• Worry: Iran Said It Will Continue to Enrich Uranium Beyond Radioactive Isotopes Level

    Tehran sent a letter to the UN Thursday saying that it was “determined to resolutely continue” enriching uranium. This came following an EU letter criticizing the Iranian government’s decision, and a Russian firm suspending cooperation in Iran’s uranium enrichment program at the underground Fordo facility.

  • Newly Proposed Barrier Could Have Limited Radiation Release at Chernobyl, Fukushima

    Following the most serious nuclear accidents in the history — at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011), in which release of radiation occurred as a result of core meltdown — many countries around the world have committed to phase out nuclear power. Afuture powered by nuclear energy, however, may be neither a lost cause nor a game of “Russian roulette,” according to researchers.

  • The U.S. Wants to Bury SC’s Plutonium Stockpile Forever. Its New Home Isn’t Sure It Wants It.

    How long will it take for weapons-grade plutonium stockpile, temporarily stored at the South Carolina’s Savanah River nuclear weapons complex, to decay, that it, to have its radioactivity reduced to a level at which it will no longer pose radiation risks or turned into nuclear weapons? About seven billion years, or a little more than double the age of planet Earth. The government’s plutonium plan calls for expanding a nuclear waste burial ground located inside an abandoned salt mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP. But New Mexico objects.

  • Dealing with the Soviet Nuclear Legacy

    On 29 August 1949, the Soviet Union conducted their first nuclear test. Over a 40-year period, they conducted 456 nuclear explosions at Semipalatinsk, in eastern Kazakhstan — 116 aboveground and 340 underground. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the scientists and military personnel abandoned the site and fled the country, leaving behind large quantities of nuclear materials, completely unsecured. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has been quietly helping Kazakhstan deal with the Soviet nuclear legacy.

  • Operations in French Nuclear Power Plant Suspended after Monday Tremor

    Following a strong earthquake Monday in the Drôme and Ardèche regions in south-east France, EDF (Électricité de France) has ordered the suspension of power production at the Cruas-Meysse power station. The magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook the area at 11:52 a.m. Monday. Of France’s nineteen active nuclear power plants, five plants are located in seismically active zones.

  • New Reactor Designs Will Degrade Waste More Rapidly

    Renewed interest in nuclear power as a viable option for generating electricity has been accompanied by steady progress in reactor design. Advanced reactors offer the promise of greater fuel efficiency and less radioactive waste generation compared with the water-cooled models that have dominated the nuclear power landscape for decades. Newer designs, however, will operate at higher temperatures and use highly corrosive coolants — like liquid metal, molten salt, or high-temperature gas — all of which would rapidly degrade many of the materials used in conventional nuclear reactors.

  • India-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Kill Millions, Lead to Global Starvation

    A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, over the span of less than a week, kill 50-125 million people—more than the death toll during all six years of World War II, according to new research. The researchers calculated that an India-Pakistan war could inject as much as 80 billion pounds of thick, black smoke into Earth’s atmosphere. That smoke would block sunlight from reaching the ground, driving temperatures around the world down by an average of between 3.5-9 degrees Fahrenheit for several years. Worldwide food shortages would likely come soon after. Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025.

  • Containing a Nuclear Accident with Ground-up Minerals

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a promising new way to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination and contain the hot molten mass that develops within a nuclear reactor during a catastrophic accident. A team of scientists discovered and patented a process for injecting sand-like minerals into the core of a nuclear reactor during an accident to contain and slow down the progression of a meltdown.

  • A Meltdown in Nuclear Security

    A commando raid on a nuclear power plant seems the stuff of Hollywood. So why are nuclear security experts so worried? It ranks among the worst-case scenarios for a nuclear power plant: an all-out assault or stealth infiltration by well-trained, heavily armed attackers bent on triggering a nuclear blast, sparking a nuclear meltdown or stealing radioactive material. Under pressure from a cash-strapped nuclear energy industry increasingly eager to slash costs, the commission in a little-noticed vote in October 2018 halved the number of force-on-force exercises conducted at each plant every cycle. Four months later, it announced it would overhaul how the exercises are evaluated to ensure that no plant would ever receive more than the mildest rebuke from regulators – even when the commandos set off a simulated nuclear disaster that, if real, would render vast swaths of the U.S. uninhabitable. Nuclear security experts, consultants, law enforcement veterans and former NRC commissioners are nothing short of alarmed. “You can’t afford to be wrong once,” says one expert.

  • The Once and Future Threat of Nuclear Weapon Testing

    The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the central security instrument of the United States and the world community. It is based on a strategic bargain between the five nuclear weapon states in the NPT (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) and the 185 non-nuclear-weapon parties to the treaty. The current worldwide moratorium on nuclear weapon testing and the intended ultimate conversion of that ban to legally binding treaty status by bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force are essential to the long-term viability of this strategic bargain.

  • Data May Point to Second Blast at Russian Test Site

    Researchers at a Norwegian institute believe that there may have been two explosions, not one, at the Russian naval test site on the White Sea earlier this month, an incident that killed at least five people and raised new questions about Russia’s weapons research.

  • Russian Nuclear-Monitoring Stations’ Silence Fuel Fears over Extent of Deadly Blast

    Officials at the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) say that two nuclear monitoring stations in Russia have resumed operations after mysteriously halting the transmission of data. The CTBTO did not comment on August 20 on the other two stations which it previously said had gone silent in the aftermath of an explosion at a Russian naval test site that killed at least five people and caused a temporary spike in radiation levels.

  • Key Takeaways from the Fukushima Disaster

    In March and April of 2011 the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster resulted in what was the largest ever accidental release of radioactive material into the ocean. “Even though the levels of radiation in the area and in the marine organisms were elevated, they were actually not a threat to the ecosystem or to human consumers in most cases,” says an expert.

  • New Model Agrees with Old: Nuclear War Between U.S. and Russia Would Result in Nuclear Winter

    Most people who lived through the nuclear age have heard of nuclear winter, in which global cooling would result from a major nuclear war. Early fears of such an outcome have been bolstered by sophisticated computer models that showed what would happen if a large number of nuclear bombs were detonated in large urban areas. The planet would grow colder due to the huge amount of smoke generated by fires ignited by the atomic blasts—the smoke would cover the entire planet for years, blocking the sun.

  • Can Nuclear Power Be Saved?

    Whither nuclear power? That question has become more important as energy policies evolve to emphasize emissions-free “green” energy and an increased electrification of the U.S. economy. Some environmentalists consider nuclear power to be crucial to reducing carbon emissions; others continue to vehemently oppose nuclear power and believe that our energy must come solely from renewable sources.  The public, encouraged into hysteria by dramatizations of nuclear-plant accidents such as the film The China Syndrome and HBO’s Chernobyl, is split. Meanwhile, the nuclear-power industry itself is in a parlous state for a variety of tangled reasons.