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Ohio’s $60 million bribery scandal could ensnare the American nuclear sector, because public trust is undermined

By Ken Silverstein | RT | July 23, 2020

Ohio’s $60 million corruption, bribery case – that has ensnared the House speaker and four others – has also embroiled the nuclear power industry, which is at the heart of the criminal charges filed this week.

The nuclear energy sector in the United States has been trying to keep its head above water — unable to compete with cheap shale gas and subsidized wind and solar power. So it has sought help from state governments, which have taken up legislation to reward nuclear for being a carbon-free source of energy. In the case of Ohio, it is home to FirstEnergy, which owns two nuclear power plants in the state and which asked lawmakers for such consideration.

Ohio’s lawmakers, like those from Connecticut, Illinois, New York and New Jersey, voted to save their nuclear power plants not just because they are reliable and clean [???] but also because they employ thousands of people. In Ohio, it was a $1.3 billion bailout package. What the citizens of Ohio learned this week, however, is that $60 million in surreptitious payments were allegedly made to make that happen and part of that money went into the pockets of House Speaker Larry Householder.

FirstEnergy Solutions, now known as Energy Harbor, is the nuclear unit within FirstEnergy Corp.

According to the Energy and Policy Institute, this is the company which owned the nuclear assets that Householder helped to bailout “and which FirstEnergy spun off in bankruptcy restructuring.”

Energy Harbor says that it will cooperate fully with the investigators, although it is not named in the criminal complaint. However, it is likely the entity that prosecutors refer to as ‘Company A’ — the one that made the $60 million in payments to Speaker Householder’s ‘Generation Now’ fund so that it could get the $1.3 billion in benefits. Prosecutors say that the money was paid over a three-year time frame beginning in 2017.

“This is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” US Attorney David DeVillers told a press conference. “This was bribery, plain and simple. This was a quid pro quo. This was pay to play.”

In the actual complaint, the prosecution alleges the payments were tantamount to “bags of cash” that went unregulated and unreported.

This is more than a public corruption scandal. It is a potential take-down of nuclear energy. If it is, the ramifications would be huge: According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there are 96 nuclear reactors in 29 states. Altogether, they supply about 20 percent of the country’s electricity and about 55 percent of its carbon-free power. They operate at 92 percent capacity, more than any other type of power plant.

A heavy weight

Context is key. In the US, electricity grid operators are the ones to order up and dispatch the lowest-cost electricity sources — a system that invariably favors shale gas because it is so cheap relative to competing fuels. Existing generators that sell their electricity at market rates, can’t win. This fact, along with the high capital costs it takes to construct nuclear plants, has severely curtailed nuclear development in the US.

As a result, six nuclear plants have closed down since 2013 and several more have announced retirement dates over the next decade. The practical implications of moving away from nuclear and into natural gas have been greater CO2 emissions. When Southern California Edison closed its plant in 2013, such heat-trapping releases rose by 35 percent. To avoid further closures, state legislatures are subsidizing nuclear power by recognizing their carbon-free contributions.

But the American nuclear power sector has never learned the most basic lesson of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, which suffered a partial meltdown of its core in 1979 and which triggered an irrevocable backlash: get accurate information to the public in a timely manner. Secrecy does not work. In 2013, Southern California Edison said it would shutter its San Onofre Generating Station because of a small radiation leak. While the utility had maintained publicly that it only learned of the seepage in 2012 during routine maintenance, it was subsequently proven that it long knew that irregular vibrations could lead to leaks.

The utility then lost all credibility with regulators and the public.

Bad economics in combination with poor PR have been mounting for a long time. And the problems are bound to get worse now that FirstEnergy’s Energy Harbor is allegedly embroiled in this latest mess. And the industry can’t blame the environmental movement for this latest crisis — a movement concerned about storing radioactive nuclear waste and potential accidents.

“FirstEnergy’s successful campaign last year to secure a $1 billion bailout of its Ohio nuclear plants is at the center of a pay-to-play scandal that is rocking Ohio,”says Sandy Buchanan and Seth Feaste, of the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis. “The FBI would do well to take a closer look at all other state government-official involvement with FirstEnergy during the years when FirstEnergy was seeking a ‘legislative solution’ to save its nuclear plants.”

Where does the nuclear sector go from here? No doubt, the industry will separate itself from the corruption scandal now plaguing the state of Ohio. It will continue to maintain that global climate goals cannot be met without heavy participation from nuclear. But it will once again have to fight off the stench of secrecy and back-room politics — the same factors that have weighed it down since 1979. When the Ohio case is resolved, so too might be nuclear’s future in the US.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

British nuclear submarine close to disaster after NEAR MISS with packed passenger ferry, report finds

RT | July 16, 2020

A British nuclear-powered submarine was at “serious risk of collision” with a passenger ferry with hundreds on board after the commanding officer made decisions on “inaccurate information,” an investigation has found.

A report conducted by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) – published on Thursday – found that the two vessels came within 50-100 meters of each other during the incident on November 6, 2018. The investigation revealed that it was the third time in four years that a submerged Royal Navy submarine had narrowly missed a calamitous collision with another vessel.

The Stena Superfast V11 ferry was travelling from Belfast to Cairnryan in Scotland when it was forced to take “immediate action” and alter its course to save the 215 passengers and 67 crew onboard – having spotted the submarine’s periscope just 250 yards (229 meters) ahead.

The two-year probe found that the sub had miscalculated that it was 1,000 yards away when the ferry swerved. It was actually a quarter of that distance away from disaster.

This was an unsafe event and placed the ferry’s passengers and crew, as well as the submarine and its crew, in immediate danger.

The report said that the Royal Navy vessel’s control room team “overestimated the ferry’s range and underestimated its speed.” It goes on to say that the commanding officer and its officer of the watch made “safety-critical decisions” that might have appeared rational at the time but were in fact “based on inaccurate information.”

The sub – which is based at Faslane in Scotland – is part of Britain’s nuclear-powered fleet, although it has not been revealed whether it was one of four that carry nuke missiles.

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | | 2 Comments

Armenian Foreign Ministry Slams Baku’s Threat to Bomb Nuclear Plant as Breaching Int’l Law

Sputnik – 16.07.2020

Azerbaijan’s threat to carry out an airstrike on the Armenian-based Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP) is in violation of international law, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, calling upon Baku to publicly denounce threats like that.

Earlier in the day, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargyakhly said that Armenia should beware that Baku has the necessary equipment to conduct a precision strike against the Metsamor NPP.

“The actions threatened by the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan are a flagrant violation of the International Humanitarian Law in general and the First Additional Protocol to Geneva Conventions in particular. Such threats are an explicit demonstration of state terrorism and genocidal intent of Azerbaijan,” the Armenian ministry’s statement read.

The ministry emphasized that such statements by Azerbaijan were “a menace to all the peoples of the region, including its own people.”

“We strongly condemn the nuclear threats voiced by Azerbaijan, which demonstrate absolute absence of responsibility and sound judgement from this particular member of the international community. Azerbaijan must publicly denounce such threats at once,” the ministry said.

Clashes broke out in the border area that separates Armenia’s Tavush province and Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region this past Sunday. The escalation is in its fourth day now, a reasonable distance away from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where the two sides have waged war for decades.

Azerbaijan has by far reported 11 troops killed as a result of armed hostilities, while Armenia has reported four fatalities.

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Dutch emergency services battle fire at abandoned NUCLEAR PLANT, urge residents to lock windows and doors

RT | May 21, 2020

Dozens of firefighters have been deployed to tackle a blaze at a disused nuclear facility in Dodewaard in the Netherlands. Police have asked the public to stay away and lock all doors and windows to avoid exposure to the fumes.

The fire broke out shortly before noon local time on Thursday in Dodewaard, which is roughly 100 km from Amsterdam. Eyewitness video from the scene shows fire crews battling the blaze on the roof.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but it may have started after work was carried out on the roof recently, according to a spokesperson for the Gelderland-Zuid Safety Region, who added that there may be gas bottles up there. Nearby residents have been told to remain indoors and lock all doors and windows and cut off any ventilation systems.

Police have established a security cordon, while asking cyclists, motorists and other passers-by eager for a look at the incident to leave the area immediately.

The plant has been out of service since 1997 but is not expected to be dismantled until 2045, when radiation at the site drops to safe levels. All fuel rods were removed from the site in 2003, so there is no immediate danger of radioactive fallout.

The main operational areas of the plant were bricked up and contained within a so-called ‘safe zone’, to prevent areas that previously housed radioactive material from being exposed to the outside world.

The power company conglomerate behind the facility is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over who should cover the estimated €80 million cost of decommissioning.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

‘Imminent’ 9.0 Earthquake, 30M Tsunami Could Wreck Fukushima, Government Panel Says

Sputnik – 23.04.2020

A specially set up working group has been projecting the possible repercussions of new probable natural disasters off Japan’s coastline and drawing up measures to prevent them.

A Japanese government panel has warned that a tsunami as high as 30 metres could land on Hokkaido if a 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurs, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported.

The panel, set up by the Cabinet Office, said it is the “worst-case scenario”, admitting that it is difficult to calculate the probability of such a quake. The panel pointed out that such disasters occur every 300-400 years, with the latest one dating back to the 17th century.

An earthquake is portrayed as imminent in the area around the Japan Trench and the Kuril Trench, following a panel studying simulations of tsunamis that occurred over the past 6,000 years and covered seven prefectures including Hokkaido, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibarak, Aomori, and Chiba.

The working group concluded that Iwate might have to bear the brunt of a tsunami of around 29.7 metres, followed by Hokkaido which will potentially be hit by 27.9-metre waves.

The worrisome predictions and media reports have meanwhile stoked concerns that a massive tsunami may wreck the Fukushima nuclear station, which its operator TEPCO has been cleaning up from toxic waste ever since the 2011 tsunami.

For instance, according to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a Japanese government study projected that a tsunami with waves as high as 13.7 metres could sweep away the 11-metre high seawall built by TEPCO on the ocean side of the compound of the Fukushima Daichi plant. The out-of-service plant reportedly stores around 1,000 tanks of wastewater in one of its compounds.

In response, TEPCO announced, as cited by Reuters, that the company is set to dig into the latest prognosis and “analyse the impact on the ongoing preventive measures” against natural disasters.

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | 3 Comments

Dumping contaminated water from Fukushima plant into ocean – the lesser evil?

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 11.03.2020

In February this year, a number of media outlets reported that the Japanese authorities intended to drain more than one million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. According to some experts, this method is the lesser evil because the ocean is able to dilute contaminated water, thus making it safe for people.

Nevertheless, this proposal has already caused discontent, both in Japan and in its neighboring countries.

The Japanese government has not yet officially announced this plan, but the intentions of the Shinzo Abe administration to follow through with this idea are becoming increasingly clear, especially considering the media campaign launched by the authorities in support of the proposal to release the contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean.

Let us remind the reader that 9 years have passed since the accident at the Fukushima power plant, but three of its damaged reactors are far from being dismantled. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, delivered an ultimatum to the Japanese government demanding that it resolve the problem with radioactive water immediately. Every day, cooling the molten reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant yields an additional 150 cubic meters of contaminated water containing tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) and other chemicals. The issue concerns the water originally used in the reactors’ cooling circuits during the disaster, and that used to cool the wrecked plant and the remaining fuel. A significant amount of water from underground sources flowing through the land towards the ocean is also being polluted. In total, TEPCO is currently storing 1.1 million cubic meters of radioactive water in one thousand special tanks on the territory of the nuclear power plant (NPP), but based on company’s estimates, it will run out of space for the contaminated water by the summer of 2022. TEPCO announced this in August 2019 and made a proposal to pump the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi NPP into the Pacific Ocean.

The operator has so far failed to convince local fishermen and residents that draining water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean is the best solution. All other ways of resolving the problem, according to TEPCO management, are difficult.

The Japanese government has also not responded as yet to TEPCO’s ultimatum, not only for political reasons, but also in view of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held in Japan after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurances that the Japanese government had the situation under control after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Stating that radioactive water would have to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the current climate would be an extremely unfortunate option today, as it would, at the very least, lead to a heated discussion about the health of athletes who will be arriving for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Surfers, for example, will compete for medals 250 kilometers south of Fukushima, at Tsurigasaki Beach on the Pacific Ocean.

It is no secret that leakages of Fukushima water into the ocean earlier on have already resulted in serious environmental problems, i.e. deposits of Cesium-137 on sandy beaches at a considerable distance from the plant. They were brought there by the current. This was discovered in September 2017 (i.e. six and a half years after the nuclear accident), when researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) studied soil samples from a vast area around the nuclear power plant. The only saving grace was the fact that the region in question was uninhabited and there was no risk of radiation exposure.

There was another rather unpleasant incident for the Japanese authorities in 2018, when the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was forced to apologize after admitting that its systems used to filter the water discharged into the ocean did not remove all hazardous materials from it.

In 2018, American wine from California was found to contain radioactive particles from the accident at Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima seven years prior. This was reported by scientists of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Michael Pavikoff, Christine Marquet and Philippe Hubert, who were studying batches of Californian red and rose wines from grapes harvested in 2009-2012 when they found Cesium-137 particles, a.k.a. radiocesium, in them. This is a man-made isotope formed by nuclear fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. In the wine produced after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the level of radioactive particles was higher than before the disaster.

Small amounts of radioactive isotopes of Iodine and Cesium were also found in vegetables grown in South Korea and in fish caught off the Japanese coast. This caused a crisis in South Korea’s long-established industry: the seafood trade. Based on analyses, one in four fish caught one kilometer from Ibaraki (the main town of the Japanese prefecture of the same name, situated north of the Fukushima NPP) was found to have a slightly higher cesium content than allowed. According to traders, the reports of radiation leaking into the sea led to a 50% decrease in sales of seafood products. As a result, South Korea’s government banned imports of products from the areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The authorities have repeatedly stated that all fish products from Japan are being thoroughly checked.

And these are just some of the cases covered by local and international media outlets.

The sheer scale of consequences stemming from the Fukushima disaster, as well as the previous Chernobyl accident, is such that the problems arising as a result cannot be resolved effectively and completely unless the best world experts are involved. Otherwise, incorrect decisions may not only cause undesirable environmental consequences and affect the health of people in the region, but also further undermine confidence in the nuclear industry. The current Japanese government still has faith in nuclear power and wishes to increase the amount of energy produced by NPPs by 20-22% before 2030.

On February 4, 2020, Japanese authorities held a meeting with embassy officials where they tried to convince the latter of the advantages of the plan to release radioactive water from storage facilities at Fukushima.

It is understandable, to a certain extent, why TEPCO, the Japanese government and individual experts would like to resolve the issue with contaminated water as soon as possible, rather than put it off indefinitely. But it is difficult to support their approach to the problem at hand. Lack of transparency and essentially, the government’s reluctance to fully engage in cooperation with the international community in solving this problem are not beneficial for everyone.

It is still unknown what will eventually happen to the radioactive water from the Fukushima NPP. But so far, the Japanese government has decided to involve a wider group of experts in addressing the issue.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Cancer in US Navy Nuclear Powered Ships

By Chris Busby | CounterPunch | March 6, 2020

Here is a good one. In 2011, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was about 100km off the coast of Japan at the time of the Tsunami and the subsequent Fukushima reactor explosions. It was directed by the US government to ride to the rescue in what was later called Operation Tomodachi (friendship)–to provide assistance to the victims of the floods. What no-one on board was told was that the reactors had exploded and a plume of highly radioactive material was blowing east from the site into the path of the vessel. Of course, when this arrived, all the radiation monitors on the boat started screaming, and the planes and helicopters that had flown the rescue sorties were contaminated.

In 2014 I was engaged by some California attorneys to advise on a court case being taken against the Japanese company TEPCO and the US reactor makers GEC on behalf of the sailors who served on the aircraft-carrier. A significant number of the Ronald Reagan crew were reporting a wide range of weird illnesses including cancers, all of which they were attributing to their radiation exposures. Between 2014 and now, the court arguments were all about procedure: whether the cases should be heard in Japan or in the California where the vessel’s home port of San Diego was. There was a lot of publicity [1]. Eventually, and recently, the California judge decided that the case had to be heard in Japan. This is (in passing) monstrously unjust since Japanese law is different and the sailors cannot afford to go to Japan and hire Japanese lawyers. But this is not the story here.

In 2014, following all the publicity about the cancers, a number of US Senators and important people were asking pertinent questions—the Navy had to do something to answer the accusations that the Fukushima radiation was killing those who sailed on Operation Tomodachi. They panicked. A big report was prepared by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), entitled: Final Report to the Congressional Defense Committees in Response to the Joint Explanatory Statement Accompanying the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014, page 90, “Radiation Exposure” [2]. Never use one word when ten will do.

This report rambled on about how low the Fukushima doses were, how everyone acted wonderfully and how all the radioactivity was rapidly cleaned up. The dose reconstruction showed no one got more than a fraction of the Natural Background dose and so forth. We have been here regularly. (The methodology for the dose reconstruction has since disappeared from the link given in the report). Since no-one believes any of this dose bullshit any more, to prove that there was no cancer excess, the Navy took one step too far. They reported the results of their own epidemiology study which they carried out on the Ronald Reagan sailors. This compared the illness yield (including cancers) of the 4,843 RR sailors with a matched control group of 65,269 sailors on nuclear powered ships that were not anywhere near Fukushima. The period of analysis was from 2011 to 2013, about 3 years. This showed that there were more cancers in the control group over that period. The idea clearly was to knock on the head any suggestion that the radiation from Fukushima was the cause of the cancers and other stuff that was the basis of the court case. And this it apparently did.

Their move was to compare the matched “unexposed” control group with the Ronald Reagan group. There were 30% more cancers in the control group after adjusting for age. But what I did was to compare the control group with the National population, using data on cancer rates by age group from the SEER database [3]. The result showed an astonishing 9.2-fold excess of cancer in the sailors on nuclear-powered vessels. There were 121 cancers predicted on the basis of the national rates, and 1119 reported by the DTRA study. For the Reagans it was about 6-fold with 46 reported and 7.76 expected. Now this result is astonishing. I wrote my study up for a good scientific peer reviewed journal, and it was published last week [4]. You can find it on academia.edu if you can’t afford the journal cost.

What I discuss in the paper to explain the result is my usual argument about how the radiation protection legislation is wildly incorrect when dealing with internal contamination from radionuclides. The legal limits in USA and the West are based on the comparison of cancers in those exposed to acute external gamma ray doses to the Japanese A-Bomb populations and cannot apply to internal exposures to substances which target DNA (Uranium, Strontium-90) or which provide huge local ionisation to some living cells but nothing at all to others (DU particles, reactor discharge particles).

But this time it really is a big deal. Nine times the expected rates? What are they going to do? It is their own data which they stupidly released. It shows that all the sailors on nuclear powered Navy ships are dying from cancer. You can bet the telephone lines are hot, and that we won’t see any coverage of this in the Theatre newspapers and media. But the sailors themselves and the veterans? What will they think when they find this online but not reported?

Studies of nuclear workers have been the new battleground for this Chess game since it became apparent in the last few years that the Japanese A-Bomb studies were dishonestly manipulated and ignored internal exposures to fallout and rainout [5]. We have seen a number of attempts to kill the argument about low dose radiation and health using nuclear worker studies. There was the Lancet publication in year 2015 [6]. There was the desperate and disgraceful Royal Society publication last year [7]. The late Alexei Yablokov and I wrote to the Lancet Editor on behalf of the Independent WHO [8] asking if we could point out in the journal that the Lancet articles reassuring everyone that the science of radiation risk was secure were written by nuclear industry scientists and were unsafe. The Lancet refused. I wrote to the Royal Society. They also refused to publish anything. What is Truth—says Pilate—waits for no answer.

Nuclear workers work outside at a nuclear site where the discharges get dispersed. Nuclear sailors live in a tin box that also contains the reactors. Nuclear worker studies are based on data that is provided by the nuclear industry to show there are no cancers. The DTRA study had to show more cancers in order to swamp the Ronald Reagan sailors’ cancers. But to do this, they brought out their Queen. And it was taken.

Anyway, let’s not walk further into the What is Truth swamp and discuss the News Theatre. Thankfully this story shows that in this truth argument there are two last frontiers. These are the scientific peer-review literature and the courts. I am representing the widow of a UK nuclear submariner, a man who was a reactor servicing technician and who died from cancer. Let’s see what the Scottish court makes of this paper. Read it yourself and have a laugh. If you are a Navy sailor on a nuclear-powered ship, be very frightened. Write to your Senator. Kick up a fuss.

Notes.

1) https://www.courthousenews.com/us-sailors-face-grim-diagnoses-after-fukushima-mission/

2) Radiation Exposure Report – Health.mil www.health.mil › Reference-Center › Reports › 2014/06/19 › Radiati…

3) https://seer.cancer.gov/data/

4) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07357907.2020.1731526?journalCode=icnv20

5) https://www.genetics.org/content/204/4/1627

6) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.1070

7) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2017.1070

8) https://independentwho.org/en/our-demands-to-who/

Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power | | 5 Comments

Back to Fukushima. Former residents weigh up returning to nuclear ghost town of Okuma

RT Documentary • December 12, 2019

In March 2011, an earthquake hit Japan, setting off a tsunami that caused an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power station in Fukushima prefecture. Radioactive contamination settled on the surrounding area, and the authorities decided to evacuate the population living within a 20km radius around the power station.

Watch full video here: https://rtd.rt.com/023wp

Eight years later, inhabitants of the town closest to the nuclear disaster, Okuma, were allowed to move back to some of its territory. RTD takes a bittersweet tour of the nuclear ghost town with former residents considering whether to return to their hometown, and meets those who have already moved into new homes built in a less-contaminated part of town. Torn between loyalty to their roots and the desire to build a future for themselves, the people of Fukushima now have an agonising choice to make.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , | 2 Comments

US At Risk of Ecological Disaster Due to Improperly Stored Nuclear Waste, New Study Finds

Sputnik – January 29, 2020

The United States does not currently have a landfill for nuclear waste from the defence industry, which is normally stored inside metal canisters buried underground near the nuclear plants where it was produced.

The United States could face the risk of nuclear contamination due to inadequate nuclear waste storage methods, a new publication in the journal Nature Materials revealed.

According to the lead scientist behind the research, Xiaolei Guo, the existing techniques are insufficient to keep waste stored safely, as the material used in the current storage methods quickly becomes corroded, raising the risk of nuclear waste leaking into the soil, water and air.

The research team carried out an experiment in simulated conditions under Yucca Mountain where the US waste repository is expected to be built. They found that the corrosion level of stainless steel, used in storage canisters, was ‘severe’ due to chemical reactions being accelerated by nuclear waste.

“In the real-life scenario, the glass or ceramic waste forms would be in close contact with stainless steel canisters. It creates a super-aggressive environment that can corrode surrounding materials”, Guo said.

According to the scientist, if the casing of the containers gets damaged, the high-level radioactive material could cause ecological devastation.

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Japan’s Nuclear Watchdog Approves Decommissioning 2 Reactors at Oi Plant – Reports

Sputnik – 11.12.2019

TOKYO – Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday approved plans to decommission two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, the Kyodo news agency reported.

According to the Japanese news agency, Kansai Electric Power, which operates the Oi plant, decided to spend about $1.1 billion to dismantle the two most powerful reactors — namely No. 1 and No. 2 — by 2049 rather than shoulder the high cost of implementing additional safety measures.

Given that the reactors were commissioned in 1979, their lifespan is set to expire soon. In anticipation of this, Kansai submitted a decommissioning plan to the authorities in November 2018. In particular, the company said that in order to shut down the reactors it needed to utilize over 20,000 tonnes of low-level radioactive waste with over 10,000 tonnes of non-radioactive waste.

The plant’s two other reactors were commissioned much later — in 1991 and 1993 — so they will remain active.

After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, Japan’s nuclear watchdog introduced a 40-year limit on the lifespan of nuclear reactors in the country, but added the possibility of a 20-year extension if the stringent safety measures were met.

All of Japan’s 54 operating nuclear reactors were shut down in March 2011 after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to a leakage of radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Before the disaster, 30 percent of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power.

December 11, 2019 Posted by | Nuclear Power | | Leave a comment

Norway Opens Up for Nuclear-Powered Allied Submarines’ Port Calls Despite Local Resistance

Sputnik – 08.11.2019

According to local media, the presence of international submarines in Norwegian waters has tripled. In 2018 alone, 27 port calls by US and UK nuclear-powered submarines were registered in Norway.

Soon, nuclear-powered submarines will become commonplace near the centre of Norway’s largest Arctic city of Tromso, Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen confirmed to the military newspaper Forsvarets Forum.

According to the minister, work is currently underway to prepare for port calls by allied nuclear-powered vessels at the Grotsund industrial port in Tonsnes. No exact time frame has been given, but it is assumed that the work will be completed over the next few months.

This means that warships of all calibre calling in for maintenance, logistics, or to rest their crews may become a common sight for the inhabitants of Tromso.

“Grotsund industrial port has been chosen as a port of call in Northern Norway because of a suitable dock and and good infrastructure in the area. This will be a permanent offering to our allies”, Bakke-Jensen said, describing the arrival of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the allied activity in Norway and surrounding areas.

Bakke-Jensen estimated the future number of calls at four to five a year. According to him, this will not entail any change in policy or approach to dealing with allied activity. This implies that Norway’s time-tested Bratelli Doctrine of 1975 that explicitly prohibits the arrival of foreign warships with nuclear weapons on board will stand.

“The Bratteli Doctrine has been established as Norwegian policy for over 40 years and has served Norway well”, the minister said.

However, these calls are not without controversy, and the project has met local opposition, among others from the Tromso Municipal Council. Local politicians and activists question the safety measures and are concerned over the consequences if anything goes wrong.

Bakke-Jensen stressed that regional actors have always been involved in the plans. He stressed that no call will be granted unless the Directorate of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety is sure that security is adequately safeguarded, and alleged that no accidents with western nuclear-powered vessels have occurred.

Meanwhile, the presence of international submarines in the waters outside of Norway has tripled, according to the daily newspaper Aftenposten. In 2018 alone, 27 port calls by US and UK nuclear-powered submarines were registered in Norway.

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | Leave a comment

Childish Fantasies vs Real World Energy Needs

By Donna Laframboise | Big Picture News | October 2, 2019

Certain politicians are making promises about carbon dioxide emissions and the year 2050 – three full decades from now. Certain adults are telling elementary school children that transforming the world’s energy system is easy peasy.

But that’s not the case. In an article titled Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide Emissions By 2050 Requires A New Nuclear Power Plant Every Day, Roger Pielke Jr. delivers the harsh, mathematical truth. Even if every person in the world thought abandoning fossil fuels made sense, even if every last government was committed to such a plan, the sheer size of the task would remain. In Pielke’s words: “The scale…is absolutely, mind-bogglingly huge.”

In an entire year, a nuclear power plant is capable of producing 1 “million tons of oil equivalent” of energy – or 1 mtoe for short. Says Pielke:

In 2018 the world consumed 11,743 mtoe in the form of coal, natural gas and petroleum… there are 11,051 days left until January 1, 2050. To achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions globally by 2050 thus requires the deployment of >1 mtoe of carbon-free energy…every day, starting tomorrow and continuing for the next 30+ years. Achieving net-zero also requires the corresponding equivalent decommissioning of more than 1 mtoe of energy consumption from fossil fuels every single day.

Let us be honest and grownup here. The chances of this happening are remote.

Now let’s remember that many people insist nuclear power is off the table. We’re supposedly in the midst of a climate crisis caused by CO2 emissions, yet low-emissions nuclear power is forbidden.

Such people think we should rely on wind power, instead. According to Pielke’s calculations, that would require the construction of 1,500 wind turbines every single day from now until 2050.

Currently, the US consumes approximately 20% of the energy used across the globe. Its share of the 1,500 new wind turbines required daily would therefore be 300.

Despite years of massive subsidies designed to encourage wind energy investment, fewer than 10 turbines are currently installed in the US each day. Surely even a child understands that ramping up from 10 turbines a day to 300 is a massive challenge that couldn’t possibly happen overnight. Even in an affluent country with a booming economy.

And please, let us also put aside fairy tales about wind power being environmentally friendly. As Mark P. Mills explained recently in the Wall Street Journal :

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass…

Those who “dream of powering society entirely with wind and solar farms” says Mills, are actually demanding “the biggest expansion in mining the world has seen.”

October 2, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | 2 Comments