Saturday, June 22, 2013

Nuke Cycle Stories

Suicide of Fukushima farmer: TEPCO admits culpability

Fukushima operator admits culpability by: Shingo Ito From: AAP June 06,  JAPAN’S Tokyo Electric Power has conceded the Fukushima disaster played a part in a farmer’s suicide, lawyers said, its first admission of culpability in such a case.
The utility, known as TEPCO, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the bereaved family of Hisashi Tarukawa, a Fukushima farmer who took his own life days after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown.
It was the first time the company has accepted in a settlement that the nuclear disaster at its plant was a factor in a suicide, the lawyers said, adding that terms of the settlement package were not being made public. The 64-year-old hanged himself from a tree in a vegetable field after authorities banned shipments of some farm produce from Fukushima because of fears it was contaminated by radiation.
“I just didn’t want TEPCO to keep saying no one was killed because of the nuclear accident,” said Kazuya Tarukawa, the dead man’s 37-year-old son.He said he still wanted the company to make an official apology for his father’s suicide.
“Does TEPCO think everything is finished if money is paid?” he said.”I want them to come to my house under the name of the company and bow to my father’s altar. My fight is not over yet.”
TEPCO refused to comment on the details of the settlement.

Fukushima radiation release was made worse by operator error

Asahi: Tepco ‘failure’ may have increased Fukushima radiation release — Concern over ‘lethal levels’ escaping from ruptured containment vessel See also: NHK: “The unimaginable was happening” — Workers say part of Reactor 2 containment vessel destroyed — After alarming pressure readings, “we heard a loud bang… pressure is now zero” (VIDEO)
Title: TEPCO’s failure at math may have increased radiation release at Fukushima plant
Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
Date: June 05, 2013
Workers miscalculated pressure levels inside a reactor during the early stages of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, leading to a reduction in cooling water and a possible increase in the volume of radioactive materials released.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. estimated the pressure inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel at 400 kilopascals [...]
The actual pressure was 40 kilopascals, far below the 101 kilopascals of the surrounding atmosphere, suggesting that a large amount of radioactive materials escaped from the reactor.
TEPCO later discovered the mistake but did not announce it. [...]
“I think the airtightness (of the containment vessel) has not been maintained,” [Tadayuki Yokomura] said, according to a video footage of a TEPCO teleconference. [...]
The difficulty in venting fueled concerns that mounting pressure could rupture the containment vessel and release lethal levels of radioactive materials.
Early on March 15, TEPCO temporarily evacuated all but the minimum required 70 or so workers from the plant compound. [...]
See also: NHK: “The unimaginable was happening” — Workers say part of Reactor 2 containment vessel destroyed — After alarming pressure readings, “we heard a loud bang… pressure is now zero” (VIDEO)

New Mexico’s huge solar energy farm goes ahead

New Mexico’s Largest Solar Farm To Proceed,  7 June 13,  New Mexico’s largest solar energy plant, the 50-megawatt Macho Springs Solar Project, will go ahead after a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed by the New Mexico Public Regulator and El Paso Electric Power.
Under the arrangement, El Paso Electric – which services almost 390,000 customers in West Texas and the Rio Grande valley – will purchase the entire output from the solar farm for the duration of the PPA.
Construction of the plant is set to begin in July and will be completed in 2014. Sited on about 500 acres of state land in Luna County, New Mexico, Macho Springs is expected to generate enough power to provide electricity for around 18,000 homes.
The project will avoid 40,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 7,500 cars off the road, and save up to 340,000 tons of water each year.
The Macho Springs project will create 300 new jobs during its year-long construction phase and three full-time maintenance and operation positions. State Land Commissioner Ray Powell said in a statement that the lease payments from the solar plant could generate as much as $40 million for state land trust beneficiaries over the 40-year term of the lease.
The Macho Springs Solar plant is another addition to First Solar Inc’s stable of utility-scale solar power plants, including California’s massive 550-megawattTopaz and Desert Sunlight solar farms.
“We are very pleased to support El Paso Electric’s efforts to provide clean, reliable, renewable power to its customers, and contribute economic benefits and green jobs created by utility-scale solar development to Luna County,” said Michael Hatfield, First Solar Director of Project Development.

All of Tennessee Valley Authority.s nuclear power plants have notices of safety violations

All of TVA’s nuclear power plants operating under notices of safety violations  Lucas W Hixson The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federally owned corporation in the United States, which is already facing the threat of being sold as it carries some $25 billion in debt -just under the $30 million debt limit set by Congress, is facing increased oversight after having been found to having improperly assessed safety violations at two nuclear power plants.  TVA owns and operates the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah, and Watts Barr nuclear power plants, all of which are operating under notices of safety violations.  In 2011, the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant was issued a red finding due to the failure of a safety valve and TVA’s failure to recognize the problem.
This week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission put the Sequoyah nuclear power plant and Watts Bar nuclear power plant on increased oversight after determining that TVA violated nuclear safety standards in how the utility analyzed and prepared its flood assessment risk at the two nuclear power plants, both of which are located on the Tennessee River.
In late April of this year, the NRC staff held a conference with TVA officials to discuss the risk significance of the issues with the flood protection area.  After reviewing information presented by TVA and previous NRC inspections, the NRC staff concluded that the licensee had not met safety standards in multiple areas at both nuclear power plants.  The NRC concluded that TVA did not adequately establish flooding protection for scenarios involving the failure of upstream dams and also had not taken necessary measures to prevent water from flooding the intake pumping station.  Additionally, TVA was cited for an additional violation for not promptly notifying the NRC after discovering that the potential failure of upstream dams could result in an unanalyzed condition affecting plant safety.
In response to the violations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also increased its oversight at the nuclear power plants, an expense that TVA will have to pay for, putting all three nuclear facilities operated by TVA under increased oversight due to safety violations.  The NRC did not choose to impose further civil penalties and fines on TVA beyond the expense of the additional inspections and oversight.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission orders upgrades for 31 nuclear reactors

Upgraded vent systems ordered for 31 nuclear reactors, including two at Peach Bottom Nuclear Regulatory Commission says move is a safety measure By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun, June 6, 2013   The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday that it has ordered a venting upgrade for nearly a third of the reactors in the country, including ones at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station just north of Harford County.
Peach Bottom, in Delta, Pa., has two of the 31 reactors that must now have venting systems that can better handle accidents. The commission’s order is part of its review effort following the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, after an earthquake and tsunami.
Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said officials want venting systems in place that can operate “under a wider set of conditions and keep doing the job they’re designed for” — releasing pressure and hydrogen so containment buildings can hold on to radioactive material…..,0,3084896.story#ixzz2VZ6s598g

USA’s nuclear waste policy is a mess

Feds Fail on Nuclear Waste, Mational Review Online, Jack Spencer, June 6,The federal government assumed responsibility for nuclear-waste management more than 30 years ago. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 created an ostensibly simple system: Nuclear utilities would pay the U.S. Treasury a fee, collected from their customers, to cover the costs, and the government would see to it that the waste was taken care of. The act and its amendments over the years specified every detail of the disposal process. They stipulated how the waste would be disposed of, where, and who would be responsible.
Surprise! Despite the politicians’ and bureaucrats’ best efforts to centrally plan a long-term solution, the system doesn’t work. Although the government successfully collects money from the consumers of nuclear-generated electricity — nearly $30 billion since 1982 — it has collected zero nuclear waste. And as the waste — nearly 70,000 tons and counting — continues to build up at nuclear plants around the country, the government continues to dither. It literally has no plan to collect and dispose of the waste.
To address this, earlier this spring four senators released a draft of another “solution”: the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013. Unfortunately, the NWAA does nothing to fix the failed system. Instead, it accepts the notion that the feds, not waste producers themselves, should be responsible for nuclear-waste management, and it continues the policy of having waste producers pay a flat fee for these services…….