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IAEA urges Japan to slow the Fukushima wastes clean-up – delay release to Pacific till after Olympic Games

IAEA urges Japan to take ample time in Fukushima cleanup   January 31, 2019 by Mari Yamaguchi The International Atomic Energy Agency urged Japan on Thursday to spend ample time in developing a decommissioning plan for the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant and to be honest with the public about remaining uncertainties.

In a report based on a visit by an IAEA team to the plant in November, the agency urged the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to secure adequate space and finish plans for managing highly radioactive melted fuel before starting to remove it from the three damaged reactors.

The cores of the three reactors melted after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Utility and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, but still know little about its condition and have not finalized waste management plans.

“The IAEA review team advises that before the commencement of the fuel debris retrieval activities, there should be a clear implementation plan defined to safely manage the retrieved material,” the report said. “TEPCO should ensure that appropriate containers and storage capacity are available before starting the fuel debris retrieval.”

The report also urged the government and TEPCO to carefully consider ways to express “the inherent uncertainties involved” in the project and develop “a credible plan” for the long term. It advised TEPCO to consider adopting contingency plans to “accommodate any schedule delays.”

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman who heads a TEPCO reform committee, said in a recent interview that the decommissioning should not be rushed, even if the government and TEPCO have set a schedule and people want to see it move faster.

“It’s much better to do it right than do it fast,” he said, adding that it’s also good not to rush from a health and safety perspective. “Clearly, the longer you wait, the less the radiation is.”

He said he would be “astounded” if the current schedule ends up unchanged.

In order to make room in the plant compound to safely store the melted fuel and for other needed facilities, about 1 million tons of radioactive waste water currently stored in hundreds of tanks will have to be removed. The IAEA team, headed by Xerri Christoph, an expert on radioactive waste, urged the government and TEPCO to urgently decide how to dispose of it.

Nuclear experts, including officials at the IAEA and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have said a controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean is the only realistic option. A release, however, is unlikely until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in order to avoid concerns among visitors from overseas.


February 2, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, politics, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste stockpile – a global crisis

Storage of nuclear waste a ‘global crisis’ as stockpile reaches 250,000 tons, Greenpeace warns

AFP-JIJI Nuclear waste is piling up around the world even as countries struggle to dispose of spent fuel that will remain highly toxic for many thousands of years, Greenpeace detailed in a report Wednesday.

An analysis of waste storage facilities in seven countries with nuclear power revealed that several were near saturation, the anti-nuclear nongovernmental organization said.

All these nations also confronted other problems that have yet to be fully contained: fire risk, venting of radioactive gases, environmental contamination, failure of containers, terrorist attacks and escalating costs.

“More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes,” Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert at Greenpeace Germany and coordinator of the report, said in a statement.

In particular, storing waste material from nuclear power reactors deep in the ground — the most researched long-term storage technology — “has shown major flaws which exclude it for now as a credible option,” he said.

Currently, there is a global stockpile of around 250,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel distributed across 14 countries.

Most of this fuel remains in so-called cooling pools at reactor sites that lack secondary containment and remain vulnerable to a loss of cooling. Some lack a source of back-up power.

The partial meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 made clear that the high-heat hazard of spent fuel pools is not hypothetical.

The 100-page report, compiled by a panel of experts, dissected shortcomings in the management of voluminous waste in France, which has the second-largest nuclear reactor fleet (58), after the United States (about 100).

“There is no credible solution for long-term safe disposal of nuclear waste in France,” the report said.

French oversight bodies have already raised concerns about capacity of massive cooling pools in Normandy at the La Hague site. In response, energy giant Orana, which manages the site, said in a statement that “there is not risk of saturation of the pools in La Hague until 2030.”

In the United States, billions of dollars and decades of planning have failed to secure a geological disposal site, the report notes.

The Yucca Mountain underground facility — decades in construction — was finally canceled in 2010 by the Obama administration.

Some 70 percent of spent fuel in the United States remains in vulnerable cooling pools, often in densities several times greater than originally intended.

Nuclear waste from uranium mining is also a major environmental concern.

The world’s inventory of uranium mill tailings — sandy waste material that can seep into the local environment — was estimated at more than 2 billion tons as of 2011.

The other countries covered in the report are Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Finland and Britain.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | 4 Comments

Nuclear power: Surviving on secrecy and misinformation Mowdud Rahman and Debasish Sarker, 2 Feb 2018
While countries like Germany, Belgium, France, and Japan are trying to find an escape route from nuclear power, Bangladesh is taking two steps back. Although the 2,400-MW Rooppur nuclear power project has already garnered some support, there are critical issues that need to be addressed for the country’s safety and security. We need to establish whether the claims of cheap electricity, people’s acceptance, risk-free waste management and use of safe technology are simply rhetoric or not. We also need to draw a careful line between fact and propaganda.

Technology is not the answer

Technology is ever-changing, ever-developing. Thus, the glorification of the “third generation plus” reactor for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) must be challenged.

Russian company Rosatom won the bid to construct the plant in Bangladesh and is now trying to sell us on “post-Fukushima technology”. But can the same company guarantee that there will not be a thing such as “post-Rooppur technology”?

4,000 lives were lost in Chernobyl. Till date, USD 188 billion has been devoted towards cleaning up Fukushima. That too in a country renowned for its technological advancement. Right now, third-generation technology might be the latest one, but surely it’s not the last. When the Fukushima disaster happened, it had the most advanced technology yet, but that did not avert disaster.

Advanced technology could be their selling point, but it does not truly diminish any of our concerns. In fact, the question we should all be asking is: why is such “safe” technology in such dire need of the protection of the indemnity law—the Nuclear Power Plant Act 2015—in the case of any accidental loss of anyone related?

Radiation leaks are also very common in nuclear power plants, but the concerned authorities have always managed to shrug off the problem. That’s how this industry is still surviving. Only last October, the IRSN, France’s public authority on nuclear safety and security, identified a cloud of radioactive isotope ruthenium-106 in European territory originating from a Russian nuclear facility. But Russia’s nuclear agency has refused to accept responsibility (The Guardian, November 21, 2017).

In India, on the other hand, 1,733 scientists and employees who used to work in nuclear establishments and related facilities died between 1995 to 2010. Most of the victims were below 50 years of age (Rediff, October 4, 2010). However, there was neither any fact-finding committee nor any public disclosure about such a large number of untimely deaths in so-called “safe” nuclear facilities. The government of India has formed three committees so far for auditing the safety and security standards of nuclear power plants, but the recommendations, which require millions of dollars, are yet to be implemented.

Too expensive to matter?

The once-rhetorical claim made by the nuclear industry of making electricity “too cheap to matter” has already proven wrong and turned into a case of “too expensive to matter.” In fact, it matters so much that the world’s largest nuclear builder, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy protection in the US last year (The Guardian, March 29, 2017). And according to the latest World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR), the French state-owned nuclear builder and service company AREVA had accumulated USD 12.3 billion in losses over the past six years and was at last bailed out by the government with a cash injection worth USD 5.3 billion and subsequently broken up.

Such extravagant expenditure is not new for the nuclear industry. Rather it has been surviving on state-sponsorship since its inception. But now the price of this arrangement is felt so heavily by some countries that they have decided to pull the plug on it. For example, Vietnam decided to backtrack from nuclear power projects even after its deals with Russia and Japan—not because of baseless fears, but because the costs were escalating at such a rate that within just seven years the projected costs doubled (Reuters, November 22, 2016).

Costs rising exponentially is nothing new. The construction of 75 nuclear reactors was started in the US between 1966 and 1976. In each of these cases, the actual construction cost was found to be 300 percent higher on average than the estimated cost at the beginning (Ramana M V, 2009). Similarly, the construction of the 1,600 MW Flamanville nuclear power plant has already required three times the predicted cost till date and is yet to be completed (Reuters, December 4, 2012).

Bangladesh’s Rooppur power plant is no exception. Even before construction started, the project cost increased from USD 4 billion to USD 12.65 billion within just three years of the time frame (WNISR 2017). As the contract with Russia is not a fixed price contract, but a cost plus one, the vendor retains every right to come up with a revised budget in coming days. 90 percent of its required budget is being taken from Russia on credit at an interest rate of the Intercontinental Exchange London Interbank Offered Rate plus 1.75 percent, which is not only going to increase national debt, but also impose a great threat on our economy as a whole. Worrying still, the government has not disclosed the estimated price per unit of electricity from this plant after accounting for fuel cost, waste management and disposal cost, and decommissioning cost.

Rhetorical claim

While the government is touting the international standards and guidelines that will be abided, in reality, without public participation and public disclosure of the much needed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and without asserting the guideline of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), these claims are nothing but sheer rhetoric.

In Bangladesh, a 300-800 metre area surrounding the nuclear reactor is being considered as “Exclusion Zone” or “Sanitary Protection Zone”and it is being claimed that people are safe outside this 800-metre parameter. But according to IAEA safety standard guidelines, there are in fact two safety zones—the Precautionary Action Zone, which has a five-kilometre radius and where it is recommended to have evacuation facilities for an emergency evacuation within 15 minutes; and the Urgent Protective Action Planning Zone, which has a 30-kilometre radius and where it is recommended to have evacuation facilities for an emergency evacuation within an hour.

The people of Pabna, Bheramara, Lalpur, Kushtia, and Ishwardi all live within 30 kilometres of the proposed Rooppur nuclear power reactor. Has the government informed them of emergency evacuation? Is there any plan compliant with international safety and security standards to build the infrastructure required to evacuate millions of people within hours? Would it be possible to arrange its construction within the next few years?

Nuclear waste management is another concerning issue, which needs special infrastructure as well as separate budget allocation. But nothing is on the scene except a draft agreement to take back the spent nuclear fuel to Russia (Dhaka Tribune, March 18, 2017). Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Russia can take back the spent fuel, reprocess it for fast breeder reactors, but it has to give it back the nuclear waste back to Bangladesh because according to the law of the Russian Federation, disposal of foreign nuclear waste is not possible in Russia (, January 15, 2018). What assurance do we have that Russia will change their law for the sake of Bangladesh and do this costly disposal free of cost? Or is Bangladesh going to be the next destination for the disposal of the Russian nuclear industry’s waste from all over the world?

Alternatives are cheap

The top-heavy, wasteful, authoritarian world of nuclear power is being challenged by the innovative, low-cost, democratic world of renewables. Rational societies are reaping the latter’s benefits. Germany has decided to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022 and replace those with solar and wind power. With the plummeting cost of renewables, they are winning (, January 15, 2018). They exported 53.7 TWh of electricity in 2016, setting a new record and are going on to become the biggest net power exporter in Europe (WNISR 2017). Renewables were the largest contributor to their power mix.

In India, solar and wind electricity is now being produced at costs below BDT 3.5 per unit and they have already set a target to install a combined 100 GW solar and 60 GW wind power plant by 2022 (

In Bangladesh, on the other hand, renewable energy and imported power were presented as substitutes for each other in the Power Sector Master Plan 2016 (PSMP–2016). In the whole energy mix, only 15 percent of the electricity generation target has been fixed for renewable energy or imported power capacity addition. The renewable energy based generation is shown as 7 TWh—a mere 3 percent of the total demand by 2041. The PSMP–2016 also estimated 3.6 GW of potential renewable-energy-based power generation all together. This is in sharp contrast to recent research with predicted that, only from wind power alone, Bangladesh has the potential to generate 20 GW of electricity (Saifullah et al, 2016).

Globally and locally, scholars from across different disciplines are working on developing better frameworks, methods and models of renewable energy. A group of scientists from Stanford University working  extensively on clean energy, last year found that by 2050, a 100 percent renewable-energy-based solution for Bangladesh is not only possible, but is also the most economical option. According to their research, per unit electricity cost would be BDT 5.6 from renewables at the 2014 USD rate, which would save BDT 2,000 per person per year by 2050 (Jacobson et al, 2017).

The rationalisation for nuclear power hinges on a high initial cost for future benefit, but if we take into account its costly waste management, the need for decommissioning as well as loan repayment, Rooppur is little less than a future burden. Disregarding proper procedure and public consultation, the Bangladeshi government is not only constructing the 2,400 MW Rooppur nuclear power plant, but is also planning to install more such plants with a capacity of 4,800 MW across the country by 2041. Rooppur nuclear plant is not the technological milestone that it is portrayed to be. After all, how can imported technology and foreign dependency be a landmark or our nation’s scientific community? Without dealing with the contentious issues surrounding Rooppur, the plant may turn out to be the cause of endless misery for Bangladesh in the days to come.

Mowdud Rahman is an engineer and Energy Technology Researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay).

Debasish Sarker is an engineer and PhD Researcher on Nuclear Safety at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | ASIA, Education | Leave a comment

USA’ s EPA appoints a radiation sceptic to head the panel on radiation

Skeptic on radiation limits will head EPA radiation panel, By ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press 1 Feb 19, WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has appointed a scientist who argues for easing regulations on lower-level radiation exposures to lead the agency’s radiation advisory committee.

Acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler on Thursday announced the appointment of Brant Ulsh, a health physicist, as one of the EPA’s science advisers and the panel chairman. Ulsh has been a leading critic of the EPA’s decades-old position that exposure to any amount of ionizing radiation is a cancer risk.

In a paper he co-wrote last year, Ulsh and a colleague argued that the position was based on outdated scientific information and forced the “unnecessary burdens of costly clean-ups” on facilities working with radiation.

The EPA under President Donald Trump has targeted a range of environmental protections, in line with Trump’s arguments that overly strict environmental rules have hurt U.S. businesses. Environmental and public health advocates say the rollbacks threaten the health and safety of Americans.

Some environmental groups and scientists have criticized what they say is the administration’s openness to an outlier position on radiation risks.

“Once again the Trump administration is moving to the fringe for its scientific advice, choosing someone who could undercut foundational protections from radiation,” Bemnet Alemayehu, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental advocacy group, said in a statement Friday. “We need sound science to dictate health protections, not dangerous theories.”

EPA spokesman John Konkus declined comment Friday, referring a reporter to a news release announcing the appointment.

Ulsh did not immediately respond to an email Friday asking for comment, including whether he intended to use the advisory position to encourage reconsideration of the EPA’s no-tolerance policy on lower doses of radiation exposure.

Last year, Ulsh told The Associated Press that “we spend an enormous effort trying to minimize low doses” at nuclear power plants, for example.

“Instead, let’s spend the resources on minimizing the effect of a really big event,” he said.

U.S. agencies have long maintained there is no threshold of radiation exposure that is risk-free.

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reaffirmed that last year after reviewing 29 public health studies on cancer rates among people exposed to low-dose radiation.

The EPA last year proposed a rule that would have instructed regulators to consider “models across the exposure range” when it comes to dangerous substances.

Environmental groups and some scientists expressed concern then that the directive could open the way for an agency retreat from its long-standing no-tolerance rule for ionizing radiation exposure. But the proposed rule did not mention radiation, and EPA officials denied it would have applied to radiation. It said the agency still follows its no-tolerance guidelines.

But the EPA’s proposal last year did specify consideration of a particular scientific model, called the U curve, put forward by Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist and leading proponent of the theory that exposure to radiation and other hazardous substances can actually be healthy at low doses

The EPA’s initial news release on the rule last April quoted Calabrese as praising the proposal, calling it a “major scientific step forward” in assessing the risks of “chemicals and radiation.”

EPA calendars obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show an appointment between Calabrese and EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson on June 28, 2017, early in the tenure of Scott Pruitt, Wheeler’s predecessor.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump confirms US withdrawal from INF nuclear treaty

 Guardian, Julian Borger, World affairs editor, Sat 2 Feb 2019 
Announcement gives Russia 180 days to destroy violating missiles and launchers to avoid new arms race Donald Trump has confirmed that the US is leaving the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, saying “we will move forward with developing our own military response options” to Russia’s suspect missile.In a written statement, Trump said that the US would be suspending its compliance with the 1987 treaty on Saturday, and would serve formal notice that it would withdraw altogether in six months.

He left the door open to the treaty being salvaged in that 180-day window, but only if Russia destroys all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment. Since 2013, the US has alleged that Russia has developed a new ground-launched cruise missile which violated the INF prohibition of missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km.

Russia for several years denied the missile existed but has more recently acknowledged its existence, saying its range does not violate INF limits.

“This is in reality, under international law, Russia’s final chance,” a senior administration official said. “If there is to be an arms race, it is Russia that has undermined the global security architecture.”

In his statement, Trump warned that unless Russia destroyed its missile by August: “We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with Nato and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”

Washington’s European allies have been anxious that the death of the INF treaty would lead to a return to the tense days of the 1980s, and an arms race involving short- and medium-range missiles on European soil………

, neither the Trump nor Pompeo gave any indication whether the administration would agree to extend the 2010 New Start treaty, the last remaining arms control agreement constraining the arsenals of the two major nuclear weapons powers.

Both the US and Russia have abided by the New Start limit of 1,550 deployed, strategic nuclear warheads, but the treaty expires in 2021, leaving little time to negotiate a five-year extension.

Alexandra Bell, a former state department arms control official and senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said: “New Start is working, it’s good for American national security and this administration is putting global security at risk by foot-dragging on extension.”

February 2, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Atlantic ocean circulation is being altered, by climate change

A surprising new picture of ocean circulation could have major consequences for climate science,  Some experts say the Atlantic Ocean circulation is already slowing down — but we’re just beginning to learn how it really works, WP By Chris Mooney, January 31 2019

It may be the biggest wild card in the climate system. Scientists have long feared that the so-called “overturning” circulation in the Atlantic Ocean could slow down or even halt due to climate change — a change that would have enormous planetary consequences.

But at the same time, researchers have a limited understanding of how the circulation actually works, since taking measurements of its vast and remote currents is exceedingly difficult. And now, a major new research endeavor aimed at doing just that has suggested a dramatic revision of our understanding of the circulation itself.

A new 21-month series of observations in the frigid waters off Greenland has led to the discovery that most of the overturning — in which water not only sinks but returns southward again in the ocean depths — occurs to the east, rather than to the west, of the enormous ice island. If that’s correct, then climate models that suggest the circulation will slow as the climate warms may have to be revised to take this into account.

……….. The new results come from the $ 32 million OSNAP, or “Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic,” program, the first attempt to comprehensively measure the circulation in the exceedingly remote regions in question. These icy seas, it is believed, are where cold, salty waters — which are extremely dense — sink below the sea surface into the depths, and then travel back southward again all the way to the Southern Hemisphere.

This “overturning” process is crucial because the sinking in the North Atlantic effectively pulls more warm, salty water northward via a system of currents that includes the Gulf Stream. This heat delivery, in turn, shapes climate throughout much of the region, and especially in Europe.

Better understanding of how the circulation works is key, since some scientists have already proposed that it is slowing down, with major consequences, including ocean warming and sea level rise off the U.S. east coast.

Global temperature maps in recent years have shown a strange area of anomalously cold temperatures in the ocean to the southeast of Greenland, along with very warm temperatures off the coast of New England.

The cold region — which has been dubbed the “cold blob” and also “warming hole” — is strikingly anomalous at a time when the Earth and its oceans are otherwise warming. And the suggestion has been that this represents a decline in the volume of heat being transported northward by the circulation.

The warm waters off New England, in this interpretation, would represent a key corollary — additional ocean heat hanging around in more southern waters, rather than making the trip northward……….

February 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

New Jersey nuclear reactor shut down due to extreme cold weather

It’s so cold, even a nuclear reactor in N.J. can’t do its job,By Chris Franklin | For

PSEG spokesman Joseph Delmar Sr. says the utility company’s Salem Unit 2 reactor was manually taken offline by control room operators early Thursday morning at 3:01 a.m. due to frazil icing conditions at the circulating water intake structure on the non-nuclear side of the power plant. ………Chris Franklin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews or on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nevada State Officials Are Outraged that the Trump Administration Secretly Shipped Plutonium in from South Carolina


“They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” Governor Sisolak said. Nevada officials say they are “outraged” by the Trump administration’s “reckless decision” to secretly ship 1,100 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium to a site north of Las Vegas, against the express wishes of state representatives.

Governor Steve Sisolak called the move an “unacceptable deception” that exposed the “sham” of the state’s ongoing negotiations with the Department of Energy (DOE) over the transfer of plutonium from South Carolina. Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen called the decision “deceitful and unethical” and said it jeopardized “the health and safety of thousands of Nevadans and Americans who live in close proximity to shipment routes,” according to The New York Times.

A federal judge ordered the transfer in 2017, but the move was challenged in court when Nevada sued the federal government to block it last November. Unbeknownst to Nevada officials, the DOE had already shipped the plutonium to Nevada, according to legal filings released Wednesday. Nevada officials were not notified because the transfer was classified due to its implications for national security, the DOE said.

“Although the precise date that this occurred cannot be revealed for reasons of operational security, it can be stated that this was done before November 2018, prior to the initiation of the litigation,” said Bruce Diamond, general counsel for the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, in the filing.

The plutonium is being held at the Nevada National Security Site near Yucca Mountain, in the complex’s Device Assembly Facility (DAF).

This region has a rich tradition of anti-nuclear activism: Public figures like astronomer Carl Sagan and actor Martin Sheen were among the thousands of people arrested at the height of the local protest movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Decades later, there is strong bipartisan opposition in Nevada to any expansion of the site’s role as a repository for spent nuclear material. In 2009, President Obama backed off of long-term plans to develop storage capabilities at Yucca Mountain. The Trump administration signaled its intention to reverse that decision last year by including $120 million in the DOE budget to prepare for new shipments.

Nevada’s November lawsuit against the transfer is now regarded as moot by the US Justice Department, the Associated Press reported, and the plutonium may remain at the DAF for nearly a decade before another planned transfer to New Mexico.

Despite assurances from the DOE that there will be no other imminent shipments, the state’s elected officials argue the lack of transparency over the move demands new preventative measures. Governor Sisolak said the state is pursuing “any and all legal remedies” against the federal government, including contempt of court orders.

“They lied to the State of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” Sisolak said in a statement. “My administration is working with our federal delegation, and we will use the full force of every legal tool available to fight back against the federal government’s reckless disregard for the safety of our state.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to the plutonium shipment as nuclear waste. It does not far under that definition according to the DOE. The article has been updated to reflect this.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

India’s Kudankulam nuclear power station means big debt to Russia

Kudankulam: Nuclear power utility struggles to repay Russia for supplies    The sanctioning of lower than requisite funds comes at a time when NPCIL’s budgetary support requirement has gone up in light of the utility taking up 10 new projects that had been cleared by the government in May 2017.  by Anil Sasi |New Delhi  February 1, 2019  Inadequate budgetary support to the strategic nuclear energy sector over the last two financial years has squeezed funds earmarked under the investment head for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), resulting in India’s frontline nuclear utility slipping back on its repayment obligations to the Russians for equipment supplies to the Kudankulam nuclear project.

The sanctioning of lower than requisite funds comes at a time when NPCIL’s budgetary support requirement has gone up in light of the utility taking up 10 new projects that had been cleared by the government in May 2017.

The problem of non-payment of Russian credit on account of a reduction in the provision for Russian credit to NPCIL was discussed before a parliamentary panel, responding to which the Department of Expenditure in the Finance Ministry subsequently “conveyed” the concerns to the Budget Division of the Department of Economic Affairs in the same Ministry for “further necessary action”.

Under a credit arrangement between the governments of Russia and India, as soon as equipment leaves Russia for Indian projects such as the nuclear station in Kudankulam, that much money is released by the Russian government to the suppliers, which then becomes a loan on the Government of India. This loan is then supposed to be routed to NPCIL by way of a budgetary provision. Against that, the same money would be given back to the Government of India so that it becomes a loan on NPCIL.

This arrangement has come under strain due to the reduction in budgetary allocation under the ‘investment in PSUs’ head, which has affected the loans payable to NPCIL towards ‘Russian credit utilisation’ that is outstanding in the books of the Controller of Aid Accounts and Audit. The CAAA is the division within the Department of Economic Affairs entrusted with the responsibility for withdrawal of loan and grant proceeds for all official development assistance where India is the recipient.

While the extent of the slip-up in the payment obligation to the Russians could not be ascertained, the trend was seen as serious enough for the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests to flag this an issue to which the Ministry of Finance responded in the affirmative, a senior government official involved in the exercise confirmed. Queries sent to K N Vyas, Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, did not elicit a response.

According to official estimates, while budgetary support to NPCIL had gone up from Rs 370 crore in the budget estimate for 2017-18 to Rs 1435 crore in the revised estimate for the year (entailing a total of Rs 685 crore under the investment head and Rs 750 crore as loan), the actual requirement in form of budgetary support submitted by the DAE was thrice that amount — Rs 4305 crore. The higher amount, official said, was primarily on account of a shortfall of earlier years in receipt of equity to the tune of Rs 402 crore and obligations under the Russian Credit of Rs 3,903 crore.

For 2018-19, while the allocation was hiked to Rs 1,665 crore in the budget estimate, it still left a funding gap of around Rs 2,870 crore, according to DAE estimates. The situation was exacerbated by 10 new projects based on the indigenous 700 MWe (mega watt electric) pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) that had been sanctioned in mid-2017, due to which budgetary support requirement had also increased.
NPCIL is currently operating 22 commercial nuclear power reactors with an installed capacity of 6,780 MWe, while it has another eight reactors under various stages of construction totaling 6200 MWe capacity.

Russia and India had, in 2015, agreed to actively work on projects deploying 12 additional Light Water Reactor (LWR) nuclear reactors, for which, the localisation of manufacturing in India under the NDA government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative and the commencement of serial construction of nuclear power plants was flagged as a joint initiative.

In this context, the Programme of Action for localisation between Russian state-owned utility Rosatom and the DAE was finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Moscow visit in 2015. At the Kudankulam site, where the two Russian-designed VVER-1000 series reactors have being installed, nearly 100 Russian companies and organisations are involved in documentation, supply of equipment and controlling construction and equipping process. At the same site, four more Russian reactor units are slated to come up in the coming years.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Taiwan to abolish nuclear power in 2025

Nuclear power to be abolished in 2025

REFERENDUM No. 7:The government is to bar capacity expansions at coal-fired power plants and abide by local governments’ tightened environmental regulations

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday published a revised national energy strategy that calls for the abolition of nuclear power by 2025 and reductions in the use of fossil fuels.

Although Taiwanese in November last year voted against the government’s 2025 deadline to abolish nuclear power, the energy source would still be completely removed from the nation’s energy mix after that year due to inevitable constraints, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) told a news conference in Taipei.

Resistance from local governments, difficulty in procuring replacement parts for aging reactors, finding storage space for spent fuel rods and the inability to complete the stay-of-decommissioning application process have all but ruled out the use of nuclear power beyond 2025, Shen said.

Other remedies, such as reactivating decommissioned nuclear plants, are also unlikely due to the lengthy budget approval process at the legislature, Shen said, adding that General Electric Co is no longer able to provide technical support for reactors that were installed decades ago.

As for referendum No. 7, which called for the reduction of thermal power by at least 1 percent per year on average, Shen said that the goal is achievable this year and next year.

Achieving the goal would not increase the risk of energy shortages and 15 percent reserved power generation capacity could be maintained, he said.

However, energy shortages could happen in 2021 due to an anticipated rise in consumption, Shen said.

Resistance from local governments, difficulty in procuring replacement parts for aging reactors, finding storage space for spent fuel rods and the inability to complete the stay-of-decommissioning application process have all but ruled out the use of nuclear power beyond 2025, Shen said.

Other remedies, such as reactivating decommissioned nuclear plants, are also unlikely due to the lengthy budget approval process at the legislature, Shen said, adding that General Electric Co is no longer able to provide technical support for reactors that were installed decades ago.

As for referendum No. 7, which called for the reduction of thermal power by at least 1 percent per year on average, Shen said that the goal is achievable this year and next year.

Achieving the goal would not increase the risk of energy shortages and 15 percent reserved power generation capacity could be maintained, he said.

However, energy shortages could happen in 2021 due to an anticipated rise in consumption, Shen said.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit’s under-reported analysis – renewables cheaper than new nuclear

Forbes 31st Jan 2019 , Under-reported analysis by the UK’s Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit
(ECIU) has shown that filling the gap left by the abandoned nuclear projects is not just feasible but better value. The government’s own National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is minded to agree. Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the ECIU said: “In recent years Governmenthas quietly cut back its expectations for nuclear new-build, and that’s
looking more and more realistic as the price of renewable generation falls and the benefits of the flexible smart grid become more apparent.

Filling the nuclear gap with renewables would indeed require an increase in rollout, but one that is well within UK capabilities. “With enough focus on smart low-carbon energy, there’s no reason why Britain shouldn’t achieve all its energy objectives despite the cancellation of these nuclear stations,” added Marshall.

The ECIU analysis found that an additional 11.3GW of onshore wind, 5.7GW of offshore wind and 20.8GW of new solar capacity would be sufficient to fill the nuclear gap. Those figures are eminently achievable.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Disaster

CS Monitor 31st Jan 2019 , It’s been 33 years since Reactor Number Four at the Chernobyl Atomic
Energy Station in Ukraine exploded, venting radioactive material into the
atmosphere. That radiation rolled over huge swaths of what was then the
western part of the Soviet Union, and the explosion entered history as one
of the worst nuclear power plant disasters. As with accounts of any
disaster, there are three major questions: What happened, why did it
happen, and could it happen again? Several books investigate the answers:
In 2018, for instance, there was “Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear
Catastrophe” by Harvard professor Serhii Plokhy, and in March there will
be Kate Brown’s “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the
But the most comprehensive, most thoroughly detailed history yet
to appear in English is Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the
World’s Greatest Disaster by Adam Higginbotham. The author, along with
his research partner Taras Shumeyko, has conducted extensive interviews and
compiled background material over ten years, creating a compelling,
panoramic account of the disaster set in its broader context but still
working with those three fundamental questions, starting with “what
happened?” Thanks to the nature of Soviet Union, answering such a
question was complicated from the start.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

Secret shipent of plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada

US secretly shipped plutonium from South Carolina to Nevada,  January 31, 2019

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.

The Justice Department notified a federal judge in Reno that the government trucked in the radioactive material to store at the site 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Las Vegas before Nevada first asked a court to block the move in November.

Department lawyers said in a nine-page filing that the previously classified information about the shipment from South Carolina can be disclosed now because enough time has passed to protect national security. They didn’t specify when the one-half metric ton of plutonium was transferred.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s “beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception.” He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues “any and all legal remedies,” including contempt of court orders against the federal government.

The newly elected Democrat said he’s exploring options for the plutonium that already has arrived and is working with Nevada’s congressional delegation to fight back against the U.S. government’s “reckless disregard” for the safety of Nevadans.

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen called the government’s move “deceitful and unethical.” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, also a Nevada Democrat, said she would demand department officials come to her office on Thursday to explain how they made the “reckless decision” in such “bad faith.”

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to use Nevada as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Trump revived a decades-old proposal to store the nation’s nuclear waste at another site outside Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain, after the project was essentially halted under the Obama administration.

Justice Department lawyers said in new court filings Wednesday that no more shipments of weapons-grade plutonium are planned from South Carolina to Nevada. They said they believe Nevada’s lawsuit aimed at blocking the shipments is now moot.

But lawyers for Nevada said late Wednesday that their bid for an emergency injunction is more critical than ever after the Energy Department misled them about the shipments. They say the government has created the “palpable suspicion” that more shipments are coming to Nevada.

Sisolak described the months-long negotiations with Energy Department officials over the plutonium leading up to the new disclosure as a “total sham.”

“They lied to the state of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” he said.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno already is considering the state’s earlier request to block the Energy Department’s plans — announced in August — to ship a full metric ton of plutonium to Nevada from South Carolina, where a federal judge previously ordered that the plutonium be removed from a Savannah River site by 2020.

Nevada argues the department has failed to adequately study the potential dangers of moving the material that still has the potential to be used to help develop nuclear weapons to an area that is subject to flash floods and earthquakes, and that the state’s lands and groundwater may already be contaminated with radioactive materials.

In January, Du declined to immediately block the plutonium and indicated she wouldn’t rule until February. “I hope the government doesn’t ship plutonium pending a ruling by this court,” she said at the time.

Nevada and the Justice Department filed their latest briefs Wednesday at the request of the judge, who questioned whether the case should go forward. Justice Department lawyers said any additional plutonium removed from South Carolina would not go to Nevada.

Meanwhile, the states of Nevada and South Carolina are continuing to argue over where any legal challenge should be heard. Each said in briefs filed in Reno last week that theirs is the proper venue.

Nevada’s experts testified that the material likely would have to pass directly through Las Vegas on the way to the Nevada National Security Site. They fear an accident could permanently harm an area that is home to 2.2 million residents and hosts more than 40 million tourists a year.

The Energy Department’s plan approved last August called for the full ton of material to be stored at the Nevada nuclear security site and the government’s Pantex Plant in Texas, two facilities that already handle and process plutonium. The department says it would be sent by 2027 to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico or another unnamed facility.


Associated Press writer Ryan Tarinelli contributed to this report from Carson City.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Dismantling process of pioneer nuclear station – it’s still dangerous

How do you dismantle a nuclear power plant? Very, very carefully.  Before they can break apart this historic Army facility, they have to make sure it’s not radioactive, WP, By Michael E. Ruane, February 1 2010 Behind the locked gates of Building 372 at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, past the door to the huge containment vessel where a sign warns of radiation, a large button on the control panel is covered in red plastic and reads: “manual scram.”

This is the emergency shutdown button, which nuclear legend says was pushed when it was time to scram.

But these days, the dark interior of the Army’s historic nuclear reactor, once called an “atomic-age miracle machine,” is a maze of rusted pipes, peeling paint and pressure gauges reading zero.

Keys in the control panel haven’t been turned in years, and switches are set to “off.”

The world’s first nuclear plant to supply energy to a power grid has been defunct for years. But the Army is preparing to break it up, check it for lingering radiation and haul it away piece by piece.

Dedicated in 1957, as the government was promoting “Atoms for Peace,” the facility was a training site and a prototype for small reactors that could produce power for bases in remote places around the world, the Army said. Built on the Potomac River’s Gunston Cove, it was called the SM-1, for stationary medium power plant No. 1.

“First nuclear power plant ever to put power on a grid, ever in the world,” said Hans B. Honerlah, a senior health physicist with the Army Corps of Engineers’ hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste branch.

The SM-1 trained hundreds of nuclear plant specialists before it was shut down in 1973. By then, the military’s need for such expensive plants had dwindled, said Charles Harmon, a former shift supervisor at the facility and an unofficial historian of the site. “The cost of the Vietnam War was making funds scarce,” Harmon said.

The plant’s uranium-235 fuel and reactor waste were removed in 1973 and ’74 and taken to a storage site in South Carolina. The 64-foot-high concrete-and-steel containment vessel that housed the smaller reactor vessel and other equipment was sealed.

But all these years later, there still is likely residual nuclear contamination of some of the internal structures, Army experts said.

Before the site is torn down, experts will check everything for radiation and look for any impacts to the environment and historical record.

Honerlah said at Fort Belvoir earlier this month: “It’d be great to make it a museum, but it’s always going to be radioactive.

“It has to go away. It’s never going to not be radioactive. The goal . . . is to take the remaining radioactive components, remove them from the . . . facility here and take them” to a nuclear waste site, probably in western Texas………

Corps of Engineer officials said they hope to start the process next year. They said it would probably take five years to finish. “These facilities were really not built to be taken apart,” Barber said.

‘Atoms for Peace’

In 1954, the SM-1 was described by The Washington Post as a miracle machine that could provide power anywhere in the world……

Years before the nuclear plant disasters at Three Mile Island in 1979Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986, and Fukushima in Japan in 2011, hopes were that nuclear power could be clean and safe. ……

February 2, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

A single jawbone has revealed just how much radiation Hiroshima bomb victims absorbed

WP, By Kristine Phillips, 2 May 2018,  At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first combat atomic bomb, “Little Boy.” It exploded 43 seconds later, creating a massive fireball that incinerated much of Hiroshima. Nearly 350,000 people were in the Japanese city that day, and most were civilians.

Twenty-seven years later, a scientist from across the Pacific Ocean arrived in Hiroshima with what was considered then a novel idea. Brazilian physicist Sérgio Mascarenhas, at the time a visiting professor at Harvard University, said that exposure to radiation makes human bone magnetic, and that “magnetic memory” existed in the bones of atomic bombing victims years after the explosion. Scientists could measure radiation exposure by examining the bones of victims, Mascarenhas proposed.

With the help of two Japanese scientists in Hiroshima, Mascarenhas obtained several samples of victims’ bones, including a jawbone that belonged to a person who was less than a mile away from Ground Zero. They were able to estimate the amount of radiation present in the bones, according to a paper Mascarenhas presented to the American Physical Society meeting in April 1973 in Washington, but specific calculations could not be achieved with 1970s technology.

Mascarenhas brought the samples home to Brazil, where they sat in storage for the next four decades — until two other Brazilian scientists continued his research using more advanced technology. The result was astonishing.

Using a technique called electron spin resonance, the researchers measured that the jawbone had absorbed 9.46 grays of radiation from the Hiroshima attack. (A gray or Gy is a unit used to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or a person.)

To place this in context: A cancer patient receiving radiotherapy treatment is exposed to about 2 to 3 grays on a very localized part of the body where a tumor is located. Whole-body radiation with about 5 grays — nearly half of the amount calculated from the jawbone — is enough to kill a person, Oswaldo Baffa, one of the researchers and a professor at the University of São Paulo, told The Washington Post Tuesday.

Teeth have been used to measure the amount of radiation a person had been exposed to. In 1997, scientists from Taiwan measured the radiation dose that patients with nasopharyngeal cancer (in which cancer cells form near the throat behind the nose) had absorbed from radiotherapy by examining their jawbones. But the researchers in Brazil said this is the first time that bones were used to precisely measure the amount of radiation absorbed by atomic bombing victims……..

February 2, 2019 Posted by | radiation, weapons and war | 1 Comment