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Grave danger in hasty methods of closing down North Korea’s nuclear test site

Telegraph 11th May 2018 , Closing down North Korea’s nuclear test site at Punggye-ri is going to be
more complicated and fraught with risk than has previously been suggested, with analysts suggesting that acting in haste for short-term political gain might lead to an environmental crisis.

One suggestion is to use explosives to seal the entrances to the three tunnels that have been drilled into the
mountain, although the concern is that further detonations at the already weakened site could lead to a collapse of internal spaces and the release of massive amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

Given the danger, the alternative is to bury the entire site in a mixture of lime and sand.

The drawback with this approach is that it would take a long time to completely seal the site, erosion would eventually uncover the site once again and foreign experts would be required to be on-site for an extended
period of time, which the North Korean authorities may object to.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/11/north-korean-nuclear-test-site-closure-raises-fears-environmental/

May 12, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Japan’s planned Olympics torch relay route found to have high levels of radiation

the proposed torch route samples had the highest mean radioactivity due to their close proximity to the plant. Based on the measurement, we estimated qualitatively that the radiation exposure of people living near the Azuma Sports Park area was 20.7 times higher than that of people living in Tokyo. The main tourist and proposed torch routes had radiation exposure of 24.6 and 60.6 times higher, respectively, than in Tokyo.

our results showed that the highest radioactivity level was at the proposed torch route, which is located to the northeast of the plant.

Olympic officials should consider using the results of this project to decide whether the radioactivity level at the proposed torch route and the Olympic venues are within acceptable level.

Measuring Radioactivity in Soil and Dust Samples from Japan   Fukushima IQP Final Report. An Interactive Qualifying Project Report Submitted to the Faculty of the Worcester Polytechnic Instituteby Thang Pham Steven Franca Son Nguyen

Abstract

A radioactivity map of Cesium-137, a radioactive material emitted from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, was created by examining 30 soil and dust samples originating from Japan. A Sodium Iodide (NaI) detector measured gamma rays emitted from the samples. Qualitative evaluation of human exposure to radio-cesium in five sets of locations in Japan shows the radioactivity of tested samples. The Fukushima section of one of the Olympic proposed torch route has a 60 times higher activity of Cesium-137 than the activity of the samples from Tokyo.

Acknowledgements…….

Executive Summary

Overview

On March 11th, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan (AESJ, 2015, p.19). This resulted in major structural damage to the surrounding area. Following the earthquake, a 13-meter tsunami hit the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and disabled the backup the diesel backup power generator and the cooling water pumps needed to keep the Power Plant running in the event of a disaster. Since power restoration was unsuccessful and there was major structural damage caused to the Units by the tsunami, there were high concentrations of nuclear particles released into the air.

The amount of radioactive materials emitted from the Power Plant raised health and environmental concerns to the people living in the areas around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. In fact, several studies conducted after the accident determined the activity of radioactive isotopes in the environments. These studies around Fukushima provided excellent understanding of the activity of radioactive isotopes in the environment and the health effects on humans.

 With the upcoming XXXII Olympiad in 2020 hosted by Japan, it is necessary to look into the radioactivity of Olympic venues as well as tourist attractions in the host cities. Previous studies pose a major gap because they focused on regions that are closer to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where the highest concentration of radioactive fallout is located. On the other hand, the radioactivity in other locations in Japan is relatively less studied. Since thousands of athletes and millions of visitors are travelling to Japan for the Olympics, there has been widespread concern from the international community about radiation exposure. Therefore, it is important to investigate the extent of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi incident.

Project goals and Objectives

The goals of the project were to measure the radioactivity of Cesium-137 in soil and dust samples from Japan and to generate a map that illustrates the activity of Cesium-137 in five locations in Japan.Understanding the radioactivity in Japan soil would help in giving an estimation of human exposure to radioactivity in the studied areas. The primary objectives of this project were to:

  • Perform soil sample preparation for measurement, including categorizing, drying and sub-sampling
  • Measure the activity of Cesium-137 in the samples and analyze the radioactivity at different locations in Japan.
  • Generate a map to illustrate the radioactivity level in Japan soil.
  • Estimate qualitatively human exposure to radioactivity for people living in the studied areas.

Development of methodology

 The employment of various study methods and experiment designs helped complete the objectives. Through literature review and discussion with advisors and lab instructors, we were able to develop main steps and setting for our study.

Primarily, we performed preparation for 87 soil and dust samples collected in Japan and transferred to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The samples were classified into five categories based on their original location: Tokyo samples, Azuma Sports Park samples, proposed torch route samples, tourist route samples and non-Olympic samples. All the samples were dried and sub-sampled so that their physical conditions were consistent throughout the testing phase. From the 87 samples that are dried and sub-sampled, we eventually further narrowed to 30 samples for radioactivity measurement.

Previous studies on radioactive nuclides accumulation in soil and dust samples from Japan identified that Cesium-137 had the highest concentration among radionuclides in Japan soil (Saito et al., 2015). Therefore, we set our goal to measure the activity of Cesium-137 in the samples from Japan. A thallium-activated sodium iodine detector, or NaI (TI) detector, measured the concentration of Cesium-137 in the soil samples. The calibrating sources used for Cesium137 measurement were Cesium-137, Sodium-22 and Manganese-54. The experiment reported the radioactivity of the background and the radioactivity of Cesium-137 in the samples above the background. Measurements were made in triplicate to provide counting variability statistics.

At the beginning of the project, samples were selected randomly for measurement. Our focus then shifted, as we looked deeper into the four main areas that will be important to the XXXII Olympiad in 2020. These Olympic areas included Azuma Sports Park, tourist attractions in Tokyo, a proposed torch route, and official designated tourist routes. Time constraint and large amount of samples, limited testing which resulted in results on only a limited part of each sample set.

After finishing measuring, the radioactivity of the soil and dust samples helped generate a map that shows the activity of Cesium-137 in Japan soil. Since there was a large variation in the measured activity between samples at different locations, we decided to analyze the results based on the samples’ original locations.

 Our results were cross-referenced with information and results gathered from literature reviews. Understanding the activity of Cesium-137 in Japan soil, we were able to give a qualitative estimation of human exposure.

Results and Analysis

 By the end of the project, we were able to measure the activity of Cesium-137 in 30 soil and dust samples. The results showed a great variation in radioactivity between samples from different locations. The activity of Cesium-137 in the 30 samples ranged from 38.6 Bq/kg to 28041.5 Bq/kg with the mean radioactivity of 4903.3 Bq/kg (standard deviation, σ= 6611.0 Bq/kg).

Among the five categories of locations, the Tokyo sample set had the lowest radioactivity mean of 117.6 Bq/kg. The following locations are ordered by increasing mean of radioactivity: Azuma Sports Park samples (2703.9 Bq/kg), main tourist routes samples (3206.0 Bq/kg) and proposed torch route samples (7896.0 Bq/kg). Only one of the non-Olympic samples, which originates from the Entrance to Fukushima Dai-ichi waste mounds, had a radioactivity of 14119.8 Bq/kg. Due to this outlier, this sample set was omitted from the other sets.

The measured results showed that the Tokyo sample set had the lowest radioactivity level, which was understandable based on its significant distance from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. On the contrary, the proposed torch route samples had the highest mean radioactivity due to their close proximity to the plant. Based on the measurement, we estimated qualitatively that the radiation exposure of people living near the Azuma Sports Park area was 20.7 times higher than that of people living in Tokyo. The main tourist and proposed torch routes had radiation exposure of 24.6 and 60.6 times higher, respectively, than in Tokyo.

The results in this study were in agreement with published results qualitatively. Saito et al. reported a much higher deposition of Cesium-137 in the area to the northeast of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and the further away from the plant, the lower the deposition of Cesium-137 (2015). Accordingly, our results showed that the highest radioactivity level was at the proposed torch route, which is located to the northeast of the plant. The further away from the plant for example, in Tokyo and the Azuma Sports Park, the lower the activity of Cesium137. However, because of the differences in sampling techniques and reported unit of radioactivity, there could not be an established direct comparison.

Recommendations

Given the aforementioned results, there is significant evidence through our testing, that there are still high amounts of radiation in areas close to the Fukushima Prefecture. Past and current tests found that high amounts of radiation remain at the origin of the disaster. The results showed a significantly higher amount of radioactive materials in the proposed torch route compared to those in Tokyo.

 Given the results from testing, we confidently make the following recommendations:

  1. Further study on the activity of Cesium-137 on the proposed torch route is necessary to understand how much radioactive materials remain.
  2. A more detailed study with more soil and dust samples can give a more accurate map of specific areas of interest.
  3. Olympic officials should consider using the results of this project to decide whether the radioactivity level at the proposed torch route and the Olympic venues are within acceptable level. 4. Qualified health professionals should use this data to make connections about short and long-term effects on health.

Authorship……….

Table of Contents…….   47 pages   Very well supplied with references, diagrams, maps, … https://web.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-031418-011249/unrestricted/Fukushima_IQP_Final_Report.pdf

May 12, 2018 Posted by | environment, radiation | Leave a comment

¥1.13 trillion of taxpayers’ money later, Japan’s Monju nuclear reprocessing reactor a spectacular failure

Monju reactor project failed to pay off after swallowing ¥1.13 trillion of taxpayers’ money: auditors https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/05/11/national/monju-reactor-project-failed-pay-off-swallowing-%C2%A51-13-trillion-taxpayers-money-auditors/#.WvZw_u-FPGg

The Monju fast-breeder reactor experiment yielded few sufficient results despite an investment of at least ¥1.13 trillion ($10.3 billion) worth of taxpayers money since 1994, state auditors confirmed on Friday.

The trouble-plagued prototype, which only ran for 250 days, was designed to play a key role in Japan’s quest to set up a nuclear fuel recycling program, but the project only achieved 16 percent of the intended results, the Board of Audit said.

The government finally decided to scrap Monju in December 2016 at an estimated additional cost of ¥375 billion. But the audit board noted that the 30-year decommissioning plan could cost even more.

The reactor, which started operations in 1994, was designed to produce more plutonium than it consumes while generating electricity, experienced several problems over its more than two-decade run, including a sodium coolant leak and attempted cover-up, and equipment inspection failures.

“Flawed maintenance led to the decommissioning,” the auditors concluded in their report.

But the report also spotlights the absence of a systematic evaluation system for the project. During the entire experiment, the auditors expressed their opinions on Monju’s research and development costs only once — in 2011.

Monju was only up and running for 250 days in total after repeatedly failing to complete test items, according to the report.

As for the decommissioning costs, the report said they might expand because the current estimate does not include personnel costs and taxes. It also noted that the cost of removing the radioactive sodium coolant could change.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Japan, Reference, reprocessing | Leave a comment

UK government understating their costs for Wylfa nuclear plant, combined with costs for Hinkley Pt C – over £40 billion

Dave Toke’s Blog 10th May 2018, A fake price for the faltering proposed Wylfa nuclear plant will obscure
the fact that the project, backed by Hitachi, will be even more expensive than Hinkley C. Negotiators for the Wylfa project are clamouring for the Government to use taxpayers money and a commitment to pay at least some of
the risks of construction cost overruns to massage the price of the deal down compared to Hinkley Point C.

If this is done, then the combined support for Hinkley C and Wylfa projects through loan guarantees, equity
support and risk underwriting could rival the size of bill the UK has to pay the EU for Brexit.

But a carefully contrived fake price produced by giving a massive taxpayer funded handout to the project will obscure this terrible consequence. Hinkley Point C (HPC), scheduled to be built by EDF, is now said to cost around £20 billion, almost exactly the same as the cost of the Hitachi-led Wylfa project.

In fact both of these figures do not appear to include interest charges, and so will be underestimates of the
total mount of money needed to be paid out before the plant is even built. But the interesting thing is that whilst the Hinkley C project is 3.2GW, the Wylfa project is smaller, at around 2.9 GW, which actually makes the Hitachi project even more expensive!
http://realfeed-intariffs.blogspot.co.uk/2018/05/hitachis-wylfa-project-is-even-more.html

May 12, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

British government to provide $18.2 billion for Hitachi to build Wylfa nuclear power station

Nikkei Asian Review 11th May 2018 The British government has proposed to arrange all 2 trillion yen ($18.2
billion) in lending that Hitachi says is needed to build a nuclear power
plant in Wales, as the Japanese side seeks to reduce its risk and encourage
the U.K. to put more skin in the game.

London had previously suggested that it guarantee 1 trillion yen in lending, but to get the project moving it
changed its offer to include approaches such as direct financing in order
to reduce Hitachi’s financial exposure.

The plan also calls for a totalinvestment of 900 billion yen, with Hitachi as well as Japanese and British
public-private interests each taking a one-third stake, and guarantees for
corporate loans. The total cost of the plant, to be built on the Isle of
Anglesey, is expected to swell to 3 trillion yen.

Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi met with Prime Minister Theresa May in London last Thursday to
ask for greater backing. The original plan called for the loans to be
provided by private lending institutions from both countries and guaranteed
equally by each government. State funding would come at a lower cost than
borrowing from private institutions and would demonstrate the U.K.’s
increased involvement as a backer of Hitachi’s nuclear power business,
which would ease raising funds and help secure investors.

The offer reflects the U.K.’s strong desire to proceed with the project, since
bankruptcy could place a burden on British taxpayers. The U.K. government
will submit a formal proposal to the Japanese side soon. Hitachi will then
make a final decision on whether to continue with the project at a board
meeting at the end of the month.

Some at Hitachi and in Tokyo have expressed concern about Japanese interests retaining leadership of the
project with two-thirds control. Hitachi and the U.K. are thought to be
discussing ways to prevent Hitachi’s exposure risk from rising, such as by
raising London’s stake or issuing dual class shares. But the British
Parliament is likely to oppose expanding the government’s stake, which
could throw a wrench in the project’s final shareholding structure or
allocation of costs. Hitachi is also requesting that the electricity’s
purchase price be raised, but the U.K. is opposed. It hopes to satisfy
Hitachi by covering all loans and raising its stake in the project.
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Business-Deals/London-offers-18bn-in-loans-for-Hitachi-s-UK-nuclear-plant

May 12, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

A maritime catastrophe waiting to happen – Russia’s Floating Nuclear Power Plant in the Arctic

Reasons Why a Floating Nuclear Power Plant in the Arctic is a Terrible Idea    http://www.maritimeherald.com/2018/reasons-why-a-floating-nuclear-power-plant-in-the-arctic-is-a-terrible-idea/, BY SVILEN PETROV,  -11 May 18,  This enormous monstrosity is the first floating nuclear power plant built in the world. And now it’s heading to the Arctic. No, it’s not a joke or science fiction, it’s really happening.

 

Rosatom, Russia’s state-controlled nuclear giant, has just launched the Akademik Lomonosov, the first of a fleet of floating nuclear power plants that Russia plans to build and sell to other countries such as China, Indonesia and Sudan. It is currently being towed across the Baltic Sea, where it will travel all of Scandinavia to Murmansk, to be supplied and tested, before departing on a 5,000 kilometre trip through the Arctic.

We already know the risks of drilling for oil in such a fragile and wild environment as the Arctic, but a nuclear reactor floating in its waters could aggravate things much more. This is why:

  1. It is a matter of time that a catastrophe occurs

Rosatom has said that the plant “is designed with a large margin of safety that exceeds all possible threats and makes nuclear reactors indestructible in the face of tsunamis and other natural disasters.” Remember what happened the last time they said a boat was “unsinkable”?

Nothing is indestructible. The problem is that this nuclear Titanic has been built without independent experts to verify it. The same lack of supervision that there was in Chernobyl.

The flat bottom hull of this plant makes it especially vulnerable to tsunamis and cyclones. A large wave could launch the station to the coast. Also, he can not move alone either. If you release moorings, you can not move away from a threat (such as an iceberg or a strange vessel, for example) increasing the risk of a fatal incident. A collision shock would damage your vital functions, causing a loss of power and damaging your cooling function.

  1. Imagine how difficult it would be to deal with the consequences

There are so many things that could go wrong here: it could flood, sink or run aground. All of these scenarios could lead to the release of radioactive substances into the environment.

In case of a collapse, the ocean water would cool the core. It may seem like a good idea, but when the fuel rods are melted with seawater, there would first be a water explosion and possible explosions of hydrogen that would propagate a large number of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere.

Damage to the reactor could contaminate much of the marine wildlife that is nearby, which means that fish populations could be contaminated in the coming years. The radioactive Arctic is not the most beautiful scenario. The areas around Fukushima and Chernobyl are already difficult to clean, imagine in the polar night, with sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms.

  1. The terrible trajectory of nuclear ships, icebreakers and Russian submarines

In Russia, there is a very long list of accidents with nuclear submarines and icebreakers.

The first nuclear icebreaker, Lenin, suffered a cooling accident in 1965, which caused a partial melting of the nucleus, which ended up pouring into the Tsivolki Bay near the Novaya Zemyla archipelago in 1967. In 1970, the reactor of a nuclear submarine ( K-320) was launched at the Krasnoye Sormovo pier in Russia, releasing large amounts of radiation and exposing hundreds of people. An accident during the fuel loading of a nuclear submarine reactor in Chazma in 1985 irradiated 290 workers, causing 10 deaths and 49 injured people. And the list goes on …

Rosatom’s plans to build a fleet of floating nuclear power plants pose an increased risk of unprecedented nuclear accidents in the Arctic.

  1. A nuclear dump in the water

We already have enough radioactive waste without knowing what to do with them. We do not need more.

The reactors of this plant are smaller than those found in a nuclear power plant on land and will need to be refuelled every two or three years. The radioactive waste will be stored on board until it returns after the designated 12 years of operation. That means radioactive waste will be left floating in the Arctic for years.

This is not only incredibly dangerous, but there is still no safe place to transport the fuel used once you step on firm ground. No source of energy must generate waste that takes thousands of years to be safe.

  1. Is using nuclear energy to facilitate the extraction of more fossil fuels

If this floating nightmare were not already absurd enough, the reason they are towing it to the Arctic is to help Russia extract more fossil fuels. Its main mission is to provide electricity to the northern oil, gas, coal and mineral extraction industries.

And it is not necessary to repeat the reasons why more fossil fuels are synonymous with more climate change. We only have to protect the Arctic from this potential catastrophe.

Responsible for the anti-nuclear campaign of Greenpeace Spain, Source: El Independiente

May 12, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

USA National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plan for unnecessary production of plutonium pits

What’s Not in NNSA’s Plutonium Pit Production Decision,  Santa Fe, NM –May 10, 2018 Contact Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch NM, 505.989.7342, c. 505.470.3154, jay@nukewatch.org Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch NM, 505.989.7342, scott@nukewatch.org 

Today the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced: To achieve DoD’s [the Defense Department] 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This two-prong approach – with at least 50 pits per year produced at Savannah River and at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos – is the best way to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of such a vital undertaking.
 First, in Nuclear Watch’s view, this decision is in large part a political decision, designed to keep the congressional delegations of both New Mexico and South Carolina happy. New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are adamantly against relocating plutonium pit production to South Carolina. On the other hand, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham was keeping the boondoggle Mixed Oxide (MOX) program on life support, and this pit production decision may help to mollify him. This could also perhaps help assuage the State of South Carolina, which is suing the Department of Energy for failing to remove plutonium from the Savannah River Site as promised.
But as important is what is NOT in NNSA’s plutonium pit production decision:
: • There is no explanation why the Department of Defense requires at least 80 pits per year, and no justification to the American taxpayer why the enormous expense of expanded production is necessary.
 • NNSA avoided pointing out that expanded plutonium pit production is NOT needed to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. In fact, no production of plutonium pits for the existing stockpile has been scheduled since 2011, and none is scheduled for the future.
• NNSA did not mention that in 2006 independent experts found that pits last a least a century. Plutonium pits in the existing stockpile now average around 40 years old. The independent expert study did not find any end date for reliable pit lifetimes, indicating that plutonium pits could last far beyond just a century.
NNSA did not mention that up to 15,000 “excess” pits are already stored at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX, with up to another 5,000 in “strategic reserve.” The agency did not explain why new production is needed given that immense inventory of already existing plutonium pits.
• Related, NNSA did not explain how to dispose of all of that plutonium, given that the MOX program is an abysmal failure. Nor is it made clear where future plutonium wastes from expanded pit production will go since operations at the troubled Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are already constrained from a ruptured radioactive waste barrel, and its capacity is already overcommitted to existing radioactive wastes.
 • NNSA did not make clear that expanded plutonium pit production is for a series of speculative future “Interoperable Warheads.” The first IW is meant to replace nuclear warheads for both the Air Force’s land-based and the Navy’s sub-launched ballistic missiles. The Obama Administration delayed “IW-1” because the Navy does not support it. However, the Trump Administration is restarting it, with annual funding ballooning to $448 million by 2023, and “IW-2” starting in that same year. Altogether the three planned Interoperable Warheads will cost at least $40 billion, despite the fact that the Navy doesn’t support them. 1
 • NNSA’s expanded plutonium pit production decision did not mention that exact replicas of existing pits will NOT be produced. The agency has selected the W87 pit for the Interoperable Warhead, but its FY 2019 budget request repeatedly states that the pits will actually be “W87- like.” This could have serious potential consequences because any major modifications to plutonium pits cannot be full-scale tested, or alternatively could prompt the U.S. to return to nuclear weapons testing, which would have severe international proliferation consequences.
 • The State of South Carolina is already suing the Department of Energy for its failure to begin removing the many tons of plutonium at the Savannah River Site (SRS). NNSA’s pit production decision will not solve that problem, even as it will likely bring more plutonium to SRS. 
• The independent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has expressed strong concerns about the safety of plutonium operations at both the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) LANL and SRS, particularly regarding potential nuclear criticality incidents. 2 NNSA did not address those safety concerns in its plutonium pit production decision.
• Politicians in both New Mexico and South Carolina trumpet how many jobs expanded plutonium pit production will create. Yet NNSA’s expanded plutonium pit production decision does not have any solid data on jobs produced. One indicator that job creation will be limited is that the environmental impact statement for a canceled $6 billion plutonium facility at LANL stated that it would not produce a single new Lab job because it would merely relocate existing jobs. Concerning SRS, it is doubtful that pit production could fully replace the jobs lost as the MOX program dies a slow death. In any event, there certainly won’t be any data on the greater job creation that cleanup and renewable energy programs would create. Funding for those programs is being cut or held flat, in part to help pay for nuclear weapons programs.
• Finally, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that major federal proposals be subject to public review and comment before a formal decision is made. NNSA’s decision does not mention its NEPA obligations at all. In 1996 plutonium pit production was capped at 20 pits per year in a nation-wide Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). NNSA failed to raise that production limit in any subsequent NEPA process, despite repeated attempts. Arguably a decision to produce 80 pits or more per year requires a new or supplemental nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement to raise the production limit, which the new dual-site decision would strongly augment. This then should be followed by whatever site-specific NEPA documents might be necessary.

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch Director, commented, “NNSA has already tried four times to expand plutonium pit production, only to be defeated by citizen opposition and its own cost overruns and incompetence. But we realize that this fifth attempt is the most serious. However, we remain confident it too will fall apart, because of its enormous financial and environmental costs and the fact that expanded plutonium pit production is simply not needed for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. We think the American public will reject new-design nuclear weapons, which is what this expanded pit production decision is really all about.

” # # #

 1 See 2012 Navy memo demonstrating its lack of support for the Interoperable Warhead athttps://www.nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Navy-Memo-W87W88. 2 For example, see Safety concerns plague key sites proposed for nuclear bomb production, Patrick Malone, Center for Public Integrity, May 2, 2108,https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/05/02/safety-concerns-nuclear-bomb-manufacturesites/572697002/

May 12, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN climate talks suspended until September

BBC 10th May 2018 , UN talks have been officially suspended as countries failed to resolve
differences about implementing the Paris climate agreement. The
negotiations will resume in Bangkok in September where an extra week’s
meeting has now been scheduled . Delegates struggled with the complexity of
agreeing a rulebook for the Paris climate pact that will come into force in
2020. Rows between rich and poor re-emerged over finance and cutting
carbon. Overall progress at this meeting has been very slow, with some
countries such as China looking to re-negotiate aspects of the Paris deal.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44074352

May 12, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Trump Is Making the Middle East Less Safe

The Strategic Disaster of Leaving the Iran Deal, Trump Is Making the Middle East Less Safe, Foreign Affairs By  10 May 18 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK nuclear regulator prosecutes waste firm over worker exposed to radiation

Sellafield faces huge fine over worker’s exposure to radiation  Nuclear regulator prosecutes waste firm after injury leaves employee open to exposure https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/11/sellafield-faces-huge-fine-over-employees-exposure-to-radiation Adam Vaughan, 11 May 18

Britain’s biggest nuclear waste storage and reprocessing site is facing a potential multimillion-pound fine after an employee was exposed to dangerously high levels of radiation.

The nuclear regulator said its investigation had led it to prosecute Cumbria-based Sellafield Ltd, which handles the waste from the UK’s nuclear power stations as well as spent fuel from Japan and the US.

It is the first time in five years that the Office for Nuclear Regulation has prosecuted the company.

Last time, Sellafield was fined £700,000 for sending bags of radioactive waste to a landfill dump instead of a specialist facility.

Now, if the prosecution is successful, the firm is understood to be facing the prospect of a substantial fine, likely to be much larger because an individual was affected.

 The fine would be proportionate to the scale of the business, which has a £2bn-a-year turnover.

The case relates to an accident in February 2017, when a site employee was wounded while handling equipment, leaving him open to internal radiation exposure.

He was decontaminated afterwards, but an investigation found the individual may have been exposed to radiation up to three times the annual limit. The regulator is taking the firm to court over offences under the Health and Safety at Work act.

Both Sellafield and the ONR said they were unable to comment further for legal reasons.

The prosecution is due to begin at Workington magistrates court in Cumbria on 20 July.

Sellafield has been state-run since 2016, after MPs raised concerns over how much it was costing taxpayers under private ownership.

The facility is in the process of a major transformation from a reprocessor of nuclear waste, where it turns spent fuel from power stations into uranium that can be used again, to solely focusing on storage.

The site’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp) ceases operations in November this year, and will then be dismantled. Sellafield’s Magnox reprocessing plant, which handles waste from Britain’s early nuclear power stations, is scheduled to close in 2020.

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Los Alamos National Laboratory will share production of plutonium pits with the Savannah River Site in South Carolina

NNSA announces decision on pit production, L A Monitor, May 11, 2018,  Los Alamos National Laboratory will share production of plutonium pits with the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Nuclear Weapons Council and National Nuclear Security Administration announced Thursday.

LANL will maintain production of 30 plutonium pits per year, while the Savannah River Site will produce 50 pits per year.

“To achieve DoD’s 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico,” according to Thursday’s release.

……. Plutonium pits are the size of a softball and are used as trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons…..

The NNSA was given a mandate by Congress to manufacture 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 as part of a nuclear weapons modernization plan. The NNSA has been studying which site would best be able to accommodate the manufacture of plutonium pits. ……
Nuclear Watch New Mexico criticized the decision as purely political.

“First, in Nuclear Watch’s view, this decision is in large part a political decision, designed to keep the congressional delegations of both New Mexico and South Carolina happy,” said Nuclear Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan. “New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are adamantly against relocating plutonium pit production to South Carolina. On the other hand, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham was keeping the boondoggle Mixed Oxide (MOX) program on life support, and this pit production decision may help to mollify him.

Coghlan said he believes the split plan will ultimately fail.

“NNSA has already tried four times to expand plutonium pit production, only to be defeated by citizen opposition and its own cost overruns and incompetence,” Coghlan said. “But we realize that this fifth attempt is the most serious.

“However, we remain confident it too will fall apart, because of its enormous financial and environmental costs and the fact that expanded plutonium pit production is simply not needed for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. We think the American public will reject new-design nuclear weapons, which is what this expanded pit production decision is really all about.”

Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, took a more pragmatic view. ……

“Pit production isn’t needed for decades, even for a large arsenal, but Congress has demanded it, so the bulk of the work will leave LANL. The R and D (research and development) work will stay behind. This transition is many years down the road. Pit production will always be difficult, expensive and dangerous wherever it’s done.”

A fact sheet about the decision can be found here.  http://www.lamonitor.com/content/nnsa-announces-decision-pit-production

May 12, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Taiwan closing nuclear power stations, investing heavily in wind energy

Offshore Wind Journal 10th May 2018 , Taiwan’s Government is making good on longstanding plans to close nuclear power plants and invest heavily in offshore wind energy. Late April 2018
saw the authorities in Taiwan announce the results of the first large-scale
auction for offshore wind in the country, a process that will eventually
see around 3.8 GW of capacity being built there.

This demonstrates theTaiwanese Government’s determination to follow-through and execute plans
announced earlier for the sector. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has
proposed to end the country’s dependence on nuclear power by 2025 while
sourcing 20% of Taiwan’s electricity from renewable sources – that is,
five times the level in 2015. That plan depends heavily on offshore wind,
for which the Taiwan Strait is seen as particularly well-suited.

Data provided by law firm Jones Day showed that in 2016, electricity generated
from renewable energy accounted for 4.8% of the aggregate produced
electricity and 9.4% of the aggregate installed capacity in Taiwan, so the
government’s strategy is certainly an ambitious one. In due course the
Taiwanese Government would like to have an energy mix of 50% natural gas,
30% coal and 20% renewable energy.
http://www.owjonline.com/news/view,taiwan-makes-good-on-plan-to-replace-nuclear-power-with-wind_51748.htm

May 12, 2018 Posted by | renewable, Taiwan | Leave a comment

UK: the environment will have less protection after Brexit

Times 11th May 2018 , The environment will have less protection after Brexit because the proposed
new green watchdog will lack the power to hold ministers to account,
conservation groups have said.

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, has
unveiled plans for a new independent statutory body to replace the role of
the European Commission in ensuring compliance with rules on reducing air
and water pollution and protecting wildlife in Britain.

An Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will be published in draft form this autumn
and will establish what the government described as a “world-leading body
to hold government to account for environmental outcomes”. However, unlike
the commission, which can take legal action against the government for
failing to observe environmental laws and impose fines, the new body may
only have the authority to issue advisory notices.

A Whitehall source said that Mr Gove wanted the body to have much stronger powers but that this had
been resisted by Philip Hammond, the chancellor, who is concerned that
tough enforcement of environmental rules could harm economic growth.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/gove-s-new-green-watchdog-will-leave-environment-unprotected-after-brexit-zflnfgv9h

May 12, 2018 Posted by | environment, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Chernobyl: History of a Nuclear Catastrophe

 

Guardian 9th May 2018 , Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy review – Europe nearly became uninhabitable. A compelling history of the 1986 disaster and its
aftermath presents Chernobyl as a terrifying emblem of the terminal decline
of the Soviet system. The turbine test that went catastrophically wrong was
not, he argues, a freak occurrence but a disaster waiting to happen. It had
deep roots in the party’s reckless obsession with production targets and
in the pliant nuclear industry’s alarming record of cutting corners to
cut costs.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/09/chernobyl-history-tragedy-serhii-plokhy-review-disaster-europe-soviet-system

May 12, 2018 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

A journey to the heart of the anti-nuclear resistance in Australia: Radioactive Exposure Tour 2018

NUCLEAR  MONITOR  – A PUBLICATION OF WORLD INFORMATION SERVICE ON ENERGY (WISE)   AND THE NUCLEAR INFORMATION & RESOURCE SERVICE (NIRS  Author: Ray Acheson ‒ Director, Reaching Critical Will, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom)   NM859.4719, May 2018 

Looking at a map of South Australia’s nuclear landscape, the land is scarred. Uranium mines and weapon test sites, coupled with indications of where the government is currently proposing to site nuclear waste dumps, leave their marks across the desert. But amidst the devastation these poisonous activities have left on the land and its people, there is fierce resistance and boundless hope.

Friends of the Earth Australia has been running Radioactive Exposure Tours for the past thirty years.Designed to bring people from around Australia to meet local activists at various nuclear sites, the Rad Tour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the land, the people, and the nuclear industry in the most up-front and personal way.

This year’s tour featured visits to uranium mines, bomb test legacy sites, and proposed radioactive waste dumps on Arabunna, Adnyamathanha, and Kokatha land in South Australia, and introduced urban-based activists to those directly confronting the nuclear industry out in country. It brought together about 30 people including campaigners from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Reaching Critical Will, environmental activists with Friends of the Earth Australia and other organisations, and interested students and others looking to learn about the land, the people, and the industries operating out in the desert.

The journey of ten days takes us to many places and introduces us to many people, but can be loosely grouped into three tragic themes: bombing, mining, and dumping.  Each of these aspects of the nuclear chain is stained with racism, militarism, and capitalism. Each represents a piece of a dirty, dangerous, but ultimately dying nuclear industry. And each has been and continues to be met with fierce resistance from local communities, including Traditional Owners of the land.

Testing the bomb   The first two days of the trip are spent driving from  Melbourne to Adelaide to Port Augusta. We pick up activists along the way, before finally heading out to the desert. Our first big stop on the Tour is a confrontation  with the atomic bomb. Continue reading

May 12, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment