Archive for February, 2012

USA’s “Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule” – what a mess!

February 26, 2012

Public comments needed against NRC’s Nuclear Waste Confidence Game , Beyond Nuclear 25 Feb 12The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has requested public comments on its latest revision to its “Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision.” Please email your comments before March 19th to WCOutreach@nrc.gov in order to head off this latest round of a very dangerous “game being played” by NRC, which is doing the bidding of the nuclear power industry…..

 The NRC’s “confidence” that on-site storage for 120 years (60 during reactors operations, 60 after reactor shutdown) is safe and secure would be laughable, if it weren’t so seriously wrong. 120 years is half as long as the United States has been an independent country (1776 to 2012, 236 years). A lot can go wrong in 120 years. NRC’s consideration of 200 to 300 years of on-site storage is even more preposterous. This is not “interim” or “temporary” on-site storage. This is de facto permanent on-site storage, in any common understanding of the term…..

BACKGROUND

First promulgated in 1984, NRC’s “Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision” claimed that by 2007, the U.S. would open one or more repositories for the permanent disposal of irradiated nuclear fuel. In the meantime, NRC expressed its “confidence” that irradiated fuel stored in pools or dry casks on-site would be done so safely and securely. This served as legal cover, carte blanche, for nuclear utilities to generate an unlimited amount of high-level radioactive waste, while blocking concerned citizens and environmental groups intervening in NRC proceedings from challenging new reactor license applications or old reactor license extensions on such grounds as the fact that there is no safe solution to the problem of radioactive waste management.

By 1990, NRC already had to “postpone” its “confidence.” It revised its “Confidence Decision” to now say that by 2025, at least one repository would be opened.

In December 2010, NRC revised its “Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision” yet again, to reflect the reality of the Obama administration’s wise decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain dump. NRC now declared no date certain for the opening of the first repository, but rather stated that on-site storage in pools and/or dry casks was safe for 120 years — 60 years during reactor operations, and 60 years after reactor shutdown. In addition, the five NRC Commissioners ordered their staff to study the potential for on-site storage lasting 200 to 300 years into the future. That explains NRC current request for public comments….

Please submit comments to WCOutreach@nrc.gov.  You may also send comments through the U.S mail to:   Christine Pineda, Project Manager; Mailstop EBB-2B2; Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Washington, DC 20555-0001 http://www.beyondnuclear.org/radioactive-waste-whatsnew/2012/2/23/public-comments-needed-against-nrcs-nuclear-waste-confidence.html

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Costly mismanagement of nuclear reactors’ “decommissioning”

February 26, 2012

Auditors criticise decommissioning of nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe European Energy Review, By Hughes Belin, 24 Feb 12 The European Court of Auditors (ECA), which checks the management of EU money, has published a highly critical report on the management of the EU’s financial assistance for the decommissioning of eight nuclear reactors in Bulgaria (Kozloduy), Lithuania (Ignalina) and Slovakia (Bohunice).

As one “Green” member of the European Parliament puts it, the ECA’s report shows ‘the enormous hidden costs of nuclear energy’.

The ECA’s audit, which covers the implementation of the decommissioning programmes in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania from 1999 until the end of 2010, concludes that after €2.85bn has been committed to this from the EU budget, ‘we have no idea where we are in the implementation of the programmes’, as ECA officials said.

The programmes support a number of measures to mitigate the effects of the loss of nuclear power generation subsequent to the plants’ early closure, as agreed with the EU during accession negotiations. …….

a lot of EU money was thrown at Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia without real strategy and monitoring.

Weak management practices

The ECA s officials do not speak of fraud or leakage of EU money, but rather ‘weak management practices’ from the Commission’s energy department. They propose a series of ‘corrective actions’ to make the EU expenditure worthwhile, not least establishing a genuine strategy and allocating responsibilities within a robust monitoring framework. …. he authorities in Brussels generally seem inclined to play down the report. ‘We’re not here to make a scandal’, Fazakas told EER, but rather ‘to look at improvements to be carried out, should any EU funds be earmarked for the same purpose in the next EU multiannual budget’.

That’s exactly the line of the Commission: ‘The report will support the work of the Commission in The ECA reports poor value for EU money on every one of these issues so faraddressing future decommissioning challenges.’ These include: creating efficient national decommissioning organisations, dismantling the essential parts of reactors, and treating waste from decommissioning – all in accordance with a detailed plan. The ECA reports poor value for EU money on every one of these issues so far.

From the report it is clear that a thorough inventory of radioactive waste – a sine qua non condition for setting up a proper decommissioning plan – has not yet been made in Lithuania and Bulgaria. Nor have proper storage and disposal facilities, regarded as ‘key infrastructures’ by the ECA, been prepared yet.

….. On top of everything else, the ECA report warns that ‘the absence of sufficient funding arrangements puts the completion of the decommissioning processes at risk’. Indeed, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia want more money: in March 2011 they estimated that €2.5bn is missing to complete their programmes. …. Rebecca Harms, a German Green MEP, says the ECA’s report ‘underlines the enormous hidden costs of nuclear energy’. Slovakia has implemented a tax on power transmission to raise new  money for decommissioning, but Bulgaria and Lithuania have no plans to raise funds themselves.Eur

http://www.europeanenergyreview.eu/site/pagina.php?id_mailing=252&toegang=03c6b06952c750899bb03d998e631860&id=3530

Virtually permanent radioactive pollution from Colorado nuclear weapons plant

February 26, 2012

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center hired independent contractors to test the soil and find out what the level of present plutonium contamination really looks like – but they were barred from actually entering the refuge. Instead, they tested the soil along the outside of the fence, and found that the level of contamination hasn’t changed since the 1970s. 

 Plutonium particles in the soil at Rocky Flats will one way or another, sooner or later, come into people’s lungs and lives, since, with a half-life of 24,000 years, it poses a radiation hazard essentially forever

the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center has filed a lawsuit to attempt to block any construction.

Former Colorado Nuclear Weapons Plant Just As Contaminated 40 Years Later http://www.care2.com/causes/former-colorado-nuclear-weapons-plant-just-as-contaminated-40-years-later.htmlCare 2, by  February 24, 2012 16 miles northwest of Denver, CO sits the Rocky Flats site, formerly home to a plant that produced nuclear weapons from 1952-1989. These operations were shut down for repeated safety violations, which whistleblowers started bringing to the attention of the EPA and FBI in 1987. The extent of the contamination of the site was never revealed publically. (more…)

Japanese experts say nuclear reprocessing is not viable

February 26, 2012

Fast-breeder said realistic no more, Japan Times, 25 Feb 12,  Kyodo A panel of experts reviewing the nuclear fuel cycle policy in light of the Fukushima crisis has agreed that while a fast-breeder reactor has advantages, from a technology viewpoint it can’t be considered a realistic option for the next 20 to 30 years. The nuclear fuel policy involves reprocessing spent fuel to produce plutonium that can be reused to produce electricity.

The subcommittee of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission said in a draft document summarizing its discussions that two viable options during the next few decades would be to not reprocess spent nuclear fuel, and to recycle plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, or MOX fuel.

The former option is called the “once-through” cycle, in which uranium fuel is used in nuclear reactors just one time and disposed of by burying it in the ground. In the latter option, MOX fuel is manufactured from plutonium recovered from spent nuclear fuel and used in ordinary reactors. (more…)

Cement over seabed to control nuclear radiation

February 26, 2012

Tepco to cement Fukushima seabed to stem radiation Times Live, Sapa-AFP | 22 February, 2012The operator of Japan’s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant is to cover a large swathe of seabed near the battered reactors with cement in a bid to halt the spread of radiation, the company said Wednesday.

A clay-cement compound will be laid over 73,000 square metres (785,000 square feet) of the floor of the Pacific in front of the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the nation’s northeast coast, said Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

The area is equivalent to around 10 football pitches. ”This is meant to prevent further contamination of the ocean… as sample tests have shown a relatively high concentration of radioactive substances in the sea soil in the bay,” a company spokeswoman said….

Contaminated water from the plant leaked into the sea and radioactive particles concentrated on the seabed. Scientists fear ocean currents could pollute areas further afield.

The cover will be 60 centimetres (24 inches) thick, with 10 centimetres expected to be eaten away by seawater every 50 years, the TEPCO official said. http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/2012/02/22/tepco-to-cement-fukushima-seabed-to-stem-radiation

Thermal conductivity degradation a risk to USA’s nuclear cooling systems

February 26, 2012

Nuclear Regulatory Commission says accident models could be amiss, By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN February 18, 2012 – The models may underestimate how much nuclear fuel would heat up during system failures
The commission is asking 11 U.S. nuclear power plants for more information
There is no immediate threat to public safety
Washington  – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has asked 11 nuclear power plants for information about the computer models they use to test different accident scenarios, saying those models may underestimate how much nuclear fuel will heat up during cooling system failures….
At issue is a phenomenon known as “thermal conductivity degradation,” or TCD, the NRC said. TCD refers to the fact that nuclear fuel loses its capacity to transfer heat as it ages.
The NRC said it is concerned that some computer models may not account for TCD. If the plants are not considering TCD, the possibility exists that fuel rods could heat up 100 degrees more than anticipated in an accident scenario, exceeding the 2,200-degree limit considered safe,the NRC said. That could damage the fuel rods’ outer layer, leading to
reactor damage, the NRC said……
The plants have until March 19 to provide the information to the NRC
staff. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/17/us/nuclear-accident-models/index.html

Ionising radiation – a cancer danger for cardiologists

February 26, 2012

Cardiologists exposed to radiation susceptible to tumors’, Jerusalem Post, By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH02/15/2012  Israelis publish evidence of brain cancer as occupational hazard for certain medical specialists. Interventional cardiologists around the world have expressed concern over the findings of an Israeli colleague’s medical journal report suggesting aggressive brain cancer – especially on the left side of the head – may be an occupational hazard from their exposure to ionizing radiation. (more…)

United Nations Environment Programme warns on problem of disposal of old nuclear reactors

February 26, 2012

Abandon nuclear energy programme, Unep boss urges Kenya , Standard, BY PETER ORENGO, 13 Feb 12“……..According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Year Book 2012, one of   United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) ‘s emerging global concerns is the challenge of decommissioning the growing number of end-of-life nuclear power reactors….

The UNEP Year Book says the cost of decommissioning varies greatly, depending on the reactor type and size, its location, the proximity and availability of waste disposal facilities and the condition of both the reactor and the site at the time of decommissioning…..
A government commission formed last year is conducting a feasibility study and the University of Nairobi is setting up programs to train people for the nuclear program. Critics say they’re concerned about plant worker safety and the risk of environmental contamination.

For the UN, this will could mean more old nuclear plant closures….

In US, the average cost of decommissioning a nuclear power reactor is by some estimates around 10 to 15 per cent of the initial capital cost, while in France, in the case of the Brennilis reactor, it was estimated at around 60 per cent of the reactor’s initial cost, a percentage that is still on the rise.

The UNEP Year Book 2012, will be launched on the eve of the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum,… ”The UNEP Year Book spotlights the options and the complexities of decommissioning nuclear power plants when they reach the end of their lives, focusing on an issue for which there remains sparse information but perhaps where more in depth analysis is needed when making energy choices today: namely, the price of making these plants and associated radioactive materials safe for current and future generations,” said  Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director at Gigiri.  http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/politics/InsidePage.php?id=2000052072&cid=4

A false new dream for the nuclear industry – Thorium Reactors

February 26, 2012

What you then get, as well as heat energy, radiation, and fission products from the Plutonium and Uranium, is U232. U232 (and its decay products) emit very hard gamma radiation.

  will anyone really trust the nuclear lobby when it says ‘we have the answer’, as so often before?

Nuclear Problems, Environmental Research Web, 12 Feb 12,”……With uranium fired reactors out of favour after Fukushima, for the longer term, some in the nuclear lobby have been promoting thorium as an allegedly safer fuel- looking at molten flouride salt systems.

The Weinberg Foundation was launched last year to promote the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) which was portrayed as one of ‘the world’s safest reactor designs which cannot burn or melt down, breeds its own fuel, consumes most of its highly radioactive products, and will not release any radioactive materials into the environment’. (more…)

Reference list on ‘radiation hormesis’ and ‘adaptive radiation’

February 26, 2012

Posts in this Blog covering Radiation Hormesis and modern papers contradicting Radiation Hormesis, Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog, 6 Feb 2012, 

Posts which contradict the theory of Radiation Hormesis. http://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/radiation-induced-fatigue-is-a-significant-symptom-in-radiation-treatment-and-among-japanese-living-within-areas-contaminated-by-tepco-npps/ (more…)