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Brookings Study Calls Solar, Wind Power the Most Expensive Fossil Alternatives 409

turkeydance (1266624) writes A new study [PDF] from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, argues that using solar and wind energy may be the most expensive alternatives to carbon-based electricity generation, even though they require no expenditures for fuel.....Specifically, this means nuclear power offers a savings of more than $400,000 worth of carbon emissions per megawatt of capacity. Solar saves only $69,000 and wind saves $107,000. An anonymous reader points out that the Rocky Mountain Institute finds the Brookings study flawed in several ways, and offers a rebuttal.

Organic Cat Litter May Have Caused Nuclear Waste Accident 174

mdsolar (1045926) writes in with a story about how important buying the right kind of kitty litter can be. "In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, in New Mexico. Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad. 'It was the wrong kitty litter,' says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business. It turns out there's more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it's just as good at absorbing radioactive material. 'It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory,' says Conca, who is not directly involved in the current investigation. Cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment. And this is what contractors at Los Alamos National Laboratory were doing as they packed Cold War-era waste for shipment to the dump. But at some point, they decided to make a switch, from clay to organic. 'Now that might sound nice, you're trying to be green and all that, but the organic kitty litters are organic,' says Conca. Organic litter is made of plant material, which is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste. 'They actually are just fuel, and so they're the wrong thing to add,' he says. Investigators now believe the litter and waste caused the drum to slowly heat up 'sort of like a slow burn charcoal briquette instead of an actual bomb.' After it arrived at the dump, it burst."

Fukushima Decontamination Cost Estimated $50bn, With Questionable Effectiveness 221

AmiMoJo writes "Experts from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology studied the cost of decontamination for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, estimating it at $50 billion. They estimate that decontamination in no-entry zones will cost up to 20 billion dollars, and in other areas, 31 billion dollars. It includes the cost of removing, transporting and storing radioactive waste such as contaminated soil. The central government has so far allocated about 11 billion dollars and the project is already substantially behind schedule. Meanwhile the effectiveness of the decontamination is being questioned. NHK compared data from before and after decontamination at 43 districts in 21 municipalities across Fukushima Prefecture. In 33 of the districts, or 77 percent of the total, radiation levels were still higher than the government-set standard of one millisievert per year. In areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where decontamination has been carried out on an experimental basis, radiation levels remain 10 to 60 times higher than the official limit."

Submission + - Russia to build nuclear plant in Bangladesh (

AmiMoJo writes: "The Russian government will lend 500 million dollars to Bangladesh to help build the country's first nuclear power plant. A Russian state-owned construction firm will build the plant. Construction is to begin early next year, with completion slated for 2020. Russia is targeting Asian countries like India, China and Vietnam to build new nuclear power stations, despite safety concerns."

Submission + - Germany hits 25% renewable power, transition going smoothly says government (

AmiMoJo writes: "The German government says the country's shift to renewable energy is going smoothly, with such energy now accounting for a quarter of all power consumption. German economics minister Philipp Roesler said the government has already taken 8 nuclear reactors offline, but this has had no impact on keeping the energy supply stable.

As well as increased capacity there has been a drive to save energy. Some Germans are opposed to price increases, although other countries are experiencing similar hikes."


Submission + - Fukushima fish still contaminated from nuclear accident (

AmiMoJo writes: "Levels of radioactive contamination in fish caught off the east coast of Japan remain raised, official data shows. The Dai-ichi power plant continues to be a source of pollution more than a year after the nuclear accident About 40% of fish caught close to Fukushima itself are regarded as unfit for humans under Japanese regulations.

"There is the on-going leakage into the ocean of polluted ground water from under Fukushima, and there is the contamination that's already in the sediments just offshore," said respected US marine chemist Ken Buesseler."


Submission + - No blackouts due to lack of nuclear in Japan this summer (

AmiMoJo writes: "Despite dire warnings of blackouts this summer Japan has survived without them. Many on Slashdot predicted widespread power problems due to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, with only one or two operating for most of the summer months when demand is highest.

Japan was completely nuclear-free for almost two months during the peak power demand period after the country’s reactors were closed in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Plans for rolling blackouts in the Kansai, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku regions were never needed as the country met its power-saving targets, with growing consumer demand for energy efficient products."

United States

Submission + - Heat wave shuts down US nuclear reactor (

AmiMoJo writes: "A record heat wave in the United States has led to a reactor shutdown at a nuclear power plant after its cooling water became too warm. The operator of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station in the state of Connecticut says it shut down one of two reactors on Monday evening."

Submission + - Fukushima nuclear disaster 'man-made' (

AmiMoJo writes: "A Japanese parliamentary report into the Fukushima disaster states that it "could and should have been foreseen and prevented" and its effects "mitigated by a more effective human response". The panel concluded that the disaster "was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco" founded in the failure of regulatory systems. Blame was also placed on a lack of investment in safety upgrades and a culture of not questioning authority.

Meanwhile the Ohi nuclear plant started generating electricity again. Opposition to the re-start had pointed out that the systemic failures that afflicted Fukushima had not been addressed, and are hoping that after the summer peak demand period is over the plant will be shut down or idled again."


Little Health Risk Seen From Fukushima's Radioactivity 201

gbrumfiel writes "Two independent reports show that the public and most workers received only low doses of radiation following last year's meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Nature reports that the risks presented by the doses are small, even though some are above guidelines and limits set by the Japanese government. Few people will develop cancer as a result of the accident, and those that do may never be able to conclusively link their illness to the meltdowns. The greatest risk lies with the workers who struggled in the early days to bring the reactors under control. So far no ill-effects have been detected. At Chernobyl, by contrast, the highest exposed workers died quickly from radiation sickness."

NRC Chairman Resigns 100

After years of accusations of creating a 'chilled work environment,' Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko resigned this morning (PDF). His largest achievement was perhaps killing the Yucca Mountain waste repository, and he oversaw the certification of the AP1000 reactor. It is unknown whether a new chairman will be appointed from within the NRC. Quoting the Washington Post: "The reason for his resignation is unclear. He is stepping down before the release of a second inspector general report rumored to be into allegations of Mr. Jaczko's misconduct. NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner told The Washington Times that the report had no impact on the timing of Mr. Jaczko's resignation announcement. Mr. Jaczko's statement was vague, saying that it 'is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman...' While his statement did not specifically touch on the embarrassing revelations of his tyrannical approach to the job or its impact on NRC staff, he did sound a defiant note by claiming the NRC was 'one of the best places to work in the federal government throughout my tenure.'" Today also marks the start of the annual nuclear industry conference.

FDA Cracking Down On X-ray Exposure For Kids 138

ericjones12398 writes "The Food and Drug Administration is proposing that manufacturers of X-ray machines and CT scanners do more to protect children from radiation exposure. If companies don't take steps to limit X-ray doses, the agency may require a label on their new equipment recommending it not be used on children. X-rays and CT scans can provide doctors with lots of useful information. But the radiation that creates the helpful images also increases a person's risk for cancer. There's been an explosion in the use of imaging tests. And rising radiation doses, particularly from CT scans, have drawn concern. The cancer risk increases with the dose of X-rays received during a person's lifetime, so kids' exposure is particularly important. It's also the case that children are more sensitive to X-ray damage. The FDA is also telling parents to speak up. If a doctor orders a test or procedure that uses X-rays, parents shouldn't be afraid to ask if it's really necessary. Also, it doesn't hurt to ask if there's an acceptable alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI, that doesn't rely on X-rays."

Submission + - Japan's last nuclear reactor shuts down (

AmiMoJo writes: "Japan's last active reactor is shutting down today, leaving the country without nuclear energy for the first time since 1970. All 50 commercial reactors in the country are now offline. 19 have been completed stress tests but there is little prospect of them being restarted due to heavy opposition from local governments. Meanwhile activists in Tokyo celebrated the shutdown and asked the government to admit that nuclear power was no longer needed in Japan and to concentrate on safety. If this summer turns out to be as hot as 2010 some areas could be asked to make 15% power savings to avoid shortages, while other areas will be unaffected due to savings already made."

Submission + - Japan may shut down all reactors by May (

AmiMoJo writes: "All Japan's nuclear reactors face a possible shutdown if none are allowed to resume operations before the last working reactor in northern Japan, is turned off in May. At the time of the Fukushima nuclear accident last March, 37 out of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors were operating. The results of stress tests of 16 reactors checked since last October are now in. The tests are designed to see how well the reactors can withstand earthquakes and tsunami, but further tests are needed that take into account whether reactors are prepared for severe accidents such as a nuclear meltdown.

The report from the government's investigative panel probing the Fukushima accident is expected to be released in July. Some experts say the inspection of the accident is not enough at the present stage. The main focus of the issue is how the government will judge the safety of a nuclear plant and how it can convince the local governments."


Radioactive Concrete From Fukushima Found In New Construction 237

mdsolar writes "The Japanese government is investigating how radioactive concrete ended up in a new apartment complex in the Fukushima Prefecture, housing evacuees from a town near the crippled nuclear plant. The contamination was first discovered when dosimeter readings of children in the city of Nihonmatsu, roughly 40 miles from the reactors at Fuksuhima Dai-ichi, revealed a high school student had been exposed to 1.62 millisieverts in a span of three months, well above the annual 1 millisievert limit the government has established for safety reasons."

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"