Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear workers plagued by leukaemia, cancers and other illnesses

Some workers developed cancer, leukemia and other illnesses. The same held true for workers at other nuclear facilities across the nation.

The number of potentially eligible workers across the nation is uncertain. Likewise, the number of employees potentially affected at West Valley could be in the thousands when accounting for temporary workers.

“This was particularly troubling if the same workers were hired repeatedly as temporaries and received high doses each time,”

In addition, the exposure of growing numbers of individuals increased the possibility of genetic consequences for the entire population.” 

Cancer plagues West Valley nuke workers

Federal program has paid former employees $20.3 million in compensation. Other claims are pending and still more workers are unaware of the program.
By Phil Gambini      David Pyles says he lives on painkillers and moves with the help of a cane and walker. He worked for five years at the West Valley Demonstration Project, a failed experiment to process spent nuclear fuel.

“What we were doing was insane. We were dealing with so much radiation,” he told Investigative Post from his home in New Hampshire.

“I’ve got absolutely no joints left in my knees — my knees are gone, my ankles are gone and my hips are gone,” he said.

“I wonder if it’s from working in that bathtub full of radiation.”

Pyles was one of about 200 full-time employees who operated the former Nuclear Fuel Services reprocessing facility five decades ago in the hamlet of West Valley, where the company partnered with the federal government to recycle used radioactive fuel. Other workers were hired to contain and dispose of the dangerous waste the operation left behind.

Some workers developed cancer, leukemia and other illnesses. The same held true for workers at other nuclear facilities across the nation. As a result, Congress established the Energy Employees Occupational Illness and Compensation Program in 2000. 

An Investigative Post review of the program found the government has paid $20.3 million over the last two decades in cases involving at least 59 people who worked at the West Valley site.

In all, individuals have submitted claims involving 280 employees who worked at the bygone reprocessing facility or during the ongoing $3.1 billion taxpayer-funded cleanup. An undetermined number of claims have been denied; the rest are being adjudicated.

Pyles said he was unaware of the program. He isn’t alone.

The Department of Labor’s Office of the Ombudsman has repeatedly criticized outreach efforts  in its annual oversight reports. Most of it has been in the form of events held near former sites. Given the passage of time and people’s movement, reaching more eligible workers is a challenge.

The workforce at West Valley involved more than full-timers. About 1,000 temporary laborers were hired by the company in any given year, according to government and media reports from the time.

The use of temporary workers was a common labor practice at the time, but few operations needed to “raise quite so large an army” as Nuclear Fuel Services, according to a Science Magazine report from the era.

The industry had a nickname for them: “sponges.”

They were hired to “absorb radiation to do simple tasks,” according to Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a radiological waste consultant who co-authored a study of West Valley. 

While working at a site like West Valley does not guarantee later illnesses or genetic complications for offspring, each exposure to radiation increases the likelihood of cancer, Resnikoff said.

“It’s what I guess I would call a meat grinder,” he said.

Exposure to radiation

Continue reading

March 7, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power’s Prospects Cool a Decade After Fukushima Meltdowns

Nuclear Power’s Prospects Cool a Decade After Fukushima Meltdowns

Disaster at the Japanese reactors marked a turning point for an industry that once promised to give the world a nearly unlimited source of energy  WSJ, By Peter Landers, March 3, 2021 

OMAEZAKI, Japan—At a seaside nuclear-power plant here, a concrete wall stretching a mile along the coast and towering 73 feet above sea level offers protection against almost any conceivable tsunami. Two reactors are ready to start splitting atoms again to heat water into steam and generate power, the operator has told regulators.

Yet despite safety measures set to cost nearly $4 billion, the Hamaoka plant hasn’t produced a single kilowatt since May 2011, and it has no target date to restart. The paint on billboards is fading and an old “no trespassing” sign outside the barbed wire lies on the ground—signs of creeping neglect.

Even a local antinuclear leader, Katsushi Hayashi, said he spent more time these days fighting an unrelated rail line in the mountains, confident that regulators and public opinion wouldn’t let the plant open any time soon. “Fukushima gave us all the proof we need. It’s dangerous,” Mr. Hayashi said.

The triple meltdowns at Japanese nuclear reactors in Fukushima after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami marked a turning point in an industry that once dreamed of providing the world with nearly unlimited power.

A decade after Fukushima, just nine reactors in Japan are authorized to operate, down from 54 a decade ago, and five of those are currently offline owing to legal and other issues. All of Fukushima prefecture’s reactors are closed permanently or set to do so. Chubu Electric Power Co. , owner of the Hamaoka plant, declined to make an executive available for comment. It has formally applied to reopen two reactors at the plant and told regulators that new measures such as the wall, mainly completed in 2015, make them safe to operate…… (subscribers only)

March 4, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Olympic makeover: Will the ‘cursed’ area be safe from radioactivity in time for Games? 

March 4, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free And Independent Pacific Day 2021

March 2, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Ordinary people do not get truthful information from the government on the Kimba nuclear waste plan

In today’s InDaily 01/03/2021 comment section from Barry Wakelin…..
“Fear is most likely true for many politicians and certainly intimidated.”
As a federal politician of 15 years 1993 to 2007 I expressed my views without fear – but as a humble civilian and departed Federal MP with my boots on, I observe manipulation and refusal to print factual questions which can never see the light of day because the political usage of organisations refuses to bring the light of clear explanations to issues like nuclear matters, for example.
No explanation on NHMRC / ARPANSA guidelines on no nuclear waste on “agricultural land”
No nuclear waste on government land ( the ultimate NIMBY proponents) and only on agricultural land and never on mining land is the new Australia. Out of Lucas Heights ASAP, even though as long as there is a nuclear reactor there producing nuclear medicine there will always be intermediate level waste there.
No emphasis or explanation of cyclotrons and their improving capacities.
The appalling record at Maralinga and particularly Radium Hill and many other locations is enough in itself to show the contempt for working Australians which confirms for me corporate Australia’s arrogance for ordinary people who ultimately carry Australia’s economic burden.
Well done to all those who fight the good fight against the irresponsible amongst us who will not look at the health consequences of their actions and worst of all, deliberately will not seek the truth to enable all of us to have “a fair go”.” – Barry Wakelin, Kimba

March 2, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Ex-PMs Kan, Koizumi urge Japan to quit nuclear power generation 

March 2, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Small Nuclesar Reactors – not all they’re cracked up to be

RENEW EXTRA WEEKLY    28 Feb 21, Weekly update to Renew On Line bimonthly newsletter:

Small Nuclear Reactors,  There has of late been a lot of promotion of the idea of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) of a few tens or hundreds of megawatts, which it is claimed will be cheaper than conventional gigawatt scaled plants since they can benefit from economies of mass production in factories. Much has been promised for SMRs, including the delivery of power at £40-60/MWh, but there is still some way to go before any project actually goes ahead and we can see if the promises hold upon practice.

In the past, the nuclear industry had tried to improve the economics of nuclear plants by going for larger plants, without too much success: the on-site construction costs have escalated. However, it is not clear if small plants will have any more success. Scaling down does not necessarily reduce complexity, and, given the need to ensure safety, it is that which may drive costs most. Nevertheless, developers are trying their luck, with many proposals for devices emerging around the world.
In fact, few are actually new. Most are basically variants of ideas proposed, and in some cases tested, many decades ago, but mostly then abandoned. The most developed of the new retro- wave, the NuScale reactor, is however a scaled down version of an idea that did get followed up, the standard and widely-used pressurised water reactor. Given that its basic PWR technology was familiar, it is perhaps not surprising that this design has achieved regulatory clearance relatively rapidly. That’s just design acceptance, NuScale still have apply for construction permission, but they are expected to do that by 2022. So we may see some prototype tests in due course, and, possibly later this decade, if all goes well, some commercial projects. Rolls Royce are also promoting a mini-PWR design, which, it is claimed, will be ready for grid use by 2030.
Some of the other SMR proposals are less developed and may take more time to get to that stage. But it is claimed that one of the more novel design, the Natrium fast reactor system, proposed by Terrapower and backed by Bill Gates, will be on line this decade. Given that this makes use of liquid sodium and molten salt heat storage, that is quite a claim. So is the idea, also being pursued by Terrapower, that reactors can be run with molten salt fluoride as both reactant medium and reaction coolant. It has even been claimed that reactors like this, with suitable fast spectrum neutron fluxes, can burn nuclear waste. That has yet to be proven. But certainly, if they are to use thorium as a fuel, they will need an input of plutonium or some other neutron source, since thorium is not fissile, so in that sense they do recycle something.  Though we still have to have uranium reactor, possibly fast breeders, to make the plutonium.
As can be seen, there are many possible problems ahead for SMRs. Perhaps the central one is safety.  Working with high radiation fluxes in small confined spaces is not easy. Even in the case of molten salt systems, which avoid the need for control rods, the super-hot corrosive fluids have to be pumped around for heat and waste extraction. It may not be easy to design  compact systems that can do this reliably long-term.

The safety issue interacts with the other key issues for SMRs- location. If they are going to be economically viable, some say that SMRs will have to be run in Combined Heat and Power ‘Cogen’ mode, supplying heat for local used, as well as power for the grid. That implies that they will have to sited in or near large heat loads i.e. in or near urban areas. Will local residents be keen to have mini-nuclear plants near by?  That issue is already being discussed in the USA, with some urban resistance emerging.

A key issue in that context is that it has been argued that since they allegedly will be safer, SMRs will not need to have such large evacuation zones as is the norm for standard reactors, most of which are sited in relatively remote area. Indeed, unless that requirement was changed, operation in cities could be impossible- they could not easily be evacuated fast if there was an accident, or perhaps a security threat. On the basis of this view, SMRs will only ever be relevant for remote sites, and of course there are plenty of such locations where local power generation might be welcome, although arguably, renewable sources might be easier, safer and cheaper to use. Indeed, that might be said of all locations.

The debate over safety, security and location will continue to unfold, with folksy mini-nuke designs emerging for remote rural locations, but concerns also growing over the many unknowns, not least the costs and market potential. There are SMR programmes in the US and UK and elsewhere, but there are big doubts about whether there would be a viable market for this technology.

That is despite the fact that there is some dual use/expertise overlap between civil and military nuclear, and, more specifically, that mini reactors are used for submarine propulsion. While that may be one reason why companies like Rolls Royce are pushing for SMRs, on its own military submarine use is a relatively small market.

There is no shortage of promotional enthusiasm for SMRs for a variety of reasons, including, it is claimed, defence-related, and some arguably extravagant claims on comparative  investment costs have been made. However, there have also been some strong critiques and gloomy prognoses.  At best, they say, SMRs may have a role to play in some remote locations and, as with nuclear generally, perhaps for heat production and hydrogen production, for example for industrial purposes. It has also been claimed that SMRs could produce synthetic aircraft fuel as substitute for kerosene, although ‘at around about twice the price’.

That all seem to be a long shot, with many unknowns, and in terms of energy supply of whatever type, renewables may have the edge in most contexts. However, it is just conceivable that SMRs could be used to back up renewables. Some types of SMR may be able to run more flexibly than can large conventional reactors, so that they could play a role in balancing variable renewables.  That is still very uncertain, in operational and cost terms, and there are many other arguably simpler, safer and cheaper options for grid balancing.  Though, evidently keen to try their luck, a UK developer has talked of using  NuScale units in a hybrid wind-SMR system.

So what’s the bottom line?  For the moment, although being pushed in the US and UK and elsewhere, SMRs are some way off, with very mixed prospects.  But technology can move fast, and although there will no doubt be local resistance, and they may not pop up near you for a while, we may yet see fission-based SMRs emerge for some remote applications within in a decade or two. Can the same be said for fusion? Some very optimistically are talking about the arrival soon of mini fusion! That seems unlikely, and my guess is that, if fusion SMRs are ever possible, their main use will be off-planet. Same possibly for most fission SMRs! Back on this planet, we’ve got plenty of renewables to get on with, and in that context, arguably, small nuclear, of whatever sort, does not really offer anything different from big nuclear. Just another costly distraction from getting on with renewables

February 28, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Dr Helen Caldicott on Independent Australia tells The Truth About Nuclear Power

February 27, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The media revels in rockets to Mars, ignores the horrible risk of plutonium pollution

February 25, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Summary of the risks of uranium mining

Greg Phillips, 25 Feb 21, This is a very good summary of the risks of Uranium mining:
“… Uranium mining, however, adds another dimension of risk because of the potential for exposure to elevated concentrations of radionuclides. Internal exposure to radioactive materials during uranium mining and processing can take place through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through an open cut or wound. External radiation exposure from beta particles or gamma rays can also present a health risk.
Radiation typically encountered in uranium mining or processing facility operations includes alpha (a), beta (ß), and gamma (?) radiation. All three are types of ionizing radiation—energy in the form of particles or waves that has sufficient force to remove electrons from atoms. Alpha particles consist of two neutrons and two protons, travel only a few centimeters in air, and can cause a high density of ionizations along their path. In some cases, alpha particles can penetrate the dead layer of skin. If radionuclides that decay by alpha emission (e.g., polonium-218, polonium-214) are inhaled, they have the potential to impart a significant dose to the pulmonary epithelium.
The dose of alpha energy delivered by an alpha particle to the DNA in a cell in the respiratory epithelium is fixed and not dependent on concentration or duration of exposure. Although alpha particles can travel only a short distance, they impart a much greater effective dose than beta particles or gamma rays (NRC, 1988, 2008b). The high effective doses from alpha particles, as compared with beta particles or gamma rays, result from their relatively high energies combined with their very short ranges in tissue. Alpha particles are notable among environmental carcinogens because of their potent ability to produce a high proportion of double-strand DNA breaks per particle. Double-strand DNA breaks are more difficult for the body to repair.”
free pdf of this book available from


February 25, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

American uranium/nuclear lobbyists fund campaigns of climate sceptics/deniers

February 25, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

NuScale’s small nuclear reactor dream – dead on arrival?

Even with new technology, we will need to mine uranium—a process that has leached radioactive waste into waterways—and find somewhere to put the spent fuel. (The current practice, which persists at Trojan and will be employed at NuScale’s plants, is to hold waste on-site. This is intended to be a temporary measure, but every attempt to find a permanent disposal site has been stalled by geological constraints and local opposition.)

NuScale was making “an end run around [voters] in their quest for corporate profit.” He also noted the company’s ties to the Fluor Corporation. Fluor has invested $9.9 million in campaign contributions over the past 30 years, with nearly two-thirds going toward Republican candidates. (Fluor is currently under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission due to allegedly sloppy accounting practices.)

A decade ago, NuScale suggested it might have a plant in operation by 2018. Now construction won’t begin until 2025 at the earliest. The plant at Idaho National Laboratory won’t be fully operational until 2030.

in order to make advanced reactors accessible within the next few decades—even relatively simple reactors, like NuScale’s—the government would need to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies …… the nuclear dream looks dead on arrival….

Biden’s Other Nuclear Option, Smaller nuclear reactors might be the bridge to a carbon-free economy. But are they worth it? Mother Jones, 22 Feb 21, BOYCE UPHOLT    ”………..

Four years after it opened, the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island facility in Pennsylvania spooked the nation, and Oregon, like many states, put a moratorium on new nuclear plants. ……
In 2007, an engineer at Oregon State University named José Reyes began to resurrect it by imagining a reactor that would be “very, very different.” By shrinking and simplifying the standard nuclear reactor, Reyes believes he has created a technology that can generate power more safely at a fraction of the price. Last August, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a final safety report for Reyes’ design, recommending its certification. Construction on the first reactor could begin as soon as 2025. That puts NuScale, the company Reyes co-founded, at the front of the race toward “advanced nuclear” power

Donald Trump’s Department of Energy was “all in” on advanced nuclear, as a press release put it, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into research and development. President Joe Biden is a fan, too. As part of his plan to shift the United States to 100 percent clean energy by 2050, he has targeted further investment in small modular nuclear reactors like NuScale’s.

But are these investments worth the money—and the risks? New designs or not, nuclear plants face daunting issues of waste disposal, public opposition, and, most of all, staggering costs. We must ramp up our fight against climate change. But whether nuclear is a real part of the solution—or just a long-shot bid to keep a troubled industry alive—is a debate that will come to the fore in the short window we have to overhaul the nation’s energy portfolio.

Few issues divide us as cleanly as nuclear power. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll, 49 percent of Americans support opening new plants, while 49 percent are opposed.

The popular argument against nuclear power can be summed up in a few names: Chernobyl. Fukushima. Three Mile Island. Nuclear dread is palpable. Some formerly pro-nuclear countries, like Germany, began phasing out plants in the wake of the 2011 disaster in Japan. The dangers begin well before nuclear fuel arrives at a plant, and persist long afterward; the rods that fuel today’s plants remain radioactive for millennia after their use. How to ethically store this waste remains a Gordian knot nobody has figured out how to cut.

The argument in favor of nuclear power boils down to the urgent need to combat climate change.  [Ed,  but nuclear does not  really combat climate change.]

But if nuclear power is going to help us mitigate climate change, a lot more reactors need to come online, and soon. Eleven nuclear reactors in the United States have been retired since 2012, and eight more will be closed by 2025. (When nuclear plants are retired, utility companies tend to ramp up production at coal- or natural gas–fired plants, a step in the wrong direction for those concerned about lowering emissions.) Since 1970, the construction of the average US plant has wound up costing nearly three-and-a-half times more than the initial projections. Developers have broken ground on just four new reactor sites since Three Mile Island. Two were abandoned after $9 billion was.. sunk into construction; two others, in Georgia, are five years behind schedule. The public is focused on risks, but “nuclear power is not doing well around the world right now for one reason—economics,” says Allison Macfarlane, a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Continue reading

February 23, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

December 2020 Canadian taxpayers are paying a consortium (Canadian National Energy Alliance) contracted by the federal government in 2015, billions of dollars to reduce Canada’s $16 billion nuclear liabilities quickly and cheaply. The consortium is proposing to construct a giant mound for one million tons of radioactive waste beside the Ottawa River upstream of Ottawa-Gatineau. […]

What would go into the Chalk River Mound? — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area


There is considerable secrecy about what would go into the mound; the information that follows has been  derived from the proponent’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) (December 2020) which lists a partial inventory of radionuclides that would go into the gigantic five-to-seven story radioactive mound (aka the “NSDF”). The EIS and supporting documents also contain inventories of non-radioactive hazardous materials that would go into the dump.

Here is what the consortium says it is planning to put into the Chalk River mound (according to the final EIS and supporting documents)

1)  Long-lived radioactive materials

Twenty-five out of the 30 radionuclides listed in Table 3.3.1-2: NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory are long-lived, with half-lives ranging from four centuries to more than four billion years.

To take just one example, the man-made radionuclide, Neptunium-237, has a half-life of 2 million years such that, after 2 million years have elapsed, half of the material will still be radioactive. At the time of emplacement in the mound, the neptunium-237 will be giving off 17 million ( check, 1.74 x 10 to the 7th) radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

The mound would contain 80 tonnes of Uranium and 6.6 tonnes of thorium-232.

2) Four isotopes of plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive materials known, if inhaled or ingested.

John Gofman MD, PhD, a Manhattan Project scientist and former director of biomedical research at the DOE’s Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, stated that even one-millionth of a gram of plutonium inhaled into the lung, will cause lung cancer within 20 years. Sir Brian Flowers, author of the UK Royal Commission Report on Nuclear Energy and the Environment, wrote that a few thousands of a gram, inhaled into the lungs, will cause death within a few years because of massive fibrosis of the lungs, and that a few millionths of a gram will cause lung cancer with almost 100% certainty.

The four isotopes of plutonium listed in the NSDF reference inventory are Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Plutonium-2441 and Plutonium-242. According to Table 3.3.1-2 (NSDF Reference Inventory and Licensed Inventory) from the EIS, The two isotopes 239 and 240 combined will have an activity of 87 billion Bq when they are emplaced in the dump. This means that they will be giving off 87 billion radioactive disintegrations each second, second after second.

3) Fissionable materials 

Fissionable materials can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The mound would contain “special fissionable materials” listed in this table (avove) extracted from an EIS supporting document, Waste Acceptance Criteria, Version 4, (November 2020) Continue reading

February 23, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Fukushima – radioactive water into the sea – a nightmare for fishermen

A decade after the Fukushima meltdown, this Japanese region faces a new nightmare — radioactive water in the sea, ABC, By North Asia correspondent Jake Sturmer and Yumi Asada in Fukushima, Japan, 21 Feb 21, 

I won’t lie — I was a little nervous heading inside the destroyed nuclear plant at the centre of Japan’s 2011 nuclear accident.

It was a rare opportunity to look at how the clean-up effort was going 10 years on.

But weighing on my mind as I headed inside and took a look around was that this was of the most radioactive places on earth right now.

I’ve been inside Fukushima’s no-go zones, where the radiation levels are so high it’s unliveable and overgrown weeds entangle anything in their way — from abandoned homes, cars and even vending machines.

It is always an eerie experience seeing entire towns frozen in time and the stories from those who once called it home are equally chilling.

This is the first time I’ve been in the place responsible for it……..

It’s been 10 years since Japan’s worst nuclear accident, which was triggered by the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country and a massive tsunami that wiped out everything in its path.

Yet the aftershocks from the devastating March 11 disaster continue to rattle these parts — the most recent occurring only a week ago.

Japan’s nuclear disaster site is still a hive of activity

When the tsunami hit the nuclear plant in 2011, it cut power and consequently cooling to three operational reactors.

At that point, only flooding the reactors with seawater could have cooled them quickly enough to avoid a meltdown.

But that decision was delayed because of fears it would permanently destroy the reactors.

By the time the government ordered the seawater to be used, it was too late. The nuclear fuel overheated and melted down.

Some of the reactors exploded and the twisted wreckage of the blast is still exposed today.

When I arrived at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, I was given a radiation dosimeter and handed a plastic bag containing gloves, a mask and three pairs of socks.

I had been given specific instructions to put on one after the other.

The idea was to prevent any radioactive material from getting onto my pants — if it does, the officials jokingly told me, I’ll have to leave them there.

Once I’m ready, I follow an official through a maze-like path to the Whole Body Counter room.

That’s where I have a scan that measures the existing radiation levels inside my body so they can check how much I have been exposed to throughout the day.

It’s a bustling hive of activity — there are thousands of workers here and as we pass by many say ‘otsukaresama deshita’, a Japanese phrase that loosely translates to ‘thank you for your service’.

We’re accompanied and guided by several officials from the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)……….

The long process of removing 800 tones of radioactive fuel

TEPCO has spent the last 10 years trying to cool and stabilise the three reactors so that they can eventually start to remove the molten fuel debris that sits inside them.

As we pull up to the destroyed reactors, which contain more than 800 tonnes of highly radioactive molten nuclear fuel, we can see many workers in full protective equipment heavily involved in the decontamination effort.

In the space of just a few steps, radiation levels spike from 80 microsieverts an hour to 100. At the same time, my radiation alarm goes off to tell me I’ve accumulated 0.02 millisieverts of radiation while at the plant.

It’s about the same as a chest x-ray and nothing to be worried about at this stage — but our minders tell us we shouldn’t spend too much more time here.

It’s estimated the full clean-up effort will take another 30-40 years, though some experts feel this is optimistic.

The company was hoping to start removal of the highly radioactive debris this year, but the coronavirus pandemic will prevent that from happening.

“We are planning to remove the fuel debris from Unit 2 using a robot arm and the plan was to make the arm and carry out a performance test in the UK,” TEPCO’s Yoshinori Takahashi told me.

“But because of the coronavirus, the manufacturing process and testing has been delayed.”

The delay could be up to 12 months. But that is not the most pressing issue facing TEPCO.

How do you remove a million tonnes of contaminated water?

All of the water that touches the highly radioactive molten fuel also becomes contaminated.

The water is processed to remove more than 60 different types of radioactive materials from it, but the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) doesn’t completely purify the water.

The radioactive element, tritium, remains inside all of the stored water, albeit at “low” levels, according to TEPCO.

Currently, 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water is stored in more than 1,000 tanks spanning the entire power plant facility. But by the end of next year, the tanks and the site will be full.

The Japanese government is now weighing up what to do next.

A panel of experts has recommended disposing of it in the ocean as the most practical option as opposed to releasing it into the air, which TEPCO said would be more difficult to monitor.

Mr Takahashi said tritium was a weak form of radiation and that the water would be released in such limited quantities over such a long period that it would be safe.

But for those who make their living from the part of the ocean where TEPCO is proposing to dump its contaminated water, they fear the damage this poses to their reputation.

That includes Haruo Ono, who has been fishing in Fukushima’s waters for 50 years.

Fisherman worried about what water release will mean for their livelihoods

Although most fishermen are receiving compensation payments from TEPCO to cover their revenue shortfalls, he fears that if contaminated water is released into the ocean, it will finish off the industry for good.

“They say it’s OK to release tritium, but what do consumers think? We can’t sell fish because the consumers say no,” he said.

The 70-year-old is opposed to the scheme and says he’s hoping to watch the decommissioning first-hand over the next 30-40 years……………

February 21, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New books on climate change; Michael Mann versus (nuclear promoter) Bill Gates

Let’s not forget that Bill Gates recommends tax-payer support for new small nuclear reactors, and just happens to be promoting his own cnuclear  company TerraPower
The rise of the climate dude  New Statesman , 17 Feb 21, 
Bill Gates’s faith in a technological fix for climate change is typical of privileged men who think they can swoop in and solve the problems others have spent decades trying to fix.

………   How to Avoid a Climate Disaster provides a run-through of all the reasons we need to act on climate change and achieve net zero emissions. Gates insists this will be difficult and expensive to do, but that new and existing technologies can get us there. “I don’t have a solution to the politics of climate change,” he writes, but he acknowledges the importance of “developing new policies so we can demonstrate and deploy those inventions in the market as fast as possible”.
Alongside Gates’s book comes The New Climate War, by Michael Mann, a well-known American climate scientist. Mann is the genuine article. He started in the field in the early 1990s as a graduate student at Yale University and has never left it. He is less than convinced by Gates’s relatively late conversion to the climate cause.Gates is a classic example of a “first-time climate dude”, believes Mann. This phenomenon is “the tendency for members of a particular, privileged demographic group (primarily middle-aged, almost exclusively white men) to think they can just swoop in… and solve the great problems that others have spent decades unable to crack”. The result is a mess, “consisting of fatally bad takes and misguided framing couched in deeply condescending mansplaining”.

Such doom-mongering fires up Mann. In the “new climate war”, he heads an army that discounts the prospect of failure. “The climate crisis is very real,” he says. “But it is not unsolvable. And it’s not too late to act.” The opposition is no longer the climate deniers of yesteryear, but a more insidious group: “doomsayers” and “defeatists” who push “climate doom porn” and the idea that “climate change is just too big a problem for us to solve”, says Mann. They also peddle the other “Ds”: “disinformation, deceit, divisiveness, deflection, delay”.
That two high-profile books on climate change have been published within a week of each other proves the subject has reached the top of the mainstream agenda. Together, Mann and Gates offer a rounded view of the climate debate, but Mann’s book is the more readable. His prose rattles along, entertaining and horrifying us in equal measure as he exposes scientists, politicians, the conservative media and other supposed experts who have slowed climate action by caring more about the interests of big industry.
Gates, on the other hand, can be irksome. He’s never afraid to name drop, so the book is littered with phrases such as, “I met with François Hollande, who was the president of France,” or, “Warren Buffett and I were talking…” And he loves nothing more than reminding us how much he is investing in fighting climate change. “I’ve put more than $1bn into approaches that I hope will help the world get to zero,” he casually notes.
Mann is correct the world needs to speed up its adoption of existing solutions, end its love affair with fossil fuels and “call out false solutions for what they are”. However, framing climate action as a “war” is more questionable. Mann suggests some of his colleagues are in denial because they dismiss his notion that they are fighting with powerful interests. “The dismissiveness of soothing myths and appeasement didn’t serve us well in World War II, and it won’t serve us well here either,” he says. That may be true, but war can encourage people to retreat further into their own views, meaning greater destruction and a slower pace of change.
….. Gates should pay more attention to Mann’s conclusion that technological innovation is only a part of the solution, and not even necessarily the biggest one. Systemic change “incentivised by appropriate government policy”, and intergovernmental agreements matched with the belief that “there is still time to create a better future” should form the basis of all climate plans.

February 21, 2021 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment