Risks and Accidents

The After Shock

15 Apr 2011

Climatic, geological, or anthropogenic natural disasters produce in a couple of seconds, hours or days, enormous amounts of waste, so much so that authorities are unable to handle the quantity with ordinary means. The rupture of “lifelines”, namely water, electricity, transportation routes and communication lines, send survivors into a deep confusion. The accumulation of rubble and waste increases the shock of the populations and postpones the first steps towards the return to normalcy.

The 3 million tonnes of rubble generated by the earthquake in Los Angeles in January 1994 led the city to reinforce and multiply its recycling capacities. Provisional transit and elimination sites for future earthquakes were pre-selected.

Lire la suite

A stream of Information

7 Apr 2011

The ocean is still considered as a trash can. Radioactive releases by Japan are increased by a decrease of vigilance. What is occurring in the Pacific Ocean is probably inevitable. However it is not excusable nor should it be viewed as routine as many scientific experts in dispersion and farfetched comparison are currently stating. This type of practice would be impossible in the North East Atlantic. Contracting Parties to the OSPAR Convention follow carefully step by step the slow progression of iodine 131, of cesium 137 and of plutonium released by nuclear installations along the Channel and the North Sea to the Arctic Ocean.

Lire la suite

France is to Blame

31 Mar 2011

Thanks to the technological help from France, in 1970 in Tokaï-Mura, south of Fukushima, Japan opened a pilot irradiated fuel-reprocessing factory.

In 1987, Cogema (COmpanie GEnérale des MAtières nucléaires) signed a contract for 1.4 billion francs, equivalent to 213 million Euros, to help construct a new reprocessing factory in Rokkasho-Mura, north of Fukushima – a replica of la Hague’s inland factory near Cherbourg. It should have started service in 2005, but today we are still waiting. As a result, the Fukushima-Daiichi accident site also houses a pool of irradiated fuel, common to the six reactors. The pool is supersaturated and serves as buffer storage pending the start of the Rokkasho-Mura factory. The vice president of Tepco, Tokyo Electric Power Company, declared in 2002 while the local and hostile nuclear referenda were multiplying that “the extraction of plutonium was vital.” The Rokkasho factory must then serve to extract the irradiated plutonium fuel and to re-inject the new fuel associated with the enriched, mixed oxide uranium plutonium fuel. In waiting for the eventual opening of the Rokkasho-Mura factory, France furnished the Japanese reactors with MOX. On March 10th 2011, the day before the earthquake, Areva, the leading French nuclear company, announced to the French High Committee for the Transparence of Information on Nuclear Safety the imminent departure of a new sea transport of MOX between Cherbourg and Japan, which would include fuel for the 3rd reactor at Fukushima-Daiichi.

Lire la suite

The Disaster Domain Expands

30 Mar 2011

The extravagant iodine-131 content around the area of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is a result of leaching of emergency cooling waters used by firefighters and emergency workers. At Fukushima and at French nuclear facilities, there is no collection device for these cooling waters whereas all warehouses storing chemical products are legally bound to be equipped with a collection basin of polluted water used to extinguish fires. The iodine-131 content is also a result of the consequent radioactive dust deposits of the explosions in the heights of the nuclear islets, namely the buildings, the reactors, and the pools. The iodine-131 is one of the indicators of pollution. Other measures will later show similar deviations from standards for cesium-137 and plutonium.

Lire la suite

A disaster for dolphins and whales too

29 Mar 2011

Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
Press release n°11

Several species of large and small cetaceans frequent the coastal waters of eastern Japan and are in the area affected by the liquid and atmospheric radioactive effluent discharged by the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.

In particular, this concerns sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, Minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and dolphins. Their lifespan, diet and position at the top of the marine food chain expose them all to the bioaccumulation of chemical and radioactive pollutants.

Lire la suite

Stress test and crash test

28 Mar 2011

Stress test and crash test

The position of Robin des Bois on the re-evaluation of studies into the safety of basic nuclear installations in France.

As well as nuclear reactors, other installations should be targeted such as fuel fabrication facilities and the spent fuel reprocessing facility at Presqu’île de La Hague near Cherbourg.

Other than fixed installations, domestic and international transport operations for nuclear materials and radioactive waste must also be tackled.

Lire la suite

The radioactive contamination of fish

25 Mar 2011

The French and European authorities don’t appear to have grasped all the difficulties raised by the control of fish and other seafood products likely to have been contaminated by atmospheric deposits and liquid radioactive matter in the coastal and deep sea regions of the North West Pacific. This is the most productive area in the world. It is exploited by fleets from Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. IUU fishing – illegal, non-declared and non-regulated – is very active here.

Global catches are approximately 20 million tonnes per year. Catches of Japanese anchovy and mackerel reach 1.5 million tonnes and 900 thousand tonnes per year respectively. Squid, cuttlefish and octopus catches are in the order of 1 million tonnes per year, and Japanese calamari and scallops are in the order of 1 million tonnes and 200 thousand tonnes per year respectively.

Lire la suite

Rich in nukes, poor in radiation detectors

24 Mar 2011

France is prosperous in terms of nuclear activity yet poor when it comes to radioactivity detection systems.

The network of radiation detection devices distributed across France is extremely poor, even when the handful of devices controlled by IRSN independent laboratories is added to it. There isn’t even enough for one per departmental region. To ensure you are informed about abnormal rises in radioactivity levels it is better to live in Belgium as there are warning devices every 20km. Reinforcing telemetry network coverage is obviously essential for picking up as quickly as possible local peaks of radioactivity which may have been caused by road traffic, air, rail or maritime accidents, malicious activities, or malfunctioning nuclear or industrial installations dealing with radioactive sources on French territory, neighbouring countries, or further afield. The perimeter of this network is exclusively land based and the maritime domain is not included. The IRSN (French Nuclear Safety agency) hopes in the years to come to achieve a similar density of warning devices as seen in Belgium and Germany; more financial resources are still required to achieve this.

Lire la suite

Beneath contempt!

22 Mar 2011

Subject: Franco-Japanese nuclear entente

Despite the tragic events that are unfolding, the representatives of the PWR lobby are continuing to extol the virtues of a safe nuclear industry, as they did after Chernobyl.

Relegating Japan to the ranks of a technological third world and highlighting the dangers of an out-of-date sector, the chairman of Areva and the Minister for Industry are trying, amidst the debris, to save the French nuclear industry’s face and investments.

They forget that, for the last 30 years, the French Government and Areva have been the leading suppliers of the enriched uranium used to feed all the Japanese reactors. As part of this well-publicised and interdependent partnership, France delivered Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) some Mox fuel, a mix of uranium and plutonium, and has thus added to the complexity and radiotoxicity of the crisis.

Lire la suite

When the cows turn into radioactive waste

19 Mar 2011

As part of the work of CODIR-PA(1) aimed at drawing up a post- nuclear-accident doctrine in France, the case of herds producing milk or meat contaminated beyond the maximum admissible norms was examined. Two ideas were considered:

– 1 Slaughter the herds. The Veterinary Services Department recommends burying the carcasses on the spot in pre-selected locations that do not expose groundwater and surface water to radioactivity migration. The VSD has had some experience of this procedure during outbreaks of disease.

Lire la suite