Reactor shutdowns nine months away: Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced Sunday that it will take six to nine months to complete a cold shutdown of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, while the United States proposed a daring plan to use a remote-controlled helicopter and cranes to pluck out their spent fuel rods... If all goes well, displaced residents from the evacuation zone should know within six to nine months whether they will be able to go home, trade minister Banri Kaieda said. [Previously] [Open MeFi pro vs. con nuclear policy thread] [more inside]
The German weekly newspaper Die Zeit shows Americans (and a few Canadians) what a Fukushima-sized evacuation zone might mean to them.
The Economist is holding an online debate on nuclear power. These debates provide a great opportunity to get an overview of the different perspectives on an issue. If f you are so inclined, you can share your own views on the topic too. Today's discussions focus on a contribution by Amory Lovins.
A Political Meltdown: For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the production of medical isotopes. So why did the government announce that it was dumping the entire program? (alt)
The long running "eyeball" series from noted cryptography and information freedom site Cryptome [many previously] hosts hi-res photos of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear site taken from a UAV and inside the stricken plant. Also eyeball shots of other Japanese nuclear reactors.
Nuclear janitors |They’re called ‘jumpers’ and they go where no one else will | "Off to Japan" | The pay rate at Three Mile Island in 1979 post accident was $7.00/hour and $30.00/perdiem. [more inside]
How do you clean up a massive nuclear disaster? With 800,000 people, 45 seconds at a time. The Liquidators, Chernobyl's "biorobot" cleanup crew: Part 1, Part 2. [more inside]
Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power Brit writer raises interesting points.
Even Japan’s infamous mafia groups are helping out with the relief efforts and showing a strain of civic duty. "The Kanagawa Block of the Inagawa-kai, has sent 70 trucks to the Ibaraki and Fukushima areas to drop off supplies in areas with high radiations levels. They didn't keep track of how many tons of supplies they moved. The Inagawa-kai as a whole has moved over 100 tons of supplies to the Tohoku region. They have been going into radiated areas without any protection or potassium iodide."
The first nuclear reactor was in Africa, 2 billion years ago. Two billion years ago, there was enough uranium 235 in a naturally occurring deposit in Africa to fuel a nuclear fission reaction. In 16 separate locations, spontaneously occurring fission reactions went on for some hundreds of thousands of years, cycling multiple times per day. A picture of Fossil Reactor 15. The American Nuclear Society info site.
Fukushima Dai-ichi status and potential outcomes The Oil Drum has begun posting daily threads about the Japanese nuclear plant event. As during the last energy crisis, the comments there tend to have a good signal-to-noise ratio.
Preliminary magnitude 7.9 off Honshu at 05:46 UTC The Pacific Ring of Fire has been living up to its name lately. BBC flash reporting a Tsunami Alert has been issued.
Threads (1984). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) Testament (1983). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) [more inside]
Only 60,000,000 citizens killed?! Success!!! A 1950s Air Force film on what might happen in the event of a U.S.-Soviet nuclear conflict has been declassified and is available in full, online, from the National Security Archive of George Washington University.
Get the Energy Sector off the Dole - Why ending all government subsidies for fuel production will lead to a cleaner energy future—and why Obama has a rare chance to make it happen.
“Well you know boys, a nuclear reactor is a lot like women. You just have to read the manual and press the right button.”
Robots Guarding US Nuclear Stockpile "The US National Nuclear Security Administration recently announced that it has started using autonomous robot vehicles to patrol the vast desert surrounding its Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The 1360+ square miles of territory is home to millions of tons of low grade nuclear waste, as well as Cold War Era nuclear weapons, and cutting edge nuclear testing research. Guarding those precious nuclear materials is the Mobile Detection Assessment Response System (MDARS) robot, which is essentially a camera on a mini-Hummer. The MDARS can roam and scout the desert on its own, alerting a remote operator when it encounters something that shouldn’t be there (two headed coyote?). Human controllers get real time video feed form the bot and can communicate with trespassers using speakers and a microphone. There’s just one MDARS robot on patrol now, but NNSA plans on adding two more in the next six months." Via: [Singularity Hub]
A press conference was held this afternoon at the National Press Club in Washington, where at least a dozen former U.S. Air Force personnel, mostly officers who worked on secret projects connected to sensitive nuclear weapons sites, are admitting that they were privy to UFO and alien-related incidents that occurred during their time of service. In this clip, you will hear from: Retired Air Force Captain Robert Salas, Former Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dwayne Arneson and Former Air Force Official Bill Jameson. [via NECN]
Sometime its seems like you're living in a William Gibson novel. Was Stuxnet Built to Attack Iran's Nuclear Program?
Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
How Business Can Lead us Beyond Fossil Fuels: a Techonomy presentation by Amory Lovins, followed by comments from Chevron CTO John McDonald and audience questions.
It has gone by many names. "National Reactor Testing Station" (1949-1975), "Energy Research and Development Administration" (1975-1977), "Idaho National Engineering Laboratory" (1977-1997), the "Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory" (1997-2005), and now the "Idaho National Laboratory" (2005-present). It has been the site of more than 50 nuclear reactors, which has resulted in a fair bit of environmental impact. In 2000, the US Department of Energy published (and has since made available on the web) a history of the laboratory over its first 50 years: "Proving the Principle."
Over fifty years after Los Angeles' first nuclear meltdown, the State of California is finally getting around to decontaminating the radioactive fallout.
On June 6th, Shahram Amiri - an Iranian nuclear scientist -- appeared on a YouTube video claiming he was abducted by US and Saudi authorities in Medina, drugged and flown to the US. On June 7th, a second video on Youtube appeared where he, or someone claiming to be him, said he was fine, studying in the US. (The U.S. government has no official comment but cited him as a source on Iran's nuclear program.) A 3rd video backed the first. Now Pakistan says Amiri is in hiding in its Washington embassy's Iranian interests section under asylum and making arrangements to get back to Iran. How he got there, and why, is a mystery. [more inside]
Inspired by a talk by Dr. Robert W. Bussard, Mark Suppes, a web developer by day, has built his own nuclear fusion reactor. [more inside]
The "Laser Inertial Fusion Engine" (LIFE) is being developed at the National Ignition Facility. Stewart Brand blogs about its potential here and this video (.mov 128MB) is stunning. How LIFE works. Successful early test shots suggest that the NIF will achieve first nuclear fusion ignition within the next few months (+10 years to commercial).
... on June 12, 1982, approximately a million people demonstrated in New York City's Central Park against nuclear arms and for an end to the arms race of the cold war. Nothing like it had ever happened before. It was not only the largest antinuclear demonstration but the largest political demonstration of any description in American history. Nothing like it has happened again, either. The tide of protest was at its high-water mark, and thereafter receded steadily. - Jonathan Schell, 2007. [more inside]
A Burmese general has defected from the country to tell the world about the military junta's top secret nuclear weapons program. Sai Thein Win reveals that Singapore and Germany have been selling SLORC technology used to convert uranium into weapons-grade fuel. The end goal of the program is not to defend Burma from other countries but to protect the military elite from the underground democratic opposition. In response, US Senator Jim Webb cancels his trip to Burma. A full report will air on Al Jazeera starting at 6AM GMT.
"Immediately after an attack by Israel, and even with no Iranian response, the United States is likely to begin significant defensive deployments to the region. Its attempts over a period of a year to negotiate with the Iranians make the Obama Administration more vulnerable to domestic pressures to be strong in its reaction to an Israeli strike.The Israeli Threat: An Analysis of the Consequences of an Israeli Strike on Iranian Nuclear Facilities [PDF]. [more inside]
At an early stage after an Israeli attack, the United States would be faced with deciding whether to passively await casualties or to attack Iranian military capabilities on its own. The United States would probably decide to finish the job on Iranian nuclear facilities and destroy as much as possible of Iran’s capability to project combat power."
Pigeon: Impossible is the tale of Walter, a rookie secret agent faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase.
Yarchive is one man's collection of UseNET posts on the topics of Air Conditioning; Aircraft; Bicycles; Cars; Chemistry; Computers; Electrical, Electronic; Environment; Explosives, Pyrotechnics; Food; Houses; Guns; Jokes; Medicine; Metalworking; Military; Nuclear; Telephones; Physics; Risks; Security; Space mostly from a select group of authors. It has been updated several times since it first appeared here in 2001 and it never fails to sucker me in for hours every time I stumble upon it from a Google Search. [more inside]
Atomic Test Archive. Histories of atomic testing by country, with video and photographic archives. The Information Films page is interesting: One can envision 50's dad smugly admiring his tidy yard through freshly vapourised retinas. Also: the one-hour declassified Ivy Mike film at the internet archive.
In 1954 the UK Atomic Energy Authority established a research campus at a distant, disused airfield in Caithness, Scotland. The mission: develop fast breeder reactor technology. In 1988, they chose to conclude the research and in 2000 to decommission the site. This 32-year cleanup now underway is chronicled at a most snazzy website... [more inside]
"With the renewed interest in nuclear weapons I have been struck by how few people there still are who have seen one explode." Jeremy Bernstein looks back on the two above-ground tests he witnessed in 1957. "Smoky" and "Galileo" were part of Operation Plumbbob, a series of 29 tests.
Talking About Energy at TED "Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world's energy future, describing the need for 'miracles' to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he's backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050." Others, however, reckon no breakthroughs are needed.
Ted Taylor, physicist, nuclear scientist, and designer of the deceptively tiny Davy Crockett nuclear recoilless rifle, is not quite as famous as one of his other projects: nuclear spacecraft propulsion. Project Orion was intended as an interplanetary (and eventually interstellar) vehicle which could achieve Earth orbit with a series of 800 nuclear explosions, each detonated about a second after the other below the spacecraft. It would propel itself through space in a similar fashion, carrying many orders of magnitude more mass than chemical rockets such as the Saturn which would ultimately take men to the moon. Taylor and others intended a mission to Mars by 1965, but the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 destroyed all hope to see Orion take flight. For the interested, "The Curve of Binding Energy" goes into much more detail, including the U.S. Air Force's plan to turn Orion into a nuclear space battleship (!). A youtube video of an Orion concept test using conventional explosives is here (flight footage begins around 0:23).
Nuclear engineers are never taught about the other kind of nuclear reaction. But a working prototype was built over 40 years ago. "The thick hardbound volume was sitting on a shelf in a colleague’s office when Kirk Sorensen spotted it. A rookie NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Sorensen was researching nuclear-powered propulsion, and the book’s title — Fluid Fuel Reactors — jumped out at him. He picked it up and thumbed through it. Hours later, he was still reading, enchanted by the ideas but struggling with the arcane writing. “I took it home that night, but I didn’t understand all the nuclear terminology,” Sorensen says. He pored over it in the coming months, ultimately deciding that he held in his hands the key to the world’s energy future." [more inside]
Arms Control Wonk - a collaborative blog detailing the ins and outs of strategic weapons programs around the world. [more inside]
Removing 600 kilos of enriched U-235: the story of how, in 1994, the United States secretly removed from Kazakhstan enough purified uranium to make 24 nuclear weapons. (Full article with one photo.) Russian bomb-grade uranium is now being used in U.S. power plants.
Russian strategic nuclear forces - an online watchdog of the movements of Russia's nuclear forces. [more inside]
1995 Contractor Study Finds that U.S. Analysts Exaggerated Soviet Aggressiveness and Understated Moscow's Fears of a U.S. First Strike. During a 1972 command post exercise, leaders of the Kremlin listened to a briefing on the results of a hypothetical war with the United States. A U.S. attack would kill 80 million Soviet citizens and destroy 85 percent of the country's industrial capacity. According to the recollections of a Soviet general who was present, General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev "trembled" when he was asked to push a button, asking Soviet defense minister Grechko "this is definitely an exercise?" This story appears in a recently released two-volume study on Soviet Intentions, 1965-1985, prepared in 1995 by the Pentagon contractor BDM Corporation, and published today for the first time by the National Security Archive. [more inside]
Back in the early 1960s, Amchitka, a volcanic, tectonically unstable island in the Rat Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska was selected by the United States Atomic Energy Commission to be the site for underground detonations of nuclear weapons. Three such tests were carried out and, thanks to Youtube, you too can watch some declassified US Government Amchitka test films. The first, named Long Shot, was an 80-kiloton blast (video) and was followed by Milrow (1-megaton) (video) and Cannikin (said to be under 5-megaton) (video). There's also a declassified video that discusses the program at Amchitka in more detail.
Can game theory predict when Iran will get the bomb? Bruce Bueno de Mesquita thinks yes. (Previously)
From Sheffield, England to Yongbyon, North Korea, nuclear plant cooling towers are coming down! And pretty much without a hitch. Things didn't go quite so well, though, for an old flour factory in Turkey, which just rolled over onto its roof. D'oh!
Under a Nuclear Cloud (Reportage by Gettyimages) The results of using villagers as human guinea pigs in "preparing" for nuclear war.
Peak Oil, 1925. In 2000, 20% of new buildings will be solar equipped. By the late 1990s, 90% of the world's energy will be nuclear-generated. These and other erroneous projections are being collected as part of the Forecast Project on the website Inventing Green: The Lost History of Alternative Energy in America.
Photos of nuclear-explosives production facilities built during the Manhattan Project, by photographer Martin Miller. He also took photos of nuclear missile sites built during the cold war.
1983: The Brink of Apocalypse -- In 1983 the NATO war exercise Able Archer almost started a nuclear war. Unknown to NATO, just a few months earlier a false alarm had already put the Soviet leadership on edge, and the exercise triggered preparations for a counter attack in the Soviet military. Only a few double agents on each side may have saved the world from nuclear armageddon. [more inside]