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More disappointments for Europe’s new nuclear stations- no nuclear future for Europe?

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April 18, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Japan’s massive task to clean up nuclear fuel pools of Fukushima stricken reactors

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Climate Change Could Unleash Long-Frozen Radiation

https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a27150094/climate-change-could-unleash-long-frozen-radiation/

Atomic bombs, Chernobyl,Fukushima—radiation has traveled and frozen all over the world. Global warming is changing that.

Melting could be one of the most important phenomena of the 21st century. Thanks to man-made climate change, Arctic ice levels have hit a record low this year. Among the many profound changes that could stem from ice melting across the world, according to a new study from an international group of scientists, is the release of deeply buried radiation.

The international team studied 17 icy locations across the globe, including the Arctic, the Antarctic, Iceland, the Alps, the Caucasus mountains, and British Columbia. While radiation exists naturally, the scientists were looking for example of human-made radiation. It was common to find concentrations at least 10 times higher than levels elsewhere.

“They are some of the highest levels you see in the environment outside nuclear exclusion zones,” says Caroline Clason, a lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth, speaking in a press statement.

When human-made radiation is released into the environment, be it in small amounts like the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 or larger quantities like the Chernobyl disaster of 1986and the Fukushima Daichii accident of 2011, it goes into the atmosphere. That includes elements like radioactive cesium, which have been known to make people sick to the point of death across the globe.

After Chernobyl, clouds of cesium traveled across Europe. Radiation spread without regard for borders, reaching as far as England through rains. But when rain freezes, it takes the form of ice. And within ice, it can lay trapped.

“Radioactive particles are very light so when they are taken up into the atmosphere they can be transported a very long way,” Clason tells the AFP. “When it falls as rain, like after Chernobyl, it washes away and it’s sort of a one-off event. But as snow, it stays in the ice for decades and as it melts in response to the climate it’s then washed downstream.”

What does that response look like? Humanity is starting to find out, Clason says. She points to wild boar in Sweden, who in 2017 were found to have 10 times the levels of normal radiation.

Traces of human-made radiation last a famously long time. Ice around the globe contains nuclear material not just from accidents involving nuclear power plants, but also man’s use of nuclear weapons.

“We’re talking about weapons testing from the 1950s and 1960s onwards, going right back in the development of the bomb,” Clason says. “If we take a sediment core you can see a clear spike where Chernobyl was, but you can also see quite a defined spike in around 1963 when there was a period of quite heavy weapons testing.”

Elements within radiation have different life spans. Perhaps the most notorious of these, Plutonium-241 has a 14 year half-life. [ed. most plutonium isotopes have half-lives of many thousands of years] But Americium-241, a synthetic chemical element, has a half life of 432 years. It can stay in ice a long time, and when that ice melts will spread. There isn’t much data yet on its ability to spread into the human food chain, but Clason called the threat of Americum “particularly dangerous”.

A term popular in science these days is the Anthropocene, which refers to the idea that humans have permanently altered the very core of how the Earth functions as a living ecosystem. Looking for radiation buried within icy soil and sediment could offer stronger proof of those changes.

“These materials are a product of what we have put into the atmosphere. This is just showing that our nuclear legacy hasn’t disappeared yet, it’s still there,” she says.

“And it’s important to study that because ultimately it’s a mark of what we have left in the environment.”

April 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, radiation | 1 Comment

The long-lasting unsolved problem of Three Mile Island’s radioactive trash

Where will the nuclear waste go after Three Mile Island shuts down? The Inquirer, by Andrew Maykuth, April 14, 2019  After the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear accident 40 years ago, most of the reactor’s partially melted uranium fuel was hauled away to the Idaho National Lab, where the radioactive waste now slowly decays in steel and concrete containers, awaiting long-term disposal.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

USA Congressmen concerned at slow clean-up of dangerous San Onofre nuclear site

April 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Transparency Watch warns on the unwisdom of UK government subsidising Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Small Modular Reactors – of SMRs and ANTs, by Jan Haverkamp   http://www.nuclear-transparency-watch.eu/activities/small-modular-reactors-of-smrs-and-ants-by-jan-haverkamp.html  

15 April 2019  The debate on Small Modular Reactors continues to warm up. The IAEA recently updated its webpages on the issue. SMRs are currently promoted by parts of the nuclear industry as an answer to the decrease of interest in normal gigawatt (GW)-scale reactors because of economic and technical realities.

NTW member Dr. David Lowry intervened on the issue on behalf of Nuclear Transparency Watch during the European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF) in Bratislava, June 2018, where he addressed, what he called, some “inconvenient truths” about these smaller reactors. Last month he published on his blog site an overview of articles that illustrate how the issue is currently discussed in the UK, with the responsible energy minister, earlier accused of “crushing” small reactors, first praising SMRs, then renaming them ANTs (advanced nuclear technologies), and then resigning over Brexit.Just before his resignation, energy minister Richard Harrington announced a further £7 million of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and licence small reactor designs, and up to £44 million pounds in R&D funding to support Generation IV advanced reactors. This came on top of earlier promised £460 million in the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy to support work in areas including future nuclear fuels, new nuclear manufacturing techniques, recycling and reprocessing, and advanced reactor design, £8 million on modern safety and security methodologies and advanced fuel studies, and £5 million on materials and manufacturing as part of a Small Business Research Initiative.

Dr. David Lowry thinks it is time for a warning: “This article focuses on the UK, but similar arguments as I brought forward in Bratislava would apply to any other European government confronted with requests for support of this new sector.”

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Trump’s administration speeds up the revolving door between Pentagon and nuclear weapons companies

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Some consternation in France, as EDF plans to split off its nuclear section

Le Monde 15th April 2019 For several weeks, EDF’s management and the executive have been
preparing a plan to separate nuclear activities from the rest of the group.
A high-risk issue for the government.

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2019/04/15/les-pistes-du-gouvernement-pour-decouper-edf_5450313_3234.html

Le Monde 15th April 2019 The CGT secretary of the EDF works council, François Dos Santos, protested against the government’s desire to divide the group into two separate
subsidiaries.

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2019/04/15/edf-modifier-le-perimetre-du-groupe-est-inacceptable_5450416_3234.html

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Electricite de France (EDF) €33 billion debt, and more problems – its nuclear section to be nationalised.

Times 16th April 2019 A row erupted in France yesterday after it emerged that EDF’s board will discuss plans to renationalise the group’s nuclear activities and split them from the rest of its business. Unions reacted with anger to what they depicted as the first step towards the dismantling of the energy group that is building Britain’s new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The board is due to review the restructuring plan next month before presenting it to senior managers and union representatives in June, according to a source. The scheme involves the creation of a parent company to run the group’s 58 reactors in France, as well as new ones that it may build.

This part of the group could be renationalised, rolling back the partial privatisation of EDF in 2004, which left the state with an 83.7 per cent stake. Most of the rest of the group’s activities then would be placed in a subsidiary that would continue to seek private investors under the plan, which has been codenamed Project Hercules, according to the newspaper Le Parisien.

People close to President Macron, who has the final say, claim that he broadly supports the idea, but may backtrack if the price of compensating shareholders proves to be beyond the means of France’s hard-pressed state budget. A fierce union reaction also could prompt him to retreat,
commentators said.

Although a source insisted that the restructuring would have no direct impact on Hinkley Point, it is likely to create short-term uncertainty for EDF Energy, the group’s British division.

EDF is struggling to meet the cost of renovating its ageing French nuclear fleet, which is estimated at between €55 billion and €75 billion. In addition, the group, which has a debt of €33 billion, is facing several other difficulties, not least that it is committed to funding two thirds of the estimated £22.3 billion cost of the new-generation European pressurised reactors being built at Hinkley Point.

A similar reactor at Flamanville in northern France was meant to cost €3 billion and come on stream in 2012. The reactor is still not operating and the budget has reached €10.9 billion. Last week, it emerged that experts had advised that EDF should repair faulty weldings at Flamanville, which would add hundreds of millions of euros to the bill and lead to a further delay.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Earth’s surface temperature steadily rose from 2003

Earth’s ‘skin temperature test’ shows undeniable evidence of global warming, https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/17/earths-skin-temperature-test-shows-undeniable-evidence-global-warming-9230191/ Jeff Parsons, Wednesday 17 Apr 2019

Satellite measurements of the Earth’s ‘skin temperature’ have confirmed that global warming is heating up the planet. The infra-red sensitive system was used to record temperature trends from 2003 to 2017. It showed a warming pattern consistent with other land-based measurements. Dr Joel Susskind, from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, said: ‘Both data sets demonstrate the Earth’s surface has been warming globally over this period, and that 2016, 2017, and 2015 have been the warmest years in the instrumental record, in that order.’

The satellite system, called Airs (Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder), records temperature at the surface of the ocean, land and snow-covered regions. Its findings were compared with station-based data from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (Gistemp).

The results are published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Co-author Dr Gavin Schmidt, also from the Goddard Institute, said: ‘Interestingly, our findings revealed that the surface-based data sets may be underestimating the temperature changes in the Arctic. ‘This means the warming taking place at the poles may be happening more quickly than previously thought.’

April 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Climate change rallies block London roads 

  SBS News, 17 Apr 19 Thousands of activists led by Extinction Rebellion have blocked major roads in London to demand action on climate change, and promised to keep it up a week.  Thousands of environmental activists have paralysed parts of central London by blocking Marble Arch, Oxford Circus and Waterloo Bridge in a bid to force the government to do more to tackle climate change.Under sunny skies on Monday, activists sang songs or held signs that read “There is no Planet B” and “Extinction is forever” at some of the capital’s most iconic locations.

Roadblocks will continue night and day at each site and the demonstrators say the protests could last at least a week….

The group is demanding the government declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and create a citizen’s assembly of members of the public to lead on decisions to address climate change. ….

Extinction Rebellion wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday outlining their demands and asking for face-to-face talks, warning that they will escalate their disruptive actions over the coming weeks unless the government acts.

“Make no mistake, people are already dying,” the letter states. “In the majority world, indigenous communities are now on the brink of extinction. This crisis is only going to get worse … Prime Minister, you cannot ignore this crisis any longer. We must act now.”

Organisers of the protests circulated legal advice to anyone planning to attend, requesting they refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and asking them to treat the public with respect.

London’s police have advised people travelling around the city in the coming days to allow extra time for their journey in the event of road closures and general disruption. …… Extinction Rebellion wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday outlining their demands and asking for face-to-face talks, warning that they will escalate their disruptive actions over the coming weeks unless the government acts.

“Make no mistake, people are already dying,” the letter states. “In the majority world, indigenous communities are now on the brink of extinction. This crisis is only going to get worse … Prime Minister, you cannot ignore this crisis any longer. We must act now.”

Organisers of the protests circulated legal advice to anyone planning to attend, requesting they refrain from using drugs and alcohol, and asking them to treat the public with respect.

London’s police have advised people travelling around the city in the coming days to allow extra time for their journey in the event of road closures and general disruption………https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-change-rallies-block-london-roads

April 18, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Extinction Rebellion: The activists risking prison to save the planet

DW, 17 Apr 19, In the face of runaway climate chaos, governments around the world are in denial, say the activists hoping to land themselves in jail in defence of our planet — and the survival of our species.Many environmentalists — particularly the major international NGOs — have long argued that frightening people will only put them off engaging with climate protection. If the problem feels too big, we feel hopeless and switch off to think about something else.

But with scientists telling us that the planet’s sixth mass extinction is already underway, and that we have scarcely more than a decade to avert devastating, irreversible climate change, a growing number of activists now believe it’s too late to sugar coat the the truth.

This week, they will be taking to streets around the world in acts of mass civil disobedience, with the message that unless we take immediate action humankind itself faces extinction.

“Emissions are still going up, so we need to disrupt normal life,” says Nick Holzberg, who works full time for Extinction Rebellion in Berlin. “The only way to do that is peaceful civil disobedience.”

State of emergency

Extinction Rebellion first emerged in fall last year, when thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of London. UK “Extinction Rebels” have since occupied bridges over the Thames and stripped off in the British Parliament. And their movement has expanded to 35 countries around the world………

The group is demanding that governments declare a “climate emergency,” to shift into a crisis mode where “business as unusual” is suspended to make climate protection the priority.

More concretely, they want governments to commit to carbon neutrality by 2025 — instead of mid-century as the European Union and many national governments are aiming for. ….

With little faith in governments taking such radical action alone, Extinction Rebellion is also demanding a “people’s assembly” to oversee the transition. …… https://www.dw.com/en/extinction-rebellion-the-activists-risking-prison-to-save-the-planet/a-48302957

April 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Holtec’s nuclear decommissioning and wastes empire to grab Indian Point

Holtec to snap up Indian Point nuclear units for decommissioning, Utility Dive,Iulia Gheorghiu@IMGheorghiu    17 Apr 19

Dive Brief:

  • Holtec International announced an agreement on Tuesday to acquire Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear power plant units for expedited decommissioning.
  • Entergy will sell Units 1, 2 and 3 to a Holtec subsidiary, transferring licenses, spent fuel, decommissioning liabilities and nuclear decommissioning trusts for the units. Unit 1 was retired in 1974 while Unit 2 and Unit 3, totaling about 2 GW, are scheduled to retire in April, 2020 and April, 2021, respectively, according to Entergy’s agreement with New York state.
  • Holtec announced its intentions in August to buy Entergy’s Pilgrim power plant in Massachusetts and the Michigan-based Palisades nuclear plant, as well as Exelon’s Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey, shut down last September. In each case, the deals will will require approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), along with state agencies.

Dive Insight:

The sale of Indian Point to a decommissioning firm marks the beginning of the end for the nuclear plant — the only one in New York not to receive subsidies under the state’s Zero Emission Credit program.

“The sale of Indian Point to Holtec is expected to result in the completion of decommissioning decades sooner than if the site were to remain under Entergy’s ownership,” Leo Denault, Entergy CEO and chairman, said in a statement.

The NRC is still reviewing the license transfer applications for Pilgrim and Exelon’s Oyster Creek. The regulators had not yet received any formal application regarding Indian Point and Palisades, the latter of which is set to be retired in 2022.

Entergy has not announced the value of the nominal cash considerations it would receive for Indian Point or any of its other nuclear decommissioning transfers.

However, another spent nuclear fuel specialist, NorthStar Group Services, took over Entergy’s closed Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in October. In that case, the NRC required “some additional financial guarantees” beyond the plant’s nearly half a billion dollars in its decommissioning trust fund, according to NRC spokesperson Neil Sheehan

…… The decision for Entergy to shut down its merchant nuclear generation early comes amid several other recent nuclear plant closures.

“The plant owners have found it difficult to deal with the financial realities of low costs of natural gas, subsidies to other forms of power and other factors,” Sheehan told Utility Dive.

Situated near the Hudson River in Buchanan, New York, Indian Point’s two operating units power New York City and the surrounding county.

The Department of Energy is otherwise obligated to remove the waste to a permanent storage site, though selecting one has proved to be a drawn out process in Congress.

Until the DOE acts or the waste can be sent to Holtec, the company plans to transfer the spent nuclear fuel to dry cask onsite storage, which will be under guard, monitored during the shutdown and decommissioning activities.

…….. Two interim storage facilities for nuclear waste are currently seeking regulator approval to begin their intake of used fuel. One of them is Holtec’s proposed facility in New Mexico, HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS). …… https://www.utilitydive.com/news/holtec-to-snap-up-indian-point-nuclear-units-for-decommissioning/552894/

April 18, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | 2 Comments

Japan’s plutonium surplus, its history, and its danger

Ed. Note: Many in Japan are now seeing this info for the first time since their PRESS has be limited by Abe’s Gov’t which is “in bed” with the Nuclear Industry.   

Japan’s Plutonium Overhang, Wilson Center, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project Jun 7, 2017 By William Burr   Plutonium, a key element of nuclear weapons, has been an issue in U.S.-Japan relations for decades. During the administration of Jimmy Carter, the Japanese government pressed Washington for permission to process spent reactor fuel of U.S. origin so that the resulting plutonium could be used for experiments with fast breeder nuclear reactors. The government of Japan wanted to develop a “plutonium economy,” but U.S. government officials worried about the consequences of building plants to reprocess reactor fuel. According to a memo by National Security Council staffer Gerald Oplinger, published for the first time by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, the “projected plants would more than swamp the projected plutonium needs of all the breeder R&D programs in the world.” That “will produce a vast surplus of pure, weapons grade plutonium … which would constitute a danger in itself.” Indeed, as a result of reprocessing activities since then, Japan possesses 48 tons of plutonium and could be producing more, with no clearly defined use, when a new reprocessing facility goes on line in 2018………

    • The risk of nuclear of proliferation was a significant element in Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign, which raised questions about the hazards of nuclear energy and attacked the Ford administration for ignoring the “deadly threat posed by plutonium in the hands of terrorists.” Not long after his inauguration, Carter signed

Presidential Directive 8,-which declared that “U.S. non-proliferation policy shall be directed at preventing the development and use of sensitive nuclear power technologies which involve direct access to plutonium, highly enriched uranium, or other weapons useable material in non-nuclear weapons states, and at minimizing the global accumulation of these materials.”

Consistent with this, Carter called for an indefinite deferral of commercial reprocessing and the recycle of plutonium in the U.S. and restructuring U.S. breeder reactor programs to develop “alternative designs to the plutonium breeder.” He also directed U.S. nuclear R&D spending to focus on the “development of alternative nuclear fuel cycles which do not involve access to weapons useable materials.” …….
Since the 1988 agreement Japan’s nuclear plans have gone awry. The Fukushima disaster raised questions about nuclear energy as a power source while the Monju fast breeder reactor turned out to be a tremendously expensive boondoggle, which the Japanese government decided to decommission in late 2016 (during more than 20 years it operated only 250 days). The government remains interested in developing plutonium-fueled fast reactors but that is a remote prospect. Plans to use plutonium in a mixed oxide (MOX) reactor fuel have come to naught. At present, therefore, Japan has no clearly defined use for the 48 tons of separated plutonium that it owns, some 11 tons of which are on Japanese territory.
The surpluses, which emerged as anticipated, continue to worry arms control experts, including some, such as Robert Gallucci, who were involved in the 1980 debate. Terrorists would need only a few kilograms of plutonium for a weapon with mass destruction potential.   In the meantime, the Rokkasho reprocessing facility is scheduled to go on-line in 2018. The industrial scale facility is slated to separate 8 tons of plutonium maximum annually, although Japan has no specific plans for using most of it. 2018 is the same year that the 1988 U.S.-Japan agreement is slated to expire, although whether the Trump administration has any interest in renegotiating it remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the South Korean government, which cannot reprocess, under existing agreements with Washington, asks why it cannot do what Japan has been doing.

When NSC staffer Gerald Oplinger wrote that the plutonium surplus would constitute a “danger in itself,” he probably assumed an environmental hazard and possibly a proliferation risk and vulnerability to terrorism. He did not mention the latter risks, although the reference to surpluses of “weapons grade” material evoked such concerns. While Japanese reprocessing plants would be producing reactor-grade plutonium, it nevertheless has significant weapons potential.  On the question of Japan’s nuclear intentions, the documents from this period that have been seen by the editor are silent; it is not clear whether U.S. officials wondered whether elements of the government of Japan had a weapons option in the back of their mind. Any such U.S. speculation, however, would have had to take into account strong Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment, rooted in terrible historical experience, Japan’s membership in good standing in the nonproliferation community, and that since the days of Prime Minister Sato, the “three Nos” has been official national policy: no possession, no manufacture, and no allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory.  According to a 1974 national intelligence estimate, Japan was keeping “open” the possibility of a nuclear weapons capability and had the resources to produce weapons in a few years, but the intelligence agencies were divided over the likelihood of such a development. The CIA, State Department intelligence, and Army intelligence saw such a course of action as highly unlikely without a collapse of U.S. security guarantee and the emergence of a significant threat to Japan’s security.

Sources for this posting include State Department FOIA releases as well as recently declassified records at the National Archives, including the records of Gerard C. Smith and Secretary of State Edmund Muskie. Many documents on Japan from the Smith files are awaiting declassification review.

Documents in this release:…..https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/japans-plutonium-overhang

April 18, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against Santee Cooper, claims that investors were deceived over nuclear project risks

Lawsuit: Santee Cooper misled investors about failed SC nuclear project, Post and Courier,   By John McDermott jmcdermott@postandcourier.comm Apr 17, 2019  

A Santee Cooper investor is suing the state-owned power company and its former chief executive, alleging they violated securities laws by not adequately disclosing the financial risks associated with the V.C. Summer nuclear project while selling debt several years ago.

Murray C. Turka is seeking class-action status to include others who purchased as much as $118 million of the utility’s “Mini-Bonds” from 2014 to 2016.

Lonnie Carter, who was Santee Cooper’s CEO at the time, is named a co-defendant in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Charleston this week.

The lawsuit alleges Carter and other key decision-makers knew by mid-2015 that the expansion of the V.C. Summer power plant “was hopelessly behind schedule” based on a largely unfavorable assessment of the troubled project by the engineering firm Bechtel Corp.

Auditors found that the reactors’ designs were sometimes impossible to build, that construction wouldn’t be finished in time to qualify for critical federal tax breaks and that South Carolina’s utilities were either too “inexperienced or reluctant to act” as problems mounted.

“Still, executives disclosed nothing of this to Mini-Bond investors,” according to the complaint…….. https://www.postandcourier.com/business/lawsuit-santee-cooper-misled-investors-about-failed-sc-nuclear-project/article_2dc4cd10-612a-11e9-a41c-8f4e572cf265.html

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment