Scary Truth about U.S. Nuclear Power Plant Regulation
Amidst the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan—that third-party scientific investigators are claiming is 30 times worse than Chernobyl—some countries seem to be coming to their senses and rethinking the cost versus benefit of using nuclear power. Germany, Italy and Switzerland are all moving to end their nuclear energy programs by substituting clean, safe renewable alternatives. However, other developed nations, like the U.S., are making no such efforts. That’s unfortunate, considering that the Associated Press’ year-long investigation into U.S. nuclear power reveals some scary truths about the safety of the industry.
The report reveals the following:
“Federal regulators have been working closely with the US nuclear power industry to keep the nation's ageing reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them. Time after time, officials at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.
“Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.
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“Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to ageing were uncovered. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident.
“Yet despite the many problems linked to ageing, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.”
If this doesn’t scare you, it should! Nuclear energy isn’t the same kind of industry as natural gas and oil, and the oil industry in particular is regulated with a fine-toothed comb in the U.S. The major difference, however, is if an oil plant goes up in flames, the incident is relatively isolated, whereas a nuclear reactor meltdown can have radioactive effects that can stretch for hundreds of miles and last for decades, not to mention mutate the DNA of entire segments of the population (just Google some images of the children and animals born after the Chernobyl meltdown to get an idea of what radioactive DNA mutation looks like)
To think that the U.S. is immune to the kind of devastation witnessed in Japan is simply ignorant, and the revelations made by the AP’s report should be a wake up call to the people of the United States. The above image, for example, shows those locations in the U.S. where seismic activity is highest (note the proximity of active nuclear power plants to potential earthquake zones). That’s not to say that the nuclear energy industry should be shut down completely like is happening throughout Europe, but at the very least the U.S. government owes it to its citizens to properly regulate the industry, which has the potential, don’t forget, to literally wipe out life on this planet (cockroaches excluded) in the event of a major disaster. Perhaps we’ll have to wait a few years for the reports of mutated Japanese babies being born by the thousands to start making headlines before we wake up and expect more from an industry and the regulators that hold our lives and the very integrity of our DNA in their hands.
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.