What's new in the nuclear industry? Here is a round up. Bear in mind that the reports mentioned below come from pro-environmental, anti-nuke critics who are generally dismissed as 'alarmist' by nuclear industry counter-critics and government monitors. In the latter's favour, some commenters on anti-nuke Web pages indulge in New World Order conspiracy theories. With that debate in mind, this is the latest on what the 'alarmists' are saying.
Among the alarmists is Professor Takeda Kunihiko of Chubu University, who declares (based on incredibly flimsy evidence) that Japan will be uninhabitable by March 2015. From Fukushima Diary:
Prof. Takeda Kunihiko from Chubu university roughly estimated anyone can no longer live in Japan after 3/31/2015. According to his explanation, the yearly dose will reach 5mSv/y (External dose and the slight internal dose) in 3 years and 4 months from January of 2012.
From a 29 May 2013 report, see below a picture of an inverted traffic cone and duct tape used to divert leaking materials at Fukushima Reactor 4. An ENE commented on the report: "I don't know how many times I have to tell TEPCO that foil tape is much better." Another commenter answered: "Foil tape is far too expensive. This is an economy operation."
Fukushima Reactor #4 patch job. Image Source: ENE Energy News.
Meanwhile, in California, they have been using masking tape, plastic bags and broomsticks to divert non-radioactive water leaks at Unit #3 of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The report below is from December of 2012. From an ABC report, picked up by ENE:
You can see a report about San Onofre's serious problems from the LA Times here.An inside source gave Team 10 a picture snapped inside the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) showing plastic bags, masking tape and broom sticks used to stem a massive leaky pipe. ... Records obtained by Team 10 show SONGS staff were concerned about “hundreds of corrosion notifications” and “degraded equipment” throughout the plant. Staff sent a letter to management saying SONGS “clearly has a serious corrosion problem” in pipes throughout the plant. Inside Sources [state:]
- “If that’s nuclear technology at work and that’s how we’re going to control leaks I think the public should know”
- Sources also pointed to what appears to be corrosion on the pipe as a sign of the power plant’s age
- They claim rust is rampant throughout SONGS — including what sources call a fire suppression pipe, which protects both units
- “We are dealing with unknown territory here which has never been explored before”
- Two inside sources called restarting SONGS “risky”
- “This is nuclear, this should be tip top”
- “Everything in that plant should be tip top, not bottom of the barrel”
In St. Louis, Missouri, a 200-acre landfill is on fire. The landfill contains World-War-II-era radioactive waste from nuclear weapons manufacturing. On 29 May 2013, KMOV Local News 4 St. Louis reported:
The Environmental Protection Agency says a March  aerial survey of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton has determined radioactive waste buried there does not pose a danger to the public.
The agency scheduled a 2 p.m. press conference to focus on the results taken from the March 8  survey.
A plane was used during the survey to identify surface areas that emit gamma radiation. The aircraft was a specially equipped plane that can detect radiation and dangerous chemicals and has been used at the inauguration and the Super Bowl.
The 200-acre landfill contains two areas where waste from World War II-era nuclear weapons manufacturing was buried in the 1970s.
But the survey “determined that radiologically-contaminated wastes buried there in the 1970s remain contained within secure, fenced areas of the Superfund site, and do not pose public health risks,” according to the report issued by the EPA.
The agency said it would hold a public meeting at Pattonville High School on June 25 to further discuss the survey’s results, as well as future plans for the West Lake Landfill. ...
But environmentalist group Missouri Coalition for the Environment responded with concern. According to spokesperson Ed Smith, the EPA only tested for one of three types of radiation.
"The concerns we have [are that] the alpha and beta radiation can attach to particles such as dirt and blow off site," he said.
The EPA responded by downplaying concerns.
In Canada, EnviroReporter sent off British Columbian milk samples to different labs for testing through 2012 and found Strontium 90, a bone-seeking, calcium-mimicking human-produced radionuclide which causes bone cancer and leukemia. Its half-life is 28.8 years. Pregnant women, infants and small children are particularly susceptible to it. You can see EnviroReporter's report and findings here, which include comments on the contamination of Californian produce and fallout in the Seattle area. EnviroReporter has sent off the Canadian authorities and asked them them to resume testing for radioactive particles such as Cesium 134, Cesium 137, Iodine 131 and Strontium 90.
Image Source: The Local.
In Germany, Hamburg narrowly escaped catastrophe on 1 May 2013, when a ship bearing tonnes of radioactive material caught fire. The ship's containers "were due for a uranium-enriching facility in Lingen, Lower Saxony, NDR 90.3 reported." The incident revealed that Hamburg receives shipments of hazardous materials up to seven times per month. Anjes Tjarks, Green spokesman told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the government had covered up the extent of the threat of this fire: "It is a monstrosity that the government did not inform the public about this near-catastrophe of its own initiative." The incident threatened the city as well as some 35,000 visitors, who were taking part in a special local church celebration.
"An intact barrel of radioactive waste found just kilometers off the French coastline by [German public broadcaster] SWR." Image Source: SWR via Der Spiegel (Hat tip: ENE).
In April 2013, German journalists discovered 28,500 barrels of nuclear waste on the floor of the English Channel, a few kilometres off the French coast. The barrels,which were jettisoned by the British and Belgians between 1950 and 1963, contain about "17,224 metric tons of low-level radioactive waste," according to this report from Der Spiegel on the discovery; and further information is given on the danger the waste poses:
The barrels are sitting at a depth of 124 metres (406 feet), are badly corroded, and carry a "high potential for danger.""The British barrels are estimated to have contained 58 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity), while the Belgian barrels held some 2.4 trillion bequerels. By way of comparison, the European Union's limit for drinking water is 10 becquerels per liter. "We think that there are still many more undamaged barrels below," SWR journalist Thomas Reutter told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding that it was very unlikely that the broadcaster's expedition uncovered the only intact containers in existence.
Heysham One, Lancashire, built from 1970 to 1983, when it commenced operations. The second reactor, above, was built concurrently and commenced operations in 1984.
In the United Kingdom on 2 May 2013, smoke was spotted coming out of Heysham One's second nuclear reactor in Lancashire. This was called an "unplanned outage," caused by" smouldering lagging on a turbine." BBC's terse pointers after the incident did not reveal its seriousness:
EDF, which operates the reactor, said it was shut down as a precaution. Ian Stewart, station director, said: "Although this is a very minor incident we will be looking into the cause and ensuring that we learn any lessons." EDF said the smoke was dealt with using a dry powder extinguisher. Lancashire Fire Service attended but was not needed.Reports played down the accident as a "small fire," but photographs suggest that the fire was fairly large.
Hartlepool power station is hit by a fire. Image Source: Andrew Duffell/TMG/PA via the Guardian.
ITV News carried a statement from firefighters: “There is smoke billowing as a result of the fire, but it is currently heading in a direction that does not cause any implications for members of the public.” The Guardian contradicts the BBC report, suggesting that the whole corps of emergency services were required to put out the blaze:
A fire at a nuclear power plant triggered a major response by emergency services after smoke was seen billowing into the air. Police and fire crews were called to Hartlepool power station at about 6.30pm on Saturday after a blaze broke out while a turbine was being reactivated. The fire caused smoke to billow from the plant but Cleveland police said it was drifting away from nearby homes. Firefighters extinguished the blaze but remained on site as a precaution. No one was injured.
"Workers removing debris of collapsed building structures at Chernobyl NPP's Reactor Unit 4. By February 19, [2013,] large fragments had been removed from the site, the station’s press service reported; work was under way to gather smaller parts." Image Source: www.chnpp.gov.ua via Bellona.
In February 2013, part of Chernobyl's roof (and then part of its wall) collapsed in the Ukraine, leaving the interior open to the elements:
“As soon as the weather permits, we will cover the equipment under the caved-in parts of the roof with special resin,” Mikhail Gashev, Ukraine’s chief inspector of nuclear and radiation safety, told reporters. ... About 600 square meters [6,500 square feet] of the roof at Chernobyl ... collapsed in mid-February. Authorities said at the time that the collapse posed no threat to human health.
Officials in Ukraine were rushing to reassure the public that radiation levels remained unaffected after the 6,500 square foot section of roof over the turbine hall at the fourth power block collapsed under heavy snowfall. French construction firms Vinci and Bouygues they had evacuated around 80 employees as a precaution.The two companies are working on constructing the sarcophagus structure covering the reactor that exploded in 1986. The structure is in place to contain radiation emanating from the exploded reactor."Everybody should be absolutely calm," a Chernobyl spokesman said. "Yes, it is unpleasant, but there is no danger."
Chernobyl's caved-in roof, February 2013. You can see an in-depth analysis of the incident at Bellona, which blames factors other than snowfall and comments on the implications for Russia's ageing reactors.
On 23 May 2013, Islamist terrorists attacked a uranium mining operation in Niger. You can see a list of the international companies involved in Niger's uranium mining here - a glance shows the enterprise is a honeypot. Recession? What recession? Imperialism is alive and well. The struggle for world power continues over the ever-pressing question of energy, be it based on hydrocarbons or nuclear-derived. And this is not 'western' imperialism. It is 'global.' On 3 May 2007, Africast reported that uranium production was projected to triple in the next few years:
Niger communication minister and government spokesman Mohamed Ben Omar has said his country plans to raise its annual uranium production from 3,500 to 10,500 tonnes a year in the next few years. Speaking at a news conference, Omar said French group Areva will remain Niger's strategic partner in uranium exploitation. Reacting to statements by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the health and environmental consequences of uranium exploitation in northern Niger, he said Areva plans to invest about 540 billion francs CFA [US$ 1.1 billion] in the well-being of people living in the affected area.
On 5 March 2013, Dawit Giorgis reported for CNN on 'Why We Should Be Watching the Gulf of Guinea,' one of the world's main 'energy chokepoints,' along with the Strait of Hormuz. This report was picked up by the Foundation for Defense of Democracy. In the Gulf of Guinea, oil is coming out of offshore drilling operations, even as weapons are coming in for Islamist groups who are fighting international energy (gas, oil and nuclear) land-based operations further to the north and west:
The strategic importance of West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea – the stretch of coastline spanning from Gabon to Liberia that includes 15 states which have huge economic importance to the United States and the West – is hard to overstate. For one, the U.S. is expected to import a quarter of its oil from the Gulf of Guinea nations by 2015. Indeed, 70 percent of Africa’s oil production comes from the Gulf of Guinea. And with the recent discovery of offshore hydrocarbon deposits, these numbers are only going to rise. ...
The Gulf of Guinea is now a key route for arms and drug smuggling to Northern and Western Africa. There have been reports that terrorist groups like Boko Haram of Nigeria, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al Shabab of Somalia, and elements of the Iranian regime have used this area for arms trafficking. It should therefore come as little surprise that one of the primary projects of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is troop training in the Gulf of Guinea.
WWI ordinance discovered during a drainage operation at Tihange nuclear plant in Belgium, February 2013. Image Source: Sudinfo.be.
On 27 February 2013, an emergency response was needed when an unexploded World War I shell was found on the grounds of the Tihange nuclear power plant in Belgium. Also, in Belgium, anomalies were found which can cause cracks in reactor vessels at Doel 3 reactor. If confirmed, this problem with anomalies would also affect Tihange.
And finally, a number of workers have died at nuclear plants in the past six months: at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu in India (see here); in France, two workers died and one was injured at Cattenom nuclear plant in the eastern French town of Moselle; one worker died at Brunswick Nuclear Plant, North Carolina; another died from what sounds like a heart attack at the Cook Nuclear Station in Missouri, and bones which were possibly human were found in the plant's water intake system about a week later; another worker died on 19 February 2013 at the Perry Nuclear Generating Station near Cleveland, a plant known for its safety violations (see a local ABC report below, which aired the same day the worker died).
Report on safety violations at Perry nuclear plant near Cleveland. Video Source: ABC via ENE.
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