The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Global warming may make Brazilian dam disaster much, much worse

Reduced river flows in Brazil, as global warming intensifies the drought there, mean more damage from a burst dam, scientists say.

NGOs and environmentalists are calling for a tightening-up of mining regulations, instead of present efforts to relax them.

For this, they blame the close relationship between mining companies and politicians. Last year, the companies were reported to have spent over US$7 million funding politicians’ election campaigns.

There is concern that, despite the River Doce disaster, the result of their lobbying could be a new mining code that benefits rather than regulates the sector.,8415

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dismal future prospects for the global nuclear industry

Nuclear Power Is No Fix for Climate, Energy Intelligence, M.V. Ramana, 27 Nov 15

fear“……….Future Prospects  These trends will likely continue for the next decade or more, because of the changing dynamics of the electricity market and the likely presence of cheap natural gas and declining costs of renewable power. That latter factor has also complicated the public perception of nuclear power, whose days of being popular are long past. (Well before Fukushima, for example, and well after Chernobyl, a 2005 survey done for the IAEA found that about 60% of the public opposed building new nuclear power plants.) Because of the declining costs of renewables, even those who see themselves as environmentalists and are most concerned about global warming generally do not see nuclear power as necessary for mitigating climate change.

The nuclear industry and its supporters have adopted a number of strategies to counter these trends. These include developing new reactor designs that are advertised as capable of overcoming the safety and cost problems, and aggressively marketing these as well as older reactor designs in countries around the world, especially developing countries, many with little or no nuclear capacity or domestic expertise. The industry and its supporters have also attacked renewables as incompatible with the modern grid because of the intermittency of wind and solar energy.

These attacks point to deep economic reasons for antagonism between the nuclear power and renewables industries. In countries with privatized electricity sectors, nuclear power plants are, and given their high costs, can only be, owned by large electric utilities that profit from monopolies over power supply. Renewables, especially if rooftop solar installations generate a significant fraction of residential electricity consumption, pose a threat to their economic interests. This antagonism is most visible in the US and Japan where utilities have lobbied extensively against tax credits to renewable energy generators and net metering of distributed solar power. As electricity from renewable sources falls in price, this trend will likely only intensify.

Can nuclear power grow as rapidly as desired by those advocating it to mitigate climate change? For that to happen, nuclear power would have to increase its share of global generation relative to sources that are proving more economically competitive, such as natural gas and renewables — and that in turn would require vastly accelerated and expanded reactor construction at prices that make sense relative to these other sources. All of this is quite apart from the other well-known and widespread concerns about nuclear power: the potential for severe accidents, the linkage to nuclear weapons and the production of long-lived radioactive waste. These challenges will not disappear and indeed may only grow worse, which is why nuclear’s prospects as a significant climate change mitigator are feeble to nonexistent.

M.V. Ramana is currently with the Nuclear Futures Laboratory and the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, where he has been assessing nuclear power programs around the world. Ramana is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin Books, 2012). This article is adapted from a forthcoming chapter by the author in “Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy: Part IV–Energy Transitions,” edited by Florian Kern.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pope and Muslim leaders in call for climate action

PopePope Francis says failure of climate summit would be catastrophic, Guardian 26 Nov 15 
Pope meets Muslim and other religious leaders in Nairobi to call for success at the Paris summit and for greater environmental protections in Africa. 
World leaders must reach a historic agreement to fight climate change and poverty at coming talks in Paris, facing the stark choice to either “improve or destroy the environment”, Pope Francis said in Africa on Thursday.

Francis chose his first visit to the world’s poorest continent to issue a clarion call for the success of the two-week summit, known as COP21, that starts on Monday in the French capital still reeling from attacks that killed 130 people and were claimed by Islamic State.

In a long address in Spanish at the United Nations regional office, Francis said it would be “catastrophic” if particular interests prevailed over the common good of people and the planet or if the conference were manipulated by business interests.

In Kenya, at the start of his three-nation Africa trip, the pope also said dialogue between religions was essential to teach young people that violence in God’s name was unjustified.

Bridging the Muslim-Christian divide and climate issues are major themes of the trip that also takes him to Uganda, which like Kenya has been a victim of extremist attacks, and the Central African Republic, a nation riven by sectarian conflict.

“We are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or destroy the environment,” the pope said in Nairobi, home to the UN Environment Programme headquarters.

He noted that some scientists consider protection of the Congo basin tropical forest, which spreads over six countries and is the world’s second-largest after the Amazon, essential for the future of the planet because of its biodiversity.

Francis, who took his name from St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of nature, has made protecting “God’s creation” a plank of his pontificate. In June, he issued a landmark encyclical calling for urgent action to save the planet…….

November 27, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Kenya, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Declaration of the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima

The world nuclear victims forum was held at Hiroshima.
“A charter of world Nuclear Victim’s rights” was adopted.

Declaration of the World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima
(Draft Elements of a Charter of World Nuclear Victims’ Rights)
November 23, 2015

1. We, participants in the World Nuclear Victims Forum, gathered in Hiroshima from November 21 to 23 in 2015, 70 years after the atomic bombings by the US government.
2. We define the rights of nuclear victims in the narrow sense of not distinguishing between victims of military and industrial nuclear use, including victims of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of nuclear testing, as well as victims of exposure to radiation and radioactive contamination created by the entire process including uranium mining and milling, and nuclear development, use and waste. In the broad sense, we confirm that until we end the nuclear age, any person anywhere could at any time become a victim=a Hibakusha, and that nuclear weapons, nuclear power and humanity cannot coexist.
3. We recall that the radiation, heat and blast of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sacrificed not only Japanese but also Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese and people from other countries there as a result of Japan’s colonization and invasion, and Allied prisoners of war. Continue reading

November 27, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Japan, politics international, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK govt allout for nuclear power, discriminates against solar in tax system

UK embraces nuclear, gives energy intensive sector free ride, PV Magazine,26. NOVEMBER 2015 BY:  EDGAR MEZA David Cameron’s government is aiming to make the U.K. a leader in nuclear reactor technology while spending billions on cleaning up ageing nuclear sites. While eliminating environmental tariffs for big industry, it’s also boosting its innovation program, which could benefit renewable energy. The U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) on Wednesday announced it would double the budget of its innovation program over the next five years while cutting overall costs by 22% by 20202.

The Department is raising innovation program spending to £500 million, an increase it said would “strengthen the future security of supply, reduce the costs of decarbonization and boost industrial and research capabilities.”

While the innovation program boost will provide seed funding for new renewable energy technologies and smart grids, it will support development of small modular nuclear reactors, an area in which the government hopes to position the U.K. as a global leader.

Indeed, the Conservative government’s budget review also includes funding for “an ambitious nuclear research program that will revive the U.K.’s nuclear expertise.”

As the government embraces state-of-the-art nuclear technology, it is also spending more than £11 billion on the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and its continuing work to clean up ageing nuclear sites.

U.K. solar website Solar Power Portal cited opposition Labour MP Alan Whitehead, who questioned whether the Department would be abler to properly function at all in view of the deep budget cuts and the considerable amount of funding was allocated to cleaning up nuclear sites.

In addition, the government will permanently exempt energy intensive industries like steel and chemicals from the cost of environmental tariffs, British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said during his Autumn Statement speech on Wednesday. Osborne said the exemption would “keep their bills down, keep them competitive and keep them here.”………

Rudd, Amber UKDECC Secretary Amber Rudd said her priority was “to deliver secure, affordable, clean energy supplies” that households and business could rely on. “As we transition to a low-carbon economy as cost effectively as possible, finding new sources of energy that are cheap, reliable and clean is essential, which is why we are boosting our spending on innovation and backing the industries of the future.”

The U.K.’s solar industry has reacted with disappointment to Osborne’s speech and the DECC budget overhaul.

Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association, took issue with the government’s continued support of fossil fuel generation to the detriment of solar.

“Climate change means we should tilt the playing field towards renewables as fossil fuels are not paying their true costs. Something has gone very wrong when solar is actively discriminated against in the tax system compared to fossil generation. New large-scale solar currently has no public support. As an absolute minimum solar projects should receive the same tax benefits as other energy technologies such as oil, gas and energy from waste.”

The Solar Trade Association has called for enhanced capital allowances of 100% in the first year for a project as is the case for fossil fuels and energy from waste heat. “Solar is currently discriminated against under capital allowances, where 18% of expenditure can be taken as a tax deduction for general plant and machinery, including for wind, yet solar receives just an 8% allowance,” the Association said. Osborne said only businesses in certain enterprise zones would be able to claim 100% enhanced capital allowances.

In addition, the Association pointed out that despite the chancellor’s statement that investment in renewables and low carbon would double to 2020, the assumptions used were unclear as solar under the feed-in tariff faces a 98% cut in expenditure to just £7 million over three years.

Solar Trade Association CEO Paul Barwell added that planned personnel reductions at the DECC could have a negative impact. “Energy policy is a highly technical and complex policy area where in-depth analysis of every sector is needed in order to avoid costly errors. Cutting this many staff could end up being a false economy for the chancellor.”–gives-energy-intensive-sector-free-ride_100022149/#ixzz3sdAaQc00

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Indonesia’s fires – enormous output of greenhouse emissions

Indonesia smoke 15Indonesia: fires threaten to send even modest climate ambitions up in smoke The Conversation,  Economist and research scientist at the Research Centre for Climate Change, University of Indonesia , 26 Nov 15 At the Paris climate negotiations, Indonesia will bring to the table a target of an unconditional 29% emissions reduction by 2030, increasing to 41% on condition of international assistance.

Indonesia’s emission reduction plan (or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) is therefore slightly higher than its 2009 commitment to reduce emissions by 26% by 2020.

There are three problems with Indonesia’s INDC. The target is not ambitious; the plan is incoherent; and with the recent massive forest fires in Indonesia that have yet to be accounted for in the INDC it does not accurately reflect emissions for Indonesia.

Such a problematic INDC would affect the global efforts to adequately tackle climate change, since Indonesia is one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world. The forest fires have pushed the country into the top ranks of global greenhouse gas emitters……

November 27, 2015 Posted by | climate change, Indonesia | Leave a comment

Is nuclear power competitive? Actually – NO!

scrutiny-on-costsNuclear Power Is No Fix for Climate, Energy Intelligence, M.V. Ramana, 27 Nov 15

“…….The primary constraint on the growth of nuclear power is economic competitiveness. Nuclear power is an expensive source of power, and expensive in two ways. The first is a result of the high cost of constructing a nuclear power plant; unlike, for example, natural gas-based plants, this construction cost is the dominant contribution to the economics of nuclear energy. While these high costs have been known for some decades now, around the turn of this century, when there was talk of a nuclear “renaissance,” nuclear promoters claimed that there were new ways of reducing capital costs through improved design and construction methods. Studies produced by nuclear industry organizations and academic institutions typically assumed that a 1,000 megawatt reactor would cost around $1,500 to $2,000 per kilowatt, or $2 billion.

Once actual projects were on the drawing board, however, these hypothetical numbers moved quickly north. In Europe, two French-led flagship projects were initially estimated at around $2,250-$2,475/kW in the case of the Olkiluoto-3 reactor in Finland in 2004, and around $2,600/kW in the case of the Flamanville plant in France in 2006, both higher than the figures assumed by the academic and industry studies. In the US, cost estimates by electric utilities building reactors were higher — the corresponding initial estimates for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia were $4,700/kW, for just the nuclear reactor, and $6,412/kW, when the other costs associated with the project were included.

When construction actually started, those numbers were soon obsolete and costs once again rose. Today, as work on these projects continues and completion dates are extended well beyond original dates, the cost estimates keep rising. As of early 2015, Vogtle’s total cost was estimated at around $7,300/kW. Likewise, the costs of the two European projects have more than doubled. The story is similar in Russia, India and China, although the starting cost estimates were lower.

Original construction timelines now seem completely absurd. Olkiluoto-3’s construction time went from four years to 13 and Flamanville-3 from five to 11. One of the Koodankulam reactors in southern India took 12 years to be commissioned, in comparison with the initial estimate of six years; the second one is yet to start operating, and the construction period count there is upwards of 13 years. All of these experiences should serve as reminders that cost and time overruns for reactor construction, long the bugbears of the nuclear industry, have not been exorcised by modern construction and manufacturing methods.

The industry typically attempts to explain these cost and time overruns as the result of teething problems in first-of-a-kind projects and argues that as more projects get under way these problems will be sorted out. Unfortunately, historical experience belies this expectation: Nuclear construction costs have typically gone up, not down, as more reactors are built, and this trend has been extensively documented in the US, France and India. The tendency toward increased costs despite experience is being demonstrated currently, with the estimated cost of a planned French reactor at Hinkley Point in the UK higher than estimates for the same reactor at Flamanville and Olkiluoto, and with the estimated cost of the Russian reactors proposed to be constructed in Turkey and in Bangladesh being higher than the Koodankulam reactors in India.

Higher Generating Costs

For a long time now, the nuclear industry had a comforting answer to this problem of high construction costs: it may take a lot, both of time and money, to build a reactor, but once built and paid for, the reactor will generate low-cost electricity that can be sold for handsome profits. The experiences of the last few years have burst that bubble. Marginal costs associated with producing nuclear electricity have been rising, to the point that some utilities are doing the unthinkable: shutting down nuclear reactors even though their licenses would allow them to operate for a decade or more beyond the planned shutdown date.

Annual expenditures in the US averaged for the whole fleet — not counting initial construction costs, which have largely been paid off — cover fuel purchases, salaries for workers and activities like uprating generation capacity, replacing equipment and regulatory work. The total is in the vicinity of $40 to $45 per megawatt hour, which should be seen in the context of recent bids for new solar photovoltaic projects (including the cost of recouping initial construction expenditures) that are around $50/MWh, and even lower than $40/MWh in some parts of the country. These higher-than-expected nuclear generating costs and the falling costs of competing sources of electricity explain why in the past few years US utilities have decided to prematurely shut down at least eight reactors — particularly stand-alone single units that don’t enjoy the economies of scale of plants with two or more reactors.

Across the Atlantic, Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned utility, is closing down two reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power plant earlier than planned. Another large utility, E.On, justified its decision to shut down two of the reactors at Sweden’s Oskarshamn power plant by saying that “there are no prospects of generating financial profitability either in the short or the long term.” Although there have been no shutdowns yet in France, its audit court, Cour des Comptes, estimated that production costs for EDF’s 58 reactors had risen from €49.6 to €59.8/MWh between 2010 and 2013. The company has also been selling much less electricity to its competitors than in earlier years, leading analysts to conclude that “nuclear energy is less competitive than it was in the past.” This, in France, the country most reliant on nuclear power — and which has also decided to pare back nuclear’s contribution to its overall generation from just under 80% to 50% by 2025………..

November 27, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference | Leave a comment

Russia keen to market nuclear power to impoverished Cambodia

Russia to help Cambodia build capacity for nuclear power, REUTERS, YEKATERINBURG, nuclear-marketing-crapRUSSIA/PHNOM PENH 26 Nov Russian-Bear Russia will help Cambodia work towards building a nuclear power plant under an agreement the two countries signed this week, said Sergei Kirienko, the head of state nuclear firm Rosatom.

Cambodia depends heavily on imported fuel and power. Electricity in the country is among the most expensive in Southeast Asia and a common source of complaint from investors.

“The Cambodian government is mulling, in future, a nuclear power station construction,” Kirienko told reporters on Wednesday when asked about the agreement.

Cambodian energy officials declined to comment on the deal on Thursday.

The agreement was signed during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Cambodia this week. His visit was the first to Cambodia by a senior Russian politician since 1986.

Under the terms of the agreement, Russia will provide expertise, research and training to Cambodia……

November 27, 2015 Posted by | ASIA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

USA anxious about nuclear proliferation, but keen to market nuclear technology to South Korea

Buy-US-nukesUS, South Korea ratify deal on nuclear energy A pact between Seoul and Washington on nuclear energy has officially entered into effect. The deal, almost five years in the making, stops short of allowing South Korea to reprocess nuclear fuel from the US. The 20-year accord came into force on Wednesday, with South Korea’s foreign minister and the US ambassador exchanging documents in Seoul.

South Korea is among top five consumers of nuclear energy in the world, and home to 23 nuclear power plants.

However, all of the nuclear fuel in the country is provided by the US.

Seoul has repeatedly urged Washington to allow South Korea to develop uranium enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, citing energy concerns and environmental issues. The US is opposing the move, fearing that such technology could also be used for weapons-grade nuclear material.

The US government is concerned about sparking the nuclear rivalry between Seoul and North Korea,the country that already conducted three successful nuclear tests.

The latest accord denies South Korea the right to reprocess and enrich the US-origin fuel.

However, Seoul and Washington agreed to establish a high-level committee to discuss the issue, which South Korean officials described as a step towards securing a possible consent from Washington in the future.

South Korea is also seeking to become a key exporter of atomic power plants.fighters-marketing-1

The US ally could also research technologies such as “pyroprocessing” which are generally considered safe from the proliferation standpoint.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | marketing, USA | Leave a comment

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussing visit to North Korea – optimistic

U.N. chief Ban says ‘positive signs’ from Pyongyang on North Korea visit, Reuters, 27 Nov 15 SEOUL U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he was discussing with North Korea the dates for his visit to the isolated state but no decision has been made in his first public comments on the trip since news reports last week said he would go soon.

Ban, who is South Korean, said he received “positive signs” from Pyongyang recently following his talks with the North’s foreign minister, in comments made to South Korean reporters at the United Nations and carried by YTN TV early on Tuesday.

“We are discussing when would be the good time for me to visit the North, but so far nothing has been decided,” he said, adding he is working to make the trip “at the earliest time.”

The United Nations had denied news reports about Ban’s visit to Pyongyang last week or this week.

If Ban’s visit does take place, he is expected to discuss U.N. sanctions against the North and its nuclear weapons programme, analysts have said.

The North is under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions for its missile and nuclear tests, as well as separate U.S. and EU sanctions…….

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Talks between officials of North Korea and South Korea

North Korea, South Korea Hold Rare Talks Following Clashes, IBT, By on November 26 2015 North Korean and South Korean officials met in a demilitarized village on the border Thursday, to hold talks aimed at initiating sustainable communication between the two countries, according to reports. The rare meeting is the first intergovernmental interaction since August when the two sides met to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.

Held in the border village of Panmunjom, about 34 miles north of Seoul, the meeting saw the two sides ironing out a framework to resume high-level talks, although they did not arrive at a precise timeline. Both countries signed a joint agreement agreeing on details such as who would represent their respective governments and the issues that would be on the agenda…….

Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, said, according to Yonhap News Agency: “The North will likely call on Seoul to lift its sanctions against the North and to reopen the Kumgang tour program. The South is expected to raise the issue of family reunions.”

In October, the two Koreas conducted reunion of families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as part of a deal signed in August. South Korea seeks to regularize the reunions while the cash-strapped North Korea has demanded that Seoul allow South Korean tour groups to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort.

Earlier in November, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she was open to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if the latter agreed to give up nuclear weapons and focus sincerely on inter-Korean ties.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

India opposes deal to phase out fossil fuels by 2100 at climate summit.

India would reject a deal to combat climate change that includes a pledge for the world to wean itself off fossil fuels this century, a senior official said, underlying the difficulties countries face in agreeing how to slow global warming. &

November 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MP calls for Trident nuclear submarines to be moved from Scotland

Trident nukes could be moved from Scotland to N. Ireland, DUP MP says : 24 Nov, 2015  Britain’s Trident nuclear submarines could be moved from their Scottish mooring at Faslane to Ulster, Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

Donaldson made his comments in the House of Commons on Tuesday, intervening when Prime Minister David Cameron came under fire from the Scottish National Party (SNP) while outlining his plans for UK’s defense strategy.

The SNP’s Angus Robertson, who is MP for Moray, told Cameron the nuclear weapons currently based in a military port at Faslane are deeply unpopular with Scottish people……

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Lithium-air batteries might make oil obsolete

Could Lithium-air batteries make oil obsolete?   Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future.

Scientists have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery which has very high energy density, is more than 90% efficient over its discharge-recharge cycle, and can be recharged more than 2,000 times.

Lithium-oxygen, or lithium-air, batteries have been touted as the ‘ultimate’ battery due to their theoretical energy density, which is ten times that of a lithium-ion battery.

Such a high energy density would be comparable to that of gasoline – and would enable an electric car with a battery that is a fifth the cost and a fifth the weight of those currently on the market to drive 400 miles on a single charge – from London to Edinburgh, or from Boston to Washington DC. Although the energy density remains lower than for oil, the electrical energy is used far more efficiently with very low losses. Typical cars and trucks today waste 75% of fuel energy in heat. Also there is no need for the heavy engines and transmission systems required in oil-powered vehicles.

In fact the Li-air batteries could even be light enough to propel aircraft – weaning the world off one of the most intractable uses of fossil energy as aviation fuel.

This is the first time that any battery technology has even come close to challenging the energy density of petroleum fuels, and therefore represents a major tipping point in the world’s energy choices in coming decades.

However, as is the case with other next-generation batteries, there are several practical challenges that need to be addressed before lithium-air batteries become a viable alternative to gasoline.

Now researchers from the University of Cambridge have shown how some of these obstacles may be overcome, and developed a lab-based demonstrator of a lithium-air battery which has higher capacity, increased energy efficiency and improved stability over previous attempts.

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, The Ecologist.

November 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment