Archive for the ‘Nuclear Crisis’ Category

Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, a lesson in manipulation of the truth.

July 24, 2014
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Sci Tech 7/23/2014 at 11:57:33

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Image courtesy of TBS News bird

A recent court ruling in Japan, Fukui District Court’s landmark ruling on May 21, has brought into question the justification for taking the risks associated with nuclear power.

The ruling states that the risks of earthquake-safety planning concerning nuclear reactors are impossible to measure because the science of earthquake prediction today is not able to allow for the risk of damage to nuclear power plants.

As we can see by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, these risks are and have been seriously underestimated. Even so, the Japanese nuclear corporations are still trying to claim that they can allow for any possible future disaster.

Risk assessment is a core part of any project and it takes into account the profit and other benefits of having a nuclear plant and this is balanced against the social, health and environmental issues.

For a corporation the profit element is the most important as the corporations need to be able to show profits to their shareholders whilst local community and other interested NGOs would normally voice the issues and risks from a social, health and environmental point of view.

Court ruling puts a spanner in the works

AJW.ASAHI.COM reported these facts on the May 21, 2014;

“…An anti-nuclear citizens’ network has translated a Japanese court’s ruling blocking the restarts of two reactors into English, Korean and Chinese to spread the ‘universal values’ of the judgment.

“Part of the translated ruling says: ‘this court considers national wealth to be the rich land and the people’s livelihoods that have taken root there, and that being unable to recover these is the true loss of national wealth.

“…The ruling also says, ‘the operation of nuclear power plants as one means of producing electricity is legally associated with freedom of economic activity and has a lower ranking in the Constitution than the central tenet of personal rights.

“…Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who heads a network of plaintiff groups demanding the abolishment of nuclear energy, said it is ‘extremely rare’ for a Japanese court ruling other than in patent cases to be translated into foreign languages.

“The ruling has resonated with people around the world because it declared universal values by placing priority on the lives of people over the merits of nuclear energy, Kawai said….”

“English translation of the epoch-making Japanese court verdict issuing an injunction against restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants Ohi Units 3 and 4.

“On May 21, 2014, the Fukui District Court in Japan issued a scathing indictment against restart of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant owned and operated by the second largest electric utility in Japan.
The injunction against the plant is epoch-making because it addresses generic issues applicable to nuclear power plants worldwide.”

English translation of summary now available.

Translation: Greenpeace / Cooperation: Green Action

https://www.greenpeace.de/sites/www.greenpeace.de/files/publications/fukui-urteil-03072014_0.pdf

Kyushu Electric Power fights back regardless

Kyushu Electric power has recently managed to get a ruling from the NRA to restart 2 of its 4 nuclear-reactor units. However, there are some problems with this ruling aside from the Ohi nuclear plant ruling mentioned above.

There are problems with the safety of this nuclear site such as the evacuation plan for the 30,000 residents, in the case of a nuclear incident.

“The (evacuation) plan itself is very sloppy, just slotting bits and pieces into a manual without giving any consideration to the special features of the area,” said Zenyu Niga.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/06/30/us-japan-nuclear-evacuation-idINKBN0F513N20140630

The volcanic issue ignored

Also, aside from earthquake threats there is an issue with volcanoes with this nuclear plant. In fact there was a large eruption in 2013 at a local volcano reported here;

http://nuclear-news.net/2013/05/30/5302013-volcano-sakurajima-erupts-large-eruption-of-lavaash-in-south-japan/

Apart from a number of calderas, Sakurajima, an active volcano, is just 50 Km away and a scientist said, “No-one believes that volcanic risks have been adequately discussed,” said Setsuya Nakada, a professor of volcanology at the University of Tokyo, who advised officials when they were forming regulatory guidelines for monitoring volcanoes.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/04/us-japan-nuclear-volcano-idUSKBN0EE2BF20140604

Image courtesy of Christina mac Phearson

The manipulation of safety agencies who wish to ignore the court ruling

Kunihiko Shimazaki, who was one of the members of the post-Fukushima formed NRA that was supposed to oversee a new safety regime, was recently replaced. An executive of the Kyushu Electric Power Co said that “Shimazaki made us suffer,” and on “May 14, executives of the Kansai Economic Federation and Kyushu Economic Federation met with Katsuhiko Ikeda, the NRA secretary-general.”

Then “Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the deputy policy chief, openly criticised Shimazaki when he said, “While it is acceptable to have seismologists on the NRA, the same cannot be said for someone who knows absolutely nothing about nuclear energy.”

These three quotes were reported here:

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201405280023

Shimazaki was then replaced, leaving the NRA without a seismology expert for at least the next 5 years.

A financial problem exists

Concerning the issue of profitability Moodys of Japan KK reported that even if the Kyushu Sendai plant did start the 2 reactors, “The current tariff, implemented in May last year, is based on four of the company’s nuclear power plants being operational — so even if two reactors are restarted Kyushu will still not be able to return to profitability,” Kazusada Hirose, vice president of Moody’s Japan K.K.

Full article here:

http://interfaxenergy.com/gasdaily/article/11395/kyushus-nuclear-restart-is-not-enough

Social, environmental and economic manipulation.

Half the population of the local town have voted to reject the local plant even though there is no alternative funding for other infrastructure to stimulate business unconnected to the nuclear industry. A video from an independent media company shows this clearly and shows how the nuclear company uses money to buy its way. That short video can be seen here (Reporting by Hitomi Yagi from TBS News Bird):

http://nuclear-news.net/2014/07/17/secai-nuclear-plant-with-five-active-volcanoes-deemed-safe-and-a-problem-with-fish-die-offs/

In the video, we see that there are many social and economic impacts caused by the nuclear plant, such as the possible loss of fishing grounds if another reactor is to be built on reclaimed land and how bribes to fishermen with compensation payments are used to achieve this. We also see the desperation of business needing customers because no other infrastructure projects have been put in place these last 3 years or so resulting in economic hardship and the local community being split apart.

Image courtesy of TBS News Bird

There is even a statement from a local in the video mentioned above, that increasing amount of “fish have been dying for the last five years” and we see some evidence of that, I wonder if that is why the fishermen are so ready to accept the compensation for the loss of their fishing grounds?

Summary

It is obvious that local government, national government and nuclear industry has contrived to fully manipulate the situation in this and other areas to the benefit of the nuclear industry and to the detriment of peoples safety, financial security and to the quality of the environment. It is obvious that the Sendai Kyushu reactor will be opened no matter the dangers involved.

(Article changed on July 24, 2014 at 01:41)

Full article here;

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201405210079

The Green Action Japan website has this to say:

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I have been researching the issues concerning the nuclear industry and associated social impacts since the nuclear disaster in the Fukushima prefecture in Japan in march 2011. my interests in this field cover the technical aspects concerning (more…)

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‘Puzzling’ quake hits next to NYC-area nuclear plant

July 9, 2014

ENENews


Newly released data shows 4,000% more radioactive material in Fukushima groundwater than Tepco claimed — 39 billion Bq/m³ in sample from shoreline… after going through filtration process — Results not made public until almost a year later (VIDEO)

Posted: 08 Jul 2014 04:28 PM PDT

‘Puzzling’ quake hits next to NYC-area nuclear plant — “Not along any known fault lines” — Many reports of ‘loud boom’ echoing through area — Residents ‘startled into streets’ — Professor: “They tend to come in bursts… I’m concerned, let’s put it that way… Significant hazard… We don’t understand why these occur” (AUDIO)

Posted: 08 Jul 2014 08:25 AM PDT

NBC stations reveal nuclear workers suffering severe brain damage, dementia — Toxic waste raining down from sky, …, teeth falling out

June 7, 2014

ENENews


NBC stations reveal nuclear workers suffering severe brain damage, dementia — Toxic waste raining down from sky, wore baseball caps for protection — Brains being eaten away, teeth falling out — Workers raising safety issues framed using false evidence, fired — Gov’t not allowed in to investigate (VIDEO)

Posted: 06 Jun 2014 02:30 PM PDT

Japan TV: Gov’t officials discover nuclear material flowing into ground at Fukushima; Releases thought to be ongoing for months — Expert: “No end” to problems with radioactive waste at plant; Public does not trust what they are being told (VIDEO)

Posted: 06 Jun 2014 08:17 AM PDT

Officials concerned ice wall to “trigger significant subsidence” and further endanger reactor buildings

June 4, 2014

ENENews


Senior Scientist: Fukushima is not under control; It has ‘alarm bells’ going off on West Coast — Former Official: I’m humiliated Japan lies to world about how much contamination is entering Pacific; Nuclear material “polluting ocean more and more” (AUDIO)

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 03:42 AM PDT

Japanese Journalist: Workers “very worried” about deformed 400 ft. structure falling on Fukushima reactor buildings and causing another crisis — Immediate repairs needed yet “can’t do anything” due to extreme radiation levels — Staff told to “constantly watch it” — One of site’s most dangerous places

Posted: 03 Jun 2014 01:39 PM PDT

Officials concerned ice wall to “trigger significant subsidence” and further endanger reactor buildings — Risk of more nuclear material ‘spilling out’ of basements due to dramatic change in groundwater — Numerous hazards “could undermine the plant” — “Impact on entire situation” still being studied (VIDEO)

Posted: 03 Jun 2014 09:24 AM PDT

Nuclear Crisis: Can the Sane prevail in Time?

June 3, 2014
OpEdNews Op Eds 6/3/2014 at 09:58:02

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The first sentence in Steve Taylor’s book, ‘The Fall’1, reads ‘For the last 6,000 years, human beings have been suffering from a kind of collective psychosis. For almost all of recorded history human beings have been — at least to some degree — insane.’

Through much of recorded history it has been accepted as normal that, periodically, large groups of men should meet and hack each other to pieces. This was the method of choice for resolving disputes. In the last few hundred years, with the aid of science, our capacity for killing other members of our species has been accelerating way beyond reason. It has now reached an apogee. We are at the end of the process. We can now, in a few hours, incinerate every human being in existence. What an accomplishment! What an epitaph! We have two thousand nuclear weapons held on hair-trigger alert, already mounted on board their missiles and ready to be launched at a moment’s notice. This could happen at any time; perhaps when one of the nine nuclear states elects the ultimate psychopathic and/or narcissistic individual as their leader — one who believes that a first strike will enable him to win a nuclear war and rule gloriously thereafter.

Ian Hughes is a physicist and psychologist. He has just written a book entitled ‘Imperfect Design: How Our Psychology Threatens Our World’2. In the book he describes how psychologists and psychiatrists have recently identified three psychological disorders from which a small proportion of humans suffer. This psychologically diseased minority has tended to dominate the normal majority. The disorders can make the bearers a danger to the rest of us. And when such individuals get into power, with the destructive forces already referred to at their disposal, this danger could not be more acute and urgent. The disorders are Psychopathy, Paranoid Personality Disorder, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Psychopaths lack the ability to empathize with others. They relate to people in a similar way to relating to things. Many psychopaths have demonstrated their ability to kill without conscience.

Narcissists suffer from the belief that only they are important and thus are unable to appreciate the concept of equality. They have a sense of entitlement. They are entitled to more wealth, more power, more of everything than everyone else.

Paranoid Personality Disorder sufferers live in fear. They are hyper-sensitive and see everything and everyone as a threat.

 

In his book Mr Hughes focuses on the mass killers of history — Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Looking at what is happening in the world today it is very easy to see these disorders rife and threatening our survival right now.

Tragically, in our corporate culture the psychopaths have a home in organizations that embrace their own values. In his book ‘The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power’3, Joel Bakan writes, ‘The corporation’s legally defined mandate is to pursue, relentlessly and without exception, its own self-interest, regardless of the often harmful consequences it might cause to others…,’ and ‘The corporation, after all, is deliberately designed to be a psychopath: purely self-interested, incapable of concern for others, amoral, and without conscience.’ Psychopaths can fight their way to the top of corporations without experiencing the restraints of conscience felt by others. Without conscience they ruthlessly increase their wealth by releasing every last ton of carbon dioxide, in profiting from every available borehole or fracking site. Without conscience they can manufacture massive amounts of weapons and distribute them round the world. Without conscience they can cut down the rain forests, deplete and poison the oceans, and impoverish the soil. They justify all this with intelligence-insulting arguments like ‘If we did not do it someone else would,’ ‘It is our duty to maximize the profits for our shareholders,’ ‘One government/corporation/minister can do nothing unless all others act simultaneously,’ ‘Science will find some way of making everything OK.’ The UK government is spreading the power of corporations by its obsessive privatization policy.

And the government itself in many instances exhibits psychologically dysfunctional behaviour.

The most dire example of all this keeps us all in a state of conscious or unconscious dread. The existence and deployment of nuclear weapons keep the survival of the human race on a knife edge. This is not rational behavior. It brings to mind Sigmund Freud’s opinion that man has a tendency to mass suicide (a death wish). In his 2006 White Paper4 the then Prime Minister Blair wrote that we need an arsenal of nuclear weapons because no one knows what the future will bring. Of course, we all know that no one knows what the future will bring. That is the human condition. But most of us do not wish to prepare for the incineration of millions of fellow human beings to make us feel ‘secure’. This sounds as extreme as paranoia can get. The United States’ leaders have a vastly bigger nuclear arsenal than the British power elite. In a time of relative peace they have the most powerful armed forces ever devised. Their military posture involves being able to fight two wars simultaneously and to have the capacity to quickly strike in any part of the world. Militarily their goal is ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’. Paranoia. Nuclear states have tested 15-megaton and even 50-megaton5 nuclear weapons. These are one thousand times and over three thousand times more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb, which killed one hundred and forty thousand people and wiped out a large town. What sort of people feel so insecure and paranoid that they think they need the option of such weapons?

At the same time as suffering from extreme paranoia the US leaders have an attitude of ‘exceptionalism’. They have a ‘manifest destiny’. They invade and attack other parts of the world at will (provided these are parts of the world that are unable to effectively fight back). The believe that they can do this ‘by right’. Narcissism. The narcissism of the leaders of the nuclear states takes many forms. Switzerland has no nuclear weapons but its government has built nuclear shelters for all its citizens. The US government decided not to build nuclear shelters for its citizens and then went on to spend more on building them exclusively for the government than it spent on all variety of needs and services for the rest of us.6

Kurt Nimmo edits and writes for Infowars.com, billed as the home of the number-one Internet News Show in the World. He writes,

“In America, the criminally insane rule and the rest of us, or the vast majority of the rest of us, either do not care, do not know, or are distracted and properly brainwashed into acquiescence.” [my emphasis]

Michael Portillo was UK Defense Secretary of state from 1995 to 1997. He says,

“I think [the UK nuclear arsenal] … is neither independent, nor is it any kind of deterrent because we face enemies like the Taliban and al-Qaeda, who cannot be deterred by nuclear weapons. It is a tremendous waste of money and is done entirely for reasons of national prestige.” [my emphasis]

For ‘national prestige’ read ‘bloating the egos of the power elite’. The leaders of the nuclear states put all other states at risk as well as their own people. This is done to enhance the leaders’ sense of their own power. Could narcissism become more extreme; more out of control and terrifying? We need to learn about the psychology of such people so that we can keep them out of power. Carl Jung warned, ‘We need more understanding of human nature… we are the origin of all coming evil.’ And as Victor Gollantz wrote, nuclear weapons are ‘pure, unqualified evil’.

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I have had a career in Civil Engineering and Landscape Architecture and had a consultancy firm which spanned these two disciplines. I have had books on design published by the Architectural Press and E. and F.N. Spon. I am a member of the (more…)

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May 30, 2014

Quakes in Japan’s pacifism

Japan’s prime minister is attempting to revise constitutional pacifism to allow for strengthening of armed forces.

Last updated: 30 May 2014 09:59
Akira Kawasaki
Akira Kawasaki is Executive Committee member of Peace Boat.
Celine Nahory
Celine Nahory is Coordinator of Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.
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PM Shinzo Abe aims to beef up rules of military engagement to allow the Self-Defence Force to use force overseas [AFP]

On May 15, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made public his plan to gut the country’s peace constitution by allowing its Self-Defence Force (SDF) to use force overseas. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has long sought to amend Article 9, which renounces war and prohibits maintenance of war potential, the economic capability of a nation to wage war, through an overall constitutional revision. However, due to significant public opposition,Abe has changed his strategy and is now trying to revise not the text of the constitution, but its interpretation. Such a move would make the fundamental peace clause a dead letter and signal a sharp departure from Japan’s traditionally restrained defence policy.

Abe’s plan is to change Article 9′s interpretation through a cabinet decision without approval by the Japan’s parliament called the National Diet in the coming months. This backdoor tactic has attracted much criticism, even among those who support an eventual amendment for bypassing the formal procedure for constitutional revision, which requires a national referendum. It remains unclear whether Abe will get his way, since ruling coalition partner New Komeito, a Buddhist partystrongly resists the move. There are also significant voices of concern within the LDP about a process that neglects the formal Diet procedure.

Constitutional re-interpretation is a part of Abe’s overall military and foreign policies pursued in the name of “proactive pacifism”. It seeks to develop a stronger capacity to defend Japan’s territorial claims over the disputed islands from China, broader military cooperation with the US, and military activities overseas to secure Japanese corporate interests, including the pursuit of natural resources. In the last year and a half, as part of this policy, Abe’s government has formulated a new national security strategy, increased its military budget for two fiscal years and abandoned the long-held arms export ban. Abe is now trying to remove the constitutional restraints that have limited Japan’s military to a purely defensive role.

101 East – Japan: The next wave

Claimed to be part of his declared commitment to “proactively contribute to international peace”, these initiatives are in fact driven by Abe’s personal ideological ambitions. His political agenda as a right-wing nationalist has been to break away from the post-World War II regime imposed during the US occupation and realise a “proud and strong Japan”. Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine that honours Class-A war criminals and offensive remarks by Japanese top officials, including wartime sexual slavery, are part of this nationalism associated with historical revisionism.

Such right-wing rhetoric resonates with the growing nationalistic sentiments that are taking root in Japanese society. This unfortunate reality can be explained by a number of factors – the long-lasting economic stagnation that has disturbed social stability, the correlated decrease of power internationally, the loss of confidence felt especially among the younger generation, and, against this backdrop, the rise of China. “National unity” slogans in the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami, coupled with an extraordinary lack of public education regarding Japan’s wartime history, have contributed to making young Japanese amenable to nationalist and historical revisionist claims.

Abe seems eager to be remembered in history as the man who brought Japan back to normality. His latest move is a relatively modest proposal compared to what had been anticipated: It focuses on scenarios such as rescuing Japanese citizens residing overseas. However, lifting constitutional restraint for the use of force may pave the way to further and more significant changes in the future.

Renunciation of war was the oath by post-WWII Japan not to repeat its mistakes. Changing its interpretation would have serious consequences internationally, especially on the fragile stability in Northeast Asia. Tensions between Japan, China, and the Koreas over territorial disputes, historical issues, and nuclear weapons programs are already severe enough. Abe’s move threatens to exacerbate them.

Opinion polls show that a clear majority of Japanese opposes the re-interpretation of Article 9 as proposed by Abe. Thousands of people have protested in Tokyo against making Japan “a country that can wage war.” Japan’s peace movement is vibrant, but it also faces challenges. Notably, how to deal with growing nationalism, and how to respond to criticisms that Japan’s pacifism is self-righteous and the country does not shoulder its share of international responsibilities.

Article 9 can work as an international mechanism for peace that promotes disarmament and non-military solutions to disputes, through dialogue, confidence-building, mediation, and international laws. It also encourages human security cooperation on disasters, diseases and humanitarian affairs, while advocating for coordinated reduction of military spending. Japan can play a leading role, particularly in nuclear disarmament and arms trade control. Real proactive pacifism lies in Article 9.

Measures to promote dialogue among East Asian countries – for both reconciliation and risk reduction – are a matter of urgency. Any provocation by countries in the region will be counterproductive. And international support is needed to prevent the quakes of nationalism and militarism from getting out of control. Japan has much to learn from Europe’s post-war reconciliation experience, which can help convince the country that its commitment to peace remains something it can be proud of.

Akira Kawasaki is Executive Committee member of Peace Boat.

Celine Nahory is Coordinator of Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Experts: Gov’t may never stabilize hundreds of explosive drums of radioactive waste stored at WIPP

May 24, 2014

ENENews


Experts: Gov’t may never stabilize hundreds of explosive drums of radioactive waste stored at WIPP — Nuclear dump now at risk of closing permanently — Ruined for good by kitty litter? (AUDIO)

Posted: 23 May 2014 05:27 PM PDT

AP: Ticking time bombs of nuclear waste at multiple U.S. sites? Lab checking for smoking drums — CNN: “Imminent threat from radiation” — Gundersen: Serious public health effects if one blows; “Very, very volatile… like nitroglycerin” (VIDEO)

Posted: 23 May 2014 07:12 AM PDT

How Rising Seas Could Sink Nuclear Plants On The East Coast

May 21, 2014

Posted: 05/19/2014 10:06 am EDT Updated: 05/19/2014 3:59 pm EDT

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In 2011, a tsunami sent waves as high as 49 feet crashing over the seawalls surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, causing meltdowns at three of the plant’s reactors. After that incident, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ordered nuclear facilities in the U.S. to review and update their plans for addressing extreme seismic activity and potential flooding from other events, such as sea level rise and storm surges. Those plans aren’t due until March 2015, which means that many plants have yet to even lay out their their potential vulnerabilities, let alone address them.

 

During the 1970s and 1980s, when many nuclear reactors were first built, most operators estimated that seas would rise at a slow, constant rate. That is, if the oceans rose a fraction of an inch one year, they could be expected to rise by the same amount the next year and every year in the future.

 

But the seas are now rising much faster than they did in the past, largely due to climate change, which accelerates thermal expansion and melts glaciers and ice caps. Sea levels rose an average of 8 inches between 1880 and 2009, or about 0.06 inches per year. But in the last 20 years, sea levels have risen an average of 0.13 inches per year – about twice as fast.

 

And it’s only getting worse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has laid out four different projections for estimated sea level rise by 2100. Even the agency’s best-case scenario assumes that sea levels will rise at least 8.4 inches by the end of this century. NOAA’s worst-case scenario, meanwhile, predicts that the oceans will rise nearly 7 feet in the next 86 years.

 

But most nuclear power facilities were built well before scientists understood just how high sea levels might rise in the future. And for power plants, the most serious threat is likely to come from surges during storms. Higher sea levels mean that flooding will travel farther inland, creating potential hazards in areas that may have previously been considered safe. During Superstorm Sandy, for example, flooding threatened the water intake systems at the Oyster Creek and Salem nuclear power plants in New Jersey. As a safety precaution, both plants were powered down. But even when a plant is not operating, the spent fuel stored on-site, typically uranium, will continue to emit heat and must be cooled using equipment that relies on the plant’s own power. Flooding can cause a loss of power, and in serious conditions it can damage backup generators. Without a cooling system, reactors can overheat and damage the facility to the point of releasing radioactive material.

Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations

Salem-map-af015f553df7a7d3caf1a4489733f9f3
Operated by PSEG Nuclear, LLC
Reactor License Expires 2046 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2046 NOAA Best Case 2046 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Pressurized Water 8/13/2036 6 in 3.6 in 21.48 in
Unit 2 Pressurized Water 4/18/2040 6 in 3.6 in 21.48 in
Hope Creek Boiling Water 4/11/2046 6 in 3.6 in 21.48 in
Sources: PSEG Nuclear spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1,Unit 2Hope Creek)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2046NOAABest Case2046NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)9.0 ft8.7 ft7.2 ft0.9 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during Superstorm Sandy, 2012

0ft-28dbe7440ef1420c885bb9f5e5e5de87Present-day sea level
Storm-8431cf419e6048c0e5af29ce2e7dbda1Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2046 during storm.
See how other coastal nuclear plants could be impacted by sea-level rise and storms: Turkey PointSt. LucieBrunswick,SeabrookSouth Texas Project, Millstone and Pilgrim.

Though water levels during Superstorm Sandy came close to reaching the Salem 1 nuclear reactor at Lower Alloways Creek, N.J., “near-term sea rise is not an immediate concern” for the facility, said Joe Delmar, the nuclear communications manager for the plant’s owner, PSEG Nuclear. Company documents provided to The Huffington Post indicate that the Salem plant was designed to withstand flooding of up to roughly 30 feet above sea level, and PSEG estimates that sea levels will increase 6 inches by 2046, when the operating licenses for the plant’s reactors will expire. But using NOAA’s evaluation of future sea level estimates, The Huffington Post found the worst-case rise in sea level at the plant to be 1.79 feet by 2046 — more than a foot higher than the estimate that PSEG Nuclear is using at the Salem plant. More troublingly, HuffPost estimates that if sea levels rise to the heights projected in NOAA’s worst-case scenario, and then a storm hits on top of that, floodwaters could rise to less than a foot below the Salem plant’s base.

 

Nuclear plants were originally given a license to operate for 40 years, and in the late 1990s, the NRC began accepting applications to extend those licenses for an additional 20 years. While it’s not clear how many current plants will still be operating in 2100, most facilities store their nuclear waste on-site, where it can continue to emit radiation for thousands of years. There is currently no long-term national storage site for spent nuclear fuel in the U.S., as Congress cut the funding to build such a facility at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011. While there are no near-term plans to remove nuclear waste from the coastal plants threatened by rising seas, “the expectation is that [waste] won’t remain on-site,” said NRC Senior Public Affairs Officer Roger Hannah.

 

Despite the increased risk of flooding due to rising sea levels, some plant operators have not factored this into their long-term plans. In 2010, when Florida Power and Light Company applied for a license to build two additional reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, Florida, the NRC asked the plant’s owners to explain “how potential sea-level rise due to potential future climate change is accounted for” in their plans, NRC documents show. The company declined to discuss climate change in its analysis, and used a projection that assumed a constant sea level rise of just 1 foot per century, which is 5.6 feet lower than NOAA’s worst-case projection for 2100.

Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station

Turkey-point-map-7e61523ba3472bdd08dd9978f14184d4
Operated by Florida Power & Light Co.
Reactor License Expires 2033 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2033 NOAA Best Case 2033 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 3 Pressurized Water 7/19/2032 Approx. 4 in 2.76 in 13.08 in
Unit 4 Pressurized Water 4/10/2033 Approx. 4 in 2.76 in 13.08 in
Sources: Government Accountability Office, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 3Unit 4)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2033NOAABest Case2033NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)18.0 ft17.8 ft16.9 ft9.0 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during Hurricane Andrew, 1992

0ft-05719ccafb604969fa9083d192b57cfaPresent-day sea level
Storm-2adda881e44154e3d0d96fb9572468e0Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2033 during storm.

Ahead of the start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, The Huffington Post and Weather.com identified eight nuclear power plants that are likely to be vulnerable to flooding by 2100 under NOAA’s projections for rising sea levels. Though the operating licenses for each plant will expire before 2100, the potential exists for flooding much earlier than that. We combined the elevation of each plant with the projections for future sea level rise based on methods contained in NOAA’s 2012 report. To estimate future worst-case flooding scenarios, we added the historic peak storm tides recorded at each site to NOAA’s worst-case sea level projections for the year when the plant’s current operating license is set to expire.

St. Lucie Plant

St-lucie-map-969a7c89027ec1d47e53a61c62435396
Operated by Florida Power & Light Co.
Reactor License Expires 2043 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2043 NOAA Best Case 2043 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Pressurized Water 3/01/2036 NA (due 2015) 3.36 in 19.44 in
Unit 2 Pressurized Water 4/06/2043 NA (due 2015) 3.36 in 19.44 in
Sources: Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1Unit 2)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2043NOAABest Case2043NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)18.0 ft17.7 ft16.4 ft9.3 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during Hurricane Frances, 2004

0ft-b56b5188f0408cfe5f9a722ff59cadfbPresent-day sea level
Storm-0c25a03a49ca3504c85eac0bde47c941Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2043 during storm.

Brunswick Steam Electric Plant

Nc-map-454358ae960b9e4d8753b16abfd9779f
Operated by Carolina Power & Light Co.
Reactor License Expires 2036 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2036 NOAA Best Case 2036 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Boiling Water 9/08/2036 NA (due 2015) 3.0 in 14.88 in
Unit 2 Boiling Water 12/27/2034 NA (due 2015) 3.0 in 14.88 in
Sources: Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1Unit 2)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2036NOAABest Case2036NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)20.0 ft19.8 ft18.8 ft3.8 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during Hurricane Hazel, 1954

0ft-b1e80469d232a369259d8760b7d4f3a0Present-day sea level
Storm-a1f72f270252cd19bc782afde8326d27Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2036 during storm.

Seabrook Station

Nh-map-675eb576b8ca37efb5bb0491cb53b346
Operated by NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC
Reactor License Expires 2030 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2030 NOAA Best Case 2030 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Pressurized Water 3/15/2030 NA (due 2015) 2.52 in 11.4 in
Sources: Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2030NOAABest Case2030NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)20.0 ft19.8 ft19.1 ft11.5 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during a January 2010 storm

0ft-1bbd0147e2f8e57c911dfdd77639110fPresent-day sea level
Storm-2eb6e0f1b436f9bd1f6e89d04f58b8efEstimated worst-case flooding
in 2030 during storm.

South Texas Project

Tx-map-66d1b1ed478a0cdf1a3560943a59c4d7
Operated by STP Nuclear Operating Co.
Reactor License Expires 2028 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2028 NOAA Best Case 2028 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Pressurized Water 8/20/2027 3.6 in 2.4 in 10.32 in
Unit 2 Pressurized Water 12/15/2028 3.6 in 2.4 in 10.32 in
Sources: Final Safety Analysis Report, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1,Unit 2)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2028NOAABest Case2028NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)28.0 ft27.8 ft27.1 ft8.6 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during Hurricane Carla, 1961

0ft-8af077d6933193653820ce0c0e7f4d84Present-day sea level
Storm-6445594a26d6d1218eb08f0ef47ef823Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2028 during storm.

Millstone Power Station

Ct-map-fa360e163231c59738896037a884d487
Operated by Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc.
Reactor License Expires 2045 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2045 NOAA Best Case 2045 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 2 Pressurized Water 7/31/2035 NA (due 2015) 3.6 in 20.76 in
Unit 3 Pressurized Water 11/25/2045 NA (due 2015) 3.6 in 20.76 in
Sources: Dominion Nuclear spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 2Unit 3)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2045NOAABest Case2045NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)14.0 ft13.7 ft12.3 ft3.2 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during the “Long Island Express” Hurricane, 1938

0ft-4a84d2594090829892df4dcea13132e8Present-day sea level
Storm-38f318c6af3e9923dfff25217b8786d0Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2045 during storm.

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

Mass-map-36975bd150ec1869b65e4228a93ed864
Operated by Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.
Reactor License Expires 2032 Plant Sea-level Rise Estimate 2032 NOAA Best Case 2032 NOAA Worst Case
Unit 1 Boiling Water 6/08/2032 NA (due 2015) 2.64 in 12.48 in
Sources: Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Unit 1)
Plant Elevation Above Sea Level
PresentDay2032NOAABest Case2032NOAAWorst CaseStorm(HuffPost Est.)23.0 ft22.8 ft22.0 ft12.1 ftProjection0 ft

Plant elevation assuming NOAA worst-case sea-level rise and peak storm tide recorded during a 1978 blizzard

0ft-1c6caf15aa99c47280c00ad5e6111d83Present-day sea level
Storm-5305754b1748ee2028e26a1b5a34cf52Estimated worst-case flooding
in 2032 during storm.
Sources: U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Google Maps and Weather.com
Maps assume no mitigation efforts. Plants with adequate flood protection or those slated for closure were not included.
Sea-level projections for years prior to 2100 are derived using the formula in the NOAA’s 2012 Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment report.

Japan joins nuclear horror show

April 30, 2014


By Peter Lee 

This is an abstract of an article available for purchase here as an offprint. 

For the nuclear bureaucrat, lying seems to be as essential and continuous a human process as breathing. 

I am not averse to the argument that a greater reliance on nuclear energy, despite its massive risks, might provide an alternative future preferable to being cooked to death by greenhouse gases. 

But I must say that I do not think that nuclear energy should be in the hands of the current crew under the current system. 

The nuclear agenda is largely in control of the legacy nuclear



powers, whose dominance is enshrined in the imbalanced arrangement of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and its creature, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States and Russia, in particular, are nuclear horror shows when it comes to the waste, haste, shortcuts, and accidents inseparable from the birth of nuclear science in the crisis atmosphere of a world war and ensuing Cold War. 

Neither of these nations, I would aver, is particularly interested in a new, more conservative model of radiation risk baselining that might impose onerous economic, political, and public health costs on their governments. 

The Japanese government (which, under Prime Minister Abe is set on nuclear power as a strategic national initiative) and Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (TEPCO) are pretty much cut from the same cloth. 

Prime Minister Abe, in order to secure a key Japanese government priority, the 2020 Olympics, had this exchange with the IOC in September 2013 about the situation at the crippled nuclear power station at Fukushima:

Let me assure you the situation is under control,” [Abe] said.

“It has never done or will do any damage to Tokyo.”

Abe replied decisively when pressed by veteran Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg over Fukushima.

“You should read past the headlines and look at the facts,” he said.

“The contaminated water has been contained in an area of the harbor only 0.3 square kilometers big.

“There have been no health problems and nor will there be. I will be taking responsibility for all the programmes with regard to the plant and the leaks.

Fast-forward to April 20, 2014, courtesy of Japan Times: “It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant last week. …” 

It appears that Abe’s “under control” assurances were based, at worst, on shaky assurances from TEPCO that the Japanese government was in no mood to question in the crucial run up to the awarding of the Olympic bid, or at best upon the rather unsophisticated idea that TEPCO would contain the contaminated water in tanks, so it wouldn’t reach the harbor, until some other more permanent solution got worked out. 

Lots and lots of tanks.

The 1,000 tanks [already "approaching capacity"] hold 440,000 tons of contaminated water. Some 4,500 to 5,000 workers, about 1,500 more than a half year ago, are trying to double the capacity by 2016. [1]

The permanent solution has been slow in coming. 

Add to the burgeoning storage tank farm the problems of radiation-averse contract workers hastily constructing and piping tanks and the inevitable problems of leaks, mis-routing, and overflows. Add the difficulty in getting the balky liquid processing system up and running. Add the challenges of trying out the new science of freezing a gigantic underground wall of ice to keep water from the ocean. Add the fact that 400 tons of groundwater flow through the site every day, and after TEPCO struck a deal with the local fishermen to dump 100 TPD into the ocean, it turns out that the water might be too contaminated to dump, anyway. 

There are many ways to describe the contaminated water situation at Fukushima. “Under control” is not the most accurate. “Fighting a holding action for the next 30-40 years” as the physics of radionucleide decay ineluctably reduces the danger (and Abe and his promises to take responsibility have entered LDP Valhalla) is perhaps a better description. 

“Abe lied Tokyo’s way into the 2020 Olympics” is also not complete hyperbole. 

With this context, it is not terribly surprising that lawyers for sailors on the aircraft carrier USSRonald Reagan consider TEPCO a target-rich environment for the lawsuits they are filing to claim redress for TEPCO’s alleged negligence in the matter of the plume of radioactive material that theRonald Reagan sailed under and, thanks to the unfortunate circumstance of the downwash of a snowstorm, into, while conducting relief operations off the east coast of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. 

Their claims have been shrugged off and under-reported in the US and Japan on the grounds that the radiation exposure was so minor it could not have caused any health problems. I don’t buy it, and not just because there is a predisposition in the nuclear industry to shade the truth. 

There are good reasons to believe that radiation doses were not – could not be – accurately measured, and that valuable science on the extensive negative health outcomes for radiation workers, derived particularly study of the vast army of Chernobyl liquidators, has not been properly addressed, and a thoroughgoing rethinking of the scientific orthodoxy of radiation sickness and of the global nuclear regulatory apparatus should precede any new wave of nuclear power plant construction. 

Notes:
1. Manager at Japan’s Fukushima plant admits radioactive water ‘embarrassing’, Reuters, April 17, 2014.


Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy. 

The author addresses the issue of radioactive contamination of the USS Ronald Reagan and its crew in an article for the CounterPunch monthly magazine, “Fukushima’s Nuclear Shadow: Fallout Over the USS Reagan” in which he also discusses little-known elements of the Chernobyl disaster, and the story behind one of the most serious episodes of radioactive contamination from nuclear testing in the United States. CounterPunch has made the full article available as an inexpensive offprint. Click here for the link for purchase. 

(Copyright 2014 Peter Lee) 

Only US Nuclear Weapons Waste Storage Site Still Closed and Hot

April 23, 2014

More than two months after plutonium and americium leaked from the supposedly leak-proof underground nuclear weapons waste storage facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) still does not know what caused the leak. (photo: AP)
More than two months after plutonium and americium leaked from the supposedly leak-proof underground nuclear weapons waste storage facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) still does not know what caused the leak. (photo: AP)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

22 April 14

 

obody’s ever tried to fix an underground radiation accident before

More than two months after Plutonium and Americium leaked from the supposedly leak-proof underground nuclear weapons waste storage facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) still does not know what caused the leak almost half a mile underground, but on April 17, an exploration crew found increasing radiation levels before retreating to safety. DOE plans to send more teams, or robots, into the storage area to find the source of the radioactive contamination.

The nuclear weapons waste facility, carved into an underground salt deposit, is known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP. It is the only repository for U.S. nuclear weapons waste and has been closed since undetermined amounts of Plutonium and Americium leakedinto the atmosphere on February 14, 2014. This was the first known radioactive leak from WIPP, which its planners said would contain the nuclear weapons waste for 10,000 years without leaking.

As has been true at WIPP for months now, reliable, detailed information has been scarce. U.S. officials didn’t even inform the public that there had been a leak until four days after the event. Currently, the government is not saying what levels of radiation their teams have encountered during four trips into the storage area 2,130 feet underground. AnAssociated Press report carried this typically opaque bit of public information on April 17: “Tammy Reynolds, the U.S. Department of Energy’s deputy recovery manager, told a community meeting in Carlsbad that more trips need to be made into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to further investigate the accident, but officials hope to have more information next week.”

Underground storage area equals almost one square mile

According to the Department of Energy, there are seven sections or “panels” in the salt mine where the nuclear weapons waste is stored. Five of these sections have been sealed and are supposed to remain sealed for at least 10,000 years. Panel 6 is reportedly full, but not yet sealed, with no explanation for that delay. Panel 7 is an active storage area that has not been filled, and is the apparent location of radioactivity from whatever sort of accident has taken place.

“It doesn’t seem to us that the contamination came from Panel 6, that the source came from Panel 7,” Tammy Reynolds said. She also said: “The more they went into panel 7, the more it [radiation] started becoming more widespread…. They were picking up contamination more frequent.”

Three weeks earlier, the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) reported the same information more precisely, on March 28: “Apparently, one or more of the 258 contact-handled (CH) waste containers underground in Room 7 and Panel 7 released radioactive and toxic chemicals.” This report calculates that the distance from the presumed point of release to the point of detection above ground is a mile and a half or more and that the radioactive release lasted more than 15 hours, based on DOE documents.

In his sixth open letter of reassurance to area residents, the Energy Department field manager offered no more specific information than any other public information officer. Jose Franco’s April 18 letter said of the investigation underground: “As workers traveled toward the waste disposal area, they did not detect airborne contamination. This confirms our ventilation system is working as designed. Once the location and cause of the event are identified, we can focus on any necessary cleanup activities in the area and work towards returning WIPP to full waste disposal operations.”

Government says irradiated workers are just fine

Officially, the radioactive release of February 14 contaminated 21 WIPP workers. These workers, who are employed by the government contractor that manages WIPP, ingested small amounts of Plutonium or Americium, either of which will remain a threat to the workers’ health for a long time (Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,000 years; Americium 242 has a half-life of 141 years).

Officially, the workers’ “exposure levels were extremely low, and the employees are unlikely to experience any health effects as a result.” Unlikely, perhaps, but with highly radioactive alpha radiation emitters lodged in their bodies, their chance of serious health issues has increased, and will not likely decrease. The workers were all working above ground when they were exposed. Reportedly there were no workers underground at the time of the accident.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant currently has more than 5,000 cubic feet of nuclear weapons waste in 41 packages that are not isolated. They are stored above ground in a parking area unit and a waste handling building. This waste arrived prior to the accidents at WIPP and the accidents prevented the waste from being moved underground.

Other waste shipments headed for WIPP have been diverted to a waste control facility in Andrews, Texas, where they are stored above ground. Under the current agreement with the Energy Department, that facility is allowed to store the waste for a year, with extensions for more years possible.

In its most recent “WIPP Radiation Release” update on April 10, the Southwest Research and Information Center provides a list of some of the things that remain unknown about radiation releases at WIPP since February 14:

    • What caused the release.
    • What was the nature of the release that allowed some contaminants to travel more than a mile and a half.
    • What contaminants were released into the environment before the HEPA filtration system was triggered.
    • What contaminants in what amounts have been captured by the HEPA filters.
    • Whether the amount of the release and the location of all of the containments can be determined.
    • When radiation levels in the WIPP underground air will return to pre-release levels.
    • The amounts of contamination in the WIPP underground.
    • What underground decontamination will be done.
    • What amount of exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals workers going underground will receive or have received.
    • What amount of exposure that workers on the surface have received or will receive.
    • What surface decontamination will be done.
  • What changes in the WIPP operation, monitoring, and safety culture will be implemented.

The government, on the other hand. continues to advise anyone who will listen that “print and electronic media and ‘watchdog groups’ have made this nuclear radiation molehill into a mountain. One millirem – mrem – is a radiation dose that is approximately equivalent to what one would receive from eating 100 bananas (not necessary to eat them all at once).”

In other words, even if you’re a heavy banana-eater: Don’t worry, be happy.

[NOTE: a detailed account of government response to the accidents at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, titled “US Nuclear Waste Dirty-Bombs New Mexico With Plutonium,” is available here.]


William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 


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