mdsolar writes: "Reuters reports "Japan's government said it intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year's Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply.
Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power after last year's earthquake unleashed a tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster.
In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year, had faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally, the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in the 1950s."
mdsolar writes: "US reactors have suffered flood and storm in the past. "In August 1992, a Category 5 storm hit Florida's eastern coast just eight miles from the Turkey Point nuclear facility. With its 16-foot surge of water and 175 mph winds, Hurricane Andrew was one of the worst in recent history. The hurricane destroyed Turkey Point's entire suppression system, stripping bare much of the cabling on the outside of the reactor and spilling roughly 100,000 gallons of fuel." And, "In Nebraska, where the Missouri River overflowed its banks last summer, floodwaters breached the defenses of two Nebraska nuclear power plants: Fort Calhoun plant, near Blair, and Cooper Nuclear Station, near Brownville."
But sea level rise and stronger flooding associated with climate change could further raise the risks we are already subject to."
mdsolar writes: "All but two of Japan’s 54 commercial reactors have gone offline since the nuclear disaster a year ago, after the earthquake and tsunami, and it is not clear when they can be restarted. With the last operating reactor scheduled to be idled as soon as next month, Japan — once one of the world’s leaders in atomic energy — will have at least temporarily shut down an industry that once generated a third of its electricity."
mdsolar writes: "Special certifications for harsh operating environments are normal. Electronics used in space are robust to cosmic ray hits. Military equipment is built to work in a desert. And safety equipment at nuclear plants needs to be nuclear grade. Until now. In response to the huge disaster in Fukushima Japan, the nuclear industry in the US is buying commercial grade backup equipment to cope with, for example, more than one reactor at a site having trouble. Is it right to cut costs in this way instead of using technology that has been approved for nuclear power applications?"
mdsolar writes: ""Low-level radiation in Fukushima Prefecture appears to have had immediate effects on bird populations, and to a greater degree than was expected from a related analysis of Chernobyl, an international team of scientists reported today in Environmental Pollution.""
mdsolar writes: "Is France’s long, proud, and at times defiant affection for nuclear energy finally beginning to wane in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster? While it’s still too early to pronounce France’s nearly four decade love affair with nuclear power finished yet, there are signs the doubts over atomic energy that arose elsewhere following the Fukushima melt-down are forcing reflection in France as well."
mdsolar writes: ""Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said on Jan. 2 that the level of water in a tank for the No. 4 reactor at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant dropped "abnormally" after an earthquake measuring up to 4 on the Japanese scale of 7 struck the Kanto and Tohoku regions on New Year's Day.
TEPCO, the operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power station, believes that after the earthquake, a supply of radioactively-contaminated water going from a spent nuclear fuel pool to the tank at the No. 4 reactor stopped when the water flowed oppositely into the reactor containment vessel.""
mdsolar writes: "Even when alerted that flooding is affecting a second nuclear power plant in Nebraska, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has taken no action to force the plant to shut down. The first plant was already shut down and not allowed to restart owing to flooding, but now, as emergency evacuation routes are submerged and the capacity to respond to an accident compromised, the NRC takes no action. Truly, safety is not a priority for the NRC."
mdsolar writes: "Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disabled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, confirmed on Tuesday that there were meltdowns of fuel rods at three of the plant's reactors early in the crisis.
Tepco officials said damage to the No.2 reactor fuel rods began three days after the quake, with much of the fuel rods eventually melting and collecting at the bottom of the pressure vessel containing them.
Fuel rods in the No.3 reactor were damaged by the afternoon of March 13, they said."
mdsolar writes: "Chancellor Angela Merkel placed much of the blame for her party's poor performance in a weekend election on Germany's discussion about nuclear energy, and said Monday she hopes "quick and clear decisions" on its future will defuse the issue.
Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats slipped behind the environmentalist opposition Greens into third place in Bremen, Germany's smallest state, in Sunday's regional election. It was their worst showing there since 1959."
mdsolar writes: "Phys.org is previewing a new study which looks at the challenges of supplying 15 TW of power using nuclear technology. Land use and location constraints, a major accident a month, fuel abundance and exotic metal abundance (hafnium as a neutron absorber, beryllium as a neutron reflector, zirconium as cladding) needed to run reactors are a few of the critical issues that limit the scalability of nuclear power. Breeders, thorium and fusion reactors also face similar constraints."
mdsolar writes: We've already seem tritium leaks from pipes at Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant that the plant owners swore under oath did not exist: http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/02/23/177240/Entergy-Admits-2005-Tritium-Leak But now we learn that until April of last year, two of four safety valves needed in the case of a rapid reactor shut down, were not working. And, the plant owners did not inform the NRC of this condition until December.
mdsolar writes: The radioactive tritium leak at Vermont Yankee nuclear power station http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/02/06/156236/Tritium-Leak-At-Vermont-Nuclear-Plant-Grows may not have been the first at the plant. A whistleblower claims the plant made duct tape-like repairs two years ago in lieu of correct procedures which would have involved a plant shutdown. The claim is especially significant because the plant has been providing false information to the Government of Vermont concerning the existence of the leaking systems. If they were making repairs, however poorly done, to a system they claimed did not exist, the problems at plant owner Entergy may run very deep indeed drawing into question safety at the nine other plants they run as well. A tritium leak also turned up at the Oconee power plant in South Carolina http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20100210/NEWS/2100353/1004/NEWS01/2-wells-at-Oconee-Nuclear-Station-exceed-tritium-standards a plant that has already been granted a 20 year license extension which Entergy seeks for some of its plants. Indications of malfeasance aside, it may be that power plants built to last 40 years should not be given licenses to run for 60.