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On anniversary of the nuclear bombing, UN chief and Nagasaki mayor warn on need for nuclear disarmament

U.N. chief offers a warning on anniversary of last nuclear attack, CBC News , 9 Aug 18, TOKYO — Nagasaki marked the anniversary of the world’s second atomic bombing Thursday with the United Nations chief and the city’s mayor urging global leaders to take concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the first United Nations chief to visit Nagasaki, said fears of nuclear war are still present 73 years after the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings and that the attacks should never be repeated.

He raised concerns about slowing efforts to denuclearize, saying existing nuclear states are modernizing their arsenals.

“Disarmament processes have slowed and even come to a halt,” Guterres told the audience at the Nagasaki peace park. “Here in Nagasaki, I call on all countries to commit to nuclear disarmament and to start making visible progress as a matter of urgency.” Guterres added that nuclear weapons states should take the lead. “Let us all commit to making Nagasaki the last place on Earth to suffer nuclear devastation,” he said.

More than 5,000 citizens, including Nagasaki atom bomb survivors, and representatives of about 70 countries remembered the victims as they observed a minute of silence at 11:02 a.m., the moment the plutonium bomb Fatman hit the city……..

Guterres said the peace and nuclear disarmament movement started by survivors of the atomic bombings has spread around the world but frustration over the slow progress led to last year’s adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Japan, despite being the only country in the world to have suffered nuclear attacks, has not signed the treaty because of its sensitive position as an American ally protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella…….


August 10, 2018 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change threats to coastal nuclear power plants

What are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats ? As shorelines creep inland and storms worsen, nuclear reactors around the world face new challenges. ENSIA, John Vidal @john_vidal, Environment editor   August 8, 2018 — The outer defensive wall of what is expected to be the world’s most expensive nuclear power station is taking shape on the shoreline of the choppy gray waters of the Bristol Channel in western England.

By the time the US$25 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear station is finished, possibly in 2028, the concrete seawall will be 12.5 meters (41 feet) high, 900 meters (3,000 feet) long and durable enough, the UK regulator and French engineers say, to withstand the strongest storm surge, the greatest tsunami and the highest sea-level rise.

But will it? Independent nuclear consultant Pete Roche, a former adviser to the UK government and Greenpeace, points out that the tidal range along this stretch of coast is one of the highest in the world, and that erosion is heavy. Indeed, observers reported serious flooding on the site in 1981 when an earlier nuclear power station had to be shut down for a week. following a spring tide and a storm surge. However well built, says Roche, the new seawall does not adequately take into account sea-level rise due to climate change.

“The wall is strong, but the plans were drawn up in 2012, before the increasing volume of melting of the Greenland ice cap was properly understood and when most experts thought there was no net melting in the Antarctic,” he says. “Now estimates of sea level rise in the next 50 years have gone up from less than 30 centimeters to more than a meter, well within the operating lifespan of Hinkley Point C — let alone in 100 years time when the reactors are finally decommissioned or the even longer period when spent nuclear fuel is likely to be stored on site.”

In fact, research by Ensia suggests that at least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges.

Some efforts are underway to prepare for increased flooding risk in the future. But a number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.

The Problem With Flooding

Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. Flooding at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan as a result of the March 2011 tsunami caused severe damage to several of the plant’s reactors and only narrowly avoided a catastrophic release of radioactivity that could have forced the evacuation of 50 million people.

The interactive map above from Carbon Brief shows the location of nuclear power plants around the world. According to mapsprepared by the World Association of Nuclear Operators(WANO), around one in four of the world’s 460 working commercial nuclear reactors are situated on coastlines. Many were built only 10–20 meters (30–70 feet) above sea level at a time when climate change was barely considered a threat.

In the U.S., where nine nuclear plants are within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of the ocean and four reactors have been identified by Stanford academics as vulnerable to storm surges and sea-level rise, flooding is common, says David Lochbaum, a former nuclear engineer and director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Lochbaum says over 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. “The most likely [cause of flooding] is the increasing frequency of extreme events,” he says.

………. The most comprehensive research yet conducted also shows sea-level rises are accelerating as ice caps melt. Such is the speed of ice melt observed since 2007 that even the 2013 IPCC estimates of sea-level rise are thought to be outdated.

…….. Threats From Storms

On top of sea-level rise, the added impact of flooding from storm surges must be considered as well, scientists say. Since 1970, the magnitude and frequency of extreme sea levels (ESLs, a factor of mean sea level, tide and storm-induced increases), which can cause catastrophic flooding, have increased throughout the world, according to the Global Extreme Sea Level Analysisproject. New satellite studies by the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and other leading scientific institutions all show mean sea level rising and magnifying the frequency and severity of ESLs……….

August 10, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 3 Comments

Strange thought processes that resulted in the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki

The Nagasaki bombing mission: excused by “just NOT following orders”    The thought process that never happened on August 9, 1945:

“Well, let’s see here. The reserve fuel tank pump was broken before take-off, and we knew it, so we were supposed to call off the mission then. Next, we failed to rendezvous over Yakushima with one of the crucial planes in the mission. At the primary target of Kokura we encountered cloud cover and flak. Now we are so dangerously low on fuel that there’s a good chance we’re going to lose the bomb and our lives by ditching in the Pacific. If we carry out the mission at the secondary target, and survive, there’s a good chance we’ll be court-martialed for not following orders to abort the mission if troubles like these arose. Hmmm. Let’s just spare Nagasaki, get back to base safely, and hope this war is over soon before we have to drop the second bomb.”

Unfortunately, the commanding officers of Bockscar, the plane that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, were eager to not look like failures after the “success” of the Enola Gay over Hiroshima three days earlier. The full story is told in the article “The harrowing story of the Nagasaki bombing mission“ (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, August 4, 2015). After encountering the many troubles listed above, the plane went to the secondary target, Nagasaki, and the pilot determined to drop the bomb by radar through the cloud cover, against specific orders to drop it only with a clear view of the target. “Fortunately,” there was an opening in the clouds over the Urakami district, which was not the intended target over the center of the city. They hastily decided to drop the bomb there, then headed toward Okinawa for an emergency landing. They approached Okinawa with empty fuel tanks, expecting they would have to ditch in the ocean and die. The crew was literally willing to die rather than return as “failures” compared to their colleagues who had flown on the Enola Gay. In this regard, they were much like the fictional Major T.J. King Kong in Dr. Strangelove who carried out a suicide mission in order to start WWIII.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | history, Japan, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Would closing old and uncompetitive nuclear power plants really harm the United States?

The ‘Threat’ of Nuclear Power Plant Closures, Would closing old and uncompetitive nuclear power plants really harm the United States? Victor Gilinsky Henry Sokolski

For years, the nuclear industry insisted that civilian nuclear power had nothing to do with weapons programs. That was then. Now, in a desperate attempt to keep no-longer-competitive nuclear plants from being shuttered, the industry claims there really has been a connection all along, and electricity customers should pay a premium to keep it going. It is one claim too many.

In its latest public effort, the nuclear industry got several dozen retired generals and admirals, former State, Defense and Energy Department officials, three former chairmen of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a sprinkling of former senators, governors, industrialists and other worthies to sign a June 26, 2018, letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry attesting to the connection between U.S. nuclear power plants and national security. The letter urged him to weigh in with federal and state rate-setting bodies to raise customers’ electricity bills to keep U.S. nuclear plants from shutting down, however much that will cost.

The letter didn’t, of course, put it in such crass terms. It talks about taking “concrete steps” to ensure electricity markets valued the nuclear plants’ “national security attributes”— a vague enough formulation to ease getting signatories. Most of them, as one of the signers (former Virginia Senator John Warner) himself put it , “are not intimately familiar with the ins and outs of the financial side of the power grid.” They do, however, apparently believe that they see the big picture—”the national security attributes of nuclear power”—more clearly than the parochial federal and state officials who set electric rates.

But are they any clearer on nuclear power’s national-security attributes than they are on the financial side of the industry?

The letter talks about “robust” nuclear power plants offering “a level of protection against natural and adversarial threats.” Leaving aside that “a level of protection” doesn’t mean much, the implied claim is dubious. It’s not well known but nuclear plant safety is critically dependent on the reliability of the electrical grid to which it is connected. In severe natural situations (ice storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes), and even more so in adversarial ones, the transmission lines connecting nuclear plants to the electrical grid may fail or be destroyed. The earthquake that triggered the Fukushima accident first destroyed transmission towers and broke the link with the electrical grid. In these circumstances a nuclear plant must be shut down, as would any other electric generating plant. The difference, however, is that the nuclear plant becomes a serious liability because its safety cooling systems would have to operate indefinitely on its emergency diesel reserves—a highly undesirable state of affairs. There have been grid failures in the United States that have put several nuclear plants into emergency mode. In this context, it’s fair to ask whether nuclear plants increase the resilience of our electrical grid or burden it.

Another claim is that the Navy “benefits from a strong civil nuclear sector.” Maybe so. But in that event, as John Cochrane, an economist with the Hoover Institution, pointed out in connection with a similar appeal to subsidies, “If national security is at risk, let Defense ask for money.” The writers and signatories of the Perry letter know that nuclear power subsidies wouldn’t stand a chance set against the priorities of the Department of Defense. They know it would be an easier touch to stick the country’s ratepayers with the added bill. There is an element of insensitivity in this, as most of the ratepayers are in rather more difficult financial circumstances than the comfortably pensioned signatories. It has not occurred to them to ask that industry should earn less out of patriotism. But, of course, they didn’t write the letter.

“The nuclear industry is an important career destination for military veterans.” True, and retired Navy officers and seamen have had a useful effect on making plants run better and more safely. But should customers pay more on their bills to provide second careers to retired military and naval personnel at plants that are not needed?

The claim in the letter that deserves the most attention is the insidious argument that the United States needs to be a major exporter of nuclear technology in order to retain “influence over nonproliferation.” The worldwide spread of nuclear technology is, of course, what makes proliferation an urgent problem. The whole point of the body of the Perry letter is that there is a close connection between U.S. nuclear power and our nuclear weapons programs. Why should we think that this connection is not present in other countries? Wouldn’t that suggest sharing less, rather than more, of this technology?

Nuclear power has not succeeded in escaping its origin. It was born in the federal government, was suckled by the government, and has always relied on government support and protection. The industry preferred a system of federal regulation that gave the public essentially no say in the deployment of nuclear plants. It was an easy path for the industry to get its way, but only for a time. The crutch that seemed to make it unnecessary to react to public and market feedback also held back improvements. Now that nuclear plants are threatened with shutdowns, the industry can only think of more federal and state subsidies. In this latest effort, the industry wraps itself in the flag to urge Washington to find a way to stick ratepayers with the tab. It should be ignored.

Victor Gilinsky served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. He is program adviser for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Former NRC Chief Says San Onofre’s Nuclear Waste May Never Be Moved

San Onofre Beach as PERMANENT Nuclear Waste Dump, Wilder Utopia BY THE OUTPOST AUGUST 7, 2018 According to a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chief, the beach in front of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could become a permanent nuclear waste dump. Learn why Edison’s program of storing deadly nuclear waste on the beach is not a “temporary” plan. And cartoonist Jerry Collamer weighs in.

Former NRC Chief Says San Onofre’s Nuclear Waste May Never Be Moved

By Alison St John,  KPBS

A former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Southern California Edison should stop burying nuclear waste next to the beach at San Onofre.

Greg Jaczko was the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012 when Edison shut down San Onofre because of a radioactive leak. He said plans to move the waste elsewhere may never materialize.

Southern California Edison spokeswoman Maureen Brown said the company has now transferred more than 26 canisters, about one-third of the still highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel remaining in cooling ponds at San Onofre, into dry cask storage on site. The canisters are loaded with spent fuel rods, moved across the site and lowered into vertical casks set in concrete. Only the 74 concrete lids are visible, lined up right next to a seawall.

“According to our outer planetary research team, this was once a delightfully pleasant population of coastal inhabitants, living an upscale beach life when the BIG ONE hit, dislodging those highly radiated canisters, releasing their deadly radioactive contaminates into the air. As the ol’ saying goes, “the rest is history.” But, that was 2,000 years ago, making confirmation of the research impossible. Other rumors say the dinosaurs caused it.” – Divined by Jerry Collamer

At a community engagement meeting arranged by Edison, Chief Nuclear Officer Tom Palmisano said the plan is to move the nuclear waste elsewhere once it has cooled to safer, interim storage, possibly in Texas or New Mexico.

“Our commitment is to support any reasonable and safe way to move fuel out of San Onofre, whether it’s a permanent repository, one of these two projects, or something not yet on the horizon,” Palmisano said.

But Jaczko said don’t count on it.

“Because, quite frankly, once they get loaded, I don’t see them ever taking those canisters out of there,” Jaczko said. “Realistically, they are not going to move them out, so those permits will be extended, the operational period will be extended on indefinitely and you will have a de facto burial site there.”

The problem of what to do with nuclear waste is a national one because the federal government has not agreed on a long-term storage site, Jaczko said.

“There’s a tendency to want to make the problem go away, emotionally and mentally, and when you bury things, it’s easier mentally to not worry about them,” Jaczko said. “Very quickly, people came to this conclusion that the way you solve this problem is you find a place where you can bury and forget: it’s literally called ‘bury and forget.’ You bury the waste and you forget about it.”

Sea Level Rise

Tom English is a retired electrical engineer who has advised the U.S. government and industry on nuclear waste disposal. He lives in Carlsbad, 25 miles south of San Onofre. Moving spent fuel rods out of cooling ponds and into dry storage casks is a good idea, English said, but not if the bottom of those casks are just feet above mean high tide levels.

“If you are involved with high-level nuclear waste disposal, the first thing you think of is to keep it away from water, because the water allows the radionuclides to spread through the environment, causing all sorts of havoc, wrecking ecosystems, cancer, etc.,” English said.

……..State Lands Commission EIRNext week, the California State Lands Commission holds hearings in Oceanside on a Draft Environmental Impact Report on the decommissioning of San Onofre. The report will guide the state’s approval of future decommissioning activities at San Onofre. However, the report does not analyze the options of the already approved nuclear waste storage site, because, the draft report explains, “its operation is under the exclusive authority of the U.S. government.”

Edison plans to complete the transfer of the remaining spent fuel rods into dry casks by next year. Then the company hopes to dismantle the spent fuel pools and most of the remaining structures on the site. But not the spent fuel storage. That has a permit from the California Coastal Commission to remain until 2035.

“You have to recognize that this is not a short-term solution,” Jaczko said. “Whatever is going to be done with this spent fuel is probably what’s going to happen with this fuel for decades, if not centuries. So you have to think about this as a long-term solution.”

“I think the first thing they should do right now, is stop loading casks,” Jaczko said.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Canada’s  Nuclear Waste Management Organization is educating youth

NWMO introducing nuclear waste plan education to youth   Kincardine News, 9 Aug 18, With summer winding down, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is concluding a busy few months of activities engaging with area youth……. “We want to foster and support opportunities for young people in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss. Our local youth have a lot to offer, and as we engage with them as part of Canada’s plan we hope to strengthen the impact they will have on their communities.”…….

Youth engagement is a big priority for this multi-generational, infrastructure project. The NWMO has provided numerous investments in STEM Education Initiatives for youth at local schools and libraries. ……

Elementary and high schools in South Bruce and Huron-Kinloss were treated to an energy and nuclear power discussion with University of Calgary Professor Dr. Jason Donev, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) also made stops to talk about radiation and their role as Canada’s independent nuclear regulator.

Local youth have highlighted their desire to seek out information on social media, specifically on Instagram.

Already established on Facebook since October 2017, the NWMO recently launched on Instagram (follow @nwmocanada) with content highlighting its activities, and is working toward digital products that will help introduce Canada’s plan to the next generation.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Canada, Education | Leave a comment

Taxpayers could end up paying for longterm safety of nuclear wastes, closed down Plymouth nuclear power plant

Holtec and SNC-Lavalin presumably make money if the decommissioning can be done for less than $1 billion. What the public and the regulators need to watch now is how well it is done — no cutting corners, no substandard materials, no shoddy work. We need to know that the oceanfront site in Plymouth will be safe for generations to come with no health risk to people in Southeastern Massachusetts. If that isn’t the case when Holtec leaves, it is taxpayers who will have to pick up the tab to make things right. We don’t want that to happen.

OUR OPINION: Keep a watchful eye on decommissioning of Plymouth nuclear plant Metro West Daily News 9 Aug 18

First the good news: In 10 years, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth could be gone.

Now the bad news: Well, there really isn’t any, if everything goes exactly as planned and if someplace in New Mexico decides it wants to house some of the nation’s most incredibly dangerous nuclear leftovers.

Those are pretty big ifs, as is everything about decommissioning a nuclear power plant. And it is a very long shot that there won’t be 60 or so big tanks sitting upright on the plant site in 2028. They will be filled with rods containing the spent nuclear fuel that powered the plant. That spent fuel will be intensely radioactive for many thousands of years.

………. Entergy announced last week (Wednesday, Aug. 1) that it was selling Pilgrim to Holtec International of Florida. Holtec and a Canadian company, SNC-Lavalin Group of Montreal, had set up a joint venture company, Comprehensive Decommissioning International, to take on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Holtec and SNC-Lavalin are both substantial players in the fields of engineering, construction, manufacturing and project management, and have experience with nuclear operations. Entergy plans to shut down Pilgrim next June. It will then remove the last of the fuel rods before finalizing the sale to Holtec in 2020. The state and the federal government must approve the sale.

Under federal rules, the operators of the Pilgrim plant have set aside $1 billion over the life of the plant for decommissioning. As announced by Entergy, Holtec will get that billion dollars, the 1,500 acres and the operating license for the nuclear plant. Holtec and SNC-Lavalin get all the headaches that will come with decommissioning. None of the companies involved made public the financial terms of the sale. Holtec will end up owning the spent fuel rods.

Holtec and SNC-Lavalin could wait up to 60 years for radiation to decline before completing demolition and removal of the plant and equipment. The companies instead say they will employ new technologies for “accelerated decommissioning” and have everything gone in eight year. The goal is to make the land available for unrestricted use with the exception of any area needed for storage of the spent fuel. If all that happens on schedule, it will be very good news for Plymouth and surrounding communities and for the people downwind on Cape Cod who feel they would probably get most of the fallout if anything went seriously wrong.

Thousands of spent fuel rods, still highly radioactive and lethally dangerous, are stored at nuclear power plants throughout the country. There are roughly 140 million pounds of them stored in pools of water or in vertical tanks, called dry casks, made with tons of steel and concrete and liners of lead and other materials to absorb radiation. It will take 60 or so of these dry casks to store all the spent fuel from Pilgrim. The federal government long wanted to store spent fuel rods under a Nevada mountain. Opposition from that state, and questions about the geologic stability of the site, scuttled that plan. Holtec, which manufactures dry casks, is pushing for a license to operate a subterranean storage facility in New Mexico. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves, and New Mexico and local communities agree, spent fuel from Holtec projects would get priority at the site. All the spent fuel from Pilgrim could be gone to New Mexico in a decade, if that happens. Please don’t bet the farm, the ranch or the house on it.

……… Holtec and SNC-Lavalin presumably make money if the decommissioning can be done for less than $1 billion. What the public and the regulators need to watch now is how well it is done — no cutting corners, no substandard materials, no shoddy work. We need to know that the oceanfront site in Plymouth will be safe for generations to come with no health risk to people in Southeastern Massachusetts. If that isn’t the case when Holtec leaves, it is taxpayers who will have to pick up the tab to make things right. We don’t want that to happen.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

St Louis residents near radioactive wastes – high cancer risks – says Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

CBS News 7th Aug 2018 , The federal government confirms some people in the St. Louis area may have
a higher risk of getting cancer. A recent health report found some
residents who grew up in areas contaminated by radioactive waste decades
ago may have increased risk for bone and lung cancers, among other types of
the disease.

The assessment was conducted by the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. As CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports, the
situation is not unique to St. Louis because it’s connected to America’s
development of its nuclear weapons program decades ago. Radioactive wastes
persist in soils, and many believe that’s why they or a loved one developed
cancer. Now for the first time, federal health officials agree, on the
record, that’s a real possibility.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | health, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Biased and unreliable – UK’s ‘Expert Finance Working Group on Small Modular Reactors’

NFLA 8th Aug 2018 , The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) notes the report by the ‘Expert
Finance Working Group on Small Modular Reactors’ as another attempt to
promote the benefits of this technology despite large and quite possibly
insurmountable hurdles to cross.

The report was commissioned by the UK
Government to consider ways to provide market frameworks for the
development of small nuclear reactors to prosper. The Government suggests
it is an ‘independent’ group, yet at least half of the group have
strong links to the nuclear industry, including the Nuclear Industry
Association, the main UK supporter for such technology.

Over the past few
years, the UK Government has put forward the potential of small nuclear
reactors to be a part of a future ‘low carbon’ energy mix. The UK
appear to be one of the few governments pursuing such a strategy, as even
France and Finland, the only other countries in Europe currently developing
large nuclear projects, have no plans to develop such technology. Indeed
France has just commissioned a whole raft of new smaller-scale solar energy

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | 1 Comment

Public outcry makes TEPCO stop selling Fukushima nuclear power plant souvenirs

Tepco halts sales of souvenirs from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following public outcry. Japan Times, BY CHISATO TANAKA, STAFF WRITER, 9 Aug 18 

Tepco suspended the sale of souvenirs at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Wednesday — just eight days after launching the products — following public outcry that it was looking to profit from the 2011 disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. had been selling plastic file folders imprinted with pictures of the Nos. 1 to 4 units at the crisis-hit plant at two of the facility’s convenience stores since Aug. 1, after receiving requests for memorabilia from visitors and workers.

But the sales by the utility immediately drew criticism with many people posting angry comments on social media. One comment said Tepco was responsible for the disaster and “had no right to profit from” it, adding that the move was “arrogant and showed scant consideration for the disaster victims.” Others said the plant operator should at least donate the proceeds from the sales to local residents and charities……

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

New York environmentalists and state politicians want to opt out of nuclear subsidy program

Environmental groups, state politicians want to opt out of nuclear subsidy program, 

After U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry came to Oswego County last week to praise the state’s support of nuclear power plants, several environmental groups and New York politicians sent a letter to state leaders saying the opposite.

The idea of using public dollars to keep financially struggling nuclear power plants afloat because they don’t emit carbon dioxide was never popular among some environmental groups that consider the facilities dangerous and dirty because of the radiation and nuclear waste they create. So when the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) voted two years ago to bail them with about $8 billion in fees on consumer’s energy bills, they left the door open to a potential compromise.

Then-chair of the PSC Audrey Zibelman said they would look at letting customers opt into a program to buy 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources instead of paying into the system that supports the nuclear subsidies. Jessica Azulay with the Alliance for a Green Economy says it’s time for the state to make good on that promise.

“What this letter does that we filed with the governor and the chair of the Public Service Commission is to try to win the right for consumers to decide that they no longer want to pay this extra money toward nuclear energy and they want to instead adopt 100 percent renewable energy,” Azulay said. “We think that this is a really common sense approach – maybe a first step – in reversing the nuclear subsidies by allowing people to vote with their dollars and really create the pathway for renewable energy to accelerate in New York and phase out the nuclear reactors.”

To date, the nuclear subsidies have cost New York ratepayers about $650 million. A spokesperson for the PSC says the price would be even greater had the plants been allowed to shut down because they could have been replaced with fossil fuels that would have emitted carbon dioxide, setting back the state’s goals to lower carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030.


August 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors and their ability to produce nuclear weapons material

The half-lives of the protactinium isotopes work in the favor of potential proliferators. Because protactinium 232 decays faster than protactinium 233, the isotopic purity of protactinium 233 increases as time passes. If it is separated from its uranium decay products a second time, this protactinium will decay to equally pure uranium 233 over the next few months. With careful attention to the relevant radiochemistry, separation of protactinium from the uranium in spent thorium fuel has the potential to generate uranium 233 with very low concentrations of uranium 232—a product suitable for making nuclear weapons. 

Thorium power has a protactinium problem By Eva C. Uribe, August 6, 2018  In 1980, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) observed that protactinium, a chemical element generated in thorium reactors, could be separated and allowed to decay to isotopically pure uranium 233—suitable material for making nuclear weapons. The IAEA report, titled “Advanced Fuel Cycle and Reactor Concepts,” concluded that the proliferation resistance of thorium fuel cycles “would be equivalent to” the uranium/plutonium fuel cycles of conventional civilian nuclear reactors, assuming both included spent fuel reprocessing to isolate fissile material.

Decades later, the story changed. “Th[orium]-based fuels and fuel cycles have intrinsic proliferation resistance,” according to the IAEA in 2005. Mainstream media have repeated this view ever since, often without caveat. Several scholars have recognized the inherent proliferation risk of protactinium separations in the thorium fuel cycle, but the perception that thorium reactors cannot be used to make weapons persists. While technology has advanced, the fundamental radiochemistry that governs nuclear fuel reprocessing remains unchanged. Thus, this shift in perspective is puzzling and reflects a failure to recognize the importance of protactinium radiochemistry in thorium fuel cycles. 

Protactinium turns 100. The importance of protactinium chemistry for obtaining highly attractive fissile material from thorium has been recognized since the 1940s. However, the story really begins 100 years ago during the earliest research on natural radioactivity. In 1918, Austrian-Swedish physicist Lise Meitner and German chemist Otto Hahn were on a quest to discover the long-lived isotope of “eka-tantalum” predicted to lie between thorium and uranium in the periodic table. The isotope they sought would decay to actinium, which was always found with uranium but was known to be the parent of an unknown natural radioactive decay chain distinct from that of uranium 238, the most common isotope of uranium found in nature.

Meitner and Hahn discovered that treating pitchblende with nitric acid yielded an insoluble fraction of silica that associated with tantalum and eka-tantalum. After many years, they purified enough eka-tantalum for identification and measured its properties. As discoverers of eka-tantalum’s longest-lived isotope, Meitner and Hahn named this new element protactinium. They had isolated protactinium 231, a member of the uranium 235 decay chain. In 1938, they discovered that protactinium 233 could be produced by neutron irradiation of thorium 232, the most abundant isotope in naturally occurring thorium.

For the next several decades, protactinium was shrouded in “mystery and witchcraft” due to its scarcity in nature and its perplexing chemical properties. We now know that protactinium’s peculiar chemistry is due to its position in the periodic table, which lends the element vastly different chemical properties than its neighbors. Protactinium behaves so differently from thorium and uranium that, under many conditions, their separation is inevitable.
Scientists did not investigate the macroscopic chemistry of protactinium until the Manhattan Project. In 1942, Glenn T. Seaborg, John W. Gofman, and R. W. Stoughton discovered uranium 233 and observed its propensity to fission. Compared with naturally occurring uranium 235, uranium 233 has a lower critical mass, which means that less material can be used to build a weapon. And compared with weapons-grade plutonium 239, uranium 233 has a much lower spontaneous fission rate, enabling simpler weapons that are more easily constructed. A 1951 report by the Manhattan Project Technical Section describes extensive efforts devoted to the production of uranium 233 via neutron irradiation of thorium 232. Because the initial thorium feed material was often contaminated with natural uranium 238, the scientists obtained pure uranium 233 by using a variety of methods for separating the intermediate protactinium 233.

By this time, advances in technology and projections of uranium shortages stimulated interest in developing a breeder reactor, which produces more fissile material than it consumes. In the late 1960s, a team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory designed a Molten Salt Breeder Reactor fueled by thorium and uranium dissolved in fluoride salts, but it could only breed uranium 233 by continuously removing impurities—including protactinium 233—from the reactor core. To improve breeding ratios, the researchers investigated methodsfor removing protactinium from the molten fluoride salts.

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter banned commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, citing concerns with the proliferation of technology that could be used to make nuclear weapons. And with the high startup costs of developing new reactors, there would be no place for the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor in the energy market. With the end of research on thorium reactors came the end of ambitious research on protactinium separations. Over time, the role of protactinium in obtaining weaponizable uranium 233 from thorium was largely forgotten or dismissed by the thorium community.

Thorium reactors born again. Fast forward to 2018. Several nations have explored thorium power for their nuclear energy portfolios. Foremost among these is India. Plagued by perennial uranium shortages, but possessing abundant thorium resources, India is highly motivated to develop thorium reactors that can breed uranium 233. India now operates the only reactor fueled by uranium 233, the Kalpakkam Mini reactor (better known as KAMINI).

Thorium reactors have other potential advantages. They could produce fewer long-lived radioactive isotopes than conventional nuclear reactors, simplifying the disposal of nuclear waste. Molten salt reactors offer potential improvements in reactor safety. Additionally, there is the persistent perception that thorium reactors are intrinsically proliferation-resistant.

The uranium 233 produced in thorium reactors is contaminated with uranium 232, which is produced through several different neutron absorption pathways. Uranium 232 has a half-life of 68.9 years, and its daughter radionuclides emit intense, highly penetrating gamma rays that make the material difficult to handle. A person standing 0.5 meters from 5 kilograms of uranium 233 containing 500 parts per million of uranium 232, one year after it has been separated from the daughters of uranium 232, would receive a dose that exceeds the annual regulatory limits for radiological workers in less than an hour. Therefore, uranium 233 generated in thorium reactors is “self-protected,” as long as uranium 232 levels are high enough. However, the extent to which uranium 232 provides adequate protection against diversion of uranium 233 is debatable. Uranium 232 does not compromise the favorable fissile material properties of uranium 233, which is categorized as “highly attractive” even in the presence of high levels of uranium 232. Uranium 233 becomes even more attractive if uranium 232 can be decreased or eliminated altogether. This is where the chemistry of protactinium becomes important.

Protactinium in the thorium fuel cycle. There are three isotopes of protactinium produced when thorium 232 is irradiated. Protactinium 231, 232, and 233 are produced either through thermal or fast neutron absorption reactions with various thorium, protactinium, and uranium isotopes. Protactinium 231, 232, and 233 are intermediates in the reactions that eventually form uranium 232 and uranium 233. Protactinium 232 decays to uranium 232 with a half-life of 1.3 days. Protactinium 233 decays to uranium 233 with a half-life of 27 days. Protactinium 231 is a special case: It does not directly decay to uranium, but in the presence of neutrons it can absorb a neutron and become protactinium 232.

Neutron absorption reactions only occur in the presence of a neutron flux, inside or immediately surrounding the reactor core. Radioactive decay occurs whether or not neutrons are present. For irradiated thorium, the real concern lies in separating protactinium from uranium, which may already have significant levels of uranium 232. Production of protactinium 232 ceases as soon as protactinium is removed from the neutron flux, but protactinium 232 and 233 continue to decay to uranium 232 and 233, respectively.

The half-lives of the protactinium isotopes work in the favor of potential proliferators. Because protactinium 232 decays faster than protactinium 233, the isotopic purity of protactinium 233 increases as time passes. If it is separated from its uranium decay products a second time, this protactinium will decay to equally pure uranium 233 over the next few months. With careful attention to the relevant radiochemistry, separation of protactinium from the uranium in spent thorium fuel has the potential to generate uranium 233 with very low concentrations of uranium 232—a product suitable for making nuclear weapons.
Scenarios for proliferation. Although thorium is commonly associated with molten salt reactors, it can be used in any reactor. Several types of fuel cycles enable feasible, rapid reprocessing to extract protactinium. One is aqueous reprocessing of thorium oxide “blankets” irradiated outside the core of a heavy water reactor. Many heavy water reactors include on-power fueling, which means that irradiated thorium can be removed quickly and often, without shutting the reactor down. As very little fission would occur in the blanket material, its radioactivity would be lower than that of spent fuel from the core, and it could be reprocessed immediately.

Myriad possibilities exist for the aqueous separation of protactinium from thorium and uranium oxides, including the commonly proposed thorium uranium extraction (THOREX) process. Alternatively, once dissolved in acid, protactinium can simply be adsorbed onto glass or silica beads, exploiting the same chemical mechanism used by Meitner and Hahn to isolate protactinium from natural uranium a century ago.

Another scenario is continuous reprocessing of molten salt fuel to remove protactinium and uranium from thorium. Researchers at Oak Ridge explored the feasibility of online protactinium removal in the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor program. Uranium can then be separated from the protactinium in a second step.

Sensible safeguards. Protactinium separations provide a pathway for obtaining highly attractive weapons-grade uranium 233 from thorium fuel cycles. The difficulties of safeguarding commercial spent fuel reprocessing are significant for any type of fuel cycle, and thorium is no exception. Reprocessing creates unique safeguard challenges, particularly in India, which is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

There is little to be gained by calling thorium fuel cycles intrinsically proliferation-resistant. The best way to realize nuclear power from thorium fuel cycles is to acknowledge their unique proliferation vulnerabilities, and to adequately safeguard them against theft and misuse.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, thorium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Julian Assange was asked to testify before Senate, but he first needs immunity from prosecution

Assange should secure immunity before taking risk of testifying to Senate – whistleblower    Kiriakou

August 10, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, USA | 1 Comment

Unlimited exposure to costs by taxpayers and consumers, to UK’s new nuclear plans

Dave Toke’s Blog 7th Aug 2018 So finally the Government has, after I feared so long it would, chosen the
doomsday option to fund new nuclear power stations – one that will be
disastrous for the consumers and taxpayers.

After years of swearing that
they would not offer subsidies to nuclear power, and saying that in the
future the terrible drain of (historical) over-spending on nuclear power
would stop, the Government has gone back to square zero.

Essentially, under
the Government’s proposals for so-called ‘Regulated Asset Base’ (RAB) of
funding nuclear power (described in a recent article in ‘Unearthed’, a
Greenpeace publication), the nuclear developers will have no real limit on
what they can spend to build the power stations. It is a recipe for
national disaster.

No private developer is willing to take the construction
risks of funding nuclear power in the UK, whatever ‘strike price’ is
offered for the electricity that might be generated in future. Doesn’t that
tell you something?

So EDF stepped up to the mark. EDF, the French
state-owned company, may be starting the real part of the construction of
Hinkley C in 2019/2020. The French state will pay for the inevitable cost
overruns that come along with building the plant, combined quite probably,
with an out-of-contract bailout by the British Government when the going
gets tough.

But now the Government is casting around for another nuclear
power plant to be built, – Wylfa or Sizewell C – but neither developer
(Hitachi or now EDF) wants to take the risk of paying the almost inevitable
losses on the project. So enter the Government’s new proposals which will
no doubt be promoted as a simple accountancy trick to lower costs, but hide
the fact that the state will take the losses, to be divided up between us
as taxpayers (loss of guaranteed loans and construction risk guarantees)
and electricity consumers (advance payments on top of electricity bills).
And, note this, whatever ministers may say, the exposure by taxpayers and
consumers in UNLIMITED.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

Radioactive lthorium discovered in barrels near mobile home park in Bellflower 

As Thorium 232 decays, it releases radiation and forms decay products. The decay process continues until a stable, nonradioactive decay product is formed.

Studies of workers have shown that inhaling thorium dust will cause an increased risk of developing lung disease, including lung cancer, or pancreatic cancer……


August 10, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment