nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

February 28 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Energy security from “clean coal”, CCS & CSG. What could possibly go wrong?” • Every few years the fossil fuel industry, via supporting politicians, have another go at forcing “clean coal”, carbon capture and storage, and more recently coal seam gas, on an increasingly sceptical community. What could go wrong? Pretty much everything. [RenewEconomy]

Coal Plant (AAP Image / Mick Tsikas) Coal Plant (AAP Image / Mick Tsikas)

Science and Technology:

¶ Science educator Bill Nye and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held a Facebook Live conversation on Monday morning about climate change. In the two hours after it aired, the interview has already been viewed about 2 million times, drawn about 100,000 “Reactions” and 52,000 “shares.” You can watch the video here. [EcoWatch]

¶ Oil giant Shell’s farsighted 1991 film, titled Climate of Concern, set out with crystal clarity how the world was warming and that serious consequences could well result…

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February 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Antarctic Sea Ice Hits New All-Time Record Low

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During late February, Antarctic sea ice breached the previous all-time record low for extent coverage since measurements began in 1978. And in the following days, sea ice extent measures near the South Pole have continued to creep lower, gradually extending into unprecedented ranges.

Record Melt During a Period of Considerable Global Heat

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(This February, according to JAXA, the Antarctic sea ice extent measure hit a new all time record low. Image source: JAXA.)

Hitherto unseen global heat — driven primarily by human fossil fuel emissions — appears to be the chief contributor to this melting. During 2016, global average surface temperatures rose to 1.2 degrees Celsius above 1880s ranges. This global reading likely represents the warmest surface temperatures the world has experienced in the last 115,000 years. At the same time, the global ocean system has been rapidly accumulating warmth and transferring it through the surface and deep…

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February 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

February 27 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Even Trump Can’t Stop the Tide of Green Jobs” • With a policy of climate denial, Trump promised to boost coal and oil jobs and dismantle the Clean Power Plan. But green jobs are a key hope for revitalizing communities, and experts say he isn’t to stop the growth of clean energy jobs entirely (or efforts by unions to organize its workers). [Truth-Out]

Green jobs are rising. (Photo: alfre32 / Flickr) Green jobs are rising. (Photo: alfre32 / Flickr)

¶ “Man Who Moved Oil With His Words Won’t Talk About It Anymore” • Now that he’s done with his near 21-year stint as Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, during which his utterances could move markets worldwide, al-Naimi says he doesn’t want to talk about the oil market anymore. Now, he is focused on solar power and solar panels. [Bloomberg]

World:

¶ Enthused by the world’s biggest solar power project in Rewa, which is…

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February 28, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake in Fukushima

This earthquake lasted very long…..

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http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/#explain

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | | Leave a comment

SIX YEARS AFTER: Abandoned satchels can’t be recovered due to nuclear disaster

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School satchels remain left behind at the entrance of Futaba Minami Elementary School in the same position on Feb. 2 as they were six years ago when the earthquake struck followed by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture, forcing the children to evacuate.

FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–An untidy pile of school satchels lies beside the doorway of an abandoned school near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Beside them the shoes of children remain in a rack. Textbooks are discarded.

When the youngsters fled, they were clearly in a rush and were perhaps wearing only indoor soft shoes.

These simple daily items give an impression of the turmoil immediately following the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The children were evacuated and have not been allowed to return due to the nuclear disaster triggered by the quake and tsunami. The children still cannot return to pick up their belongings because of high radiation levels.

Reporters have been allowed in to examine the Futaba Minami Elementary School in an area that is still under an evacuation order.

The school itself has been relocated to Iwaki in the same prefecture. It restarted in 2014 with eight pupils, down from the predisaster number of 192.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702280054.html

 

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

SIX YEARS AFTER: 4 more districts in Fukushima set to be declared safe to return to

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Evacuation orders will be lifted shortly for four more municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, but the prospect of residents returning to their old homes in huge numbers seems unlikely.

The restrictions, in place since the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, will be lifted by April 1.

About 32,000 residents will be affected, but there is no guarantee that all will soon, if ever, return.

In similar past situations, evacuated residents came back in dribs and drabs, and many never returned.

Authorities in Namie on Feb. 27 decided to accept the central government’s proposal to lift the evacuation order for the town on March 31.

This means that orders for the municipalities of Kawamata and Iitate will be lifted the same day, and for Tomioka the day after.

Naraha and Katsurao are among five municipalities that are no longer subject to evacuation orders.

However, only 11 percent of Naraha residents and 9 percent of Katsurao residents have returned.

One reason for the low rates is that evacuees have already established new domiciles elsewhere. Others are concerned about the availability of medical workers in areas where evacuation orders will be lifted.

In the aftermath of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the central government ordered the evacuation of 81,000 residents in 11 Fukushima municipalities.

In 2012-13, the evacuation region was redesignated into three zones: one where returning would continue to be difficult; another where residential areas would be limited; and lastly, where preparations would be made for former residents to return.

In June 2015, the government decreed that all evacuees from the two latter zones should be allowed to return by March 2017. Efforts were made to decontaminate land affected by radiation fallout and to restore social infrastructure.

The next step involves the 24,000 former residents of the zone where returning continues to be considered difficult.

The government intends to pay for the decontamination of certain areas within that zone so former residents can return.

According to one estimate, the program would only cover about 5 percent of the entire area that is designated as difficult to return.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702280051.html

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 1 Comment

Fukushima students to go on tours of wrecked nuclear plant

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Fukushima University President Katsumi Nakai

FUKUSHIMA–A tour of the infamous crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is in store for some college students here over the coming years.

Fukushima University officials say it is crucial that future nuclear power plant decommissioning workers such as engineers are given the opportunity to examine the current state of the nuclear plant and gain experience from doing so.

The extracurricular tour of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was wrecked by the tsunami and the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, will start within the next fiscal year starting in April.

University officials said Feb. 1 that tour participants will be recruited from the 20 or so students who are working on radiation, radioactive cleanup and other research subjects at the Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science.

Eligibility for the tours of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be expanded in and after fiscal 2018, the officials added.

The tours will be organized as part of a program that won a bidding process initiated by the science ministry for research and personnel development projects that help accelerate nuclear decommissioning processes.

The program has been designated to receive subsidies over a five-year period from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019.

TEPCO officials said the company has allowed university students to tour the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the past, most of whom were from laboratories working on nuclear decommissioning processes and radiation.

A total of about 40 executive staff members, clerical workers and other officials of Fukushima University, including President Katsumi Nakai, have toured the nuclear plant twice this fiscal year, in December and January, respectively.

With rubble and other objects cleaned up, it appeared to me that the place was tidy, but some areas were still beyond anybody’s reach and control, so I thought the situation remained difficult,” Nakai said of his impression of the Fukushima No. 1 plant during a news conference on Feb. 1.

He said he came to believe, while exchanging views with TEPCO officials, that nuclear decommissioning processes require not only personnel with scientific backgrounds but also risk communication personnel who have backgrounds in psychology and other subjects.

The end of the five-year period (of the science ministry subsidies) will not mean the end of our efforts,” Nakai said. “We have to work on the long-term development of nuclear decommissioning personnel. We will think about creating opportunities, in the future, for taking students of human and social sciences on our tours.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702280005.html

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The hidden costs households must pay for nuclear disaster in 2011

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There’s more to monthly electricity charges than meets the eye. For one thing, there’s a hidden cost.

This is charged to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other utilities meet costs for damages arising from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Annual amounts range from an estimated 587 yen ($5.25) to 1,484 yen, and although paltry, may raise eyebrows as the utilities offer no breakdown in their monthly charges.

The utilities are obliged by the government to pitch in on grounds that a kitty is needed in case of future nuclear accidents. But in reality, the money is being swallowed up to help TEPCO pay compensation.

Of the 7.9 trillion yen in estimated compensation costs for the triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011, as calculated by the government, 5.5 trillion yen is being borne by the company and six other utilities across the nation as “general contribution” costs.

The other utilities are those based in Hokkaido; the Tohoku region; the Chubu region; the Kansai region; Shikoku; and Kyushu.

The amount of compensation each utility bears depends on the overall capacity of the nuclear power plants they operate, and other factors.

The Asahi Shimbun estimated that these general contributions, which are included in regular household electricity bills, range between 0.11 yen and 0.26 yen per kilowatt-hour, depending on the utility. These figures were then multiplied with the average amount of annual household electricity consumption, as based on a national survey, to ascertain how much each household was paying into the compensation program in a given year.

Households supplied by Shikoku Electric Power Co. bear the heaviest annual burden at 1,484 yen. They were followed by residents supplied by Kansai Electric Power Co. at 1,212 yen and TEPCO at 1,159 yen. Users of Kyushu Electric Power Co. pay 1,127 yen per household, while those using Hokkaido Electric Power Co. pay 1,034 yen. The smallest amounts were charged by Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co., at 774 yen and 587 yen per household, respectively.

The majority of household residents may be unaware of the hidden fee, or at least how much is being charged, as electricity bills basically just state the amount to be paid each month by a given date.

Utilities generally calculate electricity rates via what is known as the fully-distributed cost method, which means that all expenses necessary in generating and delivering power to households are implemented in the price.

Household electricity payments proved to be a direct source of funding for Fukushima compensation payouts when expenses toward the general contribution program were included in basic cost for calculating electricity rates after the seven utilities increased their charges in fiscal 2012-2014.

The Asahi Shimbun calculated annual general contributions paid by households by figuring out how much of the overall generation cost of utilities was covered by regular households. In the case of TEPCO, ordinary households were responsible for paying 26.9 billion yen, or 47.25 percent of the overall 56.74 billion yen.

Dividing this figure by the estimated amount of electricity that will be consumed by these households in a year reveals how much it costs to generate 1 kWh of electricity.

Representatives of the Kansai and Chubu utilities told The Asahi Shimbun that they make estimates on how much it costs to do this.

Applying the approach used by the two companies, The Asahi Shimbun estimated the costs for the five remaining utilities, all of which confirmed that the methodology was correct.

In the case with TEPCO, the cost was 0.25 yen, after the 26.9 billion yen that households paid was divided by 105.7 billion kWh.

The figure was then multiplied by the amount of electricity annually used by each household with two or more people, information that was obtained through the government’s household financial survey. With Tokyo residents consuming an average of 4,568 kWh in 2016, the amount of compensation paid by each household supplied by TEPCO was calculated to be 1,159 yen.

Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co. are also paying for the general contributions, meaning that all nine utilities in mainland Japan are participating in the compensation effort. However, the two companies have neither raised their rates following the nuclear crisis nor included compensation costs in their monthly bills to households.

Utilities will soon be scrambling to find more money, as the government plans to include an additional 2.4 trillion yen worth of compensation costs in fees to use power lines starting in 2020.

The government estimates expenses in dealing with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster six years ago, which include compensation, as well as costs to decommission reactors and decontaminate vast areas of land, at 21.5 trillion yen. These costs will be covered not only by TEPCO, which had paid a “special contribution” fee of up to 180 billion yen by the end of fiscal 2015, but taxes as well.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702270056.html

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Robots’ limitations exposed in search for melted nuclear fuel in Fukushima

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OKUMA, Fukushima — In an attempt to minimize the risk to humans during the search for melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, robots have also been deployed to help out with the task.
However, the robots have also encountered some problems. For instance, a Toshiba Corp. robot that was sent in to clear away deposited material inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor failed to clear away much material, and within approximately two hours, its camera had broken.

According to Takahiro Kimoto of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), “The radiation inside the containment vessel was so intense that the images transmitted back from a camera attached to the robot were pitch black.” This was somewhat disappointing for the team working at the No. 2 reactor because by losing their robotic “eye” inside the containment vessel, they were unable to make the progress they were hoping for.

On Feb. 16, a “scorpion robot” was sent into the containment vessel. The intention of the mission was to locate melted nuclear fuel. However, deposited materials inside the vessel meant that the robot became stuck and was unable to move any further.

In the end, images from directly underneath the nuclear reactor were obtained not from the robot, but by “human means,” on Jan. 30. By using a pipe and a camera, the team was able to confirm the presence of holes in the platform. They also discovered brown and black deposited material, which appeared to be melted nuclear fuel. Therefore, some might say that “human methods” are more effective than robots in a mission of this nature.

According to TEPCO, “This was the first probe of its kind in the world. We were able to collect sufficient data.” However, critics would argue that six years have passed since the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, and yet the exact situation regarding melted nuclear fuel at the site is still unclear.

Looking ahead, further difficulties are anticipated at both the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, where in the past, there have been hydrogen explosions. This is mainly because there are several meters of contaminated water underneath the containment vessels, and the radiation levels are stronger than at the No. 2 reactor.

There are plans to insert a robot inside the No. 1 reactor in March, but a date has not yet been set for the No. 3 reactor. Satoshi Okada of the nuclear power plant maker Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, which oversees the search at the No. 1 reactor, states, “In order to deal with the problem of melted nuclear fuel, we must first ascertain exactly how and where the melted fuel has been scattered inside the reactors.”

In summer 2017, TEPCO and the government will look into ways of withdrawing the melted nuclear fuel from the site, with the aim of commencing extraction work in 2021 — exactly 10 years after the initial disaster.

The Three Mile Island Disaster in the U.S. in 1979 will provide some kind of reference for TEPCO and the government, because in that particular case, the removal of melted nuclear fuel started 11 years after the initial accident. However, the situation at Fukushima appears to be more complicated than at Three Mile Island, because in the case of the latter accident, melted nuclear fuel was retained within pressure containers. Conversely, in the case of Fukushima, some of the material has seeped through the pressure containers.

With regard to the government and TEPCO’s decommissioning work, Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka states, “It is still early to talk in such an optimistic way. At the moment, we are still feeling around in the dark.”

Time will tell as to whether the current plan for removing melted nuclear fuel from the No. 1 power plant is a realistic possibility or just a pipe dream.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170227/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Time to transform Japan’s nuclear plant inspection system

Japan lies at the middle of 4 tectonic plates. The pressure of the plates has produced 113 active fault lines in Japan’s crust. It has also 118 active volcanoes. 10% of the world earthquakes occur in Japan.

To talk about nuclear safety there is like taking bets with people lives, is like talking about a death wish.

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The government has submitted to the Diet a bill to revise the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors. The bill includes the introduction of surprise inspections at nuclear plants by inspectors from the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which would allow them to enter any part of a nuclear plant at any time, as well as a system where the state gives an overall evaluation to each plant based on the results of the inspections and other factors and release the data. These new systems are expected to come into operation in fiscal 2020.
With surprise inspections, it will be difficult for power companies to hide problems at their nuclear plants. And since evaluation results will be published and comparison among nuclear plants will be possible, the principle of competition comes into play, which is expected to encourage utilities to voluntarily develop safety measures at their own plants.

In the meantime, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) should work on boosting the number of nuclear plant inspectors and training such officials so that the revisions will lead to the improvement of nuclear plant safety.

The NRA was established in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant and new safety standards subsequently came into effect. Restarts of idled nuclear reactors based on the new standards are underway. At the same time, reviews on nuclear plant inspection systems had been put on the back burner.

The pillars of nuclear plant inspections conducted by the government and power companies are regular checkups, which are carried out about once every 13 months, and security examinations done four times a year. With regular inspections, facilities with higher levels of importance are screened, while security examinations mainly judge whether a nuclear plant is operated safely.

The dates and contents of these checks are set prior to the actual inspections, however, and the system lacks flexibility, preventing the government from acting on a case-by-case basis to check problems at each plant.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has said that there is corporate culture within power companies where they think their nuclear plants are fine as long as they pass safety checks by government regulators. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also pointed out that this way of thinking is problematic and the agency recommended Japanese authorities improve nuclear plant inspection systems in the pre-disaster year of 2007 and again in January 2016.

Under the proposed bill, the division of roles shared by the government and power companies will be clarified. Utilities would be solely responsible for making sure that facilities at their nuclear plants meet safety standards, while the government would take the role of a watchdog, monitoring power companies’ safety measures and how inspections are being carried out to give an overall evaluation for each plant. The results of surprise inspections will be included in a nuclear plant’s overall grade, which will be reflected in the next inspection.

The new inspection system was inspired by those employed in the United States and other countries with nuclear power. While Japan will catch up with those countries in terms of the system after the law is revised, that alone is not enough.

In the United States, where around 100 nuclear reactors are in operation, there are some 1,000 inspectors at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and they undergo a two-year training program. In Japan, on the other hand, there are only around 100 inspectors for more than 40 reactors, and they receive a mere two weeks of training.

Unless the quality and quantity of the nuclear plant inspectors are secured, the effectiveness of the new system would become questionable.

Furthermore, the overall grades for each nuclear plant should be released in a way to make it easier for the public to understand. The government should also consider ways to make good use of the system such as changing the premiums of liability insurance policies for potential nuclear accidents depending on the nuclear plants’ safety grades.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170227/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Search for melted nuclear fuel at Fukushima plant’s No. 2 reactor faces obstacles

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Although nearly six years have passed since the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the search for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant continues.
The operators of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), deployed over 800 workers inside the No. 2 reactor at the No. 1 plant between December 2016 and February 2017 — but so far, they have been unable to identify the location of the melted nuclear fuel.

TEPCO also plans to conduct studies inside the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, but they are surely headed for a rough road as the search for the melted nuclear fuel continues to be extremely difficult. It is likely that struggles in that search will have a negative effect on the government and TEPCO’s target of completing the Fukushima decommissioning work between 2041 and 2051.

Apart from humans, robots have also been involved in the search. In the case of the No. 2 reactor for example, robots have been used in the following way.

The mission to get a good look inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel had four steps; first, workers would drill a hole measuring 11.5 centimeters in diameter into the containment vessel wall, allowing robots to enter the vessel; then workers would insert a pipe with a camera into the hole so that the situation inside the vessel could be observed; a cleaning robot would then be sent inside the vessel to clear away any sediment in the way for the next robot; and finally a self-propelled, scorpion-shaped robot would travel to the area directly below the nuclear reactor, in search of the melted fuel. However, a number of unexpected problems emerged along the way.

Heavy machinery giant IHI Corp.’s Keizo Imahori, 38, who oversaw the mechanical boring of the containment vessel in December 2016, explains that, “A number of unexpected dents were found on the floor of the nuclear reactor building.” This was a surprising discovery for Imahori and his team. The presence of the dents meant that it would be difficult for machines to get sufficiently close to the necessary areas to drill a hole, which in turn has a detrimental effect on the entire search for melted nuclear fuel.

As an emergency measure, 1-meter by 1-meter iron sheets were used to cover the dents, but workers involved in laying the sheets were exposed to extra radiation because of this additional work.

In addition to the dents, the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Fukushima plant, which first started operating in the 1970s, had many parts that have undergone repair work not reflected in their original construction plans. It was impossible to check such changes in the structure beforehand due to high levels of radiation.

There was another problem — the machines could not be attached to the side of the containment vessel, which meant workers were unable to carry out drilling work. This was caused by the containment vessel’s paint peeling away. The problem was solved after workers peeled off the paint by hand, but this also caused them to be exposed to more radiation.

The hole-boring process at the No. 2 reactor took approximately 20 days to complete — during which, workers involved in the project were exposed to approximately 4.5 millisieverts of radiation on average. Based on national guidelines, many companies involved in decommissioning work set the annual upper radiation dose at 20 millisieverts for their workers. Therefore, workers can only be involved in this project up to five times before their level of radiation exposure exceeds the limit. However, as Imahori points out, “We have no way of knowing the situation unless we actually go in there.”

Nevertheless, in order to ensure that highly-skilled professionals with expert knowledge in nuclear power plants continue to be involved in the search for the melted nuclear fuel, it is necessary to use robots as much as possible to reduce the amount of radiation to which humans are exposed.

At the same time, with the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant being somewhat like a “burning house,” manpower is also required to make effective progress with the search. Yasuo Hirose, of IHI Corp., states, “If we completely rely on robots for the decommissioning work, they will not be able to deal with any unexpected problems. The decommissioning process is likely to be a very long task.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170227/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Proud workers at Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant risk deadly radiation danger

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Workers examine the inside of the No. 2 reactor containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on Jan. 30, 2017.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has failed to grasp the entire picture of melted fuel possibly accumulating inside the container vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. The radiation levels inside the vessel are extremely high, to the extent a human could be killed in less than a minute, and even a robot designed to conduct a probe inside went down quckly.
The Mainichi Shimbun visited the disaster-stricken plant late last year ahead of the sixth anniversary of the nuclear meltdowns at the facility in March.

On the early morning of Dec. 24, 2016, a group of 26 workers assembled at a building housing the No. 2 reactor when it was still dark outside. The workers were from heavy machinery giant IHI Corp. and other companies engaged in disaster recovery work. On top of their protective Tyvek suits, they were wearing special protective ponchos. They also had four-layer gloves on, with plastic tape wrapped around their wrists. The outfit made them sweat though it was the middle of winter.

In order for TEPCO to move ahead with decommissioning work on the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors at the plant, the utility needs to find out how much melted nuclear fuel lies inside the facilities, and where, in the aftermath of the meltdown of 1,496 fuel rods. The 26 workers were tasked with drilling a hole measuring 11.5 centimeters in diameter in the No. 2 reactor’s container vessel to open the way for the probe robot, using a remotely controlled machine.

Ryosuke Ishida, 28, an employee of a related company in Hokkaido, was in charge of removing the machinery that was used in the drilling work. In order to ward off the severely high radiation, he was wearing a lead jacket weighing 10 kilograms on top of his already tightly sealed protective gear. Each worker was allowed only five minutes for their task to keep their radiation exposure doses to no more than 3 millisieverts a day. The dosimeters they were carrying with them were set to beep when the radiation level reached 1.5 to 2 millisieverts, with an additional alarm set to go off when radiation doses hit every one-fifth of those levels.

Ishida’s dosimeter beeped just under a minute after he stepped inside the No. 2 reactor building. “Is it beeping already?” he thought to himself. The radiation levels vary greatly depending on where one stands inside the facility. Although Ishida had got a firm grasp on where the hot spots were during pre-training, he found himself “inadvertently standing on highly radioactive spots as I was focused on work.”

While trying to calm himself down, Ishida sped up his manual work. Alas, a machine component for turning a bolt fell off and rolled on the floor. “Damn, I’m running out of time,” he thought. His full face mask went all white as he sweated physically and emotionally, blocking his view. By the time he finished picking up the fallen component and wrapped up his work, he was sweating all over his body.

“It’s a battle against radiation at the site,” Ishida recalled. He added, though, “Because nobody else wants to do the job, I find it all the more worthwhile and take pride in it.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170227/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Media and nuclear – theme for March 2017

Today’s news media is a smorgasbord of online blogs,Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, Linked-In and a hundred other online sites. Oh, and yes, there are still some online, and even print, newspapers. You remember those last. They employed reputable investigative journalists, who did fact-checking about their news sources.

With journalists dropping off employment like flies, anyone can write anything – no fact-checking needed. It might be fabricated.  It ‘s likely to be biased and inaccurate.
The “old media” – newspapers, radio, TV have long been vulnerable to uncritically disseminating propaganda articles from industry. Even more so, now, as they struggle financially. Industry handouts are much cheaper than real  journalism. That situation is a boon to the nuclear lobby.
social-media-1The “new media” is also a boon to the nuclear industry. They already pay lobbyists,Twitter and Facebook users, and especially Youtube-ers to daily spin out propaganda items by the hundreds. Nuclear lobbyists make use of “bots” to send  tweets in multiples, which actually come from just one software programme. At the same time, nuclear companies continue to produce glossy, expensive, sophisticated films and TV series. Their latest effort will hit the cinemas soon –  The New Fire.
As if this media revolution were not enough, the nuclear industry now receives a new bonus, the  rise of fascism, pioneered trump-twitterby Donald Trump, and perhaps soon to hit Europe and other countries. With an uncanny and Goebbels-like ability to home in on the right places in the media landscape, Trump makes brilliant use of  Twitter. Doesn’t matter if his tweets are lies – they are regurgitated across the world, and believed in by many.
Like all dictators, Trump’s first attack is on the media. Any journalism that Trump doesn’t like is “Fake Press”.  Reputable credible news sources like CNN and New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC, Huffington Post and BuzzFeed News. are now “enemies of the people” , and banned from White House media briefings. Instead, Trump trump-puppet-of-weapons-makerscrony publications like Breitbart are welcomed.
What does this mean for the nuclear industry? Well. probably Trump-dominated media will be a positive for them. Let’s not forget, Donald Trump is in power, for now, under suffrance from the Republican Party on behalf of the richest industrialists.
What does it all mean for us, writers and readers who seek genuine information?
Judith Donath of CNN said it for me:

“help promote a culture that reveres veracity. Check your sources before you post anything. Support newspapers and other organizations that do good, reliable reporting. Discourage people in your own community when they promote stories that feel good to you, but are, alas, untrue. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/opinions/fake-news-stories-thrive-donath/

February 27, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, media | 1 Comment

New nuclear? – same old journey to fascism

Is Nuclear Experimentation Fascism? Wake Up World, 22nd January 2014 By Ethan Indigo Smith  Contributing Writer for Wake Up World   Definition of Fascism: “Any program for setting up a centralized autocratic national regime with severely nationalistic policies, exercising regimentation of industry, commerce, and finance, rigid censorship and forcible suppression of opposition.” ~  New Collegiate Dictionary based on Webster’s New International Dictionary second edition, copyright 1956.

Fascism 1
….The United States was formerly one of the few anti-institutional, anti-oligarchical nations in the world, but we have succumbed to the oligarchical corporaculture that has been pushed for the last couple of hundred years, whether fused by labels like the divine rite of kings or by corporate personhood. The United States used to push for individual rights, but now we yield to violent fascism just like the rest of the intolerant world. Hell, we were once so anti-fascist and anti-oligarchy that  it used to be illegal to do business in more than one American state, now the police and political system seems to only serve and protect business interests. But at what cost?

Imagine if this culture of anti-fascism were still the case, perhaps none of us would ever question our water supply, hijacked for a nuke plant or polluted by a petroleum conglomerate.

Learning from History

Recent events at Fukushima have highlighted the uncontainable dangers of nuclear experimentation. If one examines trends, there are bound to be more accidents, spills and ‘unprecedented events’ within the nuclear industry.

The first nuclear power generation experiment began at Oak Ridge in 1948, and first massive one began in the Soviet city of Obninsk in 1954. In the 65 years that followed, there have been  numerous known meltdowns  at nuclear facilities around the world,  as well as environmental, human and political destruction at other sites that did not (by luck only) experience full meltdown.

Hanford, USA, 1943 – 1987……. Bikini Atoll, Northern Pacific Ocean, 1946……Windscale Fire, UK, 1957……. Santa Susana, USA, 1959…. Three Mile Island, USA, 1979……. Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986…….Rocky Flats Plant, USA 1987…… Fukushima Daiichi, Japan 2011….

Who is next?

The list goes on. And while this is a short summary of some of the nuclear industry’s worst failings – both environmental and political – what it does not take into account that there are now over four hundred nuclear power generation experiments in operation worldwide, and more being built, each one representing another potential disaster. Now factor in the endless radioactive pollution and dumped material (buried and sunken near you) involved in the process even when things go ‘right’ (by nuclear industry standards) and you get a clearer view of the impact of nuclear experimentation.

Under the terms of current policy, the US Federal Government simply incurs the financial costs and burden of dealing with nuclear ‘events’…. and by the ‘Federal Government’ I mean the U.S. taxpayer.

Regimentation of IndustryToday, the United States of America is fascist. So is China, Japan, Russia, France, England, Japan and every single nuclear nation. Australia is de facto fascist, being a major extractor of uranium for the nuclear fuel chain. The United States of America is fascist by way of one single act:  The Price Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act. There are many more acts and laws that strengthen nuclear fascism in the United States, but The Price Anderson Act seals the deal. Its main purpose is to indemnify  the nuclear industry against liability claims arising from  nuclear incidents.  And other countries have their own nuclear deals which also guarantee that those who profit from the nuclear industry are not held accountable for their work.
text-Price-Anderson-ActThe Price Anderson Act illustrates the U.S.A.’s fascist trail, and that nuclear experiment cleared the way for it in the first place. The Act makes it so that nuclear power generation experiments can operate at all, otherwise no insurance corporation would insure them.  The insurance companies that deal with nuclear experimentation only do so because the Act limits their responsibility in the event of an accident, such as the  Fukushima meltdown. If there is an accident that costs more than the capped amount, insurance companies pay out up to and including their cap, and communities and governments foot the bill for the remaining clean up costs. Put simply…. they profit, you pay.  Not to mention the non-financial costs of human and planetary health.

The Price Anderson Act endorses fascism in the United States, and in the bigger picture, nuclear experimentation guarantees fascism no matter what nation is doing the experimenting – whether Israel, China, Iran or the U.S. or Japan.  The nuclear power industry could not survive without placing all the risk on the shoulders of taxpayers. And by doing so, the Price Anderson Act enables nuclear oligarchical fascists to make a fortune by endangering everyone and everything on the planet.

Even if nuclear facilities operated to their original design specifications rather than running components on extended operation (by years) and  over-crammed fuel pools, as is the case today, the industry is still unworkable. But today,  most if not all nuclear power generation experiments in the U.S.A. have fuel pools loaded with waste material beyond original design specifications, but the nuclear industry and its regulators seem content continuing down this path — and waiting for our grandchildren to figure out what to do with the mess they leave behind.

Censorship and Suppression of Opposition

censorshipFurther fascism is evident through nuclear experimentation in the sense that it is a militaristic invention, put to use by engineering corporations that are linked with government entities, which also own news and information corporations. The GE/NBC corporation is the starkest, but not the only, example of this in the U.S.A. Being both the subject and reporter of news on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the GE/NBC corporation has placed itself in a clear conflict of interest. As the subsidiary of the failed nuclear reactor’s parent company, can you trust NBC News not to ‘spin’ glossy tales or omit details relating to the situation at Fukushima? Particularly details that might implicate GE in the chain of failings that caused the meltdown?

But news corporations are not the only parties able to censor or suppress information; government institutions have also closed ranks following the Fukushima disaster. As a prime example, the United States EPA (the supposed Environmental Protection Agency) went as far as disabling public access to radiation monitors in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown.  Do they really believe what we can’t see won’t hurt us? Or is the EPA, as part of the US government, trying to avoid adverse political fallout?

Furthermore, the  Fukushima disaster  has led to a practical elimination of free speech and free reporting of information from within Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Designated Secrets Bill  was arguably written for and because of the Fukushima disaster after authorities failed to manage the radioactive leaks and news spread around the globe. Since it could not contain the nuclear contamination, the Japanese government instead decided to contain information about it, creating laws that enable punishment of individuals for leaking or reporting information about their disastrous failure. Despite drawing criticism and protest at home and around the world, the Japanese parliament has since passed the law under which people convicted of leaking classified information will face 5 to 10 years in prison.

Clearly nuclear experimentation does not co-exist alongside freedom of speech or transparent access to information. It can only exist in a fascist state, which suppresses information and opposition.

Severely Nationalistic Policies 

The only part of the definition of fascism that nuclear experimentation does not technically fit is that nuclear experimentation operates on an international level, not just a nationalistic one. However it seems even nuclear disaster rings opportunity bells for nationalistic governments.

As reported by Bloomberg  in 2013, “Japan  will receive international help with the cleanup at the Fukushima atomic station once it joins an existing treaty that defines liability for accidents at nuclear plants, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said.” This means that the United States’ “offer” of assistance is conditional upon Japan signing onto an international convention known as the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, designed only to protect US nuclear interests from liability in the event of an accident. The U.S. Government has lobbied for the international adoption of the convention  for many years, and now it seems it has Japan over a barrell. Surely this political opportunism  qualifies as ‘severely nationalistic’ behaviour. Yet it in the United States, it seems we can barely distinguish this kind of fascism from the actions of true democratic government.

We are so confused in the United States that we call our country ‘America’, ignoring the unity of our ‘United States’. We are so confused that we equate freedom with liberty, but in actuality, freedom allows fascism. It allows people to punch you in the face without consequence or destroy ecosystems via oligarchical energy systems requiring destructive, extraction, refinement and use. We are so confused we think we can declare wars on other countries in the name of peace. We are so confused we think that digging up nuclear resources is different than digging up petroleum resources, but both nuclear and petrol fuels destroy human life, destroy ecosystems…. and destroy liberty.

Liberty is the oppositional factor against fascism and its facsimiles. Liberty  is the quality individuals have to control their own actions.  Liberty promotes the rights of individuals, whereas freedom allows oligarchical energy institutions to punch you in the face through The Price Anderson Act and the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage…. and all the other reinforcements that build up institutions at the expense of individuals, allowing them to make uncapped fortunes without liability for their actions. https://wakeup-world.com/2014/01/22/is-nuclear-experimentation-fascism/

February 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics | Leave a comment

UK, France, Japan shuffling the deckchairs on their disastrous nuclear industries

Four global nuclear industry giants ‒ French utilities Électricité de France (EDF) and Areva, US-based Westinghouse and Japanese conglomerate Toshiba ‒ face crippling debts and possible bankruptcy because of their investments in nuclear power.

The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. EDF plans to sell $13.8 billion of assets to rein in its $51.8 billion debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. Areva has accumulated losses of over $14 billion over the past five years.

French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about $17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.

A government-led rescue of the nuclear power industry may cost the French state as much as $14 billion, Reuters reported in January, and in addition to its “dire financial state, Areva is beset by technical, regulatory and legal problems”.

Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell indebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy.

One site where these problems come together is Moorside in Cumbria, UK. A Toshiba/Engie consortium was planning to build three AP1000 reactors, but Toshiba wants to sell its stake in the consortium in the wake of Westinghouse’s massive losses from AP1000 construction projects in the US.

Engie reportedly wants to sell its stake in the Moorside consortium, and the French government has already sold part of its stake in Engie… to help prop up EDF and Areva!

Deck-chairs are being shuffled. Cumbrians will be glad to see the back of corruption-plagued Toshiba ‒ but corruption-plagued South Korean utility KEPCO might take its place.

Another site where these problems come together is Hinkley Point in the UK, where EDF has a contract to build two EPR reactors at an estimated cost (including finance) of $40 billion ($20 billion for each reactor). Industry literature is replete with references to ‘learning-by-doing’, but all EDF and Areva have learnt over the past decade is how to fuck things up ‒ in which case Hinkley Point could be the fuck-up that kills nuclear power in the UK.

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever“, former EDF director Gérard Magnin said last November. He said: “A lot of people in EDF have known for a long time the EPR has no future – too sophisticated, too expensive – but they assume their commitments and try to save the face of France… Renewable energies are becoming competitive with fossil fuels and new nuclear, such as Hinkley Point, where EDF will try to build the most expensive reactors in the world and provide electricity at an unprecedented cost.”

EDF Vice President Mark Boillot may be preparing to jump ship ‒ he recently wrote an article saying that the centralised model of power production is dying, to be replaced by local renewables supplemented by batteries and intelligent management of supply and demand.

The Carbon Commentary Newsletter saidIn most jurisdictions Mr Boillot would have been asked to clear his desk. What will EDF do about one of its most senior people openly forecasting the end of the large power station as it tries to raise the ten billion euros necessary to pay for its share of Hinkley?”  ………..https://newmatilda.com/2017/02/26/nuclear-power-is-in-crisis-as-cost-overruns-cripple-industry-giants/

February 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment