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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

All States must sign, ratify Nuclear Test Ban – call from United Nations

flag-UN-largeUN urges all States to sign, ratify Nuclear Test Ban as ‘critical step on road to nuclear-free world’ http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51744#.VeDS4SWqpHw 28 August 2015 – For the fifth International Day against Nuclear Tests, United NationsSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by nuclear-armed states but stressed that these cannot substitute for a legally-binding treaty.

“The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is essential for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban said in a message. “It is a legally-binding, verifiable means by which to constrain the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear weapons.”

The UN General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Testsin December 2009, adopting a unanimous resolution that calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Reminding the world that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the nuclear age, the UN chief said 70 years ago in 1945, “the Trinity Test unleashed the power of more than 20,000 tons of TNT and precipitated over 2,000 additional nuclear tests.”

“Pristine environments and populated communities in Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific were hit,” he said. “Many have never recovered from the resulting environmental, health and economic damage. Poisoned groundwater, cancer, leukaemia, radioactive fallout – these are among the poisonous legacies of nuclear testing.”

“The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future,” he said, noting that two decades after the CTBT was negotiated, “the time has long past for its entry-into-force.” “I welcome the voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by nuclear-armed States,” Mr. Ban said “At the same time, I stress that these cannot substitute for a legally-binding Treaty.”

“On this International Day, I repeat my longstanding call on all remaining States to sign and ratify the Treaty – especially the eight necessary for its entry-into-force – as a critical step on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he said.

The General Assembly resolution that established the world day was initiated by Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.

In his remarks, Assembly President Sam Kutesa said the recently held 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) had highlighted the stark reality of the increasing divisions between the States parties over the future of nuclear disarmament.

“It is now time to bridge the gap and work with more resolute political will to ensure that the NPT continues to remain the cornerstone of global security,” he declared.

Mr. Kutesa applauded the efforts of the Government of Kazakhstan, not only for initiating the International Day, but also for its continuing leadership in efforts to end nuclear weapons testing and to promote a world free of nuclear weapons.

He also commend the recent announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear programme, reached in Vienna between the international negotiators and Iran as an important step forward on this critical issue.

“I hope this agreement will benefit the non-proliferation regime and will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East and beyond,” he said.

He also announced that on 10 September, he plans to convene an informal meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day under the overall theme ‘Towards Zero: Resolving the Contradictions.’

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation standards: comparison of Hormesis theory versus Linear No Threshold theory

highly-recommendedUS Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation. Dr Ian Fairlie Consultant on Radioactivity in the Environment LONDON United Kingdom www.ianfairlie.org, 28 Aug 15, Dr Ian Fairlie Consultant on Radioactivity in the Environment LONDON United Kingdom www.ianfairlie.org “………..Comments on Hormesis It is true that some cell and animal experiments indicate that if small amounts of radiation were administered before later larger amounts, the damage done is less than if no previous small amount were given. (The word “tickle” is used in radiobiology lingo to denote such small amounts.)

On the other hand, other cell and animal studies using different doses, durations and endpoints fail to show this effect, and there is no human evidence, ie from epidemiology. But it is true that some evidence from chemistry indicates the same effect, and there is some theoretical support for an adaptive effect in animals and plants.

Hormesis advocates typically argue that although radiation attacks DNA and causes mutations, DNA repair mechanisms quickly correct these. These mechanisms are certainly numerous and busy – it is estimated over 15,000 repairs per hour are carried out in each cell – but from the sheer number of repairs, many misrepairs occur and it is the misrepairs that cause the damage.

HormesisBut even if the existence of hormesis were accepted, the question remains – what relevance would it have for radiation protection? The answer- as stated repeatedly in official reports by UNSCEAR and BEIR etc – is zero.

For example, do we give “tickle” doses to people about to undergo radiation therapy, or to nuclear workers? Of course, we don’t. And what about background radiation? All of us receive small “tickle” doses of radiation – about 3 mSv per year of which about 1 mSv is from external gamma radiation.

Do these somehow protect us from subsequent radiation? How would we notice? And if it did, so what? That is, what relevance would it have for radiation protection, eg setting radiation standards? The answer is again ….none.

Indeed, as we show below, increasing evidence exists that even background radiation itself is harmful.

Comments on LNT On the other hand, the scientific evidence for the LNT is plentiful, powerful and persuasive. It comes from epidemiological studies, radiobiological evidence, and official reports. Let’s examine these in turn. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Catholic hopes for Pope Francis to take nuclear disarmament message to USA Congress

Pope & St FrancisGroup hopes Francis will take issue of eliminating nuclear weapons to Congress, National Catholic Reporter, Thomas C. Fox  |  Aug. 28, 2015  Ira Helfand hopes Pope Francis will call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons when he addresses Congress in September and Helfand has reason for cautious optimism.

The Springfield, Mass., physician is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. It was awarded a Nobel Peace prize in 1985 “for spreading authoritative information and raising awareness of the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war.”

Helfand has worked for years to raise consciousness regarding the devastating humanitarian impact of nuclear war. In this context, he and John Pastore, a Boston cardiologist, sat down with Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley in June to share details of recent studies that show even a limited nuclear exchange would lead to the starvation of some 2 billion people. By far, the greatest impact of such a nuclear exchange would be on the poorest people of the planet. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Police asks prosecutors to charge former head of Brazil’s nuclear power on corruption

corruptionPolice ask that charges be filed against former head of Brazil’s nuclear power company http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2015/08/28/police-ask-that-charges-be-filed-against-former-head-brazil-nuclear-power/ SAO PAULO –  Police say they have asked prosecutors to file charges against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

A federal police spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name said late Thursday that the department wants prosecutors to charge Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva with money laundering and corruption for allegedly taking as much as $10 million in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Da Silva was taken into custody in late July and one week later stepped down as Eletronuclear’s chief executive officer.

The spokesman said the department also wants charges filed against Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter Ana Cristina Toniolo for their suspected roles in the scheme. Da Silva, his daughter and Barra have denied any wrongdoing.

During Brazil’s military regime from 1964-1985, the retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer headed Brazil’s secret program to master the technology needed to transform uranium into fuel to generate electric power in nuclear plants. Da Silva also oversaw the ongoing project to build a nuclear powered submarine.

The request for charges to be filed come as police and prosecutors try to determine whether a kickback scheme engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras extends to other state firms, including electric utilities company Eletrobras, of which Eletronuclear is a subsidiary.

Prosecutors have said the scheme involved roughly $2 billion in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was allegedly funneled back to the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies’ campaign coffers. It also allegedly included the payment of bribes to Petrobras executives in return for inflated contracts.

For Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning, the Eletronuclear case shows that Petrobras-like corruption and kickback schemes are “probably present in other state-run companies.”

“Schemes like these have long been part of our culture and I think other similar schemes start emerging all over the place”, Barros said  “My big fear is that the armed forces may start feeling uneasy,” he added, without elaborating.

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

UK under pressure to buy nuclear reactors – from GE/Hitachi, Westinghouse/Toshiba and Areva/Mitsubishi

Abe,-Shinzo-nuke-1Hitachi has made no secret of its motive for trying to export reactor technology saying it needed a fresh outlet for reactors after Tokyo shut down Japan’s nuclear plants

failure to agree a final deal between EDF Energy and the Government on Hinkley “threatens not only the first new nuclear power station for a generation, but potentially all those that will come in its wake,”

ABWRs – one of the least reliable reactors in the world nuClear news No.77, September 2015

Introduction – Anglesey: a victim of Abenomics?  Exporting nuclear technology is a key element of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic strategy – “Abenomics”. Nuclear exports are seen as a way to rev up Japan’s long struggling economy, and tackle the persistent trade deficit made worse by the
need to import energy – especially Liquid Natural Gas – to replace reactors shutdown after Fukushima.

Japan’s top three nuclear engineering companies — Hitachi, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba — which had a combined profit in their energy and infrastructure businesses of about 242 billion yen ($3.14 billion) in the fiscal year 2010/11, were keener than ever to look overseas for business after Fukushima put the domestic nuclear industry on hold. Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | marketing, UK | Leave a comment

Disposal of plutonium; burial is cheaper than MOX processing

MOXFlag-USAflag-UKnuClear news No.77, September 20156. Plutonium Conundrum A US Energy Department-commissioned study, which has been leaked to the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that it would be cheaper and far less risky to dispose of 34 metric tons of U.S. surplus plutonium at a federal nuclear waste repository in New Mexico than convert it into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear power plants at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina.

The unreleased report describes in detail the delays and massive cost overruns at the half-built MOX facility, located at the federal Savannah River Site. High staff turnover, the need to replace improperly installed equipment, and an antagonistic relationship between the local federal project director and the contractor are only some of the factors undermining the project. The new report also notes that there are “no obvious silver bullets” to reduce the life-cycle cost of the MOX approach.

According to UCS, a better alternative to turning the surplus plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel would be to “downblend” it, a method the Energy Department has already used to dispose of several metric tons of plutonium. It involves diluting the plutonium with an inert, nonradioactive material and then sending it to the nuclear waste site in New Mexico, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), for burial. The new report’s analysis supports that assessment. …….

The US report is bound to have a negative impact of the UK Government’s preferred management option for its plutonium stockpile which is to convert it into Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel. (See ‘Slow Progress on Plutonium Stockpiles’ Nuclear News No.76).
Don Hancock of the Albuquerque-based Southwest Information and Research Center, which closely monitors WIPP, also opposes the MOX project. But he’s sceptical about WIPP as a viable alternative and said the Energy Department should review other options, including storing the plutonium at the Savannah River Site or the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, where thousands of plutonium pits are already warehoused. He said: “The [DoE and] the Union of Concerned Scientists may be confident that WIPP will reopen in a few years, but I don’t see any real basis for that,” Hancock said. “Going from one bad idea to another bad idea is not the solution to this problem.” (3) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo77.pdf

August 29, 2015 Posted by | - plutonium, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Virginia Uranium suing South Carolina over moratorium in uranium mining

Virginia company sues state over uranium, Yahoo 7 FinanceAAP – Fri, Aug 7, 2015 11:01 AM AEST A mining company that wants to tap one of the world’s largest uranium deposits is suing Virginia to end a decades-long state moratorium on mining the radioactive ore.

Virginia Uranium Inc, which puts a market value of $US6 billion ($A8.16 billion) on the deposit, filed the lawsuit in US District Court to have the 1982 ban lifted so it can begin mining the 119 million-pound (53.98 million kg) deposit near the North Carolina line.

The Chatham company argues that the state meddled in a matter that should be decided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Virginia officials, the lawsuit contends, came to the wrong conclusion when it said uranium posed unacceptable health and safety risks.

“But more importantly, it had no business asking that question to begin with,” the lawsuit said. “For the radiological safety concerns that are at the heart of Virginia’s ban are squarely within the field of exclusive federal regulatory concern.”

Virginia Uranium’s quest to mine the so-called Coles Hill deposit in Pittsylvania County was the most heated environmental issue in the state for years until December 2013, when incoming Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe made it clear he wanted the ban kept in place.

The company’s decision to abandon its efforts to lift the moratorium also followed an unsuccessful legislative bid to achieve that end.

A spokeswoman for McAuliffe said he would have no comment. The lawsuit also names state mining and environmental officials.

Virginia Uranium invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, lobbying and to fly delegations of Virginia lawmakers to France and Canada to tour uranium mining and processing facilities.

But it couldn’t overcome opponents who said mining and the storage of radioactive waste – called tailings – would threaten nearby rivers and streams that feed public water supplies.

Full-scale uranium mining has never been conducted on the US’ East Coast and opponents said Virginia would be a poor place to start. They cited the state’s wet climate and the fierce weather that often rakes the state. Most uranium mining is done in dry parts of the globe.

The mining would also include a milling operation to separate the radioactive ore from the rock.

Critics said that posed one of the biggest threats to the environment because of radioactive waste that would have to be stored for generations……..https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/virginia-company-sues-state-over-010106436.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Legal | Leave a comment

Dr Ian Fairlie on US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation on radiation standards

highly-recommendedUS Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC): Consultation. Dr Ian Fairlie Consultant on Radioactivity in the Environment LONDON United Kingdom www.ianfairlie.org, 28 Aug 15, 

Fairlea, Ian

Introduction On June 26 2015, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) stated it was seeking public comments by September 8, on petitions stating that the Linear No Threshold theory of radiation’s effects was not a valid basis for setting radiation standards and that the hormesis model should be used instead.

In more detail, the NRC has received three petitions for rulemaking requesting that the NRC amend its “Standards for Protection Against Radiation” regulations and change the basis of those regulations from the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) model of radiation protection to the hormesis model. (See the Appendix for details of the petitions.) The LNT model assumes that biological damage from radiation is linearly related to exposure and is always harmful, ie without a threshold.

The hormesis model assumes that exposures to low radiation levels is beneficial and protects the human body against deleterious effects of high levels of radiation. The NRC has stated it is examining these petitions to determine whether they should be considered in rulemaking and is requesting public comments.

US environmental groups are concerned that, if the NRC agreed with the petitions, it would introduce rules to weaken radiation protection standards at US nuclear facilities. On the other hand, according to two NRC staffers (Brock and Sherbini, 2012), the NRC apparently pays attention to the evidence on risks of low levels of radiation………

No evidence below 100 mSv? It is necessary at this point to directly address the argument often raised by hormesis advocates – that there is little evidence of effects below 100 mSv.

This is incorrect.Older evidence exists -see http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/a-100-msv-threshold-forradiation-effects/for a list of studies and the newer evidence, as we have just seen, clearly shows this fact as well. B. Radiobiological Evidence Current radiobiological theory is consistent with a linear dose-response relationship down to low doses (ie below ~10 mSv). The radiobiological rationale for linearity comes from the stochastic nature of energy deposition of ionising radiation. It was explained by 15 of the world’s most eminent radiation biologists and epidemiologists in a famous article (Brenner et al, 2003) as follows: “1. Direct epidemiological evidence demonstrates that an organ dose of 10 mGy of diagnostic x-rays is associated with an increase in cancer risk………..

The Importance of LNT in Radiation Protection Regardless of dissenting views on LNT, the reality is that most concepts used in radiation protection today are fundamentally based on the LNT theory. For example, LNT underpins the concepts of absorbed dose, effective dose, committed dose, and the use of dose coefficients (ie Sv per Bq of a radionuclide). It also allows radiation doses (i) to be averaged within an organ or tissue, (ii) to be added from different organs, and (iii) to be added over time.

LNT also permits annual dose limits; optimization -ie comparison of practices; radiation risk assessment at low and very low doses; individual dosimetry with passive detectors; collective dose, and dose registers over long periods of time. 9 In fact, the LNT underpins all legal regulations in radiation protection in the US and in the rest of the world.

Indeed, if the LNT were not used, it’s hard to imagine our current radiation protection systems existing at all. However this statement should not be misconstrued to mean that the LNT is used just because it’s convenient: the LNT is used because the scientific evidence for it is comprehensive, cogent and compelling……..

 

Conclusions

(i) the debate The validity or otherwise of LNT and hormesis have been the subject of hundreds of scientific articles and debates over several decades. Unfortunately, much of the literature on hormesis or adaptive response is based on faulty science or on misconceptions, or on misinterpretations, or on all three.

HormesisThis is particularly the case with several US and UK journalists who write with confidence on how radiation risks are exaggerated. Their knowledge and experience of radiogenic risks are limited to say the least, but these journalists, almost on a weekly basis, misinform and mislead the public about radiation risks, so the existence of the US petitions is perhaps unsurprising.

However real scientists are increasingly standing up and opposing the poor science used by hormesis advocates. Very recently, four Swiss scientists from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern; the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel and the University of Basel published a study which revealed that exposure to high rates of background radiation resulted in increased cancer risks to children (Spycher et al, 2015). http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1408548/

In reply, 17 scientists (Siegel et al, 2015) mostly from the US, some of whom were members of a hormesis pressure group “Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information” objected to these findings. They alleged that the government would have to evacuate children living in higher radiation areas and relocate them to lower radiation areas. They stated that studies like this should not be taken seriously without public health policy implications being examined. (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1510111/)
The Swiss scientists in turn responded (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1510111R/) that the proposed evacuation was “nonsensical” in view of the very low numbers involved. In a spirited rejoinder, they refuted the poor science cited and added that “the Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information a priori exclude the possibility that low-dose radiation could increase the risk of cancer. They will therefore not accept studies that challenge their foregone conclusion”.
(ii) the petitions After briefly examining the three US petitions, my conclusion is that they do not merit serious consideration. It seems that the petitioners, who may or may not have axes to grind about radiation risks, have seized on the possible phenomenon of hormesis 11 to make ill-considered claims that radiation is protective or even good for you.

In other words, the petitions appear to be based on preconceptions, or even ideology, rather than the scientific evidence which points in the opposite direction. The petitions should not be used by the NRC to justify weakening regulatory standards at US nuclear facilities. A question remains whether the NRC should have accepted the petitions for review. Presumably the NRC has discretion not to review or to refer back spurious, mischievous, or ill-founded petitions.

 The NRC should seek guidance from the five US scientific agencies and Government departments mentioned above whose scientists have published evidence on the matter. Credits. Thanks to Dr Jan Beyea, Cindy Folkers, Dr Alfred Körblein, Xavier Rabilloud, Dr Marvin Reznikoff and Dr Gordon Thompson for comments on drafts. Any errors are my responsibility. References…….. http://www.ianfairlie.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/US-NRC-Consultation-4-1.pdf  (NRC):

 

August 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Concerns over reliability, safety, chemistry of planned Advanced Boiling Water Nuclear Reactors (ABWR)

flag-UKNo2NuclearPower nuClear news No.77, September 2015 ABWRs According to World Nuclear News (WNN) there are four operable Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) in Japan while two more are under construction. Another two are being built in Taiwan and two planned for Lithuania, although another two have been shelved in the USA. The design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. WNN points out, disturbingly that ABWRs can run on a full core of mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel, raising the prospect of armed plutonium shipments travelling from Sellafield to Anglesey and Gloucestershire. (6)

Continue reading

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Reference, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Will UK government lock Britain into Hinkley Nuclear White Elephant?

white_elephant_London-Sm

while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.

At the Hinkley point of no return, is this a nuclear white elephant? The IndependentA Hinkley-nuclear-power-plantdeal for the £24.5bn power plant in Somerset could be signed in October after the Government agreed terms with the energy giant EDF. But, writes Tom Bawden, environmentalists are far from alone in opposing an ‘expensive mistake’ TOM BAWDEN 27 August 2015 One of Britain’s most controversial energy projects for decades – the £24.5bn nuclear power development at Hinkley Point in Somerset – is poised to get the green light.

After years of wrangling, the Government and EDF – the energy giant that will operate Hinkley Point C and own around half of it – have agreed a deal that would guarantee EDF a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of the electricity it generates, rising with inflation, up to 2061. That’s nearly three times the current price, suggesting households may have to hand over a substantial subsidy to the French state-controlled generator in the form of higher bills……..

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has gone so far as to say households will be £74 a year better off in today’s money by 2026-30 than they would be without Hinkley Point C.

But the detractors are not in the least bit convinced, with analysts, politicians and even some rival power companies dismissing the project as a colossal waste of money. Shortly before his sudden departure from RWE Npower this week, the chief executive of the big six provider, Paul Massara, said future generations would look back on Hinkley Point C as an “expensive mistake”.

Despite the strength of opposition to the project, David Cameron is expected to sign a final deal in October during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK; the Chinese are big backers of the project….

We look at some of the main challenges to completion.

The political justification

An in-depth report into Hinkley Point C by HSBC bank saw “ample reason for the UK Government to delay or cancel the project”. It argued that the justification for the plant was “receding” because the UK’s energy consumption is falling just as a threefold rise in the number of giant interconnectors, hooking the country up with mainland Europe, means we could import energy much more cheaply than generating it at Hinkley Point.

Furthermore, while UK electricity generation is set to fall, capacity looks set to hold up surprisingly well, in part because of rising wind and solar power. As a result, the strike price is very difficult to justify, HSBC argued.

But while these might be reasons for the Government to pull out of the project, it won’t be able to once the deal has been signed. And if the problem is that the strike price is too high, it’s unlikely that EDF or the other funders will want to pull out either.

Engineering problems

The new reactors at Hinkley Point will use the EPR – European Pressurised Reactor – model, a highly sophisticated new design that is supposed to be safer and more efficient than older reactors, but which has been fraught with problems and is not yet up and running at any site in the world.

The three other sites planning to use the new model have all suffered huge delays – in Finland, France and China – and Hinkley Point would be the fourth. Concerns about EPRs have mounted this year after a potentially catastrophic mistake was identified in the construction of an identical EPR power plant in Flamanville, Normandy……….

Problems at Areva

Areva, the French state-owned reactor designer behind the EPR model, has fallen deep into the red. It has  not sold a new reactor since 2008 as problems with its reactors have pushed plants in France and Finland billions of euros over budget.

But EDF and the French government have moved to address Areva’s financial weakness, meaning it is unlikely to cause problems for the Hinkley Point project by going bust. EDF has agreed to take control of Areva’s main reactor division in a deal orchestrated – and with the implicit financial support of – the French government.

Legal problems

Austria has launched a legal challenge to the European Commission’s ruling that the guaranteed price for the new Hinkley Point reactors amounts to legal state aid. The case is expected to drag on for two to three years…… http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/at-the-hinkley-point-of-no-return-is-this-a-nuclear-white-elephant-10475849.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Has SNC-Lavalin fouled up again? Literally

bad-smell-nukeflag-canadaRaw sewage backups at MUHC superhospital test relations with SNC-Lavalin AARON DERFEL, MONTREAL GAZETTE August 26, 2015 ,Black sewer water that “smells worse than rotten fish” is backing up drains and pooling in patient bathrooms at the new Montreal Children’s Hospital, angering staff who say the problem is widespread and keeps popping up despite the fact that plumbers are called in regularly to snake the drains.

The plumbing problems are the latest in a series of glitches — as many as 14,000 — that continue to plague the $1.3-billion superhospital of the McGill University Health Centre, and are sorely testing relations between the MUHC and design-build contractor SNC-Lavalin.

The superhospital was built as a public-private partnership, with the Quebec engineering firm acting as the lead partner in a private consortium that is the landlord of the property. Unlike the Old Montreal Children’s where the MUHC could do what it wanted with the building as the sole owner, SNC-Lavalin is responsible for maintaining the superhospital and fixing plumbing, electrical and other problems.

But the MUHC has been at loggerheads with SNC-Lavalin over a wide range of “deficiencies” — from faulty wiring to leaking ceilings — since before the superhospital opened at the Glen site in the spring. The public-private partnership was supposed to transfer the risk of any cost overruns from the public sector to the private partner, but SNC-Lavalin is nonetheless seeking more than $172 million in “extras” from the MUHC over the construction……..
SNC-Lavalin won the contract in 2010 to build the MUHC superhospital after a competition with a Spanish-led consortium. Former SNC-Lavalin executives now face criminal charges alleging that they made $22.5 million in bribes to former MUHC officials to win the contract. http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/raw-sewage-backups-at-muhc-superhospital-test-relations-with-snc-lavalin?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Three Mile Island nuclear plant could be headed for premature closure.

radiation-sign-sadFlag-USAThree Mile Island nuclear plant being considered for closure? Lancaster online, AD CRABLE | Staff Writer, 26 Aug 15,  Could the Three Mile Island nuclear plant be headed for premature closure? Last week, no one bought a year’s worth of TMI’s electricity at a key energy-buying auction held by PJM, the regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of power in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

The PJM Capacity Auction is not the only place TMI owner Exelon can sell the plant’s electricity, but it’s a key and profitable one. The results have led to speculation that Exelon may be considering closing TMI as it is considering doing at three of its nuclear plants in Illinois.

Asked if the plant was in a troubled financial situation, Ralph DeSantis, Exelon’s spokesman at TMI, issued this statement: “The fact that TMI did not clear the 2018-2019 auction makes it clear the plant’s economics are challenged……..

In Illinois, Exelon has threatened to close as many as three of its money-losing nuclear plants because of competition from natural gas and subsidized wind energy. Two of those three plants are in the PJM, as is TMI, and neither of the Illinois plants were competititive enough to sell electricity in the last auction in May 2014.

Exelon has sought support from Illinois legislators and one bill being considered would require the state’s utilities to buy 70 percent of their power from “low carbon” sources such as that generated by nuclear plants. The utilities could offset that cost by charging ratepayers with a surcharge of up to 2 percent.

Eric Epstein of the clean-energy group Three Mile Island Alert had this to say about TMI’s shutout at the capacity auction: “Single reactor sites like TMI are more vulnerable to closure since they are unprofitable and require  government and ratepayer subsidies.

“Several developments this summer have weakened the nuclear industry and wrought havoc on Exelon’s corporate fortunes: EPA devalued nuclear’s role in combating carbon emissions, three Exleon plants, including TMI, did not clear PJM capacity auctions, and the DC Public Service Commission nixed the Exelon-Pepco merger.

“TMI’s shuttering creates long-term problems for the local community, and will intensify the shortfall in cleanup funding, and postpone the storage of high-level radioactive waste from spent fuel pools to dry casks.

 “It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Three Mile Island does not become a permanent nuclear garbage site in the middle of the Susquehanna River.”…….

owners of nuclear plants are hoping that the President Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to cut back on sources of carbon dioxide, such as coal plants, will raise the value of nuclear plants.

Says DeSantis, “Exelon is continuing its ongoing work to educate policymakers and others about the fact that markets are failing to properly value nuclear power’s environmental and reliability benefits and the need to find solutions that will correct that.”In 2009, Exelon received a license extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to continue operating TMI until 2034.

Exelon is the nation’s largest owner and operator of nuclear plants, with 22 reactors in 13 locations, including TMI and the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County…. http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/three-mile-island-nuclear-plant-being-considered-for-closure/article_b421e660-4c23-11e5-9906-57636793d31b.html

 

August 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Pakistan building up nuclear weapons in fear of India’s nuclear weapons

atomic-bomb-lflag-pakistanPakistan stockpiling nuclear arms due to fears over India: U.S. report, National Post,  Tim Craig, Washington Post | August 28, 2015  SLAMABAD, Pakistan – A new report by two American think tanks asserts that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually and could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade.

The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its arch-rival, India, also a nuclear power. The report, released Thursday, says Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.

Analysts estimate that Pakistan has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India has about 100.

In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices. India has far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed to produce high-yield warheads, than Pakistan does. But the report says India appears to be using most of its plutonium to produce domestic energy.

Pakistan could have at least 350 nuclear weapons within five to 10 years, the report concludes. Pakistan would then possess more nuclear weapons than any country except the United States and Russia, which each have thousands of the bombs.

“The growth path of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, enabled by existing infrastructure, goes well beyond the assurances of credible minimal deterrence provided by Pakistani officials and analysts after testing nuclear devices,” the report states.

Pakistani military officials were not available to comment on the report.

Western officials and analysts have struggled for years to get an accurate assessment of Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. Several Pakistani analysts questioned the findings of the report, saying it is based on a faulty assumption that Pakistan is using all of its existing stockpiles of fissile material to make nuclear weapons.

Mansoor Ahmed, a nuclear expert at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, said he suspects that a more accurate assessment of Pakistan’s capability is that it can develop no more than 40 to 50 new warheads over the next several years.

Ahmed, however, doesn’t dispute that Pakistan’s military is seeking to expand its nuclear capabilities………

India and Pakistan, which have fought three major wars, became declared nuclear powers in 1998. Since then, Western leaders have been increasingly alarmed about the potential for a nuclear exchange between the rivals.

India has adopted a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. Pakistani leaders have repeatedly declined to take a similar stance, saying they might be forced to resort to using the weapons should India’s larger army ever invade Pakistan.

India views nuclear weapons “as a political tool, a prestige item, not something you use on a battlefield,” Krepon said. In Pakistan, he said, nuclear weapons are seen as “things you have to be willing to use” to guarantee stability.

But Krepon and Dalton said there is still time for Pakistan to slow down the development of its nuclear arsenal. If it does, they said, the international community should consider what steps it can take to recognize it as a responsible nuclear state.  http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/pakistan-stockpiling-nuclear-arms-due-to-fears-over-india-u-s-report

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Money running low for uranium cleanup in Ohio

Mass layoff possible in Portsmouth uranium cleanup, Columbus Dispatch,  By Kantele Franko ASSOCIATED PRESS  •  Friday August 28, 2015 Workers decontaminating and decommissioning a Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio are again being notified about hundreds of potential layoffs because of an anticipated funding gap, a reprise of warnings they heard a year ago for the same reason…….

Those layoffs could occur around Oct. 22, but the project’s director and other leaders remain hopeful they’ll get funding needed to continue their current pace, which costs roughly $387 million annually, Wagner said.

Hundreds of layoffs were averted last year because Congress approved extra funding. This time, the situation is a bit different.

About 70 percent of the project’s funding comes from a program in which the government sells uranium, but the amount that can be bartered has been reduced for 2016, so project officials must hope the balance is made up through appropriations, Wagner said……..

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said lawmakers will once again have to scramble to find funding. As he has repeatedly, the Ohio Republican called for adequate annual funding in the federal budget for the cleanup.

“It’s actually less expensive to the taxpayer over time to start moving to actual cleanup rather than almost maintaining the site, which is about all you can do with the low levels of funding,” Portman said Thursday in Columbus. “It may seem like it’s more money up front, but it’s actually billions of dollars less money over time — billions because they’re now pushing the cleanup really out to the 2050s.” http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/08/28/mass-layoff-possible-in-uranium-cleanup.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby working hard at education – 5 centres in Nigeria

5 Nigerian universities host nuclear energy centres of excellence —NAEC August 28, 2015  Franklin Osaisai, chairman of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, has said that five Nigerian universities now host nuclear energy centres of excellence.

nuclear-teacher

Mr. Osaisai, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said that the Nuclear Technology Centre, Sheda, was also a part of the nuclear centres of excellence.

He said the first two were the Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.

He listed the latest centres as the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research and Training (CNERT), University of Maiduguri, and Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies (CNES), University of Port Harcourt.

The other is the Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies and Training (CNEST), Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

According to him, the establishment of these centres without a corresponding increment in the allocation to NAEC led to the reduction in funding of CERT and CERD.

“It is the mandate of NAEC to develop nuclear technology for the economic development of the country and produce and dispose atomic energy.

“To carry out research into matters connected with the peaceful uses of atomic energy, among others.

“CERT and CERD are arms of NAEC but in order to boost capacity of nuclear research and training, government created a lot of other centres.

“Remuneration, compensation, allowances are part of the public service and everything is paid according to guidelines.

“We have tabled the challenges of funding the centre to before the appropriate authorities; everything is now paid through IPPIS.’’……….http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/189141-5-nigerian-universities-host-nuclear-energy-centres-of-excellence-naec.html

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Nigeria, politics | Leave a comment

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