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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Gas may have ruptured bag at Japan’s nuclear facility

Gas may have ruptured bag at nuclear facility https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170721_01/NHK has learned the operator of a nuclear research facility northeast of Tokyo believes a bag containing nuclear fuel materials ruptured last month due to a buildup of gas in it.
The rupture occurred on June 6th at the facility run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Ibaraki Prefecture. Five workers were exposed to plutonium and other radioactive materials.

In the bag was a plastic container that stored nuclear fuel materials. The materials were held together by an adhesive agent to make it easier to use in experiments.

A report compiled by the agency says gas is believed to have been generated when radioactive rays disintegrated the adhesive agent, the polyethylene container, and the molecules of water in the bag.

The agency plans to submit a report to the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as Friday. It will also conduct further analyses to determine the amount of the adhesive agent and the condition of the nuclear fuel materials when they were inside the container.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

America’s NRC to examine safety vulnerabilities, following fire and explosion at Turkey Point nuclear station

Turkey Point: Fire and Explosion at the Nuclear Plant, UCS , DAVE LOCHBAUM, DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR SAFETY PROJECT | JULY 11, 2017The Florida Power & Light Company’s Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station about 20 miles south of Miami has two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors that began operating in the early 1970s. Built next to two fossil-fired generating units, Units 3 and 4 each add about 875 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity to the power grid.

Both reactors hummed along at full power on the morning of Saturday, March 18, 2017, when problems arose.

The Event

At 11:07 am, a high energy arc flash (HEAF) in Cubicle 3AA06 of safety-related Bus 3A ignited a fire and caused an explosion. The explosion inside the small concrete-wall room (called Switchgear Room 3A) injured a worker and blew open Fire Door D070-3 into the adjacent room housing the safety-related Bus 3B (called Switchgear Room 3B.)

A second later, the Unit 3 reactor automatically tripped when Reactor Coolant Pump 3A stopped running. This motor-driven pump received its electrical power from Bus 3A. The HEAF event damaged Bus 3A, causing the reactor coolant pump to trip on under-voltage (i.e., less than the desired voltage of 4,160 volts.) The pump’s trip triggered the insertion of all control rods into the reactor core, terminating the nuclear chain reaction.

Another second later and Reactor Coolant Pumps 3B and 3C also stopped running. These motor-driven pumps received electricity from Bus 3B. The HEAF event should have been isolated to the Switchgear Room 3A, but the force of the explosion blew open the connecting fire door, allowing Bus 3B to also be affected. Reactor Coolant Pumps 3B and 3C tripped on under-frequency (i.e., alternating current electricity at too much less than the desired 60 cycles per second). Each Turkey Point unit has three Reactor Coolant Pumps that force the flow of water through the reactor core, out the reactor vessel to the steam generators where heat gets transferred to a secondary loop of water, and then back to the reactor vessel. With all three pumps turned off, the reactor core would be cooled by natural circulation. Natural circulation can remove small amounts of heat, but not larger amounts; hence, the reactor automatically shuts down when even one of its three Reactor Coolant Pumps is not running.

At shortly before 11:09 am, the operators in the control room received word about a fire in Switchgear Room 3A and the injured worker. The operators dispatched the plant’s fire brigade to the area. At 11:19 am, the operators declared an emergency due to a “Fire or Explosion Affecting the Operability of Plant Systems Required to Establish or Maintain Safe Shutdown.”

At 11:30 am, the fire brigade reported to the control room operators that there was no fire in either Switchgear Room 3A or 3B.

Complication #1…….

Complication #2…… Complication #3……. Complication #4…..

…….The NRC needs to understand HEAF factors as fully as practical before it can determine if additional measures are needed to manage the risk. The NRC is also collecting information about potential HEAF vulnerabilities. Collectively, these efforts should enable the NRC to identify any nuclear safety problems posed by HEAF events and to implement a triaged plan that resolves the biggest vulnerabilities sooner rather than later. http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/turkey-point-fire-and-explosion-at-the-nuclear-plant

July 14, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Hanford nuclear station has a widlfire, now 85 percent contained

Wildfire partly on Hanford nuclear site is 85 percent contained http://komonews.com/news/local/wildfire-partly-on-hanford-nuclear-site-is-85-percent-contained by Associated Press, 6 July 17RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) – A wildfire burning in part on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is 85 percent contained and does not threaten any of the site’s nuclear facilities.

The grass and brush fire covers about 35.9 square miles in Yakima and Benton counties.

There are no evacuations or closures related to the fire, which started last Sunday.

Fire officials say a drone aircraft flew over the fire area on Tuesday, temporarily grounding aircraft assigned to fighting the fire.

July 7, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Fire on board a Russian floating nuclear plant near St Petesburg

Fire breaks out on floating nuclear plant at Russia shipyard https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/fire-breaks-out-on-floating-nuclear-plant-at-russia-shipyard/2017/07/04/a5d82a7e-60    July 4 MOSCOW — Russia’s emergency services ministry says a fire broke out on the floating nuclear power plant being built at a shipyard near the center of St. Petersburg, but was extinguished before anyone was injured.

Construction of the floating plant, which is to be deployed in Russia’s Far East, has caused concern among environmentalists. Rashid Alimov of Greenpeace’s Russian branch said Tuesday’s fire showed that plans for loading nuclear fuel into the plant’s reactors are “irresponsible.”

The shipyard is about two kilometers (1.25 miles) downriver from some of St. Petersburg’s most renowned tourist sites, including the State Hermitage Museum.

The ministry statement says the fire was caused by a short circuit in a storage battery.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Cause of Japan’s Oarai research center nuclear accident is thought to be decomposing resin

Rotten resin gas ‘most likely’ cause of Ibaraki nuclear accident http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201707040020.html  July 4, 2017 The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) now considers the most likely cause of last month’s nuclear contamination accident at its Oarai research center to be gas produced by decomposing resin containing plutonium and other radioactive substances.

The June 6 incident at the facility in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, exposed five workers to plutonium when they handled 26-year-old radioactive waste stored there.

Resin was used to stick the radioactive waste on an aluminum sheet and stored in a tightly sealed polyethylene container, which was wrapped in plastic bags and placed in a stainless steel container.

The accident occurred when the workers opened the steel container and were exposed to radioactive particles that seeped out of the polyethylene container in gas that ruptured the plastic coverings and escaped into the room they were in.

“Decomposition of resin by a radioactive substance is considered as the most likely cause of the gas’s formation,” said Toshio Kodama, JAEA president, at a July 3 meeting with the science and technology ministry’s special investigation team that was set up to determine the cause of the accident.

JAEA found that the polyethylene container inside the plastic bags contained powdered plutonium set in pieces of epoxy resin.

The agency is looking at other possibilities, but now considers decomposition of the resin as the most likely cause.

On the same day, the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba announced that three of the five workers have been admitted to its facility for the third time to receive medication via an intravenous drip that speeds the excretion of radioactive substances from their bodies as urine.

The health of the five workers has not changed, according to NIRS.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Nuclear catastrophe narrowly avoided at Los Alamos National Laboratory

A near-disaster at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory takes a hidden toll on America’s arsenal , Science Repeated safety lapses hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory’s work on the cores of U.S. nuclear warheads By The Center for Public IntegrityPatrick Malone Jun. 29, 2017 Technicians at the government’s Los Alamos National Laboratory settled on what seemed like a surefire way to win praise from their bosses in August 2011: In a hi-tech testing and manufacturing building pivotal to sustaining America’s nuclear arsenal, they gathered eight rods painstakingly crafted out of plutonium, and positioned them side-by-side on a table to photograph how nice they looked.

At many jobs, this would be innocent bragging. But plutonium is the unstable, radioactive, man-made fuel of a nuclear explosion, and it isn’t amenable to showboating. When too much is put in one place, it becomes “critical” and begins to fission uncontrollably, spontaneously sparking a nuclear chain reaction, which releases energy and generates a deadly burst of radiation.

The resulting blue glow — known as Cherenkov radiation — has accidentally and abruptly flashed at least 60 times since the dawn of the nuclear age, signaling an instantaneous nuclear charge and causing a total of 21 agonizing deaths. So keeping bits of plutonium far apart is one of the bedrock rules that those working on the nuclear arsenal are supposed to follow to prevent workplace accidents. It’s Physics 101 for nuclear scientists, but has sometimes been ignored at Los Alamos.

As luck had it that August day, a supervisor returned from her lunch break, noticed the dangerous configuration, and ordered a technician to move the rods apart. But in so doing, she violated safety rules calling for a swift evacuation of all personnel in “criticality” events, because bodies — and even hands — can reflect and slow the neutrons emitted by plutonium, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear chain reaction. A more senior lab official instead improperly decided that others in the room should keep working, according to a witness and an Energy Department report describing the incident.

Catastrophe was avoided and no announcement was made at the time about the near-miss — but officials internally described what happened as the most dangerous nuclear-related incident at that facility in years. It then set in motion a calamity of a different sort: Virtually all of the Los Alamos engineers tasked with keeping workers safe from criticality incidents decided to quit, having become frustrated by the sloppy work demonstrated by the 2011 event and what they considered the lab management’s callousness about nuclear risks and its desire to put its own profits above safety.

When this exodus was in turn noticed in Washington, officials there concluded the privately-run lab was not adequately protecting its workers from a radiation disaster. In 2013, they worked with the lab director to shut down its plutonium handling operations so the workforce could be retrained to meet modern safety standards.

Those efforts never fully succeeded, however, and so what was anticipated as a brief work stoppage has turned into a nearly four-year shutdown of portions of the huge laboratory building where the plutonium work is located, known as PF-4.

Officials privately say that the closure in turn undermined the nation’s ability to fabricate the cores of new nuclear weapons and obstructed key scientific examinations of existing weapons to ensure they still work. The exact cost to taxpayers of idling the facility is unclear, but an internal Los Alamos report estimated in 2013 that shutting down the lab where such work is conducted costs the government as much as $1.36 million a day in lost productivity.

And most remarkably, Los Alamos’s managers still have not figured out a way to fully meet the most elemental nuclear safety standards. ……

these safety challenges aren’t confined to Los Alamos. The Center’s probe revealed a frightening series of glaring worker safety risks, previously unpublicized accidents, and dangerously lax management practices. The investigation further revealed that the penalties imposed by the government on the private firms that make America’s nuclear weapons were typically just pinpricks, and that instead the firms annually were awarded large profits in the same years that major safety lapses occurred. Some were awarded new contracts despite repeated, avoidable accidents, including some that exposed workers to radiation…….

George Anastas, a past president of the Health Physics Society who analyzed dozens of internal government reports about criticality problems at Los Alamos for the Center, said he wonders if “the work at Los Alamos [can] be done somewhere else? Because it appears the safety culture, the safety leadership, has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

Anastas said the reports, spanning more than a decade, describe “a series of accidents waiting to happen.” The lab, he said, is “dodging so many bullets that it’s scary as hell.”http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/near-disaster-federal-nuclear-weapons-laboratory-takes-hidden-toll-america-s-arsenal

June 30, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Cyber attack knocks out the radiation monitoring system of Chernobyl nuclear plant

Chernobyl nuclear plant’s radiation monitoring hit by cyber attack: Officials http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2017/jun/28/chernobyl-nuclear-plants-radiation-monitoring-hit-by-cyber-attack-officials-1621663.html  By AFP  28th June 2017 UKRAINE: The radiation monitoring system at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear site has been taken offline after a massive cyber attack, forcing employees to use hand-held counters to measure levels, officials said on Tuesday.

“Due to the cyber attack, the website of the Chernobyl nuclear plant is not working,” said Ukraine’s exclusion zone agency which oversees the Soviet plant that exploded in 1986 and is now surrounded by an uninhabited contaminated zone.

“Due to the temporary shutdown of the Windows system, the radiation monitoring of the industrial area is being done manually,” the agency said on its website.

“That means that our measurers go out with hand-held meters on the Chernobyl plant like it was decades ago,” a spokeswoman for the agency, Olena Kovalchuk, told AFP.

The plant’s destroyed reactor was enclosed in a huge metal structure last year in a bid to stop radiation leaks at the site, where more than 200 tonnes of uranium remain.

 Ukraine, along with Russia and companies across Europe, was hit on Tuesday in a wave of cyberattacks which IT experts identified as a modified version of the Petya ransomware that struck last year.

Ukraine’s exclusion zone agency said that Chernobyl’s “technological systems are working as usual” and that radiation control is “without delays”.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | 2 Comments

Hackers trading passwords used by managers at British nuclear power plants

Russian hackers trade passwords used by managers at British nuclear power plants – including ‘Rad1at10n’ and ‘Nuclear1’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4635420/Russian-hackers-trade-passwords-UK-nuclear-plant-staff.html, 

  • The passwords of two senior EDF nuclear plant managers were traded online
  • French-owned firm EDF Energy operates all 15 of Britain’s nuclear reactors 
  • Comes as thousands of government officials – including MPs – were hacked 

The passwords – ‘Nuclear1’ and ‘Radiat10n’ – are thought to have been used on the business site LinkedIn.

They were being traded by hackers who had easily guessed the letters and numbers.

EDF, which operates Britain’s 15 nuclear reactors, did not comment about the breach.

But the French-owned firm did say, according to The Times, that it is ‘continually reviewing its defences and preparedness in this area’.

The lists on which the passwords appeared were traded privately before being made public.

It comes as around 1,000 British MPs and parliamentary staff, 7,000 police employees and more than 1,000 Foreign Office officials were all understood to have had confidential information traded online without their knowledge.Even some of the prime minister’s closest government ministers, including education secretary, Justine Greening, and business secretary, Greg Clark, are thought to have been affected by the hack.

The huge database was being sold for just £2, with the low price justified by the fact it had already spent months being passed around. Its original price is likely to have been much higher.

Hackers can easily guess many passwords, especially those which are merely a word associated with a certain person but with ‘3’ instead of ‘E’ or ‘1’ instead of ‘I’.

There have been warnings that the hacked passwords could be used to blackmail workers in sensitive jobs, or even to break into government servers.

June 27, 2017 Posted by | incidents, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | 2 Comments

Mystery drone flew over French nuclear power plant

Le Parisien  19th June 2017 A drone flew over a nuclear power plant located in the commune of Avoine, a
few kilometers from Chinon, Sunday evening in the early evening. An
investigation is underway. The Chinon nuclear power plant was overflown
by a drone on Sunday night. At around 8:20 pm, a small flying object was
observed by a station employee. Thirty minutes later, the specialized
gendarmes go to the scene, view the video surveillance images and confirm
the employee’s testimony. A research device was launched by the soldier. No
results so far. A complaint must be filed by the plant manager. The inquiry
is conducted by the Chinon Research Brigade.   http://www.leparisien.fr/faits-divers/indre-et-loire-un-drone-survole-la-centrale-nucleaire-de-chinon-19-06-2017-7066137.php

June 21, 2017 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Fire in roof of French nuclear reactor

Reuters 19th June 2017, A fire that broke out on the roof of a nuclear reactor at the Bugey plant
in central-eastern France has been extinguished, operator EDF said on
Monday, citing fire brigade officials. The fire began at the plant’s
nuclear reactor number 5, some 35 kilometers from the city of Lyon, nuclear
regulator ASN said earlier in a statement. EDF said in a separate statement
there were no injuries or fatalities, while safety body IRSN said on
Twitter that sensors had not picked up any increase in radiation.  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-power-nuclearpower-idUSKBN19A2AH

June 21, 2017 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant was kept operating although backup equipment had exploded

Palo Verde nuclear plant still ran after backup equipment exploded, Ryan Randazzo , The Republic | azcentral.com   June 13, 2017 For 57 days last year and early this year, one of the nuclear reactors at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix kept running after an explosion knocked a backup generator out of service.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear station – smoke detected at crippled Unit 3

Smoke detected at crippled Chernobyl power plant – Ukraine nuclear watchdog, Rt.com  13 Jun, 2017 Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory body reported smoke at one of the rooms at Unit 3 in Chernobyl, adding that it was briefly “liquidated” by the state emergency personnel and the radiological situation at the site has not changed following the incident.
“At 15:57 pm we’ve received information from Chernobyl nuclear power plant about smoke in room 509 of Power Unit Three. At 16:00 the smoke was liquidated by the State Emergency Service staff,” a statement issued by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine reads.

“The radiological situation in the third power unit and the station’s territory has not changed,” it added.

No further details were immediately available……..https://www.rt.com/news/392114-smoke-chernobyl-nuclear-plant/

June 14, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Many new cracks found in Belgian nuclear reactors

Dozens of new cracks discovered at Belgian nuclear reactors  https://www.rt.com/news/391826-belgium-nuclear-reactor-cracks/ 11 Jun, 2017 The latest ultrasonic inspections have detected a substantial number of new micro cracks in nuclear reactors at the Tihange and Doel power plants in Belgium since the last study conducted three years ago, Belgian and German media report.

At least 70 additional cracks were uncovered at the Tihange 2 nuclear reactor during an ultrasonic inspection in April of this year, Belga news agency reports. Some 300 new flaws have also allegedly been discovered at the Doel 3 reactor tank during a check last November, according to tagesschau.de.

Belgian Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, confirmed the micro fissures at Tihange 2 following a parliamentary inquiry posed by Green Group leader Jean-Marc Nollet, DW reports. The reported new cracks at Doel 3 have not yet been confirmed.

The cracks do not pose any danger to operations at the nuclear plants, says operator Engie-Electrabel, which carried out the inspections under instructions from the Belgian Atomic Regulatory Authority (FANC).

The operator said the new flaws were discovered due to a “different positioning of the ultrasound device.” Engie-Electrabel maintains that as long as cracks do not expand, they do not pose a danger to the reactor’s operations.

Branding Engie-Electrabel “irresponsible,” environmentalist group, Nucléaire Stop, has criticized the operator for still running Tihange 2 reactor despite a 2.22 percent increase in faults.

In February 2015, FANC said 3,149 cracks had been found at Tihange, while 13,047 were discovered at Doel. The operator must now submit additional analyzes of the situation by September.

Tihange lies only 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) from the German border, while Doel is 150 kilometers away, near Antwerp. Germans living in the area close to this border have been exerting pressure on the government to force Belgium to shut down the aging reactors.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, incidents | Leave a comment

Radiological and nuclear incidents – the IAEA database

IAEA-database of nuclear and radiological incidents http://www.laka.org/docu/ines/  Here you find the full list of nuclear and radiation incidents which are reported since 1990 by national nuclear regulatory agencies to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The list gives an impression of the spread, diversity and frequency of incidents and accidents with nuclear power plants, reprocessing plants, fuel enrichment plants, nuclear laboratories, irradiation facilities and with radioactive transports. It is not a complete list of all nuclear incidents; different national regulators have different regimes as to which incidents to report to the IAEA and which not.

The Vienna-based IAEA only releases reports from the previous twelve months to the public. After twelve months, reports are hidden from the IAEA-website. This makes it impossible for neighbors, non-governmental organizations and journalists to monitor the occurrence of nuclear incidents throughout the years. The risks of a certain nuclear power station can only be assessed by the frequency and the gravity of incidents occurring throughout the years. By releasing the full IAEA-list with all reported incidents from 1990, Laka, an Amsterdam based research group on nuclear energy, makes this safety-relevant accessible for the public.

To provide overview of incidents and accidents, Laka also put all reports also in an on-line map.

To get a notice of a incident report as its added, follow @ines_events on Twitter or through the RSS-feed (only nuclear power stations)

June 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, incidents | Leave a comment

False nuclear emergency alert scares New Jersey area

‘Coding error’ caused false nuclear alert to reach public, BY BILL GALLO JR. bgallo@njadvancemedia.comFor NJ.com 25 May 17 LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP.— Authorities say a “coding error” is to blame for an inaccurate emergency alert broadcast Tuesday night that said there was a problem at one of Salem County’s nuclear power plants.

The alert was sent out during a regularly scheduled drill to test the readiness of emergency officials in case of an actual emergency at PSEG Nuclear’s Artificial Island generating complex in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

“At 8:45 p.m., a training message was created in order to test an electronic communications system,” New Jersey State Police said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

“The message was intended for a small group of emergency management personnel who were participating in the exercise. As a result of a coding error, the message was publicly broadcast. The coding error has since been identified and corrected.”…….http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2017/05/coding_error_caused_false_nuclear_alert_to_reach_p.html

May 26, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment