Linking energy and democracy

 
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Saturday, June 18, 2011 ,
by

Carmel Cacopardo

 

Last weekend, Italian voters said no to nuclear energy for the second time since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 25 years ago.

Italy is not alone in refusing to handle nuclear energy. The Fukushima incidents have driven home the point that, even in a country that is very strict on safety standards, nuclear energy is not safe. Fukushima has proven that no amount of safeguards can render nuclear energy 100 per cent safe. Though accidents are bound to happen irrespective of the technology used, the risks associated with nuclear technology are such that they can easily wipe out life from the affected area in a very short time.

Last weekend’s no has a particular significance for Malta as this means an end to plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant at Palma di Montechiaro on Sicily’s southern coast, less than 100 kilometres from the Maltese islands.

Germany’s Christian Democrat/Liberal coalition government, faced with the resounding victory of the Greens in the Länd of Baden-Württemberg, has made a policy U-turn. As a direct effect of the Greens-led opposition to Germany’s nuclear programme, Germany will be nuclear-energy free as from 2022, by which date all existing nuclear power installations will be phased out. In doing so, the Merkel government has, once and for all, accepted the Green-Red coalition agreement on a complete nuclear phaseout.

Even Switzerland is planning not to make use of its existing nuclear plants beyond their scheduled projected life. The Swiss government will be submitting to Parliament a proposal not to replace existing nuclear plants. The process is scheduled to commence in 2019 and will conclude with the closure of the last Swiss nuclear reactor in 2034.

After the Tunisian revolution, Abdelkader Zitouni, the leader of Tunisie Verte, the Tunisian Green party, has called on Tunisia’s transitional government to repudiate the Franco-Tunisian agreement for the provision of nuclear technology by France. Hopefully, the same will happen when the Administration of Libya is back to normal.

There are other Mediterranean neighbours that are interested in the construction of nuclear plants. Libya and Tunisia were joined by Algeria, Morocco and Egypt in reacting positively to Nicolas Sarkozy, the peripatetic nuclear salesman during the past four years.

Malta could do without nuclear energy installations on its doorstep. Italy’s decision and the policy being advocated by Mr Zitouni are a welcome start. It would be wishful thinking to imagine Foreign Minister Tonio Borg taking the initiative in campaigning for a Mediterranean free of nuclear energy even though this is in Malta’s interest.

It is a very healthy sign that Malta’s neighbours together with Germany and Switzerland are repudiating the use of nuclear energy. Their no to nuclear energy is simultaneously a yes to renewable energy. This will necessarily lead to more efforts, research and investment in renewable energy generation as it is the only reasonable way to make up for the shortfall between energy supply and demand.

A case in point is the Desertec project, which is still in its infancy. The Desertec initiative is based on the basic fact that six hours of solar energy incident on the world’s deserts exceeds the amount of energy used all over the globe in one whole year. Given that more than 90 per cent of the world’s population lives within 3,000 kilometres of a desert, the Desertec initiative considers that most of the world’s energy needs can be economically met through tapping the solar energy that can be captured from the surface of the deserts.

The technology is available and has been extensively tested in the Mojave Desert, California, in Alvarado (Badajoz), Spain and in the Negev Desert in Israel where new plants generating solar energy on a large scale have been in operation for some time. The Desertec project envisages that Europe’s energy needs can be met through tapping the solar energy incident on the Sahara desert. The problems that have to be surmounted are of a technical and of a geopolitical nature.

On the technical front, solutions are being developed to address more efficient storage and the efficient transmission of the electricity generated.

The Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt and, hopefully, the successful conclusion of the Libyan revolution will address the other major concern: that of energy security. The movement towards democracy in North Africa can contribute towards the early success of the Desertec project in tapping solar energy in the Sahara desert for use in both Northern Africa and in Europe.

While Malta stands to gain economically and environmentally through the realisation of such a project, I have yet to hear the government’s enthusiasm and commitment even if the project is still in its initial stages.

Malta is committed in favour of the pro-democracy movements in Egypt, Tunisia and Benghazi. Being surrounded by democratic neighbours is a definitely positive geopolitical development. If properly nurtured, this would enhance Malta’s economic development, energy security and environmental protection concerns.

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Risk and use of nuclear energy

 

published Saturday April 16, 2011

 

The Fukushima nuc­lear disaster occur­red as a result of the tsunami. The earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale did not cause any direct damage to the nuclear installation.

The Fukushima nuclear reactor was (according to various reports) designed after taking into consideration the frequency and strength of earthquakes and tsunamis in the region. The strength of the earthquake and the impacts of the tsunami were substantially more than what was taken into consideration at the drawing board. The point at issue is whether, in view of the possible (and eventual) impacts resulting from a failure of the reactor’s cooling systems, the risk taken as a result of the design assumptions was justified.

After the Fukushima happenings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel changed her opinion on nuclear energy turning around 180 degrees in the space of a few months.

The European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, former CDU Minister President of the German land of Baden-Württemberg, stated in an interview with Der Spiegel International that “Fukushima has made me start to doubt”.  He added: “when Chernobyl happened, we in the west were comforted by the fact that it was the result of outdated Soviet technology and human error. But I have nothing but respect for Japan’s abilities when it comes to industry and technology. That’s why Fukushima has been such a turning point for me. It has made me start to doubt. If the Japanese cannot master this technology, then nuclear energy conceals risks I didn’t see before.”

That says it all. The Fukushima nuclear incident is the direct result of the “risk society”, which acts on the basis of the probability of a particular event happening.

Notwithstanding advances in technology and human knowledge, there will always be an unresolved element of risk when adopting technological solutions to cater for human needs. The risk can be reduced but it will never be eliminated. As Dr Oettinger himself states, at the end of the day, in the case of a nuclear power plant, faced with the residual risk, “either you accept this residual risk or you shut down”.

To date, various governments took the risk. After Fukushima, a number are coming to their senses and are adopting the option to shut down. After the recent thrashing at the polls, Chancellor Merkel’s CDU too has changed course and has reluctantly started moving towards adopting a “green” nuclear policy!

There have been four major nuclear disasters since the late 1950s. The first took place in Windscale UK in 1957; the second at Harrisburg US (Three Mile Island) in 1979; the third occurred at Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986 and Fukushima was the fourth.

In addition to the above, there have been a countless number of other “small” incidents and a number of near misses. In France alone there are about 700 minor incidents every year, most of which go unreported.

Kenzaburo Oe is a Japanese Nobel Laureate having received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. In an essay published in the New Yorker on March 28, entitled Tokyo Postcard. History Repeats, he states that the use of nuclear energy in Japan is a betrayal of the Hiroshima victims.

He says: “Like earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural calamities, the experience of Hiroshima should be etched into human memory: it was even more dramatic a catastrophe than those natural disasters precisely because it was man-made. To repeat the error by exhibiting, through the construction of nuclear reactors, the same disrespect for human life is the worst possible betrayal of the memory of Hiroshima’s victims.”

Nuclear technology disrespects life as it has been shown time and again not only to be unsafe to use but also that it places whole regions and eco-systems at risk.

While, later this month, the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster will be commemorated it is pertinent to ask whether any lessons have been learnt. Chernobyl was considered as being an exception easily explained by the then Soviet Union’s state of technological development. Fuku­shima is a different kettle of fish: Japanese precision and technological knowledge is second to none.

The question, however, remains that, at the end of the day, some event that has not been given sufficient weight in design considerations happens. Be it the earthquake’s strength, a tsunami’s force or the frequency of adverse weather conditions. Engineering ethics permit this as it is accepted practice that one cannot design for all eventualities.

This is the risk society that plays games with our lives. The risk society does not consider life as being sufficiently worthy of protection. It only weighs probabilities and projects these into costs.

In this scheme of things life is worthless, hence, the validity of the observation of Kenzaburo Oe that the use of nuclear energy disrespects human life and is possibly its worst betrayal.

Nuclear energy? No thanks!

Solar Energy comes free and safe

by Carmel Cacopardo

published 10 August 2008

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The site where French Company Areva is constructing the Olkiluoto 3, the French designed                     European Pressurised Reactor

 

Greenpeace has accused Nicolas Sarkozy of using the newly formed Union of the Mediterranean to push forward the French agenda for nuclear power. Sarkozy, acting more like a salesman than a President, has been touring various regions, but clearly focusing on the Mediterranean, offering French nuclear technology.

In 2007, Sarkozy’s government signed agreements with nine Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries on nuclear exports and cooperation. He is desperately trying to sell the French designed European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), the flagship of the so-called “nuclear renaissance” despite the fact that the only construction attempts of the EPR in Finland and France have been disastrous.

The Finnish Olkiluoto 3 reactor is two-and-a-half years behind schedule, and costs have doubled to just short of €5 billion. The French nuclear safety authority has shut down the French construction site at Flamanville after just six months due to chronic safety problems.

In the Mediterranean, France has expressed an interest in the construction of nuclear plants in Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia.

Libya’s reactor will supply energy for the desalination of seawater from the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey’s first nuclear reactor is planned for Akkuyu Bay near the Mediterranean port of Mersin. It is scheduled to be in operation by 2015. Akkuyu Bay is situated in an earthquake prone zone on the Mediterranean coast north of Cyprus.

The Akkuyu reactor has been in the pipeline since 1996 but has been continuously postponed due to controversy surrounding the underestimation of the earthquake risks involved. Tenders will be issued in September 2008 and French Company Areva (90 per cent State owned) will most probably be competing with American giant General Electric for the tender. Turkey is planning to construct a second nuclear power plant at Sinop on the coast of the Black Sea.

Egypt’s nuclear reactor is under construction at El Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast.

Italy, through its Minister for Economic Development Claudio Scajola, has declared itself in favour of nuclear energy. On 26 July Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reporting on Berlusconi’s joint press conference with Maltese Premier Lawrence Gonzi hinted at unofficial rumblings that Italy wants to set up nuclear reactors in Albania, Montenegro and Malta. It was only after being prodded by Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party that the Department of Information in Malta emerged from hibernation to deny that the matter was ever discussed between the Maltese and Italian delegations.

A Maltese delegation visits Libya: the matter of the Franco-Libyan nuclear reactor is not on the agenda. A Foreign Office official was quoted as stating that it is a non-issue, of interest only to the press.

In the meantime, in the first seven months of 2008, eight nuclear incidents have taken place on the European mainland (see box) three of them in France. Some of them are minor incidents, which could however have developed into major ones had safety precautions failed to come into operation. The French incidents are the most serious and occurred in July within a 21-day timeframe.

The French incidents have contaminated a water source and exposed 97 workers to excessive radiation from radioactive Cobalt 56. The Guardian, published in Manchester on 26 July, reported the reactions of residents living close to the Tricastin nuclear plant on the outskirts of Bolléne. “I always trusted that nuclear was totally secure. But now I wonder, have there been other accidents in the past we haven’t been told about?” In a country long accustomed to nuclear energy, which accounts for 80 per cent of all energy generated in France, this comment is significant. The nuclear leak, states Angelique Chrisafis reporting for The Guardian from Bolléne, “has shaken French trust in nuclear safety and embarrassed Nicolas Sarkozy as he crusades for a French-led world renaissance in atomic power.” The first casualty is the market for nuclear energy in the UK.

Almost concurrently with these happenings the Union of the Mediterranean has endorsed the Mediterranean Solar Plan, pushed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This involves making use of the sun’s energy on the Sahara Desert to generate electricity for Europe’s use. The world’s sun belt in the Sahara desert can provide a solution and an alternative to the spiralling fuel costs.

 

Alok Jha, science correspondent of The Guardian reported on 23 July that an area slightly smaller than Wales in the Saharan Desert could one day generate enough solar energy to supply all of Europe with clean energy. The project is a long term one envisaging massive investments to the tune of €450 billion. Its effectiveness however will be dependent on technological innovations that are still at an experimental stage – primarily the capacity to store electricity generated when the sun doesn’t shine. Storing solar energy is currently both expensive and inefficient. Experiments are currently underway at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which, if successful could lead the way to a large scale low cost use of solar energy.

In his article entitled “Solar Power from Saharan Sun could provide Europe’s electricity, says EU”, Alok Jha emphasises that harnessing the sun in the Sahara would be more effective because the sunlight there is more intense. It is estimated that photovoltaic panels installed in the Sahara could generate three times the electricity similar panels installed in Northern Europe generate. Some doubt whether this amount of electricity could be generated. In addition, when transporting electricity over large distances issues of losses would assume a greater significance.

The major costs of the project would be related to upgrading the grid networks and infrastructure in the Southern Mediterranean countries.

Would Malta feature in such a project?

Algeria is projecting the annual export of 6,000 Mega Watts of solar-power generated to Europe by 2020. The Saharan project would take longer (up to 2050) to reach its projected annual output of 100 Giga Watts.

On the other hand, the Italian nuclear project would take between 10 and 20 years to materialise (ie between 2018 and 2028), yet the Maltese government considers it expedient to consider linking Malta to the Italian electricity grid.

Other Mediterranean countries such as Portugal and Spain have invested heavily in solar technology. On 13 June, the Jerusalem Post reported the launching of an American-Israeli experimental solar technology plant in Israel’s Negev desert.

Described as the “highest performance, lowest cost thermal solar system in the world”, this technology makes use of computer-guided flat mirrors known as heliostats to track the sun and focus its rays on a boiler at the top of a 200-foot tower. The water inside the boiler turns to steam, powering a turbine and subsequently producing electricity. The project is at a final testing stage and is planned to complete full-sized facilities in California’s Mojave Desert by 2011. It is estimated that this technology could cut costs associated with solar energy by 30 to 50 per cent.

This is the technology of the future that will be available shortly and depends exclusively on the sun’s rays that are beamed in our direction free of charge. Yet, Malta’s mainstream politicians look elsewhere.

Solar energy is an area Malta could tap jointly with Libya for mutual benefit. Both countries are blessed with a bountiful sun available all year round, which, if adequately used, is sufficient for all of Malta’s and Libya’s needs.

So, who needs nuclear energy in the world’s sun belt? Solar energy comes free and it’s safe.

Nuclear accidents this year

29 May – Rovno (Ukraine): Ruptured pipe supplying water to reactor. 1.3 cubic metres of coolant water escapes.

3 June –Dukovany (Czech Republic): Plant’s automated safety system cut output from one of its reactors after a worker mistakenly turned off coolant pipes.

4 June – Krško (Slovenia): 3 cubic metres water leaked from reactor cooling system. Reactor safely shut down.

7 July – Tricastin (France): 30,000 litres of liquid containing 12 grammes of uranium per litre spilled into ground and into Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers.

11 July – Varbourg (Sweden): Fire breaks out on roof of Ringhals nuclear plant turbine facility.

18 July – Roman Sur Isere (France): Radioactive leak from buried broken pipe.

23 July – Tricastin (France): Workers exposed to radioactive particles escaping from a ruptured pipe from plant. Ninety-seven staff had to be evacuated and sent for medical tests. Seventy showed low traces of radio-elements.

29 July – Biblis (Germany): One of Germany’s 17 functioning nuclear reactors automatically shuts down after crane snagged an electric power cable outside nuclear compound.

Ġirien Nukleari

minn Carmel Cacopardo

ipubblikat 27 ta’ Lulju 2008

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Fi Franza fi spazju ta’ 16-il jum seħħew tliet inċidenti nukleari.

L-ewwel inċident seħħ fil-lejl bejn is-6 u s-7 ta’ Lulju fis-sit nukleari ta’ Tricastin. Skart likwidu, madwar 30,000 litru li kien fih l-uranju, b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar. L-awtoritajiet Franċiżi ħarġu struzzjonijiet lir-residenti biex ħadd ma jistad, ħadd ma jixrob ilma mill-bjar, kif ukoll biex ħadd ma jgħum fix-xmajjar jew jieħu sehem fi sports fl-ilma. Lanqas ma kien possibbli li jintuża ilma mix-xmajjar għat-tisqija.

It-tieni inċident seħħ fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Romans-sur Isere meta nhar it-18 ta’ Lulju spetturi tas-sit indunaw b’pajp mifqugħ li minnu ħareġ likwidu radjuattiv. It-tielet inċident seħħ mill-ġdid fi Tricastin nhar it-23 ta’ Lulju. L-impjant kien magħluq imma partiċelli radjuattivi ħarġu minn pajp li nqasam fl-impjant nukleari u 97 impjegat spiċċaw l-isptar fejn instab li kienu esposti għal doża baxxa ta’ radjuattività.
Franza tipproduċi 80 fil-mija ta’ l-elettriku tagħha permezz ta’ enerġija nukleari f’59 impjant imxerrda mal-pajjiż kollu. Bħala riżultat ta’ din id-dipendenza fuq l-enerġija nukleari Franza għandha industrija organizzata u b’saħħitha. Il-Gvern Franċiż jgħinha biex tistabbilixxi swieq ġodda billi tesporta t-teknoloġija nukleari.

Fost l-aħħar swieq li qed ifittxu li jippenetraw hemm dak fl-Afrika ta’ Fuq. Franza iffirmat ftehim ta’ kooperazzjoni mal-Marokk, ma’ l-Alġerija u mal-Libja biex tgħinhom jiżviluppaw impjanti nukleari għal skopijiet ċivili. L-iktar li jinteressana hu l-ftehim mal-Libja li se jwasssal biex jinbena impjant nukleari li permezz tiegħu jkun prodott ilma tajjeb għax-xorb minn ilma baħar. Ovvjament, dan l-impjant se jinbena viċin il-kosta.

Inċident f’impjant nukleari jista’ jseħħ bħala riżultat ta’ waħda minn tliet affarijiet: żball uman, ħsara li tiżviluppa fil-makkinarju inkella bħala riżultat ta’ attività naturali bħal terremot.

Hemm żewġ konsiderazzjonijiet li rridu nagħmlu. L-ewwel li l-Libja għandha xemx kemm trid. Teżisti t-teknoloġija biex tipproduċi ilma tajjeb għax-xorb mill-baħar permezz ta’ enerġija solari. Din qed titħaddem f’pajjiżi bħall-Kuwajt. Qed isiru ukoll esperimenti għal titjib sostanzjali f’din it-teknoloġija fl-Iżrael u f’Kalifornja.

Xi ħtieġa hemm ta’ impjant nukleari meta hemm enerġija mix-xemx b’xejn?

It-tieni konsiderazzjoni hi dwar kif niġu affettwati aħna bħala Malta jekk ikun hemm inċident nukleari fl-impjant Libjan. L-effetti jkunu jiddependu mill-gravità ta’ l-inċident. Inċident li jikkontamina l-baħar jaffettwa kemm l-industrija tas-sajd kif ukoll il-produzzjoni ta’ l-ilma f’pajjiżna. Irridu niftakru li 60 fil-mija ta’ l-ilma li nużaw jiġi mill-baħar. Inċident f’impjant nukleari mal-kosta Libjana li jniġġes il-baħar jista’ jaffettwa dan l-ilma li f’Malta s’issa m’għandniex alternattiva għalih għax l-ilma tal-pjan qed jispiċċa wkoll. L-effetti fuq Malta jistgħu jkunu ta’ gravità kbira għax l-uniku sors ta’ l-ilma mbagħad ikun dak impurtat fit-tankers minn Sqallija jew minn x’imkien ieħor.

Il-makkinarju fl-impjanti għat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ li qed jinbnew bħalissa ma jistgħux iservu alternattiva minħabba li l-ilma wara li jsaffuh jitfgħuh il-baħar flok ma jipproduċu ilma tajjeb għax-xorb kif jagħmlu per eżempju f’Singapore.

Apparti dan imbagħad hemm l-effetti fuq l-industrija tat-turiżmu. Kull aħbar ta’ allarm ikollha effett negattiv u t-turiżmu jieħu daqqa kbira b’inċident nukleari daqstant qrib tagħna.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu l-Gvern Malti ma lissen l-ebda kelma. L-anqas l-Oppożizzjoni.
Dan mhux kollox. Il-periklu mhux ġej biss min-nofsinhar għax fit-tramuntana fl-Italja, beda jinħema periklu ieħor.

Il-Gvern ta’ Berlusconi ddikjara li fi ħsiebu jibda l-proċess biex jibni numru ta’ impjanti nukleari. Il-periklu għalina mill-Italja hu l-istess għall-periklu mil-Libja. Bid-differenza li l-iktar li jaffettwawna jkunu dawk l-impjanti li jinbew fin-naħa t’isfel ta’ l-Italja jew fi Sqallija.

Fil-konfront ta’ l-Italja hemm fattur wieħed li jista’ jkun ta’ għajnuna. Bħala riżultat tat-tisħib ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropea tapplika għalina l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Espoo, iffirmata fil-Finlandja fl-1991. Din hi inkorporata fid-Direttiva tal-UE dwar l-EIA (assessjar tal-impatt ambjentali) u tipprovdi li fejn ikun hemm possibbiltà ta’ impatt ambjentali li jmur lil hinn mill-fruntieri ta’ pajjiż terz (transboundary impact) hemm l-obbligu li l-pajjiż affettwat ikun notifikat kif ukoll li jkollu l-possibbiltà li jinvolvi ruħu biex ikun assigurat li l-EIA jsir sew.

X’miżuri ħa l-Ministeru ta’ l-Affarijiet Barranin f’dan ir-rigward? Ħadd għadu ma qal xejn minkejja d-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Claudio Scajola, Ministru Taljan għall-Iżvilupp Ekonomiku favur l-enerġija nukleari.
Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu u fid-dell ta’ theddid li jista’ jkun daqshekk kbir il-Gvern għandu l-obbligu li jinforma dwar x’qiegħed jagħmel. L-Oppożizzjoni wkoll għandha l-obbligu li tispjega għaliex baqgħet ħalqha magħluq.

 

ara ukoll : http://www.illum.com.mt/2008/07/27/t2.html

Nuclear neighbours betrayed

 

In the aftermath of the Tricastin nuclear accidents, residents living very close to the nuclear plant are worried. They were made to believe that “nuclear was safe”. The only thing that is still unclear is the number of accidents that went unreported through the years. Thereby ensuring that the myth of nuclear safety would go on unchallenged. 

Just read what these nuclear neighbours felt and said in today’s Guardian . http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/25/nuclear.industry.france

Inċident nukleari ieħor fi Franza

 

 

Fi Franza, fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Tricastin 97 impjegat kienu esposti għal radjazzjoni radjuattiva. Dan seħħ billi partikoli radjuattivi ħarġu minn pipe fl-impjant nukleari.

 

Ġimgħatejn ilu l-impjant ta’ Tricastin kien ingħalaq wara li kien hemm kontaminazzjoni ta’ ilma bl-uranju.

 

Dan huwa it-tielet inċident nukleari fi Franza fi spazju ta’ 16-il jum.

 

 

Immaġinaw numru ta’ inċidenti bħal dawk li seħħew fi Franza iseħħu wara biebna, fil-Libya fejn Franza trid tesporta t-teknoloġija tagħha.

 

X’inhu jagħmel il-Gvern dwar dan ? Għax s’issa ħadd ma ħass l-obbligu li jinfurma lill-pubbliku Malti.  Anke l-Opposizzjoni s’issa baqgħet siekta.

 

ara ukoll is-segwenti : 

Aċċident ieħor f’impjant nukleari ġewwa Franza

 

 

 

 

Aċċident ieħor : din id-darba fl-impjant nukleari ta’ Romans-sur Isere ġewwa Franza.

 

Din il-ġimgħa infaqa’ pajp li minnu ħareġ likwidu radjattiv.

 

 

Il-ġimgħa l-oħra skart likwidu li kien fih l-uranju b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar qrib il-belt ta’ Avignon.

 

Dawn huma żewġ inċidenti fi spazju ta’ ġimgħa, it-tnejn f’impjanti immexxija mill-kumpanija multinazzjonali Areva.

 

Franza għandha 59 impjant nukleari li minnu tkun prodotta 80% tal-elettriku użata fi Franza.

 

Il-Ministru responsabbli għall-Ambjent fi Franza Jea-Louis Borloo insisita li l-inċidenti kienu minuri ħafna, iżda xorta waħda ħass il-ħtieġa illi jordna inkjesta fuq is-superviżjoni tal-industrija nukleari kif ukoll dwar l-ilma tal-pjan f’kull waħda miż-żoni madwar id-59 impjant nukleari fil-pajjiż.

 

L-ex Ministru tal-Ambjent Franċiż Corinne Lepage kienet iktar ċara fi kliema meta qalet li dan kien riżultat ta’ nuqqas ta’ investiment fil-ħarsien tas-saħħa, fis-sigurta u fil-ħarsien ambjentali.

 

Dan għandu relevanza għalina f’Malta minħabba li ma ndumux ma nkunu mdawrin b’impjanti nukleari : fl-Italja, fil-Libja, fit-Tunesia, fl-Algerija. Inċident f’wieħed minn dawn, dipendenti mill-intensita tiegħu, jista’ jkollu effetti diżastrużi fuq pajjiżna.

 

Inċident jista’ jseħħ bħala riżultat ta’ żball uman, inkella bħala riżultat ta’ fallimenti ta’ apparat jew minħabba effetti naturali : bħal terrimot.

 

Quddiem dan kollu f’Malta la Gvern u l-anqas l-Opposizzjoni ma lissnu kelma waħda.

 

Ara ukoll rapporti fil-Guardian u fl-Irish Times 

 

Fuq din il-blog tista’ tara ukoll dawn il-posts:

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/chernobyl-it-22-anniversarju/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/sandwich-bejn-il-libja-u-l-italja/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/f%e2%80%99krsko-evitat-incident-nukleari/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/a-nuclear-sandwich-in-the-mediterranean/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/is-sandwich-nukleari-jkompli-jikber/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/accident-nukleari-fi-franza/

Aċċident Nukleari fi Franza

 

Fi Franza seħħ aċċident nukleari.  Jidher li seħħ tard it-Tnejn bil-lejl. Imma ġie rappurtat it-Tlieta 8 ta’ Lulju 2008 fil-għodu lill-awtoritajiet.

 

Fil-qosor skond il-BBC skart liquidu li kien fih l-uranium b’mod aċċidentali waqa’ f’żewġ xmajjar fin-nofsinnhar ta’ Franza fis-sit nukleari ta’ Tricastin f’Bollene 40 km mill-belt ta’ Avignon.

 

Hemm informazzjoni konfliġġenti dwar kemm kien hemm skart b’ċifri jiġu ippubblikati u wara kkoreġuti (min jgħid 30,000 litru ta’ skart u min jgħid 18,000 litru).

 

L-industrija nukleari tipprova taħbi biex tnaqqas l-impatt fuq l-opinjoni pubblika f’pajjiż li jiddependi għal 80% mill-enerġija tiegħu mill-impjanti nukleari.

 

Sadanittant l-awtoritajiet Franċiżi ħarġu struzzjonijiet lir-residenti : ħadd ma jistad, tixorbux ilma mill-bjar, m’hemmx għawm jew sports fl-ilma, tużawx ilma mix-xmajjar biex issaqqu.

 

 

X’jinteressana tistgħu tistaqsu : ftakru li Franza u l-Libja ftehmu li jinbena impjant nukleari biex jiddistilla l-ilma baħar. Immaġina ftit inċident bħal dan fuq il-kosta tal-Mediterran ftit il-bogħod minn Malta.

 

 

 

Ara ukoll artiklu f’Der Spiegel International fuq l-istess materja intitolat : Catastrophe Is Nuclear Energy’s Standard Operating Procedure

 

Tista’ tara ukoll dawn il-posts :

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/chernobyl-it-22-anniversarju/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/05/26/sandwich-bejn-il-libja-u-l-italja/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/09/f%e2%80%99krsko-evitat-incident-nukleari/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/15/a-nuclear-sandwich-in-the-mediterranean/

https://carmelcacopardo.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/is-sandwich-nukleari-jkompli-jikber/

A Nuclear Sandwich in the Mediterranean

published on Sunday 15 June 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Last week, two nuclear powers stations in the EU were the subject of safety scares. On Tuesday 3 June at 9.30am local time, in the Dukovany nuclear plant in the Czech Republic, an employee accidentally turned off the coolant pipes and its four reactors were automatically switched off. On Wednesday 4 June in Krško, Slovenia, on the border with Croatia, a water leak from the coolant system of the nuclear plant occurred in the afternoon. The nuclear facility shut down.

These are the most recent of the nuclear accidents and incidents occurring in Europe.

Safety mechanisms are intended to identify and correct failures as soon as they occur. However, when safety mechanisms in nuclear plants fail, leading to a complete breakdown (what is known as a meltdown), issues of transboundary effects of such failure come into play. In view of the fact that we never know whether intended safety mechanisms will function or not, the siting of nuclear power plants will always lead to the assessing of impacts of transboundary effects in case of failure caused by faulty design, human error or natural causes (for example, an earthquake).

It is pertinent within this context to focus on the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that occurred in 1986, the effects of which were far-reaching.

The Chernobyl nuclear plant was located close to the border with Belarus. Some may assume that the effects of this disaster were limited to neighbouring Belarus and The Russian Federation in addition to Ukraine. This is not correct as radioactive contamination resulting from Chernobyl was detected in various other countries.

The report of the Chernobyl Forum entitled “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts and Recommendations to the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine”  limits itself to the areas surrounding the incident site within the confines of the then existent Soviet Union.

However, another report dated April 2006 commissioned by Green MEP Rebecca Harms entitled “The Other Report on Chernobyl (Torch)” is more detailed. This other report concludes that over half of Chernobyl’s fallout was deposited outside the confines of Ukraine/ Belarus/Russian Federation, that the fallout contaminated about 40 per cent of Europe’s surface area and that 30,000 to 60,000 excess deaths from cancer were predicted. Radioactive discharges were dispersed across many parts of Europe: former Yugoslavia, Sweden, Bulgaria, Norway, Rumania, Germany, Austria and Poland. 3.9 million square kilometres of European territory was affected, that is 40 per cent of the surface area of Europe.

Other parts of Europe were in receipt of low levels of contamination: Moldova, the European part of Turkey, Slovenia, Switzerland, Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom.

The Rebecca Harms report refers to restrictions still in place in the UK in 2006 on 374 farms covering 750 sq. km and 200,000 sheep, of high level Caesium-137 contamination in wild boar in Germany, as well as contamination of natural and near-natural environments in Sweden and Finland, and high level Caesium-137 contamination of wild game, wild mushrooms, berries and carnivore fish in lakes in Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania and Poland.

There is practically no limit to the transboundary effect of a nuclear disaster. Once the disaster has occurred its effects are primarily dependent on the prevailing weather conditions.

On 22 May, Claudio Scajola, Italy’s Minister of Economic Development, announced plans that Italy would shift to nuclear energy. He stated: “By the end of this legislature we will put down the foundation stone for the construction in our country of a group of new-generation nuclear plants. An action plan to go back to nuclear power cannot be delayed anymore.” This contrasts heavily with and is in defiance of the decision taken in a referendum in Italy on 8 November 1987, which in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster called for a ban on nuclear reactors. The Italian government subsequently adopted the referendum decision as policy.

That is the position to Malta’s north.

Another scenario is developing to our south. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who rushed to Tripoli in July 2007 as soon as the Bulgarian nurses were released, signed a number of agreements one of which was a deal to construct a French nuclear reactor in Libya intended to produce potable water through desalination.

Nuclear energy is currently being considered by a number of governments due to it being carbon free. Those advocating it tend to ignore the problems of storage of nuclear waste. They also play down the catastrophic consequences of failures as a result of design flaws, human error or natural causes. They also ignore the limited supply of uranium. It is estimated that known supplies of uranium will not last more than another 40 years!

There have been too many near misses of operational failure of nuclear power stations. Those in Slovenia and the Czech Republic that occurred last week are only the most recent in the EU. Among other incidents reported last year, one in an earthquake zone in Japan stands out. I refer to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station in the Niigata Prefecture in Japan that was damaged in the July 2007 earthquake. Various other accidents go unreported and only come to light after a number of years. The Japan Times, for example, on 31 March 2007 reported on a number of such cases in Japan that occurred in the past 20 years!

Faced with these nuclear pressures from our neighbours, as an EU member Malta should invoke the provisions of the Espoo Convention to come to its rescue.

The Espoo Convention signed in February 1991 in the town of Espoo just outside Helsinki is entitled Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. It was concluded within the framework of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

In 1997 the Espoo Convention was incorporated into the EU environmental acquis in the form of amendments to the 1985 Environmental Impact Assessment Directive. Article 7 of the Directive now provides that, “Where a Member State is aware that a project is likely to have significant effects on the environment in another Member State, or where a Member State likely to be significantly affected so requests, the Member State in whose territory the project is intended to be carried out shall send to the affected Member State as soon as possible and not later than when informing its own public” detailed information on the project and its transboundary impact and information on the decision which is to be taken, “and shall give the other Member State a reasonable time in which to indicate whether it wishes to participate in the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure”.

In our particular case this would oblige the Republic of Italy to make available to the Republic of Malta all available information and subsequently to facilitate Malta’s involvement in all the procedures leading to an EIA thereby ensuring that these are followed to the letter, without any short cuts.

With regard to the French nuclear presence on Libyan soil, the provisions of the Espoo Convention would not be applicable as Libya is not a signatory. In this case French economic interests may appear, at face value, to supersede environmental rhetoric. Both France and Libya should however be held to account – France within the EU framework and Libya in international fora. The inapplicability of the Espoo Convention to Libyan territory does not exonerate Libya or France from ensuring that they take all necessary steps to avoid transboundary impacts. This can be easily done by using alternative technologies.

Within this context there is quite a lot of environmental diplomacy that still needs seeing to with Paris, Tripoli, Rome and Brussels.

In the case of Rome, maybe the Italians would also consider the need for another referendum to tie Berlusconi’s hands more securely.

EU accession has given us the tools to use in order to avoid becoming a nuclear sandwich in the Mediterranean. We should not discard them.

F’Krško evitat inċident nukleari

                                                    Konferenza tal-Aħbarijiet dwar l-inċident

 

Nhar l-Erbgħa 4 ta’ Ġunju 2008 f’Krško ġewwa s-Slovenja, għaxar kilometri mill-fruntiera mal-Croatia, kien evitat inċident nukleari.

 

L-impjant nukleari li jiġġenera 700 Megawatt ta’ elettriku u jissuplixxi dan kemm lis-Slovenja kif ukoll lill-Croatia inbena mill-kumpanija Amerikan Westinghouse bejn l-1974 u l-1984.

 

X’ġara ?

 

Ħareġ ilma li jintuża biex ikessaħ l-impjant nukleari (cooling water). Dan għandu importanza kbira fit-teknoloġija użata. Fil-fatt immedjatament l-impjant ingħalaq. Li kieku dan ma seħħx il-problema kienet tista’ tikber tali li jekk it-temperatura tibqa’ togħla jkun hemm kollass totali (melting down) tal-impjant kif ġara f’Chernobyl  fl-1986 u kif kważi ġara fi Three Mile Island fl-1979.

 

Iktar tard l-Erbgħa fil-għaxija ġie kkonfermat illi l-ebda materjal radjuattiv ma ħareġ il-barra mill-impjant u b’hekk ma ġie kkawżat l-ebda dannu ambjentali.

 

L-inċident ikkawża allarm kbir tant li ġie attivat is-sistema ta’ allarm uffiċjali tal-Unjoni Ewropea magħrufa bħala ECURIE (European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange) sistema li ma kienitx ġiet attivata meta kien hemm inċidenti serji fl-impjanti nukleari ta’ Försmark fl-Iżvezja u Brunsbüttel fil-Ġermanja. Il-pubbliku, kif qalet il-Federazzjoni tal-Partiti l-Ħodor fil-Parlament Ewropew huwa anzjuż u attent ħafna minħabba r-riskji bla bżonn li l-enerġija nukleari qed tesponi lill-komunita’ għalihom.