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Nuclear power as solution to Climate Change? Quite the reverse

Nuclear solutions to climate change are anything but, Aljazeera Americaby Gregg Levine   @GreggJLevine 23 Sept 14 “……While major climate polluting nations such as China, India and Canada have declined to send a top-level official to this year’s summit, the U.S. was expected to go all in, with President Obama touting his recent proposals to curtail the nation’s carbon output.

That plan to limit CO2 production has already come under fire from fossil fuel-friendly corporations, trade groupsand politicians who balk at the regulation, and from climate scientists and activists who point out that the president’s plan does not do enough to meet the maximum-2-degrees-of-warming goal, but a group you will not hear complaining is the nuclear energy sector.

Buried in the proposal and absent from many initial reports on the plan is a series of programs and pledges thatencourage the preservation and possible expansion of the nation’s nuclear electrical generation capacity. The president’s proposed carbon rules assume nuclear power to be a clean, low-carbon energy option, and so put forth a nuclear industry Christmas list of subsidies, incentives and financial backstops that potentially funnels billions of public dollars into private industry hands and risks missing emissions targets while increasing the danger of a nuclear mishap.

The inventory of specifics that make nuclear power a terrible option in the fight to stem global warming would almost work as a joke if the consequences of this wrong turn weren’t so serious. Here are but some of the many reasons why nuclear power is a terrible way to deal with climate change.

First and foremost, nuclear power is not greenhouse neutral. Nuclear boosters of late have grabbed hold of climate change as their latest raison d’être, if not their last best hope of restoring relevance to their half-century-old technology. And sure, the fission going on inside a nuclear reactor is not a major source of greenhouse pollution, but nuclear reactors do not exist in a vacuum.

Beyond the operation of the reactor, the nuclear fuel cycle includes the mining, milling, processing, enrichment, fabrication and transport of the uranium-based fuel — each step is energy intensive and greenhouse pollution rich.

The plants themselves have huge carbon footprints, requiring in most cases over a decade of heavy construction, large staffs and elaborate waste-handling protocols. The operation of the plant and the storage of the waste both require a constant flow of electricity — a loss of power for any significant amount of time creates a scenario much like that seen in Fukushima, Japan. In fact, it is one of the most paradoxical parts of the world’s light-water reactor fleet — in order to safely generate electricity, the plants need a significant and consistent supply of electricity. Sometimes the plant can supply that electricity — meaning the net output of the plant is lower than the announced rate — and sometimes it cannot, in which case, the plant becomes an energy consumer.


Another thing nuclear plants consume in copious amounts is water, making them particularly ill suited to a warming climate. Reactors need water to keep their cores and condensers cool — not to mention their spent fuel storage pools — and that water needs to be plentiful, circulating, and relatively cool. Over the last decade, as the globe has warmed, nuclear plants have experienced numerous shutdowns and many more days of reduced output because there was simply no effective heat sink.

In some cases, especially in some European plants set on rivers, droughts caused the water level to drop too low for a plant’s intake valves. In the case of plants that rely on lakes, warmer days and, perhaps more importantly, warmer nights have meant the water is simply not cold enough to effectively cool the reactors. In recent summers across the U.S., this has become a regular problem, especially during prolonged heat waves, which, ironically, are when demand for electricity is highest.

Even nuclear facilities built on the coasts are vulnerable to warming water. In recent years, plants in Connecticut and Massachusetts have had to reduce output or shut down entirely because of water temperature.

But plants near the oceans have other headaches exacerbated by climate change. Rising sea levels, increasingly severe hurricanes and superstorms, and the surges that come with them all threaten to overwhelm the cooling systems and the plants themselves. Superstorm Sandy caused seven plants in the eastern U.S. to shutdownbecause of flooding, storm debris, wind damage, or interruptions to the external power supply. In the case of one aging reactor in southern New Jersey, rising waters came within inches of breaching flood walls, and external pumps and hoses were brought in to provide water for the reactors when the cooling system’s intake valves were clogged with flotsam.

Clogging is also a major concern for southern and west-coast reactors. In those cases, fish, jelly fish and an invertebrate called salp, made more numerous by warming seas, have completely blocked cooling system intakes, requiring weeks of plant shutdown, cleaning, and filter replacements.

But even if all these problems, insurmountable though they seem, could somehow be solved, nuclear power is a poor investment for a world on the brink of climate disaster.

Numerous studies predict that something like 1,500 to 2,000 new nuclear reactors would need to be up-and-running to have a significant affect on greenhouse emissions (there are currently fewer than 400 reactors operating worldwide). If those reactors replaced coal plants, it is predicted the world would see realize a 20 percent decrease in CO2 production. But if the new plants were just there to service new demand, there would actually be an increase in carbon emissions (because, as noted, these are not greenhouse-neutral endeavors).

What would such an undertaking cost? Well, the only new plants under construction in the US, the Vogtle reactors in Georgia, were projected to cost around $15 billion, but only a couple of years into production, those plants are already billions of dollars over budget. They are also already years behind schedule.

And that brings up the time it would take to build the new nuclear capacity. It takes 6 to 10 years in the best cases to bring a new reactor online. Some of the newer plants in the US (which means they are still decades old) took more than twenty years to begin operation. Building 1,500 reactors would mean firing up a new one every two weeks for the next 60 years, which is not only an impossible schedule to meet, it puts the planet long past its drop-dead date for zero greenhouse emissions.

But let’s say, through the magic of magical thinking, you get all of that out of the way, what will you do with the waste?


September 24, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Tokyo rallies against the return of nuclear power

Protest-Tokyo-14‘What’s your anti-disaster plan?’ Thousands protest Japanese nuclear revival September 23, 2014 Thousands of people protested in Tokyo on Tuesday, criticizing the government’s move to restart two of Japan’s nuclear reactors by arguing that no sufficient anti-disaster plans have been presented three years after the Fukushima catastrophe.

More than 16,000 activists gathered in the Japanese capital, speaking out against the September 10 decision by the country’s nuclear watchdog to restart two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan. We don’t need nuclear plants,” was one of the main slogans protesters shouted as the demonstration marched through the capital, now more than three years after a triple reactor meltdown at Fukushima’s power plant in March 2011.

“Three and a half years has passed since the nuclear accident, but self-examination has yet to be made,”Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe told the Tokyo rally.

“[Japan’s government] is going ahead with the plan to resume operation at the Sendai plant without compiling sufficient anti-disaster plans,” Oe said, according to public broadcaster NHK…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

310,000 New Yorkers keen to win fight against Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Gas

Poster-bury-CONGAt the Grassroots How to Win the Climate Fight  CounterPunch.  by HARVEY WASSERMAN 23 Sept 14, The most hopeful, diverse, photogenic, energizing and often hilarious march I’ve joined in 52 years of activism—and one of the biggest, at 310,000 strong—has delivered a simple messag​e: we can and will rid the planet of fossil fuels and nuclear power, we will do it at the grassroots, it will be demanding and difficult to say the least, but it will have its moments of great fun.

With our lives and planet on the line, our species has responded.

……….Climate chaos is a clear and present danger.

It’s caused by “King CONG”—Coal, Oil, Nukes and Gas.

The corporations who threaten us all must be reorganized and held accountable. Corporate greed is no way to power an economy. Corporate personhood is an unsustainable myth. The corporate profit motive is at war with our survival.

But renewable energy, community-owned and operated, can and will green-power our Earth cleanly and cheaply, bringing jobs, prosperity, ecological balance and, in concert, peace and social justice, without which no green transition is sustainable.

And it will come to us on the wings of focussed local campaigns against each and every polluting project, one at a time, through the grueling, endless hard work of an aroused and focussed citizenry.

The magic of today’s New York minute was its upbeat diversity, sheer brilliance and relentless charm. A cross between a political rally and a month at Mardi Gras. There were floats, synchronized dances, outrageous slogans, chants, songs, costumes, marching bands, hugs, parents with their kids, and one very sweaty guy in a gorilla suit.

Above all, there was joy…which means optimism…which means we believe we can win….which is the best indicator we will…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Is USA again using depleted uranium weapons in Middle East?

depleted-uranium-weaponUS urged to clarify depleted uranium policy as A-10 gunships deploy to the Middle East 23 Sept 14

The decision to deploy A-10 gunships in the regional conflict against Islamic State has raised fears of the further use of depleted uranium in Iraq, and potentially in Syria.
23 September 2014 – ICBUW

The Pentagon has announced plans to send 12 A-10 gunships from the 122nd Fighter Wing to an unspecified location in the Middle East as part of its wider campaign against Islamic State (IS) fighters. The aircraft, which can fire 30mm DU cannon rounds, are designed for use in close air support of grounds troops. However President Obama has given assurances that US troops will not be involved in ground combat operations during the conflict.

In June, Iraq called for a global treaty ban on DU, highlighting the need for technical assistance for clearance and urging the UN and member states to act with more urgency on the issue. The renewed use of DU on its territory when contamination from 1991 and 2003 remains unresolved would be politically problematic. ICBUW strongly urges the US not to use DU and to state publicly that it will not do so. The arrival of the A-10s in the Middle East will coincide with debate over a fifth UN General Assembly resolution expressing concern over DU weapons.

With the aircraft not due in the Middle East until mid-October, there is an opportunity for US campaigners to seek clarification on whether DU will be used. Those in countries forming part of the new coalition, such as France and the UK, should ask their governments whether they endorse any use of DU by US forces in the conflict.

US DU usage policy unclear

The deployment may provide a new test for US policy on DU use – namely when does it view its use acceptable or unacceptable. Following the short-lived use of A-10s in Libya in 2011, the US claimed that no DU had been used – although reserved the right to use it in future. Concern over the potential use of DU in Libya had been raised by parliamentarians in a number of NATO countries, including the UK and Belgium. Analysts expressed surprise at the US decision, as tackling Libya’s armoured vehicles seemed like a logical use for the A-10, a role for which the US claims DU ammunition is critically important. This remains the political line although information revealed earlier this year demonstrated that DU was also used against non-armoured targets, unmounted troops and buildings in Iraq in 2003.

A-10 aircraft fire 30mm PGU-14 armour piercing incendiary DU ammunition from a cannon fitted beneath the cockpit. The GAU-8 cannon normally fires a standard combat mixture of PGU-14 and PGU-13 high explosive rounds, which are pre-loaded on an ammunition belt before the plane takes off. The A-10 has been responsible for more DU contamination than any other platform. In the case of Libya, and if the US statement was correct, then it was the first public acknowledgement by the US that A-10s were being loaded only with the high explosive PGU-13 rounds during combat of this type, although the practice has previously been identified in photographs of A-10 units in Afghanistan.

At issue is therefore whether the US has set itself a voluntary code of conduct that determines whether DU use is acceptable or not in any given conflict. Perhaps it is cost/benefit analysis of perceived military necessity versus impact on public relations? The calculation underlines the continuing global stigmatisation of the weapons, which is also reflected in the increasingly large majorities voting in favour of DU resolutions at the UN General Assembly. It is highly likely that, given the level of concern about the weapons in the region, any use of DU by the US would be a propaganda victory for IS.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | depleted uranium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

There is no Planet B. see photos of New York Climate Rally

see-this.wayPHOTOS OF NEW YORK IN ACTION TO SAVE THE PLANET ~~ ‘THERE IS NO PLANET B’  Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets on Sunday in what was billed as a People’s Climate March. Police estimated there were 600,000 marchers present, many more than the 100,000 which was expected.Climate March Shatters Record, DesertPeace, By Andrew Restuccia, 23 Sep 14

Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined a larger-than-expected throng of activists, scientists, students and elected officials who took to New York City’s streets Sunday for a massive march meant to sound the alarm about climate change.

Organizers initially estimated that the march had drawn 310,000 people, then raised that estimate to nearly 400,000 — far exceeding their projections of 100,000 attendees and making the procession through midtown Manhattan by far the largest climate-related protest in history. New York police did not offer their own crowd count.

Participants waved flags, pounded on drums and carried signs that said “No More Climate Change” and “Climate Action Now,” while police blocked traffic along Central Park West from 59th Street to 86th Street.

The scene turned a bit chaotic when Gore, Moon, scientist Jane Goodall and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the march around 12:45 p.m., with police, security officers and arms-linked volunteers holding back the crowd while photographers clicked away. After a moment of silence, the crowd erupted in cheers.

Others taking part in Sunday’s protest included Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) as well as former Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Participants said they were trying to send a message to elected officials that tackling climate change, an issue that has often taken a back seat in Washington, should be a top priority.

“It shows we have power,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “It’s a diverse coalition. It’s broad and it’s growing in strength and it’s growing in diversity. And it’s increasingly impatient at the rate of progress.”

But it wasn’t making an immediate splash on national TV — “Meet the Press” didn’t mention the march, while CNN, Fox and MSNBC were focusing on issues like the NFL, the fight against ISIL, Friday’s White House intruder and the November elections…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

America’s secret medical experiments – The Plutonium Files

read-this-wayDo Governments Really Conduct Secret Research on their Own People? BNTVA by 

 The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War In her 1999 book Eileen Welsome reveals a history of United States government-engineered radiation experiments Book-Plutonium-Filesconducted on unwitting Americans, based on the Pulitzer Prize–winning series Welsome wrote for The Albuquerque Tribune.
The experiments began in 1945, when Manhattan Project scientists were preparing to detonate the first atomic bomb. Radiation was known to be dangerous and the experiments were designed to ascertain the detailed effect of radiation on human health. Most of the subjects, Welsome says, were poor, powerless, and sick.

From 1945 to 1947, 18 people were injected with plutonium by Manhattan project doctors. This experiment was under the supervision of Harold Hodge.[4] Other experiments directed by the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project continued into the 1970s. The Plutonium Files chronicles the lives of the subjects of the secret program by naming each person involved and discussing the ethical and medical research conducted in secret by the scientists and doctors. Albert Stevens, the man who survived the highest known accumulated radiation dose in any human, 4-year-old Simeon Shaw sent from Australia to the U.S. for treatment, and Elmer Allen are some of the notable subjects of the Manhattan Project program led by Dr. Joseph Gilbert Hamilton.

In Nashville, pregnant women were given radioactive mixtures. In Cincinnati, some 200 patients were irradiated over a period of 15 years. In Chicago, 102 people received injections of strontium and caesium solutions. In Massachusetts, 57 developmentally disabled children were fed radioactive oatmeal in an experiment sponsored by MIT and the Quaker Oats Company. In none of these cases were the subjects informed about the nature of the procedures, and thus could not have provided informed consent.

In the book these stories are interwoven with details of more well-known radiation experiments and accidents. These include: U.S. soldiers deliberately exposed to nuclear bomb blasts; families who lived downwind from atomic tests; radiation exposure in the Marshall Islands; and the Japanese Lucky Dragon trawler caught in the fallout from a massive hydrogen bomb blast in 1954. The government covered up most of these radiation mishaps until 1993, when President Bill Clinton ordered a change of policy and federal agencies then made available records dealing with human radiation experiments. The resulting investigation was undertaken by the president’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, and it uncovered much of the material included in Welsome’s book. The committee issued a controversial 1995 report which said that “wrongs were committed” but it did not condemn those who perpetrated them. The final report came out on October 3, 1995, the same day as the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case, when much of the media’s attention was directed elsewhere.

Jonathan D. Moreno was a senior staff member of the committee. He wrote the 1999 book Undue Risk: Secret State Experiments on Humans, which covers some of the same ground as The Plutonium Files.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | resources - print, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Wild life affected by even low levels of radiation in Fukushima area

butterflies-mutant-0812Even Low Radiation Levels In The Fukushima Disaster Area Are Harming Animals  CHRIS PASH Butterflies eating food collected from around the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site showed higher rates of death and disease, according to a Japanese study.

Researchers fed groups of pale blue grass butterflies (Zizeeria maha) leaves from six different areas at varying distance from the disaster site and then investigated the effects on the next generation.

Feeding offspring the same contaminated leaves as their parents magnified the effects of the radiation.

But offspring fed uncontaminated leaves were mostly like normal butterflies and the authors say this shows that decontaminating the food source can save the next generation.

The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant released substantial amounts of radiation into the surrounding area.

Humans were evacuated and no significant health effects have been reported but the scientists from the University of the Rukyus, Okinawa, are studying the impact on the area’s wildlife.

In a previous study, the group suggested that eating leaves with high levels of radiation seriously affected the pale grass blue butterfly.

Their new study investigated the effect of eating leaves with much lower levels of radiation, which had been collected in 2012, a year after the disaster, from six areas that were between 59kms and 1,760kms from the site.

Their study, published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, showed that even in these comparatively low levels of radiation, there was an observable difference in the butterflies’ lifespan, depending on the dose of caesium radiation in their food. Butterflies fed leaves with higher caesium radiation doses were also smaller and some had morphological abnormalities such as unusually shaped wings.

Professor Joji Otaki, of University of Rukyus, says wildlife has probably been damaged even at relatively low doses of radiation.

He says the study demonstrates that eating contaminated foods can cause serious negative effects on organisms.

“Such negative effects may be passed down the generations,” he says.

“On the bright side, eating non-contaminated food improves the negative effects, even in the next generation.”

September 24, 2014 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Painfully slow and expensive – Fukushima radioactive trash cleanup

Fukushima cleanup going painfully slow, Japan Times BY MIZUHO AOKI STAFF WRITER SEP 22, 2014  Three and a half years after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station spewed massive amounts of radioactive materials into the air and water, decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to draw to an end.

The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the end of last March, but the process continues to lag far behind, prompting the government to push back the goal by three years to 2017.

Due to the slow progress, huge bags filled with contaminated soil can still be seen piled up at hundreds of temporary storage sites across the prefecture, and many residents are in limbo, unable to make up their minds about whether to return home in the near future or to relocate for good.


How are toxic houses and land decontaminated?

The work mainly consists of scraping off the top layer of soil, removing grass and fallen leaves, and washing roofs and walls with water or wiping them off with cloth.

As of March, the removed soil and grass was being stored at more than 660 temporary storage sites set up by municipal governments in Fukushima and at 53,000 decontaminated spots such as school grounds and people’s front yards, according to the Fukushima Minpo newspaper………

Why is it taking so long?

The major reason is the lack of temporary storage sites that would be used until the government builds more permanent facilities.

Some residents are opposing the temporary storage of contaminated waste out of fear of radiation and uncertainty over how long the bags of tainted soil will be stored there.

But the central government hopes to speed up the whole process after reaching agreement with Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato on Sept. 1 to build temporary storage facilities in Okuma and Futaba in return for ¥301 billion in subsidies.

The government plans to start moving waste to the facilities in January and complete the transportation in three years.

The government is currently mulling the best way to move the contaminated waste. Last Thursday, the Environment Ministry proposed a transportation plan to a panel of experts, including using 10-ton dump trucks on expressways to deliver the soil quickly — and hopefully safely — to sites where it will likely sit for decades awaiting permanent disposal.

Will the government’s plan work?

That remains to be seen. The government still needs to negotiate with more than 2,000 landowners to acquire 16 sq. km of land in Okuma and Futaba to build the storage facilities…….

The total is estimated to reach 22 million cu. meters, equal to filling the Tokyo Dome 18 times.

Within three decades, the waste is supposed to moved to the final disposal sites the government plans to create outside Fukushima. However, the locations of these final sites have yet to be found.

The neighboring prefectures are having their own problems with radiation-tainted waste, as their residents are strongly opposed to storage nearby.

In July, the Environment Ministry designated a plot of state-owned land in Shioya, in Tochigi Prefecture, but the mayor and residents are opposed to the plan, saying it will damage the environment in which they live…….

The government estimates that the decontamination will cost about ¥2.5 trillion in total. But according to a calculation by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, it could be twice as much, reaching a staggering ¥5 trillion.

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Fukushima” radioactive groundwater seeps towards Tokyo

see-this.wayVIDEO: Radioactive material now flowing toward Tokyo and contaminating their water supply; Problems “actually only getting worse” — “Truth is no one in world really knows how to deal with Fukushima” — Gov’t Expert: Tepco “should give up’ making ice wallVIDEO: Radioactive material now water-radiationflowing toward Tokyo and contaminating their water supply; Problems “actually only getting worse” — “Truth is no one in world really knows how to deal with Fukushima” — Gov’t Expert: Tepco “should give up’ making ice walls

Japan Times
, Sept 19, 2014: Tepco started building ice walls [but] has been unable to seal the leaks… it hasn’t been able to freeze because the [highly contaminated] water is flowing too fast [from the turbine buildings]. Tepco is trying to figure out how it can seal up the leak[s]… but it is still unclear when it will be able to plug the leaks. [Atsunao Marui, a groundwater expert who isa memer of a goverment panel dealing with the tainted water issue] said Tepco has been spending too much time trying to make the ice walls work, and should give up and explore other alternatives.

Dr Ronald McCoy, MD, physician
, Sept. 18, 2014 (emphasis added): Experts say that the Japanese government will soon be left with no choice but to release radioactive water into the ocean… The truth is that no one in the world really knows how to deal with the Fukushima accident… Murphy’s Law is inexorable: If anything can go wrong, in time it will go wrong. A major nuclear accident [can] render large areas of land uninhabitable for thousands of years.

Interview with Yokohama evacuees Beverly Findlay Kaneko and son Ryan, Social Uplift, Sept. 14, 2014 (at 3:00 in): I started working on March 11 this year, 2014, with Libbe Halevy of Nuclear Hotseat and we helped her produce a segment called Voices from Japan (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |Part 4)… We interviewed probably 12-14 different people, top people in the anti-nuclear and the humanitarian movements, regarding Fukushima… Every last one of those people said here we are 3 years after the disaster and nothing has changed. Nothing has changed except for the fact that the government keeps trying to brush the issue under the rug and cover up… Unfortunately the cleanup up the site has not progressed they are to the point now where there is so much contaminated water collecting at the site that now the only choice they have is to dump it into the Pacific Ocean. The rivers in Fukushima Prefecture were contaminated at the time of the accident. That contamination is now flowing toward the Tokyo area, contaminating the Tokyo water supply. So environmentally things have not gotten better they’re actually only getting worse.

Dr. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress and Dr. Arjun Makhijani, Asia-Pacific Journal, Dec. 19, 2011: Some of the fuel has reached the concrete floor and may breach it, posing a threat of unremediable contamination of ground water.

See also: Bloomberg: Could Fukushima contamination flow downstream to Tokyo and present a big risk? (VIDEO)

Watch the Kaneko’s interview here

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Rockefeller family investing in renewable energy, dumping oil

piggy-ban-renewablesFlag-USARockefeller family to sell oil investments to reinvest in renewables ABC News, 23 Sept 14, The heirs of the Rockefeller family, who made their vast fortune in oil, have joined in a pledge to divest more than $56 billion of fossil fuel investments to reinvest in clean energy on the eve of a major climate change summit in New York.

The Global Divest-Invest coalition has drawn 650 individuals and 180 institutions, which control billions of dollars in fossil fuel assets, to switch to renewables over five years using a variety of approaches.

One of the signatories is Rockefeller Brothers Fund and heir of Standard Oil tycoon John D Rockefeller, Stephen Heintz, who said the move would be in line with his wishes.

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” he said.

Another of the higher profile institutional divestments came in May, when Stanford University said it would no longer use any of its $21 billion endowment to invest in coal mining companies.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday unveiled a new plan for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent from 2005 levels by 2050.

All 3,000 major city-owned buildings would be retrofitted with energy-saving heating, cooling and light systems, but he said meeting the commitment would also require significant investments by private landlords…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa denies that it has finalised a nuclear deal with Russia

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaSouth Africa says no Russia nuclear deal, Sky News,  Wednesday, 24 September 2014 South Africa’s government says it has not yet awarded Russia a deal worth as much as $US50 billion ($A54 billion) to develop eight nuclear reactors, saying the countries had merely signed a cooperation agreement.

Russia’s atomic energy agency on Monday announced it had won a lucrative contract to develop nuclear power in South Africa, prompting allegations that President Jacob Zuma’s government had dodged procurement rules.

Pretoria’s energy ministry insisted on Tuesday that the Russia deal ‘initiates’ the procurement phase of the project and that other countries would be given a chance to bid.

‘Similar agreements are foreseen with other vendor countries that have expressed an interest in supporting South Africa in this massive programme,’ the ministry said.

‘If chosen, all nuclear vendor countries have technologies of their choice that they would want to deploy,’ a statement said, mentioning a delegation will visit France shortly.

Following the Russian announcement, South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance called for parliament to investigate…..– See more at:

September 24, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ukraine crisis is holding up Russia’s nuclear technology export business

Russian-BearRussia’s Nuclear Energy Ambitions Run Into Trouble Over Ukraine Moscow’s Backing for New Reactors in Several European Countries Fuels Political Tension, WSJ, SEAN CARNEY And  JUHANA ROSSI, 23 Sept 14, 

When it comes to expanding its influence in Europe through energy, Russia has been looking to move beyond natural gas into financing for nuclear-energy projects. But its investment push has become complicated by rising political tensions over the Ukraine crisis.

Several countries along the European Union’s eastern flank have nuclear projects in the works that are intended to help meet the bloc’s climate-policy goals. Funding, however, has become harder to obtain since Germany turned against nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Russia has been seeking to fill the gap in recent months, but is facing more resistance in some places as the EU tightens its economic sanctions on Moscow.

Finland’s government last week came near to breaking up after a conditional permit was granted to a Russian-backed consortium to build a new plant in the country’s northwest that could cost up to €6 billion ($7.7 billion)…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

USA and Iran discuss new nuclear proposals

diplomacy not bombs 1flag-IranIran open to new US proposals on Tehran’s uranium programme Guardian, 24 Sept 14 Plan that would disconnect enriching machines from feeds of uranium being discussed at talks between Iran and six major powers.

With Iran refusing US demands that it gut its uranium enrichment programme, the two sides are discussing a new proposal that would leave much of Tehran’s enriching machines in place but disconnected from feeds of uranium, diplomats told the Associated Press Saturday.

The talks have been stalled for months over Iran’s opposition to sharply reducing the size and output of centrifuges that can enrich uranium to levels needed for reactor fuel or weapons-grade material used in the core of nuclear warheads. Iran says its enrichment programme is only for peaceful purposes, but Washington fears it could be used to make a bomb.

Time is running out before a 24 November deadline and both sides are eager to break the impasse.

Ahead of the resumption of talks, on Friday, the New York Times reported that Washington was considering putting a new plan on the table that would focus on removing the piping connecting the centrifuges that enrich uranium, instead of demanding that Iran cut the number of centrifuge machines from 19,000 to no more than 1,500.

Two diplomats told the AP Tehran was initially non-committal at a bilateral meeting in August. But they say the proposal has now moved to being discussed at the talks Tehran is holding with the US and five other powers, and that the Islamic Republic is cautiously receptive.

Both diplomats demanded anonymity because their information is confidential…….

September 24, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

India-Australia nuclear trade will destabilise the Asia Pacific region

India-uranium1Australia and uranium: the pusher of the Pacific ByAdam Broinowski 19.Sep.14 “……… The new demand from India will include uranium mined from Ben Lomond near Mt Isa which is likely to be shipped from Townsville Port, and coal mined from the gargantuan Galilee Basin and shipped from Abbott Point, passing through the dredged Great Barrier Reef, or freighted by road to Darwin or Adelaide ports (which hold uranium licenses). The Australia-India uranium agreement supports this concerted and accelerated push.

In cementing a nuclear deal with India, the Abbott government has committed to selling uranium to a nation-state that barely conceals its intentions to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal and that rejects the NPT and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)………..

First, the Australia-India uranium trade agreement is unsafe. If Japan’s nuclear industry and government have proven unable to properly contain the potential for serious nuclear accidents at its domestic nuclear power plants, then India’s nuclear industry, which is much less reliable and possibly even more corrupt, poses even higher risks of mismanagement.

Internally, India is also unstable, as the government fights an embedded insurgency. It maintains a violently repressive approach to imposing nuclear installations and uranium operations (such as Gorakhpur, Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Jagudoga) upon vulnerable communities, and against the wishes of civil protesters, five of whom have been killed since 2010. While guaranteed only intermittent electricity supply, such communities are experiencing higher rates of disease, congenital malformations and early deaths. In Jagudoga, Jharkhand (19,500 people), those living near the central uranium mine operated by Uranium Corp. of India Ltd. (UCIL), have suffered disproportionately high health problems……….

Second, while Tony Abbott reiterated that ‘suitable safeguards’ were in place to ensure that Australian uranium would be used for ‘peaceful purposes’ and for ‘civilian use only’, such ambiguous terms create false impressions. Nuclear technologies are inherently dual-use (both for civil energy production and military use), and it is disingenuous to claim that a water-tight separation can be ensured. In fact, ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities do not fall under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervisional authority, and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. With no mechanism to inspect this nuclear technology to ensure that the fuel is not diverted into nuclear weapons production, safety cannot be guaranteed.

Even if the diverted fuel was discovered, neither Australia nor the IAEA could force compliance. An influx of imported foreign uranium will simply make it easier for India to reserve some of its indigenous uranium for enrichment and/or reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium, or for some of Australia’s uranium to be ‘misallocated’ toward military facilities.

In effect, Tony Abbott’s policy to treat India as the exception undermines the IAEA standards within the disarmament regime, and breaches Australia’s obligations to the Rarotonga Treaty for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

Third, and perhaps most significant, the deal will upset the ‘balance’ between India-Pakistan and in the South Asian region so as to aggravate rivalries and intensify tensions between the two nations, as well as others such as China and Bangladesh………

While leaders such as Abe, Abbott and Modi downplay the reality confronting people affected by radiation exposures from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we should remember that this contamination came, in part, from Australian uranium.

The refusal of executive leaders to acknowledge the dangers of the uranium trade reflects the centrality of nuclear power to the US-led security regime that seeks to dominate non-compliant nations such as China or Russia………

Dr Adam Broinowski is an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University.


September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, India, politics international | Leave a comment

$1 trillion USA to spend on nuclear weapons, despite Obama’s promises of disarmament

missile-moneyFlag-USAAnti-nuclear’ Obama plans to spend $1 trillion on nukes 23 Sep Despite campaigning on a platform that endorsed having “a nuclear-free world” in the not so distant future, United States President Barack Obama is overseeing an administration that’s aim has taken another path, the New York Times reported this week.

On Sunday, journalists William Broad and David Sanger wrote for the Times that a half-decade of “political deals and geopolitical crises” have thrown a wrench in the works of Pres. Obama’s pre-White House plans, as a result eviscerating his previously stated intentions of putting America’s — and ideally the world’s — nuclear programs on ice.

According to the Times report, an effort to ensure that the antiquated nuclear arsenal being held by the US remains secure has since expanded to the point that upwards of $1 trillion dollars is now expected to be spent on various realms of the project during the next three decades, the likes of which are likely to keep the trove of American nukes intact and do little to discourage other nations from doing differently.

The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads,” the journalists wrote. “Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return.”……

Times report cites a recent study from the Washington, DC-based Government Accountability Office to show that the US is making more than just a minor investment with regards to America’s nukes. According to that report, 21 major upgrades to nuclear facilities have already been approved, yet in the five years since Obama took office, “the modernization push” to upgrade the nukes has been “poorly managed and financially unaccountable.”

It estimated the total cost of the nuclear enterprise over the next three decades at roughly $900 billion to $1.1 trillion,” the journalists noted. “Policy makers, the [GAO] report said, ‘are only now beginning to appreciate the full scope of these procurement costs.’”

September 24, 2014 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment