June 1, 2011
Nuclear power is safe only if no Act of God is permitted. – Nobel-prize-winning physicist Hannes Alfven, 1972
Fukushima has raised, once again, the perennial questions about human fallibility and human frailty, about human hubris and man’s arrogance in thinking he can control nature. The earthquakes, the tsunami, the meltdown at Japan’s nuclear power plant are nature’s reminders of her power… Alternatives to nuclear energy are thousand times more abundant and million times less risky. To push nuclear plants after Fukushima is pure insanity. – Vandana Shiva
“The exit is necessary, and is recommended, in order to rule out the risks of nuclear power,” the commission said. “It is possible, because there are less risky alternatives.” It identified wind, solar, water as alternatives, as well as geothermal energy and so-called biomass energy from waste, as alternative power sources.
As a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency visits Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled nuclear plant today, academics warn the company has failed to disclose the scale of radiation leaks and faces a "massive problem" with contaminated water.
On Friday Japan had its international credit rating pushed to a negative outlook by nervy ratings firms. Fitch Ratings says while Japan's deficit and debt are very high, it is not their main concern, it's the damage the Fukushima disaster could do to economic growth as well as the actual cost of cleaning it up and protecting the site in the future.
Japan's Education Ministry has pulled an about-face, returning exposure limits for schoolchildren 1 millisievert a year. Officials will also pay for removing surface soil from affected schoolyards.
The principal cause of the meltdowns in three of the six Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors was a complete blackout of electrical power, both onsite and offsite.
Without electrical power, cooling pumps cannot operate. Since no one knows how to shut off radioactivity, the heat generated by the enormous inventory of radioactivity in the core of the reactor cannot be stopped or removed fast enough, and so the temperature climbs and climbs, higher and higher.
At a temperature of about 1200 degrees Celsius, the zirconium metal cladding (enclosing the uranium fuel pellets) melts – and so radioactive gasses and vapours escape into the atmosphere of the containment building -- these are the gasses and vapours that were trapped in the "gap" between the cladding and the fuel. These include iodine-131, iodine-129, cesium-137, cesium-134, as well as several isotopes of xenon and krypton.
The overheated zirconium metal (Zr) also reacts chemically with the steam (H2O) to produce large amounts of zirconium oxide (ZrO2) and hydrogen gas (H2). All it takes is a spark to set off an enormous explosion, destroying the outer walls of the containment structure and releasing the radioactive gasses and vapours to the outside atmosphere. The vapours condense and stick to soil, plants, animals, fish and inner organs, entering and concentrating in the food chain. Radioactive iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland and in milk, while radioactive cesium concentrates in blood and soft organs. The highly radioactive gasses irradiate people from the above as they pass overhead.
As the temperature continues to climb to about 2800 degrees Celsius, the fuel itself starts to melt, releasing a much greater quantity of radioactive iodine, cesium, krypton, and argon, as well as dozens of other radioactive materials -- isotopes of strontium, plutonium, americium, technetium, rubidium, ruthenium -- the list goes on and on.
It is important to realize that a similar sequence of events would occur in any large power reactor in the world, if there were a total loss of onsite and offsite power for an extended period. Such a situation could be caused by conventional sabotage or warfare, by a combination of a natural disaster and equipment failure, by a massive fire in the electrical wiring of a nuclear reactor, or just by accident. See for example http://www.ccnr.org/browns_ferry.html .
-- Gordon Edwards.
Tim Hudak’s recent announcement that he would cancel the Green Energy and Green Economy Act is irresponsible. It would cost Ontario thousands of jobs and cause us to miss out on this clean energy revolution, a global transformation that is simultaneously reducing environmental impacts, creating jobs and fuelling economic growth in countries around the world.
The provincial PC leader has vowed to kill Ontario's green energy plan if he's elected premier in October. At the same time, Hudak is promising to phase out coalfired plants by 2014 -just three years from now -because they're dirty.
Send a letter to Mr. Hudak here – use the following text or write your own:
I've just learned about the release of your new energy platform. I'm very pleased that you are committed to completely phasing out all coal burning in the province by 2014.
I'm also happy that you're committed to hydro-electricity. The real potential lies with our neighbour next door via water power imports from Quebec. With the exception of conservation, hydro-electricity from Quebec is the lowest-cost option to keep the lights on in Ontario. Vermont purchases water power from Hydro Quebec for about 6 cents per kWh, less than one-third the cost of new nuclear. Please commit to negotiating a long-term contract with Hydro Quebec for low-cost water power before signing any new nuclear agreements.
In terms of natural gas, all of our new plants should be energy efficient Combined Heat and Power.
But the best way to protect electricity consumers is to end the practice of allowing nuclear companies to pass along their inevitable cost overruns. Please tell Ontario Power Generation (OPG) that a Hudak Government will not allow it to pass its cost overruns on to consumers and taxpayers. It's time to put Ontario's consumers and taxpayers first. No more blank cheques for OPG. http://www.cleanairalliance.org/hudak_coal
This new book on Chernobyl by Dr. Alexey V. Yablokov, Dr. Vassily B. Nesterenko and Dr. Alexey V. Nesterenko, Consulting Editor Dr. Janette Sherman can be now downloaded free at: http://www.strahlentelex.de/Yablokov%20Chernobyl%20book.pdf
It can also be purchased in paperback for $10 from Lynn Ehrle email@example.com .
Denmark began using combined heat and power (CHP) technology in the period of 1989-1996 to an extent that they can now deliver 25% of the national demand for electricity in Denmark, all from small-scale decentralized district energy stations. Today, central and decentralized CHP plants together have a capacity to deliver 60% of the electricity and 80% of the heating demand.
Record rise, despite recession, means 2C target almost out of reach
Ailing UN climate talks jolted by record surge in greenhouse gases
Lord Stern talks of 'wake-up call' for governments meeting in Bonn next week with no sign of an agreement to succeed Kyoto
Federal government admits deliberately leaving numbers out that indicate pollution from oilsands production outstrips auto emissions, up 20% from previous year
Watch the 8 min. trailer to this superb documentary:
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STOP Canadian Participation in crimes against peace and humanity. Join the Spring Nuremberg Action Group (SNAG) as we throw a snag into the CANSEC weapons fair where profits are put ahead of international laws meant to stop war crimes. While there will be nonviolent “civil disobedience”, there will be many roles for people not risking arrest. Bring signs, banners, and objects of peace to tie to the fence.
More info on SNAG and events:
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Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade
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Phone 416-260-2080 ext. 1
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