Nuclear Weapons Complex That Couldn’t Keep Out 82-Year-Old Nun Is Still Unsafe, Mother Jones, 3 Sept 15 Audit shows security gaps persist in a $50 million security system at the Y-12 nuclear complex that stores enough fissile material for 10,000 nuclear bombs. By Patrick Malone and Center for Public Integrity Thu Sep. 3, 2015 A good security system would seem essential for the federal repository holding virtually all of the nation’s highly enriched uranium, a key ingredient of nuclear weapons, just outside Knoxville,Tenn.
But the high-tech system installed at a cost of roughly $50 million over the past decade at the Department of Energy’s Y-12 complex is still riddled with flaws that impede its operation, according to a newly released report by the department’s top auditor. Moreover, no one knows how much the government will have to spend to fix it or when that task might be accomplished, the report says.
Flaws in the site’s security system first came into national view in July 2012, when an 82-year-old nun and two other anti-nuclear activists cut through fences and walked through a field of motion detectors to deface the exterior of Y-12’s Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, which holds enough explosives to make 10,000 nuclear bombs. Subsequent investigations concluded that those monitoring the few critical sensors that were operating that day had been trained to ignore them by persistent false alarms, including many triggered by wildlife.
But not much has changed since that break-in, according to the report by Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman, even though the department spent more than a million dollars in 2012 to get a consultant’s advice about how to make the system work better, and then millions more completing the installation of high-tech sensors in 2013. The report says that the so-called Argus security system, which was developed by DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and named optimistically after the fabled 100-eyed monster of Greek mythology, “did not fully meet the site’s security needs” and was not installed the way it was designed to be used. It’s still prone to frequent false alarms and falls short of the Energy Department’s requirements…….. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/09/audit-shows-security-gaps-persist-nuclear-weapons-complex
President Barack Obama attacks climate change denying politicians as not being fit to lead, ABC Radio Will Ockenden reported this story on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 ELEANOR HALL: The president of the United States has issued a warning to other world leaders about the need to act urgently to reduce carbon emissions.
Barack Obama says climate change is happening faster than efforts to fix it and that any world leader unwilling to take the problem seriously is “not fit to lead”. The US president says, while there should be debate on the best way to address climate change, the science on global warming is settled and the time to act is now.
Will Ockenden reports.
WILL OCKENDEN: President Barack Obama says the world has reached a fork in the road on climate change.
One route is to continue on, without doing anything.
BARACK OBAMA: There’s not going to be a nation on this Earth that’s not impacted negatively. People will suffer. Economies will suffer. Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems; more drought, more floods, rising sea levels, greater migration, more refugees, more scarcity, more conflict.
WILL OCKENDEN: The other, a global agreement to cut emissions.
BARACK OBAMA: The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it. The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past.
Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone; they’re on their own shrinking island.
WILL OCKENDEN: President Obama’s comments were addressed at the opening of the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Alaska.
GLACIER stands for Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience.
The comments come ahead of a key meeting, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Paris in December…..http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2015/s4303846.htm
Aurora Energy suspending uranium exploration in Labrador, CBC News Company cites low prices for decision to mothball Labrador operation CBC News Sep 01, 2015 Aurora Energy has announced it is suspending uranium exploration in Labrador and is blaming lower commodity prices for the decision.
Ches Andersen, Aurora’s vice-president of Labrador affairs, said since there’s no mining underway, the parent company will mothball the Labrador operation…..
Aurora is a member of the Paladin Energy Ltd. Group of Companies, based in Australia.
Lifting of moratoriumThe issue of uranium mining in Labrador has been a divisive one.The Nunatsiavut government narrowly passed a controversial bill to put a moratorium on exploration in place in April 2008.
The decision to lift the moratorium was made unanimously late in 2011….http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/aurora-energy-suspending-uranium-exploration-in-labrador-1.3209939
Change the Military-Industrial Complex, not the Climate, America’s Program By Alfredo Acedo | 31 / August / 2015 This year, the governments of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21). Their goal will be to try to come to a binding universal agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They will negotiate a new protocol—the Paris Protocol—this time obligatory for all nations. And just like in the debates leading up to it, during the meetings of COP21, two incompatible positions will be represented:
To keep doing business with the climate crisis, without substantially reducing emissions nor questioning the dominant economic and social model, at the risk of changing the climate dangerously and irreversibly past the border of the oft-cited 2 degrees Celsius…or to change the system.
The first position will be dominant at the COP21, represented by the governments aligned with Washington and corporations. The second will be defended by social movements and civil organizations around the world, through massive demonstrations and representatives who will attend the alternative space of the People’s Summit, also in Paris. The People’s Summit will be surrounded by the geopolitical-military interests of the United States that revolve around oil..
The United States government, after historically staying on the sidelines of the international agreements to reduce emissions, now intends to lead the process. But President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the recent US domestic policy proposal regarding climate change that was announced as “the biggest step yet to combat climate change” leading up to the Paris Summit, has proved to be the mountain in labor: a mouse that will try to limit carbon emissions from coal power plants (truly anachronistic beasts), by 32 percent in comparison with 2005, over the next 15 years. A government that makes such ineffectual efforts domestically will offer only ineffectual leadership to the international effort to stop climate change.
If the new standards for energy production put forward in President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (which have unleashed the hysteria of the Republican right), many plants will be forced to close. However, these plants should have closed years ago; by virtue of not being subject to regulation, they have been able to contaminate with impunity and have continued operating for double their life expectancy.
Beyond nice-sounding phrases (“we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it”), the Plan’s diagnostic element, which corresponds to scientific consensus, does little more than underline the huge gap between the seriousness of the issue, which Obama admits, and the insufficient measures that the Plan contains. It does not look at the contaminating industry as a whole, and it does not take back the administration’s actions that led to fracking and gave a green light to Shell for Arctic drilling.
The Pentagon and Petroleum
Obama used a meeting with the Pentagon to argue that climate change presents national security risks, but he would never even consider including the armed forces in his emissions reduction plan.
The military-industrial complex that holds power in the world is the principle levee holding back the currents that are trying to limit and eventually do away with our civilization’s addiction to fossil fuels.
What is the institution that consumes the most petroleum in the world? The Yankee army. Who guarantees the continued hegemony of the global system led by oil companies (and others)? The Yankee army.
This is why the transition to clean and renewable energy sources is so difficult. …….
There is no time to wait for renewable energy to achieve the density that the military industrial complex requires. The change needs to take place in the short term—in the current decade, let’s say—and this means reducing not only emissions but also energy consumption itself, and radically transforming our transportation systems, production and consumption.
The climate crisis obligates us to make deep changes in the development model, the capitalist system and in civilization itself. In order to avoid the worst climate effects, it is urgent that we abandon the logic of infinite growth (unviable in a finite world), that we reduce consumption of energy and that we accelerate the transition to clean and renewable sources.
But it is also necessary to do away with poverty. Close to one billion people in the planet go to sleep every day near the limits of survival. If there is something that characterizes the global capitalist world—in addition to planetary militarization—it is the enormous gap between rich and poor, which has grown tremendously in the last 30 years. Militarism and poverty are two sides of the same coin. It is estimated that with close to 5% of current military spending, extreme poverty could be eradicated.
A new model of development, one that would correct the deviations that have brought humanity to a dead end, should be based on economic solidarity, food sovereignty and Good Living. The economy should produce wellbeing for all without destroying the environment. The society would create harmony to the extent that all benefits would have an equal impact, without exploiting workers, discriminating against women, or violating social rights and individual guarantees.
This crisis demands that we put a stop to free-market globalization and simultaneously end militarism, two very expensive elements of the current dominant system. http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/16005
Baker Urges Plymouth Nuclear Plant Owners To Correct Safety Problems September 3, 2015
By WBUR NEWSROOM Gov. Charlie Baker is urging the operators of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to take action after federal inspectors announced they would be increasing oversight of the plant due to safety violations.
In a letter Thursday to Entergy Nuclear Operations, Baker expressed concern that the company hadn’t taken action to address the causes of several unplanned shutdowns at the Plymouth plant dating back to 2013.
He urged Entergy to “perform an appropriate root cause analysis of the shutdowns and to complete all necessary repairs and corrective actions.”……..http://www.wbur.org/2015/09/03/baker-pilgrim-nuclear
Vote tally supporting Iran nuclear deal rises to 31 in Senate , CBS News 30 Aug 15 WASHINGTON — Oregon’s Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley on Sunday became the 31st senator to announce support for the Iran nuclear deal, as momentum builds behind the agreement the Obama administration and other world powers negotiated with Tehran.
Merkley’s backing puts supporters within reach of the 34 votes required to uphold a presidential veto of a congressional resolution disapproving the agreement, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
August 30, 2015 by Alisa Nelson Ameren has started moving spent fuel into its new dry cask storage facility in Callaway County that will hold a portion of that fuel. Shannon Abel with Ameren said the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also involved in the move to ensure the process is done safely……http://www.missourinet.com/2015/08/30/ameren-begins-moving-nuclear-waste-to-central-missouri-site/
Frank Munger, Aug 29, 2015 Union workers at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant — a sister plant to Y-12 in Oak Ridge — this week rejected a final contract offer and voted to go on strike, effective at midnight Friday…… http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local-news/1100-union-workers-to-strike-at-nuclear-weapons-plant_52487665
At the 25th United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues in Hiroshima, Japan, which ended today, representatives of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement emphasized the need for governments to take urgent action to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons through a binding international agreement.
In his speech at the conference, IFRC President Konoe reminded participants that the Movement stands united in working towards the crucial goal of eliminating the threat of nuclear war, stating that, “nuclear weapons and their terrible humanitarian consequences threaten the existence of each and every one of us. In the eventuality of nuclear detonation, no international capacity exists or could ever exist to assist those affected or to protect those delivering assistance.”
Thousands of people are still receiving continuous medical care for radiation related diseases at the two Red Cross atomic bomb hospitals in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Former Director of the hospital in Hiroshima, Dr. Masao TOMONAGA, stressed the urgent need to transfer the experiences from the atomic bombings in 1945 to the next generation while the last survivors are still alive. “I am determined to do whatever I can, since I am also a Hibakusha (atomic bomb victim).” Dr Tominaga stated in his speech……..
At the Conference, which took place only weeks after the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, participants expressed anxiety over the lack of progress in disarmament. These worries are in part triggered by the failure of States to reach agreement on a substantive final declaration at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York in May this year.
The IFRC’s President Konoe, spoke of his renewed determination to mobilize the entire Red Cross Red Crescent movement to ensure greater progress towards nuclear disarmament. Since the end of the Second World War, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has been calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and in 2011 the appealed to governments to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used………. http://www.ifrc.org/en/news-and-media/news-stories/asia-pacific/japan/red-cross-red-crescent-reiterates-its-call-for-nuclear-disarmament–69280/#sthash.IBq3qDiB.dpuf
Recently found in American backyards: nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project http://qz.com/490331/recently-found-in-american-backyards-nuclear-waste-from-the-manhattan-project/ The US Army Corps of Engineers announced last week (Aug. 19) that a residential area in Missouri’s St. Louis County is contaminated with radioactive waste. Significant levels of thorium 230, a radioactive isotope, were discovered in public parks and private yards that have been touched by floodwaters from Coldwater Creek, a tributary of the Missouri River.
Around 2011, residents in the area began suspecting that their community had turned into a cancer cluster, with higher-than-averagerates of cancer and other illnesses due to contamination from the creek. As Al Jazeera reported in series of articles this April, the residential yards and public parks subject to Coldwater Creek flooding had never been tested for radioactive isotopes. Testing at sites directly alongside the creek only began in June of this year, followed by the more recent investigations of contamination in areas subject to the creek’s floods.
Rutherford H. Platt: A nuclear theater of the absurd, GazetteNet.com By RUTHERFORD H. PLATT Friday, August 28, 2015 NORTHAMPTON — Doctors Andrew Larkin and Ira Helfand in their columns marking the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima (Gazette, Aug. 6) remind us once again that this planet remains on the slippery slope to self-annihilation.
Amid a whirlwind of competing threats — climate change, natural disasters, economic instability, epidemics, racism, and the international immigration crisis — it is so easy to ignore that we remain on the precipice of nuclear catastrophe from accident, miscalculation, or deliberate intent…….. the biggest absurdity of all is why we allow our government to continue waging the Cold War at endless cost to the nation and at the risk of all humankind. http://www.gazettenet.com/home/18341787-95/rutherford-h-platt-a-nuclear-theater-of-the-absurd
Tutu, Klein and Chomsky call for mass climate action ahead of Paris conference, Guardian, Emma Howard, 26 Aug 15 Artists, journalists, scientists and academics among 100 signatories calling for mobilisation on scale of slavery abolition and anti-apartheid movements Desmond Tutu, Vivienne Westwood, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are among a group of high-profile figures who will issue a mass call to action on Thursday ahead of the UN’s crunch climate change conference in Paris in December.
They call for mass mobilisation on the scale of the slavery abolition and anti-apartheid movements to trigger “a great historical shift”.
Their statement, published in the book Stop Climate Crimes, reads: “We are at a crossroads. We do not want to be compelled to survive in a world that has been made barely liveable for us … slavery and apartheid did not end because states decided to abolish them. Mass mobilisations left political leaders no other choice.”…..
There are now less than 100 days until the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, where leaders from more than 190 countries will gather to discuss a potential new agreement on climate change. Last week the EU’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete warned that negotiations ahead of the conference must accelerate if any agreement is to be meaningful.
Artists, journalists, scientists and academics are among the 100 signatories to the statement alongside activists Vandana Shiva, Nnimmo Bassey and Yeb Sano, the Filipino diplomat who lead a fast of hundreds at the 2013 UN climate change summit in Poland after typhoon Haiyan devastated his country.
They target corporations and international trade, calling for an end to government subsidies for fossil fuels and a freeze on extraction.
“Decades of liberalisation of trade and investments have undermined the capacity of states to confront the climate crisis. At every stage powerful forces – fossil fuel corporations, agro-business companies, financial institutions, dogmatic economists, sceptics and deniers, and governments in the thrall of these interests – stand in the way or promote false solutions. Ninety companies are responsible for two-thirds of recorded greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Genuine responses to climate change threatens their power and wealth, threatens free market ideology, and threatens the structures and subsidies that support and underwrite them,” they state……..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/26/campaigners-mass-climate-action-paris-conference-noam-chomsky
Fukushima today: A first-person account from the field and the conference table, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26 Aug 15 Subrata Ghoshroy
“……… A key goal of the conference was the public announcement that the Japan Scientists’ Association formally opposed nuclear power in Japan, and that its opposition was based upon scientific analysis of the accident in Fukushima and its impact. This about-face was a major step; it meant that some of the same Japanese scientists who had been the most forceful and outspoken proponents of nuclear energy now opposed it. To bolster the impact of this statement, the association had to show both the economic and technical feasibility of alternative sources of energy. Consequently, much of the meeting focused on the lessons learned from the experiences of other countries, and the keynote speaker of the conference, professor Juergen Scheffran of Hamburg University, Germany, gave the European perspective on the implications of the transition from fossil and nuclear to renewable energy. The focus was especially on Germany, which is in the middle of its own planned transition to a non-nuclear future.
With that in mind, Reiner Braun, co-president of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland, spoke about the status of the German exit from nuclear power and entrance into renewables. Known as Energiewende in German (literally “energy turn”), it would entail shutting down all nuclear plants by 2022, with seven plants shut down immediately. The renewable energy sector would be expanded at the same time that there was a step-by-step reduction in fossil fuel use; modern natural gas plants are to be used as a transition technology. Structural changes would also be made to the distribution network to account for the decentralized nature of the new energy supply.
Braun, a veteran of the protest movements against nuclear weapons and nuclear power, said it was important to understand why a politically conservative government had made this U-turn. A vast majority of the German people had rejected nuclear energy and there were decades of organized resistance, starting with massive protests against the stationing of NATO’s tactical weapons on German soil. While progress was promising so far, Braun reminded his audience that Energiewende was the “largest technological challenge” faced by the country since the post-WW II reconstruction efforts. The political challenges, meanwhile, were comparable to those encountered after the reunification of the two Germanys after the end of the Cold War.
But there was no doubt it had to be done, or that Japan could learn from observing the German experience. The feeling from the meeting was best summed up by the conference chair, Tsuyoshi Kawasaki, an expert on climate science and an emeritus professor at Tohoku University. Kawasaki ended his brief remarks with the words: “The Japanese Scientists’ Association believes that human beings and nuclear power cannot coexist.”
…………Editor’s note: The conference was organized in collaboration with the International Network of Engineers and Scientists; other conference organizers included Keiiji Ujikawa, (an economics professor at Yokohama National University, Shinjiro Hagiwara (an emeritus professor of economics at the same institution), and Fujio Yamamoto, (an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at Fukui University.)
The author had made a video presentation earlier about his visit to Fukushima at a meeting in Boston. http://thebulletin.org/fukushima-today-first-person-account-field-and-conference-table8683#.Vd6Rj7YbwEs.twitter
This Former Nuclear Industry Executive Claims the Fukushima Cleanup Plan Is Infeasible, VICE, August 12, 2015 by Thomas Marsh “………….Arnie Gundersen: I can’t reveal my sources, but they are very significant diplomats who have told me that the pressure on the Diet (Japanese parliament) from the electric companies is astronomical. The companies that own the plants want to get their money back, but these plants have been shut down for five years and the staff of approximately seven hundred people have been retained; and the taxes have been paid, and the towns that they are in haven’t seen any decline in their economy… even though these plants aren’t generating revenue. So where does the money come from?
The answer is that two or so billion dollars has been lent by banks to keep the utilities afloat, because utilities don’t have two billion dollars in cash sitting around. Now, it’s payback time for the bankers, and between the banks who want their two or three billion back, and the utilities that want their investment—which is probably in the order of $10 or $20 billion—back, then the pressure on the Diet is astronomical. Big money is pushing very hard to get these reactors started back up.
So you say they’ve proposed a 30-year cleanup, and you don’t think this is possible, correct?
No, I’m sure it’s not. A normal, clean power plant takes about ten years to decommission, and by “clean” I mean where literally the workers are working in street clothes most of the time. There are very few places in the plant where they’d have to put on what we call PCs—protective clothing. The white uniforms you see all over Fukushima… I’ve worked in nuclear power plants and only once or twice have had to wear those.
You can literally walk through most power plants in your street clothes, and the reason they have to wear them outside at Fukushima is because the radiation fields are so high. What’s happening now is that the ground is highly radioactive. In some areas where the radiation level is so high they’ve even put steel plates on top of the ground so that people could walk there. That’s not a normal decommissioning………
It’s a show. This is all about showing the Japanese that it’s not too bad, and we can run our other 40 or so plants fine, trust us. It’s definitely symbolic for the Japanese, but the real reason is the banks want their money back…….http://www.vice.com/read/japan-fukushima-clean-up
Japan Times, 25 Aug 15
BLOOMBERG Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s road back to becoming a nuclear power utility remains uncertain amid staunch local opposition to restarting the facility at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture. …. (subscribers only) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/24/national/tepco-bid-restart-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-plant-stymied-governor/#.VdzatiWqpHw
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