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Teacher, activist, interested in energy technology, climate change, environmental issues and global security.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WIPP - Mess: a Bad Signal for Finnish "Onkalo" and other Nuclear Waste Disposal Plans - BREAKING: AREVA Withdrawing from Olkiluoto-3 EPR Constructing Site?

Well, there was an incident at WIPP

( LINK - Wikipedia: ) in New Mexico, U.S.A. a few weeks ago. Several WIPP - workers were contaminated with Plutonium and Americium isotopes. The plant has been releasing Plutonium and Americium since the incident and the latest estimates tell 1 % of radionuclides to bypass WIPP filtering system instead of 0,13 % initially announced. The nearest city of Carlsbad, situated 42 km from the site, has also received small amount of Plutonium and Americium airborne particles. There is no detailed plan yet when the facility is able to return to normal operation because of high radiation levels inside the WIPP-plant.

Radioactive release is always a serious issue - the WIPP -incident is one of the worst nuclear dump accidents up to date. Nuclear industry is living on probabilities, not on reality. NPPs are releasing radioactive substances like tritium on daily basis, even when running normally.  - Arts-photo: Jukka Seppälä / C.F. 

The probability of a spontaneous explosion of a plutonium waste container has been estimated to occur once in 10 000 years. And the other possible cause of an incident resulting this kind of leak - collapsing ceiling or roof  of the cave - is estimated to happen once in a million years. WIPP -plant has now been running for about seven years.

WIPP Happens!








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What about Finnish "Onkalo", then? 

This nuclear waste dump is also calculated to be safe for 100 000 years. But is it really? Three studies show that inner copper cylinders containing the spent fuel may corrode in 1 000 years instead of 100 000 years promised by the industry. And now after 7 years of operating WIPP we have this one-million -year-event happening! Is nuclear engineer / geologist this clever?

Copper cylinders for Onkalo - Photo: Jukka Seppälä / C.F.

We should think twice before we dump nuclear waste. We should not produce any new nuclear waste by nuclear power generation. Unless we don't want to be the generation that becomes famous to kill its own children and grandchildren. We still are able to choose!

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And what about Areva?

Making big losses - 500 million euros last year, most of it from Finnish Olkiluoto-3 NPP -project - the company is rumored abandoning or freezing Olkiluoto EPR- construction site which is causing the project additional delays. The last estimate for Olkiluoto-3 to be finished is somewhere between 2018 to 2020, according to Finnish Kauppalehti:

Last year Areva estimated the total costs of Olkiluoto-3 EPR to rise up to 8,5 billion euros. Each extra year adds the cost. ( My estimate in 2012 was 10 Billion euros - time will tell which one was closer to reality  )

Olkiluoto-3 construction site - Photo: Jukka Seppälä / C.F.

Let's hope this crazy project to build the most expensive building mankind has ever built will be mothballed and abandoned 

before it is contaminated with radioactive isotopes. We still could make it a gas (biogas as well) powered power plant to give back up power for renewable power generation like wind and solar.



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Finnish Government to Force Fennovoima to Abandon Agreement with Russian Rosatom due to Russian Illegal Military Operation in Ukraine?

After last days illegal military operation run by Russian Army in Ukraine there is a good reason to believe that Finnish Government is taking the initiative to freeze the negotiations of Finnish Fennovoima nuclear power company with Russian military nuclear complex Rosatom.

There has been a lively discussion whether Finns should allow Rosatom to enter Finnish energy markets, especially when we are dealing with such a sensitive and important technology for national security as nuclear power generation.

There has been opinions criticizing the military role of Rosatom - it is a part of Russian nuclear weapons industry, although it is selling "peaceful atoms" abroad. How peaceful are Russian atoms - that must be now questioned after Vladimir Putin's grave mistake to invade Ukraine illegally.

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen should now take initiative to freeze the Fennovoima - Rosatom NPP-project due to Russian military aggression against Ukraine. / photo: Jukka Seppälä / C.F.

It would be a clear signal to Russia if Finnish Government, backed up with the Finnish Parliament, would announce that nuclear reactors capable of producing raw material for nuclear weapons must not be bought from a country that is running an illegal war and  aggression against a smaller neighbor country - against UN resolutions.

According to Finnish law it is illegal for any Finnish company to sell weapons or military material to any country that is involved in a war. This is just what Rosatom is doing: it is helping Russia to build its nuclear strike ability by manufacturing raw materials to nuclear weapons.

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And if you dig deep enough you will find the basic reasons for increasing tensions in Ukraine and in other former Soviet Union republics in the energy sector.

Russia is blackmailing the poorer independent republics with threatening to shut the gas pipes. During the winter it is a serious threat. Also Germany has felt the Siberian freezing winds a couple of times.

But the world is quickly changing, and that must Mr. Putin also recognize, the sooner, the better! Renewable energy is cutting the rope of Russian gas and oil around Germany's neck pretty fast. Windy and sunny days are now giving more than half of  the electricity Germany produces, and they have coal just in case....


Imagine if Ukraine had a large scale renewable energy project funded by EU, the U.S.A and China. Imagine if they would produce 50 % of their energy with Wind, Solar and Biomass.

This would boost their economy and give them lower unemployment rates. And it would cut their dependence on Russian gas and oil. Mr. Obama, Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Xi Jinping, please receive this call! 

And the same with other east European countries. True independence comes with regional, renewable energy production. And it could benefit the economies of their partners by giving their renewable energy utility suppliers plenty to sell.

What about Russia then? Mr. Putin, please think twice! You could have a win - win situation.

And I don't mean now war - there you'll loose in the end -  but pulling your troops back and offering Ukraine a new fair deal: let's create a new, independent Ukraine - that kind of Ukraine that the people living there really want. Russia could also be funding renewable energy projects - together with western countries and China - and benefiting also by gathering experience and know-how for the future energy change of the great, innovative new Russia that was quick to learn of its mistakes of the past (and present).