The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Linear accelerators – a much safer way to obtain medical isotopes, than from nuclear reactors

How Better Cancer Treatment Can Also Mean Better Nuclear Security 14, 2017 C. Norman Coleman, Silvia Formenti, Miles A. Pomperrecent report in The Washington Post that the self-proclaimed Islamic State almost stumbled upon radioactive material in Mosul—in the form of cobalt-60, a substance used in radiation therapy—raises a profound dilemma about cancer treatment in developing countries and the risk of terrorists obtaining a key ingredient for making “dirty bombs.”

Cobalt-60 radiation machines are one of the many tools doctors have used in the treatment of cancer for the past 50 years. In North America, nearly all of these units have been replaced with more advanced technology called linear accelerators, which do not contain radioactive material and provide medically superior treatment. In developing countries, the cobalt-60 radiation machines remain prevalent. They are cost-effective and appealing in states with limited or intermittent electricity supplies and other physical infrastructure as well as a shortage of medical and technical expertise.


Iraq still has two cobalt-60 machines, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, having already transitioned to linear accelerators for its 10 other treatment machines. But as Mosul made clear, using even one or two of these radiation machines comes with security risks. If the wrong people, such as members of the Islamic State or another terrorist group, got hold of cobalt-60, they could potentially create a dirty bomb or a radiation exposure device. With more than 70 percent of all cancer deaths now occurring in developing countries, the problem of balancing cancer treatment with security risks will only get worse.

The surest way to prevent terrorists from acquiring these materials, while not limiting people’s access to necessary cancer treatment, is to phase out cobalt-60 radiation machines and replace them with linear accelerators. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which is in charge of efforts to secure potentially dangerous radioactive material, has been supporting this approach for several years. To do so, developing countries need better technology and treatment environments, not only to support this transition away from cobalt-60 machines but to improve cancer treatment overall. Continue reading this article in World Politics Review

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Controls on low-level nuclear waste disposal relaxed

Restrictions and liability cover requirements for low-level nuclear waste disposal and for
transport of nuclear materials are to be eased.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | safety | Leave a comment

French nuclear regulator ASN makes EDF review all nuclear components made by Areva’s foundry Creusot Forge

Times of India 16th Aug 2017, Utility EDF must review all components of its nuclear reactors that were
made by Areva’s foundry Creusot Forge by the end of 2018, French nuclear
regulator ASN said in a statement on Wednesday. The ASN did not say that
EDF would have to halt its reactors for the review, but the company would
have to provide the required documentation for each reactor two months
before it could restart the reactors following refueling. A spokeswoman for
EDF told Reuters the company does not expect any impact on power generation
and that the ASN’s timing had been integrated in its reactor maintenance

August 18, 2017 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Pennsylvania to give out potassium tablets to communities near nuclear power stations

State Asks Residents Close to Nuclear Plants to Have Pills

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is reminding Luzerne County residents to stock up on potassium iodide pills in case of an emergency at the Talen Energy nuclear power plant. Aug. 15, 2017 SALEM, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is reminding Luzerne County residents to stock up on potassium iodide pills in case of an emergency at the Talen Energy nuclear power plant.

The Democratic governor’s administration will be handing out free potassium iodide on Aug. 24 as part of an annual effort to replace expired tablets. The Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice reports ( ) the medication blocks the uptake of radioactive iodide.

In Luzerne County, there are 19 municipalities that are within or partially within the 10-mile radius of the plant. Wolf says residents who live within 10 miles of any of the state’s five nuclear power plants should also have up-to-date potassium iodide supplies.

The state Department of Health also has supplies year-round at certain offices.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | health, safety, USA | 1 Comment

Multiple violations found at Washington State’s nuclear power plant

Multiple violations found at state’s nuclear power plant, Susannah Frame, KING   August 10, 2017 The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) last month suspended indefinitely the shipment of radioactive waste from the state’s sole nuclear power plant.

Internal documents obtained by the KING 5 Investigators reveal that the Columbia Generating Station, operated by the publicly owned Energy Northwest, made repeated errors in its shipping of radioactive waste, in violation of state and federal regulations, dating back to 2014.

“There have been multiple deficiencies with the shipments of radioactive waste which has resulted in noncompliance with Federal, US Ecology, and State of Washington requirements,” wrote Robby Peek, Energy Northwest Quality Services supervisor in a July 26 interoffice memo.

Peek characterized the problems as “significant” and wrote the pattern of errors has led to a “loss of regulatory confidence.”

“Additionally, incorrect details within the shipping manifest can increase risk to the health and safety of the public,” wrote Peek.

The most recent event caused the DOH to revoke the plant’s shipping rights for the third time in the last three years.

A July 26 letter from the DOH to Energy Northwest outlines what led to the temporary ban. Inspectors at the state’s low level radioactive waste dump found a July 20 shipment of waste was far more radioactive than what was listed on the shipping manifest.

“Inspections of your shipment revealed (violations) of the US Ecology Radioactive Materials license…and the Washington Administrative Code,” wrote Kristen Schwab, DOH Office of Radiation Protection waste management supervisor. “Because of the nature of the violations found in this shipment, authorization to use the commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal site by Energy Northwest has been suspended indefinitely.”…….

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

Unexploded bomb found at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

Bomb found at Fukushima nuclear plant — Officials concerned device could explode — “Military unit is headed to the site” — “Police have cordoned off the surrounding area”

August 10th, 2017
By ENENews Mainichi, Aug 10, 2017 (emphasis added): Suspected bomb found on premises of Fukushima power plant: TEPCO — What appears to be an undetonated bomb has been discovered on the premises of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 10. The device was discovered buried in the ground at a parking lot currently undergoing maintenance in the western corner of the premises… Police have cordoned off the surrounding area

Kyodo, Aug 10, 2017: Unexploded ordnance found at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

NHK, Aug 10, 2017: Unexploded bomb found near Fukushima plant — Police are checking what appears to be an unexploded bomb found near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant… Police were sending the pictures of the object to the Self-Defense Forces to determine whether it could explode

BBC, Aug 10, 2017: Fukushima disaster: ‘WW2 bomb’ found at Japan nuclear site — A suspected unexploded bomb has been found at the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant… Tepco said construction work was immediately suspended after the object was found and a temporary exclusion zone put in place while bomb disposal experts were deployed…

AP, Aug 10, 2017: Officials say the rusty object is about 85 centimeters (33 inches) long and 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide. A military unit is headed to the site

AFP, Aug 10, 2017: Japan’s Jiji Press reported that under such circumstances police call in bomb disposal experts from Japan’s military.

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Hacking could be the biggest risk of all for nuclear reactors

The Newest Risk to Nuclear Power May Be the Biggest Yet (Hint: It’s Hacking), (Maxx Chatsko) Aug 9, 2017 
Nuclear energy has faced no shortage of obstacles over the past several years, although the biggest threat to date has been economics…..But economics may no longer be the biggest threat. A series of recently uncovered cyberattacks hint that hacking may be a worrisome new risk for existing nuclear reactors.

A serious threat?

In late June E&E News was the first to report that an American nuclear facility had been hacked into, prompting the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to issue back-to-back cybersecurity warnings to grid operators. The site, initially identified only as “nuclear 17”, was later confirmed to be the Wolf Creek facility in Kansas.

It’s owned by a consortium that includes Westar Energy (NYSE: WR). Although it hasn’t commented on the hack directly to shareholders, the company began including “cyber terrorism” as a potential risk in SEC filings beginning on July 9. That may soon become the norm for utilities and power generators, especially those exposed to nuclear energy, which generates 19% of American electricity.

How real is the risk? The New York Times obtained an urgent joint report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI that resulted in an “urgent amber warning”, which is the second-highest possible.

Grid hacking is already commonplace in the Ukraine, which security experts suspect Russia is using as a sandbox to test hacking tools for industrial infrastructure. Indeed, the techniques used to hack into Wolf Creek are eerily similar to a Russian hacking group called “Energetic Bear”.

Wolf Creek was hardly a one time incident in the United States. Michael Yates of Vanity Fair recently interviewed current and former officials at the U.S. Department of Energy, which devotes half of its annual budget to nuclear waste management and nuclear security for the entire planet. One interviewee, John MacWilliams, the first Chief Risk Officer for the DOE, spoke to the vulnerability of the national grid to hacking:…….

What does it mean for investors?

The new reality of cyber warfare presents a significant new risk to nuclear power plant operators such as Exelon and Westar Energy, and investors should expect new risk factors to begin appearing in SEC filings. It also presents another argument in favor of distributed, clean energy systems — and I’m saying that as a nuclear bull. After all, a hacked solar panel or wind turbine sounds significantly less terrifying than a hacked nuclear plant.

Unfortunately, right now there are not enough data to quantify the risks posed to nuclear power facilities in the United States, let alone broken down by owner. But should the cybersecurity threat continue to grow — and all indications are that it will — then it’s yet another downside to nuclear energy. And this latest risk could be the last straw in the court of public opinion.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, safety | Leave a comment

Workers’ health at risk at Idaho nuclear lab

Unheeded warnings, repeated mistakes put workers’ health at risk at Idaho nuclear lab, Idaho Statesman, BY PATRICK MALONE AND PETER CARY, The Center for Public Integrity AUGUST 10, 2017 

August 11, 2017 Posted by | employment, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Unexploded WW2 bomb found near Hinkley Point C nuclear power project

BBC 8th Aug 2017, A bomb believed to be from World War Two has been found in the Bristol
Channel near Hinkley Point nuclear power station. The 500lb device was
discovered 2.5 nautical miles from the coast, about 8m below the surface.

Divers conducting a survey for the construction of the new power station
found the ordnance on Monday. It was destroyed in a controlled explosion at
about 15:00 BST on Tuesday. The “unusual” ordnance was found off Lilstock
Range, just west from Steart point and Bridgwater in Somerset.

The coast around Lilstock was used as part of a practice bombing range for the Royal
Navy. EDF Energy said its team of divers made the discovery 8m below the
surface while checking the seabed ahead of the construction of the main
cooling water tunnels for new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station being

August 11, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Lithuanians alarmed over Belarus’s construction of its first nuclear power plant – a disaster in waiting

Open Democracy 10th Aug 2017, Three decades after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine, Belarus is
building its first nuclear power station. Concerns about the project’s
safety aren’t deterring the authorities. Speaking near the site of the
Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the 31st anniversary of the accident this
April, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka remarked that “both
Belarusians and Ukrainians know that the Chernobyl catastrophe knows no
borders”, in reference to the fact that 70% of the radioactive dust
created in the 1986 chemical explosion descended on Belarus.

Following the same logic, the authorities of neighbouring Lithuania are trying to raise
the alarm about Belarus’s construction of its first nuclear power plant,
which they believe to be the next nuclear disaster in waiting.

One of the major complaints concerns the choice of location. Set near the small town
of Astravets, less than 50km from Vilnius, the site also falls within an
earthquake-prone area.

Lithuanian authorities allege that Belarus did not
conduct a cross-border environmental impact assessment, in breach of the
Espoo Convention, and that in an event of a large-scale accident at the
nuclear plant, the Lithuanian capital, as well as a third of the
country’s population, could face catastrophic consequences.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment

Norway considers iodine tablets, in concern over Russia’s nuclear submarines and Europe’s old reactors

Nuclear-concerned Norway wants to give iodine tablets to citizens,  The Local, 8 Aug 17Aging nuclear power plants across Europe as well as increasing tensions between Russia and the West also concern Norwegian authorities, writes NRK.

The Dmitry Donskoi sailed through Danish territorial waters in July as part of a joint exercise between the Russian and Chinese navies.

The Dmitry Donskoi sailed through Danish territorial waters in July as part of a joint exercise between the Russian and Chinese navies. The presence of nuclear submarines along the coast of Norway means an increased risk of accidents, according to Norwegian authorities.

Maritime visits such as those from the 172-metre-long Russian sub Dmitry Donskoi, the world’s largest nuclear submarine currently sailing off Norway’s coast, are no longer a rare event, according to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern, NRPA).

The Russian vessel can carry up to 200 nuclear warheads and is powered by two nuclear reactors.

“We have seen an increasing number of nuclear submarines off Norway’s coast – both visiting allies and Russian submarines patrolling off the coast all the way to Great Britain,” NRPA section manager Astrid Liland told NRK.

Increased numbers of nuclear submarines along the coast of Norway increase the risk of radioactive accidents, say authorities, who have now decided to assess the viability of distributing iodine tablets to parts of the population.

“An accident of this kind with a nuclear-powered submarine could actually occur anywhere along our coast,” Liland said to NRK. A study group has been assigned to analyse how iodine tablets, sometimes used as a preventative measure against thyroid cancer in children and young adults after nuclear accidents, can be made available to that group, as well as to women who breastfeed.

For the tablet to have any effect, it must be taken within hours of any exposure to radioactive iodine.

43 crates containing a total of three million iodine tablets are already being stored at a depot in Oslo as one of Norway’s nuclear contingency precautions.

These tablets could be distributed to municipalities in the relevant areas.

Nuclear submarines are not the only reason for the Norwegian authorities’ increased concern over radioactive accidents.

Aging nuclear power plants across Europe as well as increasing tensions between Russia and the West also concern Norwegian authorities, writes NRK.

The Dmitry Donskoi sailed through Danish territorial waters in July as part of a joint exercise between the Russian and Chinese navies.

August 9, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Serious concerns about the environmental and safety record of the Dounreay nuclear plant

Sunday Times 6th Aug 2017, Serious concerns about the environmental and safety record of the Dounreay
nuclear plant have been raised by Scottish environment secretary Roseanna
Cunningham. In a letter to UK energy minister Richard Harrington, she
complained of a disappointing lack of progress across a range of projects
in the past year that sat oddly with the planned reduction in workforce at
the site.

Her concerns come after shortcomings in safety performance at
Dounreay were identified in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s annual
report, and criticism of the environmental management at the plant by the
Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

She said: “It is troubling that site management, despite repeated efforts, do not seem able to break the
pattern of incidents. Local stakeholders have told me that they cannot
understand why the substantial voluntary redundancy programme is in place,
when there is still so much work to complete.”

Local SNP MSP Gail Ross echoed the minister’s concerns. She said: “The Dounreay site is a vital
employer in Caithness and North Sutherland. Surely the most sensible route
to ensure safe operation would be to retain as many highly skilled and
experienced staff as they are able. Nuclear waste is not something that can
be dealt with on the cheap, regardless of the location. The UK government
must support Dounreay to ensure that the decommissioning process is as safe
as it can be, regardless of cost.”

August 7, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Negligent packaging and transport of radioactive materials by U.S nuclear labs

Nuclear labs endanger public with radioactive mail, USA Today Patrick Malone, Center for Public Integrity, 1 Aug 17, At least 25 times in the past five years, nuclear weapons contractors have improperly packaged or shipped plutonium capable of being used in a nuclear weapon, conventional explosives and highly toxic chemicals, according to government documents.


August 2, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Beautifying Competitions –Endorsing the Safety of New Nuclear Reactors?

Nuclear Beautifying Competitions –Endorsing the Dangers of New Nuclear Reactors? Letter from Radiation Free Lakeland: “31st July 2017

Dear Royal Institute of British Architects and Landscape Institute,

Nuclear Beautifying Competitions –Endorsing the Safety of New Nuclear Reactors?

Amber Rudd the (then) Energy Secretary made statements in 2015 that new nuclear power stations must be designed to look beautiful in order to garner essential public support.

The RIBA and LI agreed to lend kudos and prestige to this unethical PR project by running competitions for the architecture and for the earth mounds (resulting from deep excavation for the foundations).

I would like to ask if you are endorsing the safety of the Moorside plan? If not will you please make a public statement clarifying that the design competition does not in anyway endorse the safety of Moorside. If you do not do this you are aiding and abetting the public being hoodwinked into embracing dangerous new untried untested reactors using “high burn” fuel next to Sellafield. Sellafield is widely acknowledged as the worlds most dangerous nuclear waste site, adding to an already intolerable risk is an abuse of the rights of all Europeans (and further afield) to expect a safe environment.


Below are just a few of the many reasons why the RIBA and LI should make clear that their beautifying competitions do not in any way endorse the safety of the Moorside plan.

• Arnie Gundersen former US nuclear regulator has described the proposed Moorside AP1000 reactors as: Chernobyl on Steroids (1)

• Spent fuel arisings from Moorside would amount to 85% of the radioactivity contained in all existing legacy wastes from the UK’s nuclear power industry. (2)

• By applying the widely used fatal cancer risk factor of 10% per sievert we can calculate around 4 deaths will occur somewhere in the world for every year the station operates. Over 60 years the total would be 240 deaths. (3) (note this does not include accident or incident)

• The new reactors would be vulnerable to a very large release of radioactivity following an accident if there were just a small failure in the steel containment vessel.

In that event gases released from the reactor would be sucked through existing ‘pinhole’ containment flaws in the AP1000 Shield Building due to the ‘chimney effect’, potentially leading to the rapid venting huge amounts of radioactivity to the environment. (4)

• In 2013 Cumbria County Council suggested that a proposed low level radioactive landfill site should be located on or near the Sellafield site instead of at Keekle Head. The reply from the Keekle Head applicants, Endecom was that: it is not possible to site a low level nuclear dump at or near to Sellafield: there is insufficient space on the site ..and.. large areas of contaminated land would have to be excavated to develop a VLLW Facility ie deep excavation near Sellafield would disturb decades of nuclear seepage from the site. The Moorside Landscape Mounds would leach that contamination currently held underground to the nearby village of Beckermet which regularly floods. (5)

• According to the designers, the rainbow installation was inspired by a William Wordsworth poem remarking on the beauty of Cumbria, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky”. The poem is actually about mans relationship with nature. Every aspect of nuclear power is an assault on the natural world from the ripping out of uranium in Greenland to the plan to dump high level nuclear wastes in Borrowdale Granite. No amount of beautification can hide the obscenity of nuclear.

Lending prestige to the Moorside plan is unethical at best an assault on human rights at worst. Radiation Free Lakeland ask both the RIBA and LI to make clear to the public that they are not in any way endorsing the safety of these three nuclear reactors on the greenfields and river Ehen floodplain next to Sellafield.

Yours sincerely,
Marianne Birkby,
Radiation Free Lakeland
Cumbria UK   [many references supplied]

August 2, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Educating the American public on surviving a nuclear attack

North Korea prompts US cities to prepare for a nuclear attack, SMH, Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan, 29 July 17, Fleets of big black trucks, harbor boats and aircraft, equipped with radiation sensors and operated by specially trained law enforcement teams, are ready to swing into action in Los Angeles for a catastrophe that nobody even wants to think about: a North Korean nuclear attack.

American cities have long prepared for a terrorist attack, even one involving nuclear weapons or a “dirty bomb,” but North Korea’s long-range missile and weapons programs have now heightened concerns along the West Coast over increasing vulnerability to a strike……..

This month, Wellerstein and other researchers launched Reinventing Civil defence, a nonprofit project that over the next two years will examine how best to reeducate the American public on the nuclear threat – one that never went away. It is being funded by a $US500,000 ($626,000) grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

“If we live in a world where a nuclear detonation is possible, and we do, then people should be informed on what that means,” he said. “It’s something that’s been nonexistent in our society since the late 1980s.”

The reluctance to prepare reflects what LoPresti calls a “generational PTSD” from the decades of living under the threat of instant thermonuclear war. “It is not something people are comfortable talking about,” he said……

The main responsibility would lie with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which declined to provide an official to discuss the issue and did not answer written questions.

Some arms control experts say it would be a mistake to launch a full-scale civil defence effort in response to North Korea. Wright, the expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said such a response would send the wrong message that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has put a dent in US confidence.

Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons analyst with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said Kim presents the same threat that existed throughout most of the last century. “He’s ruthless, but he’s not crazy,” Lewis said. “There’s reason to be cautious. But it’s not a reason to start digging bomb shelters.”

But Levin, the Ventura County health director, argues that doing nothing is equally wrong. The key point of the Ventura plan is to ask residents not flee, but to “get inside and stay inside” immediately after a detonation.

The county’s plan was developed with technical assistance from Brooke Buddemeier, a nuclear weapons effects expert at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has made the case that sheltering indoors for just 24 hours after a detonation provides significantly reduced exposure.

“Talking about nuclear detonation is not one of those topics you can bring up at a cocktail party,” Buddemeier said. “But a little knowledge can save a lot of lives.”

July 29, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment