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Showing posts from June, 2011

Wednesday Update

From the new NEI Japan site. Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has repaired faulty hoses and restarted the new cooling system for the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The system resumed operations after the repair. The system, which on June 27 began circulating decontaminated water through reactors 1, 2 and 3, had developed leaks in pipes and hoses shortly after it was activated. Work has started to build a giant polyester cover over reactor building 1 to contain the spread of radioactive materials. A crane that can lift up to 750 tons is at the Fukushima Daiichi site removing debris from the top of the building, which was damaged in a hydrogen explosion March 12. Later, the crane will be used to install the 175-foot-tall cover, which is expected to be complete by late September. TEPCO has begun injecting inert nitrogen gas into the containment vessel of reactor 2 at Fukushima Daiichi to prevent the possibility of hydrogen ignition.

The Water Around Fort Calhoun

Last night, I saw a “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” segment of a chat show that focused on Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun station, which is sitting in an area now flooded by the swollen Missouri River. The speaker stressed that, despite the mutual presence of water around Fort Calhoun and Fukushima Daiichi, the two incidents are not similar, though he did call Fort Calhoun a Fukushima-like event in slow motion. Is it? Let’s allow our old friends the Union of Concerned Scientists to take this one: The Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the nuclear-power industry’s toughest critics, sprang into action when the Missouri River flood threatened the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska. But after looking into the matter, the scientists group was reassured. Precautions had been taken to deal with the floodwaters, and federal inspectors had checked over the plant on Monday. You may be sure that if there were the tiniest concern, UCS would be taking the most dire tone imaginabl

NEI; Japan; France; Cars or No Cars?

We’ll continue to bring you Japan updates on this page, but you may also want to take a look at NEI’s new site dedicated to Japan and Fukushima Daiichi. Called Nuclear Answers , it contains the updates, some new videos (we played some of them here in March), and – a lot of other material. Despite the nature of NEI – it is the Nuclear Energy Institute, after all – it won a lot of praise for its honest and informed coverage of Fukushima. That will continue on the new site. Well worth a bookmark. --- One thing you can say about the French, they assume an intelligence on the part of other people that can seem rather blunt . "There is no alternative to nuclear power today." Mr. Sarkozy told a press conference. "Those who ask for a moratorium, I find this curious. It would consist in keeping old plants and abstaining from researching new safer plants." Mr. Sarkozy is French President Nicolas Sarkozy. And of course, he’s right, though France began its big pus

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : Update as of 5 p.m. EDT, Friday, June 24 Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. is continuing efforts to reduce the accumulation of radioactive water from cooling operations at Fukushima Daiichi reactors 1, 2 and 3. With reactor temperatures stabilizing, the company is reducing the water injection flow rate into the reactors. The total inflow rate is now about 386 tons per day. Heavy rains are challenging TEPCO's effort to contain water accumulating onsite. TEPCO's system to decontaminate and recycle the radioactive water in the basements of reactor buildings is now operating. As of Friday, a total of 3,000 tons of water has been decontaminated. The system is now filtering water at a rate of 400 tons per day. The design capacity of the system is 1,200 tons per day. The desalination component of the system has also begun operating. TEPCO plans to recycle the decontaminated water to cool the reactors, possibly as soon as next

Polling Nuclear in California and Japan

Looking at recent stories from the AP and Al-Jazeera, as we’ve done over the last week, may make one think that the media has the knives out for the nuclear energy industry. To be honest, journalists never, and never should, put the knives back in the case. Trying to find malfeasance is a goal of journalism. Finding it is the tough part. While I think the nuclear energy industry provides a poor target for malfeasance hunting, the accident at Fukushima Daiichi has put the industry front and center, so any reporter looking to fill an annoying empty space on the wall with a Pulitzer Prize has zeroed in on nuclear energy. So be it – let’s wish them well. But let’s not pretend the stories are even remotely fair, largely because fairness would ruin the arguments. Instead, one can just point out the flaws, link to documents that demonstrate the flaws, and note logical inconsistencies. And, of course, wait. The media is like a school of sharks in that it has to keep moving to keep up w

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : Pillars Installed To Support Used Fuel Pool Update as of 5 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 22 Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers have installed 32 steel pillars to support the reactor 4 spent fuel pool at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility and improve its capability to withstand earthquakes. The company next will wrap the pillars in concrete. It plans to finish the project by the end of July. The walls supporting the pool sustained damage in a hydrogen explosion four days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. TEPCO reported earlier that analysis shows the reactor 4 building meets seismic requirements in its current condition, but shoring up the pool will provide an additional safety margin. Ten Fukushima Daiichi workers have entered the reactor 2 building to assess its environment. Faced with near 100 percent humidity inside, TEPCO had earlier opened the building's doors for ventilation, which reduce

The IAEA As Meta-Regulator?

You may have heard the International Atomic Energy Agency is having a ministerial conference in Vienna – ironic, of course, as Austria has no nuclear facilities. But the pastries are nice and the tourist council always appreciates the visitors. I think the most interesting part of the conference, which was called to discuss post-Fukushima Daiichi safety issues - will happen later this week, as Japan will present its initial findings on the accident. But the early part of the week brought a rather surprising proposal from the IAEA itself: In Vienna this week, opening the International Atomic Energy Agency's first major global meeting since the Japanese Fukushima reactor disaster, agency head Yukiya Amano proposed that his organisation conduct random checks on reactors. Warning that "business as usual" was not an option for the nuclear industry, he called for drafting of stronger IAEA global standards within a year and for improvements to the independence and

Scientific American Blog Uses Simple Math to Expose Flawed Radiation Essay by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman

Michael Moyer over at SciAm’s Observations blog made the easy calculations to discover how “physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano” manipulated radiation data to scare folks about the Fukushima accident. After digging into the Centers for Disease Control data, here’s what Moyer found: a check reveals that the authors’ statistical claims are critically flawed—if not deliberate mistruths. … Only by explicitly excluding data from January and February were Sherman and Mangano able to froth up their specious statistical scaremongering. This is not to say that the radiation from Fukushima is not dangerous (it is), nor that we shouldn’t closely monitor its potential to spread (we should). But picking only the data that suits your analysis isn’t science—it’s politics. Beware those who would confuse the latter with the former. It’s not too hard to bust holes in Mangano’s “essays,” we’ve been doing it for years. Great to see SciAm dig into the number

The AP Trawls for Nuclear Wickedness

It’s reasonable for journalists to beaver around the nuclear energy industry to find evidence that the industry is a nest of vipers plotting disaster and misery. That’s what journalists do. And I guess one can always find something that can be ratcheted into a breathless story. But the nuclear energy industry in context is not very, um, viperous and thus such stories tend to point at wicked seeming details that are pretty benign – in context. The Al-Jazeera story below doesn’t really qualify here because the story has a suspicion of American motivation underlying it that makes it vulnerable to conspiracy theories and bluntly unproveable – one might even say false - assertions. But the Associated Press, in a long story published yesterday, tries a different approach, trawling through Nuclear Regulatory Commission records to try to show a coziness between the industry and its regulators that make the party animals at the Mine Safety and Health Administration look like shrinking violets.

Tuesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : Fukushima Daiichi Water Filtration System Testing Continues Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. is working to restart full-scale tests of the water filtration system it will use to decontaminate and recycle radioactive water that has flooded the basements of buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The system went into full operation on Friday but was shut down after five hours when radiation levels rose more quickly than anticipated in the part of the system that removes oil and sludge. TEPCO may add more equipment to remove oil or lower the water flow rate through the system. Cooling water injections into reactors 1, 2 and 3 are accumulating in the building basements at the rate of 500 tons per day, and could overflow in about a week if the decontamination system is not functional by then. TEPCO was able to open an entrance to the damaged reactor 2 building to lower high humidity levels without causing an increase in ove

A Story Much Worse Than You Think

An article at Al-Jazeera is called Fukushima: It’s Much Worse Than You Think. Generally, I find Al-Jazeera worth a look, especially for news from the Arab world, but this story misses the mark by a wide margin. Al-Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail interviews a few anti-nuclear energy advocates and tries out a few new wrinkles that show a basic distrust for America. --- For example, conspiracies: Why have alarms not been sounded about radiation exposure in the US? Nuclear operator Exelon Corporation has been among Barack Obama's biggest campaign donors, and is one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was senator. Exelon has donated more than $269,000 to his political campaigns, thus far. Obama also appointed Exelon CEO John Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. That’s why rampant radiation in America hasn’t been reported – because John Rowe said no. Even if there were such a conspiracy, there would have to be a lot of buy-i

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : Updated as of noon EDT, Friday, June 17 Plant Status The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff said it now appears the agency was mistaken in its early conclusion that the used fuel pool at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 may have lost all cooling water. "According to the latest information, it is unlikely it ever went completely dry," said William Borchardt, NRC executive director for operations, in a progress briefing Wednesday for the NRC commissioners. Concern about the potential for overheating in the pool was a factor in the NRC's conservative call for U.S. citizens to evacuate as far as 50 miles from the plant, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional committee yesterday. "We are continuing to review and re-evaluate the 50-mile recommendation," he said. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is preparing to release a revised "road map" today for stabilizing the Fukushima Daiichi site, with an incr

SCANA’s Analyst Day - “New nuclear continues to be the low cost alternative for customers”

Yesterday, SCANA held an Analyst Day that mostly talked about the construction of the two nuclear units at their Summer station. Here’s the link to the 164 page slide deck (18 mega-byte pdf). Below are a few noteworthy slides. The first slide to mention is “Why Nuclear?” If you look at the chart at the top right of the slide below, SCANA provided their all-in cost estimates for nuclear ($76/MWh), natural gas ($81/MWh), coal ($117/MWh), offshore wind ($292/MWh) and solar ($437/MWh). For them, “new nuclear continues to be the low cost alternative for customers.” Here are two slides, of many, showing construction at the site. Also worth mentioning is the slide showing where SCANA is purchasing the supplies around the world to construct the units. And, below is a picture of one of the AP1000s being built in China that is 2.5 years ahead of SCANA’s construction schedule. They are, of course, sharing lessons between each other. There is definitely much more to perus

Grist’s Anti-Nuclear Campaign Distorts Reality (Part 3 of 3)

This last part discusses Paul Gipe’s analysis of nuclear’s costs and risks which was based on questionable assumptions from a California Energy Commission study, a report published in German by the country’s renewable energy association, and an unknown study on energy externalities. Let’s get into it. From Mr. Gipe: The CEC's 186-page report, " Comparative Costs of California Central Station Electricity Generation " [PDF], found that a 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactor would generate electricity in 2018 from as little as $0.17 per kilowatt-hour to as much as $0.34 per kilowatt-hour. The study from the California Energy Commission was published in January 2010, more than a year ago. Yet the first sentence in his Grist post says the “nuclear industry continues to take a battering,” suggesting that he’s offering new information and that one report from California constitutes battering. There is new info since January 2010 but it’s not mentioned in Mr. Gip

“30 percent higher than it would otherwise be”

One of the points that is made again and again about nuclear energy – on this blog, certainly, but really, in many places – is that if the world pulled away from nuclear energy, it would be very hard to achieve the carbon emission reduction goals that are wanted – needed – to stave off climate disaster. That’s not a slam at renewable energy, just a recognition of what’s currently possible and impossible, practical and not practical Still, the starkness of this article startling: A halving of a global nuclear power expansion after Japan's Fukushima disaster would increase global growth in carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent through 2035, the IEA said on Wednesday. Although the International Energy Agency has a dog in the race, it’s not the one you think. It was created after the seventies oil crisis (If you’re of an age, you may remember lining up your car - on certain days of the week – to get your rationed gasoline) to act as a stopgap if the petroleum supply is ag

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : New Filters Remove Radiation from Seawater Updated as of 3 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 15 Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun full operation of seawater filtering systems near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Installed near the water intakes of reactors 2 and 3, the filters absorb radioactive cesium then return the water to the ocean. Tests indicate the system reduces cesium levels by 20 percent to 30 percent. TEPCO is seeking ways to increase the filtering capability. Japan's health ministry has ordered TEPCO to release from duty 23 workers who had been exposed internally to more than 10 rem (100 millisieverts) of radiation early in the accident. The ministry took the precaution because the employees' continued work at the facility could result in exposure beyond the temporary 25 rem (250 mSv) limit. The limit was raised in March from 10 rem (100 mSv) to the emergency level of 25 rem. TEPC

Great Picture of Fort Calhoun and the Missouri River

From St. Louis today : The NRC sent out a notice (pdf) last week saying a fire had occurred in a switchgear room and was extinguished in less than an hour. No incidents have been reported since. Here’s what Omaha Public Power District said yesterday : Jeff Hanson says, "We're protected far above where this is projected to go." It helps that the facility was built to withstand a 500-year flood event and Hanson says there are feet of protection between the Missouri and the important structures on site. That was before the aqua dams were put in place. Hanson says the plant has plans and procedures in place and practice flood defense. The aqua dams add another layer of protection from flooding. Jeff Hanson says, "Protecting the vital assets, we have sandbagged and placed earthen berms around the substations which guarantees the power can get into the plant to keep the plant powered." The facility was taken offline to refuel earlier this y

Tuesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page : TEPCO To Test Water Filtration System Update as of 5 p.m. EDT, Monday, June 13 Plant Status Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) says it will test a new water treatment system on Tuesday at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The company had planned to check the equipment last weekend, but the system was running too slowly to complete the test. The system is designed to treat 1,200 tons of contaminated water per day. The company injected cooling water into reactor 3 for about two hours on June 13, accompanied by injections of hydrazine, which is a corrosion inhibitor. Pressure and temperature conditions of reactors 1, 2 and 3 are stable, according to reports. The company has begun installing a temporary cover over the reactor 1 building that will help prevent the dispersal of radioactive material. Also on June 13, TEPCO started operation of a circulating seawater purification facility installed at the water in

Grist’s Anti-Nuclear Campaign Distorts Reality (Part 2 of 3)

Continuing on with our analysis of Grist’s anti-nuclear campaign, the following is what we think about Mr. Jungjohann’s third and fourth pieces. Grist’s Part Three - States fight back against nuclear power, even as the feds remain in its thrall In his third piece , Mr. Jungjohann claims, with little evidence, that states are turning against nuclear. Of the five states he mentions, only one of them is actually fighting against nuclear and that’s Vermont, which has been fighting for years. In New York, a new, ambitious governor who wants to shut down Indian Point may not speak for the majority. As an example, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani supports nuclear and the folks up in Oswego County have been working hard for a long time to bring a new reactor to the state. In California, just because activists are going after the state’s two nuclear plants doesn’t mean the state is fighting nuclear. And in Maryland and Texas, the decision to suspend the process for new plants was made by

56th Carnival of Nuclear Energy: Nuclear Politics, Future Plans and Germany, Germany, Germany

It’s been another contentious week on nuclear and the pro-nuclear blogging community has been right in the mix. This week we have the privilege of hosting the carnival for the fifth time that’s been on-going for more than a year. Nuclear Politics To start, Rod Adams at Atomic Insights has a piece describing what’s happening between the NRC, the AP1000 and Friends of the Earth. According to Rod, the NRC appears to be wavering in its commitment to its own established process because some believe that receiving 14,000 emails on the AP1000 design certification indicates a high level of general public opposition. Rod notes that the emails are mainly from a single group, the FOE, who have professionally opposed nuclear energy for 40 years. The group claims credit for orchestrating nearly every one of those emails as part of a campaign against nuclear energy in general, not against the AP1000 in particular. The FOE sources who have identified the cited "technical issues" have q