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Small nuclear reactors may produce more, and more toxic, wastes than large ones do – new research

Mini nuclear power stations may produce more waste than large ones. Small modular nuclear reactors may produce higher volumes and greater complexity of radioactive waste because they are naturally less efficient, researchers find, New Scientist, 30 May 2022, By Adam Vaughan,   A much-vaunted first wave of mini nuclear power stations may produce more radioactive waste than traditional large-scale ones when generating the same amount of power.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been mooted by their developers and proponents as a cheaper and faster way to build new nuclear power capacity, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson claiming they could be generating electricity by 2030. The US government has provided financial support to the firm NuScale Power to develop its version of the technology.

But to date there has been little independent assessment of how the radioactive waste produced by SMRs would compare with that from their large-scale peers.

Lindsay Krall at Stanford University in California and her colleagues used data NuScale Power has shared publicly with US authorities to assess the technology, and extrapolated to model the waste from three different SMR technologies. They compared the SMR technology with a conventional 1.1 gigawatt nuclear reactor, roughly a third of the capacity of a new nuclear plant being built in south-west England.

They have found that SMRs could increase the volume of short-lived low and intermediate level waste – the two lowest of three categories – by up to 35 times compared to a large conventional reactor, when looking at waste produced per unit of electricity generated.  For the long-lived equivalent waste, SMRs would produce up to 30 times more and for spent nuclear fuel, up to 5 times more. The variation in these figures reflects expected variation in the SMR designs now being developed.

“The information right now being put out by reactor developers can be seen as promotional,” says Krall. “SMR performed worse on nearly all of our metrics compared to standard commercial reactors.” Those metrics included the heat from radioactive decay and the radiochemistry of the spent fuel.

The study suggests that SMRs produce higher volumes and greater complexity of waste because they are naturally less efficient. Nuclear power generation involves a nuclear chain reaction, in which one single nuclear reaction in the reactor core creates neutrons that then go on to cause an average of one or more subsequent nuclear reactions. However, according to Krall’s team, SMRs leak more neutrons out of their core than a larger reactor, meaning they cannot maintain the self-sustaining reaction for as long. Even a small difference in neutron leakage results in a substantial impact on the composition of the waste, says Krall………………………https://www.newscientist.com/article/2322252-mini-nuclear-power-stations-may-produce-more-waste-than-large-ones/

May 31, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Japan Court Bars Hokkaido Nuclear Reactors From Operating 

Japan Court Bars Hokkaido Nuclear Reactors From Operating  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-05-31/japan-court-bars-hokkaido-nuclear-reactors-from-operating-nhk

  • Sapporo court rules in favor of anti-nuclear citizens group
  • Tomari reactors have been offline for more than a decade

By Shoko Oda, 31 May 22,

A Japanese court ruled in favor of an anti-nuclear citizens group in Hokkaido, saying that a nuclear power plant cannot operate. 

The Sapporo District Court said in a ruling on Tuesday that Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear plant isn’t safe to operate due to the earthquake and tsunami risk. A separate request to permanently decommission the plant was rejected by the court, according to court documents. The Tomari facility, which houses three reactors, has been fully offline since 2012.

By

Shoko Oda

A Japanese court ruled in favor of an anti-nuclear citizens group in Hokkaido, saying that a nuclear power plant cannot operate. 

The Sapporo District Court said in a ruling on Tuesday that Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear plant isn’t safe to operate due to the earthquake and tsunami risk. A separate request to permanently decommission the plant was rejected by the court, according to court documents. The Tomari facility, which houses three reactors, has been fully offline since 2012.

The ruling comes amid calls by some Japanese politicians to quickly restart its fleet of shuttered nuclear reactors, as the nation faces a power supply crunch this summer and the upcoming winter. The country closed its nuclear power plants following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and only a handful have restarted under new safety rules. 

While Hokkaido Electric applied to restart the Tomari reactors nearly a decade ago, the arduous review process has dragged on and it isn’t clear when the regulator will approve the facility to resume operations. 

The court ruled that the Tomari nuclear reactors don’t have a safeguard facility against tsunamis, and that the utility hasn’t shown adequate safety measures for its spent atomic fuel. 

The ruling means that Hokkaido Electric won’t be able to immediately restart the facility. The company said that it will file an appeal on today’s decision. 

May 31, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Members of European Parliament and experts condemn plan to label nuclear as ”green”

MEPs, experts criticise green label for gas and nuclear  https://euobserver.com/green-economy/155087

By WESTER VAN GAAL BRUSSELS, 30. MAY, 

European lawmakers are gearing up for a July vote which could scupper EU Commission plans to classify gas and nuclear energy projects as sustainable investments until 2030.

On Monday (30 May), MEPs from the environmental (ENVI) and economy (ECON) committees held a public hearing with experts, with some calling on the lawmakers to block the inclusion of gas and nuclear as a green investment.

“This act will heavily damage the credibility of the taxonomy, and I recommend MEPs to reject it,” Sebastian Godinot, an economist at the World Wildlife Fund and a member of the commission’s scientific advisory body, said. “The current EU taxonomy will do worse than current [private sector] green bond standards.”

He also said the labelling of gas as a green energy source would “increase energy insecurity” and boost gas use when the EU is trying to quit Russian gas.

Representatives from the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Dutch Pension Fund (DPF) also attended the meeting.

In January, the commission controversially included nuclear and gas in the so-called EU Taxonomy for green investment, against the explicit advice of its own science experts.

Hartwig Liesch, chief investment officer at DPF, said on Monday that including gas and nuclear in the green taxonomy is “not helpful” as it makes sustainable investment more complex.

Likewise, EIB director Werner Hoyer said at the bank’s annual media conference in Brussels in January this year that the complexity of proposed rules left investors feeling “drowsy.”

Undemocratic

The inclusion of gas and nuclear has been widely seen as a compromise pushed through by an alliance of French pro-nuclear forces and mainly eastern European countries wanting to incentivise EU investments in gas infrastructure.

“This proposal is not science-based but political,” Godinot said.

Another point of contention among MEPs and many experts was the commission’s use of the delegated act, a non-legislative procedure that excluded parliament.

“The parliament has been sidelined. The process is at best sloppy, if not undemocratic,” ECON chair Paul Tang (S&D) said on Monday.

In a comment to Reuters, green MEP Bas Eickhout said the inclusion of gas and nuclear “violated the spirit and letter of the [taxonomy”].

Simple majority

A simple majority vote in parliament — at least 353 MEPs — can still block the current proposal, which is set for early July.

So far the Socialists & Democrats, the Left and the Greens, which together hold 256 seats, have committed to blocking the proposal.

In May, a group of 16 MEPs from groups representing a majority of the European Parliament drafted a motion to block the inclusion of gas and nuclear, but the overall level of support is still unclear.

If the proposal gets blocked, it would end the commission’s efforts to include gas in the taxonomy.

“It simply won’t exist anymore and therefore won’t apply,” said Daniel Ferrie, a spokesperson for the commission, told EUobserver.

May 31, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Weapons designed to mass murder civilians, terrorize the world, and enable impunity for war crimes can no longer be relied on to “prevent war.”

Ban Nuclear Weapons Now

Project Syndicate,May 30, 2022, ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTERSUSI SNYDER

Weapons designed to mass murder civilians, terrorize the world, and enable impunity for war crimes can no longer be relied on to “prevent war.” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and his willingness to brandish the threat of nuclear weapons will spur a renewed drive to rid the world of them.

WASHINGTON, DC – The events of the past three months in Ukraine – like Russia’s annexation of Crimea and incursion into eastern Ukraine in 2014, the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the long proxy war in Syria – have given the lie to the claim that nuclear weapons prevent war. Nuclear deterrence might stop nuclear-armed countries from directly engaging in war with each other, just as it might stop proxy wars from escalating and spreading to the North Atlantic or the Pacific. But it is equally possible that nuclear eterrence has caused war and enabled national leaders to act with impunity.

Nuclear weapons have certainly not stopped Russia from waging aggressive war against Ukraine. On the contrary, President Vladimir Putin is using nuclear threats as a shield behind which to commit flagrant, grave, and systematic war crimes – and possibly crimes against humanity.

States that possess nuclear weapons have frequently gone to war with states that lack them. The erroneous belief that Iraq had developed nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons led the United States and its allies to invade the country against the will of the United Nations Security Council, triggering a humanitarian catastrophe and two decades of insecurity in the region and beyond. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), by suggesting that the status quo of nuclear haves and have-nots should be maintained at all costs, has provided some cover for these actions, as well as for attacks on suspected nuclear facilities in Iraq, Iran, and Syria…………………………………………………………

Nuclear weapons, like all weapons of mass destruction, can never be used within the bounds of the laws of war. Fortunately, the same determined efforts that almost completely ended the deployment of landmines and cluster munitions resulted in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entering into effect in January 2021.

The TPNW – the only treaty that makes the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons illegal – was brought about by all those countries whose security was shattered through decades of proxy wars between nuclear-armed powers. Adopted by 122 countries, it constitutes a recognition that the laws of war apply equally to all states, no matter what is in their national arsenal.

Weapons designed to mass murder civilians, terrorize the world, and enable impunity for war crimes can no longer be relied on to “prevent war.” Another legacy of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and his willingness to brandish the threat of nuclear weapons will be a renewed drive to rid the world of them. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ban-nuclear-weapons-now-by-anne-marie-slaughter-and-susi-snyder-2022-05

May 31, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment