Article: #NuclearIsDirty

From the beginning of the nuclear fuel chain exemplified here by Australia's Ranger uranium mine, to the end of the chain characterized by lethal radioactive waste with no scientifically-defensible storage method, nuclear energy is dirty energy.

“NIRS is launching a new campaign today, called #NuclearIsDirty. Over the next twelve weeks, we will be rolling it out through a series of online events, publications, and social media forums. #NuclearIsDirty is a forum to inform the public of the real environmental impacts of nuclear power, from the mining of uranium and production of reactor fuel, all the way through to the long-term storage and management of radioactive waste.

The rollout series will follow the story of that nuclear fuel chain, combining technical information with testimony from real people whose communities are affected. As you know from our commentary and advocacy in the pages of GreenWorld, NIRS is committed to a nuclear-free, carbon-free world, and strong action on global warming and climate justice. We believe the transition to 100% renewable energy is not just possible, it is necessary.”

(Full article here)

Article: Continuous Leaking Of Radioactive Strontium, Cesium From Fukushima To The Ocean

continuous-leaking-of-radioactive-strontium-cesium-from-fukushima-to-the-ocean-1024w

“March 11 will be the 5th anniversary since the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. The Tohoku earthquake and the series of tsunamis damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) causing a massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. Since then, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese authorities have focused on controlling the water flowing in and out of the FDNPP and on decontaminating the highly radioactive water used as coolant for the damaged reactors (about 300 m3 a day, cubic meter = 1000 L). This cooling water is then stored in tanks and, to some extent, being decontaminated.

A new study recently published in Environmental Science and Technology, uses data on the concentrations of 90Sr and 134,137Cs in the coast off Japan from the moment of the accident until September 2013, and puts it into a longer-time perspective including published data and TEPCO’s monitoring data available until June 2015. This study continues the work initiated after the accident in 2011 by some of the authors. These and other partners from Belgium and Japan are currently involved in the European FRAME project lead by Dr. Pere Masqué that aims at studying the impact of recent releases from the Fukushima nuclear accident on the marine environment. FRAME is encompassed within the European COMET ”

(Full article here)

From Dr. Gordon Edwards:
Background: March 18, 2016

Before the Fukushima triple meltdown five years ago, there were 54 nuclear power reactors in Japan, providing 30 percent of Japan’s electricity. Following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami of March 11 2011, most of those reactors continued to operate. Over the next year, however, all of them were shut down, one by one, for annual maintenance — and remained shut down because the governors of the local prefectures responded to the wishes of the citizens by refusing to give the needed permission to restart them. For about three years, therefore, all 54 reactors have been shut down, and Japan has had to make do with additional energy imports and with the cooperation of businesses to reduce their electrical consumption by 15 percent. There was another 15 percent that was a surplus to electrical needs — it was considered as a prudent backup electricity supply.

In April 2015 the government of Prime Minister Abe announced that it wants nuclear plants restarted so they can play an important role in meeting the country’s base-load electrical needs. About 40 reactors in Japan’s nuclear fleet are considered fit to restart under new international safety standards laid down after the Fukushima disaster. In recent months, two nuclear plants in Japan, each having two nuclear reactors, have been restarted. Now, however, a judge has ordered the shutdown of both reactors at the latest nuclear plant to be restarted, just two months ago, known as the Takahama NPP. This was in response to a lawsuit launched by citizens in a neighbouring prefecture who argued that they would be seriously affected by an accident at one of these plants.

Plans are well-advanced for a massive public rally in Tokyo on March 26 against the restart of any more nuclear reactors in Japan. The findings of a exhaustive report on the causes of the Fukushima disaster, commissioned by the Japanese legislature known as the Diet, were that the nuclear disaster was man-made, caused by collusion between the government, the nuclear industry, and the regulatory body. Public confidence in nuclear power technology has been shattered, and the damage seems irreparable.

Gordon Edwards.
———————————

Court Orders One of Japan’s Two
Operating Nuclear Plants to Shut Down

Japan Shuts Down Nuclear Power Plant

By JONATHAN SOBLEMARCH, New York Times, March 9, 2016

A judge in Japan has ordered two reactors at the
Takahama Nuclear Power Plant shut down because
they do not meet international safety standards
set after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

TOKYO [Reuters] — A court in Japan ordered one of only two nuclear power plants operating in the country to shut down on Wednesday, citing insufficient safety measures put in place after meltdowns at a facility in Fukushima five years ago.

The plant, Takahama Nuclear Power Plant, had been back online for only two months after an extended freeze on atomic power in Japan in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Japan’s government and its power companies have struggled to get the nuclear industry back on its feet. Despite new safety standards introduced in 2013, much of the public remains wary. Only a handful of the more than 40 operable reactors in the country have met the new rules, and lawsuits have made it difficult to restart them.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government sees a revival of nuclear power as critical to supporting economic growth and slowing an exodus of Japanese manufacturing to lower-cost countries. Electricity prices have risen by 20 percent or more since the Fukushima disaster because of increased imports of fossil fuels, though the recent drop in oil prices has taken some of the pressure off.

Residents cheered a decision by a court in Otsu, Japan, on Wednesday to idle the Takahama
Nuclear Power Plant. Credit: Shojiro Yamauchi/Kyodo News, via Associated Press

The court ruling on Wednesday added a new twist to the legal battles over nuclear power.

Judges have enjoined idled plants from being put back into service, but the judgment against Takahama was the first in which a facility that had successfully been restarted was ordered to shut down. Takahama’s owner, Kansai Electric Power Company, brought one reactor at the facility back online in January and another last month.

The court, which is in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, said neither restart should have happened. It was responding to a request for an injunction filed by residents, who said the plant’s owner had underestimated the size of earthquakes that could strike the plant and had not made adequately detailed plans to evacuate people living nearby in case of an accident.

Government safety regulators say Takahama meets Japan’s new safety guidelines, which address such issues. But the court ruled for the plaintiffs, saying there were “points of concern in accident prevention, emergency response plans and the formulation of earthquake models.”

Kansai Electric said it would appeal. It has won previous appeals against injunctions issued against its plants, including Takahama. The company overcame a separate lawsuit to bring the plant online in January.

Takahama is in Fukui Prefecture, a stronghold for the atomic power industry that is home to 13 commercial reactors and that has earned the nickname Genpatsu Ginza, or Nuclear Alley. But the latest lawsuit was filed by residents of the neighboring Shiga Prefecture, who said they would be affected by radiation from a serious accident at Takahama.

Radiation releases from the plant in Fukushima affected a wide swath of northeastern Japan. More than 100,000 residents were evacuated, and many are still unable or unwilling to return.

Background: March 19 2016

When uranium is irradiated, dozens of highly radioactive byproducts are created called “fission products”. They are the broken pieces of uranium atoms that have been “split”. They include radioactive varieties of iodine, cesium, strontium, hydrogen, carbon, and many others. In addition, transuranic elements — man-made radioactive elements that are heavier than uranium, such as neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium — are also created.

When irradiated uranium is dissolved in nitric acid, all of these radioactive byproducts are rendered into a liquid solution that is far more radioactive and much more damaging to health and to the environment than the original uranium. This “post-reprocessing” liquid radioactive waste has never before been transported over public roads in North Anerica. But now the US and Canada are planning to do just that, in a series of more than 100 truckloads with heavily armed guards using secret routes that will not be announced publicly for security reasons.

There is a double-walled steel tank at Chalk River (called FISST) containing 23 000 litres (about 6000 US gallons) of this intensely radioactive liquid material. The concentration of cesium-137 (measured in becquerels per litre) in the liquid in the FISST tank is four times greater than the average concentration of cesium-137 in the high-level radioactive liquid waste tanks at the military plutonium production plants at Hanford Washington. This material is acknowledged to be among the most dangerous materials on earth.

In 2011, the Canadian Department of Natural Resources reported that the liquid material in the FISST tank would be “down-blended” on site at Chalk River to remove any nuclear bomb-making security risk there might be, and in the licensing application submitted in 2011, Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) declared that it was planning to solidify the material on-site using a process of “cementation”. By the way, for the last ten years, high-level radioactive liquid waste of the same composition has been successfully cemented and stored at Chalk River without shipping the liquid or the solidified material offsite.

There has never been a public hearing, in either country, to examine the health and environmental risks associated with shipping this liquid material about 2000 kilometers over public roads and bridges. There has been no specific environmental assessment conducted, nor has there been any explicit study of security risk of the shipments.

One thing is crystal clear: these shipments are unnecessary. Safer alternatives exist.

Gordon Edwards.

PS. For more information on the weld failures described in the article, see recommendations #13-16 and the associated text passages in www.ccnr.org/CCRC_CRL_2016.pdf .

GE
===================

Congressman Higgins asks feds
to keep highly enriched uranium
shipments out of Western New York

Congressman says risks are too great given recent container flaws
and lack of environmental or threat assessment

Niagara-Wheatfield (New York) Tribune, March 18, 2016
http://tinyurl.com/zc3jeay

Article: World’s First Solar Airport No Longer Pays Electricity Bills

“”We wanted to be independent of the electricity utility grid,” Jose Thomas, the airport’s general manager, told the CNNMoney.

Cochin started its solar journey three years ago when it installed solar panels on the roof of its arrivals terminal. It eventually blossomed into a 12 megawatt solar project after the airport commissioned German multinational engineering and electronics company Bosch to build the impressive $9.5 million plant that features 46,000 panels laid out across 45 acres of unused land near the airport’s international cargo terminal.

The plant switched on Aug. 18, cementing Cochin’s status as the world’s first fully solar powered airport and the only power-neutral airport on the planet.”

(Full article here)

Article: Profitable Element, Powerful Entity: Saskatchewan’s Uranium Industry and Dene Ecology

“Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin currently supplies about 20% of the global uranium market. It is mined out in ore 10 to 100 times more uranium rich than any other deposits found on Earth. This is of much interest to industry and government as it results in the creation of several thousand jobs and significant impacts on the economy. Some years the value of production has exceeded onecffg-01billion dollars, which nets about 100 million dollars in royalties for the provincial government (Sk Mining). With such high stakes, it is easy to see how any aboriginal opposition might be unwelcome, yet there have always been some who, from the perspective of traditional ecological values, question the practice of uranium mining. From an indigenous perspective, a large scope of relationships that span across time and space need to be considered. Elders are concerned about the future and about our relationship to the land. To the Dene uranium is more than a profitable element; it is also a powerful entity.”

(Full article here)