear Corporation said on its website that managers had visited Lianyungang to “study the proposed site.” That news appeared to sow alarm among some residents, who, in addition to the street protests, have taken to social media and online forums to voice opposition to the idea.

On Weibo, a popular Chinese site that works like Twitter, messages have sprung up using a picture of a face in a heavy protective mask holding up a nuclear radiation sign with a red X across it. “The people of Lianyungang don’t want radiation,” the picture says.

The China National Nuclear Corporation’s nuclear fuel reprocessing unit said on its website on Saturday that the proposed plant would help the country become a “nuclear strong power.” But it emphasized that a site had not been chosen. It said places in six provinces, including Jiangsu, were under consideration.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan should phase out aging nuclear reactors

Moves by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to give the green light to the extension of operations at aging nuclear reactors have raised serious questions about the safety of atomic power plants. The extension of the lifespan of nuclear reactors, which had been regarded as an exception, now happens regularly.

The recent moves represent a departure from the new safety regulations on atomic power stations, which were enforced by drastically reviewing older regulations by learning lessons from the crisis at the tsunami-hi Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The NRA approved a draft screening document that effectively recognizes the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture — which its operator Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) intends to continue running even after its 40-year lifespan — meets new safety standards. If the reactor passes additional screening tests by the end of November 2016, KEPCO can continue operating the reactor until 2036 at the latest.

This is the third aging nuclear reactor for which the NRA has approved the extension of operations following the No. 1 and 2 reactors at KEPCO’s Takahama plant for which the authority gave the green light in June.

Following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011, legislation was amended to limit the lifespan of nuclear reactors to 40 years, in principle, with the aim of reducing the risks of accidents involving aging reactors. By the time of the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, about 35 to 40 years had passed since Fukushima No. 1 plant’s No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors, where meltdowns occurred, began operations.

The then administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) explained that the 40-year lifespan was set based on the time it is estimated to take before the reactor pressure vessel has deteriorated after being exposed to neutrons.

Apart from the DPJ, which was subsequently reorganized into the Democratic Party earlier this year, the then opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito voted for a bill to revise the relevant legislation. A clause allowing for the lifespan to be extended only once by up to 20 years as an exception upon the NRA’s approval was incorporated into the law.

Since Japan is an earthquake-prone country and has numerous volcanos, it is highly risky to continue relying on nuclear plants. Therefore, many members of the public apparently deemed that the 40-year rule was reasonable.

To enhance the safety of nuclear plants and phase out nuclear power, the government and electric power companies that operate atomic power stations should stick to the 40-year rule.

Experts have pointed out that there are limits to enhancing the safety of aging nuclear reactors, noting that it is technically difficult to change the basic design of the facilities and their arrangement although their parts can be replaced with new ones. The need to hand over maintenance techniques from generation to generation also poses a serious challenge.

If the risks involving such aging reactors are taken seriously, screenings of applications for the extension of operations at aging nuclear plants should be far stricter than those for the younger nuclear plants.

However, the NRA appears to have helped KEPCO pass the screening for the extension of the lifespans of the utility’s Takahama and Mihama plants.

July 2016 was the deadline for permitting the extension of the lifespan of the Takahama plant, and late November is the deadline for the Mihama power station shortly before the 40th year will have passed since the start of its operation.

Since the screening periods for the Takahama and Mihama nuclear plants were limited, the NRA prioritized inspections on these plants over other power stations, concentrating its personnel on the screening of these power stations.

Moreover, the NRA postponed experiments of exposing key devices at these power stations to vibrations to test their quake resistance until after the permission of the extension of their lifespan is granted in order to prevent time from running out for the screening.

The NRA says that it would not revoke its permission even if the experiments were to find that the plants were not sufficiently quake resistant, and instead reconfirm their safety after their operator takes additional safety measures. Some members of the NRA criticized the move saying that redoing the safety confirmation would damage the public’s understanding of the NRA.

It has been pointed out that cables that are easy to burn are used in aging nuclear plants. The new regulatory standards require nuclear plant operators to make all cables fire retardant. However, it takes a long time and costs much money to replace all cables at atomic power stations with flame-retardant cables. The NRA requires KEPCO to cover cables that are difficult to be replaced with flame-retardant ones with fire-proof sheets. However, questions remain as to whether the measure will ensure the same level of safety as the use of flame-retardant cables.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka had said when he assumed his post that it’s “extremely difficult to extend” the operation of aging reactors beyond the 40-year limit. However, he has since changed his view to the effect that “technical challenges can be overcome if necessary money is spent.” He appears as if he were speaking on behalf of power companies.

It has been decided to decommission six aging reactors following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, in addition to those operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima plant. However, all these nuclear reactors are small-scale ones, each with an output of approximately 300,000 to 500,000 kilowatts.

In contrast, Mihama’s No. 3 and Takahama’s No. 1 and 2 reactors have an output capacity of about 800,000 kilowatts, larger than those that are set to be decommissioned. KEPCO estimates that it will spend over 200 billion yen for the Takahama reactors and 165 billion yen for the Mihama reactor as funds to implement safety measures. Despite such huge costs, KEPCO is determined to extend the lifespans of these plants because the plants will be effective in increasing the company’s profitability since fuel costs for nuclear plants are far lower than those for thermal power stations. If Takahama’s No. 1 and 2 reactors are put online, it is estimated to push up the company’s profits by about 9 billion yen a month.

Fifteen reactors across the country, including Mihama’s No. 3 reactor, are to surpass their 40-year lifespan over the next decade. Utilities are likely to apply for permission to extend the lifespan of many of these reactors if they deem that the extension will be profitable for the companies even if safety measures cost the operators massive amounts of money. The extension of the lifespans of the Mihama and Takahama plants will serve as role models for such efforts.

As such, decisions on whether to decommission aging reactors will be effectively left to the discretion of power companies based on economic principles, reducing the exceptional clause in the law to a mere facade.

The provision for the 40-year lifespan was incorporated in the legislation to prioritize the safety of nuclear plants over power companies’ profits.

Furthermore, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has established a goal of setting the ratio of nuclear power to Japan’s entire power supply at 20 to 22 percent in fiscal 2030. If the 40-year rule were to be thoroughly observed, the ratio would be around 15 percent even if all the existing reactors and those under construction were to be fully in operation. This will encourage power companies to extend the lifespans of their nuclear plants.

Such a policy cannot respond to the wishes of numerous members of the general public to build a society that will not rely on atomic power at an early date. As a country that has experienced a severe nuclear accident, Japan should phase out nuclear power rather than extending the lifespan of aging reactors.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment