Nuclear Power news

Brexit hot air causes climate problems

Climate News Network: The shock waves felt round the world at the UK’s decision in a referendum to leave the European Union will have unexpected consequences for some major projects linked to climate change. Plans for four giant nuclear reactors to be built in England by the French are almost certain to be scrapped because opposition among trade unions in France has hardened since last week’s vote. A second major project - a third runway at Heathrow, London’s busiest airport - was due to be given the go-ahead on...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Visible Pollution Leaking from NY Nuclear Plant

Free Thought Project: US Coast Gaurd officials have cordoned off a portion of Lake Ontario this week, after aerial spotters found a visible "sheen" that is coming from a nuclear power plant in upstate New York. The Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew first noticed the sheen on Sunday. Shortly after, a boat crew from the Oswego station tested the sheen and a "temporary safety zone" was put in place. The Free Thought Project spoke to the Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Command Center on Tuesday and confirmed that the zone was...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Risks, ethics and consent: Australia shouldn’t become world’s nuclear wasteland

Conversation: Last month the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission recommended that the state government develop a business venture to store a large fraction of the world’s high- and intermediate-level nuclear power station wastes in South Australia. It proposes to do this by first building an interim above-ground store, to be followed by permanent underground repository. But the commission’s recommendation is based on several debatable assumptions, including: an economic analysis that purports...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Does California shutdown mean the end of nuclear power? Not so fast

Christian Science Monitor: The debate around the closing of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., signals a broader conversation around power sources that could be crucial to the nation's energy future. When California’s largest electric utility announced last week that it would close the state’s last operational nuclear power plant, supporters were quick to call the moment a potential game changer for America’s energy future. The basic message, after all, is that officials in America’s...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

US, Canada and Mexico pledge 50% of power from clean energy by 2025

Reuters: Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau and Enrique Peña Nieto will commit to a new regional clean power goal at a summit this week in Ottawa, the White House has said. The leaders of the US, Canada and Mexico, meeting on Wednesday at the so-called “Three Amigos” summit, will pledge to have their countries produce 50% of their power by 2025 from hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear plants, carbon capture and storage, as well as from energy efficiency measures. “We believe this is an aggressive goal, but...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear waste is no match for ancient rock

A special type of clay found beneath Swiss soil could solve the dilemma of what to do with the thousands of cubic metres of waste that will remain after Switzerland’s five nuclear power plants shut down. If you join one of the subterranean tours at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory in St Ursanne, canton Jura, the first thing you will see as you make the 300-metre descent is a dark tunnel lined with seeping, moist rock. Go on a bit further, and suddenly the walls of the tunnel become bone dry. This marks the geological transition between limestone and Opalinus Clay – and for the Mont Terri Project (MTP) scientists, it’s as good as striking gold. Despite being hard to the touch, the dark grey material is classified as a clay mineral due to its geological composition, making it distinct from the soft, mouldable material we usually think of when we think of clay. It was formed in Switzerland 175 million years ago during the Jurassic period, when the land was covered by a ...
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

PG&E Will Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, Using Renewables Instead

Formule Poker: PG&E Will Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, Using Renewables Instead California's last nuclear power plant will close by 2025 under an accord announced this week, ending three decades of safety debates that helped fuel the national anti-nuclear power movement. - Located near Avila Beach along the central California coast. Under the accord, PG&E has agreed not to seek relicensing for the plant, which supplies 9 percent of the state's power. "Diablo Canyon is safe, secure and reliable", he...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to be shut down

GadgetSandTechnologh News: Closing the plant should be cheaper than operating the facility through 2044 as planned, meaning the utility probably won't have to increase rates, PG&E said. PG&E plans to retrain workers during the plant's decommissioning process and offer a severance package. The latest twist writes a beginning of the end of the nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon, whose development in the late 1970s and early 1980s inspired an award-winning motion picture, "The China Syndrome", and an entrenched collection of anti-nuclear...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Rosatom's global nuclear ambition cramped by Kremlin politics

PARIS/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The $100 billion overseas order book of Russia's nuclear power plant builder Rosatom -- bigger than all its Western competitors combined -- makes it look like the giant in its field.
Read more [Reuters]

Russia: Rosatom's global nuclear ambition cramped by Kremlin politics

Reuters: The $100 billion overseas order book of Russia's nuclear power plant builder Rosatom -- bigger than all its Western competitors combined -- makes it look like the giant in its field. But if the company -- formed in 2007 from the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry and tasked with turning nuclear power into a major export industry -- is ever to reach its potential as a global industrial giant, it will have to shed Russia's reputation for using energy policy as a means to political ends. Deal after...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

NSG snub may derail India’s bid to end its addiction to fossil fuel

Live Mint: NSG snub may derail India’s bid to end its addiction to fossil fuel The department of atomic energy’s ambitious target of generating 63 gigawatt of nuclear power by 2032 may fall short India's failure to get into the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) last week because of Chinese opposition could impede the country's plans to scale up power production from non-fossil fuel sources, say officials and analysts. New Delhi, which put in its application for NSG membership on 12 May, was thwarted...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Diablo Canyon’s green power challenge

Press Democrat: PG&E's decision to close Diablo Canyon by 2025 is likely to mark the end of the nuclear power era in California. For critics of atomic energy, Tuesday's announcement was long overdue and the reactors at the state's last operating nuclear power plant can't be shut down soon enough. Voluntarily decommissioning forestalls a political battle over relicensing the San Luis Obispo County power plant, and evidently it makes economic sense for PG&E. But closing the 31-year-old power plant also could...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear power fades in California as energy grid gets stressed

CNBC: California's stressed-out power grid was handed another blow this week, when the state's last operating electricity-generating nuclear power plant said it plans to go offline in less than a decade. PG&E, owner of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and a major provider of power for northern California, said Tuesday that it plans to shut down the facility when its current operating license expires in 2025, to meet the state's renewable energy policy goals. Though the plant has been in operation since...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Enviros: Diablo Canyon's closure a 'template' for other states

ClimateWire: Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s announcement yesterday that it would shutter California's last nuclear plant and replace the power with energy efficiency and renewable energy was the result of a confluence of progressive state policies, CEO Anthony Earley said. The closure of Diablo Canyon's two nuclear reactors on California's central coast in 2024 and 2025 will likely mean the end of nuclear power in the state, due to an existing state moratorium on new plants until the problem of radioactive waste...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Wave goodbye to California’s last nuclear plant

Grist: California`s biggest electric utility announced a plan on Tuesday to shut down the state`s last remaining nuclear power plant within the next decade. The plant, Diablo Canyon, has been controversial for decades and resurfaced in the news over the last few months as Pacific Gas & Electric approached a deadline to renew, or not, the plant`s operating license. "California`s new energy policies will significantly reduce the need for Diablo Canyon`s electricity output," PG&E said in a statement, pointing...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear new-build not fast enough to curb global warming: Report

Reuters: Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday. The association, which represents the global nuclear industry, says 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 so nuclear can supply around 25 percent of global electricity. Last year, more nuclear reactors were under construction and came online than at any other time in the past...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California is on the verge of closing its last nuclear plant. Is that really a good idea?

Vox: California’s half-century dalliance with atomic energy could soon be over. On Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced its proposal to close Diablo Canyon, the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, by 2025. This is just the latest in the utter decimation of America's nuclear fleet. Back in 2013, the United States had 104 reactors supplying one-fifth of its electricity. Since then, five reactors have been retired early and at least seven more are scheduled to close -- all victims of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Diablo Canyon to shut down when license expires in 2025

Tribune: In a momentous decision with far-reaching consequences, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has announced it will not pursue license renewal for the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and will close it in 2025 - ending a tumultuous 31-year relationship with the community and leading to an annual economic loss of about $1 billion locally. The closure is part of an agreement with labor and environmental organizations announced Tuesday in which the utility agrees to increase investment in...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nation losing a nuclear weapon against climate change

Bloomberg: Some environmentalists are thrilled over Tuesday’s announcement of the planned closing of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. They might want to reconsider: Fighting climate change requires more nuclear power, not less. That Diablo Canyon’s two reactors could be allowed to shut down is alarming evidence that too little effort is being made to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The electricity that the Diablo Canyon plant generates, which amounts to about 9 percent of California’s power,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear powers’ struggles continue as last California plant slated to close

CleanTech Canada: Rooftop solar panels and churning wind turbines are hastening the demise of U.S. nuclear power plants and the safety fears and high operating costs they bring. The latest example is California`s Diablo Canyon twin-reactor facility. California`s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal June 21 to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state. The move comes as the operators of the country`s aging nuclear facilities confront rising repair bills at a time when sources of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California's Last Nuclear Power Plant To Be Shut Down

National Public Radio: The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant will be shut down by 2025. The plan was announced today by the power utility operating the plant, along with labor and environmental groups. With its two nuclear reactors operating near several fault lines, safety is a big concern for those who have been calling for the plant's closure. "Right out there, we've got tons of highly radioactive waste, sitting," Linda Seeley tells Lauren Sommer of member station KQED, standing at the front security gate that...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear new-build not fast enough to curb global warming: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

California's Last Nuclear Plant to Close Up Shop

San Francisco Chronicle: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will announce Tuesday it will close California's last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, in 2025, ending atomic energy's more than a half-century history in the state. The move will shutter a plant whose construction on a seaside cliff surrounded by earthquake faults helped create the antinuclear movement. And yet, some conservationists have fought to keep Diablo open, arguing California needed its vast output of greenhouse gas-free electricity to fight global warming....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Deal will close California's last nuclear plant by 2025

Associated Press: Rooftop solar panels and churning wind turbines are hastening the demise of U.S. nuclear power plants and the safety fears and high operating costs they bring. The latest example is California's Diablo Canyon twin-reactor facility. California's largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state. The move comes as the operators of the country's aging nuclear facilities confront rising repair bills at a time when sources of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Could Close

New York Times: California, among the first states to embrace nuclear energy in the 1950s, may be breaking things off for good. Under a proposal announced on Tuesday, Pacific Gas and Electric would shutter the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the state’s last operating nuclear facility, and would compensate for the lost output with technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases, including renewable energy. The proposal, part of an agreement with environmental and labor groups, is intended to help meet California’s aggressive...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

UK government needs a nuclear plan B, says Tim Yeo

Guardian: Ministers need to talk to the Chinese about fast-tracking the planned reactor at Bradwell in Essex because the future of the £18bn Hinkley Point project is so uncertain, according to a leading pro-nuclear campaigner. Tim Yeo, a former chair of the energy and climate change committee, said the government should also consider whether the Russian state operator, Rosatom, or the British state could build new atomic plants. The Hinkley project in Somerset has been hit by a series of delays, with...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

It's the first new U.S. nuclear reactor in decades

Washington Post: In an immaculate control room at the Watts Bar nuclear plant, green bars flash on a large screen, signaling something that has not happened in the United States in two decades. As control rods lift from the water in the core, and neutrons go about the business of splitting uranium atoms, life comes to a new nuclear reactor -- the first in the country since its sister reactor here was licensed in 1996. By summer’s end, authorities expect the new reactor at this complex along the Chickamauga...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Energy Dept Plans Advanced Reactor Surge

Forbes: The Department of Energy quietly released a draft this month of a plan to double America’s nuclear power capacity, not only with the small modular reactors championed by Secretaries Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu, but also with advanced reactors that do not rely on water for cooling. DOE’s “Draft Vision and Strategy for the Development and Deployment of Advanced Reactors” seems to have escaped media attention until now. It calls for two advanced reactor concepts to be licensed and ready for construction...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Earth is in danger, but only we can save ourselves

I’ve been a captain for Greenpeace for 35 years, fighting for our environment in every corner of the globe. I’ve confronted polluters, poachers, smugglers, terrorists, criminals – both private and corporate – armies, navies, vigilantes and you-name-it. I’ve been arrested, jailed, had my ships chased, shot at, boarded and attacked, and had French commandos bomb and sink my ship under my feet – killing a crew-mate in the process.

On July 10, 1985 the Rainbow Warrior was bombed by the “action” branch of the French foreign intelligence services. The Greenpeace ship was in the port of Auckland, New Zealand on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa. Photographer Fernando Pereira drowned on the sinking ship.

Wherever I go, people ask me why I continue to take the risks that I take in defending the Earth. For me, the answer is simple: I care about what our planet will be like in the future. Not in the distant future, but the very-near-term-future in which my daughters Anita and Natasha (ages 24 and 20) will be living while raising their own children.

Many environmental activist organisations like Greenpeace, are very much involved in stopping human suffering caused by pollution, slavery, nuclear radiation, toxic waste and climate change. In more than 400,000 miles of sailing for Greenpeace, I have seen the human cost of environmental destruction in every corner of the planet.

The Arctic Sunrise, photographed above from a helicopter, moored to an ice floe by stakes hammered into the ice. Tiny figures can be seen working on the floe, drilling holes into the ice. The Arctic Sunrise is one of three Greenpeace ships seeking to bring attention to the effect of climate change and Save the Arctic.

In 1985, I brought the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll, in the Marshall Islands/South Pacific, to evacuate an entire town to another island because their home island had been poisoned by the fallout from a US thermonuclear/hydrogen bomb. The US knew the islanders were going to be in the fallout zone, and deliberately left them there as human guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation on real people.

For three decades these gentle people had suffered through birth defects, jelly-fish babies (born without spines or bones, and with strangely coloured skin), cancer and just plain-old neglect. Greenpeace brought them to a clean island where they could rebuild their lives. Now, 30 years later, these same islands are being drowned – literally – by rising seas.

An elderly Rongelapese villager being brought aboard the Rainbow Warrior. For nearly three decades the island had been intentionally subjected to US hydrogen bomb testing. Greenpeace helped to move the entire village to a new island so they could rebuild their lives and culture.

We think about saving endangered species like the snail darter, spotted owl, or the blue whale. But what about the endangered people of Rongelap? All the other low-lying atolls in the Pacific? The millions of people around the world whose lives will be destroyed if the sea levels rise just a little bit more. Coastal zones around the world have three-times the population density compared to the rest, and almost one-quarter of the world’s population in these near-coastal zones. That’s more than a billion human beings.

These people are just as endangered in the same way birds and fish are. We are destroying their natural habitat and it’s our natural habitat too. We don’t live in a bubble that is separate from the environment (although if we keep fouling our air and water, things might come to that). We are destroying and using up our environment and we are, and will continue to be, affected by it. Most animal species avoid fouling their own nests. It’s a primal instinct. But somehow humankind – supposedly the smartest of all Earth’s species – has lost that instinct. We are destroying our own habitat.

A young girl in the fishing village Te O Ni Beeki on Tarawa Island, Kiribati. The Pacific island nation is considered one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world, with their livelihood and survival challenged from the threats of climate change and overfishing.

Another human cost of environmental destruction is slavery. In the Amazon, thousands of slaves are being forced to deforest their own land for illegal grazing and logging. The pesticides used for farming on the cleared land flow into the rivers that are used for drinking and bathing for hundreds of miles downstream. Another instance of the human toll I’ve seen is Liberian stowaways hiding in shipments of illegally logged old-growth African forest, and heard eyewitness accounts of similar refugees who jumped off the ships with their hands tied behind their backs, committing suicide rather than be returned to the forced labor lumber camps.

The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. But the Brazilian government currently plan to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life. 

In the Philippines, I witnessed the suffering of hundreds of families being poisoned by the PCB’s, dioxins, heavy metals, solvents and waste oil that the US military had left behind on their old bases. One beautiful little six-year-old girl in Manila, Crizel Valencia, had terminal leukemia caused by the toxic materials. This creative and determined girl had painted many of the graphics that we used in the campaign to get the US military to acknowledge their responsibility and clean up the mess. (Sadly, this still has not happened). During her tour of the second Rainbow Warrior (the first was the ship blown up by the French government), Crizel died in the ship’s infirmary, and I saw her mother carrying her off the ship in tears. Seeing that strengthened our resolve to carry on fighting for our environment.

Crizel Valencia on wheel of a Greenpeace inflatable boat, living out her wish to be on the Rainbow Warrior. To her left is Greenpeace Captain, Peter Willcox.

An analogy I like to use about our planet is that we’re all on one boat, and with more than 7 billion people on it, it’s actually a pretty small boat. As we drill holes into the bottom of the boat we’re all living on, the water is rising. And yet we keep on drilling holes, faster and faster, ignoring the fact that the water is lapping at our knees. How much longer can we continue to ignore that what we are doing to our planet is affecting us all? Saving the whales, the forests and the atmosphere is great, no question. One of the main reasons that environmentalists and activists do what they do is that we are trying to save us from ourselves.

When boats are in mortal danger, they send out an S.O.S. call. Our ship, Planet Earth, and the passengers on it are in mortal danger so I’m sending out a different S.O.S. signal: “Save Our Selves.” Only we can rescue us from ourselves so I hope we get the message.

Peter Willcox is the author of Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet with Ronald B. Weiss, published by Thomas Dunne Books. He has been a captain for Greenpeace for more than 30 years and has led the most compelling and dangerous Greenpeace actions to bring international attention to the destruction of our environment.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Anomalies and suspected falsifications in the nuclear industry: a dozen countries affected

//

if(location.pathname == "/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/anomalies-and-suspected-falsifications-Areva-nuclear-energy/blog/56773/") { location.href = "/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/anomalies-and-suspected-falsifications-Areva-nuclear-energy/blog/56778/"; }

// ]]>

On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies “inconsistencies”, pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions “omissions or modifications” related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports.

What was found

At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process.  

However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety.

How were the irregularities discovered?

Questions over quality control were first raised after irregularities were found in late 2014 in the EPR vessel in Flamanville following an ASN request. Finding Areva’s audit of parts manufactured since 2010 too limited and superficial, the ASN requested a more detailed assessment going back to 2004, when the first EPR parts were made. Areva, which has owned the Creusot site since 2006, decided to review reports on all parts made since the plant began operating in 1965.

Trust in quality control: broken

Fraud at this level, if it is proven, deeply challenges this entire system and our trust in how safe it is. It is therefore all the more shocking to hear the French minister in charge of nuclear safety downplay the initial findings the same way EDF and Areva have.

For example, on 4 May, France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal affirmed on RTL radio:

“I reviewed the matter this morning before coming here and can safely say that initial results are good: the parts are compatible – it is the documents which are defective”.

EDF, in turn, stated that “safety was not compromised”, but did not produce any new evidence. Its analysis seems to be based on additional data provided by Areva. In view of the concerns regarding the technical quality and the sincerity of Areva’s documents, this move can by no means be regarded as sufficient.

These declarations seem premature, to say the least. When errors are mistakenly or intentionally included in manufacturing documents, the true quality of the components cannot be known with certainty without verification or new tests. Like those under way for the upper and lower heads of the EPR vessel, these tests will be long and complex. It is currently impossible to predict acceptable results. The ASN itself has said that “the proof provided so far is insufficient to arrive at that conclusion.”

Parts in service: at least a dozen countries potentially affected

In over 200 reports on the most safety-sensitive equipment in nuclear reactors, around 60 parts are thought to be currently in service in 19 operating reactors at nuclear plants across France. All of EDF’s reactors, as well as other large components in other nuclear facilities, may be affected by parts produced at Creusot Forge.

In Europe, potential problems were confirmed in at least three countries:

• United Kingdom: ONR, Britain’s regulator confirmed in a communiqué dated May13th that the Sizewell B reactor is equipped with potentially affected parts from the Creusot site and stated it was waiting until May 31st for detailed information from Areva confirming whether the parts were in fact affected. The reactor vessel, and the replacement vessel closure lid, may be affected.

• Sweden: Similarly, Vattenfal, which operates the country’s Ringhals station, said on May 18th that two components used in the Ringhals 4 reactor may be affected. Steam generators in reactors 3 and 4 have been replaced with Creusot-made parts.

• Switzerland: vessels in the Beznau 1 and 2 reactors as well as replacement steam generators were supplied by Creusot. While there has been no official confirmation, Swiss media [FR] covered an ASN report suggesting that parts from Creusot may need more extensive testing.

Stations operating in other European countries which may also be affected include:

• Belgium: Tihange and Doel use replacement steam generators, vessel closure lid and pressuriser supplied by Creusot.

• Spain: Replacement steam generators used at Asco and Almaraz.

• Slovenia: Replacement steam generators used at Krsko.

Elsewhere, potentially affected parts are used in operational reactors on three continents:

• United States: various reactors use potentially affected vessel components (Prairie Island 1 and 2), replacement lids (North Anna, Surry, Three Mile Island, Crystal River 3, Arkansas, Turkey Point, Salem, Saint Lucie, D.C. Cook...), steam generators (Prairie Island 1, Callaway, Arkansas, Salem, Saint Lucie, Three Mile Island) and pressurisers (Saint Lucie, Milestone).

• Brazil: Angra II uses replacement steam generators.

• China: equipment in the Guangdong 1 and 2, Ling Ao 1 and 2 and Ling Ao 3 and 4 reactors, as well as replacement reactor lids at the Qinshan station.

• South Korea: parts in the Ulchin 1 and 2 reactors.

• South Africa: parts in the Koeberg 1 and 2 reactors.

We need transparency now

To ensure complete transparency, Greenpeace France asks that this list of parts, along with detailed information about incriminated documents and the nature of the irregularities, omissions or modifications noted for each part, be made public

The little information available is not enough to measure the extent and gravity of the matter. The ASN have asked Areva to provide it with a list of the parts concerned. Greenpeace France believes more should be done.

In addition to the audit, systematic re-assessments of parts are needed

When an error or forgery in a document renders compliance uncertain, only a technical review of the concerned parts can clear up any doubt.

Greenpeace asks that once the list of concerned facilities is published, their operations be halted immediately so that an initial inspection can identify necessary tests and additional proof to be provided in order to clear up any doubt regarding the quality of all incriminated parts.

Reactors under construction: the uncertainty of EPR

The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first “serious anomalies” identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock).

This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages).

Above all, it demonstrates Areva’s inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.

Clément Sénéchal is the social media manager of Greenpeace France




Read more [Greenpeace international]

Anomalies and suspected falsifications in the nuclear industry: a dozen countries affected

On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of "irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant." The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies "inconsistencies", pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions "omissions or modifications" related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports.

What was found

At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process. However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety.

How were the irregularities discovered?

Questions over quality control were first raised after irregularities were found in late 2014 in the EPR vessel in Flamanville following an ASN request. Finding Areva's audit of parts manufactured since 2010 too limited and superficial, the ASN requested a more detailed assessment going back to 2004, when the first EPR parts were made. Areva, which has owned the Creusot site since 2006, decided to review reports on all parts made since the plant began operating in 1965.

Trust in quality control: broken

Fraud at this level, if it is proven, deeply challenges this entire system and our trust in how safe it is. It is therefore all the more shocking to hear the French minister in charge of nuclear safety downplay the initial findings the same way EDF and Areva have.

For example, on 4 May, France's environment minister Ségolène Royal affirmed on RTL radio:

"I reviewed the matter this morning before coming here and can safely say that initial results are good: the parts are compatible – it is the documents which are defective".

EDF, in turn, stated that "safety was not compromised", but did not produce any new evidence. Its analysis seems to be based on additional data provided by Areva. In view of the concerns regarding the technical quality and the sincerity of Areva's documents, this move can by no means be regarded as sufficient.

These declarations seem premature, to say the least. When errors are mistakenly or intentionally included in manufacturing documents, the true quality of the components cannot be known with certainty without verification or new tests. Like those under way for the upper and lower heads of the EPR vessel, these tests will be long and complex. It is currently impossible to predict acceptable results. The ASN itself has said that "the proof provided so far is insufficient to arrive at that conclusion."

Parts in service: at least a dozen countries potentially affected

In over 200 reports on the most safety-sensitive equipment in nuclear reactors, around 60 parts are thought to be currently in service in 19 operating reactors at nuclear plants across France. All of EDF's reactors, as well as other large components in other nuclear facilities, may be affected by parts produced at Creusot Forge.

In Europe, potential problems were confirmed in at least three countries:

• United Kingdom: ONR, Britain's regulator confirmed in a communiqué dated May 13th that the Sizewell B reactor is equipped with potentially affected parts from the Creusot site and stated it was waiting until May 31st for detailed information from Areva confirming whether the parts were in fact affected. The reactor vessel, and the replacement vessel closure lid, may be affected.

• Sweden: Similarly, Vattenfal, which operates the country's Ringhals station, said on May 18th that two components used in the Ringhals 4 reactor may be affected. Steam generators in reactors 3 and 4 have been replaced with Creusot-made parts.

• Switzerland: Vessels in the Beznau 1 and 2 reactors as well as replacement steam generators were supplied by Creusot. While there has been no official confirmation, Swiss media [FR] covered an ASN report suggesting that parts from Creusot may need more extensive testing.

Stations operating in other European countries which may also be affected include:

• Belgium: Tihange and Doel use replacement steam generators, vessel closure lid and pressuriser supplied by Creusot.

• Spain: Replacement steam generators used at Asco and Almaraz.

• Slovenia: Replacement steam generators used at Krsko.

Elsewhere, potentially affected parts are used in operational reactors on three continents:

• United States: Various reactors use potentially affected vessel components (Prairie Island 1 and 2), replacement lids (North Anna, Surry, Three Mile Island, Crystal River 3, Arkansas, Turkey Point, Salem, Saint Lucie, D.C. Cook...), steam generators (Prairie Island 1, Callaway, Arkansas, Salem, Saint Lucie, Three Mile Island) and pressurisers (Saint Lucie, Milestone).

• Brazil: Angra II uses replacement steam generators.

• China: Equipment in the Guangdong 1 and 2, Ling Ao 1 and 2 and Ling Ao 3 and 4 reactors, as well as replacement reactor lids at the Qinshan station.

• South Korea: Parts in the Ulchin 1 and 2 reactors.

• South Africa: Parts in the Koeberg 1 and 2 reactors.

We need transparency now

To ensure complete transparency, Greenpeace France asks that this list of parts, along with detailed information about incriminated documents and the nature of the irregularities, omissions or modifications noted for each part, be made public

The little information available is not enough to measure the extent and gravity of the matter. The ASN have asked Areva to provide it with a list of the parts concerned. Greenpeace France believes more should be done.

In addition to the audit, systematic re-assessments of parts are needed

When an error or forgery in a document renders compliance uncertain, only a technical review of the concerned parts can clear up any doubt.

Greenpeace asks that once the list of concerned facilities is published, their operations be halted immediately so that an initial inspection can identify necessary tests and additional proof to be provided in order to clear up any doubt regarding the quality of all incriminated parts.

Reactors under construction: the uncertainty of EPR

The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first "serious anomalies" identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock).

This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages).

Above all, it demonstrates Areva's inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.

Clément Sénéchal is the Social Media Manager of Greenpeace France.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Nuclear underground

Three-hundred metres below ground, researchers from Switzerland, other European countries and Japan are studying the properties of Opalinus Clay, which could provide a way to dispose of nuclear waste. The results of the studies are exchanged among the partners of the Mont Terri Project, and are used in feasibility studies. (Pictures: Christoph Balsiger, swissinfo.ch, 2007)
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Radiation levels on Bikini Atoll found to exceed safety standard

Agence France-Presse: A team of researchers from Columbia University in New York has found that all of the Marshall Islands involved in nuclear tests by the U.S. are now habitable, except for Bikini Atoll. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes the reasoning for their testing, the methods they used, their results and what they believe should be done going forward. As most everyone knows, the United States embarked on an ambitious nuclear arms program beginning...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

In turnaround, Sweden agrees to continue nuclear power

Channel News Asia: Sweden's left-wing government struck a deal with the opposition Friday (Jun 10) to continue nuclear power for the foreseeable future, backtracking on its pledge to phase out atomic energy. The government coalition, made up of the Social Democrats and the Greens, had agreed in October 2014 to freeze nuclear energy development, while the opposition has been in favour of building new reactors. The deal is aimed at securing long-term energy supplies to households and industry, the government said....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Modi and Obama push solar/nuclear energy boost for India

Monitor: Together, the United States and India are teaming up to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges, how to spark economic development while cutting the emission of planet warming greenhouse gasses. During a visit to the White House on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signaled his country’s commitment to implementing a long-term, low-carbon economic development strategy. “That is something the Paris [climate] agreement invited countries to do, to put together a mid-century, low-greenhouse...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Fukushima: Worse Than a Disaster

CounterPunch: Disasters can be cleaned up. Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO Chief of Decommissioning at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant, finally publicly “officially” announced that 600 tons of hot molten core, or corium, is missing (Fukushima Nuclear Plant Operator Says 600 Tons of Melted Fuels is Missing, Epoch Times, May 24, 2016). Now what? According to Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), it is not likely the fuel will ever be recovered: “Nobody really knows where...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Obama and India's Modi promise deals on climate change and energy

Washington Post: The leaders of India and the United States vowed Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord this year, pledged to nail down terms for limiting a potent greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant in air conditioners, and set a one-year deadline for concluding a deal for six commercial nuclear power plants. But the two sides provided few specifics about how they would achieve those goals beyond saying that President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who were meeting at the White House, share the...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Green Conservatives call for earlier UK coal power phase-out

Guardian: The UK should close all its coal-fired power stations two years earlier than the government’s pledge of 2025, according to green Conservatives including former energy minister Lord Greg Barker. The move would not cause the lights to go out, would cut both carbon emissions and air pollution and would boost cleaner energy projects, according to a report from Bright Blue, a thinktank of Tory modernisers. The report also concludes that if the troubled Hinkley C nuclear plant is cancelled it could...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Lonely struggle of India's anti-nuclear protesters

Guardian: Behind the Lourdes Matha church in Idinthakarai, a fishing village at the southern tip of India, five women have abandoned their chores to protest at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Today is day 1,754 of their relay hunger strike, which began when the plant was fuelled in 2011. Celine, 73, is among the five protestors, who take it in turns to go without food. “Not a single government, not a single political party is willing to take up our cause,” she says. “Only Mother Mary can save us now.”...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Crib notes: Obama, Modi primed for climate and nuclear talks

Climate Home: Narendra Modi lands in the US this week for a 7 June meeting with US president Barack Obama, likely the final bilateral between the pair before Obama leaves office. The ‘bromance’ between the pair has been remarkable, say observers. Security, defence, trade along with energy and climate change are set to dominate talks between the world’s second and fourth largest greenhouse gas emitters. India wants to join the Nuclear Suppliers Club, which determines rules for how nuclear technologies are...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

The following articles are automatically syndicated feeds from other sites.
 

XML feed