Nuclear Power News StoriesExcerpts of Key Nuclear Power News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of nuclear power news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
Just after 6 a.m. on Dec. 5, under cover of darkness, nine Greenpeace activists cut through a fence at the Nogent-sur-Seine atomic plant 95 kilometers (59 miles) southeast of Paris and headed for a domed reactor building. They scaled the roof and unfurled a “Safe Nuclear Doesn’t Exist” banner before attracting the attention of security guards. Two remained at large for four hours. On the same day, two more campaigners breached the perimeter of the Cruas-Meysse plant on the Rhone, escaping detection for more than 14 hours while posting videos of their sit-in on the Internet. The security lapses ... come at a time when debate has intensified on France’s reliance on atomic power for three-quarters of its energy needs in the run-up to next year’s presidential elections. They also preempt next month’s release of the results of safety checks at France’s 58 reactors, commissioned in the aftermath of the Fukushima tragedy. Greenpeace said its activists exposed the biggest security lapse to date at the reactors that are operated by Electricite de France SA.
Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear-power complex came closer to a catastrophic meltdown than previously indicated by its operator [which on November 30] described how one reactor's molten nuclear core likely burned through its primary containment chamber and then ate as far as three-quarters of the way through the concrete in a secondary vessel. The [new] assessment—offered by Japan's government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., ... marked Japan's most sobering reckoning to date of the nuclear disaster sparked by the country's March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But it came nearly six months after U.S. and international nuclear experts and regulators had reached similar conclusions. For the first time, Tokyo Electric ... said that nuclear-fuel rods in the complex's No. 1 reactor had likely melted completely, burning through their so-called pressure vessel and then boring through concrete at the bottom of a second containment vessel. That brought the fuel closer than previously believed to breaching the containment vessel and foundation and continuing to burn through the ground below — a scenario sometimes described as the "China Syndrome." The findings are the latest reminder of how much remains unknown about the extent of the mid-March Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Note: For further information on the developing understanding of the severity of the meltdowns at Fukushima, see these reports at The Guardian and The New York Times. For key reports from major media sources on corporate and government corruption, click here and 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.
This spring’s nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant released almost double the amount of radiation the Japanese government has claimed, according to a new analysis. The authors say the boiling pools holding spent fuel rods played a role in the release of some of the contaminants, primarily cesium-137 — and that this could have been mitigated by an earlier response. Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Air Research ... say the amount of cesium-137, a long-lived isotope that persists in the atmosphere, was about twice as high as the Japanese government’s official estimate. The researchers also say about 20 percent of the total fallout landed over Japan, but the vast majority fell over the Pacific Ocean. (The effects of this fallout on fisheries and aquatic wildlife are still being determined.) Cesium-137 emissions peaked three or four days after the quake and tsunami, remaining high until March 19, according to this new study. That’s the day authorities started spraying water on the spent-fuel pool at reactor unit 4, the researchers note. “This indicates that emissions were not only coming from the damaged reactor cores, but also from the spent-fuel pool of unit 4 and confirms that the spraying was an effective countermeasure,” they say. This contradicts Japanese government reports claiming the pools released no radiation.
Note: According to the French nuclear agency, the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN, Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire), even the higher estimate of radiation release described in this article is too low. The agency estimates that 20 times more cesium-137 was released than has been admitted by Tepco.
The operator of Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant [Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco)] said the amount of radiation being emitted from the complex has halved from a month ago, in the latest sign that efforts to bring the plant under control are progressing. In light of the progress being made in cooling its damaged reactors, which suffered nuclear fuel meltdowns in the first days of the crisis, Tepco formally brought forward its plan to bring the plant to a state of "cold shutdown" within this year. Technically, a cold shutdown is a state in which water used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below 100 degrees Celsius, preventing the fuel from reheating. Declaring a cold shutdown will have repercussions well beyond the plant as it is one of the criteria the government said must be met before it begins allowing about 80,000 residents evacuated from within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to go home. Japan faces a massive cleanup task if these residents are to be returned home -- the environmental ministry says about 2,400 square km (930 square miles) of land surrounding Daiichi may need decontamination. Even if a cold shutdown is declared Tepco has acknowledged that it may not be able to remove the fuel from the reactors for another 10 years and that the cleanup at the plant could take several decades.
Note: For more on the Fukushima situation from the standpoint of the tens of thousands of evacuees, click here.
FirstEnergy Corp. [stock price] fell after a report that engineers discovered cracks in the concrete shell of its Davis-Besse nuclear plant. Contractors on Oct. 10 discovered a hairline crack measuring about 30 feet (9.1 meters) long as they sliced a hole into the plant’s outer shell in order to install a new reactor vessel head, said Jennifer Young, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman. The cracked shell is the outermost of several layers of steel and concrete that protect the reactor, which has been shut down since Oct. 1 in preparation for the repair work. Davis-Besse was shuttered for more than three months in 2010 after workers discovered cooling water leaking through cracks in some reactor-head nozzles, steel casings that hold fuel and control rods. Leaks and reactor corrosion prompted FirstEnergy to close the plant for two years, from 2002 to 2004, while the company retrained or replaced workers who ignored signs of damage, and eventually replaced the reactor head. The leaks found last year at the 900-megawatt plant prompted the Union of Concerned Scientists in April 2010 to demand that the plant remain closed until its owners established better controls to maintain health and safety standards.
Note: If you want to see how safety around nuclear plants is ignored and threatened all the time by money interests at all levels, watch the amazingly revealing documentary on Chernobyl at this link. The most telling piece in this documentary involves the man tasked by Gorbechov to write the official report of all the problems they faced. When he gave the report to the IAEA in a secret meeting, he was ridiculed by the other international leaders there, who accused him of spreading baseless fears. On the second anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, he committed suicide.
The triple meltdown and its aftermath at the Fukushima nuclear power plant [have] elevated Japan into unknown, and unknowable, terrain. Across the northeast, millions of people are living with its consequences and searching for a consensus on a safe radiation level that does not exist. Experts give bewilderingly different assessments of its dangers. Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters. Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster ... said the disaster would result in more than 1 million deaths. "Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan," he said. "Chernobyl went up in one go. So Fukushima is worse." Slowly, steadily, and often well behind the curve, the government has worsened its prognosis of the disaster. Last Friday, scientists affiliated with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the plant had released 15,000 terabecquerels of cancer-causing Cesium, equivalent to about 168 times the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the event that ushered in the nuclear age. [But] Professor Busby says the release is at least 72,000 times worse than Hiroshima.
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit? The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down. Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it was the earthquake that knocked out the plant's electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant's back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world's first triple meltdown. But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst after the earthquake – before the tidal wave reached the facilities; before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the 40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan. Problems with the fractured, deteriorating, poorly repaired pipes and the cooling system had been pointed out for years. In September 2002, Tepco admitted covering up data about cracks in critical circulation pipes.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon says Saddam Hussein "can be absolutely confident" the UK is willing to use nuclear weapons "in the right conditions". Mr Hoon said the UK reserved the right to use the weapons "in extreme self defence". It is widely reported that before the first Gulf War the US and its allies made it known to the Iraqi leader that nuclear weapons would be the response to any use of chemical or biological weapons. Mr Hoon's Cabinet colleague, International Development Secretary Clare Short, said she could foresee no scenario in which a retaliatory nuclear strike would serve any useful purpose. Mr Hoon contradicted her view, saying nuclear weapons could not be a deterrent if there was no willingness to use them. He said: "We have always made it clear that we would reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in conditions of extreme self defence. Saddam can be absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use nuclear weapons."
Note: For key reports from major media sources on the dark realities of the new era of endless war, click here.
Physician Janette Sherman, M.D. and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published a report Monday highlighting a 35% spike in northwest infant mortality after Japan's nuclear meltdown. The report spotlighted data from the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on infant mortality rates in eight northwest cities, including Seattle, in the 10 weeks after Fukushima's nuclear meltdown. The average number of infant deaths for the region moved from an average of 9.25 in the four weeks before Fukushima' nuclear meltdown, to an average of 12.5 per week in the 10 weeks after. The change represents a 35% increase in the northwest's infant mortality rates. In comparison, the average rates for the entire U.S. rose only 2.3%.
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK. "This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear." Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power. Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like "scandalous collusion". "This highlights the government's blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear," she said.
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.
Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping. The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation. Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP's yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard — sometimes at hundreds of times the limit. At three sites — two in Illinois and one in Minnesota — leaks have contaminated drinking wells of nearby homes. At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean. Any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Tritium moves through soil quickly, and when it is detected it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly [on June 20], after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway. The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said. Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said. The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission. The Cooper Nuclear Station is one of two plants along the Missouri River in eastern Nebraska. The Fort Calhoun Station, operated by the Omaha Public Power District, is about 20 miles north of Omaha. It issued a similar alert to the regulatory commission June 6.
Note: This same plant narrowly avoided a shutdown just a couple weeks prior due to an electrical fire. For the AP article on this, click here. On Monday, June 27, floodwaters collapsed a berm protecting the plant and flooded a building onsite. Authorities, however, still claim there are no dangers.
The nuclear fuel in three of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has melted through the base of the pressure vessels and is pooling in the outer containment vessels, according to a report by the Japanese government. The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, were revealed by the Yomiuri newspaper, which described a "melt-through" as being "far worse than a core meltdown" and "the worst possibility in a nuclear accident." Water that was pumped into the pressure vessels to cool the fuel rods, becoming highly radioactive in the process, has been confirmed to have leaked out of the containment vessels and outside the buildings that house the reactors. Elevated levels of radiation have been confirmed in the ocean off the plant. The radiation will also have contaminated the soil and plant and animal life around the facility, making the task of cleaning up more difficult and expensive, as well as taking longer. The pressure vessel of the No. 1 reactor is now believed to have suffered damage just five hours after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Melt-downs of the fuel in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors followed over the following days with the molten fuel collecting at the bottom of the pressure vessels before burning through and into the external steel containment vessels.
Note: The UK Telegraph has been consistently reporting the bad news about the Fukushima catastrophe, but many other major media outlets have not kept the spotlight on this vital issue. Could that be because they are protecting the nuclear industry and its plans for expansion from the fallout of public opinion?
A group of more than 200 Japanese pensioners are volunteering to tackle the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power station. The Skilled Veterans Corps, as they call themselves, is made up of retired engineers and other professionals, all over the age of 60. They say they should be facing the dangers of radiation, not the young. It was while watching the television news that Yasuteru Yamada decided it was time for his generation to stand up. No longer could he be just an observer of the struggle to stabilise the Fukushima nuclear plant. The retired engineer is reporting back for duty at the age of 72, and he is organising a team of pensioners to go with him. For weeks now Mr Yamada has been getting back in touch with old friends, sending out e-mails and even messages on Twitter. Volunteering to take the place of younger workers at the power station is not brave, Mr Yamada says, but logical. "I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live," he says. "Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore us older ones have less chance of getting cancer." Mr Yamada is lobbying the government hard for his volunteers to be allowed into the power station. The government has expressed gratitude for the offer but is cautious.
The operator of the nuclear power plant at the center of a radiation scare after being disabled by Japan's earthquake and tsunami confirmed ... that there had been meltdowns of fuel rods at three of its reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Co said meltdowns of fuel rods at three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant occurred early in the crisis triggered by the March 11 disaster. The government and outside experts had said previously that fuel rods at three of the plant's six reactors had likely melted early in the crisis, but the utility, also known as Tepco, had only confirmed a meltdown at the No.1 reactor. Tepco officials said a review since early May of data from the plant concluded the same happened to reactors No.2 and 3. Some analysts said the delay in confirming the meltdowns at Fukushima suggested the utility feared touching off a panic by disclosing the severity of the accident earlier. "Now people are used to the situation. Nothing is resolved, but normal business has resumed in places like Tokyo," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University. Nakano said that by confirming the meltdowns now, Tepco may be hoping the news will have less impact.
Note: Very few major media have given TEPCO's confirmation of the world's worst fears about the severity of the Fukushima nuclear disaster the attention it deserves. Are the major media burying this story because of the potential harm it will do to plans for the expansion of the nuclear power industry?
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said it is studying whether the facility's reactors were damaged in the March 11 earthquake even before the massive tsunami that followed cut off power and sent the reactors into crisis. Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed source at the utility on Sunday as saying that the No. 1 reactor might have suffered structural damage in the earthquake that caused a release of radiation separate from the tsunami. Tepco has provided a new analysis of the early hours of the Fukushima crisis. The utility said on Sunday that a review of data from March 11 suggested that the fuel rods in the No. 1 reactor were completely exposed to the air and rapidly heating five hours after the quake. By the next morning - just 16 hours later - the uranium fuel rods in the first reactor had melted down and dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel. The No. 2 and No. 3 reactors are expected to have gone through a similar process and like No. 1 are leaking most of the water being pumped in a bid to keep their cores cool. A massive pond of radioactive water has collected in the basement of the No. 1 reactor. Experts fear that the contaminated water leaking from the plant could threaten groundwater and the Pacific.
Japan will scrap a plan to obtain half of its electricity from nuclear power and will instead promote renewable energy and conservation as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the prime minister said [on May 10]. Naoto Kan said Japan needs to "start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami and began leaking radiation. Some 80,000 people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the plant were evacuated from their homes. Nuclear plants supplied about 30 percent of Japan's electricity, and the government had planned to raise that to 50 percent by 2030. Kan told a news conference that nuclear and fossil fuel used to be the pillars of Japanese energy policy but now the government will add two more pillars: renewable energy such as solar, wind and biomass, and an increased focus on conservation. "I believe the government bears a major responsibility for having promoted nuclear energy as national policy. I apologize to the people for failing to prevent the nuclear accident," Kan said.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on promising renewable energy sources, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.