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TEPCO must regain public trust to ensure Fukushima’s steady recovery

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To ensure the steady recovery of Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s revised business plan must not be allowed to end up as pie in the sky.

TEPCO has compiled a new business plan. The utility has strengthened its steps to improve profitability to raise funds for costs including decommissioning reactors and compensation related to the March 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. This is the second time the plan has been revised.

The total cost of cleaning up the nuclear accident has ballooned from ¥11 trillion to ¥21.5 trillion. TEPCO will shoulder ¥16 trillion of this amount over about 30 years. The ¥300 billion TEPCO spent in fiscal 2016 on compensation and reactor decommissioning costs will be increased to ¥500 billion annually.

TEPCO must boost its “earning power” to secure sufficient capital to meet those costs. Restarting reactors at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture will be essential for this. Each reactor brought back online will raise TEPCO’s earnings by ¥40 billion to ¥90 billion per year.

TEPCO is working to gradually restart all seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant from fiscal 2019. However, as things stand, high hurdles remain in its way. This is because even if a reactor passes safety screenings conducted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, local government authorities also must agree to the reactors’ restart.

The recent revelation that TEPCO did not disclose data about the insufficient earthquake-resistance of the main quake-resistant building at the plant has further heightened local distrust of the utility. Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama is not budging from his cautious stance because he believes safety measures at the plant are insufficient. “At the moment, I can’t agree to the restart” of the reactors, Yoneyama said.

An expert panel of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry also had some stinging criticism for TEPCO, saying it “has not earned enough trust from the public.”

Transparency vital

On June 23, TEPCO will switch to a new leadership lineup when Hitachi, Ltd. Honorary Chairman Takashi Kawamura becomes TEPCO’s chairman. Kawamura will need to work hard to regain trust in TEPCO so restarting its reactors can become a reality.

Strengthening cooperation with other electric utilities and launching new operations, such as gas retailing, also will be effective in solidifying TEPCO’s revenue base. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the overseas development of its thermal power business, in which TEPCO is pursuing integration with Chubu Electric Power Co.

The new plan stipulates TEPCO will “prepare a basic framework for cooperation with other companies” by around fiscal 2020, keeping in mind the Higashidori nuclear plant TEPCO is constructing in Aomori Prefecture.

TEPCO is considering working with Tohoku Electric Power Co., which has a nuclear power plant in that region. If this tie-up comes to fruition, it will be useful for establishing a stable supply of electricity. TEPCO’s intentions on this issue are understandable.

Other utilities that could become partners with TEPCO during a realignment in the industry hold deep-rooted concerns that cooperating with TEPCO could result in the costs of dealing with the nuclear accident being shunted on to them. TEPCO must lay the groundwork to dispel such concerns.

TEPCO and the government will, as soon as this autumn, establish a forum at which they can listen to the opinions of other electric utilities on steps to reorganize nuclear power and electricity transmission businesses.

Profits will be distributed based on the capital contribution ratio in a joint venture. Other companies should not be forced to shoulder the costs of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Highly transparent rules such as these will need to be drawn up.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003740107

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June 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Submersible Crawling Robot to Examine Interior of Fukushima Daiichi-3 PCV before Fuel Debris Is Removed

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On May 25, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) released a status report on the ongoing decommissioning work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, which suffered a tsunami-caused meltdown in March 2011.

Starting two months ago, in March, a self-propelled robot has been used to investigate the interior of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Unit 1 at Fukushima Daiichi—a necessary step before fuel debris can be removed. As of April 6, the robot had sampled deposits twice.

Fluorescent X-ray spectroscopy has now confirmed the presence of elements that had originally existed in the PCV, such as iron and nickel within the reactor core internals, stainless steel in the heat-insulating materials, zinc in the paint, and lead in the shielding materials.

Although uranium was confirmed as the primary radioactive nuclide within Unit 1, it is not necessarily part of the fuel debris there, given that that element exists naturally. TEPCO said that it would carry out more detailed analyses to confirm the uranium’s source.

As the water level in the PCV of Unit 3 is higher than that in Units 1 and 2, its so-called “X-6 penetration”—which would give easier access to the inside of the pedestal (under the reactor pressure vessel)—is submerged. TEPCO plans to investigate the interior of that unit’s PCV at an undetermined date this summer using a submersible robot that can both crawl and swim. Earlier this month, the power utility began taking measurements using muon observation technology to determine the location of fuel debris.

Under the “Mid-and-Long-Term Roadmap” toward decommissioning, TEPCO will determine policies on fuel debris removal at each Fukushima Daiichi unit this summer. According to its May 22 report to an expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the power company has already made investigations to determine general conditions inside the individual PCVs.

TEPCO will continue to focus on gathering information during the current fiscal year (ended March 31, 2018), including that on the forms and distribution of fuel debris—necessary to determine the means to remove it—and safety measures for the actual removal work.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/submersible-crawling-robot-to-examine-interior-of-fukushima-daiichi-3-pcv-before-fuel-debris-is-removed/

 

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco’s hopes rest on dubious reform plan, new 77-year-old chief

Former Hitachi chairman to become troubled utility’s chairman in June

20170524-Tepco-77-year-old-chief_article_main_image.jpgIncoming Tepco Chairman Takashi Kawamura, left, speaks at a press conference in Tokyo on April 3, alongside incoming President Tomoaki Kobayakawa and current President Naomi Hirose.

TOKYO — The incoming leadership team at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings. faces an uphill battle. Turning around the struggling utility will require pushing ahead with badly needed reforms and overcoming deep internal divisions.

Takashi Kawamura, a 77-year-old former Hitachi chairman who currently serves as the industrial conglomerate’s chairman emeritus, will become chairman of Japan’s biggest utility, succeeding 76-year-old Fumio Sudo.

Tomoaki Kobayakawa, a 53-year-old Tepco director, will become president, taking over from 64-year-old Naomi Hirose, who will become a vice chairman with no representation rights.

The new team is set to be approved on June 23 at a shareholders meeting.

Difficult target

Tepco, still reeling from the 2011 meltdowns at one of its nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture, on May 11 raised eyebrows by announcing the latest “comprehensive special business plan.” The plan contains what seems to be an overly optimistic target: securing 500 billion yen ($4.46 billion) in funds annually until 2026.

On May 12, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which supervises the electric power industry, convened a meeting of experts to discuss Tepco’s reforms. In their hearts, many of the panelists are skeptical about the plan’s feasibility.

Kawamura himself has acknowledged that putting Tepco back on its feet will be quite difficult. “Just making ordinary efforts will not be enough,” he said.

Kawamura is not acquainted with Kobayakawa. The two have yet to sit down and talk about Tepco’s future business strategy.

The costs of dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster are estimated to reach about 22 trillion yen. Tepco will have to cough up 500 billion yen annually over the next 30 years.

http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Tepco-s-hopes-rest-on-dubious-reform-plan-new-77-year-old-chief

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Webcam Update

Here is a pdf document with some sample screenshots from the last couple weeks: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vju5r3cpnb5zlgu/May%20and%20June%202017.pdf?dl=1

The cam views have been mostly unremarkable for the last 4 or 5 weeks, which is why I’ve not posted anything about webcam conditions.

For example, here is a screenshot from today:

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The screenshot above is pretty representative of what I’ve seen on the cams recently, although conditions were very foggy and (perhaps) steamy on June 1, a couple of days ago, when the site eventually became entirely shrouded in fog on June 2

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In general, conditions on the surface look more stable than they were a few months ago. However, appearances can be deceptive and the real drama remains underground as TEPCO struggles to locate and contain missing, melted reactor fuel.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/06/fukushima-webcam-update.html

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | | Leave a comment

Defiant North Korea vows to continue its nuclear weapons development

North Korea “fully rejects” new UN sanctions and vows to continue its nuclear weapons development
Kim Jong-un’s rogue state described the sanctions resolution as “a crafty hostile act”,
The Sun By Jon Lockett 4th June 2017, 

June 5, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dangerous cargo of radioactive trash flying from Scotland to South Carolina

Toxic cargo of nuclear waste leaves Scotland for US under armed guard https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/toxic-cargo-of-nuclear-waste-leaves-for-us/  Jim Lawson, 04 June 2017 AN American military plane carrying a deadly cargo of radioactive waste has taken off from Scotland for the second time.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK, USA, wastes | 3 Comments

USA’s President Trump sets the world stage for a new nuclear arms race

Is President Trump setting the stage for a new nuclear arms race?https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/06/03/stealthy-cruise-missile-spurs-worries-amid-trump-call-for-revived-nuclear-arms-race/QlgPJLsn01ru4SaHFuGicM/story.html By Christopher Rowland GLOBE STAFF  JUNE 03, 2017 WASHINGTON — President Trump has called for a new global arms race, and the Pentagon is ready. It has a nuclear weapon on the drawing board that the military considers essential but that critics fear could put the United States on the inside lane to Armageddon.

The new weapon is the planned update of the Air Force’s nuclear cruise missile. Price tag: at least $20 billion. Fear factor for arms-control advocates: maximum.

Trump’s newly released budget for 2018 contains hundreds of millions of dollars to speed up development of the Long Range Stand Off missile — a jet-propelled nuke designed to be launched from an airborne bomber and stealthily zip to a target virtually anywhere in the world.

It will carry a “variable yield’’ warhead that can be adjusted to deliver an atomic blast ranging from 5 to 150 kilotons — that is, from about one-third of a Hiroshima-sized bomb to as much as 10 Hiroshima bombs.

The ability to limit the scope of devastation and highly flexible targeting offer a powerful allure to Air Force generals, but are also precisely what worry antiproliferation specialists. They contend these capabilities make the idea of a “limited’’ nuclear strike on a target like Iran or North Korea — aggressive provocateurs but not superpowers — more likely, with a high risk for catastrophic escalation. It could also give Pentagon planners an intriguing option as they study ways to deter Russia’s ambitions to reassert sway over Eastern Europe.

The new missiles are part of a $1 trillion upgrade of America’s nuclear arsenal kicked off by President Barack Obama, replacing missiles, submarines, and planes that have been in service for decades. Now Trump is positioning the military to pursue those plans aggressively, with $1 billion in his new budget to keep the Pentagon on an accelerated course for updating warheads, including a refurbished warhead for the 1,000 new, improved cruise missiles.

“It is very dangerous to have this excessive, unnecessary rebuilding of the arsenal take place under the Trump administration,’’ said Tom Collina, policy director at the Ploughshares Fund, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons development. “The United States wants a new arms race, and is willing to push for it, and willing to pay for it, and we’re going to see other countries including Russia respond in kind, which is not good for global security.’’

 The potential for nuclear brinkmanship and a war “goes up when you have weapons that are perceived as less risky to use in a first strike,’’ he said.

Under an order Trump signed soon after he took office, the Pentagon is beginning a Nuclear Posture Review, due for completion by the end of the year. It gives the new administration a chance to articulate the president’s nuclear vision and decide what atomic weapons and strategies he deems most important.

Trump’s White House has not yet provided details of the president’s views, but in some of his remarks, he appears prepared to push the United States closer to a Cold War footing, a shift in tone and possibly in tactics that could have an impact on global nuclear security long after he leaves office.

“Let it be an arms race,’’ Trump, then president-elect, was quoted by MSNBC as saying in December. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.’’

Tough talk, or something more? Certainly the tone runs sharply counter to the trend over the last three decades. Since the destruction of the Berlin Wall, there has been a sharp reduction in nuclear arms deployed by the United States and Russia.

Obama’s own 2010 Nuclear Posture Review concluded that the United States should continue seeking to reduce the balance of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era, not add new nuclear weapons systems to the mix of intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based missiles, and missiles on long-range bombers. But to win Republican support for the ratification of the New START arms control treaty with Russia in 2010 — which limited both sides to 1,550 strategic warheads and set up new inspection regimes — Obama softened his stance and agreed to the sweeping modernization of the smaller nuclear force. The $1 trillion price tag, coming due over 30 years, includes new strategic bombers, submarines, and rebuilt intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Among all the nuclear systems, the plan to update the air-launched cruise missile is the most controversial, because of what critics consider its “destabilizing’’ effect. The missile is designed to be used in a survivable, limited nuclear conflict — survivable, meaning it doesn’t result in mutual annihilation. Intended to replace an existing, less capable system built in the 1980s, it would be widely deployed by 2030, with the first one ready by 2025.

‘Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.’

Donald Trump, as quoted by MSNBC in December 

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It could be shot thousands of miles away from enemy territory, and then fly low and fast to its target. The new version will have a stealthy profile and skin, making it difficult to detect by radar.

Proponents in the Air Force have said the missile is indispensable because it eliminates the need for long-range strategic bombers to enter enemy airspace. They contend it can act as an even stronger deterrent than ballistic missiles.

“We want our adversaries to think we have the capability — and the will — to use our nuclear weapons,’’ said Adam Lowther, director of the Air Force’s School for Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies, at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. With the new missile, he said, “we’re not in a situation where it is all or nothing.’’

It is in America’s interest to keep the Russians guessing if the “crazy Americans’’ will pull the trigger, he said. Enemies know that America will be extremely reluctant, he said, to deliver an atomic blast from an ICBM, given the almost certain retaliation that would follow.

Unlike Obama’s review, which called for reductions in the risks of global annihilation, the Trump review is expected to highlight the benefits of nuclear weapons to America’s power, Lowther predicted. He anticipates the review will be “a more positive view of the role of nuclear weapons, and nuclear deterrence.’’

Critics say the cruise missile makes the frightening logic of deterrence all the more fragile.

“This weapon makes fighting nuclear wars even more possible. Its accuracy and potency will be greater. We don’t need it. It’s dangerous. And the weapons that we have already can do the job,’’ said Senator Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat and longtime proponent of a freeze and reduction on nuclear weapons.

“We’re going to ask other countries to engage in restraint while we’re making . . . nuclear war-fighting even more possible, even more imaginable,” he said.

Markey has sponsored Senate legislation that would cap development money for the next-generation nuclear cruise missile at current levels until Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review is complete. The bill has little chance of passage. Most of the Republicans who control Congress and a number of Democrats whose states depend on jobs and military bases that support nuclear weapons favor a full-speed-ahead approach.

North Dakota is home to the B-52 bombers that carry the old nuclear cruise missiles. Both of the state’s senators, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and Republican John Hoeven, were among a bipartisan group who wrote the Pentagon last summer urging that the full nuclear modernization continue.

They wrote the letter after published reports said Obama was thinking about scaling back the modernization in his last year in office, including canceling the new cruise missile.

“We must modernize these forces to preserve their deterrent capabilities,’’ Hoeven, Heitkamp, and the other senators wrote. “We . . . need a new [air-launched cruise missile] to hold the broadest possible array of targets at risk.’’

The gears of Pentagon procurement bureaucracy are already turning, supported by weapons manufacturers.

Early development of the cruise missile’s updated warhead is under way at Sandia National Laboratories . Requests for bids for the full missile systems were issued last year; prime bidders are expected to be Waltham-based Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin, according to defense trade journals.

Christopher Rowland can be reached at christopher.rowland@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRowland.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New York’s plan for nuclear civil defence – not much change from the 1950s

New York’s plan for nuclear fallout is basically “duck and cover” https://qz.com/979520/heres-new-york-citys-sort-of-plan-for-the-nuclear-apocalypse/ 4 June 17 In April, a rumor spread that 600,000 people were evacuated from Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, because they wouldn’t all be able to fit in the city’s network of bomb shelters in case of an attack. That report was later debunked, but rising tensions between North Korea and the US have a lot of people on edge. North Korea’s series of recent missile tests are unlikely to help matters.

The latest ballistic missile fired by North Korea is believed to have fallen in the sea of Japan, within Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Relatedly, in March, Japan ran its first evacuation drill designed for the possibility of a North Korean missile attack. With these reminders of some kind of nuclear threats, and the doomsday clock the closest to midnight it’s been in decades, it seems fair to wonder how safe would American cities be, in such scenario?

We looked at New York—because it’s the most densely populated, and it is, after all, the only city in America to ever have suffered an aerial attack (not counting Pearl Harbor in 1941). Sure, climate change will probably kill New Yorkers before a nuclear explosion does. But still, should the city follow Hawaii’s (or Japan’s) lead in updating fallout shelters?

New York Civil Defense drill. 1950’s

There isn’t much of a plan

It’s important, first of all, to talk about where nuclear fallout is most likely to come from. While American children growing up during the Cold War were warned they could be attacked at any minute by a foreign bomb or ballistic missile, this is not a risk, at least for the time being. Despite North Korea’s propaganda, America’s mainland—and, likely, even Hawaii—is still far away from the reach of a nuclear missile.

That said, New Yorkers could face nuclear exposure from two other sources: A terror attack utilizing a low-yield radioactive device, or a radiation leak following an accident in one of the plants somewhere near the city. (Just as an example, on May 9, a tunnel collapsed in a plutonium finishing plant in Hanford, Washington. According to news reports, it was full of highly contaminated nuclear waste. Though luckily no one was harmed, workers were instructed to take cover, ensure the ventilation was working in buildings, and “refrain from eating and drinking.”)

The latter scenario is the least dangerous, for a number of reasons. Brooke Buddemeier, a certified health physicist (also known as a radiation safety specialist) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, tells Quartz that due to the workings of nuclear plants, accidental explosions within the plants are not actually nuclear and are very small in comparison to a nuclear bomb explosion. In the unlikely event of an accident, most of the radioactive material would be contained by the reactor containment itself, limiting the damage to structures and people in the immediate vicinity of the plant. Further, any radioactive plant leak would likely take some time and release radioactive material at much slower rates than an explosion, allowing for an evacuation of the area to prevent or reduce exposures to the public.

A bomb is different. If an improvised radioactive device—a so-called “dirty bomb”— were to go off in New York City, Buddemeier said, we’d be “looking at a low-yield explosive going off at ground level.” The explosive power of such a device could be of a magnitude comparable to the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the dangers would be twofold: The immediate explosion, and the radioactive fallout.

When it comes to the explosion, the danger (at least in terms of dying from the explosion itself, or developing acute radiation sickness) would decline drastically after the first half mile, remaining serious for anyone standing within the first mile of the blast, then somewhat concerning for those within three miles of the explosion.

The fallout—or the radioactive debris that would fall from the sky following an explosion—would cover an area between 10 to 20 miles, with the so-called “hot zone” covering up to 100 miles.

Gone are the days when New York’s “busy millions” were involved in city-wide drills: The city’s Emergency Management department said today it’s much safer to simple find the closest building and stay indoors rather than looking for a designated fallout shelter.

On the site PlanNowNYC, New York maintains lists of possible disasters—including biological attacks, dirty bombs, and cyber attacks—and gives advice on how to handle them. For a radioactive attack, the official government suggestion is again to stay indoors, remove possibly contaminated clothes, take a warm shower, and don’t use conditioner (it can bind radioactive particles to your hair protein).

In case of any kind of radioactive attack, “New Yorkers should immediately take shelter in the center or basement of any nearby building. Expect to stay there until instructed to leave by emergency personnel,” a New York City spokesperson wrote to Quartz in an email.

But is that enough of a plan? And how many people can actually fit in basements and building halls, anyway?

“An east coast city like New York offers some good protection,” says Buddemeier. “[The key] is getting into the nearest solid structure and staying indoors.” Examples of structures that provide good protection are basements, multistory buildings, and underground areas including parking garages or subways.

The degree of protection offered by a building depends on its size, the material it’s built with, and where one stands in it. Basements (particularly corners) are generally the best bets, or the center of a tall concrete building. Taking shelter in the center of a tall concrete building would cut the potential radiation exposure from a dirty bomb down by a factor of 1,000 to 10,000, according to calculations from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. But even sheltering in a one story wooden house would cut radiation exposure down by a factor of 10.

People who are outside at the time of the explosion should seek the nearest, most effective shelter—but getting indoors sooner is more important than finding the perfect protection. Similarly, those who are indoors should just stay there, and wait: Even a few hours will significantly reduce the radiation intensity.

“Radiation is one of the gifts that keeps on giving,” explains Buddemeier. But while some level of radiation could be detectable in the area of an explosion for years to come, its intensity would be drastically reduced after the first day. Within the first hour, radiation is cut in half, and loses 80% of its power after the first day, so protecting oneself during this initial period of time should hopefully reduce the risk of acute radiation sickness.

Reducing exposure as soon and as drastically as possible, Buddemeier says, will also help stave off the long-term effects of radiation, such as cancer or genetic mutations. Drinking water and eating food is OK, he says, and though “you don’t want to go out and start harvesting fresh vegetables.” Food that is stored indoors can be consumed and “if you need to wash off or are thirsty, by all means, get water.” While bottled is preferable, even the water in the city system would do in a pinch.

Importantly, these safety and emergency measures actually apply to a nuclear explosion of any kind—even a much more powerful one: The difference of course would be the size of the prompt impact zone, and how far downwind people would need to find shelter in order to avoid significant fallout exposure

June 5, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Serious flaws in the spent fuel pools method of storing nuclear radioactive trash

Facing South 2nd June 2017, As the United States continues to grapple with long-term storage of highly radioactive spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear power plants, science watchdogs are warning of serious flaws with the current storage method, which involves densely packing the combustible spent fuel assemblies under at least 20 feet of water in pools located at individual plants while awaiting creation of a permanent repository.
https://www.facingsouth.org/2017/06/nuclear-regulators-flawed-analysis-leaves-millions-risk-radioactive-fires

June 5, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Distress and disarray in the U.S. nuclear industry

Distress in the US nuclear industry, https://www.financierworldwide.com/distress-in-the-us-nuclear-industry#.WTSVQZKGPGh  BY Fraser Tennant June 2017  

Financier Worldwide Magazine A US nuclear industry in distress is a development likely to cause concern among even the hardiest – yet ‘distress’ does not quite do justice to the extent of the issues currently troubling the industry stateside.

The origin of this elevated distress is the plight of Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC), the Toshiba Corporation-owned US nuclear company which has been haemorrhaging billions of dollars due to severe difficulties with a number of key projects and, as a result, has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Indicative in many ways of the struggles facing the global nuclear industry, WEC’s indigenous operations – in the main, four nuclear plants under construction in Georgia and South Carolina – have been hit by massive cost overruns and delays of nearly four years, leaving the Japanese conglomerate with a forecasted annual loss of 1.01 trillion yen ($9.1bn).

Satoshi Tsunakawa, Toshiba’s chief executive, has stated there is no risk of additional losses from overseas nuclear projects (which includes the £10bn Moorside nuclear project in the UK, Europe’s largest planned nuclear power plant). “The filing by WEC is an important step toward recovery,” said Mr Tsunakawa. “It is also in-line with our goal of limiting risk from overseas nuclear operations.”

On the other hand, Dr Paul Dorfman, from University College London’s Energy Institute, concludes that Toshiba’s nuclear gamble with Westinghouse has been the cause of the nuclear company’s financial problems. “Both corporations are in dire straits and face a relatively dismal future without significant public and governmental financial input,” he says. “In this sense, the situation mirrors that of new nuclear worldwide – because of the sheer expense of nuclear construction, without huge public and government subsidy, new nuclear is being left behind by the renewable evolution.”

Irreversible dark age

Considered to be something of a coup at the time, the $5.4bn purchase of Pittsburgh-based WEC by Toshiba in 2006 was swiftly followed by deals to build four reactors in 2008 – the first US nuclear plants to be approved by regulators since the controversial Three Mile Island incident in 1979. Today, WEC’s major power plant problems, not to mention its bankruptcy filing, threaten to plunge the US nuclear industry into an irreversible dark age.

“The Westinghouse bankruptcy is a huge blow to the US nuclear industry,” says Steve Clemmer, director of energy research for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Climate and Energy Program. “After three decades of not building new nuclear plants in the US, only a handful of companies are left in the world with the expertise to build new reactors. Westinghouse is building all four reactors currently under construction in the US and the bankruptcy will make it much harder for power companies in Georgia and South Carolina to finish these projects and collect money Westinghouse owes them. It will also have reverberations across the nuclear supply chain, because Westinghouse is holding $508m in claims from its top 30 creditors.”

More renewable, less new nuclear

As one might expect, the huge losses being incurred by WEC/Toshiba is serving to prompt the exploration of renewable energy opportunities rather than the pursuit of new nuclear projects. “Westinghouse’s recent experience clearly shows that building new nuclear plants in the US is considerably more expensive than new natural gas, wind and solar projects,” says Mr Clemmer. “Increased energy efficiency in homes and businesses is also reducing electricity demand and the need for new power plants. Utilities in South Carolina have already raised consumer electricity rates by nearly 20 percent since 2009 to pay for the construction of the new reactors, even though they have not generated any electricity yet.”

Concurrently, and bolstering the case for a renewed focus on renewable energy opportunities, the cost of wind and solar projects installed in the US has fallen by more than two-thirds since 2009. Furthermore, over the same period, US wind and solar capacity has almost tripled, adding 86,000 megawatts of new capacity – a quantity equivalent to the electricity produced by more than 23 new nuclear reactors.

“The key problem with new nuclear is cost-effectiveness,” states Dr Dorfman. “Solar costs have fallen by 50 percent in the last five years, and now significant new offshore wind projects will be built in Germany without any subsidy. With these very significant drops in renewable costs, nuclear is simply not cost-effective.”

Making nuclear competitive

Across the globe, the outlook for the nuclear industry looks bleak in the near-term, with the construction of new reactors hindered by significant cost and time overruns, and a number of existing nuclear plants economically vulnerable due to historically low natural gas prices. “Over the long-term, if new nuclear plants are to play a role in achieving deep reductions in global warming emissions by 2050 under the Paris Agreement, policies that put a price on carbon and invest in research and development will likely be needed to make nuclear competitive,” concludes Mr Clemmer.

In the US, while bankruptcy proceedings continue, Toshiba and WEC have been working with the owners of the Georgia and South Carolina projects to develop arrangements for the continuation of construction during an interim period – an arrangement which, although keeping work at the sites going and preventing further distress, is likely to do little toward finding a comprehensive solution that can reinvigorate the prospects of new nuclear in the US in the long-term.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea’s plan for transition from coal and nuclear power

South Korea plans energy U-turn away from coal, nuclear, Reuters By Jane Chung 4 June 17  SEOULA proposed energy U-turn by South Korea’s new government would put the environment at the center of energy policy, shifting one of the world’s staunchest supporters of coal and nuclear power toward natural gas and renewables.

If implemented, the ambitious plans by the world’s fourth biggest coal importer and No.2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer will have a big impact on producers. South Korea’s LNG imports could jump by more than 50 percent by 2030, while coal shipments could peak as early as next year.

But experts warn that any move to halt construction of a raft of new coal and nuclear plants, many of which are already being built, could threaten energy security, spark claims for massive compensation and push up electricity prices.

The plan by the new administration of left-leaning President Moon Jae-in which took power in early May would move a notable laggard in renewables toward green energy, responding to public concerns over air pollution and nuclear safety.

“The government can’t neglect people’s demands and in the long term it’s right to pursue clean and safe energy. But there will be many challenges,” said Sonn Yang-Hoon, Economics Professor at Incheon National University.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, gets 70 percent of its electricity from thermal coal and nuclear reactors, and offers tax benefits to both sectors to ensure abundant electricity at affordable prices.

While Moon’s energy roadmap is still being hashed out, his staff say that care for the environment will play a central role in forming policy.

“Currently taxes are imposed on gas for power generation, and we plan to correct the skewed tax system by seeking to levy environmental taxes on coal and nuclear,” said Paik Ungyu, an energy engineering professor at Hanyang University who advises Moon on energy policy.

The government hopes to boost gas-fired generation from about 18 percent now to 27 percent by 2030 and boost the use of renewables, now mainly hydro, from roughly 5 percent to 20 percent, said Paik.

At the same time, coal’s contribution would fall from about 40 percent to 21.8 percent and nuclear from 30 percent to 21.6 percent, based on power demand growth of 2.2 percent.

DRAMATIC SHIFT

A key short-term option is to boost the operating rates of gas-fired power stations from 40 percent to 60 percent through the reduction or removal of tariffs on gas imports. Coal and nuclear power are exempt from import tariffs.

The price of gas-fired electricity in March was 129.51 won ($0.1160) per kilowatt-hour (kWh), 40 percent more than coal and nearly double the cost of nuclear power, according to data from Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO).

Long-term energy economics favor policy change, with renewable costs falling sharply due to improved technology and LNG prices sliding over 70 percent from their 2014 peak on a huge supply increase, especially from Australia and the United States.

“If there are no new nuclear and coal plants, the potential LNG imports could be 46-49 million tonnes per annum depending on the success of the renewable targets,” said Chong Zhi Xin, principal Asia LNG analyst at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Moon this month ordered a temporary halt on 10 old coal-fired power plants and outlined plans to bring forward their permanent closure.

More controversially, he pledged during his campaign to review existing plans to build nine coal power plants and eight nuclear reactors, including the part-completed Shin Kori No.5 and No.6, citing safety concerns.

Experts estimate up to $2.7 billion has already been committed on Shin Kori No.5 and No.6 by state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Corp. Work has also started on the coal plant projects, although all are less than 10 percent complete…….https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-politics-energy-idUSKBN18V0EH

June 5, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Escalating costs for South Carolina’s nuclear reactor project

Once-secret records reveal pattern of costly mistakes at troubled nuclear project,  Since 2009, companies working to build twin nuclear reactors in Fairfield County have made nearly three dozen changes to the project that drove up costs by about $325 million, according to recently released records and a state agency tracking the work’s progress.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Israel’s secret plan to detonate nuclear weapon in 1967

‘Last Secret’ of 1967 War: Israel’s Doomsday Plan for Nuclear Display, NYT,  JUNE 3, 2017 On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war, 50 years ago this week, Israeli officials raced to assemble an atomic device and developed a plan to detonate it atop a mountain in the Sinai Peninsula as a warning to Egyptian and other Arab forces, according to an interview with a key organizer of the effort that will be published Monday.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear weapons and the politics of domination

Power to the People vs. Power to the Bomb: Alternatives to Nuclear Domination Sunday, June 04, 2017By Ira Chernus, Truthout   Even before the first atomic bomb exploded, the United States government had a single, simple principle to guide it through the nuclear age: domination. We would prevent other nations from getting the bomb.Franklin D. Roosevelt established that principle when he decided not to tell the Soviet Union anything, and not to tell his closest ally, Britain, everything that Americans knew about the bomb. Harry Truman gave classic expression to that principle when he crowed about his power over the Soviets: “I’ll certainly have a hammer on those boys.”

Of course, Truman didn’t have the hammer long. The Soviets soon had the bomb, and other nations followed. So the basic principle had to have a corollary: If we could not be the world’s sole nuclear power, we would be the strongest.

Every president since has followed the same principle in shaping nuclear policy. Some, like FDR and Obama, did it quietly. Some, like Truman, did it more noisily. Donald Trump may turn out to be the noisiest nuclear warrior of all in the White House. As a candidate, he threatened that he might use nukes in the Middle East and in Europe. He has loudly voiced his insistence that Iran and North Korea must cease their nuclear programs.

All presidents, and all those who have helped them shape nuclear policy, have agreed on the basic meaning of “nuclear power”: The bomb must give us the power to dominate as much of the world as possible and to make sure that no other nation can dominate us. (The other meaning of “nuclear power” — the electricity that comes from nuclear-powered generators — is merely an ancillary “benefit” of the science that created the bomb.)

Beneath this way of thinking lies a fundamental premise: The world is divided into dominators and dominated. To have power is to be among the dominators and to avoid becoming dominated. That’s what power means in the world of the nuclear warriors: domination over others.

It’s also what power means in the cultural world of most Americans, which is why the public has generally supported, or at least accepted, the massive nuclear arsenal, despite its phenomenal costs in tax dollars and its much, much higher cost to our sense of personal safety.

We as a nation have largely learned to stop (consciously) worrying and live with — if not love — the bomb for many reasons, no doubt. Most Americans have probably believed presidential claims that we would use the bomb, as we supposedly use all our other military weapons, only to promote peace and democracy around the world.

At a deeper level, though, such moral claims serve mainly to ease our national conscience over our desire to have, and our pleasure in having, seemingly infinite power. If those who do not dominate are bound to get dominated, it makes perfect sense to want, to get and to keep infinite power over others.

Is there any alternative view of power to show us a way out from under the nuclear shadow? The history of the antinuclear movement offers a clue.

“Power With,” Not “Power Over”

There have been two brief eras when the US public’s demand for safety grew stronger than its demand for power. Those eras spawned movements to reduce, and some even said abolish, our nuclear arsenal: once in John F. Kennedy’s presidency and again in the early years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency…….

some had begun to explore the possibility of living life with a very different idea of power: Power means the ability to make things happen. We are most able to make things happen when we work together with others toward shared goals. Real effective power comes not from competition, but cooperation. It is “power with,” not “power over.”

One key source of this idea was the African American civil rights and Black power movements. Nonviolent civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. agreed with Black power advocates on some basic truths about power. Power is always political. It is (in King’s words) “a social force any group can utilize by accumulating its elements in a planned, deliberate campaign to organize it under its own control.”

And there is nothing intrinsically bad about political power. Indeed, disempowered groups, like Black Americans, had to get more power, because the only way to get real reconciliation between groups is first to equalize their power.

So King’s vision of the beloved community, as an ideal that can be realized in this world, would not eliminate power relationships. But it would set them right: “Power at its best is the right use of strength.” The right use is to share power so that no one dominates and everyone is helped to be free to fulfill their personal potential. “Freedom is participation in power,” MLK taught. “Participation” suggests that no one possesses power. Rather, it is a force that all share in………

From Resistance to the Revolution of “Power With”

The idea of “power with” has been slowly growing in influence over the last 50 years. However, it has often remained on the fringes of American society, as toxic masculinity has hampered efforts for the idea to become mainstream. But a whole generation of activists who learned to be political in the late ’60s understands it well enough. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they have built their political lives around it.

Now the quirks of the American electoral system have given us a president who lost the election by nearly 3 million popular votes but still entered the White House on January 20. It is surely no coincidence that the massive uprising of protest the very next day was a “Women’s March.” ……..

When it comes to power, we may have no choice. Whenever we resist Trump and the Republicans, we are not only resisting the traditional notion of “power over,” we are also, necessarily, promoting the idea of “power with.” As Dr. King and so many others have taught us, we can never dispense with power in society altogether. But we can choose the forms that power will take and the ways we will understand the workings of power.

“Power over” and “power with” are the only two concepts of power that are generally available in American political culture. By rejecting “power over,” we necessarily advocate and promote “power with.” Why not do so consciously, even enthusiastically, moving from mere resistance to real revolution, with a nod of gratitude to the roots of today’s movement that stretch back to the 1960s?

IRA CHERNUS

Ira Chernus is a professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of Colorado and author of MythicAmerica: Essays. He blogs at mythicamerica.us, hosted by History News Networkhttp://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/40819-power-to-the-people-vs-power-to-the-bomb-alternatives-to-nuclear-domination

June 5, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Deadly border battles between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan

INDIA AND PAKISTAN CONFLICT ERUPTS IN ‘DEADLY’ BORDER BATTLES BETWEEN NUCLEAR RIVALS, NewsWeek, BY TOM O’CONNOR ON 6/3/17 Recent clashes between neighboring rivals India and Pakistan have turned fatal, according to the Pakistani military, which said it has killed a number of Indian soldiers Saturday in a cross-border revenge attack in Kashmir.

In response to the Indian military allegedly opening fire Friday and wounding two Pakistani civilians in the sector of Nezapir, a Pakistani army spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, claimed in a tweet that the force killed up to five Indian soldiers, wounding many more and destroying bunkers. India, however, denied it had suffered any military casualties and instead accused the Pakistani army of injuring a female civilian. It said Pakistan was using 82 mm and 120 mm mortars indiscriminate small arms fire along the Line of Control, which forms the disputed de facto border between the two countries, the Economic Times reported.

“A woman was injured as Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice in two sectors of Poonch district by firing mortar shells on forward posts and civilian areas along the Line of Control, army to retaliate,” an Indian defense spokesperson said, according to Reuters.

The restive region of Jammu and Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim as their own, has long seen violent clashes between the South Asian nations that have gone to war three times since Pakistan declared independence from India as part of a U.K.-backed agreement in 1947…….

In addition to tensions mounting in the border region, both India and Pakistan have taken steps recently to revamp their nuclear weapons policies. India isbelieved by analysts to possess around 120 nuclear warheads and Pakistan around 130. Neither country is a signatory to the 1968 Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. According to a report released Friday by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, India was preparing to expand its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan, which has also expressed a desire to bolster its nuclear force, celebrated Sunday its Youm-e-Takbir, or “Day of Greatness,” commemorating the nation’s first successful nuclear detonation, in 1998, Russia’s Sputnik News reported. http://www.newsweek.com/india-pakistan-conflict-erupts-deadly-border-nuclear-620295

June 5, 2017 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment