Tag Archives | Nuclear Power
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A “technical error” has caused Britain’s Ministry of Defense to inadvertently publish classified sections of a report containing sensitive information about US Navy and British military nuclear submarines, the BBC reports.
Sensitive information in the report, which was published to Parliament’s website after a Freedom of Information request by anti-nuclear campaigners, includes how much structural damage British subs can take before a full meltdown takes place, as well as US vessels’ abilities to handle nuclear core failure.
The “schoolboy error,” as the MoD has called it, was due to improper redaction in the PDF document. As British tabloid the Daily Star Sunday, which first reported the gargantuan slip-up, points out, “anyone wanting to read the censored sections just had to copy the text.” This was most likely because whomever attempted to redact the document did so with the digital black highlighter, which simply covers up, rather than fully redacts, the text in a PDF.
Via Washington’s Blog:
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Preface: I am not against all nuclear power, solely the unsafe type we have today.
The harmful affect of radiation on fetuses has been known for decades.
As nuclear expert Robert Alvarez — a senior U.S. Department of Energy official during the Clinton administration — and journalists Harvey Wasserman and Norman Solomon wrote in 1982 in a book called Killing Our Own:
In recent years controversy has arisen over the particular vulnerability of infants in utero and small children to the ill-effects of radiation. Exposure of the fetus to radiation during all stages of pregnancy increases the chances of developing leukemia and childhood cancers. Because their cells are dividing so rapidly, and because there are relatively so few of them involved in the vital functions of the body in the early stages, embryos are most vulnerable to radiation in the first trimester — particularly in the first two weeks after conception.
The Japanese government raised its assessment of the monthlong crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the highest severity level by international standards—a rating only conferred so far upon the Chernobyl accident. Japan's nuclear regulators said the plant has likely released so much radiation into the environment that it must boost the accident's severity rating on the International Nuclear Event scale to a 7 from 5 currently. That is the same level reached by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union, which struck almost exactly 25 years ago, on April 26, 1986. "Based on the cumulative data we've gathered, we can finally give an estimate of total radioactive materials emitted,'' Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Still, concerns about the plant remain high. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed. While a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric dismissed the analysis, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan agreed that it was possible that the core had leaked into the larger containment vessel. The possibility raised new questions. The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell. But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.
This sounds familiar, did they get advice from BP? The Guardian reports:
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Engineers battling to contain the crisis at Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear power plant appeared to have turned an important corner last night after they stopped highly radioactive water from leaking into the ocean from one of the facility’s crippled reactors.
Workers struggling to halt the leaks successfully used a mixture of sawdust, newspaper, concrete and a type of liquid glass to stem the flow of contaminated water near a seaside pit, said the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).
Earlier efforts involving cement, an absorbent polymer and rags were unsuccessful in plugging the leak, which was discovered on Saturday, while radiation of more than 7.5 million times the legal limit for seawater was found just off the earthquake-hit plant.
In a sign of Tepco’s desperation, it breached its own regulations on Monday by beginning an intentional discharge of 11,500 tonnes of less contaminated water into the Pacific to make space for the highly radioactive liquid that was seeping out in an uncontrolled manner.
Via Common Dreams:
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A concerted Japanese citizen action that delayed the loading of mixed plutonium-uranium fuel — known as MOX — into the core of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima and prevented the use of MOX at several other reactors, likely prevented a far worse outcome than is currently occurring at the troubled reactor today.
Japanese citizen groups successfully resisted the use of MOX fuel at Fukushima-Daiichi for a decade. MOX fuel was not loaded into the reactor until August 21, 2010 and the reactor began operation on September 18, 2010. Consequently, all the MOX fuel remains in the core and none of it had yet been transferred to the unprotected fuel pool.
Last August, Beyond Nuclear’s radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps, was invited by Green Action Japan and their local Fukushima anti-nuclear environmental allies to travel to Fukushima specifically to speak about the risks of storing MOX high-level radioactive waste in storage pools.
Via Entertainment Weekly:
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Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis is no laughing matter in Springfield: Networks in several European countries are reportedly reviewing episodes of “The Simpsons” for any “unsuitable” references to nuclear disaster.
An Austrian network has apparently pulled two eps, 1992’s “Marge Gets a Job” and 2005’s “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister,” which include jokes about radiation poisoning and nuclear meltdowns, respectively.
Al Jean — exec producer of the animated Fox comedy featuring inept family man/nuclear power plant worker Homer Simpson — tells EW that he can appreciate the concern.
“We have 480 episodes, and if there are a few that they don’t want to air for awhile in light of the terrible thing going on, I completely understand that,” says Jean, citing the previous example of the 1997 episode “Homer Versus the City of New York” that was pulled after 9/11 because it included key scenes at the World Trade Center.
Ben Jervey writes on GOOD:
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Last week, Nicola wrote about an interactive chart that compared the number of deaths per terawatt-hour that could be attributed to a few major sources of energy. Yesterday, Seth Godin did the world a service by simplifying that rather complicated chart.
This is a “non-exaggerated but simple version” of the original deaths/TWh statistics. Perhaps the most stunning, simple takeaway:
For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced.
Godin also mentions this incredibly important point, which cannot be driven home hard enough:
Not included in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even more if you think about it.
So, actually, it’s even worse. As everyone debates the costs and benefits, the pros and cons, and the feasibility of various energy sources as we try to power our future, we should all remember: coal is dangerous, dirty, and not as “cheap” as advertised.