Tag Archives: earthquake

Earthquake reignites debate over safety of nuclear power

24 Aug

cross-posted from The Hill

by Andrew Restuccia

Virginia’s largest earthquake in more than a century shook the East Coast on Tuesday and is likely to revive a long-standing debate about the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants.

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake caused the shutdown of two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va. The plant, which is located less than 20 miles from the epicenter of the quake, lost offsite power and was running its cooling systems on diesel generators Tuesday.

While there were no reports of damage at the North Anna reactors and plant operator Dominion said the cooling systems were working properly, nuclear opponents quickly pounced on the incident Tuesday.

They say the incident shows that U.S. nuclear reactors are vulnerable to major natural disasters and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should move quickly to implement a series of sweeping regulatory changes recommended by a federal task force last month.

“The earthquake near the North Anna reactors clearly underscores the need for the rapid implementation of the recommendations of the NRC’s Fukushima task force,” said Tom Clements, southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth, a group that has long been critical of nuclear power.

“This event affirms that reactors located outside active earthquake zones are also at risk and that increased steps to protect against earthquakes must be implemented at all sites. It is time to push aside industry and NRC foot-dragging and strengthen nuclear reactor safety regulations.”

Paul Gunter, director of reactor oversight at the group Beyond Nuclear, echoed Clements sentiments.

“Once again, Mother Nature is warning us that nuclear power is the most brittle of electrical power systems,” Gunter said.

The earthquake comes at a sensitive time for the NRC and the nuclear industry, which is dealing with the fallout from the March disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

A task force mandated by President Obama in the aftermath of the Japanese disaster said in a report released last month that the NRC should make wide-ranging improvements to the its “existing patchwork of regulatory requirements and other safety initiatives.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Another Worker dies at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant

14 May

Workers spraying resin on the ground near the reactor buildings to protect the spread of radioactive substances. (AFP/HO/TEPCO via Jiji Press)

By Mandie Sami, wires

A worker at Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has died.

It brings the total number of deaths at the complex to three since the massive earthquake and tsunami struck in March.

The man, aged in his 60s, started working at the plant on Friday.

Taichi Okazaki, a spokesman for plant owner TEPCO, says the man was exposed to 0.17 millisieverts of radiation on Saturday – far below the company’s safety threshold of 5 millisieverts.

Mr Okazaki says the cause of his death is not known.

“No radioactive substances were detected on the worker,” Mr Okazaki said. There were no signs of injury on the dead man.

The worker, who was not immediately identified, was carrying chainsaws with another worker inside a facility to treat contaminated water being released from the plant’s crippled reactors.

He fell ill 50 minutes after starting work at 6.00 am on Saturday (local time) and was brought to the plant’s medical room unconscious. He was later moved to a nearby hospital and confirmed dead.

Goshi Hosono, a special adviser to prime minister Naoto Kan and a ruling Democratic Party politician, voiced concerns about the working environment at the Fukushima complex on Wednesday.

“I would like to spend my energy to improve working conditions. Many people told us working environment (at the plant) is way too bad,” he told a news conference.

The March quake and tsunami triggered cooling system malfunctions at the plant, and caused radiation to leak into the atmosphere and the sea, prompting Mr Kan to review Japan’s nuclear-leaning energy policy from scratch.

Engineers are still struggling to bring the Fukushima plant under control. Two TEPCO employees went missing while patrolling the plant soon after the quake and were later found dead.

The most recent death comes as the operator of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant completes a total shutdown of the facility.

Mr Kan called for the closure last week to avoid a repeat of the disaster at the Fukushima plant, where engineers are still struggling to bring it under control.

Despite the ongoing nuclear crisis, Mr Kan is expected to announce that the country will keep using nuclear power at a G8 summit in France later this month.

Japan to Release Radioactive Water into the Sea from Fukushima Nuclear Plant

4 Apr

Cross posted from NDT Television

On Monday, Tokyo Electric Power said it will release more than ten thousand tons of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

The water will be released into the sea to free up more storage space for water that has much higher levels of radioactivity.

The water to be released is about one hundred times more radioactive than legal limits.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary says there is no other choice.

[Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary]:
“We came to this conclusion because even though it is water containing radioactive particles, it is inevitable that we release it in to the sea.”

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the decision was taken because it was not harmful to humans and done in order to avert an even bigger danger.

[Hidehiko Nishiyama, Nuclear & Industrial Safety Agcy.]:
“As it is not harmful to people’s health and as it is necessary to avert an even bigger danger, we decided it was inevitable.”

Japanese engineers have been scrambling to prevent a meltdown since an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Radiation from Japan Nuclear Meltdown detected in rainwater in the US

28 Mar

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Sunday that very low concentrations of radioiodine-131 that were likely from the Japanese power plant severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month have been detected in a sample of rainwater. Officials did not say where the sample was taken.

The agency said the sample was taken in the past week and is one of more than 100 around the country. It is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency network that monitors for radioactivity.

Read the rest of the story here.

200,000 in Germany protest nuclear power

26 Mar

Anti nuclear demonstrators march in Cologne, western Germany Saturday March 26, 2011 to protest against nuclear power. Poster in front reads: Fukushima warns: Pull the Plug on all Nuclear Power Plants. White banner behind reads : 'Solidarity with the people in Japan'. Some 200,000 people turned out in Germany's largest cities on Saturday to protest against the use of nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima reactor disaster, police and organizers said. In Berlin alone more than 100,000 took to the capital's streets to urge Germany's leaders to immediately abolish nuclear energy, police spokesman Jens Berger said. Organizers said some 210,000 people marched at the rallies in the countries four largest cities. "We can no longer afford bearing the risk of a nuclear catastrophe," Germany's environmental lobby group BUND said. (AP Photo/dapd/Roberto Pfeil)



Read the rest of the article here.

Hundreds Protest to Shut Down Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

22 Mar

In February 2010, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 against re-licensing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant after 2012, citing radioactive tritium leaks, misstatements in testimony by plant officials, a cooling tower collapse in 2007, and other problems. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given approved for the plant to operate an additional 20 years. The plant sits directly on the Connecticut River.

Vernon, Vermont – March 21, 2011

Hundreds of protestors gathered outside the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Sunday to show support for victims in Japan and to renew their call to shut the Vernon plant down.

“Nuclear power isn’t cheap and it isn’t safe. What’s going on in Japan illustrates that it is not safe. We are not exploiting that. That is just what’s reinforcing what we have been saying,” said Bob Bady with the group Safe and Green.

Officials at Yankee maintain the plants is safe and reliable to operate for another 20 years. And on Monday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission officially granted approval for Yankee to stay in business for another 20 years.

Adam Sullivan – WCAX News

Thousands Protest in Taiwan Against New Nuclear Plant

20 Mar


Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Environmental activists and opposition political figures staged a protest in Taipei Sunday against the government’s plan to continue the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, as Japan battled to bring its quake-damaged nuclear plants under control.

Dozens of environmental groups also called on the government to suspend plans to extend the life of Taiwan’s first, second, and third nuclear plants, and urged that safety checks be conducted at all the plants.

The protesters urged the government to reinforce the nuclear plants’ resistance to earthquakes. The power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale.

Furthermore, the government should immediately halt construction of the fourth nuclear plant, as it is located in a quake and tsunami-prone area, the protesters said.

Former Premier Su Tseng-chang, who declared his intention Sunday to seek the opposition Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential nomination, was among the demonstrators. He called for an end to the extended life of the three plants in operation.

Another former premier, Frank Hsieh, also of the DPP, said at the protest that when an advanced country like Japan could face such a serious nuclear crisis, it was only a matter of time before Taiwan would have to cope with a similar kind of danger.

A spokesperson for DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said that Tsai was not at the protest because she had other commitments in southern Taiwan but shared the views of her party colleagues.

Tsai was of the view that the allocations for the development of alternative energy should be increased, and she would be presenting her energy policy soon, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Annette Lu said Taiwan residents should push for an immediate halt to the construction on the fourth nuclear power plant, and she joined the call for an overall safety check on all nuclear power plants in Taiwan.

DPP legislator Pan Meng-An told reporters that if the government refused to suspend work on the fourth nuclear power plant for safety checks, the DPP would refuse to review the budget of the state-run Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower), builder and owner of the plant, when it came up in the legislature on March 24.

Taiwan currently operates three nuclear power plants, with No.1 and 2 located in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City, the largest city in Taiwan in terms of population, and No.3 in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan.

A fourth nuclear power plant is under construction in Kungliao on the northeast coast, also in New Taipei City. It is scheduled to begin commercial operations at the end of next the year. (By Sophia Yeh, Justin Su, Lin Szu-yu, Angela Tsai, Kuan Jui-pin and Ann Chen)

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