Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vermont Yankee Power Struggle: Radio Forum in Massachusetts

Vermont Yankee Power Struggle: Radio Forum in Massachusetts

On Tuesday, April 24, Meredith Angwin and Richard Schmidt (nuclear engineer, local resident, and occasional guest blogger at Yes Vermont Yankee)  will debate two anti-nuclear activists on a radio show at Northampton Massachusetts.  If you live in the area, you can attend the show, which will be broadcast live from a local restaurant.  If you do not live in the area, you can call in questions.  The show will not be streamed on the web, but will be podcast later.

SYLCOR WESTERN OFFICE / Part 1

SYLCOR WESTERN OFFICE / Part 1
 
 
Will Davis at Atomic Power Review continues on his mission to give nuclear energy its history back by introducing an unusual (to the nuclear energy world) series of historical prose.  Previously announced at APR were four recurring, new historical features; the actual launch occurs now with the first installment covering Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Coporation's Western Sales Office.  Through many original documents both from Sylcor and from the late Jim Vadeboncoeur, Will Davis tells the inside story of the early days of commercial nuclear energy.
 
Will Davis
http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/
e-mail:  atomicpower@willdavis.org
iPhone:  216-544-3808  

Worlds Largest Nuke Ever Detonated


Insane: Worlds Largest Nuke Ever Detonated
http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/insane-worlds-largest-nuke-ever-detonated/

On October 30, 1961, the Soviet Union conducted an atmospheric test of the
50-megaton Tsar Bomba(Russian for "Bomb King") nuclear weapon over the Novaya
Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The ensuing detonation threw up a
mushroom cloud 64 kilometers high and would've subjected anyone 100 kilometers
away to third degree burns.

Why nuclear power is not the dream that failed by Lee Gliddon

Why nuclear power is not the dream that failed

Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes Jaczko denies everything

When a politician gets in trouble in Washington, it is almost always about one of two things - money or women

Candu Energy signs MOU with Turkey's EUAS for Sinop Plant

Candu Energy signs MOU with Turkey's EUAS for Sinop Plant

During a ceremony at World Energy Council's World Energy Leadership Summit today in Istanbul, Canadian nuclear firm Candu Energy and Turkish state power generator EUAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the construction of a new nuclear plant at the Black Sea port of Sinop.
"Today's deal underlines Turkey's strong commitment on nuclear power plants," Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, quoted by the Anatolia news agency. "This is a serious proposal."
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Japanese Nuclear Industry “Spent Ten Times More Money For PR Campaigns Than We Did For Real Safety Measures”

Japanese Nuclear Industry “Spent Ten Times More Money For PR Campaigns Than We Did For Real Safety Measures”

Nuclear Industry Spends Money on Lobbying and P.R. … Instead of Safety

We’ve previously noted that “nuclear can be safe or it can be cheap … but it can’t be both”.
Fortune quotes Japanese nuclear consultant Satoshi Sato today:
We spent ten times more money for PR campaigns than we did for real safety measures. It’s a terrible thing.
If the nuclear industry had spent the money on safety measures, instead of empty PR, Fukushima wouldn’t have happened.

Pink on Green: How to Ignite the Second Electrical Revolution

Pink on Green: How to Ignite the Second Electrical Revolution

The electric industry is good at building things. That’s how it solves problems. Is there a threat of blackouts? Develop a new natural gas-fired plant. Worried about climate change? Build wind and solar power. Does electricity cost too much? Install a transmission line to import cheaper power.But build-to-solve represents only half of the equation in the new world of smart grid. The other half, the part that stumps the industry, is solve-without-building.

Revisiting the Potential Nuclear Century



Revisiting the Potential Nuclear Century

This is a review of estimates for a nuclear energy century.

1000 reactors for 2030 would be the high-2030 scenario from the World Nuclear Association (WNA) - Nuclear Century. The WNA lists nuclear generation targets by country.
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China talks with Turkey about $20 billion nuclear project

China talks with Turkey about $20 billion nuclear project

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste

By burning away all the pesky carbon and other impurities, coal power plants produce heaps of radiation


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

Why natural gas is the ‘atomic bomb’ of the energy debate

Posted: 20 Apr 2012 07:07 AM PDT
The growing role of natural gas in the U.S. energy mix continues to confound and divide renewable energy experts and investors. Is America's abundant supply of shale gas a boon for the renewable industry, or undercutting it?

The Turkish government recently signed a $20 billion project with Russia to build nuclear power facilities in Akkuyu, Turkey


The Turkish government recently signed a $20 billion project with Russia to build nuclear power facilities in Akkuyu, Turkey. Now the Turkish government has set its sights on constructing a nuclear plant in Sinop, Turkey. The Financial Times recently reported that China is the primary contender for this contract due to its ability to secure financing without requiring guarantees from the Turkish government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited China last week, confirming reports of the deal when Energy Minister Tanir Yildiz held talks with Chinese authorities. At these meetings, Chinese Energy authority Liu Tienan pledged full financial guarantees for the $20 billion project.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/04/china-talks-with-turkey-about-20.html

Southern California Edison Completes Tube Inspections in San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s Unit 2 Steam Generators


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Media Relations, (626) 302-2255


Southern California Edison Completes Tube Inspections in
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s Unit 2 Steam Generators


ROSEMEAD, Calif., April 20, 2012 — Southern California Edison (SCE) has informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the company has completed additional inspections of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Unit 2 steam generators, based on Unit 3 findings. On April 11, SCE identified wear in two of the 19,454 tubes in the Unit 2 generators that was similar to the type of wear that was previously seen in Unit 3. SCE conducted these inspections with technology specifically designed to identify this type of wear.

“Our number one priority is, and always has been, the health and safety of the public and our employees,” said SCE Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Pete Dietrich. “Our commitment remains the same; the utility will only bring the units on line when we and the NRC are satisfied that it is safe to do so.”

Today, SCE also has provided a letter to the NRC to update the regulator on the ongoing Unit 2 steam generator tube inspections and to confirm the actions outlined in the NRC’s Confirmatory Action Letter, which SCE received on March 27. The letter outlines actions SCE must complete at SONGS before seeking permission from the NRC to restart Units 2 and 3.

Unit 2 was taken out of service for a planned outage on Jan. 9. Unit 3 has been shut down since Jan. 31, when it was safely taken off line after station operators detected a leak in one of the unit’s steam generator tubes.

More information is available at www.edison.com/songsupdate.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.
-###-

Jennifer Manfrรจ
Senior Manager, Media Relations
Southern California Edison
626-302-7964

As the world turns at the NRC | Atomic Insights

As the world turns at the NRC | Atomic Insights
By Rod Adams
The latest episode in the distracting soap opera at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has provided more fodder for the political pundits in their efforts to turn nuclear energy deployment and regulation into a partisan issue. Fortunately ...
Atomic Insights

Obama to renominate GOP nuclear regulator

Obama to renominate GOP nuclear regulator
BusinessWeek
By MATTHEW DALY President Barack Obama will nominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to a new term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, despite opposition from two top Democratic senators. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama believes the ...
Sanders Opposes NRC Nominee
vtdigger.org
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today on the reappointment of Commissioner Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: “I have serious concerns about NRC Commissioner Svinicki's record on safety.
Washington Extra – Going nuclear?
Reuters Blogs (blog)
By Warren Strobel US Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner Kristine Svinicki (L) is seen here with Chairman Gregory Jaczko (C) and fellow commissioner George Apostolakis (R) listening to testimony at a meeting at the NRC's headquarters in ...

Reuters Blogs (blog)
The Democratic War on One Woman
Wall Street Journal
Ask Kristine Svinicki, a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ms. Svinicki is a respected nuclear engineer who was unanimously confirmed to the NRC in 2008, and whose term is up in June. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now actively ...
President Obama nominates NRC commissioner opposed by Harry Reid
Las Vegas Sun
By Karoun Demirjian (contact) WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will re-nominate Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a White House official confirmed Thursday, bringing a swift end to a unfolding standoff with Senate Republicans ...
Obama to renominate GOP commissioner to NRC
GovExec.com
By Rebecca Carroll Despite opposition from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., President Obama will renominate Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Reuters reports. The news came just as Senate Minority Leader Mitch ...
Risch jumps to defense of former Craig aide at NRC
The Idaho Statesman
Jim Risch jumped in to support a former aide to his predecessor Larry Craig locked in a tough fight to keep her job on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. President Barack Obama renominated Kristine Svinicki for the Republican-designated seat she ...
Obama's NRC Nomination Draws Fire From Democrat Reid Over Yucca
San Francisco Chronicle
Svinicki, 45, has criticized NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, a former science adviser to Reid. She also has complained about the commission's effort to shut a nuclear-waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which Reid opposes.
Obama goes to battle with Reid over appointment
Washington Times
By Stephen Dinan A day after a very public prodding by Senate Republicans, the White House said Thursday that President Obama will renominate Kristine Svinicki to serve on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — a move that puts him at odds with Senate ...
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More coal disasters than nuclear ones: expert


More coal disasters than nuclear ones: expert
BusinessLIVE
An aerial image of the Fukushima nuclear reactor after the meltdown. "On average 5000 people die annually because of accidents in the coal mining industry. In contrast, according to the World Health Organisation, in sixty years of nuclear power use ...

Activists call for shutdown of aging nuclear power plant

Activists call for shutdown of aging nuclear power plant
Focus Taiwan News Channel
Taiwan has three nuclear power plants in operation and is building a fourth. Environmentalists see the plants' existence as a threat to the country's survival, especially in the wake of the nuclear meltdown at a plant in Japan last year following a ...

Friday, April 20, 2012

U.S. NRC Blog Problems in the Aggregate – Literally

U.S. NRC Blog

Problems in the Aggregate – Literally

by Moderator
Economists and others like to talk about “problems in the aggregate,” or a big-picture view of the issues. But that phrase is taking on new meaning in the case of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, where there are concerns involving the aggregate used in the concrete.
More specifically, the problem at the New Hampshire facility is the intrusion of moisture into the foundation walls of certain structures, resulting in the degradation of some of the concrete.
The exact term for what is occurring at Seabrook is alkali silica reaction, or ASR, which involves the hydroxide ions in the pore solution in cement paste and the reactive silica in aggregate. (Aggregates are inert granular materials, such as sand, gravel or crushed stone that, along with water and cement paste, are an essential ingredient in concrete.) The main byproduct of ASR is a gel, which can expand and may cause micro-cracks in the concrete.
While the extent of the problem is still being evaluated, structures identified as being affected by ASR are considered “operable but degraded.”
What exactly does that mean? In layman’s terms, it means the NRC – while far from done with reviews of the issue – has determined the structures can continue to safely perform their function based on the following information:
1. Conservative safety load factors, or the extra safety margin that was included when the structures were designed and built;
2. Visual observations by qualified NRC inspectors;
3. The fact that the ASR is limited to localized areas; and
4. Because progression of the concrete degradation is occurring slowly.
That determination, contained in an NRC inspection report issued on March 26, was the result of reviews carried out by six of our inspectors over many months, dating back to last September. Among other things, we made use of concrete/structural integrity expertise at our headquarters office. We also had an inspector in our Region III office, in suburban Chicago, observe lab tests performed in Northfield, Ill., on concrete core samples taken from Seabrook.
An important next step for the NRC’s review of the Seabrook concrete degradation will be a public meeting scheduled for Monday, April 23, at our headquarters office in Rockville, Md. During that meeting, the NRC staff will discuss with NextEra, the plant’s owner and operator, its analysis of the issue, planned corrective actions and dates to fully correct the problem, as well as other details.
Based on the outcome of that session, the NRC will determine its next steps regarding the issue. One thing we have already made clear is that no decision will be made by the agency on a license renewal application for the plant until the extent of the concrete degradation is fully understood.
Members of the public who would like to listen in on the meeting but cannot travel to NRC headquarters will be able to do so by phone bridge. What’s more, the slides to be used during the session will be available via an online webinar.
More details regarding the April 23rd meeting are available at: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/index.cfm .
Neil Sheehan
Region I Public Affairs Officer

PG&E Quake Risks at Diablo Nuclear to Undergo 3D Exam

PG&E Quake Risks at Diablo Nuclear to Undergo 3D Exam
BusinessWeek
(PCG) (PCG) and Edison International (EIX) (EIX) are embarking on the most extensive and costly study of earthquake risks ever undertaken for US nuclear power plants using 3-D seismic technology pioneered by the oil industry.

Digital Version of Nuclear Plant Journal, March/April 2012 Issue

The Digital version of the March-April 2012 issue of Nuclear Plant Journal featuring Plant Maintenance & Plant Life Extension is now available online. To access this issue, click here or cut and paste the link given below in your browser.
http://www.nuclearplantjournal.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105&Itemid=102
The March April issue includes enhancements at Exelon Corporation nuclear power plants to ensure safety in the post Fukushima environment. It also includes the implementation of safety culture at Exelon Corporation as well as at China National Nuclear Corporation.
The issue also describes significance of innovation, a coverage on a digital laboratory, overcoming obsolescence challenges, enhancing safety margins and description of an innovative oil setting tool.
Dresden Nuclear Power Plant is profiled in this issue.
Contact npj@goinfo.com for any questions.
Enjoy your reading!
With best regards.
Yours Sincerely
Newal Agnihotri
Fax: 630-852-8787

The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety

The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety

2011 Report: Living on Borrowed Time

Previous Reports

The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety is an annual series. Below are links to PDFs of previous editions:

2010 Report: A Brighter Spotlight Needed

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency responsible for ensuring that U.S. nuclear plants are operated as safely as possible, gets mixed reviews again in our second annual assessment of NRC response to safety problems, The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time.
The report examines 15 “near-misses” at U.S. nuclear plants during 2011 (see table below) and evaluates the NRC response in each case. Since NRC inspections cannot reveal more than a fraction of the problems that exist, it is crucial for the agency to respond effectively to the problems it does find.
In addition to these 15 near-misses, the report offers examples of both positive and negative outcomes from NRC inspections:
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ANS Update Competition heats up for DOE SMR funding

American Nuclear Society

Competition heats up for DOE SMR funding

By dyurman on Apr 20, 2012 08:45 am

Westinghouse gets support from Missouri for 225 MW reactor By: Dan Yurman The race to win $452 million in cost-shared funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for licensing and technical support to bring a small modular reactor (SMR) … Continue reading
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ANS Student Conference 2012 in the News

By pbowersox on Apr 20, 2012 01:00 am

The 2012 ANS Student Conference in Las Vegas wrapped up last weekend.  Thanks to all attendees and to the host University of Nevada Las Vegas Student Section of the American Nuclear Society for making the event such a success!  News coverage … Continue reading
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Competition heats up for DOE SMR funding by dyurman Westinghouse gets support from Missouri for 225 MW reactor By: Dan Yurman

Competition heats up for DOE SMR funding

Westinghouse gets support from Missouri for 225 MW reactor
By: Dan Yurman

Westinghouse gets support from Missouri for 225 MW reactor
By: Dan Yurman

Road to Cheaper Gas Runs Through Riyadh

Road to Cheaper Gas Runs Through Riyadh

Haykel/Luciani/Woertz, FP
If there's one thing that unites U.S. President Barack Obama, top-ranking Saudi officials, and Americans at the gas pump, it's this: The price of oil is too damn high. What's more, given physical and market realities, this should not be so. . .

Energy Northwest Employees Tout Benefits of Nuclear Energy in New PSA

Energy Northwest Employees Tout Benefits of Nuclear Energy in New PSA

In conjunction with Earth Day, our friends at Energy Northwest have issued a new public service announcement touting the benefits of nuclear energy. What's the twist? The message is deliverer by their own employees:
Popout
Here's a copy of the press release that the company issued in conjunction with the video:
In honor of Earth Month, Energy Northwest is releasing a new public service announcement, “Clean Energy.” It features employees from departments throughout the agency, including training, chemistry, security and engineering. The 30-second PSA will be aired on broadcast stations throughout Washington over the next several weeks.
The employees are spreading the message that nuclear energy is one of the cleanest baseload sources of energy, surpassed only by hydroelectric as a carbon-free source of full-time power.
“Energy Northwest and its employees want the region to understand that power from Columbia Generating Station is a vital part of the clean energy mix for the Northwest,” said Rochelle Olson, Public Affairs manager for Energy Northwest. “We believe conservation is the best way to meet the demand for additional power. After that, a diverse mix of carbon-free sources, including nuclear, is ideal.”
In fiscal year 2011, Columbia produced 7,247 gigawatt hours of electricity while keeping an average of 7.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear energy facilities provide nearly 70 percent of all of America’s clean-air electricity.
For more videos from Energy Northwest, please visit their YouTube channel.

CNS NPT Monitoring Report - Disarmament

CNS NPT Monitoring Report - Disarmament

As NPT state parties prepare to meet in Vienna, CNS presents a comprehensive review of implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan's Nuclear Disarmament section.

Armenia extends life of Soviet-era nuclear reactor

Armenia extends life of Soviet-era nuclear reactor

Yerevan (AFP) April 19, 2012
Armenia on Thursday said it had decided to extend the life of its Soviet-era nuclear reactor by four years until 2020 despite concerns raised by environmentalists in the earthquake-prone country. "The prolongation of the existing nuclear plant's operation is needed to ensure energy security and the energy independence of Armenia, taking into account the time (needed) to build a new unit,"

RWE joins rival E.ON in suing Germany over nuclear exit

RWE joins rival E.ON in suing Germany over nuclear exit

Frankfurt (AFP) April 19, 2012
German power supplier RWE said Thursday it is joining its bigger rival E.ON in filing a complaint with Germany's highest court over compensation for the government's decision to abandon nuclear power. RWE chief executive Juergen Grossmann told group shareholders at their annual general meeting that a corresponding lawsuit had been filed with the German constitutional court in February.

Japan post record trade deficit as fuel imports surge amid reactor shutdowns

Japan post record trade deficit as fuel imports surge amid reactor shutdowns

TOKYO — Disaster-battered Japan reported its biggest annual trade deficit ever Thursday, a contrast from decades of surpluses, as a nuclear crisis boosted expensive oil and gas imports.

The Finance Ministry’s preliminary trade data showed a 4.41 trillion yen ($54 billion) trade deficit for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

All but one of Japan’s 54 nuclear power reactors are offline in the aftermath of a nuclear crisis set off in March 2011 by the tsunami in northeastern Japan. That has forced Japan to rely on oil and gas-fired generation to supply electricity.

Although the central government, eager to restart some of the reactors, has been carrying out safety tests on the nuclear plants, local officials have been wary of giving a
go-ahead.

Nuclear Energy Accidents May Become Thing of Past

Nuclear Energy Accidents May Become Thing of Past

When it comes to nuclear power, there’s talk of all sorts of
technologies and fuels — things that could make the average guy’s head
spin. But if you think nuclear energy is an efficient and pollution-free
way to make electricity, consider “thorium” and “molten salt reactors.”
Huh? On the periodic tables, thorium

Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes Bad moon rising over NRC post

Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes

 

Bad moon rising over NRC post

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) goes full throttle with opposition to reappointment of NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki

Leveraging New Media and Internet for Nuclear Education IAEA Opens Multi-Network Platform for Enhanced Communication and Training

Leveraging New Media and Internet for Nuclear Education

IAEA Opens Multi-Network Platform for Enhanced Communication and Training

CONNECT Workshop
Some 14 participants from 14 countries attended the workshop on the launch of the CONNECT Platform held at the IAEA from 19-23 March 2012. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)
The IAEA has long been a champion of the concept and use of professional networks to advance best practices in diverse areas of nuclear technology. Through inter-departmental initiatives, the Agency has set up a number of networks to encourage experts to contribute and share their knowledge and resources with peers, as well as with other professionals with limited resources.
Seven Networks are currently being sponsored by the IAEA and managed by the Department of Nuclear Energy, with support from the Technical Cooperation program and funding from the European Commission. These networks range from nuclear knowledge management, implementation of nuclear technology, radioactive waste management, decommissioning and environmental remediation across the globe.
To further enhance these centers of collaboration, the IAEA has built a web platform that inter-connects these networks and their participating institutions and experts. Known by the acronym CONNECT, for Connecting the Network of Networks for Enhanced Communications and Training, this platform uses new media and web technologies to enable increased participation from individuals and organizations involved.
CONNECT is essentially a web-platform with a professional networking system that acts as a gateway for interconnecting existing and planned IAEA networks; increasing the participation of individuals and organizations involved in them; and making available additional sources of information which complement existing training.
From 19-23 March 2012, some 14 participants from 14 different countries visited IAEA headquarters to attend a workshop on the content and timing of the rollout of CONNECT. This workshop included, among others, a demonstration of the web-platform and discussions on its implementation plan.
"CONNECT is a natural extension of the Network concept," explains John Kinker, who heads the CONNECT project within the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy.
"CONNECT helps to unify all of the current International Communities of Practice on a single platform, making the operation, presentation, and governance of these networks more consistent. It opens up the networks to many more participants than can currently be accommodated by traditional methods, such as meetings and workshops, and allows all participants access to a much wider amount of material than would be available in a single network," he said.
Because of the inherently high degree of institutional and personal involvement afforded by the online CONNECT portal, and the ability of individuals to interact directly and whenever they want to with peers without the direct involvement of the IAEA as an intermediary/facilitator, the entire system should become self-sustaining. Also, the materials and information to be provided over the portal is to come primarily from Member States' institutions involved in the project.
The Agency provides the infrastructure on which these interactions occur, as well as guidance and training on how to produce these materials to maximize their quality and effectiveness. The IAEA will also provide governance for the portal to ensure that it is used fairly and only for the purposes intended.
By leveraging of new media and internet technologies, CONNECT will be able to provide instant access to training and reference materials already used for face-to-face trainings and workshops. Once completed, the system itself is expected to have low operational costs. Long-term financial commitment to sustain the CONNECT platform and project is expected to be minimal, particularly when compared to the cost of the more traditional means of outreach, facilitated interaction, and training.
At the same time, the ready and easy availability of the eLearning and experiential materials available through CONNECT are expected to greatly enhance face-to-face workshops and training.
-- by Rodolfo Quevenco, IAEA Division of Public Information

Nuclear Forensics: Key to Ensuring Nuclear Security

Nuclear Forensics: Key to Ensuring Nuclear Security

Highly enriched uranium metal
Highly enriched uranium metal being investigated as part of a recent IAEA nuclear forensics training. (Photo: D. Smith/IAEA)
Nuclear material presents a risk if it is unsecured. Materials used throughout the nuclear fuel cycle as well as radioactive "sources" that are used routinely in medicine, industry and research may be lost, abandoned, or removed from inactivated facilities without authorization. They can can also be stolen and smuggled for profit. When nuclear or other radioactive material is no longer under regulatory control, a first priority is determining its exact location and ensuring it remains secured. A second, equally important task is identifying where these materials originated both to address nuclear security vulnerabilities and support enforcement of national laws that prohibit such acts. That is the job of nuclear forensics experts.
Nuclear forensic experts analyze nuclear or radioactive material to determine the material's origin and history.
The IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security and the European Commission's Institute for Transuranium Elements are two of an increasing number of institutions world-wide that work in the emerging field of nuclear forensics.
"We try to get the material to talk to us, to tell us how is was produced, when it was produced, for what purpose it was produced," said Klaus Mayer, head of the nuclear forensics programme at the European Commission's Institute for Transuranium Elements.
The Material Holds the Answers
The key questions that nuclear forensics answers include: What is the material? Does it pose a threat? Who is responsible for the loss? Where did the material originate? Have any national laws been broken?
Forensic experts get the nuclear material to "talk" through comprehensive analysis of the material in a nuclear forensic laboratory. As an industrial product, nuclear materials incorporate attributes - or signatures - of each of the production processes that the material experienced when manufactured. These signatures deliver vital clues for the investigation. Features such as the isotopic content, chemical constituents, and physical shape tell the story of the material's origin, manufacture, use and age.
"This may include geological information from the extraction of uranium ore, or it may include process information from when the ore was concentrated into yellowcake or when this concentrate was isotopically enriched and made into nuclear fuel pellets and burned in a reactor," explains David Smith, Senior Nuclear Security Officer and nuclear forensics expert at the IAEA.
The goal of nuclear forensics is to identify when and how the material got out of regulatory control and to minimize the security threat.
"Very often we can tell where the material came from. Many times we can narrow down the possible origins to a few places," Dr. Mayer added.
Member States can then use the information to assist law enforcement officers in their investigations and to promote stronger nuclear security practices at the originating facility so as to prevent further cases of missing material.
A Global Approach
The IAEA works with its Member States to promote and raise awareness of the benefits of nuclear forensics through international conventions and standards, international cooperation, training and support.
"First, we promote international instruments such as the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. Then, we prepare guidance that takes into account the provisions of such instruments and we assist Member States, upon their request, in the application and use of such guidance. These become the international benchmark for nuclear security, which includes the activity area of nuclear forensics," explained Khammar Mrabit, Director of the IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security.
Member States can use this guidance to develop national programmes to strengthen nuclear security measures.
As a leading international organization committed to assisting Member States in development of effective nuclear security measures, the IAEA provides guidance in the conduct of a nuclear forensics investigation, trains experts in nuclear forensic methodologies, coordinates research and development, and is working to improve nuclear forensic interpretation through preparation of technical recommendations on the design of a national nuclear forensic library. The IAEA Office of Nuclear Security also partners with technical specialists from around the world to support countries that want to develop their own nuclear forensics capacity.
For Mrabit, it is essential to expand Member States' capacity in nuclear forensics. "The threat is global; therefore we need a global response. Our vision is to make the world more secure from nuclear security threats," he concluded.
-- by Iulia Iliut, IAEA Division of Public Information

Smarter, Safer Diagnosis International Organizations Endorse Joint Statement on Improved Tracking Systems

Smarter, Safer Diagnosis

International Organizations Endorse Joint Statement on Improved Tracking Systems

CT Scan
A long-standing IAEA project has been pushing to establish worldwide exposure tracking systems for radiation patients since 2009. (Photo: Dr. Aruna Pallewatte)
Reducing patients' cumulative radiation exposure from medical procedures without losing clinical benefits is a leading priority for international organisations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency. Together these organizations are supporting the effort to establish national and regional systems that track patient's radiation exposure.
A joint position statement was developed by representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), professional societies of radiology, medical physics and radiographers, and a group of experts at a meeting facilitated by the IAEA, which met at the IAEA's Headquarters in Vienna, Austria in early 2012. The position statement was then considered and formally endorsed by the participating organizations, and culminates a long-standing IAEA project that has been pushing to establish worldwide exposure tracking systems since 2009. By adding their combined weight to the policy statement, these organisations help strengthen the argument for countries to create and adopt such a mechanism.
For patients this means obtaining access to their record of radiation exposure, using the health card or personal identification number, a record that would be stored in a national or regional database accessible with patient's consent by doctor providing treatment.
"This system is critical if the medical community is going to keep patients safe when they are being referred for more and more diagnostic scans. These scans, over the years, are made using more and more powerful machines," says Madan Rehani, Radiation Safety Specialist in the IAEA's Radiation Protection of Patients Unit.
"The tracking system will draw doctors' attention to previous radiological examinations, both in terms of clinical information and radiation dose and thus help them assess whether the eleventh or twentieth CT scan is really appropriate, whether it will do more good than harm."
Such tracking mechanisms are already in place to some extent in Estonia, Finland, Malta, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, the Czech Republic and Belgium.
The meeting followed the submission of ten recommendations by a consultants' group in January 2010 to help developing Member States establish mechanisms established in the Smart Card/SmartRadTrackproject.
The next phase of the project involves the implementation of the Smart Card/SmartRadTrack programme in some member countries. "We have an action plan for implementation which is scheduled tobegin this year," says Rehani.
Organisations that have already endorsed the statement are WHO, the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Society of Radiology (ESR), the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP), the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists (ISRRT), and the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, USA (CRCPD).
-- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Division of Public Information

Japanese nuclear fuel cycle under review

Japanese nuclear fuel cycle under review

Goshi Hosano at JAIF, April 2012 125x48Japan is evaluating a wide range of nuclear fuel cycle options as part of the larger review of the future role of nuclear power within energy policy, a government minister told the annaul meeting of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum.

Landmarks for new Chinese nuclear plants

Landmarks for new Chinese nuclear plants

Fangchenggang dome 48Construction projects in China have moved forward with the dome of unit 1 of the Fangchenggang plant being lowered into place and heavy components for the primary reactor coolant system of the first EPR at Taishan have being delivered from France.

Three milestones for UK projects

Three milestones for UK projects

Dungeness A fuel flask_48Defuelling operations have been completed at two of the UK's oldest nuclear power plant sites. Meanwhile, one of the most hazardous legacies from the country's early nuclear research has been destroyed in an operation that has exceeded expectations.

$33 billion cost of Swiss nuclear decision

$33 billion cost of Swiss nuclear decision

Switzerland's decision not to build any new nuclear generating capacity will cost the country some CHF 30 billion ($33 billion) up to 2050, according to the country's Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications.

Fukushima fuel removal buildings

Fukushima fuel removal buildings

Fukushima Daiichi 4 buildings (Tepco) 75x48Plans for the removal of nuclear fuel from Fukushima Daiichi 4 have been explained by Tokyo Electric Power Company.