nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

TEPCO blunders raise doubts on ability as nuke plant operator

jhlklm.jpg

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, center, is briefed by the chief of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the No. 6 reactor building in February, while TEPCO President Naomi Hirose, right, looks on.

 

Recent revelations concerning Tokyo Electric Power Co. raised fundamental doubts about whether the utility has done sufficient soul-searching over the accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

The revelations concern the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, where the company is seeking to restart the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors as soon as possible. In one instance, a key facility has been found to be lacking an adequate level of earthquake resistance.

TEPCO’s latest blunders emerged during the final stages of the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening of the two reactors, based on stricter safety standards introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The NRA summoned TEPCO President Naomi Hirose. It should come as no surprise that the NRA’s chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, instructed Hirose to re-submit documents in the application for the restarts after ensuring their accuracy as a matter of his responsibility.

The new standards are nothing but the NRA’s minimum requirements for safe reactor operations.

Utilities have the primary responsibility for keeping track of the latest scientific knowledge and improving the safety of nuclear power plants.

A company that fails to pay appropriate attention to developments it finds inconvenient or cannot make swift decisions when faced with such a situation is not qualified to operate a nuclear reactor.

The NRA summoned Hirose over the earthquake resistance of a key building that is designed to serve as an on-site emergency response headquarters at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in the event of a severe accident.

TEPCO had said the building could withstand an earthquake with a maximum intensity of seven on the Japanese seismic scale. In the process of the NRA’s screening, however, the company acknowledged that it may not be able to withstand even half of the assumed strongest seismic shaking.

TEPCO said it learned about the inadequate level of earthquake resistance in 2014. The utility said the information was not shared within the company due to poor communications among different divisions. But that explanation should not be allowed to let it off the hook.

TEPCO also failed to disclose until recently other pieces of information about the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, such as the possibility that an earthquake could cause liquefaction of the ground under a seawall built to protect the plant from tsunami.

NRA officials have criticized TEPCO for its reluctance to disclose problems in a straightforward manner.

Local governments around the plant are similarly aghast.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who has been cautious about endorsing TEPCO’s plan to restart the reactors, has stated that he does not trust the utility.

TEPCO also appears to be losing the trust of Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, who had shown some understanding to the idea of restarts. He said anxiety about TEPCO’s nature has “heightened” due to the latest revelations, combined with the disclosure last year that the company tried to cover up the core meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.

There is now the possibility that I may not give my consent” to the restarts, he said.

The 2007 Chuetsu offshore earthquake destroyed an administrative building at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Learning lessons from the disaster, TEPCO started constructing base-isolated buildings designed to serve as on-site emergency response headquarters at its nuclear power plants.

During the 2011 nuclear disaster, such a building at the Fukushima No. 1 plant was used as the on-site command post.

But the NRA’s screenings of reactors operated by other utilities had revealed that there are cases where buildings constructed with base isolation technology do not meet the new safety standards.

Critics say TEPCO is not eager to incorporate new findings.

It has been repeatedly pointed out that TEPCO first needs to thoroughly reform its organization and corporate culture, among other aspects.

We feel compelled to state again that the company must confront its problems.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703040025.html

Advertisements

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Learning From Our Mistakes: It Could Have Been Worse

 

March 11, 2017 marks 6 years since triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants and the near meltdown at numerous atomic power reactors across Japan. Even today we are still realizing the widespread impacts these meltdowns have caused for the citizens of Japan and their ongoing impact around the earth. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi plants) still has not located the melted fuel that continues to release significant amounts of radioactive material into the ocean, and tens of thousands of Japanese citizens displaced from the Fukushima Prefecture remain without a home or permanent settlement.

As many of Fairewinds readers already know, following the Great East Japan earthquake and Tsunami that shook and destroyed a large area on the Pacific coast of Japan, a level 7 meltdown occurred at three of the six rectors at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant. As we remember the devastation caused in this event, we must also be thankful for the thousands of workers who responded promptly and sacrificed their personal safety to prevent further catastrophe at the 14 nuclear power reactors in jeopardy on March 11. As we look back, we have to learn from this disaster and remember it could have been worse.

One of the lessons from that fateful day nearly six years ago is that disaster strikes quickly, and all of us need to be prepared for the worst case scenario. As we have seen, at Fukushima and Chernobyl, atomic power meltdowns have proven too difficult and costly to handle and clean-up. What if the tsunami had hit more nuclear reactor sites, or the earthquake damage and some of the plant explosions had damaged additional reactors causing nuclear power plants up and down the coast of Japan to meltdown simultaneously?

In today’s churning political, intense environmental climate, and heavily mechanized and computerized energy production and industrial industries, we all must consider the risk of multiple simultaneous equipment failures caused by an unanticipated mechanical failure or intense natural disaster like the one we saw in Japan. As the climate changes and weather patterns become less and less predictable, we need to be prepared if another disaster were to occur.

In this Fairewinds video, Arnie Gundersen discusses the vulnerability of nuclear power plant cooling pumps alongside rivers and oceans. These cooling pumps are crucial to the operation of the backup generators at Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) that have the same design as Fukushima Daiichi; there are 23 BWR atomic reactors in the United States with vulnerabilities like those at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site. In this video Mr. Gundersen recommends that a greater level of preparedness be added to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association) International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale in order to account for atomic power situations involving multiple simultaneous equipment and/or containment system failures that may require increased international assistance and a rapid response.

Next week, Fairewinds Energy Education will discuss some new details regarding the ongoing tragedy at Fukushima Daiichi including an update on what workers still cleaning up the site and the surrounding Fukushima Prefecture are facing, the effects of the disaster on the displaced residents of Fukushima Prefecture, and the TEPCO’s current updates to locate molten fuel and contain the extensive radioactivity at the destroyed reactors.

https://www.fairewinds.org/demystify//learning-from-our-mistakes-it-could-have-been-worse

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

To return ‘home’ or not is a tough call for evacuees from Fukushima

evacuation-map-march-2017

A large portion of Naraha town in Fukushima Prefecture lies within 20 kilometers of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

When I visited recently, I saw mounds of black bags, presumably filled with contaminated soil. Large trucks rumbled on in endless streams. The town’s convenience stores seemed to be flourishing, thanks to an influx of reactor-dismantling crews and reconstruction workers.

After an evacuation order was issued in the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, Naraha remained uninhabitable for a long time. It was only 18 months ago that the evacuation order was finally lifted.

“We are merely at the starting line now,” said the mayor at the time.

And true to his observation, the town still faces a long, arduous road ahead. So far, only about 10 percent of Naraha’s 7,000-plus residents have returned.

I met Takayuki Furuichi, 40, who was among the first to return home. Before the disaster, Furuichi worked at a facility for the disabled in Naraha. After his return, he established an NPO for home-visit nursing care. In addition to visiting the disabled and the elderly, his NPO staffers also provide day-care services for disabled children.

Furuichi said it was his “iji,” or stubborn pride, that brought him back to Naraha.

“It’s too vexing to just let my hometown remain in this sorry state. I want to provide support for fellow returnees,” he said.

But he also feels conflicted. Now overrun with large service vehicles, the town looks completely different from before. And worries about radiation have not gone away.

“I cannot really urge anyone to come home,” he lamented.

The lifting of the evacuation order was a step forward. But this also presented a new dilemma to people who had become accustomed to their lives as evacuees. They are still grappling with the tough decision of whether to return home or stay put, or simply hold off any decision for now.

“To use a marathon analogy, Fukushima’s reconstruction is at the 30-km point,” Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura noted recently. But for people who were forced to leave their homes in 2011, the race has only just begun and is in a fog.

This spring, evacuation orders will be lifted in four municipalities, including the town of Namie. This brings to the townspeople not only a sense of relief, but anxiety and vacillation as well.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703020029.html

 

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

SIX YEARS AFTER: Poll: At least 20 years to regain lifestyle, half of Fukushima says

uh_hjkl.jpg

Decontamination work is conducted on March 2 in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which will no longer be designated an evacuation zone on March 31.

 

Half of Fukushima Prefecture residents believe it will take at least another 20 years for them to return to the lives they enjoyed before the 3/11 disaster, according to a new poll.

The Asahi Shimbun and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. contacted prefectural residents on Feb. 25-26 to ask about life after the triple nuclear meltdown crisis following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. It was the seventh in the annual series of polls on the issue.

In the survey, 50 percent of respondents said “more than 20 years” when asked their outlook on the timescale to restore their previous lifestyle. Twenty-one percent said “about 20 years,” followed by 16 percent who thought “about 10 years,” and 7 percent who responded “about five years.”

In the 2013 poll, those who thought it would take more than two decades for them to regain their pre-disaster life totaled 60 percent. The numbers cannot simply be cross-referenced since 18 and 19 years olds have been included in the latest survey for the first time, but while the results suggest some improvement, they also paint a picture of many residents of the prefecture still unable to have an optimistic outlook on their future.

Thirty percent of respondents of the latest survey said there are times they feel discriminated against for being Fukushima Prefecture residents.

The central government plans to cover part of the costs on the Fukushima nuclear crisis that is estimated to rise to 21.5 trillion yen ($188 billion) by including the expenses in electricity rates on regular households.

It is a plan that has been criticized to be nothing more than a scheme to bail out Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and 76 percent of respondents said they could not accept such a measure.

With the evacuation order for the town of Tomioka scheduled to be lifted on April 1, most residents of the prefecture who were displaced from their homes due to the nuclear disaster will be able to go back, excluding those who lived in areas still designated as “difficult-to-return zones.”

But opinions over the issue varied among respondents, suggesting skepticism over decontamination work and concerns over radiation still linger among many residents.

When asked about the timing of lifting the evacuation order, the most popular answer, from 40 percent, was that it was an appropriate decision. However, 19 percent said it was “too soon,” while 22 percent said the order “should not be lifted in the first place.” Nine percent said it was “too late.”

Respondents were also divided over their evaluation of decontamination work in the prefecture conducted by the central and local governments.

Those who applauded the effort, which comprised the 3 percent who “highly” praised it and the 48 percent who “somewhat” did, was at just over half. But an almost equal amount of respondents, 46 percent, expressed criticism, with 39 percent saying they “did not really” think enough was being done and 7 percent saying they were not at all satisfied.

When asked whether they had any concerns of the effects of radiation on themselves or their family, most residents, at 63 percent, said yes. This comprised the 19 percent who said they were very concerned and the 44 percent who responded they were worried to some extent.

Those who were more critical of the decontamination efforts, as well as respondents who expressed concern over the effects of radiation, tended to reply that the evacuation order “should not be lifted in the first place.”

Regarding “difficult-to-return zones,” the central government plans to concentrate their decontamination work on specific areas to allow residents to live there.

Respondents were divided over this decision as well, with 43 percent for and 42 percent against.

However, when asked about how the central government and TEPCO were handling the buildup of contaminated groundwater at the crippled nuclear plant, the majority of respondents expressed criticism. A total of 71 percent said they were dissatisfied, compared with the 14 percent who thought enough was being done.

The poll targeted eligible voters aged 18 or older living in the prefecture. Valid responses were received from 934 individuals out of the 1,739 randomly generated landline numbers contacted, or 54 percent.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703030048.html

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Die-offs on US West Coast linked to Fukushima radiation???

ggjhkjlkm

Charles Perrow, Yale University professor emeritus and Stanford University visiting professor, published Apr 2016 (emphasis added):

Could I just make an observation that’s been missing from this interesting discussion? Fukushima accident is not over – not by any means…

The cancer rate in Japan is going to rise steadily. It’s going to be denied by the government because there’s no transparency on this issue in Japan.

There’s a particular example of the problem that intrigues me is when they put the plant in, they not only dug it out so it’d be closer to the water source – the sea – but they put it where there was a river flowing underneath that area. They went up the hill and they diverted the river so that it flowed down on the sides of the large area there and that was no problem. They never anticipated an earthquake could wreck their diversion.

So know we have a strong underground river flowing directly under the plant where three huge globs of molten fuel are sitting on the bottom, giving off radiation, and sending that radiation into the water through the river that’s underneath the plant.

And it’s going out into the ocean and we’re seeing damage in the marine life on the West Coast of the U.S. and British Columbia.

There’s no way that’s going to be stopped until they get the molten cores out of there, and they have no way — that they know of — of doing that. Nobody has any idea what to do about the continuing Fukushima contamination.

Watch Perrow’s comments on Fukushima here (at 1:34:30 in)

Professor Sonja Schmid at 1:39:16

The question of nuclear becomes a question of democracy and ultimately a question of justice. Who gets to say something? And whether we entrust these decisions to governments and technocrats, or how, if we decide to do so, we democratize the process. And it’s challenging no matter how you plan to go forward, but I think that’s the ultimate lesson of this, that we can no longer have technocrats, scientists and engineers in charge defining “the real risk” and then solving it, and the rest of the population just watches and has no impact whatsoever on these questions or how they are being addressed.”

Charles Perrow’s paper “Nuclear Denial”, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2013

http://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Bulletin_of_the_Atomic_Scientists-2013-Perrow-56-67.pdf

Sonja Schmid is a professor at Virgina Tech. From her bio: “Sonja Schmid teaches courses in social studies of technology, science and technology policy, socio-cultural studies of risk, energy policy, and nuclear nonproliferation. She is particularly interested in examining the interface of national energy policies, technological choices, and nonproliferation concerns. “

http://www.cornell.edu/video/five-years-after-fukushima-lessons-learned-nuclear-accidents

 

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean survey 1.5 km off the coast of Fukushima Daiichi

 

Results collected in an ocean survey 1.5 km off the coast of Fukushima:
Cesium 137 – 51.6 Bq/kg
Cesium 134 – 16.5 Bq/kg
Strontium 90 – 1.92 Bq/kg

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

How Donald Trump manipulates media news anchors

text-relevanttrump-worldCNN reports Trump successfully manipulated anchors for positive coverage
“Maybe we shouldn’t believe what they say.”
Think Progress Aaron Rupar, 2 Mar 17 On Wednesday, CNN’s Sara Murray reported that President Trump manipulated a team of CNN anchors into providing him with hours of positive coverage ahead of his first speech to Congress on Tuesday night.

During the “Sara’s Notebook” segment, Murray characterized what Trump told the anchors at the White House on Tuesday as “the bait and switch that the president pulled when it came to immigration yesterday.”

“He had this meeting with the anchors, he talked about a path to legal status,” Murray, a D.C.-based political reporter, said. “Basically they fed us things that they thought these anchors would like, that they thought would give them positive press coverage for the next few hours. A senior administration official admitted that it was a misdirection play.”

Murray went on to note that “when the president was actually out there speaking to the American public, he didn’t talk about a path to legal status.”……

The White House was happy enough with the coverage of Trump’s speech that officials decided to postpone signing a new Muslim Ban executive order, which was originally planned for Wednesday, so the administration could fully bask in the positive news cycle. Not even a month ago, Trump argued that an immediate ban was necessary for urgent national security reasons.

Just as he has with immigration policy, Trump has flip-flopped about his Muslim ban…….

During the transition period after the election, President-elect Trump distracted the media from his plans to profit off the presidency by tweeting out criticisms of Saturday Night Live and the actors and producers of Hamilton. He never divested from his business, but took advantage of a well-established media norm — if the president-elect says something, it’s news — and manipulated the media into publishing stories like this:  [picture on original]

Trump appointed white nationalists to some of the most powerful positions in his administration, but the media covered his meetings with Mitt Romney instead.

In late November, Trump adviser Newt Gringrich explained how Trump does it.

“He understands the value of showmanship,” Gingrich said during a Fox News interview. “And candidly, the news media is going to chase the rabbit. So it’s better off for him to give them a rabbit than for them to go find their own rabbit. He’s had them fixated on Mitt Romney now for five or six days. I think from his perspective, that’s terrific. It gives everyone something to talk about.” https://thinkprogress.org/trump-cnn-immigration-compromise-d3b96490e0aa#.bxnac4y5m

March 4, 2017 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped

 financial-meltdownflag-UKNo2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017  Toshiba’s announcement that it will not be involved in the construction of new nuclear reactors at the Sellafield ‘Moorside’ site in Cumbria has thrown into sharp relief the sorry state of the UK’s new nuclear policy which is clearly failing to deliver. It is obvious now that it can only be delivered with huge public subsidies the country can ill afford at a time when public services are under intense strain.

Toshiba announced on 14th February that it expects to book a €5.9bn write-down on Westinghouse ‒ more than it paid to buy a majority stake in the Company from the British government’s BNFL in 2006 ‒ and it expects to report a net loss of €3.2bn in the fiscal year to March 2017.Audited figures are now due on March 14.

The mess has been caused mainly by the delayed and over-budget AP1000 reactors being built in the US. The cost to complete four AP1000 reactors ‒ two each in South Carolina and Georgia ‒ will “far surpass the original estimates”. Combined, the cost overruns exceed US$10 billion. And since there is still a long way to go before construction of the four reactors is complete, there is plenty of scope for further cost overruns. (1) There is now even talk of the possibility of bankruptcy for Toshiba. Former Westinghouse boss Shigenori Shiga, appointed as chair of Toshiba following a US$1.3 billion accounting scandal in 2015, stood down from his position on February 14.

Toshiba says it would like to sell Westinghouse if that was an option ‒ but there is no prospect of a buyer. The nuclear unit is, as Bloomberg noted, “too much of a mess” to sell. And since that isn’t an option, Toshiba must sell profitable businesses instead to stave off bankruptcy. The company plans to sell most ‒ perhaps all ‒ of its profitable microchip business to prop up the nuclear carcass and avoid bankruptcy. The company might get €12.3‒16.1bn by selling its entire stake in its microchip business, said Joel Hruska from ExtremeTech. “That would pay off the company’s immediate debts,” Hruska said, “but would leave it holding the bag on an incredibly expensive, underwhelming nuclear business with no prospects for near-term improvement.” (2)

The ripple-effects of Toshiba’s latest problems will be many and varied. Japan’s ambitions to develop a large nuclear export business are in tatters. As recently as last year, Toshiba said it hoped to win 50 contracts to build new nuclear plants in India and China over the next decade. As well as Moorside reactor construction projects being planned in Turkey and elsewhere are up in the air.

But it is not just Toshiba that is in crisis. Over the past decade, international energy utilities Eon, RWE Npower, Iberdrola, SSE and Centrica have all confidently announced their commitment to building new nuclear power stations, whether at Hinkley Point, Wylfa or Moorside, but then had to pull out as they realise they cannot afford the huge levels of investment that such projects require. (3) In Europe, energy giants EDF, Engie (France), E.ON, RWE (Germany) and Vattenfall (Sweden), as well as utilities TVO (Finland) and CEZ (Czech Republic), have all been downgraded by credit rating agencies over the past year. All of the utilities registered severe losses on the stock market   http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo93.pdf

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

The spin begins- sanitising Fukushima for the Olympics

logo-Tokyo-OlympicsJapan to Dispel Fear over Fukushima Radiation before Tokyo 2020, Latin American Herald Tribune, 3 Mar 17  TOKYO – Preventing fear and concern over the Fukushima disaster from negatively impacting foreign tourist arrivals during the 2020 Olympics is among Japan’s current priorities, representatives of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Tokyo Electric Power Company said at a press conference on Thursday…….
TEPCO decommissioning head Naohiro Masuda said radiation levels inside as well as around the plant continue to be stable, and will thus pose no threat to residents or the environment.

However, he added that one of the challenges for TEPCO is to safeguard the health of its 5,850 personnel, who have been working daily to decontaminate and dismantle the plant, a process that is expected to take 30 to 40 years to complete……http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=2432153&CategoryId=12395

March 4, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Why milk is nature’s perfect radioactivity delivery system

radiation-emanatingWhat’s up with milk and radiation? , Connect Savannah, 14 Sept 2011, 

1. It’s a food. While an external dusting of radionuclides isn’t healthy, for efficient long-term irradiation of vulnerable organs there’s no substitute for actually ingesting the stuff.

2. It’s fast. Not to knock potatoes and chicken, but growing these items can take weeks or months. With milk, the fallout simply drifts over the pasture and lands on the grass, which the cows then eat. The radioactive particles are deposited in the cows’ milk, the farmers milk the cows, and in a day or two the contaminated product shows up in the dairy case.

3. Because it’s processed quickly, milk makes effective use of contaminants that would otherwise rapidly decay. A byproduct of uranium fission is the radioactive isotope iodine-131. Iodine is critical to functioning of the thyroid gland, and any iodine-131 consumed will be concentrated there. However, iodine-131 has a half-life of just eight days. The speed of dairying eliminates this impediment.

4. Milk also does a good job of delivering other radioactive contaminants, such as cesium-134 and cesium-137. Although not important for human health, radioactive cesium mimics potassium, which we do need, and is readily absorbed by the body. Another uranium breakdown product is strontium-90, which is especially hazardous to children, since it can be incorporated into growing bones. In contrast to radioactive iodine, strontium-90 has a half-life of about 29 years, so once it gets embedded in you, you are, as the Irish say, fooked.

5. That brings us to the most fiendish property of radioactive milk-it targets the young. Children (a) drink a lot more milk and (b) are smaller, which when you add it up means they get a much stiffer dose. Some cancers triggered by radioactivity have a long latency period; older people may die of something else first, but kids bear the full brunt.

For all these reasons, testing milk and dumping any contaminated is at the top of the list of disaster-response measures following a nuclear accident, and it’s unusual, though not unknown, for bad milk to find its way into the food supply. For example:

• Iodine contamination during the 1979 Three Mile Island accident was negligible, 20 picocuries per liter. The FDA’s “action level” at the time was 12,000 picocuries per liter; the current limit of 4,600 picocuries is still far in excess of what was observed.

• After the problems with the Fukushima reactors in Japan, one batch of hot milk did test at nine times the current limit, and milk and vegetable consumption was prohibited in high-risk areas. But most bans were rescinded after a couple months.

• In 1957, after a fire at the Windscale plutonium processing plant in the UK, radiation levels of 800,000 picocuries per liter and higher were found in local milk. Though contamination of milk wasn’t well understood at the time, authorities figured 800,000 of anything involving curies can’t be good and banned the stuff.

• Then there’s Chernobyl. Milk sales were banned in nearby cities after the 1986 reactor explosion, but feckless Soviet officials let the sizable rural population fend for itself. Not surprisingly, 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer subsequently developed, proving there’s no catastrophic situation that stupidity can’t make worse.

One last thing. We’ve been talking about cow’s milk, but be aware that iodine-131, strontium-90, and other radioactive contaminants can also be transferred through human milk…..http://www.connectsavannah.com/savannah/whats-up-with-milk-and-radiation/Content?oid=2135647

March 4, 2017 Posted by | radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Clamour for new Nuclear Subsidies in Britain

uk-subsidy-2017Failing New Nuclear Programme should be Scrapped No2NuclearPower, No.93 March 2017

GMB national secretary for energy Justin Bowden reiterated his call for the government to bankroll the project. “It is time for government to show leadership and take over the reins at Moorside,” said Bowden. “The fiasco with Toshiba shows exactly why relying on foreign companies for our energy needs is just plain stupid.” Tim Yeo, a former minister and chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe, a pro-nuclear group, said Moorside provided a “prime opportunity” for Theresa May’s administration to demonstrate its industrial strategy with support for the UK nuclear supply chain. He said that with lingering doubts over the viability of Hinkley Point and Wylfa “the only way forward is if the government is willing to participate”. This could involve the government taking a minority stake, or providing loans that would be repaid after construction was complete, added Mr Yeo. (17) The GMB says Moorside is vital as Sellafield’s workforce starts shrinking. By 2020 up to 3,000 jobs could be lost as the Thorp nuclear fuel facility closes and reprocessing of Magnox fuel ends. (18)

Ministers should also actively encourage investment from nuclear companies in China, South Korea and Russia where the industry is relatively insulated from the challenges faced by European companies thanks to strong state backing, says Yeo – there is a real danger that the pipeline of nuclear projects will fail to come on stream before 2030 unless Government agrees to intervene. The existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before the nuclear plant begins producing power. The Government should offer loans to developers which can be paid back once the plant comes on stream, or take an equity stake in the project which could be sold off to investors when construction is complete. “In neither case would the Government’s support constitute a permanent subsidy. It would directly cut the cost of electricity produced by the new plant because the Government’s borrowing costs will be lower than those of any private investor,” says Yeo. (19)

Right on cue, says Greenpeace Policy Director, Doug Parr, stories have begun to appear in the press saying that government is thinking about or even “under pressure” to inject huge amounts of taxpayers cash into new reactors in order to get them built. “Neither proposed plant (Moorside and Wylfa) is crying out as a good bet for a private investor” says Parr. “So why would it be a better investment for a government? Or for British taxpayers?” If the UK government takes stakes in these projects, it would be expensive. A 25% share in both Moorside and Wylfa on Anglesey could cost over £7 billion – and that’s before taking into account the cost overruns synonymous with nuclear projects. That would still leave over £20bn to find from other investors, but is a substantial commitment of public money. So it is worth spending a few No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.93, March 2017 6 moments to consider why direct government funding of these nuclear stations is such an eccentric and ill-conceived idea. (20)

First, why do these projects need public funding? The obvious answer is that private investors think they are too risky and too poor a return, even at the high price of £92.50 (2012 prices) that EDF got for their Hinkley Point plant. So why are they risky? Well, one of key reasons Toshiba is in such deep financial trouble is that its reactor design, the AP1000, has never been completed and operated, and is actually more costly and difficult to build than it thought. Its four AP1000 reactors now under construction in the US are ruinously late and over-budget.

Tens of billions of taxpayers’ money are at risk as pressure mounts to spend billions more on new nuclear, according to Dr Dave Toke, reader in energy politics at Aberdeen University. Giant portions of the public spending could be poured down a nuclear black hole as calls for the Government to make direct investments into new nuclear power plant intensify. Ultimately the sums at risk would be much larger than the Government’s own estimates of the cost of Trident. There has been a flurry of demands for government investment in new nuclear projects in the wake of the near bankruptcy of Toshiba. In fact nuclear power is proving to be virtually undeliverable and ruinously expensive in western countries. Despite the manifest bankruptcy of the technology, rather than question whether it is right to continue with the new nuclear programme, its supporters are in effect wanting us all to bet the British economy on it. If the Treasury are forced against their will to sanction ‘equity’ stakes in new nuclear reactors, the losses and., eventually, all the liabilities will fall on the taxpayer. (21)

Companies vying to build nuclear power stations in the UK have been told they must offer a price for their electricity sharply lower than the £92.50/MWh approved for Hinkley Point C, according to the FT. Prices 15-20% lower are seen as crucial to maintaining political support for new nuclear plants. “One of the biggest factors pushing up the strike price is the cost of capital. If government wants a low strike price, it is pretty clear that government has to think about a different kind of [financing] solution,” said one of the industry leaders. The FT says the government remains cautious about the idea of investing taxpayers’ money in nuclear power. One source told the FT there were signs the government wanted to pit NuGen and Horizon against each other in a competitive process, with no guarantee that both would go ahead. (22)

The Sunday Times said ministers are poised to admit that taxpayer cash will be used to fund a new fleet of nuclear power stations – reversing years of government opposition to direct public subsidy. Industry sources claim the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, accepts that the hands-off approach cannot persist if the plants are to be built. They say Whitehall is preparing to launch a consultation, possibly this summer, on the government taking minority equity stakes in new nuclear projects to kick-start their construction. British taxpayer cash will probably be matched with funds from the Japanese government, possibly via the Japan Bank for International Co-operation and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. Japan’s Hitachi, which is behind the Wylfa project, is locked in talks with the British and Japanese governments over how to fund the 2.7-gigawatt station. The consultation on state equity is likely to be launched alongside an outline deal on funding Wylfa. Sources said the deal and the consultation are not certain and could yet collapse. (23)

Treasury officials are still hostile to the direct state subsidy idea but Chancellor Philip Hammond, and business secretary, Greg Clark, have both taken part in talks over support for Wylfa and Moorside. Any deal would have to overcome opposition from parts of the Treasury, which has for decades

March 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

“Small Nuclear” lobby not very happy – says taxpayer funding is essential

uk-subsidy-2017NIA’s SMR conference: great discussion, now we need action, The Alvin text-SMRsWeinberg Foundation. March 3rd, 2017  by Suzanna Hinson

On Monday, the Nuclear Industry Association held its Small Modular Reactor conference. Weinberg Next Nuclear were delighted to attend and our director Stephen Tindale was one of the many speakers.

The conference was opened by Tom Wintle, deputy director of SMRs, decommissioning and waste at the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Though he spoke very eloquently about the importance of nuclear, and SMRs to the government, particularly in regards to the Industrial Strategy’s aims of home grown industries, developing skills, regional rejuvenation and a stronger economy for the growth areas of tomorrow, he would not be drawn on the real issues the audience clearly wanted to hear about: the much delayed SMR competition and the question of public funding at Moorside.

Instead, he highlighted changing priorities of the government, with a renewed focus on energy security, consumer bills and the potential for driving exports and capturing a global SMR market in a post Brexit UK. He would also not be drawn on the future relationship with Euratom, saying it was too early to speculate but repeating it was a non-negotiable aspect of exiting the EU, a decision many we spoke to think is premature and will lead to huge hurdles for British nuclear in the future………

When asked about government plans he said the Government have spent enough time building a vision; now, we need action. The action we need to see, Stephen recommended, was the Government telling the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to release sites for advanced nuclear and instructing the Office for Nuclear Regulation to undertake Generic Design Assessments for advanced reactors, expanding their capacity to do so if necessary. …….

This panel, comprising Fiona Reilly from Atlantic Superconnection LLP, Anurag Gupta from KPMG LLP and Gareth Price from Allan & Overy LLP, also argued that BEIS were putting too much hope into an export market as with bigger contributors emerging like China and the US, it is unlikely that the UK will be able to compete…….

they made a strong statement for state-led nuclear power incorporating the private sector at a later stage of development if possible…..

the clear mood is that talking and discussion are not being paralleled with policy progress. The sector desperately needs to see some action from government, to progress with the SMR review, provide certainty for Moorisde and clarify the terms of Euratom membership. http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/

March 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Don’t bury nuclear waste near the Great Lakes

Bruce NGS Great Lakes Lake Huron

Of course it’s not a good idea to bury radioactive nuclear waste near the Great Lakes, a source of drinking water for 40 million Canadians and Americans.

Yet OPG plans to bury nuclear waste 1km from Lake Huron, 400 metres below the water level threatens the drinking water for 40 million people.

Speak out now to help protect our water. Deadline for input is March 6.

We’ve made it easy to send a letter to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency through our form below.

For more information:
OPG’s response to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Mike Schreiner’s comment to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

March 4, 2017 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Inside the Fukushima nuclear station: robots are not good enough

TEPCO Employees Get First Look Inside the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant  
 
The robots sent into Fukushima’s nuclear fallout site keep dying, Mashable, BY YVETTE TAN, 3 Mar 17, The robots sent in to investigate the nuclear fallout at Fukushima just aren’t good enough.
 Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) head of decommissioning admitted on Thursday that more creativity was needed in developing its robots sent to the reactive zone……..earlier last month, a robot sent into Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor was forced to abort its mission after it was blocked by deposits — believed to be a mixture of melted fuel and broken pieces of structure.
Two previous robots had also failed in its missions after one was stuck in a gap and another was abandoned after being unable to find fuel during six days of searching.

“We should think out of the box so we can examine the bottom of the core and how melted fuel debris spread out,” TEPCO Head of Decommissioning Naohiro Masuda said.

Mr Masuda also added that he wants another robot sent in before deciding on methods to remove the reactor’s debris.

Despite the failed probe missions, officials have added that they want to stick to their schedule of starting the site clean up in 2021.

Decommissioning the site is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars and last around 40 years.

Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor was found in February to have a radiation level of 530 sieverts.

Exposure to four sieverts is enough to be lethal, according to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences.

South Korea’s low-cost carrier Jeju Air also announced on Tuesday that it would not use Fukushima Airport due to fears of radiation.

Some of its customers had reportedly posted online that they would not use the airline because they didn’t want to “board airplanes that flew over Fukushima.” http://mashable.com/2017/03/03/fukushima-robots-fail/#at3NoAFNikqn

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Daunting obstacles t o Fukushima cleanup, even as evacuees move back

text-what-radiationAs evacuees move back, Fukushima cleanup faces daunting obstacles, Science, By Dennis Normile Mar. 2, 2017 TOKYOSix years into a decommissioning effort expected to last into the 2050s, an official leading the work on the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant claims that cleanup crews are making “steadfast progress.” But thorny technical obstacles must be overcome.

Stemming ocean contamination has been a thorny challenge. Since early in the crisis, crews have circulated water through the damaged reactors to prevent overheating that could lead to further fuel melting. That water, and groundwater flowing through the site, is heavily contaminated and TEPCO has struggled to keep it from seeping into the Pacific. Schemes to divert groundwater away from the plant and freeze a wall of soil around the reactors down to bedrock—to contain contaminated water—have minimized leaks, Masuda said.

In the meantime, TEPCO has accumulated 960,000 tons of contaminated water stored in 1000 10-meter-tall tanks at the site. TEPCO has removed cesium, strontium, and more than 50 other radionuclides from that water. But they have been stymied by tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope in the water. Several experimental approaches to removing the tritium “were judged to be impractical,” Masuda said……

Another major hurdle is determining the condition and location of the melted fuel, much of which is believed to have dropped to the bottoms of the containment vessels where high radiation levels preclude human entry. Robotic investigations are proving problematic. In January, the camera on a robotic probe sent into the Unit 2 containment vessel was fried by radiation, though it did return important images before its demise. Then last month, a small robot on tanklike treads was sent through a 10-centimeter-diameter pipe into the vessel to investigate the presumed location of the damaged fuel. But it got tangled up in debris and was abandoned.

TEPCO is now thinking it might need a robot able to jump over debris. And they are planning robotic investigations of the units 1 and 3 containment vessels in preparation for a planning session this summer to set a policy for recovering the melted fuel. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/evacuees-move-back-fukushima-cleanup-faces-daunting-obstacles

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment