Fukushima: A Lurking Global Catastrophe?
by Robert Hunziker / February 19th, 2017
Year over year, ever since 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown grows worse and worse, an ugly testimonial to the inherent danger of generating electricity via nuclear fission, which produces isotopes, some of the most deadly poisonous elements on the face of the planet.
Fukushima Diiachi has been, and remains, one of the world’s largest experiments; i.e., what to do when all hell breaks lose aka The China Syndrome.
Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. It is not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology to remove the melted fuel.1
As it happens, “inventing technology” is experimental stage stuff. Still, there are several knowledgeable sources that believe the corium, or melted core, will never be recovered. Then what?
According to a recent article, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi,” February 11, 2017 by Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the Abe administration dresses up Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, necessitating a big fat question: Who in their right mind would hold Olympics in the neighborhood of three out-of-control nuclear meltdowns that could get worse, worse, and still worse? After all, that’s the pattern over the past 5 years; it gets worse and worse. Dismally, nobody can possibly know how much worse by 2020. Not knowing is the main concern about holding Olympics in the backyard of a nuclear disaster zone, especially as nobody knows what’s happening. Nevertheless and resolutely, according to PM Abe and the IOC, the games go on.
Along the way, it’s taken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nearly six years to finally get an official reading of radiation levels of the meltdown but in only one unit. Analysis of Unit #2 shows radiation levels off-the-charts at 530 Sieverts, or enough to kill within minutes, illustrative of why it is likely impossible to decommission units 1, 2, and 3. No human can withstand that exposure and given enough time, frizzled robots are as dead as a door nail.
A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association.2
Although Fukushima’s similar to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in some respects, where 1,000 square miles has been permanently sealed off, Fukushima’s different, as the Abe administration is already repopulating portions of Fukushima. If they don’t repopulate, how can the Olympics be held with food served from Fukushima and including events like baseball held in Fukushima Prefecture?
Without question, an old saw – what goes around comes around – rings true when it comes to radiation, and it should admonish (but it doesn’t phase ‘em) strident nuclear proponents, claiming Fukushima is an example of how safe nuclear power is “because there are so few, if any, deaths” (not true). As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For a real life example of how radiation devastates human bodies, consider this fact: 453,391 children with bodies ravaged, none born at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, today receive special healthcare because of Chernobyl radiation-related medical problems like cancer, digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, eye disease, blood disease, congenital malformation, and genetic abnormalities. Their parents were children in the Chernobyl zone in 1986.3
Making matters worse yet, Fukushima Diiachi sets smack dab in the middle of earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of Japan. In that regard, according to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University:
The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question.4
Accordingly, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains threatened for as long as Fukushima Diiachi is out of control, which could be for generations, not years. Not only that, Gee-Whiz, what if the big one hits during the Olympics? After all, earthquakes come unannounced. Regrettably, Japan has had 564 earthquakes the past 365 days. It’s an earthquake-ridden country. Japan sits at the boundary of 4 tectonic plates shot through with faults in zigzag patterns, very lively and of even more concern, the Nankai Trough, the candidate for the big one, sits nearly directly below Tokyo. On a geological time scale, it may be due for action anytime within the next couple of decades. Fukushima Prefecture’s not that far away.
Furthermore, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear complex is tenuous, at best:
All four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building falls on the molten core beneath.5
Complicating matters further, the nuclear site is located at the base of a mountain range. Almost daily, water flows from the mountain range beneath the nuclear plant, liquefying the ground, a sure-fire setup for cascading buildings when the next big one hits. For over five years now, radioactive water flowing out of the power plant into the Pacific carries isotopes like cesium 134 and cesium 137, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium americium and up to 100 more isotopes, none of which are healthy for marine or human life, quite the opposite, in fact, as those isotopes slowly cumulate, and similar to the Daleks of Doctor Who fame (BBC science fiction series, 1963-present) “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”
Isotopes bio-concentrate up the food chain from algae to crustaceans to small fish to big fish to bigger humans. Resultant cancer cells incubate anytime from two years to old age, leading to death. That’s what cancer does; it kills.
Still, the fact remains nobody really knows for sure how directly Fukushima Diiachi radiation affects marine life, but how could it be anything other than bad? After all, it’s a recognized fact that radiation cumulates over time; it’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless as it cumulates in the body, whether in fish or further up the food chain in humans. It travels!
An example is Cesium 137, one of the most poisonous elements on the planet. One gram of Cesium 137 the size of a dime will poison one square mile of land for hundreds of years. That’s what’s at stake at the world’s most rickety nuclear plant, and nobody can do anything about it. In fact, nobody knows what to do. They really don’t.
When faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, why not bring on the Olympics? That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as the world community “all is well.” But, is it? Honestly….
The Fukushima nuclear meltdown presents a special problem for the world community. Who knows what to believe after PM Abe lied to the IOC to get the Olympics; see the following headline from Reuters News:
“Abe’s Fukushima ‘Under Control’ Pledge to Secure Olympics Was a Lie: Former PM,” Reuters, September 7, 2016.
Abe gave the assurances about safety at the Fukushima plant in his September 2013 speech to the International Olympic Committee to allay concerns about awarding the Games to Tokyo. The comment met with considerable criticism at the time… Mr. Abe’s ‘under control remark, that was a lie,’ Koizumi (former PM) now 74 and his unruly mane of hair turned white, told a news conference where he repeated his opposition to nuclear power.
As such, a very big conundrum precedes the 2020 games: How can the world community, as well as Olympians, believe anything the Abe administration says about the safety and integrity of Fukushima?
Still, the world embraces nuclear power more so than ever before as it continues to expand and grow. Sixty reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, 160 power reactors are in the planning stage and 300 more have been proposed. Pro-Nuke-Heads claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie.
Here’s one of several independent testimonials on deaths because of Fukushima Diiachi radiation exposure (many, many, many more testimonials are highlighted in prior articles, including USS Ronald Reagan sailors on humanitarian rescue missions at the time):
It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.6
- Emi Urabe, “Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots“, The Japan Times, February 17, 2017. 
- Emi Urabe, “Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots”, The Japan Times, February 17, 2017. 
- “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster”, USA Today, April 17, 2016). 
- Shuzo Takemoto, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi”, February 11, 2017. 
- Helen Caldicott: “The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated”, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017. 
- Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), “Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor”,RT News, April 21, 2014. 
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: email@example.com. Read other articles by Robert.
This article was posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2017 at 11:15pm
BERGEN — The cost of bringing the state’s energy portfolio to 50 percent renewable sources by 2030 will be felt all over the state next month.
But communities such as the village of Bergen — which have municipal electric departments — the costs of scaling up renewable sources and keeping four upstate nuclear power plants viable will be felt more deeply.
PUBLISHED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017
Village officials said Wednesday they have reached out to their approximately 670 customers, but are surprised increasing utility rates aren’t getting more attention. In Bergen alone, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard is expected to raise the cumulative bill paid by Bergen Electric consumers by $90,668 in 2017 to fund the Zero Emission Credit program.
“No matter who supplies your power, whether it’s Bergen Electric, or National Grid, or RG&E, every electricity user in the state is going to be paying more starting next month,” Bergen Administrator, Clerk and Treasurer Courtney Gale said last week with near incredulity. “(The state) is giving three power plants $482 million per year, basically subsidizing them so they make money … and it’s not just us, everyone in the whole state will have their rates increasing. We sent this letter out, and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of questions.”
In their one-page letter, the village told residents that the ZEC and the Renewable Energy Credit program that will fund renewable energy-generating facilities will show up on their bills, and that they are non-legislative mandates. “Bergen Electric has no choice but to abide with the order” it reads.
“As a village, we’re constantly looking for ways to make it more efficient for everybody, with LED streetlights and other things like that,” Mayor Anna Marie Barclay said. “So we’re on one side, trying to be as efficient as possible … and now we have to add a fee that’s totally out of our control. It’s frustrating.”
With all the focus on windmills off Long Island and the shuttering of the downstate region’s sole nuclear plant, Gale and Barclay said their outreach aims to raise awareness before residents’ bills rise.
It may be spelled out on a private energy firm’s bill, but it will just show up as a higher rate with municipal providers.
According to estimates prepared for the 41 New York communities that provide municipal electricity through a supply that’s partially subsidized from power generated at Niagara Falls, the Zero Emission Credits will vary based on the scale of systems.
Silver Springs is projected to have $20,431 in ZEC charges this year, with Castile at $26,891.
Communities supplying power to agri-business users such as Bonduelle in Bergen, or cold storage operations like Holley will see $97,991 in increases. Those supporting manufacturing facilities, like Arcade, will see $435,404.
They will have higher costs but increases are set across the board at roughly $0.003 per kilowatt hour of electricity.
Even though the village is limited by contracts not to produce its own power in an effort to reduce rates further, Bergen supplies power to residential and commercial users at a market rate of around $0.06 to $0.08 per kilowatt hour, which Barclay said is a small but beneficial support the village can offer.
“It’s a perk that people are glad to hear about,” Barclay said. “It’s not something that causes people to move here to somewhere else, but it does make a difference. Our electric bills are maybe two-thirds of what someone’s bill is outside of the village. And if you have electric heat it’s a huge difference.”
Gale estimated roughly a third of the Bergen’s homes are heated by electric sources, and one subdivision is all electric — there’s no natural gas.
“For a lot of people in Bergen (it makes sense) because it’s so cheap to heat their whole house with electric,” Gale said, at costs of a few hundred dollars per month in the winter. “For them, a little increase is still going to be a lot, and those are people who already have a hard time paying for electric. It will hurt them more.”
Village seeking ideas for grant
Barclay and Gale said Bergen’s energy bonafides are serious and growing. They have already reached the requirements for NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Community program, which will provide grants of $100,000 to four Rochester-area municipalities and five $50,000 grants to five more that show progress on energy efficiency.
By changing all of the village’s streetlights to LEDs over the past years, passing two policy resolutions and staging an energy efficiency training, the village is ready to claim the prizes. Now they need to figure out what to ask for.
Projects would need to be related to additional energy savings, but would have to create a community-wide benefit. Barclay said adding an electric vehicle charging station is one possibility, which could pull more Thruway and I-490 traffic into the village to eat and shop.
“There’s a lot of options,” she said.
SERCO is in financial trouble.
A little Background info.
SERCO runs the support services for the MOD, such as the Atomic Weapons
Establishment at Aldermaston, and operates four vessels transporting spent
nuclear fuel around the globe for reprocessing.
You can find out more about what else it does at
Now comes the sad news.
Serco profit fell 14% in 2016
Today their share price has just dropped to 116 pence.
That is from a high point of 545 pence in 2013.
I’m thinking that this is a company which is worth keeping an eye on during
the next couple of weeks.
Report from Martyn Lowe at;
Toshiba considers bankruptcy of its nuclear branch in the United States
Jueves, Febrero 23, 2017
Japan’s technology giant Toshiba is considering bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, its nuclear energy arm in the US. UU. Whose multi-million dollar devaluation will result in heavy losses for the company.
The Japanese conglomerate shuffles this move as one of its options in the framework of reviewing the operations of the atomic unit, the source of its financial problems, according to company sources.
The information triggered the price of Toshiba shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where they rose 12% after the fall of more than 4% experienced on Thursday.
The company’s shares had lost more than half its value since it announced at the end of last December a multi million-dollar deterioration of its nuclear assets in the US. Which has led to the reduction of these operations and the resignation of its president, Shigenori Shiga.
The company, which expects a net loss of 390 billion yen (3,232 million euros) for the entire fiscal year 2016, maintains a dispute with Chicago Bridge & Iron, former owner of Westinghouse, on account of its valuations of assets and business Of the constructor.
The devaluation of Toshiba’s nuclear energy arm is due to the increase in labor costs and the construction of projects to build new nuclear plants in the United States.
Published 24 February 2017
Technetium-99 is a byproduct of plutonium weapons production and is considered a major U.S. challenge for environmental cleanup. At the Hanford Site nuclear complex in Washington state, there are about 2,000 pounds of the element dispersed within approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in 177 storage tanks. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of building a waste treatment plant at Hanford to immobilize hazardous nuclear waste in glass. But researchers have been stymied because not all the technetium-99 is incorporated into the glass and volatilized gas must be recycled back into the melter system.
A Washington State University study of the chemistry of technetium-99 has improved understanding of the challenging nuclear waste and could lead to better cleanup methods.
The work is reported in the journal Inorganic Chemistry. It was led by John McCloy, associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and chemistry graduate student Jamie Weaver. Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Office of River Protection and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collaborated.
Technetium-99 is a byproduct of plutonium weapons production and is considered a major U.S. challenge for environmental cleanup. At the Hanford Site nuclear complex in Washington state, there are about 2,000 pounds of the element dispersed within approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in 177 storage tanks.
WSU notes that the U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of building a waste treatment plant at Hanford to immobilize hazardous nuclear waste in glass. But researchers have been stymied because not all the technetium-99 is incorporated into the glass and volatilized gas must be recycled back into the melter system.
The element can be very soluble in water and moves easily through the environment when in certain forms, so it is considered a significant environmental hazard.
Because technetium compounds are challenging to work with, earlier research has used less volatile substitutes to try to understand the material’s behavior. Some of the compounds themselves have not been studied for 50 years, said McCloy.
“The logistics are very challenging,” he said.
The WSU work was done in PNNL’s highly specialized Radiochemical Processing Laboratory and the radiological annex of its Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.
The researchers conducted fundamental chemistry tests to better understand technetium-99 and its unique challenges for storage. They determined that the sodium forms of the element behave much differently than other alkalis, which possibly is related to its volatility and to why it may be so reactive with water.
“The structure and spectral signatures of these compounds will aid in refining the understanding of technetium incorporation into nuclear waste glasses,” said McCloy.
The researchers also hope the work will contribute to the study of other poorly understood chemical compounds.
— Read more in Jamie Weaver et al., “Chemical Trends in Solid Alkali Pertechnetates,” Inorganic Chemistry (21 February 2017) (DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b02694)
Another article on nuclear waste studies here ;
Identifying the right sites for storing radioactive waste
Published 24 February 2017
“Radioactive waste containers are safer the deeper they are buried in rock, but that makes the process much more technically challenging too. I had to consider both of these factors in my thesis, while maintaining a very long-term perspective,” says Valentina Favero, a civil engineer and a researcher in EPFL’s Laboratory of Soil Mechanics (LMS) who passed her Ph.D. oral exam on 16 January. Her public defense will take place on 3 March at EPFL.
“Favero’s findings will play a role in selecting radioactive waste storage sites in Switzerland,” says Professor Lyesse Laloui, one of her Ph.D. advisors and head of the LMS. “Her work is sure to have major scientific implications and a significant impact on society.”………….
Desaturation and convergence
“The deeper you go, the more rigid and impermeable the rocks are. And that’s exactly what we want – a solid barrier between us and the radioactive waste. But the technical challenges also increase the further down you go,” says Favero. Even the process of drilling the tunnel that the radioactive waste containers will go through will affect how the surrounding rocks behave.
This led Favero to analyze how the materials will react during the various phases of this process: “Rocks located at the upper end of the tunnel will be exposed to air,” she explains. “That will lead to desaturation, in which some of the water held in the rocks evaporates. As they dry out, the materials could crack, which would make them more permeable. Yet we need impermeable rocks to achieve an effective seal.”
EPFL says that the researcher carefully studied this phenomenon and the related risks. Leaving no stone unturned, Favero also looked at the redistribution of forces when the tunnel is dug. This is called convergence, and it refers to the tunnel’s tendency to collapse on itself. The deeper the tunnel, the greater the convergence.
Favero’s exhaustive research was instrumental for the NAGRA in selecting the best two sites for storing radioactive waste in Switzerland and determining the safest and most technically feasible depth at which to place the steel canisters.
TOKYO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — When Hua Yi, a journalist from Xinhua, on Thursday reached an area about five kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a radiation detector he brought with him would not stop vibrating and sounding alarms.
The machine showed the radiation level there was between 5 and 10 microsieverts per hour, which is more than 100 times that of Tokyo.
Invited by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), Hua, along with some other foreign journalists, paid a visit to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
As the car he took approached the power plant, the radiation level rose quickly. Being 24 km away from the nuclear plant, the reading was about 0.114 microsieverts per hour, twice the amount of Tokyo, whereas being 15 km from the plant, the reading was 20 times higher.
Inside the power plant and close to one of the crippled reactors, the machine showed that the radiation level there was as high as 150 microsieverts per hour.
Dozens of workers wearing protection suits were spotted working by the No. 2 reactor, and according to a guide from TEPCO, the radiation level there was as high as 1,000 microsieverts per hour. Currently, some 6,000 staff are working in the Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A magnitude-9.0 earthquake in 2011 triggered a massive tsunami which destroyed the emergency power and then the cooling system of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and caused a serious nuclear disaster, forcing some 300,000 people to evacuate.
Almost six years later, the nuclear nightmare still continues in that part of Japan.
Inside the power plant, only the No. 2 reactor looked almost intact, while other reactors which suffered from hydrogen explosions were unrecognizable.
The operator of the crippled power plant said earlier this month that levels of radiation as high as 650 sieverts per hour were detected inside the No. 2 reactor, much to the consternation of Japan’s nuclear watchdog and the local and international public.
The level was much higher than an earlier reading of 73 sieverts per hour in 2012, with the amount of radiation enough to kill a person, even after being exposed for just a brief period of time.
Even robots sent to gather information from the damaged reactor suffered malfunctions and failures, possibly due to extremely high levels of radiation.
For a long time, a number of TEPCO’s gaffes and communication blunders regarding the nuclear disaster have attracted massive criticism from the public.
Members of a media tour group look at the Unit 1 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, February 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Hua Yi)
A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that the potential damage of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to the health of the people and the environment in the area was hard to estimate due to a lack of information.
Meanwhile, messages from the Japanese government have always been “positive,” stating that the nuclear disaster caused limited damage and the aftermath is being dealt with, despite some data made public by different bodies of the government being contradictory to each other.
The area around the crippled nuclear plant is like a ghost city with abandoned houses, bags of contaminated soil piled up along a railway and in the fields, weeds growing wildly and madly.
After the nuclear disaster, the government designated an area 20 km around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as a restricted area.
At a place called Narahamachi, the restriction has been lifted, and residents are allowed to go back home since Sept. 2015. However, according to Yuuichi Okamura, a manager from TEPCO, by now only 10 percent of the residents have come back home.
After the accident happened, TEPCO claimed that the reactor’s core was damaged, but did not admit that the core had melted until two months later, though according to TEPCO’s own standards, when 5 percent of a core is damaged, it means the core has melted.
A report from a third-party investigation committee showed that TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano both strongly denied it.
TEPCO’s President Naomi Hirose apologized for keeping the fact from the public in June, 2016. “I would say it was a cover-up,” he told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”
According to Yuuichi Okamura, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors all had melted cores, and TEPCO still has no way to take out the melted nuclear fuel rods from the reactors. The over 1,500 nuclear fuel rods in No. 4 reactor have been successfully taken out and transferred to a safe place.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster ranked seven, the highest level on the international nuclear events scale, and was the most serious disaster since the former Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
Six years on, the crisis has yet to be fully brought under control, with no precise timeline for the full decommissioning of the plant, or a precise blueprint for the technological processes necessary for it to take place.
For TEPCO, the difficult tasks of dealing with the unprecedented problems such as processing contaminated water, cooling the reactors, and removing nuclear fuels, all continue to pose serious challenges.
Friday 24 February 2017
CAPE TOWN – While Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan seemingly avoided talking about the nuclear build programme in his Budget speech, Eskom’s procurement process continued to the chagrin of different stakeholders.
Non-governmental organisations are trying to use the courts to delay the process, to allocate more time to adequately review and comment.
Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa said, “It’s embarrassing for our democracy for us to be able to get information that was supposed to be in the public domain, through the courts. What we expect from this court hearing is to hold those in the decision making processes to be accountable.”
Their legal team is arguing the constitutionality and legality of the entire process, and have used the recent ICC ruling to bolster their argument.
Ideally, the hope is to slow down the project which will cost an estimated R1-trillion.
Activists say this issue is bigger than just the costs.
Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute spokesperson, Siphokazi Pangalele said, “There’s waste that is going to be handled and they have no idea as to what they are going to do with that, so health wise that’s an implication. It’s not a South African deal, it involves another country that will be bringing their own resources so we doubt very much they will rely on us and our expertise.”
In a statement, the energy department says procurements haven’t been made as yet, but they would be constitutionally sound once it did.
The NGO’s argue renewable alternatives haven’t been explored and remain the best energy option.
The national energy regulator of South Africa says it supports government’s nuclear build programme.
The organisation believes the country would benefit from the energy mix.
NERSA managing director, Knox Msebenzi stated, “The challenges at this point are political, perhaps propaganda. There seems to be forces saying nuclear is bad or dangerous for the country.
Whoever is propagating that is misinformed. There’s some agenda that is anti-nuclear.
We, on the other hand, we believe in government’s approach. If you live in the remote parts of the North West, surely for the next 20 years we don’t see any possibility of transmission line going there.
For purposes of economic development, job creation, and manufacture and mining, here in SA we have a population similar to South Korea, and they have doubled the amount of electricity.
We need to go to that direction. Let’s talk about energy consumption, we are best at 85% electricity penetration, there are 15 citizens without electricity.
How dare we say the money for electricity has come down?”
Paris (AFP) Feb 21, 2017
Two nuclear reactors being built in the southern Chinese city of Taishan will come onstream months later than planned, said China General Nuclear Power (CGN), which runs the project together with France’s EDF.
“Taishan Nuclear recently organised a comprehensive evaluation on subsequent engineering construction plan and relevant risks, and after due consideration, it is decided to adjust the construction plan of Taishan project,” CGN said in a statement filed late Monday to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The reactors are of the so-called third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) type which has yet to go onstream anywhere in the world, and their start had been delayed once before, in 2016.
Britain in September gave the green light, with conditions, to EDF and CGN to build such a reactor an Hinkley Point, after a heated debate which included worries about China’s involvement.
Following EPR delays in Finland and in France, the two Chinese reactors are set to become the first of their type to go into service anywhere.
“The expected commercial operation of Taishan Unit 1 and Taishan Unit 2 are adjusted from the original first half of 2017 and the second half of 2017 to the second half of 2017 and the first half of 2018, respectively,” it said.
Construction of the Taishan plant started in 2009.
A mock up of the Arktika leading ships through icy waters. (Picture: Atomflot)
The number of convoys led by icebreakers through Russia’s Northern Sea route is up. A major icebreaker was sent for decommissioning, and radioactive waste was sent for storage has been cleaned out. Tugboats and ships are on the way. In short, business at Atomflot, Russia’s nuclear icebreaker port, is booming.
All of it is apparently progressing without any environmental side effects, according to a year-end review conducted by the company itself. Last year, Atomflot launched 410 vessels, equaling 5.2 million new tons of steel on the Arctic, up from 195 vessels in 2015.
Mustafa Kashka, Atomflot’s chief engineer, said that the port had for the first time shipped out its radioactive waste for storage and interment, saying the company was now working to not build up radioactive waste and spent fuel onsite.
Over the course of last year, the company sent 52 containers of radioactive waste to Russia’s National Operator for radioactive waste, known as NO RAO, in Sergeyev Posad region.
Atomflot also took steps toward the first dismantlement of a nuclear icebreaker ever, the Sibir, a project expected to begin at the Nerpa Shipyard north of Murmansk. It will be funded by a government program for nuclear and radiation safety. The project will provide a blueprint for future nuclear icebreaker dismantlement.
The Sibir at the Atomflot port. (Photo: Anna Kireeva)
Kashka said the Sibir’s reactor would be removed this year and radioactive waste from the dismantlement procedures would get packed up for shipment to storage toward the end of November this year.
Atomflot last year signed contracts to build two icebreaking tugboats for liquefied natural gas projects on the Yamal Peninsula. The contract will further provide for port services and another two tugboats and a non-nuclear icebreaker for harbor use.
The icebreaking tugs were completed ahead of schedule in May, and the remaining vessels are expected by November of 2018.
Should the tugboat construction stick to schedule, it could revise the construction timetables for Russia’s enormous new icebreaker, the Arktika, whose launch was pushed back from 2017 to 2019 last year.
“The United Shipbuilding Corporation might not be able to complete new icebreakers if it doesn’t stop breaking with deadlines for other new vessels,” said Vyacheslav Ruksha, Atomflot’s general director, at a shipbuilding industry gathering.
He cited one icebreaker that is supposed to be launched by 2027, and predicted that if builders fell behind and failed to produce eight new icebreakers for Atomflot, the consequences for Russia’s oil drive in the Arctic might be lost.
Ruksha told the shipbuilders’ gathering that he thought their delays in getting new line icebreakers out the door resulted from the huge number of contractors involved in their construction.
In December, for instance, the Arktika was about 40 percent complete. In September, its two 175-megawatt reactors were installed.
At the meeting with Ruksha was United Shipbuilding Corporation Vice President Yevgeny Zagorodny, who admitted that the company was falling off schedule. But he blamed a total collapse of shipbuilding orders in the 1990s, which he said impacted the industrial production chain to this day.
He said he hoped all new icebreakers would appear on schedule, and that the company would “mobilize” to produce them over the course of the next 13 years.
As earlier, the new deadline for the Arktika was said at the gathering to be 2019. Following that, the Ural and Yamal new line icebreakers would be launched in 2020 and 2012, said Zagorodny. This means the launch of both these vessels has been pushed back by a year.
All three new line icebreakers are geared for clearing ice for convoys hauling ores, gas and oil around the Yamal and Gydansk Peninsulas along the Northern Sea Route across northern Russia. The icebreakers are designed not only to sail at sea but along river tributaries to the polar seas.
The newest icebreaker operating out of Atomflot is the 50 Let Pobedy, which launched in 2007.
on February 18, 2017
Northwest ratepayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade if the Bonneville Power Administration and Energy Northwest shuttered the region’s only commercial nuclear power plant and replaced its electricity with renewable sources, a new study has found.
McCullough Research, a Portland-based consulting firm, estimated savings from $261.2 million to $530.7 million over a 10-year span due to historically low prices for renewable energy.
“The rapid drop in renewable energy costs in recent years has been shocking to everyone,” said economist Robert McCullough. “It is now possible to affordably replace aging facilities, like the 32-year old [Columbia Generating Station] … without increasing the region’s carbon footprint.”
The report, commissioned by the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, is the latest of a series to question the safety, reliability and economics of the aging plant just north of Richland, Washington.
The Columbia Generating Station is all that’s left of a star-crossed plan to build five nuclear plants in the Northwest, a debacle that led to one of the largest municipal bond defaults in history. The Richland facility was the only one completed, and while it is an older design that has had a variety of operating issues, federal regulators recently cleared it to run through 2043.
The 1,200-megawatt nuclear plant is operated by a public utility consortium, Energy Northwest, and markets its power through the Bonneville Power Administration. Energy Northwest criticized the study’s findings, saying the plant had set generating records in four of the past five years.
“It has never run better, and the report faults CGS for what makes it so valuable: We make electricity around-the-clock,” said Mike Paoli, a spokesman for Energy Northwest. “With wind and solar, a lot of the generation happens at off-peak times. When peak demand comes, you have to have baseload generation to cover that.” Baseload generation refers to a consistent source of power to meet minimum power requirements.
The study modeled the capital, operating and fueling costs of the nuclear unit, comparing them with replacement expenses from solar and wind energy. The cost of renewable energy generation has declined precipitously in the past decade, which has made it a more economic choice for utilities.
But supplying energy is different than assuring capacity – making sure power is available when you need it. Most experts note that the Northwest wholesale markets are awash in energy, but could soon go into a capacity deficit. Such a shortage could be exacerbated by the slated closure of three coal-fired plants in Oregon, Washington and Montana in 2020 and 2021.
Kieran Connolly, Bonneville’s vice president for generation and asset management, said the agency is dependent on the nuclear plant when water conditions are low. He says some of the nuclear plants slated to close early, such as Diablo Canyon in California, were facing major new capital investments. That’s not the case at Columbia Generating Station, he said.
“Our customers’ focus is on safely, reliably and cost effectiveness” in meeting electricity needs, he said. “They’re not seeing it as a resource they are questioning. They just want to make sure it’s well managed.”
The study made some significant assumptions: that Bonneville has enough spare capacity in its hydroelectric system to back up and integrate the massive volume of renewables that it would take to replace the nuclear plant; and that transmission is available to bring such renewable power to market.
McCullough acknowledged that either could be wrong, but said Bonneville should be testing the market to determine whether it can find economical, carbon-free replacement power.
“This is an old plant, and we’re going to need to replace it,” he said. “Are we going to do it in a timely and organized fashion? It’s better to start that planning than do it all of a sudden after we discover an aging nuclear plant has sprung a leak.”
Published time: 23 Feb, 2017 01:36
The UK Ministry of Defense has been accused of downplaying the real dangers stemming from the UK nuclear deterrent after the report by a safety watchdog put the number of accidents, involving British nukes, at 110, four times higher the official count.
Unveiled on Wednesday by the Nuclear Information Service (NIS), an independent nuclear watchdog, the report sheds light onto dozens of mishaps involving British nuclear weapons, featuring previously unreported accidents with potentially disastrous consequences. The in-depth study, which traces back all 65 years of the British nuclear program, arranges accidents into seven sections in accordance with their place of origin.
The report is based on the official findings, including the report on nuclear weapons safety written by Professor Sir Ronald Oxburgh, information revealed during parliamentary questions, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act as well as from whistleblowers, witnesses and other researchers.
The biggest group of all lists accidents that took place on nuclear-capable submarines, ships and aircraft. The causes for a total of 45 mishaps, including 24 that occurred with nuclear-armed submarines, range from collision and fires to the effects of lightning.
In one of the most notable accidents of that kind, Royal Navy submarine HMS Vanguard, which is capable of carrying up to 48 Trident nuclear warheads, collided with a French Le Triomphant submarine, which could be armed with about the same amount of TN75 nuclear warheads. The circumstances of the accident, which happened early February 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean, were hushed up at the time and still not known to the full.
Although the official investigation report into the collision came to the reassuring conclusion that “at no time was nuclear safety compromised and the Strategic Weapon System remained inside tolerable limits at all times”, whistleblowers’ accounts are far more daunting. An officer who was on board the UK submarine reportedly said “We thought, this it we’re all going to die,” while recalling the incident in the conversation with Royal Navy whistleblower William McNeilly.
Other case studies include a nuclear warhead carrier sliding off the rode into the ditch on January 10, 1987 in Wiltshire. The misfortune is described by the authors as “most visible” and “embarrassing” incident to date. Overall, 22 road transportation incidents, among them overturning of vehicles carrying nukes, have been cited in the report.
While only 14 accidents, linked to the faults in manufacturing and production process, are listed in the report, the most severe nuclear accident in UK history also falls into this category. The fire at the Windscale plant in 1957 led to massive release of radiation from graphite-moderated reactor that triggered “around 100 fatal cancers and around 90 non-fatal cancers.”
The report also lists 21 “security-related” incidents and eight incidents blamed onto the improper storage and handling of the nukes.
The comprehensive study, spanning over 100 pages under an awe-inspiring title “Playing with Fire,” blames the defense ministry for attempting to sweep the issue of nuclear safety under the carpet by concealing essential details of the incidents and downplaying their impact.
READ MORE: Trident whistleblower calls out MoD’s ‘lame attempt’ to excuse nuke malfunctions
The report argues that the official data released by the British Defense Ministry in 2003 which put the number of incidents at 27, is “far from a full list of all the accidents.”
It is not the first time the British military has been accused of covering up major issues with its nuclear deterrent. News on a failed Trident missile test, carried out off Florida coast in June 2016, sparked a new round of heated debates on the British nuclear program. The routine test performed by the HMS Vengeance in June 2016 from Port Canaveral went horribly wrong with the missile heading back to the US mainland. However, the UK authorities did not issue any statement on the failed test, reportedly, advised to refrain from sharing unfavorable data by US colleagues.
READ MORE: Trident nukes useless against today’s actual security problems – CND report
The Trident missile malfunction came just weeks before the UK parliament voted in favor of renewing controversial Britain’s Trident deterrent, estimated to cost some £40 billion.
In January, McNeilly, who was first to leak the details about the serious fire issues aboard Trident submarine, told RT that he has witnessed Trident “fail 3 out of 3 WP 186 Missile Compensating Tests.”
Andy Blowers’ latest book, The Legacy of Nuclear Power, was launched at a packed Royal Asiatic Society in London on 11 January. The audience included academics, nuclear campaigners, media, government advisers as well as friends and colleagues Andy has known during his life as social scientist, county councillor, government adviser, nuclear company director and environmental activist. Speaking after the launch Andy said: ‘It was a wonderful occasion and very uplifting. After all these years developing this book it was great to have such a positive and moving reception’.
Sponsored by the Open University (OU) where Andy is still involved as Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences, the launch was introduced by colleague and friend, Professor David Humphreys. He talked about Andy’s contribution as a founder member of the OU and his significant teaching and research in geography and environmental policy and politics.
The lead speaker at the event was well-known environmentalist (or, as he prefers, campaigner for sustainable development) Jonathon Porritt, Director of Forum for the Future. In commending the book Jonathon stressed the emphasis on the infinite time-scales that nuclear power brings, extending its dangerous and unavoidable presence down the generations. He commented: ‘The nuclear industry invites us, all the time, to look forward – never look back. Andy Blowers’ compelling study shows why: its legacy, all around the world, is a shocking one, with no long-term solutions to the problem of nuclear waste in sight, and countless communities blighted in one way or another, by the nuclear incubus in their midst’.
In his presentation Andy picked up the theme of nuclear communities, those places which must bear the burden of the nuclear legacy for generations to come. In the book he calls them, ‘peripheral’, places that are geographically remote, economically dependent, politically powerless, socially resigned yet resilient and environmentally hazardous and degraded. They are places like the four studied in the book – Hanford in the United States where plutonium for the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki was developed; Sellafield in Cumbria once described as posing intolerable risks to people and the environment; La Hague in France where reprocessing works, nuclear power reactors and nuclear submarines combine to create a landscape of risk on the so-called ‘nuclear peninsula’. These places must live with the risk and this is the problem of the legacy that has to be managed safely and securely for the indefinite future.
Professor Gordon MacKerron from Sussex University and former Chair of the Committee on Radioactive Waste management (of which Andy was a member) spoke of a particularly dangerous part of the legacy, plutonium, of which 140 tonnes were in store at Sellafield, the largest concentration on the planet. Only a very small amount was needed for the production of nuclear weapons, the rest was stored in powdered form posing a problem of what to do with it. The government was flirting with the idea of converting it into fuel for nuclear power stations or for fast reactors that were far off in terms of commercial development. In reality there was no conceivable viable use for the vast stockpile, which should be declared a waste and managed accordingly.
In this vein, at the end of his contribution Andy argued that we must manage the legacy we already have in safe storage in the hope that a permanent solution to the problem will one day be found. We should not be creating more waste from new reactors which will add to the burden and perpetuate the presence of spent fuel in stores on deteriorating sites well into the next century and beyond into the far and unforeseeable future.
Bradwell is in clear and imminent danger of just such a future and new nuclear power there would be a danger for the present and a disaster for the future. It must be resisted at all costs. At the conclusion of his speech Andy took heart from the fourth place studied in his book, Gorleben in Germany. For nearly four decades the people there had struggled against the imposition of a deep disposal mine and a waste store for all the country’s highly active wastes. The story of the Gorleben Movement and its ultimate success was both moving and inspiring and had been the agent for Germany’s energy transition from nuclear power to renewable energy. Such a future was possible for Britain and preventing the dangers and destruction of the Blackwater by new nuclear reactors at Bradwell was one component in the change to a safe and sustainable future.
Published time: 22 Feb, 2017 19:35
Radioactive wild boars have been detected in Czech forests, some 31 years after the Chernobyl disaster, a veterinary administration official said, adding that they are eating mushrooms that can absorb high levels of radioactive isotopes.
The animals became radioactive due to false truffles, the underground mushrooms they feed on, Jiri Drapal at the Czech State Veterinary Administration told Reuters. The mushroom is found in the Sumava mountain region in the Czech Republic, which borders Austria and Germany.
It can absorb high levels of radioactive isotopes, including Caesium 137, which was released in great quantities after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Caesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years, which means it loses half of its radioactivity within that period.
When boars eat radioactive mushrooms, they become radioactive themselves. Boar meat is highly popular in the Czech Republic, so there’s danger of radioactive meat ending up on one’s table.
“We can expect to find (affected) food for a number of years from now,” Drapal said, adding that all meat should be checked for radioactivity.
According to Reuters data, at least 614 wild boars were inspected from 2014 to 2016, and 47 percent of them were radioactive.
The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, 1986, at Reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which was then a republic of the Soviet Union. As a result of the explosion and fire, a huge radioactive cloud spread into the atmosphere, covering thousands of miles of Soviet and European territories.
READ MORE: Radioactive reindeer: Mushrooms blamed for Cesium spike in Norway
In 2014, scientists from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) said that unexpectedly high levels of radioactivity were found in Norway’s reindeer and sheep
Posted: 02/21/17, 2:38 PM EST
Since the two nuclear reactors at Limerick began operating in the 1980s, the question of whether toxic radiation releases affected local cancer rates has persisted.
The latest official statistics raise a red flag: among children and young adults, who are more vulnerable to radiation, cancer rates are rising — especially cancers of the thyroid, which is most sensitive to radiation.
A disastrous meltdown, like those at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, has always been possible at Limerick. But toxic radioactivity routinely generated is steadily released into local air and water. People living nearby drink, eat and breathe these chemicals on a daily basis.
A study from the early 2000s found high average levels of Strontium-90 in over 100 local baby teeth. This chemical, only created in atomic bomb explosions and nuclear reactor operations, is deposited in bone and teeth. Levels in teeth of children living near Limerick were 50 percent higher than in areas far from nuclear plants; and those results were published in medical journal articles.
The childhood cancer rate in the Pottstown area was 93 percent above the rest of the region in the late 1990s and early 2000s. While multiple factors can cause children to develop cancer, public health officials failed to document any.
Now that the Limerick nuclear reactors are aging, their parts are corroding and more likely to routinely leak radiation. A review of current local cancer rates in young people is in order.
In the most recent four-year period (2011-2014), a total of 430 cancer cases were diagnosed in Montgomery County residents under age 30, a jump from the 338 cases in the four years prior. The rate increase of 27 percent was significantly larger than the 5 percent rise for the rest of Pennsylvania.
Thyroid cancer is probably the most radiosensitive of all cancers. High rates of this cancer have been found in survivors of the atom bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Baby Boomers exposed to above-ground bomb test fallout in the 1950s and 1960s; persons living near Chernobyl during the 1986 meltdown; and children living near Fukushima after the 2011 meltdown.
The reason thyroid cancer is sensitive to radiation? Another of the 100-plus chemicals released from reactors is iodine-131 (I-131), tiny radioactive metal particles that seek out the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. I-131 kills or damages healthy cells, which can lead to cancer. Since 1991, U.S. thyroid cancer cases diagnosed annually soared from 12,000 to 64,000.
New thyroid cancer cases in persons under 30-years-old rose from 40 to 79 in Montgomery County during the most recent two four-year periods, a 97 percent increase. The increase for the rest of Pennsylvania is just 9 percent. The county rate is well above the state.
Thyroid cancer is not caused by working in coal mines. It is not caused by smoking. It is not caused by drinking alcohol. It is not caused by eating processed foods. The Mayo Clinic lists just three risk factors for the disease; being female (not a cause); inherited defective genes (not a cause); and radiation exposure — the only known cause.
These findings demand immediate action. Local public health leaders need to acknowledge these adverse trends, and to further study the link between Limerick and thyroid cancer. Appropriate steps should be taken to eliminate releases of poison from the reactors, so that fewer may suffer from cancer in the future.
— Joseph Mangano Executive Director Radiation and Public Health Project
My you tube report on the Iodine 131 report in Europe (Links to information can be found on the Description under the video on You tube
Reported by Shaun McGee aka arclight2011
Posted to nuclear-news.net on the 22 February 2017
Published on 22 Feb 2017
The reported European Iodine 131 release has generated alot of speculation as to where it came from. There have been reports that do point to the culprit but nothing definitive. I try to trace the source and explain why there is so much confusion. I show the methodology I used (the short version) and explain how I tracked the other major releases in 2011 and 2012. I will link to relevant articles i put together showing evidence to the types of contamination and effects on human and the environment (from the 2011 incident) below and that will explain why the IAEA is covering the spikes up on the European radiation monitoring system EURDEP;
Nuclear Lead poisoning cover-up UK, serious wildlife contamination found! https://nuclear-news.net/2012/10/07/n…
UK – Shocking increase in respiratory problems due to Nuclear incidents from Fukushima and The Budapest Medical Isotope Inst. https://nuclear-news.net/2013/04/23/u…
UK censored? Drinking water standards cover up! https://nuclear-news.net/2012/08/18/u…
Nuclear Hotseat notes for 22 Feb 2017 Iodine 131 in Europe, the evidence! https://europeannewsweekly.wordpress….
CRIIRAD report in French http://balises.criirad.org/pdf/CP%20%…
Bellona report in English http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issue…
IRSN report English version with sources http://world.einnews.com/article/3676…