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July 20, 2016 – Press Pieces

On July 20th, 2016, posted in: Latest News, Press Pieces

July 20, 2016 – The Guardian – ‘The graveyard of the Earth’: inside City 40, Russia’s deadly nuclear secret – “Those in paradise were given a choice: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. There was no third alternative.” (From the dystopian novel We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, 1924) Deep in the vast forests of Russia’s Ural mountains lies the forbidden city of Ozersk. Behind guarded gates and barbed wire fences stands a beautiful enigma – a hypnotic place that seems to exist in a different dimension. Codenamed City 40, Ozersk was the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme after the second world war. For decades, this city of 100,000 people did not appear on any maps, and its inhabitants’ identities were erased from the Soviet census. Today, with its beautiful lakes, perfumed flowers and picturesque tree-lined streets, Ozersk resembles a suburban 1950s American town – like one of those too-perfect places depicted in The Twilight Zone.

July 20, 2016 – Daily Caller – Dangerously Aging US Nuke Plants Desperately Need Repairs – Department of Energy officials put off $39.4 million worth of maintenance on aging facilities used for enriched uranium processing and storage, a government watchdog reported Tuesday. Making the situation even more dire at the historic Oak Ridge, Tenn., plant is the fact that a replacement facility won’t be finished until four years after the existing building life-cycles are exhausted, according to the Energy Department’s inspector general (IG). The new complex also won’t support all the necessary functions the old buildings provided. Officials worry the decaying facilities represent a serious health threat to the plant’s employees and nearby civilians.

July 20, 2016 – Calgary Herald – Local medical imaging company expands into oil and gas sector – A Calgary company whose mobile technology allows doctors to make diagnoses on the go is expanding into other sectors, including oil and gas. Calgary Scientific Inc. — best known for its Resolution MD viewer, which allows doctors to view medical images on mobile devices — is entering a “new growth phase” with a focus on branching into new industries. Dave Waldrop — executive vice-president, sales and marketing — said that after more than a decade in the medical space, Calgary Scientific is promoting other applications for its technology. “Medical imaging is how Calgary Scientific got started,” Waldrop said. “But what we found out is that the underlying technology that we used to build the Resolution MD product can be applied in other markets.”

July 20, 2016 – Renal & Urology News – Chest X-Rays May Miss Pulmonary Metastases in T1a RCC Patients – For patients treated for T1a renal cell carcinoma, chest X-rays have low diagnostic yield for detecting pulmonary metastases, according to a study published in the August issue of The Journal of Urology. Noah E. Canvasser, MD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues examined the usefulness of chest X-rays for T1a renal cell carcinoma surveillance. A total of 258 patients with T1a renal cell carcinoma were treated with partial nephrectomy, radical nephrectomy, or radio frequency ablation, with surveillance follow-up. Demographics, pathological findings, and surveillance records were identified during retrospective chart review. The incidence of asymptomatic pulmonary recurrences diagnosed by chest X-ray was the primary outcome.

July 20, 2016 – PhysOrg – X-ray studies could help make LIGO gravitational wave detector 10 times more sensitive – Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are using powerful X-rays to study high-performance mirror coatings that could help make the LIGO gravitational wave observatory 10 times more sensitive to cosmic events that ripple space-time. The current version of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, called Advanced LIGO, was the first experiment to directly observe gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years ago. In September 2015, it detected a signal coming from two black holes, each about 30 times heavier than the sun, which merged into a single black hole 1.3 billion years ago. The experiment picked up a similar second event in December 2015. “The detection of gravitational waves will fundamentally change our understanding of the universe in years to come,” says Riccardo Bassiri, a physical science research associate at Stanford’s interdisciplinary Ginzton Laboratory.

July 20, 2016 – Southernminn.com – MDH: Three out of five Rice County homes contain ‘dangerous’ radon levels A new interactive map from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that radon levels in Rice County are much higher, on average, than in other parts of the state. The map and the data with it show that 60 percent of homes tested for radon in Rice County saw levels equal to or greater than 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter). That means three of every five homes in the county likely contain dangerous levels of radon gas, according to MDH definitions.

July 20, 2016 – Nature World News – Alert! Fracking May Trigger Asthma Attacks – Hydraulic fracturing, an industrial process that involves breaking rock formation deep underground to extract fossil fuels, has gained a lot of controversy over the past years because of its reported negative impacts on the environment and human health. Aside from increasing the levels of toxic radon, contributing to earthquake occurrences and contaminating drinking water, the process, more known as “fracking,” has also been associated with increased levels of air pollution. In line with this, a new study revealed that it can also worsen asthma attacks. Published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the study was conducted by the researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

July 20, 2016 – Space Daily – Fallout Fungi From Chernobyl Flee Earth on ISS Radiation Study Mission – Fungi found growing in the fallout from the world’s worst nuclear disaster are to be sent into space. Samples from eight different types of fungi taken from the Chernobyl exclusion zone are ready for take-off to the International Space Station (ISS). Now these fungi are pretty special; after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on April 26, 1986, when the reactor was struck by a power surge causing a nuclear melt down, the area around the site was turned into wasteland, leaving all living organisms and wildlife soaked in radiation – apart from several species of fungi which appeared to thrive. The fungi, which poked through the soil at the nuclear site in Ukraine are giving scientists hope that they could “produce new compounds that could be used as radiation therapy molecules,” according to Kasthuri Venkateswaran (Venkat for short), senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), as reported by Motherboard.

July 20, 2016 – PhysOrg – Active tracking of astronaut rad-exposures targeted – Radiation is an invisible hazard of spaceflight, but a new monitoring system for ESA astronauts gives a realtime snapshot of their exposure. The results will guide researchers preparing for deep-space missions to come. A key element of the new system launched to orbit with Monday’s Falcon 9 launch to the International Space Station, ensuring it is in place for ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s November mission to the Station. As a general rule, radiation exposure increases with altitude – people living on mountains receive more than those at sea level, while airline crews receive a small but noticeable additional dose. Astronauts in orbit receive still more radiation – they are officially classed as radiation workers. The individual dose for the whole flight is carefully measured by keeping a dosimeter on their body, to keep their career exposure within safe limits. “While sophisticated, these dosimeters are passive,” explains Ulrich Straube, radiologist and flight surgeon at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.

July 20, 2016 – Street Insider – Pluristem Therapeutics (PSTI) Announces Participation in Radiation Injury Treatment Network’s Meeting – Pluristem Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: PSTI) announced its participation in the Radiation Injury Treatment Network’s meeting titled, “Medical Management of Radiation Casualties: Where Research and Usage Meet”. The meeting, which took place on July 18-19, 2016, was organized jointly by the Radiation Injury Treatment Network and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Racheli Ofir, Ph.D., Pluristem’s Vice President of Research & Intellectual Property, shared her expertise in studying the treatment of Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS) in a variety of animal models.

July 20, 2016 – PhysOrg – Scientists develop a minimally traumatic and inexpensive ceramic laser scalpel – Scientists from MIPT and their colleagues have developed a compact and powerful ceramic-based laser with applications in minimally traumatic and inexpensive laser surgical scalpels, and also for cutting and engraving composite materials. The results of the study have been published in Optics Letters. Today, lasers are in consumer electronics devices, medicine, metallurgy, metrology, meteorology, and many other areas. Lasers are created by stimulated emission in an active medium, which could be a gas, liquid, crystal, or glass. The wavelength of a laser and the efficiency of converting energy into radiation are both dependent upon the parameters of the active medium. Ivan Obronov, a researcher at MIPT, and his colleagues used a ceramic obtained from compounds of rare-earth elements – lutetium oxide with added thulium ions (Tm3+:Lu2O3). It was the thulium ions that enabled the ceramic to generate laser radiation.

July 20, 2016 – New York Post – Burrito saunas are the latest wacky health trend – Detoxers usually avoid burritos— at least the carb-bomb kind. But over the past year, celebs have flocked to LA’s Shape House, a so-called “urban sweat lodge” that wraps its VIP clients in infrared sauna blankets that eerily resemble the Tex-Mex staple. Selena Gomez credits the heated wraps, which promise to banish toxins, with softening her skin, while “Orange Is the New Black” cast members have met there for sweats. Now, the trend has hit the East Coast.

July 20, 2016 – The Japan Times – In first, Tepco admits ice wall can’t stop Fukushima No. 1 groundwater – The much-hyped ice wall at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has failed to stop groundwater from flowing in and mixing with highly radioactive water inside the wrecked reactor buildings, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. has admitted. Tepco officials also said at a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Tokyo that it is not the utility’s ultimate goal to shut out groundwater with the ice wall, which has been built around the four damaged reactor buildings at the plant. Tuesday’s announcement was apparently the first time the utility publicly said it is technically incapable of blocking off groundwater with the frozen wall.

July 20, 2016 – Michigan Capitol Confidential – Shivering in the Dark? Sierra Club Opposes 91 Percent of Michigan Electricity – The Sierra Club environmental organization opposes the three sources of energy responsible for 91 percent of the electricity generated in Michigan. It has been outspoken in its stance against the use of natural gas, coal and nuclear power to generate electricity for Michigan households and businesses. Michigan generates 32 percent of its electricity by burning coal and another 32 percent comes from nuclear power plants. Natural gas accounts for another 27 percent of electricity generation. Wind and solar account for less than 7 percent of net electricity generation in this state. “The Sierra Club opposes, or is pushing to phase out, over 90 percent of the energy resources that we depend on for our lives and well-being,” said Jason Hayes, the director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

July 20, 2016 – Daily Star – Fears for MASSIVE Turkey H-bomb stash after four-day power cut – MAJOR concerns that a huge pile of US nukes sitting in a Turkish airbase could be snatched by Turkey rebels or ISIS have got world leaders rattled. The fears were raised over the stash of nukes after a Turkish airbase saw its power cut for FOUR days as carnage took over the streets. Incirlik Airbase – 70 miles from the Syrian border – is home to NATO’s largest nuclear weapons storage facility and the base for US’ anti-ISIS operations. It’s home to fifty B-61 bombs. Just one bomb could kill 4,000 and injure 4,000 more in the first 24 hours of detonation. Detonating fifty at the same time would release a massive killer radioactive cloud that would cause mass devastation.

July 20, 2016 – Blackpool Gazette – Fylde coast nuclear team’s distinction – Westinghouse’s Springfields site at Salwick has been awarded the Order of Distinction Award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This is the 16th consecutive year that the company’s enhanced safety culture and safety improvements have been recognised by RoSPA. RoSPA and the Order of Distinction Award are internationally recognised achievements for operations in 24 industry sectors including construction, healthcare, transport and logistics, engineering, manufacturing and education. The award offers organisations the opportunity to prove their ongoing commitment to raising safety standards and to celebrate success.

July 20, 2016 – The Conversation – As nuclear power plants close, states need to bet big on energy storage – Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) recently started the process of shutting down the Diablo Canyon generation facility, the last active nuclear power plant in California. The power plant, located near Avila Beach on the central Californian coast, consists of two 1,100 megawatt (MW) reactors and produces 18,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity a year, about 8.5 percent of California’s electricity consumption in 2015. It has been, up until this point, the single largest electrical generation facility in the state. Looming over the imminent closure of Diablo Canyon is California State legislative bill SB 350, or the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015. The act is a cornerstone of the state’s ongoing efforts to decarbonize its electricity grid by requiring utilities to include renewable sources for a portion of their electrical generation in future years. The mandate also requires utilities to run programs designed to double the efficiency of electricity and natural gas consumption.

July 20, 2016 – IndiaTimes – This Backwaters Paradise In Kerala Is One Of The Most Radioactive Towns In The World! – When one brings up the topic of radioactivity, out thoughts immediately go to either Chernobyl or Fukushima. While nuclear disasters were to be blamed for their release in the atmosphere, there are elements present in the ground that put us in danger in the face of constant exposure. India’s no stranger to this exposure. A small municipality in Kerala known as Karunagappalli has been privy to this vulnerability for a while now. Constantly facing high radiation, Karunagappalli’s exposure can be attributed to the presence of monazite in the soil that carries traces of 8-10 percent Thorium. Experts believe that the allowable limit of exposure sits at 5 milligrays of radiation; exceed that and one can fall prey to its harmful effects with prolonged exposure. Radiation levels in Karunagappally varied between 0.32 to 76 milligrays per year across 12 panchayats, according to The Hindu report. Radioactive exposure depends on both short-term and long-term time frames as well as short and long distances. While some cases of leukemia and cancer have been reported in Karunagappalli, the erosion of monazite into the beach sand is too hard to ignore.

July 20,2 016 – US News & World Report – The Myth of the Nuclear Renaissance; The game is already over for nuclear energy – Desperate times for the nuclear industry call for desperate rhetoric. Hence the reach, once again, for “renaissance,” even though the facts support no such thing and the industry itself dare not even resurrect the mythological moniker. With nuclear power priced out of the market – not only by natural gas but, more importantly for climate, by renewables – die-hard nuclear proponents are dressing up old reactors in new propaganda. Sodium-cooled, fast and even small modular reactors are all designs that have been around – and rejected – for decades. Sodium-cooled reactors are prone to fires, explosions and super-criticality accidents. A rapid power increase inside the core of such a reactor could vaporize the fuel and blow the core apart. Far from “walk away safe,” these on-paper designs have not been submitted to the kind of rigorous “all scenarios” testing that could definitively designate them as meltdown proof.

July 20, 2016 – National Review – Democrats Ignore Inconvenient Math on Nuclear Power – The party’s platform ignores the reality that wind and solar aren’t enough. The Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia, doesn’t start until July 25, but a look at the party’s draft platform reveals one fact: Democrats remain hopelessly unserious when it comes to greenhouse gases and climate change. To be sure, the platform contains plenty of phrases that aim to inspire voters, including references to income inequality, “greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street,” and the need to protect civil rights, women’s rights, workers’ rights, LGBT rights, and so on. While the Democrats are right to favor voting and civil rights for everyone, including women, transgendered people, and homosexuals, they are intolerant of any heterodoxy on the issue of nuclear energy and its pivotal role in the effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The draft platform includes 24 mentions of the word “nuclear,” but that word is never followed by “energy” or “power.” Instead, it’s followed by words like “annihilation,” “weapon,” and “warhead.” It’s as though the Democrats have pledged to ignore America’s single largest and most reliable source of low-carbon electricity.

July 20, 2016 – Worcester Business Journal – Marlborough co. handling nuclear plant auction – Marlborough’s Concentric Energy Advisors will be in charge of auctioning off the Tennessee Valley Authority’s incomplete Bellefonte Nuclear Plant near Hollywood, Ala., by this October. Concentric was retained to manage the auction of Bellefonte after the TVA Board declared the plant to be a surplus property and authorized its sale in May. The 1,600-acre facility currently contains two unfinished nuclear units, plus a number of supporting structures, including transmission switchyards, warehouses and parking lots, suitable for a variety of industrial, commercial or residential uses, according to a release from TVA. According to the Associated Press, the property has been appraised at $36 million.

July 20, 2016 – OSU Press Release – Ohio State University to receive $10M for nuclear waste disposal research – The Ohio State University is among four sites around the country chosen for new research centers by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today. The Center for Performance and Design of Nuclear Waste Forms and Containers (WastePD) will receive $10 million over the next four years, and will be the first of DOE’s 36 Energy Frontier Research Centers nationwide to be headquartered in the state of Ohio. WastePD’s goal will be to “accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to support the DOE’s environmental management and nuclear cleanup mission” through “basic research aimed at assisting with the cleanup of hazardous waste that resulted from decades of nuclear weapons research and production during the 20th century,” DOE announced today.

July 20, 2016 – Herald Palladium – Palisades places security workers on leave – Nearly two dozen security workers at the Palisades nuclear power plant are on paid leave after inconsistencies in fire inspection records were found last month. Plant owner Entergy placed the workers on leave while it investigates the allegations, plant spokeswoman Val Gent said Monday. One of the workers’ duties is to do routine checks to look for any possible signs of fire. While she did not go into specifics on the allegations, Gent said “the bottom line is that we cannot tolerate employees stating they completed a task when they didn’t, and we are obligated to fully investigate any such instances.” “Fire (checks) are just one tool in our defense in-depth fire protection program, which includes fire prevention, fire detection and fire suppression,” Gent said.

July 20,2016 – PNNL Press Release – “Dream Team” chosen to study basic science of nuclear waste – A more thorough understanding of the chemistry of radioactive waste is key to treating this unwanted byproduct of winning World War II and the Cold War. To accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to support the Department of Energy’s cleanup mission, four new Energy Frontier Research Centers have been formed. Energy Secretary Moniz announced Monday that up to $40 million dollars will go to fund the four centers for up to four years. DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will lead one center called IDREAM, which stands for Interfacial Dynamics in Radioactive Environments and Materials.

July 20, 2016 – KSBY – PG&E preparing study on decommissioning of Diablo Canyon Power Plant – With Diablo Canyon Power Plant set to shut down in nine years, Pacific Gas and Electric is now studying just how to go about decommissioning the plant. “We are going to take our time and do this right and put together an effective and safe decommission plan,” said Blair Jones, a spokesperson for PG&E. Part of the plan is coming up with a way to fund the shutdown. A taxpayer trust fund is currently at about $3 billion, but shutting down the plant is expected to ring up a tab of nearly $4 billion.

July 20, 2016 – Cal Coast News – Diablo Canyon closure the result of failed energy policies – If you live anywhere on the Central Coast, you’re aware by now that on June 21, PG&E announced it will not seek relicensing of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant when the licenses expire in 2024-2025. It’s my opinion this is a direct result of years of failed energy policies in the state of California. PG&E in it’s announcement acknowledged that it will be unable to meet the renewable mandates by the state and had no other choice but to abandon nuclear energy production for a malaise of renewables. Just like that, 10 percent of the state’s energy supply will be gone. Coupled with the closure of San Onofre, California will be nuclear free having lost 20 percent of it’s electricity supply, not counting the additional lost energy from coal and other sources by way of state mandates. To build the equivalent of a 2200-megawatt nuclear plant, a solar farm would require more than 20,000 acres, and a wind farm more than 100,000 acres. By contrast, Diablo Canyon is able to produce that much power and more on a footprint of 545 acres.