Archive for the ‘nuclear energy’ category: Page 69

Oct 22, 2012

New whitepaper on Nuclear Industrial Safety

Posted by in categories: engineering, existential risks, nuclear energy, transparency

New whitepaper/critique on Nuclear Industrial Safety — International Nuclear Services Putting Buisness Before Safety and Other Essays on Nuclear Safety — Asserts specific concern over the 2038 clock-wrap issue in old UNIX/IBM Control Systems. This is an aggregation of previous contributions to Lifeboat Foundation on the topic of Nuclear Safety.

Comments welcome.

Oct 1, 2012

Liquor & Glass — Sellafield/BNFL Keeping a Lid on It

Posted by in categories: engineering, ethics, nuclear energy, policy, sustainability, transparency

Fukushima reawakened the world to the dangers of nuclear power, and reading back over Fearing Sellafield (2003) by Colum Kenny recently, I reflect back on how deflective and dishonest industry can be to steer clear of critical opinion. Seeing parallels suggested in other industries today, I wonder if much has really changed.

Highly Active Liquor (HAL) produced by the reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel at Sellafield, reached a level of 1,500 cubic meters in storage at its peak circa 2001, the capacity of a 50 meter Olympic swimming pool. Particularly unstable, a disruption to electricity & water coolant could result in such liquor boiling, overloading the ventilation filtration systems and leading to a nuclear accident. Containing about 80 times the amount released during the 1986 Chernobyl accident according to a report for the European Parliament at that time, we are rather fortunate such a serious accident never occurred. This analysis was provided by what became known as The WISE Report — so called due to associated with the World Information Service on Energy (WISE) in Paris. In response BNFL set out to reduce this liquor to a solid form known as ‘glass’ — borosilicate glass — much safer than when kept in liquid form, and put in storage — though much of it still remains to be vitrified.

In 2000/2001, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) of the HSE published a number of reports on aspects of Sellafield that led to causes of concern. One report in particular entitled ‘an investigation into the falsification of pellet diameter data in the MOX demonstration facility at the BNFL Sellafield site and the effect of this on the safety of MOX fuel in use’ suggested deliberate dishonesty in keeping records. BNFL subsequently complied with most of these recommendations.

Authors of the WISE report however still had concerns regarding increases in levels in certain sea discharges and aerial releases, and inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the OSPAR Convention. It stated that the deposition of plutonium within 20km of Sellafield attributable to aerial emissions has been estimated at 160–280 billion becquerels — several times the plutonium fallout from all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, and that 250kg-500kg of plutonium from Sellafield has been absorbed as sediments on the bed of the Irish sea ‘representing a long-term regional hazard of largely unknown proportions’. The report had been treated with caution by the European Commission and conveniently dismissed by the National Radiological Protection Board in the UK by claiming that some of the conclusions drawn in the report were based on ‘lacking objectivity’. It seems that governments are always bent towards safeguarding industry first, leaving environmental concerns and the health of our Mother Ship as a secondary issue.

Sep 10, 2012

International Nuclear Services Putting Business Before Safety

Posted by in categories: business, economics, ethics, nuclear energy

Whilst I was checking up on C.O.R.E. (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) this weekend, I read of latest plans to ship plutonium MOX fuel assemblies from Sellafield to the small German port of Nordenham near Bremerhaven on the NDA’s (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) ageing ship Atlantic Osprey.

The Atlantic Osprey, built in 1986, is a roll-on roll-off ferry purchased third hand by British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL) in 2001 and converted to carry radioactive materials. It is the only ship not to be custom-built of the UK’s designated nuclear cargo ships, and so is not double-hulled, and has only a single engine, among other short-comings.

According to CORE it has a chequered history as a nuclear carrier that includes an engine-room fire and breakdowns at sea, and equivalent sister ships have historically been retired at or before a standard 25 years of service. Whilst the ship is soon to finally brought to the scrapyard, it is due to be replaced by a 25-year old ship Oceanic Pintail recently saved from the scrap yard itself — and one would get the impression that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are cutting corners on safety to save on expenditure.

CORE spokesman Martin Forwood has pointed out that INS (International Nuclear Services — a subsidiary of the NDA) appears hell-bent on shipping this MOX fuel to Germany on a third-hand ship with second class safety and kept afloat on first class INS PR alone” and on learning about the current state of affairs, one would be inclined to agree.

Continue reading “International Nuclear Services Putting Business Before Safety” »

Apr 9, 2012

LHC-Critique Press Info: Instead of a neutral risk assessment of the LHC: New records and plans for costly upgrades at CERN

Posted by in categories: complex systems, cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, media & arts, nuclear energy, particle physics, philosophy, physics, policy, scientific freedom, space, sustainability

High energy experiments like the LHC at the nuclear research centre CERN are extreme energy consumers (needing the power of a nuclear plant). Their construction is extremely costly (presently 7 Billion Euros) and practical benefits are not in sight. The experiments eventually pose existential risks and these risks have not been properly investigated.

It is not the first time that CERN announces record energies and news around April 1 – apparently hoping that some critique and concerns about the risks could be misinterpreted as an April joke. Additionally CERN regularly starts up the LHC at Easter celebrations and just before week ends, when news offices are empty and people prefer to have peaceful days with their friends and families.

CERN has just announced new records in collision energies at the LHC. And instead of conducting a neutral risk assessment, the nuclear research centre plans costly upgrades of its Big Bang machine. Facing an LHC upgrade in 2013 for up to CHF 1 Billion and the perspective of a Mega-LHC in 2022: How long will it take until risk researchers are finally integrated in a neutral safety assessment?

There are countless evidences for the necessity of an external and multidisciplinary safety assessment of the LHC. According to a pre-study in risk research, CERN fits less than a fifth of the criteria for a modern risk assessment (see the press release below). It is not acceptable that the clueless member states point at the operator CERN itself, while this regards its self-set security measures as sufficient, in spite of critique from risk researchers, continuous debates and the publication of further papers pointing at concrete dangers and even existential risks (black holes, strangelets) eventually arising from the experiments sooner or later. Presently science has to admit that the risk is disputed and basically unknown.

Continue reading “LHC-Critique Press Info: Instead of a neutral risk assessment of the LHC: New records and plans for costly upgrades at CERN” »

Feb 13, 2012

LHC-Critique PRESS RELEASE (Feb 13 2012): CERN plans Mega-particle collider. COMMUNICATION to CERN: For a neutral and multi-disciplinary risk assessment before any LHC upgrade

Posted by in categories: cosmology, engineering, ethics, existential risks, futurism, nuclear energy, particle physics, philosophy, physics, scientific freedom, space, sustainability, transparency

- CERN’s annual meeting to fix LHC schedules in Chamonix: Increasing energies. No external and multi-disciplinary risk assessment so far. Future plans targeting at costly LHC upgrade in 2013 and Mega-LHC in 2022.

- COMMUNICATION to CERN – For a neutral and multi-disciplinary risk assessment before any LHC upgrade

According to CERN’s Chamonix workshop (Feb. 6–10 2012) and a press release from today: In 2012 the collision energies of the world’s biggest particle collider LHC should be increased from 3.5 to 4 TeV per beam and the luminosity is planned to be increased by a factor of 3. This means much more particle collisions at higher energies.

CERN plans to shut down the LHC in 2013 for about 20 months to do a very costly upgrade (for CHF 1 Billion?) to run the LHC at double the present energies (7 TeV per beam) afterwards.

Continue reading “LHC-Critique PRESS RELEASE (Feb 13 2012): CERN plans Mega-particle collider. COMMUNICATION to CERN: For a neutral and multi-disciplinary risk assessment before any LHC upgrade” »

Jan 20, 2012

Old UNIX/IBM control systems: Potential time bombs in Industry

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, defense, events, existential risks, military, nuclear energy

It may be a point of little attention, as the millennium bug came with a lot of hoo-ha and went out with a whimper, but the impact it had on business was small because of all the hoo-ha, not in spite of it. And so it is with some concern that I consider operating system rollover dates as a potential hazard by software malfunction at major industrial operations such as nuclear power stations and warhead controls, which in worst case scenario, could of course have disastrous implications due to out-dated control systems.

The main dates of interest are 19 January 2038 by when all 32-bit Unix operating systems need to have been replaced by at least their 64-bit equivalents, and 17 Sept 2042 when IBM mainframes that use a 64-bit count need to be phased out.

Scare mongering? Perhaps not. While all modern facilities will have the superior time representation, I question if facilities built in the 70s and 80s, in particular those behind the old iron curtain were or ever will be upgraded. This raises a concern that for example the old soviet nuclear arsenal could become a major global threat within a few decades by malfunction if not decommissioned or control systems upgraded. It is one thing for a bank statement to print the date wrong on your latest bill due to millennium bug type issues, but if automated fault tolerance procedures have coding such as ‘if(time1 > time2+N) then initiate counter-measures’ then that is quite a different matter entirely.

I believe this is a topic which warrants higher profile lest it be forgot. Fortunately the global community has a few decades on its hands to handle this particular issue, though all it takes is just one un-cooperative facility to take such a risk rather than perform the upgrades necessary to ensure no such ‘meltdowns’ occur. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…

Jan 11, 2012

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Eco-Disaster Areas

Posted by in categories: ethics, habitats, nuclear energy, sustainability

It was with great satisfaction that I watched a recent (Horizon?) documentary on the wildlife, wolf population and introduced endangerd species flourishing in the Chernobyl district in the abandonment of the area by mankind 25 years ago — with most not willing to hunt in the area for fear of contracting radiation poisoning. One wonders if this will be the template for the future, that eco-disaster areas will be abandoned to become our new wildlife sanctuaries. Or is it morally wrong to designate such areas as wildlife sanctuaries and wilfully expose the animal kindom to such levels of radiation?

After Fukushima the world was reawakened to the real danger of fault tollerance at nuclear power plants — but as a relatively clean technology is surely here to stay. Is there a need for a more inclusive debate on the location of such reactors to areas that are a) less likey to suffer natural disasters but b) also provide a suitable follow-on purpose in the event of area abandonment due to radiation. Opinions welcome.

Mar 25, 2007

Israeli Technology Turns Radioactive Waste Into Energy, Glass

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

Despite bringing us “pollution free” power, one of the unfortunate side effects from the nuclear age is radioactive waste. This deadly byproduct has the power of not only destroying the land around it in our present age, but for thousands of years into the future.

Although there have been various discussions on how to “deal” with this deadly waste product, it seems that some Israeli scientists have found an ingenious way of not only removing it but providing an incentive along the way.

(Israel 21st Century) “It also makes a good recyclable material for building and paving roads,” he assures them. Earlier, Shrem told ISRAEL21c that EER can take low-radioactive, medical and municipal solid waste and produce from it clean energy that “can be used for just about anything.”

Using a system called plasma gasification melting technology (PGM) developed by scientists from Russia’s Kurchatov Institute research center, the Radon Institute in Russia, and Israel’s Technion Institute — EER combines high temperatures and low-radioactive energy to transform waste.

Continue reading “Israeli Technology Turns Radioactive Waste Into Energy, Glass” »

Feb 18, 2007

Saudi Arabia and Russia Ready to Cooperate on Nuclear Energy

Posted by in category: nuclear energy

From Yahoo News:

RIYADH (Reuters) — Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter and a key U.S. ally, said on Wednesday that the kingdom does not see any obstacle to cooperating with Russia on developing a nuclear energy program.

“There is no obstacle to cooperate with Russia on… nuclear energy,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference.

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Jan 23, 2007

Prospects for Lifeboat space habitat colonies

Posted by in categories: lifeboat, nuclear energy, space

The New Scientist discusses a recent study that advocates using of an ion beam generator on the moon to allow the use of far smaller rockets to move from the moon to other locations in space. The ion beam generator would need several hundred megawatts of electrical power from either a large solar cell array or nuclear power.

I have discussed the need on my website to make gigawatts of power on the moon and in orbit in order to begin serious development and colonization efforts.

An alternative to ion beams would be magbeam, a plasma based approach for accelerating spaceships

The Lifeboat Foundation supports space habitats and Asteroid shields

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