NAHA, Japan (Reuters) - Storage tanks at the Fukushima nuclear plant like one that spilled almost 80,000 gallons of radioactive water this year were built in part by workers illegally hired in one of the
"Even if we didn’t agree with how things were being done, we had to keep quiet and work fast."
Today I found out that during the height of the Cold War, the US military put such an emphasis on a rapid response to an attack on American soil, that to minimize any foreseeable delay in launching a nuclear missile, for nearly two decades they intentionally set the launch codes at every silo in the US to 8 zeroes.
This blog is full of nuclear news - including safety, current events, innovations, disasters,…
Last October, a grant from the Pulitzer Center enabled me to visit Semipalatinsk, the nuclear testing ground where the Soviet Union detonated 456 nuclear bombs during the Cold War. I can’t imagine a sadder place on earth. When the Soviet Union withdrew from Kazakhstan, it left behind not only an ecological catastrophe, but also an international security nightmare—dozens of bombs worth of plutonium remained in the tunnels used for underground testing. In a report published by Harvard and a dispatch for The Washington Post, my co-author David Hoffman and I told the story about how some of the scientists who tested nuclear weapons during the Cold War came to cooperate to secure the residual material at Semipalatinsk against potential theft from local scavengers.
The 17-year operation was a great triumph for these scientists; many were given awards by the U.S., Russia and Kazakhstan. But it was never clear to me whether the mission should be viewed as an act of atonement rather than heroism. Many of the scientists involved in the operation at Semipalatinsk had dedicated their considerable intellect and vigor to the design and testing of nuclear weapons rather than nobler pursuits. They chose to put the dubious security imperative of building niftier hydrogen bombs ahead of long-term environmental or proliferation concerns. Does cleaning up their own mess right the balance?
Writing impartially about nuclear weapons can be difficult—they tend to evoke strong emotions. Are they peacekeepers or moral obscenities? My co-author David Hoffman, who chronicled the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dangerous nuclear legacy left behind in his outstanding book, “The Dead Hand,” was a steady reminder as we worked on the piece together that our obligation as journalists was to the facts. “Just collect the bricks and build the structure,” was his sage advice. And so we did.
But as I worked on the piece, I remained troubled that progress toward unraveling the dangerous legacy of the Cold War arms race has been so slow, and will be so complicated.
As a very basic first step, the global community seems to lack the political or moral will to start the difficult process toward disarmament. Nuclear weapons states are eager to help clean up Semipalatinsk, or punish proliferating countries for attempting to join the nuclear club (both worthy endeavors), but are unwilling to even begin to discuss how they intend to safely and securely disarm.
In my mind that is a moral failure as much as a threat to global peace. Shortly after I returned from Kazakhstan, as I was working with David on our report, a tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut seemed to momentarily focus Americans on the need to seriously address gun control. But even as we seemed willing as a nation to begin the difficult but crucial conversation about controlling the most prevalent weapons in America, we seemed unwilling to also address the most deadly.
That irony hit home to me as I watched President Obama give a heartfelt speech following the Sandy Hook shooting about our responsibility to protect innocent children. That, he told us, is how we will be judged as a society. He was accompanied at the vigil—as he is shadowed everywhere he goes—by a military official carrying a device known as “the football.” It’s such an innocent-sounding sobriquet—like something Obama would toss around with his daughters Sasha and Malia on the White House lawn. The football is, in fact, a military communications system designed to immediately launch hundreds of nuclear-tipped missiles that have no self-destruct button and cannot be called back. We ask of our democratically-elected President that he be ready at all times to be the trigger man for a nuclear holocaust that would incinerate millions of children and other innocents, and fatally poison millions more.
As a democracy, we don’t seem ready to talk seriously about the urgent moral imperative of properly addressing the legacy of the Cold War. What will it take for that to change?
— Eben Harrell, for the Pulitzer Center’s Untold Stories channel. Read his and David Hoffman’s reporting on securing nuclear materials here.
05 November 2013
Work to dismantle the old ventilation stack shared by units 3 and 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine has begun, making way for installation of the giant protective structure over the damaged reactor.
The ventilation stack for phase two of the Chernobyl plant (units 3 and 4) is 75.5 metres tall and has a diameter of 9.0 metres. It comprises seven sections weighing a combined 330 tonnes. The top of the stack is 150 metres above ground level.
The top section of the stack was removed on 31 October. The section has been placed on a special prepared site where it will be dismantled further, prior to being placed in the turbine hall of unit 3 for temporary storage.
The plant said that continuous radiation monitoring will be carried out during the dismantling operation. It said that so far radiation parameters “do not exceed the design control levels.”
The dismantling work is being carried out by Ukrtransbud Corporation using a giant crane with a load capacity of 1600 tonnes. The operation to remove the entire stack is scheduled to be completed by 10 December.
In nuclear physics, the island of stability is a set of as-yet undiscovered heavier isotopes of transuranium elements which are theorized to be much more stable than those closer in atomic number to uranium. Specifically, they are expected to have radioactive decay half-lives of at least minutes or days as compared to seconds, with some scientists expecting half-lives of millions of years.
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Taylor Wilson was 14 when he built a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents’ garage. Now 19, he returns to the TED stage to present a new take on an old topic: fission. Wilson, who has won backing to create a company to realize his vision, explains why he’s so excited about his innovative design for small modular fission reactors — and why it could be the next big step in solving the global energy crisis.
World’s first floating nuclear power plant to begin operating in Russia in 2016
In three years, Russia will have the world’s first floating nuclear power plant, capable of providing energy and heat to hard-to-get areas as well as drinking water to arid regions.
The unique vessel should be operational by 2016, the general director of Russia’s biggest shipbuilders, the Baltic Plant, Aleksandr Voznesensky told reporters at the 6th International Naval Show in St. Petersburg.
The Akademik Lomonosov is to become the spearhead of a series of floating nuclear power plants, which Russia plans to put into mass-production.
Alexander Antonov was pressed into action in the Chernobyl clean-up. Unlike some of his comrades, he survived to tell the tale
U.S. experts claim that Israel stopped producing nuclear bombsNine years ago, Israel had 80 nuclear bombs that put the state as the eighth place in the world in…
Hiroshima – Before and After (1945)
English Russia | August 16th, 2013
How do they extract fuel for nuclear plants? What do they do with it? How do they make energy from it? Let’s find this out.
Decades after Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster, despite the severely contaminated ground, government objections and the deaths of many fellow ‘self-settlers’, a community of determined babushkas remains.
Photo: RENA EFFENDI/ INSITUTE
By Holly Morris 6:30AM GMT 08 Nov 2012
Outside Hanna Zavorotnya’s cottage in Chernobyl’s dead zone, a hulking, severed sow’s head bleeds into the snow, its gargantuan snout pointing to the sky in strange, smug defeat.
The frigid December air feels charged with excitement as Hanna, (above) 78, zips between the outlying sheds wielding the seven-inch silver blade that she used to bring the pig to its end.
'Today I command the parade,’ she says, grinning as she passes a vat of steaming entrails to her sister-in-law at the smokehouse, then moves off again. In one hand she holds a fresh, fist-sized hunk of raw pig fat – there is no greater delicacy in Ukraine – and she pauses now and then to dole out thin slices to her neighbours…