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You can add radiation to the list of pollutants for which the Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions.

That loosening could come as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) already controversial proposal "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

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France's Flamanville: Late and over budget. schoella / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year.

Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Indian Point Energy Center is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. Tony Fischer / Wikipedia

By Joseph Mangano

In the late 1970s, the rate of new thyroid cancer cases in four counties just north of New York City—Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties—was 22 percent below the U.S. rate. Today, it has soared to 53 percent above the national rate. New cases jumped from 51 to 412 per year. Large increases in thyroid cancer occurred for both males and females in each county.

That's according to a new study I co-authored which was published in the Journal of Environmental Protection and presented at Columbia University.

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By Dahr Jamail

Former nuclear industry senior vice president Arnie Gundersen, who managed and coordinated projects at 70 U.S. atomic power plants, is appalled at how the Japanese government is handling the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

"The inhumanity of the Japanese government toward the Fukushima disaster refugees is appalling," Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 45 years of nuclear power engineering experience and the author of a bestselling book in Japan about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, told Truthout.

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www.youtube.com

Captured by an underwater robot on Saturday, footage released by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) shows for the first time what appears to be melted nuclear fuel inside one of the destroyed Fukushima reactors in Japan.

According to the Japan Times:

"This is the first time Tepco has found something likely to be melted fuel. When the utility sent a different robot into reactor 2 in January, it found black lumps sticking to the grating in the primary containment vessel but said they were difficult to identify.

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Summer is a time for escape reading. But that designation need not be limited to fiction; books written for the general reader on topics outside one's area of expertise can also provide passage to exciting new places. This month's bookshelf includes six non-fiction titles, five novels and one collection of short stories. The last three titles are now in paperback, suitable for a vacation or some beach time. Good reading to you!

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The world's first floating wind farm only switched on three months ago but it's already performing better than expected—and that's despite a hurricane, a powerful winter storm and waves as high as 8.2 meters (27 feet).

The 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland, located about 15 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast, churned out 65 percent of its maximum theoretical capacity during November, December and January, according to its operator, Statoil.

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Trending

By Lauren McCauley

A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive "no-go zone" near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation.

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Radiation area from Horseshoe Mesa uranium mine tailings at Grand Canyon's South Rim. Al_HikesAZ / Flickr

By Stephanie Malin

Uranium—the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons—is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as "critical minerals."

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The 100-meter wide crater on Runit Island was deemed a good place to dump as much soil contaminated with plutonium as possible. Chunks of unexploded plutonium-239 were also disposed of in the hole. Google Earth

By Joe McCarthy

The Enewetak Atoll is all but invisible on Google Maps. Halfway between Australia and Hawaii, the ribbon of land is home to a small indigenous population that has seen their way of life eroded by decisions far outside of their control.

For more than half a century, the atoll, which is part of the Marshall Islands, has been contaminated by nuclear explosions and waste, according to ABC Australia. The decades ahead could leave it submerged by rising sea levels.

Read More Show Less
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

liz west / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

You can add radiation to the list of pollutants for which the Trump administration is looking to loosen restrictions.

That loosening could come as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) already controversial proposal "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
France's Flamanville: Late and over budget. schoella / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year.

Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Indian Point Energy Center is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York, just south of Peekskill. Tony Fischer / Wikipedia

By Joseph Mangano

In the late 1970s, the rate of new thyroid cancer cases in four counties just north of New York City—Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties—was 22 percent below the U.S. rate. Today, it has soared to 53 percent above the national rate. New cases jumped from 51 to 412 per year. Large increases in thyroid cancer occurred for both males and females in each county.

That's according to a new study I co-authored which was published in the Journal of Environmental Protection and presented at Columbia University.

Read More Show Less

By Dahr Jamail

Former nuclear industry senior vice president Arnie Gundersen, who managed and coordinated projects at 70 U.S. atomic power plants, is appalled at how the Japanese government is handling the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

"The inhumanity of the Japanese government toward the Fukushima disaster refugees is appalling," Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 45 years of nuclear power engineering experience and the author of a bestselling book in Japan about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, told Truthout.

Read More Show Less
www.youtube.com

Captured by an underwater robot on Saturday, footage released by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) shows for the first time what appears to be melted nuclear fuel inside one of the destroyed Fukushima reactors in Japan.

According to the Japan Times:

"This is the first time Tepco has found something likely to be melted fuel. When the utility sent a different robot into reactor 2 in January, it found black lumps sticking to the grating in the primary containment vessel but said they were difficult to identify.

Read More Show Less

Summer is a time for escape reading. But that designation need not be limited to fiction; books written for the general reader on topics outside one's area of expertise can also provide passage to exciting new places. This month's bookshelf includes six non-fiction titles, five novels and one collection of short stories. The last three titles are now in paperback, suitable for a vacation or some beach time. Good reading to you!

Read More Show Less

The world's first floating wind farm only switched on three months ago but it's already performing better than expected—and that's despite a hurricane, a powerful winter storm and waves as high as 8.2 meters (27 feet).

The 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland, located about 15 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast, churned out 65 percent of its maximum theoretical capacity during November, December and January, according to its operator, Statoil.

Read More Show Less

Trending

By Lauren McCauley

A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive "no-go zone" near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation.

Read More Show Less
Radiation area from Horseshoe Mesa uranium mine tailings at Grand Canyon's South Rim. Al_HikesAZ / Flickr

By Stephanie Malin

Uranium—the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons—is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as "critical minerals."

Read More Show Less
The 100-meter wide crater on Runit Island was deemed a good place to dump as much soil contaminated with plutonium as possible. Chunks of unexploded plutonium-239 were also disposed of in the hole. Google Earth

By Joe McCarthy

The Enewetak Atoll is all but invisible on Google Maps. Halfway between Australia and Hawaii, the ribbon of land is home to a small indigenous population that has seen their way of life eroded by decisions far outside of their control.

For more than half a century, the atoll, which is part of the Marshall Islands, has been contaminated by nuclear explosions and waste, according to ABC Australia. The decades ahead could leave it submerged by rising sea levels.

Read More Show Less
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

By Yuko Yoneda

Six years ago, more than 15,000 people perished and tens of thousands of people's lives changed forever. Northeastern Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, followed by an enormous tsunami that wiped out coastal towns one after another. In the days that followed came the horrifying news: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went into meltdown. The disaster is still with us.

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Photo credit: Greg Webb / International Atomic Energy Agency
IRSN

By Jake Johnson

An upsurge in radioactive pollution detected over Europe in recent weeks is likely the result of an accident at a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan, France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said in a new report.

The radioactive plume—composed of Ruthenium-106—was detected "in the atmosphere of the majority of European countries" beginning late in September, IRSN observed.

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In 2011, a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in Japan, leading to a nuclear disaster whose impacts are still being felt globally. Now, a massive 7.4 earthquake hit Fukushima around 6 a.m. local time, and tsunami warnings and advisories are in effect.

It was first reported as a 7.3 earthquake but was later revised to 7.4 by the Japan Meteorological Agency. The epicenter of the quake was 67 km northeast of Iwaki, a city on the southern coast of the Fukushima prefecture.

Residents along Japan's Northeastern coast have been told to evacuate immediately and seek higher ground. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly and make landfall imminently.

NHK News Japan

Their warning stated: "Damage due to tsunami waves is expected. Evacuate immediately from coastal regions and riverside areas to a safer place such as high ground or an evacuation building. Tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly. Do not leave safe ground until the warning is lifted." NHK News Japan warned those living on the coast to "hurry up and run away."

Though immediate concern was given to local residents and their safety, attention has quickly turned to TEPCO's nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the site of the 2011 catastrophic meltdown. Five years ago, three of the plant's six reactors melted down leading to the largest release of radiation into the ocean in world history. The damaged reactors were never sealed and continue to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive wastewater every day. As Japan braces for yet another tsunami, concern is growing regarding the potentially devastating effects that another tsunami could have on the cooling system's of the plant's three remaining, intact reactors.

According to reports, these fears are not unfounded. In the aftermath of the earthquake, TEPCO confirmed that the cooling system in one of the three intact reactors stopped working, but was successfully restarted 90 minutes after its abrupt shutdown. Though no "abnormalities" were reported, TEPCO has remained silent as to what caused the shutdown and if the cooling system suffered any damage that could lead to another unexpected shutdown. TEPCO said that the cooling system failure posed no "immediate danger" even though they admitted that there has been a "gradual" rise in reactor temperatures.

With the tsunami expected to arrive within hours, people around the world will be watching to see if the nuclear reactors will hold or if history will repeat itself in the worst way possible. However, TEPCO's credibility regarding its Fukushima plant is dubious as they lied about the true extent of the 2011 crisis with complicity from the Japanese government. Hopefully, this time they are telling the truth.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.


The Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, site of the only two nuclear reactors being built in the U.S. Charles C. Watson / Wikimedia Commons

Germany's "Energiewende"—the country's low-carbon energy revolution—turned another successful corner last weekend when renewable energy sources nearly stamped out coal and nuclear.

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Radioactive contamination in the seabed off the Fukushima coast is hundreds of times above pre-2011 levels, while contamination in local rivers is up to 200 times higher than ocean sediment, according to results from Greenpeace Japan survey work released Thursday.

"The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster," Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, said.

Greenpeace sediment sampling in Abukuma river, Miyagi prefecture, February 2016. The Abukuma has a 5,172km2 catchment15 which is largely in Fukushima prefecture, before entering the Pacific ocean in Miyagi prefecture. Greenpeace / Raquel Monton

"These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe," said Kashiwagi.

Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg.

Greenpeace radiation specialist Jacob Namminga on board research vessel off the coast of Fukushima Daiichi, removing marine sediment sample collected by Remotely Operated Vehicle, March 2016. Greenpeace / Christian Aslund

The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated.

Caesium-137 has a half life of 30 years and will continue to pose a risks to the the environment and human health for hundreds of years. Cs-137 contamination in seabed samples near the Fukushima plant was measured at up to 120 Bq/kg – compared to levels pre-2011 of 0.3 Bq/kg. Further, the levels of contamination found 60km south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were comparable with those found within 4km of the plant. Numerous marine science investigations, have concluded that these higher levels are one explanation for some marine species still showing higher cesium levels than the background levels in seawater.

River systems along Fukushima and neighboring prefecture coastline discharging radioactivity into Pacific Ocean.

"The radiation levels in the sediment off the coast of Fukushima are low compared to land contamination, which is what we expected and consistent with other research," Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan, said. "The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean combined with powerful complex currents means the largest single release of radioactivity into the marine environment has led to the widespread dispersal of contamination."

Most of the radioactivity in Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3 core fuel in March 2011 remains at the site.

"The scientific community must receive all necessary support to continue their research into the impacts of this disaster," Ulrich said.

"In addition to the ongoing contamination from forests and rivers, the vast amount of radioactivity onsite at the destroyed nuclear plant remains one of the greatest nuclear threats to Fukushima coastal communities and the Pacific Ocean. The hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated water, the apparent failure of the ice wall to reduce groundwater contamination and the unprecedented challenge of three molten reactor cores all add up to a nuclear crisis that is far from over."

A radiation survey team onboard the research vessel Asakaze, supported by the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, conducted underwater survey work along the Fukushima coastline from Feb. 21 to March 11 this year, as well collecting samples in river systems. The samples were measured at an independent laboratory in Tokyo.

SolarCity Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York. Photo credit: SolarCity

By Paul Brown

A third of France's nuclear reactors have been shut down by industry regulators as revelations emerge about the supply of sub-standard parts.

As investigations into falsified documents and excess quantities of carbon in steel continue, more closures are expected. This is not yet a full-blown crisis for the nuclear industry, but it is putting serious strain on the finances of French nuclear giant EDF and causing electricity price rises across western Europe.

The Chooz nuclear power plant in France, where the industry is being investigated by regulators.

It is also very bad news for the climate. France is reopening mothballed coal plants and burning more coal than it has for 32 years. Neighbors, including Germany, which normally takes cheap nuclear power from the French, are also powering up old fossil fuel plants and exporting the electricity to France at premium prices.

Japan's Nuclear Scandal

France is not the only country affected by the scandal. A Japanese company, the Japan Casting & Forging Corporation, has also allegedly been involved in falsifying quality control documents for parts supplied to reactors both at home and in France.

The Japanese nuclear safety organization is now investigating, but so far no plants in Japan have been ordered to close, partly because most of them have in any case remained shut since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

This is a drama that has been unfolding slowly for months. But as more forged documents and potentially faulty parts have come to light, the French regulator ASN has begun insisting on shutdowns and inspections to ensure plants are safe.

One problem is that there is too much carbon in the steel components and containment vessels, which will make them brittle. The carbon content is well above specified safety limits, leading to fears that there could be catastrophic failures in plants currently operating.

The second, related, problem is forged, falsified or incomplete quality control reports about the components themselves. Areva, the troubled French state-owned nuclear component manufacturer, is reviewing all 9,000 manufacturing records from its giant forge at Le Creusot dating back as far as 1943. This includes 6,000 parts made for nuclear reactors—some of them outside France.

The anomalies were first discovered in 2014 at the plant being built at Flamanville in northern France. Excess carbon was found in the plant's pressure vessel. This has caused considerable further cost and even longer delays to the completion of the flagship reactor. It has still not been cleared as safe and a final decision will not be taken until next year.

It was the investigations into how this potentially disastrous flaw got through the safety vetting process that led to the discovery in May this year of 400 other sub-standard parts and a mass of falsified quality control documentation. Many of the parts are inside nuclear plants currently operating.

According to Power magazine, an ASN press relations officer, who requested anonymity in line with ASN rules, said more nuclear power plants with suspect parts will be inspected in the next few weeks. "We are now finding carbon segregation problems from components coming from both Le Creusot and Japan Casting & Forging. As for now, there are 20 EDF reactors offline," the official said.

And the Japan Times reported that Japan Casting & Forging Corporation is now also under scrutiny by the country's Nuclear Regulation Authority because it supplied French plants. With most of Japan's nuclear fleet closed since Fukushima, there are moves to reopen some reactors.

Urgent Testing

Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, said: "The nuclear industry in France is now in crisis as a result of the carbon test results, with 11 reactors supplied by Japanese steel ordered shut down and under investigation by the regulator."

"No such testing has been done in Japan … until actual testing is conducted, the NRA and more importantly the communities living near nuclear reactors, will not know what risks the nuclear plants pose," Burnie added.

"The NRA must instruct utilities in Japan to undertake testing as a matter of urgency." He said the priorities are the Sendai-2 and Ikata-3 reactors, the only plants operating.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.