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Nuclear politics -theme for June 2018

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimate the “Doomsday Clock” at two minutes to midnight–  meaning that the chances of a catastrophic nuclear war are very high:   Major nuclear actors are on the cusp of a new arms race, one that will be very expensive and will increase the likelihood of accidents and misperceptions. Across the globe, nuclear weapons are poised to become more rather than less usable because of nations’ investments in their nuclear arsenals.


For whatever reason –   because  national political leaders tend to be sociopaths, or because they’re beholden to the nuclear and weapons industries, and to the military – they are in the main, focused on distrust, hostility, and confrontation with each other.

USA, formerly the most influential world power, is now stuck with an incompetent negotiator, and a dangerous narcissist, in Donald Trump. The North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is consequently looking more reasonable, by comparison. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and China’s Xi Jinping are watching as the Korean Peninsula crisis unfolds. South Korean leader Moon Jae-in continues to try desperately for a peaceful solution.

Meanwhile, animosities continue between India’s President Modi  and Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain.

Iran and Europe try to hang on to the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  Middle East conflicts involve “proxy wars” between not only USA and Russia, but also Iran versus Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Israel has nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates almost certainly aim to get nuclear. weapons.


All this is joy to the global nuclear power industry, which is now publicly recognised as an essential part of nuclear weapons development, as well as delight for the military top brass, and for the nuclear weapons industry, – both now receiving out of control amounts of tax-payer  money


May 28, 2018 Posted by | Christina's themes | 4 Comments

Trump administration getting ready for nuclear war in space

Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force, Counter Punch   

If Donald Trump gets his way on formation of a Space Force, the heavens would become a war zone. Inevitably, there would be military conflict in space.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which designates space as the global commons to be used for peaceful purposes—and of which Russia and China, as well as the United States, are parties—and the years of work facilitating the treaty since would be wasted.

If the U.S. goes up into space with weapons, Russia and China, and then India and Pakistan and other countries, will follow.

Moreover space weaponry, as I have detailed through the years in my writings and TV programs, would be nuclear-powered—as Reagan’s Star Wars scheme was to be with nuclear reactors and plutonium systems on orbiting battle platforms providing the power for hypervelocity guns, particle beams and laser weapons.

This is what would be above our heads.

Amid the many horrible things being done by the Trump administration, this would be the most terribly destructive. “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said at a meeting of the National Space Council this week.

“Very importantly, I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon,” he went on Monday, “to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces; that is a big statement. We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force, separate but equal, it is going to be something.”

The notion of the U.S. moving into space with weaponry isn’t new…………..

With the Trump administration, there is more than non-support of the PAROS treaty but now a drive by the U.S. to weaponize space.

It could be seen—and read about—coming.

Star wars returns – Free speech tv. 1 of 3

“Under Trump, GOP to Give Space Weapons Close Look,” was the headline of an article in 2016 in Washington-based Roll CallIt said “Trump’s thinking on missile defense and military space programs have gotten next to no attention, as compared to the president-elect’s other defense proposals….But experts expect such programs to account for a significant share of what is likely to be a defense budget boost, potentially amounting to $500 billion or more in the coming decade.”

Intense support for the plan was anticipated from the GOP-dominated Congress. Roll Call mentionedthat Representative Trent Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and an Arizona Republican, “said the GOP’s newly strengthened hand in Washington means a big payday is coming for programs aimed at developing weapons that can be deployed in space.”

In a speech in March at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station near San Diego, Trump declared: “My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea. We may even have a Space Force—develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, notes that Trump cannot establish a Space Force on his own—that Congressional authorization and approval is needed.  And last year, Gagnon points out, an attempt to establish what was called a Space Corps within the Air Force passed in the House but “stalled in the Senate.”

“Thus at this point it is only a suggestion,” said Gagnon of the Maine-based Global Network.

“I think though,” Gagnon went on, “his proposal indicates that the aerospace industry has taken full control of the White House and we can be sure that Trump will use all his ‘Twitter powers’ to push this hard in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, relates Gagnon, there is the “steadily mounting” U.S. “fiscal crisis…Some years ago one aerospace industry publication editorialized that they needed a ‘dedicated funding source’ to pay for space plans and indicated that it had come up with it—the entitlement programs. That means the industry is now working to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and what little is left of the welfare program. You want to help stop Star Wars and Trump’s new Space Force. Fight for Social Security and social progress in America. Trump and the aerospace industry can’t have it both ways—it’s going to be social progress or war in space.”

As Robert Anderson of New Mexico, a board member of the Global Network, puts it: “There is no money for water in Flint, Michigan or a power grid in Puerto Rico, but there is money to wage war in space.”

Or as another Global Network director, J. Narayana Rao of India, comments: “President Donald Trump has formally inaugurated weaponization of space in announcing that the U.S. should establish a Space Force which will lead to an arms race in outer space.”

Russian officials are protesting the Trump Space Force plan, “Militarization of space is a way to disaster,”Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, told the RIA news agency the day after the announcement. This Space Force would be operating in “forbidden skies.” He said Moscow is ready to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the Outer Space Treaty by putting weapons of mass destruction in space.

And opposition among legislators in Washington has begun. “Thankfully the president cannot do it without Congress because now is NOT the time to rip the Air Force apart,” tweeted Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

“Space as a warfighting domain is the latest obscenity in a long list of vile actions by a vile administration,” writes Linda Pentz Gunter, who specializes in international nuclear issues for the organization Beyond Nuclear, this week. “Space is for wonder. It’s where we live. We are a small dot in the midst of enormity, floating in a dark vastness about which we know a surprising amount, and yet with so much more still mysteriously unknown.”

“A Space Force is not an aspiration unique to the Trump administration, of course,” she continued on the Beyond Nuclear International website of the Takoma Park, Maryland group, “but it feels worse in his reckless hands.”

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

To save the world, we don’t need Trump’s charisma: we need co-operative bureaucratic processes

Charisma in the nuclear age is a bitch. A century ago, the great German sociologist Max Weber showed that modern political authority has two varieties: charismatic and bureaucratic. Charismatic authority is based on personality and is disruptive; bureaucratic authority is based on rules and promises continuity.

Charisma in the nuclear age,  SHARON SQUASSONI  Sharon Squassoni is research professor at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy, Elliott School of International Affairs, at the George Washington University.

From his speech patterns to his body language, President Donald Trump exudes charisma. Perhaps to the despair of more stalwart democratic leaders, he acts instinctively rather than methodically. His approach to the historic Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was, he told the press, to size up Kim in the first few minutes and ascertain whether a deal was possible.

And so it was. On the heels of a testy G-7 summit and months of name-calling between Trump and Kim, observers may be grateful that the summit went so well. The two leaders smiled, shook hands, and posed for the cameras. They shared a meal and signed a single page of vague goals that may or may not be realized. And while President Trump personally assured US citizens on Twitter that they could all sleep more safely on Tuesday evening because of the summit, there are many miles to go before anyone sleeps.

Charisma in the nuclear age is a bitch. A century ago, the great German sociologist Max Weber showed that modern political authority has two varieties: charismatic and bureaucratic. Charismatic authority is based on personality and is disruptive; bureaucratic authority is based on rules and promises continuity. Does this sound like two presidential candidates in the 2016 US election? We know who won.

Disruption has its virtues, and while Donald Trump’s campaign statements illustrated his limited understanding of the North Korean nuclear crisis, they also showed he was fearless in his embrace of unorthodox approaches to solving the problem. He called Kim Jong-un a “maniac,” but said—more than a year ago—that he was willing to negotiate with him. Candidate Trump believed China had “total control” over North Korea and could make Kim “disappear.” Ignoring decades of historical context, he flirted with taking troops out of South Korea and Japan and suggested he could support Japan’s development of nuclear weapons in response to North Korea.

As president, Trump’s approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons has ricocheted from a strategy of isolation and maximum pressure designed to topple Chairman Kim to speculation about beachfront condos replacing missile test launch sites. Expert heads are spinning.

While Trump has focused on his personal relationship with Kim (bad or good), bureaucrats have been left to tidy up the messy details, like guessing which targets might be within range of Kim’s nuclear-tipped missiles, ensuring that missile alerts don’t falsely terrify ordinary people in Hawaii, and musing about whether a deterrence relationship with North Korea is even possible. (They concluded it wasn’t, in part because Kim continued to burnish his brutal dictator brand with firing squads and nerve agent assassination for those deemed a threat or an annoyance to him. Not to mention the long list of human rights violations he has inflicted on his people.).

Trump’s charismatic and chaotic brand of leadership may have helped jump-start talks about North Korea’s nuclear program, but it is inherently dangerous. Eight months ago, the world worried that the personal animosity could cause Trump and Kim to stumble into war; today, the world worries that Trump’s new-found admiration of Kim could lead to the ruin of post-war alliances that have helped to stabilize Northeast Asia. Japan has largely been sidelined, and South Korea was blindsided by Trump’s casual reference during the summit to the end of war-games. Exactly how that US concession will play out is still unclear. Both allies will likely try to make the best out of a bad situation.

The only hope for successful denuclearization will require Trump and Kim to step back and let their worker bees establish a methodical process by which commitments on both sides can be assessed. The only way to make real progress is to establish baselines, identify weapons of mass destruction capabilities, eliminate or somehow repurpose them, and put in place monitoring to ensure those capabilities are not reconstituted.

This is unsexy and uncharismatic work—exactly the kind of thing that we pay disinterested bureaucrats to accomplish. Hopefully, experts with decades of experience—experts therefore unlikely to be fooled by North Korean disinformation—can be put to the task. A few have recently left the State Department; only one seasoned expert on North Korea, Ambassador Sung Kim, was on the US delegation in Singapore.

Unfortunately, Trump has little appreciation for the nuts and bolts of governing, and his administration has devoted considerable attention to stripping away government capabilities. With luck, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be able to find experts who are willing to work on this enormous task. He should look beyond the intelligence community. He needs real diplomats, too.

One small but curious element of the Singapore joint statement was a reference to this as a “first historic summit.” President Trump told the press that he and Kim might meet many times, even at the White House or in Pyongyang. For the sake of democracy and global security, we don’t need more summits. It’s time instead to let US government experts do what they do best—careful, cautious negotiation and implementation that produce lasting, verifiable results.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear decommissioning in the UK

Decommissioning    NO2Nuclear Power. Safe Energy Journal  78 The UK government has launched a consultation on the future regulation of nuclear sites in the final stages of decommissioning and clean-up. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said the consultation seeks to enable a “more flexible approach that can optimise waste management, thereby realising environmental benefits and reducing costs”.

Of the 36 nuclear sites located across England, Wales and Scotland, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is responsible for the decommissioning and clean-up of 17. Other sites to be decommissioned in the future include the operational nuclear power stations owned by EDF Energy, and other nuclear sites in the nuclear fuel cycle, reprocessing, waste management, pharmaceutical and research sectors.

 In the UK, the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 (NIA65) provides the legal framework for nuclear safety and nuclear third-party liability and sets out a system of regulatory control based on a robust licensing process administered by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Under this regime, a site operator is required to have a licence to use a site for specified activities such as the operation of nuclear power stations. In addition to the nuclear site licensing regime, the NIA65 requires that financial provision is in place to meet claims in the event of a nuclear incident, as required under international law on nuclear third-party liability.

The consultation proposals include changing the NIA65 to allow licensees to exit the licensing regime once the site has reached internationally agreed standards and nuclear safety and security matters have been fully resolved. After the licence has been ended, the site would be regulated by the relevant environment agency and the Health and Safety Executive, in the same way that non-nuclear industrial sites undergoing clean-up for radioactive or other contamination are regulated.

 Proposals for further clean-up would be assessed by the relevant environment agency under the Radioactive Substances Regulations.  BEIS said this process would enable the site operator to work with the community to establish the “most appropriate” end-state for the site and would result in improved waste management and other environmental benefits.

BEIS proposes to implement two recent decisions by the OECD Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy concerning the exclusion of certain sites from the nuclear third-party regime when the main nuclear hazards have been removed and the risks to the public are small. It also proposes to tighten the licence surrender process to require a licensee to apply to ONR to surrender the licence, and to strengthen requirements for ONR to consult with HSE when the licence is surrendered or varied. (1)

The Government says the main reasons for change are:

  • nuclear third party liability currently continues beyond the point at which it is no longer required. The UK has not yet implemented the decisions of the OECD Steering Committee for Nuclear Energy concerning the exclusion of certain sites from the nuclear liability regime;
  • site operators wishing to exit the NIA65 licensing regime are required to clean-up the site in a way that does not allow them to balance the overall safety and environmental risks and this may result in unnecessary costs; and
  • · disposal facilities for radioactive waste located on nuclear licensed sites remain subject to nuclear licensing. Such sites are also regulated by the environment agencies. This is considered dual regulation which is unnecessary after nuclear safety matters have been resolved.

The UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a discussion paper on the regulation of nuclear sites in the final stages of decommissioning and cleanup in November 2016. The NFLA responded here:

This response concluded that:

There is a danger that what is being proposed will simply be seen as turning nuclear sites into nuclear dumps as a way of saving money.

The concept of “optimisation” which is decided by the operator and regulators making value judgements needs to be replaced with the concept of the Best Practicable Environmental Option which uses a systematic consultative and decision making procedure.

Any part of a nuclear site upon which it is proposed to allow unrestricted use must be able to show that doses to members of the public will be of the order of 0.01mSv or less per year. Using a risk factor in conjunction with probability of receiving a dose is too flexible and unacceptable.

Any waste left on-site much be concentrated and contained in a monitorable, retrievable store.

Former nuclear operators should remain liable for any future unexpected events and should also be liable to pay for any regulatory effort in perpetuity.

 These earlier proposals appear to allow for the unrestricted use of sites which may have nuclear waste buried and which could be capable of administering doses of up to 20mSv/yr if human intrusion occurs.

The HSE Criterion for De-Licensing Nuclear Sites (2005) says the Basic Safety Standards Directive (Euratom 96/29) allows member states to exempt a practice where appropriate and without further consideration if doses to members of the public are of the order of 0.01mSv or less per year. HSE is of the view that this dose limit broadly equates to a risk of 10-6 ‘as well as being consistent with other legislation and international advice relating to the radiological protection of the public. The environment agencies Guidance on Requirements for Authorisation (GRA) on Near Surface Disposal Facilities for Solid Radioactive Waste (Near Surface GRA) says that a risk level of 10-6 per year is equivalent to a calculated dose of around 0.02mSv/yr, where the probability of receiving the dose is one.

The consultation is open until 3rd July, and is available here:

June 23, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear spruik of Michael Shellenberger is getting weirder and weirder

Steve Dale  Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 21 June 18

Shellenberger’s latest article is pretty strange and contradicts a lot of things I’ve heard from his local supporters.

Most unusual is that he calls nuclear waste a “blessing” – “But achieving that future will first require that we abandon our ridiculous fears and start seeing nuclear waste as the environmental blessing that it is.”

He also doesn’t want nuclear waste moved – not even from the reactor, let alone the USA. He says “Don’t Move The Waste” and “transporting cans of used nuclear waste would increase the threat to the continued operation of our life-saving nuclear plants.” This sort of contradicts the whole push of the NFCRC.

Shellenberger proposes that money set aside for storing nuclear waste for millennia should be diverted to nuclear plants, he says “It should be used to subsidize the continued operation of economically distressed nuclear plants, and subsidize the building of new ones.”

When a nuclear accident occurs we are usually told it’s because it is an old or aging plant? Well Shellenberger claims “Nuclear plants are functionally immortal. Existing plants can operate for 60, 80, 100 years or longer because everything inside the plant from the control panels to the steam generators and even the reactor vessel itself can be replaced, if needed.”

And I’ve heard local nuclear lobbyists claim new “waste eating” reactors are just around the corner, less than 10 years away, but Shellenberger says – “Sometime between 2050 and 2100, new nuclear plants — like the kind being developed by Bill Gates — will likely be able to use the so-called “waste” as fuel.”

I wonder what Shellenberger’s local supporters would think of this article? If Shellenberger gets his way, millennia lasting nuclear waste will be stored in half-inch thin, welded casks (see picture below) for centuries – by which time it would be too fragile to move.

The Forbes article is “Stop Letting Your Ridiculous Fears Of Nuclear Waste Kill The Planet”

June 23, 2018 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to spend billions stabilising plutonium canisters

Power Technology 21st June 2018 , NDA to spend billions stabilising plutonium canisters. The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a report detailing the unstable condition of highly dangerous plutonium canisters at the Sellafield nuclear plant, said to be “decaying faster than anticipated”.

The report, titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ warns that if these canisters were to leak it would prove an “intolerable risk” – a label defined by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as a situation where reducing the risk “becomes the overriding factor”, taking precedence over matters of cost and requiring immediate action.

The NDA has refused to comment on the number of canisters affected, though it has said it is only a “small proportion” of their total number. The UK houses 40% of global civil plutonium, the majority of which is stored at the Sellafield site in Cumbria, itself overseen by the NDA. The substance is a by-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing and the site’s abundant stock has led the NDA to label Sellafield its most hazardous facility.

The new report shows Sellafield, which opened in 2012, to have ‘unsuitable’ containers for storing plutonium. The NAO has proposed the canisters be repackaged through the store retreatment plant (SRP) facility, though until this facility is ready the NDA is recommended to place the more unstable canisters in extra layers of packaging. In response to these measures, the NDA has announced its decision to pledge a further £1bn on these packaging canisters, and £1.5bn on building a new facility to house the plutonium.


June 23, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, UK | Leave a comment

France’s Minister Hulot slams Nuclear power and the pro nuclear push by EDF

Le Monde 21st June 2018 [Machine Translation] Nuclear: Hulot puts pressure on EDF. In an interview on Franceinfo, the Minister of the ecological and solidarity transition considered that the French group was in a “drift” because of its too much attachment to the nuclear power.

While France is in the middle of a discussion on its energetic roadmap, Nicolas Hulot did not mince his words, Thursday on Franceinfo . “One of the reasons why EDF is in trouble is that, in particular, the nuclear industry, sorry to say , takes us into a drift,” said the Minister of ecological transition and solidarity. Mr. Hulot has been criticizing nuclear power in good standing.

“It is clear that the cost of energy made with nuclear power is increasing because we have not
necessarily provisioned a number of things, at the same time that the cost of renewable energy is falling” stressed the minister. EDF’s financial situation remains difficult: the group suffers from low electricity prices on the market, losing tens of thousands of customers a month and has suffered from the shutdowns of many nuclear plants in recent years.
Contacted, the EDF group did not wish to react to the Minister’s statements.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry has co-opted academia in Cumbria

In Cumbria 21st June 2018, More needs to be done to ensure communities not only see but feel the benefits of investment in Cumbria’s nuclear sector, industry figures have been told. Rick Wylie, the Samuel Lindow Academic Director for the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) based at Westlakes Science and Technology Park, laid down the challenge at the third warm-up arm-up event to September’s Cumbria Nuclear Conference, hosted by Carlisle MP John Stevenson.

Mr Wylie stressed the important work the nuclear industry had already done to support communities and the aspirations of young people and adults, by supporting projects such as the new Whitehaven Academy and Well Whitehaven. But, in a speech at Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on Thursday night, he said: “Nuclear investment needs to have wider public value. It is not just about money, it is about ensuring people not just see but feel the benefits of it.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | Education, UK | Leave a comment

The prolonged closure of nuclear reactor 3 at Hunterston B in North Ayrshire, UK

Hunterston B  NO2NuclearPower  22 June 18 THE prolonged closure of reactor 3 at Hunterston B in North Ayrshire is the beginning of the end for seven nuclear power stations in Scotland and England. The reactor is scheduled to stay offline until 17th November according to EDF’s website, but experts doubt whether it will ever restart, and argue that proliferating cracks in other elderly reactors across the country will shorten their expected lives and lead to premature shutdowns. EDF Energy, however, insist that it will be able to reopen the reactor.

 Independent nuclear engineer John Large says extending the life of troubled reactors like the one at Hunterston is “gambling with public safety”. He says the new cracks signal the “death knell” for Hunterston reactor three. “This means that reactor four is doomed to the same fate, followed by similar plants at Hinkley Point and Hartlepool, thereafter progressively followed by other advanced gas-cooled reactors”.

EDF says it has found a total of 39 “keyway root cracks” in the reactor and they are “happening at a slightly higher rate than modelled”. The integrity of the thousands of graphite blocks that make up the reactor core is vital to nuclear safety. They ensure that the reactor can be cooled and safely shut down in an emergency. Large argues that EDF’s decision to keep reactor three closed until the end of the year was prompted by the UK Government’s safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). “ONR’s doubts about the reactor safety have not been satisfied by this most recent inspection,” he said. “It may simply be a way of saving face and fobbing off the announcement that the plant is to be permanently shut down.”

 Large also highlighted the uncertainties in tracking cracks, which are mostly modelled rather than measured. “There is little that EDF can do to physically resolve this problem,” he said.

Rita Holmes, a local resident who chairs the Hunterston site stakeholder group, argued it would be very difficult for the public to have confidence in the safety of reactor three. “It has had its day and should be allowed to bow out gracefully,” she said. (1) “The local communities are unhappy that the reactor has any cracks, and certainly not happy that one with a growing number of cracks could be allowed to continue generation.”

 If the graphite blocks fail and become misshapen, nuclear fuel could get stuck overheat, melt down and leak radioactivity in a major accident. Cracks could also prevent control rods from being inserted causing the nuclear fuel to overheat, potentially resulting in a nuclear accident. An ONR spokesperson said: “Before we grant permission to EDF to restart reactor three we will require that an adequate safety case justifying further operation.”. John Large said “The core at Hunterston may now be in such a poor structural state that its collapse during a relatively modest earthquake could result in a nuclear fuel meltdown and significant radioactive release.”

 EDF says “We have prepared well for this; we have a £100 million graphite research programme.”” Professor Paul Bowen, a metallurgist from the University of Birmingham who advises the ONR, thought that the body was likely to insist on more frequent inspections rather than reactor closure. “I’m absolutely confident that the regulator will take a very conservative position,” he said. (2)

“The thing which will close (these reactors) down in the end will be the cost of ensuring safety. It is possible to make a safety case for a significant amount of cracked bricks but it takes time and costs money,” said Barry Marsden, professor of nuclear graphite technology at the University of Manchester. (3)

 Local communities should be given a say in the future of Hunterston, according to Green MSP Ross Greer. He says the lack of public consultation has been unacceptable, while highlighting that European law says all ageing nuclear power stations should have an environmental impact assessment. He said: “This is obviously of major safety and economic concern to the local community. Last year I published a report urging the Scottish Government to review safety conditions at the site following earlier reports of cracks and the repeated granting of lifetime extensions to the plant. The local community currently has no say in decisions to extend a plant’s lifetime as an Environmental Impact Assessment with a public consultation is not required. The government must reconsider its position on the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment to accompany decisions on the granting of lifetime extensions to ageing nuclear power stations and commit to a renewed transition plan for North Ayrshire which will prevent the community being left behind, as so many others have been, by the closure of aging power stations.” (4)

A Committee of the Aarhus has just published a report which says the Netherlands “failed to comply” with Aarhus Convention by refusing to organise a public consultation on the 20 year lifetime extension of an old nuclear plant at Borssele. This has important implications for Torness which is due to submit its next Periodic Safety Review to the Office for Nuclear Regulation in January 2019.

(5) Experts estimate the 40% cut in the power station’s output – it normally supplies enough electricity for 1.8m homes – will cost the French state-owned firm £100m-120m in lost revenue. That is small compared with the impact of temporary safety closures at EDF’s French plants, which led profits to fall 16% last year, but it is still a blow the company could do without as it ramps up construction of the £20bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. (6)

As things currently stand the UK’s remaining 8.9 GW of nuclear capacity will close over a 12-year period, starting in 2023. However, rather than wondering if the AGRs could be given further life extensions, questions should now be asked about the supply implications if some, or all, of the AGRs are unable to operate as envisaged, says Anthony Froggatt of Chatham House. With Brexit raising questions about the financing and schedules for some interconnections, government policies slowing down the deployment of onshore renewables despite their tumbling costs, and the existing plans for the closure of the remaining coal stations, urgent consideration must be given to ensure supply, energy efficiency and flexibility from now on.

 Onshore and offshore renewables need to be at the heart of the future system. This would be good for the environment and competitiveness, as the last few years have seen a remarkable change in economics of renewable energy and it is now recognized that by 2020 electricity from renewables will be ‘within the fossil fuel-fired cost range, with most at the lower end or undercutting fossil fuels’ and are already significantly lower than the current prices offered for nuclear new build. (7

June 23, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

The world needs now to recognise climate refugees

TIM MCDONNELL , This month, diplomats from around the world met in New York and Geneva to hash out a pair of new global agreements that aim to lay out new guidelines for how countries should deal with an unprecedented surge in the number of displaced people, which has now reached 65.6 million worldwide.

But there’s one emerging category that seems to be getting short shrift in the conversation: so-called “climate refugees,” who currently lack any formal definition, recognition or protection under international law even as the scope of their predicament becomes more clear.

Since 2008, an average of 24 million people have been displaced by catastrophic weather disasters each year. As climate change worsens storms and droughts, climate scientists and migration experts expect that number to rise.

Meanwhile, climate impacts that unravel over time, like desert expansion and sea level rise, are also forcing people from their homes: A World Bank report in March projects that within three of the most vulnerable regions — sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America — 143 million people could be displaced by these impacts by 2050.

In Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of people are routinely uprooted by coastal flooding, many making a treacherous journey to the slums of the capital, Dhaka. In West Africa, the almost total disappearance of Lake Chad because of desertification has empowered terrorists and forced more than four million people into camps.

It’s a problem in the United States as well. An estimated 2,300 Puerto Rican familiesdisplaced by Hurricane Maria are still looking for permanent housing, while government officials have spent years working to preemptively relocate more than a dozen small coastal communities in Alaska and Louisiana that are disappearing into the rising sea.

A December study by Columbia University climate researchers in the peer-reviewed journal Science projected that if global temperatures continue their upward march, applications for asylum to the European Union could increase 28 percent to nearly 450,000 per year by 2100.

June 23, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Senator Heller Successfully Keeps Yucca Mountain out of Defense Bill Approved by the U.S. Senate

 June 18, 2018  The U.S. Senate today passed its annual defense authorization bill with three key provisions championed by U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to support Nevada’s disabled veterans and veterans struggling with mental illness and to remove the $30 million to store defense nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain that was included in the version approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, formally named the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, increases funding for training across all service branches and authorizes a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops – the largest increase in nine years for U.S. service members. Moving forward, both chambers will need to convene a joint conference committee in which representatives, who are appointed by leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, reconcile the two versions of the defense bill and must produce a final report.

Heller worked with the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee and the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee to keep funding and an authorization of funding to revive Yucca Mountain out of the U.S. Senate’s version of the NDAA. Earlier this year, Heller urged U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) to honor the will of the U.S. Senate appropriators and to exclude any language that authorizes funding for Yucca Mountain in the NDAA. Heller’s letter to Chairman McCain can be found HERE.

“Congress has an obligation to support our men and women in uniform, and that’s why I welcome the U.S. Senate’s passage of legislation that will give Nevada’s service members the largest pay raise in nearly a decade, provide our military with the resources it needs to keep America safe, and support Nevada’s 300,000 veterans. I’m proud that this legislation includes my provisions to support Nevada’s disabled veterans and help our veterans who may be struggling with mental illness and having difficulty finding work,” said Heller. “Furthermore, unlike the U.S. House of Representatives-passed version of the bill that contains $30 million to revive Yucca Mountain, I’m pleased I was able to work with Chairman McCain and U.S. Senate appropriators to successfully ensure that our bill did not include a single dollar authorized for Yucca Mountain. So once again, while the U.S. House of Representatives charges forward with shipping nuclear waste to Nevada, I kill their efforts in the U.S. Senate. While this is progress, we still have more work to do to stop the U.S. House of Representatives from turning Nevada into a nuclear waste dump. I remain committed to doing everything that I can to make sure that Yucca Mountain remains dead.”…….

June 23, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

As Fukushima residents return, some see hope in nuclear tourism

posters promoting fukushima sightseeing at the Fukushima prefectural government office in Fukushima city.jpg
Posters promoting fukushima sightseeing at the Fukushima prefectural government office in Fukushima city
June 21, 2018
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – On a cold day in February, Takuto Okamoto guided his first tour group to a sight few outsiders had witnessed in person: the construction cranes looming over Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Seven years after a deadly tsunami ripped through the Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) plant, Okamoto and other tour organisers are bringing curious sightseers to the region as residents who fled the nuclear catastrophe trickle back.
Many returnees hope tourism will help resuscitate their towns and ease radiation fears.
But some worry about drawing a line under a disaster whose impact will be felt far into the future. The cleanup, including the removal of melted uranium fuel, may take four decades and cost several billion U.S. dollars a year.
“The disaster happened and the issue now is how people rebuild their lives,” Okamoto said after his group stopped in Tomioka, 10 kilometres (6.21 miles) south of the nuclear plant. He wants to bring groups twice a week, compared with only twice a month now.
Electronic signs on the highway to Tomioka showed radiation around 100 times normal background levels, as Okamoto’s passengers peered out tour bus windows at the cranes poking above Fukushima Daiichi.
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Tourists from Philippines and tour guide Takuto Okamoto, Futaba town, May 17 2018
“For me, it’s more for bragging rights, to be perfectly honest,” said Louie Ching, 33, a Filipino programmer. Ching, two other Filipinos and a Japanese man who visited Chernobyl last year each paid 23,000 yen ($208.75) for a day trip from Tokyo.
The group had earlier wandered around Namie, a town 4 kilometres north of the plant to which residents began returning last year after authorities lifted restrictions. So far, only about 700 of 21,000 people are back – a ratio similar to that of other ghost towns near the nuclear site.
Former residents Mitsuru Watanabe, 80, and his wife Rumeko, 79, have no plans to return. They were only in town to clear out their shuttered restaurant before it is demolished, and they chatted with tourists while they worked.
“We used to pull in around 100 million yen a year,” Mitsuru said as he invited the tourists inside. A 2011 calendar hung on the wall, and unfilled orders from the evacuation day remained on a whiteboard in the kitchen.
“We want people to come. They can go home and tell other people about us,” Mitsuru said among the dusty tables.
Okamoto’s group later visited the nearby coastline, where the tsunami killed hundreds of people. Abandoned rice paddies, a few derelict houses that withstood the wave and the gutted Ukedo elementary school are all that remain.
It’s here, behind a new sea wall at the edge of the restricted radiation zone, that Fukushima Prefecture plans to build a memorial park and 5,200-square-metre (56,000-square-foot) archive centre with video displays and exhibits about the quake, tsunami and nuclear calamity.
“It will be a starting point for visitors,” Kazuhiro Ono, the prefecture’s deputy director for tourism, said of the centre. The Japan Tourism Agency will fund the project, Ono added.
Ono wants tourists to come to Fukushima, particularly foreigners, who have so far steered clear. Overseas visitors spent more than 70 million days in Japan last year, triple the number in 2011. About 94,000 of those were in Fukushima.
Tokyo Electric will provide material for the archive, although the final budget for the project has yet to be finalised, he said.
“Some people have suggested a barbecue area or a promenade,” said Hidezo Sato, a former seed merchant in Namie who leads a residents’ group. A “1” sticker on the radiation metre around his neck identified him as being the first to return to the town.
Slideshow (21 Images)
“If people come to brag about getting close to the plant, that can’t be helped, but at least they’ll come,” Sato said. The archive will help ease radiation fears, he added.
Standing outside a farmhouse as workmen refurbished it so her family could return, Mayumi Matsumoto, 54, said she was uneasy about the park and archive.
“We haven’t gotten to the bottom of what happened at the plant, and now is not the time,” she said.
Matsumoto had come back for a day to host a rice-planting event for about 40 university students. Later they toured Namie on two buses, including a stop at scaffolding near the planned memorial park site to view Fukushima Daiichi’s cranes.
Matsumoto described her feelings toward Tokyo Electric as “complicated,” because it is responsible for the disaster but also helped her family cope its aftermath. One of her sons works for the utility and has faced abuse from angry locals, she added.
“It’s good that people want to come to Namie, but not if they just want to get close to the nuclear plant. I don’t want it to become a spectacle,” Matsumoto said.
Okamoto is not the only guide offering tours in the area, although visits of any kind remain rare. He said he hoped his clients would come away with more than a few photographs.
“If people can see for themselves the damage caused by tsunami and nuclear plant, they will understand that we need to stop it from happening again,” said Okamoto, who attended university in a neighbouring prefecture. “So far, we haven’t come across any opposition from the local people.”
($1 = 110.1800 yen)

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Route 114 to Namie is No Route 66!

Even after lifting the ban on R114 last September, the route leading to Namie, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, radiation remains very high.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture Announced More than 200 Malignant or Suspected Children Thyroid Cancer

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June 15, 2018
The total number of children who have been diagnosed with or suspected of thyroid cancer has reached 204, Fukushima prefectural investigative commission announced recently.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Japanese Citizens Reject Government Plan to Use Soil Contaminated by Fukushima

June 18, 2018
Japanese residents are fighting a government proposal to use soil contaminated with radiation from the area of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for agriculture and road construction.
On June 3, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment released the outline of its plan to use soil contaminated by the nuclear accident that occured in March 2011 after a tsunami caused the facility’s power supply and emergency generators to fail. As a result of the power failure, meltdowns occurred in three reactors, resulting in the release of radioactive material. 
In 2011 after the accident, Japan enacted a law that allows the government to use contaminated waste from the Fukushima site for public purposes, Osamu Inoue, environmental law partner at Ushijima & Partners in Tokyo, recently told Bloomberg BNA.
According to the ministry’s plan, the contaminated soil will be used to grow horticultural crops in Fukushima Prefecture that won’t be consumed by humans. In a similar plan released in 2017, the ministry also suggested that contaminated soil be used for road construction.
However, the use of contaminated soil for road construction and agriculture has been heavily criticized by residents living in close proximity to the project locations with safety concerns.
“Pollutants contained in crops will surely pollute air, water and soil, thereby contaminating food to be consumed by human beings,” Kazuki Kumamoto, professor emeritus at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, told Bloomberg Environment. Kumamoto also noted that contaminated crops could release radiation into the environment.
According to Kumamoto, because contaminated soil isn’t considered nuclear waste under Japanese law, it doesn’t have to be treated by special facilities. While the International Atomic Energy Agency’s standard for contamination radioactive waste that needs to be treated by special facilities is 100 becquerels per kilogram, the Japanese limit is much higher, at 8,000 becquerels per kilogram for nuclear waste and soil.
“The relaxed benchmark is one factor triggering safety concerns among residents,” Nagasaki told Bloomberg Environment earlier this month. 
“The government is saying that the contaminated soil will be covered by materials such as concrete, effectively reducing radiation levels, but many residents near the reuse projects aren’t convinced,” he added.
In addition, more than 2,300 property owners in the areas where the projects are expected to take place are declining government offers to sell their land because they don’t believe they are being compensated appropriately, Yoshiharu Monma, chairman of the Association of Landowners in Fukushima Prefecture, recently told Bloomberg. According to Monma, the government is only agreeing to compensate property owners for half of what the land was worth before the 2011 disaster if the land is to be used for interim storage facilities.
“This is totally unfair and, as much as the landowners are willing to sell their land to facilitate the government’s decontamination plans, they won’t do so until the government fixes such compensation discrepancies,” Monma noted.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trouble-hit nuclear reactor in southwestern Japan resumes operations

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In this Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, from left, the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant are seen from a Mainichi helicopter in Saga Prefecture
June 16, 2018
FUKUOKA (Kyodo) — A nuclear reactor at a trouble-hit complex in southwestern Japan restarted operations Saturday for the first time in more than six and a half years amid lingering safety concerns.
The No. 4 unit at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture is the fourth reactor of operator Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s to go back online and the ninth nationwide under stricter safety rules implemented after the Fukushima crisis in 2011. The utility aims to generate and supply electricity from Wednesday and start commercial operations in mid-July.
The restart sparked local protests, with around 100 people gathering in front of the plant.
Hajime Aoki, an 80-year-old farmer living about 6 kilometers away from the plant, said, “Everyone knows that nuclear plants are dangerous. If I think about the Fukushima nuclear accident, I certainly cannot agree to this.”
Recognizing the opposition of the local residents, Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi promised to deal with the issue seriously, while Michiaki Uriu, president of Kyushu Electric, separately said the plant’s operation will proceed by taking into account “safety as a top priority.”
At the same time, there were some residents who said that while they were worried about plant safety, they also saw the economic benefits to having such plants in the area.
The restart comes after the Genkai complex has been mired in troubles. In May, pumps installed to control the circulation of cooling water at the No. 4 unit suffered malfunctions, following a steam leak from a pipe at the No. 3 reactor just a week after it was reactivated in March.
Kyushu Electric estimates cost savings of 11 billion yen ($100 million) per month due to the restarts of the No. 3-4 units at Genkai, as this will reduce its reliance on thermal power generation.
The No. 4 unit, which began undergoing a regular checkup in December 2011, won approval for restart by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in January 2017 under the tougher rules implemented after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
Some local residents opposed to the Genkai plant’s operation question the validity of safety standards and cite the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region. The Saga District Court rejected in March a request for an injunction to suspend the plant’s restart.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment