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One nation that abandoned nuclear weapons – South Africa

Unfortunately, South Africa is still the only state that has ever voluntarily dismantled its entire nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear states continue to do lip service to the goal of nuclear disarmament, but little has been achieved in practice. South Africa has illustrated that long-term security can be far better assured by the abrogation of nuclear weapons than by their retention.

flag-S.AfricaSouth Africa: Nation that gave up its nuclear arsenal The solution was not the acquisition of greater military power through the development of nuclear weapons but the abolition of apartheid  Gulf Times, F.W. de Klerk Former president of South Africa December 25, 2013It will be a mistake to think that the end of the Cold War also ended the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed states continue to deploy huge arsenals of nuclear weapons, other states continue with their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and there is the alarming possibility that such weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists. Accordingly, it may be helpful to consider the factors that led South Africa to develop nuclear weapons in the 1970s and the reasons why it decided to dismantle them in 1989…..

Soon after I became president in 1989, foreign minister Pik Botha urged me to take two key steps if we wished to improve South Africa’s relationship with the world: The first was to release Nelson Mandela and the second was to dismantle our nuclear weapons and accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s missile obsession (? penis envy)

Oscar-01 Launch Control FacilityShould the Nuclear Triad Be Saved? Nation presses ahead with wholesale upgrade as cracks appear in its value and utility Time  By  @MarkThompson_DC Dec. 25, 2013  The U.S. spent two generations building a nuclear triad of bombers, land-based ICBMs and missile-firing submarines to prevail in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. A generation ago, the Soviet Union went away, and we continued maintaining the triad on some kind of Strangelovian autopilot. Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan to join in UK’s economically insane nuclear power project

Buy-Japan's-nukes-2Toshiba to buy majority stake in UK nuclear consortium,Dan Milmo, The Guardian UK 27 Dec 13, Japanese company keen to kickstart ambitious reactor building programme that stalled after 2011 disaster at Fukushima Japanese group Toshiba has confirmed that it is in the final stages of securing a majority stake in a British nuclear power consortium, bringing a further boost to the UK’s ambitious nuclear programme.
Toshiba’s chief executive, Hisao Tanaka, said an agreement to take a controlling shareholding in the NuGen consortium could be in place as early as January. NuGen is a joint venture between Spanish power company Iberdrola and French utility firm GDF Suez that is developing a plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, where the owners plan to build 3.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity on a disused reactor site…….

Toshiba is keen to kickstart an ambitious reactor building programme that stalled after countries around the world – led by Germany – froze nuclear expansion plans and tightened regulations in the wake of Japan’s 2011 disaster at Fukushima.

Its domestic rival, Hitachi, has bought the Horizon project which intends to build two nuclear power stations, in Anglesey and Gloucestershire.

Britain is one of the few countries pressing ahead with nuclear plans in spite of the safety fears raised by Fukushima. The government’s determination to make nuclear a central part of its energy strategy was confirmed two months ago when ministers approved a deal with France’s EDF Energy to build the £16bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset. Analysts at Liberum Capital said state guarantees on electricity prices offered to EDF in order to secure the deal could prove to be  “economically insane”. The European Union has also weighed into the nuclear subsidy debate by launching an investigation into whether the Hinkley deal broke state aid rules……..

Tanaka said a majority stake was necessary to make progress on the project, where delays have frustrated the UK government, sources say, as it pushes through its own ambitious nuclear programme to replace new reactors. A controlling stake would allow Westinghouse, 87%-owned by Toshiba, to supply three of its AP1000 reactors for the site……

December 27, 2013 Posted by | Japan, marketing | Leave a comment

2013 saw 13 great breakthroughs in renewable energy

renewable-energy-world-Sm13 Huge Clean Energy Breakthroughs Of 2013 Clean Technica 27 Dec 13. Originally published on ThinkProgressBy Kiley Kroh. While the news about climate change seems to get worse every day, the rapidly improving technology, declining costs, and increasing accessibility of clean energy is the true bright spot in the march toward a zero-carbon future. 2013 had more clean energy milestones than we could fit on one page, but here are thirteen of the key breakthroughs that happened this year.

1. Using salt to keep producing solar power even when the sun goes downHelped along by the Department of Energy’s loan program, Solana’s massive 280 megawatt (MW) solar plant came online in Arizona this October, with one unique distinction: the plant will use a ‘salt battery’ that will allow it to keep generating electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. Not only is this a first for the United States in terms of thermal energy storage, the Solana plant is also the largest in the world to use to use parabolic trough mirrors to concentrate solar energy.

2. Electric vehicle batteries that can also power buildings.Nissan’s groundbreaking ‘Vehicle-To-Building‘ technology will enable companies to regulate their electricity needs by tapping into EVs plugged into their garages during times of peak demand. Then, when demand is low, electricity flows back to the vehicles, ensuring they’re charged for the drive home. With Nissan’s system, up to six electric vehicles can be plugged into a building at one time. As more forms renewable energy is added to the grid, storage innovations like this will help them all work together to provide reliable power.

3. The next generation of wind turbines is a game changer. May of 2013 brought the arrival of GE’s Brilliant line of wind turbines, which bring two technologies within the turbines to address storage and intermittency concerns. An “industrial internet” communicates with grid operators, to predict wind availability and power needs, and to optimally position the turbine. Grid-scale batteries built into the turbines store power when the wind is blowing but the electricity isn’t needed — then feed it into the grid as demand comes along, smoothing out fluctuations in electricity supply. It’s a more efficient solution to demand peaks than fossil fuel plants, making it attractive even from a purely business aspect. Fifty-nine of the turbines are headed for Michigan, and two more will arrive in Texas.

4. Solar electricity hits grid parity with coal
5. Advancing renewable energy from ocean waves.

6. Harnessing ocean waves to produce fresh water.

7. Ultra-thin solar cells that break efficiency records

8. Batteries that are safer, lighter, and store more power……

9.. New age offshore wind turbines that float……..
10. Cutting electricity bills with direct current power.Alternating current (AC), rather than direct current (DC) is the dominant standard for electricity use. But DC current has its own advantages: its cheap, efficient, works better with solar panels and wind turbines, and doesn’t require adapters that waste energy as heat. Facebook, JPMorgan, Sprint, Boeing, and Bank of America have all built datacenters that rely on DC power, since DC-powered datacenters are 20 percent more efficient, cost 30 percent less, and require 25 to 40 percent less floorspace. On the residential level, new USB technology will soon be able to deliver 100 watts of power, spreading DC power to ever more low voltage personal electronics, and saving homes in efficiency costs in their electricity bill.
11. Commercial production of clean energy from plant waste is finally here….

12. Innovative financing bringing clean energy to more people………


December 27, 2013 Posted by | renewable | Leave a comment

Tepco’s plan to clean up Fukushima, -technology not invented yet, restart of idled reactors

eyes-surprisedThe plan, which includes a cost-cutting round of early retirements, assumes the giant utility will be allowed to restart some of its idled nuclear reactors.

The government believes it may take 40 years completely to dismantle the plant and could require the use of technology that has not yet been invented.

Fukushima operator readies new restructuring plan  27 Dec 13, Tokyo Electric Power Wednesday submitted a fresh restructuring plan to a Japanese government-backed fund that envisages the creation of a special unit to dismantle the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.


TEPCO president Naomi Hirose pledged thorough implementation of the plan, once approved by the government as expected next month. Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

A family’s health wrecked by Fukushima nuclear radiation

Fukushima Mother: ‘Strange smell’ at start of nuclear disaster — Health of entire family has deteriorated — More people who stayed have died, more kids have leukemia and cancer — All our thyroid exams turned out totally different when tested in Tokyo (VIDEO)

Mother speaking at Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team press conference on Dec. 4, 2013, transcribed by Kiiko and translated by Fukushima Voice, Published Dec. 22, 2013:

[…] I still remember how it was very hard for me and my children to breathe due to strange smell […] Every day the government and specialists said […] “There is no immediate health effect.” […] we ate local vegetables and drank tap water. […] I began to have dry coughs of unknown etiology. When I went to a hospital, I was told “An increasing number of people had the same symptom.” […] My son [and] many others around us, at all ages, also complained of bone pain in the soles of their feet. […] Health of all the family members quickly deteriorated during the period awaiting evacuation. […] My dry cough got so bad to the point of nearly choking in the middle of the night […] arm bone pain was so bad that I could barely open and close doors. […] My grade school age son continued to have nausea and headache […] they found blood in his urine […] he often had diarrhea. I also began to have continuing nausea, headache and diarrhea. […] my son’s blood pressure had gone down to 82/50. […] [We] went to a hospital in Tokyo for thyroid examination. […] all of us had results which were totally different from the results in Fukushima [son diagnosed with thyroid adenomatous goiter and lymphadenopathy with over 10 lymph nodes involved]. When I took him to a hospital in Yamanashi, he was diagnosed with “autonomic nervous system disorder.” […] More people who remained in Fukushima are suffering from the same symptoms as mine. More people have died. There are more children who got leukemia, who began to have bloody noses and who have thyroid cancer. […]
Watch the press conference here

December 27, 2013 Posted by | Fukushima 2013, health, Japan | 2 Comments

International silence on heroic nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu,

Vanunu,MordechaiRemember Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s heroic nuclear whistleblower,Redress, Information and Analysis, 26 Dec 13, He should have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Instead, he spent 18 years in solitary confinement. He should be celebrated internationally as a man who has sacrificed his freedom for the truth and for the wellbeing of humanity. Instead, he has been stripped of his right to travel and prohibited from talking to foreigners.

Mordechai Vanunu: still fighting for his freedom, 27 years on Today, Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear whistleblower, is almost forgotten. But he has not given up the fight for freedom.

Vanunu is appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court to set him free – free to leave Israel, theTimes of Israel reports……
Vanunu compared his past actions to those of US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Snowden is the best example of what I did 25 years ago – when the government breaks the law and tramples on human rights, people talk. That’s what he did, he speaks for everyone, and that’s what I did – I spoke for everyone.”……

Vanunu is prohibited from visiting foreign territories, including the occupied West Bank and embassies within Israel, and can only meet with foreign nationals after securing permission from security forces.

In 1986 Vanunu leaked details of Israel’s military nuclear programme toThe Sunday Times, blowing the cover off Israel’s so-called “nuclear ambiguity”……

where are the international human rights warriors? We hear none speaking for Vanunu. Their silence is not just deafening. It is criminal.

December 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, Israel | Leave a comment

Engineering professor shows the flaws in pro nuclear film Pandora’s promise

He argues that nuclear power’s primary drawback — …. is that the amount of energy it requires is too high, from construction costs to waste disposal to the high volumes of water it requires. Kreith says we can’t afford to wait two decades — we need to accelerate the move to renewable energy before we run nuke-bubbleout of fossil fuels

the idea of nuclear solving our energy problems is “ridiculous” because the types of reactors that would be needed haven’t even been invented yet

Book-PandoraReportCoverCU prof: Don’t buy the promise of nuclear energy  Pandora’s Promise is not realistic  Boulder Weekly By Jefferson Dodge 26 Dec 13, A retired University of Colorado mechanical engineering professor is challenging a new documentary that espouses the virtues of nuclear power…….Kreith argues that the pro-nuclear stance outlined in Pandora’s Promise is not realistic, given that the technology needed to make it a viable source of energy is decades away. He says society should begin an aggressive transition to renewables like solar and wind now — while we still have the surplus energy needed to make that shift.

Kreith presented his views to a packed auditorium in CU’s Engineering Center on Dec. 12, showing clips from the film and countering its claims with his own charts and graphs. His central argument revolves a concept known as “energy return on energy investment,” or EROI, which compares the amount of energy that a given system, like a nuclear power plant, produces during its lifetime against the amount of energy that needs to be expended in its production. Dividing the amount of energy produced by the amount expended, both directly and indirectly, Kreith translates the EROI into a number.

Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | media, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Israel still cracking down on Mordechai Vanunu

30 years on || Israel claims nuclear whistle-blower Vanunu still a security threat Mordechai Vanunu’s attorney admits his client is a ‘provocateur’ but has no intention of revealing state secrets. Haaretz,By Revital Hovel | Dec. 26, 2013
  Twenty-eight years after he left his job at the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the state still maintains the information that whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu possesses is still relevant, and that its revelation would endanger Israel’s security.

On Wednesday, the High Court of Justice discussed the seventh petition to be filed by Vanunu against the court order prohibiting his exit from Israel, even to the occupied territories. Vanunu is also forbidden to talk to foreigners, even in Israel, without receiving advance permission…..
Vanunu was convicted in March 1988 of treason and espionage, and sentenced to 18 years in jail. He served 11 and a half years in isolation for fear that he would disclose information to unauthorized sources. In April 2004, he was released but forbidden to leave the country…..

“We are talking about information gathered about the nuclear reactor in Dimona,” Vanunu’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, said during the proceedings Wednesday. “The work ended in 1985 – in other words, [nearly] 29 years ago. This is information which has expired. To come and say today, ‘This man cannot leave the country’ – that doesn’t want him and that he doesn’t want – ‘and live in another country and complete his life’ – although he isn’t old, he has a partner and wants to marry her – ‘because we are afraid that he will disseminate secrets’? What proof is there of that?

“The state is presenting us,” Feldman continued, “with the fact that Mordechai Vanunu writes online that he is willing to speak to any foreigner who will talk to him, referring to the other restriction – namely the fact that Mordechai Vanunu is not permitted to speak on any subject in the world, not necessarily about nuclear weapons, with foreigners. This is Vanunu’s way of fighting against this prohibition. Perhaps this way is not acceptable to us, and in effect constitutes a violation, but it’s his way of fighting back.”

Feldman added that although Vanunu is being provocative, “he doesn’t cross the red line.

“There isn’t a single case in the course of all the years of his release where it was claimed that he revealed some secret, or that he harmed state security,” Feldman told the court. “It’s true that he’s a provocateur and he behaves cynically. But he is still committed to his promise not to harm state security.

“….. If he violated the court orders, why isn’t he put on trial?

“He says he’s willing to be tried, but they aren’t doing that. I don’t know why. Maybe there’s a negative impact if he’s returned to prison again.

“You should be aware that interest in him in Israel is very limited. There’s an organized group that thinks he’s a serious person, that he’s a person who should be hea..rd. They see him as someone who expresses opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the State of Israel also supports that position.”….

Part of the proceedings took place only in the presence of the judges and state representatives, with Vanunu and the public asked to leave the courtroom. The petition continues.

December 27, 2013 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s study on nuclear waste storage is inadequate

wastes-1Watchdogs criticize nuclear storage study; A.G. says NRC didn’t focus on Indian Point, 26 Dec 13State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his counterparts in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont have given a thumbs-down to the federal government’s draft study on the long-term storage of used nuclear fuel.

A 143-page document filed late last week detailed their concerns, along with those of a Minnesota Native American tribe.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review, they maintain, was incorrectly focused at the industry level and not individual plants.A federal court in 2012 found the NRC didn’t fully consider the hazards of on-site storage of old fuel at the nation’s nuclear plants, including Indian Point in Buchanan. The court ordered the commission to evaluate the environmental effects of such storage.

Old fuel at Indian Point is kept in spent-fuel pools and dry casks. Both are reinforced against attacks or other calamities but critics have called for moving more old fuel at a faster pace into the casks.The draft study “fails(s) to address these core issues as required by (federal law) and the Court,” the attorneys general and the general counsel for the Prairie Island Indian Community wrote. The study also fails to provide the states, the tribe and the public with plant-by-plant reviews and wrongly relies on a generic approach, they wrote.

The tribe’s reservation is next to the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, which was the subject of litigation in the 1970s that lead to how the NRC regulates the storage of old nuclear fuel……..


December 27, 2013 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Spread of nuclear weapons – a danger posed by SILEX laser uranium enrichment technology

US uranium laser enrichment technology threatens Nuclear Non-Proliferation TreatyVoice of Russia, 26 Dec 13, The uranium laser enrichment technology that has been given a new impetus in the US is capable of knocking the bottom out of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The technology consists in uranium isotope separation with laser stimulation (SILEX). Optimists put a great deal of trust in this and pessimists warn about negative consequences……..

Now the US is trying to re-energise it. General Electric and Hitachi have set up a joint venture and are building a plant to separate isotopes with laser stimulation……..
The basic problem about the SILEX technology is that it may prove largely helpful to the forces that are engaged in nuclear proliferation. SILEX theoretically makes it more likely for such forces to get hold of nukes. In any event, the new technology brings up some difficult problems for the non-proliferation regime guarantors to consider and settle, ……
it helps bridge the gap between the countries that can and that cannot manufacture their own nuclear weapons. SILEX is a graphic illustration of the last challenge, so all apprehensions for the technology in question are quite justifiable……

December 27, 2013 Posted by | technology, Uranium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian experts say that Arafat was not poisoned by radiation

Experts rule out Arafat radiation December 26, 2013 Russian forensic experts say Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died a natural death, ruling out radiation poisoning.

‘We have completed all the studies,’ Vladimir Uiba, the head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency, said on Thursday. ‘The person died a natural death and not from radiation,’ Uiba was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency.

Arafat’s exhumed remains have been studied by Swiss, French and Russian experts. The French also ruled out poisoning, but the Swiss report said high levels of radioactive polonium indicated third-party involvement in Arafat’s 2004 death.

December 27, 2013 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

secret-dealsFlag-USAIMPROPER LOBBYING IN SAN ONOFRE PROBE? ONOFRE LOBBYING RAISES QUESTIONS UT San Diego, By Morgan Lee DEC. 25, 2013 The operator of the recently retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station may have engaged in lobbying the California Public Utilities Commission without proper public notice as the agency weighs multimillion-dollar customer refunds in the plant breakdown, an administrative judge overseeing the investigation said…….

Edison, along with dozens of consumer- and commercial-interest groups, are required to provide a notice and description of any conversations with commissioners or staff members at the utilities commission. Disclosure of such “ex parte” communications, including supporting written presentations, helps ensure equal time and consideration to other interested parties.

The utilities commission is currently considering a proposed $94 million refund to Southern California utility customers of charges related to the San Onofre plant, which broke down in January 2012 and was retired in June. Further and potentially larger refunds are still under review.

“It has come to my attention that SCE (Southern California Edison) and possibly other parties may have engaged in ex parte communications with Commissioners and/or their staff which have not been reported,” wrote Melanie Darling, an administrative law judge overseeing the San Onofre investigation, in an email to the utility Monday. “It is improper and unfair for parties to have such communications without disclosure to other parties in a rate-setting proceeding.”……

December 27, 2013 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Scrutiny on US Navy’s secret and possibly unsafe plan for explosive- handling wharf

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a Poulsbo, Wash.-based anti-nuclear group. Ground Zero has accused the Navy of withholding facts that would have fully informed the public of the second wharf’s potential dangers, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Anti-Nuclear Groups Wary of Navy’s Planned Wharf Seattle Times | Dec 26, 2013 | by Kyung M. Song WASHINGTON — In September 2012, the Navy began in-water work at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor to build an explosives-handling wharf, a $650 million project anti-nuclear activists criticized as an unneeded vestige of the Cold War. Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Hawaii’s largest solar energy park now in operation

Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park Comes Online Renewables BIZ HONOLULU, Dec 23, 2013 — BUSINESS WIRE HONOLULU, Dec 23, 2013  Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park, one of Hawaii’s largest solar energy generation facilities, ceremoniously opened today and will immediately begin generating electricity for Hawaiian Electric customers on Oahu. Following four years of development and construction, the 5MW, utility-scale solar park was successfully tested and commissioned on November 22.

The renewable power plant, which sits on a 20-acre property adjacent to the Barbers Point Golf Course in the community of Kalaeloa, is expected to reduce the fossil fuel consumption on the island. ……

“In Hawaii, utility-scale projects like the Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park provide direct benefits to all ratepayers through clean and low cost energy,” said Luigi Resta, CEO of Scatec Solar North America. “More than ever, solar power is able to provide utilities an efficient and cost effective way to both meet environmental goals and maintain a reliable power supply for consumers.”…….

December 27, 2013 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment