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Third ceiling collapse at Nuclear Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

WIPPWaste Isolation Pilot Plant sees third ceiling text-relevant
collapse, A
iken Standard,  By Thomas Gardinert Oct 8 2016  New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has suffered its third ceiling collapse.

The first collapse was discovered Sept. 27, and the following two happened this past week. The third collapse was identified on Friday morning and was found to have followed the cave-in earlier in the week.

According to a WIPP update sent Friday evening, the area of the collapse continues to remain restricted for workers and employees. According to SRS Watch Director Tom Clements, who has been inside the facility, material regularly comes off of the walls and ceiling.

WIPP is an underground facility, cut into salt beds. Over time, groundwater and other natural forces are designed to form the salt deposits around the waste containers. He said the facility was designed to encase the nuclear waste buried there to permanently dispose of the material…

The WIPP facility was shut down in 2014 after a containment leak and an underground salt-truck fire. The facility is set to reopen in December 2016 and shipments are expected to resume in the fall of 2017.

WIPP is the intended resting place for some of the nuclear material at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site near Aiken. The Energy Department is currently disposing of plutonium through a process called dilute and dispose. That material is among those eventually intended for WIPP disposal.

According to the WIPP update, emergency evacuation routes were also out of date. The routes were still based on the facility before sections were closed, including the areas where the cave-ins occurred. The update said, “The Department of Energy identified a deficiency in the WIPP Mine Escape and Evacuation Plan, which still relied on evacuation routes established before some areas had been posted as prohibited. NWP had identified compensatory measures – immediate changes that could be made while the Evacuation Plan is formally updated.”


October 10, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Long term safety of spent nuclear fuel storage canisters is far from assured

text-relevantPremature failure of U.S. spent nuclear fuel storage canisters, San Onofre Safety,  

“……. The dry cask systems …..may fail within 30 years or possibly sooner, based on information provided by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) technical staff.
There is no technology to adequately inspect canisters.
There is no system in place to mitigate a failed canister…
Canisters may need to be replaced within 30-42 years or sooner.


Recent information provided by the NRC technical staff indicates dry storage canisters may need to be replaced within 30-42 years or sooner, due to stress corrosion cracking of the thin (1/2 to 5/8 inch) stainless steel canisters (due to our coastal environment). Similar stainless steel materials at nuclear plants have failed within 16 to 33 years.  The concrete overpacks also have aging issues that are accelerated in coastal environments…….
Recent information provided by the NRC technical staff indicates dry storage canisters may need to be replaced within 30-42 years or sooner, due to stress corrosion cracking of the thin (1/2 to 5/8 inch) stainless steel canisters (due to our coastal environment). Similar stainless steel materials at nuclear plants have failed within 16 to 33 years.  The concrete overpacks also have aging issues that are accelerated in coastal environments………
No canisters approved for high burnup fuel for more than the initial 20 years.
High burnup fuel cladding damage  The NRC has not extended licenses past the initial 20 years for storage of high burnup fuel (>45GWd/MTU) due to unknowns about high burnup fuel in storage and transport. This fuel is over twice as radioactive and hotter than lower burnup fuel.  The NRC has allowed nuclear plants to burn fuel longer, without the research to show that it is safe in storage and transport. The protective fuel cladding can become brittle and crack; resulting is higher risk for radiation exposure, if the canisters fail…….

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

Russia moves nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad , but says this is not significant

flag_RussiaRussia downplays moving nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad  Deployment of Iskander missiles to Baltic outpost alarms neighbours but Russia says move is part of regular drill, Guardian, , 9 Oct 16  Russia has played down the significance of the deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Russian outpost of Kaliningrad after the move led to protests from Estonia, Poland and Lithuania, underlining tensions about Russian intentions.

The deployment of the missiles was part of regular drills and was not a secret, the Russian defence ministry insisted.

“First of all, the authors behind the fuss should know that the Iskander missile system is a mobile one,” said a ministry spokesman, Gen Igor Konashenkov.

“As part of the combat training plan, units of the missile forces throughout the year improve their marching capabilities by covering great distances across the territory of the Russian Federation in various ways: by air, sea and on their own.”

Konashenkov said that Kaliningrad “is no exemption here” and that the system would be relocated to the exclave in the future “as part of the military training of the Russian armed forces.”

The Iskander-M, first introduced to the Russian military in 2013, is designed to target missile systems, rocket launchers, long-range artillery and command posts as well as aircraft and helicopters. It has a range of 500km (310 miles) and is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and its deployment led to deep concern in Estonia.

Poland also voiced its concerns over the relocation of the weapons………

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Spiral of repeated failure in nuclear sanctions against North Korea

Nuclear conflict with North Korea: a spiral of repeated failure, DW, 9 Oct 16 

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea carries out a nuclear test; the UN imposes sanctions; North Korea repeats its actions. This cycle has been repeated for 10 years now and has so far proved impossible to break. North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests in the past 10 years. Five times, the UN Security Council has imposed or tightened sanctions. For years now the West has issued similar words of condemnation after each new test. And time and again North Korea has demonstrated that the international community still has not found any way of resolving this nuclear confrontation in the long term. Meanwhile, the cycle of action and reaction continues.

Monday, 9 October 2006

Exactly ten years ago, then dictator Kim Jong Il shocked the world with the first North Korean nuclear test. It was the middle of the night in Europe when the earth shook in the northeast of the country at 10:36 local time. The South Korean secret service estimated that the bomb had an explosive force of 0.55 kilotons. This was considerably smaller than the first atomic bomb ever used in conflict, dropped on Hiroshima in Japan by the United States: That had an explosive force of around 12.5 kilotons. But the message is clear – and the rest of the world is outraged.

US President George W. Bush on 9 October 2006:

“The United States condemns this provocative act. Once again North Korea has defied the will of the international community, and the international community will respond.”

It was the start of a spiral that has continued ever since, with no resolution in sight.

Five days later, the 15 members of the UN Security Council vote unanimously to impose sanctions against North Korea.

UN Resolution 1718, passed on 14 October 2006  The resolution forbids North Korea from carrying out any further nuclear tests or firing any ballistic missiles. It calls upon the country to suspend its nuclear program and return to the negotiation table. Among other things, Resolution 1718 freezes the assets of people involved in the North Korean nuclear program and imposes travel bans on them. It also imposes a trade embargo covering items such as tanks, combat vehicles, large war materials, fighter planes, helicopters and battleships. And, of course, anything connected to the further development of North Korea’s nuclear program………

Friday, 9 September 2016

Just nine months after the fourth nuclear test, North Korea carries out a fifth – and last, to date – on its Punggye-ri test site. It is also the strongest. Foreign experts estimate that it had an explosive force of around 10 kilotons.

US President Barack Obama, 9 September 2016:

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state. […] Today’s nuclear test, a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions, makes clear North Korea’s disregard for international norms and standards for behavior and demonstrates it has no interest in being a responsible member of the international community.”

The UN Security Council has announced that further sanctions will be imposed.

October 10, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Obama, Leo Di Caprio, and the Pope feature in documentary, Before the Flood,

FilmAfter Revenant … Leonardo DiCaprio stars as eco-warrior in climate battle
Obama and the pope feature in documentary, Before the Flood, that hopes to influence presidential election,
Guardian, , 2 Oct 16,  New York 

It’s an issue of importance to both men. Obama, who appears in the documentary,Before the Flood, is using the last days of his presidency to make environmental protection a central pillar of his legacy. Last month he created the world’s largest ecologically protected area when he expanded Papahānaumokuākea, a marine reserve in his native Hawaii, to encompass more than half a million square miles. He also gave “marine national monument” status to 4,913 sq miles off the New England coast.

Two years ago, DiCaprio – who has raised money for protecting tigers, orangutans and elephants – was designated a UN messenger of peace, with a special focus on climate change.

The White House screening of Before the Flood, which follows DiCaprio as he travels to parts of the world including Greenland, the Pacific islands, Sumatra and industrial regions of China, precedes a global release via National Geographic later this month. DiCaprio and the film’s director, Fisher Stevens, hope to use it in the run-up to next month’s US presidential and Senate elections. They plan to show the film on college campuses and across swing states, including Florida, where Senator Marco Rubio is up for re-election.

“Rubio is a climate change denier, and we want to get these deniers out of Congress, to make them understand the Paris [climate] accords are important and that we need to do more,” Stevens said. The film-makers claim 38 US senators accept money from the energy industry, in effect blocking the passage of environmental legislation.

“These people are not necessarily climate deniers. They’re just in the pockets of the energy industry, even though that’s at the expense of all of us,” said Fisher. “And [Republican presidential candidate] Donald Trump has said he’s going to try to kill the Paris accords if elected.”

Last month DiCaprio told the audience after the film’s world premiere at the Toronto international film festival: “We cannot afford, at this critical moment in time, to have leaders in office that do not believe in the modern science of climate change.”

Before the Flood’s release comes as statistics relating to the health of the planet worsen. Last week the Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced it was safe to conclude that global CO2 levels will not drop below 400 parts per million this year – “or ever again for the indefinite future”. The figure is seen as the point at which global warming becomes irreversible…….

Despite the intransigence of US legislators, Obama is using his last months in office to establish his legacy as the most environmentally effective president since Theodore Roosevelt created national parks. In Obama’s reading of the issue, climate change is as much a national security issue as an environmental one……..

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

How three brave Chernobyl workers saved Europe from nuclear catastrophe

exclamation-Despite Three Mile Island, Daiichi Power Plant in Japan and Chernobyl, the industry still poo-poos the danger. At Chernobyl, after the initial explosion, the 185 tons of melting nuclear waste was still melting down. When it reached the water a thermonuclear explosion would have occurred. It was estimated it would have wiped out half of Europe and made Europe, Ukraine and parts of Russia uninhabitable for 500,000 years. This was prevented when three workers volunteered to dive in the radioactive water and open the valves to drain the pool and prevent a second explosion, knowing it would mean death by radioactive poisoning. They succeeded in draining the pool, but died of radiation sickness within a few weeks. Their bodies remained radioactive and were buried in lead coffins.

  If a similar “incident,” as the nuclear industry insists they be called, happens in Clinton, do you think Rep. Bill Mitchell, the Clinton School Board, DeWitt County Board of any of the 700 workers or any other advocates of keeping the plant open will step forward?

October 10, 2016 Posted by | history, incidents, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Spent nuclear fuel canisters vulnerable to failure as they age

text-relevantPremature failure of U.S. spent nuclear fuel storage canisters, San Onofre, by  “……Stainless Steel Dry Canister Problems   Darrell Dunn, an NRC materials engineer, stated stainless steel dry storage canisters are vulnerable to failure within about 25 – 42 years. If any of the fuel cladding in the canister fails, there is no protective barrier and we could have a serious radiation release.


The NRC said they have no current mitigation plan for that consequence.  They suggested we MIGHT be able to put the fuel back in the spent fuel pool.  However, Edison plans to destroy the spent fuel and transfer pools. And there is no technology to repair the canisters. The NRC said they HOPE there will be a solution for mitigation in the future. Even an NRC May 2nd High Burnup Fuel letter admits there are mitigation problems.

No Inspections of Stainless Steel Canisters EPRI 2012 presentation To make matters worse, these stainless steel canisters are not inspected after they are loaded into the unsealed concrete overpacks (Areva NUHOMS) or concrete casks (Holtec and NAC Magnastor).  The NRC proposed having each nuclear plant inspect the outside of only ONE stainless steel canister before they receive a license renewal and then do that once every 5 years.  The industry balked at having to even check one canister at every plant. The problem with the stainless steel canisters is they do not protect against gamma rays; so it’s not a simple task to remove a canister from the concrete overpack/cask to examine the exterior for corrosion or other degradation. And since welded canisters do not have monitoring for helium leaks, we may not have any warning of an impending radiation release.

Concrete Overpack Corrosion Problems  Darrell Dunn discussed serious corrosion problems with the concrete overpacks/casks, especially in coastal environments……..

October 10, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

Climate Change’s fearful threat to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

WILL CLIMATE CHANGE SINK THE MEKONG DELTA?, Mongabay News,  3 October 2016 / David Brown

No delta region in the world is more threatened by climate change. Will Vietnam act in time to save it?

  • Scientists say the 1-meter sea level rise expected by century’s end will displace 3.5-5 million Mekong Delta residents. A 2-meter sea level rise could force three times that to higher ground.
  • Shifting rainfall and flooding patterns are also threatening one of the most highly productive agricultural environments in the world.
  • The onus is now on Vietnam’s government in Hanoi to approve a comprehensive adaptation and mitigation plan.
  • This is the first article of an in-depth, four-part series exploring threats facing the Mekong Delta and how they might be addressed. Read the second installment here.

    IIt’s a sad fact that several decades of talk about climate change have hardly anywhere yet led to serious efforts to adapt to phenomena that are virtually unavoidable. Neuroscientists say that’s because we’re humans. We aren’t wired to respond to large, complex, slow-moving threats. Our instinctive response is apathy, not action.

    That paradox was much on my mind during a recent visit back to Vietnam’s fabulously fertile Mekong Delta, a soggy plain the size of Switzerland. Here the livelihood of 20 percent of Vietnam’s 92 million people is gravely threatened by climate change and by a manmade catastrophe, the seemingly unstoppable damming of the upper reaches of the Mekong River.

    Samuel Johnson famously said that “nothing concentrates the mind so well as the prospect of imminent hanging.” It’s been nine years since a World Bank study singled out the Mekong Delta as one of the places on our planet that is most gravely threatened by sea level rise. There if anywhere, I imagined, I’d find a sense of urgency. I’d find adaptive measures well advanced.

    I was wrong. Vietnamese government ministries, provincial administrations, experts from Vietnamese universities and thinktanks, experts deployed by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and foreign governments: all have been pushing plans and policies. The problem has been to sort out the best ideas, make appropriate decisions and find the resources needed to implement them in a timely, coherent way.

    Things may be coming together at last, I concluded after talking with dozens of local officials, professors, journalists and farmers in mid-June. None denied the reality of the problem. Many connected the question of what to do about climate change to older arguments over the best ways to grow more and better crops………

  • No delta area, not the mouths of the Ganges, the Nile or the Mississippi, is more vulnerable than the Mekong estuary to the predictable impacts of climate change. The 1-meter sea level rise expected by the end of the 21st century, all else being equal, will displace 3.5-5 million people. If the sea instead rose by 2 meters, lacking effective countermeasures, some 75 percent of the Delta’s 18 million inhabitants would be forced to move to higher ground.

    Already, said Professor Ni, there’s been a significant decrease in rainfall in the first part of the annual rainy season, and more rain toward the end. The Mekong’s annual flood peak has fallen by a third since 2000. The waters from upstream carry less silt to replenish the Delta floodplain. Also, the volume of fresh water is falling while the sea level rises. This allows salt-laden tidal water to penetrate further and further into Delta estuaries and swampy coastal areas during the dry season.

    Modeling of current trends suggest that average temperatures in the Mekong Delta will rise by more than 3 degrees Celsius toward the end of the century. Annual rainfall will decrease during the first half of the century, and then rise well above the 20th century average. The area that’s flooded each autumn won’t change substantially, but the floods won’t last as long.

  • All things being equal, rice yields will plummet as temperatures rise. Lighter rains in the early months of the wet season will challenge farmers’ ingenuity. Rising seas and reduced river flows will severely test the system of sea dikes. Riverbanks and the Delta coast are already crumbling; this will accelerate. Farmers who are unable to cope will head north to seek industrial and construction jobs.

    That’s not all. At slide 70 (of 86) of the DRAGON presentation, attention shifts to upstream dam construction on Delta water regimes.For China, Laos and Thailand, the hydroelectric potential of the upper Mekong is a seemingly irresistable development opportunity. It may be that not all the dams they plan will be built across the Mekong mainstream. Whether a few or many, their impact on agriculture in Vietnam and Cambodia will be profoundly negative, Professor Ni, his colleagues at Can Tho University, and experts at other institutes in southern Vietnam have pounded the alarm gongs for years. The dam cascade is a nearer and more present danger, and apparently just as unstoppable as climate change.

    DRAGON Institute’s slideshow concludes with a call to action. The future is bleak but not hopelessly so if appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies are launched. What the Delta needs is revealed: sustainable development based on a triply effective foundation of water source security, food security and social security.

October 10, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Vietnam | Leave a comment

America’s enormous splurge on Defense leaves little funding for Climate Change action

We Have Money to Fight Climate Change. It’s Just That We’re Spending It on Defense, Reader Supported News , By Kenneth Pennington, Guardian UK,08 October 16 

Stopping one fighter plane program would save enough to build wind farms to power 320,000 homes. We need to drastically reassess our priorities

One year ago this week, I was sitting in a cramped hotel room with 15 other staffers in Las Vegas for Bernie Sanders’ first debate for the presidential nomination. The question came from CNN: “What is the greatest national security threat?” Pundits criticized and mocked him for weeks after he answered “climate change”. But he was right.

And it’s not just Sanders pointing out the imminent threat posed by climate change to global and national security. CIA analysts and our nation’s military strategists are rightfully naming it as a contributor to refugee flows, the spread of disease, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.

In 2014, 17.5 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters. Those numbers will continue to rise dramatically in the coming decades, according to climate displacement program manager Alice Thomas of Refugees International.

Our nation’s defense officials know global warming’s destructive forces could undermine fragile governments in unstable regions of the world where extremist ideologies can take root. Yet mainstream Republican avoidance of reality on the science of climate change impedes the necessary reassignment of resources to meet the challenges posed.

Now a new report from the Institute of Policy Studies provides the most accurate calculation of government spending on climate security to date. The picture isn’t pretty. We’re spending 28 times as much on military security than climate security. A public sector investment of $55bn per year is required to meet the challenge, according to the study. With $21bn in the 2017 budget, a shortfall of $34bn is left.

That may seem like an insurmountable hill to climb. It’s not! As the IPS report points out, plenty of money lies untouched in the nation’s bloated military budget……….

Republicans should take heed of former GOP President Dwight Eisenhower’s words of wisdom:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Let’s steward our resources wisely. Let’s choose climate over combat.


October 10, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Icelandic capital aims to go carbon neutral

Reykjavík: the geothermal city that aims to go carbon neutral
Icelandic capital plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040 by reversing urban sprawl and promoting walking, cycling and public transport,
Guardian, , 3 Oct 16, Reykjavík used to be marketed as a place of “pure energy”, run on geothermal power – and now Iceland’s capital is trying to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

Last month, Iceland became one of the first countries to ratify the Paris climate deal with a unilateral parliamentary vote, shortly after Reykjavik announced its aim to be carbon neutral by 2040.

It wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from 2.8 tonnes per person in 2013 to zero – largely by changing the shape of the city to reverse urban sprawl and encouraging Icelanders out of their beloved cars to walk, cycle or use public transport.

The city already has a head-start thanks to its reliance on geothermal energy. The US, for example, has a greenhouse gas footprint of 16.5 tonnes per person………

October 10, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear – armed drones could be on the way

Nuclear-armed drones? They may be closer than you think, Asia Times, By RICHARD A. BITZINGER  and Christine M. LeahOCTOBER 9, 2016 The US military increasingly relies on drones to carry out a multitude of tasks, usually those deemed too “dull, dirty, or dangerous” for manned missions. Most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carry out routine reconnaissance. They also act as decoys, serve as communication relays, and even deliver light cargoes. But a growing number of drones are armed, such as the US Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, which are used mostly in tactical situations, such as targeting terrorists or insurgents.

Now military strategists are considering acquiring longer-range drones, especially those capable of carrying out nuclear missions. In 2015 there were reports that Russia was attempting to build nuclear-armed drone submarines………..When the US decided to go ahead with a next-generation strategic bomber, the Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B), the program included both manned and unmanned systems. The LRS-B, which replaces both B-52 and B-1 bombers, is intended to carry out a broad range of missions: nuclear attack, strategic and tactical conventional strike, surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance (ISR), and electronic attack. Initially, the US military plans to acquire 80 to 100 LRS-Bs, but the number could eventually rise to 200 bombers…….

..Conventional strike missions with precision-guided air-to-ground munitions is also something that could be considered for an unmanned system, as it would provide the US with the means for long-range, large-payload ground attacks. These types of missions can presently be carried out only by B-52 and B-1 bombers, which are becoming increasingly obsolete; shorter-range systems such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, area very limited in their capacities for ground attack…….
Nevertheless, nuclear-armed drones still raise considerable hackles. What if such a drone could be hacked and forced to crash or be redirected to another target? How does the drone’s remote operator ensure near-total control of such a lethal weapons platform?

And nuclear drones could come in smaller packages, too. Thus far there have been limitations on the transportability by air of nuclear bombs with relatively high yields……..

Longer-range drones make a lot of sense for the US military, when it comes to projecting power into the far Western Pacific……..

October 10, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

India’s government seeking private investment for its costly Light Water Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear energy: Government to push for JVs in light water reactor projects, Economic Times By PTI |  Oct 09, 2016, NEW DELHI: To meet the high cost of Light Water Reactors, the government has decided to bring in such projects, which currently involve foreign collaborators, as joint ventures (JVs)with public sector undertakings (PSUs).

October 10, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics | Leave a comment

Rare very high eruption from Mount Aso volcano

Mount Aso erupts in a fiery plume rising 11,000 meters THE ASAHI SHIMBUN October 8, 2016 Mount Aso erupted in a towering plume of smoke and ash of around 11,000 meters on Oct. 8, sparking fears that big rocks could land more than 1 kilometer from the crater in Kumamoto Prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

“It is extremely rare for an eruption column to exceed 10,000 meters,” said Makoto Saito, director of the agency’s Volcanology Division.

As a precaution, the agency immediately raised its alert level from 2, which means entry to areas around the crater is restricted, to 3, meaning access to the entire 1,592-meter-high mountain is restricted.

It was the first time since Sept. 14, 2015, that the precaution level was raised to 3……. 

October 10, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment