The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Australian Senator’s Impossible Nuclear Dream – analysis by Australia Institute

The impossible dream Free electricity sounds too good to be true. It is. A plan to produce free electricity for South Australia by embracing nuclear waste sounds like a wonderful idea. But it won’t work.  The Australia Institute Briefing paper Dan Gilchrist February 2016 


South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was established on 19 March 2015 and is due to report on its findings in May 2016. It is inquiring into the risks and opportunities to the economy, environment and community of the expansion or development of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Perhaps the most prominent plan has been the one championed by South Australian Senator Sean Edwards.1 He claims to be able to bring tremendous economic prosperity to South Australia, with the almost incredible by-product of providing free electricity to the state, and with money left over to reduce state taxes.
The plan involves being paid to take spent fuel from other countries and store it in Australia. The state can then use that old fuel to power a new generation of reactors, producing tiny quantities of easily handled waste. With money earned from taking troublesome radioactive materials off the hands of countries struggling with stocks of nuclear waste, South Australia can fund next-generation reactors.
The plan sounds perfect. The reality is far from it.
The Edwards plan ignores the cost of shipping the waste to Australia, and relies on technology that has never before been deployed commercially. It hopes that unjustified and unrealistic amounts of money will be paid for the disposal of waste.
Furthermore, although the plan includes the acceptance of 60,000 tonnes of waste, only 4,000 tonnes, at most, would be reprocessed for fuel. The remaining 56,000 tonnes would remain in temporary storage, with no funds left for future generations to deal with the problem.
 Even if the world fell into line just as Senator Edwards hopes, the plan fails to consider the obvious question: if Australia can generate free electricity from this spent fuel, wouldn’t other countries want to do the same? The plan makes no allowances for competition.
 Even if the countries of origin chose not to implement the miraculous technology proposed for South Australia, other countries could compete with Australia to provide this service. A plan predicated on monopoly profits of over 400 percent is, therefore, unrealistic.

The idea that an expanded nuclear industry in Australia will produce thousands of jobs and generate so much money that South Australians will be provided with free electricity is a wonderful dream. But like so many dreams, it is an impossible one.
The first section of this report outlines the key elements of the Edwards plan. 
The second section of the report provides a reality check. It shows that the plan fails to deal with over 90% of the imported waste, and then exposes the chief technological and economic risks in the scheme.
 The third section will consider a world in which the assumptions contained in the Edwards plan come true, and explores the possibility that other countries might go on to use the same technologies as Australia.
This paper will analyse the mid-scenario modelled in the Edwards plan – that is, 60,000 tonnes of spent fuel to be taken by Australia, with payments received of $1,370,000 per tonne – and follow the convention of using Australian dollars at their 2015 value, except where otherwise noted. Similarly, costings and claims are taken directly from the Edwards paper, except where otherwise noted. ………..
Conclusion There are no magical solutions in the real world. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
 Even setting aside the technological and economic problems of the Edwards plan, its impossibility can be deduced by a simple observation: it only works if no-one else does it. It is a Catch-22. If the plan is a technological success it will open up competition, which would make it an economic failure.
 There is also the question of popular will: perhaps Australia’s edge would be in a unique willingness to implement such a plan? However, Australia has historically had a great deal of hostility toward the nuclear industry. If Australians could be convinced to embrace PRISMs and boreholes, surely some countries with an existing nuclear industry – countries which have, therefore, shown a much greater willingness to accept it – would also be willing to implement those solutions.
 It makes far more economic sense to pay for your own boreholes, or PRISMs, or reprocessing, than it does to pay up to ten times the cost for Australia to do it for you – you would save on shipping and port costs, at least.
Not every country would or could implement this solution, but it would take just one other nation on earth to provide competition. If the deal really is as attractive as Senator Edwards claims, surely at least one other nation would be tempted to take a share of such a wildly profitable business. Assuming that Australia will somehow maintain a monopoly in technologies it does not own is naïve.
Deploying new technologies is inherently risky. PRISMs and boreholes may turn out to be massive white elephants financially, and leave us with thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste to deal with. But even if these technologies worked, some other countries would surely be in a position to implement them, and at a reduced risk, once Australia had piloted its development.
It is a plan which creates its own competition.
In reality, there is no reason to think any country would pay what the Edwards plan assumes they will. With no mature nuclear power or waste industry, holding no monopoly on the technologies needed, and far from potential markets, there is no reason to think that Australia would have a competitive advantage. There is no reason to think that Australians will accept 56,000 tonnes of waste with no costed long-term solution.
 No other country will line up to take advantage of this amazing opportunity, because it does not exist. Sadly, Senator Edwards’ dream is impossible.

February 12, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby’s “makeover” of the industry’s bad reputation

The Not-So-Peaceful Atom  Bob Rowen accidentally took on corporate nuclear power in the 1970s. Four decades later he remembers what it was like to be Humboldt County’s most infamous whistleblower. North Coast Journal, BY , 20 MARCH 2008  “……….The makeover is industry-wide. Proponents of nuclear power are touting it as our natural next step, a clean, endless supply of energy. And they’ve latched onto fears of global warming and concerns over the skyrocketing price of oil to usher energy consumers into a new nuclear century. They also argue that today’s reactors are far cleaner and more economic than the dirty, atavistic behemoths of yore.

In their promotional materials, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the leading lobby group for the U.S. nuclear industry, points out that America’s nuclear reactors already produce 20 percent of the electricity we use, and according to the Department of Energy, electricity demand will rise 45 percent by 2030.

In another brochure aimed at debunking myths about radiation, one section header reads, “Radiation: Helping All of Us.” The brochure, which features a nuclear family of four watching the sunset at the beach cites the 1991 National Cancer Institute report, which indicates no increased rate of mortality in communities with nuclear power plants.

But Manetas and Welch don’t buy the hype. They argue that a lack of economic viability has and always will be one of nuclear power’s biggest drawbacks. A nuclear power plant is very expensive to build, Manetas said, and even more expensive to decommission. The Humboldt facility is a case in point. It cost $33 million to construct and he estimates the price tag for decommissioning to be around $380 million. Every nuclear facility across the country has a lifespan of about 30 years. Manetas argues that without significant subsidies from the U.S. government, nuclear power plants wouldn’t be able to break even.

There are also hidden costs to nuclear energy like dealing with the waste it produces as well as extracting and processing the uranium required to run the plants in the first place. “Eventually power plants would be cannibalizing themselves,” Manetas said, “producing just enough energy to produce more power plants.”

As open as PG&E has become over the years to the local community, Manetas is still concerned that “floating over that is cooperate PG&E.” The company owns and operates one of California’s two remaining nuclear power plants, the Diablo Canyon facility in San Luis Obispo.

How would someone like Bob Rowen expect to be treated at a nuclear power plant today? Manetas speculates that “his ability to whistle-blow and make that information public … is more viable in today’s environment.”

Still, Manetas warns that there is a nation-wide nuclear renaissance underway, and the zeitgeist could quickly change back to what it was when Rowen first started working at the Humboldt Bay nuclear power plant. That was a time when the nuclear industry was anxious to prove that their energy prices could compete with those of fossil fuel plants, and they had few qualms about silencing their naysayers.

February 10, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

UK may be getting Beautiful Nuclear Cathedrals! (Amber Rudd will be pleased)

Moorside: Developers launch competition to design visually beautiful nuclear power station

Their reward will be £25,000 each in prize money, Independent,  Chris Green  @cghgreen 7 Feb 16 “………Architects and landscape designers from across the world are being asked to come up with creative concepts for Europe’s largest new nuclear power station, Moorside in West Cumbria. Their reward will be £25,000 each in prize money – as well as a shot at creating something beautiful out of what many might regard as an industrial scar on the landscape.
cathedral nuclear
The two competitions, which are being backed by the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Landscape Institute, have been created by Moorside’s developer, NuGen. The company has bought about 200 hectares of land near Sellafield and is looking for inspiration for a visitors’ centre and numerous other ancillary buildings which will adjoin the main site.

The shortlisted designs will be selected by an independent panel of architects, landscape designers and ecologists including Sir Terry Farrell, who created the MI6 building in London. Their challenge will be to come up with something striking and beautiful which can work around the sensitive construction of the site’s nuclear reactors.
Sebastien Ricard, a director at WilkinsonEyre architects who is currently involved with the multibillion-pound redevelopment of Battersea Power Station in London, said industrial buildings were increasingly regarded by architects as Rudd, Amber UKthe “cathedrals of the modern era” as they offered the chance to work with innovative technologies on a grand scale….
it is hoped that the winning plans will succeed in blending the site into its surroundings and perhaps even turn Moorside into a destination in its own right……


February 8, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

The philosophy of science denial within the nuclear lobby

the cancers near the nuclear sites are caused by internal exposures, to Plutonium, Uranium, Tritium, internal emitters

Strontium-90, Caesium-137, Iodine-131, Carbon-14, particles and huge amounts of radioactive noble gases Krypton-85 and Argon-41. There are more nasty isotopes but that will do.And internal exposures can deliver doses to the cell and to the DNA which are far above the small doses that the hormesis people are citing. They are talking about low external doses around external natural background, up to 10 mSv.

Thorium-snake-oilNuclear radiation, Kierkegaard, and the philosophy of denial, The Ecologist, Chris Busby 8th January 2016
 As the evidence of the extreme harm to health inflicted by nuclear radiation mounts, the denialists are resorting to ever greater extremes, writes Chris Busby. On the one hand, advancing the absurd claim that ionising radition is not merely harmless, but health-enhancing. On the other, closing down the experiment that would have provided the strongest evidence yet………

I want to apply the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s approach to something that Science can explain and has: the health effects of ionising radiation.

Kierkegaard said of belief that it becomes stronger the more impossible and threatened it is. And this seems to be rapidly coming true in the case of nuclear energy. The torture imposed on logic, reason and observational data by the advocates of nuclear power has now reached the level of clinical psychosis.

A psychosis is a thought disorder in which reality testing is grossly impaired. There is so much evidence that nuclear power kills, causes cancer, mutates populations, reduces fertility and kills babies that only a mad person would continue with the belief that it is a good thing and should be pursued no matter what the cost in money and death.

And as they move to even greater levels of psychotic delusion they present two new survival strategies which make it brilliantly clear that the proponents of nuclear are off their heads.

First the recent move to petition the US nuclear regulators to accept the idea that small amounts of radiation are actually good for you (Yes!); we should all be forced to be irradiated like food, maybe at birth in the equivalent of a mass vaccination. In you go, Jimmy: BZZZZZ, there you are, that didn’t hurt did it?

And the second, as I wrote about recently, is to cancel the US nation-wide study of cancer near nuclear plants.

Are these two moves related? You bet! If the National Academy of Sciences Cancer Study found that people are dying because of the ‘low doses’ received from the emissions, then obviously low doses of radiation can’t be good for you. We are back to the Dark Ages. Continue reading

January 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Pro Nuclear Spin: denial of radiation effects, of Fukushima harm

Denial in the face of evidence has certainly been an effective tool to frustrate worldwide efforts to address Climate Change.  Why not attempt the same public relations makeover on radiation?

This new, bold initiative appears to be coming in a two-pronged attack:  the first is reviving an already disproved theory that radiation may be ‘good for you’: hormesis.

The second is changing the world’s perception of the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown that released and deposited massive amounts of radioactivity in many areas of Japan.

The potential ramifications for public health are huge.


Demystifying Nuclear Power: Problem: In a post-Fukushima-triple-meltdown world, do the numbers work for atomic power?  Fairewinds,November 17, 2015 by Sue Prent

With a giant blot still reading over the page of its public safety record, the multi-national, multi-billion dollar atomic power industry faces  the stark economic reality that without even more of the regulatory and financial support that it has long enjoyed, it cannot successfully compete financially with sustainable methods electrical generation.

Moreover, these preferential government regulations and incredible financial subsidies from countries around the world are more concerned with maintaining a nuclear energy fleet that in the US has long been tied-up with Defense Department interests, and throughout the world has also been an assured method of access to nuclear weapons.

During the early days of atomic reactors, decommissioning, clean-up and long-term radioactive waste storage were not even acknowledged or planned for, and now they crowd onto center stage as aged and leaking plants line up to speedily shutdown and abandon their overflowing nuclear waste cesspools.  In the US, people living near the plants and state governments without regulatory authority over this federal process are stunned to discover the financial burden of underfunded decommissioning funds and inadequate decommissioning procedures that will leave the public facing corporate waste abandonment.

That’s right, here’s the hook: if it weren’t for the scientific consensus view that radiation is harmful, and more radiation is even more harmful, nuclear plants might be a whole lot cheaper to operate.

Talk about your “inconvenient truth!”

Recent developments suggest that the atomic power industry, with cooperation from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), may have come up with a crafty way to make the financial numbers work once again: rehabilitate radiation. Continue reading

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

“An Ecomodernist Manifesto” the ‘cool’ new nuclear front group

The Technofix Is In: A critique of “An Ecomodernist Manifesto”, Clive Hamiliton  28 APRIL 2015   For some years the California-based Breakthrough Institute has been vigorously promoting what it claims to be a new “post-environmentalism,” one highly critical of the mainstream environment movement ……..

The institute maintains a determinedly optimistic view of the world, although the bright facade frequently veils a rancor directed against other environmentalists. This rancor perhaps explains some of its baffling policy stances.

The institute frequently attacks renewable energy and energy efficiency, at times with a highly tendentious use of data. For an organization concerned about spiraling greenhouse gas emissions, it’s hard to work out why the group is so dismissive, except as a way of differentiating itself from mainstream environmentalism. Conversely, it vigorously promotes nuclear power, also deploying data and arguments in a misleading way.

EcoModernist Manifesto

Nuclear power has become an obsession for the institute, a kind of signifier by which players in the environmental debate are allocated to the “good guys” box or the “bad guys” box. In a perfect example of mimesis, the dogmatic stance of some anti-nuclear campaigners is reflected back by these pro-nuclear campaigners……….

An Ecomodernist Manifesto, signed by 18 “scholars, scientists, campaigners, and citizens” associated with the institute, is not satisfied with proclaiming that we can look forward to a good Anthropocene. The manifesto declares that we are entering a great Anthropocene.

What force can turn a gloomy prognosis into a golden future? The answer, of course, is technology. The manifesto’s authors are convinced that “knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.”

For those who believe we must embrace low-emissions technology (i.e. all of us who recognize the reality of anthropogenic climate change) the manifesto is oddly selective, dismissing many large-scale renewable energy technologies (especially wind power and biomass), and taking a skeptical view of solar energy’s potential.

And so the manifesto returns to the ecomoderns’ peculiar obsession: only nuclear power can give us climate stabilization.But, the authors concede, the nuclear industry is flat on its face in most places, so we must wait for the next generation of nuclear fission (or even fusion!) plants, before which opposition will surely melt away. In the meantime, we will need to build more hydroelectric dams and construct “fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage” technology.

Here the ability to set aside science is on full display. The manifesto does not say how long we will need to wait for the next generation of nuclear plants, or how much of the global carbon budget will be used up while we cool our heels. Perhaps it might take 20 years for the first plants to be built, and 40 before they are making a large dent in global emissions. By then the planet will be, in Christine Lagard’s arresting phrase, “roasted, toasted, fried and grilled,” and there will be no way to rescue the situation……..

The technofix is in

An Ecomodernist Manifesto does not offer a new way out of the climate morass, but only a warmed-over version of the old-fashioned American technofix. Politics has gone AWOL in it. The only place politics intrudes is where the manifesto bewails social and institutional obstacles to the further spread of nuclear power. So it is the greens who bring politics to the climate debate! This is not an accidental slip, for The Breakthrough Institute gives the impression of being motivated less by the vision of a great future on a human-regulated Earth than by animosity towards other environmentalists.

Predictably, the manifesto has been greeted with enthusiasm by various purveyors of climate science denial….

The Breakthrough Institute has allied itself with some unsavory characters, like the American Enterprise Institute which has been active in promoting climate science denial and has been partly funded by Exxon and the Koch Brothers. Is this the “post-partisan politics” foreshadowed by “The Death of Environmentalism”? If so, it’s a tarnished vision and reflects The Breakthrough Institute’s self-defeating policy of cozying up to environmentalism’s natural enemies and alienating its most stalwart friends. – ……..

December 28, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Orwellian Doublespeak

New Protection Action Guidelines Will Leave You Chilled to the Bone, Nuclear World,  26 Dec 15, In Dr. Bertell’s 1986 speech, she candidly describes the two tactics that she used to report radiological incidents and the release of radionuclides into the environment.

“It’s become even worse of late because in order to impress the public with how insignificant the exposures are, there seem to be two tactics. One tactic is to make the numbers small. So if you’ve been in the business of reporting radiation exposure or accidents for awhile, you’ll remember that it used to be in terms of maybe eighty millirem at Three Mile Island, or a hundred millirem as background radiation, or 5,000 millirem permitted to workers per year. It’s now changed so that instead of eighty millirem it would be eight-tenths of a millisievert. Eight-tenths is a littler number. Instead of workers getting 5,000 millirems per year they now get fifty millisieverts. So they changed the unit to make it a hundred times bigger which makes the numbers a hundred times smaller. So that’s one tactic.

The other tactic is to give everything in percent so that you’re told `well, there’s a little bit of iodine 131 in your milk, but it’s O.K., it’s only a small percentage of the permissible level.’ Now you’re not really told where that permissible level came from, or who said you could have radioactive material in your milk and it was O.K. But to even express it as a small percentage of a permissible level is very deceptive because those permissible levels are extraordinarily high.”

Since this speech was given, there have been many more radiation disasters in the US and abroad, most notably, Fukushima. Recently, the White House dramatically raised “permissible” levels of radiation in our drinking water and soil. This was done without any input or discussion from you or me. By raising permissible levels the administration seeks to create a “new normal”  for our radiation exposure.

Doublespeak nuclear radiation

It’s a huge win for the nuclear industry because it allows them to legally say that everything is within “permissible levels.” However, the permissible levels “allowed” by the White House is equivalent to Orwellian doublespeak.
text Orwell doublespeakDoublespeak deliberately cloaks words in order to distort, disguise or reverse the true meaning of words. It’s a very insidious form of manipulation and a subtle form of brainwashing that is unrelentingly used on the American public in many different ways, but especially so by mass media. Doublespeak is employed in order to make nuclear’s version of  the “truth” sound palatable. It’s intentionally designed to create ambiguity and confusion.

What politicians and nuclear lobbyists have determined to be “permissible” is in fact unacceptable, but has the US mainstream media bothered to report it? Of course not.

It turns out that major mainstream media outlets in the US are owned by the very same corporations that own nuclear power plants. Talk about conflict of interest!

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established new radiation guidelines called Protective Action Guides or PAGs. Tragically, these newly established PAGs are extremely negligent and that’s putting it mildly. PAGs have provisions that cover evacuation, shelter, food restrictions and a host of other actions that governmental agencies are permitted to use following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.”

New Protective Guidelines Only Protect the Nuclear Industry

Orwellian doublespeak abounds when dealing with the nuclear agenda. Take the name Protective Action Guidelines (PAG) for example, these new PAGS have very little to do with actually protecting us. They have more to do with protecting the established nuclear industry. Additionally, very little action is involved, if any. I believe it is safe to say that next to no action is involved when it comes to cleaning up nuclear contamination.

Cancer rates, infertility and genetic mutations will be the order of the day, as very little action will be required for governmental agencies to step in and clean up nuclear contamination because these “protective” guidelines are so lax as to be almost useless. I would even go so far as to say they are laughable, but that would not be showing respect to the generations that will suffer as a direct result of the White House’s refusal to take their responsibility seriously.

Is it any wonder that we hear nary a word spoken against nuclear in the US mainstream media? That’s no coincidence because GE, the company that brought you Fukushima also owns, NBC, CNBS, USA Network, A&E, The History Channel, Bravo, SYFY, Lifetime, and The Biography Channel (just to name a few). ……….

December 27, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

The nuclear charlatans’ last refuge – their myth about climate change

Emperor's New Clothes 3

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition: Nuclear power and climate progress in the 21st century 17 DECEMBER 2015 Peter A. Bradford adjunct professor, Vermont Law School and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member

In the 15th year of the era formerly known as “the nuclear renaissance,” not a single molecule of carbon dioxide emission has been avoided by a renaissance reactor built in the United States or in Europe. Unless the 40-year-old Watts Bar 2 reactor scheduled to operate in Tennessee early in 2016 is called “renaissance,” this situation will not change for several more years.

Climate change, so urgent and so seemingly intractable, has become the last refuge of nuclear charlatans throughout the Western world. From well-meaning ideologues and editorial writers claiming that the unknowable is theirs to state with certainty, to paid advocates more skilled in pleasing and persuading government officials than furthering consumer and environmental well-being, prophetic arguments have swollen from a stream to a river and now merge with the Seine in Paris, threatening to submerge the world under a layer of nonsense rising as inexorably as the seas themselves.

We are told that:

  • Energy efficiency and renewables cannot save us because they are too costly, too small and too variable, despite their falling costs, rapidly rising deployment, and particular success in the world’s fourth largest economy in Germany.
  • The power markets that that have functioned reliably and efficiently for 20 years and that repeatedly reject nuclear as too expensive are “flawed” because they don’t reward nuclear for its benefits as to fuel diversity and reliability, and—in a valid criticism not fixable by uniquely nuclear subsidies—do not reflect the lack of carbon pricing in most of the United States.
  • Nuclear power’s problems of cost, delay, and inflexibility will soon be solved by new designs, if only misguided regulators and environmentalists will get out of the way, never mind that regulators and environmentalists have had no hand in the cancellation of some 25 renaissance reactors.

James Hansen, perhaps the most visible of the climate scientists who advocate heavy reliance on breeder or other innovative reactor designs without paying any attention to their track record of long and costly failure, has become ever more reminiscent of Groucho Marx leaping from a paramour’s bed to confront a disbelieving husband with: “Who are you going to believe, me or your eyes?”

Our eyes tell us that the breeder reactor technology has been abandoned in the United States, in France, in Germany, and in Britain. In Japan, the Monju breeder has operated one year out of the last 20. (See von Hippel et al, “Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status”). Of course success in technology often builds from many failures, but there are no signs of success on this horizon, and delay—as Hansen among others often tells us—allows ever more CO2 to concentrate in the skies to accelerate warming for decades regardless of the technologies deployed 20 years from now.

The op-ed that Hansen and three other scientists signed from Paris says that by building 115 reactors per year from now until 2050, we could eliminate fossil fuels from the electric sector. What these four nuclear horsemen don’t mention is that, using the cost of Britain’s proposed Hinkley station as a proxy (even though breeders and their attendant reprocessing facilities would surely cost more), this commitment would cost some $2 trillion per year, or $70 trillion altogether.

Making assumptions about renewables and efficiency plus electrical storage capacity that are more plausible than Hansen’s assumptions about an immediate reversal in the fortunes of breeder reactors, equivalent carbon reductions can be achieved at much lower cost and in less time, leaving money over for continuing research and development, even nuclear R&D.

Another group of scientists (including one of Hansen’s cosigners), also writing from Paris, said, “Our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown since 2007 without increases in energy consumption due in large part to major advances in fuel economy in vehicles and energy efficiency in buildings. Solar power comprised 32 percent of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. last year—a twelvefold increase in the amount of solar photovoltaic installations since just five years ago. Wind power now generates about five percent of our nation’s electricity, and in some regions already costs less than natural gas and coal-fired generation. Texas alone nearly doubled its wind energy generation between 2009 and 2014. Propelled by remarkable gains such as these, states and cities across our nation are setting ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.”

Our real challenge is to develop market rules and regulatory processes that allow low-carbon technologies to reap the rewards of their relative cleanliness while competing vigorously with each other to meet the needs of developing and developed nations. The economists who succeed in this urgent task are a much better bet than scientists who claim the gift of prophesy.

The Hansen letter contains these remarkably unself-aware sentences:

“To solve the climate problem, policy must be based on facts and not on prejudice.”

“The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking.”

“The future of our planet and our descendants depends on basing decisions on facts, and letting go of long held biases when it comes to nuclear power.”

Amen, brother.

December 21, 2015 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | 1 Comment

The nuclear snake oil salesmen now pitching Small Reactors as “green”

SMR green painted

The Sierra Club says it has all the makings of a snake-oil sale.  The organization would prefer the Obama administration abandon the extremely costly pursuit of advanced nuclear power in favor of greater investment in renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

Small-scale nuclear plants being pitched as new green, Albuquerque Journal, December 20th, 2015“……….State leaders aren’t necessarily rushing to embrace the vision in a place where all but one nuclear plant have been mothballed and where old-guard nuclear safety advocates warn that so-called advanced nuclear technologies are an attempt to put shiny earrings on the same old pig.

But the investors and nuclear scientists opening startup labs in the office parks of California’s technology hubs and within the research centers of universities see a more influential ally in the White House.

‘All of the above’ strategy Nuclear power is at the nub of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” strategy for reinventing the energy industry in an era of climate change, and its faith in the fraught power source has captured the imagination of some notable and deep-pocketed West Coast thinkers.

Investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have poured about $2 billion into a few dozen small outfits, many of which are concentrated in the West. …….

Nuclear déjà vu That may all be possible someday, say the nuclear experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, but that day is probably several decades and many tens of billions of dollars away. The sudden excitement around nuclear makes them nervous. They say they have seen this before. Continue reading

December 21, 2015 Posted by | spinbuster, technology, USA | 2 Comments

The new climate denialism – that renewable energy “doesn’t work”

mythmaker nuclearThere is a new form of climate denialism to look out for – so don’t celebrate yet, Guardian, Naomi Oreskes, 17 Dec 15   At the exact moment in which we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, we’re being told that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.

fter the signing of a historic climate pact in Paris, we might now hope that the merchants of doubt – who for two decades have denied the science and dismissed the threat – are officially irrelevant.

But not so fast. There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late, one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.

Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power. Just this past week, as negotiators were closing in on the Paris agreement, four climate scientists held an off-site session insisting that the only way we can solve the coupled climate/energy problem is with a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power. More than that, they are blaming environmentalists, suggesting that the opposition to nuclear power stands between all of us and a two-degree world.

That would have troubling consequences for climate change if it were true, but it is not. Numerous high quality studies, including one recently published by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, show that this isn’t so. We can transition to a decarbonized economy without expanded nuclear power, by focusing on wind, water and solar, coupled with grid integration, energy efficiency and demand management. In fact, our best studies show that we can do it faster, and more cheaply.

The reason is simple: experience shows that nuclear power is slow to build, expensive to run and carries the spectre of catastrophic risk. It requires technical expertise and organization that is lacking in many parts of the developing world (and in some part of the developed world as well). As one of my scientific colleagues once put it, nuclear power is an extraordinarily elaborate and expensive way to boil water.

The only country in the world that has ever produced the lion’s share of its electricity from nuclear is France, and they’ve done it in a fully nationalized industry – a model that is unlikely to be transferable to the US, particularly in our current political climate.

Even in the US, where nuclear power is generated in the private sector, it has been hugely subsidized by the federal government, which invested billions in its development in order to prove that the destructive power unleashed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be put to good use. The government also indemnified the industry from accidents, and took on the task of waste disposal – a task it has yet to complete.

 We also have to pay attention to the problem of continued fossil fuel development. Climate activists have focused attention on divestment as a means to remind the world that continued investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure is inconsistent with the decarbonized economy that we need…….

we probably won’t get very far if the alternatives to fossil fuel – such as renewable energy – are disparaged by a new generation of myths. If we want to see real solutions implemented, we need to be on the lookout for this new form of denial……The key to decarbonizing our economy is to build a new energy system that does not rely on carbon-based fuels. Scientific studies show that that can be done, it can be done soon and it does not require nuclear power.

December 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment

SO FAR, nuclear lobbyists have not managed to hijack climate action funding

Is the nuclear industry having any success winning over environmentalists? Around the margins, perhaps, but the ranks of‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ (PNEs – an acronym previous used to describe ‘peaceful nuclear explosions’) are very thin.Nuclear lobbyists’ epic COP21 fail. Our next job? Keep their hands off climate funds.


Nuclear lobbyists’ epic COP21 fail. Our next job? Keep their hands off climate funds, Ecologist Jim Green 16th December 2015 

nuclear industry has had a disappointing COP21, writes Jim Green. Lobbyists were there en masse desperately trying to get pro-nuclear wording into the Paris Agreement, and they failed. The word does not occur even once in the entire document. But we must prepare for the next battle: keeping nuclear power out of the $100 billion a year Green Climate Fund.

The nuclear industry and its supporters were busily promoting nuclear power – and attacking environmentalists – before and during the COP21 UN climate conference in Paris.

All the usual suspects were promoting nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source: the World Nuclear Association, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Energy Agency, the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, the US Nuclear Energy Institute, and so on.

The Breakthrough Institute has been promoting its pro-nuclear “paradigm-shifting advocacy for an ecomodernist future” and arguing against the “reactionary apocalyptic pastoralism” of anyone who disagrees with them. Continue reading

December 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Corporate Astroturf “Nuclear for Climate” is really a lobby group of 140 pro nuclear societies

astroturf nuclearNuclear for Climate isn’t a network of grassroots environmentalists, it’s a network of more than 140 nuclear societies. It isn’t grassroots environmentalism, it’s corporate astroturf.

Nuclear lobbyists’ epic COP21 fail. Our next job? Keep their hands off climate funds, Ecologist, Jim Green16th December 2015  “……..Robert Stone, director of the Pandora’s Promise pro-nuclear propaganda film, launched a ‘resource hub’ called Energy For Humanity, promoting “more advanced, mass-producible, passively safe, reactor designs”.

Rauli Partanen and Janne Korhonen, members of the Finnish Ecomodernist Society, have been attacking environmentalists for opposing nuclear power. Rebutting a rebuttal by Michael Mariotte from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Partanen and Korhonen offer this gem:

“Even the much-maligned Olkiluoto 3 nuclear project [in Finland] turns out to be very fast way of adding low-carbon energy production when compared to any real-world combination of alternatives.”

A single reactor that will take well over a decade to build (and is three times over budget) is a “very fast way” of adding low-carbon energy? Huh? Maybe that’s why a second reactor of the same EPR design to be built at Okiluoto was cancelled in May 2015, while the main players are locked in a €10 billion legal battle.

‘The instransigent network of anti-nukes’ versus Astroturf

Partanen and Korhanan authored a booklet called ‘Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future?‘, and crowdfunded the printing of 5,000 copies which were distributed for free at the COP21 conference.

James Hansen and three other climate scientists were in Paris to promote nuclear power. Hansen attacks the “intransigent network of anti-nukes” that has “grown to include ‘Big Green,’ huge groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and World Wide Fund for Nature. They have trained lawyers, scientists, and media staff ready to denounce any positive news about nuclear power.”

By way of sharp contrast, the impoverished US nuclear industry could only rustle up US$60 million (€55m) to lobby Congress and federal agencies in 2013-14.

So is there an undercurrent of grassroots pro-nuclear environmentalism waiting to burst forth if only their voice could cut through Big Green hegemony? Perhaps Nuclear for Climate, promoted as a ‘grassroots organization‘, is the environmental network to take on Big Green?

Well, no. Nuclear for Climate isn’t a network of grassroots environmentalists, it’s a network of more than 140 nuclear societies. It isn’t grassroots environmentalism, it’s corporate astroturf.

And the list of 140 associations includes 36 chapters of the ‘Women in Nuclear’ organisation and 43 chapters of the ‘Young Generation Network’. One wonders whether these organisations have any meaningful existence. Does Tanzania really have a pro-nuclear Young Generation Network? Don’t young people in Tanzania have better things to do?

Nuclear for Climate has a website, a hashtag, a twitter handle and all the modern social media sine qua non. But it has some work to do with its messaging. One of its COP21 memes was: ‘The radioactive waste are not good for the climate? Wrong!’ So radioactive waste is good for the climate?!


December 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby in frantic mode at Paris Climate Summit

Nuclear Champions go into Overdrive 11 Dec 15 

cartoon-climate-conPro-nuclear lobbyists and nuclear industry champions have been in overdrive during the Paris Climate Conference.

They seem to be making a desperate last-ditch effort to convince us all that nuclear power is an important part of the answer to the climate crisis with blatant attacks on those who envisage a future based on renewable energy without nuclear. (1) But the truth is that nuclear power is a dangerous distraction from what we really need to be doing. Because every pound spent on nuclear power could have been spent more effectively, making greater reductions in carbon emissions, nuclear is actually damaging efforts to tackle climate change.

NASA scientist James Hansen was in Paris to berate climate campaigners for failing to support nuclear power. But Hansen ignores renewables and energy efficiency, setting up a false choice between fossil fuels and nuclear. (2) Hansen doesn’t just want more nuclear power, but he wants next-generation nuclear power stations fuelled with weapons-useable plutonium, extracted from spent fuel in reprocessing plants like Sellafield, which runs the risk of more weapons proliferation problems in future. (3)

A big part of the pro-nuclear argument seems to be based on the idea that renewable energy currently provides only a tiny part of global electricity supply and cannot scale up rapidly enough to replace fossil fuels. Nuclear power, on the other hand, the argument goes, could do so. Hansen wants 115 new reactors to be built every year – yet the world has never built more than 40 a year. (4) Fortunately the concept of a world powered by 100% renewable energy is no longer seen as a pipedream but as a necessary and, more importantly, achievable goal at every level–from individuals to large corporations, and from small communities to large cities. (5)

Bill Gates also made headlines with his “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” fund to come up with new energy solutions, including “advanced” nuclear reactors. It’s not that innovation is unwelcome, but the climate can’t afford to hang around whilst we wait for “Energy Miracles”. As investment bank Goldman Sachs has pointed out we already have cost-effective and climate-effective technology available. What the climate really needs right now is the large-scale deployment of these existing technologies. Gates and his billionaires’ club should be distributing funds to empower communities, and incentivize the massive deployment of energy efficiency and existing renewable technology now rather waiting for miracles which might never happen, or will happen too late to make a difference. (6)Even under EDF’s most optimistic scenario we will have to wait another decade for Hinkley Point C to contribute anything to reducing carbon emissions. And even then its effectiveness will be limited because of the vast amount of fossil fuels used to extract uranium from the ground. One recent study showed the nuclear life-cycle producing six times the carbon dioxide produced by wind and double what is produced by solar. (7) Ian Fairlie, Paul Dorfman, David Lowry and Jonathon Porritt pointed out in a letter to The Guardian this week that “nuclear power is a poor method of reducing carbon emissions: its uranium ore and fuel processes have heavy carbon footprints. Indeed, of the ways to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sphere, nuclear is by far the most expensive in terms of pound per tonne of carbon saved.” (8)

Meanwhile the UK Government seems intent on demonstrating to the rest of the world that nuclear power is too expensive to play a part in tackling climate change and leads to the slashing of budgets for faster and much more effective ways of reducing carbon emissions. References …..

December 12, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Breakthrough Institute etc – more like snake oil salesmen for nuclear

Thorium-snake-oilNuclear pitched as the new green, Charlotte Observer , 9 Dec 15  BY EVAN HALPER“……..Investors, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, have poured about $2 billion into a few dozen small outfits, many of which are concentrated in the West. The entrepreneurs behind them are racing to design nuclear power facilities engineered to seem no more imposing than a neighborhood arts center……

That may all be possible someday, say the nuclear experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, but that day is probably several decades and many tens of billions of dollars away. The sudden excitement around nuclear makes them nervous. They say they have seen this before.

“The people who deny or downplay the risks involved are doing a disservice to the future of nuclear power that leads to complacency, and complacency leads to Fukushima,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the organization. “This is very complex. It is hard. It costs a lot. It is slow, especially to develop advanced systems. … It seems nuclear will at most be a minor contribution over the next few decades to dealing with the climate crisis.”……

The Sierra Club says it has all the makings of a snake-oil sale.

“There is always such a rosy picture coming from the industry of what it can deliver with these technologies, yet it has such a terrible history with over-promising and under-delivering,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s director of international climate programs. The organization would prefer the Obama administration abandon the extremely costly pursuit of advanced nuclear power in favor of greater investment in renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

But that’s not the direction the White House is headed. It hosted a nuclear power summit last month during which John Holdren, the president’s senior adviser on science and technology, expressed hope of “making nuclear energy everything that it can be, and thus a major contributor in this country and worldwide to minimizing the risks from climate change.”…….

The administration announced its budget plan, including $900 million in new funding for development of advanced nuclear technologies, as well as plans to allow firms like UPower and Transatomic access to testing facilities in federally funded national research labs, which the firms had been lobbying for. This year, the House passed a resolution nudging regulators to nurture the industry.

Such moves have come at the urging of some muscular neoliberal think tanks in California and Washington, D.C.

The Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, where philanthropist Rachel Pritzker and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand sit on the board, has been a major proponent of the technologies as a solution to climate change, most famously in the 2013 documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Pritzker is also on the board of Third Way, an influential advocacy group best known for helping centrist Democrats find bipartisan approaches to policy disputes. The group, which receives some nuclear industry funding, is leading the push in Washington…….

December 11, 2015 Posted by | spinbuster | 2 Comments

Climate Change Denialism – money buys opinion

Follow the money to climate science denial,8472 Graham Readfearn 10 December 2015A Greenpeace investigation uncovers a complex climate science denial machine involving cash from big business in exchange for “peer review” studies.Graham Readfearn from DeSmogBlogreports.


AN UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION by environment group Greenpeace has found some of the world’s most vocal climate science denial groups were willing to accept cash from fossil fuel interests in return for writing articles and reports that reject the impacts of greenhouses gases. Continue reading

December 11, 2015 Posted by | climate change, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment


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