• Digital 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.

  • Is Belgium’s nuclear security up to scratch?

    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.

  • view counter
  • U.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.

  • Brussels 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.”

  • Sandia 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.

  • Benchmark 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.

  • Florida’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.

  • Hezbollah threatens it will attack Israel’s nuclear facilities in future war

    Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah leader, on Monday threatened that in the event of another war between Hezbollah and Israel, his Iran-supported Shi’ia Lebanese militia will strike all targets in the Jewish state “without any limits.” He added: “If the Israeli army escalates its aggression against Lebanon, Hezbollah will strike all the strategic targets in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the nuclear facilities.”

  • New fuel materials to make nuclear reactors safer

    Nuclear power is an important energy source in the United States and around the world and is essential as a clean energy to reduce current carbon emissions from fossil fuels. However, many people feel the risk of nuclear accidents does not outweigh the benefits associated with nuclear energy. Scientists are exploring new materials for nuclear fuel, which could make current light water reactors (LWRs) safer.

  • Researchers crack 50-year-old nuclear waste problem, making waste storage safer

    Researchers have adapted a technology developed for solar energy in order to selectively remove one of the trickiest and most-difficult-to-remove elements in nuclear waste pools across the country, making the storage of nuclear waste safer and nontoxic — and solving a decades-old problem. The scientists figure out how to remove americium from nuclear waste pools, opening the door for expanding the use of one of the cleanest and efficient energy sources on the planet.

  • We still don’t really know the health hazards of a nuclear accident

    Five years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and thirty years after the Chernobyl accident, scientists are still disagreeing about the impact on human health — such as how many people have got cancer as a result and how dangerous the exclusion zones currently are. The people of Fukushima, except those in the worst contaminated areas, will eventually be encouraged to return to their homes. In the absence of better understanding, scientific and political arguments about how safe the radiation levels are will continue. What is abundantly clear, though, is that we need to understand the comparative health effects of radiation versus relocation. Developing a new approach in our response to nuclear accidents and the decisions that are made in their immediate aftermath is vital so that we can avoid unnecessary panic and evacuation — something virtually all scientists agree on.

  • “Acceptable risk” is a better way to think about radiation exposure in Fukushima

    Five years after the Fukushima disaster, many of these people remain refugees, unable to return home for fear of radiation exposure. As the radioactivity cleanup continues, people are coming to an uncomfortable realization: although cleanup can reduce the level of radioactive contamination, the environmental radiation dose levels within the prefecture will remain elevated for many generations before they finally reach the very low levels that existed prior to the accident. So, when will it be safe for people to return to their homes and to normal life in the Fukushima Prefecture? With regard to radiation exposure, “safe” really means an “acceptable level of risk,” and not everyone agrees on what is acceptable. Providing people with this risk characterization information, at the very least, is within the power of all radiation regulatory agencies, even if achieving complete cleanup of the environment is beyond their reach. This public information void about radiation risks needs to be filled. People can make their own decisions once they’re empowered with credible and intelligible risk information.

  • Radioactive strontium, cesium from Fukushima continue to leak to the ocean

    Scientists investigated the levels of radioactive strontium and cesium in the coast off Japan in September 2013. Radioactive levels in seawater were 10 to 100 times higher than before the nuclear accident, particularly near the facility, suggesting that water containing strontium and cesium isotopes was still leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

  • News coverage of Fukushima disaster inadequate

    Five years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the disaster no longer dominates U.S. news headlines, although experts say it is a continuing disaster with broad implications. A new analysis finds that U.S. news media coverage following the disaster minimized health risks to the general population.

  • The lasting legacies of Chernobyl and Fukushima

    It is thirty years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It is also five years since the Fukushima disaster. Greenpeace says that to mark these anniversaries, it has commissioned reviews of scientific studies examining the continued radioactive contamination in the affected areas, and the health and social effects on the impacted populations.