nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Small nuclear reactors safe? Not so

HELEN CALDICOTT: Small modular reactors — same nuclear disasters  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/helen-caldicott-small-modular-reactors–same-nuclear-disasters,13087

By Helen Caldicott | 9 September 2019  The Morrison Government has opened the door to the notion of nuclear power as peddled by the nuclear sociopaths.

Now that the “nuclear renaissance” seems dead and buried following the Fukushima catastrophe (one-sixth of the world’s nuclear reactors were closed after the accident), the corporations invested in making nuclear plants and radioactive waste –including Toshiba, Nu-Scale, Babcock and Wilcox, GE Hitachi, General Atomics and the Tennessee Valley Authority – are not to be defeated.

Their new strategy is to develop small modular reactors (SMR), which can be sold around the world without, they say, the dangers inherent in large reactors — safety, cost, proliferation risks and radioactive waste.

There are basically three types of SMRs which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity compared to the current 1,000-megawatt reactors.


Light water reactor 
designs

These will be smaller versions of present-day pressurised water reactors using water as the moderator and coolant but with the same attendant problems as Fukushima and Three Mile Island. They are to be built underground, which obviously makes them dangerous to access in the event of an accident or malfunction.

They will be mass-produced (turnkey production) and large numbers must be sold yearly to make a profit. This is an unlikely prospect because major markets – China and India – will be uninterested in buying U.S. reactors when they can make their own.

If a safety problem arises, such as with the Dreamliner plane, all of them will have to be shut down — interfering substantially with electricity supply.

SMRs will be expensive because the cost of unit capacity increases with decrease in the size of the reactor. Billions of dollars of government subsidies will be required because Wall Street will not touch nuclear power. To alleviate costs, it is suggested that safety rules be relaxed — including reducing security requirements and a reduction in the ten-mile emergency planning zone to 1,000 feet.


Non-light water
 designs

These are high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) or pebble bed reactors. Five billion tiny fuel kernels of high-enriched uranium or plutonium will be encased in tennis-ball-sized graphite spheres which must be made without cracks or imperfections — or else they could lead to an accident. A total of 450,000 such spheres will slowly be released continuously from a fuel silo, passing through the reactor core, and then re-circulated ten times. These reactors will be cooled by helium gas operating at very high temperatures (900 C).

The plans are to construct a reactor complex consisting of four HTGR modules located underground to be run by only two operators in a central control room. It is claimed that HTGRs will be so safe that a containment building will be unnecessary and operators can even leave the site — “walk-away-safe” reactors.

However, should temperatures unexpectedly exceed 1600 degrees Celsius, the carbon coating will release dangerous radioactive isotopes into the helium gas and at 2000 C, the carbon would ignite creating a fierce graphite Chernobyl-type fire.

If a crack develops in the piping or building, radioactive helium would escape and air would rush in igniting the graphite.

Although HTGRs produce small amounts of low-level waste, they create larger volumes of high-level waste than conventional reactors.

Despite these obvious safety problems and despite the fact that South Africa has abandoned plans for HTGRs, the U.S. Department of Energy has unwisely chosen the HTGR as the “Next Generation Nuclear Plant”.


Liquid metal fast reactors 
(PRISM)

It is claimed by the proponents that fast reactors will be safe, economically competitive, proliferation-resistant and sustainable.

They are to be fueled by plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and cooled by either liquid sodium or a lead-bismuth molten coolant creating a potentially explosive situation. Liquid sodium burns or explodes when exposed to air or water and lead-bismuth is extremely corrosive producing very volatile radioactive elements when irradiated.

Should a crack occur in the reactor complex, liquid sodium would escape burning or exploding. Without coolant, the plutonium fuel would melt and reach critical mass, inciting a massive nuclear explosion. One-millionth of a gram of plutonium induces cancer and it lasts for 500,000 years. Yet it is claimed that fast reactors will be so safe that no emergency sirens will be required and emergency planning zones can be decreased from ten miles to 1,300 feet.

There are two types of fast reactors, a simple plutonium fueled reactor and a “breeder”. The plutonium reactor core can be surrounded by a blanket of uranium 238, the uranium captures neutrons and converts to plutonium creating ever more plutonium.

Some are keen about fast reactors because plutonium waste from other reactors can be fissioned converting it to shorter-lived isotopes like caesium and strontium which last “only” 600 years instead of 500,000. But this is fallacious thinking because only ten per cent is fissioned leaving 90 per cent of the plutonium for bomb-making and so on.

Construction

Three small plutonium fast reactors will be arranged together forming a module. Three of these modules will be buried underground and all nine reactors will connect to a fully automated central control room. Only three reactor operators situated in one control room will be in control of nine reactors. Potentially, one operator could simultaneously face a catastrophic situation triggered by the loss of off-site power to one unit at full power, in another shut down for refuelling and in one in start-up mode.

There are to be no emergency core cooling systems.

Fast reactors will require a massive infrastructure including a reprocessing plant to dissolve radioactive waste fuel rods in nitric acid, chemically removing the plutonium and a fuel fabrication facility to create new fuel rods. A total of 15,000 to 25,000 kilos of plutonium are required to operate a fuel cycle at a fast reactor and just 2.5 kilos is fuel for a nuclear weapon.

Thus, fast reactors and breeders will provide the perfect plan for nuclear weapons proliferation and despite this danger, the industry plans to sell them to many countries.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

How much is a trillion dollars? — Beyond Nuclear International

The world’s obscene and reckless spending on nuclear weapons

via How much is a trillion dollars? — Beyond Nuclear International

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The decline and fall of nuclear power — Beyond Nuclear International

Political support is waning as costs and risks soar

via The decline and fall of nuclear power — Beyond Nuclear International

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UN warns that climate crisis is the greatest ever threat to human rights

Climate crisis is greatest ever threat to human rights, UN warns   https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/sep/09/climate-crisis-human-rights-un-michelle-bachelet-united-nations  

Rights chief Michelle Bachelet highlights role in civil wars.  ‘The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope’ Agence France-Presse in Geneva, 10 Sep 2019 Climate change is not only having a devastating impact on the environments we live in, but also on respect for human rights globally, the UN has warned.

The UN rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, cited the civil wars sparked by a warming planet and the plight of indigenous people in an Amazon ravaged by wildfires and rampant deforestation.

She also denounced attacks on environmental activists, particularly in Latin America, and the abuse aimed at high-profile figures such as the teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg.

“The world has never seen a threat to human rights of this scope,” she told the UN human rights council in Geneva.

“The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted” by climate change, she warned. Continue reading

September 10, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, civil liberties, climate change | Leave a comment

Unacceptable risk to consumers: “regulated asset base” system to fund UK’s new nuclear reactors

How can we pay for new nuclear power stations?  https://www.ft.com/content/4b81682e-cf19-11e9-99a4-b5ded7a7fe3f, Funding methods that work in the water industry cannot be applied to the sector,

We are coming to a crucial moment of decision on the future of nuclear power in the UK, with implications for the industry across Europe and beyond. The basic issue is whether nuclear power can be provided at a cost that does not damage industrial competitiveness or impose an unacceptable burden on consumers. Without a positive answer to that question, nuclear will not be able to play a role in the transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Despite a long standing commitment to build 16GW of new nuclear capacity, only one new plant is under construction — Hinkley Point C in Somerset — which will, when eventually brought on stream, impose a long-term burden on UK consumers. The price agreed in 2013 — £92.50 per MW hour — looked extremely expensive then, but the real burden will come from the agreed index-linking of the price for 35 years. That already gives a price of over £100, a number way above those for competing sources of power such as wind, solar and natural gas.
The latest attempt to reduce this headline price slipped out in a consultation paper from the department for business, energy and industrial strategy in the dying hours of former UK prime minister Theresa May’s administration. The suggestion is that future nuclear power projects should be funded through the “regulated asset base” system. Put simply, the Rab would fund new projects from the moment construction begins through a levy on consumers. This would reduce the borrowing costs for the companies building the projects and thus in turn bring down the level of future bills. £92.50 might come down to £80.

This method of funding is a serious option for long-term projects with high upfront capital costs and has been used effectively in the water industry and elsewhere. As a mechanism for funding new nuclear, however, it is far from convincing. Water projects, such as reservoirs and pipeline systems, require large-scale capital investment. But the technology is proven and the construction risks are low. In new nuclear, however, the construction risks are high and to place them on the shoulders of consumers is unfair.

Of course, the dream of any company is to pass the burden of risk in any project to someone else while collecting a guaranteed stream of income once the project is up and running. In this case, however, the unfairness of such an outcome makes the model unsustainable. Consumers cannot be encouraged by the example of one of the few new nuclear stations being built in Europe — Flamanville on the northern coast of France.

Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.
https://www.ft.com/content/4b81682e-cf19-11e9-99a4-b5ded7a7fe3f

Flamanville began construction in 2007 and was due to come on stream in 2012. When I was working in government a decade ago, I was told that Flamanville would set the example for all new nuclear stations to be built in the UK. Today, Flamanville is still under construction. Earlier this year further faults were found by the French regulator and the commissioning of the station has been put back. The operator EDF has so far been unable to name the date when it will come on stream but has talked of a further delay of perhaps another three years. The cost of the plant was originally set at €3.3bn. Now the estimate is €10.9bn.

Under the Rab funding system, consumers would have been paying a surcharge on their bills since 2007 with nothing to show for it. They would have no leverage over the company building the plant and no scope for compensation. They would also of course have to pay in addition the cost of buying the power they need from someone else. Such an allocation of risk is unfair and unacceptable, and it is hard to think that ministers in a UK government, highly attuned to public opinion when it comes to energy prices, will impose such a system.

What are the implications of this? If the private sector will not fund new nuclear, and if no fair system of allocating costs and risks can be found, the 16GW of capacity required under current energy policies will not be built. That will be true not just in the UK but across most of Europe and perhaps even France, a country committed to nuclear power in the past and where a decision on new nuclear facilities is due to be taken in the early 2020s. Over time, nuclear power will become a source of power only in countries, such as China, where the state can provide full funding for new developments, as well as subsidies to conceal the costs to business and other consumers.
Nuclear’s future in Europe, Japan and the US is limited by these unanswered challenges. Of course there are alternatives. Wind and solar are becoming cheaper, and there is huge scope for energy efficiency. But until large grid-level storage capacity is available, economically viable renewables will always need some back-up — which means gas or, in many countries, coal. If Rab pricing systems are not the answer, is there another way through this dilemma? Next week, I will look at one possible option. The writer is an energy commentator for the FT and chair of The Policy Institute at King’s College London

September 10, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledges not to invest in nuclear energy and focus on renewables instead

Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledges not to invest in nuclear energy and focus on renewables instead, MassLive, By 8 Sept 19, Sen. Elizabeth Warren made clear in a Sept. 4 climate town hall meeting that if she is successful in taking office as president, she will not invest in nuclear energy.

The Democratic presidential hopeful pledged to not only prevent the building of new power plants, but also said she would phase out all nuclear power by 2035 and replace it with renewables. After 52 years of producing energy, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station closed its doors on May 31.

Warren was asked what her opinion on nuclear energy replacing fossil fuels are during the Climate Town Hall.

“[Nuclear energy] is not carbon based, but it has a lot of risks associated with it,” said Warren. “Particularly the risks associated with spent fuel rods.”

According to a Gallup poll in 2016 many Americans have expressed worry about nuclear power and the waste from nuclear in the past and are concerned about the effects on the environment …… https://www.masslive.com/news/2019/09/sen-elizabeth-warren-pledges-not-to-invest-in-nuclear-energy-and-focus-on-renewables-instead.html

September 10, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Environmental, health, threats of USA’s zombie uranium mines

When toxic waste piles — either solid rock or liquid confined behind earthen dams — are left unaddressed, the potential increases for “catastrophic failure

WHILE ‘ZOMBIE’ MINES IDLE, CLEANUP AND WORKERS SUFFER IN LIMBO As the governor of West Virginia and other mine owners warehouse their operations and avoid cleanup, the Trump administration stifles attempts to write rules that could restrict the practice. Center for Public Integrity, 8 Sept 19

…….RADIOACTIVE LEGACY

Remnants of America’s nuclear past litter the Grants Mining District in northwest New Mexico: signs warning of radioactivity, a spiked drill bit outside the New Mexico Mining Museum in Grants, businesses offering to help retired miners get U.S. Department of Labor health benefits.

Mount Taylor — “Tsoodzil” to the Navajo Nation — towers over the landscape. At the base of the 11,305-foot-tall inactive volcano sits the Mount Taylor Mine, idled in 1990 and allowed to flood.

The heyday of Southwestern uranium mining lasted just 30 years. Much of the industry, including this mine, has since remained in standby.

The country’s last operational underground uranium mine shut in 2015, and  open-pit mines haven’t produced in decades. Only one mill in Utah and four in-situ-leach operations, in which ore is dissolved belowground and pumped up, are still active. Two other mills and 15 in-situ-leach sites are either officially in standby or not producing. The American uranium industry employed only 372 people last year, down from 1,120 two decades earlier. Production from U.S. uranium mines fell 85 percent during that period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At current prices, mining uranium in the Four Corners remains untenable.

But now the Mount Taylor Mine is reopening, at least on paper. 

…  the Jackpile-Paguate Uranium Mine, once the world’s largest open-pit uranium mine, is now a Superfund site. In the broader Four Corners region, the U.S. Department of Energy is supposed to clean up more than 20 such Cold War relics, from former mills to waste piles. Some leak arsenic, lead, uranium and other toxic substances into groundwater. Recently, hoofprints were found leading from an unfenced pollution control pond near Slick Rock, Colorado, indicating that cattle likely drink from it.

Just inside the southeastern corner of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, an unsettling sign hangs from barbed wire: “DANGER. ABANDONED URANIUM MINE,” a pile of mine waste looming behind it. Residents here in the Red Water Pond Road Community are surrounded by two abandoned uranium mines and a mill…….

Living around or working in uranium mines can worsen, or even trigger, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease, respiratory issues, hypertension and cancer. A study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the University of New Mexico and Navajo agencies found that Navajo Nation citizens, including infants, had elevated levels of uranium in their bodies.

Paul Robinson, Southwest Research and Information Center’s research director, has tracked the industry for more than 40 years. While the New Mexico Mining Act mandates that waste rock and other infrastructure be stabilized before entering standby status, it allows operators to delay reclamation while mining is paused, he said.

Leaving the wastes that are generated at a mine uncovered is one of the ways to ensure airborne or waterborne release,” Robinson said.

Thompson Bell, a member of the Navajo Nation who spent five years as a mechanic in a uranium mine, grew up here and returned for the study. He said many of his mining coworkers died from lung cancer. The sheep and cattle that used to graze here have all but disappeared, the flocks given up for fear of contamination.

The thing about uranium, we found out: It destroys humans and land,” Bell said.

Opinion remains split locally about whether the return of relatively high-paying mining jobs — if that ever happened — would be worth the human and environmental consequences. Christine Lowery, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a commissioner for the county where the Mount Taylor Mine is located, said she welcomes a cleaner economy.

Those mines were open for one generation,” she said. “The legacy lasts forever…….

The federal government leaves it to the states to impose limits on uranium-mine idling. The resulting patchwork of state rules are largely anchored on a 147-year-old federal law aimed more at promoting mining than managing it.

Over time, uranium production has dropped, stockpiles remained large, nuclear power’s share of the country’s electricity production fell, and power plants bought more uranium from overseas. Still, mine owners hope for a revival…….

 Modern surface mining in Central Appalachia has been linked to health problems ranging from cancer to birth defects. And in a 2012 study, Bernhardt estimated that surface mining impaired about one in three miles of southern West Virginia’s rivers.

But idling poses other risks, Bernhardt said. When toxic waste piles — either solid rock or liquid confined behind earthen dams — are left unaddressed, the potential increases for “catastrophic failure,” she said, even as opportunities to use the land for new purposes are delayed…..

Regulators in Virginia have few options. Justice mine cleanup liabilities in Virginia total as much as $200 million, and taxpayers could get stuck with a large share of that if the state takes over. That’s because those companies have put up only about $51 million for cleanup if the operations are abandoned. Half of that amount would likely be worthless in that scenario because, state records show, it is backed against the value of the companies. A pool of money Virginia set up to close gaps like this at 150 permits across the state, including some of Justice’s, has less than $10 million in it. ……..https://publicintegrity.org/environment/while-zombie-mines-idle-cleanup-and-workers-suffer-in-limbo/?fbclid=IwAR1PsslGwAV0UPxPBIn4qv1JTypoGVk1

September 10, 2019 Posted by | environment, health, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Trump administration still trying to prop up the nuclear industry

Try, Try Again: Trump Mulling Taxpayer Bailout of Nuclear Industry  https://www.ewg.org/energy/release/22837/try-try-again-trump-mulling-taxpayer-bailout-nuclear-industry10 Sept 19 WASHINGTON – Although previous schemes to bail out the dying nuclear industry fizzled, the Trump administration is at it again. Bloomberg reports that the administration is considering using an obscure Cold War-era law to directly purchase U.S.-mined uranium to restock nuclear power plants.In an Aug. 18 letter from the Nuclear Energy Institute to White House national security advisor John Bolton and economic advisor Larry Kudlow, the industry trade group called on the administration to use “direct payments to either a U.S. utility or domestic uranium producer for sale of U.S.-origin uranium to a utility.”

The purchases would be authorized under the Defense Production Act, enacted during the Korean War to ensure that U.S. industries have the resources necessary for national defense. The act allows the president to allocate uranium and other materials needed to power and arm submarines, aircraft carriers and warheads.

But experts say there is no military justification for the scheme.

“Frankly, we have already taken care of our naval fuel needs for the next 60 years. We are awash in enriched uranium for weapons,” Sharon Squassoni, a professor on nuclear policy at George Washington University, told Reuters.

In July, the president dismissed a Commerce Department proposal, strongly backed by the uranium and nuclear industries, to slap tariffs on uranium imported to the U.S. Instead, President Trump created a working group including Bolton, Kudlow and six cabinet secretaries to come up with other options for propping up the nuclear power industry.

The industry is struggling because of aging plants and high operating costs, which make it hard to compete against much cheaper renewable energy sources and natural gas.

This is not the first time the Trump administration has toyed with ideas to use taxpayer money to prop up the nuclear power industry artificially. Energy Secretary Rick Perry twice pursued plans to bail out both the nuclear and coal industries by requiring regional electricity suppliers to buy above-market-rate power from coal and nuclear plants, even when cheaper sources are available.

Perry’s proposals were shot down by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and top White House national security officials. In June, Perry admitted there is no federal authority for his scheme, so operators of struggling nuclear plants have turned to getting bailouts from state governments.

“The Trump administration is once again looking to prop up the dying and dangerous nuclear energy industry and squandering taxpayer dollars to do it,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Nuclear power is a relic of the last century, too risky, too expensive and completely rejected by Wall Street investors. Instead of backing another energy loser, the administration should push to make America’s wind and solar power great again, by helping U.S. makers of turbines and solar panels recover from years of standing by while foreign competitors dominate.”

Data from the Energy Information Administration shows that since 2009, solar power capacity has grown by more than a factor of 89, and wind power capacity has increased sixfold. But production of solar panels and wind turbines is dominated by companies from China and Europe.

Reuters reported that the White House working group is expected to make its recommendations for bailing out domestic uranium mining and the nuclear power industry by Oct. 10.

Much of the U.S.’ uranium deposits are in the desert Southwest, including along the rim of the Grand Canyon. In 2012, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar placed a 20-year moratorium on uranium mining on more than 1 million acres of land along the canyon rim.

But in November 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to reconsider the mining ban near the Grand Canyon. And in March 2018, the uranium mining lobby petitioned the Supreme Court to lift the Obama-era ban.

###

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | politics, Uranium | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia Plans To Enrich Uranium

Saudi Arabia Plans To Enrich Uranium For Its Nuclear Power Reactors, Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, 8 Sept 19

Saudi Arabia new energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has announced the kingdom plans to enrich uranium for its future civilian nuclear power program. The move could mark the start of a race for nuclear weapons in the Gulf as attempts by the United States and European Union to strike a new deal with Iran on its nuclear plan falter. ……

Saudi’s former energy minister said in April that Riyadh’s use of the reactors would be peaceful and in compliance with “international framework governing … nuclear energy and its peaceful use.” However, the kingdom previously said it would not sign any deal that would restrict its nuclear program. The same technology used to enrich uranium for civilian reactors can also be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons   …… https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2019/09/09/saudi-arabia-plans-to-enrich-uranium-for-its-nuclear-power-reactors/#5450c3415e2f

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, Uranium | Leave a comment

North Korea willing to resume negotiations, wants USA to take a fresh approach

North Korea willing to resume US nuclear talks, senior diplomat says, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/09/north-korea-us-pyongyang-trump-kim-jong-un    Meeting could be held in late September at mutually agreed location, deputy foreign minister tells state news agency.

North Korea is willing to restart talks with the United States in late September over its nuclear programme, but warned that chances of a deal could end unless Washington takes a fresh approach.
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, agreed in a 30 June meeting with Donald Trump to reopen working-level talks stalled since their failed February summit in Hanoi, but this has yet to happen despite repeated appeals from Washington.

n a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, the deputy foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, said Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” with the United States in late September at a time and place agreed between both sides.

Asked for comment, a US state department spokeswoman said: “We don’t have any meetings to announce at this time.”

On Sunday, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said he hoped to return to denuclearisation talks with North Korea in the coming days or weeks.

But Choe highlighted that Washington needed to present a new approach or the talks could fall apart again.

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said.

“If the US side toys with an old scenario that has nothing to do with the new method at working-level talks which would be held after difficulties, a deal between the two sides may come to an end.”

In April, Kim set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility in talks, which broke down in February over US demands for North Korea to give up all of its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang’s demands for relief from punishing US-led international sanctions.

The end-of-September timeframe would coincide with the annual United Nations general assembly in New York, which Pompeo is due to attend. North Korea’s mission to the United Nations said last week that the foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, would not attend “due to his schedule”.

North Korea has demanded that Pompeo be replaced with a “more mature” person in the US negotiating team, while lauding the rapport built between Kim and Trump in three meetings since June 2018.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, led working-level talks with North Korea in the run-up to the failed Hanoi meeting.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

China’s plans for a nuclear-powered icebreaker ship

Checking in on China’s Nuclear Icebreaker, Speculation has trailed the news that China’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker ship was in the works. The Diplomat, By Trym Aleksander Eiterjord September 05, 2019  In June 2018, on the heels of China’s Arctic White PaperThe Diplomat reported on a tender issued by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), the country’s largest nuclear operator, to build what would be China’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker.

Calling for bids to provide technical consultancy services on a “nuclear-powered icebreaker and comprehensive support vessel demonstration project,” the tender left ample room for speculation. The bidder would provide “verification and consultancy services” throughout all stages of the project — from basic design to construction and testing — both on the vessel itself and the onboard nuclear propulsion system. ……

Nuclear icebreakers might, on the one hand, mark a convergence of China’s Arctic and broader naval ambitions. On the other hand, however, such plans are likely to produce unfavorable optics for a country eager to be seen as a benign partner in the region. Unilaterally developing ships that would give the country outsized access to the maritime Arctic runs the risk of undermining China’s desired image – that of a gentle, “near-Arctic” giant.   https://thediplomat.com/2019/09/checking-in-on-chinas-nuclear-icebreaker/

September 10, 2019 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

UN urges Iran to co-operate with UN regulatory agency

Time is of the essence’ in Iran co-operation: UN nuclear watchdog Channel News Asia, 8 Sept 19, 

VIENNA: The acting head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Monday (Sep 9) called on Iran to “respond promptly” to the agency’s questions regarding Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Cornel Feruta was addressing the quarterly board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a day after meeting high-level Iranian officials in Tehran.

He said that in his meetings he “stressed the need for Iran to respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations”, adding: “Time is of the essence.”

Earlier Monday, the IAEA confirmed that Iran was installing advanced centrifuges, a move that puts further pressure on the troubled 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The IAEA’s latest statements come a day after Tehran hit out at European powers, saying they had left Iran little option but to scale back its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)…….

Iran has said that notwithstanding its reduction of commitments under the JCPOA, it will continue to allow access to IAEA inspectors who monitor its nuclear programme…….  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/-time-is-of-the-essence–in-iran-co-operation–un-nuclear-watchdog-11888270

September 10, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Haunting photos reveal what nuclear-disaster ghost towns look like years after being abandoned

 InsiderSep. 4, 2019   

September 10, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Princeton project to build a diverse coalition of physicists to confront nuclear dangers

 https://www.princeton.edu/news/2019/09/09/princeton-project-build-diverse-coalition-physicists-confront-nuclear-dangers

Sept. 9, 2019  A group of Princeton University physicists has been awarded a two-year grant by the American Physical Society (APS) Innovation Fund to educate and re-engage the U.S. physics community on the globally important issue of the risk posed by nuclear weapons and the pressing need to reduce this threat.

At Princeton, the work will be led by:

The project will be co-led by Steve Fetter, a physicist and professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and dean of the Graduate School.

The impulse for the effort is the grave and worsening global threat from nuclear weapons, according to the Princeton group. The world arsenal contains roughly 10,000 operational nuclear warheads, mostly held by the U.S and Russia. It includes about 2,000 warheads on alert status, capable of launch within minutes of an order. There are numerous new dangers such as U.S. withdrawal from several important arms control treaties, a buildup of offensive capabilities by Russia and China in response to the growth of U.S. ballistic-missile defense, and cyberthreats to nuclear command and control systems.

The key goal of the project — one of only four initiatives selected from 100 submissions to the APS Innovation Fund — is to build a coalition of technically trained and policy-driven citizen-scientists able to assess, explain and advocate for nuclear threat reduction with the public, policymakers and those who influence public policy, such as the media and key think-tank organizations.

More specifically, the project will develop materials to inform and engage the U.S. physics community through visits to physics institutions including universities, national labs, industry and APS conferences, and will include a special effort to broaden the participation of women and underrepresented minorities and next generation physicists in nuclear policy efforts. To benefit from a diverse set of perspectives and talents, the project will establish fellowships for early-career physicists, with a particular focus on diversity and inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities.

APS is a nonprofit membership organization representing more than 55,000 physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world. It works to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics for the benefit of humanity, promote physics, and serve the broader physics community through its research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.

September 10, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Bomb or Earthquake? Explosions Reveal the Differences

A series of controlled chemical detonations in the Nevada desert is helping researchers discern between ground shaking caused by nuclear explosions and earthquakes.  EOS, By Katherine Kornei, 8 Sept 19

Earthquakes send energy rippling through the planet, but so does something decidedly human caused: an underground nuclear explosion. With the goal of monitoring the proliferation of nuclear weapons, scientists and engineers have been tasked with differentiating between these two types of energetic events. By collecting geophysical data from controlled detonations in the Nevada desert, researchers aim to do just that.

Rob Abbott, a seismologist at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., sums up the motivation for the project, known as the Source Physics Experiment: “Sometimes an explosion can look very earthquake-like, and sometimes an earthquake can look very explosion-like.”

Going Boom in the Desert

The Source Physics Experiment, which began in 2010, has conducted 10 controlled underground explosions at the Nevada National Security Site, a Rhode Island–sized facility roughly 105 kilometers northwest of Las Vegas. The detonations mimicked underground nuclear explosions, but the researchers used chemical explosives such as nitromethane rather than fission- or fusion-based bombs. ……. https://eos.org/articles/nuclear-bomb-or-earthquake-explosions-reveal-the-differences

September 10, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment