Entries in Nuclear Energy (4)


UN Nuclear Inspectors Visit Iran in Two-Day Tour

IIPA via Getty Image(TEHRAN, Iran) -- United Nations nuclear inspectors began a two-day tour of Iran on Monday.

The visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) comes a day after the Iran oil ministry announced a halt in oil exports to Britain and France in response to the European Union’s sanctions on the nation in January.  This will the second visit this year by the inspectors to Iran. A report on the visit is expected in few weeks.

Iran insists they are developing new energy sources, however, IAEA inspectors’ visit in November suggested the country may be moving towards developing nuclear weapons, prompting western countries to impose further sanctions on Iran.

The IAEA chief inspector says his priority in visiting Iran this week is to clarify "possible military dimensions" of the country’s nuclear program, reports BBC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Nuclear Crisis 'On Verge of Stabilizing,' US Official Says

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- A top U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official said Monday that the nuclear crisis in Japan is "on the verge of stabilizing," even as Japanese workers were forced to suspend relief efforts temporarily after gray smoke billowed from two reactors.

"The fact that offsite power is close to being available for use by plant equipment is the first optimistic sign that things could be turning around," said Bill Borchardt, executive director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Operations.

Japanese workers made significant progress over the weekend at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant connecting crippled reactor cooling systems to power lines, with the systems expected to be brought online in Units 1 and 2 Monday, and Units 3 and 4 in the next few days, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials said.

Units 5 and 6 have already been successfully connected to diesel generators.

Restoring power to the water pumps means workers will be able to cool the cores and prevent a meltdown.

Borchardt said that while U.S. officials believe several reactors have experienced some sort of core damage, the containment structure around the radioactive core is largely intact and water is flowing to cool the radioactive rods.

The effort, which has progressed sporadically over the past week, stalled temporarily Monday at Unit 3, which lost its roof in an explosion last week, after smoke from an unknown source began rising from it.

Meanwhile, traces of radiation from the damaged nuclear plant were still detected miles from the plant, including in some vegetables and water supplies, raising alarm by Japanese residents and spurring U.S. officials to continue urging precautionary steps.

The State Department distributed potassium iodide tables to U.S. government personnel and their families in Japan "out of an abundance of caution" but instructed them not to consume the pills yet. Potassium iodide helps the body block absorption of some radioactive materials.

The Pentagon also ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and destroyer USS Lassen to move farther out to sea off the coast of Japan out of radiation concerns.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nuclear Emergency: Japanese Officials Fear Catastrophic Disaster

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Radiation is leaking from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and Japanese officials say that the containment vessel of one reactor may have been damaged, raising worries of a catastrophic nuclear disaster.

"The leaked radiation level is now rather high and there is high chance for further leakage of radiation from now on," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said.

Kan urged those living 12 to 19 miles around the plant to stay inside. The 140,000 people living within 12 miles of the plant have been evacuated. So far, 150 people from that area have tested positive for exposure to radiation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said radiation dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour had been reported at the Fukushima power plant site immediately following an explosion and fire at the plant Tuesday. That's four times higher than the acceptable level of radiation for humans.

The radiation levels have since dropped, but experts are still concerned.

Just 50 of the plant's 800 workers remain at the plant, fighting to keep the four reactors cool by pumping sea water into the reactors. Officials ordered most of the workers to leave the plant after the initially high levels of radiation were reported.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iran Claims Nuclear Program is Self-Sufficient

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(TEHRAN, Iran) -- An Iranian state official says that the country's nuclear program is now self-sufficient -- that it has produced its own uranium for enrichment, material that could be used to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

This latest development comes just ahead of Monday’s meeting in Geneva to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear program.

The announcement is a sign of defiance from Iran's government -- seen by some as political posturing -- and could signal that sanctions are working and that the country is finding it more difficult to secretly import raw uranium and yellowcake from abroad.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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