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Faslane nuclear submarine base had hundreds of health and safety incidents in 2018

Daily Record 3rd March 2019 More than 500 “significant” health and safety incidents were recorded at the Faslane nuclear submarine base last year, the Sunday Mail can  reveal. Documents released to the SNP under Freedom of Information for the Royal Navy facility near Helensburgh, in Dunbartonshire, show the figure has almost quadrupled since 2014.

Last year, there were 481 health and safety incidents at the high security base compared to 123 in 2015, 377 in 2016 and 501 in 2017. A statement confirmed that under Naval command, only those deemed as “significant” were now recorded on central systems.
https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/faslane-nuclear-fears-after-500-14079043

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March 4, 2019 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

New defects, after a series of problems and delays, in France’s supposed “nuclear flagship” Flamanville

France Info 1st March 2019  Machine Translation] Cracks, failed welds … How the site of the EPR Flamanville has turned into a fiasco to nearly 11 billion euros.

The third generation nuclear reactor, which was to take office in 2012, will finally be operational only in 2020 after the discovery of new defects. Back on those days when the yard slipped. It was to be the flagship of the French nuclear industry, the EPR of Flamanville (Manche) is today its ball.

The construction site of the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) experienced numerous delays, the last of which occurred on July 25, 2018, after the discovery of poorly made welds. Originally scheduled for 2012, its entry into service is (for the moment) postponed to 2020. And nothing says that the yard will be spared by new counter-time. The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) thus pinned EDF on Wednesday (February 27th) for a lack of “traceability” of certain equipment qualification operations on the EPR.

https://www.francetvinfo.fr/societe/nucleaire/fissures-soudures-ratees-comment-le-chantier-de-l-epr-de-flamanville-s-est-transforme-en-un-fiasco-a-pres-de-11-milliards-d-euros_2874077.amp 

March 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Is it safe to keep ageing nuclear stations running until 2054?

Peach Bottom, other U.S. nuclear power plants could be running until 2054. Is it safe? The Inquirer, by Andrew Maykuth,  February 28, 2019   …….. The Peach Bottom plant, 60 miles west of Philadelphia near the Maryland border, is operating under a 20-year extension from its original 40-year license, like many of America’s aging fleet of nuclear reactors. Last year it became one of the first plants to apply for what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls a “Subsequent License Renewal” — that would permit the reactors to run through 2053 and 2054, when they turn 80 years old.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Huge workforce at Flamanville nuclear reactor, employed to fix unsafe welds

**Flamanville*  Tendance Ouest 1st March 2019 EDF announced that “500 people will intervene to take over twenty welds” non-compliant on the site of the nuclear reactor. A team that will add to
the current workforce of the site, already 3800 people. The operation
should take place in the fall, “after our hot tests , ” said Bertrand
Michoud, director of facilities at the EPR Flamanville.

https://www.tendanceouest.com/actualite-313403-epr-de-flamanville-500-personnes-pour-reprendre-20-soudures-sur-le-chantier.html

March 4, 2019 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear watchdog concerned at possibility of volcano near nuclear station

RA eyes seabed watch of caldera near Kagoshima nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun, By CHIKAKO KAWAHARA/ Staff Writer March 3, 2019  The nightmare scenario of a volcanic crater erupting and spewing a pyroclastic flow that engulfs a nuclear plant, causing catastrophic levels of radiation to leak into the atmosphere, doesn’t appear on the horizon … just yet.But the nation’s nuclear watchdog is taking no chances. It plans to install seabed sensors to monitor potential crustal deformations on the Aira Caldera, located just 40 kilometers from the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Little is known of processes that lead to giant eruptions of calderas, or ground depressions formed by volcanic activity, due to a lack of observation data. Such eruptions are extremely rare and occurs every 10,000 years in Japan.

The Aira Caldera, in Kagoshima Bay, was the site of a giant eruption around 30,000 years ago.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has so far relied on land-based seismic and other sensors to indirectly monitor magma activity and other changes beneath the seabed.

Starting in the new fiscal year from April, the NRA will set up seismic sensors and water-pressure gauges on the seafloor for additional monitoring……..

Huge calderas exist within a 160-km radius of other nuclear plants in Japan, including Kyushu Electric’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture and Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari plant. The NRA intends to conduct studies in those areas, too………http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903030001.html 

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Northern Japan likely to experience a magnitude 7 or 8 earthquake in the next 30 years.

Japan earthquake risk: MAGNITUDE 8 earthquake predicted to strike RING OF FIRE near Japan

A MAGNITUDE 8 or 7 earthquake will likely hit Japan along the so-called Ring of Fire in the next 30 years, Japanese geologists have warned. By SEBASTIAN KETTLEY, Express UK , Wed, Feb 27, 2019 A Japanese Government panel said on Tuesday, February 26, the risk of a major earthquake in the near future is high. A magnitude 7 or 8 quake is expected to strike the Japan Trench just off the northeast coast of Japan. The oceanic trench forms part of the Pacific Ring of Fire – a hotspot of volcanic activity and earthquakes along the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Japan’s Earthquake Research Committee said there is at least a 50 percent chance of magnitude 7 to 7.5 earthquake in the Fukushima Prefecture……..

Chances of another earthquake in the region are now up by 10 percent on the last Earthquake forecast released in March 2011.  ……

What is the Ring of Fire?The Ring of Fire is a major hotbed of seismic and volcanic activity stretching along the horseshoe-like basin of the Pacific Ocean.

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes strike along the Ring of Fire.

And about 75 percent of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes are found in this part of the world.

The incredible activity in Ring of Fire is the result of tectonic plate movements deep beneath the waves of the Pacific Ocean.https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1093212/Japan-earthquake-magnitude-8-earthquake-ring-of-fire-japan-trench

February 28, 2019 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

U.S. Department of Energy changed safety rules for nuclear lab – workers excluded from health oversight

Nuclear safety board still wary of DOE changes, BY MARK OSWALD / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER February 23rd, 2019  Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – At the end of a hourslong meeting in Albuquerque on Thursday night, officials from U.S. Department of Energy agencies had failed to persuade an independent nuclear safety board and a contingent of interested New Mexicans that a DOE rules change won’t restrict efforts to keep the state’s national laboratory sites safe.

Bruce Hamilton, a Republican who chairs the presidentially appointed Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, said DOE officials had continued to downplay the impact of DOE Order 140.1, which last May placed new limits on the board’s 30-year-old oversight role.

“We have repeatedly heard from DOE representatives that they really don’t mean what they wrote (in the rule) or at least that they really don’t intend to follow what they wrote,” said Hamilton. He said this is a “particularly bizarre argument coming out of the nuclear culture that has set the standard for following the written rules to the letter.”

The new rule says the private contractors that manage facilities like the Los Alamos and Sandia national labs can’t respond to DNFSB information requests without notifying or the approval of a DOE liaison and that the weapons facilities can refuse to provide information that is “pre-decisional” or that the DOE determines on its own is not needed by DNFSB inspectors to do their jobs.

Also, the rule excludes more than 70 percent of weapons complex facilities from DNFSB’s formal safety recommendations that require a response from the DOE.

The definition of “public health and safety” under DNFSB oversight was changed to exclude the safety of workers at nuclear facilities. The safety board’s regular reports posted on the web often focus on whether protocols to protect employees, and not just the public in general, are being followed.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad could be one of the sites most affected, as the underground nuclear waste storage facility’s “hazard category” would fall outside formal DNFSB jurisdiction.

Coincidentally, at Thursday’s meeting at the Albuquerque Convention Center, Don Hancock, of the watchdog Southwest Research and Information Center, broke some news about WIPP. The DOE’s own safety and security assessment wing will investigate WIPP contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC over “industrial hygiene” issues.

DOE’s Office of Enterprise Assessments says on its website that it will probe incidents at WIPP that took place from July through October last year including “multiple overexposures to hazardous chemicals, including carbon tetrachloride, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as a series of heat-stress incidents.”……

Board members said they believed the DOE representatives present were sincere and had good intentions. But they said the issues about the DNFSB’s role under the new rule can’t be left to “personalities.”

Board member Joyce L. Connery said the comments by the NNSA folks at the meeting don’t match up with “the literal words” of the DOE order and that the rule should be suspended and revised. Board members also said the language of the rule isn’t consistent with federal law, including the Atomic Energy Act.

During a long public comment period, Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico went the board members one better and said the rule is “flat-out illegal.” He said that as the Los Alamos lab ramps up the production of plutonium “pits,” the cores of nuclear weapons, and safety lapses are reported by the DNFSB, the Department of Energy wants to “shoot the messenger.” …….. https://www.abqjournal.com/1284667/nuclear-safety-board-still-wary-of-doe-changesnew-order-says-contractors-that-manage-labs-cant-respond-to-information-requests-without-notifying-or-the-approval-of-a-doe.html

February 25, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Safety problem at Areva’s Olkiluoto nuclear reactor in Finland


WSAU 22nd Feb 2019  Safety problem found at Areva’s Finnish reactor before start-up –
regulator. Finland’s nuclear regulator has identified a safety issue at
Olkiluoto 3, a 1.6-gigawatt reactor built by France’s Areva, now renamed
Orano, and the problem needs to be fixed before the unit can receive a
permit to operate, the regulator told Reuters. The reactor is due to start
producing electricity in January next year after a decade-long delay. Part
of the pressuriser, a primary circuit component of the reactor, is
vibrating at levels that exceed safety limits, said Pekka Valikangas, the
regulator’s section head for nuclear reactor regulation, ahead of an
important assessment which is due to be published on Monday. “The test
results show that these vibrations are not approved,” Valikangas said in an
interview.

https://wsau.com/news/articles/2019/feb/22/exclusive-safety-problem-found-at-arevas-finnish-reactor-before-start-up-regulator/

February 25, 2019 Posted by | Finland, safety | Leave a comment

Pressure on California’s Governor Newsom to Inspect Aged Diablo Canyon Nuclear Unit One Before it Re-Fuels

Hollywood Stars, Grassroots Activists, State Senator, Mayor & Major Organizations Ask Gov. Newsom to Fully Inspect Aged Diablo Canyon Nuclear Unit One Before it Re-Fuels

Contact: Mimi Kennedy (315) 246-7333; Harvey Wasserman (614) 738-3646 – solartopia@gmail.com; Myla Reson (310) 663-7660  – myla.reson@gmail.com

Dear Gov. Newsom,

We join hundreds of other Californians, including Sen. Ben Allen and San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, who are calling, writing, faxing and e-mailing, asking that you take action at Diablo Canyon to protect our safety and economic future. Under PG&E’s current bankruptcy and criminal proceedings, your position gives you wide ranging powers to act.

Diablo Unit One is now shut for refueling. We feel that given the evidence of embrittlement, it is very important to halt the loading of new fuel into the reactor until the public resolution of seven critical issues:

  1. Diablo One was last tested for EMBRITTLEMENT in 2003; it can now be easily tested while Unit One is shut.
  2. Diablo One’s key components must be tested for CRACKING, easily done now with ultra-sound.
  3. PG&E has DEFERRED ITS MAINTENANCE at Diablo since at least 2010.
  4. Nuclear Regulatory Commission site inspector Michael Peck, among many others, has doubts that Diablo can withstand a credible earthquake.
  5. Serious questions remain about how PG&E intends to handle Diablo’s RADIOACTIVE WASTES.
  6. US Rep. Salud Carbajal has joined many others in questioning the COMPETENCE of the bankrupt, criminally-convicted PG&E to manage these two very large reactors in his home district.
  7. Studies show Diablo’s POWER IS NOT NEEDED, and in fact impedes the use of renewables here in California.

We ask that BEFORE DIABLO ONE REFUELS you subject these and other critical issues to open public scrutiny. The decision on Diablo’s future must be made by you in conjunction with the Legislature, the CPUC, state agencies, the courts and the public.

We thank you very much for giving this your serious consideration. We feel this is an exciting and crucial opportunity for you to continue your groundbreaking leadership in bringing more safety, responsibility, and wise energy policy to all Californians. Let us keep showing the way to a safer (and more sustainable) energy future.

Signatories (partial list):………

Separate petitions, resolutions & other supporting letters & documents are from: …….  http://solartopia.org/hollywood-stars-grassroots-activists-state-senator-mayor-major-organizations-ask-gov-newsom-to-fully-inspect-aged-diablo-canyon-nuclear-unit-one-before-it-re-fuels/

Attachments area

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

Japan’s Nuclear Authority investigated Tepco’s failure to report fires, glitches at nuclear plants

  TEPCO sat by idly on reports of fires, glitches at nuclear plants, By YUSUKE OGAWA/ Staff WriterAsahi Shimbun 14th Feb 2019 , Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn’t even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO’s headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.

A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.” TEPCO’s safety regulations stipulate that blazes, glitches in air-conditioning and other problems at nuclear plants must be dealt with by the main office of the operator.
ttp://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902140054.html

February 18, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission removes a critical safety regulation

NRC Guts a Critical Safety Regulation, Recklessly Disregarding the Critical Lessons of the Fukushima Disaster https://www.ucsusa.org/press/2019/nrc-guts-critical-safety-regulation-recklessly-disregarding-critical-lessons-fukushima?fbclid=IwAR0-uToPAgtkdHj4rZ9dqJ5n7skVycU6y5UxjG_a_12lt7ZLhIwKCHfwZSM#.XGdxVOQzbGg– January 24, 2019  Decision Will Leave U.S. Nuclear Plants Dangerously Vulnerable to Major Floods and Earthquakes

WASHINGTON  —The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Republican majority, in a 3-2 vote, approved a stripped-down version of a rule originally intended to protect U.S. nuclear plants against extreme natural events, such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011.

The commission majority struck a provision from the draft final rule the NRC staff recommended in December 2016 requiring plant owners to protect their facilities from the real-world hazards they face today instead of “design-basis” hazards that were estimated using now-obsolete information and methodologies when the plants were built decades ago.

The commission majority’s act will leave unresolved how the NRC will address new information showing that plants may experience bigger floods and earthquakes than they are now required to withstand. It is possible that the commission will not require all plant owners whose facilities face greater hazards to make structural upgrades.

“Nearly eight years after the Fukushima accident, the NRC continues to disregard a critical lesson: Nuclear plants must be protected against the most severe natural disasters they could face today—not those estimated 40 years ago,” said Dr. Edwin Lyman, senior scientist and acting director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

After Fukushima, an NRC task force recommended that the NRC “order licensees to reevaluate the seismic and flooding hazards at their sites … and if necessary, update their design basis and SSCs [structures, systems and components] important to safety to protect against the updated hazards.”

To date, the NRC has only implemented the first part of the recommendation: Owners have reevaluated seismic and flooding hazards. What they found is not reassuring. For instance, the flooding reevaluations revealed that roughly two-thirds of U.S nuclear plants face hazards beyond what they were originally designed to handle, including higher flood levels from  extreme precipitation, upstream dam failure and storm surge. The reevaluated flood height for local intense precipitation for the Palisades plant in Michigan, for example, was more than 25 feet higher than the level considered in the plant’s original design. Similar concerns were identified in many seismic risk evaluations.

Despite these findings, the NRC failed to implement the second part of the task force recommendation to require plant owners to strengthen their defenses against greater hazards. The rule that was approved today was originally intended to close that gap. The commission majority’s action today removed that requirement and will simply maintain the uncertain—and inadequate—status quo.

“The NRC must require plant owners to upgrade their facilities based on the best current information, the most realistic analyses, and the potentially devastating impacts of increased flooding from climate change,” said Dr. Lyman. “Failing to do so will leave some nuclear plants dangerously unprepared and needlessly invite disaster.”

February 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

A headache for Britain – its reliance on China for nuclear technology

UK’s reliance on China’s nuclear tech poses test for policymakers, Britain risks alienating Beijing if it scraps power deals over security concerns, Ft.com, 15 Feb 19, 

The UK has no easy way to block China’s ambitions to export nuclear reactor technology to Britain on security grounds, despite growing public anxiety about Chinese involvement in sensitive infrastructure, according to people familiar with the situation. The government’s willingness to permit the state-owned utility, CGN, to participate in the UK’s nuclear power generation programme has raised eyebrows in recent months as Chinese investment has come under hostile scrutiny, both in Europe and the US.

In October, an assistant US secretary of state, Christopher Ashley Ford, even warned the UK explicitly against partnering with CGN, saying that Washington had evidence that the business was engaged in taking civilian technology and converting it to military uses. More recently, concerns about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei and cyber security have also prompted calls for the government to back away from closer energy ties. But government policies requiring nuclear projects to be “developer-led”, and interlocking commitments given to Chinese investors by David Cameron’s government in 2014, make it awkward for the government to reverse course………..

Is Chinese involvement really a problem? Opposition to the deal ranges from the strategic to the practical. Economist Dieter Helm said he finds it astonishing that an independent nuclear military power should be “complacent about allowing potential enemies into the core of its nuclear technologies”. Some critics also worry about the availability of fuel and spares in what will be a 60-year plant should Britain and China fall out………..

The bigger risk to CGN’s ambitions may be the UK’s waning appetite for more nuclear reactors, and the lack of competitive tension among developers in seeking new deals. A report last summer from the National Infrastructure Commission warned against “rushing” to support more nuclear stations and suggesting only one more be agreed before 2025, preferring to place bigger bets on renewable energy.

The government has been lobbied by EDF to consider a new form of financing for nuclear, known as the regulated asset base model, which would impose a charge on consumers during the construction phase, helping to reduce the project’s cost of capital, and potentially unlocking private sector investment. This could make the highly geared French group less dependent on Chinese capital to proceed with Sizewell C. According to one civil servant, the business department, BEIS, is considering these proposals “very seriously”.

In the meantime, CGN, which declined to comment on its UK operations, continues to invest heavily in the UK. The total is £2.7bn and counting on Hinkley, the design assessment for the Bradwell reactor and 340 megawatts of renewables plant. According to a source close to CGN: “This is an important year and it is important to remember that the company is a utility, not a bank.” “The Chinese see this UK deal as a strategic imperative and seem intent to do what it takes to make it happen,” said the consultant. “If the UK has changed its mind, it is going to be hard to let them down gently.” https://www.ft.com/content/7734e3be-2f6f-11e9-8744-e7016697f225

February 16, 2019 Posted by | China, politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

USA’s nuclear command, control and communications network (NC3) is vulnerable to electronic attacks and interference.

Report: Updating the military’s nuclear communications systems a complex and expensive challenge, Space News, by Sandra Erwin — February 14, 2019 Early warning and communications satellites that support the NC3 system are vulnerable to electronic attacks and interference.WASHINGTON — A new report released on Thursday on Capitol Hill makes the case for billions of dollars in investments in the nation’s nuclear command, control and communications network known as NC3.

The report was co-produced by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute and the MITRE Corporation. It cautions that while the United States is investing in a new generation of nuclear missiles, submarines and bombers, it will lack a “credible nuclear deterrent if it does not also possess a nuclear command and control system that provides ‘no fail’ communications to nuclear forces in a future environment that will include unique threats and challenges.”

MITRE senior vice president William LaPlante, one of the authors of the report, said the NC3 system today works fine but it needs to transition to a new architecture so it can be integrated with the cutting-edge nuclear platforms that the Pentagon is developing such as the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and the B-21 stealth bomber. The problem essentially is that these are 21st century weapon systems whereas NC3 still uses technology from the 1970s.

The NC3 system includes warning satellites and radars; communications satellites, aircraft, and ground stations; fixed and mobile command posts; and the control centers for nuclear systems.

The report says the early warning and communications satellites that support the NC3 system are vulnerable to electronic attacks and interference. Satellite constellations such as the Space Based Infrared System and the Defense Support System are the basic tactical warning systems of the NC3 enterprise. The 1970s-vintage DSP satellites will be out of service in a few years. The newer SBIRS satellites are more advanced but the Pentagon worries that they could be targeted with counterspace weapons.

When SBIRS was conceived, the thinking was that satellites in higher geosynchronous orbits were off limits to attack. “Today, however, space, even in the geosynchronous realm, is no longer a sanctuary,” the report cautions. “Space congestion increasingly puts U.S. national security space assets at risk and has the potential to create radio interference for data transmitted to and from these assets. But most disturbing and profound is the end of space as a sanctuary domain — space is likely to be a battleground.”

The same concerns apply to communications satellites. ……. https://spacenews.com/report-updating-the-militarys-nuclear-communications-systems-a-complex-and-expensive-challenge/

February 16, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s Kyushu Electric to scrap aging nuclear reactor at Genkai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc said on Wednesday it will decommission an aging reactor at its Genkai nuclear plant as the country’s power industry struggles to meet new nuclear safety standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. 13 Feb 19, 

This will bring the number of reactors being scrapped to 17 since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant nearly eight years ago.

The move comes as Japan’s return to nuclear power is slowly gathering pace, although the industry still faces public opposition, court challenges and unfavorable economics.

Kyushu Electric will scrap the No.2 reactor at the Genkai plant, about 930 km (580 miles) west of Tokyo. ……

Many of Japan’s reactors remain shut, with only nine operating, while they undergo relicensing to meet new standards set after the Fukushima crisis highlighted shortcomings in regulation.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-kyushu-elec-pwr/japans-kyushu-electric-to-scrap-aging-nuclear-reactor-at-genkai-idUSKCN1Q20Y3

February 14, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

California’s Dangerous Diablo Nuke Hangs in Gov. Newsom’s Hands

February 11, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment