Risks and Accidents

Rich in nukes, poor in radiation detectors

24 Mar 2011

France is prosperous in terms of nuclear activity yet poor when it comes to radioactivity detection systems.

The network of radiation detection devices distributed across France is extremely poor, even when the handful of devices controlled by IRSN independent laboratories is added to it. There isn’t even enough for one per departmental region. To ensure you are informed about abnormal rises in radioactivity levels it is better to live in Belgium as there are warning devices every 20km. Reinforcing telemetry network coverage is obviously essential for picking up as quickly as possible local peaks of radioactivity which may have been caused by road traffic, air, rail or maritime accidents, malicious activities, or malfunctioning nuclear or industrial installations dealing with radioactive sources on French territory, neighbouring countries, or further afield. The perimeter of this network is exclusively land based and the maritime domain is not included. The IRSN (French Nuclear Safety agency) hopes in the years to come to achieve a similar density of warning devices as seen in Belgium and Germany; more financial resources are still required to achieve this.

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Beneath contempt!

22 Mar 2011

Subject: Franco-Japanese nuclear entente

Despite the tragic events that are unfolding, the representatives of the PWR lobby are continuing to extol the virtues of a safe nuclear industry, as they did after Chernobyl.

Relegating Japan to the ranks of a technological third world and highlighting the dangers of an out-of-date sector, the chairman of Areva and the Minister for Industry are trying, amidst the debris, to save the French nuclear industry’s face and investments.

They forget that, for the last 30 years, the French Government and Areva have been the leading suppliers of the enriched uranium used to feed all the Japanese reactors. As part of this well-publicised and interdependent partnership, France delivered Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) some Mox fuel, a mix of uranium and plutonium, and has thus added to the complexity and radiotoxicity of the crisis.

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When the cows turn into radioactive waste

19 Mar 2011

As part of the work of CODIR-PA(1) aimed at drawing up a post- nuclear-accident doctrine in France, the case of herds producing milk or meat contaminated beyond the maximum admissible norms was examined. Two ideas were considered:

– 1 Slaughter the herds. The Veterinary Services Department recommends burying the carcasses on the spot in pre-selected locations that do not expose groundwater and surface water to radioactivity migration. The VSD has had some experience of this procedure during outbreaks of disease.

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Irreparable Cooling Systems

18 Mar 2011

Satellite and aerial photos show that hydrocarbons are visually present in the basins at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and without doubt so are visually unidentifiable radioactive liquids. This pollution comes from soil leaching and the breakdown of equipment and pipelines. Nuclear power plants need gasoline to function and especially to operate the emergency generators.

In these circumstances the cooling systems are beyond repair. Moreover cooling water polluted by hydrocarbons is unusable. Oil spills are also a menace from the exterior to nuclear power plants as is marine litter as it can clog up the filter drums.

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The death of the nuclear energy

16 Mar 2011

For the last 30 years France and Japan have been steadily forging on towards a dazzling and unlimited nuclear energy.

Fast breeder reactors down, reprocessing of spent fuel, unnecessary reserves of plutonium, reactors packed up like sardines, internal discharges of waste and spent fuel, the Japanese and French governments have not stopped to consolidate, to reinforce, to encourage, to support, to complement, to glorify and to deceive each other in the field of civil nuclear power.

The radioactive particles which are escaping from the Fukushima power plant originate from mixed fuel consisting of uranium and plutonium made in France at Marcoule by AREVA.

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14 Mar 2011

In the long history of cooperation between France and Japan on nuclear issues, one should not forget MOX fuel which contains enriched uranium and plutonium. In October 1999, MOX shipments were transported by sea between Cherbourg and Japan. The Pacific Teal delivered MOX fuel, in the port of Okuma, which was destined for Fukushima, the very site where the nuclear reactors exploited by Tepco are in a state of crisis. The October 1999 delivery took place a couple of hours after a major accident on the Tokai-Mura nuclear site, today Tokai-Mura is also affected by the domino events following the earthquake and tsunami. In 1999, the Japanese government reduced communication on the subject and played down the effects on the workers 2 of whom were killed after exposure to radiation.

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Contamination of sea resources

13 Mar 2011

Both the n°2 and n°3 reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi site have a 750 MW capacity, almost the double of the reactor n°1. It is thus probable that explosions similar to the one which occurred in the building of reactor n°1 would be more devastating and would release larger doses of radiation.

The reactor n°1 at Onagawa has a capacity of 498 MW and reactors n°2 and n°3 796 MW ; the reactors at Onagawa are also in a state of emergency.

In 2001 the co-director of the Nuclear Department in the Japanese Ministry and the head of the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) wrote that “The nuclear plants are designed to withstand earthquakes by keeping at the adequate security level measures such as the shutting down of the nuclear reactor, the cooling down and the confinement of radioactive substances whatever the seismic solicitations conceivable on this particular site.” (Journal “Contrôle“ n° 142 French Nuclear Safety Authority Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire française.)

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Nuclear reactors and outside threats

12 Mar 2011

Robin des Bois would like to express their deepest sympathy towards the people of Japan.
Nuclear reactors are not sufficiently protected against outside climatic or geologic threats such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones and storms, massive snow falls and forest fires (1).

When looking at earthquakes, the understanding and the modelling of terrain movements and deformations has greatly improved over the last 20 years. Most of the nuclear reactors in the area affected by the earthquake which recently hit Japan were built between 1967 and 1981. The reactor n°1 at Fukushima-Daiichi which to date causes the most concern was built in 1967. Consequently, Fukushima-Daiichi was not built under new regulations developed through experience concerning anti-seismic construction. In Japan, the destruction of housing which were not constructed with these earthquake resistant requirements is planned. On the contrary, old nuclear reactors have a de facto prolonged lifespan following the French Japanese doctrine on the continuation of exploitation of nuclear plants. Early November 2010, the French and Japanese nuclear authorities met in Tokyo to coordinate the particularities of the implementation of prolonged lifespan reactor exploitation.

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(Français) Le serpent de mer nucléaire

20 Jan 2011

Only in French.

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Nuclear Power Plants Floating Around the World

10 Sep 2010

Nuclear Power Plants Floating Around the World

The first Russian Floating Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) was launched at the end of June 2010 (photo #1), the two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 35 MW x2 will be installed, according to the Russian authorities, before 2012. However delays are possible. This new nuclear activity is worrying, particularly because dealing with radioactive waste from Russian ice breakers and nuclear submarines as well as their dismantling continue to be a heavy burden.

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