With light at the end of the tunnel on the long journey towards approval of the new designs for nuclear power plants in the UK, it looked as if the industry was set for real progress from June this year. Then the earthquake and tsunami struck in Japan, bringing a need to pause and consider the UK position on dealing with unexpected events. This was swiftly followed by Nato action in Libya, raising concerns over terrorist threats to the countries involved in the coalition strikes, as well as the potential impact on world oil prices should oil-producing countries become destabilised. Planning for the containment of damage to generators as well as issues such as evacuation and contamination control will take time. “Event management” on this scale has not been part of the design process to date; incorporating this degree of planning will inevitably affect the nuclear new build programme. The fact that instrumentation and control systems failed not because of the earthquake but because of a failure in power supply will have significant impact on existing UK new build design. Plans will be scrutinised to ensure that systems will continue operating throughout plant shut down. Power and system supply designs will be examined to ensure they are capable of remaining active and robust enough to resist an impact-type event.
Scotsman 13th April 2011 more >>
The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has underlined the danger of nuclear power. Authorities in Japan have now officially ranked the crisis on the same level as the Chernobyl disaster. Not surprisingly, the nuclear industry is on a mission to rebrand nuclear power as safe. What is surprising is that some environmentalists, such as George Monbiot, are lining up with them.
Socialist Worker 16th April 2011 more >>
Civil engineering jobs could continue to be created in the energy sector if the government holds its nerve on new-build nuclear reactors. According to the chairman of the Construction Products Association (CPA), there is no alternative to nuclear power at this stage, despite the recent events in Japan.
Career Structure 12th April 2011 more >>
British Builder 12th April 2011 more >>
Britain’s nuclear chiefs will consider extending the evacuation zones around Britain’s nuclear plants. Hartlepool has a 1km emergency zone (compared with 10miles in the US). Andy Spurr (Managing Director Existing Nuclear British Energy) wouldn’t defend the Hartlepool Zone. John Large responds.
Newsnight (10.50) 12th April 2011 more >>
Our chart presents a selection of nuclear incidents and their ranking on the scale.
Economist 12th April 2011 more >>
EdF Energy’s attempts to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point have run into trouble, with two local councils objecting to its proposals. Stage two of its public consultation for the plant ended last week with Somerset County Council and Sedgemoor District Council still objecting to parts of the proposal. Somerset said EdF’s traffic management plans for the construction phase of the project still “lack depth” and called on the energy giant carry out a more detailed study. EdF’s transport plan goes against local opinion by ruling out construction of a bypass around Bridgwater. It proposes instead a much shorter bypass of nearby Cannington.
New Civil Engineer 7th April 2011 more >>
Life after the nuclear plant.
BBC 13th April 2011 more >>
The Euractive article in yesterday’s news mixed up its microsieverts and millisieverts. Under the sub-heading “level of risky dose” it mentions 10mSv four times. Each of these should be ten microsieverts. To avoid any doubt go to the original CRIIRAD briefing. The rest of the article is accurate.
CRIIRAD April 2011 more >>
The government must provide accurate information on nuclear contamination in the UK, the Green party has said. The party’s comments come in the wake of the decision to upgrade the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan to level seven – the same as the Chernobyl disaster.
Yahoo 12th April 2011 more >>
politics.co.uk 12th April 2011 more >>
Just like hound dogs sniffing around for burglars, Closterium moniliferum, an green alga that usually lives in ponds, could sniff and eliminate radioactive strontium 90 (Sr-90) from water and from existing nuclear waste. 80 million gallons of radioactive nuclear waste are already stored in the United States. The discovery has been made by Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory researchers.
IB Times 12th April 2011 more >>
Japan was struggling last night to quell new fears about the Fukushima nuclear crisis after an admission that radiation released from the crippled plant could eventually exceed that emitted at Chernobyl. The Government announced that it was upgrading the disaster to a level of severity equivalent to that of the deadly disaster in 1986 in Ukraine. When pressed, a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the plant, admitted that if the radiation leak continued the total released could eventually exceed that of Chernobyl. The amount of radiation emitted so far has been between 370,000 and 630,000 terabecquerels, or about one tenth of the amount at Chernobyl, according to Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the NISA. On Monday, the Government designated five new areas outside its 20km exclusion radius for compulsory evacuation because of radiation levels.
Times 13th April 2011 more >>
Independent 13th April 2011 more >>
Japan’s prime minister has made a public appeal for calm after the nuclear plant crisis was raised to the highest alert level – on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people in a televised address to focus on recovering from the country’s disasters.
Press & Journal 13th April 2011 more >>
Radiation from the stricken nuclear plant in Japan forced officials to rate the disaster a “major accident” yesterday – the same as Chernobyl.
Daily Mirror 13th April 2011 more >>
Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima power plant has been carried around the world and far out to sea, adding to fear and confusion over the danger posed by the leaked material. Japanese officials have taken steps to evacuate residents from five villages outside the exclusion zone around the beleaguered plant, where the severity of the crisis was upgraded to the worst rating possible on an international nuclear disaster scale. The move, which comes as firefighters worked to extinguish a fire at a seawater sampling station at the plant, puts the incident at the crippled power station on a par with Chernobyl in 1986, the only previous nuclear disaster to be given the highest ranking. Michael Mariotte , head of the Nuclear Information Research Service, an advocacy organisation, said those living in the villages were leaving for good. “The people are not being evacuated because of the threat of a large fast release, or releases that could cause acute symptoms. It is because radiation in these areas is too high to stay over the long term. It is not an evacuation per se. It is a permanent relocation. That is why they are not rushing it.”
Guardian 13th April 2011 more >>
Radiation, aftershocks, fire, a tsunami evacuation, and hours and hours of difficult, dangerous labour trying to do what nobody in history has done before: prevent four doomed nuclear reactors from a catastrophic meltdown. Today was a typically extraordinary day at work for the several hundred engineers, contract employees and emergency personnel at Tokyo Electric’s Daiichi power plant, where standards of normality have shifted along with tectonic plates since a magnitude nine earthquake struck offshore just over a month ago.
Guardian 13th April 2011 more >>
By raising the severity of the Fukushima nuclear disaster two notches on the official scale to the top level of 7, the Japanese authorities may inadvertently have misled people into thinking that it had suddenly got worse and become as serious as Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident. I am a little surprised by the uprating to level 7, said Laurence Williams, professor of nuclear safety at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. There has been no significant change in the state of the three affected reactors or the four spent fuel ponds, and there has been no sudden increase in radioactivity released into the atmosphere.
FT 13th April 2011 more >>
Workers Wednesday were a step closer to emptying highly radioactive water from a crippled reactor, which would allow them to start repairing the cooling system crucial to bringing one of the world’s worst nuclear crises under control. U.S. Nuclear safety regulator Gregory Jaczko described the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant as “static” rather than stable, because of the continuing struggle to cool the reactors.
Reuters 13th April 2011 more >>
THE NUCLEAR crisis in Japan was yesterday upgraded to the maximum level of severity, on a par with the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The problems centred around the Fukushima Daiichi plant are now classed as “a major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects”, the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday. The partial meltdowns are now rated as a level seven incident, up from level five previously – though the classification relates to the original explosions after the quake and tsunami on 11 March, and the ongoing efforts to cool the reactors have not altered. The levels of radioactivity at Fukushima are around 10 per cent of those recorded at Chernobyl. “Raising the level to a seven has serious diplomatic implications,” said Osaka University professor Kenji Sumita. “It is telling people that the accident has the potential of causing trouble to our neighbours.”
City AM 13th April 2011 more >>
Japan has raised the severity level of its nuclear crisis from five to the maximum seven, putting the emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on a par with that at Chernobyl in 1986. Mark Tran looks at the differences between the two disasters.
Guardian 12th April 2011 more >>
Japanese officials on Tuesday increased the level of severity of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, placing it on a level with Chernobyl. Some have criticized the change, but an expansion of the no-go zone surrounding the plant underlines the likely long-term effects of the accident.
Der Spiegel 12th April 2011 more >>
Fires continue to break out at the tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant ahead of the crisis level being raised to 7 with one raging in a building close to one of the reactors. As workers continue to battle in vain to bring the situation under control at the Fukushima plant, a blaze was discovered in a room filled with batteries close to No 4 unit.
Daily Mail 12th April 2011 more >>
The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it is concerned that radiation leakage at the plant could eventually exceed that of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. ‘‘The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that the amount of leakage could eventually reach that of Chernobyl or exceed it,’’ an official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
Kyodo News 12th Aprl 2011 more >>
Minute amounts of radioactive strontium have been detected in soil and plants in Fukushima Prefecture beyond the 30-kilometer zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the science ministry said Tuesday. It is the first time that radioactive strontium has been detected since the Fukushima plant began leaking radioactive substances after it was severely damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. There is no safety limit set by the government for exposure to strontium, but the amount found so far is extremely low and does not pose a threat to human health, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said.
Kyodo News 12th April 2011 more >>
An increase in the severity level of Japan’s nuclear accident does not mean the public health risk is any worse or that the disaster resembles Chernobyl in 1986, global expert bodies said on Tuesday.
Reuters 12th April 2011 more >>
Is it possible that people are overreacting to the crisis at Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear facility? That is certainly the belief of Aris Candris, chief executive of Westinghouse Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of nuclear reactors. During a visit to a corporate retreat on the outskirts of Brussels, Candris took time to give the Brussels Blog his view of the crisis, one that is sure to inflame the nuclear industry’s many critics, particularly in continental Europe.
FT 11th April 2011 more >>
The operator of Japan’s damaged nuclear plant releases new video of the reactors as Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano promises to give up-to-date information on the nuclear issue to its worried neighbours.
Telegraph 12th April 2011 more >>
I was working in the EU after Chernobyl and in a 35-year diplomatic career I rarely saw such a polarised debate. At one extreme the Irish (with no nuclear electricity) were in effect pressing the EU to close down nuclear energy across Europe, while the French (76 per cent of whose electricity is nuclear-generated) argued that EU safety standards were already unjustifiably strict. As now, much of the argument became a bitter dispute about safe levels of radioactivity in food, with scientifically indefensible trade barriers being erected all over Europe (and now, in the case of Fukushima, all over the world). The confused public, with only TV images of smoke rising from the Chernobyl sarcophagus to go on, understandably opted for caution, and nuclear development slowed to a trickle.
Times 13th April 2011 more >>
U.S. Senators on Tuesday pressed the country’s top nuclear regulator about lessons that can be learned from Japan’s nuclear disaster, especially at two nuclear plants in earthquake-prone California.
Reuters 12th April 2011 more >>
China’s freeze on new nuclear projects could last until the beginning of 2012, according to a senior industry official, underlining the gravity of China’s nuclear safety review. China, which accounts for 40 per cent of planned new reactors globally, halted approvals for new projects last month in a surprise move following the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.
FT 12th April 2011 more >>
Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy is an ‘emotional’ reaction to the Japan disaster which could hurt ties with France.
Engineering & Technology 12th April 2011 more >>
Reverberations of the crises at Fukushima have scarcely cast a ripple in Indonesia’s political quarters. Two weeks after Japan’s nuclear crisis, the Indonesian government stated that it will continue to pursue an ambitious nuclear power programme of its own that will triple the country’s electricity output by 2025.
Guardian 12th April 2011 more >>
Nuclear Information Service
Annual Report 2010.
NIS 12th April 2011 more >>
It stretches 260km under the North Sea, contains 23,000 tonnes of copper and lead, and may represent the first step towards a renewable energy revolution based on a European electricity “supergrid”. The £500m BritNed cable, which has just entered operation, is the first direct current electricity link from the UK to another country in 25 years. “This is a major step,” said Louise Hutchins, head of UK energy campaigns at Greenpeace. “It sends a signal to renewable manufacturers that we’re a step closer to unlocking the potential of one the world’s main renewable power houses – the North Sea.”
Guardian 11th April 2011 more >>