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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Life after Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters with Prof. T. Mousseau

arclightComparing fukushima and Chernobyl concerning raionuclide distribution and Isotopic variations on Land and effects on the environment. New studies by Timothy Mousseu and his team.Tim-and-tit-red-forest-IMG_6074s

Tim was interviewed and he gave us an overall look at the situation and compares the 2 nuclear disasters for us. Link to Timothy Mousseau cricket.biol.sc.edu/Mousseau/Mousseau.html

Link to podcast here;

Strontium and Plutonium isotopes

“Most of the those other isotopes in are very small quantities relative to the cesium that were released – that were very different to the Chernobyl situation where huge quantities of Strontium, about equal Cesium and Strontium were released along with several isotopes of of Plutonium, The Plutonium is in the process of decaying into Americium and (that) is more radioactive than Plutonium apparent”

Strontium in Fukushima Prefecture
In Japan the the Strontium was not volatised as did Cesium and Iodine and it did not travel far (on Land) but large quantities of Strontium are still being released by the ground water at the plant and and from the cooling water leaking into the ocean.

Contamination of the Nursery areas in the deep ocean and off the coast of Japan?
On the 4th February 2016 a Press conference was held in the Foriegn Correspondents Club in Japan calling for more research funding to be done concerning the Human health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and we find a similar problem faced by epidemiologists and researchers to the lack of interest and therefore funding in this area. During the interview with Timothy we touched on research funding issues in a variety of areas relevant to the nuclear disaster including the aquatic environment.
Timothy responded to a question put to him saying that only some studies have been done (to his knowledge) on the bottom feeding fish and that these fish had been found to high contamination but that very other few studies have been done. He went on to say;
“surveillance work to determine wether fish can be consumed rather than the biological impacts (and) ecological impacts of the fish themselves, this is one of the important questions and that is one of the interests we have as a group.”
He went on to say that the issues for thre authorities are that;

“Whether or not —“  The fish are below regulatory limits for export, that is the main – you know- economic driver of interest but the biological drive is almost nil as far as I can tell”

Terrestrial (land) contamination issues on wildllife, plant and micro–organisms

chernobyl-bird
Of the limited research happening in this area, Tims and his team is at the forefront in developing novel and creative ways to ascertain the effects from the nuclear disaster. Usng their experience gleaned from the radiological effected areas of Chernobyl (with the help of Anders Pape Møller, CNRS, University of Paris-Sud) and applying this invaluable eperience on the highly effected areas on the mountain sides and hills sorrounding the Fukushima city to the coastal areas including Namie and IItate areas of Fukushima and some less contaminated areas for comparison studies.
These studies have resulted in some 8 to 9 primary papers on birds and Insects. Also, new research on Rodents is about to be released and cameras have been set up in various locations studying large mamals such as pigs and monkeys.

Oze National Park in southern Fukushima Prefecture and Northern Chiba Prefecture (north of Tokyo)
On the search for clean areas for comparison studies, Tim said that he was disapointed. He looked at the huge and remote Oze national Park as a possible localtion (largly situated in the Chiba Prefecture but his radiation readings were more than 10 times normal at 0.5 mcSv/h (compared to the contaminated research area with 30 – 40 and 50 mcSv/h in the hills sorrounding Fukushima City.
we talked about the effects of sediment transfer from the mountains down through the lakes and forests of Oze Park. Tim then mentioned a Typhoon he witnessed that stripped large areas of soil into the rivers and was concerned of the effects in the extensive lake system in Oze Park and the result of contamination making its way to the river outflows on the coast and effects on the fisheries. Asked as to wether any studies were being done he said that in the last year (some 5 years after the nuclear accident) many geollogists from around the world were vying for funding to commence studies in “the next year or two” studying such issues but presently;

“I don`t know of any studies being done” he said

The issue of funding was mentioned here and that the Japanese government seemed only interested in funding studies for issues around food and health issues (link to issues around health studies being grossly limited here
(courtesy of FFCJ www.youtube.com/watch?v=e58yF8zZQ9w )
Only a handful of scientists can afford to do these studies he went on to say. And I mentioned that TEPCO owned the larger share of this PNational Park. (Some findings concerning the issues and info on Oze National Park here www.opednews.com/articles/Does-Tepco-ow… )

Discussing the pros and cons of the peer review process
He said that it is always a consttant battle

“.. and I suppose its a really positive aspect of the peer review process”

On the pitfalls of the process he mentioned that for some decades finding sufficiently knowledgeable and open minded reviewers to consider “creative studies” is difficult. He went onto say that he and dis colleagues have managed to submit and have accepted some 80 papers in the last ten years concerning Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Funding issues for research and analysis
Here we discussed Ken Buesslers citizen crowd funding campaign for testing water off the west coast USA.
Tim noted that his costs come to some hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and that Kens study was very limited due to the cost of transportation of samples and costs for sampling etc. Kens was limited by the lack of funding raised concerning this campaign and pointed out that the costs are not fully covered by the monies raised.
“its a limited effort and doesnt in any way provide the level of info to address the bigger question but, that said, he has done a fabulous job with what he has got to do it”
I hen asked Tim if such a scheme might be implimented in Japan, he said
“You dont want the middle schoolers collecting radioactive dirt do you?”
Also, getting permission to work in these contaminated areas is difficult and omly open to professional research activities.

The new Japanese Secrets Law brought in at the end of 2013
On this he said that (aside form legal issues) there is “alot of self censorship in Japan to do with this disaster”
But he said that locals in Fukshima Prefecture have been incredibly helpful giving food, finacial support and property for laboratory analysis.
“There is an incidious form of censorship going on that most people are not tuned intoit and thats the fact that if you dont fund science – the resouces for research – it doesnt get done and (by) consequesnce questions are not asked and certainly not answered”
Lack of funding is the biggest form of censorship with this disaster.
He went on to say that on funding issues;

“I haven`t had a much luck with som of the conventional (funding) sources”

Chernobyl, new mice study
Last week Tim said he produced a study showing hightened prevelance of cataracts in the eyes of mice.
and that this was corroborated with an earlier study on birds.

Finding clues and evidence on previous relevant biosphere studies to date
A meta analysis is being done on previous studies looking into plant, animals and bacteria are adpting or evolving, on some level or other. Looking at all the evidence (including the issue of high U.V. radiation found on earth millions of years ago). His conclusions seem to point to the facts that the evolutionary response was “actually negative” and this report should be out in about a month. His earlier study on birds with Black pigment showed that some resiliance in a small amount of bird species was due to them using antioxidents to protect from gentic damage but that some cost. This might limit the lower antioxident levels left in these birds might cause problems for them to find mates and deal with environmental changes (such as climate change)
“Organisms can use these antioxidents to the mutational load OR use it to advertise to a mate or defend itself against some other diseases but there is this ultimate trade off that limits the success in one way or another”
Thermal regulation might be another factor due to this imbalance he said.

Chernobyl Heart – Fukushima heart?
We discussed pin holes found in babies even today in the contaminated areas of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Tim said that it is recognised that there are well documented cardio vascular damage in the areas of contamination and that he would check out this problem in the near future using samples he has collected already. (A previous article I have looked at some statistics and posits on this www.opednews.com/articles/The-manipulat…)

Issues on the decontamination and Top soil removal
We also discussed the issues of the damage to the environment by removing the living soil around houses and roads to reduce the geiger readings (dose). Tim also said that only limited top soil is removed and

“.. a superficial attempt to provide this appearencce of reduced contamination but it is not a solution to the area”

He went onto point out that the leaves and branches that fall will eventually cover these areas that are cleaned and a radioactive build up will re occour over time. He is running similar test into the issue found in Chernobyl with micro organisms not survivng and causing forest debris to build up (and causing wildfires etc). He is not sure if the levels and isotopic types found in Fukushima are going to cause the same problem that was found in Chernobyl but that he would know when an experiment he is running is concluded in the next few months or so.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | environment, Japan, Reference | 1 Comment

Thyroid cancer increasing: can they continue to ignore the link with nuclear power?

Studies of Japanese survivors of the atomic bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki found the cancer with the greatest increase was thyroid cancer.

  • A U.S. government survey of cancer rates among residents of the Marshall Islands, who were exposed to U.S. bomb testing in the 1950s, found thyroid cancer outpaced all others.
  • A 1999 federal study estimated that exposure to I-131 from bomb testing in Nevada caused as many as 212,000 Americans to develop thyroid cancer.
  • A 2009 book on the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster found soaring levels of local thyroid cancer rates after the meltdown, especially among children, and workers called “liquidators,” who cleaned up the burning plant.
  • More recently, studies have documented thyroid cancer rates in children near Fukushima, Japan, site of the 2011 meltdown, to be 20 to 50 times above the expected rate.

thyroid-cancer-papillaryAN INVISIBLE EPIDEMIC http://linkis.com/washingtonspectator.org/cxhdO  Can an epidemic really sneak up on us like this?   By Janette Sherman and Joseph Mangano February 4, 2016 Is it possible for an epidemic to be invisible?

Since 1991 the annual number of newly documented cases of thyroid cancer in the United States has skyrocketed from 12,400 to 62,450. It’s now the seventh most common type of cancer.

Relatively little attention is paid to the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that wraps around the throat. Many don’t even know what the gland does. But this small organ (and the hormone it produces) is crucial to physical and mental development, especially early in life.

Cancer of the thyroid also gets little attention, perhaps because it is treatable, with long-term survival rates more than 90 percent. Still, the obvious question is what is causing this epidemic, and what can be done to address it?

Recently, there has been a debate in medical journals, with several authors claiming that the increase in thyroid cancer is the result of doctors doing a better job of detecting the disease at an earlier stage. A team of Italian researchers who published a paper last January split the difference, citing increased rates and better diagnosis. But as rates of all stages of thyroid cancer are soaring, better detection is probably a small factor.

So, what are the causes?

The Mayo Clinic describes a higher frequency of occurrence of thyroid cancer in women (not a telling clue, unless more is known about what predisposes women to the condition). It mentions inherited genetic syndromes that increase risk, although the true cause of these syndromes aren’t known. And Mayo links thyroid cancer to exposure to radiation. The latter is perhaps the only “cause” for which there is a public policy solution.

In the atomic age, radioactive iodine (chiefly Iodine-131) has proliferated, from atom bomb explosions and now from nuclear power reactors. Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference | Leave a comment

Costly, not available for decades, but Germany steps forward in nuclear fusion development

How Germany took big step toward nuclear fusion  German scientists working on the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device started a series of experiments that could eventually prove the superiority of the stellarator-type fusion devices. By Corey Fedde, Christian Science Monitor Staff FEBRUARY 3, 2016 

Nuclear fusion power has been the dream of many since the 1950s and on Wednesday German scientists took one step closer to making it possible.
fusion reactor Germany
German scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald, joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, injected hydrogen into the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device and heated the gas into plasma for a moment, according to the press release.

The device will not produce energy from the plasma, but the experiment is the first of many that could prove whether the design is capable of being used as a power plant. If so, it could answer one of the many questions surrounding nuclear fusion.

Two different designs for fusion power plants have shown promise: the tokamak, such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor being constructed in France, and the stellarator. The Wendelstein 7-X is the world’s largest stellarator.

Only the ITER project, a tokamak, is thought to be able to produce plasma that supplies energy, according to the press release. The experiments begun Wednesday could prove that stellarator designs could produce comparable heat- and plasma-confinement.

Scientists working on the Wendelstein 7-X will perform similar experiments, heating gas to plasma and holding it in stasis, over the next four years, slowly increasing the temperature and the time of the discharges, according to the press release.

Eventually, in about four years, the Wendelstein 7-X will test its full heating power (20 megawatts) and discharges lasting 30 minutes………

Nuclear fusion is seen as a safe, efficient form of nuclear power and has been proposed as an eventual replacement for oil and fossil fuels, according to the press release.

But critics have pointed to the mounting cost of a technology that is still under development and likely remain unavailable for decades. Investments for the Greifswald fusion device have surpassed €1 billion over the last 20 years, CBS News reported.

The ITER project recently announced in November that it would take six years longer to construct than previously thought and would require additional funding from the €5 billion estimate in 2006. Science reports current estimates place the ITER project needing €15 billion.  http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0203/How-Germany-took-big-step-toward-nuclear-fusion

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Germany, technology | 2 Comments

French waste group Veolia moving into nuclear clean-up business

flag-franceVeolia expands in nuclear waste clean-up with Kurion acquisition http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kurion-m-a-veolia-idUSKCN0VC0V4, 4 Feb 16 

French water and waste group Veolia (VIE.PA) said it bought U.S. nuclear waste clean-up company Kurion for $350 million as it chases a slice of a market seen worth $210 billion over the next 15 years.

Veolia said it expects the new business to contribute annual revenue of $350-400 million by 2020, including about $250 million from waste treatment and $100-150 from decommissioning nuclear installations.

money-in-nuclear--wastes

Kurion, which was one of few international firms involved in the early stages of the clean-up of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, currently has annual sales of about $100 million. Veolia generates about $20 million from cleaning up nuclear waste.

“Bringing Kurion and its employees into Veolia is going to enable us to develop a world-class integrated offer in nuclear facility clean-up and treatment of low-level radioactive waste around the world,” Veolia Chief Executive Antoine Frerot said.

Veolia plans to target the United States, Britain, France and Japan, which together amount to a market of $118 billion by 2030, and will focus on low-level radioactive waste, which represents 97 percent of the volume but just 0.1 percent of the radioactivity.

There are about 400 nuclear plants in operation worldwide, of which 100 to 150 will be decommissioned by 2030. Another 50 nuclear research centres will also have to be dismantled, Veolia said. Frerot said Veolia would focus on concentrating the waste to reduce its volume so that it can be stored safely, mostly in glass.

Kurion was founded in 2008 and and now employs over 200 people. Veolia had total revenue of 23.88 billion euros ($26.05 billion) in 2014.  (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by James Regan)

February 5, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, wastes | Leave a comment

President KENNEDY RESISTED ‘NUCLEAR CULTIST’ – Daniel Ellsberg

text-historyPENTAGON PAPERS WHISTLEBLOWER: KENNEDY RESISTED ‘NUCLEAR CULTIST’ JOINT CHIEFS, Shadow Proof,  Published in partnership with MintPress News., 4 Feb 16 

MINNEAPOLIS — MintPress News is proud to host “Lied to Death,” a 13-part audio conversation between famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and social justice activist Arn Menconi.

Menconi wrote that these interviews are a “mixture of historical, political science and Dan’s sixty-year scholarly analysis as a former nuclear planner for Rand Corporation.”

For more information on the interview and Ellsberg, see the introduction to this series.

Chapter 5: Vietnam War a ‘foreign-instigated war,’ ‘not a civil war’

In this chapter of “Lied to Death,” Daniel Ellsberg continues to explore President John F. Kennedy’s involvement with the Vietnam War and other military conflicts in Asia, including his resistance to the use of nuclear weapons and ground troops, a topic also discussed in Chapter 4.

The whistleblower revealed that most of the military leadership advising Kennedy were inherited from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In general, they strongly encouraged Kennedy to commit to the use of ground troops and sought opportunities to use nuclear weapons. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in particular, who Ellsberg calls “nuclear cultists,” believed that only the use of nuclear weapons would prevent a defeat similar to the one U.S. forces suffered in Korea.

Ellsberg says Kennedy resisted escalation of both the Vietnam War (which he argues could have expanded if Kennedy had committed ground troops earlier, per the Joint Chiefs’ guidance), and America’s covert war in Laos. However, Kennedy resisted the military due to its mishandling of the “Bay of Pigs invasion,” a failed 1961 mission to overthrow Fidel Castro.

According to Ellsberg, the military also repeatedly urged Kennedy to carry out a massive bombing campaign with the aim of cutting off Vietnamese rebels in South Vietnam from Communist weapons and supplies. Ultimately, Ellsberg argues, this would have been impossible: The guerilla forces occupying South Vietnam at the time depended largely on makeshift weapons, many of which had been stolen from U.S. soldiers or adapted from their unexploded munitions.

Ellsberg compares Kennedy’s resistance to committing ground troops to the current conflict with Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL). He says President Barack Obama is under considerable pressure from the military to commit more ground forces in Iraq and Syria. Similarly, Daesh forces often use makeshift weapons or munitions stolen from the U.S.

The whistleblower emphasizes that Kennedy felt forced to accede to some of the military’s demands because his leadership of the country was quite fragile. Although remembered today as a very popular president, Kennedy won by a tight margin, amid widespread electoral irregularities and possible fraud………

Ellsberg remains a sought-after expert on military and world affairs, and an outspoken supporter of whistleblowers from Edward Snowden to Chelsea Manning. In 2011, he told the Chelsea Manning Support Network that Manning was a “hero,” and added:

I wish I could say that our government has improved its treatment of whistleblowers in the 40 years since the Pentagon Papers. Instead we’re seeing an unprecedented campaign to crack down on public servants who reveal information that Congress and American citizens have a need to know. https://shadowproof.com/2016/02/02/pentagon-papers-whistleblower-kennedy-resisted-nuclear-cultist-joint-chiefs/

February 5, 2016 Posted by | history, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

France’s plan for 1,000 kilometers of road paved with solar panels

sunflag-franceFrance to pave 1,000 kilometers of road with solar panels http://inhabitat.com/france-to-pave-1000-kilometers-of-road-with-solar-panels/?newgallery=true by Lucy Wang In a major step forward for green energy, the French government has announced plans to installsolar photovoltaic panels on 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of road over the next five years. The goal is to supply renewable power to 5 million people—or about 8 percent of the French population. The solar roadways will use Wattway panels, a photovoltaic technology unveiled last October by the major French civil engineering firm Colas. According to Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, the “Positive Energy” project will be funded by raising taxes on fossil fuels, a decision Royal says is “natural” given the low prices of oil.

 
Although France isn’t the first country to pave roads with solar panels—the Netherlands installed the world’s first solar panel-paved bicycle path in 2014—their plans for 1,000 kilometers of solarized roads are the most ambitious. According to France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, four meters (13 feet) of solarized road is enough to power one household’s energy needs, not including heating, while one kilometer (3,281 feet) can supply enough electricity for 5,000 inhabitants.
The solarized roads will be covered with Wattway panels, a technology that took five years to develop and can be glued directly on top of existing pavement. The panels harvest solar energy using a thin film of polycrystalline silicon. The seven-millimeter-thick strips are rugged enough to withstand all types of traffic, including the weight of a 6-axle truck, and provide enough traction to prevent skids.According to Colas CEO Hervé Le Bouc, the Wattway panels have been successfully tested on a “cycle of one million vehicles, or 20 years of normal traffic a road, and the surface does not move.” The panels have also withstood the snowplow test, though the company recommends operating the machines with “a bit more care” than on conventional pavement.
The locations for deployments have yet to be revealed. The fossil fuel tax is expected to bring in between 200 to 300 million euros ($220 to 440 million) of funding for the project. While there remain many concerns on solar road concepts, including safety and cost effectiveness, the project remains an exciting step forward in exploring the potential of renewable energy. Tenders for the “Positive Energy” initiative have been issued and tests on the solar panels will begin this spring.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

$4.7 billion the present cost [and rising] of building Watts Bar nuclear reactor

hungry-nukes 1Cost of Watts Bar nuclear reactor rises to $4.7 billion http://newschannel9.com/news/local/cost-of-watts-bar-nuclear-reactor-rises-to-47-billion BY WTVC FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5TH 2016 Rhea County — America’s first new power plant to be built in the 21st century may end up costing $200 million more than what it was budgeted last year.

The Tennessee Valley Authority directors voted in January to add $200 million more to the budget to the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, raising the completion budget to $4.7 billion since work was revived on the Westinghouse pressurized rector in 2007.

Watts Bar spokesman Mike Skaggs says the cost rose in part because of delays in completion and extra flood controls and emergency equipment required to prevent an accident like what happened at Fukushima, Japan.

The price for the new TVA plant is still below the projected expense of reactors being built at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, which are projected to top $10 billion.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

New Mexico lawmakers consider hosting radioactive trash – nuclear spent fuel dump

text-wise-owlMeasure supports storing spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico, Local News Santa Fe,  Associated Press 4 Feb 16  New Mexico lawmakers are considering a pair of non-binding measures that would signal support for the development of a temporary storage facility to house spent nuclear fuel that has been piling up at reactors around the nation.

The Senate Conservation Committee approved one of the memorials on a 6-3 vote during Thursday’s meeting. The other is awaiting consideration by the full House.

 Neither holds any legal weight, but supporters said Thursday that an endorsement from the state Legislature would help in what is likely to be a competitive process as the federal government weighs proposals for what to do with thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel……..

environmentalists voiced concerns about New Mexico becoming the nation’s nuclear dumping ground.

“We don’t believe nuclear energy is a bright path into the future. We believe nuclear generation is a ticking time bomb,” said Dan Lorimier with the Sierra Club.

Southeast New Mexico is still rebounding from the closure of the government’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where a chemical reaction inside a drum of waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory resulted in a radiation release in February 2014. Despite contamination of parts of the underground repository, the U.S. Department of Energy is aiming to resume some operations by the end of 2016…….

Federal officials have said the future of nuclear energy in the U.S. depends on the ability to manage and dispose of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. The DOE has plans to begin considering locations for interim storage facilities as part of its plan to spur the use of nuclear power and develop the transportation and storage infrastructure needed to manage the waste.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Big, fat waste of lawmakers’ time: US Congress trying to block Iran nuclear accord

Groundhog Day for the Iran Deal Congress’ continued efforts to block the Iran nuclear accord undermine real progress in U.S.-Iran relations. US News, By  and  Feb. 3, 2016,  Yesterday, the House once again passed legislation to reject the Iran nuclear accord. Like the more than 60 votes to gut Obamacare, House votes to block the Iran accord from going forward have so far only resulted in one outcome: a big, fat waste of lawmakers’ time.

What makes such votes all the more myopic is that while some in Congress perform as if they are starring in a re-make of “Groundhog Day” set on Capitol Hill, the world has witnessed transformativebreakthroughs in U.S.-Iran relations over the past month.

The Iran accord is now fully implemented, with Iran dramatically shrinking its nuclear program. Iran defied all expectations on how quickly it would shrink-wrap its program. Tehran has already dismantled centrifuges, shipped out its stockpile of enriched uranium overseas and poured concrete in its Arak reactor, cutting off its ability to make plutonium for a bomb. For the first time in a decade, Iran doesn’t have enough fuel for a nuclear weapon. 53 national security leaders praised the agreement for subjecting Iran to “some of the most sweeping inspections and transparency obligations in history, many of which will remain in place for decades.”

And if that wasn’t enough good news to celebrate, five U.S. citizens who were jailed in Iranian prisons are now free, in a stunning display of what diplomacy can accomplish.

Yet despite these breakthroughs, Congress went ahead with an attempt to vote down the Iran accord. With the bill lacking enough votes to override the president’s promised veto or even guarantee Senate support, this is clearly nothing more than a poorly-executed partisan gimmick…….http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/articles/2016-02-03/congress-vote-to-block-the-iran-nuclear-deal-hurts-real-progress

February 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Georgia State panel to do detailed probe of costs of Nuclear Plant Vogtle

nuclear-costsState panel to review Plant Vogtle costs http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/business/2016-02-02/state-panel-review-plant-vogtle-costs  By Walter Jones ATLANTA, 4 Feb 16  — Electricity customers and the public will get a detailed look at what’s to blame for cost overruns in the construction of two nuclear reactors slated for power generation after a divided Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to begin its examination.The detailed probe of what Georgia Power has spent is expected to take 14 months to examine the delays that have added nearly $1 billion to the Plant Vogtle expansion.

February 5, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea’s President Park under pressure from nuclear weapons lobby

Pressure For South Korea To ‘Go Nuclear’ For Defense Against North’s Arsenal, Forbes, Donald Kirk , CONTRIBUTOR , 4 Feb 16 

North Korea’s success in conducting a fourth nuclear test has ignited calls for South Korea also to produce nuclear warheads as a “defensive” measure that could heighten the balance of terror that already threatens the Korean peninsula.

South Korean nuclear physicists and engineers have been tinkering with developing nuclear warheads since 1970 but have been frustrated by U.S. insistence that the South abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which the South signed under U.S. pressure in 1975.  The most they can do, under a deal reached with the U.S. last year, is to enrich uranium up to 20% — way above the 4% level for nuclear energy but far below the level for nuclear warheads……..

Calls for South Korea to develop a nuclear arsenal are heard in public, in the media and in political gatherings. The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest-selling newspaper, articulated the argument in an editorial reflecting the widespread view that China will do nothing to stop North Korea from exploding more warheads and firing more missiles – and that sanctions against the North will be weak and ineffective……..

At the same time, South Korea would have to abrogate the agreement signed by both Koreas in 1991 for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula – a deal that the North violated from the outset.

‘The U.S. has passed the buck for taming North Korea to China,’ said Chosun Ilbo. “China is doing nothing. Seoul now faces a real need for public discussion of the development of its own nuclear weapons.”

GlobalSecurity.org, a website that specializes in such issues, traced South Korea’s recurring interest in developing its own nukes back to the presidency of Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, Park Geun-hye……..

The current President Park has said her government will abide by the 1991 denuclearization agreement, but she faces rising demands at least for a review of longstanding policy……http://www.forbes.com/sites/donaldkirk/2016/02/04/pressure-mounts-in-south-korea-for-its-own-nukes-to-combat-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal/#3e42677c345f

February 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste repositary still needed: reprocessing is no answer to radioactive trash problem

EU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy  Post. February 2, 2016 by  “……….Limited prospects for recycling nuclear fuel

France is the only country in Europe that is still working towards a fully closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors and advanced reprocessing technology. Other countries use open cycles.

France will be the only country to operate reprocessing facilities after 2018 (when those in the UK are shut down). The partially closed cycle that technology currently permits “is not expected to give a major reduction of the final disposal solution footprint in comparison to an open cycle”.

The future of recycled nuclear fuel is limited by the lack of fast-breeder reactors, more safety requirements, a higher risk of proliferation, lower competitiveness, and the fact that it still requires a final waste depository……. http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

nuclear-chain-not-cycle

February 3, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, reprocessing | Leave a comment

European Commission faces the astronomic future costs of nuclear power

Without lifetime extensions, around 90% of the EU’s existing nuclear reactors would be shut down by 2030. But even with lifetime extensions, 90% of existing nuclear electricity production capacity will need to be replaced before 2050. This will cost €350-500 billion, estimates the Commission.

The Commission admits that the costs of new-build projects “are in the high range” of what analysts expected. Hinkley Point C tops the charts with €6.755 per KWe (vs. a €5.290 per KWe average for a “first of a kind” twin unit). There is a “historical trend of cost escalation”, the Commission concludes.

hungry-nukes 1


flag-EUEU paints challenging picture of Europe’s nuclear future, Energy Post. February 2, 2016 by 
 In a leaked draft document obtained by Energy Post, the European Commission outlines the investments in the EU nuclear industry that it believes are needed out to 2050. The document, originally announced for last year, but off the table again for February, paints a challenging picture for the European nuclear industry. €450-550 billion will have to be spent on new plants and lifetime extensions, costs of decommissioning and waste management are high, competitiveness is a challenge and nuclear’s share in the energy mix will decline from 27% today to 17-21%. Sonja van Renssen investigates.

The “Communication for a Nuclear Illustrative Programme” or PINC is a non-legislative document “periodically” produced by the European Commission, as required by the Euratom Treaty (article 40) that “provides an overview of investments in the EU for all the steps of the nuclear lifecycle”. The last PINC dates back to 2008 so the one currently under preparation will be the first since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. It “provides a basis to discuss the role of nuclear energy in achieving the EU energy objectives”………

Globally, nuclear-related investment needs are estimated at around €3 trillion out to 2050, with most of that money due to be spent in Asia. ……

Total investments in EU nuclear energy approaching three-quarters of a trillion Euros are needed from now to 2050, the Commission calculates….

Escalating costs of new-build

Without lifetime extensions, around 90% of the EU’s existing nuclear reactors would be shut down by 2030. But even with lifetime extensions, 90% of existing nuclear electricity production capacity will need to be replaced before 2050. This will cost €350-500 billion, estimates the Commission.

“Different financing models are being examined or used in several EU Member States,” the Commission notes, citing the UK’s Contract for Difference for Hinkley Point C and the Mankala model in Finland. It does not give an opinion on state aid for nuclear, however, although this is fully within its remit. Then the understatement of the year: “Some new first of a kind projects in the EU, have experienced delays and cost overruns.” The Finnish Olkiluoto and French Flamanville projects are both at over three times their original budgets and years behind schedule.

The Commission admits that the costs of new-build projects “are in the high range” of what analysts expected. Hinkley Point C tops the charts with €6.755 per KWe (vs. a €5.290 per KWe average for a “first of a kind” twin unit). There is a “historical trend of cost escalation”, the Commission concludes. ……

Squeezing out lifetime extensions

The average age of the nuclear fleet in Europe is 29 years. By 2030, most of the EU’s nuclear fleet would be operating beyond its original design life. The Commission expects lifetime extensions of 10-20 years to require investments of €45-50 billion by 2050. Note that more than 80% of this would be spent from now to 2030. The post-Fukushima safety upgrades increase the cost of these lifetime extensions by some 5-25%, the Commission estimates……http://www.energypost.eu/exclusive-eu-paints-challenging-picture-europes-nuclear-future/

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, Reference | Leave a comment

South Africa: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR – Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians

13a47-corruptionflag-S.Africa

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.

Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story
Part 1: In pursuit of satisfying his insatiable greed — Jacob Zuma will liberate us from our constitutional democracy, and destroy the chance of a ‘better life for all’ 
Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story RAND DAILY MAIL LILY GOSAM 02 FEBRUARY 2016

“……..PART 1: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR

I wish to make it clear from the outset that this piece is not about arguing the merits or demerits of nuclear energy. It is whether Zuma’s decision for nuclear energy is based on sound economic principles for the good of the country, or for some other purpose.

Zuma’s (rabid) pet project

On 9 of December 2015 (and hours before Nene was fired), Zuma’s cabinet approved the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme (nuclear programme). This paves the way for nuclear vendors to present proposals in March 2016 to build 6 to 8 nuclear reactors, at an estimated cost of between R800-billion and R1.6-trillion ($50-billion to $100 billion)[5] [6] [7.

The nuclear programme, however, glows with controversy. According to Peter Attard Montalto (an emerging market economist at Nomura), the nuclear programme is Zuma’s “pet project”, and is highly interwoven with politics and the succession issue[8]. His analysis is supported by a Mail and Guardian [M&G] source who said that the programme was regarded as one of Zuma’s “presidential legacy projects” [9]. Professor William Gumede, of Democracy Works, added that the programme is being implemented essentially from a purely patronage point of view[10]. While Andrew Feinstein, executive director of Corruption Watch UK (and former ANC MP), said simply, “I fear that the corruption in this deal might dwarf the arms deal” (News24)[11].

A nuclear procurement process in a constitutional democracy should be transparent, logical, considered, legal, participatory, and unbiased.

Yet Zuma has assumed personal control of the nuclear programme, and it has been characterised by: secret meetings; undisclosed documents and classified financial reports; deceit; aggressive campaigning; damage control exercises; illegality; use of apartheid (‘national key-point’) legislation[12]; sidestepping of Eskom’s technical and financial oversight; destruction of oversight organs of state; disregarding of industry experts; refusal of public consultation; ignoring of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and ANC resolutions; and the removal of any government opponents, the most notable of whom was Nene…………

Below exposes the reasons why Zuma is so hell bent on forcing the Russian 9 600 MW programme through, irrespective of: the evidence against it (from independent and government sources); the laws that stand in his way; the people that advise against it; and the grave concerns of his own party.

Radioactive plant-feed

Nuclear reactors require uranium to function, in particular low-enriched uranium (LEU). But first one must mine the uranium, and for South Africa’s 9 600MW nuclear programme, plus the existing Koeberg Nuclear Plant, the demand for uranium would steadily increase as the nuclear power plants come online. Luckily South Africa is said to have 6% of global identified resources of uranium (or 970 000 tons), the seventh highest share in the world [OECD-NEA, 2013][62].

With a 9 600MW nuclear deal, local uranium reactor demand would grow from the current 290 tons of Uranium (Ut) per year, to eventually 3300 Ut per year, once all the reactors are operational [OECD- Nuclear Energy Agency, 2014][63]. That’s a dramatic 11 times increase in local demand for uranium.

And as it just so happens, in 2010 the Guptas (a family well-known for their backing of Zuma), along with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, emerged as buyers of a South African uranium mine — the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium Project — amid claims that Zuma intervened to ease state funding for the project (according to amaBhungane – M&G’s investigative arm)[64].

[For summaries of the Guptas’ influence with Zuma and his family, read Verashni Pillay’s 2013 M&G article, or Franz Wild’s 2015 Bloomberg article. There are also excellent standalone articles on the Guptas dealings with the state, such as the Sunday Times piece by Sabelo Skiti on how Eskom allegedly went to extraordinary lengths to make sure the Gupta family landed a R4-billion coal deal, or M&G’s amaBhungane articles on a former Gupta associate allegedly involved in R835-million Transnet kickbacks]

All mine

Uranium One Incorporated (Uranium One) — a public company in Canada — owned a number of uranium mines around the world, including a uranium and gold mine in the North West province, South Africa[65] [66]. The local mine was called the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project, which proved to be a disappointment to the company and so it was mothballed in late 2008.

Uranium One’s global uranium holdings attracted the attention of Rosatom, which from 2009 onwards began buying up the company’s shares through one of its many wholly-owned subsidiaries. (Rosatom would eventually indirectly secure 51% ownership of Uranium One in 2010, and 100% in 2013, after which it was delisted[67])[68].

As Rosatom (through its subsidiary) was buying into Uranium One, the company sold the South African Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project. Reporters picked up on Uranium One’s “low-key announcement” in April 2010 of the sale of the mine to an undisclosed party[69] [70]. The mine was sold for $37.3-million, at a loss to the company of $242-million (based on the company’s interim financial statements)[71]. Thus the mine was sold for about 14% of its reported value.

One month later, in May 2010, the media got wind that the mine — which would come to be known as Shiva Uranium — was bought by Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited (a Gupta-controlled company) together with minority shareholders, which consist of companies within companies (like a Russian nesting doll), including indirectly the ANC’s MK war veterans and its women’s group[72], and the black economic empowerment group Mabengela Investments (Mabengela).

Mabengela is headed by Zuma’s son Duduzane and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of three Gupta brothers). 45% of Mabengela is owned by Duduzane Zuma; 25% by Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of the three Gupta brothers); 20% by an array of Gupta employees, former business partners and friends; and the last 10% is owned by an obscure offshore company, with its sole owner a Dubai resident with discernible traces in South Africa[73] [M&G]. The M&G wrote that Mabengela appears to be the vehicle for the Zuma family’s empowerment by the Gupta family[74].

(The North West province — where the mine is situated — is governed by Supra Mahumapelo, the province’s premier, and he is said to be a member of the so-called “premier league”, which consists of premiers loyal to Zuma. The other premier-league provinces are the Free State and Mpumalanga[75]. For the 2014/15 period, the auditor-general found the number of “clean audits” — that is, financial statements that present a fair and accurate picture and comply with accepted accounting principles — for the departments and public entities in Mpumalanga and the North West came to 24% and 4% respectively, while 32% of the Free State’s audits were deemed clean[76] [77]. This excludes financial statements by departments not submitted on time, or at all[78].

amaBhungane and the Sunday Times uncovered that the Guptas had expected the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to facilitate funding for the Uranium mine purchase. (The state-owned PIC is the country’s largest institutional investor, with more than R750-billion — as at 2010 – in civil servants’ pensions under its management[79]).

……….At the time of the purchase of the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium mine, journalist Brendan Ryan [Fin24] pondered, “Who in their right mind would buy one of the most notorious dogs in the entire South African mining sector — the failed Dominion Uranium mine — and do it at a time when uranium prices are still depressed? That’s the $64 000 question following news that the Gupta family — the ultimate controlling shareholder in Shiva Uranium — has bought Dominion for $37.3-million. It’s either the steal of the century — given that developers Uranium One wrote off an investment of $1.8-billion when they shut Dominion down in October 2008 — or it’s a classic case of throwing good money after bad.”[93]

Unbeknownst to Ryan, at the time, was that Zuma and his benefactors had set the course for a large-scale nuclear programme.

Atomic timeline: 2000 to 2010

In the early 2000’s, Zuma — then South African deputy president — met the Guptas for the first time, as a guest at a business function held by a Gupta company, Sahara Computers[94].

In 2005, during the power struggle between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki for the presidency, the Guptas were said to have sided with Zuma, even after he had been fired as deputy president. The Guptas had tried to court Mbeki, but did not get far. (The Guptas claim that they were friends with Mbeki as much as they are friends with Zuma). The Guptas don’t mind telling whoever cares to listen that they were there for Zuma when his days were dark [Business Day][95].

Early in 2007, Eskom approved a plan to expand South Africa’s overall electricity capacity by the year 2025. The plan included the construction of 20 000 MW of new nuclear capacity, consisting of up to 12 nuclear reactors. France’s Areva and the United States’ Westinghouse were contenders[96].

In December 2007, Zuma was elected as ANC president[97].

Six month’s later, in June 2008, Duduzile and Duduzane, Zuma’s daughter and son joined the board of the Gupta-controlled company, Sahara Computers[98] [99]. (Duduzile resigned from the position in 2010[100]. Duduzane and Gupta family members are directors of at least 11 of the same companies, as at December 2015 [Timeslive][101].)

In September 2008, Mbeki resigned as South African president.

In December 2008, Eskom abandoned the 20 000MW nuclear plan for being unaffordable in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the renewed appreciation for coal production[102] [103] [104][Professor J. van Wyk of Political Sciences]

Zuma was inaugurated as South African president in May 2009. In November 2009, the Guptas’ formed a new company, which would come to be known as Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited[105](Oakbay).

One month later, in December 2009, Zuma declared at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that South Africa was going to reduce its carbon emissions by 34% by 2020[106]. His announcement took both local and international commentators by surprise, but it revealed Zuma’s nuclear ambitions.

Four months after that, in April 2010, the Guptas, Duduzane Zuma, and other investors bought the mine — soon to be called Shiva Uranium — with Zuma allegedly ensuring state assistance. The Guptas and Duduzane then jumped into action, refurbishing the uranium and gold plant “very aggressively”[107] to make the plant operational for production. They also possessed due diligence studies and a comprehensive bankable feasibility study (a document required to raise capital)[108] [109]……..

In August 2010, Zuma met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, during his first official visit to Russia. Zuma was accompanied by 11 cabinet ministers and more than 100 South African business people[112].

During the trip, Zuma concluded a deal with Medvedev for Rosatom to supply 40% of Koeberg’s enriched uranium needs until 2017 to 2018[113] [114]. The Head of Rosatom told reporters that the company hoped to eventually control 45% of the low-enriched uranium (LEU) market in South Africa[115].”Our share of the market in South Africa will rise,” he said…………….

Gupta and Gupta-linked companies involved in mining – including Shiva Uranium – have several times run into trouble with regulatory requirements, as well as those on environmental compliance[226] [227][TimesLive]. Due to changes in environmental and mining legislation, Zwane is in charge of enforcing those regulations[228] [229]………..

South Africa has become one of the leading destinations for renewable energy investment, so said a 2015 research report by the Energy Research Centre UCT. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Project (REIPPP) is a joint private-public initiative for renewable energy generation, mainly from wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power. Since its inception, the REIPPP has been hailed an unprecedented success. The programme is unique in that for projects to qualify, developers must contribute to the reduction of socio-economic inequity, through community ownership and economic development benefits[237].

As of October 2015, 92 projects had been selected as part of the REIPPP, mobilising private investment of R193-billion, and with a combined capacity of 6 327MW. In addition, 37 out of the 92 projects had been completed by then and they contributed 1 827MW of power to the national electricity grid (this is equivalent to one Koeberg nuclear power station), while also providing social upliftment[238] [239] [240][241]. In June 2015, the energy department issued a determination to procure a further 6 300 MW for the project[242]. The national treasury expected the REIPPP to eventually contribute 17 000 MW of electricity capacity to the grid by 2022[243].

Yet, in October 2015, just when bidding by renewable power producers was set to start for the additional capacity[244], Brian Molefe — now CEO of Eskom — halted the process, with the non-issuance of budget quotes for the programme. He said it was a temporary measure taken to protect the financial sustainability of Eskom. Effectively, he was saying Eskom could not afford to support new REIPPP connections as well as energy purchases. He added that, “very soon a lasting solution will be found to address this matter” [Fin24][245] [246] [247]. (As of writing, no reports on Eskom’s future commitment to the REIPPP could be located.)

On Wednesday, 9 of December 2015, Zuma held a cabinet meeting to discuss key government programmes and decisions. Amongst them was the nuclear procurement programme for 9 600 MW, which was then approved by cabinet (but excluded the then Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Gordhan, who was off sick) [Carol Paton of Business Day uncovered cabinet’s decision][248].

Just hours after the meeting, and to the cabinet’s great consternation and surprise (according to Jeff Radebe, who is a cabinet member, an ANC NEC member, and minister of the presidency)[249], they heard along with the rest of the public that Zuma had fired Nene, and replaced him with a parliamentary backbencher, David van Rooyen. The move was met with shock and disbelief in all sectors at home and abroad[250].

Two days later, on Friday, 11 of December 2015, the post-cabinet media briefing by Radebe and accompanying press statement made no mention of the fact that the 9 600MW nuclear deal had been approved[251] [252] [253]. It was only on Monday, 14 December 2015, after Gordhan had taken the helm of treasury that cabinet’s decision was publically confirmed by him.

Uranium enrichment

“Global uranium demand is predominantly driven by its use in nuclear power generation plants,”[254]declared Oakbay, the majority shareholder in Shiva Uranium. But uranium cannot be used as fuel to run nuclear reactors until it has been converted into low enriched uranium (LEU)[255] [256].

The World Nuclear Organisation states that Eskom procures its conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication services from world markets, and that nearly half of its enrichment is from Russia. However, historically, South Africa has sought self-sufficiency in its fuel cycle[257].

In the 1970s the Apartheid government established a uranium enrichment company, which later, in 1999, was restructured to become Necsa (currently under the management of Zuma’s “lynchpins” Seekoe and CEO Tshelane). But actual enrichment operations ceased in 1995, and the only two conversion plants were both demolished. Much of the high-enriched uranium (HEU) is still stored away. (Some say there’s a 250kg cache[258]).

With the prospect of 9 600MW of nuclear power, local enrichment operations are again a priority. ………

Uranium is not the only commodity with dubious links to the nuclear programme.

In July 2013, John Helmer (a provocative American journalist who focuses on the Russian business sector) flagged a strange deal with a company Nemascore which had links to Zuma’s associates ……….

Stacked deck 

Overall, the tendering process for the 9 600MW nuclear build programme will include 80%  South African sourced construction companies, engineers, waste management system suppliers, security systems providers, cabling, cement, steel, finance, transport, IT firms, mining, and more[286] [287].
Which on the face of it sounds wonderful, but not when one considers it is for a nuclear programme that has already been declared by government and independent studies to be unnecessary and unaffordable, will ultimately result in 10 to 50 times higher electricity costs than we are paying now, and already exhibits alarming signs of fixed tendering through devious means[288]……..

Zuma is the bomb

Besides LEU, enrichment plants can also produce high enriched uranium (HEU), which is used in nuclear weaponry.

In March 2012, at a Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Zuma stated on the subject of HEU, “…South Africa has adopted a policy on the benefication of our mineral resources, including uranium.”[293] What Zuma meant by “benefication” was that SA has a policy of enriching Uranium and does not want to limit its options by foreswearing the production or use of HEU [IOL]. Officials further explained that Zuma was not only keeping SA’s options open for producing HEU in the future, but also defended its decision to hold on to its existing stock of HEU from the nuclear weapons programme of the Apartheid government [IOL]………..

Conclusion

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.  http://www.rdm.co.za/politics/2016/02/02/zuma-the-guptas-and-the-russians–the-inside-story

February 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant project director quits

rat leaving sinking shipEDF project director for UK Hinkley Point nuclear plant quits, 7 News, Reuters February 3, 2016 LONDON – An executive of French utility EDF in charge of Britain’s first new nuclear power station project for 20 years is leaving to join U.S. energy company Entergy Corp , the U.S. firm said on Tuesday.

As an executive director at EDF’s British unit, EDF Energy, Christopher Bakken had been project director since 2011 for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in southwestern England.

He was responsible for the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the planned new nuclear plant………

Intractable problems at two similar nuclear plants under construction in France and Finland threaten more delays to EDF’s British plans.  https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30718466/edf-project-director-for-uk-hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-quits/

 

February 3, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, employment, France, UK | Leave a comment

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