Cover-up: Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown a Time Bomb Which Cannot be Defused

epa02660905 A handout picture provided by Air Photo Service on 30 March 2011 shows an aerial photo taken by a small unmanned drone of the damaged units of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma, Futaba district, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 24 March 2011. TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced on 30 March it will be more than a few weeks to fix the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. EPA/AIR PHOTO SERVICE / HO EDITORIAL USE ONLY +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster which has caused incredible an ongoing destruction, in the meantime authorities have tried to cover up the serious consequences…

Image source: http://www.theasiasun.com/

Sourced through Scoop.it from: oilprice.com

>” […] Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe. […]

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.”

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth. […]

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her. […]

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.” […]

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster:The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.” […] “<

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Idle Load Reduction Strategies for Energy Efficiency Gains and Clean Air

NRDC: Always-on but inactive devices may cost Americans $19 billion and 50 power plants’ worth of electricity annually.

Source: www.nrdc.org

>”  […]  Idle load or “baseload” electricity consumption includes appliances and equipment in off or “standby” mode but still drawing power; in “sleep mode” ready to power up quickly; and left fully on but inactive. Much of this always-on energy provides little or no benefit to the consumer because most devices are not performing their primary function and home occupants are not actively using them.

The Natural Resources Defense Council partnered with Home Energy Analytics and the Stanford Sustainable Systems Lab to assess the impact of the growing cohort of always-on devices on consumer utility bills. We used three separate data sets: smart meter data from 70,000 northern California homes; smart meter and additional information for 2,750 San Francisco Bay Area homes; and a detailed in-home audit of 10 Bay area homes.

We found that “always-on” electricity use by inactive devices represents on average nearly 23 percent of northern California household electricity consumption.

But if all homes in the United States reduced their always-on load for inactive devices to the level that a quarter of the homes in our study already achieve, it would:

save consumers $8 billion on their annual utility bills,avoid 64 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity use per year, andprevent 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, or 4.6 percent of U.S. residential sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation.

[…] Ensuring that electronics, appliances, and miscellaneous electrical devices consume only as much electricity as necessary when unused presents a huge opportunity to save energy and money. Eliminating this energy waste also decreases the number of fossil fuel–burning power plants necessary to generate electricity, thereby reducing harmful air pollutants and carbon emissions that threaten our health and the environment.

Given that these power plants account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon pollution, smarter energy use can have a measurable impact on overall emissions and would help states comply with emissions reduction targets under the government’s Clean Power Plan to set the first-ever limits on this dangerous pollution. In addition, optimizing energy use helps eliminate the need to build new expensive energy infrastructure, saving utilities and their customers money.

In the meantime, consumers can take these steps in their homes and businesses:

Optimize the efficiency of their current devices;Buy more efficient appliances, electronics, and miscellaneous devices, such as those labeled ENERGY STAR™, whether replacing old models or purchasing new ones;Urge lawmakers to enact idle load labeling so shoppers can avoid products with high idle loads; andInsist that all devices be required to meet idle load efficiency standards so there is no need to worry about models needlessly wasting electricity, the same way regulatory mechanisms ensure that our vehicles are safe to drive and foods are safe to eat.  “<

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DOE Invests in Super-Critical Carbon Dioxide Turbine Research to Replace Steam for Electric Power Generators

The U.S. Department of Energy hopes to create a more efficient turbine that uses CO2 to make electricity

Source: www.scientificamerican.com

“> […]

Whether burning coal, concentrating sunlight or splitting atoms, most thermal power plants use the energy for the same thing: heating water into steam to drive a turbine. Steam-based generation produces 80 percent of the world’s electricity.

After more than a century of incremental improvements in the steam cycle, engineers have plucked most of the low-hanging fruit and are chasing diminishing returns, spending millions of dollars for every percentage point of efficiency improvement. These upgrades propagate to other steps in electricity production, allowing power plants to extract more work for a given unit of fuel.

In a fossil fuel-fired generator, this means less carbon dioxide emissions for the same unit of electricity produced. For a solar thermal plant, this results in higher capacity at lower operating costs.

Now engineers are looking into replacing steam with supercritical carbon dioxide, a technique that could unlock up to 50 percent greater thermal efficiency using a smaller, cheaper turbine.

Last month, in a budget briefing and in two different hearings before Congress, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz specifically mentioned the Department of Energy’s supercritical carbon dioxide initiatives. The department’s 2016 budget request allocates $44 million for research and development on this front, including a 10-megawatt supercritical turbine demonstration system.

A simpler, smaller, cleaner machine
The term “supercritical” describes the state of carbon dioxide above its critical temperature and pressure, 31 degrees Celsius and 73 atmospheres. Under these conditions, carbon dioxide has a density similar to its liquid state and fills containers the way it would as a gas.

Coffee producers are already using supercritical carbon dioxide to extract caffeine from beans. Materials companies are also using it to make plastics and ceramics.

“From a thermodynamic perspective, it’s a very good process fluid,” said Klaus Brun, machinery director at the Southwest Research Institute, a nonprofit research and development group. “You get a fairly efficient cycle and a reasonable firing temperature.”

In its supercritical state, carbon dioxide is nearly twice as dense as steam, resulting in a very high power density. Supercritical carbon dioxide is easier to compress than steam and allows a generator to extract power from a turbine at higher temperatures.

The net result is a simpler turbine that can be 10 times smaller than its steam equivalent. A steam turbine usually has between 10 and 15 rotor stages. A supercritical turbine equivalent would have four.

“We’re looking at a turbine rotor shaft with four stages on it that’s 4 inches in diameter, 4 feet long and could power 1,000 homes,” said Richard Dennis, turbine technology manager at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.

He noted that the idea of a supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle dates back to the 1940s, but steam cycles were already very efficient, well-understood and cheap, creating an uphill slog for a new power block to catch on. In addition, engineers were still finding ways to improve the combustion side of power production, so the need to improve the generation side of the plant wasn’t as acute until recently. […]”<

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Closed Loop Cooling Saves Millions of Gallons of Water in Texas Combined Cycle Natural Gas Power Plant

Source: gereports.ca

>” […] Instead of water, each of the two plants will use two powerful air-cooled “Harriet” gas turbines and one air-cooled steam turbine developed by GE. “The technology uses the same cooling principle as the radiator in your car,” Harris says. “You blow in the air and it cools the medium flowing in closed loops around the turbines.”

The power plants, which are expected to open next year, will be using a so-called combined cycle design (see image below) and produce power in two steps. First, the two gas turbines (in the center with exhaust stacks) extract energy from burning natural gas and use it to spin electricity generators. But they also produce waste heat.

The system sends the waste heat to a boiler filled with water, which produces steam that drives a steam turbine to extract more energy and generate more power.

But that’s easier said than done. The steam inside the steamturbine moves in a closed loop and needs to be cooled down back to water so it could be heated up again in the boiler. “Normally, we cool this steam with water, which evaporates and cools down in huge mechanical cooling towers,” says GE engineer Thomas Dreisbach. “A lot of the cooling water escapes in those huge white clouds you sometimes see rising from towers next to power plants.” The Exelon design is using a row of powerful fans and air condensers (rear right) to do the trick and save water.

Similar to the steam turbines, GE’s Harriet gas turbines also use air to chill a closed loop filled with the coolant glycol and reduce the temperature inside the turbine. The combined efficiency of the plant will approach 61 percent, which in the power-generation industry is like running a sub 4-minute mile. […]”<

 

 

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China’s Switch to LNG From Coal Will Cut Global Pollution

To many people, natural gas seems to be more of the same, a continuation of the old fossil fuel path that has driven industrialization, air pollution and global warming.

Source: www.vancouversun.com

“> […]  China is currently producing twice the greenhouse gases of the United States. And its emissions are growing rapidly. Its emissions surpassed those of the U.S. in 2006, reached double the U.S. in 2014, and are expected to rise by seven per cent per year for the foreseeable future. China obtains 70 per cent of its electricity from burning coal, by far the worst polluter. China has plans for doubling its use of coal in the next 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, the emissions from the U.S. have stabilized, partly from a slowing economy, but the biggest effect came from a switch from coal to natural gas. If you replace an old coal power plant with a modern natural gas one, you can cut carbon dioxide emissions by a factor of three.

Natural gas doesn’t cut emissions to zero; it is still a fossil fuel. But it obtains much of its energy from hydrogen, an atom that out numbers the carbon atoms in methane (the key component of natural gas) by 4:1. Natural gas can be burned with much higher efficiency than coal, by use of a combined cycle turbine that harnesses both gas and steam power generation.

China wants to move away from coal, to natural gas, nuclear, and solar. Their chief concern is not global warming, but the horrific air pollution that is killing an estimated 4,000 people per day in China, 1.6 million per year. […]”<

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Power plant closures quench demand for Pennsylvania’s coal

More than 100 coal-fired power plants nationwide either plan to shut down or already closed their doors in 2014, as the market responds to stricter environmental regulations, cheap natural gas and lackluster electricity demand growth, according to a survey done by the Energy Information Administration. Behind all those closures sit coal mines — many of them in Appalachia — coping with the loss of customers for the fuel that reigned supreme for many decades. Click the image above for a more detai

Source: powersource.post-gazette.com

>” […] More than 17 million tons of coal from Appalachia went to plants slated to shut down in 2013 alone, the latest full year for which such data are available. And the impact is likely to be even bigger, since the EIA’s list of recent or coming closures doesn’t include generators planning a transition from burning coal to burning natural gas.

Companies have been bracing for this change for years, but many have indicated that it’s coming faster and blunter than expected, driven in part by a slew of environmental regulations.

“That’s an unprecedented change to America’s power system in what constitutes the blink of an eye in energy markets — creating enormous potential for market disruptions, supply shortages and rate spikes,” Deck Slone, senior vice president of strategy and public policy at St. Louis-based Arch Coal, wrote in December.

Like its peers, Arch’s stock price reflects the gloom. At $1.30 per share, Tuesday’s closing price represented a one-year low. Virginia-based coal producer Alpha Natural Resources’ also saw its 52-week bottom at $1.13.  […]

Central Appalachian coal mines stand to be big losers in the transition away from coal, Mr. Cosgrove wrote in November. That includes the historically prolific supplies in Virginia, southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

“Falling demand may hasten mine closings in the region, where coal production has dropped 32 percent since 2009,” he wrote.

Some companies have been bracing for the fall for years.  […]

Between 2012 and 2014, Alpha idled 64 mines, reduced its shipments in the eastern part of the country by 28 percent and got rid of more than 4,000 employees.  […]

The situation looks worse for suppliers such as Virginia-based James River Coal Co., which is in the middle of a restructuring, and Virginia-based James C. Justice Co., which has shed a significant portion of its mine portfolio in recent years. The producers stand to lose 28 percent and 48 percent of shipments, respectively, from mines serving affected plants.

For decades, contracts between coal companies and utilities have included force majeure clauses, according to Mr. Cardwell, who has reviewed hundreds of contracts and negotiated dozens during his 18-year tenure as a coal buyer for a Kentucky utility.

Such clauses typically protect power plants from having to take delivery of coal they no longer need if the power plant is prevented from running by some new environmental regulation or another unforeseen circumstance.

Yet lawsuits seem inevitable following current and projected mine closures. “I have a feeling that there’s going to be pretty significant litigation in the future,” Mr. Cardwell said.

One issue that may arise as power plants claim that environmental regulations pushed them out of business is how much of a role competition from cheap natural gas played in their decision either to shut down or use a different fuel.

Gas is all the rage at the moment. The commodity is trading at around $3 per million British thermal units, or Btus, down from more than $13 in the summer of 2008, towards the beginning of the shale revolution in Appalachia.

That’s why some operators, like Consol Energy, now boast flexibility in their contracts with utilities. Consol has refocused its company on a growing shale gas business, retaining only a handful of coal mines.

According to James McCaffrey, senior vice president of marketing at Consol, who spoke at Platts’ Coal Marketing Days in Downtown in September, “Customers want to flip between coal and gas.”

He said the company was actively negotiating a deal where a utility could choose its fuel depending on its preference.

“That’s a good marketing approach: ‘I’ll give you Btus, you tell me how you want them,’ ” Mr. Cardwell said. […]”<

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Michigan’s Consumers Energy to retire 9 coal plants by 2016

New EPA regulations are an opportunity to modernize the generating fleet, according to a Consumers Energy official.

Source: www.utilitydive.com

>”[…] Consumers Energy will shutter nine coal plants in Michigan as EPA air pollution regulations make them unprofitable to operate, MLive reports. And the Michigan utility won’t be the only one. A wave of coal retirements will roll across the Midwest by early 2016, shuttering more than 60 generating plants, a Consumers official told the “Greening of the Great Lakes” weekly radio program.In addition to the regulations under the Clean Power Plan and other EPA programs, Consumers says many of the nine coal plants were built in the 1950s and are simply at the end of their productive lives.  […]

Last year Consumers Energy announced it had selected AMEC to run the utility’s decommissioning program for the planned retirement of seven operating units at the utility’s three oldest coal-fired generating plants. Though there is still uncertainty over just what impact a slate of EPA regulations will have, Consumers last year said the power plants being decommissioned have an average operating life-span of more than 60 years and collectively represented approximately 950 MW of electric capacity.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, but as it stands the regulations could apply to 1,400 generators at more than 600 of the nation’s largest power plants.

Federal regulators believe the tighter controls could prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths each year by limiting mercury, particulate matter, and other harmful pollutants it says are hazardous to public health.”<

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Climate Change, Carbon Reduction and Mitigating Natural Gas Use in the Electricity Sector

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan offers states the opportunity to curb rising natural gas use in the United States and achieve steeper carbon-pollution reductions by investing more aggressively in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Source: www.americanprogress.org

>” […] In the United States, electric utilities are the largest source of carbon pollution. Therefore, the reduction of power-sector emissions needs to be a central component of any meaningful climate mitigation strategy. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, released a landmark proposal to establish the first-ever carbon-pollution standards for the nation’s power plants.

This proposal, the Clean Power Plan, establishes a “best system of emissions reduction” based on four building blocks that combine to make the nation’s electricity system more efficient and less reliant on carbon-heavy coal-burning power plants. […]

One of the Clean Power Plan’s central elements is increasing the use of lower-carbon natural gas combined cycle, or NGCC, units to generate some of the electricity now produced by higher-carbon coal-fired power plants. States can use this approach to achieve relatively quick carbon-pollution reductions starting in 2020 while ramping up the deployment of programs that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The EPA modeled two compliance scenarios to understand the costs, benefits, and potential energy-related impacts of the Clean Power Plan. This modeling suggests that the electricity sector’s natural gas consumption will increase sharply at the beginning of the Clean Power Plan’s implementation period as states shift power generation from dirtier coal-fired plants to cleaner-burning NGCC plants. The EPA also predicts that states will build new NGCC plants to replace retiring coal plants and to help meet their carbon-reduction targets.

By 2030, however, the EPA’s models forecast that more renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs will come online as states continue to implement the Clean Power Plan. Electricity generation from renewable sources will displace some generation from NGCC and coal-fired power plants. Energy-efficiency programs, meanwhile, will reduce electricity demand, slowing generation and curbing carbon pollution from the power sector as a whole. […]

While natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it is still a fossil fuel that releases carbon pollution. In addition, methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can escape throughout the natural gas production and supply cycle. For these reasons, several recent studies by prominent researchers have questioned whether natural gas can form the core of an effective climate mitigation strategy. […]

By acting decisively to implement ambitious renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs, states can help ensure that the United States does not overcommit to natural gas and that it continues on a path toward decarbonization of the economy. […]”<

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Commercial ORC Used for Waste Heat Recovery on Industrial Electric Arc Furnace

Turboden, a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has implemented the first ORC-based heat recovery plant on an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) in the world

Source: www.pennenergy.com

>” […] The heat recovery system was started up on December 2013. It is connected to the off-gas treatment system of the melting electric furnace. The recovered energy reduces net power consumption, allowing significant CO2 reduction.

In addition to electricity production, the remaining portion of the steam is fed into the Riesa Municipal steam supply system and used in a nearby tire factory production process.

Turboden designs, develops and implements generation plants, allowing reduction of industrial energy consumption and emissions containment through heat recovery from unexploited residual heat streams and exhaust gases in production processes and power plants.

This technology is best applied in energy-intensive industries such as glass, cement, aluminum, iron & steel, where production processes typically generate exhaust gases above 250°C.

These new plants not only provide advantages in terms of environmental sustainability, emissions reduction, increased industrial process efficiency and improved business performance, but they also represent opportunities for increased competitiveness.”<

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U.S. Nuclear Power Closures Signal Wider Problems for Industry

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A string of plant closures, project cancellations and other setbacks has raised new doubts about the future of nuclear power in the United States, but there’s disagreement about whether the retrenchment will be limited and temporary or the…

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>The blows to nuclear power’s prospects have come on many fronts, but it was the surprising spurt of plant closures that laid bare the industry’s worsening plight. The plant shutdowns are the first to hit the U.S. nuclear power market in 15 years, and the retirements don’t bode well for many of the nation’s 99 remaining power reactors.

Analysts say economic woes make at least 10 other plants vulnerable enough to follow suit. Almost all of those are among the nation’s 47 “merchant” nuclear plants, which, unlike regulated plants, operate in open markets and have to beat out other power suppliers to win customers and long-term supply contracts. The especially vulnerable facilities cited by analysts are at greater risk for closure because their power is too expensive to sell profitably in wholesale markets or because their output is too small or too unreliable to support rising operating and retrofit costs.<

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