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No penalty for Entergy’s faked nuclear inspections

Entergy nuclear plant avoids violations for faked inspections, By Littice Bacon-Blood, | The Times-Picayune  April 08, 2016  Entergy‘s Waterford 3 nuclear plant on the west bank of St. Charles Parish has been given nine months to address shortcomings that let contractors falsify fire inspection records for almost a year. Company officials could face criminal prosecution and fines if they violate a new agreement that Entergy has reached with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


The commission said it won’t issue a violation notice or civil penalty for the faked inspections, in light of the “significant corrective actions” Entergy already has taken in addition and the targets that the commission has required the company to address in the coming months. “The NRC is satisfied that its concerns will be addressed by making Entergy’s commitments legally binding through a confirmatory order,” according to a commission letter dated Wednesday (April 6).

“Any person who willfully violates, attempts to violate or conspires to violate any provision of this confirmatory order shall be subject to criminal prosecution … Violation of this confirmatory order may also subject the person to civil monetary penalties.”

Nuclear plant contractors faked 10 months of inspection records

In disclosing the results of its investigation in December, the commission gave Entergy the opportunity of requesting a “pre-decisional enforcement conference” or an “alternative dispute resolution,” before the commission decided on enforcement penalties. Entergy chose alternative dispute resolution, and an agreement was reached in February. The confirmatory order contains the corrective actions that the company must take.

The 15-month investigation of the Waterford 3 plant at Taft indicated that seven contractors knowingly falsified the hourly fire inspection watch logs to indicate that inspections had taken place. The inspections were actually skipped and the records falsified between July 2013 and April 2014, according to the commission.

The hourly fire watch tours are required to assure that no fires break out in parts of the nuclear power plant building where sensitive equipment is located. These areas include wiring and piping that is used to operate the nuclear reactor during accidents or emergencies.

In addition, the investigation found that on Jan. 13, 2014, a contract manager “willfully failed” to provide complete and accurate information about the trustworthiness and reliability of a person applying for unescorted access to Waterford 3 as a fire watch inspector.

Entergy did not dispute those findings………


April 8, 2016 Posted by | safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 2 Comments

Self styled “Pro Nuclear Environmentalists (PNEs) are just not credible on Chernobyl radiation

radiation-warningEvidence of PNE ignorance abounds. For the most part, PNEs had a shaky understanding of the radiation/health debates (and other nuclear issues) before they joined the pro-nuclear club, and they have a shaky understanding now.

the WHO, IAEA and other UN agencies estimated 9,000 deaths in ex-Soviet states in their 2005/06 reports, and more recently UNSCEAR has adopted the position that the long-term death toll is uncertain.

Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll, Ecologist, Dr Jim Green 7th April 2016 “……….the self-styled pro-nuclear environmentalists (PNEs). We should note in passing that some PNE’s have genuine environmental credentials while others – such as Patrick Moore and Australian Ben Heard – are in the pay of the nuclear industry.

James Hansen and George Monbiot cite UNSCEAR to justify a Chernobyl death toll of 43, without noting that the UNSCEAR report did not attempt to calculate long-term deaths. James Lovelock asserts that “in fact, only 42 people died” from the Chernobyl disaster.

Patrick Moore, citing the UN Chernobyl Forum (which included UN agencies such as the IAEA, UNSCEAR, and WHO), states that Chernobyl resulted in 56 deaths. In fact, the Chernobyl Forum’s 2005 report (p.16) estimated up to 4,000 long-term cancer deaths among the higher-exposed Chernobyl populations, and a follow-up study by the World Health Organisation in 2006 estimated an additional 5,000 deaths among people exposed to lower doses in Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

Australian ‘ecomodernist‘ academic Barry Brook says the Chernobyl death toll is less than 60. Ben Heard, another Australian ‘ecomodernist’ (in fact a uranium and nuclear industry consultant), claims that the death toll was 43.

In 2010, Mark Lynas said the Chernobyl death toll “has likely been only around 65.” Two years earlier, Lynas said that the WHO estimates “a few thousand deaths” (actually 9,000 deaths) but downplays the death toll by saying it was “indiscernible” in the context of overall deaths. Yes, the Chernobyl death toll is indiscernible … and the 9/11 terrorist attacks accounted for an indiscernible 0.1% of all deaths in the US in 2001.

There doesn’t appear to be a single example of a PNE – or a comparable organisation – providing a credible account of the Chernobyl death toll. They’re perfectly entitled to follow UNSCEAR’s lead and argue that the long-term death toll is uncertain. But conflating or confusing that uncertainty with a long-term death toll of zero clearly isn’t a defensible approach.

The Breakthrough Institute comes closest to a credible account of the Chernobyl death toll (which isn’t saying much), stating that “UN officials say that the death toll could be as high as 4,000”. However the Breakthrough Institute ignores:

  • the follow-up UN/WHO study that estimated an additional 5,000 deaths in ex-Soviet states;
  • scientific estimates of the death toll beyond ex-Soviet states (more than half of the Chernobyl fallout was deposited beyond the three most contaminated Soviet states);
  • scientific literature regarding diseases other than cancer linked to radiation exposure;
  • and indirect deaths associated with the permanent relocation of over 350,000 people after the Chernobyl disaster.


Cherry-picking is abundantly evident in PNE accounts of the Chernobyl death toll. In a review of Robert Stone’s ‘Pandora’s Promise’ propaganda film, physicist Dr Ed Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists writes: Continue reading

April 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

“Dirty” nuclear bomb – the weapon of mass disruption

What does “nuclear terrorism” really mean? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Elisabeth Eaves, 7 Apr 16 “………….– we’re far more likely to see the second scenario—a dirty bomb attack—than a nuclear explosion in the near future.

So what will that look like? Nothing like the aftermath of a nuclear weapon attack. As the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission explains, “A dirty bomb is in no way similar to a nuclear weapon.” The latter relies on fission or fusion to create an explosion millions of times more powerful than the former. A nuclear bomb could spread radiation over hundreds of square miles, whereas a dirty bomb could only do so over a few square miles. Dirty bombs have more in common with nuclear medicine than nuclear war.

dirty bomb

A dirty bomb wouldn’t immediately kill any more people than an ordinary explosive. It is a weapon ideally suited to terrorism, though, part of the very purpose of which is to sow fear. In fact, in the perverse psychology of terrorism, a mere claim that a bomb had spread radioactive material would have some of the same effect as a bomb that actually did so.

That said, getting hold of the sort radioactive material needed to make a dirty bomb isn’t difficult; it has occasionally even been stolen by accident. Literally thousands of sites, in more than 100 countries, contain the kind of sources required, which have many uses in agriculture, industry, and medicine. Radioactive isotopes are commonly used, for example, to irradiate blood before transfusions and treat cancer tumors…………

Once the public knew the bomb was radioactive, it would be hard to stop fear and chaos from escalating. Authorities would have to decide whether to let people flee, which could reduce their radiation exposure and begin an evacuation, but might also spread radiation through the city and let perpetrators escape.

So many variables would be involved in a possible dirty bomb attack that it’s hard to definitively predict an outcome. The IAEA divides radioactive materials into five categories, from Category 1, which is so harmful that exposure for only a few minutes to an unshielded source may be fatal, to Category 5, which poses a relatively low hazard. But Category 5 materials—such as the americium-241 found in lightning detectors or the strontium-90 used in brachytherapy cancer treatment—are more readily available, and if enough are brought together in one place, they can add up to a harmful dose. An early task for first responders would be to figure out what kind of radioactive material was used.

Then there’s fear of the big C. Radioactive isotopes are associated with an increase in various cancers, but by how much and over what time period isn’t perfectly known. A great deal depends on the concentration to which a person was exposed. Much ofwhat scientists have learned about radiation-caused cancer comes from studying the aftereffects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Various cities and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have produced studies and briefings on how to respond to a dirty bomb attack, and many of these focus on the costs of evacuation and decontamination. “A radioactive dirty bomb would not cause catastrophic levels of death and injury,” the Nuclear Threat Initiative report says, “but depending on its chemistry, form, and location, it could leave billions of dollars of damage due to the costs of evacuation, relocation, and cleanup … Buildings could have to be demolished and the debris removed. Access to a contaminated area could be denied for years as a site is cleaned up well enough to meet even minimum environmental guidelines for protecting the public.” Businesses would close, shipping would halt, wages would be lost. This kind of upheaval has earned dirty bombs the moniker “weapons of mass disruption.”………

April 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France is dangerously ill-prepared to deal with a nuclear accident – report

France is ‘not prepared for a nuclear accident’, report says  exclamation-, according to a worrying new report, that the Swiss and Germans will want to read with interest.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by France’s ANCCLI commission that reports on the state of the country’s nuclear facilities.

“France is not ready to face a serious nuclear accident,” warned the commission’s president Jean-Claude Delalonde. “Even though a national response plan was made public in February 2014, nothing has been put in place,” he said.

The report comes after both Switzerland and Germany have expressed concerns about the safety of some of France’s 19 nuclear power stations, with authorities in Geneva even launching legal action.

According to Delalonde’s association the French government has not learned the lessons from previous disasters like Chernobyl that was presented as a “Soviet” accident.

The Fukushima disaster in Japan prompted the French to improve certain safety measures around nuclear reactors but ANCCLI want more.

They want the “emergency zone” around nuclear power stations, where measures are put in place in the event of accident, extended from the current 10km radius to 80 km.

The fact this hasn’t been done already creates a dangerous situation for Europe, the report says.

For example France distributes iodine tablets, which protect against the potentially cancer-causing effects of radioactivity, to those living within the 10km radius of a nuclear reactor, but in Belgium the same measure is taken within a 20km radius.

After Fukushima, the radius was extended to between 20km and 50km in Switzerland. The entire state of Luxembourg is part of an emergency zone even though there are no nuclear power stations on its territory. It’s due to the fact the Cattenom reactor in France is close to the border.

The duchy has previously forwarded to the European Commission a study commissioned by Germany’s Greens party, which according to Luxembourg “listed the Cattenom plant’s security problems”.

ANCCLI wants French authorities to work out a plan and carryout “digital simulations” for how Iodine tablets would be distributed to the whole of France before a radioactive cloud passes and also how the population would be evacuated in the event of a disaster.

The extent of the problems France would face in the event of a disaster are made clear by the fact more than 1.25 million people live within 30km of the Bugey power plant near Switzerland and over one million live around the Fessenheim power station – the oldest in the country.

Delalonde points out that India’s contingency plans are far more developed than they are in France.

“They anticipate the amount of food that will be needed, the number of emergency beds needed, blankets and even how many saris would be needed,” he said.”This power plant is very old, too old to still be in operation,” said a spokesman for Germany’s Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Barbara Hendricks.

Meanwhile, the Swiss canton of Geneva on Wednesday filed a complaint against French nuclear plant Bugey located in the neighbouring French region of Ain, claiming that it “deliberately puts in danger the life of others and pollutes the waters”.


April 8, 2016 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

A future of litigation doesn’t augur well for Japan’s nuclear industry

judge-1flag-japanJapan’s nuclear restart stymied by courts Reactors switched on and off in campaign of litigation launched by activists APRIL 6, 2016 by: Robin Harding in Tokyo

A welter of conflicting legal decisions has left Japan’s nuclear reactors in a state of limbo as national energy strategy clashes with the courts.

The reactors are being turned on and off like light switches as activists file lawsuits, highlighting the tension between safety fears and energy supply, and raising questions about the role of courts in nuclear regulation………The Takahama shutdown was a particular blow to the industry because a court in the district that hosts the reactor had lifted its injunction against the plant. That showed how plaintiffs can try different judges, given the wide areas potentially affected by an accident.

The stop-start court decisions are a huge frustration to government policymakers, who last year set a goal of restoring nuclear power to 20-22 per cent of Japan’s energy mix……..

to Hiroyuki Kawai, one of the leading legal campaigners against Japan’s reactors, independence from nuclear experts and national energy strategy is the whole point of the courts.

“We tried leaving everything to the experts and what we got is Fukushima,” he says, arguing that one way or another, Japan’s nuclear experts are tied to the industry.

“The courts don’t consider energy strategy, they just consider whether a reactor should start or stop,” Mr Kawai says. “Thinking too much about energy strategy and government policy is what leads courts to error.”

Kenichi Ido, a former judge who issued an injunction against a nuclear power station in 2006 — well before the Fukushima disaster — said it was not surprising Japan’s courts kept coming to different opinions given the widely different views in society………That leaves Japan’s reactors facing a future of constant litigation — and Mr Kawai is revelling in it. “We’ll aim to get injunctions against any reactor that tries to restart,” he says.

With the Sendai plant operating, he recognises his alliance of lawyers may not stop them all. But, he promises: “There’s no chance of all Japan’s reactors starting up again.”

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear competition between India and Pakistan is now a global threat

Nuclear Winter on a Planetary Scale: The Biggest Threat to Mankind Virtually No One Is Talking About, ALTERNET, By Dilip Hiro / TomDispatch April 8, 2016  A war between India and Pakistan could produce human suffering the likes of which the world has never seen before…….


Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.

When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.

In the nuclear standoff between the two neighbors, the stakes are constantly rising as Aizaz Chaudhry, the highest bureaucrat in Pakistan’s foreign ministry, recently made clear. The deployment of tactical nukes, he explained, was meant to act as a form of “deterrence,” given India’s “Cold Start” military doctrine — a reputed contingency plan aimed at punishing Pakistan in a major way for any unacceptable provocations like a mass-casualty terrorist strike against India.

New Delhi refuses to acknowledge the existence of Cold Start. Its denials are hollow. As early as 2004, it was discussing this doctrine, which involved the formation of eight division-size Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).  These were to consist of infantry, artillery, armor, and air support, and each would be able to operate independently on the battlefield. In the case of major terrorist attacks by any Pakistan-based group, these IBGs would evidently respond by rapidly penetrating Pakistani territory at unexpected points along the border and advancing no more than 30 miles inland, disrupting military command and control networks while endeavoring to stay away from locations likely to trigger nuclear retaliation. In other words, India has long been planning to respond to major terror attacks with a swift and devastating conventional military action that would inflict only limited damage and so — in a best-case scenario — deny Pakistan justification for a nuclear response.

Islamabad, in turn, has been planning ways to deter the Indians from implementing a Cold-Start-style blitzkrieg on their territory. After much internal debate, its top officials opted for tactical nukes. In 2011, the Pakistanis tested one successfully. Since then, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, the New Delhi-based co-author of Nuclear South Asia: Keywords and Concepts, Pakistan seems to have been assembling four to five of these annually.

All of this has been happening in the context of populations that view each other unfavorably. ……….

India’s Two Secret Nuclear Sites

On the nuclear front in India, there was more to come. Last December, an investigation by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity revealed that the Indian government was investing $100 million to build a top secret nuclear city spread over 13 square miles near the village of Challakere, 160 miles north of the southern city of Mysore. When completed, possibly as early as 2017, it will be “the subcontinent’s largest military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, atomic-research laboratories, and weapons- and aircraft-testing facilities.” Among the project’s aims is to expand the government’s nuclear research, to produce fuel for the country’s nuclear reactors, and to help power its expanding fleet of nuclear submarines. It will be protected by a ring of garrisons, making the site a virtual military facility.

Another secret project, the Indian Rare Materials Plant, near Mysore is already in operation. It is a new nuclear enrichment complex that is feeding the country’s nuclear weapons programs, while laying the foundation for an ambitious project to create an arsenal of hydrogen (thermonuclear) bombs.

The overarching aim of these projects is to give India an extra stockpile of enriched uranium fuel that could be used in such future bombs. As a military site, the project at Challakere will not be open to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency or by Washington, since India’s 2008 nuclear agreement with the U.S. excludes access to military-related facilities. These enterprises are directed by the office of the prime minister, who is charged with overseeing all atomic energy projects. India’s Atomic Energy Act and its Official Secrets Act place everything connected to the country’s nuclear program under wraps. In the past, those who tried to obtain a fuller picture of the Indian arsenal and the facilities that feed it have been bludgeoned to silence.

Little wonder then that a senior White House official was recently quoted as saying, “Even for us, details of the Indian program are always sketchy and hard facts thin on the ground.” He added, “Mysore is being constantly monitored, and we are constantly monitoring progress in Challakere.” However, according to Gary Samore, a former Obama administration coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, “India intends to build thermonuclear weapons as part of its strategic deterrent against China. It is unclear, when India will realize this goal of a larger and more powerful arsenal, but they will.”

Once manufactured, there is nothing to stop India from deploying such weapons against Pakistan. “India is now developing very big bombs, hydrogen bombs that are city-busters,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani nuclear and national security analyst. “It is not interested in… nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield; it is developing nuclear weapons for eliminating population centers.”

In other words, as the Kashmir dispute continues to fester, inducing periodic terrorist attacks on India and fueling the competition between New Delhi and Islamabad to outpace each other in the variety and size of their nuclear arsenals, the peril to South Asia in particular and the world at large only grows.

 Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, has written 34 books, including After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World. His latest book is A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | India, Pakistan, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cloud study shows that global warming danger even more extreme

global-warming1Global warming may be far worse than thought, cloud analysis suggests, Guardian, , 8 Apr 16 
Researchers find clouds contain more liquid – as opposed to ice – than was previously believed, threatening greater increase in temperatures. 
Climate change projections have vastly underestimated the role that clouds play, meaning future warming could be far worse than is currently projected, according to new research.

Researchers said that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere compared with pre-industrial times could result in a global temperature increase of up to 5.3C – far warmer than the 4.6C older models predict.

The analysis of satellite data, led by Yale University, found that clouds have much more liquid in them, rather than ice, than has been assumed until now. Clouds with ice crystals reflect more solar light than those with liquid in them, stopping it reaching and heating the Earth’s surface.

The underestimation of the current level of liquid droplets in clouds means that models showing future warming are misguided, says the paper, published in Science. It also found that fewer clouds will change to a heat-reflecting state in the future – due to CO2 increases – than previously thought, meaning that warming estimates will have to be raised.

Such higher levels of warming would make it much more difficult for countries to keep the global temperature rise to below 2C, as they agreed to do at the landmark Paris climate summit last year, to avoid dangerous extreme weather and negative effects on food security. The world has already warmed by 1C since the advent of heavy industry, driven by CO2 concentrations soaring by more than 40%…….

April 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Pro Nuclear Environmentalists trivialise Chernobyl with lies about psychological trauma

Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll, Ecologist, Dr Jim Green 7th April 2016“……..Psychological trauma

liar-nuclear1Finally, PNEs [Pro Nuclear Environmentalists] also trivialise Chernobyl by peddling the furphy that the psychological trauma was greater than the biological effects from radiation exposure. There’s no dispute that, as the WHO states, the relocation of more than 350,000 people in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster “proved a deeply traumatic experience because of disruption to social networks and having no possibility to return to their homes.”

How to compare that psychological trauma to estimates of the death toll, such as the UN/WHO estimate of 9,000 cancer deaths in ex-Soviet states? Your guess is as good as mine.

Perhaps the biological damage and psychological trauma can be compared and ranked if we consider the second of the two defensible positions regarding the long-term death toll – UNSCEAR’s position that the death toll is uncertain. Does the psychological trauma outweigh the 50 or so known deaths, around 6,000 non-fatal thyroid cancers (withanother 16,000 to come), and an uncertain long-term death toll?

The argument only begins to make sense if you accept the third of the two defensible positions regarding the death toll – the view that there were no deaths other than emergency workers and a small number of deaths from thyroid cancers. Thus Mark Lynasasserts that “as Chernobyl showed, fear of radiation is a far greater risk than radiation itself in the low doses experienced by the affected populations” and he goes on to blame anti-nuclear campaigners for contributing to the fear.

But the trauma isn’t simply a result of a fear of radiation – it arises from a myriad of factors, particularly for the 350,000 displaced people. Nor is the fear of radiation necessarily misplaced given that the mainstream scientific view is that there is no threshold below which radiation exposure is risk-free.

Most importantly, why on earth would anyone want to rank the biological damage and the psychological trauma from the Chernobyl disaster? Chernobyl resulted in both biological damage and psychological trauma, in spades.

Psychological insult has been added to biological injury. One doesn’t negate the other.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter, where a version of this article was originally published. Nuclear Monitor, published 20 times a year, has been publishing deeply researched, often critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!


April 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Russi, france, USA, all vying to market nuclear reactors to China

Rosatom hopes to plug into nuclear industry By Lyu Chang (China Daily) 2016-04-08  Rosatom, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corp, is seeking to hit big in China’s nuclear industry with the opening of a regional center headquartered in Beijing on Thursday,according to a senior official of the company.

“We are looking to expand our business in China, a market with huge potential for growth inthe nuclear industry, and the activities of regional center are designed to help strengthen ourcooperation with the country,” said Alexander Merten, president of Rosatom InternationalNetwork……..


China’s nuclear industry is on the fast track to become one of the world’s largest, with plans tohave completed 58 gigawatts of installed capacity with another 30 gW under construction bythe end of 2020.

But Rosatom will face fierce competition from companies such as the US WestinghouseElectric and France’s nuclear giant Areva with rival third-generation nuclear designs such asAP1000 and EPR1000, both of which aim to expand its presence in the Chinese market…….

April 8, 2016 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

France suggests UK’s Hinkley Point nuclear project could still be postponed

text Hinkley cancelledflag-franceHinkley Point nuclear project could still be postponed

Delaying £18bn development is ‘up for discussion’, says France’s Segolene Royal  Plans to build the world’s most expensive nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, near Somerset, could hit further delays, a French government official has hinted. Speaking during a radio interview this week, ecology minister Segolene Royal was asked whether the £18bn project, which is two-thirds funded by French state-backed energy giant EDF, would be postponed. She responded by stating simply that it is “still under discussion”, says The Guardian.

“There’s an agreement between France and Britain so things should go ahead. But the trade unions are right to ask for the stakes to be re-examined,” Royal said.

In particular, there should be “further proof” that the venture would not affect investment in renewable energy, she added.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that a group of senior engineers at EDF had circulated a white paper among executives calling for a delay of at least two years to overcome deficiencies in design and the “very low” competency of fellow state-owned reactor supplier, Areva. Board member and employee director Christian Taxil has also publicly called for the plans to be postponed.

Supporters for the deal include the British government, which has staked its reputation on Hinkley Point as the core part of its carbon-light energy strategy for future decades, and French economy minister Emmanuel Macron, who has said it will almost certainly get approval at an EDF investor meeting next month.

The incentives for the company are long-term and come in the form of an energy price guarantee that is almost three times current wholesale prices. A new agreement also offers £20bn protection against a future UK government pulling the plug.

The FT reports that 100 EDF engineers also responded to their colleagues concerns by issuing an open letter stating that the company can “build and deliver the two Hinkley Point reactors on time”.

 EDF’s relationship with Areva is indirectly one of the main reasons for the high profile divisions over Hinkley Point. EDF is being compelled to invest tens of billions of euros to bail out its partner and upgrade France’s nuclear power fleet but is already labouring under its own €37bn (£26bn) debt pile.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | France, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Coal and nuclear – the ugliest twins of global warming and environmental damage theme for April 2016


The nuclear industry proudly touts itself as the solution to climate change. But nothing could be further from the truth.  The full nuclear fuel chain emits large amounts of Co2 and other greenhouse emissions. In the coming decades, indirect carbon dioxide emissions from nuclear power plants will increase considerably, because high-grade resources of uranium are exhausted and much more fossil energy will have to be used to mine uranium. In view of this trend, nuclear power plants will no longer have an emissions advantage over modern gas-fired power plants, let alone in comparison to the advantages offered by increased energy efficiency or greater use of renewable energies.

Even when they pretend that nuclear power would cut emissions, the industry itself is well aware that the thousands of reactors needed to have any real impact could not be up and running for many decades – way too late for combatting the global warming process.

That situation suits the fossil fuel industries perfectly. Coal can keep on being mined – “in the meantime”, and nuclear power can take over many decades later, when the coal runs out.

Fossil fuel and nuclear industries are large centralised operations. The much touted Small Modular Nuclear Reactors are supposed to be “decentralised”, but in fact are produced in, and totally dependent on, the same centralised grandiose way as the “conventional” big reactors.

The nuclear industry is very comfortable indeed, with the continuance of dirty fossil fuel industries, aiming for a smooth transition later on, when it can get its dirty industry up and running – meanwhile posing as the world’s saviour from climate chnage.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes | 2 Comments

Fishermen suing Japanese govt over radiation from 1950s atomic tests

Bikini-Atoll-bombJapanese fishermen to sue over fallout from Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1950s   Julian Ryall 8 APRIL 2016

Agroup of fishermen is to sue the Japanese government for failing to release records detailing their exposure to radiation from US nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s.

Some 20 people, including relatives of fishermen who have since died, are to file their case with the Kochi District Court in May, each demanding Y2 million (£13,088) in compensation.

The men have been particularly angered by the actions of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which in September 2014 admitted it had data on the radioactive fallout that around 500 fishing vessels and their crews were exposed to in the Castle Bravo nuclear tests.

The ministry had previously claimed the documents no longer existed, the Asahi newspaper reported.

The first of the Castle Bravo tests, on March 1, 1954, was three times more powerful than scientists had initially predicted, producing a fireball around 4.5 miles across within a second.

The mushroom cloud reached a height of nearly 9 miles in around one minute and eventually climbed to an altitude of 25 miles. The blast was estimated to be 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As well as producing a larger blast, strong winds took the fallout far greater distances than the scientists had expected.

The Daigo Fukuryu Maru was approximately 800 miles east of Bikini Atoll, one of the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific, and more than 80 miles outside the US government’s 92,000 square mile exclusion zone around the island, when the first bomb was detonated.

Fallout began to coat the tuna fishing boat – and its 23 crew – about two hours later. Unaware of the danger, they scooped the radioactive ash off the deck with their bare hands, while one of the fishermen, Matashichi Oishi, said he licked the dust, reporting that it was gritty but had no taste.

By the time the ship docked in Japan two weeks later, the men were suffering from nausea, headaches, burns, pain in their eyes and bleeding from their gums and were diagnosed with acute radiation poisoning.

In September, 40-year-old Aikichi Kuboyama died as a result of his exposure. In 1955, the US paid Japan $2 million in “consolation money” and concluded the issue at the political level. The Japanese government paid each of the crew of the Lucky Dragon Y2 million (£13,088 at present day exchange rates), but provided nothing to fishermen aboard other ships.

The health ministry in Tokyo maintains that crew members of 10 ships were exposed to radiation, but it insists that their doses “did not reach levels that could damage their health”.

Tests conducted on enamel on the teeth of the fishermen by a professor at Okayama University of Science revealed radiation measuring up to 414 millisieverts, equivalent to people standing about 1 mile from the hypocenter of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Under Japanese law, anyone who was within 2.2 miles of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bomb detonation points is eligible for medical allowances for a range of illnesses, including cancer.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Estimating the Chernobyl death toll from radiation – rubbishy opinions from “Pro Nuclear Environmentalists”

Chernobyl 1986Radiation harm deniers? Pro-nuclear environmentalists and the Chernobyl death toll Jim Green, The Ecologist, 7 April 2016,  With few if any exceptions, self-styled pro-nuclear environmentalists peddle flapdoodle and tommyrot regarding the Chernobyl death toll.

 Before considering their misinformation, a brief summary of credible positions and scientific studies regarding the Chernobyl cancer death toll (for detail see this earlier article in The Ecologist).

 Epidemiological studies are of course important but they’re of limited use in estimating the overall Chernobyl death toll. The effects of Chernobyl, however large or small, are largely lost in the statistical noise of widespread cancer incidence and mortality.

The most up-to-date scientific review is the TORCH-2016 report written by radiation biologist Dr Ian Fairlie. Dr Fairlie sifts through a vast number of scientific papers and points to studies indicative of Chernobyl impacts: an increased incidence of radiogenic thyroid cancers in Austria; an increased incidence of leukemia among sub-populations in ex-Soviet states (and possibly other countries ‒ more research needs to be done); increases in solid cancers, leukemia and thyroid cancer among clean-up workers; increased rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke that might be connected to Chernobyl (more research needs to be done); a large study revealing statistically significant increases in nervous system birth defects in highly contaminated areas in Russia, similar to the elevated rates observed in contaminated areas in Ukraine; and more.

Without for a moment dismissing the importance of the epidemiological record, let alone the importance of further research, suffice it here to note that there is no way that one could even begin to estimate the total Chernobyl death toll from the existing body of studies.

 Estimates of collective radiation exposure are available ‒ for example the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates a total collective dose of 600,000 person-Sieverts over 50 years from Chernobyl fallout. And the collective radiation dose can be used to estimate the death toll using the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model.

 If we use the IAEA’s collective radiation dose estimate, and a risk estimate derived from LNT (0.1 cancer deaths per person-Sievert), we get an estimate of 60,000 cancer deaths. Sometimes a risk estimate of 0.05 is used to account for the possibility of decreased risks at low doses and/or low dose rates ‒ in other words, 0.05 is the risk estimate when applying a ‘dose and dose rate effectiveness factor’ or DDREF of two. That gives an estimate of 30,000 deaths.

 Any number of studies (including studies published in peer-reviewed scientific literature) use LNT ‒ or LNT with a DDREF ‒ to estimate the Chernobyl death toll. These studies produce estimates ranging from 9,000 cancer deaths (in the most contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union) to 93,000 cancer deaths (across Europe).

 Those are the credible estimates of the cancer death toll from Chernobyl. None of them are conclusive ‒ far from it ‒ but that’s the nature of the problem we’re dealing with. Moreover, LNT may underestimate risks. The 2006 report of the US National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation (BEIR) states: “The committee recognizes that its risk estimates become more uncertain when applied to very low doses. Departures from a linear model at low doses, however, could either increase or decrease the risk per unit dose.”

 So the true Chernobyl cancer death toll could be lower or higher than the LNT-derived estimate of 60,000 deaths ‒ a point that needs emphasis and constant repetition since the nuclear industry and its supporters frequently conflate an uncertain long-term death toll with a long-term death toll of zero.

 Another defensible position is that the long-term Chernobyl cancer death toll is unknown and unknowable because of the uncertainties associated with the science. The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) states (p.64):

“The Committee has decided not to use models to project absolute numbers of effects in populations exposed to low radiation doses from the Chernobyl accident, because of unacceptable uncertainties in the predictions. It should be stressed that the approach outlined in no way contradicts the application of the LNT model for the purposes of radiation protection, where a cautious approach is conventionally and consciously applied.”

 Pro-nuclear environmentalists

 So there are two defensible positions regarding the Chernobyl cancer death toll ‒ estimates based on collective dose estimates (with or without a DDREF or a margin of error in either direction), and UNSCEAR’s position that the death toll is uncertain.

 A third position ‒ unqualified claims that the Chernobyl death toll was just 50 or so, comprising some emergency responders and a small percentage of those who later suffered from thyroid cancer ‒ should be rejected as dishonest or uninformed spin from the nuclear industry and some of its scientifically-illiterate supporters……

April 8, 2016 Posted by | radiation, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

More news about the Panama corruption papers

Panama Papers Q&A: What is the scandal about?

April 6, 2016. A huge leak of documents has lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. The files were leaked from one of the world’s most secretive companies, a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.


Panama Papers: Here’s who has been caught in the fallout of the Mossack Fonseca leak

Updated April 6, 2016. The unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed some of the hidden financial dealings of the world’s rich and powerful.

Here’s a look at some of the more high-profile people feeling the heat after the scandal broke.

(And see item ‘Panama Papers: Australian pair linked to companies striking mining deals with North Korea’ listed above in the Nuclear/Uranium section of this digest.)


Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca founder protests innocence, says company was ‘hacked’

The Panamanian lawyer at the centre of a data leak scandal that has embarrassed a clutch of world leaders says his firm is a victim of a hack from outside the company, and has filed a complaint with state prosecutors.


Obama calls for international tax reform amid Panama Papers revelations

April 6, 2016. Unscripted remarks come as Justice Department confirms it is examining US links to leaked documents from Panama-based tax firm Mossack Fonseca


The Panama Papers couldn’t come at a worse time for the Coalition

The avoidance of tax by corporate executives and the very rich is the last thing the Turnbull Government needs as it prepares for a federal budget that is likely to be anchored by a cut in the company tax rate, writes Peter Lewis.


Panama shell games

Tuesday 5 April 2016. Over 11 million tax and financial records have been leaked from a Panamanian based law firm. What’s in the records reveals how global elites evade taxes and use shell companies to launder money.

Politicians and financial regulators are scrambling to provide answers on how to slow down the criminal exploitation of national tax systems.

Guest: Jason Sharman, Professor and Director, Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Griffith University.


The Guardian view on the Panama Papers: secret riches and public rage

April 5, 2016. Resentment of a financial elite has been simmering for years. Now the biggest-ever leak moves the focus to politicians. Tackling tax avoidance is the only way to restore trust

France to put Panama back on list of tax havens: finance minister

April 5, 2016. Paris (AFP) – France will put Panama back on its list of countries that do not cooperate in efforts to track down tax dodgers, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Tuesday in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations.

“France has decided to put Panama back on the list of uncooperative countries, with all the consequences that will have for those who have transactions” with the central American state, Sapin told parliament.


Iceland’s leader resigns, first casualty of Panama Papers

Apr 5, 2016. Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned on Tuesday, becoming the first casualty of leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm which have shone a spotlight on the offshore wealth of politicians and public figures worldwide.

(Note links provided to related Reuters coverage.)


Panama papers: China censors online discussion

4 April 2016. China appears to be censoring social media posts on the Panama Papers document leak which has named several members of China’s elite, including President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law.

(Note links provided to related BBC coverage.)

April 8, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Fennovoima not permitted to store its radioactive trash at Onkalo disposal site

radioactive trashflag-FinlandFennovoima still looking for final nuclear waste disposal site 7 Apr 16 

The nuclear waste management company Posiva has remained steadfast in its refusal to allow waste from the planned Fennovoima nuclear power plant to be stored in its Onkalo disposal site in south-western Finland. The company had indicated that it would not accommodate Fennovoima’s nuclear waste even before the Pyhäjoki project got off the ground.

Nuclear waste management company Posiva said that it has not changed its mind about allowing spent fuel from the Fennovoima nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki to be stored in its Onkalo waste facility being built further south on the west coast.

Posiva has said that the subterranean cave is reserved for use only by joint owners Teollisuuden Voima, TVO, which operates a series of reactors at the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki, western Finland, and energy giant Fortum, which operates its own nuclear power facilities in Loviisa, southern Finland. The latter also has a six-percent stake in the controversial Fennovoima project.

Posiva chief executive Janne Mokka said that the spent nuclear fuel depository and its surrounding areas have been reserved only for waste generated by TVO and Fortum.

Fennovoima has expressed the hope that possible waste from its Pyhäjoki nuclear facility could be accommodated in the Posiva cave.

However Posiva CEO Mokka said that the firm had so far mainly discussed how it could pass on the expertise earned from the Posiva deep geological depository to the Pyhäjoki project.

Disposal plan to be filed with ministry officials

Posiva began working on the depository in 2004, but only received a final green light for the project in November last year. It is to begin operations sometime in the early 2020s.

Fennovoima is currently planning a final waste disposal plan that is due to be lodged with the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in a few months.

However if the company cannot reach an agreement with Posiva, it will have to present ministry officials with an environmental impact assessment as part of alternative disposal plan.

Steadfast refusal from Posiva

Fennovoima has remained tight-lipped about possible cooperation with Posiva, but would only say that the matter is being discussed. A Fennovoima spokesperson said that the company is currently preparing a report into a waste disposal facility with the help of internal consultants.

Back in 2012, Posiva had already indicated that it would not accept waste from any other nuclear facility apart from that produced by its owners, TVO and Fortum. The Eurajoki subterranean disposal site is the world’s first permanent deep storage facility.

Spent fuel from the Fortum and TVO plants will have to be stored for 40-60 years before it cools enough to be stored underground. As the oldest Finnish reactors have been in operation since the late 1970s, some of their waste will soon be old enough for encapsulation.

40-year, €3.3bn project

The facility, which has been planned since 1983, is intended to keep the waste safe for some 100,000 years. The companies have estimated the price tag for the entire project at 3.3 billion euros.

Posiva’s initial refusal to host the waste from the Fennovoima project came just as Finland’s Supreme Administrative Court overturned appeals to block the project’s progress.

The motions were filed by one private individual and a number of environmental protection organisations seeking to block construction at two sites under consideration, one at Simo and the other at Pyhäjoki, both in the northwest.

The project has otherwise been beset by setbacks and controversy, but infrastructure work began in September last year.

Under Finnish law, all waste from nuclear facilities must be permanently stored in Finland.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Finland, wastes | 1 Comment