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TEPCO Continues Injecting Concrete and a Soil Solidification Substance in Areas of the Frozen Wall

TEPCO also continues to inject concrete and a soil solidification substance in areas of the frozen wall that have been resistant to proper freezing.

Groundwater levels inside the reactor areas has been on the rise due to more success freezing the sea side section of the wall.

Therefore, application of supplementary methods at 80-13S continues.” Efforts to cement sections of the land side wall have begun and will take place through October.

They asked the NRA again within the last week for permission to freeze the remaining sections of the land side frozen wall sections.

TEPCO states that they have frozen 95 percent of the land side section of the wall.

TEPCO published a new report on the frozen wall dated September 29.

Another typhoon may hit Fukushima prefecture this week, if it does it may cause further problems with the frozen wall.

There was also a concerning note buried later in the report related to a section where they had used concrete to block the water flow.

So the concrete work just caused the water flow to divert to another part of the wall.

 

Progress of Landside Impermeable Wall freezing: Phase 2 of the first stage

The purpose of the Landside Impermeable Wall construction lies not in freezing soil to form an underground wall but in keeping groundwater fromflowing into the reactor/turbine buildings and preventing new contaminated water from being generated.

By closing less than 95 percent of the mountainside of the Landside Impermeable Wall inPhase2 of the first stage, it is expected that the amount of groundwater flowing into the areas around the reactor/turbine buildings will be reduced. This will help keep groundwater from being contaminated during the first stage.

Throughout the first stage, how freezing of the Landside Impermeable Wall has progressed will be checked by monitoring thedifference in groundwater levels inside and outside of the wall and the amount of groundwater pumped up by the subdrain and groundwater drainsystems and the well point system.

 

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Read more Pdf:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160728_02-e.pdf

 

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear cash cow Monju now a liability for residents as plant faces ax

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The ¥1 trillion Monju plant in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, faces being scrapped after years of mishaps, cover-ups and waste. For decades, residents and businesses enjoyed the cash it brought in but now realize the contaminated debris needs storage.

KYOTO – In February 1983, Mayor Koichi Takagi of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, spoke to residents in the town of Shiga, Ishikawa Prefecture, who were hoping the town would be chosen as the site for a new nuclear power plant.

Tsuruga already hosted two conventional reactors and, just a couple weeks before Takagi’s visit to Shiga, preparations began for the construction of a new fast-breeder reactor called Monju, named after the bodhisattva of wisdom. An old Japanese saying goes: “out of the counsel of three comes the wisdom of Monju,” meaning that, by putting their heads together, even those of ordinary intelligence can think up an idea as good as one from Monju.

Takagi, who also served as head of a nationwide group of mayors whose towns and villages hosted nuclear plants, had some sage advice for his audience. He said nuclear plants were a cash cow and that the media just sensationalized reports of mishaps.

Thirty-three years later, the Monju plant appears heading for the scrap heap. Its history has been one of controversy and scandals, including a 1995 sodium leak and fire, and subsequent cover-up attempt.

Last month, the government decided on an overhaul of the Monju project, looking to decommission the idle facility.

Tsuruga is unhappy that the cash cow, which meant billions of yen to the local economy over the decades, is drying up, while the central government faces questions about the entire future of Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle program.

Monju began as a policy decision made nearly a half century ago in reaction to what was seen as a worldwide problem in the conventional nuclear industry, a scarcity of uranium for conventional nuclear plants.

According to the industry vision of the middle of the 1970s, plutonium-fueled breeder reactors were supposed to replace uranium-fueled light water reactors in order to save what was thought to be scarce natural uranium resources in a world with rapidly expanding nuclear power programs,” said Mycle Schneider, a Canada-based nuclear energy consultant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency then forecasted over 4,000 conventional reactors in the world for the year 2000. In reality, only one-tenth of the plants was built, more uranium resources were identified, and the uranium price plunged.”

Decommissioning Monju is expected to take three decades, once it finally gets under way. But a host of fundamental questions remain about not only Monju but also Japan’s nuclear fuel-recycling program, in which Monju was to have played a critical role.

On a practical level, these questions begin with how much the entire decommissioning process will cost. In 2012, the Science, Education, and Technology Ministry estimated that it would require at least ¥300 billion.

But that estimate does not include how much the central government might have to spend in Tsuruga and Fukui Prefecture over the coming years on various forms of public works projects in exchange for smooth local political cooperation in scrapping Monju. Over ¥1 trillion has already been spent on the plant.

Fukui residents and politicians are sure to raise strong objections if the central government concludes the only viable option for the tons of high-level radioactive waste generated by Monju’s decommissioning process is to store at least part of it within the prefecture.

With three conventional nuclear reactors in the prefecture scheduled to be scrapped by midcentury, Gov. Issei Ishikawa has warned he will not tolerate having Fukui serve as a nuclear garbage dump. He has demanded that waste generated from decommissioning be disposed of outside the prefecture.

Adding Monju to the list of reactors to be decommissioned means seeking further local cooperation. That may only come after guarantees of more central government support, in the form of tax money, to help Fukui bear the burden of the decommissioning.

Meanwhile, question marks are cast over the remainder of Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling program, especially the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori Prefecture. However, experts say it is unlikely to get the ax anytime soon.

Terminating Rokkasho and plutonium policy remains a long way off due to the vested interests and impacts this would have on nuclear power. But the Monju decision is a major step along that path,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, who follows Japan’s nuclear power policy closely.

In immediate terms, (Monju’s decommissioning) will not impact the use of MOX fuel in light water reactors. That’s more affected by the lack of operating reactors with Ikata No. 3 being the only MOX-fueled reactor operating; Rokkasho justification will be based on using MOX fuel in LWR’s most particularly at Oma.”

The Oma nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture, which is scheduled to start operating in fiscal 2024, will run 100 percent on MOX fuel.

For many in Fukui who have long opposed Monju, there are also concerns about not shutting down the entire nuclear fuel recycling program and suspicions that despite the government’s policy of not possessing, manufacturing or introducing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants to keep that option open, as a diplomatic tool at least, via the fuel recycling program.

Japan has about 48 tons of plutonium stockpiled domestically and in Europe, and we need to be careful. The plutonium could be converted into nuclear weapons, and we need to make sure it’s not used for this purpose,” said Tetsuen Nakajima, abbot of Myotsu-ji, a Shingon Omuro temple in Wakasa Bay in Fukui Prefecture, and a long-time anti-nuclear activist.

Such suspicions remain because Abe has in the past said he believes the possession of “small” nuclear weapons would not violate the Constitution. Members of his Cabinet, notably Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who is from Fukui, have also argued previously for a national debate on the matter.

Finally, experts question what the government’s intentions are for a new committee on fast-breeder reactors it plans to form by year-end. The new committee will be centered in the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Education, Science and Technology Ministry, and will include nuclear power-related government agencies and representatives from the utilities and firms in the sector.

Keiji Kobayashi, a former nuclear physics instructor and fast-breeder expert at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, is a longtime opponent of Monju. He says Japan might not be done entirely with fast-breeder reactors.

Plans for the committee include clarifying a goal on the development of a demonstration reactor and creating a detailed road (map) to achieving that goal,” he said. “Does that mean another reactor will be built? There are unanswered questions about what will happen to not only Monju but the fast-breeder reactor program in general.”

Kobayashi was referring to the possibility of Japan participating in France’s Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (ASTRID) program to develop next generation fast-breeder reactor technology via research at a demonstration reactor for research purposes.

Burnie of Greenpeace Germany says ASTRID is still in the planning stage, over budget and behind schedule, and that the prospects for it being built in France are dim. In addition, while Japan’s METI backs the idea of a demonstration reactor with French cooperation, the education ministry is reportedly more skeptical, noting that France closed its Super Phoenix fast breeder reactor in 1997 after numerous accidents, including, like Monju, sodium leaks.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/04/national/nuclear-cash-cow-monju-now-liability-residents-plant-faces-ax/#.V_QBPiTKO-f

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Finds Flaws in Canada’s Nuclear-Safety Practices

Watchdog Finds Flaws in Canada’s Nuclear-Safety Practices Audit recommendations focus on documenting and on conducting site inspections WSJ, PAUL VIEIRA Oct. 4, 2016  OTTAWA—Canada’s nuclear-safety regulator is facing criticism from the country’s environmental watchdog for failing to prove it conducted adequate power-plant inspections and falling short on staffing levels.

The shortcomings were highlighted in an independent audit released Tuesday by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which is tasked with ensuring the country’s nuclear power plants are operating safely……

Canada’s commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development looked at the nuclear agency’s operations over a two-year period ended March 31, 2015, and focused on whether the regulator adequately managed its site inspections.

“We concluded that the (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission) could not show that it had adequately managed its site inspections of nuclear power plants,” Commissioner Julie Gelfand wrote. The audit issued five recommendations for the regulator to improve operations, focused largely on documenting and conducting site inspections……http://www.wsj.com/articles/watchdog-finds-flaws-in-canadas-nuclear-safety-practices-1475609449

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Niigata governor candidates must debate nuclear safety in earnest

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear plant in the world, owned by Tepco, Tepco will do anything to get it restarted.

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Official campaigning for the upcoming Niigata gubernatorial election started on Sept. 29, setting the stage for debate on the safety of a nuclear power plant in the prefecture.

The issue of the safety of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant has gained even more traction as Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida, who has been cautious about approving Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plan to restart the idled plant, has announced he will not seek re-election.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety inspections of the offline reactors, which the electric utility is seeking to bring back online, are in their final stages.

The election inevitably revolves around whether the new governor should allow TEPCO to proceed with the plan if the NRA gives the green light.

Four independent rookie candidates are running for the poll. But the race is effectively shaping up as a one-on-one battle between Tamio Mori, the former mayor of the city of Nagaoka in the prefecture supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, and Ryuichi Yoneyama, a doctor backed by the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends.

Some 460,000 people live within 30 kilometers of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant. The candidates should announce their proposals to protect the safety of these residents during campaigning for the Oct. 16 election.

Plans to ensure the safe and smooth evacuations of residents living around nuclear power plants when a serious accident occurs are described as the last safety net for nuclear power plants.

The governors of prefectures where nuclear plants are located, as the chiefs of the local governments, have to take on a huge responsibility for the safety of local residents.

Izumida has insisted that he wouldn’t start discussions on any plan to restart a reactor in his prefecture unless the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, also operated by TEPCO, is fully reviewed and explained.

He has undertaken his own investigation of the catastrophic accident by setting up an expert committee within the prefectural government.

Izumida has also criticized the fact that the new nuclear safety standards introduced after the 2011 accident don’t require plans for evacuating local residents. He has been calling on the central government to improve the standards.

In 2002, it was revealed that TEPCO had covered up damage at its nuclear power plants including the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The magnitude-6.8 Niigata Chuetsu-oki offshore earthquake, which rocked Niigata Prefecture in July 2007, triggered a fire and resulted in small leaks of radiation at the plant.

Many people in the prefecture along the Sea of Japan remain deeply concerned about the safety of the nuclear plant and distrustful of TEPCO.

Izumida has responded to the concerns by raising issues about nuclear safety.

In the gubernatorial race, Yoneyama has cast himself as the candidate to carry on Izumida’s legacy.

I will take over the (nuclear power) policy of Izumida and won’t start discussions on any reactor restart unless the Fukushima disaster is fully reviewed and explained,” he has said.

Mori, who has been critical of Izumida’s political approach, has taken a different stance toward the issue.

I will put the top priority on the safety of people in the prefecture and rigorously examine the conclusion the NRA reaches (in its safety inspection),” he has said.

The difference in position on the issue between the two candidates is likely to be a key factor for Niigata voters at the polls.

The governors of prefectures hosting nuclear power plants have the “right to consent” to a plan to restart a reactor. But this is only a conventional right based on safety agreements with the electric utilities involved and has no legal basis.

When new Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono, who took office in July, asked Kyushu Electric Power Co. to suspend the operation of its Sendai nuclear power plant in the prefecture, he was criticized for undermining the central government’s energy policy.

But the criticism is off the mark. When a nuclear accident occurs, the local communities around the plant suffer the most.

To allay anxiety among residents in areas around nuclear plants, the local governments concerned, through negotiations with the operators of the plants, have established systems and rights that allow them to become involved in safety efforts.

The Fukushima disaster has only increased anxiety among residents around nuclear power plants.

The chief of the local government in an area home to a nuclear plant has every right to refuse to entrust the safety of local residents entirely to the utility and the central government.

Niigata Prefecture is not an area where TEPCO supplies power, but it has been bearing the risks involved in the operation of a massive nuclear power plant that generates electricity for the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The gubernatorial election will be a choice that directly affects the central government’s energy policy.

We are eager to see the candidates engaged in meaningful debate on the safety of the nuclear plant based on a national perspective.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610030020.html

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October 5, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Increases in perinatal mortality in prefectures contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan: A spatially stratified longitudinal study.

“Radiation damage spreading to Fukushima and other Tohoku Prefectures, and Kanto Prefectures Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, is demonstrated. Perinatal mortality is increasing, it has been announced for the first time in peer-reviewed medical journals the Fukushima/Perinatal mortality link.”

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Abstract

Descriptive observational studies showed upward jumps in secular European perinatal mortality trends after Chernobyl.

The question arises whether the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident entailed similar phenomena in Japan.

For 47 prefectures representing 15.2 million births from 2001 to 2014, the Japanese government provides monthly statistics on 69,171 cases of perinatal death of the fetus or the newborn after 22 weeks of pregnancy to 7 days after birth.

Employing change-point methodology for detecting alterations in longitudinal data, we analyzed time trends in perinatal mortality in the Japanese prefectures stratified by exposure to estimate and test potential increases in perinatal death proportions after Fukushima possibly associated with the earthquake, the tsunami, or the estimated radiation exposure.

Areas with moderate to high levels of radiation were compared with less exposed and unaffected areas, as were highly contaminated areas hit versus untroubled by the earthquake and the tsunami.

Ten months after the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident, perinatal mortality in 6 severely contaminated prefectures jumped up from January 2012 onward: jump odds ratio 1.156; 95% confidence interval (1.061, 1.259), P-value 0.0009.

There were slight increases in areas with moderate levels of contamination and no increases in the rest of Japan.

In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami.

Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend.

These results are consistent with findings in Europe after Chernobyl. Since observational studies as the one presented here may suggest but cannot prove causality because of unknown and uncontrolled factors or confounders, intensified research in various scientific disciplines is urgently needed to better qualify and quantify the association of natural and artificial environmental radiation with detrimental genetic health effects at the population level.

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27661055

http://ebm-jp.com/2016/10/media2016002/

Read more on the PDF:

http://ebm-jp.com/wp-content/uploads/media-2016002-medicine.pdf

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan inaugurates new body for nuclear fuel reprocessing

The organization will manage Japan’s 49 tons of plutonium and 17 million kg from 56,000 used fuel assemblies for the next 241,000 years

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The industry ministry said Monday a new body for supervising nuclear fuel reprocessing has been established as the Japanese government seeks to retain a recycling policy, obliging 10 nuclear plant operators nationwide to fund the body for an uninterrupted reprocessing program.

The Nuclear Reprocessing Organization of Japan opened its head office in Aomori City in northeastern Japan. It mandates nuclear power utilities to shoulder the cost of reprocessing spent fuel in the form of financial contributions to itself.

Until now, power companies voluntarily set aside reserves to be used for reprocessing programs.

The new entity draws reprocessing operational plans and consigns them to Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., whose main shareholders are power companies, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The body plans to set up a representative office in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, where Japan Nuclear Fuel has facilities for reprocessing.

In May, a law to strengthen state involvement in nuclear fuel reprocessing cleared Japan’s parliament, paving the way for securing funds to continue recycling nuclear fuel.

The ministry granted authorization for the establishment of the new body on Sep. 20 under the Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Fund Act.

http://kyodonews.net/news/2016/10/03/82298

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Tainted Water Grows at Fukushima N-Plant despite Ice Wall

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Tokyo, Oct. 2 (Jiji Pres)–Six months into operation, the much-hyped underground ice wall has not yet produced the intended effects of curbing the growth of radioactive water at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.


TEPCO initially claimed that the ice wall would prove effective in about a month and half, but the amount of contaminated water at the plant has continued to increase at a pace faster than projected by the utility.


The plant in northeastern Japan faces a chronic shortage of welded-type water storage tanks, while an increasing volume of tainted water has been transferred to the reactor and turbine buildings as a makeshift measure despite a high risk of leaks.


TEPCO constructed the 1.5-kilometer-long ice wall encircling the plant’s damaged No. 1 to No. 4 reactors in an attempt to block groundwater from flowing into reactor buildings and mixing with radioactive water accumulating inside.


The government has to date spent a total of 34.5 billion yen in the construction of the structure by freezing underground soil, which is believed to be technically very difficult.

http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016100200123

October 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

China’s graphite mining communities pay heavy health toll, to supply modern technological devices

Inhaling particulate matter can cause an array of health troubles, according to health experts, including heart attacks and respiratory ailments.

But it’s not just the air. The graphite plant discharges pollutants into local waters…

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IN YOUR PHONE, IN THEIR AIR  A trace of graphite is in consumer tech. In these Chinese villages, it’s everywhere.Washington Post, Story by Peter Whoriskey   Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez  Videos by Jorge Ribas   October 2, 2016 At night, the pollution around the village has an otherworldly, almost fairy-tale quality.

“The air sparkles,” said Zhang Tuling, a farmer in a village in far northeastern China. “When any bit of light hits the particles, they shine.”

By daylight, the particles are visible as a lustrous gray dust that settles on everything. It stunts the crops it blankets, begrimes laundry hung outside to dry and leaves grit on food. The village’s well water has become undrinkable, too.

Beside the family home is a plot that once grew saplings, but the trees died once the factory began operating, said Zhang’s husband, Yu Yuan.

“This is what we live with,” Zhang said, slowly waving an arm at the stumps.

Zhang and Yu live near a factory that produces graphite, a glittery substance that, while best known for filling pencils, has become an indispensable resource in the new millennium. It is an ingredient in lithium-ion batteries.

Smaller and more powerful than their predecessors, lithium batteries power smartphones and laptop computers and appear destined to become even more essential as companies make much larger ones to power electric cars.

The companies making those products promote the bright futuristic possibilities of the “clean” technology. But virtually all such batteries use graphite, and its cheap production in China, often under lax environmental controls, produces old-fashioned industrial pollution.

At five towns in two provinces of China, Washington Post journalists heard the same story from villagers living near graphite companies: sparkling night air, damaged crops, homes and belongings covered in soot, polluted drinking water — and government officials inclined to look the other way to benefit a major employer.

After leaving these Chinese mines and refiners, much of the graphite is sold to Samsung SDI, LG Chem and Panasonic — the three largest manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries. Those companies supply batteries to major consumer companies such as Samsung, LG, General Motors and Toyota.

Apple products use batteries made by those companies, too Continue reading

October 5, 2016 Posted by | China, environment, health, Reference | Leave a comment

Climate denialists fiddle on, as scientists sound the alarm on climate change

Scientists Sound Alarm on Climate but US Still Toys With Skepticism Monday, 03 October 2016 By Dahr JamailTruthout Every month, after I finish writing this climate dispatch, I think that this is the most dire, intense, mind-bending, heartbreaking dispatch I have written to date. And every month, for the more than two years that I’ve been writing them, I am correct.

During the morning I was finishing this dispatch, I conducted an interview with Mike Loso, a physical scientist with the National Park Service (NPS), about ice loss in several US national parks. “We as park rangers are tasked with managing and protecting what is in our National Parks, to protect it so it will be there for future generations,” he told me. “But the glaciers are going away, and we can’t stop climate change. So if the Park Service can’t stop the change, we at least have to bear witness to it.”

The information he provided, which will be used in future writings, caused my heart to feel 50 pounds heavier.

To see more stories like this, visit “Planet or Profit?”

When we finished the interview, all I could do was go outside, stand still, and gaze at the trees. I called a friend and shared some of it with him, and he listened. “Thank you for bearing witness with your dispatches, and for holding all of this information,” he told me.

The news about how rapidly the planet is changing only continues to accelerate in both frequency and intensity, and it’s all for the negative……….

Things have become dire enough that 375 National Academy of Sciences members, (including 30 Nobel Prize winners), frustrated with the ongoing political inaction towards anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), signed an open letter warning of the “real, serious, immediate” climate threat.

Richard Betts, the head of climate impacts research at the UK meteorological office’s (Met Office) Hadley Centre recently stated that the planet is already two-thirds of the way to the 1.5C benchmark, [the politically agreed upon goal of the upper limit of global temperature increase that is allowable before extreme climate disruption impacts ensue] and could begin to pass it in about a decade.

And the alarm bells continue to ring………..

Meanwhile, the tangible signs of warming abound, all around the planet.

Although the Southern Hemisphere is still technically in its winter season, in early September, temperatures across the Antarctic Peninsula and areas of Western Antarctica reached levels of 15 to 23 degrees Celsius (27-40 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal, with the Larsen C ice shelf experiencing thawing temperatures during winter.

Yes, you read that correctly. Parts of Antarctica are melting during the winter.

Scientists are also now closely monitoring a key ocean current in the North Atlantic to find out if rising seawater temperatures and increasing freshwater from melting ice are combining to alter the “ocean conveyor belt,” which they describe as “a vast oceanic stream that plays a major role in the global climate system.” In their own words, they are studying “how climate change could jam the world’s ocean circulation.”……

Is this how life in our ACD-driven world will be, going forward? How much unpredictability can our planet and its inhabitants take?

Earth     Soils around the planet are soaking up far less carbon than we previously believed……..

Water  As usual, much is happening in the water realm, when it comes to ACD……..

……..rising oceans are not simply a thing of the future: Noticeable sea level rise has already begun.

In the US, one only need look towards Virginia, Florida and Louisiana, among other places, to see that warnings about sea level rise are not theoretical; it is already causing flooding  on a daily basis.

Looking west, sea level rise is now causing increasing numbers of people to move off of the Marshall Islands.

The same can be said for most of the population of the atoll of Takuu, which is in the Bougainville region of Papua New Guinea. Ten years ago, 600 people lived on the atoll.  Now there are only 50, and sea level rise is a large part of the reason why.

Lastly, a disconcerting report from Australian Geographic cites two recent studies showing that life in the oceans is diminishing so rapidly that they are literally going quiet, since diminishing nutrients and increasing ocean acidification (driven largely by ACD) are killing off sea life.

Air  In addition to the global temperature records mentioned above, another interesting study was published last month about ACD-related atmospheric changes……….

Fire    In addition to wildfires burning more often, hotter, and with greater frequency around the planet as ACD advances, a recent report showed that there is an alarming increase of fires across the Brazilian Amazon………

Denial and Reality As usual, there is plenty of material from the ACD-denial camp for this dispatch………

Thankfully, the number of people and organizations recognizing ACD’s reality far outweighs the deniers.

Joining a growing handful of other states, Washington State recently adopted a new rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large carbon polluters. The change covers fuel distributors, power plants, oil refineries, pulp and paper mills, and other industries.

recent report from the US military has called ACD a “significant and direct” threat.  More than a dozen retired military and national security officials signed a statementsaying that “climate change presents a strategically significant risk to US national security, and inaction is not a viable option.”

Similarly, a recently released US government report stated that ACD is going to get worse. “The impacts of climate change on national security are only going to grow,” Dr. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said of the report. The report noted that over the next 20 years, ACD will pose an increasing security challenge, due to the heightening of social and political tensions which will threaten the stability of some countries and cause increasing risks to human health. The report also said that extreme weather events already have dire implications for humanity, which “suggest that climate-change related disruptions are well underway.”………

it is more important than ever that we see it clearly, so as to make more informed decisions about how we live our lives during this key time. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37833-scientists-sound-alarm-on-climate-but-us-still-toys-with-skepticism

October 5, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

US Dept of Energy spells out good news on wind and solar power’s phenomenal rise

DOE charts show why climate doom and gloom isn’t needed  Clean tech costs have fallen 41–94% over the past 7 years. Wind and solar accounted for two-thirds of new energy installations in the US in 2015,  [Excellent graphs] Guardian,  , 3 Oct 16A new report from the US Department of Energy paints a bright picture for our prospects to cut carbon pollution and prevent the most dangerous levels of climate change. The report looked at recent changes in costs and deployment of five key clean energy technologies: wind, residential solar, utility-scale solar, batteries, and LED bulbs. For each technology, costs fell between 41% and 94% from 2008 to 2015

Good news for doom and gloom environmentalists Many who understand the realities and dangers of human-caused global warming are afraid that we’ll fail to avoid catastrophic climate change. Among this group, even positive climate stories are often viewed through a lens of pessimism, and we often see stories about the likelihood that we’ll miss climate targets.

However, it’s important to acknowledge the progress that’s being made, and retain a sense of hope and optimism that we can still avoid the worst climate consequences. This new DOE report highlights the fact that clean energy technology is quickly moving in the right direction, toward lower costs and higher deployment.

Wind energy is blowing away expectations

The report finds that due to its low cost, US wind energy capacity has nearly tripled since 2008. Wind now supplies nearly 5% of total US electricity generation.

As a result, there are now nearly 90,000 U.S. manufacturing, construction, and wind operations jobs. Research has resulted in bigger turbines that can generate more electricity:

a wind turbine installed today on average has 108% longer blades and is 48%taller than one installed in 1999. The longer blades allow each turbine to capture more energy, and taller towers allow access to the stronger and more consistent wind speeds that occur at higher altitudes in many parts of thecountry. Combined, these innovations allow each turbine to produce more electricity, reducing both the number of turbines needed to produce a given amount of electricity and the land area needed for their installation.

Offshore wind also presents tremendous untapped potential, with the first such project set to begin generating power off the cost of Rhode Island this month. The DOE envisions wind generating 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 and 35% by 2050, with costs falling a further 35% by 2050.

Solar energy’s bright future

Utility-scale solar farm costs have fallen 64% since 2008, and distributed (mostly residential) solar costs by 54%. While solar still accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall US electricity generation, its deployment has been increasing rapidly as costs have dropped. Even the military is getting on board:

For example in 2015 the Department of the Navy procured 210 MW of a utility-scale PV project to support fourteen Navy installations in California.

In 2015, the solar sector employed about 220,000 Americans. The DOE envisions that solar power could supply 27% of US electricity generation by 2050. Solar deployment is surging in 2016, with around 10 gigawatts (GW) set to be installed this year – equal to all the solar capacity installed in the US through 2014.

Solar panel leasing from companies like Solar City and Sungevity has revolutionized the distributed solar market, accounting for the majority of domestic residential system installed in leading state markets in 2015. This approach makes solar panels obtainable for households that can’t afford to purchase them. Distributed solar costs are expected to fall a further 16–33% by 2020.

Stunning drop in LED costs

The best available LED bulbs use 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. ………

Electric cars are the future of transportation

Electric vehicle (EV) sales in the US reached 115,000 in 2015, more than double the number sold in 2012. Overall US EV sales will surpass a half-million by the end of this year. As shown by a new paper and app from MIT, EVs reduce greenhouse gas emissions 58% compared to gasoline-powered cars, and often cost less on a per-mile basis. As low-carbon energy deployment increases, EVs will only become cleaner………. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/oct/03/doe-charts-show-why-climate-doom-and-gloom-isnt-needed

October 5, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

In these Chinese villages – graphite IN THE AIR, IN THE WATER

IN YOUR PHONE, IN THEIR AIR  A trace of graphite is in consumer tech. In these Chinese villages, it’s everywhere. Washington Post, Story by Peter Whoriskey   Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez  Videos by Jorge Ribas   October 2, 2016   “………IN THE AIR, IN THE WATER

Despite the name, only a small portion of a lithium-ion battery consists of lithium. Graphite is used to make the negative electrode and represents about 10 to 15 percent of the cost of a typical lithium-ion battery, according to analysts.

The demand for graphite has risen in parallel with the demand for more-powerful laptops, tablets and phones.

Ten years ago, for example, the battery of the best-selling Motorola Razr had a capacity of 680 milliamp-hours. Today, the batteries in the best-selling smartphones have three or four times that.

Lyu Guoliang, senior engineer at the graphite business association in Jixi, said the demand for graphite rose very rapidly in 2010, driven by the demand for lithium-ion batteries.

Graphite for batteries must be refined to high levels of purity, and the flakes must be reformed into tiny spherical or potato-like particles. This extra refining means that the refined graphite is worth 10 times as much as the raw material, said Lyu, and that made the business particularly attractive.

But without proper controls, mining and refining can cause pollution in two ways — by air and by water.

Graphite powder can quickly become airborne dust, drifting for miles. Without systems of tarps and fans to keep it under control, the resulting fine-particle pollution can cause an array of breathing difficulties, such as aggravating lung disease or reducing lung function, and has been linked to heart attacks in people with heart disease, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Graphite operations can also lead to pollution because their chemicals leak into local waters. According to industry sources, the purifying process, especially in China, is commonly done with acids, often hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic substance.

This method is cheaper than the one used in other countries, where the graphite is purified by “baking,” — that is, heating it up. Riddle, of Asbury Carbons, said refining graphite that way is better for the environment but adds about 15 percent to the price. He said that for the past 20 years his company has insisted on purchasing only graphite refined this way.

“We had hoped more companies and users would follow our lead, but this has not been the case,” Riddle said.

Tracing your battery’s graphite

The lithium-ion battery industry has a massively complicated supply chain. Each consumer company has dealt with multiple suppliers — and their suppliers have dealt with multiple suppliers. This shows some of the connections within the industry. See companies’ responses to Washington Post’s investigation.

WAR AGAINST POLLUTION’

The Chinese government has shown increasing concern about the nation’s environmental woes.

After decades of extraordinary economic growth, the country’s air has become an acute health danger. A million or more Chinese die prematurely every year because of outdoor air pollution, according to multiple estimates, including the report known as the Global Burden of Disease, part of a project run out of the University of Washington. One of the critical groups of pollutants in the Chinese air is “particulate matter” — dust, soot, smoke — a category that includes the air pollutants emitted from graphite plants.

Meanwhile, water quality in China has deteriorated, too. In 2015, the portion of the country’s groundwater supplies classified as “bad” or “very bad” stood at over 60 percent, according to China Water Risk, a nonprofit group that tallies figures from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. More than a quarter of China’s key rivers were deemed by the government as “unfit for human contact,” according to the group.

According to a report on graphite mining shown on state-run CCTV, the rivers in Jixi show levels of lead and mercury that are many times the national limit. Given the array of industry in the area, however, it is impossible to say how much of the lead and mercury come from the graphite industry.

“We will resolutely declare war against pollution as we declared war against poverty,” Premier Li Keqiang announced in 2014.

About three years ago, the country’s environmental efforts focused on the graphite industry, and records indicate that more than a dozen companies were issued citations by provincial and city officials, mostly in Heilongjiang and Shandong provinces, where most of China’s graphite business is done.

For example, Aoyu, which operates the plants near Lyu Shengwen and Liu Fulan in Mashan, was cited for not controlling the dust and the water pollution. It was fined roughly $7,500 for those infractions and asked to make improvements, according to a database of government records kept by the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), a Beijing-based nonprofit.

Likewise, BTR faced similar enforcement efforts for air and water pollution.

So, too, has Hensen, a graphite producer in Shandong province that sells to BTR, according to its manager, who did not respond to emailed questions regarding the water pollution.

Guo, the BTR spokeswoman, said that the plant in question has been improved and won the approval of the local government. She attributed the complaints to the fact that BTR is an environmental leader within the industry. As a result, she said, “we think it is normal . . . that someone attacks BTR by improper means. . . . BTR will talk with local people. . . . We would like to prove to them that BTR doesn’t make pollution on the water and crops.”

An Aoyu official hung up on a reporter seeking comment about the pollution.

But not all of the graphite factories appear to have been targeted by the crackdown. For two of the five factories visited by Post journalists, no records of any government citations could be found in the IPE database.

And even at those places where polluters were cited by the government, neighbors said that if any improvements were made, they were short-lived or not substantial enough to clean up the problem. Villagers said some factories employ pollution prevention measures — such as tarps to keep graphite from flying away, or actions to prevent toxic sewage from flowing into local waters — only when the environmental officials are present.

“It was worse last year, but it’s still bad,” Li Jie said in Liumao. “Everything is mai tai.” The trouble, residents and some industry representatives said, is that while the government wants to protect the environment, they also want to protect the jobs at the graphite factories.

Hou Lin, 30, works at the Aoyu plant in Mashan as a safety manager. He walked by as some farmers were complaining to reporters about the pollution.

“The company pollutes a lot,” he agreed. “But people need to have jobs.”……………..Story by Peter Whoriskey. Photos by Michael Robinson Chavez. Videos by Jorge Ribas. Graphics by Lazaro Gamio andTim Meko. Design by Matt CallahanEmily Chow and Chris Rukan.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/graphite-mining-pollution-in-china/

October 5, 2016 Posted by | China, environment | Leave a comment