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Submersible robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect the damaged primary containment vessel (PCV) of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3

Swimming robot ‘little sunfish’ to inspect crippled Fukushima plant

 

Japan has unveiled a small swimming robot that will inspect the damage at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The device weights 2kg, is 13cm in diameter and will be able to swim deep into the melted reactor, its developers say.

The Japan-based International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) unveiled the robot, dubbed ‘mini manbo’ (little sunfish) in the media, together with Toshiba group on Thursday.

The robot “is small enough and resilient enough to enter and inspect the damaged primary containment vessel [PCV] of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 3,” a statement from the IRID said, adding that the device will be deployed this summer.  

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The device is equipped with two cameras and can be remotely controlled via a wire, while operators can record its progress through the coolant. ‘Little sunfish’ will deliver a video feed that “will clarify damage to the PCV interior and information on how best to retrieve fuel debris,” the IRID added.

The major advantage of the robot is that it “can avoid various obstacles,” Tsutomu Takeuchi, a senior manager at the nuclear energy division of Toshiba, told AP. The company is tasked with helping to clean up the damaged plant.

The device was created for inspection of the primary containment vessel (PCV) of Unit 3 of the crippled plant. Unit 3 was flooded with coolant to a depth of about 6 meters (20ft) and in order to make a proper clean-up, such a coolant must be located and mapped, according to the IRID.

The penetration hole giving access to the PCV is only 14cm in diameter, limiting the size of any robot that can be deployed,” the IRID added.

Thus, the newly-presented robot seems ideal for the job. 

The robot’s radiation resistance is approximately 200 Sievert (Sv), according to its characteristics. For comparison, an exposure of about 1 sievert can cause biological damage to living tissue, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

Scientists developed ‘mini manbo’ with the aim of operating in a highly radioactive environment,” Goro Yanase, general manager of Toshiba’s Nuclear Energy Systems & Services Division, said.

We succeeded in developing a small robot with high-level radiation resistance, and through its deployment we expect to get information that will support the advance of decommissioning,” he added.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in the USSR in 1986.

Japanese authorities have repeatedly sent robots to inspect the contained area of the crippled plant but the devices either broke down or the missions were aborted. In February, such an attempt ended in failure as a clean-up robot stopped working two hours after it was sent to the inactive Reactor 2 at the nuclear complex.

Following the failure, Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning, said that more creativity was needed to produce robots that can find and assess the condition of melted fuel rods at the high-level radiation site. 

https://www.rt.com/news/392441-japan-underwater-robot-fukushima/

 

Toshiba unveils submersible video robot to probe reactor 3 at Fukushima No. 1 plant

 

YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA PREF. – Toshiba Corp. unveiled on Thursday a submersible robot to take live video of reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant to confirm whether fuel debris is sitting at the bottom of a pool of radioactive water inside.

The location and condition of the fuel in the three reactors hit by core meltdowns is critical information for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which runs the plant. Removing the fuel debris is considered the most difficult part of decommissioning the complex.

Unit 3 has the highest level of water inside at 6 meters. The fuel debris inside is presumed to have melted through its pressure vessel and settled at the bottom of its primary containment vessel.

Until today, no one has seen the situation inside reactor 3,” said Tsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department.

If we can observe the situation inside the reactor, that would be a huge leap in our ongoing effort to extract the debris” and eventually shut down the wrecked plant, he said during a demonstration of the robot at the Port and Airport Research Institute in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Co-developed with the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, the cylindrical 30-cm robot, dubbed the “mini manbo” (miniature sunfish), has a camera that can move 180 degrees vertically on its front and a fixed camera on its rear, allowing it to crawl through the water while capturing images.

Tepco plans to send the remotely controlled robot into the reactor as early as mid-July. A camera inserted into the reactor in October 2015 was unable to reach the bottom of the containment vessel.

No probe has been able to confirm the location or condition of the nuclear debris in any of the three crippled reactors.

Tepco sent a scorpion-shaped robot developed by Toshiba and the institute into reactor 2 in February, but it broke down before reaching its target under the pressure vessel after a tire got stuck.

In March, Tepco’s five-day robot-based investigation failed to capture an image of what was thought to be fuel debris in reactor 1.

A separate Tepco probe in January found black lumps in reactor 2’s pressure vessel but couldn’t immediately confirm they were fuel.

In December, the government estimated that the total cost of the Fukushima disaster would reach ¥21.5 trillion, including ¥8 trillion for decommissioning. That was almost doubled the initial estimate of ¥11 trillion.

Takeuchi of Toshiba did not reveal how much it cost to develop mini manbo.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/national/toshiba-unveils-submersible-video-robot-probe-reactor-3-fukushima-no-1-plant/#.WUK8RTdpzrc

n-robot-a-20170616.jpgTsutomu Takeuchi, senior manager at Toshiba’s Fukushima Restoration and Fuel Cycle Project Engineering Department, shows off a robot it claims can probe water-filled reactor 3 at the defunct Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

 

Swimming and wriggling robots unveiled for Fukushima clean-up

University and industry scientists have demonstrated new robots specialised for moving through and searching scenes of destruction that are impossible or dangerous for humans to enter.

Hardy, agile, remote-controlled robots will be vital for the decommissioning of power plants, particularly in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a meltdown in 2011 following a devastating tsunami and earthquake.

Robots can spend hours or days in environments so highly radioactive that a human worker would be killed in seconds.

The Japanese government hopes to start the challenging task of removing hundreds of tonnes of melted fuel after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, potentially beginning work in 2021. For this to be possible, engineers need to know the exact location of the fuel, and understand the extent of the structural damage to the reactors.

Among other efforts, a snake-like robot was used in 2011 to explore the reactors, but was trapped repeatedly by obstacles and its camera was blocked. A “scorpion” inspired crawling robot also failed to navigate the site and was abandoned inside.

Years later, a new version of the snake-like robot has been revealed by Japanese scientists, including a team from Tohoku University in Sendai: a region severely affected by the tsunami and earthquake.

The robot stretches to eight metres in length, has a camera attached to the front and can move at speeds of up to 10cm per second.

It wriggles in a serpentine motion, propelled by the vibrations of the brush-like hairs that cover its body. Unlike any other robot, it can also “rear” its tip like the head of a snake, shooting a small jet of air to lift it. This allows it to climb over obstacles – such as debris in a disaster zone – up to 20cm in height.

According to Professor Satoshi Tadokoro of Tohoku University, the robot could search for people trapped in collapsed homes following earthquakes, and test the structural safety of damaged buildings. The researchers hope to have it ready to assist in search and rescue operations and other tasks within three years of durability testing.

swimming-robot
Meanwhile, an alternative disaster relief robot has been unveiled by Toshiba and the public International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. This swimming robot is the size of a loaf of bread is and fitted with lights, camera and tail propellers.

It is designed specifically to inspect meltdown damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and will enter the primary containment vessel of Fukushima’s Unit 3 this summer to locate melted fuel in radioactive water.

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2017/06/swimming-and-wriggling-robots-unveiled-for-fukushima-clean-up/

 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Incoming Tepco chief vows decision on whether to scrap Fukushima No. 2

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The incoming president of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has expressed eagerness to accelerate moves for tie-ups with other companies in an effort to revive its business following the meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in 2011.

Capital strength is important to seriously embark on growth businesses,” Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the head of Tokyo Energy Partner Inc., Tepco’s electricity retail arm, said in a recent interview. The 53-year-old is set to assume the post of president on June 23.

His remarks were in line with Tepco’s new business turnaround plan announced on March 22, in which it said it aims to realign and integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve profitability.

The company, burdened with massive costs stemming from the Fukushima disaster, was placed under effective state control in exchange for a ¥1 trillion ($9 billion) capital injection in 2012.

Compensation and disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching ¥22 trillion — twice the sum expected earlier.

Kobayakawa said JERA Co., a joint venture of a Tepco unit and Chubu Electric Power Co. in the area of coal power generation, is a “good example” of a tie-up, as enlarged capital has allowed it “to move powerfully.”

He said the power transmission and distribution businesses will also “produce outcomes if we can (align with other companies) and cover a wide network.”

I want to make more and more proposals,” he said, pointing to the possibility of forming alliances with businesses overseas, given that domestic demand for electricity is on the decline.

On the resumption of nuclear power generation, Kobayakawa expressed his intention to respect the view of local municipalities in restarting reactors 6 and 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

Masahiro Sakurai, the mayor of Kashiwazaki, the city that hosts the nuclear plant along with the neighboring town of Kariwa, has said that the decommissioning of one of reactors 1 to 5 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant would be a condition for the restart of reactors 6 and 7.

I haven’t met (the mayor) in person. I would like to confirm his intention,” Kobayakawa said.

Kobayakawa also reiterated the company’s position that it will decide “comprehensively” on whether the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, located around 12 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1, would be scrapped as the prefectural government has urged the decommissioning of the plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/15/business/corporate-business/incoming-tepco-chief-eager-tie-ups-raise-funds-vows-decision-whether-scrap-fukushima-no-2/#.WUKt5zdpzrc

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Court dismisses request to halt restart of Saga reactors

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People stage a protest rally in front of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s office in the city of Saga on Tuesday after a district court rejected an injunction request to halt the restart of two reactors at the utility’s Genkai power plant.

 

SAGA – A district court on Tuesday dismissed a request from about 230 local residents for an injunction to stop the restart of two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture over safety concerns.

The Saga District Court handed down the ruling concerning reactors 3 and 4 at the complex as the utility prepares for their restart this summer or later, having secured the necessary consent of the governor of Saga and the mayor of Genkai. The town hosts the four-reactor power station.

Reactors 3 and 4 have cleared Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings that were based on safety standards revamped after the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In Tuesday’s decision, presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the new safety standards are “reasonable.” The court has found no issues with earthquake resistance or steps taken against serious accidents and does not see any specific danger of radiation exposure at the plant, he added.

The focus of the lawsuit, filed by the residents in July 2011, was whether the operator has adequate measures in place against earthquakes. The plaintiffs argued that serious accidents could occur due to degradation in piping.

The court is supposed to help the weak, but the ruling is based on economics and politics,” said Hatsumi Ishimaru, 65, who leads the group of residents. “We will continue to fight until we stop the nuclear plant.”

The plaintiffs said they will immediately appeal the decision to the Fukuoka High Court.

Kyushu Electric said in a statement it considers the latest decision “appropriate” and will continue to try to ensure safety at the plant.

The ruling may inject momentum into the government’s policy to restart nuclear plants that have fulfilled the new safety standards.

While declining to comment on the court decision itself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government respects the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s judgment that the reactors meet the new safety standards.

Tuesday’s ruling followed a series of court decisions rejecting similar suits seeking to halt the operations of nuclear power plants.

In March, the Osaka High Court overturned a lower court order to halt two nuclear reactors at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, while in the same month the Hiroshima District Court dismissed a request by local residents to order the halt of a nuclear reactor that was restarted last year at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Of the more than 40 commercial reactors nationwide, five are currently in operation. At the Genkai plant, the No. 1 unit is set to be decommissioned due to aging.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/13/national/crime-legal/court-nixes-request-halt-restart-saga-reactors/#.WUDy_jekLrc

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

17 June – the past week in nuclear and climate news

Thanks to those who reminded me that the British PM is NOT Theresa Merkel, (as I wrote last week). As one reader suggested, I must have been doing some wishful thinking – a Freudian slip. Now I know that the  PM is Theresa Mayhem.

17 June, as delegates gather in New York for UN negotiations on nuclear weapons ban treaty, women and men and children around the world will be marching in support of that treaty plan.

Collapsing ice shelves will further accelerate global sea level rise. Cities and states may be able to officially join the Paris Climate Agreement. The “growth economy” must end, along with the coal industry. Record drop in global coal production. Solar power speeding the death of coal-fired power.

Renewable energy news– the latest.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea moving surprisingly fast towards launching long-range, nuclear-capable missile. Increased activity around N. Korean test site may indicate 6th nuclear test.

JAPAN  Accidential exposure to Plutonium: what this means for Japanese nuclear workers.  Burst nuclear container scattered contaminants,  Court rejects citizen group submission, allows restart of Genkai nuclear plant.   Review of safety of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant will mean along delay in restart. Underwater robot to probe damage at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. Japan accused by UN special rapporteur of eroding media freedoms and stifling public debate of issues such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Radiation levels exceeding state-set limit found on grounds of five Chiba schools.

USA

NORWAY. A warning to Norway, on Russia’s bad history of nuclear waste disposal.

UK. No planning in UK’s Brexit for the problem of EURATOM and UK’s trade in nuclear materials.Hitachi getting out of its financial risks in construction of new Nuclear Power Plant at Wylfa.

SOUTH KOREAPermanent shutdown of unit 1 of South Korea’s Kori nuclear power plant

BANGLADESH. Ship at Bangladesh found to have illegal levels of radioactive material: too dangerous to scrap.

TURKEY. Turkey to go into big debt to Russia for $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plan.
FRANCE. France set to close some nuclear reactors.

UKRAINE. Chernobyl nuclear station – smoke detected at crippled Unit 3.

NEW ZEALAND. Auckland commemorates 30 years of nuclear-free New Zealand.

INDIA. American corporations hope to use Indian insurance companies, for nuclear build in India.

AUSTRALIA. South Australians very definitely dumped the nuclear dump plan, but a new battle looms.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Womens’ March To Ban The Bomb

In one of its final acts of 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted with overwhelming support a landmark resolution to begin negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. This historic decision heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts.

Throughout June and July of 2017, governments will negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations. WILPF and our coalition are hitting the streets to celebrate and also demand a good treaty that prohibits these weapons of mass destruction once and for all!

The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb is a women-led initiative building on the momentum of movements at the forefront of the resistance, including the Women’s March on Washington. It will bring together people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, races, abilities, nationalities, cultures, faiths, political affiliations and backgrounds to march and rally at 12 PM – 3PM Saturday, June 17th 2017 in New York City! https://www.womenbanthebomb.org/

June 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Women heading the Ban the Bomb movement

 http://thebulletin.org/women-and-ban-bomb-movement, Ray Acheson, 15 JUNE 2017This week at the United Nations in New York City, governments, international organizations and civil society groups are gathering to resume negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons. And women are at the forefront of this effort—as they have been at the forefront of the anti-nuclear resistance since the beginning of the nuclear age.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) —where I work as director—was one of the first civil society groups to condemn the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (The term “civil society” gets used a lot and has many different definitions, but is generally accepted to mean groups working in the interests of citizens but outside of government or business; some examples include charities and non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross.) Women were leaders in the campaign to ban nuclear weapon testing in the United States, using powerful symbols such as a collection of baby teeth to show evidence of radioactive contamination. Women led the Nuclear Freeze movement in the 1980s, calling on the Soviet Union and the United States to stop the arms race. Now, women are the leading edge of the movement to ban nuclear weapons in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

When the three-week-long negotiations at the UN resume on June 15, women will be continuing this tradition, both in the conference room and on the streets. As part of its efforts to ban nuclear weapons, the WILPF is organizing the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb, on June 17, to be held in mid-town Manhattan. Other events will be held across the globe to show solidarity with the march, in places as far apart as Australia and Scotland. The event has over 30 sponsors and endorsers from around the world.

In my opinion, the process of banning nuclear weapons serves another purpose as well: It acts as a challenge to much of the existing discourse, which has been distinctly patriarchal in tone.

In fact, much of the opposition to the nuclear ban process has been highly gendered. Those who talk about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and call for the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction are accused of being divisive, polarizing, ignorant, and emotional. Meanwhile, opponents to the ban say that they support “reasonable,” “realistic,” “practical” or “pragmatic” steps, and call anything else “irrational” and “irresponsible.”

Many women may recognize this rhetorical assault. When a certain type of man—think Donald Trump—wants to assert his power and dominance and make women (or other men) feel small and marginalized, he often accuses them of being emotional, overwrought, relentless, repetitive, or irrational. This technique has been employed for as long as gender hierarchies have existed.

In the case of the ban treaty, this approach links caring about humanitarian concerns to being weak, and asserts that “real men” have to “protect” their countries. It not only suggests that caring about the use of nuclear weapons is spineless and silly, but also implies that the pursuit of disarmament is an unrealistic, irrational, and even effeminate objective.

Of course, the fact that masculinity is equated across so many cultures with the willingness to use force and violence is a social phenomenon, not a biological one. Boys come to learn to define themselves as men through violence. The way that norms of masculinity such as toughness, strength, and bravado are displayed in the media, at home, and in school teaches boys to exercise dominance through violent acts. Boys learn to think of violence as a form of communication.

Nuclear weapons are themselves loaded with symbolism—of potency, protection and the power to “deter” through material “strength.” For many, such symbolism obscures the real point of the existence of these arms—to destroy—and their horrendous effects.

Nuclear weapons are not just symbolically gendered. Women face unique devastation from the effects of the use of nuclear weapons, such as the impacts of radiation on their reproductive and maternal health. Women who have survived these radioactive effects also face unique social challenges; they are often treated as pariahs in their communities.

Consequently, denying the rationality of those that support a nuclear weapons ban is also a denying of the lived experience of everyone who has ever suffered from the use or testing of nuclear weapons.

This is why it’s essential to ensure gender diversity in negotiations, and why it’s important to include a gender perspective in those negotiations. To celebrate the nuclear ban—and women’s leadership in achieving it—there will be the Women’s March to Ban the Bomb.

This post is part of Ban Brief, a series of updates on the historic 2017 negotiations to create a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Ban Brief is written by Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and Ray Acheson, director of Reaching Critical Will.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war, women | Leave a comment

UN nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations soon to begin in New York

We have the chance to change the world with this instrument. The ban will not magically eliminate these weapons, but it will be a chink in the nuclear armour of those who continue to claim some “security benefit” from these indiscriminate, immoral, genocidal weapons. Nuclear weapons do not provide security. The majority of the world does not have them or need them. It’s time to codify this in international law and set the stage for total elimination.
The world is watching. It’s time to ban the bomb.

We’re Off! to Ban Nuclear Weapons http://www.globalresearch.ca/were-off-to-ban-nuclear-weapons/5594766, By Ray Acheson, Global Research, June 15, 2017 Reaching Critical Will  It’s game on for round two of the nuclear ban negotiations! Delegations from governments, civil society, and international organisations are rallying in New York City at the United Nations to start deliberating over the President’s draft treaty text—and to start crafting one of the most ambitious piece of international law ever attempted. People from around the world are also preparing to rally outside of the UN building, and in their home cities, in two days in support of these talks. The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb will see actions in Australia, Canada, Cameroon, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States! The world is watching: it’s time to ban the bomb. 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis will consider scaling back some nuclear weapons systems

Jim Mattis says he’s open to rethinking triad, nuclear cruise missile, Washington Examiner, by Jamie McIntyre |  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress Wednesday he has an open mind about possibly scaling back some nuclear systems, as long as deterrence is not sacrificed, as he faces a more than $1 trillion bill to rebuild America’s arsenal over the next three decades.

Mattis’ comments came under questioning from California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been waging a lonely fight against one nuclear weapons system in particular, the Long Range Stand-Off, or LRSO, air-launched nuclear cruise missile.

“I do not see it as an effective deterrent weapon,” Feinstein said. “I see it as Russia taking action to counter it and with the cost and the fact that we’ve got new ballistic missile submarines, new bombers, new intercontinental ballistic missiles and new warheads, I wonder why we need to develop this specific weapon? The cost is going to be inordinate.”

Mattis is referring to the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, a top-to-bottom assessment of U.S. nuclear capabilities and strategy, including the Cold War era “triad” of bombers, submarines and ground missiles designed to ensure the U.S. could counterattack after a first strike……

Feinstein seemed to be encouraged when Mattis said he would be consulting with former Defense Secretary William Perry, who has advocated eliminating one leg of the triad by phasing out the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Perry is also strongly opposed to developing new nuclear cruise missiles, which he says are “uniquely destabilizing” weapons, because an adversary cannot tell a conventional missile from a nuclear-armed version, risking miscalculation in a crisis.

“I register loud and clear the potential destabilizing view that some people see this weapon bringing and I’m taking that on board,” Mattis said. “But I’ve got to do more study.”

Feinstein said she has had extensive discussions with people in the military and has concerns that the LSRO may in fact represent a new generation of nuclear missiles not just an upgrade of older air-launched missiles.

“It’s got features which concern me greatly,” she said. “I’m not sure for the cost that we’ll end up with a practical deterrent.”…..http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/jim-mattis-says-hes-open-to-rethinking-triad-nuclear-cruise-missile/article/2625999

June 16, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For human society to survive, we must end the drive for economic growth

The main stumbling block that leads policy makers to twist their logic into pretzels is economic growth. Remove the requirement for growth, and it’s barely possible (not easy, but possible) to reconcile carbon reserves, emissions, energy sources, and warming targets—if governments somehow dedicate enough money and policy effort to the job.

If we’re smart, we will recognize that deeper trend and adapt to it in ways that preserve the best of what we have accomplished, and make life as fulfilling as it can be for as many people as possible, even while the amount of energy available to us ratchets downward. We’ll act to rein in population growth and aim for a gradual overall population decline, so that per capita energy use does not have to decline as fast as total use. We’ll act to minimize ecological disruption by protecting habitat and species. We’ll make happiness, not consumption, the centerpiece of economic policy.

If we’re not so smart, we’ll join the dinosaurs.

Coal Is a Dinosaur and so is the growth economy, Post Carbon Institute, Richard Heinberg, June 15, 2017 “……Every few years, the IPCC issues a major new “assessment” crammed with data and models, aimed at informing policy makers. Unfortunately, these assessments are also filled with what Oliver Gedens has called “magical thinking……

The only realistic solution to our climate crisis is not to put so much carbon in the atmosphere in the first place. But that path runs counter to expectations about economic growth—which requires energy. And that is almost surely at the root of the IPCC’s assumptions about future fossil fuel consumption (regardless of whether those fossil fuels are actually available to be consumed).

So far humanity has increased the global atmospheric CO2 concentration from 280 parts per million to over 400 ppm—an already dangerous level. David Hughes figures burning our remaining realistic reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas would send us to about 550 ppm. There’s an easy way of not getting to 550 ppm: leave most of those fossil fuel reserves in the ground. But that would sink the economy, unless we very rapidly develop alternative energy sources (nuclear, which is expensive and risky; or solar and wind, which are more realistic alternatives).

Is it even possible to make the energy switch so quickly and completely as to avoid major bumps along the road? Building alternative energy infrastructure will itself require energy, and during the crucial early stages of the transition most of that energy will have to come from fossil fuels. There’s no way to bootstrap the energy transition process with energy from, say solar panels and wind turbines, because wind, and especially solar, technologies take years to energetically pay for their own manufacture and installation. So to avert burning even more fossil fuels than we otherwise would (in order to build all those solar panels, wind turbines, electric cars, heat pumps, and so on), resulting in a big pulse of carbon emissions, we would have to severely curtail the use of fossil fuels for current purposes—the maintenance of business as usual. That would also imperil economic growth. And we are talking about a remarkably small time window available for the shift, compared with the decades required for past energy transitions. It’s all so complicated that one can get a headache just thinking about it.

The main stumbling block that leads policy makers to twist their logic into pretzels is economic growth. Remove the requirement for growth, and it’s barely possible (not easy, but possible) to reconcile carbon reserves, emissions, energy sources, and warming targets—if governments somehow dedicate enough money and policy effort to the job. However, with further economic growth as an absolute requirement, the resulting climate models fester with internal contradictions and with assumptions about speculative technologies that very few people believe can be scaled up sufficiently, and that may have economic, environmental, and political repercussions that no one is prepared to deal with.

We cannot afford to hide the implications of realistic fossil fuels reserves estimates behind magical thinking. Perhaps the most important of those implications is that the world is probably just about at peak energy right now, give or take a decade. If we act immediately and strongly to rein in climate change, then a peak in world energy usage will likely occur more or less immediately. If we don’t act, then we may have another decade before fossil fuel depletion results in peak energy anyway…Renewables will contribute a larger share, depending on investment levels and policy supports, but cannot realistically expand far enough, fast enough, to maintain energy growth and therefore economic growth….

So overall, one way or the other, we have just about hit the maximum burn rate our civilization is likely to achieve, and it’s mostly downhill from here. That has implications for robust economic growth (it’s essentially over), and hence for war and peace, inequality, political stability, and further population expansion. Dealing with the end of energy growth, and therefore economic growth, is the biggest political and social challenge of our time—though it’s unlikely to be recognized as such. (Our biggest ecological challenges consist of climate change, species extinctions, and ocean acidification.) The impacts of the end of growth will likely be masked by financial crashes and socio-political stresses that will rivet everyone’s attention while a quiet trend churns away in the background, undoing all our assumptions and expectations about the world we humans have constructed over the past couple of centuries.

If we’re smart, we will recognize that deeper trend and adapt to it in ways that preserve the best of what we have accomplished, and make life as fulfilling as it can be for as many people as possible, even while the amount of energy available to us ratchets downward. We’ll act to rein in population growth and aim for a gradual overall population decline, so that per capita energy use does not have to decline as fast as total use. We’ll act to minimize ecological disruption by protecting habitat and species. We’ll make happiness, not consumption, the centerpiece of economic policy.

If we’re not so smart, we’ll join the dinosaurs. http://www.postcarbon.org/coal-is-a-dinosaur-and-so-is-the-growth-economy/

 

June 16, 2017 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, business and costs | Leave a comment

Lobbyist for Nuclear-Plant Tax Credits succeeded by funding politicians

Donor Lobbying for Nuclear-Plant Tax Credits Brags of Dinners With Trump, Bloomberg, by Bill Allison
 and John McCormick June 14, 2017, 

  • Developer earlier gave millions to Democratic committees
  • GOP senators called tax-credit allocation ‘very troubling’
  • After Franklin L. Haney made his first million-dollar contribution to a super-PAC, his dream of owning a nuclear power plant took a big step forward.

    That gift went to a group to help re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. Haney followed up with two more million-dollar donations in 2012 and 2014, both of which went to a committee run by former aides of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

  • Between the first million and the third million, U.S. officials cleared Haney’s company to eventually receive as much as $2 billion in tax credits for owners of nuclear plants that use advanced technology. Federal documents obtained by Bloomberg News show that the approvals came despite two complications: First, the plant in question depends on 40-year-old technology. Second, Haney didn’t own it.

    Haney ultimately purchased the unfinished, decades-old nuclear plant in northern Alabama at auction last November. Now, he has what may be an even bigger challenge — getting the mothballed plant into working order and finding customers for its power. That will require billions of dollars and some serious political help: For one thing, the tax credits he qualified for are set to expire in 2021, well before his facility could split its first atom.

    While lobbying to extend the credits, Haney made a familiar political move: He gave a fourth million-dollar donation, this one to the inaugural fund of President Donald Trump…..

  • During meetings, he mentions that he has dined at least a dozen times with Trump since the election, said the people, who asked not to be named because Haney made the comments in private settings. Haney, who didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, is a member of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida. The White House referred questions to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Security Council, neither of which responded to requests for comment.
  • Gaining Trump’s support could be invaluable to Haney’s nuclear ambitions. Over the next 18 months, Trump will have the authority to appoint five of the nine board members who oversee the Tennessee Valley Authority, the government-owned utility that supplies power to 9 million customers in seven states, including Alabama. TVA represents the most likely customer for Bellefonte’s electricity, and Haney said in bid documents that he wants to sell power to the utility. But there’s a problem: TVA has already decided it doesn’t need Bellefonte……
  • Haney began trying to get into the nuclear-power industry, at an unfinished site in the Alabama countryside. The Bellefonte plant includes two partially built nuclear reactors, cooling towers and other facilities on 1,400 acres. TVA began construction in 1974 — then abandoned it in 1988. Today, one of the units is about 55 percent complete, and the other is about 35 percent finished.

    Haney’s 15-year quest to own the plant reached a climax in November, when he won Bellefonte in an auction, bidding $111 million. The only other bidder planned to sell the plant’s parts as scrap in India or elsewhere. Haney has two years to close the sale, which is conditional on his acquiring federal regulatory approvals and commitments for financing.

    ‘White Elephant’

    In the meantime, Haney has been lobbying officials on legislation that would extend the tax credit allocations that he’d already won for Bellefonte, federal lobbying disclosures show. But even if he wins an extension, many industry experts say they doubt Bellefonte can be profitable. Competition from low-cost natural gas and renewable energy sources has created difficult market conditions for nuclear plants nationwide. At least five have been retired in the past five years…….https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-14/million-dollar-donor-touts-dinners-with-trump-in-nuclear-quest

June 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

American government’s (tax-payer funded) project for “Nuclear Universities”

Energy Department Invests Nearly $67 Million to Advanced Nuclear Technology, Energy Gov, 
JUNE 14, 2017 
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $67 million in nuclear energy research, facility access, crosscutting technology development, and infrastructure awards in 28 states. In total, 85 projects were selected to receive funding that will help advance innovative nuclear technologies….

These awards provide funding for nuclear energy-related research through the Nuclear Energy University Program, Nuclear Science User Facilities, and Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies programs. In addition, a number of nuclear technology developers will receive access to unique research capabilities and other assistance consistent with the goals and objectives of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative…..
Nuclear Energy University Program

DOE is awarding over $31 million through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to support 32 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 23 states. NEUP seeks to maintain U.S. leadership in nuclear research across the country by providing top science and engineering faculty and their students with opportunities to develop innovative technologies and solutions for civil nuclear capabilities.

Additionally, 19 universities will receive approximately $6 million for research reactor and infrastructure improvements providing important safety, performance, and student education-related upgrades to a portion of the nation’s 25 university research reactors as well as enhancing university research and training infrastructure.

Integrated Research Projects

The Department is awarding $11 million for three Integrated Research Projects (IRPs), which address well-defined but highly complex technical issues impacting key NE mission objectives. IRPs are multi-million, three-year projects executed by university-led consortiums that typically include multiple universities, industrial and international research entities, and the unique resources of the DOE national laboratories. IRPs comprise a significant element of DOE’s innovative nuclear research objectives and illustrate the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) strategy to pursue R&D solutions most directly relevant to the near-term, significant needs of the NE R&D programs.

Crosscutting Research Projects

Additionally, nearly $6 million will be awarded for six research and development projects led by Department of Energy national laboratories, industry, and U.S. universities. Together, they will conduct research to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges that will help to develop advanced sensors and instrumentation, advanced manufacturing methods, and materials for multiple nuclear reactor plant and fuel applications.

Nuclear Science User Facilities – Public Private Partnerships

Lastly, DOE has selected five university, four national laboratory, and five industry-led projects that will take advantage of NSUF capabilities to investigate important nuclear fuel and material applications. DOE will support 6 of these projects with a total of $2.3 million in research funds, and all 14 of these projects will be supported by over $10 million in facility access costs and expertise for experimental neutron and ion irradiation testing, post-irradiation examination facilities, synchrotron beamline capabilities, and technical assistance for design and analysis of experiments through the NSUF.

By supporting the five industry-led projects, DOE is accelerating its implementation of the GAIN initiative by providing these nuclear technology developers with access to world-class neutron and gamma irradiation and post-irradiation examination services. The GAIN initiative provides the nuclear community with a single point of access to the broad range of capabilities, people, facilities, materials, and data across the DOE complex and its National Laboratory capabilities.  Visit here for details.

Since 2009, the Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded approximately $472 million to 103 U.S. colleges and universities to continue American leadership in energy innovation and to train the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists through its university programs. Visit neup.gov for more information on today’s awards and Energy.gov for information on all of the Energy Department’s efforts to continue American leadership in nuclear energy innovation. https://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-invests-nearly-67-million-advanced-nuclear-technology

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment

South Australians resolutely rejected a plan to be the world’s radioactive trash dump

Australia’s handful of self-styled ‘ecomodernists’ or ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ united behind a push to import spent fuel and to use some of it to fuel Generation IV fast neutron reactors. They would have expected to persuade the stridently pro-nuclear Royal Commission to endorse their ideas. But the Royal Commission completely rejected the proposal

Another dump proposal is very much alive: the federal government’s plan to establish a national nuclear waste dump in SA, either in the Flinders Ranges or on farming land near Kimba, west of Port Augusta.

How the South Australians who dumped a nuclear dump may soon have another fight on their hands http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2989048/how_the_south_australians_who_dumped_a_nuclear_dump_may_soon_have_another_fight_on_their_hands.html   15th June, 2017  The rejection of a plan to import vast amounts of high-level nuclear waste from around the world for profit was a significant result for campaigners but that threat is still far from over, writes JIM GREEN

Last November, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian-government initiated Citizens’ Jury rejected “under any circumstances” the plan to import vast amounts of high-level nuclear waste from around the world as a money-making venture.

The following week, SA Liberal Party Opposition leader Steven Marshall said that “[Premier] Jay Weatherill’s dream of turning South Australia into a nuclear waste dump is now dead.” Business SA chief Nigel McBride said: “Between the Liberals and the citizens’ jury, the thing is dead.”

And after months of uncertainty, Premier Weatherill has said in the past fortnight that the plan is “dead”, there is “no foreseeable opportunity for this”, and it is “not something that will be progressed by the Labor Party in Government”.

So is the plan dead? The Premier left himself some wriggle room, but the plan is as dead as it ever can be. If there was some life in the plan, it would be loudly proclaimed by SA’s Murdoch tabloid, The Advertiser. But The Advertiser responded to the Premier’s recent comments, to the death of the dump, with a deafening, deathly silence.

Royal Commission

It has been quite a ride to get to this point. Continue reading

June 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Underwater robot to probe damage at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant

Swimming robot to probe damage at Japan nuclear plant, abc news, By MARI YAMAGUCHI, ASSOCIATED PRESS  YOKOSUKA, Japan — Jun 15, 2017, A Japanese industrial group unveiled Thursday a robot designed for underwater probes of damage from meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Remote controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning process for the plant. But super-high radiation and structural damage inside the reactors hampered earlier attempts to inspect areas close to the reactors’ cores.

The developers say they plan to send the new “mini manbo,” or “little sunfish,” probe into the primary containment vessel of Unit 3 at Fukushima in July to study the extent of damage and locate parts of melted fuel thought to have fallen to the bottom of the chamber, submerged by highly radioactive water.

The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with tail propellers and collects data using two cameras and a dosimeter…….

Japan hopes to locate and start removing fuel from the reactors after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Snake and scorpion-shaped robots tested earlier became stuck inside two reactors. The scorpion robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. The other, designed to clear debris for the “scorpion” probe, was called back after two hours when two of its cameras stopped working after its total radiation exposure reached 1,000 Sievert — a level that would kill a human within seconds. The plan had been to use the robot for 10 hours at an exposure level of 100 Sievert per hour.

The swimming robot was co-developed Toshiba and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, or IRID, a government-funded consortium……

IRID director Hirotsugu Fujiwara said the biggest challenge is to figure out how to remove melted debris. He’s keen to finally see conditions inside Unit 3. “I feel we are finally at the starting line of decommissioning,” he said.

Scientists need to know the melted nuclear fuel’s exact location and understand structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the optimum, safest way to remove the fuel……

TEPCO is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is now expected to cost 8 trillion yen ($70 billion), four times an earlier estimate. Part of that cost will be included in Japanese utility bills.

The 2011 meltdown forced tens of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Many are still unable to return due to high radiation levels. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/swimming-robot-probe-damage-japan-nuclear-plant-48050128

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

USA Dept of Energy funding universities to promote the nuclear industry

DOE shells out $67M for advanced nuclear technology research http://www.utilitydive.com/news/doe-shells-out-67m-for-advanced-nuclear-technology-research/445065/ Robert WaltonJune 15, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Department of Energy yesterday announced nearly $67 million funding for nuclear energy research this week, including facility access and infrastructure awards in 28 states, to support 85 projects in total.
  • DOE said in a statement that the funding “sows the seeds for safer, more efficient, clean baseload energy” that will support the economy and energy independence.
  • Among the awards, DOE will provide $31 million through its Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) to support 32 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects in 23 states.
  • Dive Insight:

    The federal government has been signaling its interest in nuclear development, particularly advanced reactors and modular designs, for several years now. But the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, a nuclear development firm working on two projects in the United States, could add a new sense of urgency to the research as the time and cost of traditional nukes continues to face pressure.

    “Investing in the future of nuclear energy is an important strategic priority for the Energy Department,” DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Ed McGinnis said in a statement, “Nuclear energy technologies contribute to our economy, our environment, and our national security.”

    In addition to the NEUP funding for universities, DOE also said 19 universities will receive approximately $6 million for research into reactor and infrastructure improvements. The agency will also award $11 million for three integrated projects which address well-defined but highly complex technical issues.

    DOE also said almost $6 million will be awarded for six research and development projects led by Department of Energy national laboratories, industry, and U.S. universities, to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges that will help to develop advanced sensors and instrumentation, and advanced manufacturing methods.

    Finally, DOE said it has selected five university, four national laboratory, and five industry-led projects that will take advantage of NSUF capabilities. The agency will support six of these projects with a total of $2.3 million in research funds, and all 14 of these projects will be supported by over $10 million in facility access costs.

  • But more traditional nuclear projects are continuing—despite turmoil in the industry.

    Georgia Power and its parent company, Southern Co., have reached an agreement with Westinghouse to complete the long-delayed Vogtle nuclear plant expansion. The announcement helps alleviate fears the project may be permanently halted and the nuclear industry on hold, but it is also a reminder of the costs involved.

    Under terms of the agreement, Westinghouse parent company Toshiba has guaranteed $3.68 billion in payments to Georgia Power for completion of the project. Vogtle is billions over budget and years behind schedule, and the completion date for two new reactors has been extended multiple times.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Education, USA | 1 Comment

Ship at Bangladesh found to have illegal levels of radioactive material: too dangerous to scrap

High level radioactivity detected on North Sea Producer, report says https://www.energyvoice.com/oilandgas/142087/high-level-radioactivity-detected-north-sea-producer-report-says/Written by Reporter  14 June 17 Illegal levels of radioactive material have been detected on the North Sea Producer vessel, which was to be scrapped on a beach in Bangladesh, a news report said.

Work to dismantle the North Sea Producer started in October, but the process was halted in November amid fears that the ship may still contain hazardous substances.

An inspection has since confirmed the presence of unsafe levels of radioactivity, and the Supreme Court has ordered environmental agencies to explain why they gave permission for the vessel to be scrapped at Chittagong, according to independent media research centre Danwatch.

The vessel, which was docked near Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium early in 2016, had been expected to sail to Nigeria.

But in October it emerged that the North Sea Producer, originally owned by Maersk, had been taken to Bangladesh instead.

Workers on the beach yards of Bangladesh lack basic safety equipment and routinely work in flip-flops and shorts. – 15/06/2017

June 16, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, radiation | Leave a comment