The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

University of Manchester partners with Chinese government agency

Birmingham joins China’s nuclear regulator for safe and clean energy research Dec 2018 University of Birmingham experts are partnering with Chinese nuclear regulators in helping develop cleaner, safer and more sustainable civil atomic energy.

The University has signed an agreement with the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Centre (NSC), Ministry of Ecology and Environment to work on collaborative education and research in nuclear policy, safety and regulation, as well as the environmental impact and assessment of nuclear radiation.

Following an earlier visit of a University of Birmingham team to NSC headquarters in Beijing, a senior delegation headed by Deputy-Director General CHAI Guohang visited Birmingham to further develop the collaboration and sign the agreement. The visit was attended by a representative from the Chinese Embassy in London.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the University of Birmingham, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Schofield commented: “The University of Birmingham is delighted to partner with NSC, to work together in the research and education of civil nuclear safety, policy and regulation. This is such an important area for both our countries as we develop civil nuclear power as a key part of clean and sustainable energy production.

“We are very proud of the University’s accomplishments in having the largest and longest continually-running civil nuclear education programmes in the UK, matched by a diverse research capability, and with influence on the development of UK nuclear energy policy. We look forward to working with NSC to continue the development of safe and efficient civil nuclear system in UK and China.”

As the nuclear regulator of China, NSC affiliates directly to the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment, and provides all-round support and assurance in safety regulation and administration of China’s civil nuclear facilities and radiation protection.

In the development of civil nuclear power in China to meet its increasing energy demand, NSC is actively forming a wide range of collaborations with high level domestic and internal partners, including with IAEA and the UKs ONR.

The NSC Deputy-Director General Mr CHAI Guohang said: “As one of the top 100 world universities, the University of Birmingham strength in nuclear science and engineering, its work in nuclear policy and its long standing achievements in civil nuclear education and research are well-known. For these reasons we chose Birmingham as our first international university partner. We believe our collaboration will deliver successful and mutually beneficial results.”


December 20, 2018 Posted by | Education, UK | Leave a comment

Will 1000s of Small Nuclear Reactors, built super-fast, save the world from climate change?

Tom Burke 28th Nov 2018 , For nuclear power to play a significant role globally in dealing with climate change we would have to build enough of it, quickly enough, to replace coal first and then gas in a very short space of time. You do not have to know very much about the engineering requirements of a nuclear power station, or our actual experience in constructing them, to think that this is akin to believing in unicorns.

A relatively simple piece of arithmetic on the specialised resource requirements and the equally specialised engineering and project management skills of a nuclear programme, let alone required scale of public investment is enough to make
it clear that a massive policy commitment to new nuclear power will not help the world stay below 2°C.

What is the British Government up to? My guess it is looking for a lot more long grass as it seeks a way to get itself off the nuclear hook onto which it has impaled itself by listening to the lobbies and caring more about the headlines than the climate.

As it does so, it will big up the importance of SMRs as a future option. Oddly enough, its concept of an SMR will bear a striking resemblance to a submarine propulsion reactor and we will build one somewhere on an existing nuclear site. Electricity consumers will indeed end up subsidising the defence budget and nuclear power will go on having a locally negative impact on the environment that outweighs any of its marginal environmental benefits.

December 3, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

2020 Olympics being used to put a nice gloss on nuclear industry, and Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Bach: Olympics will show Fukushima’s recovery  NHK World The president of the International Olympic Committee says the Tokyo Games will be a chance to show the world how far people affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami have recovered.

Thomas Bach spoke to reporters in Tokyo after being briefed about preparations for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

He said he cannot remember seeing a host city as prepared as Tokyo in all respects.

He also referred to his first trip to Fukushima City, where the baseball and softball events will be held. He met with local high school students during the trip………..

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Tepco as nuclear educator?


TEPCO center in Fukushima educates public on nuke disaster


November 29, 2018 TOMIOKA, Fukushima Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. will open a center here on Nov. 30 to educate the public about the 2011 nuclear disaster and the ongoing decommissioning process in a facility that formerly promoted nuclear power……

December 3, 2018 Posted by | Education, Japan | Leave a comment

Olympics propaganda revs up to make Fukushima and nuclear power look good

IOC chief ‘impressed’ at Fukushima recovery progress–impressed–at-fukushima-recovery-progress-1096539025 Nov 18

Olympics chief Thomas Bach said Saturday he was impressed at the “great progress” made in the reconstruction of Fukushima, in a visit to the region devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster

TOKYO: Olympics chief Thomas Bach said Saturday (Nov 24) he was impressed at the “great progress” made in the reconstruction of Fukushima, in a visit to the region devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Amid hopes that hosting events will help revive the region, International Olympic Committee President Bach visited a stadium set to hold baseball and softball matches during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

During his visit, he told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he was “very much impressed” by the “great progress”.

“The Fukushima region is the suitable place to show the power of the Olympics, the power of sports,” Abe said, reiterating his hopes of showing the world the recovery of Fukushima and other disaster-hit areas during the sporting event, for which Tokyo is the designated host city.

Fukushima has also been chosen as the starting point for the Olympics torch relay.

The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and the torch will head south to the subtropical island of Okinawa – the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay – before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on Jul 10.

The March 2011 tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes. Authorities have been working to rebuild the region, about 240 kilometres north of Tokyo, although areas near the crippled plant remain uninhabitable because of radiation dangers.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Tourists and U.S. citizens unaware of the contamination and illness history of Hanford nuclear site

Contaminated US nuclear plant Hanford Site     Plutonium supplier for the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Deutschlandfunk Kultur. By Nicole Markwald 21 Nov 18  [machine translation] The nuclear complex Hanford Site in the US state of Washington supplied plutonium since 1943 – also for the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Leaky tanks on the contaminated terrain make headlines. But in the reactor tours tourists learn nothing of it……

Hanford Site – today a national memorial

The site was declared a National Memorial three years ago, along with Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Los Alamos, New Mexico. At these three sites, the atomic bomb was developed during the Second World War – under the code name Manhattan Project.

“We’re gonna start today by giving you the backstory of the Manhattan Project.”………

The shock is to see it: We are on a heavily contaminated terrain with a total of nine reactors, all of which are now switched off. The area is about twice as large as the urban area of Hamburg. The danger lurks underground, radioactive waste is stored in huge underground tanks – sirens, which is clear to every visitor, can not mean anything good. But the situation quickly relaxes – it’s one Thursday, 10:15 am – once a month the emergency systems are tested, the tour guide thinks…….

The production started in September 1944, after a good six weeks the first plutonium could be won. The intended use: Fat Man, the nuclear weapon that was dropped on August 9, 1945 over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

David Anderson is one of today’s visitors to the B reactor. He seems thoughtful – in the place that has brought so much suffering over Japan.

“We have become numb when it comes to the Second World War. We have been at peace with us for so long. We can no longer understand the violence and much else that was happening back then. It makes me sad to know what happened back then. Why? … Why?”

But that’s not an issue in the B reactor tour. And not that Hanford Site today is an oversized atomic dump.

Scientists estimate that the waste stored here still contains around 190 kilograms of plutonium. That would be enough for 23 bombs like the one that was killing Nagasaki and killing at least 70,000 people at once.

The nuclear danger lurks everywhere

But no one knows how much atomic waste is actually stored on the huge area. Exact records from the early days on introduced quantities and their composition or pumping actions between different tanks does not exist. And outside of Washington State or the neighboring state of Oregon, little or nothing is known about Hanford Site and the dangers lurking in the ground……..

Americans know little about Hanford Site

Holly Barker holds an anthropology lecture at the University of Washington in Seattle. Topic today: Hanford site and the threats to the environment and workers. As a young woman, Barker was involved in the volunteer service Peace Corps. This work led them to the Marshall Islands in Oceania, where the United States performed many atomic bomb tests between 1946 and 1958. No, she says, whoever does not live in Washington State probably knows little about Hanford.

“That’s one reason why I offer this course. I think that as citizens we have a duty to know more about it in order to change anything at all. The problems are so enormous and complex that we need the brilliance of the young people in my lecture, the next generation to set about addressing this complicated inheritance. “

Probably the biggest cleaning action in the world

Over the next two hours, she talks in the storied lecture theater about the secrecy with which the project was driven, how it was advised, what quantities of workers could be exposed, and what kind of health problems some of them were carrying. She also tells about the world’s largest cleaning operation, which has been going on for years in Hanford to dispose of radioactive waste safely. After the lecture, Barker tells in her small office in the basement that Hanford Site rarely makes it into the news:

“At least when, as recently, a tunnel collapses and workers have been exposed to higher radiation levels. There are other tunnels that are unstable – if you hear anything about Hanford, it’s just bad. “

“In another developing story at emergency what declared today at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State, a vast storage facility in the Eastern part of that state, part of a tunnel, used to transport radioactive waste collapsed.”

In 2017, a tunnel collapsed

In May 2017, a storage tunnel collapsed, a six-by-six-meter off-road area had collapsed. At the time there were 5,000 workers on the site, a security alarm was triggered. The Department of Energy explained that there were eight wagons of nuclear waste in the tunnel, and that radioactive material should not have leaked out………

Increased radiation as a cause of cancer?

……..There are several studies that deal with the cancer rates around Hanford. With different results. Only in one, the studies are unanimous: It is really dangerous for the workers in Hanford site, who clean the grounds.

2060 should be completed decontamination

The decontamination and disposal works have been running since the mid-80s, they are expected to be completed in 2060. There are 177 tanks in the ground, with at least 50 million gallons of garbage in them. Included: 1500 different, easily evaporating chemicals, many highly toxic. And they regularly quit and injure workers, as Attorney General of Washington State lists Bob Ferguson.

“You have a headache, the skin is burning, your lungs are sometimes completely damaged and there are cancer cases.”

In September 2019, the workers involved in cleaning up the nuclear waste were able to celebrate an important success. Washington State, Hanford Challenge, and a union group had sued the Department of Energy for safer working conditions in 2015. Hanford Site is under the Ministry. A court in Seattle has now, after three years, the plaintiffs right. The ministry has been sentenced to over $ 900,000 in fines and must provide better protection for workers.

“Workers have been getting sick for years, but energy, and there’s no way to sugarcoat this, they did not take it seriously.”

Workers have been ill for years

Bob Ferguson says the Energy Department did not take the problem seriously, although workers had been ill for years. Next to him was Tom Carpenter, managing director of the Hanford Challenge interest group………..

“Years pass and it still looks the same. This lack of progress frustrates people. Here, so much money flows in here. But you do not hear that it goes ahead. Because it does not.

One of the main problems: where to go with the destructive stuff? an official final deposit does not exist in the US either.

“We do not even have a place to put this waste once we get it out of these high-level nuclear waste tanks.”

Cleaning costs: up to $ 200 billion

And yet there is no alternative for Tom Carpenter:

“Cleaning Hanford will cost up to $ 200 billion. Nothing – compared to the cost of the atomic bomb. We have to do it, we have no choice. To protect our resources, our people and future generations. It would be an incredible crime on the environment not to dispose of this material. “

Washington State also depends on the financial drip. Each year, $ 2 billion goes to the state for the so-called ‘clean up effort’. There is not much in the region except some farming – and workers are well worth a job with a minimum income of $ 60,000 a year. As absurd as it is, the contaminated land is lucrative for Washington State.  

Hanford Site is a place of extremes. Once a flagship project in the Cold War, today the bearer of a frightening title: the radioactively most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere.

Anthropologist Holly Baker:

“I think the challenge Hanford is too big to be understood by a single person. One would have to be a physicist – I know too little about water, radiation, engineering – one would need to have the knowledge of each of these issues associated with Hanford. No single person can do it. And maybe that’s not why Hanford has yet to be solved – because it’s such a complex place where so many different things overlap. ”

November 24, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

OLympics chief part of the propaganda to minimise the seriousness of the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima

Revival hopes as Olympics chief set to visit Fukushima (AFP)  21 November 2018 Olympics chief Thomas Bach will visit Japan’s Fukushima this weekend, a region devastated by the 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster that officials hope to revive by bringing some events to the region.

International Olympic Committee President Bach will on Saturday visit a stadium set to host 2020 Olympics baseball and softball games, and meet 60 students who play the sports, organisers said in a statement.

Bach will also speak with local high school students and meet Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed hopes of showing the world the recovery of Fukushima and other disaster-hit areas during the sporting event, for which Tokyo is the designated host city.

Fukushima was also chosen as the starting point for the Olympics torch relay.

The passing of the flame is scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, and the torch will head south to the subtropical island of Okinawa — the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay — before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on July 10.

The March 2011 tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea quake, killed around 18,000 people and swamped the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending its reactors into meltdown and leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes. Authorities have been working to rebuild the region, about 240 kilometres (150 miles) north of Tokyo, although areas near the crippled plant remain uninhabitable because of radiation dangers.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

“New Nuclear” lobbyists, Nuclear Alternative Project and USA’s CINTAC, target Puerto Rico

Nuclear Advocates Set Sights on Advanced Reactors for Puerto Rico

With big push of meetings with key officials, nuclear industry hopes to be part of Puerto Rico’s energy future, Morning ConsultBY JACQUELINE TOTH 

  • Supporters are highlighting the energy, climate and safety benefits of advanced reactor concepts.
  • Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives passed a resolution to study nuclear energy.
  • Details are sparse this early in the discussions, and Puerto Rico has no concrete plans for nuclear, instead focusing on other sources.
Nuclear industry professionals have launched a long-term bid to convince Puerto Rico they may have the solution for the island’s energy woes. ………

A group of nuclear industry professionals, who have formed The Nuclear Alternative Project nonprofit organization, recently hosted a group of nuclear executives to meet with Puerto Rican lawmakers and officials to discuss new nuclear concepts.

“We were in Puerto Rico for four days, and we were able to take the conversation from, ‘You guys are nuts,’” to something Puerto Ricans would consider if it would lower their energy bills, said Jesabel Rivera, the nonprofit’s community impact and engagement consultant.

But a host of questions over when, where, how and at what cost these reactors would be deployed and operated in Puerto Rico remains unanswered at this early stage. Some groups have also raised environmental concerns.

Officials from companies that included small modular reactor and micro-reactor developers NuScale Power LLC, X-Energy LLC, Westinghouse Electric Co. and GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc., attended the meetings on the island.

“A lot of folks didn’t know anything about nuclear other than what they had kind of seen in movies,” said Jose Reyes, chief technology officer of NuScale, who attended the trip. “One person mentioned Homer Simpson.”

Another participant was Donald Hoffman, president and chief executive of nuclear consultancy EXCEL Services Corp., founder of the United Nuclear Industry Alliance, a former adviser to now-President Donald Trump and a member of the Commerce Department’s Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee.

Several of the recent tour’s other participants are CINTAC members.

After the tour, Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives on Nov. 7 approved a resolution that calls on the House Government Commission to investigate the need for nuclear energy reactors on the island and report back within 180 days.
SMRs are billed as faster-to-construct, safer technologies with longer refueling cycles compared to older nuclear reactors, though no U.S. designs have yet undergone construction. The U.S. SMR furthest along in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing process is NuScale, which has completed phase one of design review……

But discussions are at a nascent stage.

“There’s not enough detail yet. There’s no site,” design or cost determination for nuclear in Puerto Rico, Carlos Fernández-Lugo, chairman of the environmental, energy and land use practice group at law firm McConnell Valdés LLC, said during an Oct. 30 public panel discussion on nuclear energy held at the Mayagüez campus of the University of Puerto Rico.

It also remains unclear whether the customer for a nuclear plant would be the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the struggling government-owned utility that is undergoing restructuring.

The Nuclear Alternative Project is looking for funding to move forward with a feasibility study, Rivera said.

On Friday, however, a spokeswoman from the Department of Energy said the department does not have plans for a study on advanced nuclear in Puerto Rico at this time.
Puerto Rico does not currently have any operating nuclear reactors, but it once had the Boiling Nuclear Superheater Reactor Facility, an experimental reactor in Rincón, which operated at full power in 1965 but stopped about three years later due to technical difficulties and the resulting expensive changes that would be required. It was decommissioned, and decontamination work continued into the early 2000s.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | marketing, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Doomed Moorside nuclear project might have provided 2% of UK energy needs, NOT 7%

 Times 12th Nov 2018 , David Lowry 12 Nov 18 Alistair Osborne is correct in his acute analysis of the financial failure of new nuclear in the UK (“No surprise Toshiba went cold on idea”,Times, Nov 9), except for one important matter: he conflates energy with electricity.

The planned output capacity for the doomed Moorside nuclear plant would not have provided “7 per cent of our energy needs”, but of the UK’s power generating capacity, which is the equivalent of about only 2 per cent of current national energy demand. Conflating the two inflates the importance of nuclear to UK energy balance, thus distorting its political salience.

November 13, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Doctors dispute media claim that fire at Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne) poses no radiation danger


On November 10, Los Angeles Magazine ran an article claiming there was no risk related to SSFL contamination from the Woolsey fire that we now know actually began on the SSFL property itself. Below is our response.

Los Angeles Magazine must print a correction – this article is filled with errors and misinformation:

  1. There is no need to put quotes around “significantly contaminated” – SSFL is one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, subject of a promised but long-delayed state and federal cleanup; it is heavily contaminated with well documented nuclear and chemical contamination, from, among other things, a partial nuclear meltdown.
  2. The claim in the first hours of the fire by DTSC, an agency that has no public confidence to the point that the state legislature commissioned an Independent Review Panel to investigate its failings (which include the Exide fiasco in Vernon,) that it didn’t “believe” there was a risk is cover for its failure to live up to its cleanup commitments (it had promised the site would be cleaned up by 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun). It is pure conjecture. DTSC does not have have any scientific data to back up the claim. It based the spurious assertion on its claim that the fire in its first hours was not in areas where contamination could be released, but the state fire department now shows almost all of the contaminated site as within the fire boundary.
  3. DTSC did not release it’s statement in response to the Forbes article, it released it the night before, when virtually nothing was known about the extent of the fire at SSFL
  4. SSFL is NEVER referred to as Area IV – that is simply one area in the site, the area where most of the nuclear activity occurred
  5. Given the extent of contamination in the site’s soil and vegetation, it is indeed possible and likely that contamination from the site was spread further from the fire in smoke, dust, and ash.

The bottom line is it irresponsible to claim that SSFL contamination was not spread further by the fire. Los Angeles Magazine may wish to read its own cover story from 1998: HOT ZONE – Rocketdyne’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory was on the front lines of the Cold War. Now some who lived near “The Hill” say they share two distinctions: chronic illness and the unswerving belief that the lab caused it.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Beyond Nuclear questions Union of Concerned Scientists’ support for bailouts for “top ranked” nuclear plants

Appalling safety culture should eliminate nuclear power from subsidies November 11, 2018 Union of Concerned Scientists ignores its earlier report by now endorsing “top ranked” nuclear plants for bailouts, By Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear

A controversial new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that closing aging US nuclear plants — and not subsidizing the cost of building new ones — will increase carbon emissions. The assumption is that nuclear plants that close will be replaced by coal or natural gas-fired plants.

An increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the US is of course unacceptable given the accelerating climate change crisis we now face. However, the evidence so far, that closed nuclear plants will largely be replaced by natural gas and coal, is not borne out by the actual evidence.

California, which has only one nuclear power plant still operating at Diablo Canyon, will replace it, and the already shuttered San Onofre reactors, entirely with renewable energy. When Nebraska closed its flooded Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant, it was wind energy, not fossil fuels, that stepped in to fill the new generation void.

The UCS report advocates for nuclear power to be included in a National Low-Carbon Electricity Standard (LCES) or any national carbon pricing. But its caveat is that any operating plant considered for this benefit must retain a position in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) highest safety rating category. This relies on a critical supposition, shown to be to unfounded, that the NRC exercises sufficient due diligence in actually assessing safety at US nuclear plants.

Following a major revision of its reactor safety oversight process in 2000, the NRC listed one nuclear plant— Davis-Besse in Ohio — as being maintained as one of the safest reactors in the country. In fact, while holding its newly top-rated position as a “Column 1” facility, Davis-Besse was in perilous condition. An undetected leak of corrosive reactor coolant had been allowed to eat through a 6 ¾ inch-thick carbon steel wall of the reactor pressure vessel head.

In February 2002, during a scheduled refueling outage, the extensive damage from corrosion was accidentally discovered to have eaten right down to the vessel’s corrosion-resistant stainless steel inner liner. The 3/16th-inch inner steel liner had stretched under the reactor’s operational pressure and was bulging into the throughwall cavity — ready to burst into a loss-of-coolant nuclear accident that by one scientific account could have occurred within two months.

All during the time of operation, FirstEnergy Nuclear, the operator of Davis-Besse, and the onsite NRC inspectors, ignored the thick accumulation of iron oxide particulate settling on catwalks inside the reactor building, and the daily replacement of containment air filters, without investigating where the cloud of rust was originating.

The NRC has since revised its oversight process once again. But neither the federal agency nor the nuclear industry have demonstrated an improvement in “safety culture” and continue to fall short in questioning and reporting the development of reactor hazards.

February 2017 report, also published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, contradicts the presumption of reliability on the NRC Reactor Oversight Process. It states, “The percentage of the NRC workforce that feared retaliation for raising concerns is comparable to, and sometimes higher than, the percentage of nuclear plant workers who feared retaliation” for questioning the safety of operating nuclear power stations.

In fact, the former UCS senior reactor safety engineer, David Lochbaum, also an author on the latest report, is quoted in the 2017 analysis, “the data suggest that the NRC’s management is just as dismissive of indications that it has a poor safety culture. When it comes to chilled work environments, the NRC may have the largest refrigerator in town.”

The November 2018 UCS report also makes the assertion that offering low-carbon incentives to both renewables and new and existing nuclear plants will raise all boats. However, this is not supported by the reality on the ground. For example, the decision by New York to prop up its aging and uneconomical upstate nuclear plants is costing the state nearly $500 million per year – 200 times as much as it is spending on developing renewables. Preventing the early closure of nuclear plants serves as a hindrance to renewable energy development, exacerbating, rather than ameliorating carbon emissions and the climate crisis.

Paul Gunter is the Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear.


November 12, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors not commercially viable, but nuclear companies want the government handouts

there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.
NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. 

Are Thousands of New Nuclear Generators in Canada’s Future? is pushing a new smaller, modular nuclear plant that could only pay off if mass produced. By M.V. RamanaToday |, 7 Nov 18  M. V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at UBC, and the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India, Penguin Books, New Delhi (2012)

Canada’s government is about to embrace a new generation of small nuclear reactors that do not make economic sense.

Amidst real fears that climate change will wreak devastating effects if we don’t shift away from fossil fuels, the idea that Canada should get deeper into nuclear energy might seem freshly attractive to former skeptics.

For a number of reasons, however, skepticism is still very much warranted.

On Nov. 7, Natural Resources Canada will officially launch something called the Small Modular Reactor Roadmap. The roadmap was previewed in February of this year and is the next step in the process set off by the June 2017 “call for a discussion around Small Modular Reactors in Canada” issued by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, which is interested in figuring out the role the organization “can play in bringing this technology to market.”

Environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

SMRs, as the name suggests, produce relatively small amounts of electricity in comparison with currently common nuclear power reactors. The last set of reactors commissioned in Canada is the four at Darlington. These started operating between 1990 and 1993 and can generate 878 megawatts of electricity (although, on average, they only generate around 75 to 85 per cent of that). In comparison, SMRs are defined as reactors that generate 300 MW or less — as low as 5 MW even. For further comparison, the Site C dam being built in northeastern B.C. is expected to provide 1,100 MW and BC Hydro’s full production capacity is about 11,000 MW.

Various nuclear institutions, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Canadian Nuclear Association and the CANDU Owners Group are strongly supportive of SMRs. Last October, Mark Lesinski, president and CEO of CNL announced: “Small modular reactors, or SMRs, represent a key area of interest to CNL. As part of our long-term strategy, announced earlier this year, CNL established the ambitious goal of siting a new SMR on a CNL site by 2026.”

Likewise, the CANDU Owners Group announced that it was going to use “their existing nuclear expertise to lead the next wave of nuclear generation — small modular reactors, that offer the potential for new uses of nuclear energy while at the same time offering the benefits of existing nuclear in combating climate change while providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

A fix for climate change, says Ottawa

Such claims about the benefits of SMRs seems to have influenced the government too. Although NRCan claims to be just “engaging partners and stakeholders, as well as Indigenous representatives, to understand priorities and challenges related to the development and deployment of SMRs in Canada,” its personnel seem to have already decided that SMRs should be developed in Canada.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the potential of SMRs to help us deliver on a number of priorities, including innovation and climate change,” declared Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd. Diane Cameron, director of the Nuclear Energy Division at Natural Resources Canada, is confident: “I think we will see the deployment of SMRs in Canada for sure.” Such talk is premature, and unwise.

Canada is a late entrant to this game of talking up SMRs. For the most part it has only been talk, with nothing much to show for all that talk. Except, of course, for millions of dollars in government funding that has flown to private corporations. This has been especially on display in the United States, where the primary agency that has been pumping money into SMRs is the Department of Energy.

In 2001, based on an overview of around 10 SMR designs, DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy concluded that “the most technically mature small modular reactor designs and concepts have the potential to be economical and could be made available for deployment before the end of the decade, provided that certain technical and licensing issues are addressed.” Nothing of that sort happened by the end of that decade, i.e., 2010. But in 2012 the U.S. government offered money: up to $452 million to cover “the engineering, design, certification and licensing costs for up to two U.S. SMR designs.” The two SMR designs that were selected by the DOE for funding were called mPower and NuScale.

The first pick was mPower and, a few months later, the DOE projected that a major electricity generation utility called the Tennessee Valley Authority “plans to deploy two 180 megawatt small modular reactor units for commercial operation in Roane County, Tennessee, by 2021, with as many as six mPower units at that site.”

The company developing mPower was described by the New York Times as being in the lead in the race to develop SMRs, in part because it had “the Energy Department and the T.V.A. in its camp.”

But by 2017, the project was essentially dead.

Few if any buyers

Why this collapse? 

In a nutshell, because there is no market for the expensive electricity that SMRs will generate. Many companies presumably enter this business because of the promise of government funding. No company has invested large sums of its own money to commercialize SMRs.

An example is the Westinghouse Electric Co., which worked on two SMR designs and tried to get funding from the DOE. When it failed in that effort, Westinghouse stopped working on SMRs and shifted its focus to decommissioning reactors that are being shut down at an increasing rate, which is seen as a growing business opportunity. Explaining this decision in 2014, Danny Roderick, then president and CEO of Westinghouse, said: “The problem I have with SMRs is not the technology, it’s not the deployment — it’s that there’s no customers…. The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market.”

Many developing countries claim to be interested in SMRs but few seem to be willing to invest in the construction of one. Although many agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed, there are still no plans for actual construction. Examples are the cases of JordanGhana and Indonesia, all of which have been touted as promising markets for SMRs, but none of which are buying one because there are significant problems with deploying these.

A key problem is poor economics. Nuclear power is already known to be very expensive. But SMRs start with a disadvantage: they are too small. One of the few ways that nuclear power plant operators could reduce the cost of nuclear electricity was to utilize what are called economies of scale, i.e., taking advantage of the fact that many of the expenses associated with constructing and operating a reactor do not change in linear proportion to the power generated. This is lost in SMRs. Most of the early small reactors built in the U.S. shut down early because they couldn’t compete economically.

Reactors by the thousands?

SMR proponents argue that they can make up for the lost economies of scale  in two ways: by savings through mass manufacture in factories, and by moving from a steep learning curve early on to gaining rich knowledge about how to achieve efficiencies as more and more reactors are designed and built. But, to achieve such savings, these reactors have to be manufactured by the thousands, even under very optimistic assumptions about rates of learning. Rates of learning in nuclear power plant manufacturing have been extremely low. Indeed, in both the United States and France, the two countries with the highest number of nuclear plants, costs went up, not down, with construction experience.

In the case of Canada, the potential markets that are most often proffered as a reason for developing SMRs are small and remote communities and mines that are not connected to the electric grid. That is not a viable business proposition. There are simply not enough remote communities, with adequate purchasing capacity, to be able to drive the manufacture of the thousands of SMRs needed to make them competitive with large reactors, let alone other sources of power.

There are thus good reasons to expect that small modular reactors, like large nuclear power plants, are just not commercially viable. They will also impose the other well-known problems associated with nuclear energy — the risk of severe accidents, the production of radioactive waste, and the linkage with nuclear weapons — on society. Rather than seeing the writing on the wall, unfortunately, NRCan and other such institutions are regurgitating industry propaganda and wasting money on technologies that will never be economical or contribute to any meaningful mitigation of climate change. There is no justification for such expensive distractions, especially as the climate problem becomes more urgent. [Tyee]

November 8, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Frazer Nash nuclear helps nuclear lobby to infiltrate academia

November 8, 2018 Posted by | Education, UK | Leave a comment

The global nuclear industry sneaks into international governments’ “clean” energy movement

USA – Canada – Japan – the ministerial nuclear suckers came out of the woodwork –  Dan Brouillette, Kim Rudd, Masaki Ogushi, Rick Perry … and also Dr. Matar Al Neyadi, and  Denis Janin, immediate past President of the International Youth Nuclear Congress, and who else – in this secretive nuclear white anting of the global movement?

November 6, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

“Clean Energy Ministerial”: despite Canada’s Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment


Despite Liberal claims, nuclear power will not save the environment, Ole Hendrickson October 23, 2018 Want a shiny new nuclear reactor in your community? Justin Trudeau has a deal for you.

In the lead-up to the 2015 election, he said the economy and environment “go together like paddles and canoes. Unless you have both, you won’t get to where you are going.” Such vacuous statements helped him win a majority government.

Did Liberal voters think “real change” would mean maintaining fossil fuel subsidies, buying the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and promoting new nuclear reactors?

When the Liberals renamed the cabinet committee on “Environment, Climate Change and Energy” to “Environment and Clean Growth” on August 28, 2018, Trudeau’s office said this “reflects the government’s commitment to addressing climate change through growing the economy.” But putting “clean” in front of “growth” is a con job — like putting “sustainable” in front of “development.”

Behind closed doors in the “clean growth” cabinet committee, the minister of natural resources will discuss next year’s “Clean Energy Ministerial” — a gathering of energy ministers from the world’s richest nations, hosted by Canada. 

One of Canada’s objectives for this meeting, together with the U.S., is to advance plans for the “next generation” of nuclear reactors. In preparation, a federal nuclear reactor “road map” will be released next month at a Canadian Nuclear Society conference in Ottawa subsidized by the Trudeau government.

For the one-percenters, “clean growth” includes nuclear power. The military industrial complex needs nuclear power and nuclear weapons just as much as it needs fossil fuels.

Government officials and lobbyists who call nuclear power “clean energy” cannot provide a shred of evidence that a new generation of reactors will help Canada and other nations achieve the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The real point of this exercise is to perpetuate the military industrial complex.

The nuclear industry is desperately casting about for ways to attract young scientists and engineers. It promotes fantasies of reactor technologies that will provide carbon-free electricity, eliminate existing nuclear waste stockpiles, desalinate ocean water, power remote Indigenous communities, and enable travel to Mars.

But these technologies have been around for decades. They are enormously expensive. They require huge government subsidies, waste taxpayer dollars and generate budget deficits characteristic of the U.S. military industrial complex.

Climate justice incompatible with economic growth

Addressing climate change through economic growth is an ecocidal fantasy. To claim that humans can appropriate more and more of the planet’s resources, and still protect the environment and halt climate change is ludicrous.

This is business as usual — continuation of the “great acceleration” created by post-Second World War governments who transformed the war machine into the “peacetime” military industrial complex.

Politicians and corporate executives — the one-percenters — have no intention of putting the brakes on this machine.  They need to fuel the nuclear sub fleets in the U.S. and U.K., and the armoured vehicles that Canada makes and sells to Saudi Arabia. They will try to extract every last gram of uranium and drop of oil. Nuclear and fossil fuels are both the means and end of war.

Ultimately, the military industrial complex is waging war against the planet, against ourselves and against all living creatures. The Earth is in great peril.

Revolution is brewing. Activists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike are rejecting these corporate-driven technological fantasies. Energy is changing. The capitalist system will not survive. But what will replace it?

Ole Hendrickson is a retired forest ecologist and a founding member of the Ottawa River Institute, a non-profit charitable organization based in the Ottawa Valley.

Photo: European Parliament/Flickr

November 5, 2018 Posted by | Canada, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment