• Nuclear powerTurbulent mixing research makes advanced thermal reactors safer

    Researchers are working to make advanced thermal reactors safer by establishing trusted uncertainty guidelines regarding advanced reactor turbulent mixing processes. “The overall goal of this project is the efficient management of heat transfer and being able to predict what’s going to happen in accident scenarios from a thermal hydraulics standpoint,” one researcher said. “A lot of what I’m doing in this research is focused on establishing uncertainty in the predictive tools that we have for measuring those accident scenarios.”

  • ChernobylWhat we learned from Chernobyl about how radiation affects our bodies

    By Ausrele Kesminiene

    The world has never seen a nuclear accident as severe as the one that unfolded when a reactor exploded in Chernobyl on 26 April 1986, sending vast amounts of radiation into the skies around Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The planet had experienced massive releases like this before, in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. But Chernobyl-related radiation exposure had a more protracted character. It was the first time in history that such a large population, particularly at a very young age, was exposed to radioactive isotopes, namely iodine-131 and cesium-137, not just through direct exposure, but through eating contaminated food as well.

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  • ChernobylMore money for nuclear safety pledged on Chernobyl 30th anniversary

    The EU and other global donors have pledged an additional $99 million to help secure the Chernobyl power plant, as ceremonies in the Ukraine mark thirty years since the disaster. The money will be used to construct a new spent nuclear waste storage facility, adding to the €2 billion already donated to helping clean up and secure the Chernobyl site. A new giant $1.7 billion steel structure will be placed over the nuclear reactor this year to prevent further radioactive leaks. The old concrete structure was put together after the meltdown, but experts say it is not leak-proof and that, in any event, it is beginning to show its age.

  • ChernobylThe legacy of Chernobyl -- 30 years on

    By Awadhesh Jha

    The 26 April 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. For many, especially those born since 1986, it is a word they know without appreciating the full significance of what happened on that day. For others, it was a life changing catastrophe which resulted in largest release of radioactivity in the history of nuclear energy.

  • Nuclear wasteDealing with irradiated nuclear graphite

    Since the beginning of the nuclear power industry, a large number of channel uranium-graphite nuclear power reactors was built across the world. To date, they all are on the output stage of the operation or decommissioning preparation. Approximately 250,000 tons of irradiated graphite are accumulated in the world, including ~ 60,000 tons in Russia. Due to the specificity of irradiated graphite, the treatment of this type of radioactive waste has not been determined yet.

  • Nuclear accidentsForget Fukushima: Chernobyl still holds record as worst nuclear accident for public health

    By Timothy J. Jorgensen

    The 1986 Chernobyl and 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accidents both share the notorious distinction of attaining the highest accident rating on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scale of nuclear accidents. No other reactor incident has ever received this Level 7 “major accident” designation in the history of nuclear power. But the IAEA scale isn’t designed to measure public health impact. Chernobyl is by far the worst nuclear power plant accident of all time. It was a totally human-made event which was made worse by incompetent workers who did all the wrong things when attempting to avert a meltdown. Fukushima in contrast, was an unfortunate natural disaster – caused by a tsunami that flooded reactor basements — and the workers acted responsibly to mitigate the damage despite loss of electrical power. In terms of health ramifications, these two nuclear accidents were not even in the same league. While Fukushima involved radioactivity exposures to hundreds of thousands of people, Chernobyl exposed hundreds of millions. And millions of those received substantially more exposure than the people of Fukushima.

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  • Radiation risksBelgium turns down Germany’s request to shutter two aging Belgian nuclear plants

    Belgium on Wednesday turned down a request by Germany to shut down two ageing nuclear power near the German-Belgium border. Belgium said the two plants, while old, still meet the strictest safety standards. Both the Doel and Tihange power stations, in operation since 1974, were scheduled to be shut down and decommissioned in 2015.

  • Nuclear terrorismParis attacks' mastermind had files on German nuclear waste facility

    Salah Abdeslam, the mastermind of the November 2015 terrorist attacks who is now in custody in Belgium, had in his possession documents about a nuclear research center in Germany. The Juelich nuclear center near the Belgium-Germany border is used for the storage of nuclear waste.

  • DisastersDigital mapping project tracks the last moments of the victims of Japan’s 2011 tsunami

    Digital archives track the evacuation patterns of 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake victims between the time the earthquake and tsunami struck. The Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers who created the digital archives say they will make use of the archive to analyze evacuation behaviors — encouraging people, for instance, to avoid overestimating evacuation sites and head to higher ground.

  • Nuclear securityIs Belgium’s nuclear security up to scratch?

    By Robert J. Downes and Daniel Salisbury

    Belgium’s counter-terrorism efforts are once again being called into question following the recent tragedies in Brussels. The attacks were carried out against soft targets – the public check-in area of Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station – but a series of unusual and suspicious occurrences were also reported at nuclear facilities in the country. These events highlight the very real threat to nuclear facilities. For Belgium, this recent episode is one item on a long list of security concerns. Based on this history, the Belgian authorities should be primed to take nuclear security especially seriously. But there are serious questions about whether they are.

  • European securityU.K. to ship highly enriched uranium for disposal in U.S.

    The United Kingdom will ship large quantities of enriched uranium for disposal in the United States, and in return will receive nuclear material from the United States for use in the treatment of cancer patients in Europe. About 700kg of radioactive waste, most of which is held at Dounreay in northern Scotland, will be shipped to the United States to be treated in American nuclear disposal plants, which have a greater capacity than British plants to dispose of radioactive materials.

  • Nuclear terrorismBrussels attackers originally planned to attack a nuclear facility: Belgian authorities

    The terrorists who attacked the airport and a metro station on Tuesday had originally considered targeting a Belgian nuclear site, but that such an attack would have required more time and planning. The terrorists abandoned the nuclear facility attack plan after Belgian security services arrested a number of Islamist militants, forcing the terrorists to act more quickly and focus on soft targets instead of a hardened nuclear facility. EU counterterrorism coordinator said that Belgium’s network of nuclear power stations could become the targets of cyberattacks by terrorists in the near future. “And if [ISIS] ever did turn to nuclear weapons,” one experts says, “they have more people, more money and more territory under their control and more ability to recruit experts globally than Al Qaeda at its best ever had.”

  • Nuclear securitySandia Lab helps China launch nuclear security center

    U.S. national labs and their Chinese counterparts have launched the Chinese Center of Excellence (COE) for nuclear security. The center will provide training for security personnel in China’s expanding nuclear power sector. Sandia notes that its experience in physical security grew out of decades of work securing high-consequence facilities against theft and sabotage.

  • Nuclear powerBenchmark data set validates global nuclear reactor codes

    Nearly 100 commercial nuclear reactors supply one-fifth of America’s energy. For each fuel rod in a reactor assembly, only 5 percent of its energy is consumed before fission can no longer be sustained efficiently for power production and the fuel assembly must be replaced. Power plants currently store the used fuel on-site. Information on the composition of the used fuel is essential for the design of safe storage, transportation, and final repository facilities and for inspection and verification to safeguard nuclear materials. Improved accuracy in prediction of the spent fuel isotopic composition leads to increased efficiency in the facility designs and higher confidence in the safeguard protocols.

  • Water securityFlorida’s Turkey Point nuke pollutes Biscayne Aquifer, Biscayne National Park

    Contaminated water originating from the cooling canal system at Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) Turkey Point facility is reaching Biscayne Bay, threatening South Florida’s drinking water supply and Biscayne National Park. The facility is one of Florida’s biggest daily water users and discharges at least 600,000 pounds of salt and other contaminants directly into the Biscayne Aquifer on a daily basis. The Biscayne Aquifer is a “sole source,” federally designated aquifer that serves more than three million people.