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Americans seek $1 bil. in damages over Fukushima nuclear disaster

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A U.S. Marine assists Japanese Self-Defense Force members in removing debris from the grounds of Minato Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, in this file photo taken on April 1, 2011.
 
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Some 200 U.S. residents filed a suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and a U.S. firm seeking at least $1 billion to cover medical expenses related to radiation exposure suffered during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the utility said Monday.
 
The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with U.S. federal courts in the Southern District of California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces’ Operation Tomodachi relief effort carried out in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
Many of the plaintiffs are suing TEPCO and the U.S. company, whose name was withheld by TEPCO, for the second time after a similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January.
 
They are seeking the establishment of a compensation fund of at least $1 billion to cover medical and other costs, the utility said.
 
The plaintiffs claim that the nuclear accident occurred due to improper design and management of the plant by TEPCO. They are also seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage suffered as a result of the disaster, said the utility.
In Operation Tomodachi, which began two days after the natural disasters, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and other U.S. military resources and personnel were deployed to deliver supplies and undertake relief efforts at the same time as three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex suffered fuel meltdowns.
 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Court rejects call to suspend nuclear reactors in southwestern Japan

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The No. 3 (right) and 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant are seen in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, on March 13, 2018.
 
SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A district court in southwestern Japan on Tuesday rejected local residents’ request to suspend the planned restart of nuclear reactors in Saga Prefecture over safety concerns.
 
Some 70 people sought an injunction to halt the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai nuclear power plant of Kyushu Electric Power Co., scheduled for Friday and May, respectively, questioning safety standards and citing the risks of a volcanic eruption in the region.
 
But the Saga District Court’s Presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the utility’s safety measures are “reasonable” and that the court found “no specific risk of (the reactors) causing serious damage.”
 
The decision was in sharp contrast with a Hiroshima High Court ruling in December to halt the planned restart of a reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant on the grounds of a possible eruption of Mt. Aso.
 
As the 1,592-meter volcano is located some 130 kilometers from the Ikata plant, almost the same distance as from the Genkai plant, attention was on how the Saga court would evaluate the risk.
 
During the trial, the plaintiffs from Saga, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Yamaguchi prefectures expressed doubt about the credibility of the new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying they were compiled when the Fukushima crisis had yet to be resolved.
 
The plaintiffs also claimed that there is no measure to respond to a catastrophic volcanic eruption which cannot be forecasted.
Kyushu Electric argued it has taken safety steps and that there is no imminent danger of a serious accident.
 
In June last year, Judge Tachikawa dismissed a similar request from a different group of local residents for an injunction to stop the restart of the two Genkai plant reactors.
 
Separate from the lawsuits seeking injunctions, some 10,000 people in Japan and abroad have filed a suit demanding suspension of the Genkai reactors.
 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuee asks for support at UN

 

 
A Japanese woman who evacuated Fukushima after the 2011 nuclear accident has called for international support at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
 
Akiko Morimatsu delivered a speech at the Council in Geneva on Monday. She moved to Osaka with her 2 children after the accident.
 
Morimatsu criticized the Japanese government for focusing only on policies that encourage former residents to return to the affected areas.
 
She called on the international community for support to protect children from further radiation exposure.
 
A Japanese official said the government will do all it can to expedite reconstruction, keeping in mind that those affected still face difficulty in their daily lives.
 
The Human Rights Council recommended last November that Japan should continue to support affected residents and voluntary evacuees, in line with requests from Germany and other member states.
 
The Japanese government says it accepts Council recommendations related to the accident. But it also says it has been providing necessary support in accordance with laws.
 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Hakodate court rejects plea for injunction to halt construction of Oma MOX plant in Aomori

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The Oma nuclear plant (right) is shown under construction Monday in the town of Oma, Aomori Prefecture
 
HAKODATE, HOKKAIDO – A court has dismissed a request from residents of Hakodate, Hokkaido, for an injunction to halt the construction of Electric Power Development Co.’s nuclear power plant in the town of Oma, across the Tsugaru Strait in nearby Aomori Prefecture.
 
Handing down the ruling Monday at the Hakodate District Court, the presiding judge, Chikako Asaoka, said it is “difficult to assess the particular risk of a severe accident right now” because it is uncertain when the Oma plant will enter operation.
 
The ruling also noted that the plant being built by Electric Power Development, also known as J-Power, is undergoing Nuclear Regulation Authority screenings under new standards set after the March 2011 triple core meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.
 
“It’s not reasonable for a court of law to conduct safety examinations without waiting for the NRA screenings,” the judge said.
 
The plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling, which was the first on a nuclear plant under construction since the Fukushima disaster.
“It’s a terrible ruling that makes light of us,” said Toshiko Takeda, 69, the leader of the plaintiff group. “How did the court reflect on the Fukushima accident? It’s really mortifying.”
 
Construction on the Oma plant started in May 2008. It is about 23 km south of Hakodate, on the other side of the Tsugaru Strait.
In July 2010, a group of citizens including Hakodate residents sued the state and J-Power over the issue. The number of plaintiffs has since risen to 1,164.
 
The main issue in the lawsuit was the safety of the Oma plant, which will only burn mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel — a blend of uranium and weapons-grade plutonium extracted from spent fuel. The Oma plant will be the world’s first fully MOX-powered plant.
 
The plaintiffs demanded that the project be canceled, arguing that a MOX plant will pose a higher accident risk. They also claimed that the new regulatory standards are inadequate and that there are geographic faults around the plant site.
J-Power insisted that the use of MOX fuel will not necessarily make it difficult to control the reactors.
 
The Hakodate court admitted that an injunction against the Oma project could be issued if the regulatory standards contained irrational points. But it concluded that the standards could not be deemed to have such points.
 
Speaking to reporters in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, Oma Mayor Mitsuharu Kanazawa welcomed the ruling.
“We’ve awaited this result, as we hope to proceed steadily” with the nuclear plant project, Kanazawa said.
 
Separately from the citizens’ lawsuit, the Hakodate Municipal Government took similar action at the Tokyo District Court in 2014, unconvinced by the central government’s explanations about the Oma project.
 
A municipal official working on the Tokyo lawsuit said that an accident at the Oma plant could devastate the local fishing and tourism industries.
 
Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo issued a statement saying that the ruling by the Hakodate court is very regrettable. “We will check details of the ruling to draw lessons for the city’s case.”
 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Why renewable energy is beating nuclear – an unexpected alliance

In effect, we are now seeing an egalitarian-individualist alliance against the conservative hierarchists.

even hierarchists cannot ignore economic reality entirely. The South Carolina project has beenabandoned and the Georgia project only survives through a very large federal loan bailout.

Contrast this with casino complexes in Nevada like MGM Resorts not only installing their own solar photovoltaic arrays but paying many millions of dollars to opt out from the local monopoly electricity supplier. They have campaigned successfully to win a state referendum supporting electricity liberalisation.

The unholy alliance that explains why renewables are trouncing nuclear http://reneweconomy.com.au/the-unholy-alliance-that-explains-why-renewables-are-trouncing-nuclear-96079/ By Dave Toke on 20 March 2018   The Conversation  

If recent trends continue for another two years, the global share of electricity from renewables excluding hydropower will overtake nuclear for the first time.

Even 20 years ago, this nuclear decline would have greatly surprised many people – particularly now that reducing carbon emissions is at the top of the political agenda.

On one level this is a story about changes in relative costs. The costs of solar and wind have plunged while nuclear has become almost astoundingly expensive.

Culture wars

The seminal text in this field, Risk and Culture (1982), by the British anthropologist Mary Douglas and American political scientist Aaron Wildavsky, argues the behaviour of individuals and institutions can be explained by four different biases:

  1. Individualists: people biased towards outcomes that result from competitive arrangements;
  2. Hierarchists: those who prefer ordered decisions being made by leaders and followed by others;
  3. Egalitarians: people who favour equality and grassroots decision-making and pursue a common cause;
  4. Fatalists: those who see decision-making as capricious and feel unable to influence outcomes.

The first three categories help explain different actors in the electricity industry. For governments and centralised monopolies often owned by the state, read hierarchists. For green campaigning organisations, read egalitarians, while free-market-minded private companies fit the individualist bias.

The priorities of these groups have not greatly changed in recent years. Hierarchists tend to favour nuclear power, since big power stations make for more straightforward grid planning, and nuclear power complements nuclear weapons capabilities considered important for national security.

Egalitarians like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth usually oppose new nuclear power plant and favour renewables. Traditionally they have worried about radioactive environmental damage and nuclear proliferation. Individualists, meanwhile, favour whichever technologies reduce costs.

These cultural realities lie behind the problems experienced by nuclear power. To compound green opposition, many of nuclear power’s strongest supporters are conservative hierarchists who are either sceptical about the need to reduce carbon emissions or treat it as a low priority.

Hence they are often unable or unwilling to mobilise climate change arguments to support nuclear, which has made it harder to persuade egalitarians to get on board.

This has had several consequences.

Green groups won subsidies for renewable technologies by persuading more liberal hierarchists that they had to address climate change – witness the big push by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for the feed-in tariffs that drove solar uptake in the late 2000s, for example. In turn, both wind and solar have been optimised and their costs have come down.

Nuclear largely missed out on these carbon-reducing subsidies. Worse, greens groups persuaded governments as far back as the 1970s that safety standards around nuclear power stations needed to improve. This more than anything drove up costs.
As for the individualists, they used to be generally unconvinced by renewable energy and sceptical of environmental opposition to nuclear. But as relative costs have changed, they have increasingly switched positions.

The hierarchists are still able to use monopoly electricity organisations to support nuclear power, but individualists are increasingly pressuring them to make these markets more competitive so that they can invest in renewables more easily.

In effect, we are now seeing an egalitarian-individualist alliance against the conservative hierarchists.

Both sides of the pond

Donald Trump’s administration in the US, for example, has sought subsidies to keep existing coal and nuclear power stations running.

This is both out of concern for national security and to support traditional centralised industrial corporations – classic hierarchist thinking.

Yet this has played out badly with individualist corporations pushing renewables. Trump’s plans have even been rejected by some of his own appointments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In similarly hierarchist fashion, electricity supply monopolies in Georgia and South Carolina started building new nuclear power stations after regulatory agencies allowed them to collect mandatory payments from electricity consumers to cover costs at the same time.

Yet even hierarchists cannot ignore economic reality entirely. The South Carolina project has beenabandoned and the Georgia project only survives through a very large federal loan bailout.

Contrast this with casino complexes in Nevada like MGM Resorts not only installing their own solar photovoltaic arrays but paying many millions of dollars to opt out from the local monopoly electricity supplier. They have campaigned successfully to win a state referendum supporting electricity liberalisation.

The UK, meanwhile, is an example of how different biases can compete. Policy has traditionally been formed in hierarchical style, with big companies producing policy proposals which go out to wider consultation.

It’s a cultural bias that favours nuclear power, but this conflicts with a key priority dating back to Thatcher that technological winners are chosen by the market.

This has led policymakers in Whitehall to favour both renewables and nuclear, but the private electricity companies have mostly refused to invest in nuclear, seeing it as too risky and expensive.

The only companies prepared to plug the gap have been more hierarchists – EDF, which is majority-owned by France, and Chinese state nuclear corporations.

Even then, getting Hinkley C in south-west England underway – the first new nuclear plant since the 1990s – required an extensive commitment by the UK treasury to underwrite bank loans.

There is also an embarrassingly high price to be paid for the electricity over a very long 35-year period. Such has been the bad publicity that it’s hard to imagine a politician agreeing to more plant on such terms.

Where does this reality leave hierarchists? Increasingly having to explain prohibitive nuclear costs to their electorates – at least in democracies. The alternative, as renewable energy becomes the new orthodoxy, is to embrace it.

In Australia, for example, a big utility company called AGL is trying to seduce homeowners to agree to link their solar panels to the company’s systems to centralise power dispatch in a so-called a “virtual power plant”.

When the facts change, to misquote John Maynard Keynes, you can always change your mind.

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

How to talk to climate sceptics about climate change: Katharine Hayhoe spells it out

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change  These climate-skeptic-whispering tactics have nothing to do with science  Sierra BY KATIE O’REILLY | MAR 20 2018 

Katharine Hayhoe on how to talk about climate change (highlights video)

Katharine Hayhoe isn’t your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech’s University’s Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids’ web series “Global Weirding,” rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe’s arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

After the ensuing deluge of hate mail, Hayhoe made a habit of reaching out to climate foes. Along with her husband Andrew Farley, she wrote A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions. She also authored 2014’s third National Climate Change Assessment for the National Academy of Sciences. Last year, Fortune magazine named Hayhoe one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. While she frequently gives talks on climate science and faith, she often makes a point of keeping science out of her talks………..

Sierra: From a global perspective, the United States stands out for our considerable contingent of vocal climate change deniers. Why do you think this attitude is so uniquely American?

Katharine Hayhoe: There’s some of that sentiment in Australia as well, and in Alberta, the province known as the “Texas of Canada.” Interestingly, if you look across all countries’ fossil fuel resources and political positions on climate, you’ll find that economics doesn’t account for all of it. Fossil fuel influences certainly have an influence, but look at Norway—oil made them rich! One recent study concluded that the U.S. Republican Party is an anomaly. Social scientists study the characteristics of different cultures—some, for instance, are very hierarchical, some are very communal, and some are very independent. I can do it myself. If you correlate the predominance of rejection of climate science with the independence of the culture, I’d bet you anything you’d find a significant correlation. The U.S. is the most culturally independent country in the world, followed by Australia, and then Alberta is much more independent-minded than other Canadian provinces.

Where does this independence stem from?

It comes from the ruggedness of the terrain and the challenges that people had to overcome and endure—and the recency of those struggles.

…….  Of course, fighting climate change requires people to work together for the benefit of the entire community—to not just go it alone. When you try to talk climate action to resilient pioneer types, they’re often hearing that the government is gonna be their nanny and pick their car, set their thermostat, limit their water, and tell them what they can and can’t do. And rugged individualists do not need a nanny. They believe the government wants to take away their freedom, and what’s more American than freedom?…….

So how can you make tough, self-reliant, freedom-loving types care about climate change?

That’s the real problem because no one thinks it really matters. Even the people who think it’s really important don’t tend to think it affects them. Particularly if you’re not already a dyed-in-the-wool environmentalist, climate action has be be framed as something that’s a natural expression of something you already are—something that makes you feel like a better version of yourself. ……. So when we have these conversations, we need to start from a place of genuine appreciation of values we share with that person or that group……  https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/katharine-hayhoe-reveals-surprising-ways-talk-about-climate-change

March 21, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

  The “forbidden life” of those caring for abandoned animals in Fukushima

Hero rescues pets from Fukushima nuclear wasteland

The 3/11 kitten that wasn’t   The “forbidden life” of those caring for abandoned animals in Fukushima, Beyond Nuclear , By Linda Pentz Gunter, 20 March 18   “………. countless animals were indeed abandoned in Japan due to the natural disasters and the forced exile of those living too close to the stricken nuclear plant. Some international rescue groups did go in to try to help, but early on found conditions and access restrictions challenging if not prohibitive.

However, there were also individuals and groups in Japan who were not willing to sit back and watch animals starve. In addition to the rescue operations, a spay-neuter organization began work to prevent the inevitable proliferation of pets who, if they had survived at all, had now become strays. Shelters were eventually built with funds donated by supporters.

But there were some, chronicled in several remarkable films, who either never left, or who quickly returned to Fukushima Prefecture, with one sole purpose in mind: to look after the animals. Their charges soon multiplied and for some, it has become a full-time vocation.

In a 2013 ITN short news segment, we are introduced to 58-year old Keigo Sakamoto, who had already established an animal sanctuary in Nahara, just over 12 miles from the Fukushima plant. He was one who refused the order to evacuate, then found himself completely trapped within the zone, cut off from supplies. He survives on the generosity of individuals and stores outside the zone where he regularly collects discarded food and other supplies essential to keeping his animals — and himself — alive.

Then there are farmers who returned to save their livestock. One such, 53-year old Naoto Matsumura, is featured in the 18-minute Vice documentary, Alone in the Zone. He lives in what was then the ghost town of Tomioka — whose station reopening story we featured last week. But Matsumura could not accept the idea that dogs, cows, goats, ducks and even ostriches should be cast off without a care.

At first he evacuated with his family, fearing all the reactors were going to blow. But when his family faced rejection by relatives who said they were “contaminated”, and the hassle of evacuation shelters became unendurable, he returned home alone. And stayed. “I couldn’t leave the animals behind,” he said. “I am opposed to killing off the animals in the zone.”

Feeding them, and refusing to sign the “death warrant” requirement from the government, will, he hopes, spare them from slaughter. “So many of their fellow cattle died in pain,” he said, recalling the tragedy of cows left in barnes to starve. “To me, animals and people are equal.” ……https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/03/16/the-3-11-kitten-that-wasnt/

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

$1 billion case against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc by Americans affected by Fukushima nuclar dizaster

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180320/p2g/00m/0dm/023000c (Mainichi Japan)  TOKYO (Kyodo) — Some 200 U.S. residents filed a suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and a U.S. firm seeking at least $1 billion to cover medical expenses related to radiation exposure suffered during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the utility said Monday.

 The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with U.S. federal courts in the Southern District of California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces’ Operation Tomodachi relief effort carried out in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Many of the plaintiffs are suing TEPCO and the U.S. company, whose name was withheld by TEPCO, for the second time after a similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January.

They are seeking the establishment of a compensation fund of at least $1 billion to cover medical and other costs, the utility said.

The plaintiffs claim that the nuclear accident occurred due to improper design and management of the plant by TEPCO. They are also seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage suffered as a result of the disaster, said the utility.

In Operation Tomodachi, which began two days after the natural disasters, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and other U.S. military resources and personnel were deployed to deliver supplies and undertake relief efforts at the same time as three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex suffered fuel meltdowns.

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Japan, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Concern over Russia’s nuclear activities in the Arctic – potential for a radiological disaster

With Russia building floating nuclear reactors and possibly testing nuclear-powered cruise missiles, there are good reasons for this training.The Drive, BY JOSEPH TREVITHICKMARCH 20, 2018   The U.S. military, along with other federal and state authorities, has been training to respond to potentially dangerous releases of radioactive material in and around the Arctic. Though there is no clear indication of a direct link between Russia’s reported tests of nuclear-powered missiles or expanding use of nuclear power in the region, it is hard not to see these exercises in connection with those developments.

Earlier in March 2018, members of the U.S. National Guards from 10 different states arrived at the Donnelly Training Area, situated near the U.S. Army’s Fort Greely in Alaska. Alaska state authorities and members of Canada’s reserve 39 Canadian Brigade Group joined the exercise, nicknamed Arctic Eagle 2018, as well.

The drills included a number of different mock crises, including an overturned fuel truck creating a hazardous material spill, the potential for attacks on the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System, and even cyber attacks. But especially notable was a scenario involving the need to locate a crashed satellite and contain the radiological material it had deposited across a wide area as it plummeted to earth. ………

t’s definitely no secret that the U.S. military has become increasing interested in preparing for potential conflicts and other contingencies above and near the Arctic Circle in recent years. As global climate change has shrunk the polar ice cap and otherwise reduced the amount of ice buildup that occurs during certain parts of the year, the region has become increasingly important economically and various countries, especially Russia, have moved to enforce their territorial claims.

“The growing concerns regarding the increased number of nations competing for Arctic resources are well justified,” U.S. Air Force General Lori Robinson, head of U.S. Northern Command, which oversees operations in the region, and the designated “Advocate for Arctic Capabilities” within the Pentagon, reiterated to members of Congress during a hearing in February 2018. “Diminishing sea ice provides opportunities for significantly expanded access to a region that had previously been inaccessible to all but a handful of northern nations.”

…….. the idea of a crashing satellite creating a radiological disaster isn’t an entirely fictional scenario. In 1978, the Soviet Union’s Kosmos 954 reconnaissance satellite, which had a nuclear reactor as its power source, crashed into Canadian territory, touching off an international incident and prompting an expensive response and clean-up operation.

….. U.S. military and other agencies practicing specifically to handle a radiological incident in the region seems even more noteworthy in light of a number of recent events. Most importantly are Russian claims that it has been testing a cruise missile with theoretically unlimited range that uses a nuclear reactor-powered propulsion system in the Arctic. Anonymous U.S. government officials have since told various media outlets that this is true, but that the weapons have been crashing, potentially spreading radioactive material and components.

…… The Russians have also been dramatically expanding their use and plans to employ small and mobile nuclear reactors to support activities in the Arctic.

….. In addition, there are reports that Russia has begun to develop and potentially deploy small underwater nuclear reactors

……..If any of these nuclear power systems were to fail, it could potentially cause a serious radiological incident that would impact both the United States and Canada. The same procedures American military and other government personnel have been training to employ in response to a crashed satellite would undoubtedly be applicable in those situations, too.

So, while the idea of radioactive space debris might serve as a ready exercise scenario, there are a growing number of very real radiological dangers in the Arctic. Unless the Russians change course, the need to be prepared for a nuclear incident only looks set to become more pronounced in the near future. http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/19450/u-s-training-for-arctic-nuclear-satellite-disaster-amid-russian-weapons-developments Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, environment, Russia, USA | Leave a comment

NASA will allow plutonium powered spacecraft – reversing previous policy prohibiting this dangerous system

NASA to allow nuclear power systems for next Discovery mission, Space News by Jeff Foust — WASHINGTON — Citing progress in producing plutonium-238, NASA will allow scientists proposing missions for an upcoming planetary science competition to use nuclear power sources.

In a statement issued March 17, Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said the agency was reversing an earlier decision prohibiting the use of radioisotope power systems for spacecraft proposed for the next mission in the agency’s Discovery program.

A “long-range planning information” announcement about plans for the competition, issued Dec. 12, said that the use of such power systems would not be allowed, although missions could use radioisotope heater units, which use a very small amount of plutonium to keep spacecraft elements warm.

NASA made that decision based on projected use of existing stocks of plutonium-238 for upcoming missions, such as the Mars 2020 rover. Dragonfly, one of the two finalists for the next New Frontiers medium-class planetary science mission, also plans to use a radioisotope power system, as well as potential future missions the moon that require nuclear power to operate through the two-week lunar night.

“We have some liens against the radioisotope power,” Green said at a Feb. 21 meeting of NASA’s Planetary Science Advisory Group, citing those upcoming missions. The agency, he said, needed to balance mission demands against existing stocks of plutonium and efforts currently ramping up to produce new supplies of the isotope, which should reach a goal of 1.5 kilograms a year by around 2022. “The last thing we want to do is to select a mission and then not be ready to fly it.”

At the time of the meeting last month, though, Green said the agency was reviewing the prohibition against using nuclear power for the Discovery competition at the request of the scientific community, but didn’t offer a schedule for completing that review……. http://spacenews.com/nasa-to-allow-nuclear-power-systems-for-next-discovery-mission/

 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

MP wants to stop Britain’s supplying of weapons grade nuclear materials to Russia

MP calls for sanctions on nuclear materials trade, Cambrian Newsby Alex Jones – Meirionnydd, Arfon & Dwyfor reporter @alexj_cn  alexj@cambrian-news.co.uk  

March 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

How a scientist studying earthquakes spent his career working to prevent nuclear explosions,

This earthquake expert dodged Russian surveillance to try to halt nuclear testing , How a scientist studying earthquakes spent his career working to prevent nuclear explosions, The Verge By 

March 21, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New plan for fracking method of isolating nuclear wastes

This Father-Daughter Team Says It Has a Cheaper, Safer Way to Bury Nuclear Waste,  Startup Deep Isolation wants to use fracking tech to drill horizontal disposal tunnels a mile below the Earth’s surface.  Bloomberg  By Ashlee Vance, 20 March 18  Richard and Elizabeth Muller have come up with one of the more unusual father-daughter businesses in recent memory. On March 20 they announced a startup called Deep Isolation that aims to store nuclear waste much more safely and cheaply than existing methods. The key to the technology, according to the Mullers, is to take advantage of fracking techniques to place nuclear waste in 2-mile-long tunnels, much deeper than they’ve been before—a mile below the Earth’s surface, where they’ll be surrounded by shale. “We’re using a technique that’s been made cheap over the last 20 years,” says Richard, a famed physicist and climate change expert. “We could begin putting this waste underground right away.”

…….. The U.S. has about 80,000 tons of nuclear waste, mostly sitting at about 70 sites, in aboveground water pools.
……….With each passing year, the U.S. produces an additional 2,000 tons of nuclear waste, and the total is already more than Yucca Mountain was meant to hold. While President Trump has sought a modest $120 million to restart the program, Congress has made clear it’s not going to broach the subject in an election year. “It’s quite a serious problem,” says Rodney Ewing, a Stanford professor of geological sciences who specializes in nuclear security. “As a country, we seem to not be paying attention to the obvious difficulties we have with the waste.”
Nuclear waste experts have contemplated deep-drilling for half a century, mostly by proposing to bore straight down into granite and crystalline rock. But tests of these techniques haven’t gotten very far, being blocked, on occasion, by the public. These approaches have been deemed costly and possibly unsafe, because stacking containers on top of one another puts so much weight on the bottom drums. The Mullers say it’s much cheaper and safer to drill horizontal tunnels, and to do so in shale. They can fit the typical waste canisters (each 1 foot in diameter and 14 feet long) quickly and safely into shale tunnels, they say, given advances in fracking equipment. “Drilling the holes takes a couple weeks at most,” says Elizabeth.
…….. It’d be best to keep the tunnels close to existing nuclear waste sites, the Mullers say. The U.S. is so shale-rich that the waste disposal tunnels could be placed near nuclear production sites, so no hauling of waste would be required. The boreholes would also be much deeper than something like Yucca, vastly reducing the chance of radioactive waste leaking into the water supply. “The goal is to get this stuff out of the biosphere, and the farther down you go, the less things change,” Elizabeth says. “The waste will have 1 billion tons of rock on top of it and be in shale that has held methane gas and other volatiles for tens to hundreds of millions of years. Things don’t leak out.” Also, unlike at Yucca, machines could handle all the tunnel work, says Richard: “We’re cheaper because we remove a lot less dirt and don’t put people underground.”
The elder Muller first made his name dealing with radiation much farther away. As a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Richard did that pioneering research on dark energy and cosmic radiation, including work on projects that eventually earned Nobel Prizes. After he and Elizabeth co-founded Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that measures global temperature and climate change, he went from being one of the most prominent global warming doubters to one of the loudest voices confirming that climate change is real and caused by humans.
…….. Before the Mullers can drill any holes in shale, they have massive challenges to overcome. Stanford’s Ewing says Deep Isolation will likely struggle to persuade dozens of communities to accept having a long-term nuclear waste site nearby and to persuade the government to let commercial companies tackle the problem.  The two have drafted federal legislation that could lead to private nuclear waste disposal. “The government might allow this,” says Allison Macfarlane, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “The real question is whether such a small startup company would have the resources to go through the licensing over such a long time period.”……..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-20/this-father-daughter-team-says-it-has-a-cheaper-safer-way-to-bury-nuclear-waste

March 21, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Over 15 miles of piping at former uranium enrichment facility to be monitored by robots

Pipe-crawling robot will help decommission DOE nuclear facility, Radiation-measuring robots go where humans cannot Science Daily 

Date:
March 20, 2018
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
A pair of autonomous robots will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the US Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls.

A pair of autonomous robots developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute will soon be driving through miles of pipes at the U.S. Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, to identify uranium deposits on pipe walls.

The CMU robot has demonstrated it can measure radiation levels more accurately from inside the pipe than is possible with external techniques. In addition to savings in labor costs, its use significantly reduces hazards to workers who otherwise must perform external measurements by hand, garbed in protective gear and using lifts or scaffolding to reach elevated pipes.

DOE officials estimate the robots could save tens of millions of dollars in completing the characterization of uranium deposits at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, and save perhaps $50 million at a similar uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky.

…….. Shuttered since 2000, the plant began operations in 1954 and produced enriched uranium, including weapons-grade uranium. With 10.6 million square feet of floor space, it is DOE’s largest facility under roof, with three large buildings containing enrichment process equipment that span the size of 158 football fields. The process buildings contain more than 75 miles of process pipe.Finding the uranium deposits, necessary before DOE decontaminates, decommissions and demolishes the facility, is a herculean task. In the first process building, human crews over the past three years have performed more than 1.4 million measurements of process piping and components manually and are close to declaring the building “cold and dark.”

“With more than 15 miles of piping to be characterized in the next process building, there is a need to seek a smarter method,” said Rodrigo V. Rimando, Jr., director of technology development for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management……….https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180320084315.htm

March 21, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Japanese Court sides with power company over Oma nuclear plant

Court sides with power company over Oma nuclear plant http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803190056.html, By KAZUKI NUNOTA/ Staff Writer, March 19, 2018   HAKODATE, Hokkaido–A court in northern Japan on March 19 dismissed a lawsuit to halt construction of a nuclear power plant in Aomori Prefecture on grounds there was no realistic possibility of a serious accident occurring.

Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power) is overseeing construction of the Oma nuclear plant in Oma, across the sea from Hakodate.

The facility is undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority to ensure it meets new safety standards imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Presiding Judge Chikako Asaoka at the Hakodate District Court said in her ruling, “At the moment, it is difficult to readily recognize the tangible danger of a grave accident likely to occur at the plant.”

The lawsuit focused on whether an active seismic fault existed in the seabed near the construction site, the dangers posed by the possibility of volcanic eruptions in the area and concerns about using only mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, consisting of plutonium and uranium, as nuclear fuel.

The suit was filed in July 2010 by a group of 1,000 or so plaintiffs.

March 21, 2018 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment