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Leak in massive Hanford nuclear waste tank getting worse
RICHLAND, Wash. — Workers have found more waste leaking between the walls of a nuclear storage tank on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The waste was found in a new place between the walls of one of the 28 double shell tanks at the site. The US Dept. of Energy, which owns Hanford, says the waste is covering an area of 7 feet by 21 inches. The double shell tanks were built to be the most robust tanks at Hanford. They were constructed with the intent to be able to safely store the dangerous wastes until the technology to permanently dispose of the liquids is developed. A leak in a double shell tank is seen as one of the biggest setbacks to the cleanup program at Hanford in the last decade.
It’s been nearly two-and-a-half years since recently retired WRPS worker, Mike Geffre, found the first signs of the leak in October, 2011. To date, there is no solid plan on how to mitigate the leak or pump the contents of the tank to a safer holding vessel. Geffre says the company is stalling.
“Instead of being pro-active they become defensive. You need to handle everything as if it’s real. You may respond to a few false alarms but that’s the way it is. You cannot handle things, in the wait and see (mode). In the radiation world and the nuclear world that is extremely irresponsible,” said Geffre.
The Washington State Dept. of Ecology, which is a regulator at Hanford, has given the US Dept. of Energy until Friday, March 7, to submit a revised pumping plan for AY-102...
'Bizarre' Cluster of Severe Birth Defects Haunts Health Experts
BY JONEL ALECCIA
A mysterious cluster of severe birth defects in rural Washington state is confounding health experts, who say they can find no cause, even as reports of new cases continue to climb.
Federal and state officials won’t say how many women in a three-county area near Yakima, Wash., have had babies with anencephaly, a heart-breaking condition in which they’re born missing parts of the brain or skull. And they admit they haven't interviewed any of the women in question, or told the mothers there's a potentially widespread problem.
But as of January 2013, officials with the Washington state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had counted nearly two dozen cases in three years, a rate four times the national average.
Since then, one local genetic counselor, Susie Ball of the Central Washington Genetics Program at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, says she has reported “eight or nine” additional cases of anencephaly and spina bifida, another birth defect in which the neural tube, which forms the brain and spine, fails to close properly.
“It does strike me as a lot,” says Ball.
And at least one Yakima...
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 06:16 AM (0 replies)
NBC investigative report: U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted
U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted
BY BILL DEDMAN
In the tense days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan on March 11, 2011, staff at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a concerted effort to play down the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis to America’s aging nuclear plants, according to thousands of internal emails reviewed by NBC News.
The emails, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, show that the campaign to reassure the public about America’s nuclear industry came as the agency’s own experts were questioning U.S. safety standards and scrambling to determine whether new rules were needed to ensure that the meltdown occurring at the Japanese plant could not occur here.
At the end of that long first weekend of the crisis three years ago, NRC Public Affairs Director Eliot Brenner thanked his staff for sticking to the talking points that the team had been distributing to senior officials and the public.
There are numerous examples in the emails of apparent misdirection or concealment in the initial weeks after the Japanese plant was devastated by a 9.0 earthquake and 50-foot tsunami that knocked out power and cooling systems at the six-reactor plant, eventually causing releases of radioactive material:
- Trying to distance the U.S. agency from the Japanese crisis, an NRC manager told staff to hide from reporters the presence of Japanese engineers in the NRC's operations center in Maryland.
- If asked whether the Diablo Canyon Power Plant on the California coast could withstand the same size tsunami that had hit Japan, spokespeople were told not to reveal that NRC scientists were still studying that question. As for whether Diablo could survive an earthquake of the same magnitude, "We're not so sure about, but again we are not talking about that," said one email.
- When skeptical news articles appeared, the NRC dissuaded news organizations from using the NRC's own data on earthquake risks at U.S. nuclear plants, including the Indian Point Energy Center near New York City.
- And when asked to help reporters explain what would happen during the worst-case scenario -- a nuclear meltdown -- the agency declined to address the questions.
As the third anniversary of Fukushima...
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 11, 2014, 05:57 AM (0 replies)
Feb 16 2012
Over 1 Million Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium from the Mysterious Black Dust in Minami Soma City
MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012
"Black Dust" in Tokyo? With 243,000 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium
Freelance journalist Rei Shiva writing for Nikkan Spa, a daily tabloid in Japan (part; 5/15/2012):
It was this February when the super-radioactive and mysterious "black dust" found in Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture was in the news.
Although 1.08 million Bq/kg was shocking, it was considered to be specific only to Minami Soma. However, I've been told that "black dust" exists everywhere in Tokyo.
"When I brought the radiation detector closer, it visibly responded. So I knew it might be highly contaminated, but didn't know it was this contaminated...", says Ayako Ishikawa incredulously. Ishikawa is the head of the citizens' group "No! to Radiation, Protect Children in Koto". . She says, "We found something that looked like "black dust" near the Hirai JR station in Edogawa-ku. We collected the sample and and asked Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University to measure the radiation. The result was that it had the maximum 243,000 Bq/kg ."
It is 2,430 times the clearance level specified by the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law...
Reporting moves back to Fukushima
THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2012
Minami Soma's "Black Dust" with Over 10 Million Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium, Says Assemblyman Ooyama (Just Don't Multiply by 65!)
He keeps finding "black dust" in his city with ever higher radioactivity. That's extremely high, even though Mr. Ooyama hasn't given the details as to the exact measurement or the location in his blog post.
But one thing the readers had better keep in mind: YOU DO NOT MULTIPLY THIS NUMBER BY 65 TO CONVERT TO BQ/M2.
As I said in the previous post on Tokyo's "black dust", the multiplier of 65 is only applicable if:
- The soil sample is taken from the surface to 5 centimeter deep; and
- The soil's relative density is about 1.3 gram/cm3 (cubic centimeter)....
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 11:00 PM (0 replies)
Only 20% of municipalities will OK reactor restarts: poll
MAR 2, 2014
Only about a fifth of the 156 local governments situated within 30 km of a nuclear power plant would give the nod to reactor restarts if regulators declared them safe, a survey says.
Of those 37 governments, 13 said they would do so unconditionally if reactors cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety review, and 24 said they would attach conditions, the Kyodo News survey said Saturday.
Another 66, or about 40 percent, said they would be unable to make a judgment even if reactors cleared safety standards introduced after the Fukushima meltdowns in March 2011.
The poll also found that 32 would not endorse reactor restarts in their area even if they cleared the NRA screenings.
The results indicate widespread caution about restarting nuclear power plants even as the central government pushes for restarts ...
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 10:03 PM (1 replies)
Photos: Is GE’s Space Frame Tower the Future of Wind Power?
GE goes back to the roots of wind power—but with a twist.
Herman K. Trabish
March 7, 2014
Greentech Media got an early look at GE's new space frame wind turbine tower in advance of the technology's official debut at next week’s European wind industry conference.
The space frame advances the potential of GE to deliver taller towers capable of more power production at a lower cost.
GE's enclosed-lattice, five-legged space frame prototype, sited at the company's Tehachapi, California facility, is 97 meters tall with a "brilliant" GE 1.7-megawatt, 100-meter rotor turbine on top. GE will introduce a 139-meter-tall space frame for its 2.75-megawatt, 120-meter rotor turbine on March 11 at the European Wind Energy Association conference.
A space frame is a three-dimensional structure built on struts that are locked together. These structures can accommodate very heavy weights with limited materials and supports.
Open-lattice towers were used for early utility-scale wind turbines...
Good article - brief text explained with appropriate photos.
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 09:56 PM (2 replies)
Module Costs Dip Below 50 Cents per Watt in JinkoSolar’s Strong Q4
Module Costs Dip Below 50 Cents per Watt in JinkoSolar’s Strong Q4
JinkoSolar of China just hit the U.S. SunShot goal of sub-50-cents-per-watt solar modules.
March 4, 2014
Vertically integrated Chinese solar manufacturer JinkoSolar announced its "third straight quarter of profitability" along with net profitability for 2013 with a Q4 gross margin of 24.7 percent. Even some Chinese module makers are seeing good days return.
The company had a great quarter with strong margin and geographical diversification -- but the more interesting news came from Arturo Herrero, Jinko's Chief Strategy Officer. During Monday's earnings call, Herrero noted, "Basically, if you look at our Q2 to Q4, our ASP is around $0.63. Our non-silicon cost is, I think, $0.39, and plus the silicon cost of $0.09, it is around the $0.48 mark."
Shyam Mehta, Senior Solar Analyst at GTM Research, notes, "I believe this is the first time in human history that a module company has recorded cost under 50 cents per watt -- although the cost may go back up a bit in 2014."
In fact, a forecast from one of Mehta's recent reports shows top Chinese manufacturers making solar modules for 36 cents per watt by 2017. "There was a reaction from some people that our projection for 36 cents per watt is crazy. To that, I offer the point that our forecast only implies an annualized reduction of 6.3 percent from 50 cents a watt today," he said. "It's not exactly a game-changer; it's 14 cents. But the industry has had a mental block because people didn't think we could produce modules for less than 50 cents per watt."
Greentech media: http://preview.tinyurl.com/lkqjm2e
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 09:51 PM (2 replies)
Paying in advance for nothing at all
Ivan Penn, Times Staff Writer
February 28, 2014
In 2006, when volatile natural gas prices stoked fears of steep increases in electric bills, it seemed sensible, perhaps even necessary, to charge customers in advance to help build new nuclear projects.
A lot has changed in eight years. Florida's gamble in creating a so-called "advance fee" for nuclear projects will cost consumers billions — for nothing.
The reality of those losses will play prominently in debate about the state's energy policies as the 2014 legislative session begins.
There already are several measures drafted in response to the 2006 law that created the nuclear advance fee, known as the Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause.
Some Democrats want the law repealed entirely....
Posted by kristopher | Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:12 PM (0 replies)
International Policy Digest
Contamination of USS Ronald Reagan During Fukushima Response Underreported
By Peter Lee | February 6, 2014
That article links to this
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 11, No. 4. March 18, 2013.
Fukushima Rescue Mission Lasting Legacy: Radioactive Contamination of Nearly 70,000 Americans
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 12, No. 1. March 25, 2013.
A Lasting Legacy of the Fukushima Rescue Mission: Cat and Mouse with a Nuclear Ghost
This is part two of a two part series.
Posted by kristopher | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 07:36 AM (1 replies)
China's Premier wants to declare "war on pollution" as smog becomes extra horrible
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made remarks about the country's huge pollution problems during what could be described as China’s equivalent of the State of the Union address in the US. He said pollution is a "major problem" and he wants the government to “‘declare war’’ on smog by removing high-emission cars from the road and closing coal-fired furnaces.
Pollution is ‘‘nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development,’’ Li said today in his work report at the start of this year’s National People’s Congress in Beijing. ‘‘Fostering a sound ecological environment is vital for people’s lives and the future of our nation.”
China will fight smog with the same determination it battled poverty and all society should “act more vigorously to protect the land our lives depend upon,” Li said. (source)
Not a moment too soon, and hopefully this isn't just empty rhetoric because, as we recently mentioned, China's smog is getting close to 'nuclear winter' bad...
What China has to do is not so different from what the U.S. had to do at an earlier phase of its development. The so-called 'coal laws' in the 1940s became necessary because air quality was just terrible. See for yourself.
Posted by kristopher | Thu Mar 6, 2014, 05:49 AM (6 replies)
Is Utility 2.0 a Forecast or a Post-Mortem?
February 26, 2014
For the last six months, the energy news sphere (perhaps led by the Edison Electric Institute) has been rife with a discussion about the threat to the utility business from distributed energy like local solar, as their customers shift to getting their own power from nearby renewable resources. Reports and news stories – e.g. “Adapt or Die” – suggest changes to the electric utility business model are imminent as power generation shifts from massive to medium scale and from remote to local.
For some utilities, this discussion is not a forecast, but a post-mortem.
Electric utilities have always built infrastructure (power lines, power plants, etc.) as long-term investments. They relied on growing electricity demand and sales to help recoup the costs of new coal-fired power or (over budget) nuclear retrofits in the Midwest or new high-voltage power lines in the Northeast. Utility commissions played along, allowing them cost recovery and generous returns on equity (10-11 percent) for new infrastructure. But hardware that seemed wise in the 1990s and 2000s is suddenly and rapidly being exposed as untimely and unnecessary.
Electricity demand has flattened (even fallen), thanks to energy efficiency legislation and economic stagnation. Customers are increasingly generating their own energy from renewable energy like solar, whose cost is falling by 10 percent or more per year. Not only is big infrastructure proving harder to pay off as revenues stagnate, it’s also increasingly irrelevant in a 21st century electricity system where power generation can be cost-effectively placed right on the roof.
Commercial wind power started to crack the facade 20 years ago, but today renewable energy is rapidly imploding the utility’s entire antiquated business model...
Posted by kristopher | Tue Mar 4, 2014, 04:47 PM (1 replies)