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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

USA Politicians on both sides sucked in by propaganda for fantasy new nuclear reactors

 

 

 

January 25, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

In UK “big” nuclear power versus “small” (both unaffordable) at Wylfa

The global nuclear lobby might look like a unified force –  it’s anything but!.  The nuclear nations fight each other in desperately trying to flog off their unaffordable white elephant nuclear reactors to ‘developing’ countries, or to any sucker, really. .

The nuclear industry itself is divided –  the ‘conventional’ big nuclear reactors versus the (not yet existing) Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

No plans’ for Wylfa mini nuclear power station according to developer, https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/no-plans-wylfa-mini-nuclear-17599188, By Owen Hughes, Business correspondent, 20 JAN 2020

Horizon Nuclear Power said its full focus is on delivering a full scale nuke plant.

Wylfa Newydd developer Horizon Nuclear Power says there are “no plans” to build mini reactors at its Anglesey site.

Rolls Royce is currently leading a consortium developing the technology for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) – supported by the UK Government. Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd has been tipped at a prime spot for one of the reactors and over the weekend Wylfa was also reported as a target location.

But Horizon has released a statement making clear the Wylfa site is not being put forward for this technology as they press on with the current plan for a full scale nuclear site.

A spokesman said: “There are no plans to deploy a Rolls Royce Small Modular Reactor at the Wylfa Newydd site.”

He added: “Activity on the Horizon project is currently suspended, but we’re working hard to establish the conditions for a restart using our tried and tested reactor design, which has already cleared the UK regulators’ assessment process.

Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom wants additional information before deciding whether to give planning permission for Wylfa Newydd.

She deferred the decision on the site in October.

If permission is granted then the next step will be securing funding to make the project happen.

When it comes to SMRs, Alan Woods, strategy and business development director for Rolls-Royce, said they were focusing on sites in Wales and the north of England. Modular reactors are smaller and, once the first is approved and built, manufacturers hope mass-production will lead to shorter construction times and lower costs for each unit.

The consortium will need to establish factories to produce the small modular reactors with the pre-fabricated modules transported to sites for construction.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | 1 Comment

India – a case study in regulatory capture by the nuclear industry

In a Season of Impetuous Lawmaking, whither Nuclear Safety? The Leaflet SONALI HURIA, January 22,2020
In this piece, the author while discussing the issues around nuclear safety, debates on why it is important to re-examine the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill for better regulation, transparency, and liability. SINCE returning to power last year with an overwhelming majority in the 2019 general elections, the Modi-led government has passed a series of legislations in rapid succession without any credible dialogue both within and outside Parliament – …………even as there has been exceptional eagerness to push these amendments and pass new legislation, including notifying the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 despite intense country-wide protests and a raging debate on its underlying intent, there are urgent issues, such as, nuclear safety, which remain in indefinite suspension.

The UPA-II government, under Dr Manmohan Singh, had introduced the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill in the Lok Sabha on 07 September 2011, aimed at replacing India’s existing nuclear regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) with a purportedly improved and more autonomous Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) which would have the mandate to ‘regulate nuclear safety and activities related to nuclear material and facilities’.

The Bill, however, which had been referred to the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, did not come up for discussion before the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, and subsequently, lapsed. The Standing Committee had reportedly endorsed the Bill with only minor suggestions for changes, while two members of the Committee from the CPI(M), gave dissent notes, arguing that the Bill provided ‘no substantive autonomy’ to the proposed NSRA. According to available information, in April 2017, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh, in a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha had stated that a ‘fresh Bill’ similar to the earlier NSRA Bill, was ‘under examination’……….India’s nuclear regulatory framework has long been criticized for being so thoroughly enmeshed within the government structure so as to render its requisite independence, practically meaningless. Nuclear safety in India has been the remit of the AERB, which was set up in November of 1983 by an executive order of the Secretary of the DAE under Section 27 of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, with modifications made in April 2000 to “exclude all BARC facilities from (its) oversight, (following) the declaration of BARC as a nuclear weapons laboratory”.

The AERB has had the dishonourable reputation of being subservient to India’s exclusively public sector operators, which it is required to monitor, and is also acknowledged as suffering from an acute lack of independence from industry and government.

As things stand, the AERB is responsible for monitoring the safety of the various nuclear facilities operated by agencies such as, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), which fall under the purview of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). However, the Board is required to report to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), whose chairman is the Secretary of the DAE and one of whose members is the Chair of the NPCIL, and which overall, comes under the direct control of the Prime Minister of India. Thus, the regulatory board reports to the very agency it is required to assess and monitor in the interest of public safety.   

 Moreover, the AERB frequently draws upon the ‘expertise’ of scientists and engineers provided by the DAE – “almost 95% of the members in AERB’s review and advisory committees are drawn from among retired employees of the DAE, either from one of their research institutes like the Bhabha Atomic Research Center or a power generation company like the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.” –  thus, calling into question the AERB’s functional autonomy.

Dr A Gopalakrishnan, the former Chairman of the AERB has been at pains to explain how the present institutional setup makes nuclear safety regulation in India a ‘mere sham’ and that for the AERB to function effectively, the DAE’s hold on the Board needs to be urgently done away with. In 1995, during Dr Gopalakrishnan’s tenure as the nuclear regulator, the AERB had prepared a comprehensive ‘Document on Safety Issues in DAE Installations’ – a report detailing nearly 130 safety issues across India’s nuclear installations with 95 of them having been designated ‘top priority’, to which the first reactions from the NPCIL and BARC according to Dr Gopalakrishnan, were of denial and questioning AERB’s own technical expertise to review safety matters.

A 2012 Performance Audit Report on the AERB prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) and submitted to the Indian Parliament labelled the AERB a ‘subordinate office, exercising delegated functions of Central government and not that of the regulator’.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutinizing the CAG report in 2013 castigated the Regulatory Board for failing to prepare a ‘comprehensive nuclear radiation safety policy despite a specific mandate in its constitution order of 1983’. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Peer Review of India’s Nuclear Regulatory Framework in 2015 was also categorical in asserting that the AERB was in need of being separated from ‘other entities having responsibilities or interests that could unduly influence its decision making’.

As has been pointed out by MV Ramana, physicist and author of The Power of Promise, there have been accidents of ‘varying severity’ at several of the nuclear facilities being operated by the DAE, yet the regulatory board has frequently been seen downplaying the seriousness of such incidents, “postponing essential repairs to suit the DAE’s time schedules, and allowing continued operation of installations when public safety considerations would warrant their immediate shutdown and repair”. The charade of the AERB’s professed independence is further underscored by its conspicuous silence on the recent cybersecurity breach at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu in October 2019.

It is these glaring frailties of the nuclear regulatory framework coupled with the obdurate insistence of the Central government to massively expand its activities along the entire nuclear fuel cycle, despite unsettled safety concerns, a long-standing and vociferous people’s resistance against uranium mining and nuclear energy projects, and concerns surrounding the health, environmental, economic, and democratic costs of this expansion, that make imperative, the need for a fiercely independent and non-partisan nuclear regulator.

Does the proposed NSRA fit the bill?

The NSRA Bill, 2011 upon its introduction, had failed to invoke any enthusiasm among independent experts, nuclear sector watchers, and civil society actors, and instead, was met with grim scepticism given that among other things, it made light of the principle of ‘separation’ as required under Article 8 of the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety to which India is a State Party.

The NSRA Bill provides for the establishment of a ‘Council of Nuclear Safety’, headed by the Prime Minister and comprised of five or more Union Ministers, the Cabinet Secretary, Chairman of the AEC, and other ‘eminent experts’ nominated by the Central government, which in turn, will constitute ‘search committees’ to select the Chair and Members of the proposed Regulatory Authority. Moreover, under Article 14 of the Bill, the Chairperson and Members of the NSRA can be removed by an order of the Central government.

Dr Gopalakrishnan argues that the Bill makes only an ornamental show of granting independence to the NSRA by requiring the Authority to report to the Parliament instead of a government department, ministry or official. Concomitantly, however, the Bill also unambiguously provides for the supersession of and the assumption of ‘all the powers, functions and duties’ of the Authority by the Central Government, if in its ‘opinion’ the Authority fails to function in concert with the provisions of the proposed Act, and, requires the Authority to seek approval of the central government prior to initiating any interaction with nuclear regulators of other countries and/or international organizations ‘engaged in activities relevant to…nuclear/radiation safety, physical security of nuclear material and facilities, transportation of nuclear and radioactive materials and nuclear and radiation safety and regulation’.

Article 20 (q) of the Bill mandates the NSRA to ‘discharge its functions and powers in a manner consistent with the international obligations of India’. This provision, argues Dr Gopalakrishnan is deeply worrisome for it “could mean, that if the Prime Minister has promised the French President in 2008 that India would buy six European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs)…(this) unilateral and personal commitment…will now (be) labelled ‘India’s international obligation’, and the NSRA cannot question, even on strong safety grounds, the setting up of those six EPR units, since that will violate the said clause of the Bill” – this might prove disastrous for both, public and environmental safety in the long term.

Experts argue that far from separating the regulator from the government, these provisions contained in the NSRA Bill will only mean absolute government control over nuclear regulation, including over appointment and dismissal procedures, thus, opening the way for ‘pliant technocrats’ to occupy prominent positions within the Authority.

The proposed Bill is also fuzzy on the question of which nuclear facilities will fall under the purview of the NSRA – it empowers, for instance, the central government to exempt “any nuclear material, radioactive material, facilities, premises and activities” from the jurisdiction of the Authority, on grounds of ‘national defence and security’. ……….

These and other provisions of the Bill are a stark reminder that the DAE has no love lost for transparency and public oversight – take, for instance, Article 45 which requires the Chairperson, Members, and other employees of the Authority to sign a ‘declaration of fidelity and secrecy’ “to not communicate or allow to be communicated to any person not legally entitled to any information relating to the affairs of the Authority”. It is for these reasons that the former nuclear regulator, Dr Gopalakrishnan has described the proposed NSRA Bill as an exercise in ‘boxing in’ nuclear regulation “from all sides by government controls, diktats, and threats of retaliation”, thus making it even more emaciated than the existing nuclear regulator – the AERB. …..https://theleaflet.in/in-a-season-of-impetuous-lawmaking-whither-nuclear-safety/

 

January 23, 2020 Posted by | India, politics, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Swedish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Halt Nuclear Shutdown

Swedish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Halt Nuclear Shutdown, Bloomberg,  By Niclas Rolander, January 23, 2020,

A majority in the Swedish parliament rejected a proposal from the nationalist Sweden Democrats to stop Vattenfall AB’s plans to close two nuclear reactors, in a victory for the Social Democrat-led government.

The Sweden Democrats had support from three parties but failed to secure a majority. Its proposal to give the state-owned utility instructions to reverse its plans to wind down the Ringhals 1 reactor and to restart another reactor that was shuttered Dec. 30 lost by a single vote on Wednesday afternoon.

Vattenfall has repeatedly said it isn’t economically viable to keep running the two reactors, which were commissioned in 1975 and 1976, respectively. The company also operates two newer reactors at the plant, which produces a sixth of Sweden’s electricity, and is owned jointly with Germany’s Uniper SE, which holds a 29.6% stake through a subsidiary. ……. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-22/swedish-parliament-rejects-proposal-to-halt-nuclear-shutdown

January 23, 2020 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Japan’s Olympics – recovery for Fukushima? rescue for the nuclear industry?

Can Japan’s ‘Recovery Olympics’ heal  Fukushima’s nuclear scars?fFukushima’s power plant. Three nuclear reactors melted down, spewing radioactive particles into the air. Jan. 14, 2020,  By Keir Simmons, Yuka Tachibana and Henry Austin, FUTABA, Japan — Nine years after “Fukushima” became synonymous with nuclear disaster, the area will help kick off the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo by hosting the opening ceremony’s torch relay near its devastated power plant.

But this symbol of rebirth — part of a planned renaissance for a region ravaged by the strongest earthquake in Japan’s history and deadly tsunami that engulfed entire communities — raises questions of whether nearly a decade is enough time to recover and make the area safe.

Officials in Japan told NBC News they were hopeful that the games, which open on July 24 and have been dubbed the country’s “Recovery Olympics,” would convince skeptics that the answer is yes.

“It’s an opportunity for Japan to change people’s perception, people’s view of Fukushima,” said Naoto Hisajima, the director general of disarmament, nonproliferation and science for Japan’s Foreign Ministry. “The Olympic torch will pass through Fukushima, and there’re going to be Olympic events in Fukushima.”

………  Three nuclear reactors melted down, spewing radioactive particles into the air.

Authorities acted quickly, scrubbing buildings and removing about 4 inches of soil and vegetation from the surrounding area. That lowered radioactivity to levels that are safe for people to be in contact with, according to Dr. Claire Corkhill of the U.K.’s University of Sheffield.

Corkhill’s team is helping plant operators come up with a plan to dispose of the highly radioactive melted cores — the parts of the power plant’s nuclear reactors that contained fuel components, like uranium and plutonium, that generated the heat to produce the power.

They are so toxic that only remotely controlled robots can get to them, but the robots are unable to remove them because “the intense radiation tends to fry their circuits,” she said.

Corkhill said that it will take decades to completely shut down the plant and that the operators still don’t know how to reach the cores.

Space to store the 1 million tons of water — equal to 400 Olympic-size swimming pools — that must be pumped through the reactor to keep the fuel cool is also running out, she warned.

While the water has been treated to remove most of the most dangerous radioactive components, traces of tritium remain.

Japanese authorities have suggested releasing the water slowly into the sea over a number of years, which Corkhill said was standard practice for power stations around the world.

It’s “the most feasible option at the moment,” she said.

Many residents are doubtful, however — particularly fishermen and women who test every catch for radiation…..

Sean Bonner and Azby Brown are part of environmental organization Safecast, which gives Geiger counters to Fukushima residents, as well as other people across Japan, to take radiation readings. It then collates the data and publishes them live on their website, which is an open source for radiation information.

Brown described trust as a “nonrenewable resource.”

“Once you’ve lost it, you don’t get it back,” Bonner said. “So we see our system as a side effect of people desperate to find something they can trust, because they’re not trusting information from the news. They’re not trusting information from authorities or institutions.”

While the cleanup continues, some areas remain off limits. Two miles from the plant, the town of Futaba remains uninhabited. Radiation levels are so high that former residents have to seek special permission to enter the town.

Katushide Okada, 75, said he had run a rose garden in the town since he was 23.

“We left with only what we were wearing,” he said. “We haven’t been able to go home since.”

Okada, who now lives in Tsukuba, about 130 miles to the south, in Ibaragi Prefecture, added, “This is a manmade disaster.”

Radiation hotspots have been found in J-Village, the starting point of the Olympic torch relay, according to Greenpeace.

After conducting its own tests, Greenpeace said radioactive contamination still remained in the parking lot and the nearby forests at the Olympic sports complex in Fukushima Prefecture. …….. Keir Simmons and Yuka Tachibana reported from Futaba, Japan, and Henry Austin from London.  https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/can-japan-s-recovery-olympics-heal-fukushima-s-nuclear-scars-n1114361

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Belgium lawmakers narrowly agree to keep U.S. nuclear weapons, Belgian public overwhelmingly opposes this

Belgium debates phase-out of US nuclear weapons on its soil, By Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com Jan 17, 2020 It’s one of Belgium’s worst kept secrets. Lawmakers on Thursday (16 January) narrowly rejected a resolution asking for the removal of US nuclear weapons stationed in the country and joining the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

66 MPs voted in favour of the resolution while 74 rejected it.

Those in favour included the Socialists, Greens, centrists (cdH), the workers party (PVDA) and the francophone party DéFI. The 74 that voted against included the nationalist Flemish party N-VA, the Flemish Christian Democrats (CD&V), the far-right Vlaams Belang and both Flemish and francophone Liberals.

Just before the Christmas recess, the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee approved a motion calling for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Belgian territory and the accession of Belgium to the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The resolution was led by Flemish socialist John Crombez (sp.a).

With this resolution, the chamber requested the Belgian government “to draw up, as soon as possible, a roadmap aiming at the withdrawal of nuclear weapons on Belgian territory”.

The December resolution was voted in the absence of two liberal MPs, even though the text was already watered down.

According to Flemish daily De Morgen, the American ambassador to Belgium was “particularly worried” about the resolution before Thursday’s vote and a number of MPs were approached by the US embassy for a discussion.

The controversy was sparked by a debate to replace the US-made F-16 fighter aircraft in the Belgian army with American F-35s, a more advanced plane capable of carrying nuclear weapons…….

Although the Belgian government had so far adopted a policy of “to neither confirm, nor deny” their presence on Belgian soil, military officials have called it one of Belgium’s “most poorly kept secrets”.

According to De Morgenwhich obtained a leaked copy of the document before its final paragraph was replaced, the report stated:

“In the context of NATO, the United States is deploying around 150 nuclear weapons in Europe, in particular B61 free-bombs, which can be deployed by both US and Allied planes. These bombs are stored in six American and European bases: Kleine Brogel in Belgium, Büchel in Germany, Aviano and Ghedi-Torre in Italy, Volkel in the Netherlands and Inçirlik in Turkey……..

Belgium, as a NATO country, so far has not supported the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

However, the resolution voted on Thursday was meant to change that. A public opinion poll conducted by YouGov in April 2019 found that 64% of Belgians believe that their government should sign the treaty, with only 17% opposed to signing. https://www.euractiv.com/section/defence-and-security/news/belgium-debates-phase-out-of-us-nuclear-weapons-on-its-soil/

January 20, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A new law in USA pushes regulators to approve new nuclear reactor plans

Regulators Urged to Spur Advanced Nuclear Power Under New Law, Dean Scott, Reporter, Jan. 16, 2020, 
  • NRC taking steps toward regulatory path for advanced reactors
  • Barrasso says nuclear industry shrinking

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects its first application for a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors in a few weeks, as it works to implement a 2019 law meant to spur such technologies, agency officials told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday.

The 2019 law, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (P. Law 115-439), introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and signed by President Donald Trump in 2019, was cosponsored by the top Democrat on the Senate environment panel, Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), and seven other Democrats…….(subscribers only)  https://news.bloombergenvironment.com/environment-and-energy/regulators-urged-to-spur-advanced-nuclear-power-under-new-law

January 20, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

No chance of re-using spent mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel, its storage highly dangerous

 

January 18, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, safety, technology | Leave a comment

In UK, energy bosses bullying locals into submission over Sizewell nuclear build?

East Anglian Daily Times 16th Jan 2020, Villagers whose properties would be affected by a bypass included in Sizewell C plans, claim energy bosses are trying to pressure them into submission.

A group of households in Farnham claim EDF Energy’s valuers
have attempted to hold complex discussions over financial mitigation
related to the new section of the A12 with little notice and no time to
prepare.

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/farnham-residents-criticse-edf-over-a12-bypass-route-1-6468545

January 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Europe’s Just Transition Mechanism excludes nuclear from the European Green Deal

January 16, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

The highly controversial question of how to fund UK’s nuclear build

January 16, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britons want real action on climate change, but Boris Johnson’s govt missing in action on this

January 14, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Sizewell nuclear project in jeopardy, as EDF struggles to get funding

January 14, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm 

The fallout from a false nuclear alarm  The Conversation, Jack L. Rozdilsky
Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, CanadaJanuary 14, 2020
   On Sunday at 7:23 a.m., residents of the Greater Toronto Area were abruptly awakened by an alert issued by Ontario’s Emergency Alert Ready System stating: “An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation.”At 8:06 a.m., the Ontario Power Generation released a statement that the alert was issued in error and that there was no danger to the public or the environment. At 9:11 a.m., another message from the Provincial Alert Ready System stated that the initial nuclear alert was “in error.”………..

Other false nuclear alerts This false alarm is not the first time that a nuclear-related alert has been issued during in error during an exercise. In January 2018, an alert was issued in Hawaii warning of an impending ballistic missile attack. Thirty-eight minutes later, the alert was rescinded as a false alarm.

In the Hawaii case, similar to what happened in Ontario on January 12, a public alert was accidentally issued during a routine internal test of the Emergency Alert System. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency released a statement that the false alert was due to human error.

Jeopardizing trust

Within hours of the false nuclear alarm, the office of Ontario’s Solicitor General released a statement of apology and said a full investigation has been launched into the error made during the routine training exercise. Those initial actions are only the first steps in attempting to repair the damage.

If we take the incident in Hawaii as a guide, the fallout was far-reaching. In the immediate term, all upcoming emergency drills and exercises were suspended. Changes were put in place, such as a two-person verification rule along with a new cancellation command system for public alerts. As the false alarm became a scandal, state-level emergency management officials resigned. Human error and poor software design were identified as root causes, and investigations suggested revamping the system, specifically in terms of oversight of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System in the United States.

The bottom line is that a false alarm for an incident at a nuclear power station erodes public safety efforts. Fortunately, the risks realized from the Ontario emergency alert were not related to actual radioactive fallout. The fallout from the false alarm is that the public’s trust in emergency alert systems was jeopardized. https://theconversation.com/the-fallout-from-a-false-nuclear-alarm-129766

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, safety | 1 Comment

U.S. Senate must reaffirm that the power to make war rests with Congress, NOT the President

January 13, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment