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Groundwater infiltrates turbine building in Vermont Yankee nuclear station

Nuclear plant: Water infiltration down for turbine building  Aug 27, 2016  VERNON, Vt. (AP) – A nuclear energy company says the level of groundwater infiltrating a turbine building at its Vernon plant is falling.

Entergy Nuclear tells The Rutland Herald 700 gallons of groundwater a day infiltrated the Vermont Yankee turbine building this month. Between 3,000 and 2,500 gallons had been infiltrating the building each day in January. The plant closed in 2014.

The company says ongoing drought conditions likely contributed to the drop and allowed for foundation cracks and a sump-pump drain to be sealed.

The company says it has paid about $1.2 million to ship and treat water from the plant.

Entergy says it has effectively suspended its request to discharge slightly radioactive water from the building into the Connecticut River.

Federal nuclear regulators plan to inspect the plant next week.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa nuclear electricity company non compliant with govt rules on advertising

flag-S.AfricaEskom may re-advertise nuclear notices after noncomplaint E Cape notice 26TH AUGUST 2016  BY: TERENCE CREAMER CREAMER MEDIA EDITOR State-owned electricity utility Eskom may re-advertise notices relating to its NuclearInstallation Site Licence (NISL) applications for Thyspunt, in the Eastern Cape, and Duynefontyn, in the Western Cape, having acknowledged that a notice published in the Eastern Cape Provincial Gazette on August 8, failed to comply with the 30-day comment period prescribed in the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) Act.

Earlier Eskom had insisted that it had complied with the NNR’s prescribed processes, after Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) alleged that it was attempting to side-step public participation processes by publishing notices in provincial gazettes rather than the National Gazette, which had shortened the comment deadline to below the 30 days.

In a statement released on Friday, Eskom said it published NISL notices in ten newspapers in and around the two sites on July 29, as well as in the Western Cape Provincial Gazette.

However, the notice in Eastern Cape Provincial Gazette had been published on only August 8, which meant it failed to comply with the NNR Act’s prescribed 30 days for public comment.

Outa slammed the publication of the notice in the Eastern Cape Provincial Gazette and said the shortened comment period negated the “spirit and constitutional rights for the public to participate in decisions that affect them”.

Eskom said it was in discussions with the NNR to extend the comment period for interested and affected parties and indicated that it might re-advertise the notice in the Eastern Cape Provincial Gazette, as well as in the National Gazette to give more time for public comment.

“Eskom will communicate once the NNR has given a response,” Eskom said in a statement

August 27, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear is not the cheapest source of electricity for South Africa

flag-S.AfricaAfrica Check: Is nuclear energy really the ‘cheapest source of electricity’? AFRICA CHECK 26 AUG 2016   (SOUTH AFRICA) 

The South African government’s nuclear ambitions are controversial. But are they likely to provide the country with the “cheapest source of electricity”, as claimed by the national power utility’s CEO? Researched by Vinayak Bhardwaj for AFRICA CHECK.

The South African government’s nuclear ambitions have been dogged by controversy with questions about the secrecy surrounding procurement discussions and the potential costs involved. But Brian Molefe, the group chief executive of Eskom – the country’s power utility – maintains that nuclear energy will be the “cheapest source of electricity for the country”.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Eskom stated that “South Africa is on the correct path with its nuclear aspirations” and “has committed to building new nuclear power plants in its bid to increasingly diversify its energy mix to lower carbon emissions”. Molefe has claimed that nuclear energy is cheaper than other sources of electricity supply. “Once the [nuclear] assets have been deployed… they are the cheapest source of electricity,” he said in a recent interview. Elsewhere he was quoted saying: “[Renewable energy sources] are the most expensive… the cheapest source is nuclear.”

Is he correct and is there evidence to support his claim? Molefe isn’t saying. Questions sent by Africa Check to his office over the past three weeks have gone unanswered.

To understand the costs of producing electricity using different energy sources, you need to look closely at how the cost of electricity generation is calculated and how those costs can be compared from one energy source to another.

Levelised cost of electricity……

Comparing costs of different sources of energy…… [chart on original] 

From this analysis of levelised cost alone, it is clear that nuclear is not the cheapest form of energy for electricity.

Hidden costs of nuclear power

There are many hidden costs in nuclear power generation, says Bruno Merven, a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre. The risk of lengthy construction delays which result in additional costs must also be calculated. According to the 2015 World Nuclear Status report, an annual overview of the nuclear energy industry produced by independent analysts, there were 62 reactors at various stages of completion around the world in July 2015. Most had been under construction for an average of seven-and-a-half years. But in more extreme cases in Russia and Ukraine, construction on some nuclear plants had lurched along for 30 years or more.

Also not typically included in levelised cost of electricity assessments is the cost of decommissioning a reactor and disposing nuclear waste, says Roula Inglesi-Lotz, an energy economist and associate professor at the University of Pretoria. This would further increase the price of nuclear energy. Even when these costs are not included in calculations, the cost of nuclear investment remains high.

The Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town published a study last year analysing the potential socioeconomic risks of South Africa’s nuclear proposals.

The study used computer models to work out how the country’s proposed nuclear strategy would affect job growth, GDP per capita and electricity prices. It found that there was a 94% chance that electricity prices would be higher in 2030 as a result of the commitment to nuclear power, negatively impacting on the country’s economic growth and employment levels. It concluded that there was no economic case to be made for a firm commitment to a nuclear solution to the country’s electricity demands.

Capital costs for nuclear remain high The Department of Energy’s Intergrated Resource Plan includes a comparison of the costs of creating the capacity to produce energy from different energy sources, including nuclear.

Building a nuclear plant is the second most capital-intensive way to produce electricity after centralised solar power, as shown on the graph. The capital cost for a solar plant is R19,250 per kilowatt of installed capacity, compared to R46,841 for nuclear energy. Nuclear power is, therefore, more than double the cost of a solar plant and nearly three times the cost of a wind farm.

However, while nuclear energy is available 90% of the time in a 12-month cycle, solar energy is available during the daytime, approximately only 30% of the time, as energy analysts Mahmood Sonday and ZB Kotze of Top Quartiles, a South Africa-based energy consulting firm, point out.

Kotze says Molefe’s claim that nuclear energy is a cheaper option once the assets have been deployed” is “misleading”. Given that the IRP cost estimates show that nuclear plants are nearly double the cost of other sources of electricity – this cost should not be overlooked.

According to energy analyst Chris Yelland, any capital cost overruns for renewable energy sources (solar and wind) are typically carried by the power plant owners themselves, but the cost of nuclear plants will be borne by paying consumers.

Mix of renewables and gas offer equally cheap source of electricity to nuclear

The Integrated Resource Plan also shows that the price of solar cells is expected to decrease by 44% of their current cost by 2030. For nuclear energy, the cost is expected to decrease by just 4%. By this measure, a nuclear power plant will be nearly five times more expensive than a solar plant.

According to recent presentation by Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, who heads up the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Energy Centre and helped develop the IRP, producing electricity through a mix of renewable energy and natural gas will allow production of uninterrupted electricity to supply 82% of South Africa’s needs. It is also projected to cost roughly the same as nuclear energy sourced electricity for consumers, without the construction costs that a building a nuclear plant will entail.

The presentation – based on an unpublished study – looked at whether a mixture of renewable energy using solar panels and wind, providing intermittent power generation, could be mixed with natural gas technology to provide 8 gigawatts of electricity on an uninterrupted basis. (The current projected output of the nuclear stations will be about 9.6 gigawatts.)

Bischof-Niemz’s study concludes that the cost of energy to consumers would be R1.00 per kilowatt-hour using renewables and natural gas. In the case of nuclear energy, it would be R1.10 per kilowatt-hour.

separate calculation by Chris Yelland, using the current costs of electricity from the the Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town, arrived at an estimated R1.52 per kilowatt-hour. According to Yelland’s calculations (based on the levelised cost of electricity), the cost of coal would be R1.19 per kilowatt-hour and for wind and solar would be R0.69 per kilowatt-hour and R0.87 kilowatt-hour respectively.

Conclusion: Nuclear is not the cheapest source of electricity………

a hasty decision to spend vast amounts of money on nuclear plants is “too expensive a bet to get wrong”, argues ZB Kotze of Top Quartiles, especially when there are cheaper alternatives available. Expected energy demands are lower than previously thought, due to lower economic growth and the decline of energy-demanding sectors like mining. South Africa does not need to rush its nuclear ambitions and can afford to “proceed slowly” in deciding whether to expand the country’s nuclear energy capacity, says Yelland. DM

Edited by Julian Rademeyer

August 27, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan- 25th anniversary of closure of world’s largest nuclear test site: time to act

25th anniversary of closure of world’s largest nuclear test site: time to act, The Hill, By Erlan world-disarmament-1Idrissov, August 26, 2016, It may seem strange that the closing of a nuclear test site 25 years text-relevantago should play such a prominent role in defining a country’s history and global purpose. But these doubts – and the reasons for the solemn celebration of this anniversary – fade when the impact of the Semipalatinsk site on Kazakhstan is fully understood.

The huge site, in the east of our country, was the center of the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapon testing program. Its first ever nuclear test took place there on Aug. 29, 1949. Over the next 40 years, it was followed by 455 additional nuclear explosions.

When those first nuclear devices were exploded, the potential effects of radiation or contamination, even when known, were seen as far less important than the arms race. Elderly residents tell of being encouraged out of their homes to witness the first explosions and mushroom clouds.

As a result of this ignorance and failure, the UN estimates that up to 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan were exposed to high radiation levels. It was not long before many began to suffer from ill health, early deaths and birth defects.

This terrible impact remained hidden for many years from the wider public. But as the health and environmental damage became better known, it fueled fierce opposition at every level across the country to nuclear testing.

It led to the decision by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to shut down the Semipalatinsk site exactly 42 years after the first test took place even before we became a fully-independent country. This move, made against the interests of the Soviet military authorities, also set the scene for Kazakhstan to renounce voluntarily the world’s fourth biggest nuclear arsenal which we inherited on the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Deciding to close a testing site and rid your country of nuclear weapons, however, is only a first step. Any responsible nation must also ensure the safe disposal of the weapons and materials. The urgent need to prevent nuclear material from falling into the wrong hands led to unprecedented – and at the time secret – co-operation between Kazakhstan, Russia and the United States, as well as other countries and organizations, over many years.

This stress on peace, dialogue and international co-operation has defined our foreign policy and place in the world ever since. We have been in the forefront of the global campaign to end nuclear testing and to warn against the dangers of nuclear weapons…….

It would be comforting to believe that the years which have followed Kazakhstan’s decisions have seen a reduction in the global threat to all our lives from nuclear weapons. But sadly this is not the case…….

Still, there has been progress. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was agreed in 1996. We have seen the growth of nuclear weapons-free zones as we now have in Central Asia. The number of weapons, too, has been reduced.

But there are still 16,000 in existence – enough to destroy humanity many times over. Too many countries have still to ratify or sign the test ban treaty. And while the prospect of nuclear war between the main powers remains, thankfully, remote, we face a new and terrifying threat which hardly existed 25 years ago.

Violent extremists groups are actively trying to get their hands on nuclear weapons and technology. If they succeed, they would not hesitate to use them. For these terrorists, the greater the loss of life and destruction the better. The threat from nuclear weapons has scarcely ever been as great.

It is why President Nazarbayev has called for the mankind to set, as its main goal for this century, ridding our world of nuclear weapons by 2045, the centenary of the United Nations. Through his Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century,” he has produced a blueprint to show how this goal could be reached.

Kazakhstan is also using the 25th anniversary of Semipalatinsk site’s closure to remind the world, from our own unique experience, of the human and environmental cost of nuclear weapons. This legacy will also form part of discussions at a high-level international conference in Astana on Aug. 29 – now the UN’s International Day against Nuclear Tests – on how to create the climate where nuclear weapons can be removed entirely from our world and how to build momentum towards reaching this goal.

The last 25 years have shown this won’t be easy. But we must step up our efforts to rebuild the trust needed. The example of Kazakhstan shows both the price to be paid if we fail and also what can be achieved with vision.

The author is Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Exhibition opens to mark 25th anniversary of Semipalatinsk nuclear test site closure

see-this.way   26.08.2016 12:28 Exhibition dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site closure opened in Almaty. It features previously unpublished documents of independent Kazakhstan in the struggle for a nuclear-free world. Among the exhibits there are letters from citizens asking for the termination of tests in the country, as well as rare photos of the first tests, which took place on August 29 in 1949. In just over 40 years, there were about 450 nuclear tests on the site. After its closure on August 29, 1991 Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Preparing for hurricane risk to Turkey Point nuclear reactor

nuke-&-seaLTurkey Point workers prepare nuclear power plant for possible rough weather Tropical wave weakening, but still could impact South Florida By Ben Kennedy – Reporter, August 26, 2016 “Should a storm come like the one that is approaching now, we make sure the site is ready,” emergency preparedness manager Kevin O’Hare said. In the event of a power outage, the twin reactor nuclear power station has a backup system called the Flex Building — a 60-by 150-foot-long structure.

“As a result of Fukushima, (we) needed another level of protection,” Sergio Chaviano, project manager of the Flex Building, said.

Inside a box are backup systems that can deliver power to the entire plant. We have a pump here to the right, a smaller pump to the left. We have trailers that can carry hoses throughout the plant,” Chaviano said.

The hoses can carry water to cool reactors in the event of an emergency, but crews said they’ve been preparing for hurricane season since March.

“Our philosophy is to prevent problems so that by June 1 we are ready for hurricane season and whatever might come our way,” O’Hare said.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Global nuclear industry ponders ways to get taxpayers to pay up for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)



Doncha love the way they leave the word “nuclear” out of “SMRs”, hoping that people somehow won’t notice that SMRs are nuclear reactors?

Can SMRs unlock financing? World Nuclear news,  24 August 2016 Whilst a project of the size and complexity
of Hinkley Point C faces a range of challenges which lessen the availability of limited-recourse financing, it is clear that nuclear plant construction violates the basic precepts of project finance due to the unpredictability of project costs and schedule, write Rory Connor and Ken Culotta of law firm King & Spalding…..

For the industry to flourish, even in the presence of strong government policy support, the ability to finance is critical. There is the possibility though that new technology and new construction techniques, in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs), may hold the key to overcoming such issues……..

……..a long-term, minimum-price, power purchase agreement (or equivalent) a fundamental bankability requirement.


The UK government’s Electricity Market Reform initiatives, including the flagship contract-for-difference, have shored up the bankability of nuclear power projects. However, in a controversial field like nuclear power, there remains a risk that political or public sentiment could change during the life a project; as happened in Germany, which effectively ended its nuclear power industry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Lenders will require assurances that changes in policy will not adversely affect their exposure. For Hinkley Point C, the UK government agreed to enter into a so-called Secretary of State Agreement with the project sponsors, which grants the sponsors a put-option against the government in the event of a political shutdown of the project, effectively requiring the government to compensate the sponsors for their loss of investment – project lenders would no doubt expect similar protection to cover the cost of repayment of all outstanding project debt.

Nevertheless, not even the package of the Hinkley Point C contract-for-difference (which guarantees a power price of more than double the prevailing market price over a 35-year term) and the Secretary of State Agreement was enough to satisfy prospective lenders or bond underwriters that the project represented a bankable proposal. The problem lurked elsewhere – construction risk……..

The first SMRs to be installed will doubtless surface interesting risk issues, particularly the perceived ‘new technology’ risk which would likely see lenders requiring extended warranties from SMR technology providers. …..

construction risk alone is not the only issue that makes project financing a challenge for nuclear projects – the highly regulated nature of nuclear power does not sit easily with many standard project financing instruments and techniques. In any event, the developer(s) of the first commercially deployed SMRs may decide to finance on-balance sheet or by other means.

But the fact is that SMRs are no longer just ‘pie in the sky’ – billions of dollars of investment has been committed to the development of this technology (including more than $200 million by the US Department of Energy and up to £250 million by the UK government) and, in the UK at least, the possibility of contracts-for-difference, and other government-backed credit enhancements, create an attractive framework for investment and financing.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, politics, technology | Leave a comment

USA pushes India and Pakistan to join nuclear testy ban treaty



Is this because USA wants nuclear disarmament, or because USA wants to sell nuclear materials to the sub continent?

US urges India and Pakistan to sign and ratify nuclear test ban treaty Washington has welcomed text-relevantPakistan’s recent proposal to India for a bilateral agreement on nuclear weapons test ban, IBT  By  August 24, 2016 The US has asked arch-rivals India and Pakistan to set aside their differences and sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Welcoming Pakistan’s recent proposal to India for a bilateral agreement on nuclear weapons test ban, Washington has urged the two countries to hold talks.

Mark Toner, the State Department deputy spokesperson, said: “We welcome this high-level dialogue between India and Pakistan, encourage both countries to engage in the dialogue and exercise restraint aimed at improving strategic stability.”……..

On Tuesday (23 August), Pakistan announced a fresh move to seek support for its NSGmembership bid. Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, embarked on a visit to Belarus and Kazakhstan to win their backing, The Hindu reported.

While India was kept out, Pakistan’s membership was not discussed during the plenary meeting of the NSG in Seoul in June. Although it has China on its side, it failed to get the backing of the US.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Again this year, Indonesia’s blanket of smoke is back

climate-changeSmoke from Indonesian fires hits ‘unhealthy’ levels in Singapore as authorities push to hunt offenders pollution in Singapore has risen to the “unhealthy” level as acrid smoke drifted over the island from fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the city-state’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said, in a repeat of an annual crisis.

Every dry season, smoke from fires set to clear land for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations in Indonesia clouds the skies over much of the region, raising concern about public health and worrying tourist operators and airlines.

The 24-hour Pollution Standards Index (PSI), which the NEA uses as a benchmark, rose as high as 105 in the afternoon — a level above 100 is considered “unhealthy”.

The NEA said it planned a “daily haze advisory” as “a burning smell and slight haze were experienced over many areas” in Singapore.

Indonesia repeatedly vows to stop the fires but each year they return.

This year, Indonesia has arrested 454 people in connection with the smoke pollution.  When heavy, the choking smog closes airports and schools and prompts warnings to residents to stay indoors.

smoke from Indonesia, in Singapore

Pollution levels in neighbouring Malaysia were normal on Friday.

Singapore has pushed Indonesia for information on companies suspected of causing pollution, some of which are listed on Singapore’s stock exchange.

A forest campaigner for the environmental group Greenpeace Indonesia, Yuyun Indradi, said the Government was struggling to enforce laws to prevent the drainage of peatland for plantations and the setting of fires to clear land.

“It has become a challenge for the Government to enforce accountability among concession holders, to enforce its directives on blocking canals, and push companies to take part in efforts to restore peatland and prevent fires,” Mr Indradi said. “Now is the time for the Government to answer this challenge. It is in the law.” Greenpeace said, according to its satellite information, there were 138 fires across Indonesia on Friday.

August 27, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Indonesia | Leave a comment