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Clyde nuclear base emergency staff to strike from tomorrow over safety fears

Clyde nuclear base emergency staff to strike from tomorrow over safety fears, Herald Scotland, By Martin Williams  @Martin1Williams, Senior News Reporter  18 Oct 21,
 EMERGENCY workers at the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons on the Clyde are set to strike over “major safety concerns” after managers slashed firefighter numbers.

Action has been previously been given the go-ahead following a ballot of workers after managers proceeded with cuts to eight posts from the specialist fire safety crew at HM Naval Base Clyde, a reduction in strength of 15 per cent, with the a union describing it as an “an accident waiting to happen”.

Unite members working for outsourcing services firm Capita Business Services will now start strike action from Tuesday in a dispute over cuts to fire and rescue crew levels, and a lack of consultation………………

Workers believe the cuts impair the abilities of the onsite fire crews to do their jobs properly, particularly, in relation to incidents that would involve wearing breathing apparatus.

Capita has previously stated that they intend to mitigate safety risks due to the cuts through an investment in new technology to reduce fire risk”.

But workers have said they are not aware of any new technology which would address ongoing safety concerns……………………………

October 19, 2021 Posted by | employment, safety, UK | Leave a comment

US nuclear submarine accident sparks safety fears in South China Sea

US nuclear submarine accident sparks safety fears in South China Sea waterway’s complex underwater terrain and shipping litter make it a challenging environment for the giant vessels

Collision has also highlighted the difficulties in safely disposing of the reactors from decommissioned subs, with no agreed guidelines, experts say.    Minnie Chan 16 Oct, 2021   

The damage to a US nuclear attack submarine which collided with a mystery object in the South China Sea earlier this month has raised concerns about their operational safety, as well as what happens to damaged and decommissioned nuclear reactors.

Defence experts have warned that nuclear submarines – among the world’s deadliest weapons – are also vulnerable in the event of an underwater accident causing a nuclear leak, regardless of whether they are general-purpose attack subs (SSN) or platforms for the launch of ballistic missiles (SSBN).

October 18, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents, oceans | Leave a comment

Orano’s nuclear reprocessing problems at La Hague

 Nuclear: the CGT denounces “a congestion” of rejects from Mox in Orano La
Hague. Due to recycling problems at the Marcoule plant, Orano La Hague has
to deal with scraps from Mox. A situation denounced by Greenpeace, but
under control according to Orano.

 La Presse de la Manche 15th Oct 2021

October 18, 2021 Posted by | France, reprocessing, safety | Leave a comment

Orano building 5km wall around its La Hague nuclear reprocessing station

View of the La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Normandy, France. The plant deals with the reprocessing of spent fuels from light water reactors and is operated by Cogema, a subsidiary of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

 Orano has started construction of a 5 km wall around its nuclear waste
reprocessing plant in La Hague (Manche), a site with the most radioactive
material in Europe, we learned Thursday from the business.

“Orano la Hague has initiated the construction of a new internal fence at the establishment
over nearly 5 km long which will encompass all the nuclear buildings,” the
site management told AFP. “The building will be masonry in the lower part
and fenced in the upper part”, specifies the company.

 Le Figaro 14th Oct 2021

October 16, 2021 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Corrosion problems cause shutdown of Orano’s nuclear reprocessing station in La Hague

Orano had to shut down one of its two nuclear waste reprocessing plants,
located in La Hague (Channel), for at least two months, following in
particular a corrosion problem, we learned Friday from the site.

“The UP3 plant was shut down at the end of September and we hope to restart at the
beginning of December,” said the management of the site, confirming
information from the daily La Manche Press. This shutdown is linked in
particular to a problem with evaporators, highly irradiating tanks, under
close surveillance since 2016 due to faster corrosion than expected.

 The Times Hub 9th Oct 2021

October 16, 2021 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Crypto currency and nuclear power – a worrying partnership

Why Crypto Mining Needs Nuclear Power, Yahoo Finance Florent Heidet, Milos Atz (both writers employed at USA’s Dept of Enegy Argonne National Laboratory) Thu, October 14, 2021
”………Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies secured by cryptography. Unlike physical money, like dollars, cryptocurrencies are not minted by national institutions. Instead, they are created through complex algorithms that take place over computer networks. While not all crypto currencies have a specific function, the most valuable ones, such as BTC and ETH, exist primarily to carry financial transactions embedded in the blockchain – the cryptographic transaction record.

……….. The incredible rise in cryptocurrency value, associated with the ease to contribute to the cryptocurrency mining process with common computer hardware, has resulted in an ever-larger number of miners joining cryptocurrency networks. Increasing the number of miners benefits the system by further decentralizing, and therefore securing, the cryptocurrency.

……… Total power consumption used by mining across the major cryptocurrencies is tens of gigawatts electrical, or GWe, based on current network size and average mining equipment power. That is about the same as the power demand of Sweden or Montana. New generations of computing hardware are more efficient and progressively reduce power consumption per hashrate, but the high profitability of mining attracts more participants, yielding a net increase of the overall power used by the network. In fact, as long as the combined costs of electricity and hardware remain lower than the value of the generated cryptocurrency, the networks and their power consumption will continue growing and will soon surpass that of most countries.

Although cryptocurrency mining requires huge amounts of energy, the process itself is not directly polluting. The natural resource requirement is limited to what is needed to manufacture computer hardware and to generate electricity for the mining operations. Cryptocurrency mining is a 24/7 process using constant power with minimal downtime. Additionally, larger mining operations can require in excess of 100 megawatts of power for facilities with the footprint of a medium-size factory. Mining operations need a highly reliable and dense power supply.

………. To guarantee a share of carbon-free electricity, cryptocurrency mining operations may seek agreements with local grid operators or electricity generators. Some larger cryptocurrency mining operations may choose to own and operate their own electricity generation facilities.

………….The power demands of the cryptocurrency mining industry create a unique opportunity for synergizing with nuclear power. Nuclear reactors harness energy from fissioning elements such as uranium
………… Engaging with the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry is advantageous for the nuclear industry,…….. the cryptocurrency industry specifically demands the unique benefits of nuclear power, making partnerships an ideal opportunity……..  Cryptocurrency network growth will only further propel energy cost increases. 
…………. Partnerships between the crypto-mining and the nuclear industries have already started to blossom. Recent reporting has showcased agreements forged between cryptocurrency mining operations and both nuclear utilities and nuclear reactor vendors. Given the synergies between cryptocurrency energy demands and nuclear power, we hope that these industries continue to engage with each other to explore mutually beneficial opportunities for growth and collaboration.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Pentagon Denies Chinese Accusation of Cover-Up in Nuclear Attack Submarine Crash

Pentagon Denies Chinese Accusation of Cover-Up in Nuclear Attack Submarine Crash USNI News, By: Heather Mongilio, October 12, 2021,  Pentagon spokesman John Kirby on Tuesday denied a Chinese accusation that the U.S. is seeking to cover up a submarine collision in the South China Sea…..

Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN-22) hit an unknown object while underwater on Oct. 2, injuring 11 sailors, USNI News previously reported.

The Navy has not yet said what Connecticut struck, and Kirby referred reporters to the Navy when asked. USNI News previously reported that it was not another vessel.

It took the Navy five days to release information on the crash, which prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian to question the details about the collision, according to a transcript of the foreign ministry’s Monday press conference.

“Such irresponsible attitude and stonewalling and cover-up practice only make the international community more suspicious of the US intention and details of the accident,” Zhao said, according to the transcript.

Zhao called on the United States to clarify the location of the accident, if there was any nuclear leakage and if the crash will affect fishery, according to the statement.

“The US side should take a responsible attitude, give a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible and make a satisfactory explanation to the international community and regional countries,” he said.

…… The submarine arrived at Naval Base Guam on Friday and is undergoing an assessment and preliminary repairs while the Navy investigates the crash, USNI News reported this week.

U.S. 7th Fleet is leading a command investigation into the crash, while Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet heads up a safety investigation, COMSUBPAC spokeswoman Cmdr. Cindy Fields previously told USNI News….

October 14, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

China demands answers on US nuclear submarine accident in South China Sea 

China demands answers on US nuclear submarine accident in South China Sea, SCMP,   Minnie Chan, 8 Oct 21,

Chinese foreign ministry blames freedom of navigation operations as it seeks details on the where and how of collision and the likely nuclear risks. Complex underwater terrain and ongoing nuclear submarine arms race increase risk of accidents in the region, analyst warns

China has demanded further explanation from the United States over a collision involving a US Navy nuclear submarine in the South China Sea last week, slamming the lack of information as “irresponsible” and expressing serious concerns about any “nuclear leak”.

“The United States should clarify more details of the occurrence, including the specific location, the intention of its navigation, what kind of object the sub had struck, whether it caused a nuclear leak that would contaminate marine environment,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday.

“It’s irresponsible and displays a lack of transparency on the part of the US to deliberately delay and conceal the details of the accident.”

  • ………  The incident with the Connecticut comes just weeks after Australia, the UK and the US announced a new security arrangement. The so-called AUKUS pact also created a rift with France, which saw a US$66 billion deal to provide Australia conventional submarines voided in favour of a deal for American-made nuclear-powered ships.
  • …………….  A witness on Thursday told an inquest in London into the mysterious sinking of a French trawler that rescuers saw a submarine in the area of the type used by the Dutch navy……………….


October 9, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents, politics international | 1 Comment

US nuclear attack submarine hits object in South China Sea, injuring crew

US nuclear attack submarine hits object in South China Sea, injuring crew,  ABC, 8 Oct 21, A nuclear-powered submarine collided with an unknown “object” while submerged in the South China Sea, United States military officials confirmed.

Key points:

  • The submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant was not damaged and is operating normally
  • It is not clear what the sub collided with, but officials say it could have been a sunken vessel 
  • An investigation will be launched into the incident   

The Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut struck the “object” on October 2 and while about a dozen sailors were hurt, none of the injuries were life-threatening, the US Navy said in a statement.

Officials said the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant was not impacted and remained fully operational. 

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition,” the statement said.

“The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed.” 

US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the incident took place in international waters in the South China Sea.

They said it was not yet clear what object the sub had struck but that it was not another submarine.

One official said it could have been a sunken vessel, a sunken container or other uncharted object…………….

In 2009, two British and French nuclear subs were damaged after colliding in the Atlantic while in 2019 14 Russian naval officers were killed in a fire on a nuclear-powered submersible near the Barents Sea. ……………..

October 9, 2021 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Scottish police alerted to ‘suspicious activity’ of Taliban ally near nuclear weapons base,  

Scottish police alerted to ‘suspicious activity’ of Taliban ally near nuclear weapons base,  

ARAB NEWS, October 08, 2021,

  • Local residents in Scotland said they saw eight men arrive at Waheed Totakhyl’s Scotland home and leave just 20 minutes later
  • He has previously expressed support for the Taliban, sold Osama bin Laden pizzas, and called for the death of US soldiers

LONDON: Residents living near a military complex holding nuclear submarines in Scotland, UK, have alerted police to suspicious activity on land rented by a supporter of the Taliban adjacent to the naval base, Sky News reported.

Waheed Totakhyl once publicly called for the death of US soldiers in Afghanistan and his brother is currently serving as a military commander for the Taliban in Kabul.

He rents a farm less than five miles away from a critical Royal Navy submarine base, which holds submarines equipped with nuclear weapons. 

Local residents said they have witnessed a number of men visiting him in recent weeks. They alerted local police to the activity, telling them that on Aug. 10 eight men arrived on Totakhyl’s farm in two vehicles and then left just 20 minutes later.

Local residents said the men claimed to be Afghans who had traveled there from London — a trip that takes around eight hours each way………..

October 9, 2021 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear security helicopter scours Boston Marathon route for radiation

Nuclear security helicopter scours Boston Marathon route for radiation

Radiation surveys part of beefed-up security around the 125th Marathon. Ars Technica, TIM DE CHANT – 10/9/202   This morning, a Department of Energy helicopter buzzed above cities and suburbs in eastern Massachusetts, scanning for radiation in advance of the 125th Boston Marathon. The sweep is part of security preparations to help first responders pinpoint possible “dirty bombs” and other terrorist activities before they claim any lives.

The flight started with a thorough scan of the starting line in the western suburb of Hopkinton before flying along the 26.2-mile route to the finish line in Boston, where the helicopter performed another comprehensive survey. The craft flew at low altitude the entire time, dipping below 100 feet on several occasions, according to FlightAware.

The twin-engine Bell 412 (tail number N412DE) is operated by the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the Department of Energy that is responsible for everything from nonproliferation to maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile. The helicopter is part of the agency’s Aerial Measuring System, which routinely performs radiological surveys before major events, including presidential inaugurations, Super Bowls, and New Year’s Eve celebrations in Las Vegas.

The NNSA will fly additional surveys in the Boston area over the next three days, including Monday, when the marathon will be run. Today’s flight is intended to develop a map of background radiation sources, which will help the helicopter and other ground-based sensors detect any unusual radiological activity on race day, including so-called “dirty bombs” that use traditional explosives to scatter radioactive material…………………

October 9, 2021 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The risks of a catastrophic spent nuclear fuel fire near the Persian Gulf.

How to reduce the risk of a catastrophic spent nuclear fuel fire near the Persian Gulf, Bulletin, By Tara BurchmoreTom SpenceAli Ahmad | October 6, 2021 
 The 2021 operational launch of two reactors at the Barakah power plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) demonstrates the growth of nuclear energy in the Middle East. Over the next two years, there will be five reactors operating in the Persian Gulf­—four reactors at Barakah and Iran’s Bushehr reactor, which has been running since 2013. If Iran and Saudi Arabia fulfill their proposed plans to build new nuclear reactors, the number will rise to at least eight reactors in the gulf by 2030.

There are many reasons for concern about the safety of nuclear facilities in the gulf. Particularly in the region where Bushehr is located, Iran is prone to seismic activity. The UAE has limited experience in operating nuclear facilities. And terrorist groups have identified energy infrastructure as a key target—and even attacked nuclear installations.

It is in this context we raise an alarm about the possibility of a severe nuclear accident in the gulf, driven by a fire in one of the spent nuclear fuel pools of the Bushehr or Barakah power plants. As we explain in detail in our recent paper in Science and Global Security, the local and possibly global economic implications of such an accident are huge.

Since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster more than a decade ago and the “near miss” catastrophe of a fire at the unit 4 spent fuel pool, higher attention has been given to the long-overlooked risks of such densely packed pools, which typically have less fortified containment than a reactor core but may contain much larger amounts of radioactivity. Frank von Hippel and his colleagues have since produced important analyses revising the risks of spent nuclear fuel fires and highlighting their human and economic costs.

Cities at risk. In our paper, we modelled what might happen if a spent nuclear fuel fire was to start at either the Barakah or Bushehr nuclear power plants, using an atmospheric modeling program to simulate how the plume of radioactive smoke from the fire would spread over the gulf region based on probable weather patterns.

Based on thousands of dispersion simulations using real historical weather data, the results show that several major cities in the gulf region could be contaminated by cesium 137 fallout if a spent fuel fire occurred at Barakah or Bushehr. The cities at the highest risk from fires at Barakah are those centered around the Gulf of Bahrain: Doha, Manama, Dammam, and al-Hofuf…………………………

Recommendations. The safest way to mitigate the risk of spent nuclear fuel fires in the Persian Gulf region would be to end the deployment of nuclear energy in the Middle East and rely instead on the region’s natural gas and renewable energy resources. This, of course, will not happen.

However, risks can be reduced by not adding new nuclear capacity beyond what is currently built. Additionally, governments could reduce risks by timely transfer of spent fuel into dry cask storage and ultimately into geological storage, limiting the dense packing of spent fuel pools. Iran has agreed to transfer Bushehr’s spent nuclear fuel to Russia and could seek to do so as soon as it has cooled sufficiently. States also should work to prevent attacks on nuclear facilities. One model could be a multilateral arrangement similar to the bilateral one reached between India and Pakistan. Finally, gulf states should bolster their emergency preparedness and management plans for nuclear accidents and incidents involving potential radiation release in the region.

October 7, 2021 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, safety | Leave a comment

Two French nuclear workers affected by contaminated water

Penly nuclear power plant near Dieppe: two employees affected by
contaminated water. Two EDF employees at the Penly nuclear power plant were
affected by contaminated water, on the night from Friday to Saturday,
October 2, 2021. 2nd Oct 2021

October 4, 2021 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Hungary’s nuclear watchdog withholds permits for two new reactors

Hungary watchdog withholds nuclear expansion permits, seeks further info,   BUDAPEST, Oct 1 (Reuters)
– Hungary’s nuclear watchdog withheld permits for two new reactors at the Paks nuclear power plant pending additional information from the Russia-led project’s managers, further hampering a planned expansion beset by years of delays………………………

Hungary has amended its nuclear safety protocols to allow some work to begin before the entire expansion – initially planned to start in 2018 and with the first bloc set for completion in 2025 – got the regulatory nod.

It was unclear how much more the latest setback could delay construction of a project still in its preliminary stages and on which Russia this year agreed to delay payments for five years.

October 2, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Australia’s new nuclear submarines will have dangerous Highly Enriched Uranium, not the Low Enriched Uranium of the French ones.

The United States and UK operate naval reactors in their submarines that are fueled with 93.5 percent enriched uranium (civilian power plants are typically fueled with three to five percent uranium-235) in quantities sufficient to last for the lifetime of their ships (33 years for attack submarines).Having resisted domestic efforts to minimize the use of HEU and convert their naval reactors to LEU fuel, the United States and UK have no alternative fuel to offer. France, on the other hand, now runs naval reactors fueled with LEU. The new Suffren-class submarine, from which the French conventional submarine offered to Australia was derived, even runs on fuel enriched below 6 percent.

Until now, it was the US commitment to nonproliferation that relentlessly crushed or greatly limited these aspirations toward nuclear-powered submarine technology. With the new AUKUS decision, we can now expect the proliferation of very sensitive military nuclear technology in the coming years, with literally tons of new nuclear materials under loose or no international safeguards.

It is difficult to understand the internal policy process that led the Democratic Biden administration to the AUKUS submarine announcement.  It seems that just like in the old Cold War, arms racing and the search for short-term strategic advantage is now bipartisan.

The new Australia, UK, and US nuclear submarine announcement: a terrible decision for the nonproliferation regime

By Sébastien Philippe | September 17, 2021 On September 15, US President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched a new major strategic partnership to meet the “imperative of ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific over the long term.” Named AUKUS, the partnership was announced together with a bombshell decision: The United States and UK will transfer naval nuclear-propulsion technology to Australia. Such a decision is a fundamental policy reversal for the United States, which has in the past spared no effort to thwart the transfer of naval reactor technology by other countries, except for its World War II partner, the United Kingdom.  Even France—whose “contract of the century” to sell 12 conventional submarines to Australia was shot down by PM Morrison during the AUKUS announcement—had been repeatedly refused US naval reactor technology during the Cold War. If not reversed one way or another, the AUKUS decision could have major implications for the nonproliferation regime.

In the 1980s, the United States prevented France and the UK from selling nuclear attack submarines to Canada. The main argument centered on the danger of nuclear proliferation associated with the naval nuclear fuel cycle. Indeed, the nonproliferation treaty has a well-known loophole: non-nuclear weapon states can remove fissile materials from international control for use in non-weapon military applications, specifically to fuel nuclear submarine reactors. These reactors require a significant amount of uranium to operate. Moreover, to make them as compact as possible, most countries operate their naval reactors with nuclear-weapon-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel.

With tons of weapons-grade uranium out of international safeguards, what could go wrong?

The United States, UK, and Australia are giving themselves 18 months to hammer out the details of the arrangement. This will include figuring out what type of submarine, reactors, and uranium fuel will be required. Similarly, questions about where to base the submarines, what new infrastructure will be needed, how maintenance will be conducted, how nuclear fuel will be handled, and how crews will be trained—among many others—will need to be answered.

Australia has no civilian nuclear power infrastructure beyond a 20 megawatt-thermal research reactor and faces a rough nuclear learning curve. It will need to strengthen its nuclear safety authority so it has the capability to conduct, review, and validate safety assessments for naval reactors that are complex and difficult to commission. 

How long this new nuclear endeavor will take and how much it will cost are anyone’s guesses. But the cancelled $90 billion (Australian) “contract of the century” with France for conventionally powered attack submarines will most likely feel like a cheap bargain in retrospect. Beyond these technical details, the AUKUS partnership will also have to bend over backwards to fulfill prior international nonproliferation commitments and prevent the new precedent created by the Australian deal from proliferating out of control around the world.

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September 19, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety, Uranium | Leave a comment