Robot Successfully Reports Killer Radiation Levels Inside Fukushima Reactor

21 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Tokyo Electric on Sunday confirmed lethally high radiation levels inside the primary containment vessel (PCV) of the heavily damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 resulted in the meltdown of three of Fukushima’s six reactors. The disaster in Japan left around 19,000 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless. In the largest nuclear incident since Chernobyl, radiation levels were so high that every robot sent to explore the site has failed. Russia-Japan Relations Have Good Prospects if Tokyo Cuts Ties With ‘American Cerberus’ Finally, on Saturday the PMORPH robot inserted into unit 1 in the first of a series of four missions into the PCV basement area managed to provide the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) with the radiation and temperature measurements within it. Devices on the camera-equipped robot measured radiation levels of 7.8 sieverts per hour on a […]

Fukushima Mysteries Rattle Japan’s Nuclear Industry

10 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Six years after Japan’s nuclear disaster, popular resistance has stymied efforts to rebuild an atomic energy industry that was once among the world’s biggest, as mysteries endure over the calamity. Authorities are struggling to determine what precisely happened after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors here, triggering an evacuation of thousands of people and costing…

The route to commercial fusion electricity by 2030

22 Feb 2017   Nuclear

Tokamak Energy’s contribution to putting fusion power into the grid by 2030: the ST40 prototype of a compact fusion reactor The world is facing a deep decarbonisation challenge, and major organisations such as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and the newly-announced Breakthrough Energy Ventures are seeking bold new technologies, like fusion, as the solution. Decarbonising all our energy requires a novel approach, but with engineers, scientists and private investors becoming increasingly serious about fusion, its potential is greater than ever. Fusion researchers worldwide are developing technologies and materials for fusion power in the future. At Tokamak Energy, our aim is to put fusion power into the grid by 2030; we are pursuing the “spherical tokamak” route to achieve this using compact machines. Our theoretical and experimental research to date has shown that this can be a much faster route to fusion than more conventional large-scale tokamak devices. Tokamak Energy grew […]

China Set To Resume Work On Nuclear Power Plants

14 Feb 2017   China, Nuclear

In order to cater to growing power demand, China is likely to begin construction on inland nuclear reactors in the next four years, resuming plans for nuclear power plants that were halted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, a senior energy official told Chinese media on Monday. China has already decided which locations would host its inland nuclear power plants, Wang Yiren, vice director of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, and vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, has told China National Radio in an interview. As of 2015, China’s 2016-2020 Five-Year Plan had the government investing US$78 billion to build seven new reactors a year from 2016 for the next five years. According to the plan, the country will reach 88 gigawatts of nuclear power by the end of 2020. The resumption of the projects for China’s inland nuclear power stations […]

New Radiation Level at Fukushima Dwarfs the Highest Peak at Chernobyl

8 Feb 2017   Japan, Nuclear

The Fukushima Disaster We noted a few days after the Japanese earthquake that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs that at Chernobyl … and that the cesium fallout from Fukushima already rivaled Chernobyl (we also noted that Fukushima radiation could end up on the West Coast of North America. And see this .). The next month, we pointed out that Tepco admitted that the radiation from Fukushima could exceed that from Chernobyl . And that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse than a total meltdown: nuclear melt- throughs , where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. A few months later, we reported that radiation will pollute the area around Chernobyl for 5 to 10 times longer than models predicted – between 180 and 320 years . The following year, we pointed out that the operator of the Fukushima plant […]

Radiation Level At Fukushima At Highest Since 2011 Disaster

4 Feb 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Radiation levels in one part of reactor no.2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are the highest since the disaster in March 2011, media report , quoting the facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), as saying. Tepco inspected the site via a camera attached to a guiding pipe, and according to Nikkei Asian Review, the company has estimated that an area of the containment vessel was emitting radiation of 530 sieverts per hour–enough to kill a person in under a minute. Prior to this, emissions of up to 73 Sv/hour had been detected at the reactor after it was melted in the nuclear disaster almost six years ago. Tepco said on Tuesday that the camera “captured intriguing images that may be fuel debris from the March 2011 accident, but further examination is necessary before that can be verified”. Yesterday the company said : “After some examination of digital […]

An unconventional approach to fusion

3 Feb 2017   Nuclear, Renewables

There’s no easy road to fusion. Whether one travels the large route forged by six decades of research on hundreds of machines, or whether one tries to open a way through uncharted and exotic territory, difficulties abound and challenges loom large. General Fusion’s approach is quite exotic: no vacuum vessel in their planned fusion machine but a spherical tank filled with a liquid lead-lithium mixture spun into a vortex; no giant superconducting magnet system to confine the plasma but an array of pistons to compress it by way of a powerful shock wave… Over the past few years, several private sector startups have raised enough capital to launch their scientists and engineers into the race to harness fusion power. Tri Alpha Energy and Helion Energy in the US; Tokamak Energy and First Light Fusion in the UK; General Fusion in Canada and scores of others … all claim they […]

Indian Point, closest nuclear plant to New York City, set to retire by 2021

2 Feb 2017   Nuclear

In January 2017, Entergy Nuclear and the state of New York reached an agreement to retire the two nuclear reactors at the Indian Point Energy Center , located in Buchanan, New York, about 25 miles north of New York City. Indian Point is one of four nuclear power plants in New York state and accounts for about 12% of total electricity generated from all sources statewide. Under the agreement, Entergy will retire one reactor in April 2020 and the other in April 2021. Entergy had been seeking a 20-year license renewal for both reactor units from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007. However, New York state challenged the renewals as a result of environmental and safety concerns because of the facility’s proximity to New York City. The announced closure dates could be postponed by four years given a mutual agreement […]

Toshiba reckoning looms with chip decision, nuclear hole unresolved

27 Jan 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Toshiba Corp faces a day of reckoning on Friday, when it is expected to offer an initial estimate of the multibillion-dollar charge it must take on its U.S. nuclear business, but this will be only a step in a series of tough choices on the Japanese conglomerate’s survival. Toshiba’s board meets to approve plans to spin off its semiconductor business as a separate company, hoping to raise more than 200 billion yen ($1.74 billion) by selling as much as a fifth of the core money-making unit, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said. But as the proceeds would be just a fraction of the hole from cost overruns in its Westinghouse nuclear business – which local media put at 680 billion yen ($6 billion) […]

Is the Closing of Indian Point a Gain or Loss?

23 Jan 2017   Nuclear

Reading “Nuclear Power Sounds the Retreat” (Business & Finance, Jan. 10), I was reminded of Paul Valéry’s observation that a difficulty can be a light. The coming closure of Indian Point, a major source of electric power for New York City, is a short-term difficulty that will light up the marketplace in alternative energy. Businesses able to discern the light will reap rewards by investing in ways to replace nuclear power with renewables, particularly with offshore wind. This is good for the climate, good for business…

Peak Uranium: the uncertain future of nuclear energy

16 Jan 2017   Nuclear

Peak Uranium: the uncertain future of nuclear energy Alice Friedmann recently posted on her blog “Energy Skeptic” a summary of the discussion on nuclear energy from my book “ Extracted ” (Chelsea Green, 2014). It is a well-done summary that I am reproducing here. Note that the text below mixes some of the considerations of the main text (written by me) and of one of the “glimpses”; that were written by other authors. The glimpse that reports the results of a model of future uranium production was written by Michael Dittmar. He told me in a recent mail exchange that his model seems to be doing pretty well more than two years after its results were published in “Extracted”. (U.B.) [ Figure 1 shows that the next IPCC report counts very much on nuclear power to keep warming below 2.5 C. The black line represents how many million tonnes […]

U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Continue To Close

13 Jan 2017   Nuclear

New York City’s major source of electricity for more than four decades could be taken offline in the next few years, a major victory for the state’s governor, who has called the power plant a danger to the city. The Indian Point nuclear power plant, which consists of two reactors, came online in the 1970s. It has been supplying relatively low-cost and low-carbon power to the city since then. However, it is located just 30 miles from the Big Apple, and as it ages it has become a worry for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has called it a “ticking time bomb,” according to The New York Times. Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo announced that he had convinced Indian Point’s owner, Louisiana-based Entergy, to shut down the reactors by 2021. “I have personally been trying to close it down for 15 years,” the governor said. The closure “eliminates a major […]

Nuclear Plants Fall Victim to Economic Pressures

10 Jan 2017   Nuclear

Utilities are closing U.S. nuclear-power plants at a rapid clip as they face competition from cheaper sources of electricity and political pressure from critics. New York’s Indian Point plant about 35 miles north of Manhattan, a major source of power for the city and its surrounding suburbs, looks to be the latest casualty. Owner Entergy Corp. and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has long criticized the plant as a safety threat, are…

AP source: Aging New York nuclear plant to close by 2021

7 Jan 2017   Nuclear

The aging Indian Point nuclear power plant just north of New York City will close within four years under a deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has long argued it should be shuttered to protect the millions of people living nearby. Under the arrangement plant owner Entergy Corp. will shut both reactors at the Westchester County facility by April 2021. A person familiar with the agreement but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed the agreement on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Friday. It remains to be seen how the state would make up for the loss of electrical generation once the plant, which supplies a quarter of the power used in New York City and Westchester County, closes. The facility’s reactor units began commercial operation in 1974 and 1976. More than 17 million people live within 50 miles of the facility, […]

Troubled Chinese Nuclear Project Illustrates Toshiba’s Challenges

30 Dec 2016   China, Nuclear

Toshiba Corp.’s ambitions to make nuclear power a centerpiece of its future have instead led to an accounting scandal and billions of dollars in potential losses. For clues to what happened, the reactor being built by its Westinghouse Electric Co. division in this seaside town south of Shanghai offers an illuminating Exhibit A. The Sanmen reactor was meant to be the showcase of a new technology that Westinghouse hopes will revolutionize the nuclear industry by making power plants safer, less labor-intensive and quicker to build. Instead, the first so-called AP1000 reactor has been bedeviled by delays. In one instance, a critical component in its cooling system failed, slowing work by more than two years. Meanwhile, Westinghouse struggled for years to complete its design work for the AP1000, adding to delays and angering […]

Fuel removal at Fukushima reactor again faces delay

24 Dec 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor building storage pool of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will again be postponed due to a delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site. TEPCO planned to begin removing 566 spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool in January 2018. However, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., decided on the postponement, sources said on Dec. 22. They will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks. The work was initially scheduled for fiscal 2015, but had been pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the No. 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the disaster, triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. TEPCO had attempted to lower radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris […]

South Korean Scientists Smash Nuclear Fusion Record

Physicists in South Korea managed to keep high-performance plasma stable for 70 seconds this week. This gives the Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) reactor the record for the longest ever time sustaining such reaction. [Image Source: Michael Maccagnan/Wikipedia ] This superheated plasma holds the key to unlocking nuclear fusion for virtually limitless and reliable energy. The Daejeon-based institute said they used a high-power neutral beam to contain the plasma. “The world record for high-performance plasma for more than a minute demonstrated that the KSTAR is the forefront in steady-state plasma operation technology in a superconducting device,” National Fusion Research Institute said in a statement . “This is a huge step forward for realization of the fusion reactor.” The KSTAR reactor is a tokamak reactor, one in which heated plasma blobs can reach up to 300 million degrees Celsius. Magnetic fields hold these blobs together, fusing hydrogen atoms to […]

Japan pulls plug on Monju, ending $8.5 billion nuclear self-sufficiency push

21 Dec 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Japan on Wednesday formally pulled the plug on an $8.5 billion nuclear power project designed to realize a long-term aim for energy self-sufficiency after decades of development that yielded little electricity but plenty of controversy. The move to shut the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor in Fukui prefecture west of Tokyo adds to a list of failed attempts around the world to make the technology commercially viable and potentially cut stockpiles of dangerous nuclear waste. “We do not accept this,” Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa told ministers involved in the decision. “This abrupt change in policy breeds deep feelings of distrust for the government,” said Nishikawa who strongly backed the project because of the jobs and revenue it […]

Trump Could Fuel A Nuclear Energy Boom In 2017

7 Dec 2016   Nuclear, USA

Nuclear power plant With Trump at the helm, sentiment gives way to practicality in the energy industry. For the vast untapped potential of the nuclear energy industry and the uranium that feeds it, this could contribute to a market-disrupting revival that no longer bows to fear and the politics of economy. While there have been some oversupply issues keeping uranium prices down, the bigger problem has been negative sentiment rather than real fundamentals, but the Trump presidency will see through that. Trump’s take on nuclear energy is quite simple. As he noted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan: “If a plane goes down, people keep flying. If you get into an auto crash, people keep driving.” Now more than ever, demand for uranium appears to be assured. But more than that, it’s about to truly explode as a number of situations combine to form the new era of […]

A fusion-focused future

3 Dec 2016   Nuclear

Dr David Kingham explains why fusion energy is closer than ever before Nuclear fusion is the creative process of the universe. All matter, besides hydrogen and a smattering of helium, was created in the fusion furnaces within stars as small atomic nuclei joined together to make larger ones. This reaction releases huge amounts of energy – about 10 million times as much by weight as the chemical reaction of fossils fuels, and all without any harmful byproducts. One can see why it is hailed as the energy of the future, the power source that will right the wrongs of a fossil fuel-reliant past and present. But it is not easy to achieve. The established principle for this reaction on Earth is to combine deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen, to make helium and a neutron. To do this, fusion reactors must recreate the conditions found in stars, where […]

Earthquake Doesn’t Deter Japan From Pursuing Nuclear Agenda

29 Nov 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Mihama Plant Japan’s post-Fukushima nuclear future is again being questioned in the wake of regulatory authorities’ decision to extend the life of three reactors at two nuclear power plants despite another aftershock. A decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan to extend the life of three reactors at two nuclear power plants in the Fukui Prefecture has rekindled worry about a possible repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, as it comes only a week after the neighboring Fukushima Prefecture was rocked by a 7.4 aftershock. The decision will see the #3 reactor of Kansai Electric Power Co’s Mihama plant, along with two more, operate for another 20 years, bringing their total lifetime to 60 years. The other two reactors that received a life extension are part of the Takahama power plant. The earthquake that shook Fukushima last Monday caused a stoppage in the cooling system of the Fukushima […]

Is The Trump Presidency A Boon For Nuclear Power?

18 Nov 2016   Nuclear, USA

By now, the shock from Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election should be starting to subside, but this is hardly the case with worries over America’s course to a greener, more renewable-energy future. In fact, these worries have spiked in recent days, as the President-elect reaffirmed his commitment to the fossil fuel industry and his intention to pull the country out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. How legitimate these worries are, however, remains to be seen. Here’s the latest from the Marrakesh climate talks , courtesy of the AP. The EU is making unveiled hints that it would be smart for Trump to stay in the agreement, with Slovakian Environment Minister Laszlo Solymos quoted as saying that “it’s not easy to jump off a fast-moving train. If someone wants to deviate, it won’t be easy.” China has also shown some optimism that Trump […]

Is This The Beginning Of The End For U.S. Nuclear Power?

2 Nov 2016   Nuclear

Nuclear power plant Energy companies are shutting down their nuclear power plants and resorting to other forms of production. This is primarily due to the lack of funding and cheaper alternatives such as oil. With shale production continuing to ramp up production and incidentally lowering oil prices, nuclear facilities are no longer considered cost effective. It’s upsetting to contemplate the idea of nuclear power failing in the United States, especially when other countries’ governments, including those of Russia and China, are still fully financially backing the energy source. The costs pertinent to nuclear power plants are astounding. Plants cost billions of dollars to construct and then millions more based on required resources, overhead, and proper waste disposal. Bloomberg reports that the cost to build a nuclear reactor could be more than five times the cost to build a gas-fired reactor. With fossil fuels appearing so attractive, it’s hard to […]

Saudi Arabia to Select Nuclear Power-Plant Site ‘Very Soon’

21 Oct 2016   Nuclear, Saudi Arabia

Saudis to announce “concrete plans” for nuclear within a year Neighbor U.A.E. signs reactor deal with Korea Electric Power Saudi Arabia will soon choose a site for its first nuclear power plant as the world’s biggest crude exporter seeks to diversify its sources of energy. “We will be selecting sites very soon that we will reserve for our first nuclear energy power plant,” Khalid Al-Falih, the country’s energy minister, said Wednesday at the Oil and Money conference in London. “We hope within the next 12 months that we will be announcing concrete plans.” The government wants to make sure all “regulatory steps” are taken beforehand, he said. Wind and solar power will also play a “very significant part” of Saudi Arabia’s energy mix, Al-Falih said. Saudi Arabia, which laid out its ambitions for diversifying energy supplies in 2012, is trying to reduce the economy’s dependence on hydrocarbons as low […]

Three and a half years after Fukushima, 3 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are operating

14 Sep 2016   Japan, Nuclear

U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, and IAEA Power Reactor Information System Source: Since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 and the subsequent shutdown of nuclear reactors in Japan, five reactors have received approval to restart operations under the new safety standards imposed by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). Only three of those reactors are currently operating. Applications for the restart of 21 other reactors, including 1 under construction, are under review by the NRA. Some reactors that meet the new NRA safety standards and have been approved to restart continue to face legal or political opposition that may delay or forestall their restart. After the Fukushima accident, all 54 of Japan’s reactors were shut down. Twelve reactors totaling 7.2 gigawatts (GW) were permanently closed. Restart applications for 20 previously operating reactors (totaling 19.5 GW) and 1 new reactor under construction (the […]

Japan’s ‘Hail Mary’ at Fukushima Daiichi: An Underground Ice Wall

30 Aug 2016   Japan, Nuclear

The part above ground doesn’t look like much, a few silver pipes running in a straight line, dwarfed by the far more massive, scarred reactor buildings nearby. More impressive is what is taking shape unseen beneath: an underground wall of frozen dirt 100 feet deep and nearly a mile in length, intended to solve a runaway water crisis threatening the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. Officially named the Land-Side Impermeable Wall , but better known simply as the ice wall, the project sounds like a fanciful idea from science fiction or a James Bond film. But it is about to become a reality in an ambitious, and controversial, bid to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings since the disaster five years ago when an earthquake and a tsunami caused a triple meltdown . Built by […]

Nuclear developers have big plans for pint-sized power plants in UK

A range of mini-nuclear power plants could help solve Britain’s looming power crunch, rather than the $24 billion Hinkley project snarled up in delays, companies developing the technology say. So-called small modular reactors (SMRs) use existing or new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of larger plants and would be able to produce around a tenth of the electricity created by large-scale projects, such as Hinkley. The mini plants, still under development, would be made in factories, with parts small enough to be transported on trucks and barges to sites where they could be assembled in around six to 12 months, up to a tenth of the time it takes to build some larger plants. “The real promise of SMRs is their modularization. You can assemble them in a factory with an explicable design meaning consistent standards and predicable costs and delivery timescale,” said Anurag […]

Bill Gates And Other Billionaires Backing A Nuclear Renaissance

7 Jul 2016   Nuclear

Let’s for a second imagine a world without nuclear energy. That’s a tough one but let’s try. No nuclear bombs, of course, no Chernobyl and Fukushima, no worries about Iran and North Korea. A wonderful world, maybe? Probably not, because without nuclear energy we would have burned millions more tons of coal and billions more barrels of oil. This would have brought about climate change of such proportions that what we have today would have seemed negligible. Nuclear energy and uranium, which feeds it, are controversial enough even without any actual accident happening. Radioactivity is dangerous. Nobody is arguing against it. When an accident does take place, the public backlash is understandably huge. What many opponents of uranium forget to mention, however, are the benefits of nuclear energy and the fact that the statistical probability of serious accidents is pretty low. They focus on the “What if?” and neglect […]

The Sierra Club Still Opposes Nuclear Power

24 Jun 2016   Nuclear

“ Green Groups Ease Opposition to Nuclear Power ” (Business & Tech, June 17) gets it wrong. The Sierra Club remains in firm opposition to dangerous nuclear power. The article reflects wishful thinking on the part of the nuclear industry but doesn’t accurately represent the position of the Sierra Club. It is categorically incorrect to suggest that the Sierra Club considers nuclear power a “bridge” to clean energy. Nuclear power, much like coal, oil and gas, is a bridge to nowhere. In Illinois the Sierra Club is part of a coalition to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency, not preserve nuclear reactors. America’s energy future must be powered by 100% clean, renewable energy like wind and solar—and nuclear in no way meets this requirement. The Sierra Club’s successful work to stop and retire coal and gas operations has never precluded our efforts to oppose nuclear power, nor will it […]

Pacific Gas & Electric to Close California’s Last Nuclear Plant by 2025

22 Jun 2016   Nuclear

California’s last nuclear power plant will close in 2025, after Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reached an agreement with labor and environmental groups, the parties said Tuesday. The San Francisco-based utility, a subsidiary of PG&E Corp., will withdraw its application to renew the nuclear licenses for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County. The plan calls for shutting down one of the property’s reactors in November 2024 and its second reactor a year later. The Diablo Canyon facility, which started operating in 1985, accounts for 9% of California’s annual electricity production, the company said. PG&E will begin to invest in a new portfolio of energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy storage to make up the lost production. The company said it will commit to having 55% of its energy portfolio produced by renewable energy […]

Fusion megaproject confirms 5-year delay

20 Jun 2016   Nuclear

The ITER fusion reactor will fire up for the first time in December 2025, the €18-billion project’s governing council confirmed today. The date for “first plasma” is 5 years later than under the old schedule, and to get there the council is asking the project partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States—to cough up an extra €4 billion ($4.5 billion). “It is expected, if there are no objections, that we can approve [the schedule] by November and then we can move forward,” says ITER director general Bernard Bigot. ITER aims to show that it is feasible to fuse hydrogen nuclei together to form helium and thereby release enough excess energy to make a viable source of power. To achieve that requires heating two hydrogen isotopes—deuterium (D) and tritium (T)—to temperatures above 100 million degrees Celsius. ITER will feature an enormous vessel to contain […]

It’s the first new U.S. nuclear reactor in decades. And climate change has made that a very big deal.

18 Jun 2016   Nuclear

In an immaculate control room at the Watts Bar nuclear plant, green bars flash on a large screen, signaling something that has not happened in the United States in two decades. As control rods lift from the water in the core, and neutrons go about the business of splitting uranium atoms, life comes to a new nuclear reactor — the first in the country since its sister reactor here was licensed in 1996. By summer’s end, authorities expect the new reactor at this complex along the Chickamauga Reservoir, a dammed section of the Tennessee River extending northward from Chattanooga, to steadily generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. […]

Environmental Groups Change Tune on Nuclear Power

17 Jun 2016   Climate, Nuclear

Some of the nation’s most influential environmental groups are softening their longstanding opposition to nuclear power, marking a significant shift in the antinuclear movement as environmentalists’ priority shifts to climate change. The change is lowering one of the biggest political hurdles facing the nuclear power industry in the U.S. and comes at a critical time, as several financially struggling reactors are set to shut down. “Because the historical context is that these groups were opposed to nuclear, their absence on the opposition front is noticed,” said Joe Dominguez, executive vice president for governmental and regulatory affairs for Exelon Corp. EXC 0.20 % , the biggest owner of nuclear plants in the U.S. “I think it’s pretty significant.” Nuclear power, which emits no greenhouse gases, provides roughly 20% of U.S. electricity and 60% of carbon-free […]

Uranium Prices Set To Double By 2018

15 Jun 2016   Nuclear

Uranium Mine With prices set to double by 2018, we’ve seen the bottom of the uranium market, and the negative sentiment that has followed this resource around despite strong fundamentals, is starting to change. Billionaire investors sense it, and they’re always the first to anticipate change and take advantage of the rally before it becomes a reality. The turning point is where all the money is made, and there are plenty of indications that the uranium recovery is already underway. It’s been a very tough few years for uranium. But it now looks like we’ve reached the bottom, and the future demand equation says there’s nowhere to go but up—significantly up. Uranium analyst David Talbot of Dundee Capital Markets is forecasting 6 percent compound annual demand growth through 2020, which is enough, he says, to “kick-start” uranium prices up to and beyond 2007 levels. Morningstar analyst David Wang predicts […]

First new U.S. nuclear reactor in almost two decades set to begin operating

15 Jun 2016   Nuclear

Source: Republished with permission from the Tennessee Valley Authority The Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar Unit 2 was connected to the power grid on June 3, becoming the first nuclear power plant to come online since 1996, when Watts Bar Unit 1 started operations. Watts Bar Unit 2 is undergoing final testing, producing electricity at incremental levels of power, as TVA prepares to start commercial operation later this summer. The new reactor is designed to add 1,150 megawatts (MW) of electricity generating capacity to southeastern Tennessee. Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first nuclear plant in the United States to meet new regulations from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that were established after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in Japan. After the NRC issued an operating license for the unit in October 2015, 193 new fuel assemblies were loaded into […]

Exelon to shut Nine Mile Point-1, Ginna reactors if New York fails to OK compensation plan

15 Jun 2016   Nuclear

Exelon Generation told the New York State Public Service Commission the company needs to know by September whether the regulator will approve a compensation plan for nuclear generators, otherwise Exelon will shut the Nine Mile Point-1 and Ginna reactors, according to a letter. The letter, filed Tuesday by the Harris Beach law firm of Albany, New York, on Exelon’s behalf, noted the company in May submitted comments on a proposal that would require all companies that sell electricity in the state to buy power from upstate nuclear plants at potentially above-market rates to help ensure the units’ continued operation. The proposal by the state Department of Public Service stipulates Exelon’s 597-MW Ginna reactor in Ontario, New York, and the 640-MW Nine Mile Point-1 and 1,205-MW Nine Mile Point-2 units in Oswego, as well as Entergy’s 849-MW FitzPatrick in Oswego, would be eligible to receive payments via a zero-emissions credit, […]

U.S. and India Agree U.S. Company to Build Six Nuclear Reactors

8 Jun 2016   India, Nuclear

The U.S. and India have agreed to move forward with the construction of six nuclear reactors in India by an American company, the first such contract since the countries signed a landmark civil nuclear deal in 2008. The announcement on Tuesday capped a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House. It marked a significant step forward in resolving obstacles to the sale of nuclear reactors and fuel to India. Under the new agreement, Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Westinghouse Electric Co., a U.S. unit of Toshiba Corp., will begin work on the engineering and site-design work for the reactors, though the contract won’t be finalized until June 2017, White House officials said. “Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on-site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be […]

Exelon Moves to Close Two Illinois Nuclear Plants

3 Jun 2016   Nuclear

The Exelon nuclear power plant located in Cordova Ill. Exelon Corp. said Thursday that it will retire two money-losing nuclear plants in Illinois after state lawmakers declined to pass legislation that would have helped keep them running. The company, which owns utilities serving Chicago, Philadelphia and Baltimore as well as many power plants, said it will shut down its Clinton plant in Clinton, Ill., in mid-2017 and Quad Cities plant in Cordova, Ill., in mid-2018. The plants lost $800 million in the past seven years. The announcement underscores the impact that low wholesale electricity prices are having on owners of older power plants—especially nuclear facilities, many of which are threatened with closure . Prices for wholesale electricity recently hit a 15-year low and experts expect them to rise too slowly to help generators much. Fifteen to 20 nuclear reactors are considered at risk of premature closure in the next […]

Nuclear Plants, Despite Safety Concerns, Gain Support as Clean Energy Sources

1 Jun 2016   Nuclear

Exelon, the plant’s owner, is considering closing two of its nuclear facilities. Just a few years ago, the United States seemed poised to say farewell to nuclear energy . No company had completed a new plant in decades, and the disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011 intensified public disenchantment with the technology, both here and abroad. But as the Paris agreement on climate change has put pressure on the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some state and federal officials have deemed nuclear energy part of the solution. They are now scrambling to save existing plants that can no longer compete economically in a market flooded with cheap natural gas . “We’re supposed to be adding zero-carbon sources, not subtracting,” Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, said recently at a symposium that the department convened to explore ways to […]

Five Years Later, TEPCO Still Can’t Locate 600 Tons Of Melted Radioactive Fuel

27 May 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Five years after the Fukushima tragedy, TEPCO’s chief of decommissioning Naohiro Masuda admits that the company still has no idea exactly where 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel from three nuclear reactors is located . As we discussed when we profiled the status of Fukushima on its five year anniversary , the radiation at the plant is still so powerful that it is impossible to get deep enough into the area to find and remove the melted fuel rods. The situation is so severe that even the robots that were sent in to find the highly radioactive fuel have died. Masuda went on to say that the company still hopes to locate and remove the missing fuel, but the fuel extraction technology is yet to be determined – that assumes they are able to locate it of course. “It’s important to find it as soon as possible. Once we […]

Fifteen to 20 nuclear units in US ‘at risk’ of shutdown:

20 May 2016   Nuclear

Some 15 to 20 nuclear power units in the US are “at risk” of being shut over the next five to 10 years due to economic challenges such as low power prices, competition from natural gas-fired generation and subsidized renewables, a nuclear industry official said Thursday. Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, did not name any of the reactors considered to be most at risk in his remarks at a US Department of Energy summit on the future of nuclear power. He did say that small, single-unit nuclear power plants are the most economically challenged. Two such plants, Dominion’s Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Entergy’s Vermont Yankee, have closed for economic reasons since 2013. Entergy’s FitzPatrick in New York and Pilgrim in Massachusetts are scheduled to be shut in 2017 and 2019, respectively, due to such factors, the company has said. The Omaha Public Power District […]

More delays for ITER, as partners balk at costs

7 May 2016   Nuclear

Last week, an independent review committee delivered a report that was supposed to show that ITER, the troubled international fusion experiment under construction in Cadarache, France, finally has a reliable construction schedule and cost estimate. But the report says only that the new date for first operations—2025, 5 years later than the previous official target—is the earliest possible date and could slip. And it underscores the challenge of ITER’s ballooning budget. To start running by 2025, ITER needs an extra €4.6 billion that its member states are reluctant to provide. As a result, the report says, its ultimate goal—a fusion reaction that gives off more energy than it consumes—will be delayed from 2032 until 2035 at the earliest. 3 Comments on “More delays for ITER, as partners balk at costs” Boat on Fri, 6th May 2016 2:14 pm Energy Department Requests Proposals for New Institute to Boost Efficiency in […]

AP Exclusive: Test finds Chernobyl residue in Belarus milk

25 Apr 2016   Nuclear, Ukraine

On the edge of Belarus’ Chernobyl exclusion zone, down the road from the signs warning “Stop! Radiation,” a dairy farmer offers his visitors a glass of freshly drawn milk. Associated Press reporters politely decline the drink but pass on a bottled sample to a laboratory, which confirms it contains levels of a radioactive isotope at levels 10 times higher than the nation’s food safety limits. That finding on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident indicates how fallout from the April 26, 1986, explosion at the plant in neighboring Ukraine continues to taint life in Belarus. The authoritarian government of this agriculture-dependent nation appears determined to restore long-idle land to farm use – and in a country where dissent is quashed, any objection to the policy is thin. The farmer, Nikolai Chubenok, proudly says his herd of […]

30 Years After Chernobyl Disaster, an Arch Rises to Seal Melted Reactor

25 Apr 2016   Nuclear, Ukraine

Enter the Chernobyl zone, and you might expect the worst: Security guards at a checkpoint 19 miles away from the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident scan departing vehicles for signs of radiation, as wolfish strays linger around the checkpoint. But pass the derelict villages and collective farms evacuated after the disaster 30 years ago this month, and a new skyline emerges over the ill-fated nuclear plant. A workforce of around 2,500 people is finishing a massive steel enclosure that will cover Chernobyl’s reactor 4, where the radioactive innards of the nuclear plant are encased in a concrete sarcophagus hastily built after the disaster. The zone is now aglow with the reflective safety vests of construction workers. If all goes to plan, the new structure—an arch more than 350 feet high and 500 feet long—will be slid into place late next year over the damaged reactor and […]

Nuclear safety upgrades post-Fukushima cost $47 billion

29 Mar 2016   Nuclear

Five years after the accident at Fukushima I in Japan resulted in three reactor meltdowns, the global nuclear industry is spending $47 billion on safety enhancements mandated after the accident revealed weaknesses in plant protection from earthquakes and flooding. This is according to a Platts review put together by Steven Dolley in DC, Benjamin Leveau in London, Yuzo Yamaguchi from Tokyo, as well as Platts correspondents in Sweden, South Korea and China. Reactions to the March 11, 2011 accident ranged from pauses in new nuclear construction programs in China to Germany’s decision to gradually phase out nuclear generation. But in the majority of countries with nuclear power, plans for new reactors have been scaled back, not just because of the Fukushima I accident but for economic reasons, as competing sources of power become less expensive, renewable energy grows in popularity and slow economic growth curbs demand. Global nuclear regulators […]

A look at the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters

29 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Japan this month (March) marked the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster with a series of sombre remembrance ceremonies across the country. At 2.46pm local time (1.46pm in Singapore) on March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck under the Pacific Ocean, triggering a 10 metre wall of water that devastated the north-eastern coast of Japan. It caused meltdowns in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) Nuclear Power Plant in the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986. Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy in April, The Straits Times takes a close-up look at both disasters. HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE AFFECTED? Fukushima: Some 18,500 people died or are still missing from the earthquake and tsunami. Another 470,000 people were evacuated due to the nuclear fallout. They include those who live within a 20km radius from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear […]

Giant arch to block Chernobyl radiation for next 100 years

24 Mar 2016   Nuclear, Russia

A general view shows a containment shelter for the damaged fourth reactor (R) and the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure (L) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, March 23, 2016. In the middle of a vast exclusion zone in northern Ukraine, the world’s largest land-based moving structure has been built to prevent deadly radiation spewing from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site for the next 100 years. On April 26, 1986, a botched test at the Soviet nuclear plant sent clouds of smouldering nuclear material across large swathes of Europe, forced over 50,000 people to evacuate and poisoned unknown numbers of workers involved in its clean-up. A concrete sarcophagus was hastily built over the site of the stricken reactor to contain the worst of the radiation, but a more permanent solution has been in the works since late 2010. Easily visible from kilometers away, the 30,000 tonne ‘New Safe […]

Amid a Graying Fleet of Nuclear Plants, a Hunt for Solutions

22 Mar 2016   Nuclear

The H.B. Robinson nuclear power plant, about 70 miles from Columbia, S.C., has been producing electricity with few interruptions since the Nixon administration. But as of now, its fate is clear: The plant will have to shut down by 2030, when it will be six decades old. The Robinson reactor is one of the oldest still operating in the United States, but others are getting on in years. From 2029 to 2035, three dozen of the nation’s 99 reactors, representing more than a third of the industry’s generating capacity, will face closure as their operating licenses expire. Any shutdowns would be another blow to nuclear energy , which provides 19 percent of the nation’s electricity but has struggled in recent […]

Majority in US opposed to nuclear power: Gallup poll

19 Mar 2016   Nuclear

Opposition in the US to nuclear energy has climbed sharply, with a majority opposed to its use for the first time since Gallup began annual polling on the subject 22 years ago, the company said Friday. Gallup said 54% of respondents in the national poll said they were somewhat opposed or strongly opposed to nuclear energy, the first time since 2001 that more people opposed the energy source than favored it. The number saying they somewhat or strongly supported nuclear energy, 44%, was the lowest since polling began in 1994, it said. The polling company said the results suggest that low energy prices and a “perceived abundance of energy sources” are affecting attitudes towards nuclear power, trumping safety concerns. With gasoline prices dropping, perceived worry about the country’s overall “energy situation” has declined to 15-year low levels, Gallup said. “This appears to have resulted in more Americans prioritizing environmental […]

Fukushima Keeps Fighting Radioactive Tide 5 Years After Disaster

11 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Of the thousands of workers who have answered the help-wanted ads at Fukushima Daiichi, the ruined and radioactive nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan , the part-time lettuce farmer and occasional comic-book artist Kazuto Tatsuta must be among the least likely. “I needed a job,” Mr. Tatsuta, 51, recalled of his decision in 2012 to accept work at the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents. His duties included welding broken water pipes and inspecting remote-controlled robots that survey radioactive hot spots. And his comic strips, once populated with baseball players and gangsters, now tell stories of middle-aged, blue-collar men like himself who do the grunt work at Fukushima, some of whom find a sense […]