Nuclear Power news

Nuclear power fades in California as energy grid gets stressed

CNBC: California's stressed-out power grid was handed another blow this week, when the state's last operating electricity-generating nuclear power plant said it plans to go offline in less than a decade. PG&E, owner of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and a major provider of power for northern California, said Tuesday that it plans to shut down the facility when its current operating license expires in 2025, to meet the state's renewable energy policy goals. Though the plant has been in operation since...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Enviros: Diablo Canyon's closure a 'template' for other states

ClimateWire: Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s announcement yesterday that it would shutter California's last nuclear plant and replace the power with energy efficiency and renewable energy was the result of a confluence of progressive state policies, CEO Anthony Earley said. The closure of Diablo Canyon's two nuclear reactors on California's central coast in 2024 and 2025 will likely mean the end of nuclear power in the state, due to an existing state moratorium on new plants until the problem of radioactive waste...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Wave goodbye to California’s last nuclear plant

Grist: California`s biggest electric utility announced a plan on Tuesday to shut down the state`s last remaining nuclear power plant within the next decade. The plant, Diablo Canyon, has been controversial for decades and resurfaced in the news over the last few months as Pacific Gas & Electric approached a deadline to renew, or not, the plant`s operating license. "California`s new energy policies will significantly reduce the need for Diablo Canyon`s electricity output," PG&E said in a statement, pointing...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear new-build not fast enough to curb global warming: Report

Reuters: Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday. The association, which represents the global nuclear industry, says 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity needs to be added by 2050 so nuclear can supply around 25 percent of global electricity. Last year, more nuclear reactors were under construction and came online than at any other time in the past...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California is on the verge of closing its last nuclear plant. Is that really a good idea?

Vox: California’s half-century dalliance with atomic energy could soon be over. On Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced its proposal to close Diablo Canyon, the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, by 2025. This is just the latest in the utter decimation of America's nuclear fleet. Back in 2013, the United States had 104 reactors supplying one-fifth of its electricity. Since then, five reactors have been retired early and at least seven more are scheduled to close -- all victims of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Diablo Canyon to shut down when license expires in 2025

Tribune: In a momentous decision with far-reaching consequences, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has announced it will not pursue license renewal for the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and will close it in 2025 - ending a tumultuous 31-year relationship with the community and leading to an annual economic loss of about $1 billion locally. The closure is part of an agreement with labor and environmental organizations announced Tuesday in which the utility agrees to increase investment in...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nation losing a nuclear weapon against climate change

Bloomberg: Some environmentalists are thrilled over Tuesday’s announcement of the planned closing of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. They might want to reconsider: Fighting climate change requires more nuclear power, not less. That Diablo Canyon’s two reactors could be allowed to shut down is alarming evidence that too little effort is being made to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The electricity that the Diablo Canyon plant generates, which amounts to about 9 percent of California’s power,...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear powers’ struggles continue as last California plant slated to close

CleanTech Canada: Rooftop solar panels and churning wind turbines are hastening the demise of U.S. nuclear power plants and the safety fears and high operating costs they bring. The latest example is California`s Diablo Canyon twin-reactor facility. California`s largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal June 21 to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state. The move comes as the operators of the country`s aging nuclear facilities confront rising repair bills at a time when sources of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California's Last Nuclear Power Plant To Be Shut Down

National Public Radio: The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant will be shut down by 2025. The plan was announced today by the power utility operating the plant, along with labor and environmental groups. With its two nuclear reactors operating near several fault lines, safety is a big concern for those who have been calling for the plant's closure. "Right out there, we've got tons of highly radioactive waste, sitting," Linda Seeley tells Lauren Sommer of member station KQED, standing at the front security gate that...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Nuclear new-build not fast enough to curb global warming: report

LONDON (Reuters) - Nuclear reactors are not being built rapidly enough around the world to meet targets on curbing global warming, a report by the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, said on Tuesday.
Read more [Reuters]

California's Last Nuclear Plant to Close Up Shop

San Francisco Chronicle: Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will announce Tuesday it will close California's last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, in 2025, ending atomic energy's more than a half-century history in the state. The move will shutter a plant whose construction on a seaside cliff surrounded by earthquake faults helped create the antinuclear movement. And yet, some conservationists have fought to keep Diablo open, arguing California needed its vast output of greenhouse gas-free electricity to fight global warming....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Deal will close California's last nuclear plant by 2025

Associated Press: Rooftop solar panels and churning wind turbines are hastening the demise of U.S. nuclear power plants and the safety fears and high operating costs they bring. The latest example is California's Diablo Canyon twin-reactor facility. California's largest utility and environmental groups announced a deal Tuesday to shutter the last nuclear power plant in the state. The move comes as the operators of the country's aging nuclear facilities confront rising repair bills at a time when sources of...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Could Close

New York Times: California, among the first states to embrace nuclear energy in the 1950s, may be breaking things off for good. Under a proposal announced on Tuesday, Pacific Gas and Electric would shutter the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the state’s last operating nuclear facility, and would compensate for the lost output with technologies that do not emit greenhouse gases, including renewable energy. The proposal, part of an agreement with environmental and labor groups, is intended to help meet California’s aggressive...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

UK government needs a nuclear plan B, says Tim Yeo

Guardian: Ministers need to talk to the Chinese about fast-tracking the planned reactor at Bradwell in Essex because the future of the £18bn Hinkley Point project is so uncertain, according to a leading pro-nuclear campaigner. Tim Yeo, a former chair of the energy and climate change committee, said the government should also consider whether the Russian state operator, Rosatom, or the British state could build new atomic plants. The Hinkley project in Somerset has been hit by a series of delays, with...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

It's the first new U.S. nuclear reactor in decades

Washington Post: In an immaculate control room at the Watts Bar nuclear plant, green bars flash on a large screen, signaling something that has not happened in the United States in two decades. As control rods lift from the water in the core, and neutrons go about the business of splitting uranium atoms, life comes to a new nuclear reactor -- the first in the country since its sister reactor here was licensed in 1996. By summer’s end, authorities expect the new reactor at this complex along the Chickamauga...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Energy Dept Plans Advanced Reactor Surge

Forbes: The Department of Energy quietly released a draft this month of a plan to double America’s nuclear power capacity, not only with the small modular reactors championed by Secretaries Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu, but also with advanced reactors that do not rely on water for cooling. DOE’s “Draft Vision and Strategy for the Development and Deployment of Advanced Reactors” seems to have escaped media attention until now. It calls for two advanced reactor concepts to be licensed and ready for construction...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Earth is in danger, but only we can save ourselves

I’ve been a captain for Greenpeace for 35 years, fighting for our environment in every corner of the globe. I’ve confronted polluters, poachers, smugglers, terrorists, criminals – both private and corporate – armies, navies, vigilantes and you-name-it. I’ve been arrested, jailed, had my ships chased, shot at, boarded and attacked, and had French commandos bomb and sink my ship under my feet – killing a crew-mate in the process.

On July 10, 1985 the Rainbow Warrior was bombed by the “action” branch of the French foreign intelligence services. The Greenpeace ship was in the port of Auckland, New Zealand on its way to a protest against a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa. Photographer Fernando Pereira drowned on the sinking ship.

Wherever I go, people ask me why I continue to take the risks that I take in defending the Earth. For me, the answer is simple: I care about what our planet will be like in the future. Not in the distant future, but the very-near-term-future in which my daughters Anita and Natasha (ages 24 and 20) will be living while raising their own children.

Many environmental activist organisations like Greenpeace, are very much involved in stopping human suffering caused by pollution, slavery, nuclear radiation, toxic waste and climate change. In more than 400,000 miles of sailing for Greenpeace, I have seen the human cost of environmental destruction in every corner of the planet.

The Arctic Sunrise, photographed above from a helicopter, moored to an ice floe by stakes hammered into the ice. Tiny figures can be seen working on the floe, drilling holes into the ice. The Arctic Sunrise is one of three Greenpeace ships seeking to bring attention to the effect of climate change and Save the Arctic.

In 1985, I brought the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll, in the Marshall Islands/South Pacific, to evacuate an entire town to another island because their home island had been poisoned by the fallout from a US thermonuclear/hydrogen bomb. The US knew the islanders were going to be in the fallout zone, and deliberately left them there as human guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation on real people.

For three decades these gentle people had suffered through birth defects, jelly-fish babies (born without spines or bones, and with strangely coloured skin), cancer and just plain-old neglect. Greenpeace brought them to a clean island where they could rebuild their lives. Now, 30 years later, these same islands are being drowned – literally – by rising seas.

An elderly Rongelapese villager being brought aboard the Rainbow Warrior. For nearly three decades the island had been intentionally subjected to US hydrogen bomb testing. Greenpeace helped to move the entire village to a new island so they could rebuild their lives and culture.

We think about saving endangered species like the snail darter, spotted owl, or the blue whale. But what about the endangered people of Rongelap? All the other low-lying atolls in the Pacific? The millions of people around the world whose lives will be destroyed if the sea levels rise just a little bit more. Coastal zones around the world have three-times the population density compared to the rest, and almost one-quarter of the world’s population in these near-coastal zones. That’s more than a billion human beings.

These people are just as endangered in the same way birds and fish are. We are destroying their natural habitat and it’s our natural habitat too. We don’t live in a bubble that is separate from the environment (although if we keep fouling our air and water, things might come to that). We are destroying and using up our environment and we are, and will continue to be, affected by it. Most animal species avoid fouling their own nests. It’s a primal instinct. But somehow humankind – supposedly the smartest of all Earth’s species – has lost that instinct. We are destroying our own habitat.

A young girl in the fishing village Te O Ni Beeki on Tarawa Island, Kiribati. The Pacific island nation is considered one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world, with their livelihood and survival challenged from the threats of climate change and overfishing.

Another human cost of environmental destruction is slavery. In the Amazon, thousands of slaves are being forced to deforest their own land for illegal grazing and logging. The pesticides used for farming on the cleared land flow into the rivers that are used for drinking and bathing for hundreds of miles downstream. Another instance of the human toll I’ve seen is Liberian stowaways hiding in shipments of illegally logged old-growth African forest, and heard eyewitness accounts of similar refugees who jumped off the ships with their hands tied behind their backs, committing suicide rather than be returned to the forced labor lumber camps.

The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. But the Brazilian government currently plan to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life. 

In the Philippines, I witnessed the suffering of hundreds of families being poisoned by the PCB’s, dioxins, heavy metals, solvents and waste oil that the US military had left behind on their old bases. One beautiful little six-year-old girl in Manila, Crizel Valencia, had terminal leukemia caused by the toxic materials. This creative and determined girl had painted many of the graphics that we used in the campaign to get the US military to acknowledge their responsibility and clean up the mess. (Sadly, this still has not happened). During her tour of the second Rainbow Warrior (the first was the ship blown up by the French government), Crizel died in the ship’s infirmary, and I saw her mother carrying her off the ship in tears. Seeing that strengthened our resolve to carry on fighting for our environment.

Crizel Valencia on wheel of a Greenpeace inflatable boat, living out her wish to be on the Rainbow Warrior. To her left is Greenpeace Captain, Peter Willcox.

An analogy I like to use about our planet is that we’re all on one boat, and with more than 7 billion people on it, it’s actually a pretty small boat. As we drill holes into the bottom of the boat we’re all living on, the water is rising. And yet we keep on drilling holes, faster and faster, ignoring the fact that the water is lapping at our knees. How much longer can we continue to ignore that what we are doing to our planet is affecting us all? Saving the whales, the forests and the atmosphere is great, no question. One of the main reasons that environmentalists and activists do what they do is that we are trying to save us from ourselves.

When boats are in mortal danger, they send out an S.O.S. call. Our ship, Planet Earth, and the passengers on it are in mortal danger so I’m sending out a different S.O.S. signal: “Save Our Selves.” Only we can rescue us from ourselves so I hope we get the message.

Peter Willcox is the author of Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet with Ronald B. Weiss, published by Thomas Dunne Books. He has been a captain for Greenpeace for more than 30 years and has led the most compelling and dangerous Greenpeace actions to bring international attention to the destruction of our environment.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Anomalies and suspected falsifications in the nuclear industry: a dozen countries affected

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On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies “inconsistencies”, pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions “omissions or modifications” related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports.

What was found

At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process.  

However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety.

How were the irregularities discovered?

Questions over quality control were first raised after irregularities were found in late 2014 in the EPR vessel in Flamanville following an ASN request. Finding Areva’s audit of parts manufactured since 2010 too limited and superficial, the ASN requested a more detailed assessment going back to 2004, when the first EPR parts were made. Areva, which has owned the Creusot site since 2006, decided to review reports on all parts made since the plant began operating in 1965.

Trust in quality control: broken

Fraud at this level, if it is proven, deeply challenges this entire system and our trust in how safe it is. It is therefore all the more shocking to hear the French minister in charge of nuclear safety downplay the initial findings the same way EDF and Areva have.

For example, on 4 May, France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal affirmed on RTL radio:

“I reviewed the matter this morning before coming here and can safely say that initial results are good: the parts are compatible – it is the documents which are defective”.

EDF, in turn, stated that “safety was not compromised”, but did not produce any new evidence. Its analysis seems to be based on additional data provided by Areva. In view of the concerns regarding the technical quality and the sincerity of Areva’s documents, this move can by no means be regarded as sufficient.

These declarations seem premature, to say the least. When errors are mistakenly or intentionally included in manufacturing documents, the true quality of the components cannot be known with certainty without verification or new tests. Like those under way for the upper and lower heads of the EPR vessel, these tests will be long and complex. It is currently impossible to predict acceptable results. The ASN itself has said that “the proof provided so far is insufficient to arrive at that conclusion.”

Parts in service: at least a dozen countries potentially affected

In over 200 reports on the most safety-sensitive equipment in nuclear reactors, around 60 parts are thought to be currently in service in 19 operating reactors at nuclear plants across France. All of EDF’s reactors, as well as other large components in other nuclear facilities, may be affected by parts produced at Creusot Forge.

In Europe, potential problems were confirmed in at least three countries:

• United Kingdom: ONR, Britain’s regulator confirmed in a communiqué dated May13th that the Sizewell B reactor is equipped with potentially affected parts from the Creusot site and stated it was waiting until May 31st for detailed information from Areva confirming whether the parts were in fact affected. The reactor vessel, and the replacement vessel closure lid, may be affected.

• Sweden: Similarly, Vattenfal, which operates the country’s Ringhals station, said on May 18th that two components used in the Ringhals 4 reactor may be affected. Steam generators in reactors 3 and 4 have been replaced with Creusot-made parts.

• Switzerland: vessels in the Beznau 1 and 2 reactors as well as replacement steam generators were supplied by Creusot. While there has been no official confirmation, Swiss media [FR] covered an ASN report suggesting that parts from Creusot may need more extensive testing.

Stations operating in other European countries which may also be affected include:

• Belgium: Tihange and Doel use replacement steam generators, vessel closure lid and pressuriser supplied by Creusot.

• Spain: Replacement steam generators used at Asco and Almaraz.

• Slovenia: Replacement steam generators used at Krsko.

Elsewhere, potentially affected parts are used in operational reactors on three continents:

• United States: various reactors use potentially affected vessel components (Prairie Island 1 and 2), replacement lids (North Anna, Surry, Three Mile Island, Crystal River 3, Arkansas, Turkey Point, Salem, Saint Lucie, D.C. Cook...), steam generators (Prairie Island 1, Callaway, Arkansas, Salem, Saint Lucie, Three Mile Island) and pressurisers (Saint Lucie, Milestone).

• Brazil: Angra II uses replacement steam generators.

• China: equipment in the Guangdong 1 and 2, Ling Ao 1 and 2 and Ling Ao 3 and 4 reactors, as well as replacement reactor lids at the Qinshan station.

• South Korea: parts in the Ulchin 1 and 2 reactors.

• South Africa: parts in the Koeberg 1 and 2 reactors.

We need transparency now

To ensure complete transparency, Greenpeace France asks that this list of parts, along with detailed information about incriminated documents and the nature of the irregularities, omissions or modifications noted for each part, be made public

The little information available is not enough to measure the extent and gravity of the matter. The ASN have asked Areva to provide it with a list of the parts concerned. Greenpeace France believes more should be done.

In addition to the audit, systematic re-assessments of parts are needed

When an error or forgery in a document renders compliance uncertain, only a technical review of the concerned parts can clear up any doubt.

Greenpeace asks that once the list of concerned facilities is published, their operations be halted immediately so that an initial inspection can identify necessary tests and additional proof to be provided in order to clear up any doubt regarding the quality of all incriminated parts.

Reactors under construction: the uncertainty of EPR

The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first “serious anomalies” identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock).

This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages).

Above all, it demonstrates Areva’s inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.

Clément Sénéchal is the social media manager of Greenpeace France




Read more [Greenpeace international]

Anomalies and suspected falsifications in the nuclear industry: a dozen countries affected

On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of "irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant." The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies "inconsistencies", pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions "omissions or modifications" related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports.

What was found

At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process. However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety.

How were the irregularities discovered?

Questions over quality control were first raised after irregularities were found in late 2014 in the EPR vessel in Flamanville following an ASN request. Finding Areva's audit of parts manufactured since 2010 too limited and superficial, the ASN requested a more detailed assessment going back to 2004, when the first EPR parts were made. Areva, which has owned the Creusot site since 2006, decided to review reports on all parts made since the plant began operating in 1965.

Trust in quality control: broken

Fraud at this level, if it is proven, deeply challenges this entire system and our trust in how safe it is. It is therefore all the more shocking to hear the French minister in charge of nuclear safety downplay the initial findings the same way EDF and Areva have.

For example, on 4 May, France's environment minister Ségolène Royal affirmed on RTL radio:

"I reviewed the matter this morning before coming here and can safely say that initial results are good: the parts are compatible – it is the documents which are defective".

EDF, in turn, stated that "safety was not compromised", but did not produce any new evidence. Its analysis seems to be based on additional data provided by Areva. In view of the concerns regarding the technical quality and the sincerity of Areva's documents, this move can by no means be regarded as sufficient.

These declarations seem premature, to say the least. When errors are mistakenly or intentionally included in manufacturing documents, the true quality of the components cannot be known with certainty without verification or new tests. Like those under way for the upper and lower heads of the EPR vessel, these tests will be long and complex. It is currently impossible to predict acceptable results. The ASN itself has said that "the proof provided so far is insufficient to arrive at that conclusion."

Parts in service: at least a dozen countries potentially affected

In over 200 reports on the most safety-sensitive equipment in nuclear reactors, around 60 parts are thought to be currently in service in 19 operating reactors at nuclear plants across France. All of EDF's reactors, as well as other large components in other nuclear facilities, may be affected by parts produced at Creusot Forge.

In Europe, potential problems were confirmed in at least three countries:

• United Kingdom: ONR, Britain's regulator confirmed in a communiqué dated May 13th that the Sizewell B reactor is equipped with potentially affected parts from the Creusot site and stated it was waiting until May 31st for detailed information from Areva confirming whether the parts were in fact affected. The reactor vessel, and the replacement vessel closure lid, may be affected.

• Sweden: Similarly, Vattenfal, which operates the country's Ringhals station, said on May 18th that two components used in the Ringhals 4 reactor may be affected. Steam generators in reactors 3 and 4 have been replaced with Creusot-made parts.

• Switzerland: Vessels in the Beznau 1 and 2 reactors as well as replacement steam generators were supplied by Creusot. While there has been no official confirmation, Swiss media [FR] covered an ASN report suggesting that parts from Creusot may need more extensive testing.

Stations operating in other European countries which may also be affected include:

• Belgium: Tihange and Doel use replacement steam generators, vessel closure lid and pressuriser supplied by Creusot.

• Spain: Replacement steam generators used at Asco and Almaraz.

• Slovenia: Replacement steam generators used at Krsko.

Elsewhere, potentially affected parts are used in operational reactors on three continents:

• United States: Various reactors use potentially affected vessel components (Prairie Island 1 and 2), replacement lids (North Anna, Surry, Three Mile Island, Crystal River 3, Arkansas, Turkey Point, Salem, Saint Lucie, D.C. Cook...), steam generators (Prairie Island 1, Callaway, Arkansas, Salem, Saint Lucie, Three Mile Island) and pressurisers (Saint Lucie, Milestone).

• Brazil: Angra II uses replacement steam generators.

• China: Equipment in the Guangdong 1 and 2, Ling Ao 1 and 2 and Ling Ao 3 and 4 reactors, as well as replacement reactor lids at the Qinshan station.

• South Korea: Parts in the Ulchin 1 and 2 reactors.

• South Africa: Parts in the Koeberg 1 and 2 reactors.

We need transparency now

To ensure complete transparency, Greenpeace France asks that this list of parts, along with detailed information about incriminated documents and the nature of the irregularities, omissions or modifications noted for each part, be made public

The little information available is not enough to measure the extent and gravity of the matter. The ASN have asked Areva to provide it with a list of the parts concerned. Greenpeace France believes more should be done.

In addition to the audit, systematic re-assessments of parts are needed

When an error or forgery in a document renders compliance uncertain, only a technical review of the concerned parts can clear up any doubt.

Greenpeace asks that once the list of concerned facilities is published, their operations be halted immediately so that an initial inspection can identify necessary tests and additional proof to be provided in order to clear up any doubt regarding the quality of all incriminated parts.

Reactors under construction: the uncertainty of EPR

The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first "serious anomalies" identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock).

This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages).

Above all, it demonstrates Areva's inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.

Clément Sénéchal is the Social Media Manager of Greenpeace France.


Read more [Greenpeace international]

Nuclear underground

Three-hundred metres below ground, researchers from Switzerland, other European countries and Japan are studying the properties of Opalinus Clay, which could provide a way to dispose of nuclear waste. The results of the studies are exchanged among the partners of the Mont Terri Project, and are used in feasibility studies. (Pictures: Christoph Balsiger, swissinfo.ch, 2007)
Read more [Swissinfo.org: sci & tech]

Radiation levels on Bikini Atoll found to exceed safety standard

Agence France-Presse: A team of researchers from Columbia University in New York has found that all of the Marshall Islands involved in nuclear tests by the U.S. are now habitable, except for Bikini Atoll. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes the reasoning for their testing, the methods they used, their results and what they believe should be done going forward. As most everyone knows, the United States embarked on an ambitious nuclear arms program beginning...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

In turnaround, Sweden agrees to continue nuclear power

Channel News Asia: Sweden's left-wing government struck a deal with the opposition Friday (Jun 10) to continue nuclear power for the foreseeable future, backtracking on its pledge to phase out atomic energy. The government coalition, made up of the Social Democrats and the Greens, had agreed in October 2014 to freeze nuclear energy development, while the opposition has been in favour of building new reactors. The deal is aimed at securing long-term energy supplies to households and industry, the government said....
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Modi and Obama push solar/nuclear energy boost for India

Monitor: Together, the United States and India are teaming up to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges, how to spark economic development while cutting the emission of planet warming greenhouse gasses. During a visit to the White House on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signaled his country’s commitment to implementing a long-term, low-carbon economic development strategy. “That is something the Paris [climate] agreement invited countries to do, to put together a mid-century, low-greenhouse...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Fukushima: Worse Than a Disaster

CounterPunch: Disasters can be cleaned up. Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO Chief of Decommissioning at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant, finally publicly “officially” announced that 600 tons of hot molten core, or corium, is missing (Fukushima Nuclear Plant Operator Says 600 Tons of Melted Fuels is Missing, Epoch Times, May 24, 2016). Now what? According to Gregory Jaczko, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), it is not likely the fuel will ever be recovered: “Nobody really knows where...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Obama and India's Modi promise deals on climate change and energy

Washington Post: The leaders of India and the United States vowed Tuesday to ratify the Paris climate accord this year, pledged to nail down terms for limiting a potent greenhouse gas used as a refrigerant in air conditioners, and set a one-year deadline for concluding a deal for six commercial nuclear power plants. But the two sides provided few specifics about how they would achieve those goals beyond saying that President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who were meeting at the White House, share the...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Green Conservatives call for earlier UK coal power phase-out

Guardian: The UK should close all its coal-fired power stations two years earlier than the government’s pledge of 2025, according to green Conservatives including former energy minister Lord Greg Barker. The move would not cause the lights to go out, would cut both carbon emissions and air pollution and would boost cleaner energy projects, according to a report from Bright Blue, a thinktank of Tory modernisers. The report also concludes that if the troubled Hinkley C nuclear plant is cancelled it could...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Lonely struggle of India's anti-nuclear protesters

Guardian: Behind the Lourdes Matha church in Idinthakarai, a fishing village at the southern tip of India, five women have abandoned their chores to protest at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Today is day 1,754 of their relay hunger strike, which began when the plant was fuelled in 2011. Celine, 73, is among the five protestors, who take it in turns to go without food. “Not a single government, not a single political party is willing to take up our cause,” she says. “Only Mother Mary can save us now.”...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

Crib notes: Obama, Modi primed for climate and nuclear talks

Climate Home: Narendra Modi lands in the US this week for a 7 June meeting with US president Barack Obama, likely the final bilateral between the pair before Obama leaves office. The ‘bromance’ between the pair has been remarkable, say observers. Security, defence, trade along with energy and climate change are set to dominate talks between the world’s second and fourth largest greenhouse gas emitters. India wants to join the Nuclear Suppliers Club, which determines rules for how nuclear technologies are...
Read more [EcoEarth.info]

The Tesla dream

How much will electric vehicles slow carbon emissions?

Each passing month breaks modern temperature records, citizens perish in 51°C heat in India, unseasonal fires rage in the Canadian tar sands, methane escapes from arctic permafrost, Earth approaches the +1.5°C Paris Accord "goal," and hoping to stop at +2°C appears increasingly naive.

As we observe these trends, we feel an urgent desire for solutions to global warming unleashed by human CO2 emissions. Automobile companies have finally adopted the electric vehicle (EV), led by Tesla Motors and founder Elon Musk, cult hero for technology-inspired optimism.

As serious ecologists, we may reasonably ask: Will EVs slow carbon emissions, and by how much? A genuine answer requires rigorous investigation, calculation and analysis. The general public may be forgiven for avoiding any such analysis, but as ecologists, we are obliged to know what we're talking about. Good scientists observe the principle to "beware congenial conclusions."

As we investigate this analysis, we will find that genuine solutions exist, although they may not be the easy solutions we hope for.

Embodied energy

To know if electric vehicles will save carbon emissions, and how significantly, we must first understand "embodied energy." Every product sold – a cup of coffee, solar panel or automobile – requires energy to produce and deliver. This embodied energy includes mining, shipping and processing raw materials, and assembly and shipping of the product. Most of this energy comes from hydrocarbon fuels. There are no copper mines, steel mills or container ships run on windmills or solar panels.

Typically, the embodied energy of any vehicle accounts for 20 to 40 percent of its lifetime emissions. Hybrids and electric vehicles tend toward the high end of this range because they are complex machines. Electric trains, per passenger-kilometer, carry significantly less embodied energy, and a steel frame bicycle, of course, carries orders of magnitude less.

A kilogram of steel produces about 15 kilograms of CO2 in the atmosphere. A kilogram of plastics, rubber, or copper produces three times the emissions, about 40 to 50 kilograms of CO2. An electric-powered Tesla Model S, at about 2240 kilograms of steel, plastics, metals and rubber, produces the CO2 equivalent of about 60,000 kilometers of driving a conventional vehicle – three to four years of typical driving and fossil fuel burning – before it is purchased. That represents the embodied energy and embodied carbon emissions.

Lithium race

The electric car industry requires mining for nickel, bauxite, copper, rare earth metals, lithium, graphite, cobalt, polymers, adhesives, metallic coatings, paint and lubricants. Mining runs on hydrocarbons; these materials carry a large embodied CO2 cost and leave a trail of pollution.

Tesla's current planned production will require some 30,000 tonnes of graphite per year for the batteries alone, requiring six new graphite mines somewhere on Earth. EVs need cobalt, and the leading supplier of cobalt is war-torn Congo, where the mining industry has a legacy of carbon emissions, pollution, habitat destruction and civil rights violations. Tesla's lithium demand for batteries will require 25,000 tonnes a year, increasing global lithium mining by 50 percent, using water resources and typically leaving behind toxic chlorine sludge.

Lithium mining and water fraud inspired the green-washing villain in the 2008 James Bond film, Quantum Of Solace, in which a Bolivian community's wells go dry. In Chile and Bolivia, this story is shockingly real. The Aymara Indigenous People blame lithium miners for confiscating land and polluting water with chlorine. Saul Villegas, head of the lithium division in Comibol, Bolivia insists, "The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated in Bolivia." Villegas is attempting to limit lithium mining at a pace that avoids ecological and social disruption, but electric vehicle and mining corporations are applying pressure. "The prize is clearly in Bolivia," observes Oji Baba, from Mitsubishi. "If we want to be a force in the next wave of automobiles and the batteries that power them, we must be here."

Chile faces similar pressure. "Like any mining process," said Guillen Mo Gonzalez, leader of a Chilean lithium delegation, "it is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table and pollutes the earth and the local wells. This isn't a green solution. It's not a solution at all."

At Stanford University, in 2010, physics student Eric Eason, determined that known lithium reserves, some ten billion kilograms, could supply the batteries for about four billion electric vehicles. However, not all of this reserve is recoverable, and current production is used for phones, computers, camcorders, cameras, satellites, construction, pharmaceuticals, ceramics and glass. Since the demand for lithium is growing in all sectors, including Tesla's plans for car batteries and household battery units, we might assume a quarter of the world reserve, a massive mining and processing project, could supply perhaps one billion electric vehicles. This could replace the global vehicle fleet, but only once. Eason concluded that converting the world's fleet to electric vehicles ".. seems like an unsustainable prospect." Of course, there may be options that don't use lithium, but every industrial approach that increases resource consumption faces limits and carries the costs of carbon emissions, pollution, land use and social impact.

These challenges do not imply that there are no solutions to global warming, only that we must be rigorous in finding solutions that preserve human dignity and ecological integrity.

The impact of electricity

We know that over its lifetime, an all-electric vehicle can save some hydrocarbon fuel. However, we must account for all the costs. Electricity generation accounts for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most electricity (67 percent) is produced by coal and natural gas; 20 percent by nuclear, another carbon hog; while renewables – hydroelectric dams, wind and solar – account for about 13 percent of electricity. We can make this renewable portion grow, but we must remember that even so-called "renewable" technologies have social and land-use impacts, and they carry an embodied carbon cost from mining, steel production, cement, manufacturing, shipping and decommissioning.

According to the 2010 paper Energy Chain Analysis of Passenger Car by Morten Simonsen and Hans Jakob Walnum, at the Western Norway Research Institute, "there is no substantial mitigation offered by alternative fuels and drivetrains" with the exception of purely electric vehicles powered by electricity from 100 percent low-carbon renewables. Morten and Walnum acknowledge that "electricity from 100 percent hydro-electric sources… is not currently applicable."

In some regions – Norway and western Canada, for example – hydropower makes up a large share of electricity generation, and in those regions, purely electric vehicles, over their lifetime, can save carbon emissions. However, there is more to the calculation. The Morten-Walnum study does not account for land use changes, water flow disruption, habitat destruction and the social impacts from hydroelectric dams.

In British Columbia, Western Canada, where I live, we feel fortunate to have a plentiful supply of hydroelectric power, producing considerably less carbon emissions than coal-fired electric plants. However, we also experience the impact of dams on local rivers, salmon runs, agricultural land, wilderness and rural communities.

A decade ago, some environmental groups in western Canada supported "micro-hydro" plants on wild rivers, describing these projects as "green power" necessary to supply electricity to fuel the conversion to electric vehicles. However, the micro-hydro plants, promoted by corporate interests, involved a privatisation scheme, giving wild public rivers to private corporations. The companies ripped up rivers to lay pipes through sensitive watersheds, destroyed fish habitat, strung power lines through pristine forests and negotiated purchase guarantees from the province that undermined public hydroelectricity. Grassroots citizens and Indigenous nations fought to protect some of these rivers, often finding themselves pitted against well-meaning, well-funded, albeit under-researched, environmental groups.

Some of these projects were stopped by grassroots action, but today, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, the provincial and federal governments have proposed a large dam in the Peace River Valley, again selling this as "green energy." Indigenous communities live, hunt, fish and farm in this valley, where the 60 meter high dam would flood 100 kilometers of river, wildlife corridors, agricultural land, people's homes and old growth boreal forests that serve as carbon sinks.

Genuine solutions

With global population growing at about 1.1 percent per year, resource consumption, waste and land use impacts are growing at about 3.5 percent per year, doubling every 20 years. That growth swallows up most of our ecological progress. Over a generation, for example, we gain 30 percent efficiency in building energy use, but triple the floor space we need to heat, cool and light.

Since 1946, the world's vehicle fleet has grown by 4.2 percent per year, doubling every 16.5 years. At that rate, we'll be looking for steel, plastic and lithium for two billion vehicles by 2032 and for four billion vehicles by 2050. Electric vehicles now comprise one 20th of one percent of that fleet, but even if we could change that to 75 percent by 2050, we would deplete the world's lithium supply and still have a billion gasoline vehicles, the same number we have today.

So, what are the genuine solutions? We have been approaching "sustainability" backwards, starting with the high-consumption industrial lifestyles and trying to figure out how to make the necessary plunder "sustainable." We need to start with the answer and work back, look at what Earth's systems can supply, then fashion a human lifestyle that preserves Earth's productive ecosystems. Sailing boats, neighbourhood gardens, public transport and small scale animal husbandry may fit into that genuinely sustainable scenario, but electric cars and windmills for eight, ten, or 12 billion people do not.

A few years ago, Sandy Di Felice of Toyota Canada promoted the new, luxurious Priuses, saying proudly that "Customers who embrace the products don't want a radical change to their lifestyle." But a radical change in wealthy lifestyles is exactly what we need.

We will need to change our growth economics to an ecological economics. We will need to stabilise human population and support population decline over time (primarily through universal women's rights and available contraception).

Genuine transportation solutions should avoid individual vehicles and focus on light-rail, electric public transport, bicycles and walkable neighbourhoods.

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.  The opinions here are his own. 

Sources and links:

"There is no such thing as a truly green car": Green Car Reports

Tesla battery plans require 6 new graphite mines: mining.com

Energy Chain Analysis of Passenger Car: M. Simonsen, H. J. Walnum

"World Lithium Supply," Stanford, 2010: Eric Eason

In search of Lithium: Dan McDougall, 2009, Mail Online

Do hybrids save energy and carbon? http://gadgetopia.com/post/5191

Growth of vehicles, doubling every 16.5 years: (IPPC)

India: doubling in 10 years, 7% / yr. (Inst. of Mathematical Geography)

China: doubling in 5 years, 14% / yr. (Sustainable transport)

Electric cars, 1/20 of 1% of world fleet (electric cars report)

1.3 billion vehicles, 2015... expect 2 billion by 2035 (green car reports)

Bicycles and electric bikes, embodied energy: I bike Toronto

Electric battery recycling: Scientific American

Hydro dams and species extinctions: Science Daily

Ecological cost of hydro dams: Wilderness Committee


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Exelon to close 2 nuclear plants in Illinois

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EDF's Hinkley Point deal over radioactive waste sparks anger

Guardian: A furious row has broken out after the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) refused to disclose the arrangement with EDF for dealing with radioactive waste at the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant. The information commissioner’s office has turned down a freedom of information (FoI) request for state aid arrangements between the UK and the European commission to be made public. The FoI complainant, David Lowry, has launched an appeal, claiming it is in the public interest for British...
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Japan to cut emphasis on nuclear in next energy plan: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will cut reliance on nuclear power when it releases an updated energy plan as early as next year, reflecting public opposition and a recognition that current policy is unrealistic, three sources familiar with official thinking told Reuters.
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What my grandmother would say about President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima

World leaders are meeting in Japan for the G7, but on a side trip, President Obama is doing something no sitting US president has done before: visit Hiroshima. The city was flattened during World War II by the first nuclear weapon used in warfare. Now more than ever, we need leadership to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. We need to go nuclear-free.

The people of Hiroshima have waited nearly 71 years for a sitting US president to visit their city, and witness the scars from the first nuclear bomb ever used in war.

My grandmother won’t be there to welcome Mr Obama as she no longer lives in the city.  She is a Hibakusha, one of the survivors of the bomb who was exposed to its radiation. For the past few years, I’ve been listening to the stories of the Hibakusha after attending a peace ceremony in Hiroshima in 2013 and hearing one of the survivors tell her story. She begged me: “Please, listen to my story while I am still alive”.

There were nearly 16,000 children in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped. Thousands of others had been evacuated to the surrounding countryside. But they were all affected. Some died instantly, others days or weeks later from radiation poisoning. Many of those who were spared the bombing lost their families. They became known as the A-bomb orphans, and there were 6,500 in Hiroshima alone after the war.

Peace Memorial Museum testimonies

If you go to the museum of the bombing in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, you can listen to the voices of those who were there.

“The world was dark. There was nothing. People lay dying in the streets, their heads soaked in water because of the burning. There were dead horses. Dogs, cats and birds had all disappeared. After the bombing, people kept dying. A smell like fish filled the town.”

Photo provided by Mr. Noboru Katayama

The people in this photo lived in Nakajima-honmachi, the place that is now the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. They all died in the bombing.

When you examine the photo, you see only women and young children, those who could not be evacuated to the countryside. Most of the men were enlisted as soldiers. About 90% of the people remaining in Hiroshima were women, children and the elderly.

The people in this photo were at Ground Zero when the bomb dropped. The flash from the blast sent temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees C, completely obliterating them. There were no bodies to recover.  

The suffering of survivors

A survivor of the bombing, Tadamichi Hirata remembers his mother’s words: "I want this war to finish. I want us to live together as a family.”

This wish was never granted. The mother and her younger child died in the bombing.

Some of the survivors, even now, do not want to talk about what happened to them. Their suffering didn’t end with the bombing. Thousands died of radiation sickness after the war. Others faced years of discrimination in employment and marriage because of fears of the radiation they had suffered.

My grandmother also didn’t talk much about those terrible moments. But when she did, her words were very simple "Everything collapsed. Every living creature perished. We should never make such a big mistake again.”

If she had been able to be at Hiroshima for Mr Obama’s visit, I think that is what she would have told him.  And I hope it is what other survivors tell him.

There has been a lot of talk about an apology.  But stronger than an apology, I think, would be the words “Never again”.

President Obama has made a courageous step to come to Hiroshima. But the US, which still has 4,700 operational nuclear warheads, is not learning from the mistakes of the past. Rather than rid the world of nuclear weapons, President Obama’s administration has proposed a US$1 trillion plan to update and expand his country’s nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. That’s at the same time the US is cutting funding for nonproliferation efforts.

No more. It’s time we reimagine global security not around war, but on peace. As my grandmother told me: “We should never make such a big mistake again”.

No more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis, no more war.

Daisuke Miyachi, is a former staff member at Greenpeace Japan. Shortly after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, he was part of  Greenpeace Japan's radiation team checking radiation levels in Fukushima. He is originally from Hiroshima and has been working as a storyteller - remembering and recounting the stories of victims of the atomic bombs.


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Japan: 600 tons of melted radioactive Fukushima fuel still not found, clean-up chief reveals

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UK renewables cuts 'risk slowing shift to clean energy'

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Why there's no place I'd rather be than on a Greenpeace ship in the North Sea

Everything is different on a ship. Walls are bulkheads, ceilings are deckheads, floors are decks, right is starboard, left is port, back is stern and front is bow. At sea, the ground wobbles beneath our feet, rocking us to sleep in our bunks, knocking us around the mess, which is a dining room, the galley, which is a kitchen, or the lower hold, which is a storeroom. I've been working as a volunteer deckhand on the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, for just over a week.



We're sailing in the Sylt Outer Reef, off the coast of Germany. Thilo Maack, our German deep-sea diving campaigner onboard, explained that this area is actually a marine sanctuary, where dumping and drilling are banned in an effort to set limits on the relentless exploitation of our world’s oceans. The problem is, industrial fishing has not been banned. Bottom trawlers continue to gouge the seabed, giant walls of net catching brown shrimp and everything else in their path, including endangered harbor porpoises. Unbelievably wasteful, up to 80% of the catch in this industry is "bycatch", the innocent bystanders of the ocean, thrown back dead and dying into the sea. And that’s just one of the many fishing industries still allowed to operate in a "sanctuary" where already a third of species are at risk. 

Disappearing worlds

It was nearly six years ago that it really sunk in for me what we humans were doing to the sea. I was working for Greenpeace on the Frontline team as a canvasser, stopping people in the streets of Los Angeles to tell them about the campaigns and sign them up as members of the organization. I remember being blown away when I learned that 90% of big fish are already gone, eaten by us in the last 60 years alone. Since then I've learned about what’s so incredible about our seas and worth protecting. Through reading books, watching documentaries and finally, this year getting my Open Water certification for scuba diving, I've fallen in love with life under the sea in all it's strangeness, vivid colors, and alien intelligence.

Over lunch, I asked Thilo about his favorite North Sea creatures. His eyes lit up as he told me about the spiny dogfish, a kind of shark that lives up to 70 years, rears only three offspring, and is commonly killed for a small piece of it's belly. Like many places in the world, whole populations have been eradicated from the North Sea, like the incredible bluefin tuna, with unparalleled swimming abilities, able to go 100 kilometres an hour and turn on a dime, unmatched by any human construct. They're all gone, taken for granted and literally chopped up for pet food.

Things add up

Being on a Greenpeace ship is not all high-speed boat chases and confrontational direct actions. Whether you're volunteering to make calls at a phone bank to organize your community to go to a rally or cooking a vegan meal for a group of activists, whether you're standing bundled in the streets of Chicago in the winter, canvassing to raise money and get petitions signed, or scrubbing the toilets with vinegar on the lower deck of a protest ship, it's the little mundane tasks that add up, collect, and finally tip the balance of power in favor of, to paraphrase Irving Stowe at the first Greenpeace benefit concert, a culture of life.

As I tie my bowline knots, mop the decks, or inventory gear lockers, I think, this is what activism looks like. I may not always know what I'm doing, I'm still learning a lot about life on a ship, but I do know exactly why I'm doing it.

The sun sparkles over the undulating fabric of the North Sea as our green rainbow flag flies on the mast. I think of the Phyllis Cormack and the Vega, the first Greenpeace protest boats that sailed into nuclear test zones and kickstarted a global organization, and wonder what beautiful things will spiral out of our actions today, your actions today.

Paloma Henriques, 28, from Los Angeles, California, USA, is a Volunteer Deckhand onboard the Arctic Sunrise.


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Renewables cannot replace nuclear in France yet : EDF exec

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Australian inquiry backs nuclear power after decades-long aversion

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