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

Satellite Imagery of Chernobyl Fires April 8 & 9 2020 – NASA

#NASA images show continuing spread of fires in high-radiation #Chernobyl zone from April 8 to April 9





April 11, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pandemic makes a nuclear disaster more likely than ever

Terrified Atomic Workers Warn That the COVID-19 Pandemic May Threaten Nuclear Reactor Disaster

Nuclear safety cannot be shortchanged—especially in the midst of an outbreak like what the nation is now experiencing, by Harvey Wasserman  10 Apr 20, 

The COVID Pandemic has thrown America’s atomic reactor industry into lethal chaos, making a major disaster even more likely. Reports from “terrified” workers at a Pennsylvania reactor indicate vital precautions needed to protect them may not even be possible.

Nationwide, with falling demand and soaring prices for nuke-generated electricity, the pandemic casts a dark shadow over reactor operations and whether frightened neighbors will allow them to be refueled and repaired.

America’s 96 remaining atomic reactors are run by a coveted pool of skilled technicians who manage the control rooms, conduct repairs, load/unload nuclear fuel.  Because few young students have been entering the field, the corps of about 100,000 licensed technicians has been—like the reactors themselves—rapidly aging while declining in numbers.  Work has stopped at the last two US reactors under construction (at Vogtle, Georgia) due to the pandemic’s impact, which includes a shrinking supply of healthy workers.

Every reactor control room requires five operators at all times.  But the physical space is limited there and in plant hot spots that need frequent, often demanding repairs.  Social distancing is virtually impossible.  Long shifts in confined spaces undermine operator safety and performance.

Of critical importance: every 18-24 months each reactor must shut for refueling and repairs. Itinerant crews of 1000 to 1500 technicians travel to 58 sites in 29 states, usually staying 30-60 days. They often board with local families, or in RVs, hotels, or Air B&Bs.

Some 54 reactors have been scheduled for refuel/repairs in 2020. But there is no official, organized program to test the workers for the Coronavirus as they move around the country.

As the pandemic thins the workforce, older operators are being called out of retirement.  The Trump-run Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently certified 16-hour work days, 86-hour work weeks, and up to 14 consecutive days with 12-hour shifts.

Long-time nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen warns of fatigued operators falling asleep on the job. He recalls at least one exhausted worker falling into the highly radioactive pool surrounding the high-level fuel rods. Operator fatigue also helped cause the 1979 melt-down that destroyed Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island Unit Two.

The industry is now using the coronavirus pandemic to rush through a wide range of deregulation demands. Among them is a move to allow radioactive waste to be dumped into municipal landfills. 

The NRC may also certify skipping vital repairs, escalating the likelihood of major breakdowns and melt-downs. Nearly all US reactors were designed and built in the pre-digital age, more than 30 years ago. Most are in advanced decay. Atomic expert David Lochbaum, formerly with the NRC, warns that failure risks from longer work hours and deferred repairs could be extremely significant, and could vary from reactor to reactor depending on their age and condition.

The industry has also been required to maintain credible public health response plans should those reactors blow. But pandemic-stricken U.S. hospitals now have zero spare capacity, multiplying the possible human fallout from an increasingly likely disaster.

Industry-wide the pandemic has brought working conditions to the brink of collapse.  At Pennsylvania’s Limerick Generating Station, workers say they are “terrified” that the plant has become a “breeding ground…a complete cesspool” for the coronavirus.  “I’m in a constant state of paranoia,” one technician told Carl Hessler, Jr., of MontcoCourtNews. 

Others say social distancing is non-existent, with “no less than 100 people in the training room” and “people literally sitting on top of each other…sitting at every computer elbow to elbow.” Shift change rooms, Hessler was told, can be “standing room only.” At least two Limerick workers are confirmed to have carried the virus.  COVID rates in the county are soaring.

Gundersen, a nuclear engineer, warns that limited control room floorspace and cramped conditions for maintenance can make social distancing impossible.  “Some component repairs can involve five workers working right next to each other,” he says.

Because reactor-driven electricity is not vital amidst this pandemic downturn, the demand for atomic workers to “stay home” is certain to escalate. “I am concerned with Exelon & Limerick Nuclear Generating Station’s handling of the scheduled refueling—which has required bringing in workers from across the country during this pandemic,” says US Rep. Madeleine Dean in a statement likely to be repeated at reactor sites around the country.   

“The potential increase of COVID-19 cases from 1,400 new workers not observing social distancing is staggering,” says epidemiologist Joseph Mangano of the Radiation and Health Project. “The Limerick plant should be shut until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.”

Indian Point Unit One, north of New York City, will shut permanently on April 28.  Iowa’s Duane Arnold will close in December.

But Ground Zero may be Pacific Gas & Electric’s two 35-year-old reactors at Diablo Canyon. PG&E is bankrupt for the second time in two decades, and recently pleaded guilty to 85 felonies from the fires its faulty wires sent raging through northern California, killing 84 people. In 2010 a faulty PG&E gas line exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people.

Surrounded by earthquake faults, Diablo’s construction prompted more than 10,000 civil disobedience arrests, the most at any US reactor. PG&E now admits its two Diablo nukes will lose more than $1.2 billion this year, more than $3.4 million per day.

Amidst its bitterly contested bankruptcy, PG&E may be taken over by the state. But more than a thousand workers are slated in early October to refuel and repair Unit One, which the NRC says is dangerously embrittled.

Whether local residents concerned about both a nuclear accident and the spread of the coronavirus will let them into the county remains to be seen. So is whether they’ll be still operating by then.

With the future of the nuclear industry at stake—along with the possibility of more reactor mishaps—the whole world will be watching.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive cloud headed to Kiev, as fires rage in Chernobyl region

April 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change, incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

The unsafety of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors: Ukrainian Association of Veterans of Atomic Energy and Industry fear “another Chernobyl”

Ukrainian Nuclear Industry Workers Sound Alarm About Threat of ‘Another Chernobyl’ RIA Novosti . Alexei Furman 10.04.2020 

Ukrainian firefighters reported that radiation levels at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone spiked to over 16 times their normal level this week as wildfires continue to ravage the desolate, forested area. The fires are said to have unleashed radioactive elements previously trapped in soil and plants into the atmosphere, carrying them into the wind.

The Ukrainian Association of Veterans of Atomic Energy and Industry, a collective of retired officials including several former heads of nuclear power plants, have declared that the country’s nuclear energy sector is in a critical state and that there is a danger of “another Chernobyl.”

 “A dire situation is taking shape in the country’s nuclear energy sector,” association members warn in a letter addressed to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the prime minister and speaker of parliament, and published by local media.

The letter alleges that Energoatom, operator of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, has not had permanent managers working based on the relevant safety permits from nuclear regulators over a space of several months now. This, they say, means that “legally, no one is responsible for the safety of nuclear power plants.”

“Is it really the case that Chernobyl was not enough for us, and we are trying to repeat it again?” the appeal urges.

The letter also warns that Energoatom faces a critical shortage of financial resources necessary to ensuring the safe operation of plants and the procurement of fuel, and asks authorities if they understand what a forced shutdown of the country’s nuclear power plants could lead to (Ukraine depends on its nuclear power plants for about half of all the electricity generated in the country).

Complaining about what they say are ongoing efforts to have individuals with no knowledge of nuclear energy placed in senior positions at Energoatom, the retired nuclear industry workers ask whether authorities “realize that all of this is a gross violation of the international nuclear safety regime.”

Ultimately, the association says they are “not asking” nor urging, “but insisting” that authorities “stop the practice of [running Energoatom by] acting heads, stop the financial discrimination of Energoatom, and prevent the country from sliding toward another Chernobyl!”

The appeal was written by senior former industry officials, including Vladimir Bronnikov, former director of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Vladimir Korovkin, former director of the Rivne nuclear plant, and Nikolai Shteynberg, former chief engineer of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plants

The Ukrainian nuclear power industry operates four power plants and 15 reactors, and has the seventh-largest nuclear power-generating capacity in the world. Starting in the mid-2010s, Ukraine began turning away from Russia’s Rosatom to US nuclear power company Westinghouse for its nuclear fuel rods. However, observers have expressed concerns over the safety of the US equipment, including amid reports that its nuclear fuel rods literally didn’t initially fit into Ukraine’s Soviet-era reactors.

In popular consciousness, Ukraine’s nuclear power sector is probably most commonly associated with the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, which took place on the night of April 26, 1986. The disaster was the result of an experiment simulating a power outage carried out by deputy chief-engineer Anatoly Dyatlov. The test saw the blatant violation of numerous safety regulations, with Dyatlov ordering the shutdown of multiple computerized and manual safety systems to proceed with the test. Ultimately, the ‘experiment’ led to an uncontrolled reaction and steam explosion, followed by a graphite fire. 54 people died in the disaster’s immediate aftermath and cleanup operation, with 4,000 more perishing from cancers and other illnesses in the two decades that followed, according to World Health Organization figures. The disaster also contaminated some 50,000 square kilometers of land across northern Ukraine, and up to 20 percent of the total land area of neighbouring Belarus.

Over three decades on, the fallout from Chernobyl continues to cause problems for Ukraine and its neighbours. This week, Ukraine’s emergency services reported that out of control fires in the forests of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone had spread to cover at least 35 hectares of territory, leading to a massive spike in local radiation levels.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

With coronavirus problem, Hinkley Point C nuclear project should be paused

Nuclear Free Local Authorities,( NFLA) 9th April 2020, A group of anti-nuclear Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and the UK & Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) remain highly alarmed that construction at the Hinkley Point C proposed new nuclear power station site is continuing, despite the extensive public lockdown and social distancing rules brought in across the UK.
These groups call for construction at Hinkley Point C to be reduced to control and maintenance operations only
until the Covid-19 public health emergency is under full control. This repeated call comes from the NGOs and NFLA following intensive lobbying of the UK Government, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Somerset local authorities responsible for the Hinkley Point C site by many of these groups, including the local Stop Hinkley group.
It follows early photos from the site showing a crowded staff canteen and a lack of social distancing at bus queues and at entry and exit points.
NGO representatives and the NFLA have actively raised their concerns in meetings with senior officials of the UK Government and the Office for Nuclear Regulation, as well as with the UK Government Office for Nuclear Development. The StopHinkley group have also been in liaison with the local authority. A  detailed letter was sent by the NGO Co-Chairs of the BEIS NGO Forum, the ONR NGO Forum and the NFLA on the 31st March when the photographs were first made public.
The NGOs and NFLA welcome the efforts made by EDF Energy and the ONR to reduce the staffing on the site from over 4,500 to just under 2,000, and suggestions this will further reduce to around 1,000.
There have been improved efforts as well to enforce social distancing, though it remains to be seen if earlier poor practice in this area on and around the site could lead to increased infection rates in North Somerset and areas where the workforce originate from, such as South Wales and the Bristol area.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | health, safety, UK | Leave a comment

To help future generations, Fukushima mothers have become radiation scientists

Fukushima mothers record radiation for future generations, Japan Times ,BY YUKA NAKAO, KYODO   IWAKI, FUKUSHIMA PREF 10 Apr 20, . – A group of more than 10 mothers set up a citizen-led laboratory to monitor radiation levels in Fukushima communities only months after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at a nuclear power plant in the prefecture nine years ago.Since the foundation of the institute on Nov. 13, 2011, it has been recording and disclosing radiation data on foodstuffs and soil it collected or were brought in by people from different parts of the prefecture, as well as seawater off the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“If the risks of nuclear power had been thoroughly verified by the previous generations, I think the disaster would not have happened,” Kaori Suzuki, 54, an executive of Mothers’ Radiation Lab Fukushima, based in Iwaki, said in a recent interview.

“But since it did occur, what we must do now is record our measurements and changes in the environment so we won’t make the same mistake,” said Suzuki, one of the founding members. “Passing down something that will be useful when major decisions must be made is the only thing we can do.”

The laboratory of 18 staff members, many of them mothers who mostly had no prior experience in measuring radiation, have trained themselves with support from scientists, and they now gauge levels of cesium 134, cesium 137, tritium and strontium 90 with five types of machines.

Samples they have measured include dust in vacuum cleaners, vegetables grown in home gardens, seasonal mushrooms picked in mountains and soil gathered in parks.

They have occasionally detected radiation above safety levels, and reports the lab releases every month on its website have specified which machine is used and other details for each outcome to make their activities as transparent as possible.

Their efforts have made academic contributions as well, with their measuring methods and results published in scientific journals such as Applied Radiation and Isotopes in 2016.

Suzuki said they started the initiative out of desperation to protect their children.

“We had to measure and eat. It was a matter of life and death,” the mother of two said. ….

As time goes by, Tanaka has found that fewer people are discussing radiation effects.

The number of samples brought in by citizens last year was 1,573, up 131 from the year before, but it is showing a decreasing trend overall compared to years before, according to the lab.

“The Olympic Games are coming, and there are fewer media reports on radiation levels than before,” she said.

Officials have dubbed the Tokyo Summer Games the “Reconstruction Olympics,” with the hope of showcasing the country’s recovery from the 2011 catastrophe.

Because of that concept, the starting point of the Japan leg of the torch relay for the Olympics, which were recently put off for a year to the summer of 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, was a soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture that served as a front-line base in the battle against the nuclear disaster.

Tanaka said logging accurate data and keeping them publicly available are all the more important. “To protect children, having information is essential in deciding what to eat or where to go,” she said, adding that judgments based on correct data will also prevent any discrimination…….

Kimura said she feels that the fears people have toward the new coronavirus are similar to those toward radiation, as they are both invisible.

“Everyone forgets about (radiation) because its effects in 10 or 20 years are uncertain, unlike the new coronavirus that shows pneumonia-like symptoms in a couple of weeks,” she said. “I realized again that people in affected areas like us have been living every day with the same feelings toward the coronavirus pandemic.”

“It’s exhausting,” she said, adding her daughters must have had a hard time as she made them do things differently from their friends, such as wearing masks. “But I felt I was not wrong when my daughter said to me recently, ‘I was being protected by you, mom.’”

In addition to conducting surveys on radiation readings in the environment and food items, the lab in May 2017 opened a clinic with a full-time doctor to provide free medical checkups on internal exposure.

“I think it’s necessary to keep checking children’s health as they grow up, rather than drawing a conclusion saying there won’t be any problem with this level of radiation exposure,” said Misao Fujita, 58, a doctor who is a native of Tochigi Prefecture.

Fujita said the amount of radiation exposure dosage and risks of health damage differ among children even if they live in the same area, depending on such factors as their location and behavior in the days after the nuclear disaster, whether they evacuated and what they eat now.

Those who underwent Fujita’s medical checkups when they were children include a woman who now takes her own child to the clinic, in addition to a number of young decontamination workers.

“The nuclear disaster is something that’s carried on to coming generations. That’s what we have left,” Fujita said. “We must also not forget that about 30,000 people are still unable to return to their hometowns in the prefecture. The disaster isn’t over yet.”

April 11, 2020 Posted by | health, Japan | Leave a comment

Sellafield nuclear construction stalled – paus in construction extended to April 27

April 11, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Ukrainian firefighters continue to struggle with Chernobyl are fires, amid radiation fears

April 11, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

New START treaty must be extended, a U.S. – Russia nuclear arms race an intolerable threat to the whole world

Extend New START — The World Can’t Afford a U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Race Too, JUST SECURITY, by Kingston Reif and Shannon Bugos, April 10, 2020  The unrelenting and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus underscores the cost of neglect and indecision by the Trump administration in the face of serious threats to U.S. and global security. This reckless abandonment of leadership also characterizes America’s response to other transnational challenges, including the potential for conflict on the European continent and the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

For example, The Guardian reported on April 5 that the Trump administration may withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty this fall. The treaty allows for short-notice, unarmed, observation flights over the territory of treaty parties to collect data on military forces and activities, and is staunchly supported by U.S allies. Nothing screams the U.S. absence in a world starving for leadership during a pandemic than moving forward with plans to withdraw from a treaty that continues to benefit U.S. and European security and that our allies want us to continue to support.

In addition, and even more consequentially, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), which was signed a decade ago this week, expires in just 10 months. New START is the only remaining arms control agreement limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals. However, as the novel coronavirus emerged earlier this year, the administration continued to stiff-arm Russian overtures to prolong the life of the agreement by five years, as permitted by the accord. Instead, the administration has pursued the idea of striking an entirely new, trilateral arms control agreement that would include China in addition to Russia.

The chances of successfully negotiating such a new, complex deal were already slim before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in the midst of what clearly will be an extended crisis, the odds are nigh nonexistent……

Extending New START will maintain a cap on the Russian nuclear arsenal and is a necessary condition for follow-on talks with Russia and new negotiations with China. As the world girds for a long fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the preservation of New START represents the best immediate option that Trump has to reduce the risks of instability and insecurity posed by the still-bloated and dangerous U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion over which American military satellites are “nuclear” and which are “nonnuclear.”

April 11, 2020 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Microbes in nuclear fuel ponds slow down the decommissioning process

April 11, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) call for more stringent safety measures, and the closure of EDF’s old nuclear reactors

April 11, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Finally, they might investigate America’s most fatal nuclear submarine disaster

CTY Pisces – Photos of a Japanese midget submarine that was sunk off Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. There’s a hole at the base of the conning tower where an artillery shell penetrated the hull, sinking the sub and killing the crew. Photos courtesy of Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. August 2003.

Fifty-Seven Years Later: America’s Worst Nuclear Submarine Disaster, By Robert Eatinger,  Friday, April 10, 2020, Fifty-seven years ago today, America suffered its first, and in terms of fatalities its worst, loss of a nuclear-powered submarine. Yet, much of the information about that disaster and the Navy’s subsequent investigation has remained outside of public view. That may change this year.
On April 10, 1963, the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593), the first of a new class of submarine, was lost at sea when it sank while conducting a deep dive test some 220 miles east of Cape Cod. All 129 crew members and civilians on the Thresher perished with her. Later that day, the commander in chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet ordered a court of inquiry to investigate Thresher’s sinking. The court of inquiry issued its report in June 1963 but was unable to determine what caused Thresher to sink. The court of inquiry did opine, however, that a flooding casualty in the Thresher’s engine room was the most probable cause of Thresher’s sinking. The court of inquiry encouraged further study.
Over a half-century later, very little of the record of the court of inquiry has been publicly released even though the Navy undertook a declassification review of the records in April 1998 with a stated purpose to declassify and release information from these records to the public “whenever possible.” That review came to naught when in February 2012, after up to 75 percent of the records had been declassified, the Navy changed course, deciding it would not make a public release of the records. Instead, the Navy said the records were “available for public release through” a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Last year, retired Navy Captain James Bryant, who had commanded a Thresher-class submarine in the 1980s, learned that Arlington National Cemetery planned a September 2019 dedication ceremony for a memorial to the 129 lives lost with the Thresher. As a result, Bryant, who now investigates, lectures and writes about the loss of the Thresher and the accuracy of the investigating court of inquiry, submitted a FOIA request in April 2019 to the Navy for records about the loss of the Thresher, specifically including the record of the court of inquiry. He requested expedited processing, hoping the Navy might release the records before the Thresher memorial’s dedication ceremony. In July 2019, after exhausting his administrative appeals, Bryant filed a FOIA lawsuit.

In February this year, Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Navy to review 300 pages of documents a month starting April 30 and by the end of every month thereafter, and to begin rolling productions of documents starting on or before May 15 and every month thereafter.

Therefore, during this 57th anniversary year of the Thresher’s sinking, the American public, including the families of the 129 men who lost their lives, may finally begin to see the Navy’s documents on the loss of the Thresher and the record of the court of inquiry that investigated that loss. How much of the information in these documents the Navy will choose to release is a separate matter. The Navy may continue to keep as much information as possible from the public as allowed by law, may use its discretionary authority to release as much information as possible to the public, or may take an approach somewhere in between. What one can say with some degree of confidence, however, is that some amount of these records will be released in full or with redactions before the 58th anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Legal, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Call to stop construction at Hinkley C nuclear project, due to coronavirus risk

Allan Jeffrey of Stop Hinkley talks to the Extinction Rebellion Radio ShowRebel Radio 7th April 2020

BBC Points West 8th April 2020, Bus drivers carrying workers to Hinkley Point C construction site are
worried their lives are being put at risk. Every day a fleet of vehicles drops of and picks up hundreds of staff. The bus company says its putting in screens to protect the drivers, but work hasn’t been complete yet.

Bus drivers are calling for construction to stop. For the safety of everybody it makes more sense to close the site down. They are showing no regard for human life and potentially putting everyone in a situation where people
could die. Drivers are expressing their concern on social media and sending pictures which seems to show lack of social distancing. There are concerns too about the movement of workers who come from outside the area.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | health, UK | Leave a comment

Gamma radiation found ineffective in sterilizing N95 masks

Gamma radiation found ineffective in sterilizing N95 masks

Nuclear scientists and biomedical researchers team up to investigate whether treatment with gamma radiation could make N95 masks more reusable.  MIT News, Leda Zimmerman | Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, April 10, 2020“………….“The sterilized masks lost two-thirds of their filtering efficiency, essentially turning N95 into N30 masks,” says Cramer. But why the deterioration?

“Our hypothesis is that ionizing radiation of whatever kind likely decharges the electrostatic filtration of the mask,” says Gupta. “The mechanical filtration of gauze can trap some particles, but radiation interferes with the electrostatic filter’s ability to repel or capture particles of 0.3 microns.”……”

April 11, 2020 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment