The New Safe Confinement arch over what was once Reactor Four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine is the world’s largest mobile steel structure. (Photo: Clay Gilliland/Flickr/cc)
Scientists monitoring the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine are detecting increased fission reactions inside an inaccessible chamber built around the radioactive ruins of a reactor that suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986—and they aren’t sure why.
New Scientistreported this week that since 2016, researchers have detected a 40% surge in neutron emissions from a sealed room containing large amounts of corium, a highly radioactive and hardened lava-like material containing much of the uranium fuel from Reactor Four of the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, the site of history’s worst nuclear disaster. Continue reading →
Contaminated water storage tanks at Fukushima. Photo: Svein T veitdal/Twitter
In a decision that sparked condemnation from environmental advocates, fisherfolk, and neighboring countries, Japan announced Tuesday a plan to dump over 1.2 million tons of stored contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The decision made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet gives Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) the green light to release Fukushima’s wastewater into the sea just over a decade after one of the worst nuclear disasters in history; discharges won’t begin for two years, as TEPCO prepares for a process that is expected to take decades. Continue reading →
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Ben Gurion airport in Israel, on November 18, 2020. The secretary was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Chief of Protocol Gil Haskel. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr
The alarming possibility of a military attack on Iran—a nation that has long been in the sights of war hawks in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel—was immediately invoked by foreign policy analysts Monday following reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in secret late Sunday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the plant’s accident. (Photo: Christian Åslund/Greenpeace)
The far-reaching dangers of nuclear power were on full display Tuesday as Japan’s environmental minister recommended releasing more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific Ocean nearly a decade after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the coastal facility.
“There are no other options” other than dumping the water into the ocean and diluting it, Yoshiaki Harada said at a news conference in Tokyo. Continue reading →
Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear power plant near Russellville, AR. Photo: T-Town Photo Booth/flickr
After months of experts raising alarm over the nuclear power industry pressuring U.S. regulators to roll back safety policies, staffers at the federal agency that monitors reactors sparked concerns Tuesday with official recommendations that include scaling back required inspections to save money.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has spent months reviewing its enforcement policies—and, as part of that process, sought input from industry groups, as Common Dreamsdetailed in March. In response, the industry representatives requested shifting to more “self-assessments,” limiting public disclosures for “lower-level” problems at plants, and easing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.” Continue reading →
“If you’ve got a problem with radioactive waste, you could clean it up, a costly and onerous process, or you could just change the definition of it. Guess which one the Trump administration has decided to do?”
The Savannah River Site in South Carolina is one of three Defense Reprocessing Waste Inventories where the Department of Energy will be reclassifying nuclear waste as safer than it has for decades, allowing the government to dispose of the waste more easily and potentially posing a risk for the surrounding environment. (Photo: Savannah River Site/Flickr/cc)
In a move that will roll back safety standards that have been observed for decades, the Trump administration reportedly has plans to reclassify nuclear waste previously listed as “high-level” radioactive to a lower level, in the interest of saving money and time when disposing of the material.
The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to observe a new interpretation of which nuclear waste qualifies as “high-level waste,” which must be disposed of deep underground to avoid contaminating the surrounding environment. Under the new standards, radioactive materials at three nuclear sites will be classified as low-risk, enabling officials to dispose of the waste in shallow pits. Continue reading →
Already seven of the 10 countries in the world with the highest military budgets are in the Middle East. The development of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia has many speculating that it could mark the beginning of an even more dangerous era for the war-torn region.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, has secretly approved the sale of nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia, Reutersrevealed this week. Saudi Arabia is reportedly attempting to construct at least two nuclear power plants as part of its effort to diversify its energy sector and its economy as a whole. As part of this plan it has accepted bids from Russia, South Korea and the U.S. for the lucrative contract. Perry’s approval is known as a Part 810 authorization, which allows energy companies to begin the process of planning and starting preliminary work in anticipation of the closing of a formal deal in the future.
While the Saudi proposals are presented as civilian and do not mention nuclear weaponry, U.S. approval and sale of nuclear technology has been seen by many as a prelude to the development of a Saudi nuclear weapon, which could potentially spark a nuclear arms race in the region. Riyadh has long coveted atomic weaponry and has considered developing its own in its quest to maintain military dominance in the region. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States, told the Guardian in 2011, noting that the kingdom may feel “compelled” to pursue the option in the future, if tensions with Iran remain high. Continue reading →
Independent watchdogs are raising alarm about the nuclear power industry’s ongoing efforts to convince federal regulators to scale back safety inspections and limit what “lower-level” issues are reported to the public.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—an agency dominated by President Donald Trump’s appointees—is currently reviewing its enforcement policies and is set to put forth recommendations for updating the nationwide rules in June. As part of that process, it sought input from plant operators and industry groups. Continue reading →
The Monticello, MN nuclear power plant, 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis on the Mississippi River. Photo: NRC/flickr
Provoking outrage among environmentalists, Trump’s EPA sent toxicologist Edward Calabrese—who has argued that loosening radiation regulations could have positive health effects on humans, as well as saving money for businesses that currently work to limit exposure—as its lead witness to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The EPA sent toxicologist Edward Calabrese, who has argued that loosening radiation regulations could have positive health effects on humans, as well as saving money for businesses that currently work to limit exposure, as its lead witness to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Continue reading →
Satellite image of Hurricane Florence swirling in the Atlantic Ocean as it approaches the U.S. coastline in the early hours of Wednesday morning. (Photo: CIRA/RAAMB)
With reports of skyscraper-likes waves out at sea, the potential for historic coastal surges and rainfall, and severe threats to vulnerable nuclear plants and other industrial waste sites—a behemoth Hurricane Florence is fast-approaching the southeastern U.S. coast on Wednesday as weather experts and emergency management officials intensify their warnings about the dangers the “once-in-a-lifetime” storm poses.
With state governments in South Carolina and North Carolina issuing evacuations along the coast and other potential flood zones, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has said that it is mobilizing for a storm that could knock out power for weeks and lead to the displacement of tens if not hundreds of thousands of residents across multiple states. Continue reading →