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Anniversary of a nuclear disaster in Spain

text-relevantThe day America dropped 4 nuclear bombs on Spain, [excellent photos] Daily Mail, 19 Jan 18  … but the disaster, 50 years ago, has been forgotten by all but its surviving victims 

  • On January 16 1966, a U.S. B-52 Stratofortress took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina 
  • Bombers were continually flown on 24-hour missions across the Atlantic, to provide the States’ nuclear capability 
  • It was a routine mission for the crew but then disaster struck over Palomares, Andalucia, as the aircraft refuelled
  • Four hydrogen bombs plummeted to earth at horrific speeds, which would have killed millions had they exploded 

By GUY WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL18 January 2016   “……the B-52 had overshot and the boom had missed the fuel nozzle in the top of the plane. Instead, the boom had smashed into the bomber with such force that its left wing was ripped off.

Fire quickly spread up the fuel-filled boom and ignited all 30,000 gallons of the tanker’s kerosene, causing it to plummet to the ground. Meanwhile, the bomber started to break up, and the crew did their best to get out of the plane using parachutes.

As for the hydrogen bombs, there was nothing that could be done. In less than two minutes, they would be crashing into the Earth at an enormous speed — potentially destroying much of the regions of Andalucia and Murcia.

What in the name of God are doing, Pepé? Get away from there! This could be dangerous.
Pedro de la Torre Flores’ wife, Luisa

Hundreds of thousands of people could be about to die, and the nuclear fallout would have the capacity to kill millions more all over Europe — not just from radiation poisoning but from cancers for decades to come……..

The nuclear payloads of the four American B28 hydrogen bombs mercifully did not detonate when they landed, even though the conventional explosives in two of the bombs did explode, showering some 500 acres around the fishing village of Palomares with three kilograms of highly radioactive plutonium-239. Continue reading

January 19, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, Spain, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Nuclear waste plans an abuse of democracy in Britain

This is basically an engineering project like no other. Its timescale will dwarf the oldest cathedrals.



this time they have legislation in place to make sure the county council can’t stop it. It’s an abuse of democracy.

text-wise-owlHardest sell: Nuclear waste needs good home By Greig Watson BBC News 18 January 2016 “…….Steadily produced since the end of World War Two, the question of what to do with the nuclear waste from civil, military, medical and scientific uses has been causing equal measures of fear and frustration for decades. With a new generation of nuclear power stations on the way, a fresh search is under way for a community ready to take on the challenge.

Campaigner Eddie Martin says: “It’s very worrying, scary even. They have been looking for somewhere to put this material for decades and it keeps coming back to Cumbria.”…….

Nuclear power stations have been built in 31 countries but only a handful ,including Finland, Sweden, France and the US have started building permanent storage facilities.

All of these are purpose-built caves hundreds of metres below ground, known as a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Once the waste is treated and sealed inside containers, it is stacked in the caverns. GDFs are expected to remain secure for thousands of years.

Dr Robert says GDFs or deep boreholes are two possible options for the disposal of radioactive waste but there are still challenges to overcome, particularly in predicting their behaviour over hundreds or thousands of years.

“While there are natural examples of radiation being contained – think of the mines where uranium for nuclear fuel has been sat happily for millennia – the mix of isotopes in radioactive waste is much more complex so we need to know how the nuclear waste interacts with its storage material, be it glass, concrete or metal……… Continue reading

January 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

How long are people going to tolerate this nuclear tragedy?

death-nuclearThe Shockingly High Number of Casualties of America’s Nuclear Weapons Program  by Lawrence S. Wittner– When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945—at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties.

This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases. Of these people, some 53,000 judged by government officials to have experienced excessive radiation on the job received $12 billion in compensation under the federal government’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. And 33,480 of these workers have died.

How could this happen? Let’s examine the case of Byron Vaigneur. In October 1975, he saw a brownish sludge containing plutonium break through the wall of his office and start pooling near his desk at the Savannah River, South Carolina nuclear weapons plant. Subsequently, he contracted breast cancer, as well as chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating respiratory condition. Vaigneur, who had a mastectomy to cut out the cancer, is today on oxygen, often unable to walk more than a hundred feet. Declaring he’s ready to die, he has promised to donate his body to science in the hope that it will help save the lives of other people exposed to deadly radiation.

Actually, workers in nuclear weapons plants constitute only a fraction of Americans whose lives have been ravaged by preparations for nuclear war. A 2002 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintained that, between 1951 and 1963 alone, the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons—more than half of it done by the United States—killed 11,000 Americans through cancer. As this estimate does not include internal radiation exposure caused by inhaling or swallowing radioactive particles, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research has maintained that the actual number of fatal cancers caused by nuclear testing could be 17,000. Of course, a larger number of people contracted cancer from nuclear testing than actually died of it. The government study estimated that those who contracted cancer numbered at least 80,000 Americans.

Who were these Americans? Many of them were “downwinders”—people whose towns and cities were located near U.S. nuclear testing sites and, thus, were contaminated by deadly clouds of nuclear fallout carried along by the wind. During the 1950s, the U.S. government conducted close to a hundred atmospheric nuclear explosions at its Nevada test site. Nearly 30 percent of the radioactive debris drifted over the towns to the east, which housed a population of roughly 100,000 people. The residents of St. George, Utah recalled that a “pink cloud” would hang over them while they worked amid the fallout, walked in it, breathed it, washed their clothes in it, and ate it. “Even the little children ate the snow,” recalled one resident. “They didn’t know it was going to kill them later on.”

During subsequent decades, leukemia and other cancer rates soared in the counties adjoining the Nevada test site, as they did among the 250,000 U.S. soldiers exposed to U.S. nuclear weapons tests. From the standpoint of U.S. military commanders, it was vital to place American soldiers close to U.S. nuclear explosions to get them ready to fight in a nuclear war. Subsequently, as many of these soldiers developed cancer, had children with birth defects, or died, they and their family members organized atomic veterans’ groups to demand that the federal government provide medical care and financial compensation for their suffering. Today, atomic veterans receive both from the federal government.

Uranium miners comprise yet another group of Americans who have suffered and died from the U.S. nuclear weapons program. To obtain the uranium ore necessary to build nuclear weapons, the U.S. government operated thousands of uranium mines, often on the lands of Native Americans, many of whom worked as miners and died premature deaths. The U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institute for Public Safety and Health conducted studies of uranium miners that discovered alarmingly high rates of deaths from lung cancer, other lung diseases, tuberculosis, emphysema, blood disease, and injuries. In addition, when the uranium mines were played out or abandoned for other reasons, they were often left as open pits, thereby polluting the air, land, and water of the surrounding communities with radiation and heavy metals.

This American nuclear catastrophe is not only a matter of the past, but seems likely to continue well into the future. The U.S. government is now beginning a $1 trillion program to “modernize” its nuclear weapons complex. This involves building new nuclear weapons factories and labs, as well as churning out new nuclear weapons and warheads for firing from the air, land, and sea. Of course, if these weapons and their overseas counterparts are used, they will destroy the world. But, as we have seen, even when they are not used in war, they exact a dreadful toll—in the United States and, it should be noted, in other nations around the world.   How long are people going to tolerate this nuclear tragedy?

January 19, 2016 Posted by | health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Modernisation” making nuclear war more likely: time to renew disarmament process

Modernizing’ the Opportunities for Nuclear War  Huffington Post,   Professor of History emeritus, SUNY Albany, 18 Jan 16,  A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world.

du_rounds……The fight, as a recent New York Times article indicates, concerns a varietybomb B61-12 of nuclear weapons that the U.S. military is currently in the process of developing or, as the administration likes to say, “modernizing.” Last year, the Pentagon flight-tested a mock version of the most advanced among them, the B61 Model 12. This redesigned nuclear weapon is the country’s first precision-guided atomic bomb, with a computer brain and maneuverable fins that enable it to more accurately target sites for destruction. It also has a “dial-a-yield” feature that allows its handlers to adjust the level of its explosive power……

The Federation of Atomic Scientists pointed out that the high accuracy of the weapon and its lower settings for destructiveness might tempt military commanders to call for its use in a future conflict…….

Another weapon undergoing U.S. government “modernization” is the cruise missile. Designed for launching by U.S. bombers, the weapon–charged William Perry, a former secretary of defense–raised the possibilities of a “limited nuclear war.” Furthermore, because cruise missiles can be produced in nuclear and non-nuclear versions, an enemy under attack, uncertain which was being used, might choose to retaliate with nuclear weapons.

Overall, the Obama administration’s nuclear “modernization” program–including not only redesigned nuclear weapons, but new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants–is estimated to cost as much as $1 trillion over the next thirty years. Andrew C. Weber, a former assistant secretary of defense and former director of the interagency body that oversees America’s nuclear arsenal, has criticized it as “unaffordable and unneeded.” After all, the U.S. government already has an estimated 7,200 nuclear weapons.

The nuclear weapons modernization program is particularly startling when set against President Obama’s April 2009 pledge to build a nuclear weapons-free world. Although this public commitment played a large part in his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize that year, in succeeding years the administration’s action on this front declined precipitously.

It did manage to secure a strategic arms reduction treaty (New START) with Russia in 2010 and issue a pledge that same year that the U.S. government would “not develop new nuclear warheads.” But, despite promises to bring the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification and to secure further nuclear arms agreements with Russia, nuclear disarmament efforts ground to a halt. Instead, plans for “nuclear modernization” began. The president’s 2016 State of the Union address contained not a word about nuclear disarmament, much less a nuclear weapons-free world.

What happened?

Two formidable obstacles derailed the administration’s nuclear disarmament policy. At home, powerful forces moved decisively to perpetuate the U.S. nuclear weapons program: military contractors, the weapons labs, top military officers, and, especially, the Republican Party. Republican support for disarmament treaties was crucial, for a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate was required to ratify them. Thus, when the Republicans abandoned the nuclear arms control and disarmament approach of past GOP presidents and ferociously attacked the Obama administration for “weakness” or worse, the administration beat an ignominious retreat. To attract the backing of Republicans for the New START Treaty, it promised an upgraded U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Russia’s lack of interest in further nuclear disarmament agreements with the United States provided another key obstacle. With 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons in the arsenals of these two nations, a significant reduction in nuclear weapons hinged on Russia’s support for it. But, angered by the sharp decline of its power in world affairs, including NATO’s advance to its borders, the Russian governmentengaged in its own nuclear buildup and spurned U.S. disarmament proposals.

Despite these roadblocks, the Obama administration could renew the nuclear disarmament process. Developing better relations with Russia, for example by scrapping NATO’s provocative expansion plan, could smooth the path toward a Russian-American nuclear disarmament agreement. And this, in turn, would soften the objections of the lesser nuclear powers to reducing their own nuclear arsenals. If Republican opposition threatened ratification of a disarmament treaty, it could be bypassed through an informal U.S.-Russian agreement for parallel weapons reductions. Moreover, even without a bilateral agreement, the U.S. government could simply scrap large portions of its nuclear arsenal, as well as plans for modernization. Does a country really need thousands of nuclear weapons to deter a nuclear attack? Britain possesses only 215. And the vast majority of the world’s nations don’t possess any.

Given the terrible dangers and costs posed by nuclear weapons, isn’t it time to get back on the disarmament track?


January 19, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Karoo, South Africa, community unaware of hazards of uranium mining

text-Please-NotePeople should make their voices heard in the public consultations expected to take place over the course of the year 2016, before mining rights are granted.

To register as Interested and Affected Parties write to Ferret Mining at call 012 753 1284/5.

To stay informed, join the Facebook page Stop Uranium Mining in the Karoo.

dust from miningflag-S.AfricaUranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer  Just as the threat of fracking seemed to recede in the Karoo, the danger of uranium mining has arisen – and it is even more frightening and more likely than shale gas extraction.

The Karoo has long been known to harbour substantial sedimentary uranium deposits. Now an Australian company with Russian funding is planning to get the radioactive mineral out of the ground on a major scale.

The company has quietly accumulated over 750 000 hectares of Karoo properties and concessions around Beaufort West and plans to set up a large Central Processing Plant just outside that town.

While the nation is still debating the pros and cons of fracking, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as the precursor to mining licences is nearing finalisation. During 2016 the Department of Mineral Resources will make a decision on the industry’s application……….

extensive studies on the risks of uranium mining over many decades are available today.

We can draw on vast experiences on what huge impact the uranium mining industry has had in such diverse places as in Germany, USA, Australia or Niger. The death toll of a hugely dangerous industry is well known and firmly established.

Yet so far there is no public debateno strategic assessment process in place in the Karoo.

No advocacy groups balance the glossy claims of the industry against sobering experiences on the ground. While global energy prices are depressed, the deepening economic and political crisis makes South Africa less and less attractive to the huge investments necessary to establish an upstream gas industry. Continue reading

January 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa, Uranium | 3 Comments

France’s PM off to India to market nuclear reactors

Hollande-salesflag-indiaDefence & civil nuclear cooperation will dominate Francois Hollande’s visit Economic Times, By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | 18 Jan, 2016,  NEW DELHI: Defence and civil nuclear cooperation will not be the only things that will dominate the visit of Francois Hollande — the fifth French leader to be chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations — with India and Paris working to expand partnership in areas of smart cities, solar energy, counter-terrorism, rail infrastructure and space.

While Hollande travels to Chandigarh (designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier) as one of the 3 cities chosen by France to  make them smart, the French leader would devote time towards providing support to India’s clean energy projects in the backdrop of Paris climate energy meet by being present at the foundation stone-laying ceremony for the International Solar Alliance Secretariat on January 25 in Gurgaon along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official sources indicated. Modi had launched the solar initiative at the Paris meet last November.
The Modi government is investing an initial $30m in setting up the 120-country-solar alliance’s headquarters in India. The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies.

Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel. Areva is also setting up a nuclear power plant in Jaitapur, after France became the first country to conclude a civil nuclear deal with India following a clean waiver by Nuclear Suppliers Group in September 2008.

Modi’s trip to Paris last April witnessed landmark MoU for technocommercial cooperation between Areva and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, as well as a key pact between French nuclear giant and Larsen and Toubro for making components in this country for setting up six advanced reactors at Jaitapur. …….

January 19, 2016 Posted by | France, marketing | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste deals that fell flat, between Toshiba, USA and Mongolia

secret-dealsThe elephant in the room for Toshiba is nuclear

Japanese press outlets often cover scoops from competing outlets, but it’s rare to build on a competitor’s story with original reporting, especially when the scoop is a few years old. In December, the weekly magazine Aera, which is affiliated with the Asahi Shimbun, ran an article about a secret meeting that took place between representatives of Japan, Mongolia and the United States almost five years ago. This meeting was first reported by Haruyuki Aikawa in the May 9, 2011, issue of the Mainichi Shimbun.

What interested Aera reporter Atsushi Yamada about the article was Aikawa’s assertion that Toshiba Corp. was on hand for the negotiations. In 2006, Toshiba had bought a majority share in the American company Westinghouse, a manufacturer, like Toshiba, that started out in the home electronics field and eventually expanded into nuclear power plant construction. Japan said it would buy uranium mined in the central Asian country and in return Mongolia would tap Japan’s nuclear energy expertise in building power plants and, more significantly, nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities that would incorporate the acceptance of high-level nuclear waste from Japan and other countries.

Though the Mainichi story received little attention in Japan or the U.S., it was translated and disseminated in Mongolia, thus leading, only three months after the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, to citizen protests against the deal, which opponents said would turn their country into a “toilet” for the world’s nuclear waste. Later, the Mongolian government said it might be difficult for it to accept this waste.

Yamada read subsequent emails between Toshiba’s president at the time, Norio Sasaki, and an official of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, which said that negotiations with Mongolia should continue and that any further arrangements be made in a confidential manner. Toshiba’s public relations department confirmed the existence of the emails to Yamada but denied that Toshiba had asked the Mongolian government to receive outside nuclear waste. The negotiations, it said, had more to do with “building on the system of nuclear nonproliferation.”

Aikawa told Yamada that while ostensibly the negotiations were between the three governments, the plans for the deal were drawn up by the U.S. and Toshiba with the aim of selling nuclear power plants to emerging economies under a scheme called Comprehensive Fuel Service. According to this scheme, vendors assure potential customers that they will handle any future nuclear waste produced by power plants the customers buy, which is why Mongolia’s acceptance of such waste is so important. Due to local resistance, neither the U.S. nor Japan has anywhere to dump spent fuel, even their own.

The reason Yamada became so interested in this topic years after the fact is that in the meantime, Toshiba has been caught up in financial scandals that have brought the company to its knees, and he wanted to explore the connection between Toshiba’s nuclear energy business and its fiscal woes.

The connection itself is not a secret. Toshiba spent almost ¥600 billion to buy its share of Westinghouse, which at the time of the purchase was only worth about ¥250 billion. The extra “goodwill” money (norendai) was in anticipation of future revenues that would accrue as Toshiba expanded its nuclear energy business both in Japan and throughout the world with Westinghouse as its “trump card.” But then Fukushima happened, putting a serious damper on demand for plant construction.

The revenues Toshiba envisioned didn’t materialize, and the norendai became a huge liability it tried to hide through bookkeeping. Sasaki, his predecessor and his successor are all now being sued by Toshiba’s management for ordering improper accounting practices after Nikkei Business reported that Toshiba was violating Tokyo Stock Exchange regulations regarding the disclosure of a subsidiary’s losses.

However, at the end of December, the Financial Services Agency, in its investigation of the accounting scandal, did not find Toshiba to be at fault, but rather punished the auditing firm of Ernst & Young ShinNihon for “failure to detect” Toshiba’s improper accounting practices. In a follow-up article in the Jan. 11 issue of Aera, the reporter wondered if this arrangement didn’t smack of “conspiracy,” and an FSA representative told the magazine that the agency “suspected” as much but “could not find any evidence.” For the next three months, ShinNihon is suspended from signing any new business contracts and must pay a “surcharge” of ¥2.1 billion. Though that may sound severe, industry people told Aera that usually in such cases penalized companies are suspended from conducting business altogether.

So why didn’t the FSA accuse Toshiba of accounting fraud, especially given that it’s not uncommon for auditors to revise their findings so as not to inconvenience powerful clients? As Yamada points out, the agency didn’t even mention Westinghouse in its findings.

Perhaps the government still needs Toshiba, since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pegged Japanese growth at least partly to the export of nuclear technology. In November, the Asahi Shimbun interviewed the CEO of Westinghouse, who said his company had plans to build dozens of new reactors all over the world, “including Japan.” Abe is selling nuclear technology to Vietnam, Turkey and other countries, and in October he finalized a trade deal with Mongolia.

Ryoko Imaoka, an associate professor at Osaka University and longtime expert on Mongolia, has explained that the U.S., desperate to find a friendly country to accept nuclear waste, was pushing Japan to make a deal with Mongolia. Japan publicly downplays the nuclear part of the trade agreement and Japanese media have obliged, though Mitsubishi Corp. is already developing three new mines there. She says the country’s currently dormant uranium pits remain extremely radioactive and it’s not clear where any nuclear waste would be buried, but in any event there are Mongolians who are ready to sue to shut the whole thing down.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, Mongolia, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear hazards extend beyond a nation’s borders: Belgium a case in point

safety-symbol-Smflag-EUBelgium’s neighbors concerned about nuclear safety, DW 18 Jan 16  Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are all concerned about the re-starting of Belgian nuclear reactors. The government there promises better communication, but seems to feel little urgency to act.

One and a half hours by car – that’s how long it takes to drive from the site of Belgium’s nuclear reactors at Tihange to neighboring Luxembourg. One and a half hours, or 160 kilometers (100 miles), that’s not enough to put the mind of Luxembourg’s state secretary for infrastructure at ease. Which is why Camille Gira, together with parliamentarians and nuclear safety and health experts, came to Brussels on Monday, to meet Belgium’s interior minister, Jan Jambon, for an “exchange of views.”

“We had a couple of questions concerning the safety of Tihange 2,” spokesman Olaf Münichsdorfer told DW, “and we wanted to remind our Belgian counterparts that our citizens are also at risk should there be a nuclear accident there.”

Cracks prompted temporary shut-down

The Tihange 2 reactor had been shut down since March, 2014, following the discovery of tiny cracks in the reactor’s pressure vessel. But in November 2015, the Belgian nuclear authority saw “no obstacle” to restarting the reactor, which became operational again at the end of December 2015.

A recent study commissioned by the Green party group in the European parliament, on the other hand, said the steel used in the pressure vessels was of such poor quality that – had this been known at the time of licensing- the reactor would never have been allowed to start operations. “How is it then possible to license the continuation of the power plants now that we are aware of all these problems,” wondered the Greens EU parliament co-president Rebecca Harms……….

Aside from raising worries in Luxembourg, re-starting the Tihange 2 reactor has sparked great concern in neighboring Germany. With the city of Aachen a mere 70 kilometers from Tihange, some 100,000 citizens in the region had signed a petition initiated by anti-nuclear activists to stop the reactor from going on the grid again – to no avail. Aachen’s authorities are set to brief the public about the current situation, as well as about emergency plans, later this month………

For their part, citizens in neighboring Netherlands are also worried about another nuclear site called Doel. Same as at the Tihange 2 reactor, tiny cracks have also been found at the Doel 3 reactor’s pressure vessel, causing it to be taken off the grid until its restart shortly before the end of the year.

Only a short while later, the plant was closed again for a few days, after a water leak.

The Doel site is also home to Belgium’s oldest reactor, Doel 1, which had been shut down in February 2015, following its 40th anniversary. But the government then decided to extend the lives of Doel 1 and Doel 2 by another 10 years.

Widespread concern has prompted the Dutch minister for infrastructure, Melanie Schultz, to schedule a visit to Doel this Wednesday, together with Belgian Interior Minister Jambon, accompanied by inspectors from the Dutch nuclear authority……….

In Belgium itself, the scientific council of the nuclear authority – known by the initials of its Flemish name, ‘FANC’ – last Friday issued a report proposing to revise existing nuclear emergency plans.

potassium-iodate-pillsOne recommendation is to distribute iodine pills to the entire Belgian population. Current plans limit the distribution of such pills to people living within a 20-kilometer-radius of nuclear sites.

The scientific body also recommends extending the safety zone around nuclear sites. Then, people living within 20 instead of 10 kilometers from a nuclear site would have to remain in their homes for 24 hours, with doors and windows closed.Already in March, 2015, Belgium’s National Health Council (CSS) had recommended distributing at no cost iodine pills to people living within a radius of 100 kilometers of nuclear plants………

on the whole, the Belgian government seems rather unfazed by the security concerns raised by its neighbors.

According to Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace Belgium, that has to do with the fact that Belgium’s main utilities provider, Electrabel, still has a strong influence over politicians, especially in the country’s French speaking region of Wallonia – an influence dating back to the times when the state-owned utilities provider was the only player in the country’s energy market.

“This influence has declined over the past years, but it’s still there,” says Vande Putte. And, he adds, there is another interdependency to take into account: that between the nuclear authority and the nuclear sector………

January 19, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

Global warming is happening fast in the world’s oceans

climate-changeWorld’s oceans warming at increasingly faster rate, new study finds
Ocean water has absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide generated by human consumption of fossil fuels,
Guardian, , 19 Jan 16,  The world’s oceans are warming at a quickening rate, with the past 20 years accounting for half of the increase in ocean heat content that has occurred since pre-industrial times, a new study has found.

US scientists discovered that much of the extra heat in the ocean is buried deep underwater, with 35% of the additional warmth found at depths below 700 meters. This means far more heat is present in the far reaches of the ocean than 20 years ago, when it contained just 20% of the extra heat produced from the release of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution.

The paper, published in Nature Climate Change, sheds further light on the vast quantities of heat being absorbed by the world’s oceans.

Ocean water, which has a much higher heat capacity than air, has absorbed more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide generated by human consumption of fossil fuels. The vast Southern Ocean sucked up 1.2bn tonnes of carbon in 2011 alone – which is roughly equivalent to the European Union’s annual carbon output…….

As the oceans warm, storm intensity increases and aquatic species are forced from their traditional ranges. Absorption of carbon dioxide has also made the oceans 30% more acidic, which is when the pH of the water drops, making it harder for creatures such as coral, oysters and mussels to form the shells and structures that sustain them.

Scientists have already declared that a third global coral bleaching event is currently underway, where corals whiten and die off due to extreme heat. An analysis of more than 620 studies last year found that the food chains of the world’s oceans are at risk of collapse due to climate change, overfishing and localized pollution.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Political connections in South Africa’s uranium energy drive

text politicsUranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer “……..It is particularly interesting to see who the South African partners are in this joint venture. The Black Economic Empowerment partner in this case is Lukisa, which holds a total of 26% of Tasman RSA Mines, primarily in the form of exploration rights and nuclear licenses from the National Nuclear Regulator .

Perhaps more important are the excellent relations Lukisa has with Government and the ruling ANC.

Lukisa was founded by the controversial Andile Nkuhlu  then a leading member of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL). He belonged to the faction co-opted by the then mining magnate Brett Kebble, whose assisted suicide made headlines in 2005 after he swindled government out of billions of Rand in shady mining deals.

Andile Nkuhlu was then made chief director in the Department of State Enterprises until his career stumbled in a corruption scandal. He pre-empted his dismissal from the ANC by founding the opposition party Congress of the People (COPE).

When this flopped he was readmitted to the ANC and continued to influence provincial polices in the Eastern Cape. A few years ago he relinquished his position at LUKISA because of deteriorating health, until he succumbed to diabetes complications in December 2015.

Now the company is run by Tefo Maloisane, who is said to have a long history of excellent political connections………

January 19, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

NuScale revs up its marketing propaganda for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

nuclear-marketing-crapMini-nuclear plants in UK by 2025, Fluor’s NuScale Says by Alex Morales, Financial Review, 18 Jan 16  

UK ambitions to build small modular nuclear plants may be realised as soon as 2025, according to Fluor Corp’s NuScale unit, which is seeking to be a pioneer in the market.

emperor new clothesNuScale plans to submit its 50-megawatt reactor design for approval by US nuclear authorities towards the end of 2016. That would leave it well placed to seek the UK equivalent, called Generic Design Assessment, in 2017, Tom Mundy, executive vice-president for program development at the US company, said in an interview in London.

“Assuming the GDA is submitted and takes four years, we’d be looking at approval in 2021,” Mr Mundy said. “There’s then a 36- month construction time, so it’s plausible to expect that if all things line up, we could have a UK plant built by 2025.”

Britain is trying to secure new baseload power as it closes down all its coal-fired plants by 2025. Conventional nuclear power is proving expensive and time-consuming, while most companies don’t think it’s profitable to build new gas-fired stations. The Treasury in November said it will plow £250 million ($515 million) into research and development over the next five years aimed at building one of the world’s first small modular nuclear reactors in the 2020s………..

The global market for small modular reactors may total as much as £400 billion by 2035, according to a report in late 2014 by the National Nuclear Laboratory, which advises the UK government. It identified reactor designs that may meet UK requirements coming from NuScale, Toshiba.’s Westinghouse unit, China National Nuclear and the mPower venture by Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises. and Bechtel Group.

NuScale won’t manufacture its own reactors and has investigated the UK supply chain, according to Mr Mundy. Once established in Britain, the company could then export its modules to other European countries, he said………

When Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced the R&D funding for modular reactors, it  was stated that a competition for funding will be held “early next year”. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said no fixed timetable has been set. Mr Mundy said he doesn’t doubt the government’s intentions.

“Nuclear power has a long legacy in this country, and our reactors are based on tried-and-tested light-water technology,” Mr Mundy said. “I’m optimistic that with what the chancellor said and the indications from DECC we’re going to continue to move forward.”

January 19, 2016 Posted by | marketing, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Anything to make nuclear look good – Russia’s asteroid plan

Scientists plan nuclear strike to save earth  MARC BENNETTS THE TIMES JANUARY 18, 2016

Russian scientists have come up with plans to protect the planet from asteroids heading towards Earth by launching nuclear missiles.

Although the use of nuclear weapons in outer space is prohibited under a 1967 treaty, Russian scientists say that the ban would be lifted if the planet was in genuine danger. “If the asteroid threat becomes a matter of massive destruction or even the very existence of life on the planet, that ban would naturally be lifted,” they said.

The plan would not be to destroy the asteroid but to deflect it off course to a safe distance from Earth.

The strategy was formulated as part of the 2012-15 European Union-funded NEOShield project. Researchers from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said: “Work was distributed among participants from different countries and organisations, and work on deflecting dangerous space objects with nuclear explosions was conducted by Russia.”

NEOShield, which received most of its funding from the EU, brought together researchers from Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Russia and the US. A three-year follow-up programme, NEOShield-2, began last March.

Other proposals developed as part of the project include a “kinetic impactor”, deflecting asteroids by crashing small unmanned spacecraft into them.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | Russia, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation hazards in planned uranium mining in the Karoo, South Africa


dust from miningUranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer “…..According to its documents, Tasman RSA Mines today controls exclusive prospecting rights over more than 750 000 hectares in a circle of nearly 200 kilometres around Beaufort West.

About 32 000 hectares are directly owned under freehold by the company. Local farmers find it hard to resist purchase offers, as farming in this part of the Karoo is particularly difficult due to low rainfall and poor soils.

Unlike in fracking, farms are permanently damaged by uranium opencast mining………

So far the company has not indicated whether they would use in-situ-leaching’, a particularly dangerous but low-cost method. Here, large quantities of leaching agent are injected underground. The uranium is dissolved and recovered in well fields.

The uranium deposits are scattered over large zone of 200 by 300 kilometres which will necessitate trucking of ores over poorly constructed dust roads for hundreds of kilometres to reach the Central Processing Plant.

For this plant, the company has already applied for a water licence to abstract annually 700 million litres of groundwater annually, roughly half of the total water consumption of the Central Karoo Municipality.

It is still unclear what will happen with the contaminated waste water. A discharge of radioactive waste water into the aquatic environment, above or below ground, would be  illegal under South Africa’s strict Water Act.

Most probably contaminated slimes will be delivered to large settling ponds, like those around Johannesburg, from which the remaining water will evaporate. This leaves behind a soft and unstable pile of contaminated soil which can be easily mobilised by the strong prevailing winds in the Karoo into large dust dispersal.

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts

The devastating impacts of uranium mining on people, especially the mine workers, and the environment have been well research and documented. Several studies of large number of cases and with exposure over many years (Wismut AG in the former East Germany, theColorado-Plateau in the USA, and Saskatchewan in Canada, have established a particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.

Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction……..

January 19, 2016 Posted by | environment, South Africa, Uranium, water | Leave a comment