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Plutonium Particles Scattered 200km From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site, Scientists Say

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Jul 22, 2020

Plutonium fragments may have spread more than 200km via caesium microparticle compounds released during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. These findings are according to research done on the region’s soil samples, published in Science of The Total Environment, by an international group of scientists.

The Fukushima Nuclear disaster occurred when a massive tsunami crashed over the plant’s walls, causing three operating nuclear reactors to overheat and melt down. Simultaneously, reactions within the plant generated hydrogen gas that exploded as soon as it escaped from containment. During the disaster, caesium — a volatile fission product created in nuclear fuel — combined with other reactor materials to create caesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that were ejected from the plant.

CsMPs are incredibly radioactive, and scientists study them in an attempt to both measure their environmental impact and to gain insight into the nature and extent of the Fukushima disaster. In one such research process, scientists discovered tiny uranium and plutonium fragments within these micro-particles. The range of plutonium particle spread was previously estimated at 50km, and this research changes that number to 230km. This discovery is vital as it provides a reason to extend testing for plutonium poisoning in human-inhabited regions further than before, and helps scientists understand how to decommission the nuclear reactors in the plant. Decommissioning nuclear plants is extremely important after they cease to function, in order to reduce residual radioactivity in the region to safe levels.

With respect to immediate implications for health, scientists note that radioactivity levels of the plutonium are similar to global counts from nuclear weapons tests. While this means that radioactivity levels may not pose an urgent, critical danger, scientists also note that plutonium poisoning in food items remains a threat. If plutonium were ingested — a possibility in this region — it could create isotopes that significantly increase radioactivity doses, and poison the body.

Due to high radioactivity levels, humans are still unable to enter the Fukushima plant nine years after the disaster. Yet, scientists continue to work towards safely decommissioning the reactors within the plant from the outskirts. Though radiation levels post the Fukushima disaster were much lower than Chernobyl, individuals living near the region still suffer from the aftermath of everything the disaster put them through, fear of poisoning and psychological paranoia, as they attempt to bring life back to normal.

https://theswaddle.com/plutonium-particles-scattered-200km-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-site-scientists-say/

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima may have scattered plutonium widely

PW2018-01-drinkwater_pic2-635x476The upper side of the unit 3 reactor building at Fukushima Daiichi was damaged by a hydrogen explosion. This area housed the spent fuel pool and the fuel handling machines.

20 Jul 2020

Tiny fragments of plutonium may have been carried more than 200 km by caesium particles released following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011. So says an international group of scientists that has made detailed studies of soil samples at sites close to the damaged reactors. The researchers say the findings shed new light on conditions inside the sealed-off reactors and should aid the plant’s decommissioning.

The disaster at Fukushima occurred after a magnitude-9 earthquake struck off the north-east coast of Japan and sent a 14 m-high tsunami crashing over the plant’s seawalls. With low-lying back-up generators knocked out, the site’s three operating reactors overheated and melted down. At the same time, hot steam reacted with the zirconium cladding of the nuclear fuel, generating hydrogen gas that exploded when it escaped from containment.

Caesium is a volatile fission product created in nuclear fuel. During the Fukushima meltdown, it combined with silica gas created when melting fuel and other reactor materials interacted with the concrete below the damaged reactor vessel. The resulting glass particles, known as caesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs), measure a few microns or tens of microns across.

Satoshi Utsunomiya and Eitaro Kurihara at Kyushu University and colleagues in Japan, Europe and the US analysed three such particles obtained from soil samples dug up at two sites within a few kilometres of the Fukushima plant. They used a range of techniques to study the physical and chemical composition of these CsMPs, with the aim of establishing whether they contained any plutonium.

Mapping plutonium spread

To date, plutonium from the accident has been detected as far as 50 km from the damaged reactors. Researchers had previously thought that this plutonium, like the caesium, was released after evaporating from the fuel. But the new analysis instead points to some of it having escaped from the stricken plant in particulate form within fragments of fuel “captured” by the CsMPs.

Utsunomiya and colleagues used electron microscopy and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence to look inside the CsMPs. Based on these data, they were able to map the distribution of various elements coming from materials within the damaged reactors – including iron from stainless steel, zirconium and tin from the fuel cladding and zinc from cooling water. They also found uranium within one of the CsMPs, in the form of discrete uranium oxide particles less than 10 nm across.

However, the researchers were unable to find any traces of plutonium using these methods – probably due to interference from strontium, another fission product. Instead, they turned to X-ray absorption. To compensate for high levels of noise, they carried out the measurement at two different synchrotrons, transporting their roughly 20 µm diameter particle from Japan to be blasted with X-rays at the Diamond facility in the UK and the Swiss Light Source in Switzerland.

The researchers focused their attention on the three areas of the particle that generated the most fluorescence from uranium. They failed to detect plutonium at two of these locations, but succeeded at the third, with absorption spectra produced at both synchrotrons indicating the element’s presence. The low signal-to-noise ratio meant they couldn’t identify exactly which plutonium species were present, but the shape of the spectra told them that it probably existed as an oxide, rather than as a pure metal.

Utsunomiya and co-workers also used mass spectrometry to measure the relative abundance of different plutonium and uranium isotopes within the microparticles. They found that three ratios – uranium-235 to uranium-238, as well as plutonium-239 compared to both plutonium-240 and -242 – all agreed with calculations of the proportions that would have been present in the fuel at the time of the disaster. This agreement, coupled with the fact that the measured amount of uranium-238 was nearly two orders of magnitude greater than would be the case if it had simply evaporated from the melted fuel, led them to conclude that the uranium and plutonium existed as discrete fuel particles within the CsMPs.

Implications for decommissioning

The researchers note that previous studies have shown that plutonium and caesium are distributed differently in the extended area around Fukushima, which suggests that not all CsMPs contain plutonium. However, they say that the fact plutonium is found in some of these particles implies that it could have been transported as far afield as the caesium – up to 230 km from the Fukushima plant.

As regards any threat to health, they note that radioactivity levels of the emitted plutonium are comparable with global counts from nuclear weapons tests. Such low concentrations, they say, “may not have significant health effects”, but they add that if the plutonium were ingested, the isotopes that make it up could yield quite high effective doses.

With radiation levels still too high for humans to enter the damaged reactors, the researchers argue that the fuel fragments they have uncovered provide precious direct information on what happened during the meltdown and the current state of the fuel debris. In particular, Utsunomiya points out that the composition of the debris, just like that of normal nuclear fuel, varies on the very smallest scales. This information, he says, will be vital when it comes to decommissioning the reactors safely, given the potential risk of inhaling dust particles containing uranium or plutonium.

The research is reported in Science of the Total Environment.

https://physicsworld.com/a/fukushima-may-have-scattered-plutonium-widely/

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Japan grows the world’s “sweetest” peach – in Fukushima

Frankly speaking you have to be either masochist or suicidal to play Russian roulette by eating those Fukushima peaches, their sweetness should never make you forget their potential radioactive contamination. There are many other countries where to buy sweet and safe peaches from.

That said I cannot believe the nerve that this journalist has to write such a “sweet” propaganda piece. I understand that these people need to make a living, but should they not consider their moral responsability towards the people whose health might be put at risk buying and eating their potentially radiation contaminated products? All done in the name of “holy reconstruction”…. There is no such a thing as a harmless low dose in internal radiation.

eight_col_ian-baldwin-f7FwHomDgzg-unsplashFifth generation peach farmer Koji Furuyama has been striving to decontaminate Fukushima’s reputation by growing the world’s sweetest peaches.

20 July 2020

Would you buy a $7000 peach? A fruit so juicy, so sweet, so perfect you just don’t care about the sticky nectar dribbling down your face?

What if it came from Fukushima, infamous for one of the worst nuclear accidents in modern memory?

Before the disaster, peaches from the area were prized for their exceptional taste and luscious texture, but on 11 March 2011 a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered one of the world’s worst accidents of the nuclear power age.

As radiation spewed from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes – some never to return.

While radiation levels have slowly dissipated, an inescapable stigma remains for the people of Fukushima.

Since then, fifth generation peach farmer Koji Furuyama has been striving to decontaminate the region’s reputation by growing the world’s sweetest peaches.

“Produce in Fukushima was recognised as the world’s most worthless and dangerous,” Koji said.

“I thought of doing the complete opposite by making the world’s most delicious or sweetest peaches.”

‘The sweetness will be from an unknown world’

There is a scientific measurement which confirms the intense sweetness of Koji’s peaches.

When you bite into a peach, you might notice if it’s sweet or tart or bland. Among farmers, this is known as Degrees Brix, and it measures the fruit’s sugar content.

The higher on the Brix scale, which goes up to 40, the sweeter the fruit.

Your average supermarket peach is usually somewhere between 11 and 15 Degrees Brix.

In comparison, the Guinness World Records certified a peach grown in Kanechika, Japan as the world’s sweetest, with a sugar content of 22.2

But on the Furuyama Fruit Farm in rural Fukushima, Koji has managed to grow a peach so sweet, it came in at a mouth-watering 32 Degrees Brix.

While Koji sold that delectably sweet peach for $7000 a few years ago, he’s not done yet.

He has already grown a peach at 35, and is now setting his sights on the most perfect peach ever, aiming to achieve that elusive 40 Degrees Brix.

“The sweetness will be from an unknown world,” he vowed.

“It will be the only one in the world. To put a price on that, I have to settle at $40,000.”

This might seem like a lot of money for something that literally grows on trees, but fruit can play a very different cultural role in Japan.

A bunch of grapes the size of Ping-Pong balls just sold for about $NZ18,500 at auction in Ishikawa on 16 July.

The pricey, individually wrapped fruits sold at department stores are precious gifts given as a sign of respect or thanks.

Going to a housewarming or visiting a friend in hospital? Grab a box of giant, blemish-free, juicy strawberries.

It’s not always just an everyday snack here, and if you pick the wrong melon without checking the price tag, you can receive quite the hip-pocket surprise when you get to the checkout.

It means Japanese farmers are meticulous in their production processes and is the reason why Koji is unyieldingly striving for perfection.

The recovery from the March 2011 disaster also gives him a reason to keep going.

A peach replaces the Olympic torch

Japan’s organisers of the 2020 Olympics won their bid with a pitch highlighting how the Games would be the “recovery games”, showing off just how far Japan’s north-eastern region had come.

The region was hosting the baseball and softball events and the prefecture was to mark the beginning of the torch relay and play a big part of it.

The food grown in this area, including Koji’s peaches, are safe to eat. He was banking on the Olympic Games showing that off.

“If this becomes known worldwide, the image of Fukushima would improve and I thought I could change it. That’s why I focus on making such sweet peaches,” Koji said.

eight_col_053_1EMPERORPEACH201507168Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit a peach farmer in Fukushima.

 

When coronavirus restrictions forced Olympics organisers to delay the torch relay, Koji still ran his leg as if the Games were going ahead. Instead of a torch, he carried a peach.

Koji holds onto hope the Games will go ahead, and Fukushima will get a chance to shine, even if it is not fully recovered.

“It’s hard to return to what it was 10 years ago, before the disaster. There are many victims who have started new lives and it’s true that it’s recovering gradually,” he said.

But once the coronavirus pandemic passes, a ‘recovery’ Olympics will take on a special meaning for everyone who survived it.

“Recovery from coronavirus will apply to people around the world,” he said.

“I think it could have a deeper meaning: recovery in [this region] and recovery from coronavirus. I am thinking in a positive way.”

Inside Fukushima’s no-go zone

Not everyone shares Koji’s optimism in Fukushima. The nuclear disaster destroyed Nobuyoshi Ito’s farming business.

He regularly visits the exclusion zones and doesn’t believe the government is surveying enough radiation hotspots.

He believes the idea of the recovery Olympics is “inappropriate”.

“Which part has recovered? When 30,000 people can return to their previous lives it’s recovery. But the government … abandoned those people,” he said.

“It’s trying to host the Olympics only with the people who have recovered.”

Around Fukushima, many of the clocks on the walls stopped ticking moments after the quake struck in 2011.

Currently, 371 square kilometres of the prefecture is a no-go zone, and parts of it will never be habitable again.

Sadao Sugishita left his home of around 70 years when the nuclear meltdown happened. He and his wife Tokuko were forced to evacuate.

Nestled in the lush green mountains, their home is in the no-go zone – inaccessible to anyone but former residents.

Every few minutes, large trucks carrying giant black bags of radioactive soil hurtle down their narrow road.

The bags sit piled up across the road from their property along with piles of rubble, a sadly iconic feature throughout this vast region.

Sugishita and his wife will never again live in their home. They’ve just agreed to tear the house down.

He doesn’t feel the prefecture has recovered.

“All our neighbours and close friends have become separate and the life in the city is completely different to the life here in the village,” he said.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/421610/japan-grows-the-world-s-sweetest-peach-in-fukushima

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Huge nuclear corruption case – Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder arrested

July 23, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Arms Control Today interviews Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui  

 

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Plutonium particles from Fukushima a bigger problem than previously thought

Plutonium Particles Scattered 200km From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site, Scientists Say   https://theswaddle.com/plutonium-particles-scattered-200km-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-site-scientists-say/, By Aditi Murti, Jul 22, 2020  Plutonium fragments may have spread more than 200km via caesium microparticle compounds released during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. These findings are according to research done on the region’s soil samples, published in Science of The Total Environment, by an international group of scientists.
The Fukushima Nuclear disaster occurred when a massive tsunami crashed over the plant’s walls, causing three operating nuclear reactors to overheat and melt down. Simultaneously, reactions within the plant generated hydrogen gas that exploded as soon as it escaped from containment. During the disaster, caesium — a volatile fission product created in nuclear fuel — combined with other reactor materials to create caesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that were ejected from the plant.
CsMPs are incredibly radioactive, and scientists study them in an attempt to both measure their environmental impact and to gain insight into the nature and extent of the Fukushima disaster. In one such research process, scientists discovered tiny uranium and plutonium fragments within these micro-particles. The range of plutonium particle spread was previously estimated at 50km, and this research changes that number to 230km. This discovery is vital as it provides a reason to extend testing for plutonium poisoning in human-inhabited regions further than before, and helps scientists understand how to decommission the nuclear reactors in the plant.   Decommissioning nuclear plants is extremely important after they cease to function, in order to reduce residual radioactivity in the region to safe levels.
With respect to immediate implications for health, scientists note that radioactivity levels of the plutonium are similar to global counts from nuclear weapons tests. While this means that radioactivity levels may not pose an urgent, critical danger, scientists also note that plutonium poisoning in food items remains a threat. If plutonium were ingested — a possibility in this region — it could create isotopes that significantly increase radioactivity doses, and poison the body
Due to high radioactivity levels, humans are still unable to enter the Fukushima plant nine years after the disaster. Yet, scientists continue to work towards safely decommissioning the reactors within the plant from the outskirts.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

Bradwell B new nuclear project probably doomed, -on fragile shore subject to flooding

Maldon Standard 19th July 2020, Andy Blowers: There has been much fevered speculation about the Bradwell B
new nuclear project falling in the wake of the current breakdown of relations with China.

That may be so, but what few commentators seem to have observed is that Bradwell is probably doomed because it is a wholly unsuitable and unsustainable site. Plans recently released indicate a giant industrial complex on a flat, low-lying peninsula ringed about with various designations, including protection for the Colchester Native Oyster.

Who in their right mind would consider erecting two mega reactors with all the attendant bells and whistles, including twin cooling towers and long-term highly radioactive spent fuel stores on a site that is likely to become
flooded and stranded as climate change impacts wreak havoc on the fragile Essex shores? Beijing to Bradwell – the terminus of the Belt and Road where Chinese infiltration in our sensitive nuclear infrastructure begins
and ends.

https://www.maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk/news/18590061.letter-site-totally-unsuitable-bradwell-b/

July 23, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

As FBI investigates nuclear bribery, environmentalists call for review of controversial Ohio nuclear bailout bill

Environmental groups want controversial Ohio nuclear bailout bill reexamined; HB6 now at the center of FBI investigation, Cleveland.com, By Emily Bamforth, cleveland.com 22 Jul 20, CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio House Bill 6 bailed out two FirstEnergy power plants and gave subsidies to coal plants, while dismantling mandates designed to move Ohio’s clean energy landscape forward.

The controversial bill, passed last year, is now the centerpiece of a federal bribery investigation, which implicates Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, one of the most outspoken supporters of HB6, and four associates.

The corruption scandal is now prompting groups that already opposed HB6 because of its implications for the economy or environment to call for a re-examination of the bill, or its total repeal. Both the Sierra Club and American Wind Energy Association issued statements on the case Tuesday evening.

“The legislative push to bail out legacy generation and roll back Ohio’s renewable energy commitments was always against the will of Ohioans, who overwhelmingly support renewable energy,” American Wind Energy Association Eastern State Affairs Director Andrew Gohn said in a statement. “It now appears that the passage of this bill was not just against the will of the people, but also may have involved serious and possibly criminal impropriety.”

Supporters of the bill claimed the bailout would save jobs in nuclear energy and reconfigure surcharges to Ohio customers to save money. But those fighting against it, including environmental groups, balked at the changes which effectively “gutted” energy-efficiency and renewable-energy mandates for utilities.

The bill changed Ohio’s renewable-energy goal from a maximum of 12.5 percent by 2027 to 8.5 percent by 2026. Under Ohio requirements introduced in 2008, utilities must reduce customers’ power usage by 22 percent by 2027.

Under House Bill 6, these standards would end after utilities companies reached a 17.5 percent drop in customer power use.

The bill also included subsidies for coal power plants.

Neil Waggoner, the Sierra Club Ohio’s Beyond Coal Campaign representative, said this year the group has seen utilities companies petitioning the state’s public utilities commission to end energy efficiency programs, because companies are already hitting the lowered standard.

“There’s a reason why people called HB6 one of the most regressive energy bills in the United States,” he said……… https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/07/environmental-groups-want-controversial-ohio-nuclear-bailout-bill-reexamined-hb6-now-at-the-center-of-fbi-investigation.html

July 23, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

America’s choice – environmental and climate catastrophe under Trump, or some hope under Democratic rule

July 23, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, environment | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia could become a pawn in a proxy nuclear war

Nuclear Gulf: Is Saudi Arabia pushing itself into a nuclear trap?, MBS is prepared to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets them. But could he end up making the kingdom a nuclear pawn? https://www.aljazeera.com/ajimpact/nuclear-gulf-saudi-arabia-pushing-nuclear-trap-200718155513128.html   Aljazeera, by Patricia Sabga, 21 Jul 2020   When countries start dabbling in nuclear energy, eyebrows raise. It’s understandable. Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons while allowing countries to pursue civilian nuclear programmes has proven a tough and sometimes unsuccessful balancing act for the global community.

So when atom-splitting initiatives surface in a region with a history of nuclear secrecy and where whacking missiles into one’s enemies is relatively common, it is not just eyebrows that are hoisted, but red flags.

Right now, warning banners are waving above the Arabian Peninsula, where the United Arab Emirates has loaded fuel rods into the first of four reactors at Barakah – the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant.

Roughly 388 miles west, Saudi Arabia is constructing its first research reactor at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

The UAE has agreed not to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel. It has also signed up to enhanced non-proliferation protocols and even secured a coveted 123 Agreement with the United States that allows for the bilateral sharing of civilian nuclear components, materials and know-how.

But that has not placated some nuclear energy veterans who question why the Emirates has pushed ahead with nuclear fission to generate electricity when there are far safer, far cheaper renewable options more befitting its sunny climate.

Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia insists its nuclear ambitions extend no further than civilian energy projects. But unlike its neighbour and regional ally, Riyadh has not officially sworn off developing nuclear weapons.

The kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has publicly declared his intention to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets them first.

The spectre of the Saudi-Iran Cold War escalating into a nuclear arms race is not beyond the realm of possibility. There are growing concerns over the nuclearisation of the Arabian Peninsula and where it could lead the Gulf and the Middle East – a volatile region that experts warn could be opening itself up to superpower proxy fights on a nuclear scale.

The economic case against nuclear

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions date back to at least 2006, when the kingdom started exploring nuclear power options as part of a joint programme with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

More recently, the kingdom laced its nuclear plans into MBS’s “Vision 2030” blueprint to diversify the country’s economy away from oil.

Nuclear energy, the kingdom argues, would allow it to export crude it currently consumes for domestic energy needs, generating more income for state coffers while developing a new high-tech industry to create jobs for its youthful workforce.

But if a bountiful economic harvest is the goal, nuclear energy is a poor industry to seed compared to renewables like solar and wind.

“Every state has the right to determine its energy mix. The problem is this: nuclear costs are enormous,” Paul Dorfman, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Energy Institute, University College London and founder and chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group, told Al Jazeera. “Renewables are maybe between one-fifth and one-seventh the cost of nuclear.”

Utility-scale, average unsubsidised lifetime costs for solar photovoltaic were around $40 per megawatt hour (MWh) in 2019, compared to $155 per MWh for nuclear energy, according to an analysis by financial advisory and asset manager Lazard.

“There are no economic or energy policy or industrial reasons to build a nuclear power plant,” Mycle Schneider, convening lead author and the publisher of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, told Al Jazeera. “If countries decide to build a nuclear power plant anyway, then we have to discuss other issues that are actually the drivers for those projects.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for an interview.

The Saudis have invited companies to bid on building two power reactors, but to date have not awarded a contract. While those plans remain on the drawing board, the kingdom is pressing ahead with construction on its first research reactor.

And there are troubling signs surrounding the project.

No IAEA monitoring

The Saudis announced in early 2018 that they had broken ground on a small research reactor that would be operational by the end of 2019.

Like most nuclear projects, Riyadh’s has fallen behind schedule. But there is strong evidence that the Saudis are pressing ahead with renewed vigor.

Bloomberg news reported that satellite photos taken in March and May of this year revealed that the Saudis have built a roof over the reactor – a development that is alarming nuclear experts because the Saudis have not yet invited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor the site and inspect the reactor’s design.

“What it does tend to infer is problematic,” said Dorfman. “Key to IAEA surveillance and regulations is signing up to non-proliferation treaties. In other words, questions of enrichment and how you deal with substances that flow out of nuclear reactors in terms of future weaponisation.”

Saudi has signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which obligates it to have a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA. But those agreements do not allow IAEA inspectors to come sniffing around whenever they like on short notice.

That level of access is only granted when a country signs an Additional Protocol with the IAEA – something the UAE has done, but which the Saudis have not.

Nor is Riyadh obligated to make this move, because the Saudis are currently operating under a Small Quantities Protocol (SQP) that exempts states with nuclear ambitions from IAEA inspections.

The presumption is that the countries operating under the SQP do not have enough nuclear material to warrant that level of intrusiveness. But experts say the Saudis will not be able to hide behind the small quantities’ fig leaf once they switch on the reactor.

“It will have more than a small quantity of material, maybe not a large one, but more than the limit under this [SQP] agreement,” Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, told Al Jazeera. “Instead of owning up that they need to change the agreement and reaching an understanding with the people in Vienna [where the IAEA is based], they’re playing this out to the last second. That’s not a great look.”

Procrastination is not without its downsides. Riyadh does not have a 123 Agreement with the US that allows for bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation, despite efforts to negotiate one.

A 123 Agreement would give Riyadh a seal of approval from Washington, while it would open the door for US companies to throw their hats into the ring to reap profits from building reactors for the kingdom.

While US lawmakers in Congress have not been willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s bad behaviour, the administration of US President Donald Trump has not let it get in the way of fostering closer ties with the kingdom.

Trump, for example, has vigorously supported conventional weapons sales to the Saudis despite Riyadh’s abysmal record on human rights, while his son-in-law Jared Kushner has forged a close relationship with MBS.

This disconnect between Congress and the White House on Saudi policy was noted in a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) – a non-partisan Congressional watchdog – that found that the Trump administration may not have been as transparent as it should be with Congress over nuclear negotiations with the Saudis.

According to the GAO, the sticking points holding up a 123 Agreement between the US and Saudi include Riyadh’s failure to agree to refrain from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium – key ingredients in nuclear weapons – or to sign an Additional Protocol with the IAEA.

They don’t want to sign up to that. And you’ve got to ask the question: ‘Well, why? what’s the problem?'” said Sokolski.

“We know that looking at other military acquisitions, particularly in the missile arena, that the Saudis have a bad habit of doing things in secret if they think it’s controversial,” Sokolski added. “Would nuclear be treated the same way as missile acquisitions? If so, this is another lack of transparency you’ve got to be concerned about.”

 

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cause of blast at Iran nuclear site – still shrouded in mystery

OREIGN REPORTS HAVE ATTRIBUTED THE ATTACK TO ISRAEL

Iranian MP: Blast at nuclear site was ’caused by a security breach’       https://www.timesofisrael.com/iranian-mp-blast-at-nuclear-site-was-caused-by-a-security-breach/   Javad Karimi Qoddousi rules out a strike ‘by an external object’ as the cause of a fire that damaged an advanced centrifuge plant at Natanz
By TOI STAFF  22 July 20, 

A building damaged by a fire, at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, in a photo released on July 2, 2020. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

An Iranian lawmaker said Wednesday that a recent blast and fire at the Natanz nuclear site was caused by a “security breach.”

MP Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a member of the Iranian parliament’s National Security Committee, ruled out “a strike on the complex by an external object” as the cause of the blast, appearing to deny the possibility of a missile attack or airstrike.

“If it was from the outside, we should have seen shrapnel, but there are absolutely no remnants left on the site,” he said, according to Radio Farda.

Qoddousi did not elaborate on what he meant by a “security breach.” Radio Farda noted the Persian term he used can also be translated as an infiltration of security, suggesting the blast came from inside the building.

The blast, which US media reports have attributed to Israel, damaged an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant.

According to a New York Times report earlier this month, the blast was most likely the result of a bomb planted at the facility, potentially at a strategic gas line, but that it was not out of the question that a cyberattack was used to cause a malfunction that led to the explosion.

The July 2 Natanz explosion was one of a series of mysterious blasts at Iranian strategic sites in recent weeks, which have once again been largely attributed to either Washington, Jerusalem, or both.
The substantial damage done by an explosion and a fire at an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. (satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

Intelligence officials who assessed the damage to the Netanz centrifuge facility told The Times they believed it may have set back the Iranian nuclear program by as much as two years.

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry has said that the cause of the Natanz explosion was not yet known, but warned that the country would retaliate severely if it emerges that a foreign entity was involved.

Iran has also called for action against Israel following the damage to the Natanz facility. “This method Israel is using is dangerous, and it could spread to anywhere in the world,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei said, during a press conference on July 7.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Iran | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear woes highlighted by Ohio corruption case

Ohio corruption case throws focus on US nuclear plant troubles Ft.com,  Gregory Meyer in New York, 23 July 20
Top lawmaker charged over payments relating to bailouts in case that points up economic woes, 
  Gregory Meyer in New York 3 HOURS AGO 5 Print this page The troubled economics of nuclear energy in the US have come into glaring focus after a top Ohio lawmaker was charged in connection with $60m in alleged payments to orchestrate a $1bn bailout of two struggling power plants on the Lake Erie shore.
Ohio last year became the fifth US state — following Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York — to approve aid to nuclear power plants facing low-cost competition from natural gas, solar and wind energy. Its governor, Mike DeWine, signed a bill providing up to $150m a year, funded by a surcharge on electricity customers.
 Intense lobbying preceded the bill’s passage. A campaign to overturn it through a referendum failed last autumn. Yet the machinations that led to the bailout ran far deeper than the public knew, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.
According to the US justice department, for three years ending in March, $60m was poured into an advocacy organisation called Generation Now, controlled by the Republican state house speaker, Larry Householder. Prosecutors said the funds financed a “racketeering conspiracy” led by Mr Householder, who was charged along with his campaign strategist, three lobbyists and Generation Now.
  The companies that supplied the money were not named in the indictment, but the details matched Ohio utility FirstEnergy and one of its subsidiaries. The alleged co-conspirators called the company “the bank”, given its seemingly unlimited war chest, according to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.
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https://www.ft.com/content/451324c6-9f9d-48a1-b2d9-76d731e99db6The alleged conspiracy used the money to help more than 20 state candidates who supported the bailout propping up the two power plants, including Mr Householder, in the 2018 election. More than $1m was spent on advertisements attacking opponents of the measure, according to the US attorney for the southern district of Ohio.
 Some funds were used to improperly pay for Mr Householder’s campaign staff, while he used more than $400,000 on personal expenses — including a home in Florida — prosecutors alleged. Mr Householder could not be reached for comment.
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https://www.ft.com/content/451324c6-9f9d-48a1-b2d9-76d731e99db6After legislators passed the bailout last July, the funds were used to derail a public ballot initiative meant to repeal the law by bribing people who were collecting signatures endorsing the effort, the complaint said. Besides the nuclear subsidies, the law also eliminated energy efficiency requirements, pared back mandates for wind and solar power and authorised a fee on customers to support ailing coal-fired power plants.
 “When the corruption is alleged to reach some of the highest levels of our state government, the citizens of Ohio should be shocked and appalled,” said Chris Hoffman, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Cincinnati office.   ………….
the Electric Power Supply Association, which represents independent power producers, urged its repeal, calling it the outcome of a “corrupt legislative process”.
“Rather than let the market provide the best outcomes for energy customers — and against the warnings and complaints from almost all corners — money and political influence won the day,” said Todd Snitchler, EPSA chief executive and former chairman of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.
With the referendum having failed, the Ohio law is likely to stand, according to ClearView Energy Partners, a research group: “Only the state legislature can terminate the programme at this point, and we do not think the arrests could be enough to galvanise lawmakers to reverse course .  https://www.ft.com/content/451324c6-9f9d-48a1-b2d9-76d731e99db6

July 23, 2020 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

With loss of biodiversity will come new pandemics

July 23, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, health | Leave a comment

In the event of a nuclear bombing, electromagnetic pulse would be the least of our worries

The electromagnetic pulse that comes from the sundering of an atom, potentially destroying electronics within the blast radius with some impact miles away from ground zero,  is just one of many effects of every nuclear blast. What is peculiar about these pulses, often referred to as EMPs, is the way the side effect of a nuclear blast is treated as a  special threat in its own right by bodies such as the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, which, despite the official-sounding name, is a privately funded group.

 These groups continue a decadelong tradition of obsession over EMPs, one President Donald Trump and others have picked up on. These EMP-specific fears are wholly divorced from the normal risk calculations of a war between nuclear-armed states and the threat of nuclear oblivion. Doing so obscures the history—and misunderstands the dangers.

EMPs were anticipated before they existed. Enrico Fermi of the Manhattan Project hardened sensors at the Trinity test site so that the detonation would remain useful science. Later nuclear tests would look at the way this pulse risked disabling other warheads in flight, and what would happen if a warhead was detonated so high above Earth that the pulse was its primary effect.

For the early planners of the apocalypse, the greatest risk posed by an EMP was to nuclear warheads themselves. Strategic planning called for multiple warheads to obliterate a city, and the engineers were worried about what might happen if the first nuke to explode disabled the electronics inside the other warheads, causing them to land inert instead. This was called “warhead fratricide,” and researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ran Monte Carlo simulations to estimate the odds.
Once understood, the problem of nuclear weapons disabling other nuclear weapons was solved, primarily, by engineering around the known parameters of EMPs. Hardening electronics, with special shielding that directs current around sensitive parts of machines, has been a staple of nuclear weapon design for decades. It is a known, solvable problem. The U.S. Department of Defense absolutely requires hardening for military electronics critical to nuclear command and control, while standards exist to harden other electronics, as well as civilian infrastructure that the military depends on for non-nuclear threats.
That hasn’t stopped it becoming a perpetual bugbear of strategists. …………..

at a time when the primary concern of the U.S. nuclear enterprise was preparing for, and deterring, a war with the Soviet Union. That arsenal, now Russian, remains the primary concern of nuclear forces. Russia, like the United States, maintains a standing arsenal of over 1,500 deployed nuclear weapons. That’s the scale where, should either country decide to launch a nuclear attack, a warhead or three could be spared to create a high-altitude EMP effect against another country without significantly reducing the total harm caused by the more familiar blasts and pressure waves of nuclear detonation. The destruction to electronics, as in Hiroshima, would be a very low-level concern compared to the charred bodies of children and cities on fire.

For the rest of the nuclear-armed world, with total arsenals estimated at between 35 to 320 warheads, using one of them for an EMP effect makes even less strategic sense.
What is known about nuclear weapons is the damage they cause to people, to cities, and to physical objects from physical force. These are the effects that haunt our understanding of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A nuclear blast is an unsubtle form of harm. Focusing on EMPs outside the context of a broader nuclear war assumes a wholly unique strategic calculus, one that sits outside any understanding of war or even terrorism. It ascribes nearly supernatural powers to electronics and the threatened loss thereof. And it assumes that detonating a nuclear weapon in orbit over a country would not be met with the same immediate and hostile reaction as detonating a nuclear weapon in a city.
To fear the EMP is to look at the vast military strength of the United States, and see, as Franks did, that strength as a surrogate for a unique vulnerability. It is to imagine that the United States has built itself an Achilles’ heel, one that when pricked will lead to the collapse of all of Western civilization…………
Nuclear war is a serious threat. It has been for decades, however much we might want to forget about it. But the idea of a nuclear weapon creating an EMP without immediately sparking a nuclear war is entirely laughable.   https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/21/electromagnetic-pulses-emp-weapons-nuclear-explosion/

July 23, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

The Fukushima Diiachi Accident Chain, Part 6

The Fukushima Diiachi Accident Chain, Part 6, Nuclear Exhaust, 22 July 20

A Discussion of Official Reports Describing the Fukushma Diiachi  Nuclear Disaster

 The references used for this discussion are:

The Official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Executive Summary”, The National Diet of Japan, 2012.

“FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI: ANS Committee Report”, A Report by The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima, March 2012.

“The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, Technical Volume 1/5 Description and Context of the Accident, IAEA, Vienna, 2015.

 FACT AND CAUSE OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ACCIDENT”, Hideki NARIAI, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Engineering Lessons Learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, March 1-4, 2012, Tokyo, Japan.

Other sources, such as press reports, industry and authority regulations and technical bulletins will also be used.

The very great complexity of the disaster and of the human and systems responses to the challenges which confronted, and confront, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear plant and the people operating and tending to the plant is obvious. The aim of this discussion is to attempt to produce, in review, a coherent picture of the events as reported by the authorities given above.

While the nuclear industry and permanent nuclear authorities – the IAEA – tend to agree closely in their reports of the events, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, appointed by the Japanese national Parliament (Diet) reports various aspects of the disaster with pointedly local questioning of events based upon witness accounts and the Committee’s own findings. And these perceptions, based on local knowledge of both the plant and witness statements actually challenge, in aspects, the findings of the other authorities.

As a preamble to the discussion of the disaster, a central consideration to all nuclear power plants in use today has to be included.   The long term, intermediate term and short term safety of nuclear power plants depends upon the availability of electrical grid connection and power to the reactors and the entire plant. This is not an opinion, it is a technical fact which nuclear authorities have repeatedly reported upon.

The surprising fact is, that although nuclear reactors can supply electrical power to the world’s largest cities and nations, when the grid goes down, there is no ability for any nuclear reactor to power itself and its systems on any long term basis. There is nothing integral to the reactors which allows the energy resident in the reactors’ cores and pressure vessels to be controlled and managed so as to manage the cooling of the reactors.

While the nuclear industry and nuclear authorities have touted the virtues of nuclear power plant emergency cooling systems for over 50 years.   However:

 “The emergency cooling systems started. However, they did not work for so long time, and the fuels became to heat up and melt down, resulting the severe accident. “ Source: English translation of “FACT AND CAUSE OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ACCIDENT , Hideki NARIAI, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Engineering Lessons Learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, March 1-4, 2012, Tokyo, Japan.

As we shall see later, the workers at the Fukushima Diiachi site during the early stages kept the emergency cooling systems going for many hours longer than the systems were designed to last. And these systems are designed to work for 8 hours only. (See the ANS report)..………. 

It is beyond me why the nuclear industry, for more then 50 years, has been so wilfully dumb, ignorant and arrogant in the design of its emergency systems. And everything else.  It seems to me the main aim of the industry is to sell reactors by any means.  Whereas the industry should have the main aim of assuring safety in the context of the modern world and the modern world energy market.   The problem is, though solar panels mounted on the Fukushima Shima Diiachi reactor building roofs could have save the day by keeping cooling pumps going, the obvious thought is this: why not just replace the Fukushima Diiachi with a solar and wind farm?  

No danger of meltdown at all.  As soon the 2009 scientific assessment came in demonstrating that an earthquake and tsunami was due “within the next 30 years”. that is precisely what should have been down.  Perhaps Barry Brook and Pam Sykes, two academic non nuclear experts in Australia, were right. No human skill could have saved Fukushima Diiachi. So why leave it there? Pity the authorities in the nuclear industry hid and suppressed the scientific warnings of 2009, including TEPCOs own confirmation of the growing threat.  This is standard procedure for the nuclear industry. It is not a particularly Japanese culture.  It is nuclear norm.

The IAEA requirements for electricity grids which supply Nuclear Power Plants.

The following text is a straight quote from : ” “ELECTRIC GRID RELIABILITY AND INTERFACE WITH NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS” IAEA NUCLEAR ENERGY SERIES No. NG-T-3.8, IAEA, ….

Quote: ““The safe and economic operation of a nuclear power plant (NPP) requires the plant to be connected to an electrical grid system that has adequate capacity for exporting the power from the NPP, and for providing a reliable electrical supply to the NPP for safe startup, operation and normal or emergency shutdown of the plant.

“Connection of any large new power plant to the electrical grid system in a country may require significant modification and strengthening of the grid system, but for NPPs there may be added requirements to the structure of the grid system and the way it is controlled and maintained to ensure adequate reliability.

“The organization responsible for the NPP and the organization responsible for the grid system will need to establish and agree the necessary characteristics of the grid and of the NPP, well before the NPP is built, so that they are compatible with each other. They will also need to agree the necessary modifications to the grid system, and how they are to be financed.

“For a Member State that does not yet use nuclear power, the introduction and development of nuclear power is a major undertaking. It requires the country to build physical infrastructure and develop human resources so it can
construct and operate a nuclear power plant (NPP) in a safe, secure and technically sound manner. ” end quote. Source: “ELECTRIC GRID RELIABILITY AND INTERFACE WITH NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS” IAEA NUCLEAR ENERGY SERIES No. NG-T-3.8, IAEA,

Hmm. very interesting. NPPs require a specifically designed and modified baseload capable grid network before they can be expected to safely start up, operation and shut down. Further the grid is needed, according to the world nuclear authority, for SAFE EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN.

The Earthquake and the Grid in Japan on the day of the disaster

One would have thought the following information would have been clearly discussed by the nuclear authorities from the day of the disaster. It’s nearly 10 years and still no word from them:

““Vibrations from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered an immediate shut down of 15 of Japan’s nuclear power stations. Seismic sensors picked up the earthquake and control rods were automatically inserted into the reactors, halting the fission reaction that is used to produce electricity. This sudden loss of power across Japan’s national power grid caused widespread power failures, cutting vital electricity supplies to Fukushima Daiichi. There were three reactors, one, two and three, operating at the time when the earthquake hit while reactors four, five and six had already been shutdown as part of routine maintenance work.” “Japan earthquake: how the nuclear crisis unfolded”. Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. end quote.

The first thing the earthquake did was to cause the shutdown of nuclear power feed into the grid. 15 Nuclear Power Plants threw in the towel because they cannot safely operate during an earthquake. Apparently. Nuclear power guarantees black out in an earthquake.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference, safety | Leave a comment