25 April 2011

New Nukes

This is going to be another bad week for the nuclear industry. On top of the continuing radioactive releases from Japan’s stricken Fukushima plant, Tuesday’s 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine is providing anti-nuclear campaigners with a rallying call. Over the weekend, for example, nine Nobel peace laureates sent heads of state a letter demanding a phase-out of atomic power, to enable people everywhere to “live in greater peace and security”. In reality a world free of nuclear power would be less secure. For the foreseeable future, neither fossil fuels nor renewable sources will be able to replace the 14 per cent of global electricity generated by nuclear reactors, without risking severe instability and shortages in energy markets. Put simply, energy security requires a diversity of sources, including nuclear.

FT 24th April 2011 more >>

There used to be discussion in the 1980s about the safety of nuclear power stations, based on the odds of a serious accident. Anything greater than a one in 10,000 chance per year was regarded as unacceptable. Since the tsunami in Japan in March there has been debate in archaeological circles about the odds of such an event happening in Britain. UK tsunamis were always recorded as weather related “floods” but Simon Parfitt, from the National History Museum in London, reports three tsunamis in the past 10,000 years. One devastated the east coast of Scotland 8,000 years ago, a second in 1607 was in the Bristol Channel (with waves 7.5 metres high travelling at 31 miles an hour) and a third in 1755 hit Britain’s south-west coast. The 1607 event, which was caused by a small earthquake and landslip off southern Ireland, would have swamped the sites of both Hinkley Point and Oldbury nuclear power stations.

Guardian 25th April 2011 more >>

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, coupled with the unrest in the Middle East, have impacted markets worldwide, highlighting the importance of hedging portfolios against so-called tail-risk – namely events of very low probability but of potentially very high impact. In addition to the general economic upheaval, these two unrelated events look set to have far-reaching consequences for the world energy market.

FT 25th April 2011 more >>

Radwaste

Like the energy source itself, it’s the question that won’t go away: what can be done with spent nuclear fuel? Sweden believes it has the answer. The plan is to bury the country’s expected 12,000 tons of nuclear waste in corrosion-resistant copper canisters under 500 meters of crystalline bedrock. There it will remain isolated from human contact for at least 100,000 years. The idea, which still needs final approval, was developed by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management company (SKB) — a collective of Sweden’s nuclear power companies. After three decades of research, SKB believes that Osthammar in central Sweden is the perfect final resting place for the country’s nuclear waste. Not only is the 1.9 billion year old bedrock ideal says SKB, but the locals are largely in favor of the plan and it is close to the nuclear power plant at Forsmark.

CNN 25th April 2011 more >>

Few architects have to design anything to last more than 100 years, so how do you build a nuclear waste facility to last for millennia? And what sign do you put on the door? Onkalo, which is Finnish for “hiding place”, it was the subject of a documentary last year, Into Eternity. Retitled Nuclear Eternity and broadcast on More4 tomorrow, the film fully appreciates the Kubrickian visual aspects of the nuclear landscape and the staggering challenges the project presents to our notions of permanence, history – even time itself. Onkalo will be ready to take waste in 2020, and then will be finally sealed in 2120, after which it will not be opened for 100,000 years. By that time, Finland will probably have been through another ice age. Little trace of our current civilisation will remain. The prospect of designing anything to last even 200 years is unlikely for most architects; the Egyptian pyramids are “only” about 5,000 years old.

Guardian 24th April 2011 more >>

Hinkley

People living near a proposed power station in Somerset have welcomed EDF Energy’s plans to invest in the community, according to the company. EDF’s original offer of a £1m community fund was criticised by local councils. The amount was then increased to £20m.

BBC 24th April 2011 more >>

Sizewell

Members of the Stop Nuclear Power Network are holding their summer camp at Sizewell Beach, Suffolk. They were joined by members of CND and some individuals for a protest outside the main entrance to Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. They also marked the 25th Anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, with various speakers.

Demotix 23rd April 2011 more >>

Chernobyl

WEARING a lead protective suit and placing his cameras in lead boxes, photographer Igor Kostin made a terrifying trip to the Chernobyl danger zone just a few days after the nuclear power plant reactor exploded there in the world’s worst atomic accident.

Scotsman 25th April 2011 more >>

SUCH is the disagreement over the true consequences of Chernobyl that a four-day conference organised to mark the disaster by the Ukrainian government on Friday was unable to agree on any formal conclusions. More than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been detected in people who were children or adolescents when exposed to high levels of fall-out in the period immediately after the blast, and at least 28 people have died of acute radiation sickness from close exposure to the shattered reactor. But Mikhail Balanov of the UN Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation told the conference that other medical effects were difficult to project because the margins of error in various studies are too high to allow reliable assessment. Balanov did say that radioactive contamination of mushrooms and berries – both popular delicacies in Ukraine – remain high “and we will face elevated levels for decades to come.”

Scotsman 25th April 2011 more >>

Japan

We urgently demand the withdrawal of the Japanese Government’s inhumane decision to force 20 milli-sievert per year radiation exposure onto children.

Sign the petition April 2011 more >>

Last week the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced a roadmap for bringing four damaged reactors at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant to cold shutdown within six to nine months. The Japanese government has made clear that stabilising the reactors is a precondition for allowing tens of thousands of evacuees from the exclusion zone around the plant to return home.

World Socialist Web 25th April 2011 more >>

A number of opponents of nuclear power plants won seats in the assemblies of host municipalities in Sunday’s nationwide local elections in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, including one candidate who drew the largest number of votes in his town. But winners who had called for closing atomic power plants in their communities were in a minority in host municipalities, with many of those elected pledging to boost measures to ensure the safety of plants.

Japan Today 25th April 2011 more >>

Recognized as the world leader in robotic technology, Japan will finally deploy its own robot at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after relying on U.S.-made versions to do all the work.

Asahi 24th April 2011 more >>

With electricity shortages looming this summer, many companies are releasing new power-saving products they hope will inspire consumers to shake off the mood of “self-restraint” prevalent since last month’s earthquake and tsunami. Exceptional demand for efficient electrical appliances is evident. Retailers and manufacturers have high expectations that power-saving products will make up for the expected substantial drop in sales of flat-screen TVs and refrigerators following the termination of the government’s eco-point system for energy-saving appliances at the end of March. Sales of Toshiba’s LED light bulbs have doubled compared with before the March 11 disaster. Toshiba’s plant in Nagai, Yamagata Prefecture, which suspended operations due to the quake and tsunami, resumed operations Thursday and is now at full production. Panasonic Corp. expanded production of LED light bulbs at its plants in Indonesia and China during winter and spring to cope with an expected increase in demand in Japan.

Daily Yomuiri 25th April 2011 more >>

Data released by the government indicates radioactive material was leaking into the atmosphere from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in early April in greater quantities than previously estimated. Radioactive material was being released into the atmosphere from the plant at an estimated rate of 154 terabecquerels per day as of April 5, according to data released by the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission on Saturday. The NSC previously estimated radiation leakage on April 5 at “less than 1 terabecquerel per hour.”

Yomuiri Shimbum 24th April 2011 more >>

China and South Korea rebuffed on Sunday Japan’s calls for more “reasonable” restrictions on imports of food and other products that could be contaminated with radiation after last month’s nuclear disaster, showing the difficulty Japan will face in restoring trust in its products.

Reuters 24th April 2011 more >>

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s sole nuclear plant at Kozloduy, spotlighted in the 1990s over safety issues, is looking forward to European stress tests, following Japan’s nuclear disaster. “Our plant is the most controlled one in Europe: 25 missions over the last 12 years, including from the (UN nuclear watchdog) IAEA and WANO (World Associaton of Nuclear Operators),” Kozloduy’s executive director Kostadin Dimitrov told AFP on a recent visit.

EU Business 24th April 2011 more >>

Switzerland

Switzerland’s economy minister said on Sunday it would be decades before the country could give up nuclear power completely but that in the meantime no new nuclear power plants should be built. Johann Schneider-Ammann, of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) said the initiative to develop ‘green’ technologies needed to come from the private sector, with the public sector in charge of implementing the right framework.

Reuters 24th April 2011 more >>

Renewables/Scotland

Stephen Salter: SNP policy on renewable energy is being attacked by nuclear enthusiasts on grounds of intermittency. It is true that if weather systems are dominated by anticyclones to the east we can have long periods of low wind and wave activity accompanied by extreme cold. During these unusual periods Scotland would have to burn the gas that was still in the ground because we had not burned it when wind patterns were normal. There will be plenty of Scottish gas for some time yet. The nuclear advocates want us to believe that only nuclear can provide firm base-load but this is far from the case. The availability of British nuclear plant is in the low seventies. Some of the outages are planned for summer periods of low demand, but others can be forced at no notice and last for months or even years. Grid operators have to assume that there may be a simultaneous and unpredicted loss of the two biggest sets or connectors on the system. In contrast our meteorologists can give several days’ notice of calms and our oceanographers can predict tidal outputs for many thousands of years. If Scotland were to depend on two new reactors they would also have to be backed up by gas, hydro and the English connector. The pot is calling the kettle black. The temperature cycles needed for following fluctuations in demand are very bad for the hot parts of nuclear reactors. If the full potential of close-packed turbines in the Pentland Firth was combined with close-packed offshore wave plant and offshore wind, Scotland would have far more electricity than it could ever need. The surplus could be used for the synthesis of easily stored liquid fuels and methane, giving complete firmness and valuable exports. If the policy of UK governments had allowed steady development since the first energy crisis we could have been very close to this now. A final idea for improving energy security is to prevent the sale of infrastructure to foreign firms who might have less motivation to keep the lights on.

Scotsman 25th April 2011 more >>

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Published: 25 April 2011
Last updated: 17 October 2012