Category: Non Submarine Orientated

Spent nuclear fuel from USS Enterprise – Video clip

Idaho final port-of-call for spent nuclear fuel from U.S.S. Enterprise

Click on picture for video clip

USS Enterprise

Used nuclear fuel from the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier will soon be on its way to Idaho.

The vessel will be de-commissioned on December 1st, and now the Naval Reactors Facility at the Idaho National Lab will study the fuel for research purposes.

Nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance on Tuesday said more nuclear material coming into Idaho is never a good thing because right now, one of the main objectives at the site is to get waste out of the state.

On the other side of the table, the Partnership for Science and Technology said Idaho has always been the destination for spent fuels, and they help develop new technologies.

“They hate it when you call it waste,” said Partnership for Science and Technology director Lane Allgood.

The partnership is a lobby group for Idaho’s nuclear future. Allgood said the Navy has always sent its spent nuclear fuel here.

“There’s still a lot of valuable properties in that fuel,” he said. They study that and determine how to best develop the next wave of nuclear reactors.”

Allgood said the fuel shouldn’t be looked at as waste.

But on Tuesday, Snake River Alliance nuclear program director Beatrice Brailsford said that’s exactly what it is.

“The commercial industry regards spent nuclear fuel as nuclear waste,” said Brailsford.

She said Idaho’s position as the final port-of-call for spent fuels has been a, “historical accident.”

“No one can be complacent that nuclear navy fuel comes to Idaho,” she said. “But we can also not ever accept the notion that, ‘Oh, we have a little bit of radio active waste here, let’s accept a lot more.'”

Fuel from the Enterprise is set to arrive in Idaho by 2015.

Part of a waste removal timetable allows for the Naval Reactors Facility to keep a limited amount of spent fuel past 2035.

Source – Local News8

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U.N. nuclear watchdog team to examine Iran programme

U.N. nuclear watchdog team to examine Iran programme

The U.N. nuclear watchdog is establishing a specialised team to inspect and investigate Iran’s nuclear programme, which diplomats say is expanding despite tough Western sanctions and the threat of an Israeli attack.

The U.N. agency announced the establishment of an Iran Task Force shortly before it is expected to issue a report showing that the Islamic state has installed more than 300 new uranium enrichment machines in a fortified underground facility.

Its latest report on Iran’s nuclear work, due to be released on Thursday or Friday, also is likely to highlight deep concern about suspected efforts to remove any evidence of illicit atomic activity at an Iranian military complex, diplomats say.

The statement on concentrating the agency’s Iran experts in a dedicated team, seen by Reuters, was made separately to staff on Wednesday. Previously, the Iran dossier was handled by a department that also was responsible for other countries.

The findings in the upcoming International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear programme may strengthen the Israeli belief that diplomatic and economic pressure is failing to make Iran curb its disputed atomic activities.

Bellicose rhetoric from some Israeli politicians has fanned speculation that Israel might hit Iran’s nuclear sites before the November U.S. presidential vote. Washington has said there is still time for diplomatic pressure to work, but it could be drawn into any war between the two Middle East foes.

Iran denies allegations it seeks a nuclear weapons capability and says all its atom work is for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA report “will be seized upon by those who argue that Israel can’t afford to wait before taking unilateral military action to stop Iran”, said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

Diplomats say the IAEA is expected to say that Iran has completed installation of two additional cascades – linked networks of 174 enrichment centrifuges each – at the Fordow site buried deep in a mountain, since its previous report in May.

IRAN TASK FORCE

While the new machines are not yet operating, the move reaffirmed Iranian defiance of international demands to suspend enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses depending on refinement level.

The IAEA and Iran failed on Friday to strike a deal aimed at allaying concerns about Tehran’s nuclear programme by unblocking an agency probe into suspected nuclear weapons research.

Iran’s refusal to limit and open up its atomic activity to unfettered IAEA inspections that could determine whether it is purely peaceful, or not, has led to harsher punitive sanctions and increased talk about possible military action.

Citing satellite images, diplomats say Iran has been “sanitising” a military facility, Parchin, where the IAEA believes it has carried out explosives tests relevant for nuclear weapons development.

“Iran is in the final stages of cleansing the site,” one Western envoy said, casting doubt on whether IAEA inspectors would find anything even if they were allowed to go there.

Iran says Parchin, southeast of the capital Tehran, is a conventional military facility and has dismissed the allegations about it as “childish.”

An IAEA report showing that Iran has not cooperated in resolving outstanding issues and has added centrifuges at Fordow would “heighten Israel’s already acute concern the IAEA can’t assure the world that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful,” said Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The IAEA’s decision to form a Task Force on the Islamic state appeared to be an attempt to focus and streamline its handling of the sensitive file by setting up one single unit with Iran experts and other resources it already has.

The brief IAEA statement to staff said the Iran Task Force would be part of the agency’s department of safeguards, which carries out inspections around the world to make sure nuclear material is not diverted for military purposes.

The move underlined that the IAEA is prioritising its Iran investigation. “The agency had the resources and people in place and now they are trying to make sure the appropriate structure is there to continue to support them,” a Western diplomat said.

Source – http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/08/29/uk-nuclear-iran-unit-idUKBRE87S0KT20120829

What Are The Most Important Things To Know/Understand About Nuclear Energy?

What Are The Most Important Things To Know/Understand About Nuclear Energy?

Well, nuclear energy is complex compared to other types of energy. With coal for instance, you simply truck it to a facility, burn it, and use the steam to drive turbines and generate electricity. Not so with nuclear energy – it is far more multifaceted and not quite as accessible.

I’ll outline the most important things to know. We’ll start with underlying physics and move toward the social issues:

  1. Physics. There are two types of nuclear energy – fission and fusion. Fission involves breaking large atoms into smaller ones while fusion involves fusing smaller atoms into larger ones. In either case, massive amounts of energy are released. Fission is currently the only practical way to generate electricity using nuclear energy. There are no fusion power plants that are actively contributing energy to any energy grid in the world. For fission, we generally use uranium, which comes from the ground.
  2. Energydensity. The energy density from nuclear energy (breaking atoms) is many orders of magnitude larger than that of chemical energy (breaking molecules). This means you need only a small quantity of nuclear fuel to generate electrical power.
  3. Nuclear energy byproducts. Nuclear energy creates nuclear waste, which is very hazardous. It must be buried under a mountain, sunk to the bottom of the sea, or placed under a thick layer of salt deep under a desert for instance. Since you don’t have so much quantity to begin with, it is still manageable.
  4. Impact on climate change. Nuclear energy does not produce carbon dioxide and therefore does not create climate change issues. In fact, it is now positioned as a solution to global climate change as a replacement for fossil fuel based energy (burning coal or natural gas). With future nuclear reactor designs, many nuclear engineers believe that it is, in fact, sustainable.
  5. Safety. Nuclear reactors have been known to blow up and destroy an entire ecosystem from time to time. Yes, this is frightening. Looking at the numbers, however, nuclear power has resulted in far fewer accidental deaths per unit of energy than other major forms of power generation. When a few coal miners die, it doesn’t make international news headlines. Nuclear reactors are designed to withstand impact from a large aircraft.
  6. Weapons. Nuclear fuel byproducts can, in some cases, be turned into materials that can be used for weapons, but this has been made very impractical by design. Nuclear reactor fuel is enriched to 3-5% Uranium-235. Reactor fuel isn’t enriched nearly enough to be used as a nuclear bomb. It could still be used in a conventional bomb; however, to spread material over a populated area.
  7. Storage and transportation. The nuclear waste has to go somewhere. When it comes out of a nuclear reactor, it is hot. Really, really hot. It needs to sit around and cool down for several months inside specially designed pools of water. These are usually located at a nuclear power plant. Nuclear fuel sometimes needs to be transported and is designed to handle extreme levels of violence. Check this destructive test: www.youtube.com/embed/N_JhruRobRI?
  8. Regulations. Because of all the  issues above including safety, weapons, etc, many rules and regulations  have been written and codified into federal laws (of many countries). The regulations are obscenely detailed, and they are maniacally followed. For instance, there is a federal regulator stationed at every single  nuclear power plant in the United States. These people do nothing but  police the power companies who operate the plant.
  9. General debate. There is a great deal of debate over nuclear power, including whether we should use it or not, where plants should be located (NIMBY –  not in my back yard is a common theme). The debate includes fear of  radiation, fear of terrorist attack, fear of too much waste, no place to  put the waste, concern for the planet, etc.
  10. Economics.  Nuclear energy plants are very difficult to build because they have an  extremely high initial cost outlay, which generates  financial risk. The  financial risk for power companies is so large, in  fact, that they are  unable to handle the risk without guarantees and subsidies from the  government. While a reactor requires roughly $10 billion to build, the  overall cost per kW/hr is on par with other forms  of power generation. It should be noted that the primary reason for  the high cost of nuclear  power is the great amount of safety and regulation surrounding it.
  11. Politics. At the time of this writing, nuclear energy has support from both Democrats and Republicans in the United States. While it isn’t a  partisan issue, it is generally divided by those well informed on the topic and those who are uninformed. Between those who trust the  scientists / engineers and those who do not. Between those who are reasonable vs general skeptics. The current U.S. Secretary of Energy and winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics, Steven Chu, is a vocal  advocate of nuclear energy.

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on nuclear energy:

Source – http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2012/08/10/what-are-the-most-important-things-to-knowunderstand-about-nuclear-energy/

Who Sets US National Nuclear Energy Policy?

Who Sets US National Nuclear Energy Policy?

Who decides if the U.S. is going to use nuclear energy to meet this country’s electric needs? It’s a question we get here at the NRC not infrequently. The short answer: Congress and the President. Together they make the nation’s laws and policies directing civilian nuclear activity – for both nuclear energy and nuclear materials used in science, academia, and industry.

Federal laws, like the Atomic Energy Act, set out our national nuclear policy. For example, in the Atomic Energy Act, Congress provided that the nation will “encourage widespread participation in the development and utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.” Other federal laws, like the Energy Policy Act of 2005, call for the federal government to provide support of, research into, and development of nuclear technologies and nuclear energy. The President, as the head of the executive branch, is responsible for implementing these policies.

But sometimes, things get confusing as to who does what when it comes to putting these laws into practice! Although the NRC is a federal government agency with the word “nuclear” in its name, the NRC plays no role in making nuclear policy. Instead, the NRC’s sole mission is to regulate civilian use of nuclear materials, ensuring that the public health, safety, and the environment are adequately protected.

The NRC’s absence from nuclear policymaking is no oversight, but a deliberate choice. Before there was an NRC, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was responsible for both developing and regulating nuclear activities. In 1974, Congress disbanded the AEC, and assigned all of the AEC’s responsibilities for developing and supporting nuclear activities to what is now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). At the same time, Congress created the NRC as an independent regulatory agency, isolating it from executive branch direction and giving it just one task – regulating the safety of civilian nuclear activities.

Today, the DOE, under the direction of the President, supports federal research and development of nuclear technologies and nuclear energy in accordance with federal laws and policy goals. At the DOE, the Office of Nuclear Energy takes the lead on these programs.

Since its creation more than three decades ago, the NRC’s only mission has been to regulate the safe civilian use of nuclear material. For that reason, the most important word here in the NRC’s name is not “Nuclear,” but “Regulatory.” Because the NRC has no stake in nuclear policymaking, the NRC can focus on its task of protecting public health and safety from radioactive hazards through regulation and enforcement.

Source – http://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2012/08/16/who-sets-national-nuclear-energy-policy/

Drone to probe Sellafield silos

Drone to probe Sellafield silos

‘Hexacopter’ being developed to map the inside of radioactive silos as part of the decommissioning and cleaning process

A view of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site

A small ‘hexacopter’ drone is being developed for use at some of the oldest radioactive silos at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site.

A small drone is being developed for use at some of the oldest radioactive silos at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site because scientists are not sure what is inside them, the Guardian can reveal.

The hope is that an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) could use laser profiling to map the inside of the chambers and make work easier for experts who are trying to make them safe as part of a decommissioning and cleaning process.

The company responsible for Sellafield asked the University of Warwick to develop a UAV for the task and is funding the programme.

“We were told not to expect it to come back out,” said Richard Seager, the university’s business development manager.

There are more than 1,000 installations at Sellafield, a 6 sq km site in Cumbria that has been the hub of the UK’s nuclear industry for decades.

A multibillion-pound clean-up operation is under way at the plant where a number of old ponds and silos, many dating back to the 1950s and 60s, have been causing greatest concern.

Some of the ponds contain highly radioactive waste that has been stored in water. Cladding and fuel rods were often thrown into the ponds and the sludge that remains is toxic.

“Sellafield doesn’t have a huge amount of confidence about what they have inside some of these buildings,” said Seager. “They want to send some kind of craft into these places to do a detailed survey and they approached us to develop a UAV.”

The university has built a “hexacopter”, which has six separate rotary engines. It is also equipped with lidar (light detection and ranging), remote-sensing technology that uses lasers to create detailed three-dimensional images which can be viewed from any angle.

“The hexacopter can scan the interior surface. It is can be autonomous and it will fly for about 20 minutes,” said Seager.

“The craft was designed for the mapping of the interiors of buildings. Its USP is mapping inside buildings that may have been contaminated, or are difficult to access by other means. The model has potential military spin-offs. In Afghanistan, you could send it into an building and do a survey so you’d know who and what was inside.”

The government committed £73bn to clean up Britain’s nuclear sites and most of this has gone to Sellafield, which includes the nuclear facilities previously known as Windscale and Calder Hall. The area was first used for the production of plutonium for atomic weapons after the second world war, and the UK’s first full-scale nuclear power station opened close by in 1956.

Buildings that have been cause for anxiety include one named B30, which was once described by a Sellafield executive as “the most hazardous industrial building in western Europe.”

Sellafield Ltd, the company responsible for waste management on the site, admitted it was looking at using a UAV and blamed “poor record-keeping during the 1950s” for the fact the contents of some buildings remained a mystery.

Last week scientists at Sellafield were given a demonstration of the hexacopter and suggested some modifications. However, the company refused to go into details about the work.

In a statement, it said: “Sellafield Ltd has sponsored the development work at Warwick University of a hexacopter, because we are interested in the potential for the technology to be used as part of our decommissioning mission.

“No decision has yet been taken as to how useful the hexacopter could potentially be and we are some way from making a decision on whether this could or would be deployed at Sellafield Ltd. Our research and development team within the technical directorate often funds work by academics and scientists that it thinks has the potential to be of use to us in the future. Often ideas and projects go no further than the development stage.”

Drones are now being considered for use in a number of civilian and military fields. The US military research agency, Darpa, has commissioned a hummingbird-size drone, equipped with a camera, from the firm AER.

A Dutch firm, Green X, builds drones that fly by flapping wings and are disguised as falcons or hawks. They have been used to patrol at low levels around Schiphol Airport to scare away geese, preventing planes sucking birds into their engines on take-off or landing. Green X is now working on multiple drones to simulate and redirect bird flocks.

Drone research is even using sophisticated biotechnology. Darpa has implanted gold-plated electrodes into the pupae of tobacco hawkmoths with the intention of learning how to control animals remotely.

There is also interest in such work in the UK. The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), which works out of Porton Down in Wiltshire and at other locations, this summer produced a briefing on current research “to stimulate new lines of thought”. The review references a US patent on an ‘animal sensor network”. The US study, it said, aimed to develop a “method for the remote guidance and training of free-roaming animal sensor networks”.

It continued: “Electrodes implanted into the nervous systems of animals are used to provide clues and rewards by stimulating specific regions of the the brain to induce desired behaviours such as the direction and speed of movement. Each animal carries a backpack containing wireless networking equipment, sensors, and data storage and processing equipment.” Animals, it suggests, could be trained in odour detection.

Source – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/03/drone-probe-sellafield-silos-hexacopter