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

The week in nuclear, climate, and yes, coronavirus news

There’s  no avoiding coronavirus news, and it changes all the time.  The focus has shifted to”post – virus”, though it is not clear that it is “post” now, or even within 2020.  At present, New Zealand and Vietnam are looking like shining success stories.  The secret of their success? –  strategic testing, aggressive contact tracing and effective public communications campaigns. That last point -all important -that everyone, down to small kids, understands the basic story, the national plan and what they need to do.  Planning needs to be national, and then, international.

Who knows whether the post-Covid-19 period will move towards a cleaner and more humane world, or back to “business as usual” or worse?     Meanwhile the non-stop news cycle takes its toll, and of course, being news, it’s all bad.   It’s probably good to (a) take lots of breaks from the news, and (b) follow good news.  Some examples:

  • The IEA says greenhouse gas emissions will fall by more than 8% this year, the largest annual decrease ever recorded. NPR
  • A decade ago over 40% of the UK’s electricity came from coal. This week, it clocked up its first full coal free month since the advent of the power grid in 1882. Gizmodo
  • Sweden has closed its last coal-fired power station two years ahead of schedule, becoming the third European country to exit coal. Independent .
  • Freshwater insect species have risen by 11%, possibly due to efforts to clean up rivers and lakes. Science

You can find good news at FUTURE CRUNCH, and at GOOD NEWS NETWORK.

The torture that awaits Julian Assange in the US.

Latest climate models suggest global heating could be worse than we thought. Killer heat and humidity already with us.   Covid-19 highlights risks of doing nothing on global heating.    Water loss in northern peatlands threatens to intensify fires, global warming.

How much radioactive waste is stored on our planet?

The race to nuclear suicide continues despite Covid-19 crisis.  $73 billion world spent in 2019 on nuclear weapons, half of it by USA.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty– its promise and its failure.

THE ATOM: A LOVE AFFAIR – nuclear dream to global nightmare.


JAPAN.  3600 working in Nuclear power plants in Japan – concerns raised over coronavirus. Worker infection halts anti-terror project at Genkai nuclear plant.  Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing, a pointless effort , to postpone coping with plutonium trash.  Korean navy to study impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water leakOnagawa 2 upgrade faces further delay.  Fukushima Daiichi buildings pose safety risks.  The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Civil Actions as a Social Movement.


CANADA. ‘Small Modular Nuclear Reactor’ entrepreneurs trying to revive dangerous ‘plutonium economy’ dream. Investigative journalismNuclear waste plan divides South Bruce community.

RUSSIARussia proposes 3 year extension of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start-3): USA silent.    Raising dangerously radioactive Russian submarines from the bottom of Arctic oceans.

NORWAY. Nuclear fraud in Norway could affect nuclear safety in other countries.

FRANCE. Coronavirus affecting France’s nuclear reactors’ safety and output. French government tries to downgrade radiation risk, avoid compensating Polynesian victims of nuclear testing.

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea, Germany to bolster ties in transition towards renewable energy.

IRANIran’s Nuclear and Military Efforts in the Shadow of Coronavirus and Economic Collapse.

UKRAINE. How an innovative  community overcame Ukraine’s nuclear trauma.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa’s nuclear waste problem– why plan to increase it?

GERMANY. Radiation leak at nuclear research reactor.  As Germany transitions to renewables, massive nuclear cooling towers are demolished.

PAKISTAN. Nuclear war between India and Pakistan very unlikely.

AUSTRALIA.  Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) question government’s plan for nuclear waste dump near Kimba, South Australia.  13 top Australian non government organisations say that the Kimba nuclear waste dump plan is illogical.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

The leaning tower of Vogtle nuclear reactor: yes it’s literally sinking,-and also further into debt

Georgia Nuclear: Vogtle Unit 3 Is Sinking! [BREDL Petition]  18 May 2020, You can find the Fairewinds Associates expert report and BREDL’s legal filing here and under the reports section of this Fairewinds site. You also may read BREDL’s legal filing and the other documents filed on BREDL’s home site, where you will also see the breadth and depth of the environmental work conducted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and its associated chapters in many states. What Does the Leaning Tower of Pisa Have In Common with the Vogtle Nuclear Reactor?

By The Fairewinds Crew

The famous tower in Pisa, Italy was designed to stand straight up, and like Vogtle, it began to lean during construction. During the ensuing years after construction, the Pisa tower continued to sink into the ground due to the inability of the failing foundation to sustain the tower’s heavy weight. It became known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Similarly, the Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear power plant was designed to be straight on its firm ‘basemat foundation’, which is designed with extra rebar and mathematical calculations to assure that the foundation can support an atomic reactor as heavy as the unique design of the AP1000 with 8-million-pounds of emergency cooling water sitting on top of the containment.

Last month, Vogtle’s  owner, Sothern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC), tried to amend its operating license with information that had been kept secret from the public. When that now leaning wall was first built five years ago, SNC established a program to monitor the lack of stability in the foundation.

Honestly, truth is stranger than fiction – you can’t make this stuff up!  Now we learn that the  Vogtle Unit 3 atomic power reactor is sinking into the red Georgia clay causing an inner wall to tilt!  Yes, this is the same Vogtle Unit 3 that is already billions of dollars over budget and at least 5-years behind schedule.

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League [BREDL] announced that part of the Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear power plant currently under construction in Waynesboro, Georgia, is sinking. According to BREDL’s press release, “In a legal action filed Monday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the group called on regulators to revoke the plant’s license for false statements made by its owners, Southern Nuclear Operating Company. On May 11, BREDL filed a nineteen-page legal petition requesting a hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on a License Amendment for Plant Vogtle’s Unit 3. The petition is supported by detailed, specific expert opinion.  Under rules of procedure, Southern Company has 25 days to respond.”

Fairewinds Associates, Inc Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen wrote an expert witness report submitted by BREDL to the NRC in which he said that Southern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC) chose not to disclose that the Vogtle Unit 3 foundation was sinking faster in the middle than at the edges, in the shape of a dish, causing internal walls to lean.   From our point of view, leaning walls may have created a tourist destination for the Tower in Pisa, however, a leaning tower and failing foundation at a nuke plant is a meltdown waiting to happen.

BREDL has informed the NRC that there must be an entire reevaluation of the seismic/structural integrity of the entire nuclear plant. This means that a completely new licensing review and full analysis of all new stress conditions placed on other components that are no longer level needs to be conducted and receive an independent engineering review as well, since SCE has not publicized this fact to the people of Georgia.  

Vogtle Units 3 & 4 are notoriously over budget, and their construction has been delayed for years. Now with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and these newly uncovered flaws, the construction will slow further as a complete safety review must be conducted to ascertain whether the ‘basemat foundation’ meets the foundation integrity demanded for a nuclear island (NI).  The Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear island underlies the strange heavy design of the AP1000 with its donut-shaped 8-million-pound water tank at the apex of the entire containment system that is meant to protect us from a meltdown.

Let’s look more closely at the history of Vogtle and the so-called nuclear renaissance that never happened. Complicit in this financial boondoggle is the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) whose members have greenlighted all these cost overruns in return for campaign contributions from the nuclear industry. That’s why we wrote The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia. At Vogtle, all the extensive cost overruns have been shifted to Georgia taxpayers and ratepayers, and originally these plants were built with federal loan guarantees – that is our money folks, and a story for another time in the Vogtle saga.

During the past decade Fairewinds joined with other nuclear risk and environmental advocacy groups to raise awareness about the numerous safety flaws and operational issues associated with the AP1000 reactor design. You can read more about those problems and issues here.

In its legal brief, based on this Fairewinds Associates report,  BREDL asked for a formal investigation of the Southern Nuclear Operating Company for making “materially false statements” to the NRC by claiming that the leaning walls were caused by construction tolerance measurements when the real reason the walls have moved is that the ‘basemat  foundation’ of the Vogtle nuclear island (NI) is sinking.

You can find the Fairewinds Associates expert report and BREDL’s legal filing here and under the reports section of this Fairewinds site. You also may read BREDL’s legal filing and the other documents filed on BREDL’s home site, where you will also see the breadth and depth of the environmental work conducted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and its associated chapters in many states.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

3600 working in Nuclear power plants in Japan – concerns raised over coronavirus

N-reactor inspection cannot abide by physical distancing rules, causing coronavirus fear in locals, April 29 & May 3, 2020

The No.3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO)’s Oi nuclear power plant (Oi Town, Fukui Pref.) will soon undergo its regular inspection. During this overhaul, about 900 utility workers will come from other prefectures amid a nationwide voluntary ban on leaving home in the fight against COVID-19.
Local citizens are concerned that this will run counter to the government instructions to refrain from crossing prefectural borders and to avoid the “three Cs”- closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places, close-contact settings.

Seven civil organizations in Fukui on April 28 jointly demanded that KEPCO suspend operations of reactors at all NPPs in the prefecture and cancel all work to bring offline reactors back online or decommission them in order to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.

According to KEPCO, the number of workers will increase by about 1,800 to check on the No.3 reactor at the Oi NPP. Of them, about 900 will come from outside Fukui. At the Oi NPP, the Nos.1 and 2 reactors are currently under the process of decommissioning with about 1,800 workers working daily. Thus, the number of workers in three reactors combined will reach 3,600.

Japanese Communist Party member of the Oi Town Assembly, Saruhashi Takumi pointed out, “The reactor buildings are hermetically closed. Many workers work close together in a confined space. So, the ‘three Cs are unavoidable, but our town has a limited number of hospital beds to treat patients with coronavirus infection. If a mass infection occurs, medical facilities in the town will soon be overwhelmed.”

JCP member of the Fukui Prefectural Assembly Sato Masao criticized KEPCO by saying, “The utility places priority on the resumption of operations of reactors at its NPPs over preventive measures against the coronavirus.”

Apart from the Oi NPP, KEPCO has the Takahama NPP and the Mihama NPP in Fukui Prefecture, and about 4,500 workers and 3,000 workers work at those plants every day, respectively.

* * *

KEPCO postpones regular inspection of No.3 reactor

KEOCO on May 2 announced that it will postpone a regular inspection of the No.3 reactor at its Oi NPP for a few months.

Fearing a possible increase of coronavirus infections caused by the inflow of many workers from outside Fukui Prefecture, local residents successfully pressed the power company to delay the inspection which was planned to start on May 8.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | health, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Sizewell and Bradwell nuclear projects unnecessary, but also security danger if Chinese company in control

May 18, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Fermi 2 nuclear station struggles with large COVID-19 outbreak among workers.

Beyond Nuclear 14th May 2020, Fermi 2 struggles with large COVID-19 outbreak among workers. The large numbers of coronavirus test positives at Fermi nuclear power plant (the article reports more than 200 cases, but May 13 Facebook postings by Fermi employees have put the number as already grown worse, now at more than 300) is likely among the worst known (yet unreported, in the Michigan or U.S. national news media) at any single institution or workplace in Michigan.
It also is perhaps the most known (yet unreported, in the Michigan or U.S. national news media) number of cases at any U.S. nuclear facility, whether nuclear power plant or weapons complex site (although the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia is also reporting more than 200 cases).

May 18, 2020 Posted by | health, media, USA | Leave a comment

NuScam’s “small nuclear reactor” project runs into yet more trouble

Nuclear Intelligence Weekly 15th May 2020, The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said that NuScale has not “sufficiently validated” the design and performance of the steam generator in its 50 megawatt small modular reactor (SMR) currently under design certification review. The NRC is nevertheless still expected to certify the SMR design but without granting “finality” to the steam generator, touted by the Fluor subsidiary as one of the key innovations to its smaller”cost-competitive” design.
That will likely inhibit the company’s ability to attract further investment to the project, which Fluor itself is no longer investing in.  NuScale submitted its design certification applicationto the NRC in December 2016 and the NRC is expected to grant the certification later this year or early next year.
That, however, depends on the outcome of a staff review of unrelated changes to the SMR’s emergency
core cooling system that NuScale plans to submit to the NRC on May 20.  Instead of resolving the steam generator design issue ahead of design certification, the NRC is deferring to the plant operator Energy Northwest
to resolve the issue during the licensing process, after construction.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Australian politician John Barilaro gets it so wrong about small nuclear reactors

Electrical Review 4 May 2020  I have to conclude that the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, John Barilaro, is a remarkable clairvoyant. He has announced unequivocally on Australian media that Rolls Royce is set to build up to 15 new small-size nuclear reactors in Britain over the next nine years.
Strange this. Just 18 months ago, according to the Financial Times, Rolls-Royce was preparing to shut down altogether its R&D project to develop small modular nuclear reactors, unless the British government agreed to an outrageous set of demands and subsidies. Granted the Johnson government has bunged them a few million to keep the R&D going.

But there is as yet no sign of anything being oven-ready to come to the marketplace, let alone 15 up and running. But there remain some rather disturbing connections between small reactor projects and nuclear weapons proliferation. And Rolls-Royce does offer up one of the most glaring examples. Part of the company’s current sales pitch to the British government includes the argument that a civil small-reactor industry in the UK “would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability” for its weapons programme. It may be true. But it is not really Atoms for Peace, , is it?

May 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Coronavirus affecting France’s nuclear reactors’ safety and output

Montel News 14th May 2020, The overhaul of the schedule for shutdowns of EDF nuclear reactors during the Covid-19 pandemic will “considerably” reduce the safety margins of French power plants and will probably lead to further delays, experts told Montel. The nuclear agency is now under “potentially devastating pressure,” said Mycle Schneider, an independent energy consultant based in Paris and a critic of the nuclear industry.
The impact of the coronavirus adds to the equipment and maintenance problems that have accumulated in recent years and forced the company to reduce its nuclear production. “This is one
problem that overlaps with another. This is what is so worrisome, the accumulation of difficult events and circumstances, “he said.
Monday, EDF announced the postponement of 30 outages planned until 2022, explaining
that it postponed maintenance to secure the electricity supply for the winter. Already last week, the company had extended shutdowns of more than 40 reactors.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Britain’s Ministry of Defence continues its costly mistakes in nuclear weapons and submarines

Dundee Courier 16th May 2020, A Fife MP has lifted the lid on “astonishing and deeply worrying”
mistakes made by the Ministry of Defence, which have led to the costs of replacing Britain’s nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines soaring by a staggering £1.35 billion.

Glenrothes and Central Fife SNP MP Peter Grant, who sits on parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, has described the situation as “unacceptable” following the release of a new report that
suggests errors made by the MoD are being repeated more than 30 years after
they were first highlighted by Britain’s public spending watchdog.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

French government tries to downgrade radiation risk, avoid compensating Polynesian victims of nuclear testing

Outrage in Tahiti over French nuclear law moves,  There has been an outcry in French Polynesia over moves by the French National Assembly to slip a clause about compensation over nuclear weapons testing into Covid-19 legislation.

A French Polynesian member of the French Assembly Moetai Brotherson said it was a scandal that this was added into deliberations when French Polynesia’s members were away from Paris because of the pandemic.

The nuclear test veterans organisations, Moruroa e tatou and Association 193, also expressed outrage.

The French government wants to re-introduce the concept of neglible risk of the tests in compensation cases after a court ruling had done away with it.

Over a 30-year period of France’s weapons tests in the South Pacific some of the atmospheric blasts irradiated most islands.

Mr Brotherson said he had only just heard about the National Assembly move and wondered what the French Polynesian people had ever done to be so detested by the French state.

Hiro Tefaarere of Moruroa e tatou said he was outraged but not surprised about the way France was going about it.

He said all presidents, from de Gaulle to Macron, couldn’t care less about Polynesians, and although France was responsible for public health in Tahiti it failed to keep a register to see how many people died because of fallout from the weapons tests.

Auguste Uebe Carlson, who heads Association 193, said France kept refusing to recognise the impact of the tests, using instead propaganda to say they were clean or a thing of the past.

He said nothing was recognised, with health problems now being attributed to poor diet and life-style choices.

ast year, French Polynesia’s social security agency calculated that it had so far spent $US770 million on health care costs for people deemed to have radiation-induced illnesses.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | France, OCEANIA, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment