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Why nuclear reactors are the perfect missile target in the Middle East, or anywhere, really

The ultimate Middle East missile target: Nuclear reactors, Washington Examiner, by Mark Dubowitz& Henry Sokolski October 22, 2019  What if a nuclear reactor had been the target of last month’s accurate missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities? We might now be mopping up a Middle East Chernobyl. The lesson should be clear: Don’t build more large reactors in the region. They’re radioactive sitting ducks.

Saudi Arabia has plans to build an array of large nuclear power plants. Next door, the United Arab Emirates is spending $20 billion to complete four commercial reactors at Barakah. Egypt and Turkey both have begun constructing two massive Russian-designed nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, Iran has two operating reactors and has begun constructing two more. After Iran’s Sept. 14 missile attack against Saudi Arabia, though, all of these plants risk being wiped out.

Precision guided missiles are the reason why. Shortly after the Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia, pictures revealed each of the oil tanks struck at Abqaiq were hit in the exact same spot. The missiles’s estimated accuracy was one meter. That makes even the hardiest of large reactors easy marks. Rather than target the most protected part of the plant, the large concrete containment building covering the reactor’s core, accurate missiles can put key auxiliary reactor facilities at risk.

One such aim point is the power plant’s emergency electrical diesel generator building. Knock the generators out and you deprive the reactor of emergency backup power needed to keep its safety and coolant pump systems operating when external, grid-supplied electricity is cut off by blackouts, storms, or attacks.

Then, there are the main electrical power lines coming into the plant. Hit both of these and the emergency diesel backup generators and you rob the plant’s coolant pumps and safety systems of all power. Reactor core meltdowns and fuel fires in the reactor’s spent fuel storage pond are assured (similar to Fukushima).

Yet, another aim point is the reactor’s control room, which is often located outside the reactor’s containment walls. Knock it out and you lobotomize the plant, which again will set the reactor on a meltdown trajectory.

Finally, there’s the reactor’s spent fuel storage pond building. If it is hit and subsequently drained of coolant, the spent fuel it contains will catch fire, risking a major release of radioactivity.

How large of a release? The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated a spent fuel fire at a typical power plant would likely discharge 100 times as much damaging radiation as was spread in the Fukushima accident. Accordingly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission projected a desired evacuation area more than 700 times larger than what the Fukushima accident required.

Some nuclear reactor owners recognize the risks of aerial attacks. Belarus just announced its deployment of modern air and missile defenses to counter possible military attacks against its new nuclear plant. Iran and Algeria have air-defended their reactors, as has Israel. UAE officials also have suggested they have such systems.

But will they work against the kind of high-accuracy missiles Iran fired at the Saudis? In the September attack, all 25 of the low-flying attack drones and missiles flew undetected. None of Riyadh’s air defenses (which included U.S. Patriot, German Skyguard, and French Shahine systems) engaged.

Yet, some experts doubt any current air defense system could do any better. The Pentagon’s top policy official and Israel’s prime minister were both rattled by the Saudi attack. The United States publicly warned that NATO currently can’t cope with such low-flying missiles. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a crash multibillion-dollar Israeli air defense development program to deal with them. Securing such defenses won’t be easy.

In the meantime, Middle Eastern states need more large reactors like a hole in the head. That goes for Iran, Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Morocco, and Algeria, as well as Saudi Arabia. In fact, no one in the natural gas and the sun-drenched Middle East needs nuclear power. Renewable and gas-fired electricity are much cheaper, quicker to build, and far less provocative…..

October 24, 2019 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, safety | Leave a comment

No such thing as a zero- or close to zero-emission nuclear power plant.

David Lowry, Guardian 21st Oct 2019: in the analysis of MPs’ voting record on bills to combat climate change (Tories five times more likely than other MPs to vote against bills to tackle climate crisis, 12 October), both Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas are marked as 92% supportive on the basis they voted to
“keep nuclear power subsidies relatively low”.
This clearly implies that voting for higher nuclear subsidies would increase their score on lowering carbon emissions. Nadhim Zahawi, the business and  energy minister, compounded this view, telling parliament in a written statement on 17October: “Nuclear … will continue to play an important role as we transition to a carbon neutral economy.”
But it is a demonstrably false viewpoint. A recent assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from differing power generation technologies by Prof Mark Jacobson indicates that nuclear CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewables.
In a newly completed chapter, Evaluation of Nuclear Power as a
Proposed Solution to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Security, in
his forthcoming book, 100% Clean, Renewable Energy and Storage for
Everything, Jacobson argues: “There is no such thing as a zero- or close to
zero-emission nuclear power plant. Even existing plants emit due to the
continuous mining and refining of uranium needed for the plant. Overall
emissions from new nuclear are 78 to 178g of CO2/kWH, not close to 0.”

October 24, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Climate change: Permafrost is now becoming a carbon emitter

October 24, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Rick Perry, as Energy Secretary, “solved” nuclear waste problem by reclassifying high level waste as low level

October 24, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Highly toxic nuclear waste being imported into Russia, from Germany

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Germany, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

UK govt postpones decision on Wylfa nuclear project

Wylfa: Anglesey nuclear power plant planning decision deferred, BBC,

By Steffan Messenger, 22 Oct 19, BBC Wales environment correspondent A decision on whether to give a stalled £13bn nuclear power project planning permission has been deferred.Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom wants more information on environmental and other impacts for Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey.

She had been widely expected to back the proposals, granting what is known as a development consent order (DCO).

Hitachi shelved the scheme, the biggest energy project ever proposed in Wales, over funding issues.

Developers Horizon Nuclear Power had earlier said the decision would “heavily influence” how the project progresses.

Ms Leadsom has now given a deadline by the end of the year – and invited comments from Natural Resources Wales, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, Anglesey council and other bodies. She wants more assurances on various aspects – from biodiversity, visual impact, flooding and construction noise – and any risk to the Sandwich tern, which has a colony nearby.…….

Opponents of nuclear power have called on Ms Leadsom to dismiss the planning application and focus on renewable sources of electricity. Dylan Morgan of People Against Wylfa B said it was “obvious the developers are keen to get planning permission in order to try and sell the site”.

“But that’s easier said than done at the moment given the pretty perilous state of the global nuclear industry and the hopeless economics.”…….

October 24, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Uninsurable – and for good reason – nuclear power

October 24, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

High Radiation Along Planned Moscow Highway Route

Greenpeace Finds High Radiation Along Planned Moscow Highway Route, Moscow Times, Oct. 21, 2019, Soil samples taken along the route of a planned highway in Moscow are emitting radiation levels that pose cancer risks to residents, Greenpeace Russia said Monday.

Activists have warned that the eight-lane highway, which authorities hope to start building next year and finish by 2024, will release buried radioactive dust into the air and the Moscow River.

“We now have official proof that radioactive waste lies on the route and not somewhere nearby,” Greenpeace Russia said Monday.

Greenpeace demanded in July that construction be halted, months after state-run safety tests revealed radiation levels near the planned highway 200 times higher than the norm.

The NGO and hired experts found five locations on the highway route between the Moscow Polymetals Plant and the Moskvorechye commuter rail station where topsoil emitted up to eight times the normal level of radiation.

“Borehole measurements half a meter deep showed greater [radiation] values than on the surface,” Greenpeace said…….

October 24, 2019 Posted by | environment, Russia | Leave a comment

Columbia nuclear fuel factory in trouble again, with safety problems

Nuclear workers hospitalized; Columbia plant runs afoul of safety rules – again, The State. BY SAMMY FRETWELL 22 OCT 19 

A Columbia nuclear fuel factory with a history of leaks, spills and other mishaps has again run into trouble, this time after three workers went to the hospital and an inspection found the plant didn’t have proper safety equipment.

The Westinghouse nuclear plant discovered last week that it had a device in place that was not adequate to prevent uranium from leaking into chemical supply drums at the site, federal records show.

That’s potentially significant because the drums were in a “non-favorable’’ position, which under certain circumstances could increase chances of a radiation burst inside the 1,000-employee plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking into the matter, reported by Westinghouse to the agency Oct. 16. Westinghouse shut down part of the plant where the improper equipment was found, a spokesman for the NRC said this week………

The nuclear fuel factory, one of only three of its kind in the country, has a long history of incidents, including events in which some workers were exposed to radiation or injured. But concerns have intensified in recent years among people who live in eastern Richland County, near the plant.

Since 2016, the facility has run afoul of federal regulators for allowing uranium to build up in an air pollution control device, leaking uranium through a hole in the plant floor and failing to notify authorities of historic leaks on the property. This past summer, federal officials learned that water had dripped through a rusty shipping container onto a barrel of nuclear waste, causing a leak into the ground. Officials also learned about a small fire this summer that erupted in a container that held nuclear material.

Groundwater beneath the site is polluted with an array of toxins, including nitrate, solvents and nuclear materials, dating as far back as the 1980s. Neighbors near the plant are leery, with some saying they don’t trust Westinghouse to safeguard the environment. The company has pledged to do better.

Westinghouse’s plant supplies fuel rods for atomic power plants across the country. Located between Interstate 77 and Congaree National Park, the 550,000-square-foot factory has been a key part of the Columbia economy since opening in 1969. The plant employs about 1,000 people. Operators are now seeking to renew a federal license, as well as state discharge permits.

October 24, 2019 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Russian obfuscation over nuclear accident is a dangerous precedent

October 24, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

The “water footprint”of solar and wind power is far less than for coal and nuclear

October 24, 2019 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, water | Leave a comment

Bill Gates still hoping for tax-payer funding for his small nuclear reactor project

Bill Gates’ Nuclear Reactor Hits a Roadblock, , October 21, 2019  Bill Gates is optimistic about the future—and the role of nuclear energy as an environmentally friendly energy source—but he faces significant obstacles along the way.

His company, TerraPower, is working on new technologies to revolutionize nuclear power. One of them is a traveling wave reactor (TWR). ………

One major problem with a TWR power plant is the price. It will cost about $3 billion to build a demonstration reactor. Even Bill Gates isn’t rich enough to fund it himself. TerraPower had signed a promising agreement with China to build a demonstration reactor, but the project has been shuttered due to China-U.S. trade tensions. The company is now lobbying Congress for a public-private partnership to fund the reactor.  ……

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

October 23 Energy News — geoharvey

Science and Technology: ¶ “Tiny Shell Fossils Reveal How Ocean Acidification Can Cause Mass Extinction” • Ocean acidification caused a mass extinction of marine life a little less than 66 million years ago, research into tiny shell fossils has shown. This could have implications for the current climate crisis, which is also making the oceans […]

via October 23 Energy News — geoharvey

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A young Hannah Rabin was the peace movement’s Greta — IPPNW peace and health blog

Older members of the peace movement remember 16-year-old Hannah Rabin, who campaigned to prevent nuclear war in the early 1980s.

via A young Hannah Rabin was the peace movement’s Greta — IPPNW peace and health blog

October 24, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment