Twenty nine years ago today, the world's worst nuclear disaster at the time, happened in Ukraine close to the border with Belarus in what was still the Soviet Union. The Chernobyl reactor, just two years into operation, exploded, releasing large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. The effects are still felt today. A detailed account of the impacts of Chernobyl can be found in this excellent 2011 report by IPPNW -- Health Effects of Chernobyl 25 Years After the Reactor Catastrophe. Today, Strontium 90 levels in potatoes in Gomel, Belarus, are still as high as in 1990, an anomaly that is yet to be fully explained given the isotope's half-life. Strontium 90 has in fact so weakened human immune systems, especially in children, that the effect is now known as "Chernobyl AIDS." Cesium, with a half-life of 30 years, has been equally devastating. At least 80% of the Chernobyl fallout was cesium 137 which stays in biological chain for 300+ years. More
A drone carrying a plastic bottle with trace amounts of cesium has landed on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Abe's office, evidently sending a message about strong citizen opposition to a restart of that country's nuclear power plants. Japan remains at zero nuclear but a court this week gave approval to the restart of the Sendai reactors which will likely come on line this year. Abe (pictured) continues to tout not only a nuclear restart in Japan but the exporting of nuclear technology abroad. But a majority of Japanese citizens -- a figure that rose to 70% shortly after the Fukushima disaster -- still oppose a return to nuclear energy in that country. More
Successful event raises funds and awareness on Entergy Palisades atomic reactor's dangerously brittle pressure vessel
On April 19, a fund- and awareness-raiser, “Pull the Plug on Palisades for Earth Day,” was held at the Old Dog Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, MI.
The event, focused on the Entergy Palisades atomic reactor's (see photo, left) dangerously brittle pressure vessel, was sponsored by Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter’s “Palisades Shutdown Campaign,” in support of an environmental coalition's (Beyond Nuclear, Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, Don’t Waste Michigan, Nuclear Energy Information Service of Illinois) legal interventions before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The interventions seek the long overdue, permanent shutdown of Palisades due to major safety risks.
See links to a video by Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education about pressurized thermal shock risks at Palisades, a slide show of images prepared by Beyond Nuclear for the April 19th event, as well as photos and audio/video of the music performed: More.
Such serious flaws have now been found in the French prototype EPR reactor still under construction at Flamanville in France (pictured) that the project may have to be scrapped. Authorities have found that the project has a faulty steel reactor vessel at risk of splitting, a 100% unacceptable outcome. But because the reactor vessel is already encased in a concrete well it would be laborious and very costly to replace. The alternative is to scrap the project.
Pierre-Franck Chevet, president of France's nuclear safety authority (ASN), told the French daily newspaper, Le Parisien, the anomalies were in the "base and lid" of the vessel, which is "an absolutely crucial component of the nuclear reactor on which no risk of breakage can be taken."
The major setback is just the latest in a string of disasters for the EPR once touted as the poster child of new nuclear reactors. Enormous delays and equally vast cost-overruns have plagued the Flamanville project as well as the EPRs under construction in Finland and China. China recently stopped loading fuel into its EPR reactors over safety concerns. More.
Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was interviewed by RT International regarding current developments at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.
The interview includes footage, taken by drones, of the large mounds of radioactively contaminated materials being transferred to Okuma and Futaba for "temporary storage." Okuma and Futaba are the two "host" towns in Fukushima Prefecture across which the six reactor nuclear complex sprawls. Both towns are now "Dead Zone," indefinitely uninhabitable. All surviving former residents are now living as nuclear evacuees, unable to go home.
The interview also includes footage of the snake-like robots Tokyo Electric is sending into the Unit 1 reactor's damaged radiological containment structure. The first, deployed on April 10th, broke down after a few hours of service, for yet unexplained reasons. The radiation levels it measured would be lethal to humans within 30 minutes or less.