• Nuclear War Could Be Devastating for the U.S., Even If No One Shoots Back

    The White House’s 2021 budget calls for $28.9 billion for the Pentagon for nuclear weapons and a 20 percent increase to $19.8 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Yet the U.S. already has over 3,000 nuclear weapons. The U.S. could only safely use a fraction of them without killing Americans with an unintended adverse series of cascading environmental effects: Soot from the burning of cities following numerous nuclear blasts would cause a significant drop in global temperature, blocking the sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface. This would cause a drop in precipitation, increased ultraviolet radiation resulting from a badly damaged atmosphere, and a breakdown in supply chains and food production. In short, a nuclear attack using only a few nuclear weapons would be exceedingly damaging for the aggressor nation.

  • New Materials Could Help Clean-Up Chernobyl and Fukushima

    Engineers have developed materials that could be used to help decommission the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power stations. The materials, created in collaboration with colleagues in Ukraine, simulate Lava-like Fuel Containing Materials (LFCMs) – hazardous substances left behind by a nuclear meltdown. The development paves the way for the safe analysis of hazardous materials left behind at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

  • Materials Currently Used to Store Nuclear Waste Accelerate Corrosion

    The materials the United States and other countries plan to use to store high-level nuclear waste will likely degrade faster than anyone previously knew because of the way those materials interact, new research shows. The findings show that corrosion of nuclear waste storage materials accelerates because of changes in the chemistry of the nuclear waste solution, and because of the way the materials interact with one another.

  • Glaciers May Offer Safe Sites for Nuclear Waste Storage

    New insights into rates of bedrock erosion by glaciers around the world will help to identify better sites for the safe storage of nuclear waste. The findings of a new research overturn earlier research, showing that erosion rates do not increase with the speed of glacier flow as quickly as previously anticipated.

  • It Is Now 100 Seconds to Midnight

    The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock is now closer to midnight than ever in its history. The Bulletin cites worsening nuclear threat, lack of climate action, and rise of “cyber-enabled disinformation campaigns” in moving the clock hand. December 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the first edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, initially a six-page, black-and-white bulletin and later a magazine, created in anticipation that the atom bomb would be “only the first of many dangerous presents from the Pandora’s Box of modern science.”

  • Securing Radiological Sources on the Go

    Radioactive materials are a critical tool in a number of industrial applications, particularly oil and gas drilling and welding. While these sources are safe and well-regulated for their intended use; if lost or stolen the materials could be used by terrorists to make dirty bombs.

  • Lithuania: New Belarusian Nuclear Plant Hasn't “Learned Lessons of Chernobyl”

    Belarus is launching its first nuclear reactor without completing all stages of a “stress test” — an EU risk-and-safety assessment of a plant’s ability to withstand damage from hazards. Because of its location downwind from Chernobyl, Belarus bore the brunt of that fallout. Its own plans for a nuclear power plant, announced in the 1980s, were shelved as the Soviet leadership and society at large grappled with the consequences of the tragedy. Now, critics say Belarus’s decision to forge ahead with the plant near Astravets is a testament to the country’s failure to draw conclusions from its past.

  • Panic: Ontario Residents Sent False Alarm about Nuclear Plant “Incident”

    Ontario, Canada is home to Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, one of the world’s largest nuclear power stations. On Sunday morning the fourteen million residents of the province were awaken by emergency messages sent to their phones, alerting them to an “incident” at Pickering. An hour later, the province’s government sent another message, telling residents that the it was a false alarm – the result of a poorly executed training drill.

  • Stockpiles of Nuclear Waste Could Be More Useful than We Might Think

    Chemists have found a new use for the waste product of nuclear power - transforming an unused stockpile into a versatile compound which could be used to create valuable commodity chemicals as well as new energy sources.

  • A New Way to Remove Contaminants from Nuclear Wastewater

    Nuclear power continues to expand globally, propelled, in part, by the fact that it produces few greenhouse gas emissions while providing steady power output. But along with that expansion comes an increased need for dealing with the large volumes of water used for cooling these plants, which becomes contaminated with radioactive isotopes that require special long-term disposal. New method concentrates radionuclides in a small portion of a nuclear plant’s wastewater, allowing the rest to be recycled.

  • Helping Keep U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Safe from Radiation

    Advanced modeling speeds up weapons research, development and qualification. It also lets researchers model changes in experimental conditions that increase the total radiation dose, change how fast a device gets that dose, and mix and match destructive elements like neutrons, energy and heat in environments that cannot be recreated in experimental facilities.

  • Lessons Learnt from Fukushima Soil Decontamination

    Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese authorities decided to carry out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covers more than 9,000 km2. The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has published a collection of studies providing an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness.

  • Today, Everyone’s a Nuclear Spy

    There was a time when tracking nuclear threats was the domain of secret agents, specialists at high-powered government intelligence agencies, and think-tank experts. Not anymore. Amy Zegart writes that today, the world of new nuclear sleuths looks like the Star Wars bar scene. What has empowered these nuclear detectives and made their work possible is the fact that in the last 15-20 years, commercial satellites have become common – and their capabilities, although not at the level of spy satellites, are not too far behind. Open-source amateur nuclear sleuthing comes with risks, but Zegart says that despite these risks, the democratization of nuclear-threat intelligence is likely to be a boon to the cause of nonproliferation.

  • 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.