¶ “Will fossil fuels and conventional cars be obsolete by 2030?” In 2016, solar power became the cheapest form of energy in 58 lower-income countries, including China, India, and Brazil, and the cost is still dropping. In Europe, in 2016, 86% of the newly installed energy capacity was from renewable sources. Is it all over for fossil fuels? [Huffington Post]
Solar power rising
¶ London has air pollution levels that sometimes exceed those of Beijing. NOx levels have gone well beyond EU legal limits; over a 5 day period in January, their levels exceeded the EU’s legal limit for a full year. The Mayor announced that central London will institute a £10 charge for entering vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards. [CleanTechnica]
¶ The government of France is reportedly now offering a state subsidy of €200 to buyers of certain electrically powered bicycles…
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Overseas nuclear business a huge burden on Toshiba , Japan News, February 22, 2017 By Miho Yokoi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer Toshiba Corp. has been facing a need to review its nuclear business because it has been a drag on the company’s reconstruction efforts, mostly caused by the huge loss booked in reactor building projects in the United States and construction delays in other countries.
Nonetheless, it will not be easy for the major electronics and machinery maker to considerably shrink its nuclear business overseas because there are only a handful of entities that can build such facilities.
Toshiba will likely book a loss of more than ¥700 billion for the April-December 2016 period, and U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co. is a major factor behind the result…….
It is likely that Toshiba will face a ballooning loss if construction for the reactors [Plant Vogtle in Georgia, USA) continues to be delayed. “It would be a lie if we say there’s no risk at all,” said Corporate Vice President Mamoru Hatazawa.
Toshiba won contracts for building two reactors in Texas in 2009, but their construction has not yet started. The projects have been affected by the increase in the amount of U.S. shale gas production, which has caused fuel prices for thermal power generation to nosedive, thereby boosting needs for a method with cheaper running costs.
Meanwhile, Toshiba’s nuclear businesses in countries other than the United States have also been facing an uphill battle.
In China, for example, Westinghouse has undertaken construction of four nuclear reactors, originally with an aim to put them into operation between 2013 and 2015. However, none of them has been completed because of delays in the work.
The U.S. subsidiary also hoped to win contracts for developing six reactors in India, but the plan has been stalled because it is so risky for a builder to sign a contract under the current Indian law, which obliges the entity to assume liability for compensation in the event of a nuclear accident……..http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003536775
Bill to label nuclear energy as renewable stalls A bill aimed at classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source in New Mexico stalled Thursday afternoon in committee on a tie vote.
House Bill 406, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, would have amended the state’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires energy companies provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources…. New Mexico Political Report 24 Feb 17
Nuclear Is Renewable Energy? http://krwg.org/post/nuclear-renewable-energy
By CVNM •Santa Fe, N.M. 24 Feb 17 – Today, the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee debated Nuclear Energy as Renewable Energy (HB 406, Brown). The bill was tabled on a tied vote. CVNM Legislative Director Ben Shelton and CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Program Director Talia Boyd released the following statements:
“Nuclear energy is part of the problem, not the solution. Proposing to classify nuclear as renewable energy – as Governor Martinez did her in energy plan – disrespects the sacrifice Indigenous communities in western New Mexico have already made and continue to make with their health from the impacts of uranium mining,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Legislative Director. “In addition, adding nuclear energy to the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard neutralizes its job creating potential because of nuclear assets already held by New Mexico’s two largest electric utilities – something our leaders should not consider a possibility.”
“My community in Gallup and Church Rock have witnessed our health, culture, families, and land be desecrated and sacrificed for uranium – an industry that many in our communities do not want, as demonstrated by a ban on uranium mining passed by the Navajo Nation in 2005,” says Talia Boyd, CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Organizer and member of the Diné Nation.
“Communities that have been living with the impacts of poor energy policy need to be at the table shaping our energy future by putting hardworking New Mexicans first with clean, renewable energy jobs, like wind and solar.”
A link between cancer rates and nuclear plants? http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/MP/20170221/NEWS/170229937 Joseph Mangano Executive Director Radiation and Public Health Project 02/21/17,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.
Donald Trump wants to expand US nuclear arsenal, make it ‘top of the pack’ http://www.smh.com.au/world/donald-trump-wants-to-expand-us-nuclear-arsenal-make-it-top-of-the-pack-20170223-guk6ms.htm, Steve Holland, 23 Feb 17
Washington: President Donald Trump has said he wants to build up the US nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity.
In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea “very easily if they want to,” ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions.
n his first comments about the US nuclear arsenal since taking office on January 20, Mr Trump said the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.”
“… We’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.
“It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Mr Trump said.
The new strategic arms limitation treaty, known as New START, between the US and Russia requires that by February 5, 2018, both countries must limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
The treaty permits both countries to have no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear weapons, and contains equal limits on other nuclear weapons.
Analysts have questioned whether Mr Trump wants to abrogate New START or would begin deploying other warheads.
In the interview, Mr Trump called New START “a one-sided deal”.
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” he said.
The United States is in the midst of a $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), 30-year modernisation of its aging ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles, a price tag that most experts say the country cannot afford.
Mr Trump also complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
“To me it’s a big deal,” he said.
Asked if he would raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump said he would do so “if and when we meet.” He said he had no meetings scheduled as of yet with Mr Putin.
Speaking from behind his desk in the Oval Office, Mr Trump declared that “we’re very angry” at North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and said accelerating a missile defense system for US allies Japan and South Korea was among many options available.
“There’s talks of a lot more than that,” Mr Trump said, when asked about the missile defense system. “We’ll see what happens. But it’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion.”
Local consent needed despite OK to restart Oi nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun February 23, 2017 The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Feb. 22 published a draft safety inspection report saying measures taken at the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture meet the new stricter anti-disaster standards.
In 2014, however, the Fukui District Court ordered the operator to keep the two reactors offline, raising serious questions about their safety.
Some 160,000 people in Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga prefectures reside within 30 kilometers from the plant. It is also questionable whether local residents can be evacuated quickly and smoothly if a serious accident occurs at the plant.
In a recent Asahi Shimbun survey, 57 percent of the respondents expressed their opposition to the restart of offline nuclear reactors, nearly double the number of those who supported the idea.
Come next month, six years will have passed since the catastrophic accident broke out at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Many Japanese remain unconvinced of the safety of nuclear reactors.
Kansai Electric Power is hoping to bring the two reactors back on line as early as this summer. But we find it difficult to support the plan.
There are multiple faults around the Oi plant. The biggest worry cited in the district court ruling was the possibility that a stronger earthquake than assumed could seriously damage the reactors or the spent fuel pool.
The electric utility has since appealed the ruling. But the company has also raised the estimated maximum ground acceleration that could occur in an earthquake at the location.
The utility will spend 122 billion yen ($1.07 billion) on measures to enhance the safety of the plant.
But Kunihiko Shimazaki, a seismologist and former acting chairman of the NRA, has warned against the plan. Using observation data about the powerful earthquakes that hit areas around Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, he has argued that the utility’s calculation method may have underestimated the biggest potential shaking of a quake at the location.
After reviewing the data, the NRA dismissed Shimazaki’s argument, with Chairman Shunichi Tanaka calling it “groundless.”
But the scientist’s warning has deepened anxiety among local residents.
The spent fuel pools at Kansai Electric Power’s three nuclear power plants including Oi are almost filled to the brim.
The utility says it will build an interim storage facility outside Fukui Prefecture around 2030 so that used fuel rods can be removed from the pools.
But the company has yet to map out a specific and workable plan to build such a facility…….http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702230032.html
S. African bishop says government should scrap nuclear power; expand renewable energy sources, Ecumenical News, 23 Feb 17
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
, Thabo Makgoba, has appealed to the South African government to scrap plans for developing nuclear energy and instead spend the money on education, training and other development initiatives.
The archbishop said in a statement issued from the church’s Synod of Bishops Feb. 22 coming at a time that faith and environmental groups are issuing a court challenge to a secret nuclear deal the government has struck up with Russia.
“The Synod of Bishops has revisited the resolution adopted by the church’s Provincial Synod last September, in which the church expressed its opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy and urged the government to pursue the path of renewable energy initiatives……
“We are deeply concerned that an expanded nuclear energy program will become an albatross around the necks of our children. And we cannot leave to the generations to come the task of disposing of our nuclear waste.”
Makgoba said the bishops believe South Africa has the potential of becoming a renewable energy hub for Africa, with huge potential for investment in manufacturing and associated employment.
“We note that overseas investors are queuing up to invest in our renewable energy program and since the design of the program is such that they provide the finance, this does not burden our people.”
ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE GROUPS
Environmental justice groups have renewed a challenge to the government’s planned expansion of nuclear energy in a court hearing in currently Cape Town.
In November the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said a closed meeting on a nuclear build plan reinforces the perception that government has something to hide……http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/s-african-archbishop-says-government-should-scrap-nuclear-power-expand-renewable-energy-sources/59172.htm
¶ For the first time ever, a study by climate research institute Climate Analytics calculated what a cost-effective fossil fuel exit strategy would look like. The study focused on keeping global warming at 1.5° C until the end of this century. All coal-fired power plants in the EU need to be shut down by 2030, but that is just a start. [Deutsche Welle]
The cheapest way to reduce fossil fuel emissions
is to phase out coal and replace it with renewables.
¶ The German city of Stuttgart will have occasional selective bans of diesel cars during periods of high pollution beginning in 2018, state officials in Baden-Württemberg say. The intent of the selective-bans is to limit diesel pollution within the state’s capital city during periods when air pollution levels are already quite high. [CleanTechnica]
¶ A ComRes survey has found 85% of British adults are…
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Radiation Free Lakeland
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH QUIZZED BY TIM FARRON MP ABOUT THE PREDICTED RISE IN CHILDHOOD LEUKAEMIA FOLLOWING CONSTRUCTION OF MOORSIDE
Tim Farron has written on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland to the Director of Public Health Cumbria County Council Colin Cox, Regarding construction of Moorside and “Population Mixing.”
“Population mixing” is a red herring used to explain the up to 20 times (Maryport) and 10 times (Seascale) acknowledged excess in cancers on the West Coast of Cumbria. IF the government will not take responsibility for radioactive emissions as a cause of excess cancer then it must take responsibility for its belief that “population mixing” is the cause of excess cancers. The public should be warned.
Radiation Free Lakeland has written to all the prospective parliamentary candidates for Copeland on this crucial matter of public health- not one has replied.
Correspondence with Tim Farron MP below
Our Ref: Birk004/52/jag>…
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¶ “How South Australia can function reliably while moving to 100% renewable power” • Despite the criticism leveled at South Australia over its renewable energy ambitions, the state is aiming to be carbon neutral by mid-century, which will mean moving to 100% renewable electricity over the next 15-20 years. It can do that. [The Conversation AU]
Australian wind farm
¶ Almost every railway station in India will soon be fed with solar power if the plans in India’s new union budget are implemented. The Indian Finance Minister announced that the 7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 MW of solar power capacity. [CleanTechnica]
¶ Energy company RWE has cancelled its dividend for the second successive year, after writedowns of €4.3 billion ($4.5 billion) on its power plants and a surprise…
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HELEN CALDICOTT: The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/helen-caldicott-the-fukushima-nuclear-meltdown-continues-unabated,10019 3 February 2017, Dr Helen Caldicott, explains recent robot photos taken of Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear reactors: radiation levels have not peaked, but have continued to spill toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean — but it’s only now the damage has been photographed.
RECENT reporting of a huge radiation measurement at Unit 2 in the Fukushima Daichi reactor complex does not signify that there is a peak in radiation in the reactor building.
All that it indicates is that, for the first time, the Japanese have been able to measure the intense radiation given off by the molten fuel, as each previous attempt has led to failure because the radiation is so intense the robotic parts were functionally destroyed.
The radiation measurement was 530 sieverts, or 53,000 rems (Roentgen Equivalent for Man). The dose at which half an exposed population would die is 250 to 500 rems, so this is a massive measurement. It is quite likely had the robot been able to penetrate deeper into the inner cavern containing the molten corium, the measurement would have been much greater.
These facts illustrate why it will be almost impossible to “decommission” units 1, 2 and 3 as no human could ever be exposed to such extreme radiation. This fact means that Fukushima Daichi will remain a diabolical blot upon Japan and the world for the rest of time, sitting as it does on active earthquake zones.
What the photos taken by the robot did reveal was that some of the structural supports of Unit 2 have been damaged. It is also true that 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 fell on the molten core beneath. But units 1, 2 and 3 also contain cooling pools with very radioactive fuel rods — numbering 392 in Unit 1, 615 in Unit 2, and 566 in Unit 3; if an earthquake were to breach a pool, the gamma rays would be so intense that the site would have to be permanently evacuated. The fuel from Unit 4 and its cooling pool has been removed.
But there is more to fear.
The reactor complex was built adjacent to a mountain range and millions of gallons of water emanate from the mountains daily beneath the reactor complex, causing some of the earth below the reactor buildings to partially liquefy. As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes – including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more – enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain — algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish then us.
Fish swim thousands of miles and tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements, which are tasteless, odourless and invisible. Entering the human body by ingestion they concentrate in various organs, irradiating adjacent cells for many years. The cancer cycle is initiated by a single mutation in a single regulatory gene in a single cell and the incubation time for cancer is any time from 2 to 90 years. And no cancer defines its origin.
We could be catching radioactive fish in Australia or the fish that are imported could contain radioactive isotopes, but unless they are consistently tested we will never know.
As well as the mountain water reaching the Pacific Ocean, since the accident, TEPCO has daily pumped over 300 tons of sea water into the damaged reactors to keep them cool. It becomes intensely radioactive and is pumped out again and stored in over 1,200 huge storage tanks scattered over the Daichi site. These tanks could not withstand a large earthquake and could rupture releasing their contents into the ocean.
But even if that does not happen, TEPCO is rapidly running out of storage space and is trying to convince the local fishermen that it would be okay to empty the tanks into the sea. The Bremsstrahlung radiation like x-rays given off by these tanks is quite high – measuring 10 milirems – presenting a danger to the workers. There are over 4,000 workers on site each day, many recruited by the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) and include men who are homeless, drug addicts and those who are mentally unstable.
There’s another problem. Because the molten cores are continuously generating hydrogen, which is explosive, TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the reactors to dilute the hydrogen dangers.
Vast areas of Japan are now contaminated, including some areas of Tokyo, which are so radioactive that roadside soil measuring 7,000 becquerels (bc) per kilo would qualify to be buried in a radioactive waste facility in the U.S..
As previously explained, these radioactive elements concentrate in the food chain. The Fukushima Prefecture has always been a food bowl for Japan and, although much of the rice, vegetables and fruit now grown here is radioactive, there is a big push to sell this food both in the Japanese market and overseas. Taiwan has banned the sale of Japanese food, but Australia and the U.S. have not.
Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the situation could be gaoled for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.
The Prefectural Oversite Committee for Fukushima Health is only looking at thyroid cancer among the population and by June 2016, 172 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have developed, or have suspected, thyroid cancer; the normal incidence in this population is 1 to 2 per million.
However, other cancers and leukemia that are caused by radiation are not being routinely documented, nor are congenital malformations, which were, and are, still rife among the exposed Chernobyl population.
Bottom line, these reactors will never be cleaned up nor decommissioned because such a task is not humanly possible. Hence, they will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time and threaten Japan and the northern hemisphere with massive releases of radiation should there be another large earthquake.
Nuclear power’s rapidly accelerating crisis, REneweconomy, By Jim Green on 22 February 2017 A fire-sale is underway as the punch-drunk nuclear power industry tries to stop the rot.
The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. Électricité de France (EDF) announced in 2015 that it would sell A$13.8 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, which now stands at A$51.8 billion.
EDF is purchasing parts of its bankrupt sibling Areva, which has accumulated losses of over A$14 billion over the past five years. French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns amount to about A$17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters.
Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell indebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy.
One site where these problems come together is Moorside in the UK. A Toshiba / Engie consortium was planning to build three AP1000 reactors, but Toshiba wants to sell
its stake in the consortium in the wake of its massive losses from AP1000 construction projects in the US.
Engie reportedly wants to sell its stake in the consortium, and the French government has already sold part of its stake in Engie … to help prop up EDF and Areva! Deck-chairs are being shuffled.
The latest dramas occur against a backdrop of deep industry malaise, with the receding hope of even the slightest growth resting squarely on the shoulders of China. A February 15 piece in the Financial Times said: “Hopes of a nuclear renaissance have largely disappeared. For many suppliers, not least Toshiba, simply avoiding a nuclear dark ages would be achievement enough.”
Toshiba and Westinghouse are in deep trouble because of massive cost overruns building four AP1000 reactors in the US ‒ the combined overruns are about A$14 billion and counting. The saga is detailed in Bloomberg pieces titled ‘Toshiba’s Nuclear Reactor Mess Winds Back to a Louisiana Swamp‘ and ‘Toshiba’s Record Fall Highlights U.S. Nuclear Cost Nightmare‘.
Toshiba said on February 14 that it expects to book a A$8.2 billion writedown on Westinghouse,(on top of a A$3 billion writedown in April 2016. These losses exceed the A$7.1 billion Toshiba paid when it bought a majority stake in Westinghouse in 2006.
The four AP1000 reactors are the only ones under construction in the US. “There’s billions and billions of dollars at stake here,” said Gregory Jaczko, former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “This could take down Toshiba and it certainly means the end of new nuclear construction in the US.”
Bankruptcy looms for Toshiba, with the banks circling and the risk heightened by the likelihood of further delays and cost overruns with the AP1000 reactors in the US, and unresolved litigation over those projects.
Toshiba says it would likely sell Westinghouse if that was an option ‒ but there is no prospect of a buyer. The nuclear unit is, as Bloomberg noted, “too much of a mess” to sell. And since that isn’t an option, Toshiba must sell profitable businesses instead to stave off bankruptcy.
Toshiba planned to make nuclear operations and microchips its two growth areas. But now the company plans to sell most ‒ perhaps all ‒ of its profitable microchip business to prop up the nuclear carcass and avoid bankruptcy. The company might get A$17‒22 billion by selling its entire stake in its microchip business, said Joel Hruska from ExtremeTech. “That would pay off the company’s immediate debts,” Hruska said, “but would leave it holding the bag on an incredibly expensive, underwhelming nuclear business with no prospects for near-term improvement.”
to exit the high-risk reactor construction business and focus its nuclear business on design, equipment supply and engineering services.
Plans for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside in the UK are in doubt. Toshiba hopes to sell its 60% stake in the project consortium NuGen. Cumbrians will be glad to see the back of corruption-plagued Toshiba ‒ but corruption-plagued South Korean utility KEPCO might take its place. Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) commented: “KEPCO is itself still emerging from a major scandal that surfaced in 2012 involving bribery, corruption and faked safety tests for critical nuclear plant equipment which resulted in a prolonged shut-down of a number of nuclear power stations and the jailing of power engineers and parts suppliers.”
Plans for six AP1000 reactors in India may not survive the Toshiba / Westinghouse meltdown. The project is now almost impossible according to Reuters’ sources. India is said to be one of the countries leading the ‘nuclear renaissance’ but hasn’t seen a single reactor construction start since 2011.
Toshiba’s demise would not greatly concern the nuclear industry if it was an isolated case, but it is symptomatic of industry-wide problems. Nick Butler from Kings College London wrote in a Financial Times online post: “Toshiba is just one company in the global nuclear industry, but its current problems are symptomatic of the difficulties facing all the private enterprises in the sector.
Civil nuclear power involves huge up-front capital costs, very long pay-back periods and high risks that are compounded by a lack of experience, especially in managing nuclear construction projects after a long period with few new plants. For all those reasons, private investors avoid the sector and prefer to put their money where they see faster and safer returns.”http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-powers-rapidly-accelerating-crisis-26711/
‘The EU, the US and Japan are busy committing nuclear suicide’ Nuclear power’s rapidly accelerating crisis, REneweconomy, By Jim Green on 22 February 2017
The nuclear industry and its supporters have responded in varying ways to the crises facing nuclear utilities and the industry’s broader malaise. Some opt for head-in-the-sand delusion and denial. Others are extremely pessimistic about the industry’s future. Others paint a picture of serious but surmountable problems.
There is agreement that the nuclear industries in the US, Japan and the EU ‒ in particular their nuclear export industries ‒ are in deep trouble. A February 2017 EnergyPostWeekly article says “the EU, the US and Japan are busy committing nuclear suicide.” Michael Shellenberger from the pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute notes that: “Nations are unlikely to buy nuclear from nations like the US, France and Japan that are closing (or not opening) their nuclear power plants.”
Shellenberger said: “From now on, there are only three major players in the global nuclear power plant market: Korea, China and Russia. The US, the EU and Japan are just out of the game. France could get back in, but they are not competitive today.”
That’s good news for the nuclear industries in South Korea, China and Russia. But they might end up squabbling over scraps ‒ there were just three reactor construction starts last year around the world. South Korean companies have failed to win a single contract since the contract to build four reactors in the UAE. Likewise, China has made no inroads into export markets other than projects in Pakistan and Argentina.
Russia’s Rosatom has countless non-binding agreements to supply reactors, mostly in developing countries. But Russia can’t afford the loan funding promised in these agreements, and most of the potential customer countries can’t afford to pay the capital costs for reactors. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd says it is “highly unlikely that Russia will succeed in carrying out even half of the projects in which it claims to be closely involved”.
The pro-nuclear Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger presents cataclysmic assessments of nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.
Likewise, pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman says that a “sense of panic is emerging globally” as Toshiba exits the reactor construction industry. He adds: “After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these developments make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry. Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva …”
Yurman notes that Westinghouse may struggle to keep its nuclear workforce intact: “Layoffs and cost cutting could reduce the core competencies of the firm and its ability to meet the service needs of existing customers much less be a vendor of nuclear technologies for new projects.” Likewise, Will Davis, a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, explains the failure of the Japanese/US AP1000 projects and the French EPR projects with reference to the “loss of institutional knowledge, industrial capability and construction capability” over the past generation.
As recent history has repeatedly shown, this loss of capability leads to reactor project delays and cost overruns, and that in turn leads one after another country to abandon plans for new reactors. Vast numbers of staff, skilled across a range of disciplines, need to be trained and employed if the nuclear power industry is to move ahead (or even survive). But utilities and companies are firing, not hiring, vast numbers of staff and making a perilous situation much worse … possibly irretrievable. EDF, for example, plans to cut 5,200 to 7,000 staff by 2019 (including 2,000 sacked last year) ‒ about 10% of its total workforce.
Ironically, Westinghouse, the villain in Toshiba’s demise, may have made the best strategic decision of all the nuclear utilities. In 2014, Westinghouse announced plans to expand and hopefully triple its nuclear decommissioning business. The global reactor fleet is ageing and the International Energy Agency anticipates an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning” ‒ almost 200 reactor shut-downs between 2014 and 2040. http://reneweconomy.com.au/nuclear-powers-rapidly-accelerating-crisis-26711/
The Trump Nuclear Threat, It’s time to worry about Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces. US News, By Louis René Beres | Feb. 21, 2017,
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe? http://nation.com.pk/international/21-Feb-2017/fukushima-a-lurking-global-catastrophe Robert Hunziker – 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 loose 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,” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).
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,” d/d Feb. 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 doornail.
“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” (Emi Urabe, Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots, The Japan Times, Feb. 17, 2017).
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 (Source: Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, USA Today, April 17, 2016).
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,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).
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.” (Helen Caldicott: The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017).
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, Sept. 7, 2016.– COUNTERPUNCH
“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,” Ibid.
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,” 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.
As the plans circulated online, opposition to the plan appeared to be mounting in the wake of Chinese public reaction to rising radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
“Last year, 100,000 people took to the streets of Lianyungang in protest against a nuclear power plant there, and they successfully blocked [its] construction”
The growing concerns over China’s nuclear power program came as the Hong Kong-listed arm of a state-owned nuclear power company announced further delays to controversial reactors at Taishan in the southern province of Guangdong.
Plans to Build Four New Nuclear Power Plants in China’s Henan Spark Outcry, Radio Free Asia, 21 Feb 17 Reported by Ding Wenqi for RFA’s Mandarin Service, and by Goh Fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie. Plans by authorities in the central province of Henan to move ahead with four new nuclear power stations in the wake of the Fukushima disaster have sparked growing public fears in China.
In a directive dated Jan. 25, the provincial government was ordered to move ahead with the implementation of power generation plans that include new nuclear reactors at Nanyang, Xinyang, Luoyang and Pingdingshan, according to a statement on its official website.
“[We must make] steady progress with preliminary work for nuclear power projects,” the statements said. “We must complete onsite protection work for nuclear power projects at Nanyang, Xinyang and the other nuclear power projects,” it said. “We should proceed with the planning and construction of inland nuclear power projects on behalf of our country, and strive to continue to be included in the national nuclear long-term development plan,” the directive said.
It called on government departments to “strengthen public awareness of nuclear power projects, nuclear power project planning and construction to create a good atmosphere.”
As the plans circulated online, opposition to the plan appeared to be mounting in the wake of Chinese public reaction to rising radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
“An old issue in Japan has sent ripples across the East China Sea to shake China,” the Global Times newspaper, the sister paper of ruling Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece The People’s Daily, reported.
“The news has been traveling fast on the Chinese internet … Many Chinese became worried, some even canceling their trips to Japan,” the paper said.
A resident surnamed Li of Henan’s Anyang city told RFA that the news is causing great concern among local people.
“I am extremely worried about this; they definitely shouldn’t go ahead with building them,” Li said. “I heard the pollution from nuclear plants is very serious.”
“I expect there to be a public outcry in Anyang and in Henan about the plans to build nuclear power stations.”
While one resident of Luoyang said they hadn’t heard of the plans, another Henan resident Yang Chunxia, hit out at the plans online.
“Last year, 100,000 people took to the streets of Lianyungang in protest against a nuclear power plant there, and they successfully blocked [its] construction,” Yang wrote.
“The whole of Eastern Europe was polluted by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1983,” the user added. “Now, they’ve got their eye on Henan. What will Henan people do about it? Please, everyone who lives in Henan, please pass this on!”
Meanwhile, authorities in Anyang detained local resident Wang Shoufeng for five days’ administrative detention for “making things up to disrupt public order” after he posted on social media in a similar vein.
Wang told RFA on Tuesday that he was innocent.
“I don’t believe that I did anything to disrupt public order,” he said. “A lot of people here in Henan want the government to go public with the information on this, and clarify whether they are planning to go ahead with it.”
“We want to understand everything about this and to catch the attention of as many people as possible.”
Wang’s friend Feng Lei said local people have a right to know about the dangers of nuclear power.
“They had that huge nuclear leak in Japan, and people here in Henan want a safe environment for their children and grandchildren to live in,” Feng said.
“They will be pushing for that.”
Repeated calls to the Henan provincial government offices rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.