Via: New York Times
By HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: April 9, 2013
The operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear plant halted an emergency operation Tuesday to pump thousands of gallons of radioactive water from a leaking underground storage pool after workers discovered that a similar pool, to which the water was being transferred, was also leaking.
At least three of seven underground chambers at the site are now seeping radioactive water, leaving the Tokyo Electric Power Company with few options on where to store the huge amounts of contaminated runoff from the makeshift cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Those systems were put in place after a large earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant’s regular cooling systems two years ago, causing fuel at three of its reactors to melt and prompting 160,000 people to evacuate their homes. Since then, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, has been flooding the damaged reactor cores to cool and stabilize the fuel.
Read more: here
I have a plan…
Published time: April 09, 2013
All 104 nuclear reactors currently operational in the US have irreparable safety issues and should be taken out of commission and replaced, former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory B. Jaczko said.
The comments, made during the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, are “highly unusual” for a current or former member of the safety commission, according to The New York Times. Asked why he had suddenly decided to make the remarks, Jaczko implied that he had only recently arrived at these conclusions following the serious aftermath of Japan’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daichii nuclear facility.
“I was just thinking about the issues more, and watching as the industry and the regulators and the whole nuclear safety community continues to try to figure out how to address these very, very difficult problems,” which were made more evident by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, he said. “Continuing to put Band-Aid on Band-Aid is not going to fix the problem.”
According to the former chairman, US reactors that received permission from the nuclear commission to operate for an additional 20 years past their initial 40-year licenses would not likely last long. He further rejected the commission’s proposal for a second 20-year extension, which would leave some American nuclear reactors operating for some 80 years.
Jaczko’s comments are quite significant as the US faces a mass retirement of its reactors and nuclear policy largely revolves around maintaining existing facilities, rather than attempting to go through the politically hazardous process of financing and breaking ground on new plants.
Read more: here
Nothing to worry about…
Posted on June 20, 2011
Virtually all of the nuclear reactors in the U.S. are of the same archaic design as those at Fukushima (Indeed, MSNBC notes that there are 23 U.S. reactors which are more or less identical to those at Fukushima.)
Called “light-water reactors”, this design was not chosen for safety reasons. Rather, it was chosen because it worked in Navy submarines.
Specifically, as the Atlantic reported in March:
In the early years of atomic power, as recounted by Alvin Weinberg, head of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his book The First Nuclear Era, there was intense competition to come up with the cheapest, safest, best nuclear reactor design.
Every variable in building an immensely complex industrial plant was up for grabs: the nature of the radioactive fuel and other substances that form the reactor’s core, the safety systems, the containment buildings, the construction substances, and everything else that might go into building an immensely complex industrial plant. The light water reactor became the technological victor, but no one is quite sure whether that was a good idea.
Few of these alternatives were seriously investigated after light water reactors were selected for Navy submarines by Admiral Hyman Rickover. Once light water reactors gained government backing and the many advantages that conferred, other designs could not break into the market, even though commercial nuclear power wouldn’t explode for years after Rickover’s decision. “There were lots and lots of ideas floating around, and they essentially lost when light water came to dominate,” University of Strasbourg professor Robin Cowan told the Boston Globe in an excellent article on “technological lock-in” in the nuclear industry.
As it turned out, there were real political and corporate imperatives to commercialize nuclear power with whatever designs were already to hand. It was geopolitically useful for the United States to show they could offer civilian nuclear facilities to its allies and the companies who built the plants (mainly GE and Westinghouse) did not want to lose the competitive advantage they’d gained as the contractors on the Manhattan Project.
Those companies stood to make much more money on nuclear plants than traditional fossil fuel-based plants, and they had less competitors. The invention and use of the atomic bomb weighed heavily on the minds of nuclear scientists. Widespread nuclear power was about the only thing that could redeem their role in the creation of the first weapon with which it was possible to destroy life on earth. In other words, the most powerful interest groups surrounding the nuclear question all wanted to settle on a power plant design and start building.
President Lyndon Johnson and his administration sent the message that we were going to use nuclear power, and it would be largely through the reactor designs that already existed, regardless of whether they had the best safety characteristics that could be imagined. [Nixon also fired the main government scientist developing safer types of reactors, because he was focused on safety instead of sticking with Nixon’s favored reactors.] We learned in later years that boiling water reactors like Fukushima are subject to certain types of failure under very unusual circumstances, but we probably would have discovered such problems if we’d explored the technical designs for longer before trying to start building large numbers of nuclear plants.
Read more: here
Via: Mercury News
Posted: 03/19/2013 06:18:46 AM PDT
A nuclear disaster may lead to insights into the mysterious migrations of Pacific bluefin tuna, a fish species that recently has suffered a dramatic decline.
Scientists report in a new study that they can use trace amounts of radiation in bluefin tuna to sketch the crisscrossing passage of the fish through the world’s largest ocean. Understanding how many fish move back and forth may help with the conservation of bluefin tuna.
During the Fukushima nuclear disaster, two years ago, radioactive particles flooded into the Pacific Ocean. Bluefin tuna swimming through these waters began to store certain radioisotopes, called cesium 134 and cesium 137, in their muscle tissue.
The low levels of these particles don’t pose a health danger to either the fish or sushi eaters, said Daniel Madigan, a Stanford University graduate student and an author on the study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. But scientists can track the chemical mark of Fukushima to recreate a timeline of when bluefin tuna traveled from their spawning grounds, in waters around Japan, to the coast of North America.
Read more: here
This must be glass half full? Are you fricking nuts?
We can tell where this tuna went, but you better not eat it…
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 12:48 PM ET
Workers at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan are trying to fix a crucial part of the plant that stopped working today.
The system that cools hundreds of spent fuel rods that are stored at the facility has stopped working, which could have dangerous consequences, CBC News producer Craig Dale has learned.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company confirmed that it had a partial power failure Monday evening and then discovered the problem with an electricity supply unit.
Read more: here
We will be fine..The TEPCO rep says we’re good for four days…