Nuclear Power news

Germany says using tax money for nuclear power 'out of the question'

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Using taxpayers' money to fund nuclear power is "absolutely out of the question", German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, in an apparent swipe at British plans to finance new atomic generation.

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Senate waters down French energy bill, committee to seek compromise

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government's energy bill was approved by the opposition-controlled upper house of parliament on Tuesday in a watered-down version that ditches key nuclear reduction targets and is likely to be changed again before its final adoption.

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Leak Is Disclosed at Nuclear Plant

New York Times: The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Tuesday that it had neglected to stop a leak of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean since last May. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it had first detected the flow of contaminated rainwater nine months ago, but did not explain why it had been so slow in responding. The company, known as Tepco, said it would place sandbags to block the leak of water, which it said was too small to change radiation levels in the...

Fukushima operator finds new source of radiation leak into sea

TOKYO (Reuters) - The operator of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Tuesday it had found a pool of highly contaminated water on the roof of a plant building and that it had probably leaked into the sea through a gutter when it rained.

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Thousands of cracks in Belgian reactors, potentially a global nuclear problem


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Read more [Greenpeace international]

Thousands of cracks in Belgian reactors, potentially a global nuclear problem

Picture a 33 year-old asphalt road: weathered with time, bearing the cracks and crags of decades of harmless-seeming water trickling into its crevices, freezing, expanding, breaking up the road from within.

Most people wouldn’t want to trust their car to the safety of a road like this.

And it certainly isn’t the image anyone wants to invoke when talking about critical equipment in nuclear reactors.

Yet, on Friday the 13th, two leading materials scientists announced that the Belgian reactors, Doel 3 and Tihange 2, may be experiencing the nuclear equivalent in their reactor pressure vessels; essentially the piece of equipment that contains the highly radioactive nuclear fuel core being comparable to an old, busted up road.

Thousands of cracks have been discovered in the pressure vessels of both reactors. This component is required to be integrally sound, with no risk of failure, due to the potentially catastrophic nuclear disaster resulting from the failure of a pressure vessel.

As reactors age, the steel of the reactor pressure vessel is damaged – or embrittled – by radiation. According to the scientists, hydrogen from the water in the pressure vessel – which cools the nuclear fuel core – may be corroding the steel by injecting hydrogen atoms into the steel of the vessel itself, where it can accumulate and build up pressure, resulting in the steel blistering – effectively breaking up the pressure vessel from within.

Tests revealed a stunning 13 047 cracks in Doel 3; and 3 149 cracks in Tihange 2.

After first discovering the problem and shutting down the cracked reactors in 2012, the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), dismissed the issue as a manufacturing problem and okayed the reactor to be start up again in 2013. They did so while acknowledging that they did not to fully understand what was happening inside the reactor steel. However, further testing revealed unexplained and unexpected embrittlement of a test steel sample. Following these findings, both reactors were shut down again since March 24, 2014.

But, the announcement of the materials scientists now go one step further: they state that the problem may well be the result of normal reactor operations. This means the cracks may be growing in size, and furthermore, that this could be endemic to the global nuclear fleet. Simply put: the findings in Belgium have serious safety implications for every nuclear reactor on the planet.

In response, the Director General of the Belgian nuclear regulator, The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), admitted that, "This may be a global problem for the entire nuclear industry. The solution is to implement worldwide, accurate inspections of all 430 nuclear power plants.”

When the head of a federal nuclear regulator says that every reactor in the world needs to be inspected for a critical nuclear safety problem, the smart thing for national nuclear regulators to do is take immediate action. Certainly, every reactor needs to be inspected for such cracking at the earliest possible date, but no later than the next maintenance outage. 

Electrabel, operator of the Belgian reactors, has reacted to the latest news by saying that it may be willing to “sacrifice” one of its crippled reactors to scientific study; meaning they would permanently shut down the reactor and allow destructive testing in the hopes of learning more about this previously ignored or dismissed nuclear safety problem. 

Given that this phenomenon has not been sufficiently studied and is poorly understood, restarting any reactor in which cracking is found would not only constitute a nuclear experiment, it would place the public at unnecessary and unacceptable risk. There are 1.5 million people living within 30km from the Doel reactor, which is close to the Dutch border.

Every reactor needs to be inspected – and before the old, busted up nuclear road leads to yet another catastrophic nuclear disaster.

Kendra Ulrich is a Senior Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

Eloi Glorieux is an Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Belgium.



Read more [Greenpeace international]

Fossil fuel industry must take stranded assets seriously, says Tim Yeo

Guardian: The chairman of parliament’s energy and climate change committee has joined those warning the fossil fuel industry to take the threat of stranded assets seriously, and believes Shell is wrong to write off critics as naive. Tim Yeo, a veteran Conservative MP and nuclear enthusiast, also expressed alarm at the latest delays at the new Hinkley Point building project in Somerset, saying he hoped they would not lead to eventual cancellation. Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, told a dinner...

Risk Australian Uranium In Indian Nuclear Weapons Spark Worries

Business Times: Australian uranium might end up in the hands of India as part of the country’s nuclear weapons program. Two experts on nuclear power believe the concessions agreed between the two nations could lead to this scenario. Ronald Walker, a former Australian ambassador and chairman of the international Atomic Energy Agency, said the Abbott government’s deal to sell the country’s uranium to India has “drastically changed” Australia’s longstanding policy on safeguards. He added that the agreement has risked...

Nuclear Specter Returns: 'Threat of War Is Higher than in the Cold War'

The Ukraine crisis has dramatically worsened relations between NATO and Russia. With cooperation on nuclear security now suspended and the lack of a "red telephone," experts at the Munich Security Conference warn any escalation in tensions could grow deadly.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Nuclear Taboo Under Review in Uranium-Rich Australia

Bloomberg: While Australia is home to the world’s largest uranium reserves, it has never had a nuclear power plant. Now, amid growing concerns over climate change, the government is weighing whether to reverse its long-held ban. The state of South Australia, where BHP Billiton Ltd. operates the Olympic Dam mine, is setting up a royal commission to evaluate nuclear power’s impact on both the region’s economy and its carbon emissions. At the same time, the federal government is set to release within months...

Forest fires may resurrect radioactive soil near Chernobyl

United Press International: When the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded in 1986, some 85 petabecquerels of radioactive cesium was released into the atmosphere and surrounding environs. Researchers believe somewhere between 2 and 8 PBq is still lingering in the soil and forest debris that surrounds the disaster site. Scientists have long feared that forest fires could send leftover radiation back into the atmosphere as radioactive leaves and other dead and dry plant material burn up -- traces of cesium wafting skyward...

Our addiction to fossil fuel is taking us on the road to nowhere

On Saturday I joined a panel at the Munich Security Conference in Germany and talked about global security and energy security. You might be surprised to see Greenpeace at a security conference. The room was full of members of the "strategic community", people who are not the crowd we normally engage with; they are the crowd we have historically challenged with our peace campaigns. However, I appreciated having the opportunity to be a dissenting voice and to talk about what I consider is the path towards true energy security.

What often dominates discussions about peace and security are questions about solutions – around how conflicts are to be addressed and solved, economic sanctions, peace missions, diplomatic negotiations – these are all the mechanisms we have become accustomed to which dominate the discourse.

I urge you however to think about this from a different perspective – prevention. How could conflicts have been prevented and even more importantly – how can the next conflicts be prevented, or at least how do we mitigate the risks.

When I look back at 2014 and consider the many conflicts that have plagued our planet, there is one fact that I cannot ignore and that is – our addiction to fossil fuel is taking us on the road to nowhere.

It must be made clear – conflict is always driven by a unique set of circumstances and it would be wrong to try to reduce a conflict to one dimension. However, if you look at some of the conflicts that have dominated our news screens this year you will see that fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – have often played a role. Sometimes in the background, sometimes taking center stage. The conflict in the Ukraine, which had partly been triggered by its ongoing energy crisis, has been making headlines. But there were several other conflicts around the world last year, also related to energy issues: in the South China Sea,  Iraq and South Sudan, to name just a few.

Energy security was high on the agenda of world leaders in 2014. Governments all over the world are now trying to come up with plans to ensure stable energy supply. I would urge you to consider that our quest for energy security must go hand in hand with the quest for true security. And when embarking on this quest we must insist on finding true solutions. Opt for a system change rather than tweak the existing broken system. For me, true energy security would mean freedom from the geopolitical instability and conflicts triggered by fossil fuels, from the risks to lives, health and the environment, and from some of the threats of climate change.

The conflict in Ukraine has brought the issue closer to home. Gas imports from Russia through Ukraine represent over 15% of Europe's gas supply and last year's threat by Russia to cut off this supply has caused EU leaders to urgently scramble for solutions. Let me be clear – replacing energy supplies from Russia with nuclear energy and fossil fuels from elsewhere, as has been suggested, such as the Middle East or North Africa, is not the answer. We should not be thinking about changing the dealer but instead kick the dirty energy addiction.

We must recognize that Ukraine is only part of the problem. The EU spends about €400 billion a year buying over half of its energy (53%) from abroad. That means Europe spends more than 1 billion euro every day importing more than half of its energy.

The only way forward is choosing energy efficiency and renewables. EU leaders should put greater emphasis on energy saving and renewable energy in order to reduce Europe's dependence on fossil fuel imports and to enhance its energy security. Greenpeace's 'Road Map for Europe' explains exactly how this could be done. The citizens of the EU have already made up their mind. According to polls, Europeans overwhelmingly support national targets for renewable energy and strong policies for energy efficiency

This is the only way the EU can set its own course now and forever.

Back in October EU leaders agreed on its 2030 targets for emission cuts, energy saving and clean energy. The bad news – the agreed targets are significantly weaker than those proposed by the European Parliament. And they will slow down clean energy investments. The result – the EU will still have to rely heavily on imported energy. EU leaders have failed to enter this road towards true energy security.

The choice is not between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The choice is between dirty and clean energy providers and between climate chaos and more sustainable living, it's a choice between the past and the future. Fundamentally it is a choice between peace and ongoing and intensifying conflicts. We can choose for a win-win-win for the climate, the economy and people.

Germany is an example: 15 years ago only 6% of Germany's electricity was generated by Renewable Energies. Today, 27% of Germany's electricity comes from renewables. In another 15 years according to the Government's projections it will be at least 50%. German Energiewende (energy transition) is the model for how an industrial country can move towards true energy security.

A report launched at the conference presented a poll according to which more than 80% of those asked, and more than 90% in some regions, thought there was a leadership crisis in the world today. As long as elected leaders hesitate to take those decisions they were elected for, this will remain the case. Masses of people want change for a just world, fuelled by clean energy sources. The year 2015 might be remembered as the year in which this leadership crisis was tackled, in which world leaders turned towards a global Energiewende. Four months from now, Chancellor Angela Merkel will welcome Barack Obama and the other Heads of G7 Governments to Germany to discuss future climate and energy policy. I call on Mrs. Merkel to use this unique opportunity. The G7 summit must give the world a vision for a future energy system without nuclear power, without coal power, based 100% on Renewable Energies.

Kumi Naidoo is the Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

Read more [Greenpeace international]

South Australia calls royal commission on nuclear power

Sydney Morning Herald: The South Australian government has called the nation's first ever royal commission on nuclear fuel, raising the prospect of generating nuclear power in Australia and enriching uranium for export. Calling for a "mature" debate about the uses of uranium and nuclear energy, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced on Sunday that the high-level probe would look at "mining, enrichment, energy and storage phases" of the nuclear fuel cycle. The move is significant, as it could open the door...

U.S. judge dismisses Marshall Islands' nuclear suit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Marshall Islands against the United States that accused Washington of failing in its obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament, campaigners said on Friday.

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'Uncertain Radiological Threat': US Navy Sailors Search for Justice after Fukushima Mission

In March of 2011, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan rushed to Japan to help after the disastrous tsunami. Since then, many sailors from that ship have fallen ill, possibly as a result of exposure to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. They will soon have their day in court.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Judge allows hearings on summer closings of New York nuclear plant

(Reuters) - A judge in New York has ruled Entergy Corp cannot stop hearings on the state's plan to shut the company's Indian Point nuclear power plant for part of the summer to protect fish in the Hudson River.

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Judge allows hearings summer closings of New York nuclear plant

Reuters: A judge in New York has ruled Entergy Corp cannot stop hearings on the state's plan to shut the company's Indian Point nuclear power plant for part of the summer to protect fish in the Hudson River. In a ruling late Tuesday, an administrative law judge at the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rejected Entergy's latest attempt to stop the state from shutting the plant, at least for part of the summer. The ruling was the latest salvo in an eight-year battle between Entergy,...

Nuclear Power Needs to Double to Curb Global Warming

Scientific American: Since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan chilled global attitudes toward nuclear power, the world has been slowly reconciling its discomfort with nuclear and the idea that it may have a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change. The International Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency suggest in a report released Thursday that nuclear will have such a significant role to play in climate strategy that nuclear power generation capacity will...

Nuclear safety push to be softened after U.S. objections

VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States looks set to succeed in watering down a proposal for tougher legal standards aimed at boosting global nuclear safety, according to senior diplomats.

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Germany boosts onshore wind capacity by record amount in 2014

Reuters: Germany's newly installed onshore wind power capacity rose by a record 4,750 megawatts (MW) in 2014, industry groups said on Thursday, marking what is likely to be a peak annual gain as the country gears up for a nuclear-free future. Representing additional energy production roughly equivalent to one nuclear plant, the increase was 58 percent bigger than in 2013. Reckoning with new land resources made available following Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, engineering group VDMA and...

Nuclear safety push to be softened after U.S. objections

Reuters: The United States looks set to succeed in watering down a proposal for tougher legal standards aimed at boosting global nuclear safety, according to senior diplomats. Diplomatic wrangling will come to a head at a 77-nation meeting in Vienna next month that threatens to expose divisions over required safety standards and the cost of meeting them, four years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Switzerland has put forward a proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), arguing stricter...

Winter storm expose vulnerability nuclear power plants

InsideClimate: Two days after a major New England blizzard contributed to the shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., the facility remains closed. Due to climate change, more of the most extreme precipitation events, such as this recent snowfall, are expected to slam the area in the coming decades. Nuclear power critics cite the Pilgrim shutdown as proof the industry isn't ready now--and won't be any time soon. Federal regulators counter that several initiatives to improve nuclear...

Japan looks at 2030 energy targets in shadow of Fukushima cleanup

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan began deliberating its 2030 targets for power generation on Friday, a process likely to turn contentious when nuclear restarts are considered even as the much delayed cleanup at Fukushima continues four years after the meltdowns there.

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Germany boosts onshore wind capacity by record amount in 2014

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's newly installed onshore wind power capacity rose by a record 4,750 megawatts (MW) in 2014, industry groups said on Thursday, marking what is likely to be a peak annual gain as the country gears up for a nuclear-free future.

Read more [Reuters]

India and U.S. agree on some energy deals — but no emission cuts

Grist: On Sunday, the first day of Obama’s visit to India, the president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a number of announcements pertaining to the environment. But none were the big one that greens were hoping for: some indication from India that bringing electricity to its hundreds of millions of poor and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are not mutually exclusive goals. The two leaders came to an agreement that would make it much easier for U.S. companies to help build nuclear reactors in...

Doomsday Clock now reads three minutes to 'midnight'

Christian Today: According to a group of experts that monitor threats to humanity, the world is now closer to armageddon than ever. The scientists behind the Doomsday Clock, which aims to reflect how close the world is to man-made destruction, have moved the symbolic clock's minute hand two minutes forward, thereby setting the time to three minutes to midnight. "Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernisations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to...

United Kingdom: Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste

EcoWatch: A private consortium formed to deal with Europe’s most difficult nuclear waste at a site in Britain’s beautiful Lake District has been sacked by the British government because not sufficient progress has been made in making it safe. It is the latest setback for an industry that claims nuclear power is the low-carbon answer to climate change, but has not yet found a safe resting place for radioactive rubbish it creates when nuclear fuel and machinery reaches the end of its life. Dealing with the...

Obama and Indian PM cite progress toward nuclear ties and climate change

Mashable: Seizing on their personal bond, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday that they had made progress on nuclear cooperation and climate change, with Obama declaring a "breakthrough understanding" in efforts to free U.S. investment in nuclear energy development in India. Obama and Modi expressed hope that a landmark 2008 nuclear agreement between the U.S. and India could begin to bear fruit. See also: Obama ending India trip early, will join world leaders...

Nuclear scientists: The end is near for humanity

Associated Press: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years because of global warming and nuclear weaponry. But other experts say that`s much too gloomy. The US advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed "Doomsday Clock" ahead two minutes on Thursday. It said the world is now three minutes from a catastrophic midnight, instead of five minutes. "This is about doomsday; this is about the end of...

Climate change pushes doomsday clock closer to midnight

Blue and Green: Climate change and nuclear proliferation have led to scientist deciding to move the symbolic doomsday clock closer to midnight signalling growing threats to humanity and the earth. The clock now reads three minutes to midnight. The doomsday clock was created in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to use imagery to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move the minute hand, or leave it where it is, is made every year. The last move in 2012, when the hand was moved...

Fukushima operator to miss deadline on decontaminating water

TOKYO (Reuters) - The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said it would not be able to meet a self-imposed deadline to decontaminate water containing highly radioactive substances by the end of March.

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Fukushima Operator to Miss Deadline on Decontaminating Water

Reuters: The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said it would not be able to meet a self-imposed deadline to decontaminate water containing highly radioactive substances by the end of March. The admission by the utility known as Tepco is another setback in its struggle to cope with the contaminated water, which is mostly contained in hastily constructed tanks. Tepco President Naomi Hirose visited officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday to report...

Three Minutes Away from Doomsday

Inter Press Service: Unchecked climate change and the nuclear arms race have propelled the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock forward two minutes closer to midnight, from its 2012 placement of five minutes to midnight. The decision was announced in Washington DC by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS), the body behind the calculations and creation of the 1947 Clock of Doom."The simple truth on nuclear weapons is that they are inconsistent with civilisation." -- Alyn Ware The last time the clock...

Countdown to catastrophe: Doomsday Clock moved closer to midnight

(Reuters) - Rising threats from climate change and nuclear arsenals prompted the scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe, to move it two minutes closer to midnight on Thursday, its first shift in three years.

Read more [Reuters]

Doomsday Clock Set at 3 Minutes to Midnight

LiveScience: The world is "3 minutes" from doomsday. That's the grim outlook from board members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Frustrated with a lack of international action to address climate change and shrink nuclear arsenals, they decided today (Jan. 22) to push the minute hand of their iconic "Doomsday Clock" to 11:57 p.m. It's the first time the clock hands have moved in three years; since 2012, the clock had been fixed at 5 minutes to symbolic doom, midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic...

Worker dies at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

Guardian: A worker at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has died after falling into an empty water storage tank, in the latest of a series of accidents at the site of the worst nuclear disaster for a quarter of a century. The death was the second at Fukushima Daiichi in less than a year, but the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), insisted that it was doing everything possible to prevent accidents. Almost 7,000 workers are involved in decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi, which...

Global nuclear decommissioning cost seen underestimated, may spiral

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - German utility E.ON's breakup has led to worries that funds set aside for decommissioning reactors will not suffice, but globally the cost of unwinding nuclear is uncertain as estimates range widely.

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Hacking of Korea's nuclear operator raises risk of aging reactor closures

SEOUL (Reuters) - The hacking of South Korea's nuclear operator means the country's second-oldest reactor may be shut permanently due to safety concerns, said several nuclear watchdog commissioners, raising the risk that other aging reactors may also be closed.

Read more [Reuters]

Assad's Secret: Evidence Points to Syrian Push for Nuclear Weapons

For years, it was thought that Israel had destroyed Syria's nuclear weapons capability with its 2007 raid on the Kibar complex. Not so. New intelligence suggests that Bashar al-Assad is still trying to built the bomb. And he may be getting help from North Korea and Iran.
Read more [Spiegel Online]

Don’t panic! Fukushima radiation just hit the West Coast

Grist: Nuclear energy gives plenty of people the heebie-jeebies: Like horror-movie ghosts and ancestral curses, you can`t see or feel or smell it, but it can still kill you. So when Japan`s Fukushima Daiichi plant was damaged in March 2011, releasing a flood of radioactive cesium-tinged water into the Pacific, nervous nancies the world over took note. And that note, typically, was: PANIC!!!!!1!!11! First of all: No. Don`t. While some wafting fallout hit the U.S. in the first months after the disaster...

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