Stabenow, Peters, Kildee Introduce Resolution Opposing Nuclear Waste Storage Site in Great Lakes Basin https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/news/stabenow-peters-kildee-introduce-resolution-opposing-nuclear-waste-storage-site-in-great-lakes-basin, March 15, 2017 U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today introduced resolutions, in both the House and Senate, expressing opposition to construction of a nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in Ontario.
“Canada is facing a critical decision that will impact generations in both our countries,” said Senator Stabenow. “A nuclear waste spill near the Great Lakes could have a devastating impact on our health and environment and threaten our Michigan way of life. Given what is at stake, I urge our Canadian neighbors to make the right choice and shelve plans for this site once and for all.”
“The Canadian proposal to build a permanent nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron could cause significant, lasting damage to the Great Lakes and undermine the progress we have made cleaning up the water quality in the Great Lakes Basin,” said Senator Peters. “President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson should make every effort to prevent the Canadian government from moving forward with this proposal and work to find an alternative solution that does not jeopardize the health of the Great Lakes.”
“Permanently storing nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn’t make sense and poses a great risk to our Great Lakes,” said Congressman Kildee. “From Detroit to Toronto, a growing number of people – in both the U.S. and Canada – have voiced opposition to this dangerous plan. Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron.”
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are also original co-sponsors of the Senate resolution. Mike Bishop (MI-08), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), David Joyce (OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David Trott (MI-11), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04), Sander Levin (MI-09), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and John Moolenaar (MI-04) are also original co-sponsors of the House resolution.
Over 40 million people in Canada and the United States get their drinking water from the Great Lakes and the highly toxic waste could take tens of thousands of years to decompose to safe levels. Ontario Power Generation is currently seeking approval from the Canadian Ministry of Environment to build a deep geologic repository to permanently store 7 million cubic feet of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. The facility would be located less than 1 mile from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.
The resolution urges the President and Secretary of State to work with their counterparts to prevent a permanent nuclear waste repository from being built within the Great Lakes Basin. It further states that the U.S. and Canada should develop a safe and responsible solution for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.
Trump’s budget could help get rid of the nuclear waste along the San Onofre coastline http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nuclear-waste-20170320-story.html Rob Nikolewski
A sense of momentum is building about finding a way to deal with the massive amounts of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, including Southern California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Last week’s Trump administration “skinny budget” proposal, which calls for boosts in defense spending but cuts in domestic funding and federal agencies, found $120 million for starters to “initiate a robust interim storage program” while also looking at reviving the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security and reduce future taxpayer burden,” a note said in the section reserved for the U.S. Department of Energy. (The Energy Department’s budget
came in for a 5.6% reduction.)
A president’s budget proposals are ultimately subordinate to what Congress decides. But David Victor, chairman of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel, said the appropriation for nuclear waste may be one of the only topics in the current political environment that can generate support from members of both parties.
There are 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste sitting along the coastline at the San Onofre plant, part of the 76,000 metric tons of spent fuel at sites nationwide.
“There’s a lot of Trump’s proposed budget that horrifies me, in particular around cutting funding for science and energy, but [long-term nuclear storage] is an area where I think the nation is now starting to make some progress,” Victor said.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who has introduced a bill called the Interim Consolidated Storage Act, said he thinks the chances for funding the White House nuclear waste proposal are “extremely good.”
“You have an active group of members, some of whom are Democratic members, who have a vested interest” in moving legislation forward, Issa said. “And … the fingerprints of whoever wanted to force it out would show all over.”
“As a budget line item it’s not a bad number at all,” Issa said in a telephone interview from Washington. “It’s sufficient to do the feasibility of these sites.”
Consolidated interim storage sites are designed to be built in isolated locations where multiple nuclear facilities could deposit their waste.
Two potential interim storage locations have been discussed — one in western Texas and another in eastern New Mexico.A company in Andrews, Texas, has filed an application to accept 5,000 metric tons of nuclear material. The district is represented by Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who has co-sponsored Issa’s bill.
Getting the massive nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, located about 100 miles from Las Vegas, back on track assuredly would involve a battle on Capitol Hill.
Democrats as well as Republicans from Nevada blasted the Trump proposal. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: We will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).
The federal government spent about $15 billion to build the facility at Yucca Mountain to house nuclear waste from sites across the country. But then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led the fight to shut the repository down, and in 2010 President Obama suspended licensing for the site.
Yucca Mountain was scheduled to open in 2017.
While taking a tour of San Onofre last month with Issa, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who is chairman of the House subcommittee that reviews nuclear sites, was asked if Yucca Mountain was coming back onto the bargaining table.
“It’s never been off the table,” Shimkus said.
Issa’s bill would be paid for by using part of the federal government’s Nuclear Waste Fund, which is worth upward of $40 billion and was funded by ratepayers in areas powered by nuclear plants.
A 2014 court order stopped the federal government from taking fees from electricity customers because, with Yucca Mountain sidelined, the government had no place to send nuclear waste.
“We’re paying a lot of money for the privilege of not having a solution that we were obligated to have,” Issa said. “It’s not free. It’s going to cost every taxpayer money until there’s a working solution.”
But even if Congress adopts a plan roughly similar to the White House proposal, there are a series of practical and regulatory hurdles to clear.
For example, sites such as San Onofre, which closed in 2013, would still need to place some of their spent fuel into canisters. Then federal law would need to be changed to install a reliable funding mechanism for interim sites, and a strategy would need to be adopted in order to move the waste from one place to another.
“There is still a long way to go,” Victor said. “We could have troubles on any of those fronts, but I think what’s encouraging is that on every single one of those fronts, we’re starting to see progress.”
Millions of people live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which hasn’t produced electricity since January 2012 after a steam generator leaked a small amount of radiation.
Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant, which is in the process of being decommissioned.
Edison officials said they were heartened by the news of $120-million proposal.
“We are pleased to see funding proposed to restart the Yucca licensing process, and continue to also support interim storage proposals that would enable [Southern California Edison] to move San Onofre’s used fuel to an off-site location,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said
Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion, .By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017The Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END) “……….The ageing of the global reactor fleet isn’t yet a crisis for the industry, but it is heading that way. The assessment by the ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group that 151 GW of worldwide nuclear power capacity could be shut down by 2030 is consistent with figures from the World Nuclear Association (132 reactor shut-downs by 2035), the International Energy Agency (almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040) and Nuclear Energy Insider (up to 200 shut-downs in the next two decades)
It looks increasingly unlikely that new reactors will match shut-downs. Another 20 years of stagnation is possible, but only if China continues to do the heavy lifting. And if China’s nuclear program slows, worldwide nuclear decline is certain.
Perhaps the best characterisation of the global nuclear industry is that a new era is approaching – the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END). Nuclear power’s END will entail:
- a slow decline in the number of operating reactors (unless growth in China can match the decline elsewhere);
- an increasingly unreliable and accident-pronereactor fleet as ageing sets in;
- countless battles over lifespan extensions for ageing reactors;
- many battles over the nature and timing of decommissioning operations;
- many battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for decommissioning;
- more battles over proposals to impose nuclear waste repositories on unwilling or divided communities; and
- battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for nuclear waste disposal.
Nuclear power is likely to enjoy a small, short-lived upswing in the next couple of years as reactors ordered in the few years before the Fukushima disaster come online. Beyond that, the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning sets in, characterised by escalating battles â€’ and escalating sticker-shock â€’ over lifespan extensions, decommissioning and nuclear waste management.
In those circumstances, it will become even more difficult than it currently is for the industry to pursue new reactor projects. A positive feedback loop could take hold and then the industry will be well and truly in crisis………http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18929&page=0
TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c
March 17, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) has informally decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, it has been learned.
In the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and ensuing meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, local bodies and residents of the area who suffered extensive damage requested that all four reactors at the No. 2 plant also be decommissioned.
TEPCO had avoided stating a clear position on the No. 2 plant’s reactors, but there had been pressure from the government and ruling coalition for it to make a decision. The company accordingly decided to decommission the plant’s No. 1 reactor, which suffered the most damage, and will consider what to do with the other three reactors in the future.
The No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 2 plant began operating in 1982. It was flooded by tsunami on March 11, 2011, and all four reactors at the plant remain idled. The No. 2 plant suffered less damage than the No. 1 plant, and if it passed screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, its reactors could be restarted. But the Fukushima Prefectural Government and all 59 local assemblies have asked TEPCO and the government to decommission all reactors in the prefecture.
TEPCO has remained busy handling compensation claims relating to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the disaster cleanup. If it were to decommission all of the No. 2 plant’s reactors, they would lose value and it would have to write down huge losses. Company president Naomi Hirose has therefore avoided taking a clear position on the issue, saying, “I would like to consider it and make a decision as a business operator.”
Last year, however, officials decided to create a fund to cover the huge cost of handling the nuclear disaster, which is expected to reach 21.5 trillion yen, nearly double the original prediction. There was accordingly pressure from the government for TEPCO to reach an early decision on the fate of the No. 2 plant’s reactors.
The No. 1 reactor at the No. 2 plant is the oldest of the plant’s four reactors. It temporarily lost its cooling functions in the March 2011 disaster, and suffered the most damage among the four reactors. TEPCO believes that by limiting decommissioning to one reactor for the time being, it will be able to hold the decommissioning cost below 100 billion yen, minimizing the impact on company finances and on decommissioning work at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. However, a decision to decommission only one reactor at the No. 2 plant is unlikely to win public approval.
We will not be a nuclear waste dump’: Vulnerable GOP senator slams Trump’s Nevada nuke waste plan https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/we-will-not-be-a-nuclear-waste-dump-vulnerable-gop-senator-slams-trumps-nevada-nuke-waste-plan/ BRAD REED,16 MAR 2017
Dean Heller (R-NV) got a nasty surprise this week when he discovered that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would revive the Yucca Mountain storage facility for nuclear power plant waste in his home state.
Heller, by far the most vulnerable Republican in the senate in the 2018 midterm elections, railed against Trump’s proposal in a statement released Thursday, as he insisted that his state would “not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump.”
“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it,” he said. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump. This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain.”
Heller also vowed to fight any effort to revive the Yucca Mountain project tooth and nail.
The Las Vegas Review Journal notes that, while Trump would increase funding to revive the Yucca Mountain facility, his budget would also slash the Office of Science’s $5 billion budget by a whopping $900 million, which would dramatically cut the amount of research that it now funds at more than 300 universities and at 10 national labs.
Nevada lawmakers speaking out against plan to revive Yucca Mountain, ktnv.com , Joyce Lupiani, Mar 16, 2017 The White House is proposing to revive the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan. The 2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120 million to restart licensing for the proposed dump.
The White House’s 2018 budget plan for the U.S. Department of Energy includes $120 million for nuclear waste programs including the restart of licensing for Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project stalled for years by lawsuits and local opposition.
The move signals that President Donald Trump may consider that nuclear waste solutions could extend the lives of existing U.S. nuclear power plants and speed up innovations in next- generation nuclear plants that backers say are safer than previous reactors.
Congress will debate the budget and it is uncertain whether funds for waste will remain in the plan.
While Yucca Mountain would store waste on a practically permanent basis, the budget money would also support programs for storing waste at interim sites before Yucca opens.
“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden,” according to a summary of the budget.
Yucca has been studied by the U.S. government since the 1970s as a potential repository for the nation’s radioactive waste and billions of dollars have been spent on it.
But Yucca has never opened because of legal challenges and widespread opposition from local politicians, environmentalists and Native American groups.
In 2010, then-President Barack Obama withdrew the license to store waste at Yucca amid opposition from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a fellow Democrat from Nevada.
Maria Korsnick, the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute industry group, said the industry was encouraged by the plan for waste projects but that nuclear energy innovators were “nervous” about cuts to programs that have supported public-private partnerships to bring new nuclear technologies to market.
The budget eliminates funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy and an innovative technology loan guarantee program that have been popular with both Democrats and many Republicans.
Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing that restarting the Yucca Mountain project could not be ruled out, but that he would collaborate with states.
“I am very aware that this is an issue this country has been flummoxed by for 30 years. We have spent billions of dollars on this issue,” Perry told the hearing in January. “I’ll work closely with you and the members of this committee to find the answers to this issue.”
The White House proposal for the Department of Energy budget calls for an overall cut of 5.6 percent.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Peter Cooney)
Texas sues feds — including Rick Perry — for failing to license nuclear waste facility MARCH 15, 2017 In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses U.S. agencies of violating federal law by failing to license a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. Texas is trying to take the federal government to task for failing to find a permanent disposal site for thousands of metric tons of radioactive waste piling up at nuclear reactor sites across the country.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday night, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses U.S. agencies of violating federal law by failing to license a nuclear waste repository in Nevada — a plan delayed for decades amid a highly politicized fight.
Paxton’s petition asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to force the Nuclear Regulatory Committee to cast an up-or-down vote on the Yucca Mountain plan. It also seeks to prevent the federal Department of Energy from spending billions of dollars in fees collected from utilities on efforts to find another disposal site before such a vote……
Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, a group fighting the Andrews County site’s expansion, agreed with Paxton’s criticism of the Yucca Mountain process — “a waste of money,” she said. But Hadden worries that the lawsuit could force the government to permit a site ill-equipped to protect public health and safety.
“It’s really important that we get a permanent repository in place that will isolate this waste so we don’t have cancer effects or deaths from contamination today or into the future,” Hadden said. “My concern is that [Paxton] has another Texas permanent disposal site in mind.”https://www.texastribune.org/2017/03/15/texas-sues-feds-rick-perrys-agency-included-over-nuclear-waste/
Struggling With Japan’s Nuclear Waste, Six Years After Disaster https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/11/world/asia/struggling-with-japans-nuclear-waste-six-years-after-disaster.html?_r=0 by MOTOKO RICH
The estimated 6,000 cleanup workers at the site put on new protective gear every day. These hazmat suits, face masks, rubber gloves and shoe coverings are thrown out at the end of each shift. The clothing is compressed and stored in 1,000 steel boxes stacked around the site.
To date, more than 64,700 cubic meters of gear has been discarded, the equivalent of 17 million one-gallon containers. Tokyo Electric says it will eventually incinerate all this contaminated clothing to reduce the space needed to store it.
Branches and Logs From 220 Acres of Deforested Land The plant’s grounds were once dotted with trees, and a portion was even designated as a bird sanctuary. But workers have cleared about 220 acres of trees since the meltdown spewed radiation over them.
Now, piles of branches and tree trunks are stacked all over the site. Officials say there are about 80,000 cubic meters of this waste, and all of it will have to be incinerated and stored someday.
200,400 Cubic Meters of Radioactive RubbleExplosions during the meltdown filled the reactors with rubble. Workers and robots are slowly and carefully trying to remove this tangled mass of crushed concrete, pipes, hoses and metal.
Tokyo Electric estimates that more than 200,400 cubic meters of rubble — all of it radioactive — have been removed so far and stored in custom-made steel boxes. That is the equivalent of about 3,000 standard 40-foot shipping containers.
3.5 Billion Gallons of SoilThousands of plastic garbage bags sit in neat rows in the fields and abandoned towns surrounding the Fukushima plant. They contain soil that was scraped from land that was exposed to radiation in the days after the accident.
Japan’s Ministry of the Environment estimates that it has bagged 3.5 billion gallons of soil, and plans to collect much more. It will eventually incinerate some of the soil, but that will only reduce the volume of the radioactive waste, not eliminate it.
The ministry has already begun building a massive, interim storage facility in Fukushima prefecture and negotiating with 2,360 landowners for the thousands of acres needed to complete it. And that is not even a long-term solution: The government says that after 30 years it will need another site — or sites — to store radioactive waste.
1,573 Nuclear Fuel Rods
The ultimate goal of the cleanup is to cool and, if possible, remove the uranium and plutonium fuel that was inside the three reactors at the time of the disaster.
Hundreds of spent fuel rods are in cooling pools inside the reactors, and the company hopes to have cleared away enough rubble to begin removing them next year. The much bigger challenge will be removing the fuel that was in use in the reactor core at the time of the meltdown.
The condition and location of this molten fuel debris are still largely unknown. In one reactor where a robot was sent in January, much of the melted fuel is believed to have burned through the bottom of the inner reactor vessel and burrowed into the thick concrete foundation of the containment structure.
The plan is to completely seal the containment vessels, fill them with water and use robots to find and remove the molten fuel debris. But the rubble, the lethal levels of radiation and the risk of letting radiation escape make this an exceedingly difficult task.
In January, the robot sent into one of the reactors discovered radiation levels high enough to kill a person in less than a minute. Another had to be abandoned last month after debris blocked its path and radiation disabled it.
Tokyo Electric hopes to begin removing fuel debris from the reactor cores in 2021. The entire effort could take decades. Some say the radioactive material may prove impossible to remove safely and have suggested leaving it and entombing Fukushima under a concrete and steel sarcophagus like the one used at Chernobyl.
But the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric say they are committed to removing all the waste and cleaning the site, estimated at a cost of $188.6 billion.
“We want to return it to a safe state,” said Yuichi Okamura, general manager of the company’s nuclear power and plant siting division. “We promised the local people that we would recover the site and make it a safe ground again.”
The request also raises new concerns about the amount of radioactive waste being stored on the lab’s property, which has been threatened by catastrophic wildfires at least twice in the past 20 years, and about the lab’s long-troubled history of waste management, which has been a frequent subject of federal oversight reports.
Work was stalled for a number of years at the facility because of safety concerns with the building, including an inadequate fire safety system and its potential inability to withstand an earthquake.
“The desire to make more waste is actually competing with [the] desire to get on top of their safety and [existing] waste issues”
The continued storage of above-ground waste also raises questions about the safety of the drums in the event of a fire
LANL seeks permission to store more nuclear waste on-site http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-seeks-permission-to-store-more-nuclear-waste-on-site/article_169f3934-21a2-5ede-9d21-cfd2946e2bdb.html Mar 12, 2017. LOS ALAMOS — Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to store thousands of gallons of newly generated radioactive waste for an indefinite number of years, possibly decades, on laboratory property that is primarily used for plutonium research and nuclear weapons development.
The lab in January asked the state for permission to modify its 2010 hazardous waste permit in order to use two waste rooms and an outdoor storage pad near the lab’s plutonium facility to hold 1,700 waste drums, or 95,000 gallons, of radiologically contaminated materials — enough to fill six backyard swimming pools.
The new waste would join millions of gallons of radioactive waste and other hazardous contaminants stored in shallow pits and above ground throughout the lab’s 43-square-mile property, some of it dating back to the Manhattan Project. The request underscores the nuclear weapons industry’s continuing struggle to find places to dispose of its growing stockpiles of radioactive waste, an endeavor that was set back in part by the nearly three-year closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico. An improperly packaged waste drum from the lab burst in an underground chamber in February 2014, causing a radiation leak.
Even with the reopening of WIPP in January, the facility is unlikely to return to full speed for several years, and new rules for accepting radioactive waste will only further delay shipments from Los Alamos.
The request also raises new concerns about the amount of radioactive waste being stored on the lab’s property, which has been threatened by catastrophic wildfires at least twice in the past 20 years, and about the lab’s long-troubled history of waste management, which has been a frequent subject of federal oversight reports.
Officials said the newly generated waste has been accumulating at the lab since WIPP stopped accepting shipments. Continue reading
Plymouth: Cape Downwinders Devise Ballot Campaign http://959watd.com/blog/2017/03/plymouth-cape-downwinders-devise-ballot-campaign/ BY MIMI WALKER MARCH 6, 2017 Famed anti-nuclear activist group The Cape Downwinders have devised a ballot campaign to move spent fuel at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station into dry cask storage.
Activist Becky Chin, who also co-chairs the Duxbury Nuclear Advisory Committee, explains the nuclear storage situation at Pilgrim:
“There is a swimming pool in the attic of the reactor that was designed for 880 assemblies and it now has over 3,000 in it so that they are racked much closer together, it is like a giant wine rack. On the site next to the reactor is a football field of concrete that has huge casks that they could put 60 or so assemblies in. We have no long term option that the federal government has provided for us, it is a better option than the swimming pool,” said Chin.
Every two years, spent fuel rods from the core of Pilgrim’s reactor are moved into the storage pool; however, it can take up to five years for the rods to cool down to a safe temperature for dry cask storage.
The Cape Downwinders ballot campaign is a plea to government officials; there is no official federal repository to store the spent fuel rods, so nuclear waste could remain on the site for several decades, even after the plant closes in 2019.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be back in Plymouth for another public meeting regarding Pilgrim on March 21.
UK funding development of autonomous robots to help clear up nuclear waste A new UK consortium will be developing robots to handle nuclear sites, bomb disposal, space and mining. International Business Times, By Mary-Ann Russon February 28, 2017 The UK government is funding a new consortium of academic institutions and industrial partners to jump start the robotics industry and develop a new generation of robots to help deal with situations that are hazardous for humans.
It is estimated that it will cost between £95 billion and £219 billion to clean up the UK’s existing nuclear facilities over the next 120 years or so. The environment is so harsh that humans cannot physically be on the site, and robots that are sent in often encounter problems, like the small IRID Toshiba shape-shifting scorpion robot used to explore Fukushima’s nuclear reactors, often break down and cannot be retrieved.Remote-controlled robots are needed to turn enter dangerous zones that haven’t been accessed in over 40 years to carry out relatively straightforward tasks that a human could do in an instant.
The problem is that robots are just not at the level they need to be yet, and it is very difficult to build a robot that can successfully navigate staircases, move over rough terrain and turn valves.
To fix this problem, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is investing £4.6m ($5.7m) into a new group consisting of the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham, the University of the West of England (UWE) and industrial partners Sellafield, EDF Energy, UKAEA and NuGen…….http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/uk-funding-development-autonomous-robots-help-clear-nuclear-waste-1608985
Nuclear Power Is In Crisis As Cost Overruns Cripple Industry Giants, New Matilda., By Jim Green on February 26, 2017 “………‘Rapidly accelerating crisis’
Shellenberger has recently written cataclysmic assessments of nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.
Likewise, Dan Yurman says that a “sense of panic is emerging globally” as Toshiba exits the reactor construction industry. He adds: “After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these developments make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry. Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva, its state-owned nuclear power corporation, so that it can complete two 1650 MW EPR reactors that are under construction in Europe and to begin work on the Hinkley project the UK.”
Ironically, Westinghouse, the villain in Toshiba’s demise, may have made the best strategic decision of all the nuclear utilities. In 2014, Westinghouse announced plans to expand and hopefully triple its nuclear decommissioning business. Decommissioning is undoubtedly a growth area.
The average age of the global reactor fleet now stands at 30 years. The World Nuclear Association anticipates 132 reactor shut-downs by 2035. The International Energy Agency anticipates a “wave of retirements of ageing nuclear reactors” and an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning” ‒ almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040. Up to 200 reactors are set to go offline in the next two decades according to a recent Nuclear Energy Insider article……… https://newmatilda.com/2017/02/26/nuclear-power-is-in-crisis-as-cost-overruns-cripple-industry-giants/
In West Texas, spent fuel storage seeks a foothold, Edward Klump, E&E News reporter , Energywire: Friday, February 24, 2017 Waste Control Specialists LLC operates a facility licensed to dispose of low-level radioactive waste in Andrews County, Texas. The company is in the process of seeking a license for an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. …….