The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

NUCLEAR POWER and NUCLEAR WEAPONS – theme for August 2016

In 1996 the International Court of Justice issued its landmark advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The court unanimously held that nations have a legal obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control…..

The continuing radiation crisis in Fukushima has alerted governments and public across the world to the inherent dangers of nuclear technology for electricity production. ICAN points out that the starting material is the same and the effects of radiation are completely indiscriminate and identical whether it is radiation from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. …

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes | 1 Comment

Majority of governments at UN vote for 2017 conference on banning nuclear weapons

world-nuclear-weapons-freeflag-UN-SmOverwhelming Majority: Ban The Bomb In
Huffington Post, Susi Snyder Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for Pax in the Netherlands 08/19/2016 A nuclear working group at text-relevantthe UN concluded its work in Geneva today and the majority of governments voted to recommended that the UN General Assembly set up a conference in 2017 to negotiate a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction that are not outlawed by international treaty. But that is about to change.

2017 Conference
After more than twenty years of nothing, this working group just had a breakthrough. 107 governments said they support:

“The convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017 open to all states, international organisations, and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination”

It was a group of Pacific Island countries that said these exact words first. Diplomats who have personal connections with nuclear weapons- relatives who remember seeing the bombs explode in the distance. Friends that can never go home to what were once islands of paradise, and are now radioactive wastelands.

The 54 member African Group, the 33 member Community of Latin America and Caribbean countries (33) also voiced their support for a conference in 2017. For the first time, the ASEAN grouping (11) added their collective voice to this call for negotiations next year on a new nuclear weapons treaty.

It is now up to the October meeting of the UN General Assembly First Committee to take up this recommendation, and set up a meeting next year to negotiate a new treaty to finally make nuclear weapons illegal.

Putting people first
This breakthrough is result of the new global discourse on nuclear weapons. Since Norway hosted the first conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2013, the effect of the weapons on humans and the environment has taken center stage……

August 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference

world-nuclear-weapons-freeAstana to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference BY AIMAN text-relevantTUREBEKOVA  24 AUGUST 2016

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital will host the international conference “Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World,” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and commemorating UN International Day against Nuclear Tests at the Palace of Independence Aug. 29, the Senate of the Parliament announced.

The Kazakh Senate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) have co-organised the conference.

It will be addressed by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and will bring together parliamentarians, representatives of international organisations, civil activists, scholars, mayors and media from around the world.

The event will include a plenary session and four panel sessions: “Security without nuclear weapons or war: Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”; “A nuclear test ban and the role of the UN in achieving nuclear disarmament;” “National prohibition and nuclear-weapons-free zones. Geography of a sustainable world;” “Initiatives and campaigns – legislators, religious leaders and civil society”.

Conference participants will commemorate victims of nuclear tests, consider current disarmament  issues and make proposals on how to strengthen international security.

According to Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the 25th anniversary since the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is a date of global significance.

“President Nursultan Nazarbayev is recognised as a leader of the global antinuclear movement. His decision on the full closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site is the first and the only such case in the disarmament history of the world. The idea of complete nuclear disarmament underpins the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.” The anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is the best opportunity for the entire world community to consider the paramount importance of establishing sustainable peace on the planet and to propose new common solutions to security problems,” he said on the eve of the event.

On Dec. 2, 2009, at Kazakhstan’s initiative, the UN unanimously declared Aug. 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests. “For nearly a decade as UN Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world, as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break long-standing deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a special message on this year’s International Day against Nuclear Tests.

In his message, made public by the UN shortly prior to the date, Ban Ki-moon said, “Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific.”

He continued, “A prohibition on all nuclear testing will end this poisonous legacy. It will boost momentum for other disarmament measures by showing that multilateral cooperation is possible, and it will build confidence for other regional security measures, including a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. When I visited Semipalatinsk in 2010, I saw the toxic damage – but I also witnessed the resolve of the victims and survivors. I share their determination to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The UN Secretary General went on to urge Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation member states to act now.

“Those states whose ratification is required to bring the treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All states that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act,” he said.

Kazakhstan knows well those catastrophic human consequences. The Soviet nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk site, caused illnesses and premature death to an estimated 1.5 million people and contaminated a huge area.

The Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century,” which was released by Nazarbayev earlier this year, is another contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and to an end to war. The main idea of the manifesto is to prevent war by utilising common security and international law approaches such as diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Kazakhstan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK figuring out how to get out of the Hinkley nuclear power deal

Hinkley planflag-UKHinkley Point nuclear power station: Whitehall officials ‘exploring ways UK could pull out of deal’ Theresa May’s administration called an unexpected halt to the project amid security and viability concerns, Independent Joe Watts Political Editor @JoeWatts_  Thursday 25 August 2016 Whitehall officials reviewing the massive Hinkley Point nuclear project are exploring how the UK might withdraw from the deal while minimising financial risk and damage to international relations, it has been claimed.

Westminster sources told The Independent civil servants are looking to see if there is any loophole, clause or issue in contracts yet to be signed that allow the Government to pull back without huge loss and while also saving face.

Ministers are acutely aware of the potential damage a withdrawal could do to relations with China, which is committed to pouring billions of pounds into the controversial project.

Former Chancellor George Osborne was an enthusiastic supporter of the £18 billion scheme, but since Theresa May’s arrival it is being reviewed by the new administration.  A Whitehall source said: “There is a working assumption of people in government that the civil service is looking for a way out, a legal loophole, a clause.

“They are looking for anything that will allow the Government to withdraw and also allow the Chinese to withdraw while also saving face.”

It was expected last month when the board of French energy company EDF voted to go ahead with Hinkley C power station that the British Government would give its approval.

Instead new Business Secretary Greg Clark announced he needed more time to make a decision.

It followed claims that the price promised for Hinkley’s electricity at £92.50 per MWh, more than double the wholesale price, was too expensive……..

EDF may also have problems fulfilling its end of any agreement. The company’s finance director Thomas Piquemal resigned earlier this year, fearing Hinkley could lead to the firm’s insolvency.
title=”24 August 2016 16:26 London”>A senior Government figure said: “The other thing no-one is talking about is what happens after the French election.

“Hollande is not going to be there and it is not clear whether Sarkozy or Juppe are committed to it.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “No contract has been signed and it is only right that a new Government considers all component parts carefully before making a final decision.”

August 26, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

The First Nuclear Decommissioning Project in Taiwan

  1. Mon, Sep 5, 2016
flag-TaiwanTaiwan started with a new government on 20 May, who will be in power in the next 4 to 8 years. (same government can be re-elected once) The new government officially announced Taiwan will become “nuclear home free land”. By law, Taiwan will decommission the first nuclear power plant by 2018. The energy source will be replaced by renewable energy, coal fire power plant and LNG. Taiwan is also facing serious challenge to manage its nuclear waste that has no place to allocate them. Many local protesters refused a dry storage site build near their neighborhood, Taiwan Power Company has awarded the contract to deliver a Decommission Plan for the first nuclear power plant in May last year. UKTI Taipei is planning to bring a nuclear mission to Taiwan in early Nov.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Japan protests, as North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

submarine-missileflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile into Sea of Japan, officials say, ABC News 24 Aug 16, text-relevant North Korea has fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, the latest in a string of missile launches by the isolated country in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Key points:

  • The missile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone
  • Japan President Shinzo Abe slams ‘unforgiveable act’
  • China, Japan and South Korea’s Foreign Ministers were due to meet in Tokyo today

The missile was fired at around 5:30am (local time) from near the coastal city of Sinpo, where satellite imagery shows a submarine base to be located, and flew about 500 kilometres before splashing into the Sea of Japan, US and South Korean officials said.

The projectile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), an area of control designated by countries to help maintain air security, according to Japanese and South Korean authorities

“This is the first time a missile from North Korea was launched from a submarine into our country’s air-defence identification zone,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters, adding that Japan had lodged a stern protest………

August 26, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Command and Control ‘Another very real danger from nuclear weapons – accidents

FilmDONALD TRUMP’S GLIB TALK ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS OBSCURES A GREATER text-relevantDANGER, Newsweek BY ON 8/23/16 A nuclear holocaust, like death itself, is something we’d rather not think about. So we don’t, much, except when some figure of note starts talking about using hydrogen bombs to settle a problem. Someone like Donald Trump.

But the shock and outrage over Trump’s recent loose talk about making Japan and South Korea develop their own nukes or dropping a bomb on the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, obscures a more prosaic but arguably more imminent danger, according to a new documentary—a warhead going off by accident.

Command and Control, directed by veteran filmmaker Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) and based on a best-selling book of the same name by Eric Schlosser, aims to widen the discussion about the threat posed by the thousands of nuclear weapons in U.S. hands (and, by extension, other countries’ as well). Developed in concert with PBS’s long-running American Experienceseries but slated for a limited September theatrical debut in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the uncommonly gripping documentary focuses more on the frightening number of weapons mishaps than the missteps that could trigger a nuclear war. It skips over near-disasters involving panicky U.S. and Russian radar crews picking up incoming missile “ghosts” and nearly launching massive counterstrike orders. Instead, citing recently declassified Energy Department figures, it burrows into one of the “more than a thousand accidents and incidents involving our nuclear weapons,” including the loss of eight warheads, one still buried somewhere in the soil of North Carolina.

Why any one of these incidents hasn’t ended in a mass disaster is “pure luck,” Schlosser says in the film. “And the problem with luck is it eventually runs out.” Think about your laptop or car, he suggests. “Nuclear weapons are machines,” he says. “And every machine ever invented eventually goes wrong.”……..

Two hydrogen bombs, for example, fell from a B-52 that broke up in flight and was spiraling down over North Carolina in 1961. One of the bombs “went through all of its arming steps to detonate, and when that weapon hit the ground, a firing signal was sent,” Schlosser says in the film. “And the only thing that prevented a full-scale detonation of a powerful hydrogen bomb in North Carolina was a single safety switch.”

Peurifoy describes the switch as not much more than something you might find on a desk lamp. “If the right two wires had touched,” he says, “the bomb would have detonated. Period.” The exploding 4-megaton warhead, about 267 times as powerful as the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima 71 years ago, would have instantly obliterated much of North Carolina and produced a mushroom cloud and deadly radiation plumes poisoning people and crops as far north as New York………..

August 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Resources -audiovicual, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN Security Council warned on danger of nuclear drone terror attacks

drone-near-nuclear-plantBritain warns UN security council it MUST act over threat of nuclear drone terror attacks BRITAIN has warned the UN security council that not enough is being done to prevent chemical, nuclear and biological weapons finding their way into the hands of terrorists. Express, By SIOBHAN MCFADYEN , Aug 25, 2016 And they say evolving terrorist threats include materials created through technological advances including 3D printers and drones. The British Government is worried that border security is not tight enough to prevent the materials from falling into the wrong hands.

And they say that the security council, which is being chaired by Spain, should be able to implement an action plan before the end of the year.

UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Matthew Rycroft spoke to the council this week as fears the UN is not moving fast enough to clamp down on terrorists. Mr Rycroft said: “The threat of toxic, poisonous or nuclear materials falling into the hands of non-state actors, particularly terrorists, is a top priority that requires the closest cooperation between all Member States, as well as civil society and industry…….

August 26, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Huge volume of Greenland lost each year, due to global warming

ice-sheets-meltingGlobal warming is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, fast The Greenland Ice Sheet is losing 110 million Olympic size swimming pools worth of water each year, Guardian, , 25 Aug 16 A new study measures the loss of ice from one of world’s largest ice sheets. They find an ice loss that has accelerated in the past few years, and their measurements confirm prior estimates.

As humans emit heat-trapping gases, we expect to see changes to the Earth. One obvious change to be on the lookout for is melting ice. This includes ice atop mountains, ice floating in cold ocean waters, and the ice within large ice sheets or glaciers. It is this last type of ice loss that most affects ocean levels because as the water runs into the oceans, it raises sea levels. This is in contrast to melting sea ice – since it is already floating in ocean waters, its potential to raise ocean levels is very small.

So measuring ice sheet melting is important, not only as a signal of global warming but also because of the sea level impacts. But how is this melting measured? The ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are huge and scientists need enough measurements in space and time to really understand what’s going on. That is, we need high-resolution and long duration measurements to fully understand trends.

In a very recent publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, an international team reported on a new high-resolution measurement of Greenland. The lead author, Malcolm McMillan from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modeling, and his colleagues mapped Greenland with incredibly high resolution (5 km distances).

They accomplished this mapping by obtaining data from the Cryosat 2satellite. This satellite uses a technique called radar altimetry to measure the height of surfaces. It is able to track the elevation of the ice sheets on Greenland with high precision. If the height of the ice sheet is growing, it means the ice is getting thicker. If the heights are decreasing, it means the ice layers are getting thinner.

A simplistic view would be that if ice sheets become taller, then they contain more frozen water. If they are shorter, they contain less water. But, this isn’t the entire story. Scientists also have to account for other changes, such as changes to density, surface roughness, and water content. When you realize that the Greenland Ice Sheet is thousands of meters thick, and the top layers include both snow and firn (which later get buried and compressed into ice), it becomes apparent that accounting for the constitution of the ice sheet is important when estimating how much water is being delivered to the ocean.

The authors of this study did such an accounting and they discovered that not only is Greenland losing a lot of ice, but the loss varies a lot depending on location and year.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

France to launch 6 tenders for solar energy projects

sunflag-franceFrance ushers in 3 GW solar tender across six rounds, PV Magazine, 25. AUGUST 2016, BY:  IAN CLOVER

Energy ministry confirms series of six tenders of 500 MW each to be launched between 2017 and 2020 as country gradually reignites efforts to boost its solar PV sector.  “……the government appears to at least be coming to terms with its solar shortsightedness, and this week announced that it will launch a series of solar PV tenders next year to support an additional 3 GW of PV by 2020.

The energy ministry will oversee a series of six tenders of 500 MW each, beginning in 2017. This steady and regular roll out of available projects will, the ministry said, provide stability and visibility to the French solar industry, delivering jobs and aiding the country’s carbon reduction efforts.

The tenders will be available to ground-mounted PV systems between 500 kW and 17 MW in size, and the first round of bidding ends on February 1, 2017.

During each of the six, 500 MW rounds, 300 MW capacity will be reserved for solar farms larger than 5 MW, while 135 MW of capacity will be for plants with a capacity between 500 kW and 5 MW. The remaining 65 MW will be offered to developers looking to build PV systems on carports, provided they are sized between 500 kW and 10 MW.

France is famously largely nuclear-powered, but a new solar support mechanism introduced in May – whereby bidders receive a premium on top of the market price for the PV power they feed to the grid – will hopefully deliver the types of revenue guarantee that can help the country make the transition towards more renewables.

France’s solar installation aims target 10.2 GW of PV by the end of 2018, with anywhere between 18.2 GW to 20.2 GW by 2023.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | France, renewable | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear police physically unable to work to age 65

Civil nuclear police: Working to 65 ‘physically impossible’, BBC News, 24 August 2016  Representatives of 1,250 armed police officers who protect UK civil nuclear sites have challenged a rule forcing them to work beyond the age of 60.

While most UK police can retire at 60, Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers must work until 65 under a new law.The Civil Nuclear Police Federation says it will be “physically impossible” for officers in their mid-60s to protect the public from terrorism.

It has taken the case to London’s High Court to try to get the rule changed.

It argues its officers have the most physically demanding role in the police service and will not be able to maintain their standards of fitness and weapons proficiency into their 60s.

A government spokesperson said the Civil Nuclear Police Authority – which oversees the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) – was “considering how to implement changes and reforms”.

The changes were brought in as part of the Public Service Pensions Act………

Analysis By Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondentUnlike other forces that are in the headlines nearly every day – the Met, West Midlands and Greater Manchester Police, for example – you don’t hear a lot about the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

Much of its work goes unseen, guarding nuclear sites in remote corners of the UK and protecting material in transit.However, it is vital work, particularly at a time when the terrorism threat level is graded “severe” with an attack assessed as “highly likely”. That’s one reason why its officers are incensed – and baffled – by pension changes which mean they’d have to work until at least 65 before retiring……..

August 26, 2016 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

Germany’s green power going strong, withg more renewable energy than it ever had nuclear

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

logo-EnergiewendeGermany already has more green power than it ever had nuclear, Energy Transition 24 Aug 2016   by   “….. Craig Morris takes a look at the data……In Germany, however, solar and wind are reducing the wholesale prices that baseload nuclear and coal sell at—because green power is growing fast. In 2002, the country adopted a plan to phase out nuclear by around 2022 (this is still the target). Most onlookers thought it would be impossible to ever offset nuclear power with renewables in such a short time. In fact, Germany hit that target last year—seven years early.

What about the charge of a “large increase” in coal? To account for Chancellor Merkel’s sudden phaseout in 2011, we could compare the figures from 2010 to 2015 (see chart on original) ). We then see a rise of less than one percent in power from hard coal and around six percent for lignite. Judge for yourself whether this is a “large increase,” and keep in mind that power from both hard coal and lignite were down further in the first half of 2016 by 1.9 and 1.6 percent, respectively (PDF in German)—in a year when the German population grew by more than one percent because of refugees. Also keep in mind that net power exports (orange line), which reached a record high last year at nearly 10 percent of total power supply, increase demand for non-renewable electricity because renewable power has priority dispatch. To quote German utility umbrella group BDEW (not a pro-renewables organization), foreign demand for German power increases domestic generation from fossil fuels. Throw in the other fossil fuel, natural gas, and you have an overall decrease—so much that fossil fuel consumption in the power sector reached a 35-year low in 2014 (even with rising exports)…….
where do the claims of rising German carbon emissions come from? There were minor upticks in 2012 and 2013 (an argument that reminds me of the famous face-palm graphicfor global warming). And though we don’t have the CO2 numbers yet, energy consumption rose overall in 2015 and the first half of 2016—due, as the official explanation reads, to colder weather, economic growth, and the sudden population growth from refugees. Essentially, the pro-nuclear camp mistakenly attributes a rise in emissions from oil and gas for heat supply to coal consumption in the power sector (which is flat to down).
In their attempt to promote nuclear, some New Yorkers thus overemphasize the role of coal in Germany and exaggerate the limits of wind and solar. For instance, the New York Times recently claimed that the German government “will pay billions to keep coal generators in reserve, to provide emergency power at times when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.” In reality, these plants will have 11 days to ramp up. No weather forecast extends that long, and no power shortage announces itself that far in advance. Experts doubt this lignite reserve will be used at all. It is a political compromise: to meet the 2020 carbon targets, Berlin has paid coal firms to shut down old coal plants. The payoff for a shutdown is called a “reserve” to make it more palatable to the public.

“Unless we’re willing to go back to candles, which would be uncomfortable and inconvenient, we need energy generation,” New York’s Governer Cuomo said in explaining the nuclear bailout. In doing so, he unwittingly reiterated the long-disproven claim by German nuclear proponents that the lights would go out without nuclear. Like the rest of the US, New York State counts downtime (SAIDI) in hours (PDF), with New York coming in at around two hours of power outages annually—or just over 10 minutes a month. Germany had 12 minutes a year in 2014.

In short, Germany is paying coal to shut down, ramping up renewables far faster than nuclear shrinks, and enjoying unparalleled power reliability—while New York fails to move with solar and wind, pays nuclear to stay on, and has as much downtime a month as Germany has in a year.

Craig Morris (@PPchef) is the lead author of German Energy Transition. He directs Petite Planète and writes every workday for Renewables International. He is co-author of Energy Democracy, the first history of Germany’s Energiewende.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Australian uranium company meets stiff opposition from Inuit, to Greenland mine project

nuke-indigenousGreenland Inuit oppose open-pit uranium mine on Arctic mountain-top, Bill Williams ,17th August 2016 

A collapse in the price of uranium has not yet stopped Australian mining company GME from trying to press ahead with a massive open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain in southern Greenland, writes Bill Williams – just returned from the small coastal town of Narsaq where local people and Inuit campaigners are driving the growing resistance to the ruinous project.

As a doctor I routinely get asked for a second opinion, but it is not often that I travel halfway around the world to deliver it.

Recently I was invited to assess an old Danish uranium exploration site in Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland.

Inuit Ataqatigiit – the opposition party in the national parliament – had asked me to talk to local people about the health implications of re-opening the defunct mine.

An Australian firm called Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME) has big plans to extract uranium and rare earth minerals here. It would be a world first: an open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain-top.

From the top of the range above the mine site I looked down across rolling green farmland to the small fishing village of Narsaq. Colourful timber houses rested at the edge of a deep blue strait that the Viking Eric the Red navigated a thousand years ago. Hundreds of icebergs bobbed on its mirror-like surface. To the east, half way up the valley, a small creek tumbled into a deep rock pool.

Behind that saddle lies Lake Tesaq, a pristine Arctic lake that GME plans to fill with nearly a billion tonnes of waste rock. This part of the mine waste would not be the most radioactive, because the company plans to dump this material in a nearby natural basin, with the promise that an ‘impervious’ layer would prevent leaching into the surrounding habitat.

Left behind – all the toxic products of radioactive decay

These mine tailings would contain the majority of the original radioactivity – about 85% in fact – because the miners only want the uranium and the rare earth elements. They would mine and then leave the now highly mobile radioactive contaminants, the progeny from the uranium decay behind: thorium, radium, radon gas, polonium and a horde of other toxins.

Even at very low levels of exposure ionising radiation is recognised as poisonous: responsible for cancer and non-cancer diseases in humans over vast timespans.

This is why my own profession is under growing pressure to reduce exposure of our patients to X-Rays and CT scans in particular – making sure benefit outweighs risk. It’s also why ERA, the proprietors of the Ranger mine in Kakadu, Australia, are legally obliged to isolate the tailings for at least 10,000 years.

While this is hardly possible, the mere fact that it is required highlights the severity and longevity of the risk. My Inuit audience in Narsaq was particularly interested to hear the messages I brought from traditional owners in Australia like Yvonne Margarula, of the Mirarr people:

“The problems always last, but the promises never do.”

And Jeffrey Lee from Koongara:

“I will fight to the end and we will stop it, then it won’t continue on for more uranium here in Kakadu.”

So far in 2016, not a single new nuclear reactor has opened

August 26, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

Wikileaks reveals The Saudi Cables

civil-liberty-2smThe Saudi Cables.  Cables and other documents from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A total of 122619 published so far

Buying Silence: How the Saudi Foreign Ministry controls Arab media

On Monday, Saudi Arabia celebrated the beheading of its 100th prisoner this year. The story was nowhere to be seen on Arab media despite the story’s circulation on wire services. Even international media was relatively mute about this milestone compared to what it might have been if it had concerned a different country. How does a story like this go unnoticed?

Today’s release of the WikiLeaks “Saudi Cables” from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs show how it’s done.

The oil-rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its ruling family take a systematic approach to maintaining the country’s positive image on the international stage. Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between.

Documents reveal the extensive efforts to monitor and co-opt Arab media, making sure to correct any deviations in regional coverage of Saudi Arabia and Saudi-related matters. Saudi Arabia’s strategy for co-opting Arab media takes two forms, corresponding to the “carrot and stick” approach, referred to in the documents as “neutralisation” and “containment”. The approach is customised depending on the market and the media in question.

“Contain” and “Neutralise”

The initial reaction to any negative coverage in the regional media is to “neutralise” it. The term is used frequently in the cables and it pertains to individual journalists and media institutions whose silence and co-operation has been bought. “Neutralised” journalists and media institutions are not expected to praise and defend the Kingdom, only to refrain from publishing news that reflects negatively on the Kingdom, or any criticism of its policies. The “containment” approach is used when a more active propaganda effort is required. Journalists and media institutions relied upon for “containment” are expected not only to sing the Kingdom’s praises, but to lead attacks on any party that dares to air criticisms of the powerful Gulf state.

One of the ways “neutralisation” and “containment” are ensured is by purchasing hundreds or thousands of subscriptions in targeted publications. These publications are then expected to return the favour by becoming an “asset” in the Kingdom’s propaganda strategy. A document listing the subscriptions that needed renewal by 1 January 2010 details a series of contributory sums meant for two dozen publications in Damascus, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait, Amman and Nouakchott. The sums range from $500 to 9,750 Kuwaiti Dinars ($33,000). The Kingdom effectively buys reverse “shares” in the media outlets, where the cash “dividends” flow the opposite way, from the shareholder to the media outlet. In return Saudi Arabia gets political “dividends” – an obliging press.

An example of these co-optive practices in action can be seen in an exchange between the Saudi Foreign Ministry and its Embassy in Cairo. On 24 November 2011 Egypt’s Arabic-language broadcast station ONTV hosted the Saudi opposition figure Saad al-Faqih, which prompted the Foreign Ministry to task the embassy with inquiring into the channel. The Ministry asked the embassy to find out how “to co-opt it or else we must consider it standing in the line opposed to the Kingdom’s policies“.

The document reports that the billionaire owner of the station, Naguib Sawiris, did not want to be “opposed to the Kingdom’s policies” and that he scolded the channel director, asking him “never to host al-Faqih again”. He also asked the Ambassador if he’d like to be “a guest on the show”.

The Saudi Cables are rife with similar examples, some detailing the figures and the methods of payment. These range from small but vital sums of around $2000/year to developing country media outlets – a figure the Guinean News Agency “urgently needs” as “it would solve many problems that the agency is facing” – to millions of dollars, as in the case of Lebanese right-wing television station MTV.


The “neutralisation” and “containment” approaches are not the only techniques the Saudi Ministry is willing to employ. In cases where “containment” fails to produce the desired effect, the Kingdom moves on to confrontation. In one example, the Foreign Minister was following a Royal Decree dated 20 January 2010 to remove Iran’s new Arabic-language news network, Al-Alam, from the main Riyadh-based regional communications satellite operator, Arabsat. After the plan failed, Saud Al Faisal sought to “weaken its broadcast signal“.

The documents show concerns within the Saudi administration over the social upheavals of 2011, which became known in the international media as the “Arab Spring”. The cables note with concern that after the fall of Mubarak, coverage of the upheavals in Egyptian media was “being driven by public opinion instead of driving public opinion”. The Ministry resolved “to give financial support to influential media institutions in Tunisia“, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring”.

The cables reveal that the government employs a different approach for its own domestic media. There, a wave of the Royal hand is all that is required to adjust the output of state-controlled media. A complaint from former Lebanese Prime Minister and Saudi citizen Saad Hariri concerning articles critical of him in the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat and Asharq Al-Awsat newspapers prompted a directive to “stop these type of articles” from the Foreign Ministry.

This is a general overview of the Saudi Foreign Ministry’s strategy in dealing with the media. WikiLeaks’ Saudi Cables contain numerous other examples that form an indictment of both the Kingdom and the state of the media globally.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, media, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

African countries are the least compliant in implementing global nuclear security safeguards

safety-symbol-SmAfrica fails nuclear compliance Godfrey Mutizwa2016-08-25 African countries remain the least compliant in implementing global nuclear security safeguards because of a lack of resources and know-how, making the continent vulnerable to terror groups.

Africa had by the end of last year on average implemented a third of the nuclear weapons safeguards required by the UN Security Council under its 1540 Committee, which oversees nuclear security globally.

That compares with 43% in Asia-Pacific, 83% in eastern Europe and over 90% in some developed economies, according to Professor Michael Rosenthal, an expert on the 1540 Committee.

While there were more than 1 000 nuclear sites around the world, only five of the continent’s 54 territories had nuclear sites, Rosenthal said, naming South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose facility probably wasn’t working any more.

“I think it is certainly a big threat,’’ Rosenthal said at the 77th biennial International Law Conference held in Johannesburg this month.

“The priority is to have action plans and determine the potential, whether it’s nuclear, chemical or biological.”

One explanation for the low compliance rate was that, as the continent did not have many nuclear sites, governments did not feel compelled to divert scarce resources to a perceived threat, said Rosenthal.

The 1540 Committee, so called because it was set up to police the implementation of UN Resolution 1540, requires all UN members to commit politically that they will not provide any form of support to non-state groups attempting to develop, acquire, transport or possess weapons of mass destruction.

All member nations are required to enact laws and adopt domestic controls that prevent the development and spread of such weapons.

This was the only UN resolution that was obligatory for all member states and required members to “control borders to combat illicit trafficking”, Rosenthal said in his presentation.

A report presented by International Law Conference experts calls for legal and political commitments to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, while allowing peaceful use.

South Africa, which runs two nuclear power stations generating about 5% of its output, plans to add 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2030, a project critics have said was too expensive at R80 761 per kilowatt.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, safety | Leave a comment

China seriously overestimating the global market for their nuclear reactors

Beijing is “seriously underestimating” how hard global sales will be, said Schneider. He said obstacles include strict quality controls, regulations that differ from country to country and competition from the falling cost of wind and solar.

“There is simply no market out there,” said Schneider.

Overseas, China’s nuclear companies face questions over their status as arms of the state

Buy-China-nukes-1Here comes a new Chinese export: Nuclear reactors, CBS, 24 Aug 16  BEIJING On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that’s the flagship for Beijing’s ambition to compete with the U.S., France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.

The Hualong One, developed by two state-owned companies, is one multibillion-dollar facet of the Communist Party’s aspirations to transform China into a creator of profitable technology from mobile phones to genetics.

Still, experts say Beijing underestimates how tough it will be for its novice nuclear exporters to sell abroad. They face political hurdles, safety concerns and uncertain global demand following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

China’s government-run nuclear industry is based on foreign technology but has spent two decades developing its own with help from Westinghouse Electric, France’s Areva and EDF, and other partners. A separate export initiative is based on an alliance between Westinghouse and a state-owned reactor developer.

The industry is growing fast, with 32 reactors in operation, 22 being built and more planned, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. China accounted for eight of 10 reactors that started operation last year and six of eight construction starts.

Abroad, builders broke ground in Pakistan last year for a power plant using a Hualong One, supported by a $6.5 billion Chinese loan. Also last year, Argentina signed a contract to use the reactor in a $15 billion plant financed by Chinese banks.

Sales come with financing from state banks, a model that helped Chinese companies break into the market for building highways and other public works in Africa and the Middle East. State-owned companies also are lining up to invest in nuclear power plants in Britain and Romania.

“This is generating significant build-up of skills and industrial experience,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear energy consultant in Paris, in an email.

Still, Beijing is “seriously underestimating” how hard global sales will be, said Schneider. He said obstacles include strict quality controls, regulations that differ from country to country and competition from the falling cost of wind and solar.

“There is simply no market out there,” said Schneider.

At home, Beijing faces public unease about nuclear power following an avalanche of industrial accidents and product safety scandals.

This month, thousands of residents of Lianyungang, north of Shanghai, protested after rumors spread that a facility to process nuclear waste might be built there. Authorities said the city, home to one of China’s biggest nuclear power plants, was only one of several being considered. After more protests, they announced the search for a site was suspended.

Overseas, China’s nuclear companies face questions over their status as arms of the state………

China’s nuclear industry has yet to report a major accident but reflexive official secrecy makes it hard for outsiders to assess its safety.

Changes in Chinese-designed models based on foreign technology, such as making reactors bigger while using cooling techniques for smaller units, “raise questions about safety and the good judgment of Chinese reactor engineers,” said Edward Lyman, a nuclear power specialist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, in an email.

“It is crucial for countries importing Chinese nuclear technology to rigorously conduct their own oversight over the products they are buying,” Lyman said………

August 26, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment


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