Nuclear Power News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Nuclear Power News Articles in Media
It was the part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that spooked American officials the most, as the complex spiraled out of control two and a half years ago: the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, with more than 1,500 radioactive fuel assemblies left exposed when a hydrogen explosion blew the roof off the building. In the next 10 days, the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, is set to start the delicate and risky task of using a crane to remove the fuel assemblies from the pool, a critical step in a long decommissioning process that has already had serious setbacks. The operation addresses a threat that has hung over the plant since the crisis started. It is still dangerous to have the fuel high up in a damaged structure that could collapse in another quake, experts warn. But removing it poses dangers, too. The fuel rods must remain immersed in water to block the gamma radiation they emit and allow workers to be in the area, and to prevent the rods from overheating. An accident could expose the rods and — in a worst-case scenario, some experts say — allow them to release radioactive materials beyond the plant. “There are potentially very big risks involved,” Shunichi Tanaka, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulator, said last week. “Each assembly must be handled very carefully.” “All I can do is pray that nothing goes wrong,” said Yasuro Kawai, a former plant engineer who now heads a group that is independently monitoring the decommissioning process.
Note: For further assessment of the risks associated with any attempt to remove the rods from the damaged Fukushima Reactor #4 fuel pool, click here. For more on the risks of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Last year’s tsunami disaster in Japan clouded the nation’s nuclear future, idled its reactors and rendered its huge stockpile of plutonium useless for now. So, the industry’s plan to produce even more has raised a red flag. Nuclear industry officials say they hope to start producing a half-ton of plutonium within months, in addition to the more than 35 tons Japan already has stored around the world. That’s even though all the reactors that might use it are either inoperable or offline while the country rethinks its nuclear policy after the tsunami-generated Fukushima crisis. “It’s crazy,” said Princeton University professor Frank von Hippel, a leading authority on nonproliferation issues and a former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology. “There is absolutely no reason to do that.” Japan’s nuclear industry produces plutonium — which is strictly regulated globally because it also is used for nuclear weapons — by reprocessing spent, uranium-based fuel in a procedure aimed at decreasing radioactive waste that otherwise would require long-term storage. Fuel reprocessing remains unreliable and it is questionable whether it is a viable way of reducing Japan’s massive amounts of spent fuel rods, said Takeo Kikkawa, a Hitotsubashi University professor specializing in energy issues. “Japan should abandon the program altogether,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of a respected anti-nuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. “Then we can also contribute to the global effort for nuclear non-proliferation.”
Note: For a state-of-the-art analysis revealing that radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdown is at least as big as Chernobyl and more global in reach, click here.
Unusual wear has been found on hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water at Southern California’s San Onofre Unit 2 nuclear plant, raising questions about the integrity of equipment the company installed in a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2009. The disclosure came two days after a tube leak at the plant’s other unit prompted operators to shut down the reactor as a precaution. A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped, but officials say workers and the public were not endangered. The problems at Unit 2 were discovered during inspections of a steam generator, after the plant 45 miles north of San Diego was taken off-line for maintenance and refueling. The two huge steam generators at Unit 2, each containing 9,700 tubes, were replaced in fall 2009, and a year later in its twin plant, Unit 3, as part of a $670 million overhaul. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, more than a third of the wall had been worn away in two tubes at Unit 2, which will require them to be plugged and taken out of service. At least 20 percent of the tube wall was worn away in 69 other tubes, and in more than 800, the thinning was at least 10 percent. Retired NRC engineer and researcher Joram Hopenfeld said the company will have to determine why the tubing is degrading so quickly “before they do anything else.” “I’ve never heard of anything like that over so short a period of time,” Hopenfeld said. “The safety implications could be very, very severe,” Hopenfeld added.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on dangers posed by the nuclear power industry, click here.
Japan's nuclear power industry, which once ignored opposition, now finds its existence threatened by women angered by official [secrecy] on radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. More than 100 anti-nuclear demonstrators, most of them women, met with officials of the Nuclear Safety Commission this week and handed over a statement calling for a transparent investigation into the accident and a permanent shutdown of all nuclear power plants. Groups of women, braving a cold winter, have been setting up tents since last week preparing for a new sit-in campaign in front of the ministry of economic affairs. The women have pledged to continue their demonstration for 10 months and 10 days, traditionally reckoned in Japan as a full term that covers a pregnancy. "Our protests are aimed at achieving a rebirth in Japanese society," said Chieko Shina, a participant, and a grandmother from Fukushima. "The ongoing demonstrations symbolise the determination of ordinary people who do not want nuclear power because it is dangerous. There is also the bigger message that we do not trust the government any more," said Takanobu Kobayashi, who manages the Matsudo network of citizens' movements. Distrust stems primarily from the fact that the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors was not reported to the public immediately, causing huge health risks to the local population from radiation leaks.
If any institution needs to get back to basics and refocus on what it takes to survive a disaster - or report on it with integrity - it's the cable news business. The triple threat in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors in peril - is clearly demonstrating how reporters and anchors are bungling the basics and how the producers and executives in charge of them have fallen woefully short of leadership. Yes, the visuals were riveting and horrific, but context was lacking. Covering this trilogy of terror in Japan really underscores how much better prepared reporters and anchors need to be. The incessantly simplistic and embarrassing questions need to stop. It's a shame that going online to watch videos from NHK, BBC and Al Jazeera English was far and away the best option for Americans.
While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home. Some have moved on, reluctantly, but tens of thousands remain in a legal and emotional limbo while the government holds out hope that they can one day return. As they wait, many are growing bitter. Now they suspect the government knows that the unprecedented cleanup will take years, if not decades longer than promised, as a growing chorus of independent experts have warned, but will not admit it for fear of dooming plans to restart Japan’s other nuclear plants. That has left the people of Namie and many of the 10 other evacuated towns with few good choices. They can continue to live in cramped temporary housing and collect relatively meager monthly compensation from the government. Or they can try to build a new life elsewhere, a near impossibility for many unless the government admits defeat and fully compensates them for their lost homes and livelihoods. For Namie’s residents, government obfuscation is nothing new. On the day they fled, bureaucrats in Tokyo knew the direction they were taking could be dangerous, based on computer modeling, but did not say so for fear of causing panic. The townspeople headed north, straight into an invisible, radioactive plume.
Note: For more on the devastation caused by nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
An investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI employee has claimed. The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets. The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 by White House officials became a cause célčbre. The claims that a State Department official blew the investigation into a nuclear smuggling ring have been made by Sibel Edmonds, 38, a former Turkish language translator in the FBI’s Washington field office. Plame, then 38, was the ... wife of a former US ambassador, Joe Wilson. She travelled widely for her work, often claiming to be an oil consultant. In fact she was a career CIA agent who was part of a small team investigating the same procurement network that the State Department official is alleged to have aided. Brewster Jennings was one of a number of covert enterprises set up to infiltrate the nuclear ring. [Edmonds said the State Department official] "found out about the arrangement . . . and he contacted one of the foreign targets and said . . . you need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a cover for the government.“ Phillip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, said: “It’s pretty clear Plame was targeting the Turks. If indeed that [State Department] official was working with the Turks to violate US law on nuclear exports, it would have been in his interest to alert them to the fact that this woman’s company was affiliated to the CIA. I don’t know if that’s treason legally but many people would consider it to be.”
Note: To read former CIA agent Philip Giraldi's analysis of Edmonds' claims, in which he identifies the unnamed State Department official as Marc Grossman, click here. And to read an interview with Edmonds on the series of articles about her revelations appearing in the Sunday Times and media censorship elsewhere, click here.
Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. It was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles. The camp was abandoned almost 50 years ago. But serious pollutants were left behind. Now a team of scientists says that as climate warming melts the ice sheet, those pollutants could spread. [Researcher William Colgan] found unclassified records that described what was left behind there - for example, the nuclear reactor was removed, but low-level radioactive cooling water used in it was not. There were very likely PCBs, which are toxic compounds in electrical equipment. There's no record of how much remained. Colgan says the Army figured all of it would be entombed forever. "They thought it would snow in perpetuity," he says, "and the phrase they used was that the waste would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snow." Except now, the climate has changed. Greenland's ice sheet is melting. Computer models say the camp could be uncovered by the end of this century. Meltwater could easily end up in the buried camp and then carry contamination through under-ice channels to the ocean. Colgan says it's unclear who owns this waste. The Army built the camp under a treaty between the U.S. and Denmark, which had jurisdiction over Greenland. It's a legal dilemma that's likely to start cropping up more often.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing global warming news articles from reliable major media sources.
The headline on the website Pravda trumpeted: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.” The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, [became] one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain. Major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family ... built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One. Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Uranium is considered a strategic asset. The deal had to be approved by ... United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One ... a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
Note: The State Department also approved $165 Billion in commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors under Clinton's leadership. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Fourteen months after the accident [at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant], a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic. The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe ... as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region. The jury-rigged cooling system for the pool has already malfunctioned several times, including a 24-hour failure in April. Had the outages continued, they would have left the rods at risk of dangerous overheating. “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns. “Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.” The worst-case situations for Reactor No. 4 would be for the pool to run dry if there is another problem with the cooling system and the rods catch fire, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material, or for fission to restart if the metal panels that separate the rods are knocked over in a quake. That would be especially bad because the pool, unlike reactors, lacks containment vessels to hold in radioactive materials.
Note: For extensive coverage from reliable sources on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear plant says tons of highly radioactive water appears to have leaked into the ocean from a purification unit. The leak comes as Tokyo Electric Power Co. struggles to keep the melted reactors cool and contain radiation and 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.
Note: For an abundance of major media articles showing major problems with nuclear power, click here.
The radioactive gas xenon, which is often the byproduct of unexpected nuclear fission, was detected at the Fukushima Daiichi plant during tests. Officials were today injecting boric acid as an emergency precautionary measure to stem any accidental chain reactions which could result in further radiation leakages. The discovery of such a gas is likely to be regarded as an unwelcome setback among operators who are keen to achieve cold shutdown by the end of the year. Officials both from Tokyo Electric Power Co, which operates the plant, and from Japan Atomic Energy Agency, were today (WED) reexamining the gases to double check their identity. The discovery of the gases coincided with the controversial reopening of a nuclear reactor in southern Japan – the first to be put back online since the March 11 Fukushima disaster. The Genkai plant in Kyushu was restarted despite strong public opposition, after officials confirmed it had passed safety tests following its closure over technical problems last month. Anti-nuclear public sentiment has been growing across Japan since the nation was caught up in the on-going atomic crisis, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Around 40 of Japan's 54 reactors currently remain offline for testing, with the Genkai plant widely regarded as a symbolic first step in restarting dozens more across the country.
Severe storms and tornadoes moving through the U.S. Southeast dealt a severe blow to the Tennessee Valley Authority [on April 27], causing three nuclear reactors in Alabama to shut and knocking out 11 high-voltage power lines, the utility and regulators said. All three units at TVA's 3,274-megawatt Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama tripped about 5:30 EDT after losing outside power to the plant, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. A TVA spokeswoman said the station's backup power systems, including diesel generators, started and operated as designed. External power was restored quickly to the plant but diesel generators remained running Wednesday evening, she said. The Browns Ferry units are among 23 U.S. reactors that are similar in design to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan where backup generators were swept away in the tsunami that followed the massive earthquake on March 11.
Note: And what might have happened if one of those tornadoes happened to hit a nuclear power plant?
Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, secure his country’s nuclear weapons. The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year. A raft of equipment — from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment — was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age. While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used. That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing. In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret “kill switch,” enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons. While Pakistan is formally considered a “major non-NATO ally,” the program has been hindered by a deep suspicion among Pakistan’s military that the secret goal of the United States was to gather intelligence about how to locate and, if necessary, disable Pakistan’s arsenal, which is the pride of the country.
Note: Isn't it interesting that the U.S. administration has so fervently attacked Iraq and Iran for developing nuclear weapons, yet they seem unconcerned about Pakistan, which is known to have supported terrorist groups.
A three-year veil of secrecy in the name of national security was used to keep the public in the dark about the handling of highly enriched uranium at a nuclear fuel processing plant -- including a leak that could have caused a deadly, uncontrolled nuclear reaction. The leak turned out to be one of nine violations or test failures since 2005 at privately owned Nuclear Fuel Services Inc., a longtime supplier of fuel to the U.S. Navy's nuclear fleet. The public was never told about the problems when they happened. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed them for the first time last month when it released an order demanding improvements at the company, but no fine. In 2004, the government became so concerned about releasing nuclear secrets that the commission removed more than 1,740 documents from its public archive -- even some that apparently involved basic safety violations at the company. Environmental activists are still suspicious of the belated revelations and may challenge the commission's decision not to fine Nuclear Fuel Services for the safety violations. "That party is not over -- the full story of what is going on up there," said Ann Harris, a member of the Sierra Club's national nuclear task force. While reviewing the commission's public Web page in 2004, the Department of Energy's Office of Naval Reactors found what it considered protected information about Nuclear Fuel Service's work for the Navy. The commission responded by sealing every document related to Nuclear Fuel Services. Under the policy, all the documents were stamped "Official Use Only," including papers about the policy itself and more than 1,740 documents from the commission's public archive.
The U.S. government secretly hired hundreds of private companies during the 1940s and '50s to process huge volumes of nuclear weapons material, leaving a legacy of poisoned workers and contaminated communities that lingers to this day. From mom-and-pop machine shops to big-name chemical firms, private manufacturing facilities across the nation were quietly converted to the risky business of handling tons of uranium, thorium, polonium, beryllium and other radioactive and toxic substances. Few of the contractors were prepared for the hazards of their government-sponsored missions. Thousands of workers were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, often hundreds of times stronger than the limits of the time. Dozens of communities were contaminated, their air, ground and water fouled by toxic and radioactive waste. The risks were kept hidden. In some cases, they have remained so. The full story of the secret contracting effort has never been told. Many of the companies that were involved have been forgotten, the impact of their operations unexamined for half a century. Yet their history carries profound implications for the thousands of people they employed, as well as for the thousands who lived — and still live — near the factories.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
Reindeer farms and grazing Holstein cows dot a vast stretch of rolling green pasture here on Japan's northern tip. Underground it's a different story. Workers and scientists have carved a sprawling laboratory deep below this sleep dairy town that, despite government reassurances, some of Horonobe's 2,500 residents fear could turn their neighborhood into a nuclear waste storage site. Japanese utilities have more than 17,000 tons of "spent" fuel rods that have finished their useful life but will remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. What to do with them is a vexing problem that nuclear-powered nations around the world face, and that has come to the fore as Japan debates whether to keep using nuclear energy after the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant. The answer to that problem may lie in the Horonobe Underground Research Center, which has been collecting geological data to determine if and how radioactive waste can be stored safely for as long as 100,000 years in a country that is susceptible to volcanic activity, earthquakes and shifting underground water flows. But as with America's doomed Yucca Mountain project, finding a community willing to host a radioactive dump site is proving difficult, even with a raft of financial enticements. One mayor expressed interest in 2007, and was booted from office in the next election.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
Two prominent seismologists said on Tuesday that Japan is ignoring the safety lessons of last year's Fukushima crisis and warned against restarting two reactors next month. Japan has approved the restart of the two reactors at the Kansai Electric Power Ohi nuclear plant, northwest of Tokyo, despite mass public opposition. They will be the first to come back on line after all reactors were shut following a massive earthquake and tsunami last March that caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi Fukushima plant. Seismic modeling by Japan's nuclear regulator did not properly take into account active fault lines near the Ohi plant, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, told reporters. "The stress tests and new safety guidelines for restarting nuclear power plants both allow for accidents at plants to occur," Ishibashi told reporters. "Instead of making standards more strict, they both represent a severe setback in safety standards." Experts advising Japan's nuclear industry had underestimated the seismic threat, Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphology professor at Tokyo University, said at the same news conference. "The expertise and neutrality of experts advising Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency are highly questionable," Watanabe said.
Note: For more from reliable sources on corruption on the nuclear power industry, click here.
It has been revealed that ailing imaging company Kodak had a secret nuclear reactor hidden in a US research facility for more than 30 years. The reactor, which contained 1.5kg of enriched "weapons-grade" uranium, was a Californium Flux Multiplier (CFX) acquired by the company in 1974 and only decommissioned in 2006. "The uranium used in the CFX was highly enriched, but ... was not easily adaptable to creating a nuclear weapon," company spokesman Christopher Veronda told Fairfax Media. While the reactor was not used to generate power and therefore was not at risk of a meltdown, it was still vulnerable to radiation leaks. "These devices are very rare," said Miles Pomper, a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington, D.C. "According to the decommissioning plan submitted by Kodak it is only one of two such devices ever produced - and the only one for private industry," Mr Pomper [said]. The CFX, which was roughly the size of a domestic refrigerator, was used for neutron multiplication, an analytical method. Kodak used it to test chemicals for impurities, and to perform neutron radiography - an imaging technique in which neutrons are passed through an object [and] then produce an image of the object as they expose a photographic film. If the reactor really was secure, it poses the question: why was it decommissioned? Kodak claims that in 2003 it made the decision to pursue alternative, more cost-effective methods of analysis. The uranium was removed in 2007 and taken to a government facility in South Carolina.
Note: For reliable articles revealing the dangers of nuclear reactors, click here.
Look at the Department of Energy's 2012 budget request for the Livermore Lab and it becomes apparent that PR has an inverse relationship to budget. Some 89 percent of the funds are for nuclear weapons activities. Yet, more than 89 percent of the press releases showcase programs like renewable energy and science that receive less than 3 percent of the spending. This has caused many to believe that Livermore Lab is converting from nuclear weapons to civilian science. A major consequence of the chasm between public perception and where the money actually goes is that science at Livermore continues to exist on the margins - underfunded, understaffed and at the mercy of the 800-pound gorilla of the nuclear weapons budget. Consider the many benefits of transitioning Livermore from nuclear-weapons design to a "green lab," focused on nonpolluting energy development, climate research, basic sciences, nonproliferation and environmental cleanup. Livermore Lab is uniquely qualified to contribute in these areas. The lab already employs the right mix of physicists, other scientists, engineers, materials specialists, and support personnel for these undertakings.
Note: To learn more about how the public is being massively deceived around war and weapons spending, read what a top U.S. general had to say about this at this link.
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