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Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions

Nuclear Saudi Arabia: Rising ambitions of the House of Saud,  Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. May 29, 2015  Saudi Arabia’s seemingly ever-expanding ambitions threaten now to draw the region and the world closer to the edge of a dangerous precipice as it seeks to buy out Pakistan’s nuclear power.

Just as Iran and the P5+1 are set to finalize a tentative nuclear deal by June’s end, offering the world a much-needed respite from talks of war and aggravated political tensions, Saudi Arabia is stretching its nuclear ambitions.

The most violent, reactionary and arguably most oppressive regime, in not just the region but the world, is now has ambitions to rise to a nuclear power. It is actually much worse than that – the very state which interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, has inspired an entire generation of radical wannabe jihadists is vying for access to nuclear weapons……..

May 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Calls to review Mixed decision from Nuclear Regulatory Commission on South Dakota uranium mining

Feds asked to review proposed uranium mine Associated Press   RAPID CITY — A company that wants to mine uranium in western South Dakota and opponents of the plan have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review a federal board’s mixed decision last month.Both parties’ petitions were filed Tuesday with the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which will rule directly on the petitions, the Rapid City Journal reported. Each side has been given 25 days to respond to the other’s proposal.

A year ago, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board gave a license to what’s now Azarga Uranium Corp. for the proposed mine near Edgemont. The license was put on hold after mine opponents, including the Oglala Sioux Tribe, raised questions about possible damage that would be done to nearby aquifers and cultural sites.

In late April, the board ruled in Azarga’s favor on five of seven challenges brought upon by the tribe and Consolidated Intervenors, a group that opposes the company’s plan to mine uranium using a method that involves the injection of oxygen-enriched water into the ground to free uranium and bring it to the surface. But it also said the company should make efforts to find existing drill holes at the site, and that the mine could put cultural sites at risk.

Powertech, which is now a subsidiary of Azarga, initially had the plan to use local groundwater to extract uranium from the Dewey-Burdock areas of Custer and Fall River counties.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | Legal | Leave a comment

Mistaken Assumptions about Past and Present US Policies to China

A Critique of US “Grand Strategy toward China”, My Catbird Seat, 

If one were to propose a realistic and reasonable ‘US Grand Strategy toward China’ one would have to start by shedding all the false assumptions and bellicose proposals that have been put forth by the CFR and the authors of the Report under review. 

May 30, 2015  Seven Mistaken Assumptions, Presumptions and Prescriptions by Dr. James Petras 


The highly influential Council on Foreign Relations recently published a Special Report entitled, “Revising US Grand Strategy toward China”, (Council on Foreign Relations Press: NY 2015), co-authored by two of its Senior Fellows, Robert Blackwill and Ashley Tellis (‘B and T’), which proposes a re-orientation of US policy toward China.

The Report a policy for buttressing ‘US primacy in Asia’ and countering what they describe as “the dangers that China’s geo-economic and military power pose to US national interests in Asia and globally”. The Report concludes by listing seven recommendations that Washington should follow to re-assert regional primacy.

This essay begins by discussing the basic fallacies underpinning the Report, including outdated and dangerous presumptions about US power and presence in Asia today, and the authors’ incoherent, contradictory and unrealistic prescriptions. Continue reading

May 30, 2015 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Russia to participate with India in building nuclear submarines?

Russian-Bearflag-indiaRussia’s Eyes Massive Nuclear Submarine Deal with India National Interest, 29 May 15 Russia may help India build nuclear submarines and stealth warships, according to Indian media reports.

Last week India’s Economic Times reported that the Indian conglomerate Reliance Infrastructure—which owns stakes in numerous Indian defense companies—is seeking Russian assistance for programs to locally produce nuclear submarines and other stealth warships. According to the report, top Reliance executives were in Moscow last week to meet with Russian defense officials about finding a partner for a joint venture between a Russian defense company and Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering, India’s largest defense shipyard, which Reliance has an 18 percent stake in. Specifically, Reliance is looking for a Russian partner with the “requisite technology expertise for manufacturing warships in India.”

As the Economic Times points out, the meetings come on the heels of India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approving a plan for an Indian company to locally manufacture six nuclear submarines and seven stealth warships. The initial investment outlay for the project was set at Rs 1 trillion ($15.67 billion.)

Although the Russian government refused to specifically confirm the report, it did sound receptive to such a possibility…….

May 30, 2015 Posted by | India, marketing, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A life-saving global agreement – the Montreal Protocol

UV-radiationOzone treaty ‘prevented skin cancer deaths’ Anna Salleh
The ozone hole over the Antarctic would have been 40 per cent bigger in 2013 if the Montreal Protocol hadn’t curbed the production of CFCs, according to a new study.

In this scenario, Australia and New Zealand would have experienced greater UV radiation, which in turn would have increased the rate of skin cancer, say the authors of a new paper today in Nature Communications.

The paper also shows that, by 2011, ozone depletion would have become a northern hemisphere problem too.

“There would have been an Antarctic-like ozone hole in the Arctic over populated regions,” says co-author Dr Richard McKenzie, an atmospheric physicist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand.

In the mid-1980s scientists discovered a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, and in 1987 the world agreed to the Montreal Protocol, which limited the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Despite this, the concentration of CFCs continued to rise until 1993, and even today the ozone hole reappears each spring, and this contributes to an increase in cancer-causing UV radiation in Australia and New Zealand.

But without the Montreal Protocol it could have been so much worse, say the researchers.

The team, led by Professor Martyn Chipperfield of the University of Leeds, used a ‘chemical transport model’ to calculate what would have happened over the past two decades if CFCs had not been controlled.

Importantly, the model is the most accurate to date because it uses real data on winds, which blow ozone into the ultra cold parts of the South Pole, where ozone depletion occurs at the highest rate.

‘World avoided’ scenario

According to the new model, a 40 per cent increase in the size of the Antarctic ozone hole by 2013 would have contributed to an 8 to 12 per cent increase in ultraviolet levels over Australia and New Zealand.

The model is also the first to show that, without the Montreal Protocol, a very large Arctic ozone hole would have occurred in the exceptionally cold 2010/11 northern winter, and smaller Arctic ozone holes would have become a regular occurrence.

By 2013, continued decline in ozone levels over the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes would have led to a 14 per cent increase in ultraviolet levels in the United Kingdom.

Earlier research suggests that globally, these higher UV levels would have led to a 16 to 30 per cent increase in non-melanoma skin cancers, says McKenzie.

He says the change in melanoma rates are harder to estimate, but the current model supports previous estimates that by 2030, there would have been two million more skin cancer cases (14 per cent more skin-cancer cases) per year around the world, due to higher the UV.

And, by 2065 the amount of ozone would have been about a third of current levels and the peak UV index would have been about three times higher.

“It would have been drastically bad,” says McKenzie. “So instead of it being safe for fair-skinned people to go out in the sun for maybe 15 minutes, they could only go out for five minutes, which means it wouldn’t really be safe to cross the street.”

“This ‘world avoided’ scenario is really good news. It’s clear evidence that the Montreal Protocol has already worked,” says McKenzie.

“It’s done a good job. If only climate change policy could be half as successful.”

But, regardless of future changes in ozone, people in New Zealand and Australia will need to continue to protect themselves from UV radiation, says McKenzie.

UV levels in the Southern Hemisphere are naturally much higher than those in the Northern Hemisphere because of ozone circulation patterns, cleaner air and the fact that the Earth is much closer to the Sun during the southern summer.

“The heath message doesn’t change. We need to be vigilant,” warns McKenzie.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | climate change, health, politics international | Leave a comment

VIDEO: What’s life after nuclear disaster?

   Fairewinds Energy Education, 28 May 15 What if your life was destroyed by a nuclear disaster?

It would not take an atomic bomb laced with lethal doses of radiation to contaminate your homeland, and cause such chaos. When nuclear power plants fail and nuclear reactors experience leaks, explosions, and overheat, radiation is carried by the wind and contamination and chaos ensue. Since Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, Chernobyl in the Ukraine, and now the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown in Japan the lives of thousands of innocent people have been turned upside down and destroyed due to nuclear power risks becoming reality.

In the latest video feature from Fairewinds Energy Education entitled: , Fairewinds’ President Maggie Gundersen and award winning Vermont author Chris Bohjalian, discuss what life would be like if a nuclear meltdown occurred at a nuclear power plant in Vermont.  In his most recent novel, Close Your Eyes and Hold Hands, Chris uses Vermont as the scene of a nuclear meltdown as seen through the eyes and experiences of 16-year old Emily Shepard, who is orphaned by the catastrophe, Bohjalian’s readers are drawn into the hardships and uncertainty that accompany a nuclear tragedy. With a haunting reality, Bohjalian creates images for his readers of the life currently being lived by the victims of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown, and previously experienced by the victims of the meltdowns at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.


May 30, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Investment funds likely to abandon fossil fuels, following Norwegian fund’s lead

Norway fund could trigger wave of large fossil fuel divestments, say experts,Guardian, , 29 May 15  Other investors are likely to follow Norwegian fund’s move out of coal-based investments, due to its size as the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund Norway’s decision to dump all coal-focused investments from its $900bnsovereign wealth fund could unleash a wave of divestment from other large funds, according to investment experts. The fund, the largest in the world, is one of the top 10 investors in the global coal industry.

The move, agreed late on Wednesday, is one of the most significant victories to date for a fast-growing and UN-backed fossil-fuel divestment campaign. It will affect $9bn-$10bn (£5.8-£6.5bn) of coal-related investments, according to the Norwegian government.

“Investments in coal companies can have both a climate risk and a future financial risk,” said Svein Flaatten of the governing Conservative party, which made a cross-party agreement to implement the selling of coal investments.

A series of analyses have shown that the world’s existing reserves of fossil fuels are several times greater than can be burned while keeping the temperature below the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s governments. Furthermore, authorities such as the World Bank and Bank of England have warned that fossil fuel reserves will be left worthless if the action needed to cut carbon emissions kicks in…….

Organisations that have cut or curbed coal investments recently include insurance giant Axa, the Church of England and Oxford University. The Guardian, which is running a campaign asking the world’s biggest health charities to divest, is owned by the Guardian Media Group, which announced it would divest its £800m fund from all fossil fuels in April.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change | Leave a comment

Checking in on the energy transition–in the U.S.


seia-chart-1In Germany it’s called the Energiewende–the energy transition. It’s a deliberate decision to move away from nuclear power and fossil fuels in favor of renewables and energy efficiency. And it’s working. Renewables are skyrocketing, nuclear reactors have closed and more shutdowns are on the way, and coal use is declining too, despite the misleading claims of renewable energy haters.

Here in the U.S., it isn’t called anything–if we have an “official” government policy at all it’s “all of the above,” which is the same as saying meaningless. But an ad hoc energy transition is nonetheless taking place in the U.S.

In April, 100% of all new electric generating capacity in the  U.S. was wind and solar–511 MW of wind and 50 MW of solar. For the year so far, renewables account for 84.1% of new capacity, with natural gas supplying the rest. The amount of solar is understated…

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May 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

20 years of Nuclear Scram Valve Failures

Mining Awareness +

Scram Valve diagram
From US NRC March 2014:

This concerns an evaluation being performed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) regarding a malfunction of a Scram Solenoid Pilot Valve (SSPV), which has been observed to impair control rod scram performance. As stated herein, GEH has not concluded that this is a reportable condition in accordance with the requirements of 10CFR 21.21(d). The SSPV manufacturer (ASCO Valve, Inc.) has not yet concluded its own investigation under 10CFR 21, and the results of that investigation are needed as input for the GEH evaluation. The manufacturer has issued an Interim Report, which provides confidence that this condition is limited to a very small portion of the suspect population.

“A malfunction of a Scram Solenoid Pilot Valve was attributed to the disengagement of the valve spring from the valve plunger. The effect of the…

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May 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 29 Energy News



¶ “Europe needs new energy policy as nuclear giants stumble” – The European nuclear industry seems to be in terminal decline. The French government owns 85% of Areva, which designs reactors, and 85% of Électricité de France, which runs them. Now it is amalgamating the two giants in a bid to rescue the industry. [RTCC]

Science and Technology:

¶ The highest temperature recorded on Wednesday reached 116.6° Fahrenheit (47° Celsius) in the eastern Indian states of Jharkhand and Odisha. More than 1,400 people have died in the heat wave. Climate change is likely is a factor, according to a research scientist with the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. [CNN]

Elephants beat the heat in an Indian zoo. Photo by Elroy Serrao. Wikimedia Commons. Elephants beat the heat in an Indian zoo. Photo by Elroy Serrao. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ NEC Energy Solutions has introduced its next-generation SLD energy storage technology, which uses lithium-ion cells based on lithium manganese oxide…

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May 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

*UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai — Mitsuhei Murata’s speech, March 16, 2015

Japan Safety : Nuclear Energy Updates

The former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, Mitsuhei Murata, made the following speech at the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai on March 16, 2015.

” Nuclear disaster and global ethics


It goes without saying that genuine denuclearization, both military and civilian, makes the greatest contribution to disaster risk reduction.

The increased menace of nuclear terrorism has awakened the world to the urgent task of abolishing all nuclear reactors in the world. It is no longer an ideal, but an imperative necessity to realize the vision of President Obama for a “World without Nuclear Weapons” just as soon as possible.

Global ethics and human rights

Nowadays the drawbacks of nuclear power are evident, and many even consider this method to generate power a high risk. Nuclear technology was born in a period of paternal civilisation and in the belief, that this technology would solve all problems. Today a maternal…

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May 30, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sendai Nuclear Power Plant to be restarted in July 2015 surrounded by 5 active volcanoes


Sendai reactors surrounded by 5 active volcanoes
Japan’s NRA has given the go ahead to restart two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant. The needed local approvals are expected to permit the plant to restart even though public opinion is about two to one against restarts. The first reactor could restart as early as July.
Warnings for a minor eruption at one of the five volcanoes near the Sendai nuclear plant were sent out. The volcano 64km from the nuclear plant has seen increased activity, enough so that experts put out a warning. Japan’s government has been pushing to restart the Sendai reactors without a viable plan for dealing with volcano risk.
We also found other risks that are unaddressed with the Sendai plant related to any disaster response.
While the nuclear plant restarts are largely a political move to shore up the profit margins of struggling electrical utilities, other challenges go unaddressed. Meanwhile fuel storage at nuclear plants may be at capacity within two years of reactor restarts.
With experts disputing the safety of restarting the Sendai reactors due to the proximity of so many active volcanoes they may be tempting fate.

Risks at Sendai
The Sendai nuclear power plant located in Kagoshima Japan has been selected as the one Japanese authorities would focus on attempting to approve for restart. Intakes reside at: 5ft above sea level Intake pump buildings 13 feet above sea level Reactor blocks at about 35-40 ft above sea level
Road routes are problematic at the plant. The plant is bordered by a large river to the north, the sea to the west and a large expanse of mountains to the east. Roads route either north along the river or south following the coastline a considerable distance before you reach an area that might be undamaged. The major road that routes towards Sendai crosses the river north of the plant before a road to get to the plant could be reached, requiring another trip across the river. Miyazaki sits further to the east but again requires a north route and river crossing.
All roads to the plant from the north are dependent on a bridge across the river to travel from the north or the east. The roads to the plant from the north as they each require a bridge crossing, circled in red. The road faces the river edge and varies from 5 feet above sea level to 31 feet above sea level.
The south route goes through areas like Tsuchikawa, an area that would likely be subjected to any tsunami that would hit the plant, potentially preventing travel further east to Kagoshima. This would cause a station blackout at the plant just like at Fukushima Daiichi.
The even bigger challenge is that the conditions that would take out offsite power can’t be overcome. That had been the 500th eruption for the year and was just past the half way point of 2013.
The problems a volcano can cause a nuclear power plant is a well known problem. Ash can also cause mechanical damage to anything with moving parts that the ash may get into including pumps and generators.
The isolation of the plant due to the terrain and roads could hinder any response effort.

Non evacuation plans for Sendai
Prime minister Abe said that he approves of the evacuation plans around the Sendai nuclear plant and that he considers them “concrete and reasonable”. There is currently no agency or authority to evaluate evacuation plans in Japan.
The governor of Kagoshima said he was reluctant to develop plans to rescue all the people within 30km.  “There are 17 hospitals and welfare facilities within 10 km of the plant. “We could spend long hours creating something unrealistic, but it won’t function” in the event of an actual disaster, Ito told reporters last month.”
The prefecture told the remaining facilities to figure it out for themselves how to evacuate anyone between the 10 to 30km zone.
Critics of the evacuation plans around Sendai pointed out that damage from earthquakes, landslides and tsunami were not given consideration in planning.

2 Sendai reactors cleared by NRA for restart
Japan cleared the way for a resumption of nuclear power, four years after the world’s worst atomic disaster in more than two decades led to the shutdown of all the country’s reactors and fueled public opposition to the industry.
Regulators said Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s two-reactor Sendai nuclear plant had cleared safety hurdles introduced after the triple meltdowns at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.
The Sendai plant, in Kagoshima Prefecture, still needs to go through operational checks before a restart but these are expected to be completed without major hitches.

Volcano explodes off Kyushu 151 km from Sendai, forcing small island to evacuate
A volcano exploded Friday morning on sparsely populated Kuchinoerabu Island, sending smoke and ash soaring into the sky above Kagoshima Prefecture and residents fleeing to the safety of nearby Yakushima Island.
The 9:59 a.m. eruption of 626-meter Mount Shindake, the island’s main peak, produced a plume over 9 km high and a pyroclastic flow that reached the shoreline, the Meteorological Agency said.
There was no warning.
Situated some 100 km off the southern tip of Kyushu, Kuchinoerabu has only about 100 full-time residents. The same mountain had 178 small eruptions in March alone and produced one last week that created a plume 4.3 km high.
Nobuo Geshi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology claims Friday’s eruption is the same type as the one seen at Sakurajima but much larger.
Geshi, who heads a group of scientists conducting research on massive eruptions, said it is very similar to the one the island experienced in 1966.
He said it can also be regarded as part of the volcanic activity that continued after the eruption last August.
Geshi pointed out that none of the past cases was a one-off eruption, suggesting the activity may continue for a while.
Kuchinoerabu, located in an area south of Kyushu with a large concentration of active volcanoes, has experienced numerous bouts of volcanic activity since Shindake’s colossal eruption in 1841, which scorched nearby villages and killed many residents.
Shindake’s volcanic activities continued in the 1960s, resulting in another massive eruption in November 1966 that hurt three people and caused shock waves and pyroclastic flows that hit Kagoshima and Tanegashima Island, one of the Osumi Islands.
The mountain also experienced a small phreatic eruption in September 1980.
Since the 2000s, a large increase in volcanic quakes and tremors has been reported.

May 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment