By Broc West via Asahi Shimbun / February 1, 2015 / A 24-hour convenience store has reopened in this small town, even though the former residents are still not allowed to stay overnight due to concerns over radioactive contamination. FamilyMart’s Kamishigeoka outlet servicing the community of Naraha resumed operation on Jan. 30. The store was forced to close on March 12, 2011, as the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant … Continue reading →
By Kumar Sundaram The National Green Tribunal(NGT) directed the NPCIL in Gorakhpur to remove fencing from their construction site, following the appeal by the local citizens highlighting the wildlife in the area being under threat due to the nuclear plant project. DiaNuke.org interviewed a key activist, Mr. Vinod Karwasra, who has been at the forefront of the struggle to save local wildlife, particularly the blackbuck.
By Kumar Sundaram We are deeply disturbed by media reports that the Indian government has capitulated to aggressive U.S. demands and agreed to a deal that indemnifies American nuclear vendors from the consequences of accidents caused by design defects in their reactors.
During the 1960s when the American Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards debated containment structures, some members argued for the need to make stronger containments. Regrettably, a majority of the members believed that the emergency core cooling systems were adequate, so more than 50 years ago the Advisory Committee ignored its minority members and pushed ahead without rigorous failure-proof containment structures and systems. The Nuclear Regulatory Committee made the decision not to require stronger containments. Japan followed the American lead.
In our most recent video, Fairewinds’ chief nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen introduces us to the containment structures deemed adequate and strong enough by the NRC to protect civilians from nuclear meltdown. How could five radiation barriers fail at Fukushima Daiichi? Using the childhood game of dominoes, each domino represents a failed radiation barrier and like the game when a domino falls all others follow. Nuclear containment risk is nuclear power’s fifth domino. Nuclear site failures are not a game and public safety is not something to play with- so why does the NRC act like a group of kids putting us all at RISK?
Nuclear Power’s 5th Domino
Hi, I’m Arnie Gundersen with Fairewinds Energy Education.
Today I would like to talk to you about all the nuclear power plant protection systems that supposedly exist to keep radiation from escaping during nuclear plant emergencies.
Recent scientific studies from Japan show that 75% of the radiation created by the meltdowns was released more than 5 days after the catastrophe, while only 25% of the radiation was released during the first 4 days. This data, which is posted on the fairewinds.org website, shows that the total gaseous and liquid radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown exceed the radiation released during and after the Chernobyl meltdown, while Fukushima Daiichi radioactivity continues to bleed into the Pacific Ocean.
How then can so much radiation possibly penetrate all the radiation barriers engineers designed for nuclear power’s safe operation?
When I received my bachelor and master degree in nuclear engineering, nuclear engineers were taught that there are at least 6 barriers that protected us from massive radiation releases during and following nuclear emergencies.
Lets look at these radiation release barriers:
1. The first barrier designed by the nuclear industry is supposed to be the fuel pellet itself. It is ceramic and is designed to hold radiation inside.
2. The second radiation protection barrier is supposed to be the zirconium alloy fuel cladding that is designed to contain what is anticipated to be a small amount of radiation that would escape from destroyed fuel pellets during a nuclear power disaster.
3. The six to eight inch thick steel reactor vessel itself is supposed to be the third radiation containment system that creates a barrier against disaster-driven radiation releases, along with its associated pipes that are also made of steel.
4. The emergency core cooling systems were designed to serve as the 4th safety barrier by pumping c water into the reactor to cool the nuclear core
5. Barrier number 5 is the thick wall of steel and concrete called the nuclear containment that was supposed to prevent all the radiation from escaping if the other radiation protection barriers failed. It was the final barrier. The containment itself is passive; it just surrounds all the radioactive material.
6. Finally, in case everything does fail, people living or working within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear power plant are supposed to be able to depend upon its emergency plan and evacuation procedures.
All 6 barriers were in place and functioning at the Fukushima Daiichi site when the tsunami hit causing two major problems that engineers never expected:
First, when the tsunami destroyed the emergency cooling system back-up diesel generators, the cooling pumps had no electricity to operate and cool the nuclear fuel.
Second, the tsunami destroyed the pumps along the ocean that were designed to push cool ocean water to cool the nuclear fuel. Instead of these 6 barriers functioning like the engineers had planned, they fell like dominoes, each failure causing another as the links of the chain were broken.
Here is what really happened:
The tsunami destroyed the 4th barrier of the emergency core cooling system causing the fuel to overheat and destroy the 1st barrier. The high temperature of the uncooled fuel caused the 2nd barrier of the zirconium alloy cladding to overheat and catch fire. When the fuel cladding caught fire, then the fuel melted through the nuclear reactor destroying the 3rd barrier too.
Now only the containment barrier, our 5th and final domino, remains, right? Unfortunately, no. I first spoke to the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards in 2010 to share my evidence-based calculations showing that containments would likely leak significant amounts of radioactivity during a nuclear power failure. In response, the ACRS informed me that, the nuclear industry and NRC simply assume that containments will never leak during nuclear emergencies.
Inside Fukushima Daiichi’s containment, the pressure increased to more than 100 pounds per square inch causing detonation shock waves and containment failure.
Unfortunately, those 3 explosions at Fukushima Daiichi prove that containment systems fail and thousands of people are injured by exposure to significant amounts of radiation.
How do we know the containments failed?
1. First, you can see the violent explosions and the detonation shock wave on TV and video.
2. The second picture shows that there are two distinct steam plumes exiting Unit One plume emanates from the spent fuel pool, and the other is directly over the reactor vessel where the top of the containment was supposed to shield everyone and everything from these huge radiation releases.
3. Third, TEPCO itself has admitted that hot gases raging at 250ºF were released from the containment structure. This picture definitely shows the release of hot radioactive gas. And, no, it is not steam, because steam only exists at 212ºF under normal atmospheric pressure.
As soon as radiation was released from the plant, the evacuation plans were useless because the plumes were moving wherever the wind and changing weather patterns took them. Not wanting to frighten people, Japanese government employees were not allowed to notify people in time for them to evacuate safely.
All 6 barriers failed at Fukushima Daiichi. The failed core cooling caused the fuel to overheat causing the zirconium alloy cladding to catch fire, and that in turn caused the reactor to breach and then the containment system failed. There was no place to run.
The Japanese government wants to restart more than half of its 50 remaining nuclear reactors. Back in the 1960s, the NRC made the decision not to require stronger containments and Japan followed America’s lead. You find the 700-page report about the NRC decision to weaken nuclear containments on our website.
The triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi has proven nuclear safety is a myth, yet the nuclear industry continues to put profits before people with the Japanese government attempting to restart its old reactors with the same 50-year-old containment systems. The NRC has neglected regulations to force major modifications on the 23 containments identical to those that were destroyed by the catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi.
Worldwide, only Germany has taken these disasters and subsequent loss of lives seriously. The Germans have moved ahead with energy efficiency and alternative energy production as methods of protecting their citizens’ lives against the risks inherent in nuclear power production.
For me, the lyrics from Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Where Have All The Flowers Gone come to mind, and I wonder when will WE ever learn?
Read more here:: http://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-containment-risk/
India’s most recent reactors at Kudankulam, still undergoing testing, were built by Russia’s Rosatom.
Last weekend, as a report on Bloomberg put it, “President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed a breakthrough meant to spur a surge in civilian nuclear projects.” Bloomberg added, “Equipment suppliers are keeping the Champagne on ice.”
In this case, the devil is in the details, and the fine print of the “breakthrough” isn’t yet clear. Some believe that the deal will lead to greater U.S. involvement in India’s nuclear power program–although to be absolutely correct, there is only one U.S. reactor company anymore: General Electric. Westinghouse Nuclear is a subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba, although it keeps the subsidiary headquarters in Pennsylvania. Others aren’t so sure the “breakthrough” will lead to anything much at all.
But that issue begs the bigger question: why should India increase its nuclear program in the first place? Our guest post is by Subir Roy, a columnist and journalist in India for more than three decades. It first appeared in the Business Standard, New Delhi, where it caught our attention. We thought it deserves a wider audience outside India. Reposted with permission.
The path-breaking 2006 India-United States agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, which had been gathering dust because of the subsequent Indian law on nuclear liability, appears to have been taken off the shelf. One of the key agreements finalized during United States President Barack Obama’s Republic Day visit, it has four elements. India will not change its nuclear liability law; instead, it will create a government fund to address claims resulting from an accident. India will also take a fresh look at the provision of its law that permits claims made under tort law for damages caused; and the United States has given up its demand to track material supplied under the peaceful nuclear program.
Only very broad features have been outlined and, hopefully, when the details become known the Indian government will not be found to have given away where it matters. If a negative picture does eventually emerge from the details, then the question will be — what for? The Bharatiya Janata Party has high stakes, as India being a nuclear power is close to its heart — and the status becomes meaningful not just when it has the bomb but when it also has a smooth nuclear power program and is able to join bodies like the Nuclear Suppliers Group. That – and the final prize, a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council – will happen only if the United States government is well disposed, after being able to help its firms sell nuclear power reactors worth billions of dollars to India. But they will not do so if the liability for an accident finally comes to rest on their doorsteps.
The overall reality regarding nuclear accidents is that they can cause huge damage and if power plant suppliers (American) and operators (Indian) are to be liable for claims for damages by third parties who have been harmed, these could drive both bankrupt. The size of such claims has prompted many governments, including the United States, to share the risk and the fund promised by India moves in that direction. The issue is if the Rs 1,500 crore of public money (to be put up by the nationalized insurance companies and the Indian government) to create an insurance cover for claims is not enough, then will there be a recourse to the plant suppliers? If there isn’t, and a disaster takes place, then India and its people will be left holding the baby. That will be a repeat of Bhopal — and the Indian law is the result of the memory of the great injustice done to its victims.
The case for Indian insistence on leaving intact its liability law, one of the firmest in the world, rests on United States courts’ willingness to listen to damages claimed from suppliers in the case of the Three Mile Island and Fukushima accidents, as Siddharth Varadarajan has pointed out. It is also worth asking how a car is so different from a nuclear power plant. Not only have enormous claims been allowed by United States courts for injuries caused by defective cars, United States regulators move well before victims’ claims can be pronounced upon by civilian courts. Toyota has been fined a phenomenal $1.2 billion, and investigations have been started against General Motors. The best way to ensure that equipment is designed to be safe is to raise the cost of malfunction, both through government fines for criminal neglect and court-determined civilian claims.
The key issue is if damages caused by nuclear accidents can be so huge, why go for nuclear power? It begins with the idea of a macho India that has the bomb and the persistence with nuclear power feeds into it. On the other hand, Japan after the Fukushima accident shut down all its nuclear reactors — and when they start reopening later this year, four years after the shutdown, not all of them will do so. Some will reach 40 years and will be decommissioned, a costly process. In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident Germany decided to close all its nuclear power plants by 2022. “Nuclear power [has] too many inherent risks to inflict it on us and our children,” said the German commission that went into the “ethics of nuclear power” after Fukushima.
Investment costs for nuclear power, at Rs 6-8 crore a megawatt, are about the same as for thermal power. The cost of grid-connected solar power is rapidly approaching that of thermal power. All sensible nations should work towards a combination of wind, solar and gas-based power (these plants are least polluting and can be quickly started and shut down to meet gaps). The good news is that the United States has also promised to help create a huge solar power capacity whose technology is maturing rapidly.
As for possessing a bomb, it does not enhance security. Pakistan followed quickly in India’s footsteps with its own nuclear tests in 1998 so that India’s superiority in conventional defense capability was replaced with parity in nuclear capability.
Subir Roy is a columnist and writer. He has been with leading Indian newspapers for over three decades. Publication: “Made In India: A Study Of Emerging Competitiveness” (Tata McGraw Hill, 2005)
January 29, 2015
Your contributions make publication of GreenWorld possible. If you value GreenWorld, please make a tax-deductible donation here and ensure our continued publication. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size.
Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece above. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.
If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.
If you like GreenWorld, you can help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to email@example.com. Thank you!
GreenWorld is crossposted on tumblr at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nirsnet
By Broc West via NHK World / January 27, 2015 / Japanese fishers have demanded that the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant gain their understanding before releasing decontaminated water into the sea. The head of a national federation of fisheries cooperatives, Hiroshi Kishi, submitted the request to industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Tuesday. The Nuclear Regulation Authority last week released a plan to discharge decontaminated water below government standards into … Continue reading →
By Broc West via phys.org / January 28, 2014 / A Virginia Tech professor is part of a team of scientists from Japan and the United States that may have discovered a way to remove radioactive cesium from the millions of gallons of contaminated water being held at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following the 2011 disaster. “Radioactive cesium is the major radioactive component from the reactor,” said Barry Goodell, professor of sustainable … Continue reading →