CPI asks govt to explain why it rushed into nuke agreement http://zeenews.india.com/news/india/cpi-asks-govt-to-explain-why-it-rushed-into-nuke-agreement_1537199.html January 27, 2015 New Delhi: The CPI on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain why the government “rushed” into an agreement with the US on the nuclear liability issue, saying a proposed insurance pool to cover American nuclear firms would violate Indian law on the issue.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, he said US suppliers “should obtain insurance from international insurance companies at commercial rates. Why are they unable to do so? Is this because they are unable to persuade their own companies that their reactors are as safe as they claim?”
Expressing concern over reports that Modi government has agreed to US demands that its companies be protected from liability for accidents caused by design defects in reactors they supply, Raja said the intent of the Indian law was “clearly to place some liability on the supplier. This was meant to ensure that multinational suppliers would pay adequate attention to safety standards.”
Observing that design defects have contributed to nuclear accidents including those at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, he said US firm GE had “designed the Mark 1 reactors that were involved in the Fukushima accident.”
“Why is the Indian agreement rushing into a deal to purchase a reactor that is running into difficulties elsewhere,” Raja asked.”Your negotiations with President Obama have been opaque, and very few details are publicly available. … I hope that you will take urgent steps to address and answer them publicly,” he said. “Japanese (Fukushima) victims have been unable to hold (US firm) GE to account because of the Japanese liability law which indemnifies the supplier. It was to prevent such an eventuality that Clause 17(b) of the Indian law allows the operator a right of recourse against the supplier,” the CPI leader said.
It was only after the Bhopal gas disaster experience, the Supreme Court had formulated the ‘absolute liability’ principle under which all parties involved in running a hazardous enterprise would be liable for damage caused to the public, he said.
“I understand that there are only two reactor designs on offer by US companies – the AP1000 designed by Westinghouse and the ESBWR designed by GE.”
“Neither of these reactors is in commercial operation anywhere in the world. In fact, the ESBWR is so new that even its design was certified only recently by the US Nuclear Regulatory Council,” Raja said.
Observing that India would therefore be one of the first countries to have the ESBWR, he asked the Prime Minister: “Have you obtained any guarantees from President Obama, that the cost of such delays will be borne by GE and not the Indian Government?”
Raja also expressed concern over the cost of electricity from the proposed American reactors and said the two AP1000 units being constructed in Vogtle (US) were initially projected to cost USD seven billion each.
“If one uses the same cost per unit of installed capacity for the ESBWR, then this would suggest that it may cost as much as USD 10 billion,” he said, adding this would translate into a cost of electricity that exceeds Rs 15 per unit, “much higher than the tariff from competing sources.”
Only very broad features have been outlined and, hopefully, when the details become known the Indian government will not be found to have given away where it matters. If a negative picture does eventually emerge from the details, then the question will be — what for? ………
As for possessing a bomb, it does not enhance security. Pakistan followed quickly in India’s footsteps with its own nuclear tests in 1998 so that India’s superiority in conventional defence capability was replaced with parity in nuclear capability. http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/subir-roy-why-persist-with-nuclear-power-115012701341_1.html
Insurers to offer Rs 750 cr capacity for nuclear pool; rest from govt, Standard.com M Saraswathy | Mumbai January 26, 2015
Both operators and suppliers would be provided as cover against associated risks The proposed nuclear risk pool that will be set up in India will have five government-owned insurance companies (General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), New India Assurance, Oriental India Insurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance) providing half the capacity for the Rs 1,500-crore pool. The rest will come from the central government.
Prime Minister Narendra Mdoi in his statement at the joint press interaction with President Barack Obama of America, said the civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our (India-US) transformed relationship, demonstrating new trust…….. Continue reading
Ill-founded hope The belief was always that science would find some way of neutralising the dangerous radioactivity, and then it could be buried as simply as any other rubbish. This hope has proved to be ill-founded.
The British government promised four years ago it would not build any more nuclear power stations until it had found a solution to this 50-year-old problem. But it has abandoned the promise
Still No Solution to Storage of High-Level Radioactive Nuclear Waste http://ecowatch.com/2015/01/25/no-solution-radioactive-nuclear-waste/ Paul Brown, Climate News Network | January 25, 2015 A private consortium formed to deal with Europe’s most difficult nuclear waste at a site in Britain’s beautiful Lake District has been sacked by the British government because not sufficient progress has been made in making it safe.
It is the latest setback for an industry that claims nuclear power is the low-carbon answer toclimate change, but has not yet found a safe resting place for radioactive rubbish it creates when nuclear fuel and machinery reaches the end of its life.
Dealing with the waste stored at this one site at Sellafield—the largest of a dozen nuclear sites in Britain—already costs the UK taxpayer £2 billion a year, and it is expected to be at least as much as this every year for half a century.
Hundreds of people are employed to prevent the radioactivity leaking or overheating to cause a nuclear disaster, and the cost of dealing with the waste at this site alone has already risen to £70 billion.
Dangerous to humans
This extraordinary legacy of dangerous radioactive waste is present in every country that has adopted nuclear power as a form of electricity production, as well as those with nuclear weapons. No country has yet solved the problem of how to deal with waste that remains dangerous to humans for thousands of years. Continue reading
HOW PROPAGANDA CONQUERS DEMOCRACY, bigOfeature Nicolas JS Davies January 25, 2015 In recent decades, the US propaganda system has grown more and more sophisticated in the art of “perception management,” now enlisting not only government PR specialists but careerist journalists and aspiring bloggers to push deceptions on the public. By Nicolas JS Davies.
Do we live in a country where citizens are critically informed on the issues of the day by media that operate independently of the government? Or do our political leaders deliberately plant a false view of events and issues in the mind of the public that complicit media then broadcast and amplify to generate public consent for government policy?
This is a basic test of democracy for the citizens of any country. But the very nature of modern propaganda systems is that they masquerade as independent while functioning as the opposite, so the question is not as straightforward as it seems.
In Democracy Incorporated; Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, political scientist Sheldon Wolin examined how America’s “managed democracy” has devolved into “inverted totalitarianism,” concentrating power and wealth in the hands of a small ruling class more efficiently and sustainably than 20th Century “classical totalitarianism” ever succeeded in doing.
Instead of sweeping away the structures of constitutional government like the Fascists, Nazis or Soviets, this “political coming-of-age of corporate power” has more cleverly preserved and co-opted nominally democratic institutions and adapted them to its own purposes.
Self-serving politicians and parties compete for funding in election campaigns run by the advertising industry, to give political investors the most corrupt President, administration and Congress that money can buy, while courts uphold new corporate and plutocratic political rights to ward off challenges to the closed circle of wealth and political power.
Oligarchic corporate control of the media is a critical element in this dystopian system. Under the genius of inverted totalitarianism, a confluence of corrupt interests has built a more effective and durable propaganda system than direct government control has ever achieved.
The editor or media executive who amplifies government and corporate propaganda and suppresses alternative narratives is not generally doing so on orders from the government, but in the interest of his own career, his company’s success in the corporate oligarchy or “marketplace,” and his responsibility not to provide a platform for radical or “irrelevant” ideas.
In this context, a common pattern in five recent cases illustrates how the U.S. government and media systematically deceive the public on critical foreign policy issues, to generate public hostility toward foreign governments and to suppress domestic opposition to economic sanctions and to the threat and use of military force.
1. Non-Existent WMDs in Iraq. ……..
Calling out foreign nations on weak evidence is an essential core element of US propaganda strategy. US officials quickly and loudly establish the narrative they want the public to believe, and leave it to the echo chamber of the complicit US media system to do the rest.
US officials believe they can win a global propaganda war, much as they think they won the Cold War. But they seem to be losing the global struggle for hearts and minds… As the lies that clothe our emperor and our empire become ever more transparent, Americans are inevitably growing more skeptical than ever of politicians and the media.
Vietnam’s Slowing Growth and Safety Concerns Delay Nuclear Plans WSJ, By VU TRONG KHANH, 23 Jan 15 Vietnam’s plan to introduce nuclear power to its energy mix faced a fresh setback on Thursday as safety concerns and legal issues pushed back the planned construction of the country’s first nuclear plant by about five years from the initial schedule………
Construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant isn’t likely to begin until 2019, said Hoang Anh Tuan, director general of Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency. The revised schedule comes after the government had already pushed its planned 2014 construction date to 2017……..
The need for the new plant had become less pressing recently, though, as Vietnam’s demand for electricity hasn’t risen as fast as previously forecast, Mr. Tuan said………
Phan Minh Tuan, director of Vietnam Electricity Group’s Nuclear Power & Renewable Energy Projects Pre-Investment Board, said safety concerns had also had an impact on the proposed construction start date……..
The country has chosen Russian utility and nuclear energy company Rosatom to build the first plant, the 2,000 megawatt Ninh Thuan 1. The Russian government has also pledged to lend Vietnam at least $8 billion for the project.
In 2011, Vietnam signed a contract with Japan Atomic Power for a feasibility study to build a second nuclear power plant nearby, the 2,000 MW Ninh Thuan 2, which is expected to use either Japanese or U.S. technology.
Mr. Tuan said Westinghouse is keen to supply its technology for the construction of the second plant, adding that the company earlier this month signed an agreement with Vietnam to train Vietnamese personnel to manage and operate nuclear power facilities in the country. http://blogs.wsj.com/frontiers/2015/01/23/vietnams-slowing-growth-and-safety-concerns-delay-nuclear-plans/
Britain to take nuclear plant share for national security, Economic Times, By AFP | 23 Jan, 2015,LONDON: Britain will have a “special share” in the French-led new Hinkley Pointnuclear power plant consortium to safeguard national security, British energy officials told a parliamentary hearing this week.
The Chinese firms, CGN and CNNC, are expected to get a stake of between 30 and 40 percent. ……..
The Hinkley Point contract is worth £16 billion. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/britain-to-take-nuclear-plant-share-for-national-security/articleshow/45996556.cms
Rebranding the nuclear weapons complex won’t reform it, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Robert Alvarez, 18 Jan 15 “…….Although it is also technically under the aegis of the Energy Department, the US nuclear weapons complex has operated for decades on an entirely different philosophy. Called “least interference,” it is a philosophy based on an “undocumented policy of blind faith in its contractors’ performance,” in the words of a 1996 Government Accountability Office report. Despite several attempts at reform, the Energy Department’s management of the weapons complex was widely conceded to be an extraordinary and expensive mess.
In late November of last year, with little fanfare, the latest in a long line of advisory panels recommended ways to fix the dysfunctional administration of the nuclear weapons research and production complex, which commands more than 40 percent of the Energy Department’s budget. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise calls for elimination of the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Agency, which Congress established within the Energy Department in 1999, and for the nuclear weapons program to be placed under the direct control of a rebranded Energy Department, henceforth to be known as theDepartment of Energy and Nuclear Security.
Given that the panel was dominated by members with ties to weapons contractors, it comes as no surprise that the panel’s report advocates a reduction in federal oversight of contractors that run the complex, in effect doubling-down on the least-interference policy that is at the heart of so many weapons complex problems.
And by focusing on branding and protection of contractors, this latest panel to examine the US nuclear weapons complex diverts attention from the thorny problem repeatedly raised by other expert panels: The nuclear weapons production and laboratory system created during the Cold War is simply far too large for the current military situation and needs drastic consolidation that includes the closing of labs and other facilities.
NNSA: A failed management fix. Wide latitude granted to nuclear weapons contractors, bolstered by national security secrecy, have enabled widespread problems in the handling and disposal of radioactive materials—problems that now constitute the largest and most expensive environmental mess in the United States. There were regular and frightening nuclear safety and safeguard lapses. Efforts to fix old weapons facilities and to build new ones became all-but-endless money-devouring boondoggles.
In response to these problems, Congress established the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in 1999, giving it semi-autonomous status within the Energy Department and a bureaucracy separate from the department’s. Within this new structure, the NNSA was expected to improve oversight of a variety of activities associated with the weapons complex, including maintenance and modernization of the US nuclear warhead stockpile; operation of national research laboratories; and direction of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons production sites. It was also tasked with carrying out nuclear non-proliferation activities and housing—but not interfering with—the Office of Naval Reactors. “The new organization should focus on reducing bureaucratic red tape to free scientists to spend more time with experiments and less time filling out forms,” said then-Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who led the effort to create the NNSA.
Under the NNSA, however, management problems in the weapons complex not only continued but worsened. By November 2011, the Energy Department inspector general recommended elimination of “duplicative, redundant National Nuclear Security Administration functions” while calling for a process to downsize the Energy Department’s national laboratory complex.
To counteract this threat, the NNSA, its contractors, and Congressional supporters set into motion an effort to gain unfettered authority. By June of 2012, the House of Representatives passed a defense spending bill that, over the objection of the White House, granted unprecedented oversight of budgets to lab contractors and eliminated the Energy Department’s oversight and enforcement of health, safety, security, and financial standards. But the NNSA’s effort was punctured in late July, when three peace activists, one an 82-year-old Catholic nun, penetrated several security barriers to stage a non-violent protest at the nation’s largest nuclear explosive storage facility, inside the Y-12 plant in Tennessee.
Apparent conflicts of interest. After this embarrassing episode, a compromise was reached in Congress, establishing an advisory committee that would make recommendations about the fate of the NNSA. The Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise was charged with recommending options for the “appropriate governance structure” of the nuclear weapons complex.
Congressional leaders appeared to pay little attention to appearances of conflict-of-interest as they appointed panel members who had remarkable connections to contractors that run the sites overseen by the NNSA—the agency whose leadership the panel was to review. The panel appointees with questionable connections include:…………..http://thebulletin.org/rebranding-nuclear-weapons-complex-wont-reform-it7935
That corner, is of course, home to Sellafield – Europe’s biggest and most hazardous nuclear complex. This week, the Government abruptly dismissed the consortium that has been running it for the past six years, after what Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) identified as “big delays” and “huge cost overruns, rising to astonishing levels”.
Sellafield has largely dropped out of the headlines in recent years, after decades of bad publicity about radioactive accidents, managerial incompetence and business boondoggles. And that is where it likes to be, for secrecy, combined with bureaucratic bungling, has long been one of its specialities……
It was, indeed, where weapons-grade plutonium was separated from used nuclear fuel by “reprocessing”, reason enough for the secrecy if not the ineptitude. But the culture continued as the site converted overwhelmingly to civilian purposes. The plutonium – one gram of which contains as much energy as a tonne of oil – was seen as a modern philosopher’s stone, able to power “fast breeder” reactors that could produce more useful fuel than they burned.
But such reactors never worked, and were abandoned 20 years ago. Reprocessing became a technology whose time would never come, but the state-owned site and successive governments persisted in almost theological thrall to it.
They even spent £1.4 billion on a plant where the plutonium would be mixed with uranium to make fuel for ordinary reactors, but – as widely predicted – that didn’t work either: designed to produce 120 tonnes of fuel a year, it managed only 15 in a decade before closing. This was only one in a whole series of eye-wateringly expensive plants that failed to perform as expected.
As a result, nearly 130 tonnes of highly dangerous, useless, plutonium are stored onsite, at a cost of £40 million a year. More than a quarter of a ton was discharged in to the Irish Sea, much to see what would happen. Worst of all, though, as the consortium – Nuclear Management Partners – has admitted, “there is a mass of very hazardous (nuclear) waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life”.
The National Audit Office (NAO) says this poses “significant risks to people and the environment”. One official review concluded that, at worst, an explosive release could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool.
Following the legacy of decades of nationalised neglect, it’s no wonder that in 2008 ministers, belatedly, turned to private enterprise. The consortium – comprising British, French and US companies – received up to £1.8 billion a year on a “cost reimbursement contract” that left the risk with the taxpayer. ……http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/11351587/Why-Sellafield-costs-us-all-a-bomb.html
Eiji Oguma: Planned protective measures show real cost of nuclear power Asahi Shimbun January 15, 2015 The industry ministry is discussing a new protective measure for nuclear power plants: the contract for difference (CfD) system.
The CfD, introduced in Britain, guarantees that electricity will be purchased at a fixed rate over a certain period of time.
The purchase price is calculated in consideration of the plant’s total cost, including future expenses, such as those for disposing of spent nuclear fuel and decommissioning reactors.
An agreement has been reached to apply the system to one nuclear power plant in Britain, with the reference purchase price set at 8.95 pence (around 15 yen or $0.13) per kilowatt-hour. That is higher than the corresponding price for a land-based wind farm, and comes with a longer guarantee period of 35 years.
A nuclear plant requires so much initial investment that there is no guarantee the cost will be recovered under the market economy. That is why the CfD and other protective measures for nuclear plants are being discussed in Japan ahead of the liberalization of the power retail market slated for 2016.
But various objections have been raised to the introduction of such measures.
First, the purchase price will likely be reflected in electricity rates, increasing the financial burden on consumers……….
Second, the decision process is not transparent………http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/column/AJ201501150006
The two leaders, speaking to the press after a series of bilateral meetings, stood shoulder to shoulder on all the issues that came before them. Cameron said that on Iran, he had been calling U.S. senators to tell them he didn’t think new sanctions would work against Iran.
During the almost two-hour conference, Obama and Cameron touched on terrorism, climate change, cyber security and foreign policy.
Here are some highlights of what they said:
— President Obama said the chances of a diplomatic deal with Iran are “probably less than 50/50.”
— But, he said, adding more sanctions would likely scuttle the deal and Iran would be “able to maintain that the reason they ended negotiations is because the U.S. was acting in bad faith.”
— “Congress needs to show patience,” Obama said, adding that at the moment a diplomatic solution is the “the best possible outcome that we can arrive at right now.”
— Cameron said he told U.S. senators that “it is the opinion of the U.K. that further sanctions at this point won’t actually help to bring the talks to a successful conclusion.”
— On the threat from violent extremism, Obama said: “I do not consider this an existential threat… this is one that we will solve.”
— The United States, unlike some parts of Europe, Obama said, has a Muslim population that “feel themselves to be Americans.”………
Fossils and nuclear ‘twice RE’s cost’ to German taxpayers http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1388925/fossils-and-nuclear-twice-res-cost-to-german-taxpayers By Bernd Radowitz in Berlin , January 16 2015 Subsidies and hidden costs of fossil-fired and nuclear power in 2015 are slated to be about double the amount German consumers pay via a surcharge on their electricity bill to finance the expansion of renewable energies, claims a study by the forum for ecological and social market economy (FÖS) commissioned by Greenpeace Energy.
German electricity consumers via the EEG surcharge pay about €20bn ($23bn) per year to finance the build-up of solar, wind, biomass and other renewable energies, while the hidden costs of conventional power sources both in 2014 and 2015 reach some €40bn a year, the study says.
Included are direct subsidies and financial concessions, as well as external costs society has to come up with for environmental damage or the final storage of nuclear waste.
“Renewable energies aren’t just cleaner, but in the end also significantly cheaper than coal or nuclear,” says Marcel Keiffenheim, head of politics and communication atGreenpeace Energy, an independent power provider.
“But the problem is that the high costs of coal and nuclear are hidden from power clients and are being paid indirectly via taxes and other contributions.
The scientists behind the study emphasise that renewable energies aren’t driving up the cost of power supply as had been argued frequently in fierce discussions in Germany about power prices – but on the contrary replace more expensive energy sources that have higher costs to taxpayers and society.
“If utilities had to take into account those additional costs in their calculations, renewable energies already today to a great degree would be competitive,” said Swantje Küchler, who led the study for FÖS.
A kilowatt hour of wind power from newly-built machines now costs between €0.051 and €0.087, while nuclear power including the hidden costs would come at a price of €0.185-€0.498, lignite at a cost of €0.126-€0.141, and hard coal at a cost of €0.147-€0.167, the study says.
Senators Introduce Bills to Advance Renewable Energy in Nebraska LINCOLN, Neb. 2 KNOP, 17 Jan 15 – State senators announced Friday that they will introduce five bills intended to advance Nebraska’s renewable energy industry, increase economic development and provide property tax benefits.
“These bills will help to incentivize growth and investment in Nebraska over surrounding states and also remove barriers to renewable energy development in our state,” said Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, who is sponsoring one of the bills.
Nordquist’s bill would create a Nebraska production tax credit for renewable electric generation facilities and would allow the credit to be transferable. Surrounding states, including Iowa and Oklahoma, already offer a credit against state income tax for each kilowatt hour of electricity that a renewable energy generation facility produces.
“Without a state production tax credit in place, surrounding states have a competitive advantage over Nebraska,” Nordquist said “This would put Nebraska on a level playing field by helping our state compete for projects designed to export electricity out of the state as well as benefiting Nebraska ratepayers by providing cheaper available electricity for in-state utilities.”
“A state production tax credit is essential to leveling the playing field and enabling our state to become a net exporter of energy instead of importer,” said Jon Crane, President of Bluestem Energy. Sen. Al Davis will introduce a bill to broaden the existing Nameplate Capacity Tax to include projects using solar, biomass or landfill gas as the fuel source. In 2010, the Legislature created the Nameplate Capacity Tax, which is a flat excise tax that replaces the heavily front-loaded personal property tax that early wind energy projects paid……….
Sen. Ken Haar will introduce a bill to simplify the existing process for the Nebraska Power Review Board to consider a renewable energy export facility. …………
Sen. Heath Mello will introduce a bill to simplify the Community-Based Energy Development, (CBED) process. …….
Sen. Ken Schilz will introduce a bill that would require the Nebraska Energy Office to prepare a comprehensive, forward-looking energy plan for Nebraska by the end of 2015 that would be
updated every two years………http://www.knopnews2.com/home/headlines/Senators-Introduce-Bills-to-Advance-Renewable-Energy-in-Nebraska-288829681.html
Australian government trying to kill renewable energy, but funding thorium nuclear power research in China
Isn’t this just dandy? The Australian government can’t afford to fund services to the needy in health, education, and is doing its darndest to kill clean energy, but is quietly promoting nuclear energy. And not conventional nuclear energy, which is bad enough, but the untested, hugely costly thorium experiment – the same one that was tried and found unviable 50 years ago
ANSTO-SINAP Joint Research Centre, 16 Jan 15 In December 2012, ANSTO signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) for cooperation in the area of materials research and development.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ally backs anti-nuclear movement to stop Jaitapur nuclear power project
Notwithstanding PM’s nuke push, Sena to oppose Jaitapur plant Indian Express -By: Press Trust of India | Mumbai January 12, 2015 Notwithstanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong push for nuclear energy which he wants trebled by 2024, ally Shiv Sena today said it will continue to back those opposed to the 9,900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra.
“It has been our stand that Shiv Sena will support the locals of Jaitapur who have been opposing the plant. If there is an opposition, then why should we go against the will of the locals. After all, we are working for the development of the people,” senior Shiv Sena leader and state’s Industries Minister Subhash Desai told reporters.
Locals and anti-nuclear activists have been holding protests against the proposed plant over “scientific and environmental” concerns and Shiv Sena has been actively backing them.
“We (Shiv Sena) believe that if the need for power (for Maharashtra) is sufficed by other sources of energy including conventional and non-conventional resources, then why set up a destructive project,” he said.
Shiv Sena is a partner in BJP-led governments both at the Centre and in Maharashtra.The project is proposed to be set up in collaboration with French company Areva in the coastal Jaitapur village in Ratnagiri district. It will have six units of 1650 MW each built with Areva’s European Pressurised Reactor technology. JNPP would be one of the costliest nuclear power plant projects considering its sheer size and the new technology. – See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/notwithstanding-pms-nuke-push-sena-to-oppose-jaitapur-plant/#sthash.aXD0KlPZ.dpuf
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