Wednesday, 28 September 2011

29 Sept anniversary of the third worst nuclear accident in the world

Map of the East Urals Radioactive Trace (EURT): area contaminated by the Kyshtym disaster.

The Kyshtym disaster - Russia

In September 1957, the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of liquid radioactive waste failed and was not repaired. The temperature in it started to rise, resulting in evaporation and a chemical explosion of the dried waste. The explosion, estimated to have a force of about 70–100 tons of TNT threw the concrete lid, weighing 160 tons, into the air.[3] There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, which released an estimated 2 to 50 MCi (74 to 1850 PBq) of radioactivity.[2][4][5]

In the next 10 to 11 hours, the radioactive cloud moved towards the northeast, reaching 300–350 kilometers from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 square kilometers, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90.[2] This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace (EURT).[6]

References1.^ a b Schlager, Neil (1994). When Technology Fails. Detroit: Gale Research. ISBN 0-8103-8908-8.

2.^ a b c "Chelyabinsk-65".

3.^ a b "Conclusions of government commission" (in Russian).

4.^ Kabakchi, S. A.; A. V. Putilov (1 1995). "Data Analysis and Physicochemical Modeling of the Radiation Accident in the Southern Urals in 1957". Moscow ATOMNAYA ENERGIYA (1): 46–50.

5.^ See also List of military nuclear accidents

6.^ Dicus, Greta Joy (January 16, 1997). "Joint American-Russian Radiation Health Effects Research". United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 30 September 2010.

7.^ Pollock, Richard (1978). "Soviets Experience Nuclear Accident". Critical Mass Journal.

8.^ Medvedev, Zhores A. Nuclear disaster in the Urals translated by George Saunders. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York : Vintage Books, 1980, c1979, ISBN 0394744454.

9.^ Diane M. Soran; Danny B. Stillman (1982). An Analysis of the Alleged Kyshtym Disaster. Los Alamos National Laboratory.;jsessionid=AE63F0635724B2D67229E70E6BAE485A?purl=/5254763-UCvDE3/.

10.^ a b "The Southern Urals radiation studies: A reappraisal of the current status". Journal of Radiation and Environmental Biophysics 41. 2002.

11.^ John R. Trabalka (1979), "Russian Experience" pp. 3–8 in Environmental Decontamination: Proceedings of the Workshop, December 4–5, 1979, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, CONF-791234

12.^ The Nuclear Disaster They Didn't Want To Tell You About/Andrew Cockburn/ Esquire Magazine/ April 26 1978

13.^ Gyorgy, A. (1979). No Nukes: Everyone's Guide to Nuclear Power. ISBN 0919618952.

14.^ "The decision of Nikipelov Commission" (in Russian).

15.^ R. Jeffrey Smith (Jul 10, 1989). "Soviets Tell About Nuclear Plant Disaster; 1957 Reactor Mishap May Be Worst Ever". The Washington Post: A1.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

India postpones buying nuclear reactors from France

Since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Indian government has become concerned about the safety of the nuclear reactors that they were going to order from France. They have postponed their decision to buy the EPR reactors.

How come the British government is still backing EDF's plan to build this type of reactor at Hinkley?

Vaiju Naravane wrote in The Hindu,  Paris, September 20, 2011

"India will postpone its final decision on the purchase of EPR type nuclear reactors from France until after the current post-Fukushima nuclear safety tests have been satisfactorily completed, it is reliably learnt.

Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, conveyed this message to French Industry Minister Eric Besson when the two met during the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) consultations which opened in Vienna. Mr. Besson said: “Dr. Banerjee said India imports only reactors which have been certified by their own authorities. The EPR has already been certified. Now they want the post-Fukushima certification.” However, he added that the Indians had conveyed this message “in a very positive manner.”

Several nuclear contracts around the world have been either frozen, delayed or cancelled as a result of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear accident to hit the planet after the Chernobyl explosion of 1986, putting into doubt the much-vaunted “nuclear renaissance.” Germany has chosen to forgo the nuclear option altogether and in France there is talk of reducing the country's dependence on nuclear energy to 50 per cent from the current 75 per cent, by 2025.

The EPR plant under construction at Flamanville (northern France) has seen interminable delays and a massive cost hike. Two persons have died on the construction site and the plant is not expected to go on stream before 2016 at the very least. EDF, the most experienced constructor in the world, has admitted it has not mastered the engineering techniques demanded by the hugely complex and complicated design of the massive 1,650 MWe pressurised water reactor. There is not a single EPR plant operating to date and the Olkiluoto plant in Finland too has seen massive cost overruns and long delays, with the result that the Finns and Areva are locked in a protracted legal battle.

In December 2010 Areva signed a framework agreement with India to build the first of six EPR reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra with an option of four more reactors to follow. But Areva will build only the nuclear island while the turbine island and other installations will have to be built by contractors chosen by the NPCIL. Fears have been expressed that with EDF, the most experienced builder and operator of nuclear reactors in the world unable to get it right in Flamanville, the Indian side may not be able to ensure proper construction and safety. There is also some uncertainty about the central dome of the EPR which is forged by the Japanese. Japan, with its aggressive anti-nuclear stand (especially on proliferation issues) may not agree to the technology transfer to India.

On September 15, France's major nuclear operators including Areva and electricity giant EDF handed in their self-evaluation reports on 80 installations to the nuclear safety agency, the ASN. This body, along with the IRSN (Institute of Radio-protection and Nuclear Safety) will now examine the self-evaluations submitted by the three nuclear players in France and hand in its report by the end of 2011.

Already nuclear watchdog agencies such as Sortir du Nuclear (Quitting Nuclear), the Nuclear Observatory and several ecologist groups have criticised the method of self-evaluation adopted by the ASN and the French government.

“No credibility can be accorded to this type of self-evaluation by commercial enterprises. They have no desire whatsoever to see their operations halted for further verification,” said Stephane Lhomme, of the NGO Nuclear Observatory. “The only way to really verify all the safety factors and mechanisms is by halting the installations. This is not to speak of the totally unresolved questions of nuclear waste or the decommissioning of old reactors.”

“These tests are all fluff,” said nuclear scientist Jean-Marie Brom, who works at the Centre for Scientific Research in Strasbourg and is a member of Sortir du Nucleaire. “We are not in any way better prepared to prevent nuclear accidents. Had Tepco been asked to do a safety report on Fukushima a year ago, the company would have said it was perfectly safe.”

A recent blast at France's oldest nuclear site in Marcule which killed one person and injured four has reignited the debate on nuclear safety in France."


An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Anti Nuclear Hunger Strike at Koodankulam, south India

Koodankulam Updates:

The non-violent hunger strike at Idinthakarai has entered its 9th day but the state and central governments have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to the demands of the people. In the meantime, the situation of many of the hunger strikers continues to deteriorate to an alarming level. More than 15,000 people have been gathering every day for the past 8 days from 30 odd villages and towns around Koodankulam from three districts, viz. Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli. The protest has spread to many parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala with southern Tamil Nadu turning out to be the epicenter of protests. For the eighth day in succession, fishermen, farmers, manual laborers, merchants of the area did not go to work while students have boycotted educational institutions. Shops remain closed in many places around Idinthakarai.

The men and women who gather everyday to participate in the protest also fast throughout the day. People of Hindu, Muslims and Christian faiths and of all major caste groups are involved in the hunger strike and the relay fast by tens of thousands of people. Leaders of most of the major political parties have come and expressed their support to the protest and a few of them have also announced specific protest programs.

The authorities have foisted false cases on 500 odd people and a few have been put in jail. A huge police battalion has been posted near Idinthakarai and neighboring villages. Road blocks have been created and public transport has been suspended by authorities who are preventing people from coming to the protest in all possible ways.

With the swiftly deteriorating health situation of the fasters and lack of any serious or official initiative on the part of the governments to talk, some people are losing their patience. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer has issued a call to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to intervene immediately and has also asked the movement to continue the protesters without putting the lives of the people in danger or resorting to violence. Medha Patkar is joining the protest today. The protest needs intervention from eminent and respected personalities like you and solidarity and support from groups across the country to force the governments to act and save the lives of fasters and to maintain a peaceful atmosphere.

K.Sahadevan    from Koodankulam


An informal information platform for activists and scholars concerned about the dangers of Nuclearisation in South Asia

Anti Nuclear Protest at Koodankulam, India

India began to build these nuclear power stations in 1991 in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.
Recently local people, many of whom are fishermen, realising that their livelihoods are at stake, are protesting. They fear that the radioactive waste discharged from the reactor will contaminate the fish. They also fear a Fukushima-type disaster since Tamil Nadu has been hit by tsunamis.


Nuclear Waste and the Green Party

Well at least the Green Party care what happens to our nuclear waste.
They may not have a solution to the nuclear waste problem, but then who has? There is no satisfactory solution. But clearly burying it underground, out of site, out of mind, is not the right thing to do. Geologists have already carried out surveys in Cumbria and come to the conclusion that nuclear waste buried there would leak radioactivity out into the ground water. The current government has decided to ignore geological reports and push ahead with deep geological disposal.

But the Green Party proposed at their Autumn Conference:

"We call on policy committee to develop a policy on legacy high and intermediate level radioactive waste in time for Spring Conference 2012. The policy to be based on best environmental practice, not political expediency We also call on Conference to support Allerdale and Copeland Green Party and other local groups, including West Cumbria Friends of the Earth, Radiation Free Lakeland, and CORE in their work to oppose the deep geological disposal plans and to call for alternative disposal methods to be revisited. In particular lobbying local authorities not to proceed to the next stage of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS)process (January 2012), at which stage the right of withdrawal would be severely compromised proposed"

More Power to the Green Party

Friday, 16 September 2011

Japan Receives Reprocessed Radioactive Waste

QBy Chisaki Watanabe - Sep 15, 2011

Photograph shows the Pacific Grebe. Source: International Nuclear Services Ltd. via Bloomberg

.A ship carrying radioactive waste arrived in Japan, the first shipment of the dangerous material since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The 5,100-ton Pacific Grebe arrived at Mutsu-Ogawara port in northern Japan today, Masako Sawai, a member of Tokyo-based Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, said by phone. She was among about 50 protesters at the port.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. is receiving the cargo of spent fuel from Japanese nuclear plants that was reprocessed in the U.K. Kyoji Ebisawa, a spokesman at the company, said he can’t comment on the arrival until the waste is delivered to the nearby Rokkasho storage site later today.

Thousands of workers are struggling to contain radiation leaks after the meltdown of three reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) south of the port.

“The accident at Fukushima hasn’t been resolved,” Sawai said. “We are concerned accidents can happen during the transportation of radioactive waste.

The Pacific Grebe set sail from the port of Barrow-in- Furness in the U.K. on Aug. 3. The waste is sealed in 76 stainless steel canisters.

Japan contracted the U.K. and France to process its fuel in the 1970s and waste from the process is shipped back for storage. Today’s cargo is the second shipment from the U.K. and about eight more shipments are scheduled through 2020, according to Ebisawa.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Langan at; Teo Chian Wei at

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Nuclear Explosion in Southern France


There is a nuclear reprocessing plant near the Marcoute nuclear plant. This plant takes radioactive metal, among other things, and melts it down for recycling. The oven used for melting the metal exploded, killing one worker, seriously injuring another and slightly injuring two others.

What happens to the metal after it has been melted down???