1. Fire and explosion at French nuclear plant.
Various media outlets reported that on February 9, a fire and explosion happened at the Flamanville nuclear plant, forcing the shutdown of one of its two reactors there. The nuke is located in Normandy on that country's northwest coast, facing the English Channel.
The BBC reported, "The explosion and fire happened in the turbine room." The fire occurred in a building that houses the turbine that turns steam into electricity, a few dozen yards from the reactor, which is isolated by a thick cement wall, the Wall Street Journal said. "Five workers who reported feeling ill, were being evaluated for smoke inhalation."
The French newspaper Le Monde reported "the explosion and fire were due to overheating and the cause is still being determined."
The two Flamanville reactors have been operating since the 1980s, making them 30-something now. A third reactor, using a new generic, and as yet untested design, began construction in 2007 and was supposed to be completed in 2010. Cost overruns have accompanied its delays.French law requires that the 39 year old Fessenheim nuke, France's oldest, which borderings on Germany, be permanently shut down before any new nukes are started up. Half of France's nukes are currently shut down, as a scandal that they may have been operating with defective major components continues.
On February 21 the Guardian UK reported that the restart of Flamanville, which at first was put at a week, "has now been pushed back to the end of March" and is costing the plant owner EDF a million Euros a day.
EDF is 80% owned by the French state. Flamanville's "unexpectedly long closure adds to financial pressure on EDF, which last week reported a 6.7% decline in core earnings in 2016." the Guardian reported.
Souces: BBC, bbc.com; Wall Street Journal, wsj.com; Le Monde, lemonde.fr; GuardianUK, guardian.com
2.Lethal levels of radiation at Fukushima.
On February 3 UPI reported that the highest levels of radiation at Fukushima since a massive earthquake and tsunami caused three reactors to meltdown in March 2011 had been found.
"Workers have measured radiation levels that would kill a person after even momentary exposure," the news service reported.
According to Fukushima owner Tokyo Power & Electric (TEPCO),the estimated level of radiation was 530 sieverts at reactor 1. A sievert is a measure of a dose of radiation to living beings.
The Japan Tines reported "1 sievert can cause sterility, hair loss, an increased of cancer for people, and a 50/50 chance of survival."
TEPCO said this was the highest level of radiation found at Fukushima since 2011 and believes it was caused by "a gaping 6 foot hole near the surface, possibly caused by overheating of nuclear fuel that seeped through reactor 1's pressure vessel during meltdown."
TEPCO's current guess as to when it will begin dismantling its devastated Fukushima reactors is currently 2021, and it admits that it could take 50 years to complete this deadly task.
Sources: UPI, upi.com; Japan Times, japantimes.co.jp.
3. Most likely US nukes to shut down in 2017?
Last October Bloomberg News reported that the following US nuclear plants are likely to shut down this year, some as early as May:
-First Energy's Davis Besse nuke in Ohio. It started up in 1978.
- First Energy's almost 40 year old Beaver Vally nuke in Pennsylvania.
-Exelon's Three Mile Island reactor (the one that didn't melt down in 1979), which started up in 1974.
- Exelon's two Byron reactors in Illinois, whose startups were in 85 and 87.
Bloomberg explained that these 4 nuke plants are no longer money makers, but are submitting bids to an electrical distribution company for an auction this spring. If their bids are no accepted, "they could face closure."
Sources: Bloomberg News, bloomberg.com;chemical info.com