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Submission + - OPPD announces official closing date for Fort Calhoun nuclear plant: Oct. 24 (omaha.com)

mdsolar writes: The Omaha Public Power District will permanently shut down its nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun on Oct. 24, according to a recent letter from the utility’s top executive to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Correspondence obtained by The World-Herald and dated Aug. 25 was sent to officials at the NRC and the State of Nebraska.

“OPPD has completed analysis of the factors influencing the date for shutdown of (Fort Calhoun),” OPPD President and Chief Executive Tim Burke said in the letter.

Thus will kick into gear the plant’s decommissioning, which includes the removal and transfer of nuclear fuel from the reactor into the spent fuel pool. That’s where the fuel rods will be placed for about 18 months while they burn off energy to the point they can cool to a level that permits transfer into a more permanent storage facility.

In all, the decommissioning process could take up to 60 years and will cost OPPD as much as $1.5 billion.

Submission + - Canadian Medical Association completes divestment from fossil fuels (nationalobserver.com)

mdsolar writes: The Canadian Medical Association’s General Council, held last week in Vancouver, may well be remembered as the moment that Canadian MDs made climate change — dubbed “the biggest health threat of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization — a priority.

First, the diagnosis of climate change as a health emergency was laid out in detail by one of Canada’s most well-respected doctors, Dr. James Orbinski, who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) in 1999. The Canadian Medical Association then confirmed it had in fact completed the divestment of its organizational funds from fossil fuels.

The meeting kicked off with a keynote address by Dr. Orbinski, one of Canada’s most noted humanitarians. “There is no question that climate change is the biggest health threat of our time,” he said, adding that "we cannot possibly live, we cannot possibly survive, we cannot possibly thrive” without a functioning biosphere. He spoke of the disproportionate impacts on Canada’s North, where temperature increases are already in the range of three degrees Celsius, and about the risks of extreme weather, wildfires, flooding and changing patterns of infectious disease.

One of the most passionate moments of Dr. Orbinski’s speech came when he was discussing the malnutrition and food-security risks of climate change.

“In 2011, climate-change driven drought affected 13 million people and 500,000 people died, in the Horn of Africa. This is utterly unacceptable," he said. "That we simply know this and we allow it to continue. It requires that we see ourselves differently in relation to others in the world. This is the consequence of climate change. It is profound and it is utterly unacceptable.“

Submission + - Physicists Examine The Viability Of Spherical Tokamaks In Producing Energy (ibtimes.com)

mdsolar writes: Nuclear fusion has been powering our sun for the past 4.5 billion years. Unlike fission — the process that powers our current nuclear facilities — fusion generates energy by fusing the nuclei of lighter atoms into heavier ones, and produces no long-term radioactive waste.

Imagine if we manage to replicate and miniaturize the process taking place in the core of stars. This would not only provide us a low-cost, clean and virtually limitless source of energy, it would also end our unsustainable reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

In a recent paper published in the journal Nuclear Fusion, a team of physicists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has detailed the design of a viable and efficient fusion device — one that already exists in an experimental form.

The spherical device, known as a “tokamak,” can contain high-energy, superheated plasma produced through nuclear fusion using relatively low and inexpensive magnetic fields. This, the researchers believe, makes it a leading candidate to complement the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor — a doughnut-shaped tokamak that 35 nations are building in France to demonstrate the feasibility of fusion power.

The PPPL tokamaks spherical, “cored apple” design also allows tritium — a rare hydrogen isotope — to be created,

Submission + - Problems persist at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear reactors (dw.com)

mdsolar writes: Five years after the second-worst nuclear accident in history, contaminated water is still hampering efforts to gain control of the site. Local residents are reluctant to return to their homes. Julian Ryall reports.

It has been five years and five months since three of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were crippled by the biggest earthquake and tsunami to strike Japan in living memory. Work continues at the site to clean up the radioactivity that escaped into the atmosphere and to regain control of the reactors.

In its press releases, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) insists that steps taken since the accident are slowly but surely having an effect. But not everyone accepts their assurances — or those of the wider nuclear industry as it seeks public support to restart reactors across the country that have been mothballed since March 2011.

"There are numerous problems that are all interconnected, but one of the biggest that we are facing at the moment is the highly contaminated water that is being stored in huge steel tanks at the site," Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear activist with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, told DW.

Submission + - Imagine A World In Which Nothing Gets Thrown Away (huffingtonpost.com)

mdsolar writes: There’s an idea for a world without trash.

Items are not just recycled, but created with the intention of making new things out of them after they are used. Imagine if every pair of Levi’s jeans were manufactured with fibers made to be pulled apart and repurposed into a new pair of jeans after the old ones are cast off. The cycle repeats itself endlessly, meaning old jeans become new jeans, rather than being chucked into a landfill.

This is the promise of the “circular economy,” a metaphorical description of a world where nothing ever needs to be discarded because goods are designed with materials that can be constantly remade into something else. It’s important to note that the concept is pretty theoretical at this point. There are companies that are working on making their operations more circular — even big ones like Walmart — but no one yet can claim to have a business free of waste.

Proponents call our current production model the “linear model,” meaning goods are manufactured with the intention of being thrown away at the end of their useful life. Not only does most of what we buy on a daily basis end up getting tossed out, but all the materials used to make and package our stuff get discarded, too. Think about the plastic packaging — just the packaging — of the products sold in most stores.

If things keep going this way, by 2025 the ocean will contain a ton of plastic for every three tons of fish, according to a report on rethinking plastics by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a circular economy-focused think tank. By 2050, the ocean could have more plastic than fish, by weight.

TFA misses that the theory has been worked out pretty well. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik...

Submission + - Security breaches rise at UK nuclear sites (heraldscotland.com)

mdsolar writes: THE police force charged with guarding UK nuclear power plants has admitted to a substantial increase in the number of breaches of security last year.

There were 21 separate incidents involving stolen or lost smart phones and identity cards, up from 13 the previous year.

In one case a Blackberry was taken in a “domestic burglary”, and in another a SIM card was “accidently thrown in disposal chute at home address.” Emails containing sensitive information, including an armoury access code and personal data, were sent in breach of security protocols.

“Terrorists must be delighted with this catalogue of cock-ups,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

“It seems you just have to follow some nuclear police around for a while and they'll drop their pass in a car park, leave a work phone on the train or accidentally send secret info through Google mail. It would be laughable if it wasn’t about the safety of some of the most dangerous sites in the UK.”

The revelations uncovered by the Sunday Herald have been condemned as well as prompting alarm from campaigners and politicians. They point out that there have recently been concerns about Chinese state companies stealing nuclear industry secrets.

Submission + - More problems uncovered at nuclear fuel plant near Columbia (thestate.com)

mdsolar writes: An atomic safety investigation at a Columbia nuclear fuel factory uncovered additional problems this week as inspectors discovered more radioactive material had built up in the plant than they previously knew about.

An air pollution control system pipe potentially contained enough uranium to cause a nuclear accident at the Westinghouse plant on Bluff Road, records show. The amount of uranium found in the pipe might have exceeded a federal safety limit, according to a federal event notification report.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission became aware of the problem Tuesday, about five weeks after Westinghouse notified the agency that uranium had built up in another part of the air pollution scrubber system, records show. In that case, the amount of uranium found in the scrubber was three times higher than federal safety limits, the notification report says.

Submission + - Chemists develop promising cheap, sustainable battery for grid energy storage (sciencedaily.com)

mdsolar writes: Chemists at the University of Waterloo have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production.

Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.

The battery uses safe, non-flammable, non-toxic materials and a pH-neutral, water-based salt. It consists of a water-based electrolyte, a pillared vanadium oxide positive electrode and an inexpensive metallic zinc negative electrode. The battery generates electricity through a reversible process called intercalation, where positively-charged zinc ions are oxidized from the zinc metal negative electrode, travel through the electrolyte and insert between the layers of vanadium oxide nanosheets in the positive electrode. This drives the flow of electrons in the external circuit, creating an electrical current. The reverse process occurs on charge.

The cell represents the first demonstration of zinc ion intercalation in a solid state material that satisfies four vital criteria: high reversibility, rate and capacity and no zinc dendrite formation. It provides more than 1,000 cycles with 80 per cent capacity retention and an estimated energy density of 450 watt-hours per litre. Lithium-ion batteries also operate by intercalation--of lithium ions--but they typically use expensive, flammable, organic electrolytes.

Submission + - FBI Files Say China Firm Pushed U.S. Experts for Nuclear Secrets (bloomberg.com)

mdsolar writes: A state-owned Chinese power company under indictment in the U.S. pressed American nuclear consultants for years to hand over secret technologies and documents they weren’t supposed to disclose — and in some cases it got them, several of the consultants have told the FBI.
Summaries of the consultants’ interviews with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were filed this month in a federal court where the company, China General Nuclear Power Corp., has been charged with conspiring to steal nuclear technology.
The FBI documents surfaced shortly after the same company became a focus of concerns across the Atlantic: The U.K. last month delayed approval of the country’s biggest nuclear power station in a generation as questions swirled about whether China General Nuclear’s investment in the plant poses a security risk.

The filings provide a window into the tactics of CGN, China’s biggest nuclear power operator. One of the consultants said CGN employees asked for off-limits operational manuals to nuclear equipment and software, according to the interview summaries. Another said he was asked to provide proprietary temperature settings for material used to contain nuclear fuel. After he refused, he wasn’t offered more consulting jobs, he told the FBI.
Employees of CGN “frequently asked for documents which were proprietary or limited to restricted access,” according to a summary of one interview. In several instances, the company got what it wanted, according to the FBI documents.

Submission + - FBI: Hillary Clinton used BleachBit to wipe emails (neowin.net) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The open source disk cleaning application, BleachBit, got quite a decent ad pitch from the world of politics after it was revealed lawyers of the presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, used the software to wipe her email servers. Clinton is currently in hot water, being accused of using private servers for storing sensitive emails.

“She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn't just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can't read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

Two of the main features that are listed on the BleachBit website include “Shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery”, and “Overwrite free disk space to hide previously deleted files”. These two features would make it pretty difficult for anyone trying to recover the deleted emails.

Submission + - Pilgrim nuclear plant powered down after discovery of problem valve (patriotledger.com)

mdsolar writes: Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, already one step from being forced by federal regulators to close down based on poor performance, remained powered down for a third day Tuesday as crews tried to repair a malfunctioning valve designed to prevent radioactivity from leaking into the environment during a nuclear accident.

Patrick O'Brien, a spokesman for plant operator Entergy, said inspectors discovered during routine test last week that one of the valves was not closing fast enough. The plant had already been lowered to 47 percent power last Tuesday for maintenance and was powered down completely on Sunday to allow crews to repair the valve.

This is the second time in a year that a problem in the valve system has shut down the reactor. Critics say it is further evidence that parts are wearing out and not being replaced in time at the 44-year-old reactor because owner-operator Entergy Corp. plans to permanently shutter the plant in mid-2019.

“Even with increased federal oversight, repetitive failure of critical safety equipment is yet another serious warning that Pilgrim's ongoing degradation continues to threaten our region,” Diane Turco, co-founder of the watchdog group Cape Downwinders, wrote in an email. “Pilgrim is an accident waiting to happen. Closure should be now, not in 2019.”

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