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A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine nearly hit a ferry

Nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine in near-miss with ferry ITV News 21 Jan 19, A nuclear-powered Royal Navy submarine was involved in a near-miss with a large passenger ferry, it has emerged.

An investigation has been launched into the previously unreported incident, which occurred in the Irish Sea on November 6.

The ferry was Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It has a capacity for 1,300 passengers and 660 cars.

The submarine was submerged at the depth needed to extend its periscope above the surface of the water.

The Royal Navy would not confirm which of its 10 submarines was involved. They are all nuclear-powered but only four carry Trident nuclear missiles………


January 22, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear meltdown in 1969

Historic nuclear accident dashed Swiss atomic dreams  JAN 21, 2019 

Fifty years ago today, a nuclear meltdown occurred in Switzerland’s first experimental nuclear power station. Built in an underground chamber in Lucens in the western part of the country, it was the site of the worst nuclear accident in Swiss history.

The plant was opened in 1962, with the aim of not only producing energy, but also allowing Switzerland to develop a reactor bearing the “Made in Switzerland” label and enabling experiments with nuclear energy.

But these plans were pushed aside when disaster struck in the plant’s reactor cavity on January 21, 1969. A pressure tube burst which created a power surge leading to the reactor malfunctioning and an explosion. Luckily, a member of staff who was scheduled to be working on the reactor at the time was found safe and sound elsewhere. The plant’s underground design also prevented people and the environment from being harmed.

The accident’s severity registered at 5 out of a possible 7. The concentration of leaked cooling gas that was behind the door of the reactor cavity was lethal. It wasn’t even possible to measure the radioactivity because it was above the maximum level on the measuring instruments.

But the reactor cavern was not completely sealed: the radioactivity spread to the control room 100 metres away. In the machine cavern closest to the reactor, a team involved in shutting down the turbine had been exposed to radiation. A witness report said that since the decontamination showers had been out of order, the workers had to shower in a temporary facility without hot water.

The government ordered an inquiry into the incident and a report was eventually published ten years later. The Swiss Association for Atomic Energy found there had been no major negligence on the part of the plant’s managers. The cause of the incident was corrosion in a pressure tube, brought about by humidity.

January 22, 2019 Posted by | history, incidents, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Further tests to be made on Flamanville nuclear reactor’s faulty weldings

Reuters 21st Jan 2019 French state-owned power company EDF said it would make further tests next
month on faulty weldings at its Flamanville nuclear reactor plant, which
has been plagued by technical problems. “EDF actively continues to
implement the action plan on welds of the main secondary system announced
on 25 July 2018. The ‘hot tests’ are now scheduled to commence during
the second half of February,” EDF said in a statement. EDF said it would
keep the targeted construction costs for Flamanville at 10.9 billion euros
($12.4 billion).

January 22, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission extending license for Seabrook nuclear power BEFORE HEARING ON ITS SAFETY PROBLEMS

Seabrook nuclear power plant license to be extended  NRC planning to allow an additional 20 years, The Eagle Tribune,  By Jack Shea Staff Writer, 20 Jan 19, SEABROOK — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to extend the operating license for the Seabrook nuclear power plant for an additional 20 years, despite an ongoing proceeding related to the plant’s degraded concrete.For several years, NextEra Energy, the plant’s owner, has been seeking a 20-year extension of its current license, which expires in 2030. The plant went online in 1990. Since 2016, NextEra has also been seeking an amendment to the license to express how it plans to deal with concrete degradation caused by alkali-silica reaction, which causes tiny cracks in concrete.

The NRC announced this week that it planned to issue a final no significant hazards consideration determination and license amendment to NextEra “on or about January 22.” The federal commission also said it plans to issue a renewed operating license for Seabrook “on or about January 30.”

………Last year, the local watchdog organization C-10 was granted the right to intervene in an Atomic Safety Licensing Board hearing on concrete degradation at the plant, which is set for this summer. C-10 Executive Director Natalie Hildt Treat expressed frustration this week with the NRC’s decision to approve the license extension before the hearing.

“For the NRC to grant the license amendment — and then approve a license extension out to 2050 – before the public hearing that the ASLB granted on the concrete is just crazy,” Treat said in a press release. “What’s the hurry? Seabrook still has 11 more years on its current operating license. We believe these actions could undermine the safety of the American citizens that NRC is charged with protecting.”

Chris Nord, a Newbury resident and C-10 board member, added, “The unprecedented concrete testing and monitoring methodologies that underpin the license amendment request should be subject to independent peer review prior to their adoption. This is not just good science, but in the case of the deteriorating concrete at Seabrook, this is essential to ensure public safety.” …….

January 21, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board says that Los Alamos National Laboratory still has long-standing safety problems

Nuclear board sees no quick fix for LANL safety issues, By Rebecca Moss |, Jan 17, 2019 

      A national nuclear safety board says long-standing problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory persist several years after work was halted at its plutonium facility and are unlikely to be resolved in less than five years.

Under its former management contractor, the lab in 2017 issued an improvement plan, saying it had created “a significant culture change” at the plutonium facility. But in a report released in late November, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said it disagreed with that assessment, adding managers still have hurdles to overcome.

The board based its conclusions on an August review of incidents in which workers exceeded safety limits for the amount and type of nuclear material that can be placed in a given location, as well as on other rules meant to prevent a runaway nuclear reaction. They said improvements had been slow, staffing levels were inadequate and problems have continued to recur for the same issues.

There also have been several incidents of worker contamination, separate board reports show.

The board is an independent panel that advises the president and Energy Secretary Rick Perry on safety issues at many of the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities.

The lab’s safety program, intended to prevent a runaway chain reaction of nuclear materials, remains short-staffed and has not met many industry standards, the board said in the review, which was sent to Perry in late November.

The board’s report said Los Alamos, which came under a new management contractor in November, has made some improvements — including better labeling of fissile material and some improvements related to safety evaluations — but still failed to fix many recurring problems and likely won’t resolve them in less than five years, in part because of staffing shortages.

Until then, the board wrote, the lab “will continue to operate with elevated risk.”

Matt Nerzig, a spokesman for Los Alamos National Laboratory, declined to comment on the safety board report and referred questions to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In written comments related to the report, board member Joyce Connery wrote, “Given that there is a new prime contractor operating LANL as well as a significant increase in mission scope in the near future, I believe it is important to convey the challenges that remain within the Nuclear Criticality Safety Program.”

In particular, the board found repeated issues at the plutonium facility, known as PF-4, which handles some of Los Alamos’ most high-risk work and is tasked with increasing production of plutonium pits, the grapefruit-sized plutonium metal cores used to trigger nuclear weapons.

The government has outlined plans for Los Alamos to produce dozens of pits every year by 2030, a nuclear weapons modernization mission that has been supported by New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

But the lab so far has developed only five test pits. Production has been plagued by safety concerns, infrastructure problems, work shutdowns and staffing problems, according to letters and reports written by the board and the Department of Energy dating back more than five years.

Increasing plutonium work at Los Alamos could further strain already tenuous conditions at the lab, the safety board said in its report.

Efforts to improve safety procedures are progressing slowly, the board said, in part because the lab did not create clear goals to resolve the problems.

As of October, the board said, the lab had failed to meet standards for more than half of about 400 nuclear safety program measures, and only 11 out of 25 staffers needed for the program were considered fully qualified.

There also are “significant challenges in hiring, qualifying, and retaining sufficient personnel to accomplish … safe operations,” the board said.

In June 2013, federal regulators paused all work at the lab’s plutonium facility for more than a year to address nuclear safety problems.

Since 2017, when the lab reported it had made significant improvements at PF-4, there have been numerous reported safety issues.

In the last two months, the board reported, a four-person crew was contaminated with plutonium-238 at the plutonium facility and a room had to be decontaminated. Los Alamos spokesman Kevin Roark said employees were wearing protective equipment at the time of the event and “all safety systems worked as designed.”

Water also pooled and leaked into a basement in the facility in late November. The board wrote that it was similar to an incident nine months prior, when water had leaked and collected in a basement room that held nuclear waste drums.

Roark, however, said the November incident did not occur where nuclear material is processed, and managers are working to replace the type of faucet that caused the leak with more modern equipment.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Concerns about safety of China’s planned 46 nuclear reactors within a radius of about 100 km from Hong Kong and Macau.

China’s Guangdong to have 26 nuclear reactors, Indigenous Hualong reactors to be built at new megaplant in Huizhou,  JANUARY 17, 2019  China’s southern Guangdong province is on a spree constructing nuclear power plants, with the latest addition to the province’s nuclear plant cluster in the city of Huizhou, 90 kilometers northeast of Hong Kong…..

The 120 billion yuan (US$17.74 billion) megaproject, to be run by the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN), will bring the total number of nuclear reactors in Guangdong, a manufacturing powerhouse and China’s largest provincial economy, to 26.

CGN’s ultimate plan is to boost that number to 46, spanning 11 plants, to power Guangdong’s booming economy, whose gross domestic product in 2018 is tipped to hit the 10-trillion-yuan mark and surpass South Korea and Canada.

The new reactors in Huizhou, already given the go-ahead by China’s environmental watchdog, will be built around China’s indigenous, third generation Hualong (China Dragon) pressurized water nuclear reactor ……..

The first Hualong reactor went live in Fujian province in 2017.

Still, concerns are being raised about the safety of so many nuclear plants, including Daya Bay, Ling’ao, Taishan, Lufeng, Yangjiang and Huizhou, within a radius of about 100 km from Hong Kong and Macau.

Guangdong’s aggressive plans to harness nuclear energy have long stoked fears about safe operations and the disposal of spent fuel rods.

CGN has sought to allay misgivings by promising more transparent consultation, reactor management and notification of incidents, but the company has given scant information about the Huizhou plant, the built-in safety infrastructure and contingency plans.

The company told Xinhua that the National Nuclear Safety Administration would conduct a further assessment of the plant’s design and safety facilities and decide the start of its construction.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Dungeness B nuclear station – safety problems, reactors still shut down

January 19, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

In Scotland, over 700 ‘safety events’ recorded at nuclear bases

More than 700 ‘safety events’ recorded at nuclear bases, News and Star,  19. More than 700 nuclear safety events have been recorded at Scotland’s nuclear bases since 2006, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Defence Minister Stuart Andrew revealed the figures in letters to SNP MP Deidre Brock.

A total of 789 nuclear safety events were recorded at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane and nearby Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport in the 12 years between 2006 and 2018.

Earlier the MoD disclosed 505 incidents had taken place at Faslane, where the majority of the UK’s nuclear submarine fleet is based.   Now, a further letter shows 284 incidents took place at Coulport, where the nuclear warheads are stored and loaded onto the submarines, in the same period

………A Category A incident took place in 2008 when water overflowed from a now-decommissioned primary effluent barge.

Category A events have “actual or high potential for radioactive release to the environment of quantities in excess of IRR99 notification limits”.

……….In response to parliamentary questions from Ms Brock, the MoD also disclosed there have been 22 fires on its nuclear armed or nuclear powered submarines since June 2015.

“It’s a shocking record of accidents and incidents in places where the most dangerous weapons on the planet are,” Ms Brock said.

“We already knew that there were 505 nuclear safety events on board submarines while they were berthed at Faslane and now we find that there have been another 284 in other locations at Faslane and at Coulport where weapons are handled.”

She added: “One bad accident would be enough to wipe Scotland out and the safety record is appalling.

“Even the risks from the nuclear reactors on board submarines is too high – as the spillage from the effluent barge shows.”

January 15, 2019 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom to manage accident plan at the Fukushima NPP

Russia’s Rosatom wins two bids for accident management at Fukushima NPP, January 12, 2019, MOSCOW, Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom has been engaged in the nuclear control plan at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant and has already won two bids in that project, Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev said in a televised interview with Rossiya’24 news channel on Saturday.

“We have been engaged by Japan to implement the nuclear accident management plan at the Fukushima NPP. We have won two tenders and are getting ahead,” he said.

In September 2017, Rosatom’s First Deputy CEO Kirill Komarov said that Rosatom offered help to Japanese counterparts in handling the crippled Fukushima NPP.

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima-1 power plant in March 2011 was triggered by an earthquake-induced tsunami that knocked out vital reactor cooling systems. This resulted in three nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen explosions and a massive release of radioactive waste, which contaminated the surrounding area. Clean-up operations continue at the power plant and adjacent territories. According to the current action plan, full decommissioning of the station may take place only around 2040.

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Dr Gordon Edwards explains the background to former NRC chairman’s opposition to nuclear power

Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.     
Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 1 Background:  by Dr Gordon Edwards, January 11, 2019 Commercial nuclear power plants are water-cooled. They are fuelled by ceramic uranium fuel pellets stacked inside long narrow rods made of zirconium metal. A number of these rods are bound together into a fuel assembly — in Canada such an assembly is called a fuel bundle.
Heat is produced by splitting uranium atoms. That heat is transported by the liquid water coolant which flows past the zirconium tubes containing the fuel. The heat is used to produce steam that will turn the blades of a steam turbine to generate electricity.
As the uranium fuel undergoes nuclear fission (splitting uranium atoms), hundreds of varieties of intensely radioactive byproducts build up inside the fuel. These are (1) broken fragments of uranium atoms, called “fission products”; (2) heavier-than-uranium elements, including plutonium, called “transuranic actinides”. These byproducts are millions of times more radioactive than the original fuel.
  Loss of Cooling During a severe nuclear accident, the cooling is lost. Even if the reactor has been safely shut down just beforehand, and the fission process has been totally arrested, the temperature of the fuel will still soar to destructive levels without adequate cooling.
 The problem is that radioactivity cannot be shut off. The radioactive byproducts created during nuclear fission remain in the fuel, and they continue to generate heat. In the case of a 1000 megawatt reactor, immediately following shutdown, over 200 megawatts of heat continue to be generated by the ongoing atomic disintegrations of the radioactive waste byproducts. After one hour this drops to about 30 megawatts of heat, which is still a tremendous rate of thermal energy release.
If the coolant is no longer circulating — perhaps because of a station blackout, as at Fukushima, or due to a large pipe break followed by a failure of emergency cooling — that “residual heat” or “decay heat” will not be removed from the core of the reactor.
Make no mistake, even 30 megawatts is a lot of heat — unless it is rapidly removed, that heat is more than enough to melt the fuel and surrounding structural materials of a nuclear reactor at a temperature of 2800 degrees C (5000 degrees F). That’s more than twice the melting point of steel. It’s the beginning of a partial or total core meltdown.
Hydrogen Gas Buildup At about 1800 degrees C (3300 degrees F), long before the fuel melts, the solid zirconium “cladding” surrounding the fuel starts to melt. Any failure of the zirconium cladding allows the escape, under high pressure, of dozens of radioactive waste byproducts that were previously trapped inside the fuel. The superheated steam that now fills the reactor vessel is suddenly infused with a multitude of radioactive gases, vapours, aerosols and ashes, all ready to be expelled into the atmosphere if there is any failure of containment.
At an even lower temperature, 700-800 degrees C, steam reacts chemically with the zirconium metal. Recall that water molecules are combinations of hydrogen and oxygen atoms (H2O). The blistering hot zirconium metal strips the oxygen out of the steam, forming zirconium oxide, while releasing all the left-over hydrogen. Hydrogen gas mixes with the steam-filled radioactively contaminated air to form an explosive mixture. Any spark will detonate the hydrogen in a devastating blast, more powerful than a natural gas explosion.
Such hydrogen gas explosions almost always accompany a nuclear meltdown. There were several such explosions during the partial meltdown of the NRX reactor at Chalk River, Ontario, in 1952; during the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in Pennsylvania in1979; and during the triple meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan in 2011. Such explosions will often damage the containment envelope of the nuclear reactor, spewing highly radioactive materials into the outer atmosphere.
Radioactive Exposures People, animals and plants are irradiated from above by “skyshine” from gamma-radiation-emitting gases passing overhead. Metallic radioactive vapours such as cesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90 will condense on vegetation, soil, buildings, skin, clothing, and surfaces of all kinds, leaving a lasting legacy of radioactive contamination, irradiating living things by “groundshine”. And these radioactive materials gradually work their way into the food chain, sometimes re-concentrating along the way, yielding contaminated crops, meat, fish, water, milk, mushrooms, berries, and much else besides. Ingesting or inhaling such materials will lead to the internal irradiation of people and animals by radioactive materials that lodge in the lungs, the bones, the blood, or the soft organs of the body.
For example, radioactive iodine condenses on pastureland, and the concentration of radioactive iodine in the grass becomes about 100 times greater than in the air above the pasture. The concentration of radioactive iodine in cow’s milk is about 100-1000 times greater than it is in the grass they eat. Then, when a young child drinks the cow’s milk, the concentration of radioactive iodine in the child’s thyroid gland is about 7-10 times greater than it is in the contaminated milk. So, a child’s thyroid can be exposed to radioactive iodine levels that are several orders of magnitude greater than that found in the contaminated air that they might breathe.
Radioactive cesium accumulates in meat and fish, often making them unsuitable for human consumption. Even today, hunters in Germany and the Czech Republic are compensated by their respective governments if they kill a wild boar, because they cannot eat the meat due to radioactive cesium contamination from the Chernobyl accident 33 years ago. In Japan, wild boars in the Fukushima forested areas have levels of radioactive cesium in their bodies that are 10 to 150 times greater than the maximum permissible levels for human consumption. Boars love mushrooms, and fungi are especially adept at concentrating radioactivity.
 Nuclear Regulatory Commission ex-Chairman Gregory Jaczko is adamantly opposed to the idea of keeping existing nuclear reactors running as a way to offset climate change, because each reactor is like a time bomb ready to explode if the cooling is cut off by a total station blackout, by equipment failure, by major pipe breaks, or by acts of warfare, sabotage, or terrorism. The societal dislocation caused by the spread of radioactive material over wide areas, affecting drinking water, food and habitation for decades or centuries, is as bad as the ravages of climate change for the communities so affected.
As Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has a unique insight into the factors that make nuclear power plants dangerous even after so-called “safe” shutdown. The Ex-NRC regulator argues against nuclear energy as a tactic to fight climate change 4 knows, too, that the arguments levied against renewables are ultimately incorrect, as technology to store energy and to rechannel it is growing by leaps and bounds. Investing tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into maintaining old nuclear reactors, which are becoming increasingly dangerous as they age, is simply stealing money away from investments in the renewable revolution that is our best hope for a sustainable energy future.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Five of France’s EDF nuclear reactors shut down, awaiting regulatory approval

Creusot: 5 EDF reactors still without ASN green light. Five nuclear
reactors are still waiting for an operating license from the Nuclear Safety
Authority (ASN) as part of the investigation of the manufacturing records
of the Creusot plant, while the other 53 have already received fire green,
Creusot’s spokesperson said .

“We are still waiting for elements of answers from EDF,” she said to explain the delay of the
investigation which was to end on December 31, 2018. The five reactors
concerned are Cattenom 4 (1,300 MW ), Fessenheim 1 (880 MW), Flamanville 2
(1,330 MW), Golfech 1 (1,310 MW) and Tricastin 2 (915 MW). All five
reactors will be shut down for maintenance in the coming weeks, as follows:
Cattenom 4 (January 19th to April 11th), Fessenheim 1 (January 19th to
March 20th), Flamanville 2 (January 10th to July 10), Golfech 1 (February
16 to March 23) and Tricastin 2 (January 26 to April 1). The reactors will
not be able to restart without prior approval from ASN.

January 12, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Russian blogger reveals photo of venting cloud of radioactive dust from 1987 nuclear test gone wrong

Photo shows venting radioactivity from 1987 nuclear bomb tests at Novaya Zemlya

The photo of a nuclear bomb test going terribly wrong in August 1987 is revealed by a Russian blogger. By Thomas Nilsen– January 08, 2019

It is two hours past midnight on August 2nd 1987 when the Soviet nuclear weapons scientists push the button triggering a series of five nuclear devises inside a tunnel at the Matochkin Shar nuclear testing site.

A load boom follows and the ground is shaking like an earthquake. A huge dust cloud blows out from the tunnel supposed to be hermetical sealed by meters thick stone- and concrete walls.

The radioactive dust cloud came as a big surprise to the personnel witnessing.

Now, more than 30 years later, a photo from the accident is published by Russian blogger who focuses on nuclear thematic and also posts photos on twitter.

Leakage of radioactivity from the August tests in 1987 is known from before, listed in a 2005 publication by Science and Global Security. Now, the photo from the site gives the public a better understanding of the size of tunnel collapse.

The photo is taken no more than a kilometer from the tunnel entrance and shows a military helicopter parked in in front. Each of the tunnels in the area where underground nuclear weapons testing took place from 1964 to 1990 has its own code number. The one collapsing on this photo is known as tunnel A-37A.

According to a list of all underground nuclear weapons tests at Novaya Zemlya, published by Science and Global Security, the total yield of the five devises exploded on August 2nd were 150 KT, ten times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

The leakages of radioactivity was estimated to 56 TBq. The gamma radiation near the entrance to the tunnel was measured to more than 500 R/h. First radioactive gases were detected 90 seconds after the blast.

500 R/h is about 1000 times the annual dose for an average human. Exposed directly, such dose could be lethal within an hour or two.

In the book USSR Nuclear Explosions about the northern test site at Novaya Zemlya, published in 1991, a group of Soviet radiation experts writes about the accident. «A powerful burst of a radioactive occurred just above the mouth of the adit, just 1,5 minutes after the explosion. It was later established that gas penetrated along a geologic fault that extended along the adit axis and hot gases melted the surface ice.»

The authors describe how an emergency program was immediately instituted evacuating all staff within a period of a few minutes. No cases of radiation sickness occurred amon the test site personnel at Novaya Zemlya.

Mountian Moiseev, where the nuclear weapons tests took place, is located about 10 kilometers south of Severny, the military settlement on the shores of the Matochkin Shar serving as the centre for the nuclear test site.

The last real nuclear weapon test at Novaya Zemlya took place on October 24th 1990. Today, only subcritical nuclear weapon tests are conducted on the Russian Arctic archipelago.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Vermont-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution will participate in NRC conference on wastes regulation

Local nuke group going to regulatory meeting Brattleboro, Vt.-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution will participate in this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission enforcement conference on design failures in radioactive-waste storage containers like those at Vermont Yankee and several other nuclear plants. Wednesday’s conference at the federal regulator’s Bethesda, Md. headquarters follows its complaint against Holtec International for its adopted design of steel and concrete spent-fuel casks without federal approval.

NRC officials say the company made changes after discovering a loose “bolt” last March at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California. The small threaded posts connect to the bottom of shims in the canister of the cask to create space between multiple aluminum shims and the bottom of the canister to keep the basket stabilized in each of the casks.

The nuclear watchdog group’s technical adviser, Raymond Shadis, along with and board member Clay Turnbull, plan to monitor and offer comments on the canisters.

The coalition twice intervened before Vermont’s public utilities commission on using the Holtec steel canister-in-a-concrete-cask design at the Vernon plant, where 58 spent-fuel casks are now in place awaiting eventual transfer to a federal repository. It says its involvement helped result in more frequent radiation and temperature reporting, more conservative cask spacing, a protective line-of-site barrier wall and prohibition of using corrosive de-icing salts.

The coalition, which has repeatedly advocated for partially buried cask or earthen berm protection for the shuttered Vermont plant’s spent fuel, also commented on a previous Holtec design change, which it says resulted in a more in-depth NRC staff safety analysis.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Holtec altered the cask design without a written evaluation, violating federal safety regulations.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Increasing major cracks in Hunterston nuclear reactors: call to close them permanently

Ferret 9th Jan 2019 Pressure is mounting to keep two nuclear power reactors at Hunterston in
North Ayrshire closed after the company that runs them, EDF Energy, said it
had found more cracks and was again postponing plans to restart.
The French company now estimates that there are 370 major cracks in the graphite core
of reactor three and 200 cracks in the core of reactor four.  Reactor three has been closed down since 9 March 2018, and reactor four since 2 October.
The day after The Ferret revealed in November that 350 cracks had been
discovered in reactor three in breach of an operating safety limit, EDF
postponed restarting both reactors to January and February.
On 9 January the group of nuclear-free local authorities is holding a safety briefing on
Hunterston for MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. Experts will call for the
reactors to stay closed rather than risking a nuclear accident, and for new
jobs to be created in Ayrshire. Nuclear policy consultant, Dr Ian Fairlie,
will argue that the increasing number of cracks in the ageing reactors
spelled their end. “There is only one thing you can do and that is close
them, as they cannot be repaired,” he told The Ferret.

January 10, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Extreme weather shuts down Dounreay nuclear site: all 1,200 staff have been evacuated

Dounreay nuclear site closed due to high winds David McPhee,  7 Jan 19The Dounreay nuclear site has been closed due to extremely high winds, according to a spokeswoman.

The site was officially closed at 1pm after the bosses took advice from the Met Office.

All 1,200 staff have been evacuated after winds had battered the nuclear site for a couple of hours.

A spokeswoman for Dounreay Site Restoration (DSRL) said “the safety of staff was paramount”, adding that DSRL “take their lead from the Met Office, resulting in us officially closing the site at 1pm this afternoon.”

DSRL are decommissioning the site at a cost of £2.32 billion. – 07/01/2019

January 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment