Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Why did The Age TV promote an American pro nuclear film?

questionNoel Wauchope, 22 April 14, And, more importantly, when will The Age restore balance with an Australian documentary on nuclear/uranium issues, such as one of David Bradbury’s films?

Early this month The Age TV prominently featured “Pandora’s Promise”, so people across Australia could watch this glossy piece of advertising from the American nuclear front group, The Breakthrough Institute.

Today, I wasn’t able to find that nuclear infomercial on The Age’s TV site. Which is a little reassuring – they seem to be not continuing the promotion.

However, I am disappointed that I have not received a reply to my fully addressed, signed and posted.letter to The Age:

The Age  

Online Editor

PO Box 257 Melbourne VIC 3001

3 April 2014

 I came across The Age TV site, and found the Breakthrough Institute’s film “Pandora’s Promise” there.

 I had recently reviewed this film, on its Australian premiere in Melbourne, and found it to be very glossy and engaging, but essentially  a promotional feature for the nuclear industry.

 So it would bring in some balance if The Age were to show a film with a different point of view – and perhaps an Australian film, rather than American.   David Bradbury, for example, has made a number of films on nuclear/uranium issues – http://www.frontlinefilms.com.au/

 Can you tell me how The Age came to be showing this film?  I assume that Robert Stone and the Breakthrough Institute did not pay The Age to show it

 Sincerely

 Noel Wauchope

 

April 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s very misplaced enthusiasm for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.

The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.

Keith Orchison reports on the Grattan Institute submission:

‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’

Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as Lego-like’.

Why now?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, South Australia, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

UK govt admits that sea level rise will wash away its Drigg nuclear waste dump

nuke-&-seaLThis Huge Nuclear Waste Dump Will Be Washed Away By Rising Sea Levels http://gizmodo.com/uk-nuclear-waste-dump-will-be-washed-away-by-rising-sea-1565513267    21 April 14,  Geoff Manaugh A dumping ground for nuclear waste located near the British coast is “virtually certain” to be washed away by rising sea levels, a new report warns. The UK Environment Agency has admitted that constructing the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository so near the coast was a mistake, and that one million cubic meters of nuclear waste will begin leaking into the ocean “a few hundred to a few thousand years from now.”

Sounds bad? Pay no attention, then, to current plans to increase the site’s capacity by another 800,000 cubic meters over the next century, adding new waste that will include “radioactive debris from Britain’s nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities,” the Guardian reports.

It’s interesting to note that, while the site officially contains only low-level waste, there is suspicion that higher-level wastes with correspondingly higher levels of radioactivity could have been dumped there in the past. Recall the incredible tale of Sellafield nuclear power station—the site from which much of the waste now stored at Drigg originates—where records of previous dumping had been thrown away or lost. This led to the terrifying need to advertise in the local newspaper, saying: “We need your help.” Why? Because they had no idea what was buried there.

“Did you work at Sellafield in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s?” the ad asked with false calm. “Were you by chance in the job of disposing of radioactive material? If so, the owners of Britain’s nuclear waste dump would very much like to hear from you: they want you to tell them what you dumped—and where you put it.”

In any case, the coastal tomb at Drigg is all but guaranteed to break apart in the waves and wash its mysterious and harmful contents into the sea. “A few hundred to a few thousand years from now” sounds like a long time, of course, but think of that as potentially little more than the time between us and Shakespeare (400 years), and the terrifying urgency of this becomes more clear. [Guardian]

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yet another gimmicky nuclear plan bites the dust – Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Another one (or more) bites the dust …http://johnquiggin.com/2014/04/20/another-one-or-more-bites-the-dust/ April 20th, 2014  Coming back yet again to nuclear power, I’ve been arguing for a while that nuclear power can only work (if at all) on the basis of a single standardised design, and that the only plausible candidate for this is the Westinghouse AP1000. One response from nuclear enthusiasts has been to point to possible future advances beyond the Gen III+ approach embodied by the AP1000 (and less promising competitors like EPR). The two most popular have been Small Modular Reactors and Generation IV (fast) reactors. Recent news suggests that both of these options are now dead.

The news on the Small Modular Reactor is that Babcock and Wilcox, the first firm to be selected by the US Department of Energy to develop a prototype, has effectively mothballed the project, sacking the CEO of its SMR subsidiary and drastically scaling back staffWestinghouse already abandoned its efforts. There is still one firm left pursuing the idea, and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to attract investors, but there’s no reason to expect success any time soon.

reactor-types-spin

As regards Generation IV, the technology road map issued by the Gen IV International Forum in 2002 has just been updated. All the timelines have been pushed out, mostly by 10 years or more. That is, Gen IV is no closer now than it was when the GenIV initiative started. In particular, there’s no chance of work starting on even a prototype before about 2020, which puts commercial availability well past 2035. Allowing for construction time, there’s no prospect of electricity generation on a significant scale before 2050, by which time we will need to have completely decarbonized the economy.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is USA Navy covering up, about radiation exposure to sailors who helped at Fukushima?

questionFlag-USAIs America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?, WhoWhatWhy  By  on Apr 21, 2014  “……….What Did the U.S. Navy Know?

Whether the plaintiffs succeed in holding the Japanese utility liable, the case raises important questions about the role and responsibility of the U.S. Navy:

   Why did the U.S. Navy insist from the beginning that it was safe for its troops to remain in the vicinity of three reactor meltdowns?
   After having gone to the trouble of setting up a medical registry to track radiation-related illnesses—the Operation Tomodachi Registry—why did the U.S. Department of Defense decide not to monitor the health of the nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated citizens—military personnel and their family members—who were in or near Japan during and after the Fukushima meltdowns?
   Why is there no mention of radiation exposure in many of the sailors’ military medical files, even those people specifically assigned jobs involving radiation decontamination?
   Why, given the mounting evidence of illnesses known to be triggered by radiation exposure, is radiation dismissed as a possible cause?………http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ground is sinking below wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactors

Top Nuclear Official: “Ground sinking” beneath Fukushima reactor buildings a concern — Gov’t experts looking closely at risks from changes to flow of underground water http://enenews.com/top-nuclear-official-ground-sinking-beneath-fukushima-reactor-buildings-a-concern-govt-experts-closely-looking-into-risks-from-changes-to-undergroud-water-flow

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Japan’s nuclear regulator and experts are questioning the safety of plans to build frozen walls to […] prevent groundwater from flowing beneath the reactor buildings. […] The government and TEPCO want to start construction in June. […] The NRA invited experts to a meeting last Friday […] NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa expressed concern about the risk of the ground sinking. […] They said all the risks need to be addressed further. The NRA decided to continue to closely look into the safety of the planned frozen walls.

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Some contamination in the groundwater drawn from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is making the area’s fishermen uneasy, as the plant’s operator plans to release it into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company has a plan to pump up groundwater and release it into the Pacific Ocean […]

USGS“More than 80 percent of the identified subsidence in the United States is a consequence of human impact on subsurface water”

text-Fukushima-2014

See also:

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA’s government is committed to the nuclear industry, rather than to the well-being of its navy men

Obama-puppetIs America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?, WhoWhatWhy  By  on Apr 21, 2014Reason for Navy Cover-up?“………..Because U.S. military personnel are prevented from suing the government, their only recourse is to go after TEPCO. But given the interests involved, the outcome for the Operation Tomodachi victims remains very much in doubt. Robert Alvarez, the nuclear investigator and former DOE deputy assistant secretary, points out that about a quarter of a million U.S. soldiers were subjected to open air nuclear weapons testing in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

“If you use the treatment of atomic veterans who were involved in atmospheric testing as a benchmark, the government did everything it could to downplay the hazards, because from the military perspective, the mission is all important,” he says.

“Right now, the United States government and Japan are closing ranks because of their nuclear-related relationships,” he says. Although Japan’s 54 power-generating nuclear reactors are currently offline, the country still has the third largest number of nuclear reactors in the world.

But more important, Alvarez says, is the “extraordinary co-dependence” with Japan on nuclear-energy-related matters. “Because the U.S. has lost much of its capability in designing and building reactors, we have to depend on the Japanese and the French if we’re going to build any reactors or fabricate fuel or do anything to service the existing reactor fleet,” he explained. “We’re dependent on companies that are now owned by Japan and France.”

The case of the ill Operation Tomodachi veterans shines a spotlight on the intersection of competing interests between victims of radiation exposure, the nuclear power industry, and the U.S. government and its unwavering commitment to nuclear technology for both military and civilian use. So far, by denying the harm from the radiation U.S. military personnel were exposed to as they helped Japan clean up after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011—a position that supports the Japanese government and nuclear industry—the U.S. government is doing what it has almost always done: protect nuclear interests rather than its victims.

As the number of ill Operation Tomodachi veterans climbs, it remains to be seen whether their sacrifice will be acknowledged or if they, like so many others, will be left to fend for themselves.  http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/#sthash.YiyEeRT1.dpuf

 

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment