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A creeping catastrophe: the world’s nuclear reactors are getting dangerously old.

March 31, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Pandemic plan for Nuclear Power Plant could make employees isolate at the reactor

Nuclear plant could ‘sequester’ employees to live on-site under pandemic plan By Brad Devereaux | Mar 20, COVERT, MI — The company that owns Palisades nuclear plant has a private pandemic plan that includes a contingency to sequester employees live at the site temporarily, though that scenario is unlikely, a company spokeswoman said……

  Entergy owns the nuclear plant situated on the Lake Michigan shoreline about 7 miles south of South Haven…..

Sequester means employees would reside on site, Gent said. The company declined to release its full plans to MLive because they contain business-sensitive information, she said….

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will require plants to shut down if they cannot appropriately staff their facilities, according to the government agency’s response to COVID-19.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which inspects to ensure safety at plants across the country, said resident inspectors are ready to respond immediately should there be developing safety issues amid the coronavirus outbreak. Resident inspectors will make regular visits to operating nuclear power reactor sites and will remotely monitor plant data systems, meetings and other information. Back-up inspectors are available from regional offices or headquarters should they be necessary to maintain oversight, the NRC said…..

The NRC is considering what kind of flexibility it may be able to offer nuclear plants, if the outbreak continues and staff at the plant were to be “highly impacted,” Mitlyng said on March 27. Any changes made would have to allow plants to operate safely, she said. …..

In 2017, Entergy announced that it planned to close Palisades in the spring of 2022.

In Aug. 2018, Entergy announced it had agreed to sell the subsidiaries that own Palisades and the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, after their shutdowns and reactor defuelings, to a Holtec International subsidiary for prompt decommissioning.

The sales include the transfer of the licenses, spent fuel, and Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts as well as the site of the decommissioned Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant near Charlevoix, Michigan, where only the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) remains. The transactions are subject to closing conditions, including approvals from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Call to suspend all contractor work at Hinkley new nuclear site, because of Covid19

NFLA 26th March 2020, The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) calls today for the suspension of all work by contractors of EDF Energy at the Hinkley Point C proposed new nuclear reactor site, due to the concerns of an infection spread from the public health emergency sparked by the covid-19 outbreak.
Earlier this week, the UK Government called on the general population to observe social distancing rules amidst a tight ‘lockdown’ of all but essential services. This has led to millions of people now working from home and
sadly considerable amounts of people losing their employment – though the
government is seeking to provide most of them with 80% of their current

March 28, 2020 Posted by | health, safety | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry’s 2007 NEI Pandemic Licensing Plan still accepted, but not really safe

March 28, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Coronavirus brings a big problem for nuclear reactors’ scheduled outages: the industry demands special exemptions

Covid 19 threatens outages scheduled at 97% of U.S. nuclear plants in 2020

by Sonal Patel, powermag­.com, 27 Mar 20

Challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. nuclear industry has asked the Trump administration to ensure nuclear workers, suppliers, and vendors will have access to nuclear plants and personal protective equipment (PPE) during the 2020 spring and fall refueling outage seasons and beyond. All but two of the nation’s nuclear plants had scheduled planned outages this year, work that the generators consider crucial to keep the lights on.

In a March 20 letter to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) President and CEO Maria Korsnick noted nuclear reactors have a “unique requirement” to load a fresh batch of fuel once every 18 to 24 months. The event necessitates a shut down for two to four weeks during which intense work occurs, including critical maintenance.

Each plant typically brings in several hundred specialized workers for this work over a typical period of 30-60 days, which includes activities in advance of and following the outage. These workers typically stay in hotels or board with local families, and eat in restaurants,” Korsnick wrote. In the course of performing outages and in routine operations, nuclear plant workers also use PPE and supplies for radiological protection. As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, the industry will also require medical PPE and supplies to minimize its spread, she said.  Continue reading

March 28, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Pandemic brings a danger that is unique to the nuclear industry

Coronovirus pandemic could cripple the nuclear industry, Online Opinion, By Noel Wauchope Thursday, 26 March 2020        Nuclear power facilities have this one problem that is unique to the nuclear industry, and that is, the need for exceptional security. No other industry has these risks of radioactive accident and special vulnerability to terrorism. The IAEA defines nuclear security as:
The prevention and detection of and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive substances or their associated facilities.
Nuclear power facilities have this one problem that is unique to the nuclear industry, and that is, the need for exceptional security. No other industry has these risks of radioactive accident and special vulnerability to terrorism. The IAEA defines nuclear security as:

According to Mycle Schneider, in the World Nuclear Status Report , reactor safety depends above all on a:

…’culture of security’, including the quality of maintenance and training, the competence of the operator and the workforce, and the rigour of regulatory oversight. So a better-designed, newer reactor is not always a safer one.

Experts say that the

largest single internal factor determining the safety of a nuclear plant is the culture of security among regulators, operators and the workforce – and creating such a culture is not easy.

This security risk brings with it, the need for a very high level of secrecy……….

There was already a shortage of skilled nuclear workers, even before COVID19 hit the world. The most recent Global Energy Talent Index (GETI) reports “an acute need for talent” in the nuclear sector. Nuclear professionals are an aging group, with a “vast wave of imminent retirements.” The onslaught of the pandemic could mean some shortages of well-informed, capable professionals working at nuclear reactors, and at other nuclear facilities, such as waste management and transport. And there’s that even more secretive area, nuclear weapons production and management.

Of course, there’s that whole other workforce – the nuclear security officers, whose job is just as critical as that of the physicists and engineers. There’s quite a history of anti- nuclear activists breaking into nuclear facilities in order to demonstrate their vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

The nuclear lobby is of course, fighting to win hearts and minds, with some persuasive propaganda. Their theme is the value of nuclear research reactors in industry and health, and especially in the detection of viruses. And they do have a point. Still radionuclides are being produced by non-nuclear means. The role of small nuclear research reactors is increasingly looking like the fig leaf on an unsustainable and super-expensive nuclear power industry.

In the meantime, as trade and industry slow down, with the global march of this pandemic, the nuclear industry is already suffering a set-back. The loss of well-informed staff, whether in the professional area, or at lower levels in the workforce hierarchy, poses a special problem for this industry, with its secretive culture. Nuclear power has a unique safety requirement, meaning that its reactors may need to be shut down, or at least, have their operations cut back.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear security must not be forgotten, even in times of pandemic

Eurasian Review 24th March 2020, With the current uncertainty generated by the new Coronavirus, it is a good time to spare another thought for the dangers of nuclear security that too can emerge quickly and leave a widely destructive trail.

The subject of nuclear terrorism has silently faded out of public sight and political attention ever since the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process ended in 2016. Of course, institutions like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Interpol, and some arms of the UN have continued to implement action plans that were drawn when the NSS process wound up.

But, over the past four years, there has not been much public scrutiny of the implementation of measures related to the many dimensions of nuclear security. This is too important an issue to let out of sight, and any untoward incident that would qualify as an act of nuclear terrorism would yet again have an impact of the kind that 9/11 or COVID-19 have wrought on countries.

March 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Hinkley nuclear construction work continues, while rest of UK is in lockdown

Dundee Courier 24th March 2020, Opponents of the Hinkley Point C project criticised the decision to carry on and called on the Government to tell them to stop. “This is putting lives at risk right across Somerset and the whole of the country,” said Stop Hinkley campaign spokeswoman Katy Attwater. “Why hasn’t the Prime Minister ordered them to stay at home – is he just pandering to the nuclear lobby? “While the rest of the country is in lockdown, EDF fails to acknowledge that if someone has developed a fever, they have been incubating and spreading the virus for days beforehand.
“Monitoring for fever is leaving it too late. Who is advising them on best practice? “EDF is irresponsible with its decisions on climate change, marine protection, archaeological heritage, and future safety of the people in Somerset. “Now it is failing to address the Covid-19 emergency adequately. They need to stop work at Hinkley Point C now to protect workers and local  people.”

March 26, 2020 Posted by | health, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Moscow preparing highway though nuclear waste site, despite protests

March 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Tokyo Olympic Games’ costly chaos: they can’t be held in 2020

March 24, 2020 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Sellafield nuclear facility cuts back drastically on staff working onsite

In Cumbria 22nd March 2020, Sellafield is telling the vast majority of its workers to stay away from its main site and satellite offices and to work from home. Mark Neate,
director of environment, safety and security with Sellafield Ltd, has told
employees: “We will minimise attendance at all of our sites and wherever
possible everyone should continue (or start) working from home.

March 24, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Coronavirus means staff shortages at North Carolina nuclear power stations

March 24, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

No place for atomic power amidst climate chaos and pandemics

Nuclear lessons from the corona virus March 22, 2020 by beyondnuclearinternational No place for atomic power amidst climate chaos and pandemics Beyond Nuclear  By Linda Pentz Gunter

There is nothing like being shut in your own home, alone with your human and animal nearest-and-dearests, to focus the mind on the crises that now swirl outside.

And it is “crises” in the plural, because while all the focus is of course on the corona virus, there is one giant crisis steamrollering toward us that will wreak orders of magnitude more devastation, but somehow does not merit the same kind of emergency action. And that, of course, is climate change.

Reflecting on the corona virus pandemic from my peaceful office eyrie, with no traffic rolling past my windows and only the now audible city birdsong to distract me, it is clear how we got climate change. It is exactly the same mentality that brought us the covid crisis. Recognize a problem; assume it might just right itself; then assume it might not get as bad as predicted; then realize it’s pretty bad but do too little to stop it; then confront a crisis now impossible to adequately mitigate.

Denial seems to be one of the greatest of human achievements. It’s also why we have nuclear power. It will be too cheap to meter. An accident will never happen. We will solve the radioactive waste problem later.

With the climate crisis upon us, it should be patently obvious that building new nuclear power plants anywhere is not an intelligent plan. Sea level rise is a certainty, and fires, flooding, storm surges, and earthquakes are likely to increase both in frequency and force. Building power plants that contain an inventory of long-lived lethally radioactive fuel in such an environment is insane. And then to build them on shorelines, as is currently happening at Hinkley, and is threatened for similar settings at Sizewell and possibly Wylfa — all of them in the UK— is irresponsible in the extreme.

The covid-19 crisis almost certainly won’t be the last such Biblical-style plague to strike us. If we fail to learn our lesson this time around, we will be equally unprepared and again forced to quarantine ourselves and call workforces home. But while wind turbines will keep spinning and solar arrays will continue to collect sunlight without any help from us, workers cannot leave a nuclear power plant untended. Knowing this, why build an installation that cannot be safely abandoned?

The answer, of course, is money. But not the industry’s money. Ours. We are the ones who will pay to keep nuclear plants running, and to build new ones……….

The French government is on record as saying that without Hinkley and Sizewell, the French nuclear brand will be finished. It sees the UK projects as an essential redemptive step, given the EPR, its supposed flagship, has so far been a financial and technical shipwreck.

As the Financial Times pointed out in May 2018, “Avoiding delays in the UK will be crucial if EDF is to persuade international buyers — and its own shareholders, not least the French government — that the EPR’s teething problems are over.” ……..

Maybe all of us, becalmed and decelerated, will start to come to our senses. We may see climate changes for the better as we stop flying and driving and cruise-shipping and needlessly consuming, while factories are idled and our air quality improves. The wake-up call comes at a terrible price. But the bigger cost could be everything.


March 23, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, safety | Leave a comment

Hinkley nuclear worker concerned at coronavirus risks at the site

Somerset Live 20th March 2020, A worker at Hinkley Point C has expressed his concerns about the risk of coronavirus spreading among staff at the construction site. The worker, who does not want to be named, expressed his concerns as the government continue to stress the importance of social distancing and keeping away from other people to limit the spread of COVID-19.
More than 4,000 workers are currently working on-site daily to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in decades and are in close proximity with each other. Fearing the spread of coronavirus, he has asked for more buses to be provided while limiting the number of passengers to prevent crowding. He has also called for hand sanitizers to be installed at the shift clocking in and out
station but has seen no changes.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Seabrook Nuclear plant operating with limited staff

Nuclear plant operating with limited staff  Gloucester Daily Times, By Jack Shea Staff Writer, 22 Mar 20

    SEABROOK, N.H. — Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the company that owns the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear power plant is continuing to operate the facility with only essential personnel, while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is doing most of its work to monitor the plant remotely.

In a statement Friday afternoon, Lindsay Robertson, spokesperson for NextEra Energy, which owns the Seabrook nuclear plant, said the company has implemented its “pandemic plan,” and is following its procedures for ensuring continuity of service……..

According to Diane Screnci, spokesperson for the NRC, the commission is continuing oversight of the Seabrook plant and other facilities licensed by the commission, although much of the work is being done over the phone.

Screnci said the NRC’s resident inspectors are onsite at a reduced frequency, and are able to do their jobs remotely……

The C-10 Foundation monitors the safety of the Seabrook  nuclear power plant because six Massachusetts communities — Amesbury, Merrimac, Salisbury, Newburyport, Newbury and West Newbury — are within a 10-mile radius of the plant and are considered part of the New Hampshire plant’s emergency planning zone.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment