21 February 2016

Fukushima

The Japanese were kept in the dark from the start of the Fukushima disaster about high radiation levels and their dangers to health, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. In order to proclaim the Fukushima area ‘safe’, the Government increased exposure limits to twenty times the international norm. Soon, many Fukushima refugees will be forced to return home to endure damaging levels of radiation. The media may have played the willing government handmaiden in reassuring the public with falsehoods, but in July 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that the disaster was really no accident but “man-made”. It came about, the researchers said, as a result of “collusion” between the government, regulators and the nuclear industry, in this case, Tepco.

Ecologist 20th Feb 2016 read more »

Cybersecurity

According to the soon to be released documentary, “Zero Days,” early in the Obama administration the United States developed a sweeping cyberattack to launch on Iran if diplomatic efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program failed. That planned cyberattack had a bad-ass codename: Nitro Zeus.

Value Walk 19th Feb 2016 read more »

Radwaste

Ahead of the start of construction later this year of a full-scale Synroc waste treatment plant, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (Ansto) is preparing to upscale the technology from a research level to an industrial scale in a pilot plant. The utility says Ottawa wants an updated analysis of potential combined environmental effects of the site, an updated list of OPG’s commitments to mitigate any identified effects, and a study into the environmental effects of alternate sites.

World Nuclear News 19th Feb 2016 read more »

The federal government has again delayed a decision on Ontario Power Generation’s plan to bury nuclear waste at the Bruce Nuclear site near Lake Huron. OPG says the federal government has said it won’t make a decision as planned on March 1 and says Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has instead has requested three studies.

Global News 18th Feb 2016 read more »

For opponents of the Deep Geologic Repository proposed by Ontario Power Generation, the news that Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna has “paused the timeline” on the project is not good news enough. Opposition voices have been crying for an outright “no” from Ottawa, as the deadline loomed for what had been promised as a March 1 decision on the plan to bury 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level radioactive waste approximately 1.2 km from the Lake Huron shore.

Toronto Star 21st Feb 2016 read more »

This week the South Australian Royal Commission released “tentative findings” recommending the state take more than 100 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste and store it in the desert for hundreds of thousands of years. A final report is due in May, but already there has been excitement around the proposal, which the Commission says could generate billions of dollars a year and thousands of jobs for the South Australian economy. The state has the highest unemployment in the country. Australia has no nuclear power plants and doesn’t generate high-level nuclear waste that needs to be stored for a very long time; it would be imported. If the facility goes ahead, the designers may consider a problem that has baffled linguists and semioticians (sign experts): how to tell the distant future don’t dig up the dump?

CumbriaTrust 20th Feb 2016 read more »

Nuclear Convoys

The Ministry of Defence has come under fierce fire for removing radiation warning signs from the nuclear convoys that regularly trundle Scotland’s roads. The well-known trefoil symbol indicating hazardous radioactivity is no longer used on lorries transporting plutonium or highly enriched uranium for bombs. According to the MoD, this is so it can maintain its policy “to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons.” In the past vehicles carrying “special nuclear materials” such as plutonium and uranium displayed the warning signs, though those carrying nuclear weapons did not. But following a decision to use the same vehicles for both kinds of shipments, the MoD dispensed with all radiation symbols. The change was only revealed in a recent parliamentary answer from the defence minister Penny Mordaunt to the SNP MP for Midlothian, Owen Thompson. “This beggars belief,” he told the Sunday Herald. Bill Butler, a Glasgow Labour councillor and convener of the nuclear-free local authorities in Scotland, described the MoD’s decision as “ridiculous”. He pointed out that local councils weren’t informed about convoy movements. “Now their staff, and other emergency service staff, may be putting themselves at risk or even harm by being unaware of the serious radioactive content of a convoy in the event of a serious accident,” he said. “And all for a change in defence doctrine which will not acknowledge there are nuclear weapons being transported through Scotland, when quite obviously they are.”

Sunday Herald 21st Feb 2016 read more »

Submarines

The Royal Navy’s new nuclear-powered submarines have been plagued by 69 safety incidents and “near misses” over the last four years. The Astute class of submarines based at Faslane on the Clyde has seen reported reactor incidents at sea or on shore almost double from 12 in 2014 to 21 in 2015. Though the MoD insists that the incidents are all minor, critics warn that they undermine the boats’ reliability and safety. According to the independent nuclear engineer John Large, the submarines were suffering serious problems. “This continuing experience of the Astute class reactor problems not only imperils the boats when at sea but is likely to result in cutbacks to the number of patrols, voyage durations and the extent of roaming of the high seas,” he said.

Sunday Herald 21st Feb 2016 read more »

Japan

Japan’s nuclear power-reliant utility Kansai Electric Power said on Saturday it had found a pool of contaminated water at a nuclear reactor slated to restart in late February after years of being shut down. In a statement posted on its website, Kansai Electric said it has found 34 liters of radioactive water at the No. 4 unit at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture, 500 km (310 miles) west of Tokyo. The water has been cleared and there has been no impact on the environment, the company said, adding that it is investigating the reasons for the leakage. The statement did not say if the restart would be delayed and company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reuters 21st Feb 2016 read more »

NHK 20th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – wind

The capacity of wind power generation worldwide reached 432.42 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2015, up 17 percent from a year earlier and surpassing nuclear energy for the first time, according to data released by global industry bodies. The generation capacity of wind farms newly built in 2015 was a record 63.01 GW, corresponding to about 60 nuclear reactors, according to the Global Wind Energy Council based in Brussels. The global nuclear power generation capacity was 382.55 GW as of Jan. 1, 2016, the London-based World Nuclear Association said.

Japan Times 20th Feb 2016 read more »

Christopher Booker: Last week’s front-page revelation by The Sunday Telegraph that the Government might scrap its 2015 election manifesto pledge to “halt the spread of onshore wind farms” was only the latest indication of just what an ever more dishonestly dangerous mess it is making of our energy policy. But to understand just what a tricky game it is playing here we must first look at the very careful way in which that promise was worded. The government’s obsession with wind creates an ever-growing technical problem that threatens to put the lights out. To get round this, it proposes to subsidise gas by the back door. Then the wind industry, to get round that no “new subsidies” pledge, says it should also be given the same money as before, but simply called by another name – to which the Government says it is “carefully listening”. While we, the customers, just carry on paying those ever higher bills. Clever or what?

Telegraph 20th Feb 2016 read more »

National Grid

Steve Holliday: After 15 years at National Grid, including nearly 10 as chief executive, I am stepping down next month from a job I have loved and that has given me an opportunity to play a part in the huge changes in the UK energy sector. When I joined, 80pc of UK electricity was supplied by fossil fuels and just 3pc came from renewables. Fewer than 50 power plants were pretty much all that Britain needed to allow National Grid to run a reliable electricity system. Today, that could not be more different. Last year, those same fossil fuels supplied just 55pc of our electricity, while renewables have surged to 24pc. Thanks to the boom in wind, solar and, to a lesser degree, biomass we now have more than 240 individual generating stations feeding into our transmission grid, and thousands more businesses and households generating power into their local networks. We are in the midst of nothing less than a revolution in the provision of our energy. There are huge and exciting opportunities ahead but I am concerned that their impact has become muddled by misunderstanding. Phrases like “smart”, “off-grid” and “demand side response” mean different things to different people and are at times negatively portrayed. We need to separate fact from fiction. Today 700,000 households already have some sort of energy-generating capacity on site and, with greater efficiency in the way buildings use and store energy, it is increasingly possible for consumers to power themselves.That is a really encouraging development. In the last few years, rooftop solar has nearly trebled to 4.8GW, out of a total solar capacity of 9.5GW, helping Britain meet its energy needs with clean, renewable power.Ultimately the future energy system will be much more flexible than today’s. It doesn’t make sense to keep building an ever larger system just to meet the rare peaks of energy demand. We need flexible networks and the ability to flex unnecessary demand. This will allow a cleaner future that can be cheaper and more efficient. To bring us back to where we started, that is a “smart” future for us all.

Telegraph 20th Feb 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

THE SNP is under fire after its MSPs were spoon-fed the “lines” to take on the government’s position on fracking. A central office researcher supplied a list of arguments MSPs could use to back the SNP administration if contacted by concerned members of the public.

Sunday Herald 21st Feb 2016 read more »

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Published: 21 February 2016