Category Archives: Tsunami

The Japanese Sendai Nuclear Plant Threatened by the Sakurajima Volcano


Myself

By T.V. Antony Raj

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The lithosphere is the rigid, outermost shell on Earth. It comprises the crust and the part of the upper mantle that has an elastic behavior on, timescales of thousands of years or greater.

The scientific theory of plate tectonics describes the large-scale motion of Earth’s lithosphere. The geoscientific community accepted the theoretical model of plate tectonics developed during the first few decades of the 20th century based on the concept of continental drift. The concepts of seafloor spreading developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century.
The tectonic plates of the world were mapped in the second half of the 20th century.

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The Earth’s lithosphere, the rigid outermost crust and upper mantle, is broken up into seven or eight major tectonic plates and many minor plates.

These massive slabs of the earth’s crust forever creep, slip, lock up and then jolt again. The typical annual lateral relative movement of the plates varies from zero to 100 mm.

Almost all creation of mountains, earthquakes, volcanic activity, and the formation of oceanic trenches occurs along these tectonic plate boundaries.

The islands that compose the Japanese nation sit on or near the boundary of four tectonic plates: the Pacific, North American, Eurasian and Filipino plates.

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The Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire

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Also, Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” also known as the circum-Pacific belt.  –  The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, associated with a continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and  tectonic plate movements.  It has 452 volcanoes and has over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. A large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in this region.

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant

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The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Source: power-eng.com)
The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Source: power-eng.com)

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The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, owned and operated by the Kyūshū Electric Power Company, is in the city of Satsumasendai in the Kagoshima Prefecture.  It is located near five giant calderas, a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, with the closest one about 40 km away from the plant.

Before the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, and the nuclear disasters that resulted from it, Japan had generated 30% of its electrical power from nuclear reactors. It had planned to increase electrical power production to 40%.

Nuclear energy was a national strategic priority in Japan, but there had been concern about the ability of Japan’s nuclear plants to withstand seismic activity.

The earthquake and tsunami of on March 11, 2011, caused the failure of the cooling systems at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.  Japan then declared its first-ever nuclear emergency. This caused the evacuation of around 140,000 residents within 12 miles (20 km) of the plant.

On May 6, 2011, Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the shutdown of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant as an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or higher is likely to hit the area within the next 30 years.

Also, many other nuclear power plants, including the Sendai plant stopped  generating electricity.

In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, Japan set new safety standards for its nuclear reactor plants.

On September 10, 2014, the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) declared the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant safe for operation.

On August 11, 2015, Kyushu Electric Power Co., restarted its operation by bringing online the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai power station according to the new safety standards. Now it is providing power to the nearby towns again. Sendai is the first of Japan’s nuclear power plants to be restarted.

The Sakurajima Volcano

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View of Sakurajima from mainland Kagoshima in 2009
View of Sakurajima from mainland Kagoshima in 2009

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Sakurajima is an active composite volcano (stratovolcano) 990 km southwest of Tokyo. It is a former island in Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, Japan. It is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and erupts all the time. The lava flows of the 1914 eruption caused the former island to be connected to the Osumi Peninsula. The volcanic activity still continues, dropping large amounts of volcanic ash on the surroundings. Earlier eruptions built the white sands highlands in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency  on its website said that it believes that a larger than the usual eruption could be in the offing since it detected multiple earthquakes in the area on Saturday morning.  So, on Saturday, August 15, 2015, the agency raised the warning level for the volcanic island of Sakurajima from Level 3 to an unprecedented Level 4 (red). It has warned the residents in the villages on Sakurajima and has advised them to evacuate since stones could rain down on areas near the mountain’s base.

The Kagoshima prefectural government has formed an emergency response team.

The Kyushu Electric Power Company says a possible eruption on Mount Sakurajima will not affect the operation of its Sendai Nuclear Power Plant. The company made the comment after raising the alert level to 4. They said that they will collect the relevant data while proceeding with work to increase output as planned.

The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) also says any possible eruption of the Sakurajima volcano will not affect the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant.

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India and Day 26 – Part 3: The Devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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December 26, 2004 – Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami

On Sunday, December 26, 2004, an undersea megathrust earthquake, known as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake occurred at 00:58:53 UTC in the Indian Ocean with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, between Simeulue in the Aceh province of Indonesia and mainland Indonesia. The earthquake with a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3, is the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph.

The duration of faulting, between 8.3 and 10 minutes, was the longest ever observed. The behemothic quake caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) and triggered other minor earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

The tsunami was then known by various other names such as: “The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,” “South Asian tsunami,” and “Indonesian tsunami.” Since the tsunami occurred on December 26, it was also known as the “Christmas tsunami” and the “Boxing Day tsunami.”

December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)
December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. (Source: all-that-is-interesting.com)

The earthquake triggered a tsunami, considered to be one of the deadliest in history, which inundated coastal communities with waves up to 100 feet (30 meters) high and killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

Costlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)
Coastlines severely hit by the December 26, 2004 tsunami (Source: academic.evergree.edu)

The huge waves racing at the speed of a jet aircraft took fifteen minutes to seven hours to reach the various coastlines. The waves hit the northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra immediately. Thailand was struck about two hours later, despite being closer to the epicentre because the tsunami waves travelled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast. About an hour and a half to two hours after the quake, Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit. The waves then reached the Maldives.

Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean had a devastating effect on India. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs about 18,000 are estimated dead.

The following table compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that a total of 227,898 people died. According to this table, in mainland India and in its territories, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 12,405 people died in the tsunami, around 5,640 are missing and 647,599 people have been displaced.

Figures compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Country where
deaths occurred
Confirmed Estimated Injured Missing Displaced
Indonesia 130,736 167,799 n/a 37,063 500,000+
Sri Lanka 35,322 35,322 21,411 n/a 516,150
India 12,405 18,045 n/a 5,640 647,599
Thailand 5,395 8,212 8,457 2,817 7,000
Somalia 78 289 n/a n/a 5,000
Myanmar (Burma) 61 400–600 45 200 3,200
Maldives 82 108 n/a 26 15,000+
Malaysia 68 75 299 6 5,000+
Tanzania 10 13 n/a n/a n/a
Seychelles 3 3 57 n/a 200[70]
Bangladesh 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
South Africa 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Yemen 2 2 n/a n/a n/a
Kenya 1 1 2 n/a n/a
Madagascar n/a n/a n/a n/a 1,000+
Total ~184,167 ~230,273 ~125,000 ~45,752 ~1.69 million

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The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean were devastated by the tsunami, and by the initial quake and several aftershocks that occurred during the following days. The Great Nicobar and Car Nicobar islands were the worst hit among all the islands due to their proximity to the epicentre of the quake and because of the relatively flat terrain.

One-fifth of the population in Nicobar Islands was reported dead, missing or wounded. Chowra Island lost two-thirds of its population of 1,500. Communication was cut off when many islands submerged. The Trinket Island was bifurcated.

Fishing communities were destroyed and very little is known about the effects of the tsunami on the indigenous tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The official death toll in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was 1,310, with about 5,600 missing from the islands. But the unofficial death toll, including those missing and presumed dead, was estimated to be around 7,000.

Map showing Tsunami Affected Area in India.
Map showing Tsunami Affected Areas in India.

The tsunami hit the southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. It inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast. Around 8,000 deaths were reported from Tamilnadu, and around 200 deaths from Kerala. The district of Nagapattinam was the worst hit in Tamil Nadu, with nearly 5,500 deaths.

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 inundated villages and devastated cities along the coast of southeastern regions of the Indian mainland. Crown. (Source: indyas.hpage.co.in)

Surprisingly, Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had only two confirmed deaths, despite being a low-lying country and located relatively near the epicenter. Also, distance alone does not guarantee a safety since Somalia located in the Horn of Africa on the eastern coast was hit harder than Bangladesh even though it is much farther away.

Coasts, with a landmass between them and the location of origin of a tsunami, are usually deemed safe, but tsunami waves can sometimes steer around such landmasses. Being a relatively small island, the western coast of Sri Lanka suffered substantial damages from the impact of the tsunami; likewise, the Indian state of Kerala too was hit by the tsunami, despite being on the western coast of India.

The government of India announced a financial package of about US$200 million to Andaman and Nicobar islands after the tsunami, but the unbearable living conditions due to rise in sea level, constant aftershocks and fear of another similar tsunami, propelled thousands of settlers on the islands to relocate to the Indian mainland.

According to the World Bank, reconstruction was expected to cost more than US$1.2 billion in India alone.

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 Previous ~ India and Day 26 – Part 2: Turmoil in Gujarat

Next → India and Day 26 – Part 4: Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai – 1

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TEPCO: Fukushima Fuel Cooling System Stops Again Leaking Radioactive Water


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear are taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo:  AP)
Radioactive route: Journalists in protective gear taken to the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 6. (Photo: AP)

At every nuclear electrical power plant, spent nuclear fuel is kept cool to avoid it from overheating that may trigger a self-sustaining atomic reaction leading to a meltdown.

At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant there are seven vast clay-lined storage pits each measuring 60 meters long, 53 meters wide and 6 meters deep. Three layers of protective waterproof lining cover each pit.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said last Friday that one of the systems, pool #2 that keeps spent atomic fuel cool, failed temporarily at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. On Saturday, TEPCO said that around 120 tons of contaminated water with an estimated 710 billion becquerel of radioactivity probably leaked into the ground under the power plant. The process of pumping the remaining 13,000 tons of the water in the pool #2 into other tanks would take days. How the water escaped will remain a mystery until they drain and check the faulty pits. TEPCO did not give any explanation about where the leaked contaminated water might have ended up.

On late Sunday, TEPCO confirmed that a second underground storage pool #3, has leaked three liters of radioactive water at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant. However, the water level inside pool #3, has not gone down, indicating the leak is not that large. According to TEPCO, since this second leak is small, there are no plans to drain pool #3 into another storage area.

TEPCO is transferring the remaining water in pool #2 to two other pits. However, the water leaking from pool #3 is raising questions about the trustworthiness of all the pools and the risk to the environment.

Aside from the pools, the power plant has another headache. TEPCO stores tainted seawater perpetually needed to cool the melted fuel rods of the damaged reactors, in makeshift storage tanks. Unfortunately, the holding capacity of these makeshift tanks is running out quickly. On Sunday, Masayuki Ono, a senior TEPCO official said at a news conference that it is difficult for the plant to store all the tainted radioactive seawater in the temporary tanks.

At Fukushima, the site of the worst nuclear crisis in a generation, reactors went into meltdown and spewed radiation over a wide area polluting farmland and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee from their homes.

Although the natural disaster claimed around 19,000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the atomic catastrophe. However, activist groups such as Greenpeace say that the long-term health effects for people in the area are being vastly underestimated by a government pledged to a powerful nuclear industry. Although many voters in Japan distrust the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has openly said Japan must consider continued use of nuclear as a less-expensive energy source to power the world’s third-largest economy.

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Major Fault Line Found Running Under Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant, Japan


 

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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

The oldest commercial reactor in Japan is Tsuruga #1 in the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. It is operated by the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) and was commissioned on March 14, 1970 with a capacity of 357 MW.

Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (The Japan Atomic Company)
Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (The Japan Atomic Company)

In March 1981, drainage from this reactor caused a release of radioactivity. The forty-day cover-up of a spill of 16 tons of radioactive primary cooling water was revealed only in April 1981.

Tsuruga #1 reactor has been shut down for safety inspection since January 26th, 2011 and has yet to be restarted.

A second reactor Tsuruga -#2 was commissioned on February 17, 1987 with 1160 MW capacity. The constructions of two new nuclear reactors, Tsuruga -#3 and Tsuruga -#4 have been planned, but have been delayed due to the need for seismic upgrades even before the March 2011 earthquake.

On May 2, 2011, officials in Kyodo announced the presence of higher levels of radioactivity in the cooling water, JAPC admitted technical problems and announced to check for radioactivity daily, instead of the standard procedure of checking once per week.

A group of 40 citizens of Otsu prefecture Kyodo started a lawsuit at the Otsu District Court against the Japan Atomic Power Company on November 8, 2011. At that time, the two reactors of the plant were shut down for regular check-ups. They sought a provisional court order to delay the restart of the reactors at the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant. They argued that:

  • Lake Biwa, could be contaminated if a nuclear accident occurs at the plant.
  • The people, living in the region of Kansai depended on this largest lake of Japan as the source of drinking water.
  • If an accident happens, it would endanger the health of all residents.
  • The Tsuruga plant is built on a site with a fault under it, and a severe accident could occur during an earthquake.
  • Since it was first operational in 1970, the Tsuruga #1 reactor has been more than 40 years in service.
  • The Tsuruga plant was insufficiently protected against a tsunami.
  • The ongoing regular checks were done under the government’s safety and technological standards, and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima had proven that those regulations were insufficient.
  • The reactors should remain shut down until the cause of the disaster in Fukushima has been fully investigated.
  • Regular checks should be performed under the new safety standards.

A fire broke out in Tsuruga #1 reactor on November 12, 2011. After extinguishing the fire JAPC reported that there were no casualties and no leakage of radiation, because the reactor was closed for inspection.

On March 5, 2012 a group of seismic researchers revealed the possibility of a 7.4 magnitude or even more potent earthquake under the Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant.

Prior to this date in 2008 the Japanese governmental Earthquake Research Committee and Japan Atomic Power had calculated that the Urasoko fault was running 39 kilometers near Tsuruga and 250 meters (825 feet) from Tsuruga -#1 and Tsuruga -#2 reactor buildings. This main Uraosko fault and several other smaller faults extending from it and running directly under the Tsuruga -#2 plant could trigger a 7.2 magnitude quake and a 1.7 meter land displacement.

On December 10, 2012 a team of experts from the Nuclear Regulation Authority who investigated the geological layer under the plant headed by commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki reported to fellow members that because of the “highly possible,” the so-called crush zone running underneath Tsuruga -#2 reactor is an active fault restarting reactors at the Tsuruga nuclear plant would be difficult. In a press conference after the meeting, Shimazaki said the fact that a large fault like Urasoko exists on the plant’s premises was also taken into account. “If plant operators know there is an active fault at the site in the first place, they will usually not build (a nuclear complex) there,” he added.

The focus of the discussion is a zone of crushed rock called D-1, which is believed to extend from the Urazoko fault toward the plant’s Tsuruga #2 reactor. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said: “As things stand now, we cannot conduct a safety evaluation of the Tsuruga #2 reactor to resume operation.”

If the crush zone beneath the Tsuruga plant is determined to be active, its two reactors would theoretically have to be scrapped because the plant operators are not allowed to build reactors and facilities important for safe operations directly above active faults. Japan Atomic Power Company which runs the plant, said in a statement that the outcome was “totally unacceptable” and vowed to have a separate investigation conducted on the premises. If a different finding isn’t reached, it will have no option, but to scrap the reactors.

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Earthquake: 7.3 Mwp – OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN


Earthquake

7.3 Mwp – OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

7.3 Mwp - OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN

Preliminary Earthquake Report
Magnitude 7.3 Mwp
Date-Time
  • 7 Dec 2012 08:18:24 UTC
  • 7 Dec 2012 18:18:24 near epicenter
  • 7 Dec 2012 03:18:24 standard time in your timezone
Location 37.889N 144.090E
Depth 36 km
Distances
  • 284 km (176 miles) E (97 degrees) of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
  • 296 km (184 miles) ENE (71 degrees) of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
  • 319 km (198 miles) E (86 degrees) of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
  • 459 km (285 miles) NE (56 degrees) of TOKYO, Japan
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 13.9 km; Vertical 7.0 km
Parameters Nph = 421; Dmin = 465.2 km; Rmss = 0.94 seconds; Gp = 31°
M-type = Mwp; Version = 9
Event ID us c000e5n4

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After the 7.3 earthquake Fairewinds Podcast: December 9, 2012 (Part 1 of 2)

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After the 7.3 earthquake Fairewinds Podcast: December 9, 2012 (Part 2 of 2)


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Critics: Sandy Showed Nuclear Plants’ Vulnerability to Weather, Sabotage


Frequent storms, wilder weather extremes- nuclear facilities face dangers they are not prepared for. They put all of us at risk by their very nature. This is only compounded by regulatory laxness. It’s time to regulate the regulators, and long past time to start shutting down the reactors. We have energy alternatives that are safer and better. We must put our attention to developing and using them. We can’t wait until the nuclear industry is satisfied that they have gotten the last possible cent they can squeeze out of the public and government coffers. — Dr. Helen Caldicott

Oldest nuclear power plants in usa Nine Mile Point Unit 1
Constellation Energy’s Nine Mile Point Unit 1, on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario near Oswego, New York, is the second-longest-operating nuclear station in the United States; it opened in 1969, the same year as Oyster Creek, and shares the same design. (Photograph courtesy Constellation Energy via PRNewsFoto)

This article was originally published in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

By Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire

The danger Hurricane Sandy posed to nuclear power plants along the East Coast highlights some of the same vulnerabilities that terrorists looking to release harmful radiation into the environment could exploit, watchdog groups said this week.

The unprecedented storm posed two main challenges to atomic energy facilities: rising water levels and interruptions to the electricity grid. Both have the potential to disrupt crucial cooling systems at the plants, and particularly those for pools used to cool spent reactor fuel. If spent fuel rods overheat and are exposed to air, they can cause fires and dangerous radiation releases.

In Lacey Township, N.J., the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant faced both of these challenges. High water levels threatened to submerge a water pump motor used to cool water in the plant’s spent fuel pool, Reuters reportedThe situation, caused by a combination of rising tide, wind direction, and storm surge affecting the Atlantic Ocean and adjoining estuaries, prompted the facility to declare an emergency “alert,” according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In addition, the Oyster Creek plant at one point experienced a power disruption that necessitated the use of two backup diesel generators, according to Reuters.

While such auxiliary power can usually keep cooling systems for a nuclear reactor itself operating, activists warn that NRC regulations do not require that such resources also be connected to the mechanisms that cool spent fuel pools.

“As soon as the electric grid goes down, water circulation pumps stop operating,” Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist with the group Beyond Nuclear said in a statement released during the storm.

Pool water can begin to boil within “several hours” of loss of cooling, he noted, and could leave fuel rods exposed within “several to many days.”

Kamps told Global Security Newswire that the same problems could be caused by an intentional attack.

“While high winds can knock out the electric grid, so too can sabotage or terrorism,” Kamps said. He added that “normal cooling-water flow pathways and mechanisms,” threatened by high water during the storm at Oyster Creek and other nuclear plants, “could also be disrupted intentionally.”

In the event of a disruption to the usual spent fuel pool cooling system, power-plant operators could use fire fighting equipment in an attempt to replenish water lost through evaporation. Japanese authorities tried similar tactics during the Fukushima Daiichi disaster last year. Watchdog groups argue that relying on this is insufficient, however.

Steam generated by a boiling spent-fuel pool “could short-circuit critical safety systems throughout the nuclear plant,” Kamps said.

Robert Alvarez, who served as a senior adviser to the Energy secretary during the Clinton administration, noted that spent fuel pools were originally designed for temporary storage lasting no longer than five years. He cited a 2006 study by the National Academy of Sciences that said pools at nearly all of the more than 100 reactors in the United States now contain high-density spent-fuel racks that allow about five times more waste to be stored in the pool than was originally intended.

“The Oyster Creek spent-fuel pool is currently holding about 3,000 irradiated assemblies (including a recently discharged full core) containing about 94 million curies of cesium 137—more than three times more released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests,” Alvarez, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, said by e-mail. “Whether or not mega-storm Sandy portends what’s in store for the near future, it’s still too risky to use high-density spent-fuel pools as de facto indefinite storage for some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet.”

Watchdog groups have long advocated for an NRC rule that would require used fuel rods to be removed from pools and placed in hardened, dry casks as quickly as possible. Alvarez said dry casks at the Fukushima Daiichi site were “unscathed” by the earthquake and tsunami that threatened the plant’s spent fuel-storage pools last and caused meltdowns in three reactors.

Even in a worst-case scenario, the “consequences of a breach in a dry cask in terms of radioactive releases is about 2,500 times less than a spent-fuel pool fire,” Alvarez said. “Whereas a spent-fuel pool fire could create life-threatening contamination of hundreds of square miles.”

Following the Fukushima disaster, watchdog groups petitioned NRC to immediately require a number of upgrades at U.S. atomic energy plants. Among the activists’ demands were that the commission requires dedicated backup power systems for spent-fuel pools and that fuel rods be removed from the pools after five years.

NRC officials rejected the demands that they act immediately on these items, but agreed to consider them in their long-term review of lessons to be learned from Fukushima. Kamps said the threats posed by this week’s storm underscored the urgency of requiring such upgrades.

For now, the commission “is focused on the current situation with the plants,” according to NRC spokesman David McIntyre, who emphasized that “all of them are safe and have performed according to design and their license conditions.

“If there are lessons to be learned from Sandy, we will look at them, but we do not have the luxury that [the watchdog groups] have of being able to jump to conclusions before a situation even plays out,” McIntyre added.

In total, the Hurricane Sandy impacted at least a half-dozen nuclear plants, Reuters reported. Other affected sites include Unit 1 of the Salem, N.J., plant – which was shut down due to high water and debris – and Indian Point 3 in New York, which went offline due to fluctuations in the power grid caused by the storm.

John Keeley, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the nuclear-power industry, noted that the majority of nuclear plants “in the path of the storm continued to produce electricity” and that the “ones that did shut down did so safely and securely.”

This article was originally published in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

 

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Sandy’s Havoc in the Caribbean


AP Graphic. IMAGE- Expected path of Hurricane Sandy
Expected path of Hurricane Sandy – AP Graphic..Image: A satellite image of Hurricane Sandy is shown at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. 

Sandy’s satellite image

A satellite image of Sandy is shown at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Early Saturday, the storm was about 335 miles southeast of Charleston, S.C.Tropical storm warnings were issued for parts of Florida’s East Coast, along with parts of coastal North and South Carolina and the Bahamas.Tropical storm watches were issued for coastal Georgia and parts of South Carolina, along with parts of Florida and Bermuda. Sandy is projected to hit the Atlantic Coast early Tuesday.
Image: Residents walk through the rubble from homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy
Walking through Sandy’s rubble (Photo AP: Franklin Reyes)

Walking through Sandy’s rubble

Residents walk through the rubble from homes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba on Friday.  Sandy was a Category 2 hurricane when it wreaked havoc in Cuba on Thursday, killing 11 people in eastern Santiago and Guantanamo provinces as its winds and rain destroyed thousands of houses and ripped off roofs.
Image: People walk on a street littered with debris after Hurricane Sandy hit Santiago de Cuba
Hurricane Sandy hits Santiago. (Photo Reuters: Desmond Boylan)

Hurricane Sandy hits Santiago

People walk on a street littered with debris after Hurricane Sandy hit Santiago de Cuba. The Cuban government said on Thursday night that 11 people died when the storm barrelled across the island, most killed by falling trees or in building collapses in Santiago de Cuba province and neighbouring Guantanamoprovince.
Image: A man pushes a trolley beside fallen trees and power lines on a street in Santiago de Cuba
Fallen trees left by Sandy
A man pushes a trolley beside fallen trees and power lines on a street in Santiago de Cuba on Friday. The Cuban government said on Thursday night that 11 people died when the storm barrelled across the island, most killed by falling trees or in building collapses in Santiago de Cuba province and neighbouring Guantanamo province.
IMAGE: A woman cries out in front of her flooded house caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.
Hurricane Sandy: A woman cries
out
A
woman cries out in front of her flooded house caused by heavy rains from HurricaneSandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

IMAGE: A woman stands outside her house, damaged by Hurricane Sandy, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, about 470 miles southeast of Havana.

Hurricane Sandy: A Woman at her Damaged House
A woman stands outside her house, damaged by Hurricane Sandy, in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, about 470 miles southeast of Havana.

IMAGE: Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

Hurricane Sandy: Wade Through a Flooded Street

Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

IMAGE: A woman salvages her belongings after Hurricane Sandy hit Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, on Thursday.

Hurricane Sandy: A Woman Salvages her Belongings.

A woman salvages her belongings after Hurricane Sandy hit Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, on Thursday.

IMAGE: Workers repair a utility pole damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday.

Hurricane Sandy: Damaged Utility Pole

Workers repair a utility pole damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday.

IMAGE: Residents of Caribbean Terrace in southern Kingston, Jamaica, survey the damage and the boats washed up onto their lawn by Hurricane Sandy.

Washed up boat

Residents of Caribbean Terrace in southern Kingston, Jamaica, survey the damage and the boats washed up onto their lawn by Hurricane Sandy.

IMAGE: Nelson Carballosa stands in his home's doorway after the passing hurricane Sandy damaged his roof in Gibara, Cuba.

Damaged roof

Nelson Carballosa stands in his home’s doorway after the passing hurricane Sandy damaged his roof in Gibara, Cuba.

IMAGE: Children sit on a cot inside their flooded home caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

Children sleep inside flooded home

Children sit on a cot inside their flooded home caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

IMAGE: Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

Residents wade through the flooded neighborhood

Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday.

IMAGES: Residents of Kingston, Jamaica, try to cross the Hope River after a bridge was washed out by Hurricane Sandy.

Crossing washed up bridge

Residents of Kingston, Jamaica, try to cross the Hope River after a bridge was washed out by Hurricane Sandy.

Costa Rica Earthquake on September 5, 2012


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A powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook northwestern Costa Rica and a wide swath of Central America on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, 10:42 a.m. EDT. It occurred at a depth of about 25 miles and about seven miles southeast of Nicoya, a coastal town with a population of around 15,000 people. Nicoya is about 87 miles (140 kilometers) west of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

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A fifty year-old woman died from a heart attack during the quake.  At least 20 people were injured. The Red Cross said those numbers could rise as damage assessment teams reached more areas. Power and communications were down across Costa Rica’s capital and in many other areas.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued tsunami warnings for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, after initially issuing warnings for a larger area. Later on the tsunami warnings was canceled altogether.

The national emergency commission reported the evacuation of government buildings in San Jose and damages to roads and bridges in several parts of the country.

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Kalpakkam in tears …


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Myself

By T. V. Antony Raj
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India has 19 online nuclear power plants generating 4,560 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated by thermal, hydro and wind power exceeds more than what nuclear power generated. Even so, to meet the soaring demand for electricity, the government of India seeks the development of the nuclear-power industry.

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On March 11, 2011, the tsunami developed after a tremendous earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastated Japan’s Daichi nuclear power plant complex. It took all six Tokyo Electric Power Company’s reactors offline.

“THE LIGHTS ARE not going off all over Japan, but the nuclear power plants are. Of the 54 reactors in those plants, with a combined capacity of 47.5 gigawatts (GW, a thousand megawatts), only two are operating today. A good dozen are unlikely ever to reopen: six at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which suffered a calamitous triple meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011, and others either too close to those reactors or now considered to be at risk of similar disaster. The rest, bar two, have shut down for maintenance or “stress tests” since the Fukushima accident and not yet been cleared to start up again. It is quite possible that none of them will get that permission before the two still running shut for scheduled maintenance by the end of April.” – Oliver Morton (in “The dream that failed” – www.economist.com)

Since the coastal areas in India are prone to both earthquake and tsunami, certain sectors of the public in India have now raised objections to the proposed nuclear-power generation programs.

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Kudankulam Nuclear Plant
Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

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The antinuclear protests staged by the local villagers spearheaded by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has prompted the government to put on hold the commissioning of the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu.

PMANE, an antinuclear group in Tamil Nadu led by Mr. S. P. Udayakumar, a teacher, which urges the government to shut down the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant to preserve the ecology of the largely untouched coastal landscape also educates the locals about the harm nuclear power could cause.

Mr. Udayakumar and his PMANE group beleive that nuclear power benefits “industrial India” only and not the average person. “Our end game is to close down this nuclear power plant. We think that this (the nuclear power plant) will have a disastrous impact on our livelihood, on our future generations. Because the Indian government never talks about waste, never talks about decommissioning. It does not tell us the full story,” he said.

In early March 2012, Udayakumar said: “We have been carrying out hunger strikes, rallies, public meetings, seminars, conferences, and other demonstrations such as shaving our heads, cooking on the street, burning the models of the nuclear plants. This struggle has been going on for the past 197 days and the morale of the people is still very very high”.

In Early February this year, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told a gathering in Indore, “All atomic energy plants in the country are totally secured as per international standards and are also capable of dealing with natural calamities like tsunamis or earthquakes.”

But amidst the bland assurances lurks a darker reality.

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Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant
Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant

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The Madras Atomic Power Station is located at Kalpakkam, situated about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Chennai, India. In 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The DAE did not willingly divulge the details. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.

  • “The report paints a troubling picture of the policies at the DAE, which sends out high-ranking officials with bland assurances for the public about the nation’s NPPs while privately compiling reports about their health effects, concerns that can only grow as New Delhi presses forward with its nuclear program. Furthermore, the statements that Indian NPPs can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, made in a country vulnerable to both, smacks of more than a little hubris, as Tokyo Electric and Power Co. made similar pronouncements before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed its Fukushima Daichi nuclear power complex.” – John Daly, Sun, 26 February 2012, (in “The Darker Reality of India’s Nuclear Power Goals” oilprice.com)

The following documentary video produced by the Tamil news paper Nakkeeran of Chennai affirms the concern of the people living in and around Kalpakkam. Though all reporting and conversations are in Tamil, the images tell the story vividly.

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1:12 – 1:33 Shows the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project
1: 34 – 1:58 Atomic Energy Township, Kalpakkam in Kancheepuram District,Tamilnadu. There are many vilages surrounding Kalpakkam.
1:59 – 2:58 shows 13-year-old mentally retarded Arjun from birth and born with 6 fingers on his right hand. His father was a contract labourer at the nuclear power plant. Arjun speaks like a 5-year-old.
2:59 – 3:20 3-year-old infant Bhuvaneswari born with a stump for a right hand.
3:21 – 3:46 Gokhul, the son of a temporary supervisor, born with a stump for a left hand.
3:47 – 4:04 Jothika studying in standard 3, mentally retarded. Her father Venkatesan worked at the nuclear power plants.
4:05 – 4:50 Suriyaprakash with a deformed left leg.
4:51 – 5:12 A woman king coconut vendor with a gout like swelling.
5:13 – 8:15 A woman complains about breathing, throat infection and swelling of limbs. She further tells about children being born with stumps for limbs, deaf, dumb and other abnormalities. She also says can’t do any agricultural work because the crops are attacked by radiation. The air that she and others breath makes them ill.
8:16 – 8:58 Another woman complains about radiation affecting their health.
8:59 – 7:16 A man says that the birth of deformed and retarded children can be due to the radiation.
7:17 – 7:31 Another man says that plants don’t grow well. Trees don’t bear fruit.
7:32 – 7:56 A young man says that the Kalpakkam plant has been shut down for repairs very often. He says that he has worked there for the past 18 years. He says that there is a rumour that many have died due to radiation but he is not sure whether its rumor or fact. But he affirms that the people of the villages around Kalpakkam are being affected due to radiation.
7:57 – 8:14 – Another young man affirms that children are born deformed, deaf and dumb.
8:15 – till end people living in Kalpakkam talk about the hardships they face and talk vehemently against the Kalpakkam Nuclear plant.

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