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Russia’s first sea-borne nuclear power plant arrives in Arctic via Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s first-floating nuclear power plant arrived in the Arctic port of Murmansk over the weekend in preparation for its maiden mission, providing electricity to an isolated Russian town across the Bering Strait from Alaska.

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In Murmansk it will take on board a supply of nuclear fuel. It will then will be towed to the town of Pevek in the Far Eastern region of Chukotka, separated from the U.S. state of Alaska by the 86-km (53 miles) wide Bering Strait. It will start operations there next year.

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The plant will replace a coal-fired power plant and an aging nuclear power plant supplying more than 50,000 people with electricity in Chukotka, Rosatom said.

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Environmental protection groups, including Greenpeace, have sent a letter to Rosatom boss Alexei Likhachyov demanding strict adherence to safety standards and saying they were watching the floating facility’s development “with great concern”.

The letter calls for full and unrestricted regulatory oversight by the Russian nuclear regulator and an international study into the environmental impact before the reactors are loaded with fuel and tested.

“Nuclear reactors bobbing around the Arctic Ocean will pose a shockingly obvious threat to a fragile environment which is already under enormous pressure from climate change,” Jan Haverkamp, nuclear expert for Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe, said in a statement last month.

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Radiation monitors in Fukushima to be scrapped after malfunctioning to the tune of ¥500 million a year via The Japan Times

The thousands of radiation-monitoring posts installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear crisis have malfunctioned nearly 4,000 times, sources said Sunday as the Nuclear Regulation Authority prepares to remove them after spending ¥500 million a year on repair costs.

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Around 3,000 of the monitors were installed in the wake of the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami. The NRA, which operates the monitoring posts, plans to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on the grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and stabilized.

But the move is being viewed by some as an attempt to cut costs because the government is also looking to terminate its special budgetary account for rebuilding Tohoku by the same year.

Some municipalities and residents oppose scrapping the monitoring posts because they will no longer be able to gauge the risk to their health. They were installed in kindergartens, schools and other places to measure radiation in the air, according to the NRA.

But in the five years since the network was activated in fiscal 2013, the system has been plagued by problems including inaccurate readings and data-transmission failures. The tally of cases stands at 3,955.

Each time, the undisclosed makers of the device and security companies were called to fix it, costing the central government about ¥500 million a year.

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Safecast, a global volunteer-based citizen science organization formed in 2011 to monitor radiation from the Fukushima disaster, said some devices had to be replaced because they didn’t work or were not made to the required specifications. Many were placed in locations that had notably lower ambient radiation than their surroundings, and so were not adequately representative of the situation, it added.

“Removing the units seems like a huge step away from transparency,” said Azby Brown, lead researcher at Safecast.

Brown said the public will certainly view the move with suspicion and increasingly mistrust the government, while the continuity of the database is lost.

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測定装置代を求め東電提訴 福島のコメ卸組合 via 東京新聞

 福島県でコメの卸販売を行う組合が、東京電力福島第1原発事故を受け、コメの安全性を証明するために放射性物質測定装置の購入を余儀なくされたとして、東電に代金計約834万円の支払いを求め、福島地裁に提訴したことが21日分かった。

(略)

原告は福島第一食糧卸協同組合(福島市)。訴状によると、2010年度には約2万7千トンを販売していた。原発事故後にコメの安全性への問い合わせが殺到。組合は11年12月、独自判断で測定装置を2台購入した。

福島県が全ての県産米の放射性物質を調べる「全量全袋検査」は12年産米から始まっており、当時は実施されていなかった。

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Another SC nuclear boondoggle could soon meet its end. This time it’s $7B in taxpayer money wasted via Charleston Post Courier

COLUMBIA — It’s a familiar story in South Carolina: Nuclear contractors fail to produce a reliable schedule, start construction with just a fraction of design finished, and let pipes and other material corrode in storage under the watch of government agencies.

The abandonment of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station generated headlines and riled state lawmakers since last summer, but 90 miles south, a similar scenario played out at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The federal government has likely squandered more than $7 billion as they watched a project fall decades behind schedule and its final cost increase by 12 times the initial estimates. And, like V.C. Summer, the plug is being pulled. The parallels don’t end there: The debacles also shared two of the same contractors. 

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For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Energy and its private contractors have tried to build the plant to turn Cold War-era nuclear weapons into fuel that could be used in nuclear power plants. It’s known as MOX, short for mixed oxide fuel fabrication.

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The idea for the MOX facility was hatched in the mid-1990s in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The United States became increasingly worried that stockpiles of plutonium would fall into the wrong hands. Less than nine pounds can make a nuclear bomb, and tons of the radioactive material from dismantled warheads in Russia and the United States needed to be secured.

“There was a lot of interest in coming up with a way to transform those stockpiles so they couldn’t be as easily used by terrorists,” said Edwin Lyman, an official with the Union for Concerned Scientists who has studied the issues surrounding the MOX program and supports shuttering the project.

After years of debate, the two countries signed an agreement in 2000 in which they each agreed to deal with 34 metric tons of plutonium by processing most of it into fuel for commercial reactors — a 21st century attempt at transforming swords to plowshares.

The U.S. Department of Energy released a report in 2002 that estimated the price of building the new MOX facility near Aiken would cost around $1.4 billion in today’s money. The project offered the prospect of hundreds of new jobs at the Savannah River Site, building upon its long nuclear history that stretches back to the 1950s.

Construction officially began five years later in 2007. The facility planned to blend the plutonium with depleted uranium. That mixture would then be formed into fuel rods for power plants. MOX has been used as fuel in Europe for decades. But there are no nuclear reactors in the United States currently using the mixture.

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Disposing of the problem 

The new destination for the 34 metric tons of plutonium could be a catacomb of concrete-lined chambers nearly half a mile under the southeast corner of New Mexico.

But that doesn’t mean that South Carolina won’t play a role in disposing of the material.

As it stands, the Department of Energy is now considering a strategy known as “dilute and dispose.” It calls for more than 26 metric tons of plutonium currently warehoused in the Texas panhandle and another 7.8 metric tons already in South Carolina to be turned into a powder, mixed with an undisclosed material and stored away.

The Savannah River Site will serve as the midway point in the process. It’s where the plutonium will be blended before its shipped by rail to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside Carlsbad, N.M.

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South Carolina’s Republican leaders disagree. They want MOX completed. They’ve questioned if the facility in New Mexico can store all of the plutonium and if state officials there will accept the new shipments. Even more, they’ve complained about the loss of jobs and the economic impact that’d be felt in the surrounding counties if construction is halted.

The Department of Energy tried to allay those fears by opening up the prospect of manufacturing new nuclear weapons at Savannah River in the future. But that hasn’t satisfied the politicians. 

“The DOE’s recent attempts to pacify South Carolina by dangling a possible recommendation to manufacture plutonium pits at the Savannah River Site solves no current problem,” McMaster wrote in a letter to Secretary Perry.

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Storage capacity of radioactive water at Fukushima power plant nears limit via STL Today

The number of storage tanks for contaminated water and other materials has continuously increased at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Japan, and space for still more tanks is approaching the limit.

Behind this is the fact that a way to get rid of treated water, or tritium water, has not been decided yet. The government and TEPCO will have to make a tough decision on disposal of tritium water down the road.

At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, groundwater and other water enters the reactor buildings that suffered meltdowns, where the water becomes contaminated. This produces about 160 tons of contaminated water per day. Purification devices remove many of the radioactive materials, but tritium — a radioactive isotope of hydrogen — cannot be removed for technical reasons. Thus, treated water that includes only tritium continues to increase.

 

Currently, the storage tanks have a capacity of about 1.13 million tons. About 1.07 million tons of that capacity is now in use, of which about 80 percent is for such treated water.

Space for tanks, which has been made by razing forests and other means, amounts to about 230,000 square meters — equivalent to almost 32 soccer fields. There is almost no more available vacant space.

Efforts have been made to increase storage capacity by constructing bigger tanks when the time comes for replacing the current ones. But a senior official of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said, “Operation of tanks is close to its capacity.”

TEPCO plans to secure 1.37 million tons of storage capacity by the end of 2020, but it has not yet decided on a plan for after 2021. Akira Ono, chief decommissioning officer of TEPCO, said, “It is impossible to continue to store [treated water] forever.”

Tritium exists in nature, such as in seas and rivers, and is also included in tap water. The ordinary operations of nuclear plants produce tritium as well. Nuclear plants, both in Japan and overseas, have so far diluted it and released it into the sea or elsewhere. An average of 380 trillion becquerels had been annually released into the sea across Japan during the five years before the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

 

Bottles that contain the treated water continue to be brought one after another to a building for chemical analysis on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The tritium concentration of the treated water is up to more than 1 million becquerels per liter, which is more than 10 times higher than the national standard for release into the sea — 60,000 becquerels per liter. But if diluted, it can be released into the sea.

 
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At the eighth meeting of the committee held on Friday, various opinions were expressed. One expert said, “While the fishery industry [in Fukushima and other prefectures] is in the process of revival, should we dispose of [the treated water] now?” The other said, “In order to advance the decommissioning, the number of tanks should be decreased at an early date.”

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避難生活の疲れ 笑って吹き飛ばそう 福島・大熊町教委が会津若松で落語教室 via 河北新報

東京電力福島第1原発事故で全町避難する福島県大熊町教委は15日、避難生活の疲れを笑いで吹き飛ばそうと、落語教室を避難先の会津若松市の大熊町熊小・大野小体育館で開いた。ユーモアあふれる内容に子どもも大人も楽しんだ。
教育と笑いの会名誉会長の野口芳宏植草学園大名誉教授、同会長の玉置崇岐阜聖徳学園大教授、上方落語家桂雀太さんが小ばなしや落語を披露。児童生徒と町民、地域住民ら約90人が、笑いながら拍手を送った。
続くシンポジウムには3人に加え、大野小6年吉田遥さん(11)、大熊中3年青山蓮さん(14)らが登壇。「苦しいと思うことはない?」と司会者が問うと、野口氏は「諦めることもマイナスじゃない」と指摘。青山さんは「諦めていけない時もある」と反論した上で、「でも数学(の成績)は諦めている」と話し、笑いを誘った。
武内敏英町教育長は「笑いは心のサービスエリアだが、立ち寄らず走ってきた。日常の笑いを子どもたちだけでなく町民にも広げたい」と話した。

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再稼働阻止へ 首都圏連絡会 伝える東海第二の危険性 via 東京新聞

 首都圏唯一の原発で東海村に立地する日本原子力発電東海第二原発の再稼働を止めようと、首都圏の脱原発団体などでつくる連絡会が二十一日、都内で結成される。首都圏住民に東海第二の危険性を訴え、再稼働阻止の機運を盛り上げる。

 連絡会の結成は、「原発再稼働に反対する埼玉連絡会」「原発さよなら千葉」「脱原発かわさき市民」など、首都圏の脱原発団体が呼び掛けてきた。

東海第二は運転開始からまもなく四十年の老朽原発で、東日本大震災で被災したほか、周辺人口も多く、さまざまな不安要素を抱える。放射能が漏れる大きな事故が起きると、関東一円が深刻な影響を受ける可能性が高いことから、より広範囲な住民に危険性を理解してもらい、再稼働阻止に向け脱原発団体が共闘することを打ち出している。

 二十一日は、連絡会に賛同する東海村の村上達也前村長やルポライターの鎌田慧さん、評論家の佐高信さんらが東京都千代田区の参議院議員会館で午後五時から会見。午後六時からの結成集会では、活動内容を協議するほか、東海第二の廃炉を求める決議文を決定する予定だ。

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「原発ゼロはリアリズム」立憲・枝野氏が新潟で街頭演説 via 朝日新聞

新潟県知事選(6月10日投開票)の告示を24日に控え、立憲民主党枝野幸男代表が20日、新潟市を訪れ、立憲が推薦を決めた地元県議の池田千賀子氏と街頭演説した。枝野氏は東京電力柏崎刈羽原発の再稼働が争点になると位置づけ、「再生可能エネルギーにより、原発ゼロはリアリズムだ。事故が起きれば、人間の力では止めようがない。一日も早くやめなければならない」と訴えた。

(略)

野党第1党のトップが告示前に現地入りしたことで、知事選は与野党対決の構図がいっそう鮮明になった。枝野氏は「(新潟には県連がなく)地上戦は、十分できない。その分、得意とする無党派に対する働きかけで、最大限の力を発揮したい」と語った。

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Fukushima Prefecture radiation monitoring posts installed after 3/11 hit by glitches via The Japan Times

Some 3,000 radiation monitoring devices installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster have been hit by glitches and other problems nearly 4,000 times, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which operates the devices called monitoring posts, is planning to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and steadied.

[…]

Around 3,000 monitoring posts were installed in locations such as kindergartens and schools to measure radiation levels in the air, according to the NRA.

But during the five years since fully starting the operation of the devices in fiscal 2013, the monitoring system has been hit by a variety of problems, such as showing inaccurate readings and failing to transmit data, 3,955 times.

[…]

In March, the NRA decided to remove some 2,400 monitoring devices set in areas other than 12 municipalities near the crippled No. 1 plant and reuse some of them in the 12 municipalities.

Local citizens’ groups have requested the authority not to remove the monitoring posts until the decommissioning work is completed at the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Terumi Kataoka, a housewife who lives in the city of Aizuwakamatsu, said she formed a group of mothers and submitted a petition to the authority in April to keep the monitoring devices, but the authority did not change the plan.

She also requested information disclosure about plans to reuse the devices, but she only received an answer that no official documents regarding such plans have been drafted.

“It’s all about the budget in the end. They can’t reuse the devices and there seems to be no concrete plans,” she said.

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放射線測定、4000回不具合 監視装置8割撤去へ via 毎日新聞

東京電力福島第1原発事故の後、福島県に設置された約3000台の放射線監視装置(モニタリングポスト)について、全面運用を始めた2013年度から5年間で、破損や故障などの不具合が計4000回近くに上ることが関係者への取材で分かった。

(略)

運用が始まった13年度以降、実際の放射線量とは異なる高い数値を表示していたり、データ送信ができなかったりする不具合が計3955回起きたという。その度にメーカーや警備会社が対応した。

 モニタリングポストを管理する規制委は、一部地域で放射線量が下がり安定していることを理由に、20年度末までに約8割を撤去する方針。住民からは「安全や健康を軽視している」との不満が出ている。(共同)

全文は放射線測定、4000回不具合 監視装置8割撤去へ 

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