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Pretty safe this nuclear stuff, innit?

The Fukushima Daiichi plant, on Japan’s north-eastern coast, was hit by a massive tsunami caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the strongest in Japan’s recorded history.

More than 18,000 people died in the tsunami, but no one was recorded as having been directly killed by the nuclear meltdowns,

Even George Monbiot is on board with this. Absolutely, entirely, the worst happened and no one was killed at all.

Makes Mutti look more than a little silly using it as an excuse to turn off the German reactors really……

Excellent, get on with it

The controversial release of more than a million tonnes of water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will begin in the northern spring or summer, Japan’s government has said – a move that has sparked anger among local fishing communities and countries in the region.

The decision comes more than two years after the government approved the release of the water, which will be treated to remove most radioactive materials but will still contain tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is technically difficult to separate from water.

We’ll not in fact be able to tell. If we test the Pacific Ocean now, then test it again after the release, we’ll simply not be able to show that the release happened.

All the screaming about this is total pish. Political pish at that.

Uranium theories

So, the Met would tell me exactly what uranium they’d found at Heathrow. And yes, I did talk to them. So I can’t in fact give an opinion on what was being smuggled, or it was a mistake, or what. Because I don’t know what the scrap was, nor what type of uranium it was.

We can make one assumption, it was scrap moving by air. So, the scrap was worth more than $5 or so a kg. Not steel therefore, not unless it was a high stainless. Other than that, dunno.

If it was zirconium tubing contaminated – ie, a smearing or some powder – with U then that’s evidence of someone playing naughty games with U concentration etc. But not dangerous at this end. If it’s a chunk of depleted U then who knows? Bit off a helicopter rotor? Some tank scrap from a firing range?


If it were xyz scrap with a chunk of U sitting in the middle, well, maybe someone smuggling the U.

He told The Telegraph: “If you were to use depleted uranium in a ‘dirty bomb’, like any isotope it would cause a contamination issue – but there are a lot more radioactive isotopes out there that would be easier to get hold of and would have a much greater effect.

“It’s definitely a possibility that this could have been some form of reconnaissance or dry run to test how the security was operating during the industrial action.”

Mr Ingram said that while the discovery of the uranium was concerning, there was some comfort to be found in the fact that even a small amount had been successfully identified during routine checks at Heathrow.

Well, yes, except depleted U wouldn’t normally be detected in the usual sort of radioactive sensors. Someone runs a Feuss over it then it’s obvious, obviously.

It is understood the uranium was contained within metal bars, and experts have said it is “pretty much unheard of” to ship scrap metal around the world by air freight because of the cost.

Depends which metal. But as at the top, fair point except for some real funnies.

Oh, and as to dirty bombs, he’s quite right. You’d not, by preference use U anyway. One of the medially used isotopes would be far preferable. The stuff made by a U fusion explosion that is, not the U itself – or something close at least.

Our own Greens are bad enough

Boris Johnson’s plans for a nuclear energy revolution are facing a fresh hurdle after the Austrian government officially raised concerns about the safety of a new reactor design.

In a letter to the Business Department, Austria’s energy ministry raised the spectre of “severe accidents with high releases” at the Sizewell C plant to be built in Suffolk.

The warning, made under the Espoo convention in which nearby countries are allowed to comment on nuclear projects, raises the prospect of legal action to derail Sizewell and will be considered by the Government as part of a planning decision in coming months.

We spent 5 years rolling through the design. 5 sodding years. At which point the Austrian Greens – and they’re terrible, really – stick their oar in again. Sigh. Just build the damn things.

I predict an outbreak of leukaemia in Skellefteå

Recall that old Sellafield thing? So:

If Northvolt is going to succeed in its plans to build Europe’s biggest battery factory, it and its host city need to convince thousands of people to move to the edge of the Arctic Circle, to a region where snow cover is constant from November to April and where the winter sun shines for no more than four hours a day.

Leukaemia is, oddly, something that can be caught. Large mixtures of people from many different places seems to cause outbreaks. Thus the Sellafield cluster – all those workers from all over.

I predict the same here. Without, of course the insistence that it’s all because nucular. Indeed, I predict it’ll never be mentioned.

Ignorant damn tosser

said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists science advocacy nonprofit….(…)…“Honestly I don’t understand the motivation,” Lyman said. “There are some people who are just strong advocates for it and they’ve sort of won the day here by convincing Bill Gates that this is a good technology to pursue.”

Re liquid sodium nuclear plants.

As a motivation, how about the idea that civilisation rather likes the idea of reliable power supplies?

Cracked nuclear fuel rods

A nuclear power plant in China owned by the companies developing new power stations in the UK has been shut down for “maintenance” after cracks were found in fuel rods.

China General Nuclear (CGN) said the reactor at the Taishan plant, about 80 miles west of Hong Kong, was safe and under control, and the damage was within the “allowable range”.

The problem is more likely at the plant that made the rods than with the reactor……or with the design or operation of the reactor that is.

Well, there’s safe and then there’s safe

Not that I’d recommend eating these piggies but:

A genetic study found that wild boar cross-bred with domestic pigs escaped from local farms in areas deserted by humans after a tsunami and an earthquake triggered the 2011 crisis at Fukushima nuclear power plant and displaced 160,000 people.

For years, hunters have been tracking down radioactive boar, which number in their hundreds and registered levels of the radioactive element caesium-137 300 times higher than is safe.

If the boar are breeding and carrying on happily at 300x “safe” then our definition of safe is pretty restrictive……

Well, possibly

Imagine a nuclear battery in a little box that uses decaying isotopes to generate cheap and clean electricity around the clock for decades with no combustion, fission, or noise. It just sits silently and emits constant power.

This far-fetched idea is becoming real. Vaulting advances in materials sciences are unlocking technologies that radically change the cost calculus of radioisotopes. Companies are springing to life with prototypes that could be on the market before the next general election.

As it happens, the UK is the world leader in the rarified field of isotope batteries. A British-Australian start-up with research operations in Cumbria has found a way to harness gamma rays from the radioactive decay of cobalt-60. Infinite Power thinks it can cut costs to levels that take your breath away. “It is the cheapest source of electricity on the planet,” says Robert McLeod, the chief executive.

I can’t actually imagine anyone allowing dispersed C-60 floating around the countryside.

We have had the occasional incident where a piece – from a cancer treatment machine – ends up in a scrap yard and kills people. It’s a gamma ray emitter which is why we use it as the radiation source to burn up cancers, also what makes the battery work. Whether it’s actually a good idea or not it’s just not gonna happen – public opinion just isn’t going to allow it in car battery chargers which is one of the suggested uses.

Well, yes, except

Depending on how countries classify waste, only about 0.2–3% by volume is high-level waste, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), a London-based industry group that promotes nuclear power.

Mostly derived from civil reactor fuel, this is some of the most dangerous material known on Earth, remaining radioactive for tens of thousands of years. It requires cooling and shielding indefinitely and contains 95% of the radioactivity related to nuclear power generation.

Well, no, not really.

But the idea was boosted in December 2018 by French Nobel prize–winning physicist Gérard Mourou, who, in his acceptance lecture, said laser beams millions of times brighter than the surface of the sun in bursts that last a millionth of a billionth of a second had the potential to neutralise nuclear waste, reducing its half-life to a few years and its radioactivity to very little.

Largely speaking and not wholly and exactly the higher the radiation danger now the shorter the period of time for which it is dangerous. And vice versa. The not wholly is because plutonium is nastily poisonous without radioactivity etc. Thorium poses heavy metal poisoning dangers rather greater than its radioactivity etc.

No, it doesn’t work this way

Hitler was just a ferry-ride away from getting hold of a crucial ingredient needed for an atomic weapon to blow up London, a new documentary has discovered.

In the middle of a Norwegian lake, 100 miles from Oslo, naval historians and scientists have located the boat on which the Nazis were transporting barrels of heavy water for use in German nuclear reactors.

The Hydro ferry was sunk on Churchill’s orders in 1944, but until now nobody knew if the craft really was containing vital component that Hitler needed for his nuclear arsenal.

The reason the Nazis didn’t get the bomb is that they didn’t take getting the bomb seriously.

Getting it in the sort of timescale the Americans did would have required devoting the same sort of resources to it that the Americans did. Getting it by 1960 was trivial but not of a great deal of use when Berlin fell in 1945. Getting it by 1944 when it might – might note – have made a difference required rather more effort. Which they simply didn’t devote to it.

Sure, we can look at certain aspects, this heavy water for example. Or the raid on the Norwegian plant itself. But no, they weren’t going to get there, not the way they were doing it.

Sounds like a sensible place to put it all

Nuclear waste could be stored under some of the most beautiful parts of the country prompting a row with rural campaigners.

A committee of MPs has controversially given the green light to Government plans which could see nuclear waste buried deep in vaults beneath England’s national parks.

The decision was condemned by campaigners who it put “our treasured landscapes under the threat of inappropriate and major development”.

No bugger’s allowed to do anything else with that land, is he? And it’s all being saved in perpetuity as well. What’s the hassle?


The dream of nuclear fusion is on the brink of being realised, according to a major new US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years.

Well, maybe, and they do make the old joke. But this is nonsense:

The reaction also does not create greenhouse gases or produce hazardous radioactive waste of the sort made by conventional nuclear fission reactors.

You really wouldn’t want to stand around the chunks of steel which make up the reactor after it’s been on for long.

No, no, they don’t

Russia reports radioactivity 986 times the norm after nuclear accident claim

Rather, they report levels of one specific radioactive isotope near 1,000 times normal.

Background radiation up to 1 k normal levels would be a crisis. 1 k normal levels of this type of Ruthenium are an interesting little puzzle we’d like to find the answer to but not a danger to anything in any manner.

An increase of 1,000 times in the amount of music being played would be a large change. An increase of 1,000 times in one specific single being played on the radio is something different, no?

Environmentalism gone mad

For two decades, Alberto Rodriguez has worked in the same cavernous garage along the border between Queens and Brooklyn, surrounded by the clang of metal and the rumbling of engines awaiting repair.

It turns out that he has also been toiling amid potentially dangerous levels of radiation.

Mr. Rodriguez’s shop, Los Primos Auto Repair and Sale, is one of six businesses at the intersection of Cooper and Irving Avenues in Ridgewood, Queens, that have been targeted for demolition as part of a cleanup plan released recently by the Environmental Protection Agency. The businesses are within a Superfund site, the term for sites covered by a program that finances the cleanup of hazardous waste.

Ooooh, gosh!

Mr. Rodriguez’s shop sits atop land formerly occupied by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Company, which from the 1920s through the 1950s extracted metals from imported sand. In the process, the company produced waste containing two radioactive elements, thorium and uranium, which it disposed of by dumping the waste into sewers and perhaps also by burying it, according to the federal plan.

Well, OK, that’s not good practice, certainly. BTW, yes, they were producng rare earths, from monazite, which does indeed contain thorium and uranium. So, how dangerous is it?

If no further remediation were done at the site, a future resident would see an increased risk of cancer of about 0.005 percent, the plan predicted.

So, umm, nothing. And how much will it cost?

The projected cost of the government’s preferred plan for the Wolff-Alport cleanup is more than $39 million.

It’ll cost bundles. So, we’re to spend a lot to achieve nothing. It’s environmentalism gone mad I tell ‘ee!

I would wager that that risk is lower than moving across the Tamar into Cornwall…..and remember, the EU insists that Cornish pasties much actually be made in such a radioactive area these days.

This is a bit of a dilemma for a greenie, isn’t it?

The former island paradise of Bikini Atoll is slowing blooming back to life, 70 years after the United States dropped 23 nuclear bombs on it, including a device in 1954 that was 1,100-times larger than the Hiroshima atom bomb.

A team of scientists from Stanford University have been surprised to discover an abundance of marine life apparently thriving in the crater of Bikini Atoll, which was declared a nuclear wasteland after the bombings, with its 167 inhabitants relocated to other islands.

Steve Palumbi, a professor in marine sciences at the university, said the effects of radiation poisoning on ocean life have never been studied in-depth, and his team’s initial research suggests it is “remarkably resilient”.

Animals studied by scientists in and around the Chernobyl blast showed deformities and mutations, but the Stanford teams initial research suggest the marine life in Bikini may have fared significantly better.

We all know that the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching, dying, dead, as a result of a couple of ppm of CO2 floating around. Yet quite literally bombing the shit out of a place and leaving all the radiation lying around doesn’t seem to bother the wildlife very much.

Nuclear power it is then to save the planet, eh?

At which point, fair play to Monbiot, one of the very few greenies who has looked, thought and been convinced.

No, a nuclear power plant has not contracted smallpox

An Indian nuclear power plant has contracted what is being described as smallpox in a bizarre disease outbreak.
The Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant in Gujarat has been shut down as officials attempt to work out what is corroding leaking pipes inside the complex.
Experts have said the pipes, which are made from a rare alloy, have contracted a smallpox-like virus which is spreading throughout two Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) at Kakrapar in Gujarat

Officials have been desperately trying to work out what is causing the strange symptoms, but after a year, they are still none the wiser, according to NDTV.
Just over a year ago on March 11, 2016, a unit started leaking and had to be shut down in an emergency due to the amount of water gushing from it.
Several weeks after the leak it was revealed four huge cracks had formed on a coolant tube which was blamed for the incident.
As a result, tubes were exposed to high temperatures and a heavy load of water, which caused them to corrode.

Dunno which of the two the Indians use, zirconium niobium (like the Russians) or zirconium tin (everyone else). But the combination of heat, water and atmosphere does produce corrosion. And it’s dangerous because the corrosion itself can then go bang.

But it’s not smallpox and it’s not a virus.

That Moldovan Radioactive Uranium

We actually have a picture of how much it was:

Moldovan intelligence officials say they have seized an ‘imposing quantity’ of radioactive uranium from a criminal group and detained several people.
The Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service said the uranium was due to be sold for £154,000 but did not say how big the haul was.
In a statement, it said ‘a criminal group specializing in smuggling radioactive substances was uncovered’, adding that ‘members of the group were found to be Moldovan citizens’.

That picture:


Eyeballing it, I dunno. Half a kg? So you’ve only got to do that 50 more times and you too could have enough for a bomb. Assuming that it is HEU rather than LEU of course.

And I really do tend to think that you could do more damage in other ways for that sort of amount of money.

There was actually a big report a few years back about the radioactive smuggling stuff. I found it all most interesting myself for I have smuggled nuclear materials (that is, things that can be used in nuclear, not radioactive things. 40 tonnes of nuclear grade zirconium out of Russia and into being made into AlMag car wheels for boy racers was a particular favourite. My actual trade in radioactive things has all been entirely, even scrupulously, legal. Including police car outriders with sirens whooping and all the rest ). As far as I recall absolutely every buyer was the security services of one country or another. There just is no private market for this shit.