Tag Archives: radiation leakage

The 400 Nuclear Safety Failures: Nuclear Weapons, Britain

HMS Vanguard one of the  ballistic missile submarines of the Royal Navy, UK.  Image from wikipedia

Britain’s nuclear weapons base has suffered from a dozen serious nuclear safety failures in recent years, according to official records.  Over the last six years HM Naval Base Clyde, where Britain’s Trident nuclear submarine fleet is based, suffered from nearly 400 “widespread” nuclear safety events relating to a “poor safety culture”.

In 12 of these cases the problems involved an “actual or high” risk of unplanned exposure to radiation or contained release of radiation within a building or submarine, according to information released by ministers in the last week.  Last year the number of nuclear safety events involving nuclear propulsion nearly doubled, from 57 in 2013 to 99 in 2014.  In one incident in 2012, contractors working on the base were exposed to radiation while repairing submarine equipment.

The 12 most serious events at the base, classified by the Ministry of Defence as “Category B”, are ones in which there is an “actual or high potential for a contained release [of radiation] within building or submarine or unplanned exposure to radiation”.  According to the Ministry’s own criteria, this classification is used for safety events that involve a “major failure in administrative controls or regulatory compliance”.

Other serious nuclear safety events included the unsafe operation of a crane on a jetty handling explosives, faulty radiation testing, and low-level radioactive contamination around a pipe that dumps supposedly decontaminated waste into the sea.  Despite the problems, the base has not recently suffered from any of the most serious category of safety failures – ‘Category A’ – which would have involved release into the environment in the surrounding area.

Excerpt from JON STONE,Britain’s nuclear weapons base suffers from ‘serious’ nuclear safety incidents and ‘poor safety culture, Independent, Mar. 2, 2015

Living with Radiactivity: Japan

Japan warned on Sunday it could take months to stop radiation leaking from a nuclear plant crippled by a huge earthquake and tsunami three weeks ago, while voters said a coalition would better handle the crisis and post-quake recovery effort.  An aide to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the government’s priority was to stop radiation leaks which were scaring the public and hindering work on cooling overheated nuclear fuel rods. “We have not escaped from a crisis situation, but it is somewhat stabilized,” said Goshi Hosono, a ruling party lawmaker and aide to Kan.  “How long will it take to achieve (the goal of stopping the radiation leakage)? I think several months would be one target,” Hosono said on a nationwide Fuji TV programme on Sunday.

In the face of the prolonged crisis, nearly two-thirds of Japanese voters believe the ruling Democratic Party should join hands with the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed, potentially warming lawmakers in both camps to the scheme.  Kan last month invited Sadakazu Tanigaki, head of the LDP, to join the cabinet as deputy premier for disaster relief, but Tanigaki rejected the offer.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) found a crack in a concrete pit at its No.2 reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi complex at the weekend, generating readings of 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside.  The leaks did not stop after concrete was poured into the pit, and TEPCO turned to water-absorbent polymers to prevent any more contaminated water from flowing out. The latest effort to stop radioactive water entering the Pacific started on Sunday afternoon.  “We were hoping the polymers would function like diapers but are yet to see a visible effect,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  Officials believe the crack may be one source of the radiation leaks that have hobbled efforts to control the six-reactor complex and sent radiation levels in the sea to 4,000 times the legal limit.

Nishiyama said three of the six reactors were now generally stable. TEPCO has said it will scrap at least four reactors once they are under control, but this could take years or even decades.  Japan’s crisis has rocked the nuclear industry and the European Union said on Sunday it will affect the fight against climate change as energy policies are reviewed.  Germany and Switzerland have said they will shut older reactors or suspend approvals, China has suspended approvals for new plants, and Taiwan is studying cutting nuclear output.Manufacturing in the world’s third largest economy has slumped to a two-year low as a result of power outages and quake damage hitting supply chains and production.

Excerpt from —By Chizu Nomiyama and Yoko Nishikawa Chizu Nomiyama and Yoko Nishikawa, Japan says it may take months to end radiation leaks, Reuters, Apr 3,2011