tagged w/ Nuclear Fuel
HuffPo: Large amounts of radioactive materials could be deposited across 1,000s of miles if water lost at Fukushima fuel pool — Media just beginning to grasp that danger to world is far from over -Nuclear Expert
Published: April 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm ET
Title: Robert Alvarez: The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Far From Over
Source: Huffington Post
Author: Robert Alvarez*
Date: Apr 22, 2012
More than a year after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster began, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it’s sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins pose far greater dangers than the molten cores. This is why:
• Nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl
• Several pools are 100 feet above the ground and are completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions. The pools could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake.
• The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating and can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds, if not thousands of miles. [...]
*Robert Alvarez, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999. He is an award winning author whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Nation, Technology Review, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. He has also been featured on”60 Minutes”, Nova and All Things Considered.
Published: April 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm ET
THE REPORT FOLLOWS...
HuffPo: Large amounts of radioactive materials could be deposited... more
The New York Times
April 5, 2011
U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant
By JAMES GLANZ and WILLIAM J. BROAD
United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Among the new threats that were cited in the assessment, dated March 26, are the mounting stresses placed on the containment structures as they fill with radioactive cooling water, making them more vulnerable to rupture in one of the aftershocks rattling the site after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. The document also cites the possibility of explosions inside the containment structures due to the release of hydrogen and oxygen from seawater pumped into the reactors, and offers new details on how semimolten fuel rods and salt buildup are impeding the flow of fresh water meant to cool the nuclear cores.
In recent days, workers have grappled with several side effects of the emergency measures taken to keep nuclear fuel at the plant from overheating, including leaks of radioactive water at the site and radiation burns to workers who step into the water. The assessment, as well as interviews with officials familiar with it, points to a new panoply of complex challenges that water creates for the safety of workers and the recovery and long-term stability of the reactors.
While the assessment does not speculate on the likelihood of new explosions or damage from an aftershock, either could lead to a breach of the containment structures in one or more of the crippled reactors, the last barriers that prevent a much more serious release of radiation from the nuclear core. If the fuel continues to heat and melt because of ineffective cooling, some nuclear experts say, that could also leave a radioactive mass that could stay molten for an extended period.
The document, which was obtained by The New York Times, provides a more detailed technical assessment than Japanese officials have provided of the conundrum facing the Japanese as they struggle to prevent more fuel from melting at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But it appears to rely largely on data shared with American experts by the Japanese.
Among other problems, the document raises new questions about whether pouring water on nuclear fuel in the absence of functioning cooling systems can be sustained indefinitely. Experts have said the Japanese need to continue to keep the fuel cool for many months until the plant can be stabilized, but there is growing awareness that the risks of pumping water on the fuel present a whole new category of challenges that the nuclear industry is only beginning to comprehend.
The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.
David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who worked on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan and now directs the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the welter of problems revealed in the document at three separate reactors made a successful outcome even more uncertain.
“I thought they were, not out of the woods, but at least at the edge of the woods,” said Mr. Lochbaum, who was not involved in preparing the document. “This paints a very different picture, and suggests that things are a lot worse. They could still have more damage in a big way if some of these things don’t work out for them.”
CONTINUED...The New York Times
April 5, 2011
U.S. Sees Array of New Threats... more
The New York Times...
Higher Radiation Levels Found at Japanese Reactor
Family members of the earthquake and tsunami victims at a mass funeral of their relatives on Saturday in Kesennuma, Japan.
By DAVID JOLLY and HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: March 27, 2011
TOKYO — Japanese officials continued to battle a spreading contamination problem at the Fukushima nuclear complex on Sunday, saying that water pooling inside one of its reactors and the seawater just outside the plant were showing sharply increased levels of radiation.
Status of the Nuclear Reactors
A daily tracker of the damage at the two imperiled nuclear plants.
Tsunami victims in Kesennuma, Japan, dug through debris. The United Nations nuclear chief said Saturday that the country was far from the end of the nuclear crisis.
The developments came after the world’s chief nuclear inspector said that Japan was “still far from the end of the accident” that struck the plant, which continues to spew radiation into the atmosphere and the sea. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, acknowledged that the authorities were still unsure about whether the reactor cores and spent fuel were covered with the water needed to cool them and end the crisis.
Mr. Amano, taking care to say that he was not criticizing Japan’s response under extraordinary circumstances, said, “More efforts should be done to put an end to the accident.”
More than two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, he cautioned that the nuclear emergency could still go on for weeks, if not months, given the enormous damage to the plant.
His concerns were underscored on Sunday when officials in Japan announced higher levels of radiation in pools of water at the facility’s stricken reactors.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that water seeping out of the crippled No. 2 reactor building into the adjacent turbine building contained levels of radioactive iodine 134 that were about 10 million times the level normally found in water used inside nuclear power plants.
The higher levels may suggest a leak from the reactor’s fuel rods — from either the suppression chamber under the rods or various piping — or even a breach in the pressure vessel that houses the rods, the Japanese nuclear regulator said.
Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University, said that at that level of radiation, workers would be able to remain on site for only about 15 minutes before health considerations required them to leave, further complicating work.
“First, Tokyo Electric has to figure out where the leak is coming from,” he said, “then they’ve got to isolate the water somehow. It’s a difficult task.”
Tests also found increased levels of radioactive cesium, a substance with a longer half-life, the Japanese safety agency said.
“Because these substances originate from nuclear fission, there is a high possibility they originate from the reactor,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, the agency’s deputy director-general, at a news conference. He said that it was likely that radiation was leaking from the pipes or the suppression chamber, and not directly from the pressure vessel, because water levels and pressure in the vessel were relatively stable.
Mr. Nishiyama also said that radioactive iodine in seawater just outside the plant had risen to 1,850 times the usual level on Sunday, up from 1,250 on Saturday.
“Radiation levels are increasing and measures need to be taken,” he said, but added that he did not think there was need to worry about high levels of radiation immediately escaping the plant.
Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said he did not think the pressure vessel, which cases the fuel rods, was broken at the No. 2 reactor. He said pressure levels inside the reactor remained higher than atmospheric pressure, suggesting that there was no breach.
“I don’t think the container is breached, but there is a possibility the water is coming from somewhere inside the reactor,” he said. “We want to find out as quickly as possible where the highly radioactive water is leaking from, and take measures to deal with it,” Mr. Edano said on a live interview on the public broadcaster, NHK, early Sunday.
Naoto Sekimura, a professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo, told NHK on Sunday that information suggested that the No. 2 unit at Fukushima was leaking significantly more radiation that the No. 1 unit or the No. 3 unit.
“The No. 2 unit’s suppression pool, which connects to the containment building, is damaged, so its ability to contain radiation has been compromised,” Mr. Sekimura said. “They’ve got to find the source of the leak.”
Separately, the I.A.E.A., citing data from the Japanese authorities, reported that two of three workers who were exposed to radioactive water on Saturday suffered “significant skin contamination over their legs.”
“The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers’ legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts,” the I.A.E.A. said on its Web site.
“While the patients did not require medical treatment, doctors decided to keep them in hospital and monitor their progress over coming days.”
The elevated levels of radiation at and around the Fukushima plant will require careful monitoring of seafood in Japan, said Kimberlee J. Kearfott, a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan.
“It is extremely important that seafood be carefully monitored,” she said in an e-mail. “This is because many of the radionuclides are concentrated in the environment,” she added. “For example, iodines are concentrated in kelp (a Japanese food, seaweed) and shrimp.
“Iodines, cesium and strontium are concentrated in other types of seafood,” she continued. “Fish can act like tea or coffee presses. When you push down the plungers, the grounds all end up on one side. In this case, that is the fish.”
She said an example of this phenomenon occurred after the Chernobyl disaster, when specific radionuclides were concentrated far away in Norwegian lichens. Reindeer ate the lichens, concentrating it again, a danger to the native peoples whose diet includes a large amount of reindeer meat.
William J. Broad reported from New York, and David Jolly from Tokyo. Reporting was contributed by David E. Sanger from Palo Alto, Calif., Hiroko Tabuchi and Chika Ohshima from Tokyo, and Kevin Drew from Hong Kong.
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http://singlemindedwomen.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/japan-nuclear-meltdown-430x297.jpgThe New York Times...
Higher Radiation Levels Found at Japanese Reactor
Iran's first nuclear plant begins fueling
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 21, 2010 5:07 a.m. EDT
(CNN) -- Iran began fueling its first nuclear energy plant in the southern city of Bushehr on Saturday, the nation's state media reported.
The effort will help the country create nuclear-generated electricity, Press TV said.
The transfer of nuclear fuel was being watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency and senior officials from Iran and Russia, Press TV said.
Some Western nations have questioned whether the nuclear fuel will be used solely for electricity or would Iran eventually try to enrich uranium on its own, providing material for nuclear weapons.
It will take about two months for the reactor to begin generating electricity, state media has reported. Russia's nuclear agency says it will take longer.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, recently asserted Iran's right to establish nuclear plants.
Sergei Kiriyenko, general director of Rosatom, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation said Saturday's arrival of nuclear fuel marks "an event of crucial importance" that proves that "Russia always fulfills its international obligations."
Spent nuclear fuel from the plant will be sent back to Russia.
The opening of the plant prompted the White House to question Iran continuing to enrich uranium within its borders.
"Russia is providing the fuel, and taking the fuel back out," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said earlier this month.
"It, quite clearly, I think, underscores that Iran does not need its own enrichment capability if its intentions, as it states, are for a peaceful nuclear program," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking to Russian reporters in the Black Sea resort of Sochi Wednesday, brushed off Western concerns about the Bushehr facility, calling it "the most important anchor holding Iran to the nonproliferation regime," according to the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti.
The Bushehr facility was originally scheduled to start operations in 2007, but the date for commissioning the plant has been postponed a number of times due to various technical, financial and political factors.Iran's first nuclear plant begins fueling
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 21,... more
NASA is running out of nuclear fuel needed for its deep space exploration.
The end of the Cold War's nuclear weapons buildup means that the U.S. space agency does not have enough plutonium for future faraway space probes — except for a few missions already scheduled — according to a new study released Thursday by the National Academy of Sciences.
Deep space probes beyond Jupiter can't use solar power because they're too far from the sun. So they rely on a certain type of plutonium, plutonium-238. It powers these spacecraft with the heat of its natural decay. But plutonium-238 isn't found in nature; it's a byproduct of nuclear weaponry.
The United States stopped making it about 20 years ago and NASA has been relying on the Russians. But now the Russian supply is running dry because they stopped making it, too.
The Department of Energy announced on Thursday that it will restart its program to make plutonium-238. Spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said the agency has proposed $30 million in next year's budget for preliminary design and engineering. The National Academy's study shows why it is needed, she said.
"If you don't have this material, we're just not going to do" deep space missions, said Johns Hopkins University senior scientist Ralph McNutt, who has had experiments aboard several of NASA's deep space missions.
So far only NASA undertakes these missions, so the shortage limits the world's look at deep space, added Doug Allen, a satellite power expert and member of the National Academy's study panel.
By law, only the Department of Energy can make the plutonium. Last year then-NASA administrator Michael Griffin wrote to then-Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman saying the agency needed more plutonium.
The National Academy report says it would cost the Energy Department at least $150 million to resume making it for the 11 pounds a year that NASA needs for its space probes.
Without that material "a lot of things will be shut down and they will stay shut down for a long time," McNutt said.
Upcoming NASA missions using plutonium include the overbudget and delayed Mars Science Laboratory, set to launch in 2011, and a mission to tour the solar system's outer planets scheduled for launch in 2020.
The last two missions to use plutonium were the New Horizons probe headed for Pluto and the Cassini space probe that is circling Saturn. Plutonium-powered probes last a long time. The twin Voyager spacecraft headed beyond our solar system and launched in 1977 are expected to keep working until about 2020, McNutt said.
Solar power is preferable to plutonium because it is cheaper and has fewer safety concerns, McNutt and Allen said. But solar power just doesn't work in the darkest areas of space, including deep craters of the moon.
Some have protested past nuclear-powered missions, such as Cassini, worrying about potential accidents...NASA is running out of nuclear fuel needed for its deep space exploration.
The end... more
Right in our own backyard, the first atomic reactor is a place you can tour, learn physics, and play with the waldos. Echo Across America, and Make Believe TV toured the facility, and produced this short video. It explains why the Iranian atomic reactor program is potentially dangerous. Located near Atomic City in Idaho.Right in our own backyard, the first atomic reactor is a place you can tour, learn... more
Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington departs its Norfolk, Va., homeport for its new homeport of Yokosuka, Japan.Nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington departs its Norfolk, Va.,... more
The Live Aid co-organiser, well known for his campaigning on issues including African famine and developing countries' debt, adds his thoughts to the Lexus-sponsored blog The Hybrid Debate from today.
Despite driving a hybrid car himself - "to avoid London's congestion charge. I simply couldn't stand paying the fucking thing" - Geldof added that hybrid technology "by definition doesn't strike me as being that coherent".
On the wider question of making an impact on climate change he said: "We may mess around with wind and waves and other renewable energy sources, trying to make them sustainable, but they're not. They're Mickey Mouse ... but to really help the planet, we have to go nuclear, fast."The Live Aid co-organiser, well known for his campaigning on issues including African... more
5 years ago
Do you think NUCLEAR POWER is the solution to GLOBAL WARMING?
--Currently the US has 104 Nuclear Reactors, providing only 20% of our electricity.
--On September 11th, 2001, American Airlines flight 11 flew over Indian Point nuclear reactor, en route to the World Trade Center.
--20 million people could have been contaminated with deadly radiation and thousands of square miles lost forever.
--MIT concluded that a minimum of 1,500 new reactors would be needed globally to offset coal carbon emissions.
--"The next Chernobyl may be Chernobyl itself"
--Even now, Chernobyl's damaged nuclear reactor is leaking lethal doses of radiation,
--------------and there is no safe way to dispose of nuclear waste.
Now, consider that a 100 square mile solar farm could power the entire United States.
THINK AGAIN ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER!Do you think NUCLEAR POWER is the solution to GLOBAL WARMING?
--Currently the US... more
Please click the link below if video won't play above.
Australia could be about to see one of the largest expansions of its involvement in the nuclear fuel chain. Here are a few reasons why this is not a good idea.
By Pip Starr. Music by Mark Daniel. Animations by Dermot Egan. Voice over by Dave SweeneyPlease click the link below if video won't play above.
Australia could be... more