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Poland distributes iodine pills as fears grow over Ukraine nuclear plant

WARSAW, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Poland, concerned about fighting around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, has distributed iodine tablets to regional fire departments to give to people in the event of radioactive exposure, a deputy minister said on Thursday…………………………………… (subscribers only) more https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/poland-distributes-iodine-pills-fears-grow-over-ukraine-nuclear-plant-2022-09-22/

September 22, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear Weapon Development and Manufacturing Needs More Cybersecurity, Watchdog Says

Next Gov, By Kirsten Errick,.Tech Reporter, SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

The National Nuclear Security Administration, its contractors and subcontractors need to take cyber steps, according to a new report.

As the National Nuclear Security Administration and its contractors increasingly utilize advanced computers and digital systems to “integrate information systems into nuclear weapons, automate manufacturing equipment and rely on computer modeling to design weapons,” it needs to implement foundational cybersecurity risk management because these systems can be targets of cybersecurity attacks, according to a report released on Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office report noted that federal law and policies identify six practices for a cybersecurity management program. These practices are as follows: “identify and assign cybersecurity roles and responsibilities for risk management”; “establish and maintain a cybersecurity risk management strategy for the organization”; “document and maintain policies and plans for the cybersecurity program”; assess and update organization-wide cybersecurity risks”; designate controls that are available for information systems or programs to inherit”; and “develop and maintain a strategy to monitor risks continuously across the organization.” 

However, GAO found that NNSA and its contractors have not fully implemented these key cybersecurity practices. NNSA has three types of technology or digital environments: traditional informational technology, operational technology and nuclear weapons information technology. GAO stated that NNSA has not fully implemented the cybersecurity practices in its operational technology and nuclear weapons information technology environments………………………………………….

GAO made nine recommendations for NNSA. For example, GAO suggested that the agency should fully implement a continuous cybersecurity monitoring strategy; determine the resources needed for operational technology efforts; delegate risk management roles and responsibilities; develop a nuclear weapons risk strategy; enhance oversight and monitoring of subcontractor cybersecurity. ….  https://www.nextgov.com/cybersecurity/2022/09/nuclear-weapon-development-and-manufacturing-needs-more-cybersecurity-watchdog-says/377578/

September 22, 2022 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

War fears at another Ukraine nuclear site

The Australian 22 Sept 22, A vast crater several metres deep in empty land strewn with wild grass bears witness to the shelling this week at the Pivdennoukrainskpower plant site in southern Ukraine, the latest sign of nuclear risk in the war-scarred nation.

Small shards of grey metal, similar to rocket and missile fragments that litter innumerable fighting-damaged Ukrainian places, dot the loamy earth gouged out by the impact.

“That’s where the blast of the explosion went towards,” said Ivan Zhebet, security chief at the Pivdennoukrainsk plant in the southern Mykolaiv region.

A compass reading by an AFP journalist indicated that it was fired from the southeast, territory under Russian control.

The shell struck shortly after midnight on Monday, just minutes after an air raid warning sounded in nearby Yuzhnourainsk, a town that had until then been relatively calm.

Others said they saw a flash of light in the sky.

All the residents questioned by AFP worried that the nuclear site — which directly provides jobs for 6,000 of the town’s 42,000-strong population and indirectly for many more — would be hit.

Pivdennoukrainskis the third nuclear site to be caught up in a conflict that began with Russia’s invasion in February………………………………………..

Nataliya Stoikova, a department head at Pivdennoukrainsk, said:

“The danger is really frightening. If something were to happen (at Pivdennoukrainsk) or Zaporizhzhia, the accident at Chernobyl would be almost small” by comparison.  https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/war-fears-at-another-ukraine-nuclear-site/news-story/d81fe91e6bd375729e35eb4caaea2c95

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is Zaporizhzhia safer now?

What is “cold shutdown”? And what about the fuel pools?

Cold shutdown reduces risk of disaster at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – but combat around spent fuel still poses a threat

By Najmedin MeshkatiUniversity of Southern California

Is Zaporizhzhia safer now? — Beyond Nuclear International Energoatom, operator of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar, announced on Sept. 11, 2022, that it was shutting down the last operating reactor of the plant’s six reactors, reactor No. 6. The operators have put the reactor in cold shutdown to minimize the risk of a radiation leak from combat in the area around the nuclear power plant.
The Conversation asked Najmedin Meshkati, a professor and nuclear safety expert at the University of Southern California, to explain cold shutdown, what it means for the safety of the nuclear power plant, and the ongoing risks to the plant’s spent fuel, which is uranium that has been largely but not completely depleted by the fission reaction that drives nuclear power plants.

What does it mean to have a nuclear reactor in cold shutdown?

The fission reaction that generates heat in a nuclear power plant is produced by positioning a number of uranium fuel rods in close proximity. Shutting down a nuclear reactor involves inserting control rods between the fuel rods to stop the fission reaction.

The reactor is then in cooldown mode as the temperature decreases. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, once the temperature is below 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius) and the reactor coolant system is at atmospheric pressure, the reactor is in cold shutdown.

When the reactor is operating, it requires cooling to absorb the heat and keep the fuel rods from melting together, which would set off a catastrophic chain reaction. When a reactor is in cold shutdown, it no longer needs the same level of circulation. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant uses pressurized water reactors.

How does being in cold shutdown improve the plant’s safety?

The shutdown has removed a huge element of risk. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is a pressurized water reactor. These reactors need constant cooling, and the cooling pumps are gigantic, powerful, electricity-guzzling machines.

Cold shutdown is the state in which you do not need to constantly run the primary cooling pumps at the same level to circulate the cooling water in the primary cooling loop. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that reactor No. 6 is now in a cold shutdown state like the facility’s five other reactors, and will require less power for cooling. Now, at least if the plant loses offsite power, the operators won’t have to worry about cooling an operating reactor with cranky diesel generators.

And by shutting down reactor No. 6, the plant operators can be relieved of a considerable amount of their workload monitoring the reactors amid the ongoing uncertainties around the site. This substantially reduced the potential for human error.

The operators’ jobs are likely to be much less demanding and stressful now than before. However, they still need to constantly monitor the status of the shutdown reactors and the spent fuel pools.

What are the risks from the spent fuel at the plant?

The plant still needs a reliable source of electricity to cool the six huge spent fuel pools that are inside the containment structures and to remove residual heat from the shutdown reactors. The cooling pumps for the spent fuel pools need much less electricity than the cooling pumps on the reactor’s primary and secondary loops, and the spent fuel cooling system could tolerate a brief electricity outage.

One more important factor is that the spent fuel storage racks in the spent fuel pools at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant were compacted to increase capacity, according to a 2017 Ukrainian government report to the IAEA. The greater number and more compacted the stored spent fuel rods, the more heat they generate and so more power is needed to cool them.

There is also a dry spent fuel storage facility at the plant. Dry spent fuel storage involves packing spent fuel rods into massive cylinders, or casks, which require no water or other coolants. The casks are designed to keep the fuel rods contained for at least 50 years. However, the casks are not under the containment structures at the plant, and, though they were designed to withstand being crashed into by an airliner, it’s not clear whether artillery shelling and aerial bombardment, particularly repeated attacks, could crack open the casks and release radiation into the grounds of the plant.

The closest analogy to this scenario could be a terrorist attack that, according to a seminal study by the National Research Council, could breach a dry cask and potentially result in the release of radioactive material from the spent fuel. This could happen through the dispersion of fuel particles or fragments or the dispersion of radioactive aerosols. This would be similar to the detonation of a “dirty bomb,” which, depending on wind direction and dispersion radius, could result in radioactive contamination. This in turn could cause serious problems for access to and work in the plant.

Next steps from the IAEA and UN

The IAEA has called on Russia and Ukraine to set up a “safety and security protection zone” around the plant. However, the IAEA is a science and engineering inspectorate and technical assistance agency. Negotiating and establishing a protection zone at a nuclear power plant in a war zone is entirely unprecedented and totally different from all past IAEA efforts.

Establishing a protection zone requires negotiations and approvals at the highest political and military levels in Kyiv and Moscow. It could be accomplished through backchannel, Track II-type diplomacy, specifically nuclear safety-focused engineering diplomacy. In the meantime, the IAEA needs strong support from the United Nations Security Council in the form of a resolution, mandate or the creation of a special commission.

Najmedin Meshkati, Professor of Engineering and International Relations, University of Southern California

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nukes Are Our Corporate Death Wish…the Sun is the People’s Cure

replacing nuke power and fossil fuels with solar, wind, batteries and LED/efficiency means a parallel apocalypse in the world of corporate power—-an end to the centralized multi-national control our global energy supply.

The Diablo deal clearly puts the global fossil-nuclear utility industry on the path to extinction. If these two immense reactors can be smoothly overtaken by cheaper, cleaner, safer renewable energy…what about the rest of the dying fossil/nuke fleet? What does that say about the future of centralized corporate power?

Christina Macpherson <christinamacpherson@gmail.com>7:56 AM (0 minutes ago)
to me

 https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/09/21/nukes-are-our-corporate-death-wishthe-sun-is-the-peoples-cure/ BY HARVEY WASSERMAN, 21 Sept22,

Humankind’s ultimate extinction is now flowing through an atomic death spiral.

A single errant shell at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia…a single seismic shock at California’s Diablo Canyon…can bury us all in apocalyptic radiation.

The eruptions already stretch from Kyshtym, Iron Mike, Castle Bravo, Windscale, SL-1, Chalk River, Santa Susanna, Fermi I, Perry, Davis-Besse, North Anna, Tokaimura, Three Mile Island, Church Rock, Surry, Chernobyl, Vandellòs, Sosnovy Bor, WIPP, Fukushima, Fort Calhoun to South Texas and too many more.

It’s been clear since 1945 that A-Bombs can extinct the human race. Commercial reactors supply them with fissionable material and a work force.

Burning alongside thousands of nuclear warheads there are 400+ commercial reactors worldwide…decrepit, decayed, expensive, under-maintained, unstable and uninsured (except by token taxpayer funds). Six in Ukraine currently tremble in a war zone.

The average age of the 92 nukes in the US is nearly 40. The 1000+-square-mile dead zone around Chernobyl could be easily duplicated by any nuke. Just superimpose a similar lethal wound anywhere on a US map and calculate the damage.

But it’s a double-sided apocalypse.

Bombs & reactors can obliterate the human species with both explosive bangs and the agonized whimpers of radioactive murder.

But replacing nuke power and fossil fuels with solar, wind, batteries and LED/efficiency means a parallel apocalypse in the world of corporate power—-an end to the centralized multi-national control our global energy supply.

Cheaper, cleaner, safer, more reliable, more job-producing democratized green energy stands to obliterate the monetary and political death grip King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) has on our species’ throat.

The decentralized, community-controlled green vision is as terrifying to global energy barons as is biological extinction to the rest of us. And thus the atomic hucksters somehow try to convince us their apocalyptic reactors are “clean, green, carbon-free,” you name it.

The scam’s cutting edge is now in California, where would-be president Gavin Newson is pushing nuclear power while conspiring to kill renewables.

At the End Time vortex is Diablo Canyon.

For more than a half-century, plus grassroots citizens have fought two atomic power reactors on the central California coast, eight miles west of San Luis Obispo.

Unit One’s first components arrived on site in pre-digital 1967. By 1984-5, when the hardware was already obsolete, more than 10,000 citizens (including me) were arrested there.

As Jerry Brown’s greening Golden State has welcomed more than 17,000 wind turbines, 1.4+ million rooftop solar installations and massive advances in battery and LED/efficiency technologies now dwarf the output from the state’s one remaining nuke plant.

Some 1500 Californians now work at Diablo; over 70,000 work in renewables, batteries and efficiency. Shutting Diablo and replacing it with real green power would add thousands of jobs to the state’s energy mix.

Early on Pacific Gas & Electric vehemently denied that there were any active earthquake faults threatening Diablo. They refused to allow experts who said otherwise to testify in official hearings. They also refused to build in the safeguards required to withstand certain levels of seismic shaking.

But then in 1973 the company admitted that they knew about an active earthquake fault—-the Hosgri—-sitting just three miles from the reactor cores. Just 45 miles from the San Andreas, a dozen more fault lines intertwine near the core. Dr. Michael Peck, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s site inspector for five years, warned in 2014 a likely quake could shake Diablo to rubble.

But the NRC has refused to force PG&E to physically upgrade the facility. Instead a series of “waivers” let Diablo run where any number of fault lines could rattle it—-and millions of us downwind—-to outright oblivion.

The NRC has long since admitted that Unit One is seriously embrittled. It’s well-known throughout the industry that the steel cylinder containing its super-hot core reaction will shatter in a melt-down. Explosive radioactive death clouds will then pour into Los Angeles, the Central Valley and/or Bay Area….and into the jet-stream and around the globe, doing terminal damage to the human species.

Diablo has not recently—-if ever—-been independently inspected. It has no private insurance. There are no public evacuation plans for California’s major population centers.

In 2016-8, then-Governor Brown and now-Governor Newsom helped plan Diablo’s closure. Local citizens, elected officials, unions, regulators, environmental groups and more mapped out an orderly shut-down.

As a result, workers are being compensated, with some retiring, some staying for decommissioning, the younger ones being retrained to work in the booming renewable industry.

As a reward for not meeting legal safety and ecological requirements, PG&E has ducked a wide range of upgrades and maintenance The plant has been set to operate through the expiration of Unit One’s NRC license in 2024, then Unit Two’s in 2025. Its owner has been allowed to ignore routine upkeep, becoming more dangerous by the day.

Hot radioactive water still pours into ocean, killing billions of marine creatures. There remains just barely enough on-site space to accommodate the ensuing spent fuel through 2024-5. Managing more is an epic unknown, requiring at very least exceedingly dangerous manipulations of what’s already in the fuel pools, along with untenable expansions of the dry casks and concrete pads on the site.

The venerable Mothers for Peace—and thousands more—-want Diablo to immediately shut.

The nukes’ 2400 megawatts are already fading below a well-planned, cleanly executed symphony of solar panels, wind farms, batteries and LED/efficiency. Massive off-shore wind turbines will soon send mega-juice pouring into Diablo’s switching stations.

By public consensus the 2016 phase-out plan embodies as rational and well-calculated a transition as the human species could concoct…a model for winding down the other 90+ American reactors, and maybe even the 400+ worldwide. It offers a sustainable green escape from the obscene financial and ecological failures of atomic power to the proven reliability of a Solartopian future.

Which has pitched King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) into a Luddite state of terminal atomic panic.

The Diablo deal clearly puts the global fossil-nuclear utility industry on the path to extinction. If these two immense reactors can be smoothly overtaken by cheaper, cleaner, safer renewable energy…what about the rest of the dying fossil/nuke fleet? What does that say about the future of centralized corporate power?

With this giant hole poked into the obsolete energy Luddites’ Maginot line, what will happen to the trillions of dollars still sunk in the old ways of scorching the Earth? What will trillions of kilowatts of Solartopian electricity pouring into the grid do to the future of fossil/nuclear fuels?

The industry does not want to know—-and it does not want YOU to know.

Wind, solar, batteries and efficiency already sustain much of California’s and the nation’s grid, now commonly providing the flexible, reliable, low-cost, zero-aaron essential power needed to avoid blackouts, unsustainable rate hikes and lethal climate chaos.

First and foremost, King CONG’s anti-green blitzkrieg disrupts supply chains and assaults rooftop solar with taxes and regulations designed to kill it. Endless genuflections to the dead bird each big turbine kills per year accompany the assault. So do rightful worries over mining of lithium and cobalt, major polluters in regions with bad labor practices.

But these are solvable, non-plutonium-based problems in comparison with mining, milling and enriching uranium while failing to manage its wastes.

No windmill ever killed a fish, but nukes kill billions of marine creatures every day.

Every reactor burns at roughly 570 degrees Fahrenheit, spewing radiation, carbon 14 and lethal pollutants into the eco-sphere. Massive quantities of carbon pour from mining, milling, enrichment and disposal. All reactors and fuel pools can explode at any time.

The Trumpian Big Lie is that these ancient, uninsured instruments of mass extinction are somehow “emission and carbon free.”

So Newsom has strong-armed California’s legislature to trash Diablo’s shut-down deal and hand PG&E $1.4 billion to operate til the next quake blows the place apart.

With utility and fossil/nuke money in his presidential war chest, Newsom is poised to pursue the White House against a hard-right Ron DeSantis who actually vetoed solar taxes like the ones Newsom is pushing.

Polls in both Florida and California show 80% support for renewables. Fierce campaigns now rage against Diablo’s extension and Newsom’s attempt to kill rooftop solar.

The Governor now has the radioactive winds to his back.

But as fossil/nukes scorch the planet, and as their apocalyptic clouds pour over our biggest cities, and as their over-the-top inefficiencies bankrupt our economy, what will be left for his corrupt, cynical ilk to govern?

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

September 21, 2022 Posted by | politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Offsite power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant destroyed

Offsite power supply to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant destroyed

Guardian Isobel Koshiw in Kyiv, 10 Sept 22,

A vital offsite electricity supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been destroyed by shelling and there is little likelihood a reliable supply will be re-established, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog chief has said.

Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said shelling had destroyed the switchyard of a nearby thermal power plant.

The plant has supplied power to the nuclear facility each time its normal supply lines had been cut over the past three weeks. The thermal plant was also supplying the surrounding area, which was plunged into darkness.

Local Ukrainian officials said work was under way to restore the connection, which has been cut multiple times this week.

Grossi, who said he had been informed of the situation by IAEA representatives at the plant, called for an “immediate cessation of all shelling in the entire area”. “This is an unsustainable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious,” he said, without apportioning blame for the shelling.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling near Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine and within the perimeter of Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, which has six reactors.

The thermal supply has been cut and restored multiple times this week and Enerhodar, the nearby town, has suffered several complete blackouts.

When the thermal supply has been cut the plant has relied on its only remaining operating reactor for the power needed for cooling and other safety functions. This method is designed to provide power only for a few hours at a time. Diesel generators are used as a last resort. The constant destruction of thermal power supply has led Ukraine to consider shutting down the remaining operating reactor, said Grossi. Ukraine “no longer [has] confidence in the restoration of offsite power”, he said.

Grossi said that if Ukraine decided not to restore the offsite supply the entire power plant would be reliant on emergency diesel generators to ensure supplies for the nuclear safety and security functions.

“As a consequence, the operator would not be able to restart the reactors unless offsite power was reliably re-established,” he said…………….. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/09/offsite-power-supply-to-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-destroyed

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

All 6 reactors at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant now completely stopped operating

 Operations at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine
have been fully stopped as a safety measure, Energoatom, the state agency
in charge of the plant, said. The plant “is completely stopped” after thec
agency disconnected the number 6 power unit from the grid at 3.41am (local
time), it said in a statement. “Preparations are under way for its cooling
and transfer to a cold state.”

 RTE 11th Sept 2022

https://www.rte.ie/news/ukraine/2022/0911/1321783-ukraine-russia/

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukraine Considers Shutting Nuclear Plant After Loss of Backup Power

After shelling destroys key electricity supply, Zaporizhzhia facility may have to rely on generators with 10 days of fuel left

WSJ, By Drew Hinshaw and Laurence Norman Sept. 9, 2022

Ukraine is considering shutting down the sole remaining reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday, after shelling left the plant without a safe and sustainable source of backup power.

The plant, which has already shut down five of its six reactors, risks having only one remaining source of electricity to power its systems in case the sixth reactor has to go offline, said Director General Rafael Grossi in a statement..

Normally, if the plant can’t supply itself power,
it can draw electricity from a nearby thermal-energy plant. But shelling
overnight Thursday destroyed a switchyard that carries electricity out from
that coal-fired plant, Mr. Grossi said.

It is unlikely that it will be
repaired, he added, given the constant artillery fire, meaning the nuclear
plant would have no off-site emergency source of power. The plant could
turn to back up generators, but those only have enough fuel for about 10
days, according to Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company, Energoatom. The
plant, occupied by Russian soldiers who patrol with grenades dangling off
their belts, is still operated by the company’s Ukrainian workforce.

Plant workers, meanwhile, have no electricity in their homes and the
shelling risks accelerating an exodus of essential staff. “This is an
unsustainable situation and is becoming increasingly precarious,” Mr.
Grossi said. “The power plant has no off-site power, This is completely
unacceptable. It cannot stand. ”The Zaporizhzhia plant is now producing a
minimal 250 megawatts, enough to monitor and sustain the temperature of its
cooling ponds, to pump water through the station, to clean the air inside
the plant, and to perform other basic safety functions, said Petro Kotin,
interim president of Energoatom.

If the last operating reactor goes down,
he said, the staff will need to supply 200 tons of diesel daily to the
generators. The IAEA said in a report Tuesday Ukraine had 2,250 tons of
diesel fuel available for the whole site. Procuring more would require
several truckloads of fuel to cross through an active conflict area
subjected to continual artillery fire, many times a day. Nuclear experts
said it could make sense to shut down the last reactor and work off backup
generators, because the earlier that is done, the cooler the reactor core
would be if Zaporizhzhia’s generators run out of fuel and there is an
accident.

Workers reached by The Wall Street Journal have blamed the
artillery fire on Russia. Plant technicians, backed by European officials
and independent nuclear analysts, have said the shelling serves the
Kremlin’s broader goal of severing Zaporizhzhia’s power connection to
Ukraine’s remaining territory and eventually rerouting it into
Russian-held areas. Russian soldiers have laid land mines around the
plant’s cooling ponds, parked heavy artillery near its reactors, and
turned its safety shelters—meant for plant workers to flee to in an
emergency—into a bunker for themselves, workers say.

When IAEA inspectors
visited the plant last week, they found that the alternative emergency
center that Russian soldiers offered the staff didn’t have its own
ventilation system to filter out radiation from the air, or its own source
of power—or even an internet connection.

Shutting down the plant, in the
midst of an active conflict, would pose enormous and unprecedented
challenges for the nuclear industry. Defunct or dormant nuclear plants
still require electricity and careful maintenance by trained staff to
monitor and safeguard spent nuclear fuel, among other safety operations.
The plant currently suffers obstacles sourcing the spare parts and fuel
that would be required. Compounding difficulties, the Zaporizhzhia plant
has seen a considerable amount of its workforce flee, slipping out through
Russian checkpoints to Ukrainian-held ground.

 Wall Street Journal 10th Sept 2022  https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-considers-shutting-nuclear-plant-after-loss-of-backup-power-11662747396

https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-considers-shutting-nuclear-plant-after-loss-of-backup-power-1166274739

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Here’s why the risk of a nuclear accident in Ukraine has ‘significantly increased’

https://www.wboi.org/npr-news/npr-news/2022-09-09/heres-why-the-risk-of-a-nuclear-accident-in-ukraine-has-significantly-increased By Geoff Brumfiel, September 9, 2022, The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is warning that the risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has “significantly increased,” following ongoing fighting around the site.

“Let me be clear, the shelling around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant must stop,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a brief recorded statement released on Friday.

Grossi also warned that the continued fighting might require the plant to shut down its last operating reactor. That would set into motion a chain of events that could intensify the current nuclear crisis. Here’s how.

Nuclear plants need electricity

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is the largest in Europe, capable of producing thousands of megawatts of electricity. But the plant also needs power from the same electricity grid it feeds.

The power is used to run the various parts of the plant, including its safety and cooling systems. Specifically, nuclear power plants require water to be pumped constantly through their cores in order to function safely, and the pumps need electricity.

At Zaporizhzhia, the power is normally supplied by four high-voltage lines, which connect the nuclear complex to Ukraine’s electricity grid, but the conflict has seen those lines systematically cut. The last 750kV line was severed on September 3, according to the IAEA.

A backup line was disconnected two days later due to a fire on the site. In a press conference shortly after returning from Zaporizhzhia, Grossi told reporters that he believed the power lines were being deliberately targeted:


Zaporizhzhia has been making its own power, but that’s a limited solution

Since losing its last connection to the grid on Sept. 5, the nuclear plant has been powering itself in so-called “islanding operation mode.” Under this setup, the Unit 6 reactor has been producing low levels of electricity that are running the rest of the facility.

The reactors at Zaporizhzhia are designed to operate in this mode during startup, according to a nuclear engineer who worked directly with the reactors when the plant began operations in the 1980s, but who was not authorized to speak publicly by his current employer.

“It’s not good, it cannot be done for a long time,” he says. The problem is less to do with the reactor itself than the turbine, generators and other systems–all of which are designed to run at significantly higher power levels than islanding operation mode provides.

Adding to the problem, Grossi said in his statement, is the increasing strain on the plant’s Ukrainian operators. Many of the plant’s current staff of just under 1,000 live in the nearby town of Enerhodar. Its water, sewage and electrical supplies have all been disrupted in recent days by the same fighting that’s damaged the lines around the plant.

“The shelling is putting in danger operators and their families, making it difficult to adequately staff the plant,” Grossi says.

Shutting down the last reactor will trigger emergency generators

With conditions deteriorating, it seems more likely that Ukrainian authorities will decide to power down the last reactor. But in the short term, that could exacerbate the crisis.

That’s because nuclear reactors are more like charcoal grills than gas stoves. Even after they’re shut off, they remain hot for a long period of time. Water must still circulate in the cores to prevent a meltdown.

With its reactors shut down, Zaporizhzhia will switch to backup emergency diesel generators to keep the reactors cool. The emergency generators themselves are a tried-and-true method for cooling a nuclear reactor. In fact, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires U.S. plants to switch to emergency diesel generators immediately, bypassing the “islanding operation mode” used in Zaporizhzhia.

“We don’t want to go on the diesel generators, but it’s a situation you can abide by for awhile,” says Steven Nesbit, a nuclear engineer and member of the American Nuclear Society’s rapid response taskforce, which is tracking the current crisis. For example, after losing power during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant in Florida operated for days on emergency diesel power.

If the generators run out of fuel, a meltdown could occur

Continue reading

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

UK and Europe cannot depend on nuclear power, with reactors shutting down, just as winter hits.

 The first real winter test of how strained the UK’s energy supplies are will come next month when nuclear reactors start closing for maintenance, just as the heating season kicks off.

Nuclear output makes up roughly 15% of Britain’s energy mix, and the planned shutdowns may challenge
electricity production when the country can least afford it. Two units at n the Heysham plant in northern England are set to halt for periods between October and November, and more nuclear closures are scheduled through winter.

European power prices have surged amid an energy crisis linked to soaring gas costs caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine. While early winter weather is expected to be mild, the UK grid risks becoming particularly
tight as it gets colder, with the country exporting power to France because of major outages at reactors there.

 Bloomberg 7th Sept 2022

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-09-07/winter-nuclear-shutdowns-will-pose-first-big-test-for-uk-grid

September 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Back-up power lines restored to the shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station

Ukrainian operators of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station won’t restart
the plant until its occupying Russian forces leave the facility, the head
of Ukraine’s nuclear agency, Petro Kotin, tells NPR.

Ukrainian workers powered down the war-damaged plant last weekend for safety reasons amid
continued shelling. On Tuesday, workers finished restoring all three backup
power lines — a sliver of good news at the plant that officials and
energy experts have warned could face a catastrophe as fighting continues
around it.

Still, the situation remains tense and unpredictable at
Zaporizhzhia — Europe’s largest nuclear plant, which has been occupied by
Russian troops since early March but is operated mostly by Ukrainian staff
— and concerns about the risk of a nuclear disaster are still looming as
fighting picked up in that part of southern Ukraine.

NPR 15th Sept 2022

https://www.npr.org/2022/09/15/1122908577/ukraine-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-power-plant-operator-russia

September 20, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

40% of Japan’s nuclear plant staff lack experiences of reactivation

By Takashi Maemura and Ayaka Matsuo / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers, September 18, 2022

Nearly 40% of the operations staff at the seven electric power companies that have not yet restarted their nuclear power plants since 2011 have no experience with reactors, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey found.

That group includes Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that had an accident during the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

Because progress to restart their reactors has been slow, these power companies have sought to maintain their personnel’s skills by dispatching staff to nuclear power plants and thermal power plants operated by other companies.

Currently, only Kansai Electric Power Co., Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. have been able to restart some reactors…………………………………..

Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power plant Reactor No. 2, which is currently shut down, has passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety examinations, which took about seven years and eight months to complete.

However, the Shimane nuclear power plant has been shut down for more than 10 years, and 41 out of its 107 operators, or 38%, have no experience operating a nuclear power plant. In light of this, Chugoku Electric Power has begun training them this fiscal year, asking Makino, a former operator with more than 30 years of experience, to serve as an instructor.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Main power line reconnected to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

 One of the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant’s four main
power lines has been repaired and is supplying the plant with electricity
from the Ukrainian grid two weeks after it went down, the UN nuclear
watchdog has said.

Even though the six reactors at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s
biggest nuclear power plant, have been shut down, the fuel in them still
needs cooling to avoid a potentially catastrophic meltdown. The plant
therefore needs electricity to pump water through the reactors’ core. The
power supply at Zaporizhzhia has been a source of concern after the last
main line went down and three backup lines that can connect it to a nearby
coal-fired power plant were also disconnected.

 Guardian 17th Sept 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/17/ukraine-main-power-line-restored-at-zaporizhzhia-nuclear-plant-iaea-says

September 20, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

France sends reprocessed nuclear fuel to Japan, despite environmental and safety dangers

 https://japantoday.com/category/national/france-sends-latest-nuclear-shipment-to-japan CHERBOURG, France 18 Sept 22

Two ships carrying reprocessed nuclear fuel destined for Japan set sail Saturday morning from northern France, an AFP photographer said, despite criticism from environmental campaigners.

The fuel was due to leave the northern French port city of Cherbourg earlier this month but was delayed by the breakdown of loading equipment.

Environmental activists have denounced the practice of transporting such highly radioactive materials, calling it irresponsible.

The previous transport of MOX fuel to Japan in September 2021 drew protests from environmental group Greenpeace.

MOX fuel is a mixture of reprocessed plutonium and uranium.

“The Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret, the specialised ships belonging to British company PNTL, left Cherbourg harbor on September 17. They will ensure the shipment of MOX nuclear fuel to Japan,” French nuclear technology group Orano said in a statement Saturday.

They are bound for Japan for use in a power plant and Orano said it expected the shipment to arrive in November.

Japan lacks facilities to process waste from its own nuclear reactors and sends most of it overseas, particularly to France.

The operation was carried out “successfully”, Orano said, and it is the second shipment that arrived in Cherbourg from a plant in La Hague, located 20 kilometers away, after the first came on September 7.

Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace France previously denounced the shipment.

“Transporting such dangerous materials from a nuclear proliferation point of view is completely irresponsible,” he said last month.

MOX is composed of 92 percent uranium oxide and eight percent plutonium oxide, according to Orano.

The plutonium “is not the same as that used by the military,” it said.

September 20, 2022 Posted by | France, reprocessing, safety | Leave a comment

Sendai and Genkai nuclear power stations in the path of powerful Typhoon Nanmadol

Strong Typhoon Nanmadol feared to hit southwest Japan’s Kyushu on Sept. 18

Close to Sendai and Genkai nuclear power stations

Record-breaking rainfall+violent winds – peak gusts at 270kph

FUKUOKA  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220917/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

Large and powerful Typhoon Nanmadol is predicted to approach southwestern Japan’s Kyushu region and make landfall there between Sept. 18 and 19.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the 14th typhoon of the year was moving northwestward at a speed of about 20 kilometers per hour over the sea some 190 kilometers east of Minamidaito Island at 9 a.m. on Sept. 17. The tropical storm had a central atmospheric pressure of 910 hectopascals. The maximum sustained wind speed near its center was 198 kph, with peak gusts at 270 kph. Violent winds at a speed of 90 kph or more were recorded within a 185-km radius on the east and a 150-km radius on the west of the storm’s center.

Many parts of Japan may be affected by the typhoon for extended periods of time as it is moving slowly while maintaining its strength. It is feared that the storm could cause record-breaking rainfall and violent winds through Sept. 19, the last day of the three-day weekend, primarily in west Japan and along the Pacific coast of east Japan. The JMA is calling on people to refrain from unnecessary outings.

(Japanese original by Azusa Yamazaki, Kyushu News Department)

September 20, 2022 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment