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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Fukushima’s Radiation Detected on Oregon’s Shores

That Fukushima’s radiation was detected on Oregon shores by Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler thru its crowdfunded, citizen-science seawater sampling project and officially admitted is one thing, however a lot is still left unsaid or unknown regarding its  possible biological effects on the marine ecosystem, as for lack of fundings or political will too few studies are being made.

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SALEM, OREGON – Researchers say seaborne radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on Oregon’s shores.
Seawater samples from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach indicate radiation from the nuclear disaster, but at extremely low levels not harmful to humans or the environment.
Citing the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Statesman Journal newspaper reports the samples were taken last winter and later analyzed.
Massive amounts of contaminated water were released and continue to be released from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that triggered a triple core meltdown.
Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler runs a crowdfunded, citizen-science seawater sampling project that has tracked the radiation plume as it makes its way across the Pacific Ocean.

 

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December 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Bill to Double to $188 Billion

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Fukushima nuclear disaster bill to double to 21.5 trillion yen
Total costs to resolve the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster will reach 21.5 trillion yen (about $188 billion), nearly double the previous estimate, which will be passed on to users in higher electricity bills.
The industry ministry said on Dec. 9 that the final tab for the accident at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is estimated to balloon from the 11 trillion yen calculated in 2013.
To prevent the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., from going bankrupt under the skyrocketing costs for decommissioning, compensation and decontamination, the government said it will increase the maximum amount of its zero-interest loans to the utility from the current 9 trillion yen to 13.5 trillion yen.
Much of the additional costs will be eventually covered by the public, as the government plans to raise electricity charges to that end.
Within the total, compensation paid to people affected by the nuclear accident will increase from 5.4 trillion yen to 7.9 trillion yen. Bills for decontaminating areas polluted with radioactive substances will rise from 2.5 trillion yen to 4 trillion yen.
The rise in compensation costs is mainly attributable to a new support measure adopted for people in the agricultural and forestry sectors who cannot restart their work due to restrictions on the shipments of their products.
The increase in decontamination costs was mainly led by the rise in prices of bags to hold contaminated materials and the larger-than-expected personnel costs of decontamination workers.
The compensation costs will be temporarily covered by the government. But TEPCO will eventually shoulder most of the burden, in principle, spending many years paying it off. Other major utilities and newly established electric power companies will also contribute in the form of a rise in electric power cable usage fees.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also unveiled plans to increase TEPCO’s revenues to decrease the burden on the public.
The plan calls for TEPCO to increase its annual profits from the current 400 billion yen to 500 billion yen by cutting costs in the field of electricity transmission and distribution. It also expects an additional 100 billion yen through restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.
Fukushima cleanup to cost 21.5 trillion yen, double original estimate
The cost of dealing with the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will reach 21.5 trillion yen, roughly double the government’s initial prediction of 11 trillion yen, preliminary calculations released on Dec. 8 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have shown.
The government plans to have new electricity suppliers and major utilities including the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), tack a portion of the additional costs onto power bills.
The ministry calculated that the cost of compensating people affected by the disaster would rise from 5.4 trillion yen to 7.9 trillion yen. The cost associated with decontamination and the construction of interim storage facilities for radioactive waste, meanwhile, was expected to rise from 3.6 trillion yen to 5.6 trillion yen. The ministry estimated that TEPCO would end up paying around 8 trillion yen to decommission the plant’s reactors, up from an initial estimate of 2 trillion yen.
TEPCO and other major power companies are covering the cost of compensation payments but the ministry plans to make new power producers and suppliers also pay some compensation. A ministry representative explained, “Customers of power producers and suppliers that have newly entered the market used power from major utilities in the past, and benefitted from nuclear power plants.”
Over a 40-year period beginning in 2020, new power producers and suppliers are set to add part of the additional costs of compensation payments to “wheeling charges” that they pay to use the lines of major power suppliers such as TEPCO, which will be passed onto power bills. However, new power producers and consumer groups say this runs counter to the aims of liberalization of the power market, which aims to stimulate the market with the entry of newcomers.
The ministry hopes to quieten resistance from market newcomers by having major utilities furnish them with relatively cheap power through the market, including nuclear and hydro power. Major utilities, however, are unhappy with this approach.
The cost of decommissioning the reactors at the Fukushima plant will be left in TEPCO’s hands. A system will be created to have the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. collect profits that TEPCO acquires through streamlining of its management, which will be paid out under government supervision.
At this stage, however, the method of decommissioning the reactors at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 plant has yet to be established.
“It is difficult to accurately calculate at this stage how much it will cost to decommission the reactors,” a ministry representative commented. There are accordingly fears that the decommissioning cost could rise in the future.
The government plans to extend the amount of compensation bonds loaned to TEPCO from the current 9 trillion yen to 14 trillion yen. It is possible that this could lead to an increased burden on the public in the future.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

This week in climate and nuclear news

FRANCE.  EDF’s financial crisis will leave french taxpayers with a huge nuclear bill. Suspected falsifying of documents: French prosecutors investigate Areva’s Le Creusot nuclear foundry. France launches investigation of Fessenheim nuclear power plant.

USA.  

JAPAN. Japan to increase loan to Fukushima operator Tepco to $123 billion.  Mitsubishi Heavy makes huge and risky investment in AREVA nuclear. Plan to build Monju nuclear reprocessing successor to Recycle Plutonium Stocks

UK. NUGEN Partner ENGIE Wants OUT of Nuclear

RUSSIA. Russia’s new ‘drone submarine’ with range of 6,200 miles.

GERMANY. German legal case sets precedent for limiting the greed of nuclear and coal companies.

BELARUS. Belarus radiation tragedy of Chernobyl is only just developing.

AFRICA.  Climate change could render Sudan ‘uninhabitable.

BULGARIA. Bulgaria pays compensation damages to Russia, for scrapping Belene nuclear plant

INDIA India’s push for solar energy is gaining steam

IRAN. Iranian president won’t let Trump ruin the US–Iran nuclear deal

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

EDF’s financial crisis will leave french taxpayers with a huge nuclear bill

AREVA EDF crumblingFrench taxpayers face huge nuclear bill as EDF financial crisis deepens, Ecologist, Paul Brown 8th December 2016 
Nuclear giant EDF could be heading towards bankruptcy, writes Paul Brown, as it faces a perfect storm of under-estimated costs for decommissioning, waste disposal and Hinkley C. Meanwhile income from power sales is lagging behind costs, and 17 of its reactors are off-line for safety tests. Yet French and UK governments are turning a blind eye to the looming financial crisis.

The liabilities of Électricité de France (EDF) – the biggest electricity supplier in Europe, with 39 million customers – are increasing so fast that they will soon exceed its assets, according a report by an independent equity research company,

Bankruptcy for EDF seems inevitable – and if such a vast empire in any other line of business seemed to be in such serious financial trouble, there would be near-panic in the workforce and in governments at the subsequent political fall-out.

But it seems that the nuclear-dominated EDF group is considered too big to be allowed to fail. So, to keep the lights on in western Europe, the company will have to be bailed out by the taxpayers of France and the UK.

The French government, facing elections next spring, and the British, struggling with the implications of the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, are currently turning a blind eye to the report by AlphaValue that EDF has badly under-reported its potential liabilities.

Ageing nuclear reactors

While EDF is threatening to sue people who say it is technically bankrupt, the evidence is that the cost of producing electricity from its ageing nuclear reactors is greater than the market price.

Coupled with the impossibility of EDF paying the full decommissioning costs of its reactors, it is inevitable that it is the taxpayers in France and the UK who will eventually pick up the bill. However this will not be easy due to the EU’s ‘state aid’ rules, which limit governments’ ability to support ailing companies.

There is also the ongoing thorny problem of disposing of the nuclear waste and spent fuel rods, which are building up in cooling ponds and stores on both sides of the Channel, with no disposal route yet in sight.

A looming problem for EDF, which already admits is has €37 billion of debt, is that 17 of its ageing fleet of nuclear reactors, which provide 70% of France’s electricity, are being retired.

According to AlphaValue, EDF has underestimated the liabilities for decommissioning these reactors by €20 billion. Another €33.5 billion should be added to cost of handling nuclear waste, the report says. Juan Camilo Rodriguez, an equity analyst who is the author of the report, says that a correct adjustment of nuclear provisions would lead to the technical bankruptcy of the company.

In a statement, EDF said it “strongly contests the alleged accounting and financial analyses by the firm AlphaValue carried out at the request of Greenpeace and relating to the situation of EDF”.

It says that its accounts are audited and certified by its statutory auditors, and that the dismantling costs of EDF’s existing nuclear power fleet have also been subject to an audit mandated by the French Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea.

Even with its huge debts, EDF’s problems could be surmounted if the company was making big profits on its electricity sales, but the cost of producing power from its nuclear fleet is frequently greater than the wholesale price.

That creates a second problem – that unless the wholesale price of electricity rises and stays high, the company will make a loss on every kilowatt of electricity it sells. The new rightwing French presidential candidate, François Fillon, promises not to retire French reactors and to keep them going for 60 years. But this cannot be done without more cost.

This is the third problem: vast sums of capital are needed to refurbish EDF’s old nuclear fleet for safety reasons following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. …….

Repeated life extensions

Since the sale of UK nuclear plants to EDF in 2008 at a cost £12.5 billion, the company has continued to operate them, and has repeatedly got life extensions to keep them running.

But this cannot go on forever, and they are expected to start closing in the next ten years. Once this happens, the asset value of each station would become a liability, and EDF’s mountain of debt would get bigger.

So far, the French and UK governments, and the company itself, seem to be in denial about this situation. Currently 17 French reactors are shut down for safety checks, following the discovery of faulty safety-critical compenents including large, difficult to replace steel forgings like steam generators.

The company has issued reassuring statements that they will be back to full power after Christmas, however in so doing EDF is assuming that the safety checks will give the reactors a clean bill of health. In fact, there are three other possible outcomes:

  • additional potentially time-consuming tests are needed that will create further months of downtime.
  • remedial engineering works are required to make the reactors safe. These would probably be costly and time-consuming.
  • key components at the heart of the reactors, for example steam generators, need to be replaced altogether. However this would be so costly that, for a nuclear plant already reaching the end of its lifetime, premature closure would be the only viable option.

Perhaps the most likely outcome is that some of the 17 reactors will fall into each of these four categories, creating as yet unquantifiable unbudgeted costs for the company.

Meanwhile, to make up the shortfall from the closed reactors, electricity is being bought from neighbouring countries, including the UK, to keep the lights on in France. The power shortage is temporarily causing an increase in wholesale prices – but one that EDF is unable to fully exploit because so many of its reactors are not generating.

The future remains unpredictable – but as long as there are no actual power cuts, no action is expected from governments. Despite official denials, however, the calculations of many outside the industry suggest that it is only a matter of time before disaster strikes.

The cost of producing electricity from renewables is still falling, while nuclear gets ever more expensive, and massive liabilities loom. Ultimately, the bill will have to be passed on to the taxpayers. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988433/french_taxpayers_face_huge_nuclear_bill_as_edf_financial_crisis_deepens.html

 

December 10, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s team want Energy Department to save the failing nuclear industry

Republican hawk (Trump)Trump Team’s Asking for Ways to Keep Nuclear Power Alive by Mark Chediak and Catherine Traywick, Bloomberg,  December 9, 2016 
  • Nuclear facing increasing competition from gas, renewables
  • Trump team asked Energy Department for ways to help nuclear
  • President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers are looking at ways in which the U.S. government could help nuclear power generators being forced out of the electricity market by cheaper natural gas and renewable resources.

    In a document obtained by Bloomberg, Trump’s transition team asked the Energy Department how it can help keep nuclear reactors “operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure” and what it could do to prevent the shutdown of plants. Advisers also asked the agency whether there were any statutory restrictions in resuming work on Yucca Mountain, a proposed federal depository for nuclear waste in Nevada that was abandoned by the Obama administration.

  • The list of questions to the Energy Department offers one of the clearest indications yet of Trump’s potential plans for aiding America’s battered nuclear power generators. Five of the country’s nuclear plants have closed in the past five years, based on Energy Department data, and more are set to shut as cheaper supplies from gas-fired plants, wind and solar squeeze their profits.

    Media representatives for the Trump transition and Energy Department didn’t immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment. For more on the questions Trump’s team sent the Energy Department, click here.…….https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-09/trump-s-team-is-asking-for-ways-u-s-can-keep-nuclear-alive

December 10, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

Bulgaria pays compensation damages to Russia, for scrapping Belene nuclear plant

Bulgaria’s NEK settles arbitration damages for shelved Belene nuclear plant  http://sofiaglobe.com/2016/12/09/bulgarias-nek-settles-arbitration-damages-for-shelved-belene-nuclear-plant/ Bulgaria’s state-owned electric utility NEK has paid 601.6 million euro in damages to Atomstroyexport, the foreign contracts subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom, Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova said on December 9 during question time in Parliament.

The money was transferred into Atomstroyexport’s accounts on December 8, Petkova said.

In a statement, Atomstroyexport confirmed receipt of the funds and was satisfied with the fact that NEK disbursed its commitments in full under the terms of an agreement signed in October, which saw the Russian company drop the daily penalty interest as long as NEK paid the principal owed by December 15.

The accumulated amount of daily penalties would have reached 23.8 million euro by that date. NEK’s agreement with Atomstroyexport also saw the Russian company accept a 20.9 million euro deduction in the original amount of damages ordered by arbitration, following several objections raised by the Bulgarian side to the calculation methodology.

Atomstroyexport was picked to build two 1000MW nuclear reactors at Belene on the Danube River, a project that was shut down by Bulgaria in 2012. The Russian contractor filed for arbitration, asking for 1.2 billion euro in damages for equipment ordered for the nuclear power plant, which NEK never paid for, and won the court action in June, although it was awarded just over half of the amount it claimed.

NEK decided not to appeal the ruling in September after Parliament passed a bill on September 28 that authorised a cash injection from the state Budget to NEK to pay the damages awarded by the tribunal.

The delay in the disbursement was due to the fact that Bulgaria was waiting for the European Commission to rule on whether such a transfer was allowed under the EU’s state aid rules. The Commission gave its approval earlier this week, according to reports in Bulgarian media.

NEK will now take ownership of the equipment manufactured by Atomstroyexport, but uncertainty remains about what the company will do next. Bulgarian officials travelled to Iran earlier this year to discuss a possible sale of the equipment, but there has been no development in the months since then.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament on December 9, Petkova said the Belene assets – the site itself and the equipment from Atomstroyexport – could be spun off into a separate company that would be put up for privatisation.

“If there is [investor] interest, then the [Belene nuclear power plant] project could be carried out on a market basis. If there is no investor interest, we will go in another direction and seek other options,” she said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Bulgaria, business and costs, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear history from the archives – theme for December 2016

text-from-the-archivesThe start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.

Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)

Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.

skull nuclear world

FROM THE ARCHIVES   For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.

The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public


Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests
mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011
, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved. Continue reading

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes, history | 3 Comments