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1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, others – not certain

TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

March 17, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

A bit of good news: carbon emissions from energy – flat for past 3 years

 

CO2 emissions from energy remain flat for third year running By New Scientist staff and Press Association, 17 March 2017

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy have not increased for three years in a row even as the global economy grew, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global emissions from the energy sector were 32.1 billion tonnes in 2016, the same as the previous two years, while the economy grew 3.1 per cent, the agency says.

The IEA put the halt in growth down to growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas and improvements in energy efficiency.

The biggest drop was seen in the US, where carbon dioxide emissions fell 3 per cent, while the economy grew 1.6 per cent, following a surge in shale gas supplies and more renewable power that displaced coal.

US emissions are at their lowest level since 1992, while the economy has grown 80 per cent since that time.

Carbon dioxide output also declined in China, by 1 per cent, and were stable in Europe, offsetting increases in most of the rest of the world, the IEA says.

Emerging trend

“These three years of flat emissions in a growing global economy signal an emerging trend and that is certainly a cause for optimism, even if it is too soon to say that global emissions have definitely peaked,” says Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director…….

But the IEA also warns that the welcome pause in emissions growth is not enough to meet globally-agreed targets to limit temperature rises to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels — considered to be the threshold for dangerous climate change. Overall, the levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere are still rising to record new levels. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2124975-co2-emissions-from-energy-remain-flat-for-third-year-running/

March 17, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

UK plans for small nuclear reactors stalling. Bechtel pulls out.

Bechtel pulls out of mini-nuclear development, Construction News, 17 MARCH, 2017 Bechtel is to pull out of small modular reactor development, the US engineering giant has confirmed. The company said it would no longer be attempting to create its own SMR reactor after it was unable to find investment for its programme, or a utility company that would provide a site.

Bechtel’s SMR aspirations were as part of mPower, a joint venture with energy giant Babcock & Wilcox…..

Bechtel will take itself out of the government’s SMR reactor design competition.

In March 2016 the government launched its £250m SMR competition which set out to identify the preferred reactor technology to be rolled out across the UK over the next 15 years. The Bechtel team was listed as one of the 33 parties to have made it past the first round of the competition, including engineering firms such as Atkins and contractors such as Costain.

Alongside firms such as Westinghouse and NuScale Power, the mPower JV was one of the companies capable of developing the technology after its reactor design was recommended for “further government investigation” by the National Nuclear Laboratory in 2014.

The competition has stalled ever since, with sources telling Construction News that they have been largely left in the dark by the government over the next steps……

March 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Weird Polar Warming Appears to Have Made February of 2017 the Second Hottest Ever Recorded 

robertscribbler

I think the scientific consensus will be that February probably should not have been so darn hot. But it was. And that’s pretty amazingly weird.

****

Clocking in at 1.32 C above 1880s averages, the month was oddly and disturbingly warm. The strong equatorial Pacific Ocean surface warming that was the El Nino of 2015-2016 had long since passed. The effects of a weak La Nina cooling of the same waters during late 2016 still lingered. And the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) — a measure of ocean surface temperature oscillation in the Pacific that tends to help drive natural variability based warming and cooling cycles — showed a meager warming bias value of 0.08 (or barely positive).

All these factors pointed toward a climate system that should have been pulling the world into a cyclical short term cooling during 2017 and 2018 (relative to 2016 record warmth). Global temperatures…

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March 17, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to defuse tensions around the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing?

Can Tillerson Crack North Korea?, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace,  RICHARD SOKOLSKY,  JOEL WIT , March 15, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Northeast Asia this week comes as tensions are running high in the region. North Korea recently conducted a simultaneous test of four ballistic missiles that could be used to attack South Korea and Japan, as well as U.S. forces stationed in those countries with nuclear weapons. The impending American deployment of an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea to defend against a missile attack has provoked China’s strong opposition. South Korean president Park Geun-hye has just been removed from office for corruption, and a presidential election that could bring the opposition party to power will be held in May. While all this is happening, the Trump administration is doing some serious soul-searching about how to deal with North Korea. In short, Secretary Tillerson will face a diplomatic landscape that is littered with landmines on his first big troubleshooting mission overseas.

North Korea is at the center of this tangled web.

………..The jury is still out on whether Pyongyang has reached its tipping point. Besides some press leaks, there has been little publicity about decapitation, and it is unclear whether the overflights will take place. The recent North Korean missile tests may have been just an immediate one-off reaction to the ongoing joint U.S.–South Korean military exercises. And Pyongyang may still want to exercise caution, with the South Korean election now scheduled soon. Or the tests could reflect a decision that a “wait and see” posture is unlikely to produce results, ushering in a period of bigger and better nuclear weapons and missile tests, possibly including an intercontinental ballistic missile able to reach the United States. If that’s the case, the crisis on the peninsula is only likely to intensify.

The diplomatic hat trick the Trump administration needs to pull off is finding a solution that can stop the growth of the North Korean threat, rebuild cooperation with Beijing and gain support from U.S. allies, particularly a new South Korean government. That’s a very tall order, especially since the overwhelming temptation in Washington will be to double down on sanctions, including measures against Chinese banks and businesses that have ties with North Korea, and to ratchet up rhetoric about military options for eliminating Pyongyang’s WMD threat. If that’s all Secretary Tillerson brings to Asia, his mission will fail. He will only create more running room for Pyongyang to move forward with its nuclear and missile programs by making cooperation between Washington and Beijing even more difficult to achieve.

The smart move would be to defuse tensions while laying the groundwork for a strategy that combines threats with leaving the door open a crack for renewed dialogue with North Korea. The first two stops on his trip—Tokyo and Seoul—will provide him with an opportunity to pledge Washington’s firm commitment to their security. But the real centerpiece of Secretary Tillerson’s trip will be Beijing. China’s public proposal last week that the United States suspend its joint military exercises—a key demand by North Korea—in return for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and missile tests—a move that would serve Washington’s interests—signals that it is willing to play an active, even positive role in avoiding a “head-on collision,” in the words of Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. While the Trump administration quickly rejected the proposal, rather than just leaving the matter there, Secretary Tillerson should pick up the diplomatic gauntlet.

Caution, always the watchword when dealing with North Korea, should be reflected in the secretary’s counterproposal. Rather than dive headlong into new negotiations, step one should be “talks about talks”: unconditional preliminary discussions to see if North Korea is willing to put its nuclear weapons program on the table. “Unconditional” is the key word. While the United States has insisted in the past that North Korea agree ahead of time to focus on giving up its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang’s view is that talks should be held without preconditions. There seems to be little if no downside in adopting that approach, since the North Koreans understand that their program will be Washington’s number one topic for discussion. Step two in this process will be a decision by President Trump and Kim Jong-un, based on the results of these preliminary talks, whether formal negotiations should resume. If North Korea proves willing to address Washington’s WMD concerns, formal negotiations can start. If North Korea is not serious, the United States should then move on to putting greater diplomatic pressure on China, enacting new sanctions, and taking further measures to protect Seoul and Tokyo.

Whether the Trump administration adopts this approach or just presses the policy default button—more sanctions and military measures—is the $64,000 question. Consequential secretaries of state solve the thorniest and most important national security problems through patient, skillful diplomacy and negotiations. Fair or not, Secretary Tillerson has been pilloried by the press and pundits as missing in action. This sensitive diplomatic mission offers him an opportunity to show his mettle. The last thing Washington needs, at a time when America’s global leadership and position in Asia is under challenge, is for Secretary Tillerson to leave the region empty-handed, or in worse shape than he found it.
This piece was originally published by the National Interest. http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/03/15/can-tillerson-crack-north-korea-pub-68278

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US intelligence : new round of missile, nuclear testing by North Korea expected

US anticipates new round of missile, nuclear testing by North Korea By Barbara StarrCNN Pentagon Correspondent, March 16, 2017 Story highlights

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US efforts to ‘denuclearise North Korea’ have failed- US secretary of state Rex Tillerson

Tillerson concedes US efforts to ‘denuclearise North Korea’ have failed
US secretary of state starts four-day Asia-Pacific trip by calling for new approach towards Pyongyang’s weapons programme,
Guardian,  , 16 Mar 17 The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has conceded that 20 years of US attempts to “denuclearise” North Korea have failed, and called for a new approach towards the regime’s nuclear weapons programme.

Speaking in Tokyo at the start of a four-day visit to Japan, South Korea and China, Tillerson said on Thursday: “I think it’s important to recognise that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearisation have failed.

“That includes a period where the United States has provided $1.35bn in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway.

“In the face of this ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a different approach is required. Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach.”

Tillerson said he and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, had discussed a fresh approach to North Korea’s “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear programme, but neither revealed details.

 “North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbours in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea,” the secretary of state added. “With this in mind, the United States calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and refrain from any further provocation.”

US administration officials have said that all options are on the table, including military strikes, but Tillerson indicated that Washington would continue to demand the full implementation of UN sanctions and press China to make more effective use of its leverage with the North Korean regime.

Calls for an alternative to the multinational sanctions supported by previous Japanese and US administrations have grown amid worrying evidence that the measures have not prevented North Korea from edging closer to its aim of developing nuclear weapons capable of striking the US mainland.

Japan and South Korea, which host tens of thousands of American troops, are within range of North Korean missiles…….

Chinese cooperation has been further complicated by the forthcoming deployment of a controversial US anti-missile system in South Korea.

China has objected to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) missile defence system, describing its advanced radar as a threat to its own security. Military officials in the US and South Korea insist that Thaad’s sole purpose is to thwart missile attacks from North Korea……..

Tillerson said making Japan the first stop on his visit “does underscore the importance that the United States places on the Japanese-US relationship, but also the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States. The US-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Tillerson was due to hold talks with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzō Abe, on Thursday evening. On Friday, he will meet South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, and visit the demilitarised zone – the heavily armed border separating South and North Korea.

In Beijing at the weekend, Tillerson is expected to attempt to calm Chinese fears over Thaad, play down talk of a possible trade war between the world’s two largest economies, and finalise plans for the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to visit Trump in April. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/16/tillerson-concedes-us-efforts-to-denuclearise-north-korea-have-failed

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Nuclear war in the 21st century

The truth about Satan: Nuclear war in the 21st century, new atlas  March 15th, 2017   Late last year, the world’s news services were abuzz with articles about Russia’s new super weapon, an ICBM called Satan 2 that is alleged to have the capability to fly at 17 times the speed of sound, penetrate US ICBM defenses, and destroy an area the size of Texas. But do these claims hold water, and just how big is the nuclear threat that the world really faces in the 21st century? What is the truth about Satan 2?

It was an exciting story and for about a week it made the rounds on everything from Twitter to major news outlets. But what was surprising about the coverage was that the Russian claims were accepted almost universally without a trace of skepticism or even context. This was despite the Satan-2, in many ways, is a fairly standard weapon and, in others, the claims didn’t even make sense. Never mind being able to destroy an area equal to Texas, saying that it can fly over the South Pole or dodge the US missile defenses should have set the skeptic alarms ringing.
The problem of nuclear weapons

Not to downplay the risks, but we need to ask what the real significance Satan-2 is, and why so many otherwise well-informed people were taken in by the Russian claims?

………….Conclusion

Using Satan-2 as the jumping off point for this lengthy look at the potential shape of nuclear war in the 21st century isn’t meant to downplay the significance of any such weapon, or to rack the press over the coals. The point is to highlight the fact that our shared knowledge of nuclear weapons and their capabilities has eroded since the end of the Cold War to the point where even fabulist claims like those made for the Satan are received with credulity.

Nuclear weapons are still the single greatest piece on the military chessboard of world diplomacy. If we become complacent about them and the role they play in our world, then we could find ourselves facing a very nasty surprise that shakes us out of that complacency. On the other hand, if we regard them as some all-destroying force that can only lead to the extermination of the human race, then it can lead to fatalism, paralysis, or desperate gambles and brinkmanship.

None of this is meant to minimize the danger of nuclear weapons. Far from it. These are the most destructive weapons ever devised by the mind of man and their use in war can only be justified as a deterrent. The warheads used today may be smaller, fewer, and not anywhere near as universally destructive as popular culture portrays them, but they are terrible things.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four jet passenger liners and slammed two of them into the Twin Towers in New York and one into the Pentagon, while the fourth crashed when the passengers tried to overpower the hijackers. This attack did not involve nuclear weapons, and “only” destroyed two skyscrapers and killed about 3,000 people, but it paralyzed the world’s only superpower, caused the loss of many billions of dollars, nearly crippled the airline industry, and has had massive impacts on the world to this day.

Now imagine a 10 kiloton bomb detonating in Manhattan. Even if the island didn’t end up looking like Hiroshima, the toll of death, property damage, and economic disruption doesn’t bear thinking about – but if we are to prevent such a disaster occurring in New York, or London, or Paris, or Moscow, or Tehran, or Jerusalem, we have to do just that. http://newatlas.com/nuclear-weapons-satan-missile/46845/

March 17, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

GreenLeft did very well in Netherlands election

GreenLeft proves to be big winner in Dutch election Party forecast to boost its MPs from four to 14 after storming campaign by young leader Jesse Klaver, Guardian  , 17 Mar 17, The big winner of Wednesday’s election – and now the largest party of the Dutch left for the first time – was GreenLeft, headed by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, hailed by his enthusiastic supporters as the “Jessiah”.

With more than 95% of votes counted, the party – formed 25 years ago by a merger of communists, pacifists, evangelicals and self-styled radicals – boosted its MPs from four to 14 after a storming campaign by Klaver.

“This is a fantastic result for us, a historic victory,” said the party chairwoman, Marjolein Meijer.

The result showed there was “very fertile ground in the Netherlands for change and a positive and hopeful story”, she said. “For us this is just the beginning.”……..

The Netherlands’ youngest ever party leader, Klaver built a strong following on social media through small Meetup events after taking over GreenLeft’s leadership in May 2015.

His rallies were among the campaign’s largest, including an Amsterdam meeting that drew more than 5,000 people – plus 5,000 more following live on Facebook.

His TV debates were also widely regarded as triumphs. In one debate watched by 1.6 million viewers, Klaver told his far-right, anti-Islam rival Geert Wilders that it was rightwing populism, not Muslim immigration, that was undermining Dutch culture and traditions. ……https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/15/dutch-elections-greenleft-jesse-klaver

March 17, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | 2 Comments

Republican senator slams Trump’s Nevada nuclear waste dump plan

We will not be a nuclear waste dump’: Vulnerable GOP senator slams Trump’s Nevada nuke waste plan   https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/we-will-not-be-a-nuclear-waste-dump-vulnerable-gop-senator-slams-trumps-nevada-nuke-waste-plan/ ,16 MAR 2017 

Dean Heller (R-NV) got a nasty surprise this week when he discovered that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would revive the Yucca Mountain storage facility for nuclear power plant waste in his home state.

Heller, by far the most vulnerable Republican in the senate in the 2018 midterm elections, railed against Trump’s proposal in a statement released Thursday, as he insisted that his state would “not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump.”

“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it,” he said. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump. This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain.”

Heller also vowed to fight any effort to revive the Yucca Mountain project tooth and nail.

The Las Vegas Review Journal notes that, while Trump would increase funding to revive the Yucca Mountain facility, his budget would also slash the Office of Science’s $5 billion budget by a whopping $900 million, which would dramatically cut the amount of research that it now funds at more than 300 universities and at 10 national labs.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Newly declassified films show US nuclear tests

Newly declassified films show US nuclear tests
Once-Classified Nuclear Bomb Tests Posted To YouTube For Chilling Reason http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/nuclear-bomb-test-videos-lawrence-livermore-lab_us_58caaf5ae4b0ec9d29d95d43   Blown away. [includes videos] Ron DickerGeneral Assignment Reporter, The Huffington Post 17/03/2017 Secret no longer.

The Lawrence Livermore National Lab has begun posting films of its U.S. nuclear weapons tests to YouTube, KGO reported Wednesday.

The lab is reanalyzing the footage to improve the data “for future physicists,” nuclear weapons physicist Greg Spriggs said in an interview published by Livermore on Wednesday.

 But making the decades-old clips available to the public serves a different purpose. They can remind us “of the immense energy that is produced with a nuclear detonation and hopefully that nobody will ever want to use these things or attack the United States,” Spriggs told KGO. “I don’t think they want to have the retaliation of one of these nuclear weapons being dropped on their country.”
 Yikes.

On its YouTube channel that now houses the declassified videos, the lab notes that the U.S. “conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962.” Livermore conducted the ones in its internet archive.

 Other bomb tests have popped up elsewhere on the internet but it’s always good to have our collective memory jogged about nuclear weapons’ catastrophic potential.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Oppoition to Yucca nuclear waste plan, from Nevada lawmakers

Nevada lawmakers speaking out against plan to revive Yucca Mountain, ktnv.com , Joyce Lupiani, Mar 16, 2017 The White House is proposing to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan. The 2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120 million to restart licensing for the proposed dump.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Trump budget includes restart of licensing of Nevada’s Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste dump

White House proposes reviving Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-budget-nuclear-idUSKBN16N0D5  By Timothy Gardner | WASHINGTON,  Mar 16, 2017 

The White House’s 2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120 million for nuclear waste programs including the restart of licensing for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project stalled for years by lawsuits and local opposition.

The move signals that President Donald Trump may consider that nuclear waste solutions could extend the lives of existing U.S. nuclear power plants and speed up innovations in next- generation nuclear plants that backers say are safer than previous reactors.

Congress will debate the budget and it is uncertain whether funds for waste will remain in the plan.

While Yucca Mountain would store waste on a practically permanent basis, the budget money would also support programs for storing waste at interim sites before Yucca opens.

“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden,” according to a summary of the budget.

Yucca has been studied by the U.S. government since the 1970s as a potential repository for the nation’s radioactive waste and billions of dollars have been spent on it.

But Yucca has never opened because of legal challenges and widespread opposition from local politicians, environmentalists and Native American groups.

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama withdrew the license to store waste at Yucca amid opposition from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Democrat from Nevada.

Maria Korsnick, the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute industry group, said the industry was encouraged by the plan for waste projects but that nuclear energy innovators were “nervous” about cuts to programs that have supported public-private partnerships to bring new nuclear technologies to market.

The budget eliminates funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy and an innovative technology loan guarantee program that have been popular with both Democrats and many Republicans.

Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing that restarting the Yucca Mountain project could not be ruled out, but that he would collaborate with states.

“I am very aware that this is an issue this country has been flummoxed by for 30 years. We have spent billions of dollars on this issue,” Perry told the hearing in January. “I’ll work closely with you and the members of this committee to find the answers to this issue.”

The White House proposal for the Department of Energy budget calls for an overall cut of 5.6 percent.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Peter Cooney)

March 17, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

UK government boycotts UN nuclear disarmament talks

UN nuclear disarmament talks: UK Government not attending discussions labelled ‘reckless and irresponsible’ ‘I don’t think it’s taking nuclear disarmament seriously,’ Green Party leader Caroline Lucas tells The Independent Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm 15 Mar 17 The Government has been called “reckless and irresponsible” after it refused to send a single representative to United Nations (UN) talks about a ban on nuclear weapons.

The Foreign Office revealed that no one from the UK attended a February meeting ahead of the negotiations and no one would go to the discussions when they take place later this month.

It was responding to a parliamentary question by Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, who told The Independent that it showed the Government was being “massively hypocritical” and failing in its commitment to working towards a world without nuclear weapons. …..

  • “The Government has said it’s committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament,” Ms Lucas said, adding that whenever ministers are asked to get rid of Trident – the UK’s nuclear weapons system – they “always say we’re not going to because it’s unilateral.”

    The Brighton MP said: “Now there’s opportunity to have a multinational set of negotiations and they’re not even bothering to turn up. I just think it’s mind blowing.”

    Although the talks may not immediately agree on an outright ban, Ms Lucas said they were an important step towards reducing nuclear weapons internationally.

    “Essentially what such a major global moment does is to help delegitimize the weapons,” she said, “that can’t be underestimated.

    “So although clearly we’re not going to have the nuclear weapons states signing up by June, the very existence of that treaty will make it more likely that those countries that have them will begin to negotiate to get rid of them.”

  • Ms Lucas has applied to the Backbench Business Committee to get parliamentary time allocated to debating whether the UK should be represented at the UN talks…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/un-nuclear-disarmament-talks-uk-government-not-attend-caroline-lucas-mp-reckless-irresponsible-123-a7631546.html

March 17, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Areva factory for nuclear parts gets poor report from regulator

ill-equipped to make nuclear parts – French watchdog, Reuters, 

 Creusot Forge machinery inadequate for making huge parts

* Areva stopped commercial production at factory last year

* Areva wants to restart plant this summer

* Nuclear watchdog must give permission for restart

* Critics say oversight of French nuclear industry needs review

By Geert De Clercq PARIS, March 16 Creusot Forge, a supplier of nuclear plants around the world owned by France’s Areva , is under investigation for making substandard parts and falsifying documents.

Now, France’s nuclear regulator says machinery at the plant, which was shut for commercial production last year, is not up to the job. n an interview, Remy Catteau, the head of nuclear equipment at the ASN (Nuclear Safety Authority), said that an inspection of the plant late last year showed that it did not have the right equipment to produce the parts for the nuclear reactors. “Creusot Forge is at the limit of its technical capacity. The tools at its disposal are not adequate to manufacture such huge components. In such a situation, errors are made,” Catteau told Reuters by telephone.

“The inspection brought to light the fact that the safety culture in the plant is not sufficient to produce nuclear components.”

The disclosure adds to the problems of Areva, once the world’s biggest nuclear company, which owns Creusot Forge.

Areva shut the factory after it found that manufacturing documents at the plant may have been falsified over some 40 years and parts made by the foundry did not meet specifications.

Authorities around the world have checked the nuclear reactors using the parts. Two reactors in France – Fessenheim 2 and Gravelines 5 – were shut after the checks due to safety concerns.

The investigation by the regulator is ongoing but Areva hopes to restart production at the factory this summer, if ASN allows it……

INSPECTIONS

Precision is critical when making parts such as containment vessels, which are huge steel cylinders that house the reactor core and control rods.

Creusot Forge made the vessel lid and bottom for the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor under construction in western France. But at the end of 2014, Areva discovered excessive carbon concentrations in those components, which weaken the steel.

“For Flamanville 3, the equipment was at its limit, there was no margin for error,” Catteau said.

Flamanville’s future is now uncertain. The ASN will rule by the summer whether the new reactor can go into operation by 2018, despite those weak spots. A red light would lead to years of further delays for Areva and its customer EDF.

Regulators from the U.S., Britain, China and other countries are also looking into quality and manufacturing issues at the Creusot Forge foundry in eastern France after Areva unearthed the false manufacturing documentation from the 1965-2013 period.

“One of the ways to resolve problems was to hide things, and that was the wrong way,” Catteau said……..

Areva is being restructured and recapitalized with help from the French state after years of losses wiped out its equity. It lost 665 million euros ($702 million) last year, 2.04 billion euros in 2015 and 4.83 billion euros in 2014.

Critics of France’s nuclear energy establishment say the problems at Creusot Forge prove that oversight of the whole industry, including the ASN, needs an overhaul.

World Nuclear Industry Status Report author Mycle Schneider said France’s parliament should task independent experts with an inquiry, but he does not see the political will for that.

“The entire chain of responsibility has failed, from Areva to its client EDF and the ASN. I don’t see an initiative yet that addresses the entire scope of the problem,” Schneider said. ($1 = 0.9426 euros) (Editing by Anna Willard) http://www.reuters.com/article/areva-safety-creusot-idUSL5N1GM2XM

March 17, 2017 Posted by | France, safety | 1 Comment