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Nuclear news – week to 15th March

The Fukushima anniversary is over. A sigh of relief?  We can now all forget about it? Not really. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8njLkMigH4&t=10s

Numerous well-researched articles on the event conclude that Japan’s struggle with the aftermath has no end in sight. A hastily released ”comforting ” health report from The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation has been criticised as unconvincing and inconsistent. The Japanese government, and the  global nuclear lobby doggedly persist in planning for the ”Recovery Olympics” in Tokyo in July.  But in view of the pandemic and the lingering radiation, that may not be a done deal

Meanwhile – global heating plugs along – without much publicity – Siberia’s warming shows climate change has no winners.   Without changes to mitigate global warming, summer could last nearly six months, study finds.
Global coronavirus cases are beginning to rise again, and there are a number of nations where the situation is worsening by the day.
 
A bit of good news – USA – Fauci Agrees We Can Reach Normalcy by Fourth of July.

Fukushima: “How Japan was blinded to the predicted certainty of disaster“.     10 years after Fukushima – still nuclear regulatory capture, and poor safety culture.  Whitewashing of Fukushima meltdown by United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.

Nuclear power faces a wobbly future.  Ten years on from Fukushima, nuclear power continues to struggle with deeper problemsNuclear power is unpopular: promoted only by those with vested interests.

Billionaire Bill Gates’ nuclear ambitions would make climate disaster worse.

Global nuclear industry in decline since 1996, even without Fukushima disaster.

The long-term problem of ”peaceful” plutonium.

The radiation danger to astronauts– cancer, heart disease -an ethical problem.  Space radiation – harmful to astronauts, not only with cancers, but also with heart and blood vessel effects.  Low doses of radiation used in medical imaging lead to mutations in cell cultures.

The growing threat of space debris.

How the world came close to nuclear war catastrophe.

‘Every euro invested in nuclear power makes the climate crisis worse‘.  Small modular reactors not the solution, says German nuclear authority .

Need to establish compensation schemes for future nuclear accidents.

So-called ”cloud” computing means huge electricity use in data so-called ”farms”.

JAPAN.

 The truth about Fukushima today – and the cover-up – Thomas A Bass.   Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Nearly ‘Ended The Japanese State’. Harm done to people by the Fukushima evacuation, but radiation was still the root cause of all this.    The Asahi Shimbun continues to warn against nuclear power -Japan’s risk of another “Fukushima -type” disaster.

Japan’s Nuclear Clean-Up Has No End in Sight.   1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water and nowhere to put it – Fukushima’s continued legacy.   Review of film ”Fukushima 50”.       The thought of the Olympics – the only hold-up to emptying contaminated water to the ocean.

Impossible timetable set for returning Fukushima nuclear site to ‘greenfield”.  Japanese government hopes that not-yet-designed robots might clean up Fukushima nuclear mess.  Part of Tomioka, 6 miles from Fukushima, is still a no-go zone.    Radiation from Fukushima meltdown collects in timber in affected region.

Tokyo Olypics: is it safe to promote Japan’s so-called “recovery” by sending athletes into a nuclear exclusion zone?  United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) report on Fukushima health effects -rushed, inadequate, inconsistent.

Cash-strapped Japanese nuclear company funds road plans near idle nuclear plant.

Japan’s main opposition party -”Japanese society is viable without operating nuclear power plants”.

FRANCE. French Nuclear tests: revelations about a cancer epidemic.

PACIFIC ISLANDS.  France has consistently underestimated the devastating impact of its nuclear tests in French Polynesia.  110, 000 people in French Polynesia affected by the radioactive fallout from atomic bomb tests.  Time to clean up Bikini Atoll, to right the nuclear wrongs done to the Pacific islands people.

USA.

GERMANY.  Germany pledges to work towards a nuclear-free Europe  The Greens are likely to be propelled into government in the national vote.

UK. Nuclear power losing out in the UK – not a good omen for the global nuclear industry.      Trident nuclear warhead numbers set to increase for first time since cold war, despite commitment to decrease nuclear weaponss stockpile.  Safety breaches at Sellafield have raised fears of a Chernobyl-style disaster.

CHINA.  China maintains only a lean nuclear weapons force – aimed at survival if attacked..

TURKEY. Anxieties over Turkey’s new Russian-backed nuclear plants.  Turkey’s nuclear ambitions bring fears of a ”new Chernobyl” in the region.   – Turkey’s nuclear power plant could prove irresistible to terrorists.

NEW ZEALAND. New Zealand groups oppose launch of U.S. military nuclear satellite.

TAIWAN.  Nuclear power not an option for Taiwan.  Taiwan environmentalists to hold anti-nuclear rally in June.

SLOVENIA.  Slovenia’s hazardous old nuclear reactor in an earthquake zone.

AUSTRALIA. Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima .  Australia must learn the lessons of Fukushima.–  Time for Australia to clean up uranium mining damage, and end this toxic industry – Western Australia could lead the way. its nuclear tests in French Polynesia.  110, 000 people in French Polynesia affected by the radioactive fallout from atomic bomb tests.  Time to clean up Bikini Atoll, to right the nuclear wrongs done to the Pacific islands people.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Tokyo’s ”Recovery Olympics”? But Japan has not recovered from the Fukushima meltdown

Japan Hasn’t Recovered 10 Years After Fukushima Meltdown, https://truthout.org/articles/japan-hasnt-recovered-10-years-after-fukushima-meltdown/,  Arnie Gundersen, -March 11, 2021  

On March 11, 2011, a devastating offshore earthquake and ensuing tsunami rocked Japan and resulted in nuclear meltdowns in three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site. Until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were placed on a one-year hiatus because of concerns over COVID-19, the Japanese government had portrayed these events as the “Recovery Olympics.” It had hoped to use the Olympics to showcase a claimed restoration of Japan since it was devastated in 2011. But has Japan really “recovered?”

Recently, corresponding author Marco Kaltofen (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), co-author Maggie Gundersen (Fairewinds Energy Education) and I published our second peer-reviewed journal article analyzing hundreds of radioactive samples from northern Japan that we collected with assistance from Japanese citizens and scientists. Our sampling on five occasions over almost a decade totaled 70 days on the ground. Here are four things we discovered.

1. Existing radiation maps ignore significant sources of radiological exposure.

Most of the radiation maps of northern Japan are based on external radiation detected in handheld instrument measurements by citizens and scientists, who then link the measurements to GPS coordinates while downloading that data into a massive database. This information about direct, external radiation is certainly important, but it has become the de facto criteria for decision makers in Japan to decide which cities and towns should be repopulated.

We found that this approach only provides limited policy alternatives and serves to minimize potential population exposure for two reasons. First, the Geiger counter data is for external radiation that was deposited on the ground external to human bodies and ignores radiation imbibed or inhaled as “hot particles” into the human body.

Secondly, the external radiation data frequently displayed for northern Japan is based on radiation emitted from only a single radioactive isotope, Cesium-137 (Cs-137), as measured externally. On the other hand, our papers show a wide variety of isotopes that are not detected by handheld Geiger counters or absorbed externally. We show that there is an extensive brew of various isotopes present in radioactive dust that is inhaled or imbibed. Our papers indicate that the radioactive concentration in these dust particles varies widely, by a factor of 1 million, with 5 percent (3 sigma) of these “hot particles” 10,000 times more radioactive than the mean. Our most radioactive dust particle was collected 300 miles from the site of the meltdown.

Furthermore, the data show that alpha, beta and gamma-emitting contaminants in radioactive fallout from the Daiichi meltdowns have not traveled together in lockstep. This means that measuring only beta-emitters like Cesium-137 or only total gamma (as you would with a Geiger counter) is not enough to map the full impact of the fallout. Alpha-emitters must also be measured to protect the public health. This is especially important because of the serious health impacts that can come from exposure to alpha radiation.

2. Northern Japan remains radiologically contaminated.

When a nuclear chain reaction stops, the hazardous remnants of the previously split uranium atoms, euphemistically called “fission products,” are left behind and remain radioactive for centuries. The triple meltdowns and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2 and 3 in March 2011 released an enormous amount of these fission products into the environment. Wind currents pushed as much as 80 percent of this radiation over the Pacific Ocean, while 20 percent fell on northern Japan, forcing the evacuation of approximately 160,000 Japanese citizens from ancestral lands.

Absent any human intervention, short-lived fission products that originally accounted for more than half of this contamination have already decayed away during the last nine years, while even more has washed into the Pacific from storms and typhoons. Limited cleanup efforts by the Japanese government have further reduced the contamination in a fraction of the populated portion of the devastated Fukushima prefecture. Greater than 10 million tons of radioactive material have been collected and stored in 10 million individual large black bags at hundreds of locations. However, due to mountainous terrain, more than 70 percent of Fukushima prefecture will never be decontaminated.

Absent any human intervention, short-lived fission products that originally accounted for more than half of this contamination have already decayed away during the last nine years, while even more has washed into the Pacific from storms and typhoons. Limited cleanup efforts by the Japanese government have further reduced the contamination in a fraction of the populated portion of the devastated Fukushima prefecture. Greater than 10 million tons of radioactive material have been collected and stored in 10 million individual large black bags at hundreds of locations. However, due to mountainous terrain, more than 70 percent of Fukushima prefecture will never be decontaminated.

As the cost and effort to completely decontaminate the entire land mass of Fukushima prefecture would be prohibitive, the Japanese government has focused on cleaning only populated areas. It also increased the “allowable” radiation limit 20-fold, after an initial partial decontamination, from 1 milli-Sievert to 20 milli-Sieverts per year (100 millirem to 2 rem) to facilitate repopulation of abandoned villages. A 20-fold increase in radiation will create a 20-fold increase in radiation-induced cancers. A significant fraction of residents chose not to return, recognizing the increased risk that these higher approved limits present.

3. Previously “cleaned” areas are becoming radiologically contaminated yet again.

The city of Minamisoma was contaminated and evacuated at the height of the Fukushima disaster. After a period of several years, radiation in the city was remediated and citizens were allowed to return. Minamisoma City Hall was decontaminated, with a new epoxy roof applied after the meltdowns in 2011. The authors collected samples from this previously “clean” fourth-story roof in 2016 and again in 2017, finding high levels of alpha radiation in the relative absence of the normally ubiquitous Cesium isotopes. This can only imply that wind-borne contamination from uncleaned areas is recontaminating those areas determined habitable.

4. Olympic venues in Fukushima prefecture are more contaminated than in Tokyo Olympic venues.

Suburbs of Tokyo are approximately 120 miles from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. We found particulate radiation at Olympic venues in Tokyo to be normal compared to other cities worldwide. We found that areas in Japan beyond the Olympic venues were seven times more contaminated than the venues themselves. Contamination at the Olympic venues in Fukushima prefecture, planned to showcase the region’s recovery, were also more contaminated than the Tokyo venues. We found that on average, these northern Olympic venues were two to three times more contaminated with “hot particles” than venues in Tokyo.

We also detected small but statistically significant levels of plutonium at the J-Village national soccer camp in Fukushima prefecture. Even though the Japanese government claims to have thoroughly decontaminated these Fukushima locations, it is not surprising that these Olympic venues remain contaminated. As discussed previously, since the entirety of the prefecture’s area will never be decontaminated, these areas will continue to have wind-borne contamination for centuries.

Science on a Shoestring

As Fukushima was melting down, nuclear advocates in the U.S. were testifying to the Washington State legislature, saying that Japan’s nuclear plants would not be a problem, and that working in a nuclear plant is “safer than working in Toys R Us.” Not surprisingly, those same zealots are now claiming that there will be no increase in cancer fatalities as a result of the three Fukushima meltdowns. However, not including the hot particle contamination my colleagues and I have identified, the UN estimates that thousands of fatalities will occur. Others, including myself, believe the actual cancer increase could result in upwards of 100,000 increased deaths as a result of the radioactive microparticles strewn into the environment.

There is no doubt that radiological conditions in Japan have improved in the decade since the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. However, our data show that Japan has not “recovered,” nor can it ever return to pre-meltdown norms. Public relations campaigns by interested parties cannot obscure the recontamination of populated areas in northern Japan that will continue to occur.

Hasegawa, the former head of Maeda Ward in Fukushima prefecture at the time of the Fukushima disaster, sums up the sentiment of most of Japanese citizens in northern Japan: “The nuclear plant took everything.… We are just in the way of the Olympics. In the end, the radiation-affected places like us are just in the way. They are going ahead just wanting to get rid of these places from Japan, to forget.”

There is an old laboratory adage that says, “The best way to clean up a spill is not to have a spill,” and this applies on a much larger scale to the entirety of northern Japan, where cleanup will remain economically unfeasible. Our future plans to further support our hypothesis that Japan remains contaminated will involve testing the shoestrings of Olympic athletes and visitors to northern Japan. Shoestrings are useful, as their woven fabric traps dust which may assist in determining the extent of contamination into populated areas in northern Japan compared to that in Tokyo.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | environment, Japan, politics, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Billionaire Bill Gates’ nuclear ambitions would make climate disaster worse

His nuclear path would lead to, not prevent, a climate disaster

Why Bill Gates is wrong — Beyond Nuclear International

Billionaire’s nuclear ambitions would make climate disaster worse, https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3231823855   By Linda Pentz Gunter, 14 Mar 21, 

In an interview for the Washington Post Magazine during his current book tour, billionaire Bill Gates, whom we are now expected to accept as an authority on climate change, said: “I’ll be happy if TerraPower was a waste of money.” TerraPower is Gates’s nuclear power company pushing so-called “advanced” reactors. His book is called How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.

Well, Bill, I have some good news for you. You can start celebrating! Because, yes, TerraPower is indeed a colossal waste of money. It’s also a waste of precious time. And the idea that nuclear power could “lift billions out of poverty” as the TerraPower website boats, is on a par with any number of outlandish theories, conspiratorial or otherwise, that are making the all too frequent rounds these days.

So has Gates really drunk the Kool-Aid (OK it wasn’t actually Kool-Aid but Flavor Aid that was consumed at the 1978 Jonestown massacre)? Does he really plan to throw away $1 billion of his own money, plus an equal match from investors and possibly some state funding, too, and then just shrug it off when the whole thing proves redundant? Is that really true stewardship of the climate?

You don’t need to be a mathematician to work out what $2 billion plus would buy in renewables, and how much faster that particularly delivery would arrive at the doorsteps of the world’s poor, whom Gates claims he aims to protect.

Here is what Lazard’s estimated in terms of costs comparisons for new nuclear plants and other energy options, as laid out by Amory Lovins in his landmark Forbes article

New nuclear power would cost $118–192/MWh (of which $29 is typical operating cost) while utility-scale solar power would cost $32–42/MWh and onshore windpower $28–54/MWh. 

As Lovins has consistently pointed out: “To protect the climate, we must save the most carbon at the least cost and in the least time, counting all three variables—carbon and cost and time.” 

And, “costly options save less carbon per dollar than cheaper options. Slow options save less carbon per year than faster options. Thus even a low- or no-carbon option that is too costly or too slow will reduce and retard achievable climate protection.” 

Right now, a so-called “advanced” TerraPower reactor is just a glimmer in Gates’s eye. Like the prevailing fantasies about life on Mars, his toy reactor won’t materialize anywhere near soon enough to ease the agonies of the climate crisis. And even if it eventually shows up, and passes the necessary safety requirements, it will demonstrate only a triumph in physics, having by then no economical or practical utility whatsoever.

As the absence of progress on small modular reactors has shown, there is simply no viable market for new reactors, “advanced” or otherwise. Even the enticing prospect of rolling hundreds of small reactors off assembly lines (a jobs killer for on-site workers), is pie-in-the-sky, given the huge upfront costs that could never be recouped unless there were hundreds, possibly thousands, of orders.

To show just how detached from nuclear reality Bill Gates has become, he is happy to throw in the towel on TerraPower if fusion triumphs instead. Fusion, he says along with fission and “a miracle in storage” are the “only” ways to “make electricity cheap and reliable.”

Yes, this is the same fusion that has been thirty years away for countless decades. And still is. This is the fusion that uses more energy to create electricity than it delivers; that is sucking billions of dollars into research that could be applied to instant fixes in the renewable energy sector.

This is the same “cheap” that saw the costs at the two still unfinished new nuclear reactors in Georgia balloon to $21 billion in 2021, more than double the original cost and counting. And it’s the same “reliable” that resulted in Texans shivering in the dark during the recent big freeze (and no, it wasn’t frozen wind turbines, and I don’t have a fire-starting space laser, either).

There is a reason we are no longer searching for gold in them thar hills. We don’t need to waste years panning for a few elusive grams, hoping eventually to build a fortune. The Gold Rush is over. So, if there ever was one, is the Nuclear Rush.

Gates wants to save lives conquering malaria. But he’s fine with exposing people to radiation and leaving a legacy of toxic waste with no known solution.

Take a look around. In addition to the Vogtle debacle, a similar project in South Carolina was abandoned unfinished with ratepayers footing the bill. In the UK, Hitachi has fled for the Welsh hills, ditching its new reactor plans in that country. Before that, a proposed three-reactor site in Cumbria in north west England saw a similar corporate exodus. The new reactor at Bradwell, UK, is on “pause.” 

Meanwhile, as nuclear costs — largely due to their equally huge risks — continue to soar, renewable prices are plummeting. Solar and wind are the cheapest and fastest forms of new energy. Nuclear power is the most expensive and the slowest. So if you choose to spend your next $2 billion on trying to invent the better nuclear mousetrap, then you are not helping to avoid a climate disaster. You are enabling it.https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3231823855

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Turkey’s nuclear power plant could prove irresistible to terrorists

Turkey’s nuclear power plant could prove irresistible to terrorists

A tempting target — Beyond Nuclear International

 A Tempting target https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3231822640  Beyond Nuclear International

Accurate missiles and drones could knock down critical electrical supply lines to Turkey’s nuclear reactor and destroy its emergency generators, nuclear control rooms, reactor containment buildings, and spent reactor fuel buildings.

By Henry Sokolski and John Spacapan

Although it got little attention from the U.S. media, an explosion late last month at a Turkish nuclear power plant construction site raised eyebrows in Turkey. It should raise eyebrows in America, too. Donald Trump pushed nuclear exports to the region when he was president. His replacement, Joe Biden, should not. The recent Turkish explosion clarifies why: nuclear plants in unstable regions are tempting targets that could explode, and not by accident.

The blast injured at least two people and caused serious damage to homes in the area. The Russian-Turkish nuclear construction firm, Akkuyu Nuclear Inc., claims the explosion took place when a subcontractor carried out “planned drilling and blasting.” So far, Ankara has kept mum on the story.

Angry local officials and opposition party leaders, though, aren’t buying the construction firm’s account. A member of the leading political opposition, the Republican People’s Party, said locals are losing sleep “thinking about the possibility of more blasts that might happen in the future when the nuclear power plant starts to function.” Meanwhile, the local governor has ordered a special police team to investigate the incident and to “hold those responsible to account.” 

Whether or not the explosion was planned, the Republican People’s Party leaders, Turkish citizens, and local Akkuyu politicians worry about reactor accidents. The Akkuyu plant sits on a major plate tectonic fault line. Besides natural accidents, they should worry about another threat—terrorist and proxy missile and drone attacks. Certainly, if government officials ignore local opposition to the nuclear project, then they will have to worry that the PKK (a Kurdish terrorist group that seeks an autonomous state in southeastern Turkey) might hold the Turkish government hostage by threatening to strike the plant.

Nearby, last July, the Azerbaijani defense ministry’s spokesman did precisely that, publicly threatening to use precise Azeri missiles to strike Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant. It was shortly after this threat was made that Russian president Vladimir Putin called Turkish president Recep Erdogan to restrain Azerbaijan’s military. The Iranians and their proxies also have toyed with attacking reactors. Hezbollah, armed with Iranian-made rockets, has threatened to strike Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor.

Another Iranian proxy, the al-Houthi group in Yemen, claimed that they fired a missileat the UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant, which it failed to hit. They claim they intend to try again. 

Finally, if Iran chose to give similar missiles to militias such as the Syrian National Defense Forces, who are supportive of the Assad regime in Syria (a bitter enemy of Turkey), similar threats might be made against Akkuyu.

Then, there is the PKK, which has attacked Turkish soldiers and military bases with sophisticated explosive drones. In one attack, the PKK blew up a Turkish ammunition dump, killing seven Turkish soldiers and wounding dozens more.  Security analysts contend the PKK’s newer drones can travel sixty miles at fast enough speeds to outwit Turkish military jamming technology. They are now reportedly designing a new generation. Such drones have to be considered a future threat against Turkey’s nuclear plant.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | safety, Turkey | Leave a comment

Nuclear power losing out in the UK – not a good omen for the global nuclear industry

Seeking Alpha 13th March 2021, My comments on offshore wind making other forms of energy uncompetitive in 2017 have only become more clear in the past 3 years. Now the adoption ofnoffshore wind is happening elsewhere around the world including in the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, India.
Here I review the current statusnof the UK nuclear power program because the UK nuclear sector is a key indicator for the status of nuclear power adoption in the West. I concludenthat, notwithstanding a lot of lobbying for SMR (Small Modular Reactor) technology, nuclear power is a fading force.
This has particular relevance for investors interested in  SMR technology. Indicating the desperate state of the UK nuclear industry, a new report from the Centre for Policy Studies “Bridging the gap: the case for new nuclear investment” concludes that at least one new nuclear plant needs to be built to support the Hinkley Point C development.
However it is acknowledged that this will not be possible with current financing. An interesting example of creative financing being considered is the Regulated Asset Base model which would allow developers to start charging consumers before the nuclear reactor commences power generation. It will be interesting to see how such a model of financing might be regarded.
The essence of the SMR argument is that it will be more cost effective to build SMRs in a factory for delivery on site. Rolls Royce is a serious contender in the race to develop a Small Modular Reactor and it is proposing to build
not one, but 16 of these plants with a capacity of 440 MW at a cost of 2 billion pounds each.

The Rolls Royce strategy is that by building multiple SMRs it will get good at it and the cost might go down. The reality behind this proposal is that it seems pretty ambitious to set out to build 16 plants before one has been successfully constructed. Time seems against this concept as the UK will have largely exited nuclear power by 2030.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4413668-nuclear-power-losing-out-in-uk-implications-for-nuclear-industry

March 15, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Safety breaches at Sellafield have raised fears of a Chernobyl-style disaster. 

Fears of Chernobyl-style disaster after 25 safety breaches at Sellafield nuclear plant   There have been burst pipes, unstable chemicals, radiation leaks, a cooling tower failure and two plant evacuations in less two years at the site in Cumbria. Mirror  By John Siddle,  13 MAR 2021

Safety breaches at Sellafield have raised fears of a Chernobyl-style disaster.

Campaigners worry that incidents at Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Cumbria could lead to a blast bigger than the 1986 Ukraine horror.

An official report logs 25 breaches in less than two years, including burst pipes, unstable chemicals, radiation leaks, a cooling tower failure and two plant evacuations.

The bomb squad was called in last August after chemicals “changed state”.

Janine Allis-Smith, of a local anti-nuke group, says campaigners “fear an explosion that would make Chernobyl look like a tea party”.

Sellafield – which now splits spent nuclear fuel into plutonium, uranium and waste – said incident reports were published to reassure the public…. 
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ttps://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fears-chernobyl-style-disaster-after-23709599

March 15, 2021 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Clean-Up Has No End in Sight

Climbing Without a Map: Japan’s Nuclear Clean-Up Has No End in Sight, U.S. News, By Reuters, Wire Service Content March 12, 2021,   BY SAKURA MURAKAMI AND Aaron Sheldrick TOKYO (Reuters) – For one minute this week, workers at the Fukushima nuclear station fell silent to mark the 10-year anniversary of a natural disaster that triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Then they went back to work tearing down the reactors melted down in the days after a tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The job ranks as the most expensive and dangerous nuclear clean-up ever attempted. A decade in, an army of engineers, scientists and 5,000 workers are still mapping out a project many expect will not be completed in their lifetime.

Naoaki Okuzumi, the head of research at Japan’s lead research institute on decommissioning, compares the work ahead to climbing a mountain range – without a map.

“The feeling we have is, you think the summit’s right there, but then you reach it and can see another summit, further beyond,” Okuzumi told Reuters.

Okuzumi and others need to find a way to remove and safely store 880 tonnes of highly radioactive uranium fuel along with a larger mass of concrete and metal into which fuel melted a decade ago during the accident.

The robotic tools to do the job don’t yet exist. There is no plan for where to put the radioactive material when it is removed.

Japan’s government says the job could run 40 years. Outside experts say it could take twice as long, pushing completion near the close of the century……..

It wasn’t until 2017 that engineers understood how complicated the clean-up would become. By that point, five specially designed robots had been dispatched through the dark, contaminated waters pumped in to cool the uranium. But radiation zapped their electronics.

One robot developed by Toshiba Corp, nicknamed the “little sunfish”, a device about the size of a loaf of bread, provided an early glimpse of the chaotic damage around the cores.

Kenji Matsuzaki, a robot technician at Toshiba who led development of the “sunfish”, had assumed that they would find melted fuel at the bottom of the reactors.

But the sunfish’s first video images showed a tumult of destruction, with overturned structures inside the reactor, clumps of unrecognizable brown debris and dangerously radioactive metal.

“I expected it to be broken, but I didn’t expect it would be this bad,” Matsuzaki said.

The delivery of a robotic arm to start removing fuel, developed in a $16 million programme with the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, has been delayed until 2022. Tepco plans to use it to grab some debris from inside reactor 2 for testing and to help plan the main operation………….

But the cleanup has been delayed by the buildup of contaminated water in tanks that crowd the site. The melted cores are kept cool by pumping water into damaged reactor vessels.

But the cleanup has been delayed by the buildup of contaminated water in tanks that crowd the site. The melted cores are kept cool by pumping water into damaged reactor vessels.  https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2021-03-12/climbing-without-a-map-japans-nuclear-clean-up-has-no-end-in-sight

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference, technology, wastes | Leave a comment

Space radiation – harmful to astronauts, not only with cancers, but also with heart and blood vessel effects

From Vitamin C to Spinach: Researching Ways to Protect Astronaut Cardiovascular Health From Space Radiation.   Review explores ways that space radiation can damage cardiovascular health, and discusses how we can protect astronauts, from vitamin C to spinach. SciTech Daily 14 Mar 21, Space: the final frontier. What’s stopping us from exploring it? Well, lots of things, but one of the major issues is space radiation, and the effects it can have on astronaut health during long voyages. A new review in the open-access journal Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine explores what we know about the ways that space radiation can negatively affect cardiovascular health, and discusses methods to protect astronauts. These include radioprotective drugs, and antioxidant treatments, some of which are more common than you might think.

Space is incredibly inhospitable. Outside of low earth orbit, astronauts are bombarded with radiation, including galactic cosmic rays, and ‘proton storms’ released by the sun. This radiation is harmful for the human body, damaging proteins and DNA, and is one of the major reasons that we haven’t yet been able to send anyone to Mars, or beyond.

These issues inspired Dr Jesper Hjortnaes of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands to investigate what we know about the harmful effects of space radiation. “If we want to see human long distance space travel, we need to understand the impact of space-induced disease and how to protect our bodies from it,” said Hjortnaes. However, Hjortnaes has an interest in a specific aspect of space radiation: its cardiovascular effects.

You may be surprised to learn that aside from the illnesses we typically associate with radiation, such as cancer, it can also have serious effects on the cardiovascular system. Suffering from cardiovascular illness would be catastrophic for crew members on long-haul space missions, and so it’s important to identify what the risks are, and how to reduce them.

Hjortnaes and colleagues reviewed the evidence to establish what we know about the cardiovascular risks of space radiation. Much of what we know comes from studying people who have received radiation therapy for cancer, where cardiovascular disease is a common side-effect, or from mouse studies of radiation exposure.

So, what are the effects? Radiation can cause myocardial remodeling, where the structure of the heart begins to change, and tough, fibrous tissue grows to replace healthy muscle, potentially leading to heart failure. Other effects include atherosclerosis in blood vessels, which can cause stroke or heart attack. Radiation exerts its effects by causing inflammation, oxidative stress, cell death and DNA damage.

Researchers have also investigated potential ways to protect astronauts. These include drugs that an astronaut could take to protect themselves from space radiation, and antioxidants. Interestingly, an antioxidant diet, including dairy products, green vegetables such as spinach, and antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C, has potential in protecting astronauts from the damaging reactive oxygen molecules produced during radiation exposure.

Overall, the review revealed that so far, research has only scratched the surface of space radiation and the best methods to protect astronauts from it. There is little conclusive evidence of radiation-induced cardiovascular disease in astronauts themselves, as so few of them have ever gone further than low earth orbit, and mouse studies aren’t an exact match for humans……..https://scitechdaily.com/from-vitamin-c-to-spinach-researching-ways-to-protect-astronaut-cardiovascular-health-from-space-radiation/

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Low doses of radiation used in medical imaging lead to mutations in cell cultures

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

Taiwan environmentalists to hold anti-nuclear rally in June

Environmentalists to hold anti-nuclear rally in June, Focus Taiwan, By Wu Hsin-yun and Lee Hsin-Yin)   Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Environmentalists will hold a rally on June 5 to oppose the use of nuclear power and keep the 4th Nuclear Power Plant mothballed ahead of an August referendum on the plant’s fate.

At an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a nationwide anti-nuclear alliance of more than 100 groups urged the public to push back against groups that support the development of nuclear power, citing the harm left by the devastating earthquake.

Independent lawmaker Freddy Lim (林昶佐), who attended the event, said the issue of nuclear energy has gone beyond politics, and people should take the responsibility to say no to it instead of leaving nuclear waste to the next generation.

The alliance urged the public to voice its opposition during a national referendum vote in August, when one of the questions will be: “Do you agree that the 4th Nuclear Power Plant be activated for commercial operations?”……… https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202103130014

March 15, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

China maintains only a lean nuclear weapons force – aimed at survival if attacked.

When it comes to China’s nuclear weapons, numbers aren’t everything

By: Pranay Vaddi and Ankit Panda, Defense News , 14 Mr 21, 

Threat inflation tends to lead to poor policy outcomes. When it comes to China’s nuclear arsenal, it’s important for American leaders to accurately understand the nature of the problem. Nuclear risks between the United States and China manifest differently than those of the past U.S.-Soviet nuclear competition, or that of the United States and Russia today.

Concerns regarding nuclear use in the U.S.-China context stem from, among other things, mutual mistrust and the manipulation of risk below the nuclear threshold, largely from qualitative force posture and strategy choices each country has made. Quantitative factors — most importantly the size of China’s nuclear arsenal — are less pressing.

Despite this reality, a recent exchange between Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, reveals how the nature of nuclear risk with China continues to be mischaracterized in Washington. Cotton expressed concern during a Senate hearing that China may attain “nuclear overmatch” against the United States if it were to triple or quadruple its nuclear stockpile. Adm. Davidson agreed.

But Cotton misstated the degree to which China may expand its nuclear warhead stockpile relative to the United States. In doing so, he suggests the United States should focus more on quantitative nuclear arms racing, stating that “it is much better to win an arms race than to lose a war.”

Cotton’s framing gets several facts wrong. First, the U.S. Defense Department’s most recent report on the Chinese military states that China’s warhead stockpile is “currently estimated to be in the low-200s.” This pales in comparison to the total U.S. inventory of 5,800 nuclear warheads.

Of these, 3,800 are available for deployment, with approximately 1,400 warheads already on alert delivery systems. Additionally, 150-200 gravity bombs sit in protected bunkers at five European air bases. Insofar as “overmatch” — a concept with little use to nuclear strategists — exists, it is squarely with the United States.

Cotton also incorrectly suggests that the U.S.-Russia New START arms control pact limits the United States to “800 deployed nuclear weapons.” In reality, New START permits 1,550 deployed warheads (including bombers counted as a single warhead apiece per treaty rules).

So why are senior officials and members of Congress so focused on numerical comparisons? Examining qualitative differences between U.S. and Chinese nuclear forces and accompanying doctrines is harder to do. These differences tell a slightly less alarmist story when it comes to the bilateral nuclear competition, but by no means present easy answers to the project of deterring China or avoiding nuclear war.

Since China’s first nuclear test in 1964, its leaders have not sought to “race to parity” with the United States and Russia. This policy originates in part from former chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong, whose had a dismissive view of nuclear weapons, calling them “paper tigers.” But even as China has modernized its nuclear forces and practiced more sophisticated nuclear operations, it maintains a lean nuclear force — one postured to survive an adversary’s first strike and still credibly maintain the “minimal means of reprisal.” Ongoing Chinese investments in road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles and better submarine-launched ballistic missiles support this goal……………

Overinflating the nature of the challenge from China’s nuclear forces would be especially unwise if it leads to U.S. overinvestment in nuclear systems, when the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region today require improved conventional deterrence. Strategy, after all, requires matching ends with means. Bipartisan support already exists for new conventional firepower, as evidenced by approval for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative…………..

Chinese leaders, meanwhile, should view the Cotton-Davidson interaction as an example of how U.S. officials may interpret China’s nuclear modernization in a vacuum of information and dialogue. Chinese officials have ducked U.S. offers for strategic dialogue in recent years; hopefully, following an upcoming ministerial meeting, U.S. and Chinese civilian and military officials can discuss — and begin to define — strategic stability. By beginning this dialogue, U.S. officials can focus on solving the qualitative challenges that actually exist, rather than getting bogged down in imagined concerns about “overmatch.”  https://www.defensenews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/03/13/when-it-comes-to-chinas-nuclear-weapons-numbers-arent-everything/

March 15, 2021 Posted by | China, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Harm done to people by the Fukushima evacuation, but radiation was still the root cause of all this

The Lancet 6th March 2021, “The evacuation was the biggest risk factor in impacting health”, said Masaharu Tsubokura, an expert in radiation health management at Fukushima Medical University. “But [the evacuation] was inevitable, so I’m not saying that it was the wrong choice”, he added. He describes the tsunami-hit region of northeast Japan as a case study in the myriad health issues arising from natural disasters—an interplay between non-communicable diseases, the effect on mental and physical health of sudden upheaval, family separation, and the struggle to provide nursing care in ageing communities that hold little appeal for younger people, including health-care staff, who are worried about radiation and lack of job opportunities.
The evacuation was the most effective way to reduce exposure, Tsubokura said, but added that it had also had the biggest effect on mid-term and long-term health outcomes by exacerbating chronic and non-communicable diseases, notably diabetes, obesity, and impaired bone health and motor function. “Some might say that medically, these are not related to radiation”, he said, “but I would say that in the secondary sense, everything has a connection to radiation”.
Evacuees with the financial means fanned out across Japan, with some seeking refuge as far away as Okinawa, more than 1000 miles to the south. Many others moved to temporary housing or found rented accommodation in parts of Fukushima that were considered a safe distance from the stricken plant.
Following a ¥2·9 trillion (£19 billion) operation to remove millions of cubic metres of contaminated topsoil from areas near private homes, schools, and other essential public buildings, the government began lifting evacuation orders in 2015. Yet even now, several neighbourhoods located near Fukushima Daiichi remain no-go zones because of radiation levels above 20 mSv a year—the maximum exposure recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
Japan raised acceptable levels of radiation for Fukushima residents to 20 mSv per year from 1 mSv per year, although the country insists that 1 mSv remains the long-term goal. Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, and Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, are among those who have challenged the IAEA’s conclusion, pointing to the lack of comprehensive exposure data from the initial days of the crisis.
Burnie and Fairlie cite a 2019 study led by Hidehiko Yamamoto of Osaka Red Cross Hospital that concludes “the radiation contamination due to the Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents is positively associated with the thyroidcancer detection rate in children and adolescents. This corroborates previous studies providing evidence for a causal relation between nuclear
accidents and the subsequent occurrence of thyroid cancer”. Burnie said, “The extent to which the current thyroid rates are due to radiation exposure is not proven. However, given the uncertainties, including dose data, it is not credible to dismiss an association between iodine exposure and the higher incidence of thyroid cancer. The authorities need to continue screening and prioritise other physical and mental health issuesarising from displacement and evacuation, as well as monitor people who have returned”.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00560-2/fulltext

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference, social effects | Leave a comment

In Germany, the Greens are likely to be propelled into government in the national vote

Times 14th March 2021, The national vote is expected to propel the Greens into government for the first time since 2005 — either as junior partner to the CDU/CSU or even as the leader of a so-called “traffic light coalition” with the Social Democrats (red) and the liberal Free Democrats (yellow).

The Baden-Württemberg poll — and another today in neighbouringRhineland-Palatinate — are the first key indicators of what lies ahead. Tucked in the southwest corner of Germany between France and Switzerland, Baden-Württemberg is at first sight an unlikely Green stronghold. The
state is home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the area around Stuttgart, the state capital, depend on the car industry. But in 2011, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Kretschmann became Germany’s first — and so far only —Green state premier after running on a platform to shut nuclear plants, impose speed limits on the autobahn and reform an elitist school system. He was re-elected five years later after his party’s share of the vote surged to a record 30 per cent.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/greens-set-to-redraw-germanys-political-landscape-b6xmvnspt

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

The Asahi Shimbun continues to warn against nuclear power -Japan’s rik of another “Fukushima -type” disaster

Asahi Shimbun 12th March 2021, Four months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, The Asahi Shimbun called on Japan to pursue a future without atomic energy. An opinion piece published in July 2011 said, “Japan should build a society that does not depend on nuclear power generation as soon as possible.”

Since then, The Asahi Shimbun has repeatedly asserted the importance of phasing out nuclear
power generation in editorials and other stories. Our argument for weaning our nation from the use of atomic energy is driven by the fear that another nuclear accident would threaten the survival of Japanese society.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14262171

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Japan, media | Leave a comment

So-called ”cloud” computing means huge electricity use in data so-called ”farms”


Times 4th March 2021, Electricity prices could “dramatically escalate” over the next nine
years — possibly by 260 per cent — because of an increase in demand caused by data centres and the switch to renewable energy, according to research.

A study by the Economic and Social Research Institute (Esri) has found that the size of the increase will depend on public acceptance of renewable energy infrastructure, such as wind farms, and to what extent public objections are taken into account as they are built. About 37 per cent of Ireland’s electricity is from renewable sources and the government has committed to increasing this to 70 per cent by 2030.

Electricity demand is also expected to grow by about 40 per cent in that time, largely due to the requirements of data centres, which support cloud computing and the internet.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/electricity-costs-may-surge-by-260-researchers-warn-w927rlc2p

March 15, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY, technology | Leave a comment