Australian news, and some related international items

The forgotten risk of a catastrophic crash of a plutonium-fuelled space rocket

Beyond Nuclear 31st March 2018, President Trump has announced that he wants the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to “lead an innovative space exploration
program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually
Mars.” But the risks such ventures would entail have scarcely been
touched upon.

For those of us who watched Ron Howard’s nail-biter of a
motion picture, Apollo 13, and for others who remember the real-life drama
as it unfolded in April 1970, collective breaths were held that the
three-man crew would return safely to Earth. They did.

What hardly anyone remembers now — and certainly few knew at the time — was that the
greater catastrophe averted was not just the potential loss of three lives,
tragic though that would have been. There was a lethal cargo on board that,
if the craft had crashed or broken up, might have cost the lives of
thousands and affected generations to come. It is a piece of history so
rarely told that NASA has continued to take the same risk over and over
again, as well as before Apollo 13. And that risk is to send rockets into
space carrying the deadliest substance ever created by humans: plutonium.

April 1, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Closing down of Fukushima nuclear power plant : cost escalates to US$75 billion

Oil Price 30th March 2018, The decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant will cost an
annual US$2 billion (220 billion yen) until 2021, an unnamed source told
the Japan Times. Half of the money will be used to tackle the radioactive
water buildup at the site of the plant and for removing radioactive fuel
from the fuel pools. A small amount of funds will be used to research ways
of retreating melted fuel from the reactors that got damaged during the
2011 tsunami disaster.

The US$6 billion for the three years is only part of
the total estimated cost for taking Fukushima out of operation. The total
decommissioning tally came in at US$75 billion (8 trillion yen), as
estimated by the specially set up Nuclear Damage Compensation and
Decommissioning Facilitation Corp (NDF).

That’s four times more than the initial estimate of the costs around the NPP’s decommissioning. Now theoperator of Fukushima, Tepco, and the NDF are due to submit their financial
plan for the facility to the government for approval by the energy industry
minister. In addition to the US$6 billion allocated for the cleanup, Tepco
will spend another US$1.88 billion (200 billion yen) on preparing to start
extracting the melted fuel from the three damaged reactors. This seems to
be the biggest challenge for the cleanup efforts because of the still high
radiation levels as well as technical difficulties.

April 1, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

American nuclear industry in chaos – desperate for tax-payer bailouts

More Nuclear Power Plant Shutdowns, Bailouts In The Works, WSKG, 1 Apr 18 By Reid Frazier  STATE IMPACT PENNSYLVANIA – Citing market challenges,” electric utility FirstEnergy says it will close three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, while at the same time asking the Department of Energy for immediate help to keep its fleet of coal and nuclear plants open.

The company, which could be near bankruptcy according to a report at, gave regional grid operator PJM interconnection notice that it will deactivate Beaver Valley Power Station and two other plants — Davis-Besse in Oak Harber, Ohio, and Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry, Ohio — by 2021.

……. Natural gas and renewable energy have been making up a larger amount of the country’s electric grid, eating into coal and nuclear power on wholesale markets. With that backdrop, FirstEnergy is also asking the Department of Energy to issue an immediate emergency order to PJM Interconnection, the grid operator for mid-Atlantic states, to provide “just and reasonable” compensation to its fleet of aging coal and nuclear power plants in order to keep them open.

“Nuclear and coal-fired generators in PJM have been closing at a rapid rate — putting PJM’s system resiliency at risk — and many more closures have been announced,” the company said, in a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry. “PJM has demonstrated little urgency to remedy this problem any time soon — so immediate action by the Secretary is needed to alleviate the present emergency.

…..The order would be similar to one that Perry’s own Department of Energy proposed last year, which would have made ratepayers pay more for energy produced at coal and nuclear plants. In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected the proposal.

Environmental groups were swift to label the plan a “bailout” for the coal industry.

“If Rick Perry and Trump Administration take the bait and actually issue this ill-advised and illegal emergency order, that means they’re happy to let energy bills and pollution skyrocket, just to bail out a handful of rich coal and nuclear executives,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, in a statement.

The oil and gas industry was no less harsh in its criticism……..

In addition to looking for federal assistance, FirstEnergy is asking states for help, too.

Don Moul, president of FirstEnergy Solutions, the company’s power generation subsidiary, called on legislators in Ohio and Pennsylvania to help keep the nuclear plants open……..

April 1, 2018 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

April 1 Energy News



¶ “The Small Fishing Town Providing Japan’s Nuclear Litmus Test” • In the sleepy coastal town of Kaminoseki, with about 3,000 residents, one of Japan’s most divisive political debates, the future of nuclear power, is being played out in microcosm. On one small island, the population is unanimously opposed to nuclear power. [South China Morning Post]

Kaminoseki (Photo: Takehiro Masutomo)

¶ “US Energy Providers Reach for Electric Cars to Increase Flatlining Energy Needs” • Electricity demand is not growing in the US, and utility providers are challenged by falling costs of renewable energy. Some utility companies are teaming up with automakers to offer customer rebates. Can EVs possibly save the grid utilities? [The Drive]

Science and Technology:

¶ Vincent Callebaut Architectures submitted a proposal for a competition for the French city of Angers in a collaboration with Bouygues Immobilier group. The designs focus is on…

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April 1, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment