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Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons: Pope Francis says nuclear deterrence is not justifiable

antinuke-worldSmThe Pope Says Nuclear Deterrence Is No Longer A Justifiable Doctrine http://io9.com/the-pope-says-nuclear-deterrence-is-no-longer-a-justifi-1668285136  10 Dec 14 Mark Strauss Although the Catholic Church has always opposed nuclear weapons, the Vatican reluctantly acknowledged during the Cold War that mutual assured destruction was the best-worst option for averting catastrophe. Today, a dramatic declaration from Pope Francis reversed that position.

The message was delivered to some 800 delegates from more than 150 countries attending the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons:

“Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. The youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more…. Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples.”

“I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.”

The Pope’s letter was read aloud by Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, who later clarified at a press conference:

“The consistent position of the Vatican has been against atomic weapons. From the very beginning, from John XXIII in ‘Pacem in Terris’ onward, there has been a consistent line opposing the use, the possession, the development of nuclear weapons. During the ’80s, especially during the cold war, the use of deterrence was accepted as a condition for avoiding worst results, but not as a value in itself.”

But, Tomasi says, the ongoing spread of nuclear weapons in a multipolar world, along with the threat posed by terrorists stealing fissile material, have made the weapons more dangerous than ever. “So we go back to the principal that the possession and use of atomic weapons is not at all acceptable.”

America: The National Catholic Review also reports that the Vatican has released a document, “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition”:

The document details failures of deterrence that might have led to nuclear war, including nuclear accidents, malfunctions and close calls. The Holy See statement calls for scrutiny of the belief that nuclear deterrence “is a stable basis for peace.” A Vatican official went so far as to describe political fealty to the strategic policy of deterrence as “religion” in its own right.

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December 10, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | 1 Comment

Potential for drones to carry explosive devices over nuclear reactors

With concerns about terrorism ever-present, the fear that drones carrying explosive devices could potentially fly over such sites looms large. 

Drones Flying Over Nuclear Power Stations in France Raise Concerns Global Voices,  byAbdoulaye Bah Translated byDanielle Martineau  9 December 2014 

At least 19 drones have been spotted in the past two months flying over nuclear power stations in France. So far, no one has claimed responsibility for conducting these flights. French electric utility company EDF says the drones pose no risk whatsoever to the plants’ equipment or operations, but many nationwide are still uneasy.
drone-near-nuclear-plant

With 58 nuclear reactors spread out over 19 plants, France is the highest user of nuclear energy in Europe, and the second highest in the world, after the United States.

In a blog post published on the website Géneration NT,  Jérôme G. gives some insight into the matter:…….

Drones have successfully evaded all the power stations’ defenses. EDF also reports a number of drone overflights that differs from Greenpeace’s count. Pascal Riché, co-founder of rue89.nouvelobs.com, notes: Continue reading

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | 2 Comments

Too much money at stake, for USA and UK to address the issue of depleted uranium and health

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

Amazing!  The fact that depleted uranium is so cheap – in fact, free- and that it solves DOE’s problem of what to do with this radioactive trash  –   these practical and financial considerations apparently outweigh any concern for the health of America’s finest, let alone for the health of Iraqui civilians!

It will cost in the end,  care of sick soldiers, lawsuits from soldiers, lawsuits from Iraq.

But I suppose, by that time, the worthy decision makers in the Pentagon and the arms business will have passed away – leaving the bill for everyone’s grandchildren

Par for the course, in all matters nuclear.

depleted-uraniumDepleted Uranium: The New Agent Orange  Source: Jiang, George C.-T. and Aschner, Michael. “Neurotoxicity of Depleted Uranium: Reasons for Increased Concern.” Biological Trace Element Research. Vol. 110, 2006 Bellingcat, December 8, 2014 By Aliaume Leroy

 Between 1990 and 1991, the US and UK troops fired over 290 metric tons [1] of Depleted Uranium (DU) projectiles in Iraq and Kuwait. It was the first time that this type of ammunitions was used on the battlefield. The US military employed it in Afghanistan in 2001 and again in Iraq in 2003. It was however in the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War that the controversy surrounding DU today developed. In the years following the war, the rate of cancers and malformations rose sharply in certain parts of Iraq. Furthermore, some American and British veterans started to experience a chronic multi-symptom disorder known as the Gulf War Syndrome.

On one hand, “misinformation disseminated by both the Iraqi government and the US Department of Defense has made analysis of DU’s impact difficult.”[2] On the other hand, the medias had the tendency to over-sensationalize the issue. Even worst was the fact that scientists themselves were caught in the midst of this politicization. On top of that, Iraq does not have the laboratory capacity to establish the existence of a direct link between DU and the health issues it is facing at the moment.[3]………..

DU has been used in various civilian and commercial fields: medicine, aviation, space and petroleum industry. Since it is 1.7 times denser that lead, it is used as ballast for commercial aircraft, ships, as well as satellites.[8] Another example of the civilian use of DU is in the medical industry where DU is employed in radiotherapy units as part of radiation shields.[9] However, the most fervent customers of DU have been the military-industrial complexes. “The United States began exploring, developing, and testing ways to employ depleted uranium in the early 1970’s in what were termed ‘kinetic energy penetrators’ and tank armor.”[10]As DU is extremely dense and pyrophoric, DU projectiles melt when they hit a hard target, sharpen and thus pierce the heavy armor.[11] Furthermore, the DU contained in shells ignites and aerosolizes upon impact, “forming tiny particles suspended in the air and dispersing them over an area.”[12] DU also becomes a very resistant material when it is mixed with other metals, like titanium, thus creating a shield for tank that no conventional weapon can penetrate……………

Interestingly, the US military’s true reason behind its choice of DU stems from an economic stance. DU is available in large stocks in the US. Currently, the Department of Energy (DoE) keeps “over 700, 000 metric tons of depleted uranium tails in about 63, 000 metal cylinders in storage yards at its Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, enrichment plants.”[15] Furthermore, DU is free of charge since it is under the control of the DoE. This means that the US military does not have to spend money importing or producing other materials. DU is thus absolutely cost-effective: the military spends nothing and retrieves all the benefits. This practical mindset explains why the American government has so far refused to remove DU from its military arsenal. In light of the economic reason, the DU effectiveness argument appears to be nothing more than a justifying smoke screen. This view is reinforced by the words of Lieutenant Colonel M.V. Ziehmn of the Los Alamos Laboratory: “If no one makes the case for the effectiveness for DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus, be deleted from the arsenal… I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when after-action reports are being written.”[16]

The human body intakes DU in three ways: inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. With DU ammunitions, the inhalation route is the most common. As stated earlier, DU projectiles aerosolize when they hit a target, projecting small particles all over an area, which then remain suspended in the air by wind or settle down on the soil for later resuspension.[17] Dermal contact is less important. DU does not penetrate the skin unless a fragment enters the organism. American and British veterans were exposed to DU through these two pathways: inhaling the particles or being wounded by DU shrapnel. However, the ingestion route should not be underestimated. Iraqi children playing in conflict zone are more likely to ingest DU because of hand-to-mouth activity. Furthermore, it is known that children are “10 to 20 times more susceptible to the carcinogenic effects than adults.”[18] This statement leads us to the following question: Does DU present health risks?………..

no one can deny today that DU did play a key role in aggravating the Iraqi health crisis.

DU ammunitions appear to be correlated with increased health risks. The various discordant claims and the politicization of the issue however impede the formulation of a conclusive and definitive statement. As Doug Rokke, a former Pentagon DU expert, eloquently puts it: “[DU] is the Agent Orange of the 1990s.”[28] More research is certainly needed to understand clearly DU’s impacts on health. Yet, the US army is still using DU despite the controversy that surrounds it and the fact that its efficiency has remained unaccounted for.

Why? Too much is at stake. If DU was found to be highly dangerous for the health and the environment, governments – mainly the US, UK, France, China and Russia – will be forced to remove this effective weaponry from their respective military arsenals and stop short nuclear plants (that uses enriched uranium): An unwanted scenario for those countries as well as for the defence and nuclear industries. https://www.bellingcat.com/news/2014/12/08/depleted-uranium-the-new-agent-orange/

 

December 10, 2014 Posted by | depleted uranium | Leave a comment

Highly radioactive mushrooms found in Tochigi Prefecture

flag-japan4158 bq/kg Mushrooms Found In Tochigi Prefecture , Simply Info, Dec 7 2014, Mushrooms from Tochigi prefecture tested and found to have 4158 bq/kg of cesium. The test was recently completed and shows that the problems of radioactive foods it not “over” and not isolated to Fukushima prefecture………..http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=14189

December 10, 2014 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

No utility executive could propose a nuclear reactor ”in good conscience” – industry executive

scrutiny-on-costsAnother Giant Declares Nuclear Dead In Fracking America, Forbes, Jeff McMahon, 9 Dec 14No utility executive could propose a nuclear reactor ”in good conscience” in the U.S. today, the director emeritus of Argonne National Laboratory said in Chicago Monday.

Alan Schriesheim became the first industry executive to lead a national laboratory when he took the helm of Argonne in 1983, after serving as Exxon’s head of engineering and the director of its research lab, which developed more efficient processes for producing components of gasoline. At Argonne he championed, among other projects, an integral fast reactor  and he is credited with fostering a revival at Argonne. …….

“In the United States the price of natural gas is of such a level that I don’t think a CEO of a utility could in good conscience propose a nuclear-power reactor to his or her board of directors,” Schriesheim told about 75 students at UIC’s engineering building.

Nuclear is infeasible for the next 10 or 15 years in this country, he said, with the price of natural gas as it is.

“It’s the up-front cost of nuclear construction that really gets you. It’s a very large up-front cost. ….

December 10, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Germany models the way to cut greenhouse gases, for a coal-free, nuclear-free future

logo-EnergiewendeThe international community has at its disposal more than sufficient renewable resources and the technical capabilities to sustainably harvest these sources. And given the total cost calculations mentioned earlier, we have a moral responsibility to do so. The time for a transition, then, is now. An Energiewende by any other name will still smell as sweet

How Germans Go Green Germany is laying out a model for how to gut greenhouse gas emissions.US News.com By  and  Dec. 9, 2014  With the German government’s reaffirmation this month of carbon emissions reduction goals of 40 percent by 2020, and its courageous commitment to phase out coal, the country is now leading the world with an aggressive and unparalleled climate action plan. This sets a new bar for nations gathering in Lima, Peru, for climate talks.

Germany’s energy transition, or Energiewende, and its aggressive goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 is a direct result of experiencing, firsthand, the risks that come with dirtier and more dangerous fuels. Germany first targeted nuclear and now it’s targeting coal – and for good reason.

Phasing out nuclear energy was a decision based on two factors Germans found so convincing that they now won’t even accept nuclear power as a bridge technology: the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe and the question of nuclear waste storage.

The decision to opt-out of nuclear power started with Chernobyl, and the nuclear contamination of Germany 28 years ago, and it ended with the Fukushima disaster. By then, nuclear power had lost all traction with the German public. Additionally, there was no conclusive evidence of how to deal with nuclear waste responsibly. This meant that the true cost of producing a kilowatt-hour of nuclear energy remained unknown, leaving most Germans skeptical.

That nuclear rationale is relevant to Germany’s current response to coal. While coal’s catastrophic risks may not be as immediately visible as Chernobyl or Fukushima, the costs are equally immense. Both nuclear and coal come with an incredibly high capacity to contaminate natural resources. And nuclear and coal pollutants don’t disappear over time. They accumulate and contaminate quickly and the consequences will be borne most heavily by future generations.

On nuclear, disposing radioactive waste in deep rock formations with high radiation density and little geological activity is not a sustainable option. Leaks are likely and already occurring. On coal, a vast quantity of heavy metals, toxins and radioactive substances are emitted by all power plants that use coal for electricity generation. Even the most modern and effective filters do not enable coal-fired power plants to be zero emission.

Coal-fired power plants, in particular, emit large amounts of greenhouse gases that have a direct impact on global warming and the inevitable rise of sea levels, as well as extreme weather events. And coal’s contaminating potential is indiscriminate, transcending boundaries and borders, and equally culpable for catastrophic consequences…………….

A responsible alternative, then, if carbon taxes and trading mechanisms are unfeasible or fallible, is to ramp up renewable energy investments, as Germany has done with its Energiewende and will continue to do. And why not: The international community has at its disposal more than sufficient renewable resources and the technical capabilities to sustainably harvest these sources. And given the total cost calculations mentioned earlier, we have a moral responsibility to do so. The time for a transition, then, is now. An Energiewende by any other name will still smell as sweet. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2014/12/09/germany-commits-to-alternative-energy-not-coal-or-nuclear

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Climate change; hotter weather brings expensive nuclear power shutdowns

nuke-hotflag-canadaPlanned shutdowns of nuclear plants could mean higher prices for consumers CTV Toronto , December 8, 2014  The planned shutdowns of two of Ontario’s biggest nuclear plants during normally high peak times could mean soaring prices for consumers next year.

The Bruce Power and Darlington Nuclear Generating Stations will be shut down at the same time next spring and summer for 16 weeks for planned repairs.

The closure means that Ontario will not have enough electricity to meet its mandatory reserve during those weeks, when power demands normally soar. Last year, Ontario’s top-10 record days for electricity demand fell during those weeks. And Toronto also declared six extreme heat alerts during the same time.

The massive shutdowns combined with the possible added demand for power could mean the province may import electricity from the U.S. to avoid an outage.

“We always have the option if we see extreme weather coming to import power from our neighbours,” Alexandra Campbell, a spokesperson for the Independent Electricity System Operator, told CTV Toronto.

But Ontario’s NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns is warning that could mean higher prices for consumers.

“Let’s all pray for a cool, rainy May and a cloudy June and July because very high prices comes with those very high temperatures,” Tabus said…….

Read more: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/planned-shutdowns-of-nuclear-plants-could-mean-higher-prices-for-consumers-1.2138472#ixzz3LY4wQv7v

December 10, 2014 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Putin determined to market nuclear reactors to India

Russian-BearPutin’s India visit: New nuclear plants high on agenda , Live Mint 9 Dec 14 Vladimir Putin dispels concerns about military cooperation between Russia and Pakistan, says India is a ‘reliable and time-tested partner’ Moscow: Terming the ties with India as a “privileged strategic partnership”, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday disclosed that construction of new nuclear plants besides military and technical cooperation was high on the agenda during his visit to New Delhi…………
Listing the joint strategic projects, the President said that these included construction of new units for Indian nuclear power plants, promotion of Russian Sukhoi superjet-100 and MS-21 passenger aircraft to Indian market besides manufacturing of helicopters and creating a “smart city” on the basis of Russian technology. Putin said Russia’s resources enable it to build upto 25 energy units in India……………
The policy document “Strategic Vision of the Strengthening Russian-Indian Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of the Atomic Energy” is also being prepared to be signed. Alongside with the new energy units construction, it provides for the exchange of the results of activities in the field of science, technology and innovation,” he said. Calling nuclear energy cooperation as one of the pillars of strategic partnership between India and Russia, Putin said both the countries had concluded two inter-governmental agreements in this field in 2008 and 2010. “The Road Map for the Serial Construction of the Russian designed NPP in the Republic of India, which was signed in 2010, is currently being implemented. “The work on two energy units of the NPP Kudankulam is proceeding as scheduled.  http://www.livemint.com/Politics/RnYO2OCRTz1zmFDGmfClCI/Putins-India-visit-New-nuclear-plants-high-on-agenda.html?utm_source=copy

December 10, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear security problem: no way to detect small drones at low altitudes

drone-near-nuclear-plantFrance Backs Anti-Drone Research After Mystery Nuclear Flights, Bloomberg, By Tara Patel  tpatel2@bloomberg.net Dec 9, 2014, Paris  France is backing research on how to track and destroy drones as the mystery of who is behind a series of illegal flights over atomic sites remains unsolved.

The French National Research Agency will start a tender later this month for systems to “detect and even neutralize” drones, according to a statement from the Secretariat for Defense and National Security, which advises the president and prime minister.

Areva SA (AREVA)Electricite de France SA and Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives confirmed some 20 incidents since the middle of September of remote-controlled drone-like objects violating protected zones around their nuclear installations. The government vowed to put an end to the flights, which haven’t inflicted damage. No one has publicly claimed responsibility.

“The use of drones is bringing progress but with it new risks,” the national security committee said in yesterday’s statement.

The flights exposed a security weakness described by speakers at a parliamentary hearing last month in Paris. Top military and police officials joined experts from the nuclear industry and research organizations to testify before lawmakers on the kinds of drone technology that may be at work and the risks they pose. French radar systems aren’t adapted to detect so-called mini-drones weighing a few kilograms and flying at low altitudes, Denis Mercier, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, told the hearing.

Drone industry representatives gave evidence on the sector’s exponential growth and lack of adequate supervision……http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-09/france-backs-anti-drone-research-after-mystery-nuclear-flights.html

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Anglesey Council worried about lack of information on planned Wylfa Newydd power plant plant

questionflag-UK Anglesey nuclear plant plans lack detail, council boss says, BBC News  8 December 2014

Concerns about the lack of detail and impact a nuclear power station could have on Anglesey have been raised by the island council’s chief executive.

Richard Parry Jones has sent a 10-page letter to Horizon bosses calling for more detailed information about their Wylfa Newydd power plant proposals.

Horizon – a subsidiary of Hitachi which bought the site in 2012 for about £700m – put its plans on show this autumn.

It said it was disappointed by the concerns raised by Anglesey council……..

Mr Jones said the “lack of detail” within the public consultationinformation is “concerning given the sheer scale of Wylfa Newydd and its potential impacts on Anglesey and its communities”.

Councillors agreed that the chief executive send a “frank, but constructive” letter outlining the concerns, including:A lack of detail surrounding workforce numbers – essential from a skills, training and education perspective
A lack of detail on estimated numbers and profiles of employees from outside Anglesey – to gauge the project’s impact from a social, community and Welsh language perspective
A lack of explicit commitment shown to promoting local employment opportunities and local supply chain
Little or no recognition of potential effects Wylfa Newydd will have on existing jobs, bed spaces, facilities and services
A need for considerable more work to establish the impacts on Anglesey communities, especially those within a 5km radius of the main site, and how to mitigate them http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-30385097

December 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

France keen to sell nuclear reactors to Czech Republic (or indeed, anybody)

areva-medusa1French Companies Interestedin Expanding Czech Nuclear Program Sputnik News 9 Dec 14 During his visit to Prague, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said French state-controlled companies such as Electricite de France and Areva are interested in expdanding the Czech Republic’s nuclear program.

MOSCOW, December 9 (Sputnik) — French energy companies are interested in developing the Czech’s nuclear program, according to country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Dyring his visit to Prague on Tuesday, Valls told a Czech-French business forum that state-controlled companies such as utility Electricite de France and nuclear engineering giant Areva “are ready to react to the decision” to expand the country’s nuclear energy output, according to Associated Press……..http://sputniknews.com/business/20141209/1015660406.html

December 10, 2014 Posted by | France, marketing | Leave a comment

Need to research effects of electromagnetic radiation from cellphones to children

flag-FinlandRadiation watchdog wants harder look at children and smartphones YLE UUTISET, UUTISET  NEWS  9 Dec 14 Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK hopes to see more research on the possible impact on children of the radiation emitted by smartphones, reports Yle’s investigative programme MOT. However STUK does not have the funding for a study and government spending cuts have closed its own radiation biology laboratory.

According to a study by mobile services operator DNA, 75% of children in Finland between the ages of 6 and 12 have their own smartphones.

graph-electromagnetic-to-br

Smartphones emit more radiation than do basic talk-and-text cell phones since they generate radiation even when they are not actively being used. No data is available on what the daily level of radiation is that children are subject to from these devices, or how this radiation affects children in particular.

“Overall estimates concerning the current situation are not available. We do not know the impact, for example, of the levels of internet usage. This would be an interesting research subject,” says Tommi Toivonen, Head of Laboratory at STUK’s Department of Radiation Practices Regulation.

More specifically, the biological effects of this radiation on children are unknown……….http://yle.fi/uutiset/radiation_watchdog_wants_harder_look_at_children_and_smartphones/7676646

December 10, 2014 Posted by | children, Finland | Leave a comment

Unnecessary radiation given to elderly breast cancer patients

BREAST-CANCERMost elderly breast cancer patients receive unnecessary radiation, Medical News Today,  by  8 December 2014 In 2004, a randomized clinical trial supported the omission of radiation treatment in elderly female patients with early-stage breast cancer. Despite this evidence, a new study reports that almost two-thirds of this group of patients still receive this treatment today. The randomized clinical trial – often regarded to be the “gold standard” in evidence-based medicine – demonstrated that the administering of radiation to patients who had received surgery and the drug tamoxifen did not improve 5-year recurrence rates or survival rates in elderly women diagnosed with early-stage tumors.

Radiation therapy has been considered the standard treatment for early-stage breast cancer for many years. However, it appears that practitioners are reluctant to change their ways. In the new study, published inCancer, the authors state that the omission of radiotherapy has not been widely adopted into clinical practice.

They cite a recent assessment of the nation’s largestcancer registry, the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. Among women aged over 70, 76.5% received radiation treatment, and little change was observed in treatment practice before and after the publication of the 2004 study………

The American Society for Radiation Oncology have recommended against using whole-breast radiotherapy in women aged over 50 for early-stage breast cancer without first considering a shorter treatment schedule.

“Although shorter treatment schedules are more convenient for patients and less costly for the health care system, the omission of radiotherapy in women aged >70 years with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer would achieve these goals while sparing patients the potential acute and late toxicities associated with radiotherapy,” write the authors.

Results for the trial published last year indicate that recurrence rates were still low in patients that had not received radiation therapy. …..http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286539.php

December 10, 2014 Posted by | health, radiation, USA | Leave a comment

In America, the fossil fuel industry fights back against clean energy

fossil-fuel-industryThe utility pushback against clean energy accelerates Green World, 9 Dec 14, We have been saying for months that the nuclear and coal industries are on the ropes–that’s true and grows more evident daily. But on the ropes doesn’t mean dead, and, as we have been warning for months, large, wealthy industries like these don’t go down easily.

NIRS’ Tim Judson laid out the industry’s plans in his September paper, Killing the Competition, and the industry is following the script he predicted. Now, in the lull between the comment period of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and its final revision, followed by each state having to develop a State Implementation Plan, the nuclear and fossil fuel industry’s pushback against the clean energy future that threatens to make them extinct is accelerating across the country.

And this is just the beginning.

In Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio and elsewhere, the battle lines are forming and nuclear and fossil fuel-dominated utilities are working to end clean energy programs, fight against energy efficiency measures, and stick it to ratepayers every way they can.

Take Kansas. The re-election of far-right governor Sam Brownback and the presence of Wichita-based Koch Industries has emboldened opponents of clean energy, who tried but failed last year to repeal the state’s Renewable Energy Standard. Despite Kansas’ enormous wind power resources–not to mention that wind already has met its RES standard there so repeal would have only a symbolic effect on the standard, but a highly negative effect on additional investment in wind (Kansas remains behind on solar), the dirty energy lobby is planning to again try for repeal.  The issue does not break entirely along party lines in Kansas–plenty of Republicans have seen the positive effect investment in wind power has had on the state, but for the dirty utilities and their backers, repeal is a cherished goal–especially as part of a domino effect that could help lead to repeal in other states.

In North Carolina, which has a solar potential nearly as strong as California’sutility-scale solar power has been growing rapidly, with 700 MW now installed in the state. But growth in the utility-sponsored arena is likely to dwindle in the coming years and the state lags far behind in rooftop solar. There are only 1700 rooftop solar systems in the state, which has a population of 9.85 million. Compare that to Massachusetts, where the climate is much less conducive to solar, but where there are 6,800 rooftop systems in a much smaller population of 6.7 million. That’s nearly six times better than North Carolina’s rate. The reason? Duke Energy and Duke-friendly legislators, which are blocking policies that could encourage rooftop solar. Indeed, the solar potential is so great that two-thirds of the state’s required carbon emission reductions by 2030 under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan could be met with relatively modest changes to state law. But can Duke be beaten?

In Ohio and Pennsylvania, First Energy is taking aim at energy efficiency programs. In fact, it wants demand response programs ended entirely. The utility’s complaint is that energy efficiency programs are so effective that “We feel that it’s going to lead to even more premature closures of power plants,” said Doug Colafella, a spokesman for the firm.  Of course, if power plants are not needed, it’s hardly fair to call them “premature closures.” What First Energy really is saying is that it thinks it should have a right to run polluting power plants for as long as it feels like and get as much money out of them as it wants, the public–and the climate and environment–be damned.

But First Energy isn’t the only utility going after energy efficiency. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) warned last week that dirty utilities are increasingly seeking to raise monthly “fixed charges”–or charges utilities impose on ratepayers simply for being hooked up to the grid–because customers are spending less on electricity due to the effectiveness of energy efficiency programs.  Raising fixed charges would provide a disincentive for further advances in energy efficiency, which is the cheapest and fastest means of reducing carbon emissions, since, as ACEEE explains, “First, it limits our control as customers over energy costs in our homes and businesses. If a higher portion of your utility bill is fixed, any actions you take to use energy more efficiently will have less impact on your total bill. That makes wasting electricity less expensive.” ACEEE adds, “weakening the incentive to invest in efficiency isn’t just bad news for our individual pocketbooks; it’s also bad for the economy and the environment. Investing in energy efficiency doesn’t just save us money. It creates jobs and lowers pollution.”

Then there’s Illinois, where we have been reporting for months that Exelon wants some $585 million in what it calls “not a bailout” to keep its uneconomic reactors–five of them–open. And the Illinois legislature is likely to take up some of Exelon’s ideas in its next session…….

the New York Times Sunday published a long, groundbreaking article detailing what it calls “a secretive alliance” between many Republican State Attorneys General and big dirty energy companies to push back against clean energy initiatives, both from the White House and in the states. It’s a must-read in the know-your-enemy department.

And, at Washington’s The Hill newspaper, we learn to absolutely no one’s surprise that the nuclear industry is looking forward to the incoming GOP-led Congress, where nuclear safety issues are likely to take a backseat–at least for the next two years, while efforts to adopt foolish radioactive waste policies are likely to jump up front.

In short, we all have our work cut out for us. ………..http://safeenergy.org/2014/12/08/the-utility-pushback-accelerates/

December 10, 2014 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear accidents are not like other accidents- massive and virtually permanent consequences

death-nuclearThe sixth horseman of the apocalypse  http://www.thedailystar.net/op-ed/the-sixth-horseman-of-the-apocalypse-53226  Quamrul Haider  December 04, 2014  BEFORE a highly complex technology is introduced into the public domain, it is rigorously tested for possible failure. The tests are conducted under real-life conditions without endangering the public and the environment. An exception is a nuclear reactor. The unforeseeable consequences that might arise from the malfunction or accident of a reactor cannot be tested under realistic conditions without jeopardising human lives.

As a substitute for real tests, computer simulations are done to gain more precise ideas about the possibility of reactor accidents and their effects on humans and their surroundings. The fraternity of nuclear scientists who so cheerfully play roulette with nuclear reactors defends the results of the simulations as evidence that reactors are a safe bet. They create the impression in the minds of laymen that their extremely risky projects have been carefully thought out in every detail and are inspired by the spirit of greatest responsibility.

A large section of the scientific community, on the other hand, believes that the predictions spitted out by a computer are “about as reliable as tomorrow’s weather forecast.” They argue that by building nuclear power plants in populated areas, the whole world becomes an experimental laboratory with human beings as guinea pigs.

History shows that even with all the safety features in place, there will be nuclear accidents, and although some may be small in scale, there is always the possibility of a major disaster.

The basic difference between nuclear and other industrial accidents lies in the long-range repercussions. After a foreseeable lapse of time, one could forget about the havoc wrought, for example, by the explosion of a gas pipeline or the breaching of a dam. The wounds and scars from these accidents albeit deep eventually heal in the course of time. But an accident in a nuclear power plant, such as a reactor getting out of control, is capable of doing more than immediate harm.

Examples of the deadly long-term effects of a reactor accident are Chernobyl and Fukushima. At Chernobyl, even 28 years after the accident, people are dying from radiation-related sickness. And almost four years after the disaster, highly radioactive water is leaking from the storage tanks at Fukushima.

Our amorphous fear of a reactor accident contains Hiroshima-like images of extraordinary destruction and grotesque form of collective dying. This fear is heightened by the invisibility of the added lethal component, the ionizing radiation, whose nerve-racking aftereffects will linger on for ages to haunt the future generations. Among the survivors there will be many cases of permanent sterility, increase of genetic mutation in our progenies, and a shortened life span as a result of cancer and other radiogenic diseases. The affected people will also carry a psychological burden that will undermine their creative processes as long as they live.

It is, therefore, irresponsible and misleading to suppress the consequences of radiation escaping from a reactor after an accident. Nevertheless, attempts are made by the roulette players to blind the people by equating nuclear accidents with more familiar hazards, such as an accident at a coal-fired power plant. By doing so, an unlimited risk is falsely portrayed as a limited one and glossed over in a manner that is not only unconscionable, but also unpardonable.

These deceptions are further camouflaged by the way in which they are presented to the public. By appealing to statistics, graphs, charts and diagrams, the far-reaching consequences of lethal radiation are overly simplified. In the post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima era, these discombobulated data do not hold water.

Critics describe nuclear reactor as one of the most dangerous technological beasts that mankind has devised and nuclear accident as “A Nuclear War without a War.” The consequences of this war can assume dimensions that do not take second place to the consequences of earthquake and pestilence, and in a way actually exceeds them.

In the past, wars, plagues, famines and natural disasters were known as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. In the early twentieth century, they were joined by a fifth — industrial catastrophe. After Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear accidents can be added to the list as the sixth horseman of the apocalypse.

The writer is Professor of Physics at Fordham University, New York.

December 10, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment