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Nuclear power’s dark future via The Japan Times

Nuclear power constitutes the world’s most subsidy-fattened energy industry, yet it faces an increasingly uncertain future. The global nuclear power industry has enjoyed growing state subsidies over the years, even as it generates the most dangerous wastes whose safe disposal saddles future generations.

Despite the fat subsidies, new developments are highlighting the nuclear power industry’s growing travails. For example, France — the “poster child” of atomic power — is rethinking its love affair with nuclear energy. Its parliament voted last month to cut the country’s nuclear-generating capacity by a third by 2025 and focus instead on renewable sources by emulating neighboring countries like Germany and Spain.

As nuclear power becomes increasingly uneconomical at home because of skyrocketing costs, the U.S. and France are aggressively pushing exports, not just to India and China, but also to “nuclear newcomers,” such as the cash-laden oil sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf. Such exports raise new challenges related to freshwater resources, nuclear safety and nuclear-weapons proliferation.

Still, the bulk of the reactors under construction or planned worldwide are in just four countries — China, Russia, South Korea and India.

[...]

In Japan, the last of its 48 commercial reactors went offline in September 2013. Repeated polls have shown that the Japanese public remains opposed to nuclear restarts by a 2 to 1 margin, despite toughened safety regulations after the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Yet the southern city of Satsuma Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture recently gave its consent to restarting, as soon as early next year, two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company.

[...]

The risks that seaside reactors face from global-warming-induced natural disasters became evident more than six years before Fukushima, when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami inundated the Madras Atomic Power Station. But the reactor core could be kept in a safe shutdown mode because the electrical systems had been installed on higher ground than the plant level.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused significant damage at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Florida, but fortunately not to any critical system. And in a 2012 incident, an alert was declared at the New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant — the oldest operating commercial reactor in the U.S. — after water rose in its water intake structure during Hurricane Sandy, potentially affecting the pumps that circulate cooling water through the plant.

All of Britain’s nuclear power plants are located along the coast, and a government assessment has identified as many as 12 of the country’s 19 civil nuclear sites as being at risk due to rising sea levels. Several nuclear plants in Britain, as in a number of other countries, are just a few meters above sea level.

Read more at Nuclear power’s dark future

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大飯・高浜原発、再稼働差し止め却下 大津地裁仮処分 via 日本経済新聞

滋賀県の住民らが関西電力の大飯原子力発電所3、4号機(福井県おおい町)と高浜原発3、4号機(同県高浜町)の再稼働差し止めを求めた仮処分申請で、大津地裁(山本善彦裁判長)が住民側の申請を却下する決定をしたことが27日分かった。住民側の弁護団が明らかにした。

今年5月の福井地裁判決は大飯原発3、4号機について「地震で原子炉の冷却機能が失われたりする具体的な危険がある」として再稼働の差し止めを命じており(関電側は控訴)、司法判断が分かれた。

(略)

両原発に対しては住民側が2011年8月に大津地裁に仮処分を申請し、今年9月に結審。住民側は耐震設計の目安となる地震の揺れ「基準地震動」の策定方法に問題があり、「想定を超える地震が来る可能性がある」などと主張。関電側は却下を求めていた。

大飯原発をめぐっては大阪府などの住民も大阪地裁に稼働差し止めの仮処分を申請し、大阪地裁は13年4月、申請を却下。住民側は即時抗告したが、大阪高裁 は今年5月、「新規制基準に基づく原子力規制委員会の審査の結論が出る前に、再稼働を差し止める必要性はない」と判断した。

仮処分申請は当事者の権利を守るため、時間のかかる民事訴訟ではなく、暫定的な対応を求める手続き。

全文は大飯・高浜原発、再稼働差し止め却下 大津地裁仮処分

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Scottish renewable energy overtakes nuclear in 2014 via edie.net

Scotland has broken renewable energy generation records, producing 10.3TWh of electricity in the first half of 2014 and overtaking nuclear as the country’s main source of power.

According to new independent figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), renewables have generated 32% more electricity than any other source of power in Scotland.

The data also shows that nuclear, coal and gas-fired electricity generation produced 7.8TWh, 5.6TWh and 1.4TWh respectively over the same period.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland’s economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.

[...]

Cutting emissions

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks described the announcement as ‘historic’ and said it represents a ‘major step on the way to Scotland becoming a 100% renewable nation’.

“Last month, while nuclear reactors were forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland’s renewables were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country,” said Banks. “Wind turbines in Scotland alone generated enough electricity to supply three million homes in the UK – equivalent to 126% of the electricity needs of every home north of the border.

“Put simply, renewables work and are helping to cut climate change emissions and create jobs in Scotland.”

In October, the Scottish Government approved 500 wind turbines spread across four offshore wind farms in the Forth and Tay region.

Read more at Scottish renewable energy overtakes nuclear in 2014

 

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2号機プール、冷却停止=福島第1、原因調査中-東電 via 時事ドットコム

東京電力は27日、福島第1原発2号機の使用済み燃料プールの冷却が停止したと発表した。原因は調査中だが、制限値である65度に到達するまでに13日余りの時間的余裕があると説明している。

(略)

当時のプール水温は16.7度で冷却が停止した状態では毎時0.146度上昇するという。

プールには使用済み燃料が587体、未使用燃料が28体保管されている。冷却の復旧の見通しは立っていないが、これまでのところ放射線量の値などに大きな変動は確認されていない。

全文は2号機プール、冷却停止=福島第1、原因調査中-東電 

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「フクシマ忌」の是非【福島・いわき発】via Jcastニュース

最初に、「フクシマ忌」に関する2011年7月30日、同8月7日付当ブログの抜粋をお読みいただきたい。

――年4回発行の浜通り俳句協会誌「浜通り」第141号が届いた。<東日本大震災特集号>である。多くの俳人が3・11の体験を記し、句を詠んでいる。招待の黒田杏子(ももこ)さんの作品に「原発忌福島忌この世のちの世」があった。「原発忌」と「福島忌」。新しい季語だ。

――被爆と被曝。原爆忌と原発忌。広島忌・長崎忌と福島忌、あるいはヒロシマ・ナガサキ・フクシマ。

原発忌と福島忌に反発する以上は、原爆忌や広島忌・長崎忌の季語を安易に使ってはいけない。単に文章を飾り、整えるために引用してはいけない。自分の問題として内部に深く引き寄せて読み、書く。それで必要ならば使う。そんなことを戒めにせよ、と思うのだった。(以上、8月7日)

今もその気持ちに変わりはない。いや、「フクシマ忌」が目につくにつれて反発も強くなった。そんな状況下で出合った文章がある。角川学芸出版「俳句」2014年9月号、宮坂静生さんの「季語探訪――東北を歩く(2)」(=写真)だ。「浜通り」第154号の編集後記で、発行人の結城良一さんが雑誌を紹介していた。

宮坂さんは<かねてから気になっていた(略)「フクシマ忌」という季語が私の中で立ち上がるだろうか、そんなことを考えながら、七月末に福島県浜通りを歩いた>。結城さんらが車で案内した。

<私は(略)「フクシマ」を忌と括ることに賛成できない。そこには俳人の便宜主義とでもいうような手早くことにけりを付けたい、纏め難いことを引っ張るよりも、端的に括りたい。悼むことでより深く考えなければならないことを回避する安易な思いが働いているのではないか>
[...]
その体験を踏まえて、「原発震災」後、作品に詠まれるようになった言葉(除染・汚染水・シーベルト・放射線・原発・被曝など)を紹介している。その一部(いずれも句誌「浜通り」に掲載された)。
汚染水行きどころなし夏の果  田崎武夫
放射能知らずや草の芽ぞくぞく 長岡 由
被曝圏ああこんなにも蕗の薹  結城良一

全文を読む。

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Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels via The New York Times

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

That day appears to be dawning.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

In Texas, Austin Energy signed a deal this spring for 20 years of output from a solar farm at less than 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. In September, the Grand River Dam Authority in Oklahoma announced its approval of a new agreement to buy power from a new wind farm expected to be completed next year. Grand River estimated the deal would save its customers roughly $50 million from the project.

And, also in Oklahoma, American Electric Power ended up tripling the amount of wind power it had originally sought after seeing how low the bids came in last year.

“Wind was on sale — it was a Blue Light Special,” said Jay Godfrey, managing director of renewable energy for the company. He noted that Oklahoma, unlike many states, did not require utilities to buy power from renewable sources.

“We were doing it because it made sense for our ratepayers,” he said.

According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.

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Renewables Help Push Nuclear Giants to Brink of Collapse via Climate News Network (Reader Supported News)

Plans to build two giant nuclear reactors in south-west England are being reviewed as French energy companies now seek financial backing from China and Saudi Arabia—while the British government considers whether it has offered vast subsidies for a white elephant.

A long-delayed final decision on whether the French electricity utility company EDF will build two 1.6 gigawatt European Pressurised water Reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset—in what would be the biggest construction project in Europe—was due in the new year, but is likely to drift again.

Construction estimates have already escalated to £25 billion, which is £9 billion more than a year ago, and four times the cost of putting on the London Olympics last year.
[...]
On the surface, all is well. Preparation of the site is already under way on the south-west coast of England, with millions being spent on earthworks and new roads. The new reactors would be built next to two existing much smaller nuclear stations—one already closed and the second nearing the end of its life. The new ones would produce 7 percent of Britain’s electricity.

But leaks from civil servants in Whitehall suggest that the government may be getting cold feet about its open-ended guarantees. The industry has a long history of cost overruns and cancellations of projects when millions have already been spent—including an ill-fated plan to build a new nuclear station on the same site 20 years ago.

The Treasury is having a review because of fears that, once this project begins, so much money will have been invested that the government will have to bail it out with billions more of taxpayers’ money to finish it—or write off huge sums.

The whole project is based on British concern about its aging nuclear reactors, which produce close on 20 percent of the country’s electricity. The government wanted a new generation of plants to replace them and eventually produce most of the country’s power.

Guaranteed Prices

In order to induce EDF to build them, it offered subsidies of £37 billion in guaranteed electricity prices over the 60-year life of the reactors. This would double the existing cost of electricity in the UK.

The European Commission gave permission for this to happen, despite the distortion to the competitive electricity market. But this decision is set to be challenged in the European Court by the Austrian government and renewable energy companies, which will further delay the project.

Since the decision was made to build nuclear power stations, renewable energy has expanded dramatically across Europe and costs have dropped. Nuclear is now more costly than wind and solar power. In Britain alone, small-scale solar output has increased by 26 percent in the last year.

In theory, there are a number of other nuclear companies—from the U.S., China, Japan and Russia—keen to build stations of their own design in Britain, but they would want the same price guarantees as EDF for Hinkley Point.

With a general election in the UK looming in May next year, no decisions will be reached on any of these projects any time soon. And a new government might think renewables are a better bet.

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Public comment period closes on Canada’s Lake Huron nuclear waste dump proposal via Michigan Live

SAGINAW, MI — Canada’s Deep Geologic Repository Joint Review Panel has closed the public comment period on a proposal to bury 7 million cubic feet of nuclear waste near the shores of Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation is seeking permission to store roughly 200,000 cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste deep inside limestone caverns near its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station about 13 miles north of Kincardine, Ontario.

[...]

The site is about 100 miles away from the water intakes at Au Gres that provide drinking water to Saginaw and Midland and surrounding communities, almost straight east across Lake Huron. Most of Bay County is soon expected to join that intake system. It is also about 120 miles away from intakes that provide drinking water to much of Southeast Michigan.

Michigan Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, responded to news that the public comment period has ended, moving the plan forward to the next stage.

“I sincerely hope the Canadian government will adhere to their own standard set in the 1980s, when they asked the U.S. not to build a nuclear repository near shared, significant watersheds,” Pavlov said. “The Great Lakes are far too precious a natural resource to be put in harm’s way.”

Pavlov is not the only voice of opposition to the Canadian proposal.

Concerns have also been expressed by many other government leaders including U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, State Sen. Mike Green and State Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood and State Rep. Sarah Roberts.

Read more at Public comment period closes on Canada’s Lake Huron nuclear waste dump proposal 

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関西電、高浜原発1・2号機の40年超運転延長へ点検実施 via ロイター

[東京 26日 ロイター] – 関西電力(9503.T: 株価, ニュース, レポート)は26日、運転開始から40年前後の高浜原発1、2号機(福井県)について、運転延長に必要な「特別点検」を実施すると正式に発表した。12月上旬から点検に着手する。点検結果を踏まえて40年超の運転延長申請を原子力規制委員会に申請するかどうかを判断するという。

原子炉等規制法では、原発の運転期間を原則40年に制限しながらも、原子力規制委の認可を条件に20年を上限に1回だけ運転延長が認められている。

このルールの運用として、規制委は運転開始から40年前後の原発を40年を超えて運転させる場合は、来年4月から7月までに規制委に延長申請するよう求めている。対象は国内に7基あり、高浜1、2号も該当する。

(略)

関電の場合、美浜原発1、2号(福井県)も廃炉か延長かの判断を迫られている対象だが、関電は同2基の判断について「検討中」(東京支社担当者)と説明し、態度を示していない。

実際に高浜1、2号を稼働させるには、運転延長の認可とは別に、昨年7月に施行された新規制基準に適合しているかどうかの審査に合格する必要がある。

古い原発は、比較的新しい原子炉に比べ新規制基準への適合が難しいとみられ、高浜1、2号が再稼働できるかどうかは現段階では不透明といえそうだ。

全文は関西電、高浜原発1・2号機の40年超運転延長へ点検実施

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Radioactive leak at Pickering nuke plant was contained: OPG source via Elliot Lake Standard

TORONTO – A faulty valve leaked radioactive heavy water Friday from a nuclear reactor at the Pickering power plant, Ontario Power Generation says.

The leak was contained and no one was exposed to any radioactive material, an OPG statement Monday said.

The valve was on Unit 7 which was undergoing maintenance at the time.

The radioactive heavy water was contained by one of the back-up systems in place and no evacuation of staff was necessary, OPG said.

[...]

The company boasts that no member of the public has been harmed due to a radiation emission from its nuclear plants or waste storage facilities in the more than four decades that the nuclear industry has existed in Ontario.

Bruce Power, a private company which runs nuclear facilities on the shores of Lake Huron, generates 6,300 megawatts.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission requires that potassium iodine pills be distributed to anyone living or working within 10 kilometres of a nuclear facility to prevent thyroid damage in case of a significant release of radioactivity into the environment.

Greenpeace is calling on the province to expand its emergency plans for an area beyond 10 km.

Read more at Radioactive leak at Pickering nuke plant was contained: OPG source 

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