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Japan to scrap remaining nuclear reactors in Fukushima

Japan to scrap remaining nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Aljazeera, 1 Aug 19

Tepco to decommission four more reactors in the Fukushima prefecture, eight years after Japan’s worst nuclear disaster.  Tokyo Electric Power Company has announced plans to decommission its Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, located a few kilometres south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant where three reactors melted down after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The decision by Tepco’s board on Wednesday means all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern Fukushima prefecture will be decommissioned.

The prefectural government had previously urged the operator to dismantle the Daini plant, saying its existence has hampered reconstruction efforts, according to Kyodo news agency.

The Daini plant, which started its commercial operation in 1982, only narrowly avoided a major accident at the time of the disaster at the Daiichi. …….In April, Japan partially lifted an evacuation order in one of the two hometowns, Okuma, for the first time since the disaster, but many former residents are still reluctant to return.

The other hometown, Futaba, remains off-limits, as are several other towns nearby.

Tepco said it will take more than four decades to dismantle the four reactors at the Daini plant. The estimated cost for dismantling and decontamination will be 280 billion yen ($2.6bn).

Company president Tomoaki Kobayakawa visited Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and told him about the decision and the governor asked Kobayakawa to “make safe and steady progress” on the decommissioning.

The utility plans to build an on-site facility to store spent nuclear fuel from the plant, though it has yet to pick a final disposal site for the fuel, Japanese daily The Mainichi reported.

The decommissioning means Japan is left with 33 reactors to generate electricity nationwide, compared with 54 before the disaster.

Of the 33 units, seven reactors are in operation amid lingering concerns about nuclear energy……….

August 1, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Belgium broke law but can keep nuclear plants open, EU court rules

Belgium broke law but can keep nuclear plants open, EU court rules,  DW, 31 July 19

Belgium’s self-imposed deadline for giving up nuclear power is not far off. Environmentalists look forward to the end of the atomic era, but not everyone thinks the country is ready to change course.  The European Union’s top court ruled on Monday that Belgium can continue to run two aging nuclear reactors, despite breaking EU law by not carrying out the necessary environmental audits.

By failing to carry out the environmental assessments before prolonging the life of Doel 1 and 2 nuclear reactors near the northern port city of Antwerp, Belgium infringed EU law, the court ruled.

However, the plants could stay open provisionally, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said: “Where there is a genuine and serious threat of an interruption to electricity supply.”

More than half of Belgium’s electricity is generated by nuclear power with reactors in Doel and in Tihange, in the east, near the border with Germany. But a 2003 law says the country’s last reactor must shut down by December 1, 2025.

The grid operator Elia has warned of a “serious crisis” if the government doesn’t act to fill gaps in production.   Despite recent technical hitches, some think Belgium has no choice but to keep its nuclear plants running.

Impact assessments

In recent years, reactors at both the Doel power station near Antwerp (pictured above) and the Tihange plant near Liège have been shut down temporarily because inspectors found tiny cracks caused by hydrogen flakes. During one period last autumn, six of Belgium’s seven reactors were down at the same time.

Nuclear power always carries risks, including the potential for leakage and cyber attacks, according to Sara Van Dyck from BBL, a Belgian environmental NGO. She says Belgium’s two nuclear plants “were designed in other times with other security standards.” The reactors all started production between 1975 and 1985.

The problems have attracted protest. In 2017, tens of thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators formed a human chain stretching from Tihange to the nearby Dutch city of Maastricht and the German city of Aachen. The Antwerp-based “elf Maart Beweging” (March 11 Movement),” named after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011, says keeping the Doel plant running is tantamount to playing “Russian roulette with Antwerp.” Doel has more people living in the vicinity of a nuclear plant than anywhere else in Europe — 9 million within 75 kilometers (46 miles). …….

What all sides can agree on is that Belgium must make a decision, one way or another. Following the national elections in May, the country still doesn’t have a new government, and can’t afford to skirt the issue.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Brexit: nuclear medicine at risk from no-deal

Brexit: nuclear medicine at risk from no-deal, The Conversation, ManMohan S Sodhi
Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management, City, University of London August 1, 2019  With Boris Johnson as prime minister, a no-deal Brexit looks more likely. Indeed, Goldman Sachs recently raised the probability of a no-deal Brexit from 15% to 20%. Faced with an uncertain future, it is difficult to make adequate preparations for critical medicines – especially ones with a complex supply chain.

A no-deal Brexit will disrupt the supply chains that bring medicines to the UK and take goods from the UK to continental Europe. About 45m packs of medicine travel from the UK to Europe every month and the UK receives 37m packs in return. Even if a deal is reached, supply chains will continue to be disrupted long after the event.

Healthcare professionals are particularly concerned about the impact this could have on nuclear medicine. This branch of medicine mostly involves using radioactive dyes to perform diagnostic tests, which can be used to check if cancer has spread or to see how well the heart or kidneys are working. Therapies are also used to treat hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer with radioactive iodine.

According to the British Nuclear Medicine Society, 60% of the radiopharmaceuticals the UK uses come from the EU and are used during the treatment of as many as 600,000 patients per year. These are transported mostly by road and rail across the English Channel.

Danger of delays

All medicines have expiration dates, but with radioactive pharmaceuticals there is the added problem of radioactive decay. This happens as the radioactive substance changes into one that is more stable. While this process releases the radiation needed for scans and therapies, it also means they don’t last forever.

A measure of how quickly a radioactive substance decays is its half-life. This is the time taken for the strength (or activity) of the measured radiation to decrease by half. For example, the radioactive iodine used in therapies, iodine-131, has a half-life of only eight days. After two days the strength is reduced by 15% and after eight days, by 50%.

The speed of decay means that unplanned delays of only a couple of days at a border could render the nuclear medicine unusable. The shelf life of nuclear medicines is therefore often low compared with other drugs. Extensive stockpiles simply cannot be kept……..

For UK taxpayers, the government depending on the pharamaceutical industry, either domestic or foreign, for supply of medicines is an expensive option. The NHS can use its vast purchasing power to source drugs much more cheaply than healthcare providers can in most other countries, including the US. Indeed, UK sale prices of the top 20 selling medicines are only one-third of the US equivalent.

For specialised areas such as nuclear medicine, the cost difference compared with the US is probably much more. Brexit, especially without a deal, places the NHS in a precarious position and will mean suppliers are in an advantageous position to close this price gap, driving up prices in the UK. Also, the US administration may offer a poisoned chalice in the form of a US free-trade agreement that includes the NHS, meaning higher prices like in the US.

Patients and the NHS may end up paying much higher prices for nuclear medicine, if they can get the supplies at all.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | health, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Warren Backs “No First Use” Nuclear Weapons Policy

Warren Backs “No First Use” Nuclear Policy as Buttigieg Calls for Withdrawal from Afghanistan, DEMOCRACY NOW JULY 31, 2019

While most of Tuesday’s debate focused on domestic issues, Democratic candidates were briefly asked about nuclear weapons policy and the war in Afghanistan. Senator Elizabeth Warren defended her “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons, despite criticism from Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Meanwhile, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper sparred on whether the U.S. should withdraw from Afghanistan after 18 years of war……… HTTPS://WWW.DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG/2019/7/31/CNN_DEBATE_FOREIGN_POLICY_MEHDI_HASAN

August 1, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Jolly propaganda about plutonium fuelling spacecraft

I do love the way that they  trivialise the danger and massive tax-payer expense involved in the production and use of plutonium, for Mars travel etc.

The silly headline about bunnies says it all
Move Over, Energizer Bunny! NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Just Got Its Nuclear Batterym  By Elizabeth Howell 1 August 19

August 1, 2019 Posted by | space travel, USA | Leave a comment

Environmental Groups Call For Unified Voice Against Nuclear Waste In Mountain West

Environmental Groups Call For Unified Voice Against Nuclear Waste In Mountain West, Wyoming Public Media, Environmental activists are calling for a united voice in protesting the Department of Energy’s recent shipment of nuclear waste through our region.

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy sent a shipment of nuclear waste from Tennessee to southern Nevada. The shipment was incorrectly labeled as low-level waste, but it was actually mixed with waste that needs treatment before disposal. Nevada officials accused the agency of trying to sneak the material into the state illegally.

Now, environmental activists are calling for Utah Governor Gary Herbert to join Nevada and New Mexico’s governors in their fight against nuclear waste shipments……

August 1, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

FirstEnergy’s Perry Nuclear Power Plant had an Emergency Shutdown Saturday, Still Not in Operation

FirstEnergy’s Perry Nuclear Power Plant had an Emergency Shutdown Saturday, Still Not in Operation By Sam Allard on Wed, Jul 31, 2019 The nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio, operated by the FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC), had an emergency shutdown Saturday evening.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) event log shows that at 7:29 p.m. on July 27, the reactor automatically shut down after a “main turbine trip.”

Via the event log’s summary, the trip was “not complex,” but its cause is still unknown and is being investigated by FENOC. …..

August 1, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK union unhappy with financing plan for new nuclear power plants

Times 30th July 2019 New nuclear power plants should be funded through general taxation instead of piling the costs on to consumers, a leading union has said. The GMB said
that the government’s proposed regulated asset base funding model for
further reactors was “acceptable”, but that the costs should be paid “from
a progressive general taxation system”. Last week The Times reported leaked
government analysis that up to 40 gigawatts of either nuclear power or
carbon capture and storage plants was needed by 2050 to meet “net zero”
emissions targets. That equates to 12 Hinkley Point plants. Under the
regulated asset base model, developers would receive a regulated return
while the plant was under construction, cutting their financing costs. It
would still be funded on bills, exposing consumers to cost overruns.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Concern in Suffolk over the socio-economic and environmental effects of massive Sizewell nuclear project

East Anglian Daily Times 30th July 2019 County council chiefs are to write again to Government to voice their concern over the number of massive energy projects planned for a small area of east Suffolk. The decision follows a high-level meeting with community
leaders from across the area over their ongoing worries over the proposals
for Sizewell C.

Officials said the group of 86 representatives from 28 town
and parish councils remained unconvinced over EDF Energy’s plans for the
new twin reactor nuclear power station, particularly whether it will
provide a long lasting legacy for the socio-economic benefit of the area,
and its impact on wildlife and flood risk.

The meeting to discuss the Stage
4 consultation was held by members of Sizewell C Joint Local Authorities
Group (JLAG). JLAG chairman Richard Smith said: “These local leaders are
all very well informed and knowledgeable surrounding EDF Energy’s proposals
having been through 3 stages of consultation so far. As expected, there was
a lot of strong feeling within the room and it was important for us to hear
the concerns of the community as we consider a joint response to the Stage
4 consultation from Suffolk County Council and East Suffolk Council.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics | Leave a comment