— Germany: “Nightmare” problems with nuclear waste causes public distrust in disposal plan

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them.”
Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman, Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

From New Scientist

By Fred Pearce in Asse, Germany
January 29, 2016

Major problems at a salt mine where 126,000 drums of radioactive debris are stored are fuelling public distrust of long-term waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce from Asse, Germany

Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface.

It could take decades to resolve. In the meantime, excavations needed to extract the drums could cause new collapses and make the problem worse.

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them,” says Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), as we tour the mine.

This is just one part of Germany’s nuclear nightmare. The country is also wrestling a growing backlog of spent fuel.

And it has to worry about vast volumes of radioactive rubble that will be created as all the country’s 17 nuclear plants are decommissioned by 2022 – a decision taken five years ago, in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The final bill for decommissioning power plants and getting rid of the waste is estimated to be at least €36 billion.

Some 300,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level waste requiring long-term shielding, including what is dug from the Asse mine, is earmarked for final burial at the Konrad iron mine in Lower Saxony.

What will happen to the high-level waste, the spent fuel and other highly radioactive waste that must be kept safe for up to a million years is still debated.

Later this year, a Final Storage Commission of politicians and scientists will advise on criteria for choosing a site where deep burial or long-term storage should be under way by 2050.

But its own chairman, veteran parliamentarian Michael Muller, says that timetable is unlikely to be met. “We all believe deep geology is the best option, but I’m not sure if there is enough [public] trust to get the job done,” he says.

Lack of trust

Many anti-nuclear groups are boycotting the commission.

Although they agree Germany must deal with its own waste, they don’t trust the process of choosing a site. They fear that the authorities are secretly fixed on reviving plans for burial at Gorleben, another Lower Saxony salt dome.

Currently, 113 flasks containing high-level waste are housed in a temporary store there.

One flask of high-level waste contains as much radioactivity as 30 Hiroshima bombs,” says Wolfgang Ehmke, who has been a campaigner for 40 years. “We cannot bury this waste here in northern Germany [because] there could be 10 ice ages, with glaciers scraping away the rocks, before the waste is safe.”

The protesters have wide popular support. And the problems at the Asse salt mine have led to further distrust of engineers and their solutions.

The abandoned mine was bought by the German government in 1965, ostensibly to research the suitability of salt domes for disposing of radioactive waste. Yet after two years, without waiting for scientific reports, the authorities secretly turned it into a cheap and supposedly permanent nuclear dump.

By then, 90 per cent of the mine’s 5 million cubic metres of salt had been excavated, and the mine was already buckling under the weight of the rocks above, says Ingo Bautz of the BfS, who oversees activities at the site.

As the walls bent, cracks formed. And because the miners had dug to within 10 metres of the impervious rock, in 1988, underground water started to trickle in.

The true state of affairs only became public knowledge in 2008. Despite hurried backfilling of much of the mine, the degradation continues. Brine seeps in at a rate of around 12,000 litres a day, threatening to flush radioactive material to the surface. “It is a disastrous situation,” says Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Environment.

Painfully slow

In 2011, the BfS ruled that the waste had to be removed. But the task is hard and likely to take decades. Just checking the state of the 13 chambers holding the waste drums is painfully slow. Engineers drilling to reach them through 20 metres of rock don’t know whether the drums have leaked, and of course they cannot risk a release of radioactivity.

Since work started in 2012, just one borehole has been completed into one of the chambers. Engineers say they will need to sink a second shaft and open up big new galleries where the drums can be made safe before they are retrieved.

But exploratory drilling has revealed that the salt dome is not as big as thought, says Bautz.

And unless care is taken to keep clear of the geological barrier, the excavations risk allowing more water in. “We can’t rule out that the mine could flood,” he says. “If that happened, retrieval would be impossible. We would backfill it all.”

Nothing will be moved until at least 2033, says Bautz. Meanwhile the bills keep rising. It costs €140 million a year just to keep the mine safe for work to continue. The final bill will run into many billions.

Is it worth it? Many experts fear that digging up the drums, with consequent risks of radioactive leaks, could create a much greater hazard than leaving them where they are.

A former top official on the project, geochemist Michael Siemann, told the media in 2012 that safe retrieval was unrealistic. “Many people know this, but no one wants to say it.”

“There could be a conflict between protecting future generations and creating risks for today,” Bautz concedes.

Germany may ultimately perform a service to the world if it can pioneer solutions that other nuclear countries may look to in the future, including the UK, which is struggling with its own waste legacy.

But if Germans ever thought that abandoning nuclear power would end their nuclear problems, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Read more: Waste away: Nuclear power’s eternal problem

Fred Pearce’s costs during the field trip to the mine were paid for by Clean Energy Wire, an independent non-profit media service.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075615-radioactive-waste-dogs-germany-despite-abandoning-nuclear-power/

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

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Two-headed sharks — “more are turning up worldwide”: National Geographic

Article below. First, a few comments.

“…[W[ild sharks’ malformations could come from a variety of factors, including viral infections, metabolic disorders, pollution, or a dwindling gene pool due to overfishing…” Where is perhaps the single greatest source of mutation — ionizing radiation?

The serious, growing radioactive contamination of the ocean, including from Fukushima, all the nuclear power plants, and nuclear waste dumping in the ocean, is completely missing from that list. That indicates how great the scandal and cataclysm that establishment-linked scientists are trying to hide.

Radiation is only mentioned once in this article, dismissed as a possibility for mutation of a lab-raised shark. But if contaminated water from the ocean is used for the lab tanks, then why wouldn’t radioactivity have caused this mutation since developing organisms are especially vulnerable to very small amounts of toxins?

Note the back and forth between “more mutated fish” and “few and far between”. 

The claim ‘the rates are not higher; it’s because of better detection methods,’ used to soothe the public on so many other issues, is used here as well.

And the massive pollution of the Caribbean by the BP oil spill and the chemicals used in its aftermath are also completely omitted.

This is not science. This is an industry-friendly puff piece to titillate. Overfishing? Ridiculous. And if the ocean is down to that few number of sharks, then the ocean is in a far, far worse state that these people are willing to tell. Reduced ocean life is also a direct symptom of contamination including from Fukushima.

From National Geographic

Two-Headed Sharks Keep Popping Up—No One Knows Why

by Joshua Rapp
November 2016

Scientists are discovering more mutated fish, possibly due to genetic abnormalities from overfishing.

Two-headed sharks may sound like a figment of the big screen, but they exist—and more are turning up worldwide, scientists say.

A few years ago off Florida, fishermen hauled in a bull shark whose uterus contained a two-headed fetus. In 2008, another fisherman discovered a two-headed blue shark embryo in the Indian Ocean.

And a 2011 study described conjoined twins discovered in blue sharks caught in the Gulf of California and northwestern Mexico. Blue sharks have produced the most recorded two-headed embryos because they carry so many babies—up to 50 at at time, says study leader Felipe Galván-Magaña, of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico.

Now, Spanish researchers have identified an embryo of an Atlantic sawtail catshark with two heads, according to a new study in the Journal of Fish Biology. While raising sharks for human-health research in the laboratory, a team noticed the unusual embryo in a see-through shark egg.

The catshark embyro was not your average two-headed beast—it’s the first such specimen known from an oviparous shark species, or a shark that lays eggs.

Researchers opened the egg to study the specimen, and study leader Valentín Sans-Coma says it’s unknown whether the deformed animal would have survived. Because it’s the first such conjoined twin found in egg-laying sharks, its likely that such offspring don’t live long enough for people to find them.

Mutation Causes

Two-headed sharks have been few and far between, so it’s tough to know what’s behind the mutations. (See more shark pictures.)

Sans-Coma and colleagues say a genetic disorder seems to be the most plausible cause for the two-headed catshark, since the embryos were grown in a lab among nearly 800 specimens. To the best of their knowledge, the eggs were not exposed to any infections, chemicals, or radiation.

But wild sharks’ malformations could come from a variety of factors, including viral infections, metabolic disorders, pollution, or a dwindling gene pool due to overfishing, which leads to inbreeding, and thus genetic abnormalities. (See “New Diseases, Toxins Harming Marine Life.”)

For another recent study, marine scientist Nicolas Ehemann examined two such specimens: A smalleye smooth-hound shark and a blue shark, found by fishermen off Venezuela’s Margarita Island. The animals, which would not have survived, are the first two-headed sharks found in the Caribbean Sea, according to Ehemann’s research bulletin.

Overfishing to Blame?

Ehemann, a master’s student at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico, believes that if the two-headed fetuses are more prevalent in nature, then overfishing is a strong culprit as it may cause the gene pool to shrink.

Galván-Magaña, who authored the 2011 study, doesn’t think two-headed sharks are more common—but rather that there are more scientific journals around to publish accounts.

Galván-Magaña has seen other bizarre sharks, too, including a “cyclops” shark, caught off Mexico in 2011, with a single, functioning eye at the front of its head. The dusky shark fetus’s single eye is the hallmark of a congenital condition called cyclopia, which occurs in several animal species, including people.

Meanwhile, Ehemann says shark deformities are a difficult topic to research because the specimens are so rare.

“I would like to study these things, but it’s not like you throw out a net and you catch two-headed sharks every so often,” he says. “It’s random.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/sharks-two-headed-oceans-mutations/

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— When Charlottesville was nuked

As the United States government is now upgrading its nuclear arsenal under President Obama’s orders, as first strike plans by the U.S. against Russia and other countries have been in place for decades, as U.S. foreign policy is pushing Russia toward nuclear war through Syria, and by encirclement via NATO and missile systems, this is a reminder of what nuclear war means. 

Pentagon officials talk about keeping U.S. attacks on other countries as an “away game”, but there is a very old American saying about the chickens coming home to roost. 

For the reality of American foreign policy, Global Research (www.globalresearch.org) carries excellent and ongoing coverage from independent investigative journalists and experts, and has in-depth reports including on Ukraine and Syria.

From David Swanson.org

November 2, 2016

Thirty-seven years ago, the United States Congress commissioned and published a work of fiction, an account of what life in Charlottesville, Virginia, might be like during a nuclear war. It’s contained in a longer report called The Effects of Nuclear War which came out in May of 1979. It’s widely available online.

I take an interest for 15 pretty solid reasons:

  • I live in Charlottesville.
  • The world still has enough nuclear weapons with which to destroy itself many times over.
  • We pay a lot less attention to preventing such a disaster now than we did 37 years ago.
  • More nations have nukes now and many more are close to having them.
  • We know more now about the numerous nuclear accidents and misunderstandings that have nearly killed us all over the decades.
  • India and Pakistan are actually at war.
  • The United States and Russia are as close to war as they’ve been in 98 years.
  • The United States is investing in newer and smaller, “more usable” nukes.
  • This Congressional best case scenario for a U.S. city during a nuclear war is deeply disturbing.
  • We now know that even a limited nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, preventing the production of crops depicted in this tale.
  • It’s not so clear to me that Charlottesville would still rank last on a list of targets for nuclear missiles. It is, after all, home to the Army JAG school, the National Ground Intelligence Center, various weapon makers, a heavily militarized university, and the CIA’s underground hideout.
  • The United Nations has just set up negotiations for the coming year of a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and it’s worth trying to understand why.
  • If we survive our possession of nuclear knowledge, we still have climate catastrophe to quickly and miraculously evade or prepare for.
  • The Republican candidate for U.S. president.
  • The Democratic candidate for U.S. president.

So, here are a few excerpts that I encourage you to consider:

“[This account] presents one among many possibilities, and in particular it does not consider the situation if martial law were imposed or if the social fabric disintegrated into anarchy. . . .

“Refugees came from Washington, 130 miles to the north, and they came from Richmond, 70 miles to the east. A few of the hardier types continued on into the mountains and caverns near Skyline Drive; the majority sought the reassurances of civilization that the small city could provide. . . .

“At the sound of the sirens and the emergency radio alerts, most of Charlottesville and Albemarle County hurried to shelter. Fortunately, Charlottesville had a surplus of shelter space for its own population, though the refugees easily took up the slack. Many headed for the University grounds and the basements of the old neoclassical buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson; others headed downtown for the office building parking garages. . . .

“Most did not see the attacks on Richmond and on Washington as they huddled in their shelters. But the sky to the east and north of Charlottesville glowed brilliant in the noonday sun. At first no one knew how extensive the damage was. . . .

“The total dose [of radiation] in the first 4 days was 2,000 reins, which killed those who refused to believe shelter was necessary, and increased the risk of eventually dying of cancer for those who were properly sheltered. . . .

“Three days after the attacks, the next large influx of refugees poured into Charlottesville, many of them suffering with the early symptoms of radiation sickness. . . .

“After being turned away, the sick had no specific destination. Many still clustered around the middle of town near the two major hospitals, taking up residence in the houses abandoned by local residents several days before. With minimal protection from fallout and no medical treatment for other trauma, many died, their bodies left unburied for several weeks. . . .

“Unprotected farm animals were dead, while those which had been confined to fairly solid barns with uncontaminated feed had a fair chance of surviving. Many of these farm animals, however, were missing, apparently eaten by hungry refugees and residents. . . .

“During the third week after the attacks, the new rationing system come into force. Individual identification cards were issued to every man, woman and child. Food was distributed at centralized points. . . .

“By now, the emergency government recognized that the need for food was going to be acute. Without power for refrigeration, much food had spoiled; stocks of nonperishable foods were mostly exhausted. As the shortages became clear, the price of food skyrocketed. . . .

“In addition to those with terminal radiation sickness, there were those with nonfatal cases and those who showed some symptoms. Often it was impossible for doctors to quickly identify those with flu or psychosomatic radiation symptoms. The number of patients crowding the emergency rooms did not slacken off. . . .

“The supply of drugs on hand at the hospitals was dwindling fast. Although penicillin could be manufactured fairly easily in the laboratories at the university, many other drugs were not so simple, even with talent and ingenuity. . . .

“Food riots broke out 4 1/2 weeks after the attacks — precipitated by the first large shipment of grain. . . .

“One day, quite without warning, the city manager was informed that one-half of his fuel stores were to be confiscated by the Federal Government, for the military and for the reconstruction effort. . . .

“In Charlottesville alone, several thousand people died in the first winter after the nuclear attack. . . .

“It was clear that if the economy did not get moving again soon, it might never. Already there were indications that manufacturing was not reestablishing itself with anywhere near the speed the planners had hoped. . . .

“‘We will have survived biologically, but our way of life is going to be unrecognizable. In several generations, the United States is going to resemble a late medieval society.'”

http://davidswanson.org/node/5332

— MIT’s floating reactors — “outstanding safety performance” or dangerous fraud? (VIDEO)

Here is the transcript and MIT description for the Jacopo Buongiorno video. Again, this is a must-see video; archive it for future use.

In this video are many errors and assumptions. Obviously neither Buongiorno nor his team are sailors who have experienced weather and ocean conditions. The evacuation and contamination zone for Fukushima is not a few miles. The only thing infinite about the ocean is its goodness. Certainly the ocean is not an infinite heat sink. Heating the ocean is never, ever, a good idea, and discharging radioactivity into the water is insane. Radioactive gases will also burp out of the ocean as fast as they are pumped in, as anyone who has blown bubbles into water knows. So much for mitigation. So much for ‘higher’ education.

These universities seem to be publicly-funded industry profit enrichment systems. There is little critical thinking going on here, and degrees are being given to fools and yes-men who develop systems that endanger the Earth and everyone on it. 

Video and description from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Published April 15, 2014

“When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused most of the damage and contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects — specifically, the lack of cooling for the reactor cores and spent fuel, due to a shutdown of outside power — that caused most of the harm.

A new design for nuclear plants built on floating platforms, modeled after those used for offshore oil drilling, could help avoid such consequences in the future. Such floating plants would be designed to be automatically flooded by the surrounding seawater in a worst-case scenario, providing sufficient cooling to indefinitely prevent any melting of fuel rods, or escape of radioactive material.

The concept is being presented this week at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, by MIT associate professor of nuclear science and engineering (NSE) Jacopo Buongiorno along with others from MIT, the University of Wisconsin, and Chicago Bridge and Iron, a major nuclear plant and offshore platform construction company.

Video filmed by Christopher Sherrill, courtesy of MIT Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.”

Transcript:

Speaker: Jacopo Buongiorno,
Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

Today I want to tell you about a new nuclear reactor concept that we’re developing here at MIT, and that is the possibility of revolutionizing the nuclear industry both in terms of economics and safety.

This is a floating offshore nuclear power plant.

It’s a power plant that can be entirely constructed in a centralized shipyard and then towed to the site where it would be moored or anchored a few miles off the coast and link to the electric grid with a transmission line.

Now the idea of the floating plant is not entirely new. In fact, the Russian are building a floating plant themselves, but the key difference between our concept and theirs is that ours is not only floating but is sited a few miles off the coast, and this affords some absolutely crucial advantages.

First of all, tsunamis and earthquakes are no longer a source of risk for the nuclear plant because essentially the ocean shields the seismic waves. And the tsunami waves in relatively deep waters – say, 100 meter deep – are not big and so they don’t really pose a hazard for the plant.

Number two, of course, the ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink. And so, the decay heat which is generated by the nuclear fuel, even after the reactor is shut down, can be removed indefinitely, and this is a major advantage with respect to current terrestrial plants in which the ultimate heat sink is not assured necessarily for the very long term as demonstrated by the accident in Japan at Fukushima.

The other key safety advantage is that because of distance from shore, even if an accident should occur at the plant, it will not force people to evacuate, to move away from their homes and their jobs on shore. Because of distance, and also because of the possibility of essentially venting radioactive gases under water, therefore minimizing the impact onshore.

Now, a nice characteristic of this idea is that it combines essentially two established technologies. One is nuclear reactors – for example, light water reactors, PWI and PWR — and the other technology is offshore platforms which are currently used obviously for oil and gas exploration, exploitation, and extraction.

So we think that the combination of these two technologies give some solid ground on which we can build a plant that has good economic performance and, as I explained, an outstanding safety performance.

And we have a great team here at MIT of students, both graduates and undergraduates, as well as professors, and we’re also collaborating with other universities and with industry to develop these new concepts.

— Floating reactors: avoiding another Fukushima or creating more damage and risk? (VIDEO)

This short must-see video by MIT Associate Professor Jacopo Buongiorno. Download this video and save it.

Quotes from the article below and the video:

“The ocean is inexpensive real estate.”

“The ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink.

“The decay heat which is generated by the nuclear fuel, even after the reactor is shut down, can be removed indefinitely,”

Jacopo Buongiorno, MIT

The collaborators listed in the article don’t include biologists, marine biologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, or medical experts. This is an economic development project with some safety-appearing measures.

 

From RT

18 Apr, 2014

A group of American engineers proposed bringing nuclear power generating facilities out to sea, to secure them from earthquakes and tsunamis, and prevent a possible meltdown threat by submerging a reactor’s active zone.

A report by American scientists to be presented at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, suggests that a nuclear power plant could be built in a form of standardized floating offshore platforms similar to modern drilling oil rigs and anchored about 10km out into the ocean. Electric power would be transferred to land by underwater cables.

Jacopo Buongiorno, associate professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who led the research, believes the project has a number of crucial advantages.

The main peculiarity of the new project is that a reactor is put into the underwater part of the facility, where it would be securely cooled by seawater in case of an emergency.

“The ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink. The decay heat, which is generated by the nuclear fuel even after the reactor is shutdown, can be removed indefinitely,” Buongiorno said, adding that “The reactor containment itself is essentially underwater.”

Such NPP would be safe from earthquakes and also from tsunamis inflicted by aftershocks. Back in 2011, a combination of these two devastated the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, which led to breakdown of the reactors’ cooling systems and eventually ended with meltdown of two reactors’ active cores. Radioactive fallout from that catastrophe is set to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for many years to come.

Positioning the plant should also be a simple process: just tow the station to wherever it is needed and moor it to the seafloor. No need to look for a seismically safe place with plenty of water, a sea or lake, nearby as with traditional nuclear power plants.

“The ocean is inexpensive real estate,” Buongiorno said.

The all-steel sea-based construction of the facility also eliminates the need for expensive concrete works, which make up a considerable part of the cost of any nuclear power plant.

Buongiorno stressed the versatility of the project which could be adjusted to match any energy consumption need, be it 50 or 1,000 megawatts.

“It’s a flexible concept,” he said.

The personnel of the plant could work on rotating scheme, with living quarters placed atop of the facility.

When the working lifespan of such plant is expired, it could be decommissioned the same way it is currently done nuclear submarines’ reactors, a well-proven technology considerably less expensive than decommission of a ground-based nuclear power plant.

The project is being developed by MIT Professors Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael W. Golay, Neil E. Todreas and other MIT staff, with support from the University of Wisconsin, and the major US nuclear plant and offshore platform construction company Chicago Bridge and Iron.

Developers of the project believe the concept could be required by many countries, in the first place earthquake- and tsunami-prone Japan, Indonesia, Chile etc.

Russia’s floating nuclear power plant nearly complete

The idea of constructing sea-based nuclear power facilities is definitely not new yet only one country has so far managed to bring such a project to reality.

Russia is in the process of finalizing construction of a 70 megawatt floating nuclear co-generation plant named ‘Akademik Lomonosov’, after a famous Russian scientist of the 18th century. The project implies construction of a series, probably seven, of vessel-mounted, non-self-propelled autonomous power facilities.

Launched in 2010 by state-owned Rosatom nuclear energy corporation, the project is now in the final stage of construction at the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg.

The vessel hosting the plant is measured 140 by 30 meters and with 5.5-meter draught has a displacement of 21,500 tons. The crew of the plant consists of 70 engineers.

The power unit of the plant consists of two 35MW KLT-40C nuclear reactors and two steam-driven turbines.

The plant will be generating enough power to serve 200,000 people.

Unlike the floating plant proposed by the American engineers, ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is not just a power generator. It also produces 300 megawatt of heat that could be transferred onshore. This will be equal to saving 200,000 tons of coal every year.

This is the major difference between the Russia’s nuclear power plant and American project, which sacrificed heat generation to security matters. An American plant moored 10 km off the coast cannot transfer hot water ashore so it will waste the heat and only warm up the waters nearby.

The facility could also be converted into desalination plant producing 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day, an immensely interesting solution for seaside countries with scarce water resources situated in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

The plant, with a lifespan of 40 years, will be re-fueled every three years and will have a 12-year service cycle, when the plant will undergo servicing and maintenance at the Baltic shipyard.

The equipment for the floating power plant has been developed and supplied by 136 companies and subcontractors.

Deployment of a nuclear facility out to sea have raised concerns of such environmental organizations as Greenpeace, which maintained that sea-based nuclear facility is prone to torpedo and missile attacks and could also be seized by terrorists striving to obtain nuclear materials for a ‘dirty’ nuclear bomb.

For all that Russia has well over 50 years of experience of operating nuclear powered icebreakers, nuclear submarines and other vessels, most of them specifically built for operation in the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean.

That’s why Rosatom is considering deployment of floating nuclear power plants to any region with either difficult weather conditions, such as the port of Pevek in the Russian Arctic or Vilyuchinsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Pacific region, notorious for frequent seismic activities.

https://www.rt.com/news/floating-nuclear-power-plant-040/

— Russia starts work on Arctic dock for 1st-ever floating nuclear power plant

The Russian Federation usually exhibits much more caution and common sense. Nuclear energy is their catastrophically huge blindspot. 

The generating unit of the world's first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev
The generating unit of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev / Sputnik

From RT

October 7, 2016

The world’s first floating nuclear power plant is set to start producing power and heat in 2019. While the plant is already being tested, construction of the dock has begun on the Arctic coast in Russia’s Far East.

The construction works on the dock, which will host the floating nuclear power plant ‘Akademik Lomonosov’, kicked off Wednesday in the bay of the city of Pevek, Chukotka, RIA Novosti reports.

The severity of weather conditions (in winter, the temperature drops down to minus 60 degrees Celcius) obliging, the onshore facilities will be forced to endure ice impact and squalling winds. 

Road sign not far from Anadyr. © Konstantin Chalabov

Contractor company Zapsibgidrostroy’s Director-General Marat Kharisov, in charge of the construction, said the dock will be ready by October 2019.

The plant, work on which was announced back in 2007, will consist of the floating power-generating unit, the dock with onshore facilities for transmitting electricity and heat, and waterworks.

© Google maps

The facility, which is scheduled to start operating by the end of 2019, is set to replace the generating capacities of the Bilibino nuclear power plant and Chaunsky thermal power plant, which currently supply Chukotka Region with energy and heat.

According to the , the new NPP has electric power capacity of 75 MW, almost twice as much as Bilibino.

<iframe width=”766″ height=”500″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/hfoI7kIS-lY&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen><!–iframe>

The cost of the floating plant is estimated at around 30 billion rubles (US$480 million),  to Sergey Zavyalov, head of the plant construction.

The power-generating unit for ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ is currently going through dock trials at the Baltic shipyard in St. Petersburg, known for manufacturing ships of Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet and the world’s only shipbuilder with experience building civilian naval reactors.

The 21,000-tons unit will have two Russian-designed KLT-40S reactors, low-enriched uranium-fueled reactors used in some of Russia’s icebreakers, and two steam-driven turbines. One unit is able to provide enough electricity to power a city of 200,000 people. It can also produce 300 megawatt of heat that can be transferred onshore, equal to saving some 200,000 tons of coal every year.

The main element of Concern Energoatom project, the generating unit of the world's first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © 
Alexei Danichev
The main element of Concern Energoatom project, the generating unit of the world’s first floating nuclear power plant Academician Lomonosov, was launched at the Baltiysky Zavod Shipyard of the United Industrial Corporation (UIC). © Alexei Danichev / Sputnik

The FPU is not self-propelled and must be towed to the location of operation. It is a barge consisting of three decks and 10 compartments. Apart from reactors, it is equipped with storage facilities for fresh and spent nuclear fuel, as well as liquid and solid nuclear waste.

Experts have praised floating power plants for being secure from earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as from meltdown threats, as the reactor’s active zone is underwater.

Reactor units are small and self-contained. They are nothing like those installed at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, of course. A scenario like that at the Fukushima power plant is also excluded,” Professor Georgy Tikhomirov of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute recently  EFE news agency.

The crew of the plant consists of 70 engineers.

It’s like a journey on a cruise ship. The staff will be living on the platform in four-star hotel conditions, with all the amenities, because they have to spend a whole year in the cabins,” Tikhomirov added.

The FPU will have a service life of up to 40 years, with three operating cycles of 12 years. After each cycle the unit will be towed to the shipyard for repairs, defueling, refueling and radioactive waste removal.

The concept of floating nuclear power generating facilities is not new, with the US and  announcing research in the sphere lately, but ‘Akademik Lomonosov’ may become the first such facility actually to go into operation.

The deployment of nuclear facilities out to sea, however, also raises concerns of environmentalists, who warn that despite claims they answer all security guidelines for nuclear power facilities, these guidelines were written when the concept did not yet exist and thus should be revised.

Greenpeace, for instance,  that a sea-based nuclear facility is prone to torpedo and missile attacks, and could also be seized by terrorists who could use nuclear materials to create a nuclear bomb.

— Fukushima decommissioning costs soar to at least $24bn

From RT

October 26, 2016

Cleanup costs of the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant over the next three decades will be far more than TEPCO previously estimated. An expert panel is now considering ways to avoid increasing the “public burden.”

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has estimated that it will cost around 80-billion yen ($770 million) annually to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. But a new study released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says that the cost to complete a 30-year decommissioning process is likely to cost far more than the two trillion yen ($19 billion) initially estimated by TEPCO, Kyodo News reported.

The ministry said that decommissioning costs will continue to run at several hundred billion yen a year, totalling at least 2.5 trillion yen ($24 billion).

“The panel is considering ways in which TEPCO can secure funds while avoiding an increase in public burden,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference. “It is still discussing the issue.”

The nuclear plant operator did not comment on the government projection, as the company is still trying to work out the total cleanup cost figures.

“It is difficult to calculate the entire cost for the decommissioning,” TEPCO spokesman Shinichi Nakakuki said, as quoted by Japan Today.

The two-trillion-yen figure previously estimated by TEPCO factored in expenses for removing nuclear debris based on the cleanup effort of the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear incident in the US. That estimate also included the costs and equipment needed to keep the reactors at Fukushima stable, the spokesman stressed.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan at 2:46pm local time, unleashing a deadly tsunami. At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the tsunami caused a cooling system failure resulting in a nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials.

Five years after the disaster, TEPCO faces massive liabilities as it decommissions the facility, compensates tens of thousands of evacuees, and pays for decontamination of the area.

The firm has cut its costs and raised prices, but its long-term sustainability remains in doubt. To cope with the financial pressure, TEPCO was forced to seek government assistance in July.

https://www.rt.com/news/364121-fukushima-decommission-cost-soar/