Geiger Readings for Jul 10, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 128 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 138 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 140 nanosieverts per hour

Red seedless grapes from Central Market = 102 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 70 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 63 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 587 - China's Belt and Road Initiative And Nuclear Technology Export - Part 3 of 3 Parts

Part 3 of 3 parts (Please read Parts 1 and 2 first)
       The danger of such events in the BRI countries are quite high. The Dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Nanjing University said that “Security is the most important challenge facing the Belt and Road.” The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has already contributed to tensions between Pakistan and India, both of which have nuclear weapons. Pakistan is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorism. There are two reactors under construction by China in Pakistan just outside of Karachi. They are less than twenty miles away from a very populated area. If there was a major accident at the plant, evacuation of the nearby population would simply be impossible. Terrorists have killed forty-four BRI construction workers in Pakistan since 2014. It is difficult to see how building another six reactors in Pakistan will ease the distrust and tension in the region.
       Many supporters of nuclear power and many environmentalists who had been opposed to it are now saying that we cannot mitigate climate change without a major investment in nuclear power. In reality, only one stage of the fourteen stages of the nuclear fuel cycle are actually “carbon-free.”
        Nuclear reactors consume huge amounts of water for cooling. Many of the countries in the BRI have chronic shortages of water. For example, Pakistan is slated to run out of water by 2025. While desalination would help solve this problem, not all of the BRI countries are located on the coast of an ocean. And, desalination is currently expensive and difficult.
       There is still no good solution for final disposal of spent nuclear fuel despite the fact that nuclear power has been a reality for over sixty years. What will happen to all the spent nuclear fuel from the planned nuclear reactors?
        Major accidents such as the Fukushima event in Japan in 2011 can cause major environmental damage and spread radiation all over the world. In addition to the damage to environment and public health, one more major disaster such as Fukushima could spell doom for the entire global industry as the politicians and investors turn away.
       Around the year 2000, there was a lot of talk about a global “nuclear renaissance.” Now it looks more like we have descended into a nuclear quagmire. There are many NPP projects across the developed world that have been either delayed or cancelled. China is leading a nuclear resurgence that has little concern for political, humanitarian or safety issues.
       This does not mean that there are no positive elements to the BRI but there are still very serious unresolved security problems to confront. The BRI does include many renewable energy projects which are promising for the host countries and will certainly help with climate change mitigation. It would be better for everyone across the globe if China and the BRI focused on renewable energy and left nuclear power behind on the ash heap of history where it rightly belongs.
       Developing countries can learn from the mistakes of developed nations and opt for new cleaner and cheaper technologies than those employed by the developed world.

Geiger Readings for Jul 09, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 84 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 108 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 114 nanosieverts per hour

Red bell pepper from Central Market = 57 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 135 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 128 nanosieverts per hour

Geiger Readings for Jul 08, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 100 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 165 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 158 nanosieverts per hour

Crimini mushroom from Central Market = 115 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 115 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 107 nanosieverts per hour

Geiger Readings for Jul 07, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 67 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 90 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 95 nanosieverts per hour

Carrot from Central Market = 89 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 73 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 66 nanosieverts per hour

Dover sole - Caught in USA = 100 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 586 - China's Belt and Road Initiative And Nuclear Technology Export - Part 2 of 3 Parts

Part 2 of 3 Parts (Please read Part 1 first)
       A third reason that China does not want to talk about NPPs in the BRI context is the fact that China intends to build NPPs in countries with lax regulatory environments. This constitutes a major risk to the security of the global community of nations. For example, Sudan is an important part of the BRI. When the Institute for Science and International Security ranked two hundred nations with respect to their ability to limit the illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, Sudan was near the bottom of the list. Sudan has not signed the IAEA Additional Protocol which improves the ability of the IAEA to verify that nuclear fuel is only used for civil energy purposes.
      China is locked in a battle with Russia to corner the market on nuclear technology exports. The export of NPPs to developing nations is part of their strategic plan whether or not it makes sense for the nations accepting the Chinese deals. Nuclear energy costs too much money, too much time and is too risky to be a good choice for these countries. And, renewable energy is rapidly dropping below the cost of fossil fuels and nuclear power. They do not need Chinese nuclear power reactors.
       Nuclear power supporters like to point out that the comparable levelized cost of nuclear power is about the same as it is for solar photovoltaics. The problem is that this is based on estimates of the cost of the power source over its lifetime. The cost of solar is dropping but the cost of nuclear is not. Instead of getting cheaper when a country expands it nuclear sophistication and infrastructure, the cost of constructing and operating nuclear reactors usually rises. In addition, the cost of nuclear plant construction almost always rises sharply during construction and the schedule for completion almost always slips seriously. On the other hand, the cost of additional wind and solar installations falls with experience.
       China boasts of being at the forefront of the development of advanced nuclear reactor designs. They like to point to their internally designed Hualong-One reactor as an example of their inventiveness that is competitive with other reactor designs. They are planning to build copies of this reactor design in at least five countries at widely separated locations. There are no Hualong-One reactors currently in operation anywhere. Based on the evidence to date, innovation and experience in nuclear technololgy may not lead to cost reduction.
      In addition to the new Hualong-One design, the European Union is working on the new European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) and Westinghouse in the U.S. is touting the new AP1000 reactor design. In December of 2017, the first EPR reactor ever build was coming on line in China. During a test, a boiler cracked and the schedule for completion slipped. This was the third delay in two years and it cost the project seven hundred and seventy million dollars. Meanwhile, an AP1000 reactor also being built in China had to be delayed a month after the EPR problem. Delays are common on NPPs. Currently, fifty-five nuclear power plants are under construction. So far, two thirds of these projects are behind schedule, so delays are more common than not.
      The is also the threat of terrorism to worry about. In the three years between 2013 and 2016, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies reports that there were almost seven hundred incidents where radioactive materials were stolen or lost in forty-six countries. In that time, there have been nine thefts of highly radioactive materials in Mexico alone.

Please read Part 3

Geiger Readings for Jul 06, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 126 nanosieverts per hour

Soil exposed to rain water = 129 nanosieverts per hour

Beefsteak tomato from Central Market = 123 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 143 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 129 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 585 - China's Belt and Road Initiative And Nuclear Technology Export - Part 1 of 3 Parts

Part 1 of 3 Parts 
       On a number of occasions, I have blogged about my fears that developing nations could be walking into a trap if they accepted offers of nuclear technology exporting nations such as Russia and China to build, fuel, operate, and dispose of spent fuel from nuclear power plants in those developing nations. The deals can look very attractive with the exporters offering big loans on generous terms and a complete package of services.
       China announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. They are dedicating over a trillion dollars to projects in a swath of nations from China to Europe for the stated purpose of trade creation, economic development and renewable energy. However, concerns have grown over the possible military strategic benefits of the BRI which China has tried to soft-pedal.
       The Chinese government has created several websites associated with the BRI. It is interesting and a little odd that none of those websites make any mention of nuclear power plant (NPP) projects although China has plans to build over thirty nuclear power plants as part of the BRI. Many of the countries where the Chinese intend to build NPPs are not members of any non-proliferation treaties and they do not have regulatory frameworks for safeguarding nuclear plants and materials.
       Developing nations who are the target of the Chinese nuclear export business should be under no illusion that China is offering them these deals out of kindness. China has economic and geostrategic goals of its own that will be furthered by spreading around Chinese nuclear power reactors in developing nations whether or not they benefit the customers.
       The vision statement for the BRI says that one of the goals is to advance nuclear power cooperation and the Belt and Road Energy Cooperation website does mention some bilateral nuclear agreements. Many of the countries that are considered as prospects for Chinese nuclear exports are part of the BRI initiative. However, as mentioned above, three main websites for the BRI make no mention of NPPs.
      One of the reasons that China might not want to mention and publicize the NPPs is because many nuclear technologies are dual-use. This means that the same technology that can produce enriched uranium for nuclear fuel can also enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Keeping NPPs out of the publicity for the BRI reduces public concern about possible proliferation of nuclear weapons in the BRI countries.
       A second reason for China to avoid publicizing BRI NPPs is the fact that China has been guilty of violating its obligations under the rules of the international Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of which it is a member. It has provided nuclear materials to countries including Pakistan who are not members of the NSG and are not entitled to receive such materials under the rules of the NSG. Pakistan has not agreed to employ International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards or to slow down its nuclear weapons program. In spite of this, China is involved in six NPP projects in Pakistan.

Please read Part 2

Geiger Readings for Jul 05, 2018

Latitude 47.704656 Longitude -122.318745

Ambient office  = 80 nanosieverts per hour

Ambient outside = 126 nanosieverts per hour

Orange bell pepper exposed to rain water = 129 nanosieverts per hour

Avocado from Central Market = 123 nanosieverts per hour

Tap water = 143 nanosieverts per hour

Filter water = 129 nanosieverts per hour

Nuclear Reactors 584 - UK Researchers Developed A System For Using Muons To Detect Uranium

       A muon is a subatomic particle that is similar to an electron but has two hundred times as much mass. It has an electrical charge of minus one and a spin of one half. It is categorized as a “lepton” which means that it does not have any substructure composed of simpler particles. Muons are unstable and only have a half life of about two millionths of a second. However, this is longer than the half life of many subatomic particles. When a muon decays, it produces an electron and two neutrinos. Because it is not affected as much by magnetic fields as an electron, it can penetrate much further into solid objects. Muons produced by cosmic rays can penetrate deep into the Earth. About 10,000 muons are hitting every square yard of the earth’s surface every minute.
       The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is a UK government owned and operated nuclear services technology provider covering the whole of the nuclear fuel cycle. Almost ten years ago, researchers at the (NNL) and Glasgow University in Scotland discovered that muons interacted differently when they encountered uranium as opposed to other elements. Because of the greater density of the uranium, instead of passing right through, the muons are scattered.  Lynkeos, a commercial company, was formed to take advantage of this behavior by turning it into a commercial product for the nuclear industry. It has the potential to aid decommissioning, detection and storage of radioactive materials. This could save the nuclear industry millions of dollars.
      The muon detection technology, called the Muon Imaging System (MIS) is already in use at Sellafield. The owners of the Cumbrian reprocessing plant have invested over six million dollars in the research. Innovate UK also supplied about two million dollars. Additional funding was supplied by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The UK firm hopes to export the MIS to other countries across the globe to help with the cleanup of nuclear sites.
       The CEO of Lynkeos said “The Muon Imaging System can be used for a variety of purposes, whether that’s inspecting old/spent material used in nuclear production to see if it’s safe to store, for imaging the products of thermal treatment processes or inspecting historic waste without needing to chip away its concrete encasing.”
       “This form of detection is providing the nuclear industry with an inexpensive method for testing waste materials, to which there is currently no other technological option. This should help to significantly lower costs within the nuclear industry.”
       I have already blogged about the use of a muon detection system to search for the nuclear fuel in the reactor cores in the ruins of the reactors in Fukushima, Japan. The muon detectors did not show that the uranium fuel was still in its original position in the core of the reactor. This indicated that the fuel had melted down through the bottom of the containment vessel.