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Evacuated Fukushima town planning for residents’ return in fall 2017

Okuma, is one of the two evacuated towns, with Futaba, nearest to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.


FUKUSHIMA — A prefectural town that has been entirely evacuated since the March 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns is aiming to have some areas reopened to residents in autumn this year, town officials have told the Mainichi Shimbun.
Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is currently covered by three classes of evacuation order. The town’s eastern region and much of the northern region are designated as “difficult to return zones,” while the southwestern and western regions are categorized as “restricted residency” and “evacuation order cancellation preparation” zones, respectively. Okuma officials are aiming to have the latter two designations rescinded, opening the way for residents to move back in. If successful, Okuma would be the first of the two municipalities hosting the plant (the other is the town of Futaba) to allow residents back.

Okuma is also planning to designate one small area as the town’s “recovery base,” and build a new municipal office in fiscal 2019.

According to Okuma officials, they intend to allow residents back into the evacuation zones to sleep in their homes as early as August. However, the program will not be implemented in the “difficult to return zone.”

Most of the area covered by the two other evacuation order types are mountain wilderness, with just 384 registered residents — 3.6 percent of Okuma’s population — in the districts of Ogawara and Nakayashiki. Decontamination work in both districts was completed in March 2014, and basic services including water and electricity have been restored. The Okuma Municipal Government is set to discuss the exact date when residents will be allowed back with central government officials and the town assembly.

Okuma is planning to build its new town hall, a seniors’ home, and public housing for some 3,000 residents and Fukushima nuclear plant decommissioning workers, among other facilities, in its some 40-hectare “recovery base” in the town’s Ogawara district. Municipal government staff began working weekdays at a contact office there in April 2016. Meanwhile, large solar power installations as well as dormitories for Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees have already been built around the planned “recovery base” area.






January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Death of doctor in Fukushima disaster zone hospital throws patients’ futures into question


A photo from the website of Takano Hospital shows its building in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture.


A 120-bed hospital in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, which has been on the frontline of efforts to restore communities annihilated by the March 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear calamity, has been thrown into crisis following the unexpected death last week of its aging and sole full-time doctor.


Dr. Hideo Takano, 81-year-old director of the privately run Takano Hospital, died from burns after a fire broke out at his home on the hospital grounds on the night of Dec. 30. The police are investigating the cause of the fire, but it is being treated as an accident.

Hirono Mayor Satoshi Endo told The Japan Times on Friday that the town is doing its best to keep the hospital and its 100 inpatients — about 50 bed-ridden elderly patients and 50 people in its psychiatric ward — alive.

The town plans to pay for the accommodation and transportation costs of volunteer doctors who will fill Takano’s shifts through the end of January. After that, the hospital’s fate is uncertain.

Set up in 1980 originally as a psychiatric hospital some 20 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the facility has played a central role in maintaining the welfare of residents not only in town, but across the Futaba region as the only hospital operating since the nuclear disaster.

The crisis prompted many of the town’s residents and even its government to evacuate. Hirono’s evacuation orders were lifted in September 2011 and residents have been slowly making their way back, but the town’s population — currently about 3,000 — remains less than 60 percent of pre-3/11 levels. The population is expected to climb back to 4,000 by April, Endo said.

In the more than five years since the disaster began, Takano Hospital didn’t close for a single day because the late director decided its frail inpatients could not be evacuated.

Because the other five hospitals in the region shut down, Takano Hospital is the only institution providing medical care not only to its residents, but also to 3,500 or so workers residing there for decontamination and decommissioning work related to the core meltdowns.

Mayor Endo stressed that the hospital needs to survive as it is part of the town’s basic infrastructure and will be necessary if residents are to return.

The hospital has played a huge role in the community by ceaselessly providing care,” Endo said. “If it goes, these patients will have no other place to go.”

Takano, who was a psychiatrist, had been a “super-human” figure, tirelessly tending to the needs of patients despite his advanced age, said Akihiko Ozaki, a 31-year-old surgeon at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital some 60 km north.

Ozaki is spearheading a drive to save Takano Hospital, and thanks to the efforts of him and others, the hospital has secured about 25 doctors from across the country to work as unpaid volunteers through the end of the month.

But the hospital still urgently needs a permanent full-time doctor to fill Takano’s shoes, Ozaki said.

Technically speaking, a hospital operating without a director is illegal,” Ozaki said. “Patients will suffer, as a system based on various different doctors coming and going is incapable of providing continuous care. We need a new full-time doctor as soon as possible.”

But it will be no easy task to find a replacement, Ozaki said, adding that the hospital was barely afloat under Takano, who worked for little pay and had next to no time off.

Mio Takano, his daughter and head manager of the hospital, said the facility has struggled financially since 3/11. She said government officials have long spurned her calls for help on the grounds that taxpayer money cannot be used by a private hospital.

Takano said that the quake changed everything and that the hospital’s running costs have surged because it needs to hire more staffers to maintain the same quality of care.

Before the quake, many nurses could ask parents or in-laws to take care of their children, she explained. But the disaster forced many families to separate and workers with children can no longer rely on elderly family members, she said, noting that the hospital thus needs to hire more people to work night and weekend shifts.

Such lifestyle changes have meant it is more costly to keep the same level of care,” she said.

Takano added that, nearly six years on, the nuclear disaster is far from over.

This is not a problem of an aging doctor dying in an accident, throwing a hospital into crisis. Situations like ours could happen to any other hospitals in areas that host nuclear power plants.”


January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco to name underwriters this month for landmark bond sale: DealWatch


Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) will select underwriters this month for its first bond sale since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, people close to the deal told Thomson Reuters DealWatch.

The issue is expected to be worth at least $1 billion according to one of the people.

The deal is being closely watched by Japan’s corporate bond market, which Tepco dominated before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, bringing the company to its knees.

Tepco has been gauging demand for the landmark bond offering, as once-skeptical investors become more comfortable with the utility’s outlook after the government provided more details on decommissioning and compensation costs, sources said last week.

Tepco, which is looking to sell the bond by the end of March, will hold meetings next week with several brokerages, who will make pitches to the company for a mandate to sell the bonds, said the people close to the deal, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

A Tepco spokesman on Friday said there was no change to the utility company’s previously announced plans to sell the bond by the end of March but that he was unaware of any plans to meet brokers next week.

The utility, once Asia’s largest, was essentially nationalized after Fukushima. It has struggled to contain radiation at the site and compensate victims of the accident while preparing to decommission the crippled power station.

The meeting will discuss investor demand, the likely size of the issue, the premium over government-bond yields Tepco will need to pay and the feasibility of selling the bond by Tepco’s target date, they said.

Tepco is considering a multi-tranche issue with maturities of three-, five- and 10-years, they said.

“At the very least, it will be worth 100 billion yen,” said one source. In the year leading up to the Fukushima disaster, Tepco sold 235 billion yen of bonds.

Sources have said Tepco will likely need to pay investors about 1 percentage point above the corresponding Japanese government bonds yields. This would be a rich premium considering other electric utilities pay about a third of that spread for their debt funding.

The government also owns 50.1 percent of the company following its bailout, seen by some investors as an implicit state guarantee on the company.

There are, however, some potential snags to Tepco’s plans to issue by the end of March. According to one person familiar with the government’s thinking, the government wants Tepco to delay the bond sale until after April, when legal changes allowing more financial support to the utility are enacted.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Voluntary nuclear evacuees to face housing assistance gap



Nine of Japan’s 47 prefectures are planning to provide financial and other support to voluntary evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Fukushima Prefecture is set to terminate its free housing services to them at the end of March, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
Fukushima Prefecture’s move will affect more than 10,000 households that voluntarily evacuated within and outside Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant meltdowns in March 2011. As many prefectures other than those nine prefectures are set to provide less generous assistance, voluntary evacuees will face a housing assistance gap depending on where they live or will live hereafter.

As of the end of October last year, there were 26,601 people in 10,524 households who were receiving Fukushima Prefecture’s free housing services after they voluntarily evacuated from the nuclear disaster, according to the Fukushima Prefectural Government. Of them, 13,844 people in 5,230 households were living outside Fukushima Prefecture.

Those voluntary evacuees have received full rent subsidies from Fukushima Prefecture for public and private housing units they live in under the Disaster Relief Act after fleeing from the city of Fukushima and other areas that lie outside the nuclear evacuation zone. While that has effectively been the only public assistance they receive, Fukushima Prefecture announced in June 2015 that it will terminate the service in March this year on the grounds that “decontamination work and infrastructure recovery have been set.”

In a nationwide survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun after October last year, Tottori, Hokkaido and four other prefectures said they will provide housing units for free to those voluntary evacuees, while three other prefectures said they will provide rent and other subsidies to them. Fukushima Prefecture was not covered in the survey.

Many of the other prefectures said they will provide assistance based no more than on the central government’s request that the conditions for accommodating voluntary evacuees into public housing be relaxed.

The Tottori Prefectural Government will provide prefecture-run housing units to voluntary evacuees for free and will also subsidize all of the rent for private rental housing. The measures will be applied to not only those who already live in Tottori but to also those who will move into the prefecture.

Yamagata Prefecture will provide housing for prefectural employees for free to low-income evacuees, while Hokkaido, Nara and Ehime prefectures will waiver the rent for evacuee households living in prefecture-run housing units. Kyoto Prefecture will exempt the rent for prefecture-run housing units up to six years after move-in, and will allow evacuees to continue living in such units after April this year until contract expiration. Niigata Prefecture will provide 10,000 yen a month to low-income evacuees living in private rental housing in order to prevent their children from having to change schools.

“Evacuees have been feeling anxiety about their housing. (As a local government plagued by aging and the declining population) we also expect them to live in our prefecture permanently,” the Tottori Prefectural Government stated in its response to the survey.

Most of the other prefectures will set up a priority quota for accommodating voluntary evacuees into public housing units, but they will face severe requirements, such as the need to move out after some time.

“The central government should consider responses in a unified manner,” noted the Iwate Prefecture Government in the survey.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Soil Freezing Around Reactors Not As Effective As expected

ice wall.jpg

This was to be the ultimate solution for controlling groundwater infiltration in the basement of damaged reactors where it mixes with highly contaminated cooling water. With a total cost of 34.5 billion yen (298 million dollars) paid by Japanese taxpayers, this unprecedented government project was to confirm the Prime Minister’s assertions to the Olympic Committee in 2013 that the situation ” Is under control “.

Begun in June 2016, soil freezing around the four damaged reactors was expected to limit groundwater infiltration and leakage of contaminated water. Since the areas with the strongest phreatic currents did not freeze, TEPCO had to pour concrete in certain areas. But the results have been slow and TEPCO was always demanding more time for the project to prove itself. According to the Asahi, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA, seriously doubts the effectiveness of this technique, which it now considers as secondary. Media actions are not enough.

Indeed, according to the NRA, despite the low rainfall, the amount of water pumped in the basements of the reactors and in the contaminated groundwater around the wall does not drop enough. It therefore considers that the solution goes through pumping, not the wall. In response, TEPCO is committed to doubling its pumping capacity to 800 m3 per day in groundwater in the fall.

The NRA also authorized complete soil freeze upstream of the reactors, although it did not block downstream flows.

According to the soil temperature maps published by TEPCO beginning December ( or more recently ( some portions were still not frozen upstream. According to the latter document, TEPCO always injects chemicals into the soil where it does not freeze. It also gives the planning of future work. It will be necessary to wait until February 2017 to obtain the complete freezing upstream.

Soil freezing over such a distance for years is a very complex technology to implement. TEPCO reported a leak of the coolant discovered last December 19th without the cause being known. (

As the company recalls, the primary purpose of these operations is to reduce groundwater infiltration in order to slow down the increase in the stock of contaminated water in tanks at the site.

According to the Asahi, before the soil was frozen, TEPCO pumped on average 300 m3 per day of contaminated water in the basements of the reactors in addition to the water injected for cooling. This became now 130 m3 per day, which is still more than the 70 m3 per day targeted.

The latest data published by TEPCO show an increase to 176 m3 per day at the end of December, to which must be added the too contaminated or salt groundwater to be treated directly and which is therefore mixed with the water in the basements. The latter is down to 58 m3 per day. The total reached 234 m3 / day. The impact of soil freezing is not obvious on this graph. (

It should be noted that TEPCO injects a hundred cubic meters of water into each of the three accidented reactors daily to cool the fuel. And this water, very contaminated, leaks to the basements. TEPCO’s latest report shows a partially treated contaminated water stock of almost one million cubic meters, to which 60,000 m3 of reactors and 9,156 m3 of liquid waste are added. (

In addition, TEPCO has installed sensors at the port exit in front of the rugged power station to continuously measure the concentration of cesium and total beta in seawater.(

Translated from french by Dun Renard (Hervé Courtois)

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 1 Comment

Government inquiry into nuclear accident: some testimonies will remain secret



The commission of inquiry set up by the government after the nuclear disaster at the Fukusima dai-ichi plant has recorded some 770 testimonies. 240 have been made public since, with the agreement of the interviewees, including that of the former director of the plant, Masao Yoshida, now deceased.

TEPCO shareholders filed a lawsuit for the publication of the testimonies from 11 executives of TEPCO and 3 executives of NISA, which was the regulator at the time. They have just been dismissed.

Justice considered that if these documents were disclosed, it would be difficult to obtain the cooperation of the concerned persons in the future. The same applies to the secret portions of partially published testimonies.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | 1 Comment

American nuclear bomber loses engine in flight

A long range nuclear bomber lost an engine during a recent flight, the US Air Force has confirmed.

The B-52 “Stratofortress” lost one of its eight turbofan engines when it was around 28 miles from the Minot Air Force base in North Dakota, a spokesman said.

The aircraft, which is designed to hold up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of nuclear warheads, was not carrying any weapons.

It landed safely using the remaining seven engines.

The eighth engine landed in an unpopulated area and no injuries were caused, the spokesman said.

He added that the crew “declared an in-flight emergency when the pilot discovered that an engine departed the aircraft.”

He said: “There were no weapons on board and it was a local training mission. The aircraft landed safely with no injuries to the five personnel on board.”

The last fatal crash involving the “Stratofortress” occurred in 2008 when the aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a training flight.

Six crew members were killed and investigators said the probable cause was a system malfunction.

Courtesy The Independent

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Daniel Ellsberg hopes Trump, Putin can avoid doomsday scenario

January 7, 2017

The freak show that is American politics got even freakier last week. Mercury was definitely in retrograde, as Sean Hannity got up close and personal with Julian Assange, Sarah Palin hailed him as a national hero (and urged people to see Oliver Stone’s “Snowden”) and Donald Trump, who once called for the “death penalty or something” for Assange, suddenly embraced the WikiLeaks founder as a trusted source.

On Friday, Trump had a sit-down with top intelligence chiefs at Trump Tower, which he proclaimed as “constructive” — the same way a president describes a meeting with an enemy power. But he made it clear he still wasn’t buying the spooks’ story about foreign interference in an election that he won fair and square, not counting those 3 million or so votes.

The source of all this madness, of course, was the alleged Russian hacking of the U.S. presidential election. On Thursday, James Clapper, the director of national “intelligence” — as President-“elect” Trump air-quotes it — appeared before a Senate committee to confirm his belief in Moscow’s nefarious interference. Yes, this is the same Clapper who once lied bald-faced to Congress about NSA surveillance of the public. But the Senate, in rare bipartisan frenzy, declared the intelligence chief totally credible this time.

The U.S. intelligence report finally released Friday was dismissed by skeptics as underwhelming in its evidence of Russian hacking but was embraced by political partisans like House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who found it “stunning” in its persuasiveness. Computer security experts I contacted have been convinced of Putin’s guilt for some time.

“Healthy skepticism is a good thing, but at this point it’s no longer healthy and bordering on ‘jet fuel can’t melt steel,” Nicholas Weaver, a UC Berkeley computer science lecturer, emailed me. “There is simply a ton of evidence showing that Russia hacked the Democrats and released that information. And those ‘serious’ (people) who state otherwise are simply defending the special snowflake of a president-elect whose ego is so fragile that to admit that Putin helped him out is untenable to him.”

But even if the Russian government was responsible for handing the Democratic National Committee’s emails to WikiLeaks — possibly through other parties — is this really an “act of war,” as ever-belligerent Sen. John McCain has called it? And should we be throwing “rocks,” as Sen. Lindsey Graham demanded, even though the stones on both sides are nuclear-tipped? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald is not the only one who finds the media’s Putin fever to be “reckless.”

For some much-needed perspective, I consulted with Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistle-blower and a former nuclear war planner. Ellsberg, who was a Pentagon consultant under Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, is completing a book based on his experiences titled “The Doomsday Machines: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.”

At 85, Ellsberg is still active on the political front and has visited Assange, who has been under house arrest for six years at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London. He refuses to take a position on the Russian hacking question, which he finds “too fraught and complex.” But he was outspoken about the increasingly tense relationship between Washington and Moscow.

Ellsberg, who lives in Kensington, did not vote for Trump, whom he regards as a “disaster” in every way but one. “I’m against conflict with Russia, so on this one issue, I’m on Trump’s side. Even if the Russians are guilty of hacking, I don’t think we should risk war with them. Even if the Russians intervened in our election, as we ourselves have done in many countries on an even bigger scale.”

“Look,” Ellsberg continued, “I think we’re about to see a fascist regime take office in Washington. And I’d rather see these two authoritarian regimes — led by Trump and Putin — not fighting. At this point, I don’t see either regime as expansionist in the Hitler mode. Trump seems less interventionist than the Washington establishment, although his rhetoric about China and Iran is alarming. But on Russia, he looks like a deal maker.”

This is a good thing, Ellsberg observed, particularly given rising tensions in Europe, which could become a nuclear battlefield. NATO, which is committed to defending frontline countries like Poland and the Baltic states against any incursion, maintains a dangerous first-use nuclear policy. Despite Putin’s strong protests, a destabilizing antiballistic-missile system was installed in Romania and another is planned for Poland.

If Trump is serious about reducing tensions with Moscow, Ellsberg said, he should begin by removing those ABM systems and by negotiating reductions in the two countries’ nuclear arsenals to the level where a nuclear exchange would not result in the end of human life on the planet.

“A nuclear exchange involving even a fraction of the weapons that the U.S. and Russia now have on alert status alone would result in nuclear winter, with the smoke from burning cities widely dispersing and blocking sunlight for over a decade. That means years without harvests on Earth. Just one year pretty much does the job of eliminating the human race. So maintaining nuclear arsenals this size is insane and immoral and unjustifiable.”

The old, terrifying Cold War scenarios still loom over the planet as the voices of hysteria clamor for a new Cold War. Ellsberg said that he and his fellow nuclear planners used to regard the mad doomsday satire “Dr. Strangelove” as “a documentary.” In his opinion, Hillary Clinton would have done little to restore sanity in the nuclear relationship with Russia. And Trump is “a cipher. We don’t know what we’ll get from him. And his off-the-cuff remarks are disturbing.”

For this reason, Ellsberg hopes that Trump and the intelligence agencies can establish a healthy working relationship. “He shouldn’t be getting into a war with the intelligence community — it’s bad for him and for the country. There’s no question that he could be putting himself at risk by doing this. Nixon didn’t trust the CIA either. And look what happened to him.”

I didn’t bring up JFK, who threatened to “splinter the CIA into thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds” after the agency’s Bay of Pigs disaster, but of course, the bitter split between that president and his national security team still shadows American history.

In any case, we can only pray that sanity, in extremely short supply these days, can somehow be restored in Washington.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email:

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reassurance from the Swiss nuclear Lobby ENSI Georg Schwarz Ummmm?

At the beginning of December 2016 the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) requested the inspection of the steam generators at the Gösgen and Beznau nuclear power plants. Georg Schwarz, ENSI Deputy Director and head of the NPPs Division, explains the background and context in the following interview.

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Last summer, the operators of Swiss nuclear power plants were obliged to examine the production documents of forged steel components within their plants in respect of possible falsifications. Now, ENSI has requested that the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear power plants inspect the components in their steam generators for elevated carbon values and possible effects on material toughness. For this purpose, the production documents must first be examined again. Is there a connection between these two issues?

Georg Schwarz: No. These are two different topics which must not be confused.

Could you explain that in more detail?

Concerning falsifications, we were able to issue an all-clear already in last August. All plants in Switzerland which have (or had) components in service from the Le Creusot forge in France, were able to confirm that the corresponding production documents did not contain any indication of falsifications.


In parallel, but independent of the falsification issue, information became available from France about potential material problems in the steam generators of pressurised water reactors. In a series of reactors, the forged steel components of the steam generators showed elevated carbon content. On 18 October 2016, the French nuclear supervisory authority ASN therefore instructed the operator of the French nuclear power plants, EDF, to subject the steam generators of twelve nuclear power plants to more detailed investigation and to demonstrate that they have the necessary material toughness in spite of the elevated carbon content. This, in turn, prompted ENSI to call for the inspection of the steam generators of the Swiss nuclear power plants Beznau and Gösgen.

And what about the other two nuclear power plants in Switzerland?

Leibstadt and Mühleberg are boiling water reactors. They do not have steam generators and are therefore unaffected of this issue.

What does examination of the documents involve?

The examination of the production documents is a first step and serves as basis for the inspections of the steam generators themselves. In this case, however, it is not a search for potential falsifications, but rather for basic information on the material quality of the steam generators.

Is it still possible to trust these documents?

Yes. The investigations in summer revealed no indication of any falsifications.

In the inspections of the steam generators at Beznau and Gösgen requested by ENSI, the results of the corresponding investigations in France will probably also be considered. What is the current status in France?

In France, the investigations are largely completed and it has been demonstrated that the steam generators with an elevated carbon content are strong enough and do not pose a risk. The reactors which were disconnected from the grid for the investigations have either been reconnected to the grid by now, or will again be delivering power from January 2017. (For details see the chronology below).

In France, the plants had to be disconnected from the grid for the investigations. Why is this not necessary for Beznau and Gösgen?

In France, the nuclear power plants were not shut down immediately, either. In Switzerland we do not see any reason, from a safety point of view, to temporarily disconnect the plants concerned from the grid. The inspections on the steam generators can be performed during a routine maintenance outage.

Can you explain why in more detail?

The first checks in France in the past summer revealed that steam generators in 18 of the 58 French reactors require more detailed investigations. For 6 reactors these investigations could be completed fairly quickly so that by autumn 2016 only 12 reactors remained. ASN set a deadline of three months for the French NPP operator EDF to carry out the required measurements and calculations on the steam generators in the remaining reactors. To be able to perform this work, a reactor must be in shut-down mode. Seven of the reactors concerned were already in routine maintenance outage and they therefore decided to postpone their restart, five reactors initially continued operations. In the course of 2016, three were disconnected from the grid in order to perform the required measurements. The last two will be disconnected in January 2017.

In light of the developments in France, why is there any point in Beznau and Gösgen actually performing the investigations?

The steam generator is an important component of the primary circuit. From a safety point of view, it is appropriate to assess both the situation in the Swiss reactors and to what extent the results in France agree with the corresponding findings in the steam generators in the Swiss plants.

What precisely do the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear power plants have to check?

As stated, a first step will involve examining the production documents. This will result in information on affected components, manufacturer, manufacturing period, material, applied design specification and regulations, deviations during manufacture, details of the forging process, acceptance tests carried out, and test requirements. Based on these documents, a second step involves the derivation of a concept for the further safety assessment.

What result do you expect from the first step, the examination of the documents?

The aim of the in-depth examination of the production documents is to obtain fairly quickly a first overview of the manufacturing of the steam generators. This will result in first insights, based on which further steps can be decided upon.

When will the second step containing the non-destructive testing be performed?

This depends on the concepts. Potential inspections on the steam generators themselves will be performed during the regular maintenance outages of the nuclear power plants.

Is this inspection of the steam generators in any way related to the findings in the reactor pressure vessels, which were uncovered in the Belgian plants Doel 2 and Tihange 3 in 2013 and during 2015 in Beznau 1?

No. The findings in the reactor pressure vessels have nothing to do with the inspections of the steam generators. As already stated above, the trigger for the inspection of the steam generators was information from France stating that the steel of the steam generators potentially contains an elevated carbon content in certain areas.

Reactor pressure vessels and steam generators are different components.

The fuel rods are contained in the reactor pressure vessel. The heat generated by the chain reaction is used to heat up the coolant.

In pressurised water reactors, steam production takes place in the steam generator, where the hot water of the primary circuit transfers heat energy to the secondary circuit.

Does this mean that the investigations concerning the steam generator will have no influence on the decision of whether Beznau 1, upon completion of the investigations into the reactor pressure vessel findings, can start up again?

Precisely, they have no influence at all.

On the basis of findings in the French Flamanville nuclear power plant, various investigations have been triggered in France and Switzerland. These concern falsifications in the production documents from the Le Creusot forge, on one hand, and the material properties of the steam generators on the other hand.

Topic ‘Findings in the Flamanville reactor pressure vessel’
On 7 April 2015, the French nuclear supervisory authority ASN informed the public that zones of elevated carbon content had been identified in the reactor vessel closure head and reactor vessel bottom of the French Flamanville 3 nuclear power plant, which is currently under construction.
Topic ‘Falsifications in the Le Creusot forge’ Topic ‘Carbon content in steam generator components’
2015 On 4 August 2015, ASN President Pierre-Franck Chevet wrote in an open letter that AREVA had decided to arrange an investigation into the production practices at the Le Creusot forge over the past few years by an independent body. These investigations were started in April 2015 at the instigation of the ASN.
2016 On 19 January 2016, the ASN made it known that within the context of a hearing on 8 December 2015 it had informed AREVA of the requirements for the investigation. According to these, the investigation had not only to extend back until 2010, but until at least 2004 because it was in this year that the first parts were forged for the Flamanville EPR.The ASN first informed the public of the results of the investigation on 3 May 2016. It was established that there were irregularities in the production documents for 400 components manufactured at Le Creusot since 1965. These included both inconsistencies between the documents and production or inspection data as well as falsifications (changing of measurement and acceptance reports). Of the relevant 400 components, around 50 are in use in French nuclear power plants.

On 6 June 2016, ENSI required the Swiss nuclear power plants to gather information about whether components originating from the Le Creusot forge with potentially incorrect production documents were or are currently in use.

On 16 June 2016, the ASN could for the first time list those nuclear power plants in France where components of the primary circuit are affected by irregularities in the material properties. To perform additional examinations, the operator EDF took the reactor Fessenheim 2 offline in the middle of June 2016.

On 19 July 2016, the ASN informed the public that the authorisation for a steam generator of the Fessenheim 2 NPP had been suspended. It cited falsifications in the production documents as the reason. The steam generator vessel bottom produced in 2008 does not conform to the dossier that had been submitted to the ASN and was not forged in accordance with the applicable rules.

On 17 August 2016, ENSI informed the public that all plants in Switzerland which had or have components in use originating from the Le Creusot forge, could confirm that these components are not affected by any falsifications in production documents.

On 23 September 2016, the ASN for the first time published a list of the irregularities and falsifications uncovered in the production documents. At the same time, the French supervisory authority made it known that in 21 of the 23 cases uncovered, safety was not affected. Further investigations were announced in two cases, namely Gravelines 5 and Fessenheim 2 which are currently shut down.

On 23 June 2016, the ASN informed the public for the first time that the vessel bottoms of steam generators could have zones with elevated carbon content. Under consideration were 18 reactors, 16 reactors with 900 MWe output and 2 with 1450 MWe output. Amongst the unaffected reactors were 18 reactors of 900 MWe, 2 reactors of 1450 MWe and all 20 reactors with a 1300 MWe output. The supervisory authority required the operator EDF to examine the steam generators from the Le Creusot forge and the Japanese JCFC forge using both non-destructive testing in respect of carbon concentration and using ultrasonic crack testing.On 18 October 2016, the ASN ordered more detailed inspections of the steam generators in respect of the material carbon content in 12 reactors. Seven of the affected reactors were at that time already shut down for routine maintenance outage. Five other nuclear power plants received a deadline of three months.

On 26 October 2016, the ASN announced that within the context of a parliamentary hearing it had provided information that in the steam generators of 12 reactors, which had been manufactured by JCFC, the carbon content elevated.

On 5 December 2016, ASN announced that the documents requested from the operator EDF had been accepted in general. Furthermore, it requested reports for compensatory measures and other medium-term tests. It requested additional calculations for four plants. As soon as these are assessed by ASN, the ten 900 MWe nuclear power plants can start up again. According to ASN, EDF announced that the documents for the two 1450 MWe plants will be submitted soon.

On 9 December 2016, ENSI required that the pressurised water reactors in Switzerland, Beznau and Gösgen, examine their steam generators in a two-stage process.

According to Réseau de Transport d’Electricité RTE (dated 3 January 2017), 4 of 12 reactors subject to more in-depth investigation have been restarted until the end of 2016. 8 further reactors are planning to start up in January 2017.


January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

UAE nuclear project enters new phase of construction

What could possibly go wrong?

ABU DHABI, 10 hours, 59 minutes ago

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has achieved major milestones as it moves towards a new phase in the construction of Units 3 and 4 at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant which is now more than 50 per cent completed.

The recent progress significantly advances Enec’s goal of delivering safe, clean, efficient and reliable nuclear energy to the UAE through its Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, said a statement from the corporation.

The construction achievements include the successful setting in place of Unit 3’s Reactor Containment Building (RCB) Liner Dome section, effectively installing the roof of the structure which now houses the Reactor Vessel (RV), said the statement.

Further, the completion of Unit 4’s Turbine Generator Operating Deck and the setting of the last Reactor Containment Liner Plate Rings mark important progress for the units, it added.

These milestones are a result of Enec’s extensive collaboration with its prime contractor and joint venture partner, the Korean Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), said its top official.

“All construction milestones for the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project have been achieved in accordance with the highest standards of quality and safety,” remarked Enec CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi.

“The latest successful achievement of these milestones for Units 3 and 4, is a result of many months of hard work by all those involved. I am proud of our teams whose commitment and dedication is a key factor in the continued successful construction of the world’s largest nuclear plant, with four identical units being built simultaneously,” said Al Hammadi.

According to him, peaceful nuclear energy will bring many benefits, from the creation of high-value job opportunities to the emergence of a new sophisticated industrial sector to support operations in Barakah.

With the successful setting of Unit 3’s RCB Liner Dome section, it is now more than 62 per cent complete and work to pour the concrete and complete the RCB is progressing steadily.

The RCB is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017, roughly a year after similar work was concluded on Unit 2, in line with ENEC’s construction schedule, stated the top official.

Enec’s deputy CEO Ahmed Al Rumaithi said the completion of the Turbine Generator Operating Deck and the setting of the final Reactor Containment Liner Plate Rings on Unit 4 has allowed work to begin on erecting the Turbine Building and the interior and exterior concrete for the Unit’s RCB is now being poured.

“Once completed, we will be ready for the installation of Unit 4’s Reactor Pressure Vessel in mid-2017,” he noted.

Al Rumaithi revealed that 35 per cent of the construction work at Unit 4 had been completed and was ahead of schedule, with the completion of the deck and rings having occurred roughly 10 months after similar work was concluded on Unit 3.

“The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is scheduled for completion in 2020, with construction having started in 2012. With four reactors online, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs and save up to 12 million tons in carbon emissions every year,” he noted.

Al Rumaithi pointed out that the project at Barakah was progressing steadily and overall, around 75 per cent of the construction work had been completed at Units 1 to 4.

All four units will deliver safe, clean, reliable and efficient nuclear energy to the UAE grid, pending regulatory reviews and licensing, he added.-TradeArabia News Service

Other article describing ways to make mini nuclear weapons for terrorists, dictatorships etc here;

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Armed guards at Sweden’s nuclear power stations next month

Associated PressJanuary 5, 2017

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A spokesman for one of Sweden’s three nuclear power plants says they will have armed guards outside the facilities starting next month in a decision made by the country’s nuclear watchdog.

Anders Osterberg of the Oskarshamn power station says “the elevated level” was based on a general security assessment, not a specific threat.

Osterberg said Thursday in an email to The Associated Press that the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority decided last year that guards should carry firearms as of Feb. 1. There was no immediate word from the authority.

Sweden has a total of 10 reactors in Oskarshamn, Ringhals and Forsmark, providing about half of the country’s electricity production. Sitting some 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Stockholm on the Baltic Sea coast, Oskarshamn has three reactors.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global renewable energy market is dominated by China

text-relevantflag-ChinaChina cementing global dominance of renewable energy and technology  It now owns five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms and the largest wind-turbine manufacturer, Guardian, . 6 Jan 17China is cementing its global dominance of renewable energy and supporting technologies, aggressively investing in them both at home and around the globe, leaving countries including the US, UK and Australia at risk of missing the growing market.

A report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (Ieefa) found China’s dominance in renewables is rapidly spreading overseas, with the country accelerating its foreign investment in renewable energy and supporting technologies.

Analysing Chinese foreign investments over US$1bn, Ieefa found 13 in 2016, worth a combined $32bn. That represented a 60% jump over similar investments in 2015.China was already widely recognised as the largest investor in domestic renewable energy, investing $102bn in 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance – more than twice that invested domestically by the US and about five times that of the UK.

The big foreign investments in 2016 included two in Australia, two in Germany and two in Brazil, as well as deals in Chile, Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and Vietnam.

  • In Australia, China Light & Power struck a $1.1bn deal, buying power from wind and solar farms.
  • In Chile, Tianqi Lithium spent $2.5bn acquiring a 25% stake of a lithium miner and processor. (Lithium is essential for lithium batteries used in electric vehicles and home battery storage.)
  • In Germany, Beijing Enterprises Holdings Ltd spend $1.6bn on a Waste to Energy development.

The report noted the global expansion cements China’s total domination of renewable energy growth globally. China now owned:

January 7, 2017 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

Donald Trump – a disaster for climate, but perhaps not so for the solar energy industry

text-relevanttrump-full-figuresunWhy solar power poses a very tricky problem for Donald Trump, The Week, Ryan Cooper , 6 Jan 17 The worst imaginable president for climate change might be about to take power, but solar is still a bright spot. The technology and business infrastructure of solar panel manufacturing has been getting better at a blistering pace, and the latest estimates conclude that solar will surpass coal as the cheapest electricity source within a single decade — and in many places, it already has.

This raises the question of what President Trump will do about the solar business. Most Republicans, Trump included, are heavily committed to filth-spewing power sources like coal and natural gas, and deny the science of climate change. But while Republicans will no doubt want to use regulations and subsidies to prop up fossil fuels and keep down renewables, Trump has shown a bizarre fixation with U.S.-based manufacturing jobs that might just redound to solar’s benefit.

The latest estimate of solar panels’ economic viability comes via Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The price of solar power has plummeted by 62 percent merely since 2009. Taking into account current trends and planned technological developments, they estimate solar will be on average the world’s cheapest power source by about 2026, without subsidies of any kind.

That average hides much variability, of course — in some sunny regions, solar is already astoundingly cheap:…….

Republicans will likely respond to the growth of solar by trying to stamp it out by allowing fossil fuels to pollute to their heart’s content (thus granting them a huge implicit subsidy), and passing burdensome new regulations on renewables. On the face of it, this fits well with Donald Trump’s campaign, which was all about valorizing traditionally masculine jobs, particularly in manufacturing and manual labor. In the conservative shorthand, coal is tough and cool, while renewables are for sissy Prius-drivers.

But on the other hand, this stereotype is wildly at odds with the actual reality of the solar business. Solar panels must be manufactured (as of 2015, there were about 30,000 such jobs in the United States) and installed by manual laborers (120,000 jobs as of 2015). That number has no doubt grown substantially in the past year, as solar jobs have been consistently increasing in number by about 20 percent per year……..

Stamping out solar would kill an order of magnitude more jobs than that. If Trump got wind of some policy that would strangle American solar — or worse yet, force the company to pick up and move to Europe or China — there is a genuine chance he’ll go on one of his Twitter rampages and force the Republican Congress to back down.

Conversely, it will be genuinely difficult to revive coal jobs, which have been in long-term decline since the 1970s. Big Coal has been all but killed off by competition with fracked natural gas and, increasingly, renewables. It is smaller than solar and shrinking fast. Stark hypocrisy is basically the Republican motto, but even they might struggle with the large and increasing subsidies necessary to prop up an ever-more-obsolete marketplace loser.

So don’t get me wrong: The Trump presidency will be an absolute disaster for climate change. But with a bit of luck, the American solar industry might not be totally eviscerated.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

US govt denies North Korea’s claims on its nuclear missiles, but international concerns grow

missiles s korea museumUS Rejects North Korea’s Nuclear Claim Amid Growing Concerns, 5 Jan 17, Amid speculation surrounding North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the U.S. government said this week that Pyongyang has yet to acquire the ability to outfit an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

The latest assessment came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s statement that the preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile had “reached the final stage.” His claim, in a New Year’s Day address, immediately sent ripples across the world’s capitals, prompting President-elect Donald Trump to tweet, “It won’t happen!”

Despite the U.S. rejection of North Korea’s purported capability, experts are raising concern about the threats emanating from the regime. Continue reading

January 7, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Copernicus organisation says 2016 ‘hottest on record’ in new sign of global warming

global-warming12016 ‘hottest on record’ in new sign of global warming, Copernicus organisation says Last year was the hottest year on record by a wide margin, with temperatures creeping close to a ceiling set by almost 200 nations for limiting global warming, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service has said.

Key points

  • EU body report shows global average temperature in 2016 was 1.3C higher than pre-industrial average
  • Arctic, Africa and Asia warmer than usual in 2016
  • Some areas of South America and Antarctica cooler than usual

The data are the first of the New Year to confirm many projections that 2016 will exceed 2015 as the warmest since reliable records began in the 19th century, the Copernicus organisation said in a report.

The Arctic was the region showing the sharpest rise in temperatures, while many other areas of the globe, including parts of Africa and Asia, also suffered unusual heat, it said.

A few parts of South America and Antarctica were cooler than normal.

Global surface temperatures in 2016 averaged 14.8 degrees Celsius or 1.3C higher than estimated before the Industrial Revolution ushered in wide use of fossil fuels, the EU body said.

In 2015, almost 200 nations agreed at a summit in Paris to limit global warming to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial times while pursuing efforts to hold the rise to 1.5C as part of a sweeping shift away from fossil fuels towards clean energy.

Temperatures last year broke a 2015 record by almost 0.2C, the Copernicus organisation said, boosted by a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and by a natural El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean, which releases heat to the atmosphere.

In February 2016 alone, temperatures were 1.5C above pre-industrial times, the study said. Rising heat is blamed for stoking bushfires, heat waves, droughts, floods and more powerful downpours that disrupt water and food supplies.

The UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the main authority on global temperatures, compiles data mainly from two US and one British dataset that will be published in coming weeks.

It also uses input from Copernicus.

Dick Dee, deputy head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said these data were available quickly because they draw on temperature stations and satellite measurements used to make weather forecasts. “They’re pretty much in perfect agreement” with the WMO data in areas where measurements overlap, he said.  The other datasets used by the WMO are collected from sources that can take more time to compile, including ships, buoys and balloons.

US President-elect Donald Trump has sometimes called man-made climate change a hoax and threatened to “cancel” the Paris agreement. But he has also said he has an open mind and sees “some connectivity” between human activity and and global warming.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment