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Nuclear incident in Belarus: Lithuanian authorities alert citizens

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, incidents | Leave a comment

Armenia’s ticking time bomb – a decaying Soviet nuclear reactor

December 3, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Incidents at Belarus nuclear station have alarmed neighbouring Lithuania

Lithuania wary of incident at Belarus nuclear plant  https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/short_news/lithuania-weary-of-incident-at-belarus-nuclear-plant/   Benas Gerdžiūnas |   1 Dec 20LRT.lt/en  Lithuania has asked Belarus for clarification after its new nuclear plant located some 50 kilometres from the country’s capital suffered an incident just five days after launch.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko took part in the opening of the plant on 6 November, where he said the launch of the Astravyets NPP was as “ordinary” as building a metro.

“Belarus is becoming a nuclear power,” he declared.

Several voltage-measuring transformers outside of the nuclear reactor exploded during an incident on 7 November, according to sources at TUT.by, an independent media outlet in Belarus.

On Monday, the Belarusian Energy Ministry said that “a need to replace the measuring equipment arose” during testing, without providing further details.

Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) said the plant is still undergoing testing. However, “we have also received no information about the [planned] next steps to launch the plant”, VATESI told BNS in a written comment.

Lithuania has been one of the most ardent critics of the nuclear plant built by the Russian state atomic corporation Rosatom and funded by a loan from the Kremlin.

Vilnius says the plant is unsafe and was built in breach of international safety standards. Minsk denies all allegations.

In September, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland had sent a joint statement to the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), calling on Belarus to start addressing nuclear safety issues without delay.

At the same time, the Russian company Rosatom is in talks with Belarus about the construction of a second nuclear power plant and a research reactor in the country, Rosatom chief Alexander Likhachev announced on Tuesday in a video statement.

In August, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania agreed not to purchase electricity from the plant.

The Baltic states are gearing up to switch from the Russian-controlled BRELL electricity grid that also includes Belarus, and synchronise with the continental European system by 2025.

(Benas Gerdžiūnas, LRT.lt/en | Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

December 3, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment

America’s underground radioactive dump – Waste Isolation Pilot Plant facing disruption

December 3, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Why we shouldn’t be talking about nuclear waste “disposal”

All casked up with nowhere to go  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/11/29/all-casked-up-with-nowhere-to-go/ November 29, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational

Why we shouldn’t be talking about nuclear waste “disposal” By Linda Pentz Gunter, 29 Nov 20 

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. You don’t “dispose” of nuclear waste.

The ill-suited, now canceled, but never quite dead radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain was not a “disposal” site.

The radioactive mud being dredged from the sea bed at the Hinkley C nuclear site in the UK, is not going to get “disposed of” in Cardiff Grounds (a mile off the Welsh coast).

When Germany dumped radioactive waste in drums into the salt mines of Asse, it wasn’t “disposed” of.

Taking nuclear waste to Texas and New Mexico border towns and parking it there indefinitely is not “disposal”.

To talk about radioactive waste “disposal” is simply dishonest. It’s disingenuous at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

In Cardiff Bay, that radioactive waste will get “dispersed.” At Asse, the waste leaked out of the barrels and “dispersed” into water that has flooded the site.

At Yucca Mountain, were it to get a renewed green light, water will eventually carry off those radioactive particles, sending them into groundwater and drinking water downstream of the dump.

“Once you have made radioactive waste, then you are looking at long-term isolation, not disposal,” says Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. “And its cost. And if you are looking to manage the liability of cost, then don’t make it.”

That’s the easiest kind of radioactive waste to “dispose” of. The kind you haven’t made. Because, as Gunter says, “there is no alchemy for radioactive detritus.” Once we’ve made it, it’s with us pretty much forever.

Federal agencies and nuclear corporations continue to wrestle over what to do with the already tens of thousands of tons of high-level radioactive waste (at least 90,000 at last count) generated by America’s commercial nuclear power plants — all casked up with nowhere to go (and a lot of it still in the fuel pools). Because, absent alchemy, that waste is always going to be somewhere, even if we can’t see it.

Once upon a time, the general public understood this. In 1986, when the US Department of Energy was looking for a geological burial site for commercial nuclear waste, it began giving serious consideration to the “granite state” of New Hampshire.

New Hampshire towns — some of which would have been seized and razed by eminent domain to make way for the repository — rose up in opposition. A stunning 100 of them signed a resolution that not only opposed the burial, storage, and transportation of high-level nuclear waste in New Hampshire, but also its production.

A law was eventually passed in New Hampshire that forbade siting a nuclear waste repository in the state, but not banning its generation. The construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant on the New Hampshire coast progressed, and today the single unit of the two originally planned is duly generating radioactive waste for the state of New Hampshire, with still no place to go.

In fact, the law banning a repository in New Hampshire was quietly, almost covertly, overturned in the New Hampshire state legislature in 2011, a fact uncovered by State Rep. Renny Cushing while writing legislation in 2016. (Cushing is a founder of this country’s first anti-nuclear power group, the Clamshell Alliance, which vigorously opposed the construction of Seabrook.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLeYKkA2V7EA German four-part animation piece, humorously demonstrated the impossibility of disposing of radioactive waste. This is the second segment.

In a characteristically stealthy way, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ensured there will be no repeat of that New Hampshire defiance. Today, under what was once called the Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision, but is now termed the “Continued Storage of High-Level Waste”, (presumably because no one dare claim any “confidence” about finding a waste solution), an intervention against a reactor license renewal can be disallowed if it is based on contentions challenging the absence of a long-term radioactive waste solution.

This means that our aging fleet of nuclear reactors are free to generate yet more radioactive waste, some of them for another 20 or even 40 years, even though there is still no sign of land when it comes to finding a safe, long-term management plan for what to do with it.

That’s remarkable hubris this far into the nuclear game. Even if one could (very reluctantly) forgive the initial optimistic procrastination — when Fermi achieved the first chain reaction in 1942, but everyone decided the waste problem would be solved later — there is no forgiving it now, 78 years on. That’s more than ample time to have realized that continuing to make more of a lethal substance that you can never dispose of is scientifically and morally reprehensible.

We cannot dispose of radioactive waste. But we can dispose of nuclear power. We should hesitate no longer and do just that.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and edits Beyond Nuclear International.

November 30, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Architect of its nuclear programme assassinated – Iran vows retaliation

Iran vows retaliation after top nuclear scientist shot dead near Tehran  Guardian,   Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, identified by Israel as director of nuclear weapons programme, ambushed in street  Patrick Wintour and Oliver Holmes, Sat 28 Nov 2020 Iran has vowed retaliation after the architect of its nuclear programme was assassinated on a highway near Tehran, in a major escalation of tensions that risks placing the Middle East on a new war footing.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was ambushed with explosives and machine gun fire in the town of Absard, 70km (44 miles) east of Tehran. Efforts to resuscitate him in hospital failed. His bodyguard and family members were also wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Israel was probably to blame, and an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed retaliation. “We will strike as thunder at the killers of this oppressed martyr and will make them regret their action,” tweeted Hossein Dehghan.

The killing was seen inside Iran as being as grave as the assassination by US forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani in January.

Israel will face accusations that it is using the final weeks of the Trump administration to try to provoke Iran in the hope of closing off any chance of reconciliation between Tehran and the incoming US administration led by Joe Biden.

Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli Defence Force intelligence, said: “With the window of time left for Trump, such a move could lead Iran to a violent response, which would provide a pretext for a US-led attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.”……..  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/27/mohsen-fakhrizadeh-iranian-nuclear-scientist-reportedly-shot-dead-near-tehran

November 28, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Iran, Israel, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Danger to San Onofre nuclear waste, from ocean’s king tides

November 26, 2020 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – building of ventilation shaft is halted, due to Covid-19 and planning problems

WIPP: New Mexico regulators halt utility shaft project, cite COVID-19, planning problems, Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, 25 Nov 20,  Construction of a $100 million utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could be halted after the New Mexico Environment Department denied a request to extend state authorization to build the shaft, citing missed deadlines in the planning of the project and the continued spread in COVID-19 cases at the facility.

The shaft, part of an almost $300 million rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, along with a series of fans and filter buildings known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), was intended to improve airflow in the WIPP underground and allow for waste emplacement and mining to occur simultaneously along with future expansions of the nuclear waste repository……….

Spike in COVID-19 at WIPP could put workers in danger

NMED also cited a recent rise in COVID-19 cases at WIPP, as the pandemic continued to spread in record-breaking numbers across New Mexico, and the agency’s responsibility to ensure human health is not put at risk by activities under the TA, requesting a plan for COVID-19 mitigation at the facility. https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2020/11/24/wipp-utility-shaft-halted-new-mexico-cites-covid-planning-problems/6397790002/

November 26, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Security concerns delay Czech nuclear expansion

Czech nuclear expansion faces delay amid concerns of opposition, secret services,   EURACTIV.com with Reuters     25 Nov 20, A tender to decide who builds a new unit at a Czech nuclear power plant may face delays after security services and opposition parties raised concerns about the possible participation of bidders from China and Russia, officials said.

According to a document seen by Reuters, a working group of intelligence and foreign policy officials under the Interior Ministry wants conditions imposed to ensure bidders from countries that pose a security risk are disqualified.

The main Czech power utility ČEZ, which is 70% state-owned, has been planning to launch a tender before the end of the year for a 1,200 MW unit at its Dukovany power plant and to pick a winner in 2022.

The project is worth at least $7.24 billion at current prices, making it the country’s biggest investment deal so far, and includes a state commitment to buy power from the plant at profitable terms for ČEZ.

President Milos Zeman has sought closer ties with China and Russia. He has favoured their participation, and the government

and ČEZ have said no bidders should be excluded.

But Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said on Monday the tender was not yet ready, and suggested it should not be decided just 10 months before an election……… https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/czech-nuclear-expansion-faces-delay-amid-concerns-of-opposition-secret-services/

November 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, safety | Leave a comment

Concern in France over lack of expert inspection of nuclear sites

Montel News 24th Nov 2020, The lack of inspections at nuclear sites by safety experts, due to the
coronavirus pandemic, raises fears for the safety of the facilities, union
officials in the energy sector told Montel.

The Nuclear Safety Authority
(ASN) canceled all its physical inspections of nuclear power plants, except
the inspections considered essential, during the first containment in the
spring. Since then, some inspections have resumed in the field but many are
still carried out remotely.

This reduction in on-site checks is
exacerbating a situation where the workforce is already limited and
communication with workers is lacking, say some union officials.

https://www.montelnews.com/fr/story/contrles-%C3%A0-distance-font-craindre-pour-la-sret-nuclaire/1170500

November 26, 2020 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

30 more years for Wisconson’s old nuclear power station? Is this a good idea?

Wisconsin’s nuclear power plant operator seeks 30 more years, By CHRIS HUBBUCH Wisconsin State Journal, Nov 21, 2020, MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The operator of Wisconsin’s only remaining nuclear power plant wants to keep the 50-year-old plant running through 2050.

NextEra Energy has submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking to add 20 years to the licenses for the Point Beach Nuclear plant in Two Rivers, according to a document filed with state regulators…….

Hundreds of casks of nuclear waste are being stored at sites across Wisconsin and neighboring states, costing taxpayers millions of dollars as the federal government struggles to open a permanent storage facility.

Built by Wisconsin Electric Power Company, Point Beach’s reactors began commercial operation in 1970 and 1972. We Energies sold the plant in 2007 for $924 million and entered into a contract to purchase most of its output.

Under the agreement, the utility is paying $52.66 per megawatt-hour this year, about 1.8 times the average wholesale price for electricity in the Midwest, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. By 2023, the cost rises to $122.45 per megawatt hour……

Point Beach is the only one of Wisconsin’s three nuclear power plants still in operation.

Decommissioning is nearly complete at the La Crosse Boiling Water Reactor, a 50-megawatt demonstrator plant built by the federal government in 1967 and shut down in 1987. The 1,772-megawatt Kewaunee Power Station was shut down in 2013. Decommissioning is scheduled to begin in 2069, according to the NRC.

As of April, there were 50 dry casks of radioactive waste being stored at Point Beach until the federal government can develop a permanent storage plan. https://journaltimes.com/news/state-and-regional/wisconsins-nuclear-power-plant-operator-seeks-30-more-years/article_da04bd52-ca1b-5401-92a7-d860ab058602.html

November 23, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Lack of safety documents in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s handling of radioactive wastes.

November 21, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Hazardous plan for Peel Ports to take over the decommissioning of Britain’s dead nuclear submarines

November 19, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Bangladesh draws up a nuclear disaster response plan

Bangladesh approves nuclear disaster response plan, Senior Correspondent,  bdnews24.com, 16 Nov 2020  

The government has given the green light to a draft guideline on emergency responses to any nuclear or radioactive disaster.

The National Nuclear and Radioactive Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan was approved at a virtual cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.

The guideline was authorised to put safety measures in place for the Rooppur nuclear power plant, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said during a press briefing at the Secretariat.

“The International Atomic Energy Commission stipulates the availability of safety guidelines and response plans for such power plants, or else they will not allow us to run it. We have drafted it following the guideline structure from IAEA,” he said.

“The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief plays the key role in all sorts of disaster management in the country. The National Nuclear and Radioactive Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan was created in keeping with Bangladesh’s disaster management and such other plans.

The cabinet secretary pointed out that authorities actually have little idea about dealing with nuclear power mishaps and emergency responses and the guideline would provide a way forward if such situations occur. …….

https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2020/11/16/bangladesh-approves-nuclear-disaster-response-plan

November 17, 2020 Posted by | ASIA, safety | Leave a comment

Federal utility fined $900K for nuclear violations, coverup

Federal utility fined $900K for nuclear violations, coverup, Star Tribune, By TRAVIS LOLLER Associated Press, NOVEMBER 13, 2020
Federal regulators have fined the nation’s largest public utility more than $900,000 for violating procedures during the startup of a Tennessee nuclear reactor and subsequently misleading investigators. Two managers and a plant operator who worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Barr Nuclear Plant in Spring City were also issued violations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Howard Hall, director of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Nuclear Security, said the notice of violation to TVA points to “a systemic problem in management.”

“As someone who has worked in this field essentially my entire life, I would have been appalled to receive such a letter,” Hall said.

In a notice dated Nov. 6, regulators noted a “substantial safety culture issue” at Watts Bar at the time of the incident. They also found that “TVA senior management and staff failed to communicate with candor, clarity, and integrity during several interactions with the NRC during the course of the inspection and investigation.”

According to NRC documents, on Nov. 11, 2015, a shift manager at Watts Bar directed the control room to begin heating up a reactor even though the plant’s usual pressurizer system, which keeps the reactor water from turning to steam, was out of service. When trying to heat up with an alternate system, the pressurizer rapidly began to fill with water. Staff then had to “take actions outside of proper operating procedures” to bring the water level down.

The incident wasn’t recorded in the plant’s logbook and managers later misled NRC investigators about what had happened. ……… https://www.startribune.com/federal-utility-fined-900k-for-nuclear-violations-coverup/573069392/

November 16, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Legal, USA | Leave a comment