South Korea Letter

27 American scientists and environmentalists write to President Moon Jae-in saying that the South Korea’s planned shift from nuclear power to green energy will actually hurt the environment. The letter was originally published on www.environmentalprogress.org

 

July 5, 2017
 

Honorable President Moon Jae-in
The Blue House
Seoul, South Korea
 

Dear President Moon,

We are writing as scientists and conservationists to urge you to consider the climate and environmental impacts of a nuclear energy phase-out in South Korea.

Over the last 20 years, South Korea has earned a global reputation for its ability to build well-tested and cost-effective nuclear plants. South Korea is the only nation where the cost of nuclear plant construction has declined over time. And in United Arab Emirates, South Korean firm Kepco has proven it can build cost-effective nuclear power plants abroad just as it can at home.

There is a strong consensus among climate policy experts that an expansion of nuclear energy will be required to significantly reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, and dozens of climate scientists and energy experts have affirmed the importance of nuclear energy to climate mitigation.

South Korea’s nuclear industry is especially important given the financial failures of French nuclear giant Areva and Japanese-owned and U.S.-based Westinghouse. If South Korea withdraws from nuclear then only Russia and China would be in the global competition for new nuclear construction.  

A phase-out of nuclear plants by South Korea domestically would profoundly undermine efforts by Kepco to compete for new nuclear construction contracts abroad. Buyer nations would rightly question why they should buy nuclear plants from a nation phasing out its nuclear. And a domestic nuclear phase-out would atrophy the workforces and supply chains needed for South Korea’s global construction efforts.

Solar and wind are not alternatives to nuclear. In 2016, solar and wind provided 1 and 0.35 percent of South Korea’s electricity, respectively. For South Korea to replace all of its nuclear plants with solar, it would need to build 4,400 solar farms the size of South Korea’s largest solar farm, SinAn, which would cover an area 5 times larger than Seoul. To do the same with wind would cover an area 14.5 times larger than Seoul. 

The intermittent nature of solar and wind and the lack of inexpensive grid-scale storage require the continued operation of fossil fuel power plants. As a result, every time nuclear plants close they are replaced almost entirely by fossil fuels, which has resulted in higher emissions from Germany to California to Japan.

Given the intermittency of solar and wind and South Korea’s land scarcity, replacing the nation’s nuclear plants would require a significant increase in coal and/or natural gas, which would prevent South Korea from meeting its commitments under the Paris climate agreement, and would increase air pollution in Seoul.

The high cost of replacing closing nuclear plants would be better spent on technological innovation to make South Korean nuclear plants even safer and cheaper. Replacing nuclear with natural gas would require $23 billion as up-front investment in new plants, and $10 billion per year to pay for gas imports.

Instead of phasing out nuclear, we encourage you to lead an effort to both make nuclear even safer and more cost-economical than it already is through the development and demonstration of accident-tolerant fuels and new plant designs.

The planet needs a vibrant South Korean nuclear industry, and the South Korean nuclear industry needs you as a strong ally and champion. If South Korea withdraws from nuclear the world risks losing a valuable supplier of cheap and abundant energy needed to lift humankind out of poverty and solve the climate crisis.

We support the call by 240 South Korean professors and strongly encourage you to deliberate with a wide range of energy and environmental scientists and experts on these questions before making any final decisions.

We are grateful for your consideration of these ideas, and look forward to your response.
 

Sincerely,

Michael Shellenberger, Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment,” President, Environmental Progress

James Hansen, Climate Scientist, Earth Institute, Columbia University  

Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pushker Kharecha, Columbia University, NASA

Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize recipient, author of Nuclear Renewal and The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Stewart Brand, Editor of the Whole Earth Catalog

Robert Coward, President, American Nuclear Society

Ben Heard, Executive Director, Bright New World

Andrew Klein, Immediate Past President, American Nuclear Society

Steve McCormick, Former CEO, The Nature Conservancy  

Michelle Marvier, Professor, Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University

Richard Muller, Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley, Co-Founder, Berkeley Earth

Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. Winner of the National Medal of Science, 2001

Paul Robbins, Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mark Lynas, author, Six Degrees

David Dudgeon, Chair of Ecology & Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, China

Erle C. Ellis, Ph.D, Professor, Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland

Christopher Foreman, author of The Promise & Peril of Environmental Justice, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Norris McDonald, President, Environmental Hope and Justice

Nobuo Tanaka, Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World

Wolfgang Denk, European Director, Energy for Humanity

Kirsty Gogan, Executive Director, Energy for Humanity

Joshua S. Goldstein, Prof. Emeritus of International Relations, American University

Steven Hayward, Senior Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley

Joe Lassiter, Professor, Harvard Business School

Martin Lewis, Department of Geography, Stanford University

Elizabeth Muller, Founder and Executive Director, Berkeley Earth

Stephen Pinker, Cognitive Scientist, Harvard University

Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, India

Tom Wigley, Climate and Energy Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

 

https://i1.wp.com/cc3dmrkorea.dothome.co.kr/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Seoul02.jpg

Annunci

Open letter to President Macron

This open letter, signed by 45 environmentalists, writers and academics, was originally published on Energyforhumanity.org

July 1, 2017
Dear President Macron,

We are writing as environmentalists, conservationists and climate scientists to congratulate you on your win in the presidential election, and to applaud your push for a carbon tax. Nobody has done more for advancing clean energy on the grid than France. In light of this knowledge, we are also writing to express our alarm at your decision to move France away from clean nuclear power.

Few nations have done more than France to demonstrate the humanitarian and environmental benefits of creating a high-energy, nuclear-powered, and electrified society. Not only was France host of United Nations climate talks, it also has some of the lowest per capita carbon emissions of any developed nation.

Any reduction in France’s nuclear generation will increase fossil fuel generation and pollution given the low capacity factors and intermittency of solar and wind. Germany is a case in point. Its emissions have been largely unchanged since 2009 and actually increased in both 2015 and 2016 due to nuclear plant closures. Despite having installed 4 percent more solar and 11 percent more wind capacity, Germany’s generation from the two sources decreased 3 percent and 2 percent respectively, since it wasn’t as sunny or windy in 2016 as in 2015.

And where France has some of the cheapest and cleanest electricity in Europe, Germany has some of the most expensive and dirtiest. Germany spent nearly 24 billion euros above market price in 2016 for its renewable energy production feed-in tariffs alone, but emissions have remained stagnant. Germany is set to miss its 2020 emission reduction goals by a wide margin. Despite its huge investment in renewables, only 46 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from clean energy sources as compared to 93 percent in France.

Solar and wind can play an important role in France. However, if France is to make investments in solar and wind similar to those of Germany, they should add to France’s share of clean energy, not inadvertently reduce it. Renewables can contribute to the further electrification of the transportation sector, which France has already done with its trains and should continue to do with personal vehicles.

Shifting from nuclear to fossil fuels and renewables would grievously harm the French economy in three ways: higher electricity prices for consumers and industry, an end to France’s lucrative electricity exports, and — perhaps most importantly — the destruction of France’s nuclear export sector. If the French nuclear fleet is forced to operate at lower capacity factors, it will cripple the French nuclear industry by adding costs and shrinking revenues. Eventually this will lead to poorer safety standards and less opportunities to fund research, development and efforts to export French nuclear technologies. Nations seeking to build new nuclear plants rightly want to know that the product France is selling is one that France itself values.

The French nuclear program has historically been the envy of the world. It demonstrated in the 1970s and 80s that the decarbonization of an industrialized country’s electricity sector is in fact possible. For France, the next necessary step to help combat climate change and improve air quality is to increase clean electricity from all non-fossil sources and massively reduce fossil fuels used in heating and the transportation sector. Nuclear power must play a central role in this.

Signed,

James Hansen, Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions Program, Columbia University, Earth Institute, Columbia University

Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hans Blix, Director General Emeritus of the IAEA

Robert Coward, President, American Nuclear Society

Andrew Klein, Immediate Past President, American Nuclear Society

Steven Pinker, Harvard University, author of Better Angels of Our Nature

Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize recipient, author of Nuclear Renewal and The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Robert Stone, filmmaker, “Pandora’s Promise”

Pascale Braconnot, Climate Scientist, IPSL/LSCE, lead author for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and Fifth Assessment Report

Francois-Marie Breon, Climate Researcher, IPSL/LSCE, lead author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report

Ben Britton, Ph.D, Deputy Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering, Imperial College London

Claude Jeandron, President, Save the Climate, French association

James Orr, Climate Scientist, IPSL/LSCE

Didier Paillard, Climate Scientist, IPSL/LSCE

Didier Roche, Climate Scientist, IPSL/LSCE

Myrto Tripathi, Climate Policy Director, Global Compact France

John Asafu-Adjaye, PhD, Senior Fellow, Institute of Economic Affairs, Ghana, Associate Professor of Economics, The University of Queensland, Australia

M J Bluck PhD, Director, Centre for Nuclear Engineering, Imperial College London

Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World

Bruno Comby, President, Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy

Wolfgang Denk, European Director, Energy for Humanity

David Dudgeon, Chair of Ecology & Biodiversity, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, China

Erle C. Ellis, Ph.D, Professor, Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland

Christopher Foreman, author of The Promise & Peril of Environmental Justice, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

Martin Freer, Professor, Head of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI)

Kirsty Gogan, Executive Director, Energy for Humanity

Joshua S. Goldstein, Prof. Emeritus of International Relations, American University

Malcolm Grimston, author of The Paralysis in Energy Decision Making, Honorary Research Fellow, Imperial College London

Mel Guymon, Guymon Family Foundation

Steven Hayward, Senior Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley

John Laurie, Founder and Executive Director, Fission Liquide

Joe Lassiter, Professor, Harvard Business School

John Lavine, Professor and Medill Dean Emeritus, Northwestern University

Martin Lewis, Department of Geography, Stanford University

Mark Lynas, author, The God SpeciesSix Degrees

Michelle Marvier, Professor, Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University

Alan Medsker, Coordinator, Environmental Progress – Illinois

Elizabeth Muller, Founder and Executive Director, Berkeley Earth

Richard Muller, Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley, Co-Founder, Berkeley Earth

Rauli Partanen, Energy Writer, author of The World After Cheap Oil

Peter H. Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. Winner of the National Medal of Science, 2001

Paul Robbins, Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, India

Michael Shellenberger, President, Environmental Progress

Jeff Terry, Professor of Physics, Illinois Institute of Technology

Tim Yeo, Chair, New Nuclear Watch Europe; former Chair, Energy and Climate Change Parliamentary Select Committee

 

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Climate Change: losing sight of the real target.

[this article was originally published on medium.com. We thank the author Bob. S. Effendi]


In September 2015, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks made a statement which shock the world, Germany is likely to fail its 2020 emission reduction target which fall short by seven percent [i].

How could this be, to a Climate Change champion with its 520 Billion Euro Energiewende Program which aim to make German energy mix 80% by clean energy, that is mostly wind and solar by 2050.

As its stand by 2015 Germany’s renewable already up to 30% of the total energy mix, probably the largest renewable energy mix in the world. But the irony is with all that renewable how could Germany predicted to miss the emission reduction target? Isn’t the premise to increase renewable shares so that to reduce CO2 emission.

It turns out that German electricity is consider among the dirtiest in Europe not only that but to make thing much worse in the past 5 years after the implementation of Energiewende, German electricity tariff has double making it the most expensive in Europe and is not affordable to some German.

According to Eva Bulling-Schröter, energy spokeswoman for Die Linke, Germany left party, between 2011 and 2015, about 300,000 German homes get their power cut off because they can no longer afford to pay their bills [ii].

McKinsey just release a 20 pages report on German Energiewende which was featured in Die Weld, a German National Newspaper, that Energiewende does not achieve its goal in reducing emission and it has put burden on the economy but despite these obvious facts German Government refuses to acknowledge that their energy policy has become a dismal failure [iii]. Basically, what McKinsey is saying that Energiewende is a 500 Billion Euro disaster.

The fact of the matter, Germany does not make it into the 10 cleanest electricity in Europe according to real-time map which measure CO2 intensity (www.electricitymap.org) created as an open source project by Tomorrow, a Climate Change concern organization. Germany CO2 intensity is runs around 350–450 gram CO2/kwh whereas Norway at no 1 (8 gram), Sweden at no 3 (37 gram), Switzerland at no 4 (63 gram) and France at no 5 (66 gram) [iv].

 

According to Massachusetts institute of Technology study even if the whole signatories of Paris Accord do everything what they pledge to do, it will only result in a slight reduction in global temperatures of just 0.2°C by 2100, global temperature will still raise to 3.1–5.0 degree to pre-industrial level. [v]

According to the study to meet the target, deeper cut on fossil need to happen. Which is obvious that a lot of these countries are not willing to give-up fossil as a dependable cheap economic driver and has become a strong industry with far reaching political influence but instead focusing on renewable. This should make you rethink maybe the world has lost sight what the real target is? Is the Paris Accord is really about climate change or something else?

It’s a simple question, if the objective of climate change is carbon reduction, then what should be the measuring stick then, is it: a) How much renewable energy you put or b) How much CO2 is in your electricity.

It’s a no brainer, off course is how much CO2 in your electricity (CO2/kwh) or how much CO2 per energy per capita (CO2/capita). Germany has shown that the more renewable you put does not relate to reduction of CO2 emission in fact it has the opposite effect which is as also shown in California.

Even in California where strict environmental and climate legislation has been enforced for many years and has the highest renewable mix in the US, but with all those effort it still is fail to reduce its emission and increases the electricity tariff which makes California electricity become the most expensive in the US [vi].

Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative, Clean and Safe Energy Coalition co-Chairman and former Mayor of Dallas put it bluntly “The more you put renewable the higher your emission and so is your electric bill as proven by Germany and California” [vii].

What Germany and California has proven is that you cannot make intermittent renewable, such as wind and solar as primary energy because of several reasons: 1) its low energy density thus requiring huge amount land and 2) can only deliver at best less than 25% of capacity thus at the end require a fossil backup 3) its intermittent nature, creates a problem to grid making the gird unreliable thus maintaining a reliable electricity service become costly for utility.

With that in mind, we should not lose sight of what is the real target, obviously not renewable but carbon reduction and the measuring stick should be CO2 intensity or CO2 per capita not renewable and to achieve that there is only one way to do it that is replacing all fossil especially coal as primary energy with another zero-emission energy source which can act as base load meaning operating 24/7.

It’s a simple formula, your primary energy mix should be more than 65% zero carbon energy, It’s either Hydro or Nuclear or combination. With Norway its 97% Hydro, or with France its 79% Nuclear or combination of the two like Sweden with Hydro 36% and Nuclear 35%.

It is a simple fact that without combination of these two form of energy there is no way you could achieve a decarbonization economy, it is not a theory but it is an indisputable fact. In fact, Nuclear produces more than 60% of zero carbon electricity in the world.

So it is ridiculous for countries which committed to climate change but follow in the foot step of Germany by closing down its nuclear power plant, such as Switzerland [viii]. The fact is that Nuclear was never on table or discuss in any UNFCC document. Even in the latest UN Deputy Secretary General speech on The Goal of Climate Change, there is a lot of mention of clean energy, a lot mention of wind and solar but no nuclear. Is Nuclear not a clean energy? [ix]

So in the end, if the discussion on climate change does not include Nuclear on the table then the Billion Dollar Question is: are they seriously want to fight climate change or just being anti-nuclear ?.

Jakarta, 6 June 2017

Bob S. Effendi

End Notes

[i] Germany unlikely to meet carbon reduction targets for 2020 | http://www.dw.com/en/germany-unlikely-to-meet-carbon-reduction-targets-for-2020/a-17802417

[ii] Over 300,000 poverty-hit German homes have power cut off each year | https://www.thelocal.de/20170302/over-300000-poverty-hit-german-homes-have-power-cut-off-each-year

[iii] ‘Die Welt’ Article Warns: German “Energiewende Risks Becoming a Disaster” …As Costs Explode! | http://notrickszone.com/2017/03/08/die-welt-article-warns-german-energiewende-risks-becoming-a-disaster-as-costs-explode/#sthash.3Ewp4tPQ.dpuf

[iv] List of countries according to the lowest emission | https://www.electricitymap.org/?wind=false&solar=false&page=highscore

[v] MIT News, Report: Expected Paris commitments insufficient to stabilize climate by century’s end | http://news.mit.edu/2015/paris-commitments-insufficient-to-stabilize-climate-by-2100-1022

[vi] Climate Change, and California’s Failed Solution | http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2016/05/05/climate_change_and_californias_failed_solution_102154.html

[vii] Bloomberg TV interview May 25, 2016 : Ron Kirk | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqELgPdaX-g&feature=share

[viii] Switzerland votes to ban nuclear plants, shift to renewable energy in referendum | http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-22/swiss-voters-embrace-shift-to-renewable-energy/8545844

[ix] Energy is at the Hearts of Global Goals and Paris Agreement | http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/energy-is-at-the-heart-of-global-goals-and-paris-agreement/

Accident at Hanford

[this article was originally published on blog.safecast.org. We thank the author and the editors.]

 

Above: Photo showing the 20ft x 20ft hole which resulted from the collapse of a PUREX storage tunnel at Hanford (Image: Hanford Emergency Information page)

News wires have been buzzing about a tunnel cave-in at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington State. The Hanford facility is extremely large, 580-square miles, or about half the size of the state of Rhode Island. It produced the plutonium used in the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and during the cold war facilities were greatly expanded for weapons production. The last reactor at Hanford was shut down in 1987, and decommissioning and cleanup operations have been ongoing since 1989. The site has been fraught with problems stemming from the storage of radioactive waste, and because of the risk of releases of radioactive material to the environment, particularly the nearby Columbia River,  it is closely watched by environmental groups.

The accident yesterday involved the collapse of a small (20 x 20 foot) section of a storage tunnel built as part of the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility (PUREX), detected by workers on the morning of May 9th. These tunnels, constructed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, hold rail cars loaded with contaminated discarded equipment. They were constructed of wood and concrete and covered with approximately 8 feet of soil. The collapse is probably due to the degradation of wood used in construction.

Tunnel construction

(From Hanford facility dangerous waste permit application, PUREX storage tunnels)

Railcar-by-railcar breakdown of what’s stored in the PUREX underground tunnels at the Hanford Site and how radioactive it is, c/o Stephen Schwartz‏  @AtomicAnalyst.

Hanford Challenge twitter feed; this group has represented Hanford workers for the past 20 years.

Because the Hanford site is so large, only very large radioactive releases can be detected off site. This makes it difficult if not impossible to verify official data regarding releases. Official reports so far have indicated that no airborne releases of radiation have been detected due to the tunnel collapse. Nevertheless, an emergency was declared, and personnel were evacuated from nearby areas of the site and required to shelter indoors in others. As of 8pm on May 9th, work had begun to stabilize and fill the opening of the collapsed section.

Cheryl Rofer, formerly of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, posted an informative blog at Nuclear Diner, in which she concluded that the risk of large releases due to this accident are small.

At the same time, the tunnel collapse should call attention to the greater risks posed by deteriorating infrastructure at Hanford. The Washington Post notes:

“An August 2015 report by Vanderbilt University’s civil and environmental engineering department said the PUREX facility and the two tunnels had “the potential for significant on-site consequences” and that “various pieces of dangerous debris and equipment containing or contaminated with dangerous/mixed waste” had been placed inside the tunnels.”

(Update) Our colleagues at the NRDC communicated the following to us:

— NRDC assessment is that this accident does not pose a risk off site but will create increased risk for Hanford Site workers dealing with the accident, with substantial increased cleanup costs;
— This accident illustrates the difficulty of the cleanup of the US Cold War legacy of nuclear weapons production — the largest environmental cleanup project in the world costing over $6B a year (nearly $2 billion per year alone at Hanford) – every nation that has made nuclear weapons has hurt its own people and natural environment in the process – it further illustrates some complicated regulatory problems (lack of EPA and State authority over the site, where NRDC has long pushed for transparency).
— Continued risk at Hanford is greatest from the 56 million gallons of toxic, liquid high level-radioactive waste held in 177 very large tanks some of which are leaking – this underground plume threatens the Columbia River.

To summarize, this particular accident appears to be quite small and localized, but that may just be luck. In this instance, Safecast is concerned about the lack of independent monitoring at the Hanford site to confirm official statements about radiation releases.

Iodine-131 Over Europe: Probably Medical

In early January, slightly elevated levels of iodine-131 were observed over northern and western Europe. The levels were measured during a temperature inversion, along with elevated levels of naturally occurring radioisotopes.

This, along with the deployment of an American WC-135 aircraft to the Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base in the UK, has led to speculation that the Russians have carried out a nuclear test. This is highly unlikely for several reasons.

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No, radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi are not rising

[this article was originally published on blog.safecast.org. We thank the author and the editors.]

This grating inside Daiichi Unit 2 was likely melted by falling fuel debris (TEPCO photo)

 

— Yes, TEPCO has measured very high radiation inside Daichi Unit 2.

— No, it does’t mean radiation levels there are rising.

In response to visual investigation results and high radiation measurements recently taken by TEPCO inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2, many news outlets have published stories with headlines like “Fukushima nuclear reactor radiation at highest level since 2011 meltdown.” (The Guardian, Feb. 3, 2017).

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/03/fukushima-daiichi-radiation-levels-highest-since-2011-meltdown

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/record-radiation-level-detected-inside-damaged-fukushima-reactor

This has led to a number of alarming stories claiming that radiation at Daiichi has “spiked” to unprecedented levels. That’s not what the findings indicate, however. In addition, Safecast’s own measurements, including our Pointcast realtime detector system have shown radiation levels near Daiichi to be steadily declining. As described in the Safecast Report, Vol.2, Section 2.1.4, TEPCO and its research partners have been developing robots and remote visualization devices to search for melted fuel debris deep inside the Daiichi reactor units, and to help plan for its eventual removal. On January 30th, 2017, a long telescoping device with a camera and radiation measurement device attached was inserted through an existing opening in the reactor containment of Unit 2 for the first time, and successfully extended approximately 8 meters into in an area known as the “pedestal,” to measure and take images from immediately below the damaged reactor pressure vessel (RPV). In addition to finding the area covered with molten material likely to be fuel debris, radiation levels of 530 Sieverts per hour were detected, which would be fatal to a person exposed for only a few seconds.

The recent investigation used existing openings in the Unit 2 reactor to obtain images an measurements inside the pedestal area.(TEPCO image)

The telescoping arm (in yellow) was designed to reach inside the pedestal area to obtain visual imagery and radiation measurements.(TEPCO image)

It must be stressed that radiation in this area has not been measured before, and it was expected to be extremely high. While 530 Sv/hr is the highest measured so far at Fukushima Daiichi, it does not mean that levels there are rising, but that a previously unmeasurable high-radiation area has finally been measured. Similar remote investigations are being planned for Daiichi Units 1 and 3. We should not be surprised if even higher radiation levels are found there, but only actual measurements will tell. Unit 4 was defuelled at the time of the accident, and though the reactor building exploded and the spent fuel pool was dangerously exposed, it did not suffer a meltdown, so similar investigations are not being conducted.

The “Scorpion” crawler robot is designed to be inserted through a pipe and to fold for operation. It’s deployment is likely to be further delayed.(IRID photo)

Under a consortium called IRID, TEPCO and its research partners have been developing robots and other devices to assist in investigations inside the damaged reactors, where radiation levels are too high to allow humans to safely enter. The recent investigations at Unit 2 were intended to help plan the travel path of a folding crawler robot called the “Scorpion.” This device is designed to crawl around on the metal grating deck inside the pedestal and gather further imagery and measurements. The recent investigations, however, have revealed a 1×1 meter section of the deck to be melted through, and much of the rest may be impassable for the robot. In addition, the high radiation levels will likely limit the amount of time the robot will be able to operate before malfunctioning to about 2 hours, instead of the planned 10 hours. Much more melted fuel debris is assumed to have settled beneath the pedestal grating on the concrete basemat of the reactor. It was hoped that the Scorpion would be able to provide imagery of this. Not surprisingly, TEPCO is once again revising its plans based on the recent findings. These investigations are technically quite impressive, but they have already been delayed for over a year due to the need to more adequately decontaminate the area where human workers must operate and to solve other technical problems. This recent imagery is extremely informative and helpful, and had been eagerly awaited by many concerned people, including Safecast. If nothing else, we have learned to be patient as TEPCO proceeds slowly and cautiously with this work.  The process of removing melted fuel debris from the damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi is expected to take decades, and these recent findings remind us once again that TEPCO has little grounds for optimism about the challenges of this massive and technically unprecedented project.

Stitched vertical panorama showing conditions underneath the Unit 2 RPV. (TEPCO photo)

For more information:

TEPCO Reports:

Pre-investigation results of the area inside the pedestal for the Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel Investigation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station(examination results of digital images)

Images Inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 Need Further Examination Including The Possibility Of Fuel Debris

TEPCO Photos:

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201702-e/170202-01e.html

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201701-e/170130-01e.html

Video here:

NHK Video (in Japanese)

Mainichi Shimbun:

 

Making America great again

Bellefonte NPP, started in 1974, abandoned in 1988, will it be completed?
Bellefonte NPP, started in 1974, abandoned in 1988, will it be completed?

In our honest opinion there is a man who is already doing it! His name is Franklin L. Haney and he is 75 years old.

This Chattanooga, Tennessee-based mogul picked up a nuclear power station in Hollywood, Alabama at an auction last week. Yes, you read well, a nuclear power station, for just 111 million dollars! That’s the famous never completed Bellefonte.

As reported by CGR (Global Construction Review) online magazine, Haney said “the rejuvenated plant would ‘transform communities’ hit by coal-plant closures in Alabama and Tennessee.” And “completing the plant will employ up to 4.000 people; while operating it would create 2.000 ‘permanent, high paying jobs’.”

But he will need to bring all his deal-making talents to bear on this new asset: construction of the 2,6 GW power station was halted in far 1988 and it is likely to request several billion dollars to get it completed, because unit 1 is deemed approximately 55% complete, and unit 2 approximately 35% complete, having for years been ransacked for spare parts.

In addition, to hold him to his promises regarding the site, the seller, state utility Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), stipulated that the buyer must invest at least 25 million dollars on the property within 5 years of closing the deal.

Well, imagine our shock, if this won’t happen!

We mean, we aren’t sufficiently oriented to wishful thinking about nuclear power to forget that business is business. And Mr Haney could always change his mind, provided he hasn’t already now (in a drawer somewhere) a different idea from that he has shown so far.

But let’s still dream for a while, with Haney’s words. “Today marks the first step of an exciting new journey for the people of Alabama and Tennessee,” he said in a statement. “The Bellefonte Nuclear Station will help transform communities across the region. This project will bring new life to the region by creating thousands of jobs while providing assured access to reliable, affordable, zero-emission energy.”

How not to agree?

Surprisingly this words match with some (not all) statements heard during the last presidential election campaign, about which we are standing with high hopes!

Hey, don’t take this as a galvanized reaction to the the news of November 9th, 2016. U.S. President-elected Donald J. Trump has still to demonstrate to be really ready and willing for a new cursus of energy policies, and only History will tell us if this shall be also in favor of a new nuclear renaissance for America.

And by the way, it’s hard to miss the fact that Mr Haney, a long time Democratic donor, funded the campaign for President Obama’s reelection 4 years ago. Not to say he has also been several times under reflectors due to the fact he has built his business around developing government-supported real estate projects – being even indicated as a “Government Landlord”.

And so on and on, you can find by yourselves a lot of interesting further information or silly yak-yak on the web. This is not the point.

We were simply wondering if Haney’s iniziative in coincidence of Trump’s election could be a symptom of a new sight on America’s energy future. In other words, if such a kind of investment is a claim of “innovative financing”; if it will possibly suggest some good ideas to the President-elected; and ultimately if it can really change the approach to nuclear power in the U.S. and, as a reflection, all over the World – maybe a tangible way to make America great again.

Well, our guess and hope is: yes, yes and yes!

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11/25/2016 Update: Maria Korsnick, CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, has recently discussed about the future of the American nuclear industry under Trump administration. You can watch the video of the interview at this link.