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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Korea worried about North Korea, plans its own Missile Defense System

missiles s korea museumflag-S-KoreaSouth Korea Seeks Indigenous Missile Defense Systemtext-relevant To Deal With North, Raises 2017 Defense Budget, IBT, BY  @KUKILBORA ON 08/30/16 The South Korean government on Tuesday raised the country’s 2017 defense budget to build a homegrown missile defense system to better counter growing North Korean missile and nuclear threats. The announcement came nearly a week after Pyongyang test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in an apparent response to the annual Seoul-Washington military drill that will continue till Friday.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the allotted defense budget of 40.3 trillion won ($36.1 billion) — up 4 percent from the previous year — for 2017 was proposed to build the country’s own “Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD)” system to deal with potential North Korean threats. In addition, some 39.9 billion won ($35.7 million) will be used to equip all military barracks with air conditioning systems, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The KAMD, expected to be deployed by mid-2020s, includes medium-range surface-to-air missiles (M-SAM), long-range surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM), U.S. Patriot missiles and early-warning radars to shoot down missiles fired by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — the official title for the reclusive nation.

The sped-up efforts to develop the homegrown KAMD comes amid growing tensions in the Korean peninsula after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January, followed by the launch of a long-range rocket in February……http://www.ibtimes.com/south-korea-seeks-indigenous-missile-defense-system-deal-north-raises-2017-defense-2409128

August 31, 2016 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More nuclear marketing. USA determined to sell nukes to India

Toshiba WestinghouseIndia US to advance talks on building six nuclear reactors Under the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement signed in October 2008, two US companies would build 12 atomic reactors, each with a capacity of 1000 MWs. Indian Express By: PTI | New Delhi :August 30, 2016  India and the US on Tuesday agreed to move forward on building six nuclear reactors and discussed ways to enhance cooperation in the field of atomic power and space.

John Kerry, US Secretary of State, who is here for the 2nd Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), said his country would want its civil nuclear cooperation with India to take shape in setting up of reactors.

“We have agreed now to move forward on six Westing House nuclear reactors which will provide energy for six million Indians, not to mention the enormous number of jobs (it will create)……

Under the Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement signed in October 2008, two US companies would build 12 atomic reactors, each with a capacity of 1000 MWs. However, the US has often raised concern about hurdles faced by American companies over a series of issues.

Its major concerns like the liability clause in the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010 has already been addressed and talks between the WestingHouse Co, which will build six reactors, and the Indian side are on, sources said. The two sides are also cooperating in the field of space. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-us-to-advance-talks-on-building-six-nuclear-reactors-3004675/

August 31, 2016 Posted by | India, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

China’s aggressive nuclear marketing is causing it some problems

Buy-China-nukes-1Ambitious Nuclear Expansion Is Causing Problems For China. Oil Price, By Irina Slav – Aug 29, 2016, China General Nuclear Power Corp. has been indicted by the FBI on allegations that it has been trying to illegally acquire nuclear technology secrets from its U.S. consultants. According to the indictment, the country has been working with said consultants for years – and has been pressuring them into handing over sensitive trade information – pursuing Beijing’s international nuclear expansion ambitions.

Last month, Britain’s PM Theresa May postponed the go-ahead for the construction of the country’s biggest NPP in several decades, Hinckley Point, citing concerns about Chinese interference in British national security. The Chinese company behind Hinckley Point is China General Nuclear Power Corp.

These two cases have highlighted China’s growing ambitions in the nuclear field – not just domestic but international. They have also highlighted the inherent suspicion that Western governments feel towards China. In the case with the U.S. consultants, it’s very likely that the charges are legitimate, despite CGNP issuing a statement that said it “always sticks to the principle of following laws and regulations.”……

China has very aggressive international nuclear ambitions. The country’s state-owned nuclear power companies have been working with international leaders such as France’s Areva and EDF, and Westinghouse, on developing its own nuclear reactor that Beijing hopes to start exporting on a large scale.

The reactor in question is Hualong One, and it has been exported to two countries to date, Pakistan and Argentina. Both deals include financing for the construction of the power plants from Chinese sources, which is the model China used to get into road construction and other infrastructure in Africa an the Middle East, AP notes.

CGNP’s investment in the $24-billion Hinckley Point is yet another aspect of China’s international nuclear ambitions. Experts, however, are wary of the success of this ambition. Many warn that China has yet to win the trust of its potential clients – even though no Chinese nuclear plant has so far made headlines by causing a disaster, general sentiment towards nuclear energy is suspicious, and as a result, safety standards are very stringent. In addition to this stringency, they also vary from country to country, so Chinese reactor builders will have to be very flexible in their offer if they want to convince their potential clients to become actual ones.

What’s more, this market is extremely competitive, and there are clear global leaders, such as the aforementioned French and U.S. companies. These companies have the experience, the track record, and the reputation that ensure their place at the top. China lacks all of these, so pushing into the international nuclear reactor market may prove difficult.

Still, it has enough to do at home, with 20 reactors in construction and more planned in order to raise the country’s nuclear generation capacity to at least 58 GWe over the next five to six years, and further to 150 GWe by 2030……http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Ambitious-Nuclear-Expansion-Is-Causing-Problems-For-China.html

August 31, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

China marketing nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia

Buy-China-nukes-1China nuclear developer, Saudi’s Falih meet on nuclear cooperation By Reuters | Aug 30, 2016,BEIJING: China’s leading state nuclear project developer China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) said it met on Monday with Saudi energy minister Khalid Al-Falih to discuss cooperation in the nuclear power sector.

Beijing is embarking on an ambitious plan to export its locally developed nuclear technology as well as its equipment manufacturing capacity, potentially worth billions of dollars.

CNNC chairman Sun Qin told Al-Falih that China is ready to cooperate fully with Saudi Arabia over nuclear power, according to a short statement posted on the CNNC website late on Monday.

The statement said the Saudi energy ministry welcomed CNNC in expanding its business in the kingdom, including research and development of nuclear technology, uranium mining and the building of nuclear power stations, but gave no further details.  The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on training nuclear personnel, the statement said. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/53924844.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

August 31, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Japan considers scrapping fast-breeder reactor as costs mount

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The government is considering scrapping the troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor after calculating that readying it for restart would cost several hundred billion yen, sources said Monday.

A political decision on decommissioning the reactor is now in sight, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga joining talks to determine its fate, the sources said.

The facility in Fukui Prefecture has been beset by safety problems and has only been operational for a total of 250 days since it first went critical in 1994.

Decommissioning Monju would deal a serious blow to the nation’s vaunted fuel cycle policy, in which the reactor was designed to play a central role. The plan is to develop a commercial fast-breeder reactor that produces more plutonium than it consumes.

The science ministry has been trying to find a new entity to run the reactor, which is currently operated by the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The ministry was ordered to do this by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in November, after the NRA expressed exasperation with the operator’s consistent failure to make the plant a success.

Nuclear safety has been a hot-button issue in Japan in the wake of the disaster in 2011 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The ministry has been consulting a panel of energy experts on whether to keep Monju alive or to scrap it but has failed to identify a new entity to take over management.

In either case, substantial amounts of money are needed. The agency estimated in 2012 that it would cost around ¥300 billion to scrap the reactor in a process lasting over 30 years.

Safety problems included a major fire caused by a sodium leak in 1995.

The total of 250 operational days has come at a cost of more than ¥1 trillion in building and maintenance costs.

If Monju restarts operations, the ministry says its fuel must be replaced. In the event of a restart, new guidelines for fast-breeder reactors must also be created and any related construction will have to reflect these guidelines.

Making the building’s facilities meet the new guidelines will likely cost nearly ¥100 billion, the sources said, adding there would be further expenses for replacing old equipment.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/29/national/japan-considers-scrapping-fast-breeder-reactor-costs-mount/#.V8TSUu1VK1F

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Public Cost of Fukushima Cleanup Tops $628 Billion and Is Expected to Climb

Meanwhile, problems still persist at the nuclear plant, most notably with the ‘highly contaminated’ water being stored in tanks at the site

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That includes costs for radioactive decontamination and compensation payments, the Japan Times reported.

The public cost of cleaning up the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster topped ¥4.2 trillion (roughly $628 billion) as of March, and is expected to keep climbing, the Japan Times reported on Sunday.

That includes costs for radioactive decontamination and compensation payments. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) will sell off its shares to eventually pay back the cost of decontamination and waste disposal, but the Environment Ministry expects that the overall price of those activities could exceed what TEPCO would get for its shares.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer burden is expected to increase and TEPCO is asking for additional help from the government.

The Times reports:

The government estimates the proceeds from TEPCO share sale at ¥2.5 trillion, but to generate the estimated gain, the TEPCO stock price needs to trade at around ¥1,050, up sharply from current market levels of some ¥360.

In addition, the Environment Ministry expects that the cumulative total of decontamination and related costs could surpass the estimated share proceeds by the March 2017 end of the current fiscal year.

[….] TEPCO and six other power utilities charged their customers at least ¥327 billion in electricity rate hikes after Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident. Moreover, consumers paid ¥219.3 billion or more for TEPCO, chiefly to finance the maintenance of equipment to clean up radioactive water at the plant and the operation of call centers to deal with inquiries about compensation payments.

Moreover, as Deutsche Welle noted on Monday, problems still persist at the nuclear plant, most notably with the “highly contaminated” water being stored in tanks at the site.

“There are numerous problems that are all interconnected, but one of the biggest that we are facing at the moment is the highly contaminated water that is being stored in huge steel tanks at the site,” Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear activist with the group Green Action Japan, told DW. “They are running out of space at the site to put these tanks, the water that is being generated on a daily basis means they have to keep constructing more, and the ones that are not welded have a history of leaking.”

“The situation with contaminated water at the site is a ticking time bomb and they don’t seem to know what they can do—other than to construct more tanks,” she said.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/29/public-cost-fukushima-cleanup-tops-628-billion-and-expected-climb

 

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Typhoon No. 10 barrels toward Kanto and Tohoku, Fukushima Daiichi included

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Powerful Typhoon No. 10 is expected to be the first typhoon in at least 65 years to make landfall in the Tohoku region from the Pacific Ocean side on the evening of Aug. 30.

The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning that heavy rains of 80 millimeters or more per hour are expected to fall in some parts of northern Japan, including Tohoku.

The agency is also advising commuters in the Kanto region to take precautions against strong winds and heavy rain on the morning of Aug. 30.

As of noon on Aug. 29, Typhoon No. 10 was advancing in the waters about 340 kilometers southeast of Hachijojima island at a speed of 25 kph. The atmospheric pressure at the center of the typhoon was 945 hectopascals. The maximum wind speed near the center was 162 kph. The maximum momentary wind speed was 216 kph.

Typhoon No. 10 is expected to reach waters about 360 km southeast of Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, in the morning on Aug. 30, although it is expected to slightly weaken by that time.

The typhoon is forecast to make landfall on the Tohoku region later that day and move to the Sea of Japan before dawn on Aug. 31, the agency said.

According to the agency, no typhoons have landed on the Tohoku region from the Pacific Ocean side since statistics became available in 1951.

In the period from Aug. 29 to Aug. 30, the maximum wind speed is expected to be 126 kph in the Tohoku region and 82.8 kph in the Hokkaido and Kanto regions.

The amount of rainfall during the 24-hour period until the morning of Aug. 30 is predicted to be up to 200 mm in the Tohoku and Kanto regions and Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608290030.html

Fukushima nuclear plant prepares for typhoon

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is preparing for the powerful Typhoon Lionrock.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says on Monday workers secured electric cables and hoses.

TEPCO says on Tuesday it will suspend work with cranes and other operations at the plant’s port, which could bear the brunt of strong winds and waves. Depending on weather conditions, the firm may also call off outdoor work in other areas.

It says when the most recent typhoon approached last week, heavy rain caused underground water levels to rise and threatened to flush contaminated water into the harbor.

Workers are arranging pumps to draw up more ground water, and setting up additional pumps at wells used to observe water levels.

There were concerns in the past that a downpour brought by a typhoon could cause contaminated rain water to flow through a drainage channel into the ocean.

To address these fears, TEPCO rerouted the drainage system into the plant’s inside port. It also raised the levels of barriers around tanks that store tainted water.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160829_22/

Nearing typhoon halts work at Fukushima Daiichi

Workers at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have suspended some of the decommissioning work and are bracing for rain and winds from a powerful typhoon.

Typhoon Lionrock is expected to make landfall along Japan’s northeastern coast on Tuesday afternoon, passing off Fukushima Prefecture.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says workers secured electric cables and hoses on the plant compound on Monday.

On Tuesday, the operator suspended work at the plant’s port. It also stopped the operation of a crane being used to demolish a temporary cover over one of the reactor buildings. Officials say they are closely watching to make sure the cover is not blown off by the typhoon.

TEPCO says it has also taken measures to prevent contaminated rain water and groundwater from leaking into the ocean.

In past typhoons, it was thought that contaminated rainwater flowed into the ocean through a drainage system. There were also concerns that radioactive groundwater might leak into the ocean as rain could increase the groundwater in the compound.

This time the operator has installed stronger pumps and increased their number.

The utility says as of 11 AM Tuesday, there were no changes in groundwater levels at the plant’s site.

Other measures taken earlier include rerouting the drainage system into the plant’s port instead of directly into the ocean. TEPCO also raised the barriers around tanks that store tainted water.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160830_26/

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Problems persist at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors

Five years after the second-worst nuclear accident in history, contaminated water is still hampering efforts to gain control of the site. Local residents are reluctant to return to their homes. Julian Ryall reports.

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Five years after the second-worst nuclear accident in history, contaminated water is still hampering efforts to gain control of the site. Local residents are reluctant to return to their homes. Julian Ryall reports.

It has been five years and five months since three of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were crippled by the biggest earthquake and tsunami to strike Japan in living memory. Work continues at the site to clean up the radioactivity that escaped into the atmosphere and to regain control of the reactors.

In its press releases, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) insists that steps taken since the accident are slowly but surely having an effect. But not everyone accepts their assurances – or those of the wider nuclear industry as it seeks public support to restart reactors across the country that have been mothballed since March 2011.

“There are numerous problems that are all interconnected, but one of the biggest that we are facing at the moment is the highly contaminated water that is being stored in huge steel tanks at the site,” Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear activist with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, told DW.

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TEPCO insists that steps taken since the accident are slowly but surely having an effect

“They are running out of space at the site to put these tanks, the water that is being generated on a daily basis means they have to keep constructing more, and the ones that are not welded have a history of leaking,” she said.

‘Ticking time bomb’

“The situation with contaminated water at the site is a ticking time bomb and they don’t seem to know what they can do – other than to construct more tanks,” said Mioko-Smith.

Environmental groups are calling for TEPCO and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which oversees the industry here, to come up with a clear plan of action so that they do not simply run out of space and believe there is no option but to release contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

TEPCO confirmed earlier this month that an estimated 10,000 tons of radioactive water had collected in underground trenches around the buildings that house reactors one, two, three and four. That was in addition to about 60,000 tons of water that had flooded the basement of the reactor and turbine buildings, according to an official at TEPCO.

“It is accumulating because around 100 tons of water are injected every day in order to keep the reactors in units one, two and three cool,” the official told DW. “But we are also seeing about 150 tons of ground water seeping into those same areas each day.”

While a portion of this water is being treated to remove the radioactivity, the sheer amount of water at the site makes it impossible to keep up with what is required, hence the need for storage tanks.

A panel of experts that is advising the NRA has also declared the effort to construct a frozen wall of earth around the four reactors to stop additional ground water leaking into the site to be a failure.

Frozen wall plan ‘failing’

“The plan to block ground water with a frozen wall of earth is failing,” Yoshinori Kitsuaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University and a member of the panel, said in a report. “They need to come up with another solution.”

The TEPCO spokesperson disputes the suggestion that the 34.5 billion yen (307 million euros) ice wall scheme has failed.

“We are still in the process of freezing the entire length of the wall,” the official said. “We started on the side closest to the ocean and now we are moving to the rest of the perimeter on the landward side, but we have to make sure that water levels remain constant so that contaminated water does not flow out from the area around the reactors. There are seven sections of the ice wall that are not frozen yet and we believe we will see the effects after we have completed the whole process.”

These developments have largely failed to arouse the interest of the Japanese media or the public, who have been living with the consequences of the disaster since 2011, although one recent announcement did make the news.

On August 20, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare confirmed that it would provide compensation to a man who developed leukemia after taking part in emergency decontamination efforts at Fukushima immediately after the disaster struck.

The ministry recognized that the man, who is in his 50s but who has not been named, developed cancer due to exposure to radiation at the site, where he worked between April 2011 and January 2015.

The ministry is considering the cases of five additional workers who have applied for compensation to cover their health costs, while a former worker at the site was granted financial assistance in October of last year after contracting leukemia.

‘Making best efforts’

The TEPCO spokesperson says the company is “making its best efforts” to move the recovery process forward to the point at which the final procedure – removing the melted fuel debris from within the reactors – can be achieved. The scale of that problem remains huge, however, as it has never been attempted before.

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Work continues at the site to clean up the radioactivity

“We anticipate that it will take 30 to 40 years to reach that point as we are trying to do all the clean-up work at the same time as developing the technology to remove the fuel debris,” the official said.

Yet at the same time, the national government is effectively forcing people who were evacuated from their homes close to the plant to return, saying that radioactivity levels are within permissible limits and that housing subsidies and other payments that they have been receiving while unable to work will be terminated.

“Many of these people – especially those with children – do not want to go back to areas that they have been told are safe,” said Mioko-Smith, adding that there was a lack of trust in the government’s promises.

“They feel that everything is being driven by the upcoming Olympic Games and that the government has to live up to its promise to the world that everything will be back to normal by 2020 and the Tokyo Games,” she said.

http://m.dw.com/en/problems-persist-at-japans-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-reactors/a-19510555

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Utilization of 134Cs/137Cs in the environment to identify the reactor units that caused atmospheric releases during the Fukushima Daiichi accident

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Published on 22 August 2016

Abstract

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactor units that generated large amounts of airborne discharges during the period of March 12–21, 2011 were identified individually by analyzing the combination of measured 134Cs/137Cs depositions on ground surfaces and atmospheric transport and deposition simulations. Because the values of 134Cs/137Cs are different in reactor units owing to fuel burnup differences, the 134Cs/137Cs ratio measured in the environment was used to determine which reactor unit ultimately contaminated a specific area. Atmospheric dispersion model simulations were used for predicting specific areas contaminated by each dominant release. Finally, by comparing the results from both sources, the specific reactor units that yielded the most dominant atmospheric release quantities could be determined. The major source reactor units were Unit 1 in the afternoon of March 12, 2011, Unit 2 during the period from the late night of March 14 to the morning of March 15, 2011. These results corresponded to those assumed in our previous source term estimation studies. Furthermore, new findings suggested that the major source reactors from the evening of March 15, 2011 were Units 2 and 3 and that the dominant source reactor on March 20, 2011 temporally changed from Unit 3 to Unit 2.

Introduction

Since 2011, we have been estimating the source term—temporal changes in atmospheric release rates (Bq/h) of radionuclides—caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS) accident using a reverse estimation method that combines atmospheric dispersion simulation and environmental monitoring data1,2,3,4,5. Many international researchers have also tried the source term estimation and model simulation of atmospheric dispersion of radionuclides during the accident. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) summarized sixteen results on source term estimation (Table B2 of UNSCEAR 2013 Report6). It described that the source term estimated by Terada et al.3 (which is the one from our previous study) provided a sound basis for estimation of the levels of radioactive material in the terrestrial environment where prior measurements did not exist and actually the dispersion and deposition of released material modeled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) based on the source term by Terada et al.3 could replicate the broad pattern of deposition density of 137Cs over the Japanese land mass. We also summarized a number of international papers lately that have carried out the source term estimation and numerical analysis of atmospheric dispersion process of radionuclides released during the accidents (Table 1 of Katata et al.5).

The accuracy of our previous study’s latest source term increased with gradual increases in the number of monitoring data after the accident and improvement of our team’s numerical simulation model that included a sophisticated atmospheric deposition scheme5. The calculated ground-shine due to the large deposition event of March 15–16, 2011 agreed with observed data within a factor of 2 at most of the monitoring points, and the model also reproduced the spatial distribution of the airborne survey’s air dose rate and 137Cs surface deposition within a factor of 5. Therefore, the simulation results of the spatiotemporal patterns of 137Cs surface deposition have enough accuracy to compare with the observed 134Cs/137Cs ratio, though some discrepancies between simulation and observation occurred because of model simulation uncertainties. Using the latest source term in Katata et al.5, several atmospheric dispersion simulations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA, Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC), and Met Office, UK, were successfully able to reproduce the measured surface contamination distribution and time series in air concentrations of radionuclides regardless of model structure and meteorological input data5. UNSCEAR also reported for Katata et al.5 that in any further or updated assessment, the committee would recommend the use of the latest estimate as “preferential”7.

While the timing and quantities of major atmospheric releases during the FDNPS accident had been estimated, the relationships between these releases and their specifically correlated reactor units have still not been clarified. During the period of March 12–15, 2011, the temporal rises in air-dose rates measured by a monitoring car at the FDNPS boundary were partially connected to the events that occurred in the reactors8. However, after March 15, 2011, although only a few studies investigated the potential reasons why the atmospheric releases continued for such a long period afterward9,10, the precise rationale behind the event still has not been verified definitively.

Therefore, this paper focuses on the reactor units that generated large 137Cs atmospheric releases during the period of March 12–21, 2011.

To read more :

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep31376

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

China’s glaciers- the “third pole” are losing ice mass

How air pollution is causing the world’s ‘Third Pole’ to melt https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/08/24/how-air-pollution-is-causing-the-worlds-third-pole-to-melt/?utm_term=.2da2fe69b67f   By Chelsea Harvey August 24 In discussions about melting glaciers, most people think immediately of the vast ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. But there’s another, less talked-about ice-filled region on Earth that’s also experiencing dramatic melt, with millions of humans’ livelihoods and water supply at stake.  
glaciers Himalayas
The snow-covered Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountains and the Tibetan Plateau, spanning a broad area in Central and East Asia, together contain the largest ice mass on the planet outside of the polar regions. In fact, it’s earned itself the nickname of the “Third Pole.” But as in Greenland and Antarctica, there’s trouble afoot: Glaciers in the Third Pole are also shrinking.

According to remote sensing data collected and analyzed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, about 18 percent of China’s glaciers alone have disappeared over the past 50 years. And that’s a big problem because meltwater from these glaciers feeds a network of rivers that supply water, directly or indirectly, to more than a billion people downstream.

Rising temperatures, the product of global warming, are certainly one threat facing the glaciers, said Shichang Kang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research. But air pollution in the region is also helping to accelerate the melting. And now, Kang and a group of colleagues have helped shed some new light on where all this pollution is coming from and how it could be stopped.

In a new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers collected samples of black carbon — a particulate matter created through the burning of fossil fuels and biomass — throughout the Third Pole and analyzed them using a special chemical “fingerprinting” process that identifies what kind of burning produced them and where they originated.

Black carbon might be most famous for the range of adverse health effects it’s believed to cause, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems and even premature death. But in terms of its effects on glaciers, it’s known to cause snow and ice melt in a number of different ways. First, black carbon floating in the atmosphere is able to absorb sunlight and cause at least temporary regional warming as a result, Kang noted. Additionally, when black carbon deposits itself on snow and ice masses, it tends to darken their surfaces, causing them to absorb more sunlight and melt faster.

Until now, scientists have had trouble pinpointing which places are contributing pollution to which regions of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau and which types of sources are causing the most damage. That’s important information, not only for constructing accurate ice models to predict how the glaciers might change in the future, but also for writing new policies aimed at cutting pollution in the places that need it most.

In their new study, the researchers found evidence that both the burning of fossil fuels and the burning of biomass — materials such as plant matter and animal dung — have contributed to the black carbon that ended up in the Third Pole. In the Himalayas, it was split about evenly between the two sources, with most of it coming from the Indo-Gangetic Plain in northern India, while in the northern part of the Tibetan Plateau, most of the black carbon came from fossil fuel burning in China.

But in the inner, central part of the plateau, about two thirds of the sampled black carbon came from biomass burning rather than fossil fuels — a finding that Kang noted is “very surprising.” This suggests that internal Tibetan fuel-burning practices, such as burning yak dung for daily cooking and heating, are contributing more pollutants to certain parts of the Third Pole than experts previously suspected.

This is valuable data that can better inform the models used to simulate ice melt in the Third Pole and make predictions about what the region’s future might look like. But according to Kang, “the most important thing is that we can provide mitigation [advice] to policymakers.”

Because most biomass burning on the Tibetan Plateau is used for home energy, including cooking and heating, government investments in improving the efficiency of stoves and expanding the availability of cleaner energy sources to households in the region could make a big difference, Kang noted.

This advice isn’t meant to overshadow efforts to reduce fossil fuel burning, which also has big implications for the fight against global climate change. And wider efforts to address the burning of fossil fuels in Central and East Asia are already under way in some places. In China, for instance, coal-burning still remains the country’s dominant power source — but reports suggest that coal consumption hasn’t grown since 2013 and may have even declined in the last year, while the government has also placed a moratorium on new coal mine approvals for at least the next three years.

The study’s results may have helped reveal some new ways governments can add to or prioritize their current efforts to cut down on black carbon production. In the meantime, careful monitoring of the Third Pole’s glaciers will be critical, Kang said, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on the region’s water resources and making projections for the future.

“In the future, we’re definitely going to see glaciers shrink, but different regions with different climate regimes have different responses,” Kang said. “This is what we want to try to figure out.”

August 29, 2016 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

Making more efficient use of space with “solar trees”

flag-indiaIndian Scientists Design Solar Tree to Save Space for Solar Power Generation VOA, 26 Aug 16 NEW DELHI Indian scientists have designed a “solar tree” that they hope will help overcome one of the key challenges the country faces in the generation of solar power.

With photovoltaic panels placed at different levels on branches made of steel, “solar trees” could dramatically reduce the amount of land needed to develop solar parks.

“It takes about four-square meters of space to produce energy which otherwise would have required 400 square meters of space. So almost 100 times the space is saved, which as you know is very valuable,” said Daljit Singh Bedi, chief scientist at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in New Delhi, whose laboratory in Kolkata developed the tree.

A scarce resource in India, acquisition of land to develop roads, factories and other infrastructure is a sensitive issue that has led to frequent and sometimes violent protests from displaced people.

Scientists estimate the energy generated by a solar tree would be sufficient to light up five homes. They say the space-saving tree would not only make it easier to increase solar power generation to light up homes and streets in cities, but also in rural areas where farmers are unwilling to give up large tracts of land for solar panel installations.

The solar tree will also harness more energy compared to rooftop panels. “This design, it facilitates placement of solar panels in a way that they are exposed more towards sun and that way they are able to harness 10 to 15 per cent more energy, which is more or less equivalent to one hour more than the conventional format,” said Bedi……http://www.voanews.com/a/indian-scientists-design-solar-tree-to-save-space-for-solar-power-generation/3481641.html

August 29, 2016 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

Radioactive Boar Are Thriving And Causing Havoc Near The Fukushima Power Plant

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It’s been over five years since tsunami waves crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and led to its nuclear meltdown. While 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the land around the plant remains a dangerous exclusion zone, the area’s wildlife is taking full advantage of the peace.

Since the nuclear disaster, the population of wild boars has rocketed, much to the dismay of surrounding communities, The Times has reported. In the four years following the disaster, the population of boars is thought to have boomed from 3,000 to 13,000. You might think this ancient Japanese symbol of prosperity and fertility might be welcomed, but it’s estimated they have caused $15 million worth of damage to local agriculture.

Assistant ecology professor Okuda Keitokunin told the Japanese Mainichi newspaper that wild boar, along with racoons, have been using the abandoned houses and emptied buildings in the evacuation zone as a place to breed and shelter.

However, this post-nuclear meltdown town isn’t exactly a safe haven for the boars. It’s thought their diet of roots, nuts, berries and water all contain particularly high concentrations of radiation. The animals show no immediate signs of harm from the radiation, however samples from Fukushima’s wild boar meat has shown they contain 300 times the safe amount of the radioactive element caesium-137. Another study on the area’s fir trees showed evidence of growth mutations.

Hunters have been offered rewards to cull the boars by local authorities. However,  the animals are breeding so quickly they can’t keep up. The city of Nihonmatsu, around 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the Fukushima plant, has dug three mass graves capable of holding 1,800 dead boars. Recently, these have become overfilled and authorities are now struggling to cope with the influx of culled beasts.

The boom in boars is a similar story to Chernobyl’s post-meltdown wildlife. A study from late last year showed that the populations of deer and wild boar are thriving in the area surrounding the Ukrainian nuclear power plant.

In a statement Jim Smith, one of the authors of the Chernobyl study, explained, “It’s very likely that wildlife numbers at Chernobyl are much higher than they were before the accident. This doesn’t mean radiation is good for wildlife, just that the effects of human habitation, including hunting, farming, and forestry, are a lot worse.”

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/wild-boar-are-thriving-and-causing-havoc-near-fukushima-power-plant/

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Public cost of Fukushima nuclear accident cleanup topped ¥4.2 trillion as of end of March

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Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant topped ¥4.2 trillion by the end of fiscal 2015, it was learned Sunday.

The cumulative total at the end of last March, including costs for radioactive decontamination, reactor decommissioning and compensation payments to affected people and organizations, translate into about ¥33,000 per capita.

The public financial burden is expected to increase, with Tepco seeking further government assistance.

Jiji Press scrutinized the government’s special-account budgets through fiscal 2015 for the reconstruction of areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It summed up the amounts of executed budgets related to the nuclear disaster and additional electricity rates consumers and businesses were charged by Tepco and seven other regional power utilities to help finance compensation payments, among other costs.

According to the study, a total of ¥2.34 trillion was disbursed for decontamination of affected areas, disposal of contaminated waste and an interim storage facility for tainted soil. The expense was shouldered by the government, mainly through affiliated Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.

The costs for decontamination and tainted waste disposal will eventually be financed by the proceeds from the sale of Tepco shares held by the government-backed organization. The government guaranteed the loans provided by banks for the acquisition of Tepco shares, and if the lending becomes irrecoverable due to weakness of the Tepco stock price, tax revenue will be used to repay the loans.

The government estimates the proceeds from Tepco share sale at ¥2.5 trillion, but to generate the estimated gain, the Tepco stock price needs to trade at around ¥1,050, up sharply from current market levels of some ¥360.

In addition, the Environment Ministry expects that the cumulative total of decontamination and related costs could surpass the estimated share proceeds by the March 2017 end of the current fiscal year.

A total of ¥1.1 trillion will be used from the energy special account to finance the costs related to the interim storage facility for contaminated soil. The account mostly consists of revenue of the tax for the promotion of power resources development, which is included in electricity bills.

Elsewhere, the government spent ¥1.38 trillion on projects including the decommissioning of reactors at the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, checks on food for radioactive contamination and building a research and development facility.

Tepco and six other power utilities charged their customers at least ¥327 billion in electricity rate hikes after Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident. Moreover, consumers paid ¥219.3 billion or more for Tepco, chiefly to finance the maintenance of equipment to clean up radioactive water at the plant and the operation of call centers to deal with inquiries about compensation payments.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/28/national/public-cost-fukushima-nuclear-accident-cleanup-topped-%C2%A54-2-trillion-end-march/#.V8MWHTXKO-c

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima scenarios used in evacuation drills at two Japanese nuclear plants

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TAKAHAMA, FUKUI PREF. – Some 11,000 residents of Fukui and Kyoto prefectures participated in two major disaster drills on Saturday and Sunday centered on hypothetical nuclear accidents at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama and Oi nuclear power stations.

The exercises were jointly organized by the central government and the prefectural governments of Fukui, Shiga and Kyoto.

Saturday’s drill at Takahama involved about 9,000 residents. It was intended to examine the workability of evacuation plans approved by the national government last December.

The scenario was a strong earthquake off Wakasa Bay, near the plant. The tremor measured a lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 0 to 7.

The facility’s No. 3 reactor was assumed to have lost all power, leading to the release of radioactive substances — as happened at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.

Evacuation plans require residents within 5 km of plants to evacuate immediately upon an accident occurring. Those living up to 30 km away are meant to stay indoors until radiation alarms detect fallout in the air.

Some experts have cast doubt on whether it is a good idea to order people to stay indoors when reactors are spewing radiation.

For example, when quakes pummeled Kyushu this spring, about 160,000 houses and buildings collapsed. If that were to occur in Fukui, many residents would find it difficult to shelter indoors.

In the Kumamoto earthquake, there were cases where people returned to their homes after the initial quake, only to be hit when houses collapsed in the second quake, said Hirotada Hirose, a professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, a specialist in disaster risk management.

If a severe nuclear disaster occurs, evacuating in phases isn’t likely to go well,” he said. “The evacuation plan should assume many scenarios.”

These could include cases where an earthquake cuts traffic, jamming the roads with panicking residents who ignore advice and are trying to flee in large numbers.

Nonetheless, Saturday’s exercise finished without any major hiccups.

By doing the drills with local governments and residents over and over again, disaster-prevention skills will improve,” said Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa.

As part of the exercise, at the town hall of Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, Kansai Electric workers screened evacuees for radiation exposure. They also checked the buses for contamination.

One of the would-be evacuees was Masatoshi Nose, 46, a city government employee from Obama, Fukui Prefecture.

As this is a drill, I was able to come here smoothly,” Nose said. “But in a real disaster situation, it may take an entire day.”

Also, poor visibility scrubbed plans to use a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter to extract 20 residents from near Takahama.About 180,000 people live within 30 km of the plant whose No. 3 and No. 4 reactors were restarted in January and February, only to be halted again after the Otsu District Court in Shiga in March issued a provisional injunction following a petition by residents.

Meanwhile, on Sunday about 2,000 local residents participated in an evacuation drill under a scenario where Kansai Electric’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture experiences a catastrophic accident.

The drill was organized by the Fukui Prefectural Government.

The residents took shelter in their homes or evacuated to elsewhere in the prefecture as part of an effort to test response times to an accident.

The evacuation drill was only carried out within Fukui Prefecture itself as no evacuation plan covering a wider area has been drawn up for the plant, located in the town of Oi.

Residents within 5 km of the plant fled to the city of Tsuruga, and Oi residents within 30 km of the plant moved to the city of Ono, about 100 km away.

For the evacuees from Oi, a facility was set up for the distribution of iodine tablets to mitigate radiation exposure and to check for contamination.

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http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/28/national/fukushima-scenarios-used-evacuation-drills-two-japanese-nuclear-plants/#.V8MWOTXKO-c

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s surfers riding on radioactive waves

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” said one surfer. “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now.”

Fukushima, Japan – On 11 March 2011, at 2:46 pm, Japan was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake which generated a tsunami along the coast. The casualties of the disaster included 18,500 dead, 90 percent of whom drowned in the tsunami wave. The bodies of 2,561 people were never recovered.

The tsunami hit the Daaichi nuclear power plant as well, a level-7 catastrophe that was the equivalent of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown disaster.

Over the course of five years, nearly 50,000 people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks according to government press releases. They remove between 5 and 30 cm of contaminated soil every day and place them in plastic bags, which are stored on the outskirts of town, pending a better solution.

In Tairatoyoma beach, a prefecture of Fukushima and some 50km from the nuclear plant, was among the most popular areas for Japanese surfers prior to the nuclear accident.

Surprisingly, despite the presence of radiation in the sand and water, some dedicated surfers continue to come here to catch some waves. They are aware of the risks, and the hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach serve as a constant reminder of the health risks to them. 

“I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation,” said one surfer. “We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now.”

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Tairatoyoma beach, in the prefecture of Fukushima, 50km from the nuclear plant, was among the most popular areas with Japanese surfers before the accident.

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“I come to Tairatoyoma beach and surf several times a week. it is my passion, I can’t stop surfinhg”, says this surfer. The sign next to him in Japanese indicates that the area is restricted area.

Japanese surfer in the contaminated area after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tairatoyoma beach, Japan

Some surfers were on the beach when the tsunami struck. ‘The earth shook, we came back on Tairatoyoma beach, and a few minutes later, the tsunami wave arrived,’ recalls one surfer. ‘None of the surfers who were on the beach died, as we had time to escape. Those who were in their homes were taken by the waves by surprise and they died.’

 

Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant five years after the tsunami, Fukushima prefecture, Futaba, Japan

Over the course of five years, nearly 50,000 people have worked to decontaminate the plant and stop leaks. Nearly 500,000 people were evacuated because of the tsunami and the nuclear accident.

A radiation dosimeter placed inthe difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

A radiation dosimeter placed in the difficult-to-return zone after the Daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Radiation sensors indicate the level of radioactivity. But no one is present to read the sensors in the red zones, classified as ‘difficult to return to zones’ by the government.

Roadblock in the difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Roadblock in the difficult-to-return zone after the daiichi nuclear power plant irradiation, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Residents receive compensation from Tepco company based on the degree of contamination of their homes. In the red zone they receive 1,000$ a month per person. That has created tensions in the population because those who live on the other side of the barrier, like here in Tomioka, do not receive as much.

 

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In the ‘orange zone’, residents have the right to visit their home if they wish to take care of it. In the town of Naraha. This man has come to weed his garden. His wife refuses to come back, and he will not bring his children. He never sleeps in his contaminated home. He knows the dangers well as he has worked at the nuclear plant.

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Abandoned car after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami five years after in the difficult-to-return zone, Fukushima prefecture, Tomioka, Japan

Cities distant from the sea, like Tomioka, were only affected by the earthquake and the radiation, not by the tsunami. They have now turned into ghost towns.

 

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Thirty million tonnes of contaminated soil are stocked in open-air sites.

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The Tairatoyoma beach was popular for its sand, but the tsunami washed this sand away. Now, a concrete wall offers protection against the waves. A few rare foreigners venture here to surf according to the Japanese surfers.

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The surfers cannot ignore the riskS. There are hundreds of bags of contaminated sand piled up on the beach. ‘The government keeps telling us that things are back to normal in the region. But we can see that few people have come back. There are only elderly people. Children are kept away,’ said one surfer.

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Despite knowing the risks, surfers are undeterred and willing to take the risk to surf in these waters. ‘I put on sunscreen against the sun, but I haven’t found anything against radiation. We will only know the true consequences of our time in the water 20 years from now,’said one surfer.

 

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The people from the Fukushima prefecture had supported the construction of the nuclear power plants in the region because this brought jobs and prosperity to this rural area.

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An employee of the nuclear plant said that he would never swim there as the water is too contaminated. Five of his friends who worked at the plant have now brain damage.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2016/08/fukushima-surfers-riding-radioactive-waves-160826095748798.html

 

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

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