The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing. But nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams. The tasks include manually draining hundreds of gallons of radioactive water and venting radioactive gas from the pumps and piping of the emergency cooling systems, which are located diagonally underneath the overheated reactor vessels.
New York Times 24th March 2011 more >>
The radiation dose received by one-year-old infants outside of a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant since Saturday’s explosion at the plant may have exceeded 100 millisieverts, a computer simulation conducted by the government showed Wednesday. ‘‘There are some cases in which they could have received more than 100 millisieverts of radiation, even if they’re outside the 30-kilometer radius and in the event that they spent every day outdoors since the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant,’’ Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference. Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, told reporters, ‘‘The figure represents the level that one-year-old infants would have received and accumulated in their thyroids by midnight Wednesday since the explosion.’’ Madarame said the radiation dose accumulated by adults outside the 30-km zone in their thyroids would be lower. People exposed to a radiation dose of 100 millisieverts are required to take potassium iodide, Madarame said. An annual radiation dose of 100 millisieverts is believed to be associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Kyodo News 24th March 2011 more >>
Emergency crews resumed work at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on Thursday after smoke cleared from its No 3 reactor, prompting authorities to lift an evacuation order issued a day earlier. The evacuation, which lasted about 12 hours, delayed efforts to restore vital electrical systems.
FT 24th March 2011 more >>
BBC 24th March 2011 more >>
Three workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been taken ill after being exposed to radiation, Japan’s nuclear safety agency says.
Sky News 24th March 2011 more >>
Tokyo residents were warned not to give babies tap water because of radiation leaking from a nuclear plant crippled in the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan in the world’s costliest natural disaster. The U.N. atomic agency said there had been some positive developments at the Fukushima nuclear plant 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo but the overall situation remained serious. Some countries have started blocking imports of produce from Japan, fearful of radiation contamination.
Reuters 24th March 2011 more >>
Authorities in Tokyo have warned that very young children in the Japanese capital should not drink tap water after it was found to contain twice the levels of radioactive iodine considered safe for infants. The warning came as the spread of radioactivity continued through the food supply in the region surrounding the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Black smoke was seen rising yesterday afternoon from the plant’s No 3 reactor, prompting the operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to evacuate workers who have been battling to make the facility safe. The source of the smoke was not immediately known.
Guardian 24th March 2011 more >>
Japanese authorities and the international community are following the situation very closely. A series of sources provide the public with up-to-date information on the accident’s possible impacts on Europe’s environment as well as radiation measurements across Europe.
European Environment Agency 23rd March 2011 more >>
George Monbiot, told Guardian readers this week that the Fukushima nuclear disaster had finally persuaded him of the case for nuclear power. If this is the worst that nuclear can do, he said, then bring it on. Coal is much more damaging to the environment and the people who mine it, and hydrocarbons are rapidly destroying the atmosphere. So, what’s a bit of radiation among friends? Monbiot isn’t alone. Another nuclear environmentalist, Mark Lynas, has offered to travel to Japan and to eat contaminated spinach to prove it is safe. Mind you, he hasn’t said whether he would take his daughter with him on this exercise in radioactive gastronomy. However, I fear this nuclear conversion has come a little too late – the economic case for civil nuclear power is collapsing. As the Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne, pointed out this week, the plans for Britain’s eight new nuclear power plants are having to be reviewed following Fukushima, not just because of safety, but because of the rising cost of capital needed to finance them. He told the Scottish Renewables conference in Glasgow that he is going to use every legal power at his disposal to speed up the development of Scotland’s renewable energy resources which he now says is “mission critical” if our emissions targets are to be met. This time, I think he means it. Really, whatever George Monbiot thinks, it is not going to be possible to “decarbonise” electricity generation without massive investment in proven renewable energy. This is not frontier technology any more. Four gigawatts of renewable power are already in place in Scotland. We have a quarter of Europe’s wind resource, a quarter of tidal and a 10th of wave energy – 60 gigawatts of potential. This is no longer a fantasy of green romantics, but a hard-headed investment opportunity. Forget Scotland’s oil, it’s Scotland’s wind and waves that are going to make a lot of people rich in the next 10 years – though few of them will actually live in Scotland, because the wealth will be exported to the foreign-owned energy giants.
Herald 24th March 2011 more >>
A PROFESSOR from Sheffield is calling for the UK not to halt plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations – despite the nuclear disaster in Japan. Prof Neil Hyatt, of the department of materials science and engineering at The University of Sheffield, spoke out in the wake of explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Sheffield Star 24th March 2011 more >>
CONCERNS have been raised over uranium enrichment company Urenco, which employs more than 300 staff at its Capenhurst plant near Chester. Global ratings agency Fitch, which provides research and data to the world’s credit markets, believes the long term future of the industry could be jeopardised by the crisis at Japan’s nuclear power plants following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami. Fitch warns of “challenges” if the nuclear industry faces stricter regulations, suspension and/or delays in the construction of new nuclear power plants as a result of Japan’s problems.
Liverpool Daily Post 24th March 2011 more >>
The nuclear industry is uniting with contractors to ramp up a campaign to restore public confidence and press ahead with plans for new UK nuclear reactors. However, several industry sources told CN that privately it was expected there would be delays to projects of at least six months. Founding director of sustainable development group E3G and Nuclear Consultation Group member Tom Burke said he believes a 2018 timeline for Hinkley Point C, which would be operated by EDF, is no longer viable. “Apart from EDF this has basically killed any interest in nuclear because anyone with a half open balance sheet – RWE and E.On – will have a hard time persuading investors; they will now be a lot less serious. I think (EDF Energy chief executive) Vincent de Rivas is going to have a lot of trouble to convince his board to spend so much money for five years.”
Construction News 24th March 2011 more >>
Japanese shares slipped on Thursday, with short-covering after a steep fall last week running out of steam as nerve-racking radiation leaks from a quake-stricken nuclear plant impeded any optimism on the economy.
STV 24th March 2011 more >>
Malcolm Grimston: The unfolding horror in Japan has thrown nuclear energy back into the public eye in the most dramatic way possible. Most of the country’s nuclear power stations withstood the earthquake and tsunami. But the problems at Fukushima (in plants built in the 1960s or commissioned in the early 1970s) and the failure of hydropower dams have cast into sharp relief the sometimes uneasy tensions between our needs for low-carbon energy and the challenges of the energy sources that could provide it. That the plants survived the earthquake was testimony to their designers’ skills; that their backup safety systems were knocked out by the tsunami shows the dilemma.
Prospect 23rd March 2011 more >>
Jerry Leggett: Monbiot is wrong. I have watched renewables industries become some of the fastest growing in the world. In 2008 and 2009 more renewables came onstream in both Europe and America than did all fossil fuels and nuclear combined. In Europe in 2009, wind and solar PV alone provided more than half all new generation. Energy is like medicine,” Monbiot writes, “if there are no side-effects, the chances are that it doesn’t work.” Were he to visit the renewables frontlines, he would discover many views to the contrary. German government and companies have run a scaled national experiment showing that the modern economy could be powered by renewables. A sophisticated American modelling exercise has shown the same for the global economy. All it requires is systematic mobilisation, and the imagination to believe what Silicon Valley believes. Ultimately we should be able to provide power far less expensively than new nuclear. As we grow, our costs fall. We do not need to hand open cheques for currently unknowable billions to the taxpayer for things like waste transportation, waste disposal, decommissioning, security at sites, or accident clear-up. The chief executives of EDF and E.ON are both on record as saying that renewables would spoil the chances for nuclear, and only a minor renewables contribution can be tolerated if ministers want a “nuclear renaissance”.
Guardian 24th March 2011 more >>
Costing the Earth.
Radio 4 23rd March 2011 more >>
Electricity Market Reforms
Nuclear and renewable energy companies will scoop huge windfall profits after the government announced plans to raise £3.2bn by 2016 from a new carbon tax funded by higher electricity bills. The chancellor announced a guaranteed minimum or “floor” price for carbon under Europe’s emissions trading scheme of £16 a tonne in 2013, rising to £30 by 2020. If the market price of carbon slumps, the Treasury’s tax will increase to make up the difference. The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such a mechanism to guarantee a price for carbon. The level of the tax was higher than many energy experts expected. Charity National Energy Action called on the government to use some of the Treasury proceeds to fund the insulation of the poorest households’ homes .
Guardian 24th March 2011 more >>
THE Budget makes Britain the first country in the world to introduce a carbon floor price which aims to encourage investment in low-carbon electricity. However, green campaigners claimed that the scheme – which would set the price electricity generators have to pay for their carbon emissions at £16 per tonne of CO2 – would give a near-£3 billion boost to the nuclear industry. It brings into question the government’s commitment not to provide public subsidy for new nuclear.
Scotsman 24th March 2011 more >>
Richard Dixon: “Despite some progress on green investment, the major items in the Budget were simply give-aways for the roads lobby and the nuclear industry.” Francis Stuart, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s parliamentary and policy officer, said the decision that the Green Investment Bank – which would bank new renewables technology, such as wave and tidal power – should not have borrowing powers until 2015, was a backwards step.
Scotsman 24th March 2011 more >>
The objective of the carbon floor price is to replace the power stations burning coal, gas and oil – which contribute to climate change through their carbon-dioxide emissions – with renewable energy systems such as wind, solar, wave and tidal power, and also – although Mr Osborne did not mention it, perhaps because of the ongoing Japanese crisis – nuclear. These new projects are immensely expensive, and the returns, if any, take a long time to come in. For example, a nuclear power station can take 10 years to construct. So investors are reluctant – and a little helping hand, the Government feels, is needed here and there.
Independent 24th March 2011 more >>
New nuclear reactors and offshore wind turbines received significant hidden subsidies in the Budget. Owners of poorly insulated existing homes face new penalties under a plan to encourage them to take out a Green Deal loan for energy efficiency improvements from next year. Mr Osborne said the Government would incentivise tak e-up of the Green Deal. A Whitehall source said the Government was considering stamp duty and council tax rebates for homes that took part in the Green Deal. Details will be in next years Budget.
Times 24th March 2011 more >>
Campaigners have sent an open letter to West Somerset Council, asking them to coordinate action over land found to be contaminated on the proposed Hinkley C site. Local campaign group Stop Hinkley is asking for works to be halted on the affected land, that an early meeting of interested parties including the public be held and for affirmation that suitable sophisticated tests are being performed on the Hinkley land as a matter of urgency in response to the recent Green Audit report. Following the Japan disaster campaigners are seeking faster action from the council.
Stop Hinkley Press Release 17th March 2011 more >>
China is committed to controversial plans to expand a Pakistan nuclear power plant using 1970s technology, experts say, even after Japan’s crisis triggered global alarm about atomic safety.
Yahoo 24th March 2011 more >>
The top U.S. nuclear regulator on Wednesday approved the launch of a safety review of U.S. nuclear reactors sought by President Barack Obama in response to the ongoing crisis at Japan’s Fukushima plant.
STV 23rd March 2011 more >>
The recent tsunami in Japan and the subsequent, ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant have prompted concerns that a similar series of events could occur in the United States. After all, there is no country on earth more familiar with nuclear power than the United States: its 104 commercial plants make it the world’s largest provider of nuclear power. Yet, for an industry with such well-documented risks albeit risks that have laid dormant for more than a decade nuclear energy has enjoyed a great deal of support from the Obama administration.
Guardian 24th March 2011 more >>
Germans move to exit the nuclear age. The transition was originally to take 25 years, but the government of Chancellor Angels Merkel has decided to accelerate the program.
IB Times 23rd March 2011 more >>