Global Nuclear Update

George Washington's picture

Washington’s Blog

United States: Alabama

While a tornado partially knocked out at the Browns Ferry reactors in Alabama in April, power began to be restored within a month without incident.

United States: Nebraska

The flood waters in the Missouri continue to pose a danger to the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska. As you may know, an
electrical fire at the spent fuel pools at Fort Calhoun temporarily
knocked out power for cooling, and the operator flooded the containment

far, I have seen no evidence of any release of radiation, although
there are a number of worrying factors in the form of a "perfect storm"
which could - in a worst-case scenario - lead to an accident.

The latest updates include:

  • An "event" at the Fort Calhoun plant was reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

    Facility: FORT CALHOUN
    Notification Date: 06/16/2011
    Notification Time: 14:46 [ET]
    Event Date: 06/16/2011
    Event Time: 12:30 [CDT]


    identified a potential flooding issue in the Intake Structure 1007 ft.
    6 in. level. The area of concern is a the hole in the floor at the
    1007 ft. 6 in. level where the relief valve from FP-1A discharge pipe
    goes through the raw pump bay and discharges into the intake cell.
    There is one penetration of concern. Flooding through this penetration
    could have impacted the ability of the station’s Raw Water (RW) pumps
    to perform their design accident mitigation functions.

    “Efforts are in progress to seal the penetration.

    “This eight-hour notification is being made pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72 (b)(3)(v).”

    The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

  • WOWT reports:

    Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant's chief nuclear officer, Dave Bannister]
    said for the plant to get to a disaster level, floodwater would have to
    rise three and a half feet above where it stands now.

  • The Kansas City Star notes:

    The endless complexities have made prediction a tough task, said
    Ross Wolford, a hydrologist working long days for the National Weather
    Service in order to try to predict the river’s flow.

    don’t have, nor does the Corps or anyone else have, a hydraulic model
    of what the [Missouri] river’s going to do,” Wolford said. “There’s a
    lot of art
    in the way we estimate.”

  • The Journal Star points out:

    flood begins higher up, at places like Dark Horse Lake in the
    Bitterroots, [Montana] where another 2 inches of snow fell late this
    week, landing on the 8 feet still on the ground.

    “It’s all
    starting here,” said Jim Brusda with the National Weather Service in
    Great Falls, Mont. “It’s going to flow back down there toward Nebraska”

    “People who have been here 50 years, 70 years, say they
    haven’t seen anything like this ... And there’s a lot of water to come”

    And as the snow-fed Missouri crosses Montana, it’s
    collecting record rainfall, too. Some areas received 10 inches in three
    weeks; 3 inches fell on a town in northeast Montana between Thursday
    and Friday.

    The rain is expected to continue through the weekend. An even stronger storm system could surface next week.

  • The Kansas City Star notes the at the Army Corps of Engineers is planning on releasing more water:

    rainfall expected over the Dakotas in coming days, combined with rains
    from the past few weeks, have officials worried they’re running out of
    space in upstream dams, potentially forcing them to release even more
    pent-up water downstream [the Missouri River] …

    One of the Army
    Corps’ biggest tools is the Gavins Point Dam, the last stop for the
    Missouri River in South Dakota, which will blast out a record 150,000
    cubic feet of water per second through at least mid-August.

    now think they might have to boost the amount to 160,000 cubic feet,
    saying they’re running out of options to manage all the water upstream.

    “At this point, we have very little flexibility remaining,” Farhat said.

    (the Missouri flows from South Dakota to Nebraska)

  • KTIV reports:

    Pierre, South Dakota, the Army Corps announced it’ll raise releases at
    the Oahe Dam [a second dam] another 10,000 cubic feet per second this
    weekend. That will bring it to 160,000 by Sunday.

    “We are
    transferring flood storage from Oahe and Big Bend to Fort Randall,
    which has more storage available at this time,” said Jody Farhat, chief
    of Water Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern
    Division. “The amount of rain has nearly filled the reservoirs, doing
    away with most of the flexibility we had built into our operations for
    this year,” said Farhat.

United States: Vermont

The State of Vermont has denied relicensing to the Vermont Yankee Nuclear power plant.

But Senator Sanders says that 100% captured Nuclear Regulatory Commission has pressured the Department of Justice to sue the state to allow relicensing, and to side with the nuclear operator instead of the state.

Egypt: Cairo

The Anshas Nuclear Reactor outside of Cairo has leaked small amounts of radioactive water. See this, this and this.

Japan: Monju

The New York Times has a must-read report
on a situation at a reactor hundreds of miles from Fukushima which
hasn't turned into a catastrophe net, but could become a large-scale

Three hundred miles southwest of
Fukushima, at a nuclear reactor perched on the slopes of this rustic
peninsula, engineers are engaged in another precarious struggle.


Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor — a long-troubled national
project — has been in a precarious state of shutdown since a 3.3-ton
device crashed into the reactor’s inner vessel, cutting off access to
the plutonium and uranium fuel rods at its core.


have tried repeatedly since the accident last August to recover the
device, which appears to have gotten stuck. They will make another
attempt as early as next week.


But critics warn that the
recovery process is fraught with dangers because the plant uses large
quantities of liquid sodium, a highly flammable substance, to cool the
nuclear fuel.



Prefecture and city officials found
that the operator had tampered with video images of the fire to hide
the scale of the disaster. A top manager at the plant recently
committed suicide, on the day that Japan’s atomic energy agency
announced that efforts to recover the device would cost almost $21.9
million. And, like several other reactors, Monju lies on an active

Japan: Shizuoka

As Japan Times reports:

Electric Power Co. said Friday that 43 pipes in a turbine steam
condenser were found to be damaged at the Hamaoka nuclear plant in
Shizuoka Prefecture, after the utility last month probed the leak of
seawater into a reactor at the plant.


Two other pipes were found to be deformed, the utility added, without elaborating.


May 14, some 5 tons of seawater entered the No. 5 reactor at the plant
in the city of Omaezaki, following the discovery of around 400 tons of
seawater in the condenser, which cools steam from the turbine and
turns it into water.


The trouble occurred
during work to put the reactor into a state of cold shutdown, according
to Chubu Electric. At that time, about 530 tons of water were flowing
per hour through the recirculation pipe for adjusting the water volume
inside the reactor.




the recirculation pipe had a fracture on its welded part near the lid,
water that gushed out of it possibly damaged the pipes, the utility

Japan: Fukushima

As of June 4th, highly radioactive steam was escaping inside reactors at Fukushima:



As of June 14th, radioactive steam was still escaping into the air:


the amount of steam escaping starting around 1:32 into video with the
amount released starting at around 2:12 into video)

Daily Kos reports:

is dangerously contaminated by radioactivity over a far larger area
than previously reported by TEPCO and the central government according
to new reports from multiple sources. The prefectural government of
Iwate released new data that shows radioactive contamination of grass exceeds safety standards at a distance of 90 to 125 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants.

prefectural government found on Tuesday radioactive cesium exceeding
the limit of 300 becquerels per kilogram in grass collected from
pastures in four areas, including Tono and Otsuchi. The areas are
located about 150 to 200 kilometers north of the Fukushima nuclear
power plant.

Magazine reports that Japanese scientists have become so concerned
about the health of their children that they have initiated their own
radiation monitoring program and made their own maps. The results are




It shows one wide belt of radiation
reaching 225 kilometers south from the stricken reactors to Tokyo and
another extending to the southwest. Within those belts are localized
hot spots, including an oval that encloses northeast Tokyo and Kashiwa
and neighboring cities in Chiba Prefecture.




A map of citizen measured radiation levels shows radioactivity
is distributed in a complex pattern reflecting the mountainous terrain
and the shifting winds across a broad area of Japan north of Tokyo
which is in the center of the of bottom of the map.

limits begin to be exceeded at just above 0.1 microsieverts/ hour
blue. Red is about fifty times the civilian radiation limit at 5.0
microsieverts/hour. Because children are much more sensitive than
adults, these results are a great concern for parents of young children
in potentially affected areas.

I've previously noted that some Japanese tea is contamination with radiation. And now, reports of radioactive tea shipped into other countries are starting to surface.

The journal Nature notes that the governments knew, but covered up, early knowledge about the release of radiation from Fukushima.

American reporter Dahr Jamail reports:

have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores
each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl,"
said Gundersen. "The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot
spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of
radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be
declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres
being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean
all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years
after Chernobyl."




TEPCO announced that the
accident probably released more radioactive material into the
environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on


Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese
government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power
station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now
likely uninhabitable.


In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD
and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on
a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that
occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of
fallout from the stricken nuclear plant.


The eight cities
included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco,
Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time
frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the


"There is and should be concern about younger people
being exposed, and the Japanese government will be giving out radiation
monitors to children," Dr MV Ramana, a physicist with the Programme
on Science and Global Security at Princeton University who specialises
in issues of nuclear safety, told Al Jazeera.




Gundersen points out that far more radiation has been released than has been reported.




to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to
release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These
are referred to as "hot particles".


"We are discovering hot
particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are
finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles
have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A
lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters."


air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now
common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air
filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.


The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.


get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant
irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't get you, but over time
they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can't measure
them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture
have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper
West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit
pretty heavy in April."




Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation.


are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of
radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it
stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out
radioactive steam and liquids."


Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.


four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the
earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days
later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where,
if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever
imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've
not figured out how to cool units three and four."

Indeed, a 5.9 earthquake hit 110 kilometers from Fukushima today.

A water decontamination system has been halted after a rapid rise in radiation. Radiation limits were reached in 5 hours, when it wasn’t supposed to happen for a month

As Jamail notes, the long-term prognosis is challenging:

one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core,
that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the
environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow,
robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a
container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist.
Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is
no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."


Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates
radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing
us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely.


"Until we
know how to safely dispose of the radioactive materials generated by
nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities so as not to cause
further harm to future generations," he explained. "To do otherwise
is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief, both as a scientist
and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing."


Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten years to design and implement the plan.


ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the reactors have been
dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating the water,"
Gundersen said. "We are already seeing Strontium [at] 250 times the
allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima. Contaminated water
tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have a
contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long
time to come."


Unfortunately, the history of nuclear disasters appears to back Gundersen's assessment.

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can
pinpoint the exact day and time they started," he said, "But they never

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aoter's picture

It's not any better than Uranium or MOX; 70-450 exam it is more dangerous. The spent fuel from a Thorium reactor contains significant amounts 70-401 exam Protactinium-231 that is a highly radioactive contaminant with a half life of 32,760 years and cannot breed. It gets worse if a 70-293 exam
closed fuel cycle is used because of the presence of U-232 which emits tremendous amounts of gamma radiation.

inca's picture

Jim Stone
Special Update for Japanese visitors

The disaster is far far worse than you have been told, because few people realize that nuclear weapons were used at Fukushima. I am not certain even TEPCO knows yet. The Japanese government DOES KNOW and I believe they are under threat to not tell the Japanese people. Germany has apparently figured it out also, and kicked all the Israelis out of their nuclear facilities and also shut down all the nuclear facilities that Israelis provided "security" for. Because nuclear weapons were used to blow Fukushima apart, the disaster is worse than Chernobyl. Fukushima Diiachi has a situation where exposed fuel is out in the open on the ground in large amounts. This has NEVER been reported in the "official" news, but my report, which uses photos America was never allowed to see on tv makes it obvious. I am guessing the Japanese were never allowed to see these photos either.

Jim Stone Interview on 15June2011 New Audio+more here

Sambo's picture

I am unable to understand how the Japanese went ahead with their nuclear program with the full knowledge that an earthquake - tsunami two-punch knockout of nuclear plants - especially those on the coast - was highly probable.

I have a feeling very soon mankind will be forced to rethink the entire energy use / energy generation model on which progress is based.

Joaquin Menendez's picture

To all of you Thorium reactor fans,

It's not any better than Uranium or MOX; it is more dangerous. The spent fuel from a Thorium reactor contains significant amounts Protactinium-231 that is a highly radioactive contaminant with a half life of 32,760 years and cannot breed.  It gets worse if a closed fuel cycle is used because of the presence of U-232 which emits tremendous amounts of gamma radiation.

The only reason the Thorium fuel cycle is being considered is because the world's Uranium supply is very limited and Thorium is 3X more common than Uranium.  The discussion that Thorium is safer is dishonest; very misleading and I suggest is a product of the nuclear industry.

jointhewave's picture

Please End The Wars Now. Thousands of PEOPLE are DYING!!!

Thank you.

Winston Smith 2009's picture


China Takes Lead in Race for Clean Nuclear Power | Wired Science

Safe nuclear does exist, and China is leading the way with thorium

Excellent 10 minute presentation on thorium power

Very simple and short promo for thorium power

Google Tech Talk The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor: What Fusion Wanted To Be (long and very technical presentation)

Google Tech Talk above condensed into 16 minutes (with a great deal of convincing data left out as a result)

anonnn's picture

Thanks, WinstonSmith...especially that last "tech talk" link=excellent presentation.

I was nuclear wage slave with modest training  yet had heard often of the virtues of Thorium fuel-cycle.

Jim in MN's picture

Downsides please, or STFU.  See response above in this thread. 

Trying to Understand's picture


Across river from the state of Nebraska's Fort Calhoun Nuclear plant, possibly leaking radiation now, Red Cross is preparing for 10,000 evacuees as a Warning Level 1 has been issued in Project Flood 2011 where the Mighty Missouri River continues swelling, and water is bubbling from the ground near the levee. Tornado sirens are planned to get people out of harms way while over sixty buses standby to haul people if evacuation is mandated.

The Warning includes, "LEVEE MAY BE IMPACTED. MAKE PREPARATIONS TO LEAVE." Families are packing in Council Bluffs, Omaha, Nebraska after water is forcing sand into their homes according to Action3News...."

Trying to Understand's picture  Check out their "Project Location" tab.  This is not the "only" company, there are many more.

Motorhead's picture

About time for Jim Puplava on to have a couple of more shills on his show stating that this terrible situation is "nothing to worry about".

Diogenes's picture

2 inches of snow in Montana in the middle of June? On top of 8 feet left over from last winter?

Where is this much advertised global warming when you need it? Or does anyone still believe that bullshit?

Transformer's picture

The official denial is in.  We are most likely going to have another "little ice age".  See paragraph 2 of the following.  And nobody has even said a word about a new Maunder minimum bringing about a new ice age, and they're already denying it.

Freddie's picture

George missed the worst - Sellafield in the UK.

anonnn's picture

There were and are many others far less known... the Strontium-90 plume nearing groundwater, both surface and underground, in western New York 35 mi south of Buffalo. 

Google:  Nuclear West Valley Demonstration Project

...wherein a zeolite wall is being built to "mitigate" the Sr-90 flows. [Zeolite mineral is now being tried at Fukushima to trap Sr, Cesium, etc. The Cs migrates slower that Sr and the hope is Zeolite will work with both; it has worked in lab/small tests with Sr.]

There are many forms of Zeolite mineral and I think the test was with a Idaho-sourced product.

BlackholeDivestment's picture

Who would not love all of Japan to come to the U.S.? It would be better for the world. All the empty homes filled and a labor force to pay the bills of generation RIP.


G. Marx's picture

But what does Naomi Klein think?

Freddie's picture


GW uses all these discredited lefty / MSM media sources. 

JOYFUL's picture

Ok, granted the left bought into the greeny enviro thing early, and the "right"(whoever that be now that neotrots dressed as 'neo-cons' own the whole conservative movement!) failed to exercise it's options for simple survival skill...the Fukushima\nuclear meltdown thing is NOT and never can be a partisan political issue. On the very slender hope that you might cancel your membership in the whole left\right hegelian dialectical thing in the interests of, well,er, self interest, I offer you these two links so as to give you a fighting chance of "stayin alive"in a post John Travolta era.

I fully realize that this "survival instinct" stuff will appear too 'girlieman' to some of the really troglodyte "health? We don need no stinkin health" types amongst us, but take it or leave it! All subsequent submissions to the complaint box will be ignored.




gwar5's picture

Solution: Thorium reactors

This project, from the UK is about a small exportable variety. Thorium reactors are already in use in India, and they can be made much better with new technology.

Fact is thorium reactors have been around for decades, but they don;t produce weapons so they were shoved aside. Thorium is plentiful -- enough for all our energy needs for 10,000 years -- and there's no waste byproducts and they can't meltdown. Problem solved, lets get on with it.

Jim in MN's picture

I'm going to start calling BS on the thorium religion; if you can't (won't) list the downsides then you don't understand (are shilling) your option.  The whole breeder/reprocessing cycle is a nightmare, a dead end.  High-temperature, radioactive liquid poisons are not a miracle.  They are a recipie for state-security dominated environmental and economic rape.

The whole point of the nuclear crisis meme is that systems fail, and the failsafes fail too.  And you have to keep the entire fuel cycle in view in terms of risk.  And here lies a simple point that is rarely discussed:

Radioisotopes present a different class of risk, in fact several at once, and the general public's aversion on this is fully justified.  

Far too many (not all, thank God) engineering types simply don't understand risk--this sounds strange but experience proves it over and over again.  Catastrophic risk, irreversibility, and multi-generational risk just fly over their heads.  Self-justification would be one term for it.  I am more forgiving, and call it lack of perspective.

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Way too forgiving. When an engineer designs edge of the envelope technologies, their only concern is to make it happen. Their design brief does not include any means of "catastrophe scaffolding" or melt down clean up "best practice" strategies. Vested interests aren't interested in that as the clean up of industrial messes is never factored into the business plan There is no need for that, as conventionally, it is always left to the taxpayer to clean up, well after the rapists have moved on.


Sambo's picture

That is what happens when you have an education system that is interested in only producing experts.

dust to dust's picture

 Confirmed. Thanks GW. Way to much water at the headwaters of the mighty Missouri. Not even the Corp can hold back this deluge of torrent. Flooding in Mt. and raining today June 18. It's all down river from here. I paddled this river from Three Forks to St. Louis starting in July. Three months on the river. Do not, I repeat, Do not take this river for granted.  

anonnn's picture

The original reccomendation* for commercial NucPwrPlants was to use Thorium, not Uranium, bec the Th fuel-cycle esentially stops itself when going out of control and produces only tiny amounts [compared to U] of Plutonium needed for weapons.

* The designer of the Navy' [Rickover's] nuc reactor cores for propulsion was Alvin Radkowsky, who along with Alvin Weinberg had much experience on Thorium-fuelled reactors for commercial electric power production...and why this is very relevant to the current situation..

It's the straight skinny on why the obsession with Uranium.

Google  Alvin Radkowsky and also Alvin Weinberg, for example:


dust to dust's picture

 Confirmed. Thanks GW. Way to much water at the headwaters of the mighty Missouri. Not even the Corp can hold back this deluge of torrent. Flooding in Mt. and raining today June 18. It's all down river from here. I paddled this river from Three Forks to St. Louis starting in July. Three months on the river. Do not, I repeat, Do not take this river for granted.  

AnarchyInc's picture

Not even the Corp?  The Army Corp of "Engineers" is a joke at best.  They only take the worst of the worst.  It's horrible that anyone has faith in these 1.5 gpa scrubs from the easiest engineering specialty.  Retards + corruption + bureaucracy = radioactive nebraska.

Tejano's picture

Agreed. But it wouldn't matter much if these were the most gifted engineers on the planet. Who the hell thought the Missouri River would be "controlled" by a string of puny man-made damns and levees? And then let's build some nuclear power plants in the path of this folly...

When it's Hubris vs. the Mighty Mo, I'll take the river, whatever the odds.

Manthong's picture

I wonder if any of the mutant women will have three breasts?

apberusdisvet's picture

The elites have now solved (partially) the entitlement problem.  All those people on the West Coast that won't live to 65.

snowball777's picture

And the heartland is covered by heart and lung disease. Marlboro man don't need no pansy Medicare.

High Plains Drifter's picture

yeh and guess where all of our organic produce comes from? 

Lord Koos's picture

I'm in the PNW region. For the last two months we've been soaking all leafy green vegetables in a solution of Benonite clay and water.  The clay chelates the radioactive material and removes most of it.  We also drink a clay & water solution once a day for the same reason.  We probably won't be able to eat any of the berries from our garden this year or ever again.

High Plains Drifter's picture

this blogger that i used to read, Tom Iacano said one time a few years ago, that he was moving from california to oregon. i wrote a message on his forum that i had read that they have recurring problems with leaking nerve gas containers that are stored in central oregon. he acted like he wasn't too worried about it. whatever. just hope he stays upwind of them. what kind of lunatic would store nerve gas near areas where people live?  fools.

you know. many people here in the united states look at places like oregon and washington and think, oh my, what great places to live. then the government screws things up. it never fails.

malikai's picture

Seriously, this is so over the top, I'm truly amazed.

Doesn't anybody here realize that there is and has been thorium and uranium, lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and a host of other really bad shit being spewed out of those smokestacks all over the world?

And now you're not going to eat out of your garden because of an accident at a power plant some 4-6Kmi away? You've probably been exposed to 100x as much thorium, uranium, mercury, cadminu, and lead than you will get caesium and iodine doses from Fukushima, all from the coal plant a few miles away, but nevermind that.

Bob Dobbs's picture

Nice reporting George.  Keep up the great work.

penisouraus erecti's picture

++ GW, you do good on stuff like this. A little alarmist, but then again maybe not as the bad news keeps 'leaking' out

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Nope, nothing to concern yourself over, Just a scratch. A kiss, a bit of mom's spit and a band aid should fix it.

kito's picture

you and spastica twins?

Bob Dobbs's picture

No, but we both belong to the same Church.