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Former DIA Colonel: “US strikes on Syria based on a lie”

Intel Today

“In the coming days the American people will learn that the [US]Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib.”

Former DIA Colonel Patrick Lang

Former DIA Colonel Patrick Lang

Patrick Lang — a former DIA Colonel — does not mince words about the US attacks on Syria. Lang claims that Donald Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 9 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “The new sun kings: How China came to dominate solar power” • For much of the past century, the ups and downs of the American economy spelled the difference between jobs or poverty for people in the rest of the world. Now China’s policy shifts can have the same kind of impact. And China has half the solar market. [The Kathmandu Post]

Installing solar panels in Wuhan (New York Times photo)

Science and Technology:

¶ A recent survey reveals the increasing mode of temperature in the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean. The cold water beneath the ice is not as salty as the somewhat warmer water below it, so it is lighter and floats on it to shield the ice. Now, that inversion is being reversed, and the Arctic Ocean is becoming more like the Atlantic. [Science Times]

World:

¶ With a wind…

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April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Armada of Icebergs has Just Invaded the North Atlantic

“I have about a decade of experience with the Ice Patrol, and in my time here, and talking with people who have been here longer, I’ve never seen anything like this or heard of anything like this before,” — Gabrielle McGrath Coast Guard Commander of the US Ice Patrol. “A Heinrich event is a phenomenon […]

via An Armada of Icebergs Has Just Invaded The North Atlantic — robertscribbler

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 8 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “US Coal Companies Think Trump Plan To Pull Out Of Paris Accord Is A Dumb Idea” • Donald Trump said he would pull the US out of the Paris climate accords, but US coal companies are begging the administration to rethink that position. They want a seat at the table as world leaders debate how to implement the agreement. [CleanTechnica]

Coal worker in China

Science and Technology:

¶ Three startup companies, Carbon Engineering, Climeworks, and Global Thermostat, are touting carbon removal technology that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What they need now is a way to make that technology carbon removal technology commercially viable, but first, they need practical business models. [CleanTechnica]

World:

¶ After months of public consultation, the City of Sydney has fast-tracked the adoption of an action plan that will help it get to net zero emissions by 2050…

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April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Reactor Design Chosen – Not Because It Was Safe – But Because It Worked On Navy Submarines

From June 20, 2011

Virtually all of the nuclear reactors in the U.S. are of the same archaic design as those at Fukushima (Indeed, MSNBC notes that there are 23 U.S. reactors which are more or less identical to those at Fukushima.)

Called “light-water reactors”, this design was not chosen for safety reasons. Rather, it was chosen because it worked in Navy submarines.

Specifically, as the Atlantic reported in March:

In the early years of atomic power, as recounted by Alvin Weinberg, head of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his book The First Nuclear Era, there was intense competition to come up with the cheapest, safest, best nuclear reactor design.

Every variable in building an immensely complex industrial plant was up for grabs: the nature of the radioactive fuel and other substances that form the reactor’s core, the safety systems, the containment buildings, the construction substances, and everything else that might go into building an immensely complex industrial plant. The light water reactor became the technological victor, but no one is quite sure whether that was a good idea.

Few of these alternatives were seriously investigated after light water reactors were selected for Navy submarines by Admiral Hyman Rickover. Once light water reactors gained government backing and the many advantages that conferred, other designs could not break into the market, even though commercial nuclear power wouldn’t explode for years after Rickover’s decision. “There were lots and lots of ideas floating around, and they essentially lost when light water came to dominate,” University of Strasbourg professor Robin Cowan told the Boston Globe in an excellent article on “technological lock-in” in the nuclear industry.

As it turned out, there were real political and corporate imperatives to commercialize nuclear power with whatever designs were already to hand. It was geopolitically useful for the United States to show they could offer civilian nuclear facilities to its allies and the companies who built the plants (mainly GE and Westinghouse) did not want to lose the competitive advantage they’d gained as the contractors on the Manhattan Project. Those companies stood to make much more money on nuclear plants than traditional fossil fuel-based plants, and they had less competitors. The invention and use of the atomic bomb weighed heavily on the minds of nuclear scientists. Widespread nuclear power was about the only thing that could redeem their role in the creation of the first weapon with which it was possible to destroy life on earth. In other words, the most powerful interest groups surrounding the nuclear question all wanted to settle on a power plant design and start building.

***

President Lyndon Johnson and his administration sent the message that we were going to use nuclear power, and it would be largely through the reactor designs that already existed, regardless of whether they had the best safety characteristics that could be imagined. [Nixon also fired the main government scientist developing safer types of reactors, because he was focused on safety instead of sticking with Nixon’s favored reactors.] We learned in later years that boiling water reactors like Fukushima are subject to certain types of failure under very unusual circumstances, but we probably would have discovered such problems if we’d explored the technical designs for longer before trying to start building large numbers of nuclear plants.

The Atomic Energy Commission’s first general manager – MIT professor Carroll Wilson – confirmed in 1979:

The pressurized water reactor was peculiarly suitable and necessary for a submarine power plant where limitations of space and wieght were extreme. So as interest in the civilian use of nuclear power began to grow, it was natural to consider a system that had already proven reliable in submarines. This was further encouraged by the fact that the Atomic Energy Commission provided funds to build the first civilian nuclear power plant … using essentially the same system as the submarine power plant. Thus it was that a pressurized light water system became the standard model for the world. Although other kinds of reactors were under development in different countries, there was a rapid scale-up of of the pressurized water reactor and a variant called the boiling water reactor developed by General Electric. These became the standard types for civilian power plants. in the United States and were licensed to be built in France, Germany, Japan and elsewhere.

If one had started to design a civilian electric power plant without the constraints of weight and space as required by the submarine, quite different criteria would apply.

(Wilson also notes that the engineers who built the original reactors didn’t really think about the waste or other basic parts of the plants’ life cycle.)

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that there was another reason why all safer alternative designs – including thorium reactors – were abandoned:

The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs.

As Boing Boing notes:

Reactors like this [are] flawed in some ways that would be almost comical, were it not for the risk those flaws impart. Maybe you’ve wondered over the past couple of weeks why anyone would design a nuclear reactor that relied on external generators to power the pumps for it’s emergency cooling system. In a real emergency, isn’t there a decent chance that the backup generators would be compromised, as well?

It’s a good question. In fact, modern reactor designs have solved that very problem, by feeding water through the emergency cooling system using gravity, rather than powered pumps. Newer designs are much safer, and more reliable. But we haven’t built any of them in the United States …

Not the Navy’s Fault

This is in no way a criticism of the U.S. Navy or its submarine reactors. As a reader comments:

There are some things to know about Navy reactors:

  1. They don’t store thirty years worth of used, spent fuel rods next to the reactor.

  2. They don’t continue to operate a reactor that had a design life of 25 years for 60 years.

  3. The spent fuel pool is back on land on a base somewhere.

(In addition, the reactors on subs are much smaller than commercial reactors, and so have almost no consequences for the civilian population if they meltdown. And if an accident were to happen on a nuclear sub, the sub would likely sink or at least flood, presumably keeping the reactor from melting down in the first place.)

There Are No Independent Regulators and No Real Safety Standards

But at least the government compensates for the inherently unsafe design of these reactors by requiring high safety and maintenance standards.

Unfortunately, no …

As AP notes today:

Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or simply failing to enforce them.

***

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised so plants could meet standards.

***

Records show a recurring pattern: reactor parts or systems fall out of compliance with the rules; studies are conducted by the industry and government; and all agree that existing standards are “unnecessarily conservative.’’

Regulations are loosened, and the reactors are back in compliance.

Of course, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – like all nuclear “agencies” worldwide – is 100% captured and not an independent agency, and the NRC has never denied a request for relicensing old, unsafe nuclear plants.

Indeed, Senator Sanders says that the NRC pressured the Department of Justice to sue the state of Vermont after the state and its people rejected relicensing of the Vermont Yankee plant, siding with the nuclear operator instead. The Nation notes:

Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action Kyoto, met Fukushima plant and government officials in August 2010. “At the plant they seemed to dismiss our concerns about spent fuel pools,” said Mioko Smith. “At the prefecture, they were very worried but had no plan for how to deal with it.”

Remarkably, that is the norm—both in Japan and in the United States. Spent fuel pools at Fukushima are not equipped with backup water-circulation systems or backup generators for the water-circulation system they do have.

The exact same design flaw is in place at Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant of the same GE design as the Fukushima reactors. At Fukushima each reactor has between 60 and 83 tons of spent fuel rods stored next to them. Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

After 9/11 the issue of spent fuel rods again had momentary traction. Numerous citizen groups petitioned and pressured the NRC for enhanced protections of the pools. But the NRC deemed “the possibility of a terrorist attack…speculative and simply too far removed from the natural or expected consequences of agency action.” So nothing was done—not even the provision of backup water-circulation systems or emergency power-generation systems.

As an example of how dangerous American nuclear reactors are, AP noted in a report Friday that 75 percent of all U.S. nuclear sites have leaked radioactive tritium.

Indeed, because of poor design, horrible safety practices, and no real regulation, a U.S. nuclear accident could be a lot worse than Fukushima.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/06/nuclear-reactor-design-chosen-not-because-it-was-safe-but-because-it-worked-on-navy-submarines.html

 

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Robots expected to play key role in Fukushima decommissioning, but challenges remain

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As decommissioning work at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues, remote control robots are expected to play an important role in the decommissioning process. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the development of these robots faces huge challenges, such as high levels of radiation within the nuclear reactors, as well as a lack of information.

Among the robots that have been designed to carry out decommissioning work is the “muscle robot.” Developed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd., the body and limbs of the muscle robot can be controlled with a device that one might typically find attached to a video game console. Another type of robot acts like a crab with claws that can be used to grasp metallic pipes and snap them using a blade positioned on one of its claws. These robots are also able to smash concrete, using a special drill that can be placed at the end of the arm — like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Looking ahead, the government and TEPCO are aiming to start removing the melted nuclear fuel inside the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2021, after announcing exactly how they plan to do so over the summer. Although knowledge regarding the matter is limited, it seems that the melted nuclear fuel in the reactors has cooled and solidified, and the prototypes of the robots have been produced based on the assumption that the devices need to break down and remove such hardened fuel.

The robots’ parts are connected together with springs, and are driven using hydraulic power. One of the main advantages of this system is that they are hardly affected by radiation. There are six types of robot in total, such as the “spider-style” robot which has six arms and legs (length 2.8 meters, width 2 meters, weight 50 kilograms), as well as a “tank-style” robot (length 4.35 meters, width 63 centimeters, weight 700 kilograms), which runs on a conveyor belt. The tank-style robot is capable of lifting objects weighing up to 50 kilograms. A representative from Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy states determinedly, “I want the muscle robots to remove the melted nuclear fuel.”

However, the process will not be plain sailing. While the bodies of these robots are resistant to radiation, their cameras are somewhat vulnerable. It has been found that the electronic hardware in the cameras breaks easily after being exposed to radiation. For example, when a “cleaning robot” was sent into the No. 2 reactor on Feb. 9, 2017, the camera broke after about two hours after being exposed up to an estimated 650 sieverts per hour of radiation. The camera part of the robot is essential because without it, images cannot be transmitted back to the control room.

To solve this problem, ideas such as placing a metallic plate near the camera that would block out radiation have been discussed, but it is feared that this would make the robot heavier and interfere with its operations. As a Hitachi representative states, “If one were to use an analogy to describe the current development stage in human terms, then we have entered elementary school. We’d like to continue our work, believing we can develop usable robots.” It is clear that a trial-and-error process is very much underway, as the robot developers try their best to achieve perfection.

It will not be an easy road though. Hajime Asama, professor at the University of Tokyo and a member of the Technology Advisory Committee of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), states, “Robots are usually developed based on confirmation of what exactly lies in the reactors. However, in the case of the No. 1 power plant, no matter how hard you try to predict what is in there, there are often unexpected elements waiting.”

In the No. 2 reactor, a “scorpion-style robot” was sent in on Feb. 16, as a follow-up to the cleaning robot but it got trapped by deposits on the conveyor belt, and came to a halt. The presence of these kinds of deposits was unexpected at the stage when the robot was being designed. Too much is still unknown about the situation inside the reactors, making robot design difficult. Later this month, a “wakasagi ice fishing-type robot” is expected to be placed inside the No. 1 reactor, but it is feared that the same problems that were experienced in the No. 2 reactor will emerge once again.

In recent years, the use of artificial intelligence has been expected to play a key role but a number of unexpected problems have made progress in this area difficult. What is needed is technology that can be controlled remotely by people with flexible judgment. However, professor Asama believes that, “The reactors inside the No. 1 plant are full of unknown challenges. We have no choice but to use our available knowledge to create robots that can deal with these problems.”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170408/p2a/00m/0na/023000c

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Abe apologizes over minister’s remarks on Fukushima evacuees

abedrone

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) operates a drone in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, during his visit to see the area’s reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster, on Saturday. At right is Masahiro Imamura, disaster reconstruction minister

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologized Saturday over controversial remarks recently made by his disaster reconstruction minister, who implied that Fukushima nuclear crisis evacuees from areas where the government deems safe should fend for themselves.

The minister has already apologized himself but I want to straightforwardly express my apology,” Abe told reporters in the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, during his visit to see the area’s reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster. The minister, Masahiro Imamura, was accompanying Abe.

Opposition parties have been calling for the resignation of Imamura, who told reporters Tuesday that the decision by people to remain evacuated from the areas outside the government-designated zones around the Fukushima Daiichi plant is their “own responsibility, their own choice.”

The government halted housing subsidies for such voluntary evacuees last month. But many are still unable to return home amid doubts over the government’s safety rhetoric and concerns over possible health risks.

Imamura was being asked by reporters about the government’s responsibility for supporting evacuees. He then told one of the reporters who kept asking questions to “shut up.”

Imamura later apologized and retracted his comment.

On Saturday, Abe underscored that rebuilding the disaster-hit areas is one of the priorities for his administration and apparently took his latest Fukushima visit as an opportunity to deliver his apology.

Nothing has changed in my administration’s policy to promote reconstruction by standing by the people in Fukushima and those affected by the disaster,” Abe said. “Without Fukushima’s reconstruction, there is no reconstruction of the Tohoku region. Without Tohoku’s reconstruction, Japan’s regeneration is impossible.”

Abe also visited a ranch in the town of Naraha which has resumed operations following temporary closure in the wake of the disaster. After drinking fresh milk there, he said, “I want to help remove damaging rumors and expand their sales route.”

https://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abe-apologizes-over-ministers-remarks-on-fukushima-evacuees

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom Discusses Projects on Fukushima Disaster Cleanup With Japan

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During the visit to Japan, Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation’s delegation discussed with Japanese partners possible projects on elimination of consequences of Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) disaster, Rosatom said Saturday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Rosatom’s delegation headed by CEO Alexey Likhachev visited Japan on April 4-7 to discuss the Japanese-Russian memorandum on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, which was signed in December 2016.

“Special attention was paid to the cooperation in overcoming the consequences of the Fukushima accident with the use of Russian technologies in terms of handling nuclear waste and pulling nuclear facilities out of operation…. In particular, opportunities for implementation of projects concerning the problem of melted fuel extraction and rehabilitation of polluted territories were discussed with Japanese partners,” the statement on Rosatom’s website read.

According to the statement, the delegation also visited Fukushima NPP to get acquainted with the current situation and the work on recovery from the accident.

In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Fukushima NPP, leading to the leakage of radioactive materials and the shutdown of the plant. The accident is considered to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident that took place in the Soviet Ukraine in 1986.

Earlier in the year, it was announced that Japan’s research institution Mitsubishi chose two Rosatom subsidiaries, RosRAO and Techsnabexport to take part in the efforts to eliminate the consequences of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

https://sputniknews.com/environment/201704081052446822-russia-japan-fukushima-cleanup/

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Anomalies in wildlife and the ecosystem around Chernobyl and Fukushima

 

Dr. Timothy Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina. Mousseau discussed his many studies on the health impacts on wildlife and biota around Chernobyl and Fukushima which soundly debunk the notion that animals there are “thriving.”

April 9, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , , , , | Leave a comment