Today’s news media is a smorgasbord of online blogs,Facebook. Twitter, Youtube, Linked-In and a hundred other online sites. Oh, and yes, there are still some online, and even print, newspapers. You remember those last. They employed reputable investigative journalists, who did fact-checking about their news sources.
“help promote a culture that reveres veracity. Check your sources before you post anything. Support newspapers and other organizations that do good, reliable reporting. Discourage people in your own community when they promote stories that feel good to you, but are, alas, untrue.“ http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/20/opinions/fake-news-stories-thrive-donath/
“This is the disappearance of a feature from the last glacial age, which would have probably survived without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.” — Adrien Gilbert
There are many ways to tell the Earth’s temperature. One is by measuring how warm the atmosphere is near the surface. Another is to track the heat content of the world’s oceans. Still another is by taking account of melting glaciers and comparing thaw lines with times in the geological past.
And according to new research, the present state of the Barnes Ice Cap — which is the last tiny remnant of the once vast Laurentide Ice Sheet — tells a tale of heat not seen in 2.5 million years.
(NASA satellite shot of the last melting remnant of the Laurentide Ice sheet on August 30 of 2016. Want to see a time lapse of Barnes Ice Cap melt from 1984…
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¶ According to 2017 Key Trends in Hydropower, published this week by the International Hydropower Association, a total of 31.5 GW of hydropower capacity was commissioned worldwide in 2016, including 6.4 GW of pumped storage, nearly twice the amount installed in 2015. Hydropower capacity is now 1,246 GW. [CleanTechnica]
¶ One of the largest solar panel manufacturers in India has doubled its production capacity to 400 MW. The company may be looking to expand its capacity with an eye on the rapidly expanding Indian solar power market. The company has also increased its solar cell production capacity from 180 MW to 300 MW. [CleanTechnica]
¶ Global PV manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells said it has been awarded a tender to construct a 1-GW solar power plant in Turkey, in partnership with Kalyon. The Karapinar YEKA project will be…
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Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on February 23 that it had completed a robot probe survey lasting five days in the reactor containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Unit 1.
Its goal was to confirm the whereabout of the melted nuclear fuel, but it was blocked by piping and could not put the camera in athe place where nuclear fuel could be seen.
Information necessary for taking out the nuclear fuel to decommission the reactor remains inadequate, and some voices began to question the robot conducted investigation method.
During the 5-day survey, there was also a point where the measuring instrument with an camera and a radiation dosimeter integrated together was hung up in a range from 0 to 3 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel, pipes and debris blocking its path in many points. The radiation dose in the water is from 3.0 to 11 Sv. Per hour. It was not possible to directly check the melted nuclear fuel.
TEPCO and the country are facing the decommissioning of a furnace …
A photo taken by a robot on Wednesday shows an underwater image of water pool on the bottom of the containment vessel of the reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant
Tokyo Electric said Thursday that it failed to get any photos of potential fuel debris during a five-day probe of the primary containment vessel at reactor 1 of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., however, stressed that the investigation was worthwhile because its robot was able to take underwater images in the pool of water at its bottom and gauge its radiation level, which will help it estimate where the melted fuel lies.
The monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011, tipped reactors 1, 2 and 3 into core meltdowns. The molten fuel rods then penetrated their pressure vessels before apparently dropping to the bottom of the giant containment vessels.
There is about a 2.5-meter deep water pool at the bottom of the primary containment vessel of reactor 1, and Tepco believes most of its melted fuel rods fell into it. Thus the main mission of the robot investigation this time was to capture underwater images.
The robot traversed gratings set up several meters above the vessel’s bottom and lowered a wire with a camera and dosimeter on its tip at 10 locations in the water.
Yet none of the images disclosed by Tepco showed anything resembling fuel debris, while parts of machinery, such as a valve, were captured.
When the robot dangled the camera on spots where Tepco thought there was a higher probability of locating the fuel, it instead found a 90-cm pile of sediment.
Tepco spokesman Yuichi Okamura said the sediment is probably not fuel debris, given the relatively low radiation readings, which ranged from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour.
Although the readings indicate extreme danger to people, Okamura said the readings would have been much higher had they been melted fuel rods. He said Tepco had no idea what the sediment is but added that there was a possibility it was covering the fuel.
According to Okamura, radiation readings get weaker by a hundredth if blocked by a meter of water. Since the robot detected readings from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour about 90 cm above the pool’s bottom, there might be something down there emitting strong radiation.
Tepco plans another investigation this month to pick up samples of the sediment.
While no fuel debris was recognized, Okamura said Tepco would review the data and analyze it further. By comparing radiation readings from various locations, the utility might be able to roughly pinpoint where the melted rods lay, he said.
He added that it was an achievement that the robot lasted for five days in the deadly radiation and that Tepco was able to retrieve it.
CLIMATE. The worrying thing about climate change is not only that it’s happening so fast, but that it could now be seen as “normal”. The World Meteorological Organisation is telling us that the world climate is now in ‘uncharted territory’.
NUCLEAR. As climate change risks becoming “normalised”, so, too, does the Fukushima situation. As if the 6th anniversary is over – now we can all ‘move on’? Deadly nuclear radiation levels detected in Fukushima. 80% of families not going back to Fukushima after housing aid ends. Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues. Yakuza gangsters thriving. And lots more…
New Study: Rapid Transition to Renewable Energy Helps Global Economy, Prevents Worst Climate Impacts
- March Climate Madness — Wildfires, Scorching Summer Heat Strike Central and Southwestern U.S. By Winter’s End
- North Korea nuclear program is ‘imminent’ threat says Rex Tillerson. Trump govt to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons. Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 introduced into US Congress. Sound reasons for USA not to replace Land-Based Nuclear Missiles.
- New York State lawmakers push for details on nuclear plant subsidies. Nearly 70 locally elected officials in New York call to stop pro nuclear subsidies. American electricity consumers in Eastern States stand to lose $3.9 Billion because of aid to nuclear industry.
- Some US Republicans are worried about President Trump’s mental state.
JAPAN. Japan stages mass evacuation drills, following North Korean missile launches. Toshiba’s financial meltdown set off by nuclear power plans. Govt plans A Campaign to Tackle “Misinformation” about Radioactive Contamination. Japanese companies exploit refugees for Fukushima radioactive clean-up work.
NORTH KOREA. North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ – warns U.N. Nuclear Inspector Yukiya Amano.
UK. Request by UN to Britain: Pause Hinkley Nuclear Plant Work for Environmental Assessment. As Toshiba’s $500m nuclear bankruptcy looms, Britain’s Moorside project could be doubtful. Campaign groups mobilise against UK’s Bradwell nuclear power project.
NORWAY. At Svanhovd another tiny measurement of radioactive iodine – ongoing release?
RUSSIA. Russia developing Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships in Syria.
PERU. Signals of Climate Change Visible as Record Fires Give Way to Massive Floods in Peru
SOUTH AFRICA. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) organising anti nuclear petition
Another tiny measurement of radioactive iodine at Svanhovd https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/ecology/2017/03/another-tiny-measurement-radioactive-iodine-svanhovd
Norwegian Radiation Protection Authorities (NRPA) without any suspected source. Thomas Nilsen March 23, 2017
The very small amount of radioactive iodine was measured in week 10, between March 6 to 13, by the authorities’ instruments at Svanhovd, a few hundred meters from Norway’s border to the Kola Peninsula in the north.
«We measured 0,35 microbecquerels of iodine-131. We didn’t detected any other radioactive isotopes,» says Head of section for emergency preparedness with NRPA, Astrid Liland, in an e-mail to the Barents Observer.
The radiation authorities says no other measurements of iodine are found anywhere else in Norway for the period.
NRPA underlines that no radiation is measured at Svalbard where the measurement filters are connected to the CTBTO network with the purpose of monitoring the nuclear test ban treaty.
This is the second time this winter that radioactive iodine is measured at Svanhovd. Following the traces measured in January, a series of tweets started to spread claiming the source to be a possible Russian nuclear weapon test at Novaya Zemlya. No other evidence supported such weapon test.
Nuclear physicist with the Bellona Foundation, Nils Bøhmer, says this second period of measurement indicates that there are some kind of ongoing releases.
«If it is iodine-131, it is serious because that likely means a continuing release still going on. Iodine-131 has a half-life of only 8 days, so what was measured in January are long gone,» Bøhmer says to the Barents Observer.
A possible ongoing release is supported by measurements in Finland a week before the trace was detected in Norway’s northeasternmost corner.
In late February, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland detected radioactive Iodine-131 in Rovaniemi. Levels were at 0,3 microbecquerels per cubic meter of air. Norwegians have not reported any traces of the isotope for that period. The January trace of radioactive Iodine-131, still of unknown origin, was first detected at Svanhovd near Kirkenes in northern Norway. Shortly afterwards, the isotope was detected over large areas in Europe, first in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. Within the next two weeks, traces of radioactivity, although in tiny amounts, were measured in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, the Barents Observer reported.
Toshiba revealed last month that it will likely post a $4.4 billion loss because its U.S. subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, has written off $6.3 billion from work on four new nuclear reactors in Waynesboro, Georgia and Fairfield County, South Carolina.
Toshiba’s stock price has fallen from 475.20 yen a share in December to a recent low of 178 yen. Ratings agencies have slashed Toshiba’s credit ratings and warn of an imminent default on the company’s bonds because there are likely more budget over-runs ahead at both facilities.
“The current financial strain on Westinghouse and Toshiba could lead to higher completion costs and further delays,” Fitch Rating Service reported.
And the Japanese government is in no mood to bail Toshiba out.
“Fiscal pressure rose last week as the Japanese government said it was not considering supporting Toshiba and the company missed, for the second time, a reporting deadline for its audited third quarter results,” the Fitch note added. “Its application to delay its results until April 11 was approved, but it remains at risk of being de-listed for failure to meet the requirements of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.”
Analysts at Standard & Poor’s were no less pessimistic.
“Absent unanticipated, significantly favorable changes in the issuer’s circumstances, we see a rising likelihood Toshiba will become unable to fulfill its financial obligations in a timely manner or will undertake a debt restructuring we classify as distressed in the next six months,” S&P wrote.
The Georgia and South Carolina plants were supposed to prove that nuclear power is viable in the United States. Westinghouse touts the AP1000 PWR reactor as the most advanced available based on licensed technology.
The nuclear energy industry is lobbying governments around the world to build more plants because they release no greenhouse gases and supply a steady supply of energy no matter the weather conditions. When it comes to operating costs, nuclear power is cheap.
The capital expenses, though, are huge. And if it weren’t for a regulated electricity market, there is no way these two nuclear power plants could compete with natural gas, wind and coal in a competitive electricity market like we have in Texas.
Reports emerged Tuesday that Toshiba is considering a prepackaged bankruptcy with Westinghouse’s creditors. The $500 million deal would keep Westinghouse operating until the debt is restructured.
This follows on the heels of reports that Toshiba wants out of the nuclear business altogether.
There are over 60 nuclear reactors under construction around the world. In many places they will make economic sense, while in others, they are government vanity projects.
As attractive as it might seem, though, new nuclear power plants still haven’t shown that they’re economic in the United States, and the dire status of Toshiba and Westinghouse is proof.
U.N. Nuclear Inspector: North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ And while a diplomatic solution is necessary, one is unlikely to be reached, warns Yukiya Amano. WASHINGTON — North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has entered a “new phase,” with the country having doubled the size of its uranium-enrichment facility in recent years, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Wall Street Journal.
Fears for Moorside as Toshiba ‘lining up’ $500m bankruptcy backstop for Westinghouse nuclear arm,Telegraph UK 21 MARCH 2017 Fears that Toshiba’s struggling nuclear business Westinghouse could be on the brink of going under have been reignited following reports that it is lining up a US bankruptcy protection finance package.
The company is reportedly reviewing proposals from financial institutions and investment firms for a so-called debtor-in-possession loan to keep the company afloat while it undertakes a bankruptcy process.
According to Reuters, people familiar with the matter have said the loan is likely to be over $500m to enable the heavily indebted company to pay employees and complete the work on four nuclear power plants in the US. The projects are the first nuclear reactors to be built in the US for thirty years, but heavy delays have saddled Toshiba with writedowns of 712.5bn yen (£5bn).
The sources warned that the talks are at an early stage and that no final decision has been made to wind down the company. A UK spokesman for the company was not immediately able to comment.
A potential bankruptcy procedure raises serious questions over the future of a key £10bn nuclear project which plans to use the AP1000 nuclear reactor designed by Westinghouse.
Toshiba is a 60pc shareholder in the NuGeneration consortium, which plans to develop the Moorside project alongside France’s Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez.An early exit from Toshiba could heavily delay the start up of the 3.2GW Moorside project while NuGen scrambles to find new investment and approve a new nuclear reactor design to use in the project……
The company said it will deliver its full year results on April 11, its third scheduled date after failing to disclose the full impact of its Westinghouse woes twice before. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/03/21/toshiba-lining-500m-bankruptcy-backstop-say-reports/
Donald Trump’s administration to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons, The Independent, Policy review under way as US opposes proposed UN treaty on a global nuclear weapons ban Lizzie Dearden @lizziedearden, 21 Mar 17
Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, said an assessment of US policy will examine whether the aim was “realistic”.
“Like all administrations we’re reviewing policy across the board, and that necessarily includes whether or not the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is in fact a realistic objective, especially in the near to medium term, in the light of current trends in the international security environment,” he told the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference.
“It’s too early to say what the answers will be – looking at things with fresh eyes is not saying we will necessarily end up with different positions.”
Mr Ford said there was a “tension” between the goal of nuclear disarmament and the security requirements of the US and its allies.
He argued that the “headspace” for reducing nuclear arsenals had diminished in the years since the Cold War and cuts by the US and Russia seemed unlikely while other nuclear states continue development.
Mr Trump “will not accept a second place position in the nuclear weapons arena” but is open to broader engagement with Russia on the issue, Mr Ford said. He added that the current “threat environment” had changed substantially from when the review that established America’s current aims took place under Barack Obama in 2010.
The nuclear adviser said the Trump administration would continue American opposition to a “dangerous and misbegotten” proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons.
UN member states voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” last year.
A conference on the issue will be held in New York starting on 27 March but the treaty was opposed by nuclear powers including the US, Britain, Russia, France and Israel.
Mr Trump has not made any official policy statement on nuclear weapons but has touched on the issue repeatedly in his speeches and tweets.
Questioned about his warm statements towards Vladimir Putin at a press conference in February, the President warned that war between the US and Russia would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other”…….. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-goal-world-without-reconsider-deproliferation-treaties-white-house-a7641706.html
Areva unions warn about safety at France’s La Hague nuclear recycling plant Unions says cost cuts, redundancies jeopardise safety * Regulator ASN inspects plant following union warning * ASN: plant is safe but will be vigilant, adapt procedures * ASN confirms some radioactive waste containers flawed (Adds ASN comments) Nasdaq, By Geert De ClercqPARIS, March 23 (Reuters) –
SDCEA mobilises anti-nuclear community unity with petition http://southlandssun.co.za/71218/sdcea-mobilises-anti-nuclear-community-unity-petition/ Local activists call for action. Erin Hanekom 22 Mar 17 COMMUNITY meetings have called for South Durbanites to take action against nuclear energy and for a referendum to decide the future of nuclear energy in the country.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) hosted energy meetings at ML Sultan St Marys Primary School on 2 March and the Austerville community hall on 6 March to educate and mobilise community on the proposed nuclear energy build.
“Citizens need to understand they have the power to refuse or accept the nuclear energy fleet proposed to be built in South Africa. Sustainable energy should be the main focus in this country not unsustainable and dangerous energy,” said a statement from SDCEA.
Among SDCEA co-ordinator, Desmond D’Sa’s topics of discussion was the importance of community unity against what he termed as unsustainable developments.
“This community has a history of environmental activism that has previously brought successful results. The communities of South Durban need to unite against this nuclear build as the proposal is to develop a fleet of these facilities along the South African coastline which will pose an enormous danger to people and marine life,” said D’Sa.
Economist in development studies, Dr Gerard Boyce spoke about the financial and environmental aspects of the nuclear deal.
The use of a referendum was discussed, calling for government to set up a public vote on the matter, leaving the decision in the hands of the people.
“The referendum will benefit citizens by putting people back at the centre of politics, create greater openness and transparency in nuclear dealings. It will ensure increase current levels of public participation and foster a
culture of participatory democracy. To sum up, it will be a creation of an active and engaged citizenry,” said Dr Gerard Boyce.
SDCEA environmental project officer, Noluthando Mbeje galvanised people into being part of SDCEA’s nuclear energy campaign, which has been waged for years and has included protests, community meetings and discussions with experts in the field, including Russian environmentalist, Vladimir Slivyak.
Outcomes of the meeting include the decision to garner at least 15,000 signatures on an anti-nuclear petition; research to be conducted on cancer statistics in South Durban; getting the youth involved; renewable energy programmes;education and meetings with municipal and national officials.
Petitions can be collected at the SDCEA offices and on social media.
“In the last 3.5 years our funds under management have grown from $1.5 billion to almost $4 billion today, so we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of our investment business,” BNZ wealth and private bank head Donna Nicolof said in a statement. In the past BNZ invested in commingled funds alongside other institutional investors.
“One of our key investment beliefs is that risk and return are equally important and we have made the decision to exclude companies involved in the manufacture of tobacco on the basis that there is no safe level of use and engagement with these companies is futile. The regulatory and litigation risks faced by this industry are significant,” Ms Nicolof said.
The investment policy at BNZ, a subsidiary of National Australia Bank, spans all investments it makes on behalf of customers and includes the investments of the BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme.
The move follows investor uproar last year after media investigations found New Zealanders had unknowingly invested $152 million in arms manufacturers and big tobacco companies through their KiwiSaver funds.
Earlier today the opposition Green Party said the government needs to set a clear deadline for when all KiwiSaver providers should have divested from companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines, and nuclear weapons. According to a report by Radio New Zealand four default providers – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, Kiwibank, Westpac Banking Corp and Mercer – still had passive investments in such companies through global index funds.
“It’s time for the government to get tough on investment companies that are dragging their feet on ethical investment,” said Green Party co-leader James Shaw.
American electricity consumers in Eastern States stand to lose $3.9 Billion because of aid to nuclear industry
New York and Illinois have approved help for Exelon reactors
Operators seeking aid amid historically low power prices
Expanding state aid to money-losing nuclear reactors across the eastern U.S. may leave consumers on the hook for as much as $3.9 billion a year in higher power bills. Nuclear plant owners are seeking subsidies in Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey after Exelon Corp. won state aid for reactors in Illinois and New York last year. Should all 28,000 megawatts of nuclear power across northeast and mid-Atlantic states win subsidies at the same level as New York, ratepayers would face an annual $3.9 billion hike, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence Tuesday……
“The losers would be customers and rival plants,” Kit Konolige, a senior analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence in New York, said by phone. “I think there’s a good chance it will pass in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.”…..
New York regulators in August approved subsidies totaling about $500 million a year for the R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point nuclear plants owned by Exelon, and the James A. FitzPatrick plant it is purchasing from Entergy Corp. Those payouts equal about $17 a megawatt-hour, according to Bloomberg Intelligence…..
Illinois approved annual payouts of about $235 million for 10 years to keep Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton reactors open. The prospect of expanding subsidies has caught the eye of federal energy regulators, who plan to explore the impact of payouts on competitive markets…..
After wins in New York and Illinois, Exelon is pushing for aid for its three Pennsylvania reactors and one New Jersey plant, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. FirstEnergy Corp. needs Ohio subsidies to keep its Davis-Besse and Perry reactors open.
“It’s fair to assume that every nuclear plant is going to explore a subsidy,” Konolige said. “They’re going to say if they got in it New York, maybe I can get it in New Jersey.”
The subsidies offered by New York and Illinois are being challenged in court by opponents. A court decision on the New York dispute could come in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-21/consumers-would-be-3-9-billion-losers-from-nuclear-subsidies
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