Posts Tagged ‘Fukushima’

July 14, 2012 | 6:55 pm

Fukushima and Nuclear World Wide

The Wall Street Journal Japan looks at a Japanese economic impact of their nuclear choices on Japanese workers and finds various estimates, but all of them concerning:

The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, a domestic nuclear industry body, puts the total number of those employed in nuclear power, including utilities and parts makers, at 46,882, as of the end of fiscal 2010. The Radiation Effects Association, meanwhile, gives a much higher figure of 75,988 for the same year. This government-affiliated organization registers workers involved in radiation-related jobs, but its figure for the nuclear sector may include people who remain registered despite no longer working in the industry.

But an international comparison suggests both numbers are on the low side, especially considering nuclear power accounted for about 30% of Japan’s total power generation before the Fukushima Daiichi accident…

If these figures suggest a fairly sizable impact on employment if reactors stay offline, the nation’s premier believes the overall effect could be even bigger.

read more…

March 20, 2012 | 9:52 am

Some Perspectives on My Fukushima Experience

By Tom Stevens, Senior Consultant, AREVA

Tom Stevens

I first went to Japan a few weeks after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident as part of AREVA’s representation on the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) Industry Support Team in Tokyo. The INPO team was advising Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and helping them assess and respond to the crisis. AREVA was very responsive to Japan’s needs during this crisis, and as part of that activity, I made four separate trips to Japan totaling 179 days in-country last year.

During one of my arrivals at the Tokyo airport, I got a first-hand sense of how profoundly Fukushima had affected the Japanese. As the customs official examined my passport, he asked how long I would be staying in Japan. Since I really did not know, I responded with “several weeks.” This did not go over well with the official, and he asked in an authoritative voice, “and just what will you be doing here in Japan?” I responded that I was here to help TEPCO resolve the Fukushima crisis. The official immediately handed me back my passport and sincerely thanked me for coming to Japan.
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March 13, 2012 | 11:09 am

A Second Day of Reckoning

By Robert Gee, President, Gee Strategies Group

Those who fantasize a country without nuclear power are about to get their wish. The aftermath of the accident at Fukushima Daiishi has left Japan with an increasingly narrowed set of options both for the welfare of its citizens and for its economy.

Before this incident, Japan’s economic planners had sketched a vision for its economic future that saw nuclear power use growing, as a percentage of power generation, from 30 percent in 2007 to 50 percent by 2030. That forecast was torn asunder by the events of March 11 of last year. Instead, owing to concerns about operational safety, Japan was forced to curtail use of 39 of its 50 nuclear reactors, excluding the 4 units at Fukushima Daiichi. During last summer when demand for power was at its peak, Japan’s residents and businesses were forced to adopt draconian energy efficiency measures to maintain grid reliability. During one peak day in August, consumption dropped 38 percent below levels experienced in the prior year. Thermostats were raised, businesses operated on rotating consumption cycles, and the population endured while gritting its collective teeth.
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January 4, 2012 | 11:46 am

Les Echos: “Nuclear freeze beginning to thaw”

One of France’s top business daily papers, Les Echos, recently published an opinion on Nuclear growth in 2012 after a Post-Fukushima slowdown stating, “But as 2012 begins, it is becoming clear that the freeze is beginning to thaw. And the BRICS nations [Brazil, India, and China] will lead the way.”

Les Echos describes the global pause in nuclear efforts after Fukushima, but suggest that, “seven months later, however, nuclear power suddenly looks as if it may be on the comeback trail.” They make their case for this point saying:

Even if the Japanese disaster didn’t mobilize anti-nuclear activists in the United States the way it did in Europe, U.S. authorities still decided to put new nuclear power plant projects on hold. That construction freeze, however, is now beginning to thaw.

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced its approval of the latest version of Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000 reactor design. Analysts hailed the move as a symbolic step toward new atomic power plant construction in the United States.

The United States isn’t the only large western power ready to delve back into nuclear energy. The British government, concerned about diminishing North Sea oil reserves and keen to limit its dependence of foreign fossil fuels, has decided to build a dozen nuclear plants between now and 2020. The decision had almost universal support in the British parliament, where it was supported by both the Conservative and Labour parties…

The principal emerging powers – notably China, India, Brazil and South Africa – likewise put their respective nuclear programs on hold during the months that followed Fukushima.

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July 1, 2011 | 5:30 pm

Your Thoughts on Nuclear Energy’s Future in the U.S.

The Energy Collective hosted the webinar ‘Nuclear Power, After Fukushima’ on June 30 focusing on the future of nuclear energy in the wake of this crisis.

Panel participants, Matt Wald, Edward Kee, and Jesse Jenkins shared their perspectives on nuclear energy and discussed complex areas such as national energy policy, differing reactions from countries around the globe, how to approach the existing fleet, and what the context will be for new nuclear builds going forward.

While these panelists provided their insights on the ‘After Fukushima context,’ we want to know what you think:

  • What are the major challenges?
  • Which direction should the U.S. go on future nuclear power?
June 23, 2011 | 3:07 pm

Harvard Belfer Center Report Looks to Future of Nuclear Energy

Fukushima has highlighted the need to improve preparedness for extraordinary events at nuclear power plants, but nuclear energy will still see growth in some key markets, according to a recent report published by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

“The accident has had an impact on public and investor confidence in nuclear energy, but nuclear power is likely to continue to grow in the most important nuclear markets,” the Belfer report stated. The report’s authors pointed out the dramatic growth in nuclear energy would be necessary to provide a significant portion of the carbon-free energy that will be required this century. They concluded:

For nuclear to play a major role in meeting the energy challenges of the 21st century, issues going well beyond [research, development and deployment] need to be addressed, such as public acceptance, waste management, and government support for licensing and financing.

The report notes that most nuclear energy R&D programs focus on offering new capabilities, improving safety or fuel performance rather than on lowering the cost of nuclear power. It also notes that Generation IV reactors are unlikely to be less expensive than Generation III/III+ reactors that are now under construction. However, these next-generation reactors will have additional safety and performance capabilities that the current reactors do not offer.

One area of contention was the topic of recycling. “Some of the experts argued that sustaining a much larger nuclear enterprise for many decades would require recycling to extend uranium resources, while others argued that uranium supply would not be a major constraint for an extended period,” the report said. Yet, all of the experts agreed on the importance of making progress on safe, effective used fuel and nuclear waste management approaches, especially in the aftermath of Fukushima.

The full report can be read here.

June 2, 2011 | 1:52 pm

Theory versus Practice (Part II)

A number of voices have joined the chorus describing the same issue we’d blogged about this week: that Germany’s draw down on nuclear power illustrates how the “theory” that less nuclear could be offset by renewables does not meet with actual reality.

Most recently from the Washington Post editorial board yesterday:

“Instead of providing a model for greening a post-industrial economy, Germany’s overreaching greens are showing the rest of the world just how difficult it is to contemplate big cuts in carbon emissions without keeping nuclear power on the table. Panicked overreaction isn’t the right response to the partial meltdowns in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Instead, countries aiming to provide their citizens with reliable, low-carbon electricity should ask how to minimize inevitable, if small, risks — making their nuclear facilities safer, more reliable and more efficient.”

And the blog for the environmental research group Greenbang describes Germany’s current choice (versus for instance the UK) illustrates starkly what is at stake:

So which is the more likely trend among countries that want to ensure energy security while also reducing carbon emissions: a Monbiot about-face or a Merkel move? …“(N)uclear has been acknowledged as a UK-controlled source of power which will reduce our reliance on others and help secure our supply,” says Tara McGeehan, utilities director at Logica UK. She called Germany’s decision one “based upon political motives, tied to the ongoing support for the ‘not in my backyard’ movement.”

And then they list their 5 reasons “it’s nuts to dump nukes.” Two good articles, go check them both out.

April 19, 2011 | 10:00 am

AREVA to set up a water decontamination process for the Fukushima site

Following a request from Tepco, AREVA proposed a solution to treat most of the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, which the Japanese power company has just accepted. The contaminated water must be treated rapidly as it is preventing Tepco from repairing the power plant’s power supply and cooling systems.

For three weeks, AREVA has sent radioactive effluent treatment specialists to Japan to participate in work groups with Tepco. Backed by large teams in France, Germany and the United States, they proposed a method based on a co-precipitation concept. Developed by AREVA and used in the Marcoule and La Hague facilities, the process uses special chemical reagents to separate and recover the radioactive elements. AREVA will then draw on its expertise and solutions for treating and managing these elements.

AREVA also called on the skills of Veolia Water. A large-capacity treatment plant equipped with the co-precipitation process will be delivered by AREVA. This installation will sharply reduce the radioactivity levels of the treated water, which could be reused in the power plant’s cooling systems.

Other processes may be used in parallel with this solution, which is the most suited to the present emergency. It could be supplemented by other medium- and long-term actions.

This operation is part of the follow-up to the visit to Japan of the President of the French Republic.

April 14, 2011 | 10:29 am

Fukushima as an Alert Level 7 Accident

There has been a wave of news stories covering the Japanese officials and scientists moving the Fukushima crisis from a 5 to a 7 level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. In doing so they put it at the highest alert level that the 0 to 7 scale uses, just as Chernobyl was also on that highest alert level. Nominally, that puts these two disasters in the same broad category.

Why the recent change? At Wired magazine’s site John Timmers of Ars Technica helpfully explains the cause:

“Previously, the Japanese authorities were rating each reactor separately, and scored each of them as Level 5, which involved severe damage to the reactor core and a limited release of radioactive material. The new score reflects both a shift to rating everything as a single incident, and the recognition that very large quantities of radioisotopes were released into the ocean.”

And they list that “In that sense, the change in score seems completely justified, since large quantities of radiation have been released into the environment, and estimates of the cleanup operation are beginning to run over a decade.”

But then Timmers adds this:

“It may, however, be worth questioning whether the rating system is actually doing what it’s intended to: providing a convenient way of informing the public … All of which demonstrates how most rating scales have limited utility when it comes to extreme events.

We agree, and we are gratified at the voices we have seen calling for precision and accuracy in what this means, even as the sloppier of the mainstream press, and anti-nuclear forces claim that this means that “Fukushima basically equals the Chernobyl disaster in all aspects.” Precision and accuracy matter.

Mark McKinnon, writer for the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada is one such precise and accurate writer. He has “the little-sought-after distinction of having been to both places.” He states flatly:

“Fukushima isn’t Chernobyl … The situation in Fukushima is dire – and terrifying for those who live in the region – but we’re not yet at the stage where an entire region of Japan needs to be written off for decades or centuries to come, as with Pripyat, the city closest to the Chernobyl reactor in what is now northern Ukraine.”

And his list of key comparisons continues:

“The radiation released since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is still only about 10 percent of that spewed into the air when Chernobyl Reactor No. 1 exploded. The key difference between the two disasters remains that the four troubled nuclear reactors at Fukushima shut down, while Chernobyl exploded with the reactor still running, causing a catastrophic chain reaction that shot radiation into the upper atmosphere.”

He then uses a term of measurement of a unit of radioactivity known as a “terabecquerel.” For the many of our readers to whom that is a new term, it is defined here. But McKinnon’s comparison measures the radiation released in both disasters:

“Fukushima is reported to have thus far released between 370,000 and 630,000 terabecquerels of iodine-131 … it remains far below the 5.2 million terabecquerels released from Chernobyl. Japan’s nuclear safety commission said Tuesday that most of the radiation escaped in the first hours and days after the tsunami. It estimates the release of iodine-131 has now come down to less than one terabecquerel an hour.”

As we all learn and articulate the lessons of Fukushima, we are well served by maintaining precision and accuracy. And so we wanted to applaud it as we see it. If you have found other good articles you’d want to highlight, do add them to our comments …

March 29, 2011 | 4:42 pm

Plutonium– Here are some facts

As news and information continues to evolve about Fukushima, we will continue to provide clear explanations and descriptions to help you understand and share facts about the situation.

In regards to news about plutonium detected at the power plant site, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) gathered and published some key points about the findings. Based on this information, the NEI concludes that there is “no health risk from the plutonium at Fukushima Daiichi” and includes the following:

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. on March 28 discovered minute levels of plutonium in the soil at five locations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site. The plutonium measured is as little as was in the environment in Japan following nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War.
  • The plutonium at the site can be monitored and controlled, and the levels are not harmful to human health.

Click here to read the rest and find out more about the science behind Plutonium here.