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Reprocessed nuclear fuel returned to Japan for reactor use via The New York Times

TOKYO — Nuclear fuel reprocessed in France returned to Japan on Thursday for use in a reactor as the country tries to burn more plutonium amid international concerns about its stockpile.

Kansai Electric Power Co. said the shipment arrived for use at the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama plant in western Japan. The reactor is one of only five reactors currently operating in Japan.

[…]

The new fuel is expected to be loaded after the reactor’s regular safety check planned next year.

Japan has a stockpile of 47 tons of plutonium — 10 tons at home and the rest in Britain and France, which reprocess and store spent fuel for Japan as the country still lacks its own capacity to do so. Experts say the amount could be enough to make thousands of atomic bombs, although utility operators deny such risk, saying the material is stored safely and monitored constantly.

Japan plans to start up its Rokkasho reprocessing plant next year, but critics say that would only add to the stockpile problem and nuclear security concerns.

[…]

The need to reduce its plutonium stockpile adds to Japan’s push to restart reactors, aside from also needing to generate power. It would require 16 to 18 reactors to burn MOX to keep Japan’s plutonium stockpile from growing when the Rokkasho plant starts up, according to government and utility officials.

Only three reactors, including two at Takahama, use MOX, with a fourth one expected to start up next year. Restarts come slowly amid persistent ant-nuclear sentiment among the public since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident and stricter standards under the post-Fukushima safety requirement.

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福島原発事故後2回目のMOX燃料到着、高浜原発4号機用 via MBS News

福井県の関西電力高浜原子力発電所に、「MOX燃料」と呼ばれる核燃料が輸送船でフランスから到着しました。福島第一原発の事故後、MOX燃料が運び込まれたのは2013年以来2回目です。

(略)

MOX燃料は原発の使用済みの核燃料からプルトニウムを取り出し再び核燃料に加工したもので、MOX燃料を使うプルサーマル発電は現在、高浜原発3号機と4号機で実施されています。

(略)

関西電力によりますと、このMOX燃料は5月に再稼働した高浜4号機用に使われる予定だということです。

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Nuclear is not the way to a clean energy future via The Guardian

We should be worried about the flood-proofing of our nuclear power plants, saysSue Roaf, while David Bridgewater argues for nuclear fusion, rather than fission. Plus letters from Dr Kevin Purdy, Dr John Doherty and John Starbuck

In Agneta Rising’s defence of nuclear generation (Letters, 19 September), she claims that nuclear plants have to occasionally stop for repair and maintenance. But jellyfish also get into seawater inlets, as at Torness in 2011, causing week-long shutdowns. Seaweed can block inlets shutting reactors, and operator incompetence shuts reactors and compromises radioactive cores. Torness was even narrowly missed by a crashing RAF Tornado jet. Most worrying are not such transient manageable events but risks of systematic flooding of nuclear sites.

Nine UK plants are assessed by Defra as currently vulnerable to coastal flooding (Report, 7 March 2012), including all eight proposed new UK nuclear sites and numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities. EDF claims on its website that “to protect the Hinkley Point C station from such events, the platform level of the site is set at 14 metres above sea level, behind a sea wall with a crest level of 13.5 metres”. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 produced a maximum storm surge of 8.5 metres. It is predicted that sea levels may rise by a metre by 2100. The UK government cannot actually have believed in climate change or surely they would not put future generations at such risk?  I bet they believe in it now. The question is: do they care? Is it really too late to stop a retrograde, potentially catastrophic and already unaffordable UK nuclear future?
Emeritus Professor Sue Roaf
Oxford

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Meeting Thursday on storage for Hanford’s highly radioactive capsules via Tri-City Herald

A discussion of the area where highly radioactive cesium and strontium capsules will be stored at the Hanford nuclear reservation is planned Sept 21.

Now 1,936 capsules of cesium and strontium are stored underwater in the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility in central Hanford.

The capsules are planned to be moved to dry storage because of the risk that a severe earthquake could damage the concrete pool where they are stored.

[…]
 
The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at the Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Drive. To watch it online, register at www.hanford.govat the link in the event calendar.

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<田中原子力規制委員長>最後の定例会見 福島第1廃炉「国民的課題」via 河北新報

 原子力規制委員会の田中俊一委員長は20日、退任前最後の定例記者会見で、東京電力福島第1原発の廃炉について「国民的課題だが、最終的な姿はまだ見通せない。じっくり進めるしかない」と東電に着実な作業の進展を求めた。

(略)

田中氏は事故が起きた福島第1原発の現状を「安定的になっており、福島の住民が心配するような状況ではない」と指摘。一方で40年程度かかるとされる廃炉作業に関し「デブリ(溶融燃料)の取り出しも非常に難しい。5年程度先の事業を見ながら、廃炉に向かう計画を提案している」と話した。

福島市出身で、退任後は福島県飯舘村を拠点に復興支援に取り組む予定だという。

(略)

後任には規制委の更田豊志委員長代理が就く。

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生物への放射線の影響追跡 24日、所沢の市民団体が地元で自主上映 via 東京新聞

所沢市の市民団体「所沢・市民放射線測定室」(とこらぼ)は二十四日、福島第一原発事故の放射性物質にさらされた生物の生態系に何が起こっているかを追跡した、岩崎雅典監督のドキュメンタリー映画「福島 生きものの記録 シリーズ4~生命」を市内で自主上映する。

 七月の「シリーズ3~拡散」に続く自主上映。とこらぼ代表の上石(あげいし)正明さんは「事故の風化が加速度的に進む今、映画上映を継続することには意味がある」と観賞を呼びかけている。

 二〇一六年製作の「シリーズ4~生命」は、人間以外の生物への放射線の影響を追跡。ニホンジカの健康被害、オオタカの繁殖異常調査のほか、白昼に人を恐れず出現するイノシシとそれらを駆除するハンターたちの姿などを記録した。

[…]

事前申し込みはとこらぼの電子メール=tokolabo2013@gmail.com=、問い合わせは上石さん=電04(2942)5944。 (加藤木信夫)

 

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Regulators vote to move forward on Vogtle nuclear plant via Savannah Morning News

By Mary Landers

The Georgia Public Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a scheduling order on the troubled Plant Vogtle expansion that consumer and clean energy advocates warned might not be in the best interest of ratepayers.

[…]

“By the time the PSC finally makes a decision on whether or not continuing the project is in the best interest of Georgia Power customers, another half a billion dollars will be sunk in construction costs.”

 

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Three Mile Island nuclear plant shuts down for refueling, maybe its last via Lancaster Online

The Three Mile Island nuclear plant is currently shut down for an every-two-year refueling outage — perhaps its last.

“Earlier this year, Exelon Generation announced the early retirement of Three Mile Island in 2019 and, absent a legislative solution, the refueling outage that started today will be the station’s last,” an Exelon press release stated Monday.

Some 1,200 workers have descended on the plant near Middletown to replace nearly one-third of the Unit 1 reactor’s fuel and to perform hundreds of inspections and maintenance activities.

 […]

 

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Opinion Editorials San Onofre nuclear waste storage plan better alternative than inaction, barely via The San Diego Union-Tribune

A recent out-of-court settlement in which Edison committed to “commercially reasonable” efforts to move more than 3.5 million pounds of nuclear waste generated by the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station beats the alternative of inaction, barely. Under the settlement with the Citizens’ Oversight group, Edison will upgrade inspection and maintenance of canisters containing the nuclear waste and spend $4 million to hire experts to find a site and map out a potential move. Edison, the principal owner of San Onofre, vowed to pursue specific sites, including one in Texas that stores low-level radioactive waste now and one in New Mexico that appears to have local support. A crucial detail is San Diego County Superior Court Judge Judith Hayes can step in to enforce the settlement.

In the meantime, some of the nuclear waste will continue to be stored at San Onofre in 50 canisters in “dry storage,” protected by a 27-foot seawall. The rest of the spent fuel, which is now cooling in a deep container of water, will in time be moved from “wet storage” to 73 casks, also at San Onofre.

This deal was instantly derided by critics who consider it crazy to store so much waste so close to the Pacific Ocean, where earthquakes and tsunamis could cause a Fukushima-style disaster.

[…]

 

 

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[Justin Fendos] The human cost of nuclear testing via The Korea Herald

With most media focusing on the geopolitical and military consequences of Pyongyang’s September nuclear test, another important consideration has largely gone undiscussed: the human cost. Nuclear testing is dangerous. Not only can it cause immediate damage to the surrounding environment, it can also cause lasting damage to much larger areas around the test site. Just ask Fukushima.

Since all of North Korea’s nuclear tests have been conducted underground and inside of a mountain (Mantapsan), the common assumption is that environmental damage has been minimal. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true. Pyongyang’s latest test essentially released the same amount of energy as a magnitude 6.3 earthquake. This is about the same strength as the earthquake that shook China’s Sichuan province last August, causing landslides that killed 25 people in a very rural area.

Since North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is also located rurally and far from any large human habitation, the 6.3 quake likely didn’t cause much immediate human damage. Dwellings in a 20-kilometer radius likely only had walls crack, windows break, and underground pipes snap. What is more concerning is the fact that the initial 6.3 tremor was followed eight minutes later by a second tremor of magnitude 4.6.

For natural earthquakes, secondary tremors are very normal. In natural earthquakes, the earth shakes because it is rearranging itself to relieve pressure built up over time. Such rearrangements can never take place in a single moment so natural earthquakes usually consist of one or two major tremors and tens or hundreds of minor ones taking place over the span of hours, days, or even weeks. Major tremors relieve large amounts of pressure while smaller ones relieve less.

Nuclear tests are not supposed to have secondary tremors because they are not caused by pressurized earth that needs relief. This is why the second tremor of 4.6 is so worrisome: It suggests that some part of the mountain housing the test facility may have collapsed. This idea is supported by recent photos published by the BBC showing multiple landslides and redistribution of gravel around Mantapsan.

If true, even a partial collapse of the test facility could have dire consequences for the containment of radioactive waste. Even a small leak could cause sever contamination of the watershed running down from Mantapsan, feeding rivers that empty into the East Sea near the towns of Kimchaek and Orang. Kimchaek is North Korea’s 16th largest city, with about 200,000 inhabitants. From Mantapsan to Kimchaek, the watershed covers a distance of about 30 kilometers, similar to the radius of contamination caused by the Fukushima incident.

[…]

North Korea clearly lacks the technology, experience and personnel to deal with a radioactive incident of that size. Should the international community respond with nothing and let thousands of people get sick and die? Or do other countries have a moral obligation to step in and help? If so, what should that help consist of? These are not easy questions.

The only thing that is certain is that a contamination incident would most likely force South Korea to take the lead and foot most of the bill, either as part of a relief operation immediately or as part of a reunification effort later. Either way, Kim Jong-un’s efforts to solidify power through nuclear weapons seem more and more likely to stamp a permanent and unfortunate radioactive legacy on the land.

 

 

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