Archive for June, 2012

Japan’s massive nuclear waste problem, and reprocessing is a failed solution

June 24, 2012

The amount of spent fuel stored at power stations has continued to surge, standing at around 14,200 tons across 17 facilities as of last September, including the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.’s storage facilities are already almost full and contained a total of 2,800 tons as of February, while several power stations are expected to reach maximum capacity over the next three years if their currently idled reactors are restarted, industry
sources said.

Policy of recycling all spent nuclear fuel may be axed, Japan Times, 22 June 12,  Kyodo, Jiji The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has proposed both reprocessing and directly disposing of spent nuclear fuel if Japan’s atomic energy reliance is cut to 15 percent, a departure from the current policy of total reprocessing…

.. The changed tack comes as massive amounts of spent fuel are accumulating at nuclear plants nationwide and as decades-long efforts to activate reprocessing facilities remain mired in technical difficulties, sources said. (more…)

Space travel – ionising radiation is the obstacle

June 24, 2012

Mission to Mars: The Radiation Problem. Smithsonian.com, 20 June 12,  Would you go on a mission to Mars? The Dutch startup company Mars One is planning to establish the first Mars colony in 2023, starting with four individuals and adding more people every two years, funded by turning the whole endeavor into a reality TV show.

It’s just the latest plan to colonize the Red Planet, but I’m doubtful it will happen. There’s the expense, for sure, and the trials of trying to convince anyone to go on a one-way journey with just a few other strangers (what if you don’t get along? It’s not like you can leave). And then there’s the radiation problem. (more…)

Citizen monitoring of ionising radiation

June 24, 2012

Getting these devices out there — especially internationally — is a key to getting access to the world’s local radiation data.

The religious flag behind this project is the idea that this data should be accurate and open. Safecast uses open source and APIs and anyone can use the data to conduct research. For example a health researcher could use their radiation data to compare radiation levels against health information.

Local level radiation data is largely not available currently, or it’s owned by companies and not released.

Using open source & grassroots to map the world’s radiation data http://gigaom.com/cleantech/using-open-source-grassroots-to-map-the-worlds-radiation-data/  By Katie Fehrenbacher Jun. 20, 2012, Mapping the world’s radiation and air pollution data, using one volunteer with one gadget at a time — that’s the goal of the Safecast project, which this week closed over $100,000 on Kickstarter to deliver a limited run of its open source geiger counters to interested buyers. “I don’t think it’s an unreasonable goal,” to create comprehensive maps of this data from all over the world, says Sean Bonner, co-founder of Safecast, in a phone interview shortly after his team’s project was funded.

Safecast originally focused on mapping radiation data just from Fukushima, Japan, in the wake of the nuclear disaster, and had a larger end goal to map the rest of Japan, too. But they realized that with enough eager volunteers in Japan, that mapping the entire country using geiger counters mounted on cars and held in the hands of regular citizens, was pretty doable. “It’s really only a matter of time before we’ve got all of Japan covered,” says Bonner.

The lack of reliable tools to deliver this data, was one of the reasons that Safecast started working with designer and Chumby co-founder, Andrew “Bunnie” Huang, to create an open source geiger counter design that could be used to get easy-to-use and accurate geiger counters out there to people that need them. While the limited edition run on Kickstarter will help produce about 170 geiger counters, says Bonner, the manufacturer of the gadgets, Metcom, will start selling the official commercial version of the geiger counter by the end of the year. (more…)

The Flame computer malaware

June 24, 2012

Flame FAQ: All you need to know about the virus http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/flame-faq-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-virus/2012/06/20/gJQAAlrTqV_blog.html By Benjamin Gottlieb

What is the Flame computer virus?

Flame is a sophisticated type of malware — short for malicious software — capable of infecting myriad computer networks for the purpose of gathering sensitive data. Once a network is infected by Flame, the virus can relay back massive amounts of information through a computer’s facilities. How does it work? (more…)

Indian Point’s dangerous radioactive fuel ponds

June 24, 2012

Wake Up and Smell the Radioactive Waste, OpEd News, 20 June 12, By Abby Luby……Currently at Indian Point, 1,500 tons of high-level irradiated waste is stored in heavy steel and concrete casks on a tarmac a few hundred feet from the Hudson River. The Westchester-based plant produces about 30 tons of radioactive waste every 18 months, which is then crammed into two overcrowded, 40-foot deep spent fuel pools. Each pool holds about 1,000 tons of radioactive waste and has been leaking into the ground and river for years. However, the NRC has maintained that whatever leaches into the river is negligible, reiterating their catch phrase: “Dilution is the solution to pollution.”….

In a study by the Institute for Policy Studies, “Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage,” Robert Alvarez, author and senior scholar for nuclear policy, said that Indian Point has three times the radioactivity of Fukushima’s spent fuel pools.

Indian Point is about 30 miles from Manhattan. A 1997 analysis, the Brookhaven National Laboratory [ http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0230/ML023040470.pdf – page 4] estimated a severe fire in a spent-fuel pool would release enough radioactive material to cause as many as 28,000 cancer deaths in a densely populated area and render 188 square miles uninhabitable.

In light of the Fukushima disaster and the potential for future leakage and catastrophic fires, the court ruled that the NRC’s analysis of the impacts of spent fuel storage was insufficient and is now requiring the agency to reassess the environmental impacts of the waste storage. Now it’s up to the NRC to heed the court and truly “protect the health and safety of the public.”   http://www.opednews.com/articles/Wake-Up–Smell-the-Radioa-by-Abby-Luby-120614-180.html

Russia’s Nuclear Mafia

June 24, 2012

n 2002, a Russian scientist, well aware of covert activities by Russian authorities, declared to the Boston Globe that Rosatom is a “super-Mafia.” Secrecy is omnipotent within the governmental organization. 

Russia’s Dangerous Nuclear Legacy – Analysis Eurasia Review, By: Richard Rousseau June 18, 2012“……The post-Cold War world has an elusive international structure. Powerful global corporations, as well as international terrorist organizations, can frustrate a search for clarity and efficiency in fighting illicit activities in finance, economy, the organized crime, or smuggling of nuclear material.

In Russia, the main culprit is Rosatom. This relic of the Soviet system still operates largely
without independent oversight, especially since June 23, 2010, when President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree that stated that Rostekhnadzor (the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Supervision) would be henceforth under the direct control of the government. Rosatom reports to no one in justifying how hundreds of millions of dollars are spent.
In 2002, a Russian scientist, well aware of covert activities by Russian authorities, declared to the Boston Globe that Rosatom is a “super-Mafia.” Secrecy is omnipotent within the governmental organization. A product of the Stalinist era and an embodiment of Cold War-style secrecy, Rosatom is a web of Soviet-era reactors, laboratories and secret “closed cities” where nuclear energy is designed, built, and mass-produced. (more…)

Russia in a nuclear bind – new reactors unaffordable, making old one safe also unaffordable

June 24, 2012

The decommissioning of nuclear plants after exhausting their resources will put an enormous strain on Russian state budget. Largely for this reason, Rosatom is making every effort to prolong their operational life, knowing quite well that there will be economic shockwaves in the industry should nuclear units be closed.

Russia’s Dangerous Nuclear Legacy – Analysis Eurasia Review, By: Richard Rousseau June 18, 2012“…….The safety of nuclear reactors is primarily provided through the increased number of sophisticated security systems and physical barriers that limit or contain potential radiation leaks. These systems consist of a combination of natural and artificial barriers that work in tandem and complement each other in assuring the required
long-term isolation of the waste by preventing or limiting the movement of radioactive substances from the infrastructure of the repository to the biosphere. (more…)

The anxious plight of AREVA nuclear power corporation

June 24, 2012

This renaissance is just a fairy tale, THE HINDU, 15 June 12, “…….In India, In Kalpakkam, , the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor was slotted to contribute to the grid in March 2012. In 2005, Baldev Raj, Director of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam, boasted that the 500 MW unit will be completed in 2010, 18 months before schedule.

Till date, there is no sign of this happening. The Kudankulam plant, which is now 23 years old since conception, lost only eight months due to protestors. In Jaitapur too, the government has more to worry about than local protestors.

Areva, the technology supplier, is in trouble. Last year, it announced losses of €1.6 billion, and the sacking of 1,200 workers in Germany. Last June, it decided to suspend production at a Virginia reactor component plant due to declining market prospects. Its expansion plans in France, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. may never materialise. Areva expected to sell 50 nuclear reactors this decade. It has not received a single order since 2007.

Now, with a socialist president at the helm in France, Areva’s future looks even more uncertain. French President François Hollande had promised voters a reduction in nuclear dependence from 75 to 50 per cent, and shutdown of an aging reactor in Fessenheim. Whether or not he carries through with these promises, it appears certain that no new
plants will be built or planned during his term. (more…)

Indian government treating anti nuclear activists as psychiatric cases

June 24, 2012

NIMHANS psychiatrists, to their shame, are striving to help people ”understand the importance of the nuclear power plant.” They treat opposition to nuclear power as a disorder like schizophrenia, paranoia, or craving for victimhood.

Demonising anti-nuclear protests, The Daily Star, Praful Bidwai, 15 June 12, So monumen-tally arrogant is India’s nuclear establishment that it brazenly brands its critics insane and in need of psychiatric treatment. It has asked the state-run National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) to “counsel” the tens of thousands protesting against the Koodankulam nuclear power station in Tamil Nadu that it’s perfectly safe.

This marks a new offensive to impose nuclear power upon people who have resisted Koodankulam’s Russian-made reactors since 1988. After Fukushima, the presumption that fears about nuclear hazards are irrational betrays delusional insensitivity. (more…)

The nuclear industry’s fairy tale about its “renaissance”

June 24, 2012

This renaissance is just a fairy tale, THE HINDU, 15 June 12, NITYANAND JAYARAMAN”.….Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase out nuclear power,
despite their substantial dependence on it. Israel abandoned its year-old civilian nuclear programme after Fukushima. Belgium revived a pre-Fukushima decision to phase out nuclear power, using the Japanese disaster as a reminder. Italy and Kuwait gave up their nuclear debut by abandoning plans for 10 and four plants respectively. Mexico dropped plans for constructing 10 plants. All of Japan’s 54 reactors are now closed, and plans for 14 new reactors killed. (more…)