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July 18, 2016 – Press Pieces

On July 18th, 2016, posted in: Latest News, Press Pieces

July 18, 2016 – Niagara Today – DEC releases North Avenue spoils pile radiation readings – Mayor Paul Dyster and his senior planner had to answer continued questions last week about the potential danger posed by a pile of contaminated soil from the city’s recent train station construction that remains on North Avenue. “Is it safe?” Niagara Falls City Councilman Ken Tompkins asked at a meeting last week. “Where it sits right now, is it safe?” Dyster said “it is,” and reiterated comparisons to the material found beneath Lewiston Road in 2010 that state Department of Environmental Conservation staff deemed not a threat to public health, which DeSantis cited when he declared the pile “perfectly safe” nearly three weeks ago. Representatives of the DEC told the Gazette on Thursday that analysis near the fence line of the 915 North Ave. site “determined no levels exceeding natural background values,” or naturally occurring radiation levels.

July 18, 2016 – Japan Today – New documentary questions Japan’s use of nuclear energy – Documentary filmmaker Yoshitaka Nitta has made a movie based on a question he has asked himself since the nuclear meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. The question is “Why does Japan insist on reactivating nuclear power plants despite the worst nuclear accident in its history?” In the movie titled “Atom and Peace—Ruiko, Nagasaki Prayer,” Ruiko Matsunaga, a 24-year-old elementary school teacher in the city of Nagasaki in southwestern Japan, travels from Aomori to Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan and then back to Nagasaki, visiting places where there is “peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

July 18, 2016 – The TeCake – NASA deep space exploration is in threat as reserves of plutonium 238 depletes – NASA uses plutonium-238 to send the spacecraft’s off to space which seems to make the curiosities about the space world disappeared, and we now have a lot of information about most of the planets. But what if the fuel runs out? Plutonium-238 is obtained as the by-product while making the nuclear weapons. Its radioactive decay makes it a superfuel and there is no replacement found. Nuclear fission systems are too heavy, solar power is too weak and chemical batteries don’t last long. As it decays it gives out enough energy to generate electricity and keep the expensive parts of the spacecraft warm in cold and dark region of space. Voyager 1’s journey would not have been possible without this fuel which left on a 5 years mission to explore Jupiter and Saturn and after thirty six years today, it is still exploring covering more than 19 billion kilometres. Voyager 1 is expected to keep running till 2025 when it will finally run out of three batteries filled with plutonium-238.

July 18, 2017 – Cosmos – How much radiation damage do astronauts really suffer in space? – Space is a really inhospitable place to live – there’s no breathable air, microgravity wastes away your bones and muscles and you’re subjected to increased doses of radiation in the form of high-energy charged particles. These can cause damage to the cells in your body by breaking up the atoms and molecules that they’re made of. But what are these sources of radiation and exactly how much is an astronaut on the International Space Station exposed to over the course of a six-month stay? With the latest expedition about to return to the safety of planet Earth on June 18, I thought I’d have a look at the data to find out. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration monitors the levels of radiation at low Earth orbit using the instruments on board five polar orbiting environmental satellites. These orbit the Earth every 101 minutes. Since the Earth rotates underneath them, this allows us to build up a pretty comprehensive view of the space radiation at similar altitudes to the ISS every day. By flying the space station through the radiation map each day, we can work out the total amount of radiation astronauts receive.

July 18, 2016 – DOTMed.com – ACR updates manual on contrast media to address gadolinium concerns – ACR has updated its manual on contrast media to include the FDA’s statement on the use of gadolinium-based contrast agents (GBCAs) for the approximately 30 million patients who receive doses for MR exams each year. The industry has recently discovered that GBCA can reside in the brain tissue of patients who received multiple doses over their lifetime. In response, the FDA published a safety alert in July 2015 stating that it was investigating the risk of GBCA deposits. There have been no reports to date that show that the deposits are associated with neurotoxicity, even among GBCAs with the highest rates of deposition. But until the clinical effects are fully understood, the safety and tissue deposition potential of all GBCAs will be evaluated.

July 18, 2016 – AzoOptics.com – Scientists Use New X-Ray Laser Experimental Station to Study Nature of Hemoglobin – A new X-ray laser experimental station at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory recently welcomed its first research group, scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Members of the Berkeley Lab’s Yachandra/Yano research team ran the inaugural experiment from July 1 to 4. They used the X-ray laser to develop new spectroscopic tools, with an initial focus on studying an enzyme in blood known as hemoglobin. Hemoglobin allows oxygen to be carried around our bodies and gives red blood cells their distinctive color. In contrast, Macromolecular Femtosecond Crystallography (MFX) is blaze orange, following the LCLS tradition of personalizing each instrument at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. LCLS is a hard X-ray free-electron laser that fires in pulses just a few millionths of a billionth of a second in length, offering a look at chemistry on the natural timescales of reactions.

July 18, 2016 – Sputnik International – Iran’s Atomic Agency Refutes Reports on Purchase of Bulgarian Old Reactors – Earlier in July, media reported about plans of Sofia and Tehran to conduct a deal on purchasing “secondhand” reactors for the needs of Iranian nuclear power plant in southwestern city of Bushehr. “This claim is completely false since nuclear reactors cannot become ‘secondhand’ to begin with,” Salehi said, as quoted by the Iranian Mehr news agency. At the same time he added that Bulgaria wanted to sell the equipment it had after the cancellation of project on construction of two reactors with Russia’s Rosatom state-owned nuclear energy corporation. The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant started operating in 2011 and reached full capacity the following year.

July 18, 2016 – Northeast Today – Meghalaya Remembers Legendary Freedom Fighter U Tirot Sing Syiem on 181st Death Anniversary – The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) remembered legendary Khasi freedom fighter U Tirot Sing Syiem on his 181st death anniversary in functions held across the state. At a function held at the Madan Iewrynghep at Laitumkhrah in Shillong, the KSU used the occasion to draw attention to the issue of uranium mining in the state which the union is opposed to. The KSU felt that the confrontation faced by the state today is parallel to challenges faced by the Khasi freedom fighter from Hima Nongkhlaw in his quest to gain freedom from British rule.

July 18, 2016 – Sputnik International – IAEA Visit to Russian NPP to Promote State’s Nuclear Industry – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s visit to the two nuclear enterprises will take place on July 19-21 at the initiative of Russia’s Rosatom state-owned nuclear energy corporation, and is set to become the fourth such visit to Russian nuclear enterprises. The Beloyarsk power station is the only plant in the world using the innovative sodium-cooled BN-600 and BN-800 fast breeder reactors. The BN-800 reactor was connected to the power grid in early 2016 and is expected to start commercial operations later in the year.

July 18, 2016 – Star News – Heed dangers of radon, health officials advise – Radon is an issue of concern in Minnesota. Tested properties in three-fourths of Minnesota counties — including Sherburne and Wright — have shown high average radon levels, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas that occurs naturally in soil. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers. MDH has launched a new online tool to help residents get a more accurate picture of radon levels in their counties. The agency has created the new interactive county radon maps and charts using five years of data from 2010 to 2014 with more than 86,000 properties tested. To see the new tools, go to https://apps.health.state.mn.us/mndata/radon.

July 18, 2016 – Silicon Republic – Russia claims to be working on a nuclear bomber spacecraft – Russia and Vladimir Putin are making some international leaders rather anxious with news that the country is developing a new spacecraft capable of firing nuclear missiles at targets down on Earth. Since the end of the Cold War, the nuclear bomber aircraft has been gradually turned over to conventional weapons with the reality that there can be little justifiable reason to use them in modern conflicts. However, according to the Russian state-owned website Sputnik News, the country is now looking into space as a means of creating a terrifying drone-like spacecraft that will fly above the Earth’s atmosphere and deliver nuclear payloads on targets below. The experimental aircraft being developed by the Russian Strategic Missile Forces Academy (SMF) is similar in design to the Boeing X-37 craft being developed in the US. This highly-advanced craft would be remotely controlled on the ground and would deliver payloads to space to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond, much like the Space Shuttle of old.

July 18, 2016 – Enformable – New film about Indian Point nuclear power plant provides insights about regulating the nuclear industry – “Indian Point” is a film about the long problem-plagued Indian Point nuclear power plants that are “so, so risky—so close to New York City,” notes its director and producer Ivy Meeropol. “Times Square is 35 miles away.” The plants constitute a disaster waiting to happen threatening especially the lives of the 22 million people who live within 50 miles from them. “There is no way to evacuate—what I’ve learned about an evacuation plan is that there is none,” says Meeropol. The plants are “on two earthquake fault lines,” she notes. “And there is a natural gas pipeline right there that an earthquake could rupture.” Meanwhile, both plants, located in Buchanan, New York along the Hudson River, are now essentially running without licenses. The federal government’s 40-year operating license for Indian Point 2 expired in 2013 and Indian Point 3’s license expired last year. Their owner, Entergy, is seeking to have them run for another 20 years—although nuclear plants were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems.

July 18, 2016 – Associated Press – Closed nuke’s plan to ship radioactive water raises concerns – The closed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will be mothballed for decades before it is dismantled and its radioactive components are shipped off. But already, plans by the plant to ship hundreds of thousands of gallons of radioactive water to a Tennessee processing facility are raising concerns. It’s a situation being played around the country as aging nuclear plants begin to close. Nearly all are expected to stand dormant for up to 60 years while their radioactivity diminishes and their decommissioning funds grow. But early in their retirements, huge amounts of contaminated water will need to be shipped off for processing. It’s a reminder that even as the benefits of nuclear power fade in memory in regions where plants are closing, the retired reactors will remain an environmental and public safety challenge for decades to come.

July 18, 2016 – Power-Technology.com – JFN receives contract for Mitsubishi’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan – UK-based decommissioning and remote handling company James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) has secured a new high-value contract from engineering company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Under the contract, JFN will be responsible for developing the latest technology to sample radioactive debris sitting below reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Japan. JFN’s nuclear business director Bertie Williams said: “For some time JFN has been regarded as an industry leader in this field and this award shows our expertise and experience is recognised and valued worldwide.

July 18, 2016 – CapeCod.com – Pilgrim Requests Extension from NRC for Post Fukushima Order – The owner of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Entergy, is seeking an extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to comply with a post Fukushima order for its boiling-water reactor to have reliable hardened containment vents. The vents are designed to remove combustible gases after an accident to prevent explosions seen at Fukushima. The plant is asking for an extension through December 31, 2019 so a permanent plant modification would not be needed as the plant is set to close by June of 2019. “The plant does have a limited operational timeframe going forward, but our mandate is to make sure that the public is going to be adequately protected,” said Neil Sheehan, an NRC Spokesman.

July 18, 2016 – KEPR TV – DOE: Demo and cleanup date for Hanford plutonium plant pushed back 1 year – There’s a change to the demolition and cleanup of the Plutonium Finishing Plant, the most hazardous facility on the Hanford site according to the Department of Energy, (DOE.) After reconsideration, the DOE determined that the September 30th finish date can’t be met. Officials say unaccounted-for hazards have pushed the finish date back by a full year. The new deadline is now set for September 30, 2017. The Plutonium Finishing Plant at Hanford produced two thirds of the nation’s plutonium stockpile.

July 18, 2016 – Tri-City Herald – Whistleblowers recount retaliation by Department of Energy – Hanford has not bothered to implement a pilot project intended to provide more protection for whistleblowers going up against contractor lawyers paid for by the Department of Energy, Sen. Clair McCaskill of Missouri said Thursday. It was one of many ways DOE has failed to hold its nuclear contractors accountable, according to a highly critical Government Accountability Office report. The report found only two violation notices have been issued against contractors in the past 20 years. “All the words that the (Department of Energy) proclaims about wanting to have a strong safety culture, a safety-conscious work environment and that it has zero tolerance for retaliation are a pretense,” whistleblower Sandra Black said at a news conference on Capitol Hill, her voice shaking with emotion.