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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Scorching 129 Degree (F) Temps Hit Iran; Severe June European Heatwave Attributed to Climate Change; Satellite Data Confirms Rapid Global Warming

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In a slew of climate change related news this week, Iran’s city of Ahvaz saw temperatures hit near the highest readings ever recorded on Earth, a new scientific model study has found that climate change made the recent heatwave that hit Europe this June two to ten times more likely, and climate change deniers lost a major cherry-picked talking point as the most recent satellite data now confirms the rapid global temperature rise that ground stations have been reporting all along.

129 F in Iran — Near Record for Globe, But Not a 35 C Wet Bulb Reading

On Thursday, in Ahvaz, Iran, temperatures hit a blazing 53.7 degrees Celsius or 128.66 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures were just shy of the 54 C (129.2 F) global records in Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21, 2016 and in California’s Death Valley on July 30, 2013 identified by Chris C Burt of…

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June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 30 Energy News

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Science and Technology:

¶ Humanity must put carbon dioxide emissions on a downward slope by 2020 to have a realistic shot at capping global warming at well under two degrees Celsius, the bedrock goal of the Paris climate accord, experts warned in a commentary published in the science journal Nature. A world that heats up beyond that threshold will face devastating impacts. [NEWS.com.au]

Devastation (Picture: Kevin Frayer)

World:

¶ Renewable energy analysts MAKE Consulting published its China Wind Power Outlook 2017 report this week. Over the next ten years, China is expected to install an annual average of more than 25 GW of new wind capacity, resulting in a cumulative growth across the decade of about 403 GW, according to the report’s figures. [CleanTechnica]

¶ In 2016, China’s State Council released guidelines forbidding the construction of “bizarre” and “odd-shaped” buildings lacking character or cultural heritage. They want…

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June 30, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear disaster: former Tepco executives go on trial

Three men plead not guilty to professional negligence in the only criminal action targeting officials since the triple meltdown

2921From left, former Tepco executives Tsunehisa Katsumata, Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto arriving at court in Tokyo on Friday.

 

Three former executives with the operator of the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have pleaded not guilty to charges of professional negligence, in the only criminal action targeting officials since the triple meltdown more than six years ago.

In the first hearing of the trial at Tokyo district court on Friday, Tsunehisa Katsumata, who was chairman of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) at the time of the disaster, and two other former executives argued they could not have foreseen a tsunami of the size that knocked out the plant’s backup cooling system, triggering a meltdown in three reactors.

I apologise for the tremendous trouble to the residents in the area and around the country because of the serious accident that caused the release of radioactive materials,” Katsumata said, bowing slightly.

Prosecutors alleged that the 77-year-old, along with his co-defendants, Sakae Muto, 67, and Ichiro Takekuro, 71 – both former Tepco vice-presidents – had been shown data that anticipated a tsunami of more than 10 metres in height that could cause a power outage and other serious consequences.

2840Activists protest against Tepco on Friday.

 

A report by a government panel said Tepco simulated the impact of a tsunami on the plant in 2008 and concluded that a wave of up to 15.7 metres (52 feet) could hit the plant if a magnitude-8.3 quake occurred off the coast of Fukushima. Executives at the company allegedly ignored the internal study.

The three men – charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury – have since retired from Tepco.

The company, which faces a multibillion-dollar bill for decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi, is not a defendant in the trial. If convicted, the men face up to five years in prison or a penalty of up to 1m yen (£7,000).

Although there are no records of anyone dying as a result of exposure to radiation from the plant, prosecutors alleged the executives were responsible for the deaths of 40 elderly people who were evacuated from a hospital near the plant.

The Fukushima plant had a meltdown after the tsunami, triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake, hit the plant on the afternoon of 11 March 2011.

The tsunami killed almost 19,000 people along the north-east coast of Japan and forced more than 150,000 others living near the plant to flee radiation. Some of the evacuated neighbourhoods are still deemed too dangerous for former residents to return to.

They continued running the reactors without taking any measures whatsoever,” the prosecutor said. “If they had fulfilled their safety responsibilities, the accident would never have occurred.”

Muto challenged the allegation by the prosecution that he and the other defendants failed to take sufficient preventative measures despite being aware of the risk of a powerful tsunami more than two years before the disaster.

When I recall that time, I still think it was impossible to anticipate an accident like that,” he said. “I believe I have no criminal responsibility over the accident.”

Investigations into the accident have been highly critical of the lax safety culture at Tepco and poor oversight by industry regulators. Prosecutors considered the case twice, and dropped it both times, but a citizens’ judicial panel overrode their decision and indicted the former executives.

Outside the court, Ruiko Muto, a Fukushima resident and head of the group of plaintiffs, said: “Since the accident, nobody has been held responsible nor has it been made clear why it happened. Many people have suffered badly in ways that changed their lives. We want these men to realise how many people are feeling sadness and anger.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/30/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-tepco-criminal-trial-japan

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

 

Three former executives of the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have pleaded not guilty over the March 2011 accident.

Nuclear meltdowns occurred at the plant after it was hit by a giant earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The defendants are former Tokyo Electric Power Company Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Vice Presidents Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto.

They are accused of professional negligence resulting in the deaths of 44 people, including hospital patients forced to stay at evacuation shelters for a long period.

At the start of the trial at the Tokyo District Court on Friday, Katsumata apologized for the serious accident, and causing a great nuisance and concern.

But he said it was impossible to predict the tsunami, and the nuclear accident that followed, at the time.

Takekuro and Muto also offered apologies but pleaded not guilty.

Points of contention will likely include whether the defendants were able to predict that a huge tsunami would hit the plant, and whether the accident could have been prevented if proper steps had been in place.

This is the first trial concerning criminal responsibility for an accident at a nuclear power plant.

Public prosecutors decided not to file charges against the 3 former executives in 2013. But they were indicted in February last year by court-appointed lawyers in line with the decision by a prosecution inquest panel of randomly selected citizens.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170630_1

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Court finds ex-environment ministry official Yuji Suzuki guilty of taking bribes

n-fukbribe-a-20170630-870x580.jpgAn excavator sits among bags of nuclear waste in the town of Tomioka near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2016.

 

FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima District Court on Thursday sentenced a former Environment Ministry official to one year in prison, suspended for three years, for accepting bribes to help a company win a decontamination project in Fukushima Prefecture.

The court also ordered 57-year-old Yuji Suzuki, who formerly worked at a branch of the ministry’s environment regeneration office in Fukushima, to pay a fine of ¥230,000.

Presiding Judge Shoji Miyata said that with people aiming for a swift recovery from the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, rapid and secure implementation of decontamination work was strongly anticipated in areas tainted by radioactive substances from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Miyata criticized Suzuki, saying that the fact that he betrayed those expectations “cannot be overlooked” and that the social impact of his actions was “not insignificant.”

As for the reason for the suspended sentence, Miyata said Suzuki was “showing regret.”

According to the ruling, Suzuki helped a civil engineering and construction company based in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, join a decontamination project in the Fukushima town of Namie as a subcontractor of a consortium.

In return, Suzuki received ¥25,000 in cash and benefits worth ¥206,000 in the form of dining and accommodation between September 2015 and June 2016.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/29/national/crime-legal/court-finds-ex-environment-ministry-official-guilty-taking-bribes/

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ice wall nears completion

20170628_30_342363_L.jpg

 

An underground ice wall being built to keep groundwater from entering the crippled nuclear reactor buildings in Fukushima is expected to be completed soon.

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are circulating coolant in pipes buried around the buildings to make the 1.5 kilometer-long barrier.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, hopes to keep groundwater from being contaminated with radioactive substances.

The utility has so far left part of the wall unfrozen, due to fears that freezing the entire area could lead to a sharp drop in groundwater levels outside the reactor buildings, which could cause the tainted water to leak out.

On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave basic approval for the utility’s plan to freeze a 7 meter-wide section that remains on the mountain side.

Utility officials have explained to authority members that the groundwater level won’t plunge and that they are prepared for such an emergency.

TEPCO says that as soon as it gets official approval it will start freezing the remaining section of the wall. It has been functioning for about 15 months.

The daily amount of groundwater flowing into the buildings is now about 100 tons, compared with some 400 tons per day at the start of the operation.

The utility says the completion of the ice wall will further reduce the amount. The regulators plan to monitor the effects of the barrier after it is completed.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170628_30/

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Climate and nuclear news this week

From the news media, you would hardly know it, but two big international meetings are happening. In New York,  delegations from more than 130 States are working  to finalize the text  for the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”.  In Hamburg, the G20 summit is about to be held, with climate change as a central issue. Meanwhile, as I write, the “important”  news item is, as usual, occupied by Donald Trump, who apparently has tweeted rudely, again – ho hum.

A warning from climate experts – just 3 years left to start real action against climate change.

Investigative journalism lives!  The Center for Public Integrity’s Nuclear Negligence examines safety weaknesses at U.S. nuclear weapon sites operated by corporate contractors.

 

 

G20 summit July 7-8. Paris climate deal is ‘non negotiable‘- Angela Merkel.

Sea-Level Rise: Bubble, Bubble, GigaTons of Methane Trouble -Paul Beckwith.  Global Warming Effects Map – Effects of Global Warming.  Climate change refugee numbers – 2 billion by 2100?

UKRAINE Cyber attack knocks out the radiation monitoring system of Chernobyl nuclear plant.

GREENLANDGreenland ice melting – a big contributor to sea level rise.

EUROPE. Three European nations spanned in human chain demanding closure of Belgian nuclear reactors.

USA.

UK. UK govt has set up a new team to plan UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.  Financial problems for Britain’s nuclear power projects.  South Korea’s Kepco would rescue Britain’s Moorside nuclear project, but only with its own reactors.  Bradwell nuclear wastes reclassified as “low level”: failed technology now used for disposal. Hackers trading passwords used by managers at British nuclear power plants. Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project to cost billions more than was forecast.

JAPAN. Former Nuclear Power Plant Executives to Stand Trial for the Fukushima Disaster and the Deaths of Over 40 People.

INDIA. 37 sites close, as world’s largest coal company winds down. Low morale in India’s nuclear industry: exodus of scientists.

FRANCE.  Activists halted nuclear waste ship for several hours.   Flamanville nuclear reactor 3 likely to go ahead, despite weak spots in its steel. French Nuclear regulator requires more inspections of Flamanville EPR reactor pressure vessel anomaly.

SOUTH KOREA. Fall in South Korea’s nuclear shares. Kepco not now likely to buy out bankrupt Westinghouse nuclear. South Korea  suspends construction of 2 nuclear reactors.

RUSSIA. Russia’s fears of nuclear war: underground bunkers prepared. Russia’s nuclear marketing may create unhealthy dependency in Middle East nations.

GERMANY. “There’s more value today in helping reduce consumption than in selling energy itself”.

CHINA. China “looks to small nuclear reactors” – but it’s not really a very good look.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development.

AUSTRALIA. Karina Lester tells the Anangu story, and of the Aboriginal fight against nuclear waste dumping.

IRAN. Donald Trump leads the world to war against Iran.

CZECH REPUBLIC. Angry reaction to nuclear power plant’s bikini contest for selecting female interns.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

A U.S. business nuclear network hacked: this could lead to more serious nuclear risks

Hackers breached a US nuclear power plant’s network, and it could be a ‘big danger’, Business Insider, SONAM SHETH  JUN 30, 2017 

June 30, 2017 Posted by | safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

A warning from climate experts – just 3 years left to start real action against climate change

World has three years to prevent dangerous climate change, warn experts Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/world-climate-change-save-humanity-experts-global-warming-rising-sea-levels-food-a7813251.html, Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent @montaukian   29 June 17 The world has three years to start making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or face the prospect of dangerous global warming, experts have warned in an article in the prestigious journal Nature.

Calling for world leaders to be guided by the scientific evidence rather than “hide their heads in the sand”, they said “entire ecosystems” were already beginning to collapse, summer sea ice was disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs were dying from the heat.

The world could emit enough carbon to bust the Paris Agreementtarget of between 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius in anything from four to 26 years if current levels continue, the article said.

Global emissions had been rising rapidly but have plateaued in recent years. The experts, led by Christiana Figueres, who as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change played a key role in the Paris Agreement, said they must start to fall rapidly from 2020 at the latest.

“The year 2020 is crucially important for another reason, one that has more to do with physics than politics,” they said.

Citing a report published in April, they added: “Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.

“Lowering emissions globally is a monumental task, but research tells us that it is necessary, desirable and achievable.”

The article was signed by more than 60 scientists, such as Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, politicians, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, businesspeople like Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, investment managers, environmental campaigners and others.

Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity – a process predicted by a Swedish Nobel Prize-winning scientist in 1895.

The Nature article laid out the effect of this sudden increase on the planet. “Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate,” it said.

“Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress – entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.”

And it added: “The social impacts of climate change from intensified heatwaves, droughts and sea-level rise are inexorable and affect the poorest and weakest first.”

Humanity is currently emitting about 41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but if the Paris target is to be met it only has a carbon ‘budget’ of between 150 and 1,050 gigatonnes.

“If the current rate of annual emissions stays at this level, we would have to drop them almost immediately to zero once we exhaust the budget. Such a ‘jump to distress’ is in no one’s interest. A more gradual descent would allow the global economy time to adapt smoothly,” the experts wrote.

But they urged people not to abandon hope.

“The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020,” they said.

Donald Trump, the US President and climate science-denier, has pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, which will take until 2020.

The Nature article urged world leaders to take the opposite approach by using science to guide policy and defending scientists.

“Those in power must stand up for science,” it said.

“French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again campaign [a deliberate play on Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan] is a compelling example.

“He has spoken out to a global audience in support of climate scientists, and invited researchers to move to France to help accelerate action and deliver on the Paris agreement.”

Any delay would pose a threat to human prosperity.

“With no time to wait, all countries should adopt plans for achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity production, while ensuring that markets can be designed to enable renewable-energy expansion,” the experts wrote.

Optimism was also important.

“Recent political events have thrown the future of our world into sharp focus,” they said. “But as before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared.

“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change.

“But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

June 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons industry – profits and the health toll

Confronting the Profits and Legacies of Nuclear Violence http://www.globalresearch.ca/confronting-the-profits-and-legacies-of-nuclear-violence/5596460 By Ray Acheson Global Research, June 28, 2017  Reaching Critical Will 

As the majority of the world’s countries have been gathered at the United Nations negotiating the nuclear weapon ban treaty, the Center for Public Integrity has been releasing installments of a new report about workplace hazards at the US nuclear weapon laboratories. Monday’s installment of the report reveals a “litany of mishaps” across the eight sites that involve workers inhaling radioactive particles, receiving electrical shocks, being burned by acid or in fires, splashed with toxic chemicals, or cut by debris from exploding metal drums. Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the plutonium cores for nuclear warheads are produced, has “violated nuclear industry rules for guarding against a criticality accident three times more often last year” than any of the country’s other 23 nuclear installations combined.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“There’s more value today in helping reduce consumption than in selling energy itself,”

FT 27th June 2017, A year after the break-up of Eon and RWE in a sweeping restructuring of Germany’s power industry, investors are bracing for the next wave of upheaval in European utilities. Bankers and industry executives say further deals look certain as electricity companies scramble to adapt to the accelerating shift towards renewable energy.

The £318m sale last week of two UK gas-fired power stations by Centrica to EPH of the Czech Republic was the latest example of a utility reshaping its portfolio. Now, expectations are growing of bigger transactions to come. Much of the anticipation is focused on the new companies created by the separation of Eon and RWE. Both German utilities split themselves in two, with one unit focused on traditional thermal generating businesses – dominated by coal
and gas-fired power – and the other comprising “cleaner” businesses, such as renewables, electricity distribution and consumer services.

Uniper, the conventional power business spun out of Eon, has been touted by analysts and bankers as a potential target for Fortum, the Finnish utility. Meanwhile, Innogy, the clean energy business split from RWE, has been linked with Engie of France.

Whatever constellation of deals emerges, it looks increasingly likely that the ripples from restructuring of RWE and
Eon will not stop at Germany’s borders. As Mr Critchlow says: “Once one player consolidates, like at a dance, everybody will look for a preferred dance partner.”

Helping customers reduce their energy bills does not sound like an especially appealing business model for an electricity company. Yet that was the aim when the UK arm of Engie paid £330m to acquire a business specialising in making buildings more energy efficient from Keepmoat, the construction company.

“There’s more value today in helping reduce consumption than in selling energy itself,” says Wilfrid Petrie, head of
Engie in the UK. He likens the shift to the one undergone by the telecoms industry, which today finds its growth in services and content rather than the line rental and phone calls that used to be its core business.

https://www.ft.com/content/90003746-57f7-11e7-9fed-c19e2700005f

June 30, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Ex-nuclear commanders from around the world urge Trump towards talks with North Korea, not military action

Nuclear experts warn of a march to war with North Korea, Salon,com  Ex-nuclear commanders from around the world are urging Trump to engage in talks with North Korea instead, A group of ex-nuclear commanders issued a strong warning on Wednesday that pointed out the world is at the precipice of a potential nuclear war, and urged America to open up dialogue with North Korea.

Hailing from China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States, the Nuclear Crisis Group determined “that the risk of nuclear weapons use, intended or otherwise, is unacceptably high and that all states must take constructive steps to reduce these risks.” They called on the United States and NATO to establish military-to-military talks with Russia and recommended that India and Pakistan set up a nuclear hotline.

The group was created earlier in 2017 with the approval of Global Zero, an arms control group that ultimately wants to abolish nuclear weapons.

The letter came as H. R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters during a security conference with Homeland Security Chief John Kelly on Wednesday that “the [North Korean] threat is much more immediate now and so it’s clear that we can’t repeat the same approach – failed approach of the past.”…. http://www.salon.com/2017/06/29/nuclear-experts-warn-of-a-march-to-war-with-north-korea/

June 30, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA House committee advances a Bill for Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project

House panel votes to advance Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project, The Hill,   A House committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to advance a bill meant to move along the stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

The legislation would set a time limit for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to approve the project and makes a necessary land transfer for the project.

It also allows the Department of Energy (DOE) to permit an interim nuclear waste storage site before Yucca has its licensing process completed.

If the legislation becomes law, it would bring Yucca closer to reality, 30 years after Congress decided — over the objections of the state of Nevada — to designate the site as the nation’s repository for high-level nuclear waste…..

The amended bill lets the DOE give its approval to a privately operated interim waste storage site that can hold spent fuel and other waste while Yucca is constructed…… http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/339837-house-panel-votes-to-advance-yucca-mountain-nuclear-waste-project

June 30, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear catastrophe narrowly avoided at Los Alamos National Laboratory

A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal , Science Repeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads By The Center for Public IntegrityPatrick Malone Jun. 29, 2017 Technicians at the government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory settled on what seemed like a surefire way to win praise from their bosses in August 2011: In a hi-tech testing and manufacturing building pivotal to sustaining America’s nuclear arsenal, they gathered eight rods painstakingly crafted out of plutonium, and positioned them side-by-side on a table to photograph how nice they looked.

At many jobs, this would be innocent bragging. But plutonium is the unstable, radioactive, man-made fuel of a nuclear explosion, and it isn’t amenable to showboating. When too much is put in one place, it becomes “critical” and begins to fission uncontrollably, spontaneously sparking a nuclear chain reaction, which releases energy and generates a deadly burst of radiation.

The resulting blue glow — known as Cherenkov radiation — has accidentally and abruptly flashed at least 60 times since the dawn of the nuclear age, signaling an instantaneous nuclear charge and causing a total of 21 agonizing deaths. So keeping bits of plutonium far apart is one of the bedrock rules that those working on the nuclear arsenal are supposed to follow to prevent workplace accidents. It’s Physics 101 for nuclear scientists, but has sometimes been ignored at Los Alamos.

As luck had it that August day, a supervisor returned from her lunch break, noticed the dangerous configuration, and ordered a technician to move the rods apart. But in so doing, she violated safety rules calling for a swift evacuation of all personnel in “criticality” events, because bodies — and even hands — can reflect and slow the neutrons emitted by plutonium, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear chain reaction. A more senior lab official instead improperly decided that others in the room should keep working, according to a witness and an Energy Department report describing the incident.

Catastrophe was avoided and no announcement was made at the time about the near-miss — but officials internally described what happened as the most dangerous nuclear-related incident at that facility in years. It then set in motion a calamity of a different sort: Virtually all of the Los Alamos engineers tasked with keeping workers safe from criticality incidents decided to quit, having become frustrated by the sloppy work demonstrated by the 2011 event and what they considered the lab management’s callousness about nuclear risks and its desire to put its own profits above safety.

When this exodus was in turn noticed in Washington, officials there concluded the privately-run lab was not adequately protecting its workers from a radiation disaster. In 2013, they worked with the lab director to shut down its plutonium handling operations so the workforce could be retrained to meet modern safety standards.

Those efforts never fully succeeded, however, and so what was anticipated as a brief work stoppage has turned into a nearly four-year shutdown of portions of the huge laboratory building where the plutonium work is located, known as PF-4.

Officials privately say that the closure in turn undermined the nation’s ability to fabricate the cores of new nuclear weapons and obstructed key scientific examinations of existing weapons to ensure they still work. The exact cost to taxpayers of idling the facility is unclear, but an internal Los Alamos report estimated in 2013 that shutting down the lab where such work is conducted costs the government as much as $1.36 million a day in lost productivity.

And most remarkably, Los Alamos’s managers still have not figured out a way to fully meet the most elemental nuclear safety standards. ……

these safety challenges aren’t confined to Los Alamos. The Center’s probe revealed a frightening series of glaring worker safety risks, previously unpublicized accidents, and dangerously lax management practices. The investigation further revealed that the penalties imposed by the government on the private firms that make America’s nuclear weapons were typically just pinpricks, and that instead the firms annually were awarded large profits in the same years that major safety lapses occurred. Some were awarded new contracts despite repeated, avoidable accidents, including some that exposed workers to radiation…….

George Anastas, a past president of the Health Physics Society who analyzed dozens of internal government reports about criticality problems at Los Alamos for the Center, said he wonders if “the work at Los Alamos [can] be done somewhere else? Because it appears the safety culture, the safety leadership, has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

Anastas said the reports, spanning more than a decade, describe “a series of accidents waiting to happen.” The lab, he said, is “dodging so many bullets that it’s scary as hell.”http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/near-disaster-federal-nuclear-weapons-laboratory-takes-hidden-toll-america-s-arsenal

June 30, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

At Idaho nuclear plant nuclear warnings were unheeded, with dangerous results

Repeated radiation warnings go unheeded at sensitive Idaho nuclear plant Center fr Public Integrity 29 June 17 

“…….Key findings

  • The chairman of a safety committee at Idaho National Laboratory wrote a memo in 2009 warning that damaged plutonium plates could endanger workers. He said in a legal deposition that he shared it with 19 people at the lab, including high-ranking managers.
  • The managers ignored most of his recommendations, he said. An accident occurred in which 16 workers inhaled plutonium dust particles. Two minutes beforehand, a supervisor who had been warned about the risks relayed an order for it to proceed.
  • Three workers sued, claiming their inhalations brought injury and illness. Though BEA, the contractor running the lab, disagreed about the severity of the exposures, it settled the suits confidentially and then petitioned the federal government to pay its legal fees and settlement costs.
  • Word of this incident reached local newspapers, but there were other radiation exposures at the lab — both before and after this incident — that did not attract public notice. Despite work stoppages and re-training of workers, unsafe conditions persisted, according to government reports.
  • The year of the plutonium-exposure accident, BEA received 92 percent of all the profit its contract made available — $17.1 million. In 2012 the Energy Department withheld $500,000 in profits from BEA for radiation events, but later gave all of the money back to the company. In March 2014, the Department of Energy extended BEA’s contract to operate Idaho National Laboratory for five more years without holding a competition……..https://apps.publicintegrity.org/nuclear-negligence/repeated-warnings/

June 30, 2017 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment