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Britons OK with nuclear power – as long as it’s far away from where they live

Oscar-wastesflag-UKBritons in favour of nuclear power – as long as it’s nowhere near their homes, CITY A.M. 13 October 2015 by Clara Guibourg Most Britons support nuclear power, a new study has found – as long as it isn’t anywhere near their homes.

A poll by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found 56 per cent were in favour of the UK continuing to use nuclear power. Of those in favour, four out of five supported nuclear power because they believed it to be necessary for the country’s power supply. Others said it would provide jobs and boost the economy.

However there’s a strong feeling of nimbyism over nuclear power: nobody wants to live near a plant – and fewer still by a nuclear waste facility.

 Nearly half, or 44 per cent, of those polled said they’d protest if a waste facility was planned within 10 miles of their home.

Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said this showed what a strong barrier nimby activists could play:…..

October 14, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Planned closure of Pilgrim Nuclear Plant – a sign of the transition to renewables that is now underway

nuke-plant-sadFlag-USAPilgrim Nuclear Plant in Massachusetts to Close by 2019, Owner Says, nbc news, by ASSOCIATED PRESS, 13 Oct 15  The owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, have announced that they will close the plant by June 2019.

Entergy Corp. said Tuesday it is closing the only nuclear power plant in the state because of “poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs.”

The decision by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. comes about a month after federal inspectors downgraded the plant’s safety rating to the lowest level and said they would increase oversight in the wake of a shutdown during a winter storm…….The owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, have announced that they will close the plant by June 2019.

Entergy Corp. said Tuesday it is closing the only nuclear power plant in the state because of “poor market conditions, reduced revenues and increased operational costs.”Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant’s Pilgrim Station is located a few miles down the coast from Plymouth Rock. Boston Globe / Boston Globe via Getty Images

The decision by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. comes about a month after federal inspectors downgraded the plant’s safety rating to the lowest level and said they would increase oversight in the wake of a shutdown during a winter storm. Owners maintained that the plant remained safe although it needed millions of dollars in upgrades.

“The real issue here is the financial viability of the plant,” said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities……….

The plant will remain under enhanced oversight by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the process, and Entergy expects to spend $45 million to $60 million at the plant during that time, he said. After shutting down, Pilgrim will transition to decommissioning. The Pilgrim nuclear decommissioning trust had a balance of about $870 million as of Sept. 30, Entergy said……..

Entergy’s decision was met with mixed reaction from groups that have been fighting for decades to have the plant shut down and fiercely fought relicensing. The state will continue to live in the shadow of a plant that many people consider dangerous, said Arlene Williamson of Cape Downwinders. “Entergy doesn’t have the financial ability to get Pilgrim out of the dog house, but it will continue to operate for four more years with many safety violations and mechanical failures,” she said………

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts, also called for a greater commitment to renewable energy. “Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is just the latest example of how nuclear power simply cannot compete in the current energy market,” he said.

He later added: “With this announcement we must also recognize that the time is now in New England and around the nation to rapidly transition toward the safe, affordable clean energy of wind, solar and geothermal power and continue to invest in energy efficiency and making the vehicles on our roads even more fuel efficient.”

October 14, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

Y-12 uranium project could cost up to $76.7M 

Frank Munger, Oct 13, 201 OAK RIDGE — Federal overseers have given preliminary approval for a new uranium purification facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, with a price range between $58.6 million and $76.7 million.

Full story available to subscribers only

October 14, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

U.S. Sen. Heinrich pushes for mining reform, tours abandoned uranium site

U.S. Sen. Heinrich Tours Uranium Sites on Navajo Navajo Times, News Report, Oct 12, 2015

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., paused Friday at the entrance of an abandoned uranium mine.

Located in the stony hills of Red Valley and accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle, the mine stares blankly at the breathtaking vistas in this remote area where an estimated 175 mines once operated.

Although the entrance is sealed with a wall of cinder blocks, the mine remains a stark reminder of the uranium legacy on the Navajo Nation.

Heinrich, who met with tribal leaders and experts from the Navajo Division of Natural Resources on Friday, toured the site as he pushes for mining reform in the wake of the Aug. 5 spill at Gold King Mine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken responsibility for the spill, which sent a 3-million-gallon, mustard-colored plume of toxic wastewater downriver, but Heinrich wants stiffer laws in place to safeguard the land and the people who depend on it.

“I think it’s time to change the law,” Heinrich told a small group of reporters after hiking down a rocky hillside to view the mine entrance. “I wanted to see what abandoned uranium mines look like to get a first-hand impression of the scale of the problem and have that really influence our efforts in Washington.”

October 14, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Antineutrino detection technology could advance process of nuclear verification in Iran

The nuclear verification technology that could change the game, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 13 OCTOBER 2015 Kelly Wadsworth The historic agreement between Iran and six world powers to curb the former’s nuclear development, concluded over the summer and expected to be adopted this month, relies heavily on verification. The foreign powers are keen to make sure that Tehran doesn’t acquire enough plutonium or uranium to build a nuclear weapon, and Tehran wants to demonstrate good behavior in order to get sanctions relief. That raises questions about the imperfect verification methods used by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the organization charged with the task under the Iranian nuclear deal, and theInternational Monitoring System (IMS), a global network that detects nuclear explosions worldwide. Are they reliable enough? Some would argue no.

There may be, though, a new option for verification on the not-too-distant horizon. Antineutrino detection is an existing technology that, if political and diplomatic hurdles are overcome, could be put in place before the 10-year ban on Iranian enrichment R&D is lifted. And fully developed over the long-term, it holds great promise for monitoring similar deals in the future, and for reinforcing nuclear non-proliferation worldwide. Difficult to evade, antineutrino detection technology could allow the international community to reliably monitor a country’s nuclear activities in real-time, potentially without setting foot in the country. Similar in cost and technological scale to the space-borne reconnaissance methods governments use for detection today, antineutrino detection could not only help identify undeclared nuclear reactors, but could monitor nuclear facilities and detonations throughout the Middle East and beyond. More research and development could make this technology a viable nonproliferation verification option.

The problem with verification today. Current far-field verification methods have been evaded in the past……….

October 14, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Continuing struggle to rid Okinawa of USA military bases

Struggle against U.S. bases continues in Okinawa The elected governor of the Japanese-controlled island of Okinawa has said no, again, to further construction of a new U.S. base. Okinawans have been trying to reclaim their territory for decades. The island is part of the Ryukyu archipelago which the U.S. conquered at the end of World War II. Japan recovered sovereignty, but although since 1945 Japan has been ostensibly a nuke-free zone, the U.S. has been allowed to bring nuclear armed vessels to Okinawa if not the Japanese mainland.

The 1.3 million Okinawans have repeatedly elected officials who promise to oust the U.S. military. These local officials have then been overruled from Tokoyo repeatedly.

The U.S. Marines are not considered good neighbors on the island: they are seen as the source of drunken louts and rapists who usually enjoy impunity from the local justice system.

Between 1972 and 2009, U.S. servicemen committed 5,634 criminal offenses, including 25 murders, 385 burglaries, 25 arsons, 127 rapes, 306 assaults and 2,827 thefts. The government of Japan, currently in a phase of newly assertive nationalism, appreciates living under the US. security umbrella, especially since they have offshored the basing tensions.

Okinawans are Japan’s largest minority group.

I have written previously about Okinawa’s special place and its irritants to the U.S. empire here and here.

October 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Remote Kenya will be connected to grid with Africa’s larges wind farm

A Mitsubishi 250 kW wind turbine of the Kama'oa Wind Farm in Ka Lae. Photo by Harvey McDaniel from Naalehu, HI. Wikimedia CommonsAfrica’s largest windfarm set to connect remote Kenya to the grid, Guardian,     and  , 9 Oct 15  Lake Turkana’s fierce winds have plagued villagers for generations, now they have inspired plans for Kenya’s most ambitious infrastructure project in 50 years – a 310MW windfarm, that they said was an impossible dream “……..Today, a sprawling, mostly-flat, dun-coloured terrain of moody, stumpy thorn bushes in the Sarima village around 40km from the shores of Lake Turkana is home to the most ambitious infrastructure development project carried out in northern Kenya since independence.

Covering 40,000 acres (162km2), the project will entail the installation of 365 wind turbines, each with a capacity of 850kW and is expected to be fully operational in mid 2017.

A 204km road linking the area to the nearest paved road will be built, and the Kenyan electricity transmission company, with funding by both the Kenyan government and a concessional loan from Spain, will construct a 428km transmission line to link it to the national grid……. A $600,000-700,000 community development budget means the contractors have been able to sink boreholes and deliver water to communities while the contractors have promised to light up most of the towns near the area once the power comes online……

Most people don’t worry too much about the energy but are happy that the powerful wind which was seen as a nuisance for generations might open up the region and link it with the rest of the country.”

October 14, 2015 Posted by | Kenya, renewable | Leave a comment

Climate action can slow down the disastrous melting of Antarctic ice shelves

New study projects that melting of Antarctic ice shelves will intensify HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION New research published today projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate.

Ice shelves are the floating extensions of the continent’s massive land-based ice sheets. While the melting or breakup of floating ice shelves does not directly raise sea level, ice shelves do have a “door stop” effect: They slow the flow of ice from glaciers and ice sheets into the ocean, where it melts and raises sea levels.


“Our results illustrate just how rapidly melting in Antarctica can intensify in a warming climate,” said Luke Trusel, lead author and postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “This has already occurred in places like the Antarctic Peninsula where we’ve observed warming and abrupt ice shelf collapses in the last few decades. Our model projections show that similar levels of melt may occur across coastal Antarctica near the end of this century, raising concerns about future ice shelf stability.”

The study, published Oct. 12, 2015, in Nature Geoscience, was conducted by Trusel, Clark University Associate Professor of Geography Karen Frey, WHOI scientists Sarah Das and Kristopher Karnauskas, Peter Kuipers Munneke and Michiel R. van den Broeke of the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht University, and Erik van Meijgaard of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

To study how melting evolves over time and to predict future ice sheet melting along the entire Antarctic coastline, the scientists combined satellite observations of ice surface melting with climate model simulations under scenarios of intermediate and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions until the year 2100.

The results indicate a strong potential for the doubling of Antarctica-wide ice sheet surface melting by 2050, under either emissions scenario. However, between 2050 and 2100, the models reveal a significant divergence between the two scenarios. Under the high-emissions climate scenario, by 2100 ice sheet surface melting approaches or exceeds intensities associated with ice shelf collapse in the past. Under the reduced-emissions scenario, there is relatively little increase in ice sheet melting after the doubling in 2050.

“The data presented in this study clearly show that climate policy, and therefore the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, have an enormous control over the future fate of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves, which we must consider when assessing their long-term stability and potential indirect contributions to sea level rise,” said Frey.

Funding for the research was provided by NASA, the Doherty Postdoctoral Scholarship Program at WHOI, the Netherlands Earth System Science Centre, the Polar Program of the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research, and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, non-profit organization on Cape Cod, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. For more information, please

October 14, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

The significance of Antarctica’s melting ice shelves, in climate change

ice-sheets-meltingWhy scientists are so worried about the ice shelves of Antarctica, WP, By Chelsea Harvey October 12 When it comes to climate change, Antarctica is one of the world’s major places of concern, mostly because of the sheer amount of ice it contains — enough to theoretically cause about 200 feet of sea-level rise if it were all to melt — not that anyone thinks that will happen anytime soon. Still, smaller parts could be destabilized, and understanding how the Antarctic ice sheet will react to future climate change is a big priority for scientists.

One important key to building this understanding is studying Antarctic ice shelves, which are large, floating platforms of ice — sometimes spanning hundreds or thousands of square miles — that form where where an ice sheet meets the ocean.

“They play an incredibly important role in constraining the flow of this land ice into the ocean,” says Luke Trusel, a postdoctoral scholar at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, comparing ice shelves to the “cork in a champagne bottle.” If an ice shelf breaks off, it can unleash a flow of ice into the ocean from the ice sheet behind it, which can contribute to sea-level rise in a major way. Indeed, without ice shelves to provide buttressing, glaciers behind the ice shelves flow faster, pouring more and more ice into the ocean.

[Scientists declare an ‘urgent’ mission – study West Antarctica, and fast]

In order to get a better grip on how climate change could affect Antarctic ice shelves, Trusel and a group of other researchers conducted a study to see how rising air temperatures might affect surface melting in Antarctica. This is a process that can directly influence the destabilizing of ice shelves.

Past observations have shown that as ice melts on a shelf’s surface, the melted water starts to pool, or “pond,” and trickle down into imperfections in the ice, causing the cracks to deepen and widen — which can eventually cause ice shelves to collapse, unleashing the flow of land ice behind them.

“Increases in air temperature, and surface melt and ponding, has led to the abrupt and catastrophic collapse of a number of ice shelves,” says Trusel, lead author of the study, which was published Monday in Nature Geoscience. These collapses have mostly been observed on the Antarctic Peninsula, where the thinning and retreat of ice shelves has been particularly pronounced, thanks to higher-than-average warming in the area. The concern, though, is that more ice shelves that ring around Antarctica, including its colder regions, will start to give way as temperatures continue to rise and that other more inland parts of Antarctica will then follow suit.

The researchers used models to investigate the potential future impacts of two different climate scenarios: a “business-as-usual” trajectory, in which greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise throughout the century, and a more middle-of-the-road trajectory, in which emissions start declining before mid-century and there’s less associated global warming.

They found that under both scenarios, Antarctic-wide surface melt doubles by the year 2050, with the amount of meltwater produced coming close to 200 gigatons per year (a gigaton is a billion metric tons). This is a troubling finding, said Nerilie Abram, a researcher from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at Australian National University who was not involved with the study, in an e-mail to The Post. But, she said, “I think that the more interesting result is to look at the huge divergence in predicted Antarctic ice melt during the second half of the century.”

After 2050, the projections for the two climate scenarios differ drastically. In the middle-of-the-road scenario, melt doesn’t increase much after mid-century. But in the business-as-usual scenario, melt continues to speed up, eventually hitting a rate of more than 600 gigatons per year by the end of the century.

“The most important results are … that we can see how quickly melting can evolve,” Trusel said. The results suggest that ice shelf surface melting increases exponentially with air temperature……….

One of the most important takeaways from the paper is “how important human action is on the climate of Antarctica,” Trusel added in a follow-up e-mail to The Post. Past observations show that humans have already altered the face of the continent, and the projections suggest that we have the power to continue doing so, he said.

“This shows that we do have a choice in how the Earth changes over the coming century,” said Abram, the researcher from Australian National University. “[We have] the option of a future where many of Antarctica’s ice shelves are still viable if we can curb emissions, compared to a future where many of Antarctica’s remaining ice shelves will probably have been lost if we continue our current emissions trajectory.”

October 14, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Why all glass building facades will go out of fashion – the heat problem

All-Glass Facades Won’t Exist in Sustainable Cities, Davis Baggs, Sourceable, 13 Oct 15  “……..Glass alone cannot cover all contingencies, and the hotter the summer sun, the less successful it is. In winter in cold and even temperate climates high transmissivity (untinted) highly insulated glass units with Low-E coatings are typical and work very well. Problem is, in summer unshaded glass lets a lot of heat in, and the very factors that work for the building and occupants now works against them letting heat in and keeping it in, very efficiently overheating buildings and people all the better for the air conditioning engineers (whose fees are often based on the size of the air conditioning plants) and suppliers (who designed some of the major software tools engineers commonly use to design buildings).

So to overcome this, heat absorbing and reflective glasses were developed and to greater or lesser extent are used in all glass facades in climates where there is any bite at all in the summer sun.

Herein lies some of the problem; heat isn’t just ‘heat’. Solar energy does enter buildings by conduction (efficiently offset by insulated glass units or IGUs) from the atmosphere but the majority enters via direct and diffuse solar radiation.

If we make the glass reflective enough to stop enough solar radiation to avoid overheating of unshaded all-glass facades, we create strong rogue reflections that cause accidents and literally melt cars. So we wind the reflectiveness back and bump up the tinting levels to absorb the radiation in the façade and this is where the next problems begin…………..

The human body is up to four times more sensitive to radiant heat than any other form of heat. In fact, we are more than two times more sensitive to radiant heat than all of the other heat loss or gain pathways (convection, conduction, respiration, and evaporation) combined. The body is highly sensitive to even small changes in radiant temperatures; that’s why we love radiators, heated floors and mass surfaces in buildings to retain heat and keep us both warm and cool.

But as you tint glass, it progressively absorbs more and more heat itself and it becomes in effect a large plate radiator. The darker the tint, the more heat it both absorbs and then eventually re-radiates even when it’s double-glazed, such as in IGUs. Its important to note that this doesn’t cause the room air to heat up much, so its not picked up by the room temperature sensors of the HVAC, but it does heat people up easily and effectively, even through clothes.

Even a few degrees of radiant temperature can make a room very uncomfortable. A radiant temperature increase (or decrease) of  five degrees can make the room feel eight degrees hotter (or colder) without changing the temperature in the room…….

Let me share my experiences of a building I visited in mid-winter (January) in the desert, midway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It was comprised of two 12-storey office towers of azure blue (heat absorbing) reflective (silver blue mirror look to the outside) double glazed IGUs linked by a three-storey entry podium of clear IGUs……

At midday, things got even more interesting. The outside temperature had risen to 35 degrees, the inside air temperature was still 21 degrees, but the outside skin of the building in the sun measured 65 degrees and the inside skin temperatures of the blue IGU in the offices were 35.4 degrees. Interestingly, the clear insulated glass podium was an astounding 37.2 degrees – because it was not reflective like the blue IGUs, it absorbed more heat……the solar intensity in UAE at that time of year is similar to Australia in summer….

Unshaded all glass buildings as we know them now, have no place in sustainable cities of the future.

October 14, 2015 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment