Moorside: Developers launch competition to design visually beautiful nuclear power station
The shortlisted designs will be selected by an independent panel of architects, landscape designers and ecologists including Sir Terry Farrell, who created the MI6 building in London. Their challenge will be to come up with something striking and beautiful which can work around the sensitive construction of the site’s nuclear reactors.
Sebastien Ricard, a director at WilkinsonEyre architects who is currently involved with the multibillion-pound redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in London, said industrial buildings were increasingly regarded by architects as the “cathedrals of the modern era” as they offered the chance to work with innovative technologies on a grand scale….
it is hoped that the winning plans will succeed in blending the site into its surroundings and perhaps even turn Moorside into a destination in its own right……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/moorside-developers-launch-competition-to-design-visually-beautiful-nuclear-power-station-a6859311.html
- Pacific Heron and Pacific Egret ships will sail to Japan for plutonium
- Precious 331kg load could make an incredible 80 nuclear warheads
- Vessels are accompanied by military ships and armed with cannons
By MARK NICOL DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY 7 February 2016
Two top secret British ‘ghost ships’ carrying enough plutonium for a huge nuclear arsenal wend their way through the world’s oceans –guarded against terrorists by 50 commandos.
It may sound like a tantalising target for a villain in a James Bond film, but what is potentially the most dangerous secret mission in history is deadly reality.
Two vast container ships – the Pacific Heron and the Pacific Egret – left Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, last month on the first leg of their incredible journey.
Their mission is to sail to Japan to collect 331kg of plutonium – enough to make 80 nuclear warheads – which was leased by the UK to a Japanese research facility.
The ships are almost certainly shadowed by a Royal Navy submarine and surface vessels and are heavily armed with 20mm cannon.
They are sailing across the Atlantic before passing through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific on their way to Japan.
Their ultimate destination is a US nuclear storage facility in South Carolina, and the return journey to the American eastern seaboard from East Asia would normally again be made via the Panama Canal.
But this would leave the vessels vulnerable to attack – and their terrifying radioactive cargo could in theory devastate much of Central America.
So instead, they are likely to take the long and dangerous journey around the storm-lashed Cape Horn at the tip of South America, one of the most hazardous shipping routes in the world.
The Heron and the Egret, which each weigh about 6,700 tons when fully loaded, belong to the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). It is expected that each ship will be guarded by as many as 25 commandos.
Nuclear expert John Large told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘The cargo is invaluable and part of a secret trade in fissile materials between the likes of the UK and US. The biggest risk is a fire or an external missile strike.
‘This is bomb-grade nuclear material and a terror group or rogue state would want to intercept it.’…..http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3435476/Guarded-terrorists-Royal-Navy-sub-50-commandos-UK-ghost-ships-nuclear-fuel-80-missiles.html
Nuclear energy does not ever exist in some neutral realm; it is always deeply enmeshed in political contexts, and (as South Africa’s own strange nuclear history shows) it is always linked intimately to state power.
Would the honourable member care to explain caesium, strontium and plutonium to the ancestors?
Power trip: where will Zuma’s nuclear dreams take us? SUNDAY TIMES OPINION BY HEDLEY TWIDLE, 2016-02-07 Hedley Twidle hiked from Cape Point to Koeberg power station. En route, while passing the traces of our ancient predecessors, he wondered what Zuma’s nuclear dreams might mean for our distant successors. Do we know what we are doing? And will they know what we did?…….
In secrecy and haste, the Zuma government is pushing a deal for a new fleet of reactors. It will be the biggest procurement in our history, with a projected starting price of more than R1-trillion – but nuclear builds are notorious for running over budget.
The reason for the firing of Nene, some analysts suggested, was that he was stalling on nuclear, trying to protect the fiscus from a “presidential legacy” project that threatens to contaminate our economy, and our whole national project, for the rest of our lives.
We all have things that keep us up at night, and the prospect of SA being locked into a “nuclear renaissance” with Vladimir Putin’s Russia (or Xi Jinping’s China, or François Hollande’s France) is mine.
One of the troubling things about the debate is the language in which it is conducted: the technocratic confidence and business-minded briskness that pretends it has everything figured out.
Debates about energy policy happen in the language of developmental economics and financial modelling; in long and acronym-riddled policy documents; in boring technical reports. Decisions are taken amid the short-term cycles of party politics and cabinet reshuffles, not in mind of the long history of building and decommissioning nuclear plants, then disposing of their waste – a process that the world is only just beginning to grapple with. The massive expense and difficulty of it is only beginning to become apparent.
Journalistic expertise and coverage of these larger questions is thin; but beyond even this, do we have the imaginative capacity to understand what a nuclear future entails? I want to suggest that when it comes to nuclear power and its afterlives, we (in a deep sense) do not know what we are talking about.
what does it mean – culturally, philosophically – to produce isotopes that are invisible to our senses but lethal for thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of years? What does it say about our civilisation, the geologic layer we will leave behind, the Anthropocene? What is the lifespan of a human “fact” when read across the expanse of deep time?……..
When Koeberg opened in 1984, the whole population of Cape Town was given iodine tablets, since any of the winter northwesterlies would carry the radioactive “plume” right towards the city. Iodine reduces the absorption of radionuclides by the thyroid gland: the first line of defence in a nuclear emergency. Looking at the evacuation plan, the city’s chief health officer accused Eskom of “absolute naivety” and moved out of the metro in protest………
Writing against India’s nuclear ambitions in her stinging 1998 essay The End of Imagination, Arundhati Roy registers a similar sense of rhetorical exhaustion. There can be nothing more humiliating for a writer, she says, than to restate a case that has, over the years, already been made by other people across the world, “and made passionately, eloquently and knowledgeably”. But she is prepared for this humiliation, she says, because silence would be indefensible.
“So those of you who are willing: let’s pick our parts, put on these discarded costumes and speak our second-hand lines in this sad second-hand play. But let’s not forget that the stakes are huge. Our fatigue and our shame could mean the end of us.”…….
Nuclear energy does not ever exist in some neutral realm; it is always deeply enmeshed in political contexts, and (as SA’s own strange nuclear history shows) it is always linked intimately to state power………
, it is an energy path that requires, that mandates, that fits perfectly with centralised state control and secrecy – hence its ongoing appeal to autocracies. It is the opposite of decentralised, small-scale technologies for renewable energy. Following the events at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, most social democracies have turned away from nuclear. Russia, India, China and now SA are looking to major expansion in the sector, even as the rest of the world regards it as a dying, expensive industry – and one which has never solved the problem of the long-term toxicity it produces, or in its euphemism, its “legacy waste”.
The cleanness and bracing sea air of Koeberg are an illusion. Somewhere within that perimeter fence, the high-level waste of spent fuel rods is stored in cooling ponds. Low and medium level waste is driven up the N7 highway to be buried in an open pit at Vaalputs, in the dry landscape of Namaqualand.
But the most lethal waste – hundreds of tonnes of it – remains on the premises, too dangerous to move, or even to think about.
Outside the closed visitors centre, there were notices about the construction of a new “transient interim storage facility” within the grounds, using the dry casks in which the nuclear industry parks its most dangerous legacies.
The doubled-up adjective is telling: the strategy for this kind of waste is always temporary, transient, interim. It places an unasked-for burden not just on “future generations” (that bland and tired phrase), but even on future species of hominid that might evolve in the geographic space that is known (for now) by the bland name of South Africa………
The lethal time capsules being built deep underground are meant to reach as far into the future as human symbolic behaviour reaches back into the African past: 100,000 years.
To even begin to conceive of what the nuclear option means, you have to abandon opinion pieces, leave “rational” argument and enter the realms of speculative fiction. In 2116, 100 years from now, will the people required to take care of the waste of Koeberg (or Thyspunt, or Schulpfontein, or Duynefontein) understand what they are being asked to do, and why?
Will they have the technology to do it, and the money? Will they still be filing progress reports to a nuclear regulator? What language will be spoken here? Will those two grain silos still be there at the water’s edge, or will they be drowned by rising sea levels?
What about in 3016? Will “South Africa” still exist? Will there be any remnant of the national road system along which the dry casks will (supposedly) be transported to their final resting place at Vaalputs?
Will there be any trace of the companies that profited from the nuclear furnaces, after all the CEOs and the PAs and the PRs and the shareholders and their children’s children’s children, unto the 20th generation, are no more than ash on the wind?
Let’s go one further. What about 10,000 years from now?
Can any symbol or sign system speak across so many millennia of unstable above-ground conditions? And even if the hominids of 12016 AD do understand the warnings about a slow poison buried deep in the desert, will they heed them?
Could a question like this please be tabled among all the integrated resource plans and environmental impact assessments and risk assessments and costing exercises that go on for hundreds of pages but never get to the heart of the matter?
In those paper-thin arguments, language is used less to communicate than to disguise risk and evade the real questions posed by nuclear: questions of time, ethics, inter-generational responsibility. Questions about the kind of human experiment we want to be part of.
Would the honourable member care to explain caesium, strontium and plutonium to the ancestors?
Today, Friday 5 February at 08:30 CET, WikiLeaks releases a collection of documents that open up a corrupt multi-billion dollar war by Western and Chinese companies grab uranium and other mining rights in the Central African Republic (CAR) and escape paying for the environmental consequences. Among the hundreds of pages in this publication are detailed maps of mining rights, mining contracts with illegal kickbacks and secret investigative reports. The documents have been long sought by fraud investigators. In December 2015 a case was filed against Areva, alleging corruption related to the €1.8 billion purchase of three uranium mines in 2007.
The most powerful nuclear company in the world, AREVA, abandoned its Central African Republic exploitation without having launched any of the promised investments after an enormous political and financial scandal, amidst a social and environmental crisis, with skyrocketing radioactivity levels (up to 30 times the natural radioactivity in the zone) and literally transporting its former employees back to their homes like cattle. The following documents show the constant disdain of the company towards Central African Republic institutions and its population, and the neocolonial conditions of exploitation of its mines in Africa. ……. https://wikileaks.org/car-mining/#areva
Indian Point nuclear facility operator reports ‘alarming levels’ of radioactivity in plant’s groundwater; some wells increase 65,000% New York Daily News, BY DENIS SLATTERY NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, February 7, 2016,
Radioactive water overflowed into the groundwater at the upstate Indian Point nuclear power plant, officials said Saturday.
Gov. Cuomo said the plant’s operator, Entergy, reported “alarming levels” of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000%………
The site, roughly 35 miles north of New York City, has been under increased scrutiny from Cuomo and other officials following several incidents. In December, Cuomo ordered an investigation into Indian Point after a series of unplanned shutdowns, citing potential risks to both the city and surrounding suburbs.
Cuomo said the “latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable.”
According to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the leak occurred after a drain overflowed during a maintenance exercise while workers were transferring water containing high levels of radioactive contamination.
A sump pump that would normally filter the water into another treatment system was out of service, Sheehan said.
Other state officials also blasted the controversial nuclear facility’s most recent mishap.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern)said she was concerned not only for the surrounding community but also for the “impact this radioactive water may have on public health and our environment,” Jaffee added…….http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/radioactive-water-leaks-groundwater-indian-point-article-1.2522670
Nuclear ambiguities, THE HINDU, 7 Feb 16 India’s nuclear politics was in the limelight again last week, and not for the best of reasons. More than five years after it signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC), India ratified the insurance pooling agreement, which pertains to civil liability in the event of a nuclear accident in any of the acceding countries. Prima facie, this was a good move, bringing to an end a game of will-they-or-won’t-they, which had cast India in poor light internationally and which sat uncomfortably beside three hard-fought nuclear landmarks — the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement (CNA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver, both passed in 2008, and India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA), which became law in 2010.
U.S., 11 nations sign contested Trans-Pacific corporate takeover; Sanders vows to kill it if elected | 03 Feb 2016 | Representatives of a dozen nations met in New Zealand to sign the debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to bolster economies and investments between the United States and a number of Pacific Rim governments. The TPP agreement was signed by the parties on Thursday, New Zealand time, during a formal ceremony in Auckland.
Among the deal’s opponents is a man who could succeed Obama in the White House — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who pledgedWednesday to kill the TPP agreement if he gets elected. “As your president, not only will I make sure that the TPP does not get implemented, I will not send any trade deal to Congress that will make it easier for corporations to outsource American jobs overseas,” he said. [See also: University: Obama’s TPP ‘trade’ deal will whack 448,000 jobs, not save them as promised 28 Jan 2016.]
The Other Bomb: Pakistan’s Dangerous Nuclear Strategy, Huffington Post 02/07/2016
For the last seventy-five years, the international politics of the Indian subcontinent, and, to a lesser extent, the broader south and central Asian region that surrounds it, have revolved around the continuing Indian-Pakistani conflict. …….
The program got a significant boost when A.Q. Kahn, a metallurgist working in the Dutch subsidiary of the British-based Uranium Enrichment Company (URENCO Group) returned to Pakistan in 1975. Khan brought with him blueprints for various centrifuge designs and a broad array of business contacts. By buying individual components rather than complete gas centrifuges, he was able to evade existing export controls and acquire the necessary equipment.
Khan would go on to establish an illicit nuclear weapons technology procurement and consulting operation, the “Khan Network,” that would play a major role in the transmission of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, Libya and to a lesser extent, North Korea. The Pakistani government has denied that it had any knowledge of Khan’s illicit side business but under American pressure arrested A.Q. Khan, sentencing him to house arrest, and dismantled his network.
There continue to be reports, however, that rogue elements of that network continue to operate clandestinely……..
According to various intelligence sources, Pakistan currently has between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons under its control. It is believed, however, that Pakistan has produced and stockpiled around 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lbs) of weapons grade HEU and about 200 kilograms (440 lbs) of plutonium. Pakistan’s HEU based warheads utilize an implosion design that requires between 15 and 20 kg of HEU. The current stockpile is enough for an additional 150 to 200 weapons, depending on the warhead’s desired yield……….
Ultimately, in the long-term, the future direction of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons policy is going to be a function of the state of Indian-Pakistan relations on the subcontinent. In the short-term, however, Pakistan’s rapid growth of its nuclear arsenal and its deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons adds one more factor of instability to the regions international politics and further raises the risk that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of either rogue elements in Pakistan or international jihadist groups.
Morocco to switch on first phase of world’s largest solar plant Desert complex will provide electricity for more than 1 million people when complete, helping African country to supply most of its energy from renewables by 2030 Guardian, Arthur Neslen 5 Feb 16 Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed.
The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people.
Noor 1, the first section at the town of Ouarzazate, provides 160 megawatts (MW) of the ultimate 580MW capacity, helping Morocco to save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
“At around 2pm, the king will press a button, the parabolic mirrors will start turning, the heat will begin to turn the turbines and the plant will come to life,” said Maha el-Kadiri, a spokeswoman for Masen, Morocco’s renewable energy agency……..
After it is switched on, the plant will initially provide 650,000 local people with solar electricity from dawn until three hours after sunset.
“It is a very, very significant project in Africa,” said Mafalda Duarte, the manager of Climate Investment Funds (CIF), which provided $435m (£300m) of the $9bn project’s funding. “Morocco is showing real leadership and bringing the cost of the technology down in the process.”
The north African country plans to generate 42% of its energy from renewables by 2020, with one-third of that total coming from solar, wind and hydropower apiece.
Morocco hopes to use the next UN climate change conference, which it hosts in November, as the springboard for an even more ambitious plan to source 52% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
“Between now and [the next conference], many projects will have come to light and we will prove that we can match our energy demands with renewables,” the country’s energy minister, Abdelkader Amara, said at a meeting during the Paris climate summit in December……..
Such a move would have regional implications. CIF estimates that if international banks and governments deployed another 5GW of solar energy, electricity production costs could fall by 14%. Scaling that up to 15GW would cut costs by 44%…….http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/04/morocco-to-switch-on-first-phase-of-worlds-largest-solar-plant
No release in sight despite UN panel decision. Julian Assange: ‘sweet’ victory soured by British and Swedish rejection Founding WikiLeaks founder is being arbitrarily detained at Ecuador embassy, Guardian, Esther Addley,Owen Bowcott,David Crouch in Gothenberg, andJessica Elgot A UN panel may have found that Julian Assange is subject to “arbitrary detention” and called for him to be allowed to walk free, but the WikiLeaks founder remains exactly where he has been for the past 44 months – inside Ecuador’s London embassy and locked in a three-nation war of words.
Britain and Sweden immediately rejected the UN report, which declared that Assange had been “arbitrarily detained” since his arrest in 2010 and during his lengthy stay in the embassy, where he sought asylum in June 2012. The British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, described the findings as “ridiculous” and the Australian as a “fugitive from justice”.
However, the panel’s findings, leaked on Thursday and published in full on Friday morning, were a welcome victory for Assange, and a moment he intended to savour fully. At 4.01pm he emerged on to the balcony of the west Londonembassy to greet a crowd of several hundred supporters and journalists, pausing first, just briefly, to glance at the sky he has rarely seen for more than three years.
“How sweet it is,” said Assange, holding aloft a copy of the UN report while supporters shouted: “We love you, Julian!” It had been, he said, “a victory of historical importance”, and a decision reached after a process to which both Britain and Sweden had made submissions. “They lost. UK lost; Sweden lost.”
The Swedish government, however, has insisted the report changes nothing, and that it cannot interfere in an independent prosecutor’s ongoing attempt to extradite Assange for questioning over an allegation of rape dating from 2010, which he denies.
Meanwhile, for Ecuador – the Australian’s (mostly) willing host – the findings meant it was time for the two countries to allow Assange to walk free, and to compensate both him and them for the lengthy period he has been holed up in one of its few rooms……
After exhausting all his legal options in the UK and Sweden some time ago, there is no question that the report represents a boost for Assange’s legal team.
Reaching their conclusion by a three-to-one majority after a fifth member recused herself, the panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and offer him compensation.
Assange, they found, had been unable “to access the full-intended benefit” of the asylum status granted by Ecuador, and “the continuing and disproportionate denial to him of such access … had become cumulatively harsh and disproportionate”.
In particular, the panel offered an excoriating critique of Sweden’s prosecution process, which they said had been in a state of “indefinite procrastination”. With Quito and Stockholm still unable to agree on arrangements to allow Swedish prosecutors access to the London embassy, Assange has yet to be interviewed over the alleged offences. Britain said on Thursday it was “deeply frustrated” by the deadlock.
But for all Assange’s jubilation, he remains in the embassy, the extradition warrant still stands, and Britain and Sweden remain adamant that the report changes nothing.
Assange also remains fearful of a potential future extradition to the US, where a secret grand jury has been looking into whether to prosecute him over WikiLeak’s publishing activities……..
the former chair of the UN working group, Mads Andenas, defended its finding, saying: “There is no doubt that the normal course of action for the Swedish authorities would have been to interview Assange in London. The extradition request was disproportionate…….http://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/feb/05/julian-assange-sweet-victory-soured-by-british-and-swedish-rejection
Corruption and legal violations in the Central African Republic mining sector: international list of companies responsible
This list shows in a very efficient way which companies intervene in the mining sector in CAR and how most of them violate their obligations toward the state, having corrupted its officials through “bonuses”, paid most of the time in cash…..https://wikileaks.org/car-mining/#bonus
These documents show the schemes used by a fake international organisation supported by the UN and numerous states in order to corrupt local elites and steal the natural resources of impoverished states and their populations. https://wikileaks.org/car-mining/#wsa
Sakurajima Volcano erupts violently just a few miles away from nuclear power plant [good video and pictures] MIRROR UK, 5 FEB 2016 BY ELAINE LINES
Fountains of lava spewed out of the mountain but there were no reports of any immediate damage. A Japanese volcano about 30 miles from a nuclear plant violently erupted last week, shooting ash nearly 2 km into the night sky.
Fountains of lava spewed from the Sakurajima mountain, but there were no immediate report of damage and operations at the power station were not affected.
Following what they termed an “explosive eruption,” Japan’s Meteorological Agency raised the warning level on the peak to grade three, meaning people should not approach the mountain.
- Kazuhiro Ishihara, a professor at Kyoto University, told NHK national television: “It appears that stones have been thrown about 2 km from the crater, but this area is quite far from any communities.”
Television footage showed red streams of lava bursting from the side of the volcano, but Ishihara said he thought the impact of the eruption would not be that serious…….
- Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” – a seismically active horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean – and has more than 100 active volcanoes. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/sakurajima-volcano-erupts-violently-just-7315024
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