nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

“New Generation” reactors the saviours of the nuclear industry ? – Not very likely.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017  Lobbyists debate solutions to the crisis  “……… The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactorpipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write-off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors argue that nuclear power must become substantially cheaper and this will not be possible “so long as nuclear reactors must be constructed on site one gigawatt at a time. … At 10 MW or 100 MW, by contrast, there is ample opportunity for learning by doing and economies of multiples for several reactor classes and designs, even in the absence of rapid demand growth or geopolitical imperatives.”

Other than their promotion of small reactors and their rejection of large ones, the four authors are non-specific about their preferred reactor types. Any number of small-reactor concepts have been proposed.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been the subject of much discussion and even more hype. There’s quite a bit of R&D ‒ in the US, the UK, South Korea, China and elsewhere. But only a few SMRs are under construction: one in Argentina, a twin-reactor floating nuclear power plant in Russia, and three SMRs in China (including two high-temperature gas-cooled reactors). The broad picture for SMRs is much the same as that for fast neutron reactors: lots of hot air, some R&D, but few concrete plans and even fewer concrete pours.

There isn’t the slightest chance that SMRs will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “substantially cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is mass producing SMRs for a mass market ‒ and even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and highly unlikely that it would be substantially cheaper. After all, economies-of-scale have driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers. Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

In the absence of a mass supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities. The construction cost of Argentina’s 25 MWe CAREM reactor is estimated at US$446 million, which equates to a whopping US$17.8 billion / GW. Estimated construction costs for the Russian floating plant have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW.

Small or large reactors, consolidation or innovation, conventional reactors or Generation IV pipe-dreams … it’s not clear that the nuclear industry will be able to recover however it responds to its current crisis.http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18929&page=0

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s policies on nuclear weapons

How Pakistan Is Planning to Fight a Nuclear War, National Interest, Kyle Mizokami, 26 Mar 17, Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

 The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization……..

Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.

Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.

Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-pakistan-planning-fight-nuclear-war-19897

March 27, 2017 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The physics of climate change

Elevator Pitches – Chapter 02 – Radiative Gases Radiative Gases

A Musical Basis for Scattering Heat https://www.skepticalscience.com/ccep02.html24 March 2017 by Rob Honeycutt – This is another excerpt from my book 28 Climate Change Elevator Pitches. I’ll be publishing one chapter here on SkS each month.The scientific basis for understanding climate goes back to the 1820’s when brilliant French mathematician Joseph Fourier first proposed the idea that our planet’s atmosphere had heat-trapping properties. Fourier was trying to calculate what should be the temperature of a planet at our distance from the sun. He derived a figure about 33°C (59°F) colder than the actual average temperature of the Earth. For his figures to be correct, he thought gases in our atmosphere must have “radiative properties” with the capacity to absorb and re-emit heat energy. When visible sunlight passes through our atmosphere it warms the surface of the Earth. The heat that is emitted upward we refer to as infrared radiation, or IR. Infrared radiation is just another wavelength of energy which is invisible to the human eye, but we can feel that energy as heat. It’s this heat energy that is scattered by radiative gases in the atmosphere.

In the 1850’s a British scientist, John Tyndall, devised an apparatus enabling him to measure the heat absorbing properties of various gases. Earth’s atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). The remaining 1 percent of gases are known as “trace gases.” Tyndall discovered that the radiative properties of nitrogen and oxygen are insignificant and transparent to infrared radiation (heat). But, he further discovered that some trace gases do efficiently block heat.

But, how does this work? Why would one gas be transparent to heat and another gas block it?

The most common radiative gases in our atmosphere are water (H2O), carbon dioxide(CO2), and to a lesser extent, methane (CH4), so let’s look at how these molecules are constructed. The first two have a single core atom with two other atoms attached to it. With H2O, there is a central oxygen atom with two hydrogen atoms attached. With CO2, there is a central carbon atom and two oxygen atoms attached. You can picture these being something like soap bubbles joined together, but imagine if you can, that these soap bubbles have an electromagnetic field incorporated into them. This electromagnetic field gently locks the molecule into a specific configuration. That magnetic field also allows the atoms to wobble around a bit as the molecule is floating about in the atmosphere. Methane is somewhat similarly constructed as CO2, but with a central carbon atom surrounded on four sides by hydrogen atoms making it a far more potent radiative gas than the others.

Infrared radiation is a wavelength of light. In a way, it’s analogous to sound waves traveling through the air. If you tap an A note tuning fork on your knee and then hold it against the soundboard of a guitar the A-string of the guitar will vibrate sympathetically. Infrared radiation also has a frequency range, so when visible sunlight (higher frequency energy) comes in and hits the surface of the planet, that energy warms the surface. The surface then emits lower frequency energy as heat (IR) back up through the atmosphere.

The capacity of these molecules to vibrate (the “wobbling”) is “tuned” like the guitar string and when infrared radiation in the right frequency interacts with these gases, the molecule vibrates sympathetically. What they’re doing is absorbing and re-emitting that IR heatenergy. The difference with the dominant molecules, like oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2), is they can’t vibrate in this same manner nor at the same frequency ranges, thus they are invisible to IR.

That is the fundamental physics of climate change: the vibrational modes of greenhouse gases acting to absorb and scatter heat energy in the atmosphere. This was a cutting-edge discovery of the mid-19th century but now an indisputable fact of science. Scientists have empirically measured, modeled, and applied these facts in numerous ways for well over a century.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

Wisconsin and Louisiana cities join 23 others in USA, in going for 100% renewable energy

25 Cities Now Committed to 100% Renewables, EcoWatch, http://www.ecowatch.com/cities-commit-renewable-energy-2324917492.html , 22 Mar 17, Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana are transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy following respective city council votes on Tuesday.

Madison and Abita Springs are the first cities in Wisconsin and Louisiana to make this commitment. They join 23 other cities across the United States—from large ones like San Diego, California and Salt Lake City, Utah to smaller ones like Georgetown, Texas and Greensburg, Kansas—that have declared similar goals.

Madison is the biggest city in the Midwest to establish 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions. The Madison Common Council unanimously approved a resolution to allocate $250,000 to develop a plan by January 18, 2018 that includes target dates for reaching these goals, interim milestones, budget estimates and estimated financial impacts.

Madison Common Council Alder Zach Wood said that his city is determined to “lead the way in moving beyond fossil fuels that threaten our health and environment.”

After a unanimous vote, Abita Springs is aiming to derive 100 percent of the town’s electricity from renewable energy sources by December 31, 2030.

The Sierra Club noted that Tuesday’s votes from the politically polar municipalities reflect the growing bipartisan support for alternative energy development. To illustrate, during the November election, more than 70 percent of Madison voters supported Hillary Clinton versus the 75 percent of voters in St. Tammany Parish, where Abita Springs is located, who supported Donald Trump.But as Abita Springs’ Republican mayor Greg Lemons said, “Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy and for what our constituents want in Abita Springs.”

“Politics has nothing to do with it for me. Clean energy just makes good economic sense,” Lemons added. LeAnn Pinniger Magee, chair of Abita Committee for Energy Sustainability, had similar remarks.

“In a state dominated by oil interests, Abita Springs is a unique community that can be a leader on the path to renewable energy,” she said. “Our town already boasts the solar-powered Abita Brewery and we can see first-hand how clean energy benefits our businesses and our entire community. By transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy, we will save money on our utility bills and protect our legendary water and clean air in the process.”

Last year’s Gallup poll indicated for the first time that a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents prefer an alternative energy strategy. Fifty-one percent of Republicans favor alternative energy, up from the previous high of 46 percent in 2011.

“Whether you’re Republican or a Democrat, from a liberal college city or a rural Louisiana town, clean energy is putting America back to work and benefiting communities across the country,” Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, said. “That’s why Madison, Wisconsin and Abita Springs, Louisiana, today join the ranks of 23 other cities and towns across the United States that are going all-in on clean, renewable energy.”

Van Horn noted that local leaders and governments will be increasingly tasked to curb President Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies and gutting of environmental regulations.

“As the Trump Administration turns its back on clean air and clean water, cities and local leaders will continue to step up to lead the transition towards healthy communities and a more vibrant economy powered by renewable energy,” she said.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

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

March 27, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Global nuclear industry heading towards a decommissioning crisis

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 ‒ and escalating sticker-shock ‒ 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

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Green Party accuses UK government of failing consumers and the environment over energy policy

Energy Costs http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/energy-costs-25-3-17/  Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, has accused the government of failing consumers and the environment over energy policy. The accusation follows new projections from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which estimate that onshore wind and solar will be as cheap or cheaper than gas by 2020 [1]. BEIS now acknowledge an increased role for renewables, particularly due to potential improvements in battery storage. Molly Scott Cato said:

“Having hammered the renewables sector for ideological reasons, the government now discovers that wind and solar are set to become the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Government energy policy supposedly seeks to deliver secure, affordable and low carbon energy. They have failed on all three counts. But in particular we now see that by failing to pursue a transition to renewable energy they have missed the opportunity to provide electricity for the consumer at the lowest cost.”

Green Party 23rd March 2017 read more »

A long-awaited report exploring the complex cost implications of different energy technologies has finally been released, offering a series of recommendations on how government should manage a grid that is transitioning to cleaner sources of power. The report from consultancy Frontier Economics was originally commissioned by former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey in response to a wide-ranging debate about whether the government was accounting for the full cost of renewable energy technologies. Business Green 24th March 2017

March 27, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, politics | Leave a comment

Britain will struggle with nuclear regulatory system, after leaving European Union

Top nuclear boss advising May on protecting atomic industry from Brexit blow Energy Voice , 26 Mar 17 The German head of one of the UK’s top nuclear companies is counseling Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on what needs to be done to protect a global hub for the industry from Brexit.

With European Union leaders congregating to celebrate the Treaty of Rome’s 60th anniversary, Urenco Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Thomas Haeberle said he’s cautiously optimistic that new rules can be negotiated to guarantee the flow of nuclear materials in and out of the U.K. after the nation leaves the bloc.

“We are making the U.K. government, which is also our shareholder, aware of the requirements our business needs to fulfill in the context of Brexit and of leaving Euratom,” said Haeberle, referring to the European Atomic Community, a part of the EU’s bedrock agreement signed on March 25, 1957 – 26/03/20

Just as bankers have made London a global financial hub, nuclear workers have turned Britain into a central cog servicing the world’s flow of atomic materials. Urenco, the world’s second-biggest maker of reactor fuel, runs a factory in Capenhurst and oversees its global distribution network from Stoke Poges outside of London.

Owned by the U.K. and Dutch governments as well as German utilities EON SE and RWE AG, Urenco has set up a working group that “deals with all the risks and the possible mitigations,” Haeberle said. He spoke with Bloomberg a week before the EU celebrates Euratom’s 60th anniversary, his first interview since becoming CEO in January 2016.

Euratom’s main function is to safeguard nuclear fuel, making sure it isn’t diverted to make weapons. The U.K. will lose that service once it departs the EU. Nuclear fuel suppliers and power plants need certification from Euratom or whatever system succeeds it to buy material on the open market.

For Urenco’s business to continue uninterrupted after the U.K. leaves the EU, negotiators will have to seal new agreements with governments around the world setting out the new regulatory system Britain will follow after it leaves Euratom……..

Companies like Urenco face a potentially “high impact” from Brexit, Moody’s Investors Service wrote in a May 22 note saying that the overall credit impact from leaving the EU will be modest. Urenco, which has 2.1 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) of outstanding debt is rated Baa1, two grades above junk by Moody’s…… https://www.energyvoice.com/otherenergy/134874/top-nuclear-boss-advising-may-protecting-atomic-industry-brexit-blow/

 

.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | politics international, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) sounds alarm over doctored papers & security breaches at French nuclear parts supplier

UK watchdog sounds alarm over doctored papers & security breaches at French nuclear parts supplier, Rt.com  25 Mar, 2017 

The ONR report, obtained under a Freedom of Information request and seen by Reuters, gives details on the December 16 visit by an international monitoring team to a French Creusot forge, operated by the country’s state-owned nuclear supplier Areva.

In the report, the UK watchdog warned that safety procedures at Creusot were far below the required standards for a key nuclear equipment supplier. That, they said, could lead to severe consequences for EDF’s [the largest energy company in France] Hinkley Point nuclear project currently under construction in southwest Britain, which is set to receive forgings from Creusot.

“ONR should consider the adequacy of EDF’s… oversight and assurance arrangements for Areva as a key supplier to Hinkley Point, given the performance shortfalls at Creusot Forge and the associated risks to [nuclear] components manufacture,” the regulator said, as cited by Reuters.

Among the breaches was the continued use of correction fluid on documents at the foundry, despite an earlier ban.

The ONR report also inquired into why internal inspections and audits carried out in past decades at Creusor Forge had not discovered and dealt with any of the falsification activities.

Following the December findings, two EDF nuclear reactors were stopped for months, utilities worldwide started reviewing Areva-made parts, and Paris launched a probe into the suspected falsification of documents.

The inspection of the troubled facility was carried out last year by an international team from France, Canada, the US, China, Finland, and Britain…….https://www.rt.com/news/382273-nuclear-france-failure-uk/

March 27, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear power, once the “golden goose” for small towns – now a liability

Ripples from US nuclear plant closings overwhelm small towns, Star Tribune, By JOHN SEEWER Associated Press  MARCH 26, 2017     “……..For the small, mostly rural towns that are home to 61 U.S. nuclear plants that produce one-fifth of the nation’s electricity, each one has been like the golden goose supplying high-paying jobs and money for roads, police and libraries.

But those same places and their residents are bracing for what may come next due to the soaring costs of running aging reactors that have speeded up the closings of a handful of sites and are threatening at least a dozen more. That’s because once the power stops flowing, so does the money.

Towns that already have seen nuclear plants shuttered are now dealing with higher property taxes, cuts in services and less school funding — a new reality that may linger for decades.

In Wisconsin, the tiny town of Carlton saw the source of roughly 70 percent of its yearly budget disappear when the Kewaunee nuclear power plant closed four years ago. That resulted in the first town tax in its history.

“Financially, we benefited, but now we’re going to pay the price for the next 40 years,” said David Hardtke, the town chairman.

When operations ceased at the Crystal River Nuclear Plant along Florida’s Gulf Coast, “it was like something going through and wiping out a third of your county,” said Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver.

To make up the difference, property tax rates went up by 31 percent and 100 county workers were let go — so many that Oliver worries there won’t be enough to evacuate residents and clear roads if a major tropical storm hits.

While the nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants wasn’t designed to last forever, closures are happening earlier than expected because repair costs are astronomical and it’s harder to compete with cheaper natural gas-fired plants and renewable energy sources.

The former head of the nuclear industry’s trade group said last year that economic pressures have put 15 to 20 plants at risk of a premature shutdown.

FirstEnergy Corp. will decide by next year whether to close or sell its plant in Pennsylvania and two in Ohio, including Davis-Besse, unless the states change regulations to make them more competitive……… New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., owner of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, announced plans late last year to close in 2018 even though it has a license to keep operating another 14 years…….

what makes recovering tough is that almost all nuclear plants are in out of the way places that have become heavily reliant on them. And they employ specialized workers who are quick to leave for still-operating locations.

To make matters worse, many closed sites can’t be redeveloped for new uses because they’re still storing radioactive waste…….

“We have become a de facto nuclear waste dump. It just sits there, and sits there forever,” said Al Hill, the mayor in Zion, Illinois, where spent nuclear fuel remains stored on prime property along Lake Michigan even though the plant shut down 20 years ago.

On top of that, the closing took away half of the city’s tax base and pushed property taxes to the highest in the state, making it difficult to lure new businesses, Hill said……

It’s had a devastating effect on this town,”  “It’s terrible. Any town with a nuclear power plant in it or near it is in danger of suffering the same fate.” http://www.startribune.com/ripples-from-us-nuclear-plant-closings-overwhelm-small-towns/417116223/

March 27, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, social effects, USA | 1 Comment

Pennsylvania politicians push for subsidies for nuclear power

Nuclear energy caucus forms in challenging times, The Times Tribune, 26 Mar 17 HARRISBURG — A group of state lawmakers formed the Nuclear Energy Caucus last week as part of an effort to keep nuclear power part of Pennsylvania’s mix of energy sources. Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, Plymouth Twp., ranking Democrat on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, is a member of this caucus……..

Pennsylvania has five nuclear plants, making it the second largest state with nuclear capacity, the caucus said.The goal of the caucus is to develop policies that promote nuclear energy as part of Pennsylvania’s energy mix…..

Industry struggling  Sen. Ryan Aument, R-36, Lancaster, points out that the nuclear industry nationwide is struggling.

Five nuclear plants have ceased production since 2013 while an additional seven plants have announced plans to close by 2019, said Aument. Given Pennsylvania’s status as a top nuclear power producer, it’s important the caucus promotes the use of nuclear energy, he added.

The caucus arrives at a time when the nuclear industry’s economic problems are an issue in neighboring New York and Ohio. Some nuclear plants have experienced problems selling their electricity on the market at a price that covers the costs of generating it. Competition from cheaper natural gas is a key factor.

New York has approved a surcharge on customers’ electric bills to provide a subsidy to help keep its nuclear plants open. Supporters say the subsidy recognizes that nuclear energy is a renewable power source and doesn’t produce carbon emissions. The subsidy is being challenged in state courts.

Ohio is considering legislation where customers would pay a surcharge to underwrite zero-carbon emissions credits given to nuclear plants.

The nuclear industry shouldn’t get a bailout from ratepayers, said activist Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert.

‘Cannot compete’

“It’s become clear the nuclear industry cannot compete in the market,” he said. “It’s environmental attributes are negligible.”

The storage of high-level radioactive wastes is a major problem with nuclear plants, added Epstein.

Nuclear plant owners recouped investment costs after Pennsylvania enacted an electric deregulation law in 1999, he said.

The new caucus hasn’t discussed any legislation, let alone a subsidy or tax credits for nuclear plants, said Yudichak. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/nuclear-energy-caucus-forms-in-challenging-times-1.2172406

March 27, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Earth Hour: When lights were turned off around the world.

Millions of people from some 170 countries and territories took part in the annual bid to highlight global warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and gas to drive cars and power plants.
http://www.dailyclimate.org/t/-6571422209236690717

March 27, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ireland demands to be consulted on potential effects of nuclear power station on England’s west coast

Ireland issues powerful demand to have say on UK nuclear plant, Sunday Times, Environment minister Denis Naughten has asked the UK to consult Ireland on the potential effects of a nuclear power station on England’s west coast, 250km from Rosslare.

The Irish government has stopped short of calling for a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) of Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear station in the UK in more than 20 years, however. Were such a study held, the Irish public could comment on the plans.

The environment department said it was a “matter for the UK to decide” whether work on Hinkley C should be put on hold while potentially affected countries such as Ireland are consulted, as recommended by a United Nations committee.

The UK has been criticised at the UN for not consulting neighbouring countries…http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/ireland-issues-powerful-demand-to-have-say-on-uk-nuclear-plant-nvb7q0rf8

March 27, 2017 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Japan, France confirm nuclear and security cooperation

serveimage.jpg

PARIS (Kyodo) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande on Monday confirmed bilateral cooperation in the research of the commercial use of nuclear power as well as in security.

The two countries agreed on joint research on a French-led fast reactor development project called ASTRID, an acronym for Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration.

As the leaders met, Japanese industry minister Hiroshige Seko, who is accompanying Abe, and French environment minister Segolene Royal signed a nuclear power cooperation agreement, stating that they will work together on nuclear fuel cycle and fast reactor development.

France aims to start the operation of ASTRID in the 2030s.

Abe and Hollande also attended a signing ceremony on a deal in which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. will each acquire a 5 percent stake in a nuclear fuel reprocessing joint venture to be established by French atomic energy company Areva.

In the sphere of security, Abe revealed to reporters after the talks with Hollande that Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces will jointly conduct naval exercises with France, the United States and Britain.

The Japanese premier welcomed the “significant” agreement on the exercises to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, including off Guam in the Western Pacific, apparently in view of China’s expansionary maritime activities.

The Japanese leader said he and Hollande shared a view that the Indian and Pacific oceans are international public goods and need to be maintained as free and open areas.

Abe said a French training squadron, including a helicopter carrier, will visit Japan in late April.

On regional issues, Abe strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, while Hollande expressed Paris’ support for Tokyo on the matter.

It was the 10th and final meeting between Abe and Hollande as the latter is not running in France’s upcoming presidential election. The first round of the election is in April followed by a potential runoff vote in May.

As for economic issues, Abe and Hollande agreed on the importance of promoting free trade amid the threat of rising protectionism across the world following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

They affirmed cooperation for the early signing of the free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.

Abe expressed Japan’s support for “a strong Europe” to be maintained even after Britain’s forthcoming exit from the bloc.

“Japan and Europe must fly the flag of free trade high, together with the United States,” Abe said.

Hollande said the Japan-France relationship can be further strengthened.

France’s election is one of a series in Europe this year in which public unease about immigration and the functions of the European Union have fuelled speculation voters could pick populist candidates over the current political establishment.

Abe arrived in Paris on Monday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hanover. He is scheduled to meet European Council President Donald Tusk and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni before returning to Japan on Wednesday.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170321/p2g/00m/0dm/030000c

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Political Pulse: The truth about Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation

MW-EH399_japane_20160308124458_ZH.jpg

Of the unknown number of children who have been bullied for being from Fukushima Prefecture, where a nuclear disaster is still ongoing at a power station six years since its outbreak, one boy who evacuated to Yokohama was bullied and extorted by his classmates of 1.5 million yen in total.

Now in his first year of junior high school, the boy wrote when he was in sixth grade, “My classmates said, ‘You get compensation, right?’ That annoyed me, but I was frustrated with myself for not standing up against them.”

Ironically, news reports say that because the family voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, they are not eligible for the high levels of compensation from the operator of the stricken nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), that some victims are entitled to receive.

Those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear crisis can be largely categorized into two groups. The first are those who were forced to leave their homes under evacuation orders from the central government, because they lived in areas where annual cumulative radiation levels exceeded 20 millisieverts, or otherwise faced extenuating circumstances as determined by the state. Such people receive a certain lump sum from TEPCO as compensation.

The second group comprises people who lived in areas with radiation levels that did not prompt government evacuation orders, but who evacuated voluntarily out of concern for the health of themselves and their children. As a general rule, these people are not eligible for compensation from TEPCO.

In the case of forced evacuations, TEPCO conducts individual interviews with evacuees to assess the value of their property and homes. But this is strictly to compensate for the assets that people have lost.

What has often attracted attention but remains commonly misunderstood, is the monthly 100,000 yen per person that evacuees are said to be receiving as compensation for emotional suffering. Those who evacuated without orders to do so from the government are not eligible for this, either.

Meanwhile, the provision of compensation for emotional suffering to state-ordered evacuees whose homes are in areas where evacuation orders are set to be lifted will be stopped in March 2018. Whether or not such evacuees will return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture once the no-go orders are lifted, they face the harsh reality that they will be cut off from government assistance. The government is rushing to rebuild infrastructure, and appeal to the world that they are lifting evacuation orders. But whether to return or to relocate is a difficult decision, especially for families with children.

People who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture have not only been exposed to radiation, but to prejudice and misunderstanding regarding compensation that they may or may not have received.

The false rumor that compensation recipients are enjoying the high life from compensation payments has spread. We can’t deny that some probably indulged in the momentary influx of money and bought property or a fancy car. But because of that, the internet has been teeming with rumors that compensation recipients are tax thieves or calls for them to go back where they came from. And there’s no doubt that such a backdrop of online defamation and scandalmongering emboldened the children who bullied the boy in Yokohama.

The truth is, the family of the boy in Yokohama had evacuated Fukushima Prefecture voluntarily. They received a little over 1 million yen from TEPCO, but the parents said in an interview with an NHK new program, Close Up Gendai, that the money was put toward rebuilding their lives. Voluntary evacuees are exempt from paying rent due to the Disaster Relief Act, but many must restart new lives amid unstable finances.

The abovementioned boy moved to Yokohama with his family when he was in second grade. Shortly thereafter, classmates called him by his name, with the word for “germs” added on to the end. He soon found himself the victim of physical abuse such as hitting and kicking, and once he reached fifth grade, classmates demanded he give them money.

“I was so scared I didn’t know what to do,” the boy wrote. He stole from his parents and gave away a total of 1.5 million yen.

His parents, and other parents of children at the school who realized that something was going on, alerted the school. The school conducted an investigation, but took the bullies’ claims that the boy had given them money willingly at face value, and did nothing to remedy the situation for two years.

I, too, only learned the truth about the case just recently, but I believe the school’s misguided judgment was likely based on ignorance and prejudice toward compensation given to Fukushima Prefecture evacuees.

The boy’s mother had been traveling back and forth between Yokohama and Fukushima. He knew how much his parents were struggling, so he remained silent about the bullying.

What moved the case into a new direction were notes the victim had written in the summer of sixth grade. A message calling on bullying victims not to kill themselves also written by the now first-year junior high school student who attends an alternative school, was also released to the public.

Compensation is given to some victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But there is still too little compassion toward and understanding of the various misunderstandings, discrimination and divisions that disaster victims face.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170326/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment