nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Half-way to Catastrophe — Global Hothouse Extinction to be Triggered by or Before 2100 Without Rapid Emissions Cuts

robertscribbler

Over recent years, concern about a coming hothouse mass extinction set off by human carbon emissions has been on the rise. Studies of Earth’s deep history reveal that at least 4 out of the 5 major mass extinctions occurred during both hothouse periods and during times when atmospheric and oceanic carbon spiked to much higher than normal ranges. Now a new scientific study reveals that we are have already emitted 50 percent of the carbon needed to set off such a major global catastrophe.

Fossil Fuel Burning = Race Toward a 6th Mass Extinction

The primary driver of these events is rising atmospheric CO2 levels — often caused in the past by the emergence of masses of volcanoes or large flood basalt provinces (LIP in image below). In the case of the worst mass extinction — the Permian — the Siberian flood basalts were thought to have injected magma…

View original post 855 more words

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 22 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ Anthropogenic climate warming could lead to temperatures of the water in some parts of the world exceeding the survival limits of their fish species, according to research from the University of Washington. Water temperatures in the tropical parts of the oceans are already nearing the upper temperature range for many fish living there. [CleanTechnica]

Fish at a coral reef

World:

¶ Conservative Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Piñera, who leads in the polls for upcoming elections, pledged to move the country toward a fully renewable electricity grid by 2040. Piñera, who was Chile’s president from 2010 to 2014, would seek to build on investments his country has made in wind and solar energy. [Thomson Reuters Foundation]

¶ Defying the policy uncertainty that has held back utility-scale solar across most of the rest of Australia, renewables investment is gathering pace in Queensland, a region…

View original post 771 more words

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Belarus Proceeding With Russian-Built Nuclear Plant Despite Accidents, Quake Worries, Neighbors’ Objections, and Need to Help Chernobyl Victims

Mining Awareness +

70% of Chernobyl fallout poured down upon neighboring Belarus. Over 30 years later the government is failing to care for the victims, all while investing billions in nuclear energy. Russia is selling a new nuclear power station to Belarus with a credit line of now up to $10 billion. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/governments-cut-services-to-chernobyl-survivors-while-spending-billions-on-nuclear-power-stations. Meanwhile, Greenpeace has given help to Nadesha Rehabilitation Centre in Belarus to help Chernobyl victims: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/chernobyls-children-of-hope-rehab-centre-as-russia-sells-nuclear-power-station-to-belarus-govt-services-for-chernobyl-survivors-cut-greenpeace-and-others-offer-help/
Belarus and Kaliningrad Nuclear Power Station plus Lithuania
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belarusian_nuclear_power_plant https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliningrad_Nuclear_Power_Plant

The Belarus nuclear power station, under construction by Russian state owned Rosatom, sits on the current Lithuanian border, as does the Russian one under construction in the Kaliningrad enclave. Last October, Russia deployed nuclear capable missiles to the Kaliningrad enclave, occupied by Russia since 1945, and which is on the other side of Lithuania. All are a clear and present danger to Lithuania (as well as to the rest of the Europe.) Formerly Koenigsberg Prussia, the German population of Kaliningrad was removed…

View original post 1,659 more words

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Problems with Dry Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel: Letter from the Sierra Club to the US NRC and Some Additional Info

Mining Awareness +


Holtec casks with arrows pointing to small cooling vents, Diablo Canyon, NPS, NRC gov

If you think that transferring the spent nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools to “dry casks”, as it is currently done, is a magical solution – think again. Read about the problems with spent nuclear fuel canister systems currently in use in the Sierra Club letter below, as well as at: https://sanonofresafety.org And, do a search for Holtec and Areva in the search window of our blog (Mining Awareness). Both Holtec and Areva canisters are too thin; welded shut, and with no pressure monitor in the lid. This is in stark contrast to German Castor which have a pressure sensor between two lids and a temperature sensor, as well as being much, much thicker. They are also stored inside a building, whereas most US spent nuclear fuel appears to be stored outside. Welded shut, the Areva…

View original post 181 more words

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dark and Flooded — Puerto Rico Devastated by Maria’s Unprecedented Rains, Terrible Winds

robertscribbler

“Once we’re able to go outside, we’re going to find our island destroyed.” — Puerto Rico Emergency Management Director Abner Gómez Cortés.

“There is no hurricane stronger than the people of Puerto Rico. And immediately after this is done, we will stand back up.” — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

“The rain gauge near Caguas, PR also measured 14.31″ in one hour. That’s a candidate for the most ever, worldwide.” — Eric Holthaus.

*****

At present, it is difficult to take account of the scale of the devastation that has been visited upon Puerto Rico. Electrical power has been knocked out for the entire U.S. island of 3.4 million people. Meanwhile, as of this morning, the whole island had been placed under a flash flood warning due to historic rainfall hitting as high as 14+ inches per hour in some places. As a result, communications are spotty…

View original post 1,494 more words

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

22 sept evacuees court victory.png

Plaintiffs and their lawyers enter the Chiba District Court on Sept. 22 to hear the verdict in the Fukushima nuclear accident compensation case.

 

TEPCO ordered to pay evacuees of Fukushima nuclear disaster

CHIBA–A district court here on Sept. 22 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 376 million yen ($3.3 million) in compensation to evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster but absolved the central government of responsibility.

Forty-five people in 18 households who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant sought a total of about 2.8 billion yen from TEPCO and the government.

About 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 plaintiffs have been filed at district courts around Japan.

The Chiba District Court ruling was the second so far.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture found both TEPCO and the government responsible for the nuclear disaster and ordered compensation totaling 38.55 million yen for 62 plaintiffs.

The main point of the lawsuit in the Chiba District Court was whether TEPCO and the government could have foreseen a towering tsunami hitting the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and taken measures to prevent the disaster.

The plaintiffs emphasized a long-term appraisal released by the central government in 2002, which estimated a 20-percent possibility of a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring between the coast off the Sanriku region in the Tohoku region to the coast off the Boso Peninsula of Chiba Prefecture within the next 30 years.

The plaintiffs argued that this appraisal shows it was possible to forecast a tsunami off the coast from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and that measures could have been taken even as late as 2006 to prevent the disaster.

For the first time in a court case involving compensation related to the Fukushima disaster, a seismologist provided testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, once served as a deputy chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. He was also in charge of compiling the 2002 long-term appraisal for the government.

The height of a likely tsunami could have been known if it was calculated based on that appraisal,” Shimazaki said in court. “Even if a specific forecast could not be made, some sort of countermeasure could have been taken.”

The defendants argued that the long-term appraisal did not provide a specific basis for predicting a tsunami and only pointed to the fact that a magnitude-8 level earthquake occurring could not be ruled out.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709220052.html

Tepco again ordered to pay damages in nuclear disaster, but not state

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) — A Japanese court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Friday to pay damages over the nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but dismissed claims against the state.

The Chiba District Court ruling follows a Maebashi District Court decision in March that found negligence on the part of both Tepco and the government played a part in the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl and ordered them to pay damages.

Friday’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by 45 people who were forced to flee Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo as reactors that lost cooling functions caused meltdowns and spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air.

The Chiba court awarded a total of 376 million yen ($3.35 million) to 42 of them, including all four who voluntarily evacuated. In the suit filed in March 2013, the plaintiffs were collectively seeking around 2.8 billion yen in damages from the government and plant operator.

The focal point of the Chiba case was whether the government and Tepco were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the seaside plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand, with conflicting claims made by the parties regarding the government’s long-term earthquake assessment, which was made public in 2002.

The assessment, made by the government’s earthquake research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8-level tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

Based on the assessment, the plaintiffs argued that, with the plant standing on ground roughly 10 meters above sea level, a tsunami higher than the ground striking the plant could have been predicted.

They then claimed that the disaster was therefore preventable if emergency power generation equipment had been placed on higher ground, and that the government should have made Tepco take such measures by exercising its regulatory powers.

The government and Tepco, for their part, claimed the assessment was not established knowledge, and that even if they had foreseen a tsunami higher than the site of the plant and taken measures against it, they cannot be held liable as the actual tsunami was much higher at around 15.5 meters.

The government also argued that it obtained regulatory powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures only after a legislative change following the disaster.

In Friday’s ruling, the court found the government not liable, saying that while the government indeed has such powers, not exercising them was not too unreasonable.

While ordering Tepco to pay damages, the court determined that the plant operator did not commit serious negligence that would have required a higher compensation amount, saying it did not totally leave anti-tsunami measures unaddressed.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers criticized the ruling as unfair, in that the court did not recognize the state’s liability. But they still positively rated the court’s acknowledgement of the loss of the plaintiffs’ hometown, jobs and personal relationships, and compensation for such a loss.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture recognized negligence on the part not just of Tepco but also the government, saying they were able to foresee a tsunami high enough to inundate the plant.

It was the first such ruling issued among around 30 suits of the same kind and the first to rule in favor of plaintiffs.

The Maebashi court acknowledged that the government had regulatory authority over Tepco even before the accident, noting that “failing to exercise it is strikingly irrational and illegal.”

The court awarded to 62 of 137 plaintiffs a total of 38.55 million yen in damages, far less than the 1.5 billion yen sought in total. Many of the plaintiffs have appealed the district court decision.

In the Chiba suit, the 45 plaintiffs, including four who evacuated voluntarily, sought 20 million yen each for compensation for their evacuation and the loss of their hometown, jobs and personal relationships because their lives were uprooted.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August in the wake of the disaster.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170922/p2g/00m/0dm/081000c

TEPCO ordered to pay damages over nuclear accident

A Japanese court has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages to people who were forced to leave their homes after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Chiba District Court on Friday ordered TEPCO to pay nearly a total of 3.4 million dollars to 42 of the 45 plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against TEPCO and the government.

The complainants say they lost their homes and jobs because of the March 2011 accident. They were seeking 25 million dollars in compensation.

The focus was whether the defendants were able to predict the tsunami that hit the plant and should therefore have taken preventive measures.

Also at issue was whether the amount of compensation TEPCO is currently paying to evacuees is appropriate.

Presiding judge Masaru Sakamoto said TEPCO did not entirely fail to implement measures against the risk of tsunami, and did not commit a grave error.

But Sakamoto said the psychological suffering of the plaintiffs is linked to the accident, and that TEPCO should pay redress.

He did not hold the government liable for the accident. The judge said that although by 2006 officials were able to predict the possibility that a tsunami could hit the plant compound, the introduction of safety measures would not necessarily have prevented the accident.

This is the second ruling in a series of lawsuits filed by about 12,000 people over the nuclear accident.

In March, the Maebashi District Court ruled that both the government and TEPCO were liable for the accident and ordered the government and the plant operator to pay damages.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170922_25/

20170922_25_383678_L.jpg

 

 

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s bomb in the basement

1.jpg

 

Under the guise of a civil nuclear program, Japan has become a de-facto nuclear weapons state without so far having to take that next fateful step.

On Thursday, a shipment of 700 kilograms of plutonium arrived in Japan after a journey by sea from the French port of Cherbourg. That’s enough material for more than 100 nuclear weapons.

The plutonium – in the form of atomic fuel known as MOX, a mix of uranium and plutonium oxide – is for use in the Takahama-4 reactor, owned by Kansai Electric Power Co. and located on Wakasa Bay, in western Japan near Osaka.

There have been six shipments of such highly toxic cargoes since 1999, the result of an agreement to send radioactive spent fuel in Japan for reprocessing in France and the UK, and then to be shipped back as plutonium MOX fuel for use in Japan’s reactors.

Putting aside the reactor fuel issue for the moment, Japan’s plutonium program must be seen in the context of the nuclear arms proliferation dynamic that has existed for decades in Northeast Asia, but which today has taken on even greater urgency owing to North Korea’s nuclear weapon program.

2
Map of Japan’s nuclear plants. Photo: Japan Atomic Industries Forum, 2016.

 

There is no question that Japan has the technical capability to build an advanced nuclear weapons arsenal.

There have been over the decades multiple references to it taking less than six months for Japan to build an atomic weapon – a credible timeframe if it’s true as reported more 20 years ago that a design or designs already exist in the country.

However, to build a ‘credible’ arsenal of weapons would require several years at least.

More important than any actual timeframe are the external factors that would lead a Japanese government to move to nuclear weaponization.

This debate is stirring in Japan. In a TV Asahi program on September 6, former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba suggested a review was needed of Japan’s so-called three non-nuclear principles: Not producing, possessing, or allowing nuclear weapons into Japan.

Ishiba asked the question if Japan is under the US nuclear umbrella then isn’t it necessary to allow US nuclear weapons into the country to deter threats from North Korea?

It’s clear that without a peaceful resolution to the underlying security threats in the region, there is an increasing possibility that policy makers in Tokyo – backed by Washington – will decide that Japan should weaponize its plutonium stockpile.

3

We have not reached that point yet, but without a fundamental change in thinking and policy, Japan’s nuclear bomb in the basement may not remain there for very much longer.

But back to Japan’s plutonium stockpiles and the question of why the only country attacked by a nuclear weapon and one that espouses the three non-nuclear principles has large amounts of the bomb-making material.

To answer that question requires looking back to the 1950s and a policy that was spearheaded by the United States, but soon adopted by Japan’s Science and Technology Agency established by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone.

The policy was to build new types of nuclear power plants, or so-called Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs), worldwide that would be fueled with plutonium reprocessed from spent uranium fuel. As FBRs produce more fuel than they burn  – hence the name “breeder” – they would in turn generate plutonium to fuel yet more FBRs.

The procedure was known as “closing the nuclear fuel cycle.”

While the idea seems a solution for processing spent fuel and producing more fuel for FBRs, the problem is fast breeder reactor programs failed worldwide, including in Japan.

Japan’s principle FBR started up in 1994 and was called Monju – named after a Buddhist deity for wisdom. However, a fire broke out at Monju 18 months after it opened, which shut the plant down for 14 years.

4Monju nuclear reactor. Photo: IAEA Energy/Flickr

 

It restarted in May 2010, but weeks later a 3.3 metric-ton fuel exchange device fell into the reactor, which shut it down again for good, though to add to the fiasco its computers were later hacked and data stolen.

This effectively ended Japan’s FBR ambitions, though it took two decades and a total investment of more than US$10 billion for the government to finally make the wise decision to terminate Monju in December 2016.

However, Tokyo had other motives for commitment to a plutonium fuel cycle.

By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, plans to build commercial light water reactors across Japan, such as at Takahama and Fukushima, faced strong opposition from local communities and activists.

To appease the opposition, the government and utilities said the new reactors would not become nuclear waste sites because the spent fuel would be shipped for reprocessing in the UK and France. This solved, temporarily, a major nuclear waste problem at least for Japan.

In total over 7,000 tons of such fuel went off to Europe during the decades up to the mid 1990’s.

During that time, the plants reprocessing Japan’s spent fuel at la Hague in France and Sellafield in the UK became synonymous with accidents, nuclear waste discharges into the ocean and atmosphere, and public health concerns.

While the Japanese contracts were lucrative for the two state owned companies that operated the Sellafield and la Hague plants –Cogema/AREVA in France and British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) in the UK – both were to become failed entities.

The Sellafield site is now managed by a UK government agency and absorbs most of the nation’s nuclear decommissioning budget estimated well in excess of US$100 billion.

5.jpgSellafield nuclear reprocessing site. Image: Sellafield Ltd.

There is another large wrinkle in this tale.

As failures engulfed Japan’s Monju fast-breeder reactor and shut it down, the government had to figure out what to do with the thousands of kilograms of plutonium that would be returning to Japanese shores to fuel a fleet of FBR’s that didn’t exist.

The answer, which brings us back to the cargo that arrived in Japan this week, was plutonium MOX fuel that could be used in existing commercial light water reactors.

The first MOX shipments in 1999 were for use in Fukushima and Takahama reactors.

However, in the case of the MOX delivered to Takahama, activists revealed that the fuel had been manufactured with falsified quality certification, leading to its return shipment to the UK.

In the case of the Fukushima plant, citizens from the prefecture, supported by evidence from Greenpeace, took Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO the plant owner, to court over the quality control of the fuel.

While the citizens group lost the case, AREVA was instructed to release vital safety data, which they refused to do. The ensuing controversy led the then Fukushima Governor Eisaku Sato to refuse to permit loading of the plutonium fuel.

It sat in the cooling pool at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor until August 2010 when TEPCO finally loaded the 32 assemblies of 235 kilograms of plutonium into reactor unit 3.

This was just six months before the Fukushima plant was hit by the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan and flooded by a tsunami that caused triple reactor meltdowns on March 11, 2011, including reactor unit 3.

Worker wearing protective suit and mask works on roof of No.4 reactor building of TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefectureA worker in protective suit works on the roof of the No.4 reactor building of the  crippled atomic plant in Fukushima prefecture February 20, 2012. Reuters/Issei Kato

 

Without the actions of Japanese citizens and others around the world, TEPCO would almost certainly have spent the past decade through to 2011 loading many tons of plutonium MOX fuel into the Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

The meltdown of this fuel would have been far more severe and with greater onsite and offsite radiological consequences than the reality at the accident site today, which itself will take decades and tens of billions of dollars to clean up.

Worse still, tons of high temperature spent MOX fuel would have been sitting in Fukushima’s spent fuel pools.

If the Fukushima reactors had been loaded with plutonium MOX, then the warning from the Atomic Energy Commission to then Prime Minister Naoto Kan in late March 2011 that the loss of control at the spent fuel pools at the plant may require the evacuation of Tokyo, may well have become a reality.

Of the five reactors now operating in Japan, three are loaded with plutonium MOX fuel. However, the threat from Japan’s plutonium obsession could be about to get a lot worse.

Japan has built its own US$21 billion nuclear spent fuel reprocessing facility in Rokkasho-mura in Aomori prefecture, near Hokkaido. (Yes, the same Hokkaido North Korea has recently taken to firing missiles over.)

7The Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Japan’s Aomori prefecture. Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Rokkasho story sounds more than a little similar to Monju, just more expensive.

Rokkasho was supposed to be completed in 1997, but due to multiple construction and equipment failures, it was delayed and has since missed repeated start up dates. It’s now 20 years behind schedule and has a new opening set for 2018.

Assuming Rokkasho does eventually open, it was built to process spent fuel to produce plutonium primarily for use in fast-breeder reactors.

As pointed out, Japan’s only fast-breeder reactor, Monju, has been permanently shut so what happens to the 8,000 kilograms of plutonium Rokkasho was to produce each year?

The answer it appears lies in an atomic power plant being built at the northern tip of Aomori prefecture that will contain the Ohma Advanced Boiling Water reactor.

Now planned to start up in 2024, this reactor is intended to have a full MOX core, which would contain over 5 tons of plutonium and an annual demand of around 1.7 tons.

The safety implications of what would be a unique reactor worldwide operating with a full plutonium MOX core are enormous.

One reason why citizens and the city of Hakodate over the Tsugaru straits in Hokkaido have filed court challenges seeking to halt the Ohma plant’s construction. A court judgement is expected later this year.

Like Monju before, the prospects for operation of Ohma are dire and unlikely to solve Japan’s self inflicted plutonium hangover. But that also may be the point – the strategic and national security rationale for the program remains central for a government increasingly nationalistic in tone and outlook.

Under the guise of a civil nuclear program, Japan has become a de-facto nuclear weapons state without so far having to take that next fateful step.

The MOX shipment this week is merely one further fig leaf for a plutonium and nuclear program that was always so much more than about energy.

How long can the Japanese government defend such a policy? We may be about to see in 2018 when the US Japan Peaceful

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News AgencyKim Jong-un with nuclear weapon engineers in this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

 

Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, that provides sanction for Japan’s program, is up for renewal.

Given the incumbents in the Prime Minister office in Tokyo and the White House, don’t expect much deep reflection (or policy reversal) on what it means for a nation in a region on the edge of major conflict to possess the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons plutonium outside the declared nuclear weaponized states.

Instead, ending this decades long multi-billion dollar program will, as ever, be secured by the dedication of the people of Japan and their allies around the world concerned as they are with public safety and real security built on peace.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, Tokyo. He is co-author of “Nuclear Proliferation in Plain Sight: Japan’s Plutonium Fuel Cycle–A Technical and Economic Failure But a Strategic Success” Japan Focus, March 2016, available at http://apjjf.org/2016/05/Burnie.html. He has worked on nuclear issues worldwide for more than three decades, including since 1991 on Japan’s plutonium and nuclear policy. sburnie@greenpeace.org

Nuclear physicist, Professor Frank Barnaby, is formerly of the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment and Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI – from 1971-1981). Prof. Barnaby testified to the Fukushima District Court against TEPCO’s plans for MOX use in Fukushima Daiichi 3 in 2000, and is the author of multiple books on nuclear weapons design and policy.

http://www.atimes.com/article/japans-plutonium-proliferation-energy//

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Reprocessed nuclear fuel returned to Japan for reactor use

Japan has learned absolutely nothing from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster. This is not going to end well!

This is a mouthful, read this:

“Nuclear fuel reprocessed in France returned to Japan on Thursday for use in a reactor as the country tries to burn more plutonium amid international concerns about its stockpile.”

“The need to reduce its plutonium stockpile adds to Japan’s push to restart reactors, aside from also needing to generate power. It would require 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX to keep Japan’s plutonium stockpile from growing when the Rokkasho plant starts up, according to government and utility officials.”

988778_10204102158554137_7266908725426550256_n.jpg

 

TOKYO- Nuclear fuel reprocessed in France returned to Japan on Thursday for use in a reactor as the country tries to burn more plutonium amid international concerns about its stockpile.

Kansai Electric Power Co said the shipment arrived for use at the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. The reactor is one of only five reactors currently operating in Japan.

A specialized ship, the Pacific Egret, was seen docked just outside one plant as the heavily protected shipment was brought inside under extremely tight security. The utility said it cannot provide details such as the amount of the fuel. The new fuel is expected to be loaded after the reactor’s regular safety check planned next year.

Japan has a stockpile of 47 tons of plutonium – 10 tons at home and the rest in Britain and France, which reprocess and store spent fuel for Japan as the country still lacks its own capacity to do so. Experts say the amount could be enough to make thousands of atomic bombs, although utility operators deny such risk, saying the material is stored safely and monitored constantly.

Japan plans to start up its Rokkasho reprocessing plant next year, but critics say that would only add to the stockpile problem and nuclear security concerns.

Without the prospect of achieving a plutonium-burning fast reactor in near future, Japan has resorted to burning MOX, a mixture of plutonium and uranium fuel, in conventional reactors.

The need to reduce its plutonium stockpile adds to Japan’s push to restart reactors, aside from also needing to generate power. It would require 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX to keep Japan’s plutonium stockpile from growing when the Rokkasho plant starts up, according to government and utility officials.

Only three reactors, including two at Takahama, use MOX, with a fourth one expected to start up next year. Restarts come slowly amid persistent ant-nuclear sentiment among the public since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident and stricter standards under the post-Fukushima safety requirement.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/reprocessed-nuclear-fuel-returned-to-japan-for-reactor-use

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to delay emptying fuel storage pools at Fukushima plant

reactor 1 left reactor 2 right 21 sept 2017.pngThe No. 1 reactor building, left, and the No. 2 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant

 

Plans to remove fuel rods from two spent fuel pools at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be delayed by up to three years because of difficulties in clearing debris and reducing radiation levels.

The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally expected to start emptying the storage pools at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings in fiscal 2020.

But they plan to move the starting time to fiscal 2023 in their first review in two years of the roadmap for decommissioning the stricken nuclear plant, sources said Sept. 20.

They are expected to announce the revised roadmap later this month.

A survey of the upper levels of the two reactor buildings, where the storage pools are located, found debris piled up in a much more complicated way than initially envisaged.

That will lengthen the time needed to clear the debris, thus delaying the removal of the fuel rods, the sources said.

In addition, radiation levels remain extremely high inside the buildings.

The No. 1 reactor’s storage pool holds 392 nuclear fuel assemblies, while the No. 2 reactor’s pool has 615 assemblies.

Work to remove the 566 assemblies from the No. 3 reactor’s pool is scheduled to begin in the middle of fiscal 2018 as originally planned.

The three reactors melted down in the 2011 disaster, triggered by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The review of the decommissioning roadmap is also expected to revise the target of “starting the removal” of melted nuclear fuel and debris in the three reactors in 2021 to “aiming to start the removal” in 2021.

But the government and TEPCO will maintain the goal of completing the decommissioning in “30 to 40 years,” the sources said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709210034.html

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Travel ban lifted on route leading to town near Fukushima plant

20 sept 2017 National route 114 Namie.pngA worker reopens a section of National Route 114 that runs through a “difficult-to-return” zone in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 20.

 

NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture–Motorists lined up early in the morning on Sept. 20 in front of a barrier on National Route 114 here, anticipating an event they had waited nearly six-and-a-half years to see.

And then it happened at 6 a.m. The barrier was removed, and a 27-kilometer section was finally reopened to the public, giving evacuated residents direct access to the eastern part of Namie, a town that lies just north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Hisashi Suzuki, an 85-year-old Namie resident who now lives in Nihonmatsu, an inland city in Fukushima Prefecture, used the section to check on his home and family grave.

Until now, we had to arrange for a thoroughfare pass beforehand, and we sometimes had to wait at checkpoints,” Suzuki said. “This is much more convenient.”

National Route 114, one of main arteries that connects the center of the prefecture with the Pacific coast, runs through much of Namie.

The 27-km section is still within the “difficult-to-return” zone because of high radiation levels, meaning the evacuees can visit their homes in the zone but not return on a permanent basis.

Houses along the road in the no-go zone are now covered in weeds and tangled in vines.

Access to the road section is limited to automobiles. Bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians are not allowed to enter.

But with the road now reopened, municipalities in the area are hoping for an increasing flow in people, including evacuees visiting their homes and workers involved in reconstruction projects.

All 21,000 or so residents of Namie were ordered to evacuate the town after the nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011. Many of those living on the coast fled west on National Route 114.

The route was closed in April 2011 because it lies within a 20-km radius of the nuclear plant.

Residents seeking to visit eastern Namie needed to obtain permission from the town government or had to take a cumbersome detour.

The evacuation order was lifted in March this year for the eastern part of the town, which was less contaminated because of the wind direction at the time of the triple meltdown at the plant.

Much of the mountainous western part of Namie is still designated as a difficult-to-return zone.

After receiving requests from the public and municipalities, authorities conditionally lifted the travel ban on the road to allow for convenient access from central Fukushima to eastern Namie.

The central government has set up barriers at 88 intersections on Route 114 to prevent thieves and other unapproved people from using side roads.

In August, a survey showed the radiation dosage on the surface of Route 114 was a maximum 5.53 microsieverts per hour, more than 20 times higher than the threshold level of 0.23 microsievert per hour that many municipalities consider would require decontamination work.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709200053.html

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Nations signing up to United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty

50 signatories ink U.N. nuclear ban treaty opposed by major powers https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/21/world/50-nations-ink-u-n-nuclear-ban-treaty-opposed-major-powers/#.WcQszPMjHGg AP, KYODO, JIJI, 21 SEPT 17, AP, KYODO, JIJI  Dozens of countries on Wednesday signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a pact that the world’s nuclear powers spurned but supporters hailed as a historic agreement nonetheless.

“You are the states that are showing moral leadership in a world that desperately needs such moral leadership today,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said as a signing ceremony began.

 Before the day was out, 50 signatories as different as Indonesia and Ireland had put their names to the treaty; others can sign later if they like. Guyana, Thailand and the Vatican also have already ratified the treaty, which needs 50 ratifications to take effect among the nations that back it.

They would be barred from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, otherwise acquiring, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons “under any circumstances.”

Seven decades after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan during World War II — the only use of nuclear weapons — there are believed to be about 15,000 of them in the world today. Amid rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that the threat of a nuclear attack is at its highest level since the end of the Cold War.

“This treaty is an important step towards the universally held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said Wednesday.

Supporters of the pact say it is time to push harder toward eliminating atomic weapons than nations have done through the nearly 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Under its terms, non-nuclear nations agreed not to pursue nukes in exchange for a commitment by the five original nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China — to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee other states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.

More than 120 countries approved the new nuclear weapons ban treaty in July over opposition from nuclear-armed countries and their allies, who boycotted negotiations.

The U.S., Britain and France said the prohibition wouldn’t work and would end up disarming their nations while emboldening “bad actors,” in U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s words. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called the treaty “wishful thinking” that is “close to irresponsible.” The nuclear powers have suggested instead strengthening the nonproliferation treaty, which they say has made a significant dent in atomic arsenals.

Absent from the signing ceremony were the five permanent U.N. Security Council seat holders — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — which all possess the destructive devices.

Nuclear umbrella nations, such as Japan and South Korea, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization members like Germany and The Netherlands did not endorse it either

“Although we share the same feelings about nuclear abolition, (the treaty) differs from Japan’s approach, so we will not be signing it,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters in New York.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that there are divisions between countries with nuclear weapons and those without, as well as between the countries without them, when it comes to recognizing (both) the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the severity of the security environment,” he said, adding that Japan will try to bridge those gaps through existing frameworks.

Brazil was the first country to sign onto the ban Wednesday, followed by nations from Algeria to Venezuela.

“Those who still hold nuclear arsenals, we call upon them to join this date with history,” Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis said as he prepared to sign.

In attendance at the signing ceremony were Japanese atomic bomb survivors and the mayor of Nagasaki.

The adoption of the treaty on July 7, when 122 countries voted in favor of banning atomic weapons for the first time after decades of prodding by atomic bomb victims — known as hibakusha in Japanese — and civil society.

The treaty’s backers believe that their path is the best option to prevent future nuclear catastrophes of the kind experienced by Japan in 1945 during the closing days of World War II. The bombings of Hiroshima on Aug. 6 of that year and Nagasaki three days later ushered in the nuclear era.

“The heroic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the hibakusha — continue to remind us of the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons,” Guterres said.

Also speaking was Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who said the organization received a cable from Hiroshima on Aug. 30, 1945 describing a “city wiped out,” a great number of dead and over 100,000 wounded.

“The world today needs the promise of this treaty: the hope for a future without nuclear weapons,” he said. “Humanity simply cannot live under the dark shadow of nuclear warfare, and the immense suffering which we all know would result.”

In Hiroshima ahead of the signing, hibakusha and other citizens urged that all countries — including Japan — sign and ratify the treaty.

Close to 90 people gathered in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome. After observing a moment of silence, participants held up origami cranes and papers with messages demanding that countries sign the treaty.

The assembly was part of the Peace Wave 2017 campaign, in which citizens start a chain of movements from Japan in hopes of realizing a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

The event was planned by an organization of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima Prefecture and the Hiroshima Congress against A- and H-Bombs, or Hiroshima Gensuikin.

“If people believe that getting rid of nuclear weapons will lead to peace, a democratic government (sharing the belief) will be born, followed by the signing of the treaty,” said Kunihiko Sakuma, 72, head of the hibakusha organization.

“The governments of the nuclear nations will also change,” Sakuma added, emphasizing the importance of starting a civil movement.

As part of the campaign, more events will be held over the period through Tuesday, which has been set by the U.N. as International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

If there’s nuclear war with South Korea, Donald Trump will have headquarters in the sky

Technology 2017: President Trump’s Doomsday Plane

America’s ‘doomsday’ plane will be Donald Trump’s HQ if nuclear war breaks out with North Korea, news.com.au , 21 Sept 17 TAKE a look on board the “doomsday” plane which will protect Donald Trump’s team if nuclear war becomes a reality. THESE incredible photos reveal the inner workings of the ‘Doomsday’ planes — America’s secretive set of jets designed to wage nuclear war from the skies.
The specially-designed aircraft follow President Donald Trump wherever he travels in Air Force One in case nuclear war erupts, reports The Sun.

Known officially as National Airborne Operation Centres, they allow US leaders and wartime hawks to issue directives and wage war from the sky.

The Boeing E-4Bs costs around $A311 million each to create and $A201,000 per hour to operate.

They also feature a vast array of defence mechanisms, including the ability to withstand electromagnetic pulses.

The jets’ crews also use traditional analog flight instruments to navigate as they are less susceptible to cyber attack.

The aeroplanes, while not technically secret, are rarely mentioned — the air force does not even publicly acknowledge owning some of them. In operation since the 1970s, these airborne command posts were long considered the best chance for a Cold War president to survive a nuclear attack……..http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/americas-doomsday-plane-will-be-donald-trumps-hq-if-nuclear-war-breaks-out-with-north-korea/news-story/34d5e11ac9d75e58a2f65ccc4aac6864

September 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Concern in China, South Korea, Japan, at Donald Trump’s belligerent speech at United Nations

Jitters and surprise in South Korea and Japan over Trump’s speech to the U.N  WP, September 19  The United States’ closest allies in Asia seemed blindsided by President Trump’s latest outburst against North Korea, in which he threatened not just to act against Kim Jong Un’s regime, but also to destroy an entire country of 25 million people.

In his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump derided Kim as “Rocket Man” and said the United States would “totally destroy North Korea” if needed to protect its allies.

Those allies, Japan and South Korea, were silent on Trump’s threat to bring war to their neighborhood, while China and Russia both warned that Trump risked fueling tensions.

China’s nationalist Global Times newspaper ran a cartoon captioned “Bully pulpit” showing Trump holding a megaphone, shouting “America First,” while the state-owned China Daily newspaper said Trump’s speech was “full of sound and fury.

“Today’s dangerous deadlock has been the result of Pyongyang’s and Washington’s persistent pursuit of their own interests in disregard of other countries’ efforts to persuade the two antagonists to talk,” the China Daily wrote in an editorial Wednesday morning. “His threat to ‘totally destroy’ [North Korea] if need be will, therefore, likely worsen the already volatile situation.”……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russia-calls-trumps-korea-remarks-a-dangerous-step-toward-instability/2017/09/19/1a6d9b56-9d69-11e7-b2a7-bc70b6f98089_story.html?utm_term=.62cf8

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear plants in the path of hurricanes – disasters waiting to happen

Nuclear Plants Plus Hurricanes: Disasters Waiting to Happen http://progressive.org/dispatches/nuclear-plants-plus-hurricanes-disasters-waiting-to-happen/, by Harvey WassermanSeptember 21, 2017 Although the mainstream media said next to nothing about it, independent experts have made it clear that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma threatened six U.S. nuclear plants with major destruction, and therefore all of us with apocalyptic disaster. It is a danger that remains for the inevitable hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters yet to come.

During Harvey and Irma, six holdovers from a dying reactor industry—two on the Gulf Coast at South Texas, two at Key Largo and two more north of Miami at Port St. Lucie—were under severe threat of catastrophic failure. All of them rely on off-site power systems that were extremely vulnerable throughout the storms. At St. Lucie Unit One, an NRC official reported a salt buildup on electrical equipment requiring a power downgrade in the midst of the storm.

Loss of backup electricity was at the core of the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan when the tsunami there and ensuing flood shorted out critical systems. The reactor cores could not be cooled. Three melted. Their cores have yet to be found. Water pouring over them flooded into the Pacific, carrying away unprecedented quantities of cesium and other radioactive isotopes. In 2015, scientists detected radioactive contamination from Fukushima along the coast near British Columbia and California.

Four of six Fukushima Daichi reactors suffered hydrogen explosions, releasing radioactive fallout far in excess of what came down after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Extreme danger still surrounds Fukushima’s highly radioactive fuel pools, which are in varied stages of ruin.

“In addition to reactors, which at least are within containment structures, high-level radioactive waste storage pools are not within containment, and are also mega-catastrophes waiting to happen, as in the event of a natural disaster like a hurricane,” says Kevin Kamps of the activist group Beyond Nuclear.

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew paralyzed fire protection systems at Florida’s Turkey Point and so severely damaged a 350-foot-high tower it had to be demolished. The eye of that storm went directly over the reactor, sweeping away support buildings valued at $100 million or more.

There’s no reason to rule out a future storm negating fire protection systems, flinging airborne debris into critical support buildings, killing off-site backup power, and more.

As during Andrew, the owners of the nuclear plants under assault from Harvey and Irma had an interest in dragging their feet on timely shut-downs. Because they are not liable for downwind damage done in a major disaster, the utilities can profit by keeping the reactors operating as long as they can, despite the obvious public danger.

Viable evacuation plans are a legal requirement for continued reactor operation. But such planning has been a major bone of contention, prompting prolonged court battles at Seabrook, New Hampshire, and playing a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island. After a 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio, then-Governor Richard Celeste sued to delay issuance of the plant’s operating license. A state commission later concluded evacuation during a disaster there was not possible. After Andrew, nuclear opponents like Greenpeace questioned the right of the plant to continue operating in light of what could occur during a hurricane.

Throughout the world, some 430 reactors are in various stages of vulnerability to natural disaster, including ninety-nine in the United States. Numerous nuclear plants have already been damaged by earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, and floods. The complete blackout of any serious discussion of what Harvey and Irma threatened to do to these six Texas and Florida reactors is cause for deep concern.

Harvey Wasserman’s California Solartopia show airs at KPFK-FM in Los Angeles; his Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at prn.fm. He is the author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author of Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change already affecting world health

Climate Change Is Already Making People Sicker, TIME. Alexandra Sifferlin, Sep 21, 2017 Climate change is a central issue at this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with multiple high-level meetings on the issue happening amid several devastating natural disasters. Hurricane Irma recently swept through the Caribbean and into Florida, only to be quickly followed by Hurricane Maria.

“Climate change casts a long shadow over the development efforts of our country,” said Darren Henfield, the minster of foreign affairs of the Bahamas, during a UNGA meeting on Hurricane Irma. “The implications of rising sea levels and atmospheric temperatures signal dire consequences for low-lying island states like the Bahamas.” Henfield said that the costs of rebuilding after Irma will be “exorbitant, in the tens of millions,” and he estimates similar damage related to Hurricane Maria.

 The impact of climate change on global health is also becoming increasingly clear. At the end of last week, the United Nations released a report showing that global hunger is on the rise; 38 million more people were affected in 2016 than in 2015. Climate change and the spread of violent conflicts are responsible, the report says. Other research has linked climate change to increased respiratory problemspoor nutrition, the spread of infectious disease and even anxiety.

Leaders at the UN say that while more countries are explicitly calling out these risks to health now than in the past, there’s still more work to do. “I think it’s clear quite a few countries, particularly in the developing world where air pollution is high, see that there is an opportunity to reduce climate change and improve health,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesperson for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during an interview Wednesday. “But the issue still has a ways to go.”

 The recent tragic weather events have provided an opening for those conversations. “These hurricane or flooding events have huge implications for water quality,” says Nuttall, citing the risk for things like sewage and other chemicals to get into floodwater and spread. The risk for mosquito-borne diseases ranging from dengue fever to Zika can increase as floods recede, leaving breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects.

“Major health benefits come from acting on climate change, both direct and indirect,” says Nuttall. Preventing deforestation limits flooding, which cuts back on the number of pests like mosquitoes that can accumulate and spread diseases, he says.

The issue affects the oceans, as well. “If we lose our coral reefs, we lose revenue for countries, but also fish, which is an important source of protein,” says Nuttall…….http://time.com/4949720/climate-change-united-nations/?xid=homepage

September 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, health | Leave a comment