Archive for the 'nuclear power' Category

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Don’t Nuke Nuclear Just Yet; A Water War in SoCal

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The Washington Post on the anti-nuclear zeitgeist “Following the scary but ultimately non-catastrophic Fukushima nuclear crisis, every country with a reactor had reason to review the safety of its existing facilities and the integrity of its regulatory systems,” writes The Washington Post‘s editorial board. “But prudence demanded then and now that they not abandon the power source precipitously.” The audience for The Post‘s editorial is Germany and Japan, which are both trying to rid their grids of the energy source and reduce their carbon emissions simultaneously. Claiming that new technologies are making nuclear safer, the board says that the anti-nuclear factions of Germany and Japan are overly optimistic about temperamental renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar, sufficiently meeting clean energy demand.

The New York Times on a California water war San Diego, stuck between a desert and a salty ocean, faces “end-of-pipeline paranoia,” forever worried how the nearby municipalities that provide its water and the pipes it runs through will nickel-and-dime the well-to-do city. We’re in the throes of the latest iteration of this water war, The New York Times‘ Adam Nagourney and Felicity Barringer report, as that group of municipalities “two weeks ago imposed two back-to-back 5 percent annual water rate increases on San Diego.” And while the battle over the rates will actually be decided in a San Francisco court, that’s not stopping the city’s water agency from waging a propaganda campaign labeling the consortium of municipalities a “secret society” —  being carried out on the Internet, of course.”

Read more: The Atlantic Wire


Nuclear Power Proposal in Utah Reignites a Century-Old Water War

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“For more than 100 years and maybe back to the days of outlaw Butch Cassidy, water from the Green River has nourished fields of sweet watermelons near the tiny town of Green River, Utah.

But now a part of that water may be siphoned off for another use: cooling the twin reactors of a nuclear power plant that would tower above the town and its melons.

The nuclear facility is the concept of Blue Castle Holdings, a Utah-based and politically connected upstart nuclear development company that has been working on the project for more than three years.

If the $16 billion facility is built, it would generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 3 million households.”

Read more: Inside Climate News


Japan: Plant Leaks Radioactive Water

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“The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says tons of highly radioactive water appear to have leaked into the ocean from a purification unit. The Tokyo Electric Power Company is struggling to keep the melted reactors cool and contain radiation; the leak raises concerns about its ability to keep the plant stable. Similar leaks have occurred several times since last year, and officials say they do not pose an immediate health threat. Workers spotted the leak on Thursday coming from a section of hose on a device used to decontaminate cooling water leaking from reactors. The company said it appeared to have stopped the leak.”

Read more: The New York Times

Nuclear Power Plants Threaten Drinking Water for 2.3 Million Californians

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San Diego is the 6th Largest Region in the Country to Have Drinking Water Sources Located Within 50 Miles of a Nuclear Plant

The drinking water for 2.3 million people in California could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or accident at a local nuclear power plant, says a new study released today by the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and Environment California Research and Policy Center.

“The danger of nuclear power is too close to home. Here in California, the drinking water for 2.3 million people is too close to an active nuclear power plant,” said Emily Rusch, CALPIRG Education Fund State Director. “An accident or a leak could spew cancer-causing radioactive waste into our drinking water.”

The nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan last year drew a spotlight on the many risks associated with nuclear power. After the disaster, airborne radiation left areas around the plant uninhabitable, and even contaminated drinking water sources near Tokyo, 130 miles from the plant.

According to the new report, “Too Close to Home: Nuclear Power and the Threat to Drinking Water,” the drinking water for 2,295,738 San Diego area residents is within 50 miles of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station – the distance the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to measure risk to food and water supplies. Another 66,450 Californians on the Central Coast depend on drinking water supplies within 50 miles of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo.”

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Fingerprinting mercury pollution

PhD candidate Laura Sherman setting up a rain collector in Crystal River, Florida.

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“Mercury is a neurotoxin. The Environmental Protection Agency says mercury can be especially harmful for babies and kids. Mercury can affect their developing brains and harm their memory, attention, language and motor skills.

“Mercury is naturally-occurring. Volcanoes emit mercury and so do hot springs, like the ones in Yellowstone National Park.

“But the EPA points out… the largest manmade source of mercury emissions in the U.S. comes from coal-burning power plants.

“Joel Blum is a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan. Blum says when power plants burn coal, mercury is emitted as a gas.

“In order to become toxic, it has to be transformed into a particular form known as methylmercury which is something that happens in the environment.”

“So… mercury falls from the atmosphere, and is converted to methylmercury in the water. That toxic form builds up in fish… and it can build up in us when we eat fish.

“But for years… there’s been a big debate about where that mercury goes when it’s released from a power plant smokestack.

Read more: Michigan Radio

More Radioactive Water Leaks at Japanese Plant

“TOKYO — At least 45 tons of highly radioactive water have leaked from a purification facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean, the plant’s operator said Sunday. Nearly nine months after Fukushima Daiichi was ravaged by an earthquake and tsunami, the plant continues to pose a major environmental threat. Before the latest leak, the Fukushima accident had been responsible for the largest single release of radioactivity into the ocean, threatening wildlife and fisheries in the region, experts have said. The new radioactive water leak called into question the progress that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, appeared to have made in bringing its reactors under control. The company, known as Tepco, has said that it hopes to bring the plant to a stable state known as a cool shutdown by the end of the year.

The trouble on Sunday came in two stages, a Tepco statement said.  In the morning, utility workers found that radioactive water was pooling in a catchment next to a purification device; the system was switched off, and the leak appeared to stop. But the company said it later discovered that leaked water was escaping, possibly through cracks in the catchment’s concrete wall, and was reaching an external gutter.  In all, as much as 220 tons of water may now have leaked from the facility, according to a report in the newspaper Asahi Shimbun that cited Tepco officials.

The company said that the water had about one million times as much radioactive strontium as the maximum safe level set by the government, but appeared to have already been cleaned of radioactive cesium before leaking out. Both elements are readily absorbed by living tissue and can greatly increase the risk of developing cancer.”

Read More: NY Times


Police Beat, Tie-Up, and Fire On Citizens Protesting Dying Ramsar Protected Lake in Iran

Lake Urmia protests. Retrieved from:

“Like a chain of dominos, citizen protests are erupting everywhere: following the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions catalyzed in part by skyrocketing food prices, political protests have swept throughout the Arab world. But it hasn’t stopped there, and not all battles are political.

In Jordan, ordinary people are protesting government plans to include nuclear power in its arsenal of energy sources, while in the United States, Bill McKibben and other well-respected community members, including Jim Hansen from NASA, have been arrested for marching against the Keystone XL Pipeline –  a carbon bomb that climatologists say would officially end the battle against climate change (humanity 0 vs. climate change 7 billion). But none of these latter environmental events has garnered such an extreme response as the Lake Orumiyeh protests in Iran, where bloggers report that people are being arrested, beaten, and in some cases tied to trees for protesting the slow death of the world’s second largest salt lake.

Dried up Mecca

In part because of drought and in part because of poorly managed dam construction and irrigation projects, Lake Orumiyeh or Urmia in Northwestern Iran has shrunk to roughly 60% of its original size. Once a mecca for flamingos and other wildlife, the dying lake now more closely resembles a dusty moonscape.

Residents in Azerbaijan that rely on the Ramsar protected site for their sustenance claim that Revolutionary Guards are responsible for shrinking lake levels and the subsequent rise in salinity and decrease in biodiversity. Global Voices claims that if Lake Urmia dries up completely, millions of people will have to settle elsewhere.”

Read more: Green Prophet



Missouri River Flood Water Threatens Nebraska Nuclear Power Plants

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“The rising Missouri River flood water continues to threaten the two power plants in Nebraska. To assess the situation, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko visited the Fort Calhoun plant on Monday morning.


The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, located 20 miles north of Omaha, is one of the two nuclear plants in the state being monitored by the NRC because of the threats of inundation from the Missouri River.

The Fort Calhoun plant has been closed since April for refueling. Its parking lot is flooded, plant employees need to walk on a catwalk to reach the facility. An inflatable water-filled barrier that surrounds the plant was punctured by machinery on Sunday, but the plant operators assured residents that key areas of the facility are not in danger of submersion.

However, plant employees briefly switched to diesel backup generators to keep the nuclear fuel at the site cool because the flood water got too close to electrical transformers.

Read more: All Headline News

Nearly Three of Four U.S. Nuclear Plants Leaking Radioactive Material

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“A radiocative form of hydrogen is escaping from nearly three quarters of U.S. nuclear sites, sometimes in quantities hundreds of times over the federal limit of what is hazardous in drinking water.

Tritium has leaked out at 48 of 65 sites nationwide, according to the Associated Press. Although none of the potentially carcinogenic substance is known to have reached public drinking supplies, it could seep into groundwater.

The revelation about tritium is part of a broader AP investigation that has uncovered a widespread practice of regulators manipulating rules to keep deteriorating plants up to code. The tritium leaks represent one of many safety violations detailed by the AP, but the industry seems to be worried about a public relations fallout than risks to public health.”

Read more: International Business Times



Power Plants Face EPA Cooling-Water Rules to Protect Fish

Entergy said last month that it was worried the EPA rule would force it to to spend $1.2 billion building two cooling towers at its Indina Point plant. Photographer: Mike Di Paola/Bloomberg

“Utilities such as Entergy Corp. (ETR) face U.S. rules aimed at preventing fish from being sucked into cooling-water systems and costing industry $384 million a year, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

“The Obama administration’s proposal introduced yesterday will affect more than 1,200 facilities and save billions of aquatic organisms, including 615 million fish and shellfish a year, the agency said in an e-mailed statement.

“The EPA rule, part of a court settlement with environmental groups, will cover power plants and factories that pull water from rivers or lakes to cool machines. Existing facilities will work with states to determine how to meet the requirements while new units will have to use closed-cycle cooling, a system that draws less water and ensnares fewer fish.

““The EPA’s approach is likely to minimize the industry’s cost of compliance,” Hugh Wynne, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein & Co. in New York, wrote today in a report to clients.

“The EPA’s pending proposal under the Clean Water Act had been singled out by energy companies, industry groups and Republican lawmakers as a regulation that may burden electric utilities and cause some coal-fired power plants to shut down.

“Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, in December said the rule might cost utilities as much as $300 million per site for coal-fired plants and as much as $1 billion for nuclear generators, exceeding the EPA’s projections.

Exelon Corp. (EXC), owner of the most U.S. nuclear plants, said today the EPA’s proposed standard doesn’t require existing plants to build costly cooling towers.”

Read more: Bloomberg