June 2011


I hesitate to circulate this article. It is written by long time human rights and antinuclear activist Harvey Wasserman.  Its discussion of the Japanese situation seems a little over the top. The rumor that one or more of the reactor cores has totally escaped its reactor vessel and is melting through the containment pad has been circulating for at least a month. There is no way to observe this unless TEPCO has a little robot that we do not know about. Because I doubt that a human could get close enough. In addition there is no way to confirm that it is happening independently. Am I being cautious? Can you say, “wadzilla”?

Oh and according to the Peak Oil people where I found this article, they would say that Harvey is predicting Peak Uranium. Henry’s citation also implies that it was cowritten for Solartopia so I have included their website here as well.

http://www.solartopia.org/

It also would have been nice if he would have cited Gil Scott Heron for the “Almost Lost Detroit” reference since Gil recently passed on.

http://peakoil.com/enviroment/fukushima-spews-los-alamos-burns-vermont-rages-and-we%E2%80%99ve-almost-lost-nebraska/

Fukushima spews, Los Alamos burns, Vermont rages and we’ve almost lost Nebraska

Fukushima spews, Los Alamos burns, Vermont rages and we’ve almost lost Nebraska thumbnail

Humankind is now threatened by the simultaneous implosion, explosion, incineration, courtroom contempt and drowning of its most lethal industry. The nuclear one.

We know only two things for certain: worse nuclear disasters are yet to come, and those in charge are lying about it—at least to the extent of sharing what they actually know, which is nowhere near enough. Indeed, assurances from the nuclear power industry continue to flow like the flood waters now swamping the Missouri Valley heartland.

But major breakthroughs against nuclear power have come from a Pennsylvania Senator and New York’s governor on issues of evacuation and shut-down in the event of nuclear disaster. And a public campaign for an end to loan guarantees to nuclear energy companies could put an end to the US nuclear industry once and for all.

On Fukushima

The bad news on nuclear disaster continues to bleed from Japan with no end in sight. Sadly the “light at the end of the tunnel” is an out-of-control radioactive freight train, headed to the core of an endangered planet. Widespread internal radioactive contamination among Japanese citizens around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has now been confirmed. Two whales caught some 650 kilometers from the melting reactors have shown intense radiation. And plutonium, the deadliest substance known to people, has been found dangerously far from the site.

Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government have admitted to three total meltdowns at the nuclear plant but can’t confirm with any reliability the current state of those cores. There’s reason to believe one or more have progressed to “melt-throughs” in which they burn through the thick stainless steel pressure vessel and onto the containment floor. The molten cores may be covered with water. But whether they can melt further through the containments and into the ground remains unclear.

Possibilities may include a China Syndrome style escalating nuclear disaster in which one or more still-molten cores does melt through the containment and hits ground water. That could lead to a steam explosion that could blow still larger clouds of radioactive steam, water and debris into the atmosphere and ocean.

At least three nuclear explosions have already occurred, one of which may have involved criticality.

There’s no doubt at least two containments were breached very early in the crisis. Unit Four is cracked and sinking. The status of its used radioactive fuel pool, which has clearly caught fire, is uncertain.

Fukushima plus

Also unclear is the ability of the owners to sustain the stability of Units Five and Six, which were shut when the quake and tsunami hit. That stability depends on continued power to run fuel rod cooling systems, which could disappear amidst seismic aftershocks many believe are inevitable. A very substantial quake hit after the tremors that led to Indonesia’s devastating tsunami, and few doubt it could happen again—soon—at Fukushima.

All the above is dependent on reports controlled primarily by Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government. There’s every reason to believe the situation is worse than it seems, and that those in charge don’t really know the full of the extent of the damage or how to cope with it.

Just five years ago a quake shut seven nuclear reactors at Kashiwazaki. The entire nation of Japan sits on a wide range of fault lines. Tsunami is a Japanese word. But nuclear disaster doesn’t belong to them alone.

Radiation from Fukushima has long since been detected throughout the northern hemisphere, with health effects that will be debated forever.

Some fifty reactors still operate in Japan. According to some, the Japanese public has the legal right to shut them all. Let us pray they do. Yesterday.

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I would have ended it with just “let us pray”. More tomorrow.

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The Finns found this out real quick when they started their new Nuke 5 years ago costs estimates were 4 billion $$$. Right now they are at 7 billion $$$ and the meter is still turning. Even with 8 billion $$$ of backing for the two new reactors at the Vogle site Georgia Power could get no money in the private sector so they are “self financing”. Anybody want to buy a cheap power company someday? But this was the wind blowing through the trees in 2003 (and you should see the 2009 update for a good laugh) when we had a President that couldn’t even pronounce the word nuclear right.

http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

Introduction

An interdisciplinary MIT faculty group decided to study the future of nuclear power because of a belief that this technology is an important option for the United States and the world to meet future energy needs without emitting carbon dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants. Other options include increased efficiency, renewables, and carbon sequestration, and all may be needed for a successful greenhouse gas management strategy. This study, addressed to government, industry, and academic leaders, discusses the interrelated technical, economic, environmental, and political challenges facing a significant increase in global nuclear power utilization over the next half century and what might be done to overcome those challenges.

This study was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and by MIT’s Office of the Provost and Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

News Release

MIT RELEASES INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDY ON “THE FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY”

Professors John Deutch and Ernest Moniz Chaired Effort to Identify Barriers and Solutions for Nuclear Option in Reducing Greenhouse Gases

July 29, 2003

Washington, D.C. — A distinguished team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard released today what co-chair Dr. John Deutch calls “the most comprehensive, interdisciplinary study ever conducted on the future of nuclear energy.”

The report maintains that “The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power.”

“Fossil fuel-based electricity is projected to account for more than 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020,” said Deutch. “In the U.S. 90% of the carbon emissions from electricity generation come from coal-fired generation, even though this accounts for only 52% of the electricity produced. Taking nuclear power off the table as a viable alternative will prevent the global community from achieving long-term gains in the control of carbon dioxide emissions.”

But the prospects for nuclear energy as an option are limited, the report finds, by four unresolved problems: high relative costs; perceived adverse safety, environmental, and health effects; potential security risks stemming from proliferation; and unresolved challenges in long-term management of nuclear wastes.

The study examines a growth scenario where the present deployment of 360 GWe of nuclear capacity worldwide is expanded to 1000 GWe in mid-century, keeping nuclear’s share of the electricity market about constant. Deployment in the U.S. would expand from about 100 GWe today to 300 GWe in mid-century. This scenario is not a prediction, but rather a study case in which nuclear power would make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

“There is no question that the up-front costs associated with making nuclear power competitive, are higher than those associated with fossil fuels,” said Dr. Moniz. “But as our study shows, there are many ways to mitigate these costs and, over time, the societal and environmental price of carbon emissions could dramatically improve the competitiveness of nuclear power”

The study offers a number of recommendations for making the nuclear energy option viable, including:

  • Placing increased emphasis on the once-through fuel cycle as best meeting the criteria of low costs and proliferation resistance;
  • Offering a limited production tax-credit to ‘first movers’ – private sector investors who successfully build new nuclear plants. This tax credit is extendable to other carbon-free electricity technologies and is not paid unless the plant operates;
  • Having government more fully develop the capabilities to analyze life-cycle health and safety impacts of fuel cycle facilities;
  • Advancing a U.S. Department of Energy balanced long-term waste management R&D program.
  • Urging DOE to establish a Nuclear System Modeling project that would collect the engineering data and perform the analysis necessary to evaluate alternative reactor concepts and fuel cycles using the criteria of cost, safety, waste, and proliferation resistance. Expensive development projects should be delayed pending the outcome of this multi-year effort.
  • Giving countries that forego proliferation- risky enrichment and reprocessing activities a preferred position to receive nuclear fuel and waste management services from nations that operate the entire fuel cycle.

The authors of the study emphasized that nuclear power is not the only non-carbon option and stated that they believe it should be pursued as a long term option along with other options such as the use of renewable energy sources, increased efficiency, and carbon sequestration..

The members of the study team are: John Deutch (co-chair), Ernest Moniz (co-chair), S. Ansolabehere, Michael Driscoll, Paul Gray, John Holdren (Harvard), Paul Joskow, Richard Lester, and Neil Todreas.

Members of the Advisory Committee included: former U.S. Congressman Phil Sharp (chair), former White House Chiefs of Staff John Podesta and John Sununu, John Ahearne, Tom Cochran, Linn Draper, Ted Greenwood, John MacWilliams, Jessica Mathews, Zack Pate, and Mason Willrich.

This study was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and by MIT’s Office of the Provost and Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

CONTACTS: David Dreyer / Eric London
PHONE: 202-986-0033

Related Links

MIT ENERGY INITIATIVE (MITei)

DEPARTMENT OF NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING (NSE)

CENTER FOR ADVANCED NUCLEAR ENERGY SYSTEMS (CANES)

CENTER FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY RESEARCH (CEEPR)

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Really amazing stuff. More tomorrow.

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When are we going to admit that we are sitting on a time bomb. Nuclear power was always a dumb idea…though pushed in part by rocket scientists…and now it is a plague. How else do you explain my waking up to these 2 headlines on the same day?

http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFN1E75R19920110628

New Mexico aims to protect US nuclear lab from fire

Tue Jun 28, 2011 6:00pm GMT

Nuclear weapons lab closes due to fire danger

* Fire has potential to double or triple in size

By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, N.M., June 28 (Reuters) – New Mexico officials raced on Tuesday to bring in more fire crews and equipment including radiation monitors as an out-of-control wildfire raged near the preeminent U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory.

Firefighters managed to keep flames off Los Alamos National Laboratory property throughout the night on Monday as the blaze continued to grow, reaching 60,741 acres (24,580 hectares), said Lawrence Lujan, a spokesman for the Santa Fe National Forest.

The laboratory will remain closed on Tuesday and Wednesday due to fire danger, lab spokesman Kevin Roark told Reuters.

Fire officials said the so-called Las Conchas blaze had the potential to double or triple in size. Several towns are under mandatory evacuation, including the nearby city of Los Alamos, with a population of around 12,000.

Los Alamos National Laboratory was established at the end of World War II to house the top secret Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb. It still serves as home to the nation’s largest nuclear weapons cache.

Situated on a hilltop, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Santa Fe, lab property covers 36 square miles (38 square km). Today the lab employees nearly 12,000 people in a range of research and development areas.   Continued…

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Please read more but it will scare you to death how close to an actual disaster we came. Is this one in the making?

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90052753?Missouri%20River%20flood%20water%20threatens%20Nebraska%20nuclear%20power%20plants

Missouri River flood water threatens Nebraska nuclear power plants

Because of residents’ worry of a nuclear disaster, rumors about the true conditions of the two plants circulate in the state.

The rising Missouri River flood water continues to threaten the two power plants in Nebraska. To assess the situation, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko visited the Fort Calhoun plant on Monday morning.

clearpxl

The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, located 20 miles north of Omaha, is one of the two nuclear plants in the state being monitored by the NRC because of the threats of inundation from the Missouri River.

The Fort Calhoun plant has been closed since April for refueling. Its parking lot is flooded, plant employees need to walk on a catwalk to reach the facility. An inflatable water-filled barrier that surrounds the plant was punctured by machinery on Sunday, but the plant operators assured residents that key areas of the facility are not in danger of submersion.

However, plant employees briefly switched to diesel backup generators to keep the nuclear fuel at the site cool because the flood water got too close to electrical transformers.

The other plant, Cooper Nuclear Station, is on higher ground and continues to operate. However, reports said the station is close to shutting down because flood water had reached critical levels.

Because of residents’ worry of a nuclear disaster, rumors about the true conditions of the two plants circulate in the state.

The rumors include an alleged two-mile radius no-fly zone declared by the Federal Aviation Administration on the air space around Fort Calhoun because of a radiation leak and the declaration of a Level 4 emergency at the facility.

The plant operators denied the reports.

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Did I mention that there now appears to be water leaking into the basement of the facility. More tomorrow if we are still alive.

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I have no comment here really. I do not think it is a dangerous situation but is the siting prudent? Probably not.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/26/national/main20074500.shtml

Flood berm collapses at Neb. nuclear plant

June 26, 2011 3:15 PM

AP)

OMAHA, Neb. — A berm holding the flooded Missouri River back from a Nebraska nuclear power station collapsed early Sunday, but federal regulators said they were monitoring the situation and there was no danger.

The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station shut down in early April for refueling, and there is no water inside the plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Also, the river is not expected to rise higher than the level the plant was designed to handle. NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said the plant remains safe.

The federal commission had inspectors at the plant 20 miles north of Omaha when the 2,000-foot berm collapsed about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Water surrounded the auxiliary and containment buildings at the plant, it said in a statement.

The Omaha Public Power District has said the complex will not be reactivated until the flooding subsides. Its spokesman, Jeff Hanson, said the berm wasn’t critical to protecting the plant but a crew will look at whether it can be patched.

“That was an additional layer of protection we put in,” Hanson said.

In fight against floodwater, sand running out
Nuke plant averts shutdown from swelled Missouri

The berm’s collapse didn’t affect the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling, but the power supply was cut after water surrounded the main electrical transformers, the NRC said. Emergency generators powered the plant Sunday while workers tried to restore power.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko will tour the plant Monday. His visit was scheduled last week. On Sunday, he was touring Nebraska’s other nuclear power plant, which sits along the Missouri River near Brownville.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/26/national/main20074500.shtml#ixzz1QUTKOAKB

 

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More tomorrow

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Come on. This is the response to the fact that the world is on a new nuclear brink. My mother could do better than this.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/06/24/austria.nuclear.japan/

IAEA chief: Meeting paved way for nuclear safety framework

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 24, 2011 9:59 a.m. EDT

(CNN) — The top U.N. nuclear official said a conference on nuclear safety this week “achieved its main goal,” paving the way “for an enhanced post-Fukushima global nuclear safety framework.”

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told attendees of the IAEA’s Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety on Friday that its work will help strengthen “nuclear safety, emergency preparedness, and radiation protection of people and the environment worldwide.”

The officials at the meeting discussed nuclear safety in the aftermath of the disaster in Japan three months ago.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered meltdowns after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan. The tsunami swamped the plant and knocked out cooling systems that kept the three operating reactors from overheating, leading to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Amano said the Ministerial Declaration forged at the conference “outlines a number of measures to improve nuclear safety” and underscores the commitment to make sure they are implemented.

“Collectively, our Member States have expressed their sense of urgency, as well as their determination that the lessons of Fukushima Daiichi will be learned and that the appropriate action will be taken,” Amano said.

“This is not about process — it is about results. The Declaration agreed here this week must be translated into action — and it will be. This will require hard work from all Member States, and from the IAEA, in the years ahead,” Amano said.

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More next week.

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That is right. After one of the worst nuclear accidents in history, in its own backyard the Fukushima Power Plant Meltdown barely slowed the Chinese quest for megawatts. While Spain and other countries review their plants and Germany has renounced its programs altogether, the Chinese plunge ahead.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/15/china-nuclear-plants-pass-inspections

China’s nuclear power plants pass safety inspections

Regulators give country’s 13 reactors the all-clear following checks ordered in wake of Fukushima disaster

nuclear power 

The Daya Bay nuclear power station in Guangdong province, south China. Inspectors have given the country’s existing reactors the all-clear. Photograph: Adrian Bradshaw/EPA

China has moved a step closer towards resuming its ambitious nuclear power plans after it was revealed that safety inspectors have given the country’s 13 reactors the all-clear.

The clean bill of health makes it more likely that Beijing will not follow the example of other countries – most recently German, Italy and Japan – who have promised to scale back or abandon nuclear power in the wake of the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March.

China has the world’s biggest nuclear expansion plans with a goal of more than 100 reactors by 2020, but it suspended permits for new plants after the tsunami disaster in Japan.

The government said it would not be resumed until existing plants were checked, construction plans reviewed and a new national safety framework put in place.

That process is now well under way, according to a statement by the deputy environment minister, Li Ganjie, posted on a government website. As well as the completed checks for plants in operation, reviews of facilities under construction would be finished by October, he said.

Few analysts expect China to trim or delay targets that were included in the latest five-year economic plan to meet the power demands of a growing economy, while reducing the country’s reliance on greenhouse gas-emitting fuel sources.

But critical voices have grown louder. Professor He Zuoxiu, who helped to develop China’s first atomic bomb, caused a storm last month when he claimed that plans to ramp up production of nuclear energy twentyfold by 2030 could be as disastrous as the Great Leap Forward.

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More tomorrow.
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Literally. They are finding “hot particles” in places away from even the evacuation and controlled zones. This thing looks like it could get out of hand. I am convinced that it will stay a local event. And I am convinced that when people report that the entire Island could become uninhabitable they are mistranslating things Japanese Officials are saying. Still, something that I thought would be over by August or September is going to be around until next year.

http://www.naturalnews.com/032751_Fukushima_strontium.html

Fukushima: Strontium levels up to 240 times over legal limit near plant, uninhabitable land area now the size of 17 Manhattans

Sunday, June 19, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Representing the first time the substance has been detected at the crippled plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported on Sunday that seawater and groundwater samples taken near the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan have tested positive for radioactive strontium. And according to a recent report in The Japan Times, levels of strontium detected were up to 240 times over the legal limit, indicating a serious environmental and health threat.

Radioactive strontium, which is known to accumulate in bones and eventually lead to diseases like cancer and leukemia, is one of at least three “hot particles” being continually released by the damaged plant, according to experts. The others include radioactive cesium and plutonium, both of which are implicated in causing birth defects, cancer, and death.

“We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo,” said Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president with 39 years of nuclear engineering experience, to Al Jazeera. “Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters.”

TEPCO has allegedly installed a new water decontamination system that it claims will eventually help filter dangerous radioactive isotopes from polluted water, and thus limit environmental and human exposure to the poisons. But that system has already run into several problems as flow rates have been lower than intended.

“Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” added Gundersen. “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

Al Jazeera also reports that a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government recently explained that roughly 966 square kilometers (km), or 600 square miles, around Fukushima are now uninhabitable due to the unfolding disaster. This massive dead zone area is the equivalent size of 17 Manhattans placed next to each other.

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More bad nukes tomorrow. :}

Just when you thought there could be no more Chernobyls, this report caused the reindeer to stampede.

http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Russian+officials+numerous+shortcomings+at+nuclear+plants+near+Finland/1135267043718

Russian officials: numerous shortcomings at nuclear plants near Finland

Inspection report leaked to Norwegian newspaper

Inspections of Russian nuclear power plants have revealed serious shortcomings in the safety of the plants – particularly in the preparations for earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The difficulties emerge in a report by the Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom, which was acquired by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
The paper wrote on Sunday that many of the problems apply to Russian nuclear installations in general. However, the greatest risks are in old reactors located in areas near Finland and Norway – on the Kola Peninsula and the St. Petersburg region. 

In several countries, including Russia, nuclear power plants have undergone “stress tests” following the nuclear accident which occurred at the Japanese plant in Fukushima in March.
Keijo Valtonen, an official at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Finland (STUK), expects that the results of the inspections conducted in Russia will be available in Finland soon.

Russian officials: numerous shortcomings at nuclear plants near Finland
Russian officials: numerous shortcomings at nuclear plants near Finland
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In addition to the earthquake risk the Rosatom report warns of inadequate reserve cooling systems in Russian plants. Nuclear fuel storage facilities were also shown to be inadequate in some places, and there is a shortage of trained maintenance personnel and inspectors in Russia.
The report lists a total of 31 shortcomings.
According to Valtonen, judging from the deficiencies that were listed, the Russians have made an open assessment of the problems. Norwegian experts also feel that the assessments are reliable.

The report also mentions the Sosnovy Bor nuclear power plant near St. Petersburg, which has been a cause for concern in Finland for some time.
The Sosnovy Bor plant uses the same reactor technology as what was used in Chernobyl, where the world’s worst nuclear accident took place in 1986. A mitigating factor in the matter is that the area is not especially prone to earthquakes.
Nuclear safety has also been assessed in Finland, in the wake of Fukushima. According to Valtonen, the risk reports made at the national level are to be given over to international assessment. “If shortcomings are noticed, drawing conclusions is a matter for each individual country.”

Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish nuclear industry says Japan scenario unlikely in Finland (14.3.2011)
Steam leak brings Unit 1 of Loviisa Nuclear Power Plant to controlled shutdown (21.2.2011)
Finnish nuclear authority investigates problems in online reporting on Japan (15.3.2011)

See also:
People in Sosnovyi Bor discuss constructing new nuclear reactors (8.2.2007)

Links:
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Finland (STUK)

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Unfortunately more Tomorrow.

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Questions have been raised about the safety of Nuclear Power Plants around the world since the incident in Japan. I will get to Japan in a couple of days but first this just out from the AP. Turns out the US has some worries of its own. They have just been covered up.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=137291169

AP IMPACT: US Nuke Regulators Weaken Safety Rules

by The Associated Press

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. June 20, 2011, 03:38 am ET

Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the United States.

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.

Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered in the AP’s yearlong investigation. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident.

Yet despite the many problems linked to aging, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.

Industry and government officials defend their actions, and insist that no chances are being taken. But the AP investigation found that with billions of dollars and 19 percent of America’s electricity supply at stake, a cozy relationship prevails between the industry and its regulator, the NRC.

Records show a recurring pattern: Reactor parts or systems fall out of compliance with the rules. Studies are conducted by the industry and government, and all agree that existing standards are “unnecessarily conservative.”

Regulations are loosened, and the reactors are back in compliance.

“That’s what they say for everything, whether that’s the case or not,” said Demetrios Basdekas, an engineer retired from the NRC. “Every time you turn around, they say `We have all this built-in conservatism.'”

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dot dot dot

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Unprompted, several nuclear engineers and former regulators used nearly identical terminology to describe how industry and government research has frequently justified loosening safety standards to keep aging reactors within operating rules. They call the approach “sharpening the pencil” or “pencil engineering” — the fudging of calculations and assumptions to yield answers that enable plants with deteriorating conditions to remain in compliance.

“Many utilities are doing that sort of thing,” said engineer Richard T. Lahey Jr., who used to design nuclear safety systems for General Electric Co., which makes boiling water reactors. “I think we need nuclear power, but we can’t compromise on safety. I think the vulnerability is on these older plants.”

Added Paul Blanch, an engineer who left the industry over safety issues but later returned to work on solving them: “It’s a philosophical position that (federal regulators) take that’s driven by the industry and by the economics: What do we need to do to let those plants continue to operate? They somehow sharpen their pencil to either modify their interpretation of the regulations, or they modify their assumptions in the risk assessment.”

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Much more tomorrow

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A hidden premise of mine is that we will have an energy crash in the future and when that happens most electricity will be diverted from the residential market to municipal and national security needs. After that food production and other necessities. Still people have their own electrical generation capacity. Enough to charge batteries so there will be a lot of “light” vehicles around. I don’t think many Volt sized cars will be workable but heh compared to a horse, 40 or 50 miles an hour is not bad.

http://www.electric-bikes.com/

Welcome to Electric-Bikes.com

Practical transportation for errands and short commutes.

Electric bikes are part of a wide range of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) that provide convenient local transportation. Generally designed for one person and small cargo capacity, electric bike range, speed, and cost are moderate. For most of us, the majority of our trips are less than 10 miles – within the range of most e-bikes. Clean, quiet, and efficient LEVs offer the advantages of an extra car without the burdens.

To learn more about the range of electric bikes, kits and LEVs, visit our introduction page. Or, click on your favorite type of vehicle below.

Scooters E-Bicycles E-Trikes Conversion Kits Betterbikes™ Folding E-Bikes
Pedicabs Motorscooters Motorcycles Neighbr. EVs Commuter Cars TriTrack Street

 


The following organizations suppport changing the California Vehicle Code to simplify the rules, reduce barriers, and fairly treat LEVs as viable transportation alternatives.

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More next week.

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