New meltdown news from Japan
There is a really very serious meltdown crisis at the Fukushima nuclear site hit by the tsunami in 2011. Radiation levels at reactor No 2 have hit 530 sieverts per hour. Previous peak sieverts at this reactor were 73. Experts say the level is “unimaginable”. It’s almost 800%. One sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness, 5 would kill 50% of people exposed in a month, and a single dose of 10 sieverts would be fatal within. This is a Three Mile Island type meltdown, with molten fuel burning through - they think - a one metre hole in the floor of the reactor. No detail is available of the temperature reached, but a robot designed to go into the reactor vessel, engineered to withstand 1000 sieverts, will burn up in 2 hours. To date, experts reckoned decommissioning - an inadequately comforting term - would have taken forty years. And there are 2 other reactors next door which also have meltdown. (Guardian 4.2.17).
Aldeburgh beach has Strontium 90...
A year long investigation about Strontium 90 - the headline nuclear reactor & bomb radiation - being found on Aldeburgh beach has been judged no problem, maybe just to do with new laboratory contractyors and more sensitive equipment. Five local beaches are monitoired once a year. The Govermnent’s Environment Agency says there is no link to decommissioned Sizewell A because “ discharges have declined sharply since it ceased (operations) in 2006”. Not yet sure what that says at all. We need to know much more. Maybe it has come from elsewhere, since we now know that these elements circulate right round our coasts. Sizewell B said it is not theirs since it has the wrong signature. Who knows? (EADT 9/2/17).
Unhappy nuclear workers ....
Amongst the nuclear industry’s problems is an unhappy workforce and overall shortage of expert engineers and scientists. Unhappiness is currently about cuts to their pensions to keep their jobs. Across the water, and mentioned above, EDF France have announced a big redundancy programme. If workers who’ve risked their health & lives in this inherently dangerous industry can’t be treated properly, what about other “social responsibilties”, including the environment. The UK UNITE union, Britain’s biggest, now with skilled workers in the industry adding to their traditional mebership, is taking about a strike ballot on the pension issue. It raises serious questions about the much vaunted new nuclear jobs.
Newts under Brexit attack
The Brexit attack on decent environmental standards derived from Europe looks as though it is starting with an attack on the great crested newt. A Euro protected species, the Financial Times (12th Feb) has revealed that they could lose their protection under the likely “red tape” bonfire. Suffolk Coastal MP and junior environment minister Therese Coffey next day “rubbished” the story (EADT 13th Feb). Who will be proved right?
America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission kills off new cancer study
A long campaign to get the American government to fund a new study of cancer rates in populations around nuclear power stations has failed, but did get a freedom of information win. The last official study was back in 1990. It produced results biased about radiation exposure over time by inckuding the whole population figures whch included newcomers, people passing through and also excluded (didn’t follow up) people who had moved away. There has been lots of support from the scientific community for a new study. The FoI produced 1000 pages of federal Nuclear Regulatory Agency files, revealing the blocker: “Most people realise that all the evidence shows you’re not going to find anything” said the ex director of the NRC to the Southern California News Group.
Woodland Mitigation, IROPI and “translocation”
If you are still trying to understand the magic mantras of law makers and planners for getting round nature protection regulations, especially the European ones which are much tighter than the UK tradition, try this woodland removal story about the “mitigation hierarchy” of 3 steps, namely, damage avoidance, damage mityigaion and damagee compensation.
A Government transport policy statement on road improvement has been discovered about “protecting ancient woodland along the A21 for future generations”. The Highways Agency came up with salvaging key features of the ancient woodlands by “habitat translocation”. This magically “creates”, over 25 years, 18 hectares of “new ancient woodland”, but just in case it isn’t totally recreated, there will be twice as much as the original amount destroyed. Maybe if it doesn’t work it won’t be called “ancient woodland”. However, the remaining woodland will be specially looked after for 10 years, and some environmental work will actually be started in advance of construction. Planning approval was given before anyone realised the woodland was ancient and would be damaged (removed). The story shows how the mitigation herarchy is being treated as an automatic conveyor belt for developers to do what they want. There is a heritage wood - Coronation Wood - at Sizewell Marshes SSSI, in the firing line of the new access road needed by EDF.
Nuclear power stations winning rate appeals
SAGE’s response to EDF Stage 2 consultation asks questions about how much - if on balance any - economic benefit there might be from two more big nuclear reactors at Sizewell, other issues apart. Existing nuclear power stations owned by EDF in the UK have won big rating appeals from the government recently. At Hinkley B, the existing plant, the local councils are going to be a third of million £ out of pocket as a result. Suffolk County and Suffolk Coastal planners and politicians seem to have started to ask similar questions about economic benefits, going wider than just the Section 106 payments for doing the public things that EDF would be needing.
Anglian Water is to spend £425million this year out of its 5 year, £5bn investment programme, according to the the Anglian. We checked its five year plan recently. Not a mention of the vast Sizewell project. The public might like to know what’s happening, just in case we end up paying for someone else’s infrastructure. As we note above, lots of people and organisations concerned about EDF’s project are now asking where all the water will come from for all the concrete and those workforces? And what about farming and tourism especially if we have a drought year, or two? Some transparency needed here.