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The Slow Bleed: Fukushima Five Years On

Fukushima, Reactors 3 and 4.jpg

Fukushima, Reactors 3 and 4

By Vincent Di Stefano

The meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of 11th March 2011 seems to have quietly slipped out of our collective awareness – as quietly as the cauldrons of radioactive elements that were once within the active cores of the reactors invisibly bleed into the groundwaters and seawaters of the region. This event has become yet another minor detail in the distorted mosaic of ruin that mirrors the latter days of a civilisation in free-fall.

Arnie Gundersen is looking a little weathered these days. He has just returned from a five-week long speaking tour of Japan. He spent much of that time in the company of many whose lives have been indelibly seared by the Fukushima catastrophe. What he reports is unlikely to appear in the mainstream media, but such has ever been the case when it comes to the hidden machinations of big government and big business.

What Gundersen has to say is worth closely attending to. As a nuclear engineer, he has been deeply involved in the American nuclear industry for over four decades. He has a special interest in the design and safety of containment structures and holds a patent for a nuclear safety device. He has also managed and coordinated nuclear projects at 70 nuclear power plants in the US and is a former nuclear industry senior vice-president. He knows the industry well, particularly its toxic underbelly.

Arnie Gundersen served as an expert witness in the investigation of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, and found that releases of radioactivity from that particular event were 15 times higher than the figures published subsequently in a government report. He is no stranger to the prevarication and deceit that have too often accompanied statements made by the nuclear industry and its government supporters.

Gundersen has been an active critic of the nuclear industry for over two decades. More recently, he has co-authored a Greenpeace International report on Fukushima. He was among the first North American commentators to speak publicly and forcefully on the implications of Fukushima in the days and weeks after the meltdowns. And since that time, he has been tireless in his efforts to provide an informed narrative of developments at Fukushima and their consequences for both the inhabitants of Japan and on the global community.

Arnie Gunderson reports that the Japanese Government continues to put the interests of Japanese banks and power companies ahead of the safety of its people. Within a short time of the Fukushima meltdowns in 2011, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) who were in power at that time arbitrarily raised the “acceptable” limits of radiation exposure twenty-fold: from 1 millisievert (mSv)/year – the maximum dose recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection – to 20 mSv/year. In 1998, over a decade beforehand, Rosalie Bertell presented the findings of a number of independent studies published in peer-reviewed journals, including the British Medical Journal and the Journal of the American Medical Association that showed unequivocally that radiation doses as low as 2.5 mSv/year were associated with significant increases in the incidence of leukaemias and myelomas, and cancers of the pancreas, lungs and female reproductive organs in nuclear industry workers.

As Japanese medical practitioners begin to encounter the effects of radiation exposure in their patients – particularly children – the government now refuses to pay doctors who record a diagnosis of radiation-induced sickness in their patients. This will come as no surprise to those who followed the actions of the Soviet government and later, the Russian, Ukraine and Belarus governments in their concerted suppression of medical reports dealing with the consequences of radiation exposure on the lives of their citizens after the Chernobyl meltdown.

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

Temporary Housing of Fukushima Evacuees.jpg

Temporary housing for Fukushima evacuees

Over 100,000 people are still not able to return to their homes in Fukushima prefecture since the meltdowns. In a disturbing disclosure, Gundersen reveals that many of the evacuees have received virtually no information regarding the issue of radiation exposure either from the Japanese government or from TEPCO, the operators of the Fukushima power plant. The subsistence stipend that they have received since being evacuated will cease in March 2017. Considerable pressure is being put on former residents by the government that they now return to Fukushima and tough it out regardless of the ongoing contamination. Many have grave concerns regarding the effects of such a move on the future health of their families.

Fukushima. 30 Million Bags of Radioactive Debris.jpg

30 Million Bags of Radioactive Debris

Another remarkable aspect of the present situation concerns the manner in which highly contaminated materials – which include radioactive soil, leaves and other debris – have been dealt with. Thirty million tons of such debris has so far been gathered from throughout the Fukushima prefecture. Much of this is now stored in over 9 million large plastic bags scattered throughout the affected areas. Three years after being filled, the bags have started to disintegrate and nobody seems to know what to do next since their contents need to be kept isolated for at least another 30 years. One favoured option is to incinerate them. This would certainly decrease their number, but would inevitably result in the further dispersion of radioactive elements in aerosol form around Japan.

There are clearly some who still hold to the old but ultimately banal adage that, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Fukushima Contaminated Water Storage Tanks

Contaminated Water Storage Tanks at Fukushima

Dwarfing the problem of solid wastes is the ongoing leaching of radioactive elements from the melted reactor cores into groundwater and seawater. For the past five years, between 200 and 500 tons of groundwater flow through the reactors every day as a result of multiple cracks in the containment structures. Some of this water has recently been diverted away from the reactors, but an estimated 150 tons of groundwater continue to flow through the reactors daily. This irradiated water inexorably flows on, steadily bleeding into the northern Pacific. Furthermore, 700,000 tons of highly radioactive water salvaged from cooling operations since the meltdown is presently stored in massive tanks that now pepper the reactor site. More are being built as contaminated water continues to accumulate.

The Tragic Absurdity

It is common knowledge that engineers will be busy for the next 30 to 40 years in their efforts to put the lid on the cauldron of radioactivity that seethes in the reactor basements at Fukushima. Meanwhile, the Pacific tectonic plate continues its own inexorable movement beneath the continental Okhotsk plate on which Japan sits creating the conditions for future mega-thrust events like that which shook the region on 11th March 2011. The unspoken terror is that it could all turn again in the blink of an eye.

Despite what has happened at Fukushima, the Abe Government is determined to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors that were all shut down after the 2011 earthquake. Widespread anti-nuclear protests throughout Japan have been ignored and three nuclear power plants in Kagoshima and Fukui prefectures have been restarted since August 2015. Over the next year, a further six to twelve reactors are slated to resume operations. Business reigns as usual.

There are many who proudly insist on riding the nuclear beast regardless of the human and environmental consequences. They insist that this is the way of the future and a “necessary” solution to the problems of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and an ever-accelerating movement towards numerous tipping points which include ocean acidification, loss of polar albedo effects due to melting of polar ice, and the bubbling up of vast new wells of methane gas from the melting of northern permafrost and sea-floor deposits. In the immortal words of Edwin Arlington Robinson, what folly is here that has not yet a name?

Arnie Gundersen’s Report

The video clip below presents an interview between Arnie Gundersen and Margaret Harrington recorded soon after he returned from a recent speaking tour of Japan. The first 25 minutes of the interview offers deep insight into how the worst industrial accident in the history of humanity has affected the people of Japan, and how the Japanese government now increasingly serves the interests of power companies and their financial backers rather than those of its own people. Arnie Gundersen is unambiguously clear regarding the nature of what has gone down in Fukushima in this presentation. And the moral abandonment of both the Japanese government and TEPCO in the downplaying of the present and future consequences of the meltdown are not lost on him.

The second half of this clip offers a detailed review by Gundersen of the developments at Fukushima over the past five years. A separate high-definition version of the second segment can be accessed here.


April 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 3 Comments

Not far from Sendai nuclear reactors, Japan gets second earthquake, mag 7.3

safety-symbol1flag-japanJapan’s Kumamoto rocked by magnitude 7.3 earthquake 24 hours after first shock, SMH April 16, 2016  Tokyo:   A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck southern Japan early on Saturday, killing at least 11 people, injuring many more and bringing down buildings, media reported, just over a day after a quake killed nine people in the same region.

Authorities warned of damage over a wide area, as reports came in of scores of people trapped in collapsed buildings, fires and power outages.

Residents living near a dam were told to leave because of fears it might crumble, broadcaster NHK said…….

People still reeling from a magnitude 6.5 quake on Thursday poured onto the streets after the Saturday quake struck at 1.25 am……….

M7.0 earthquake in Japan – same area as yesterday’s foreshocks. Hearts out to them……..

Japan is on the seismically active “ring of fire” around the Pacific Ocean and has building codes aimed at helping structures withstand earthquakes.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

As coal mines go bankrupt, tax-payers will be left with the cleanup costs

Flag-USAtext-relevantAfter Bankruptcies, Coal’s Dirty Legacy Lives On, NYT  By TOM SANZILLO and DAVID SCHLISSEL APRIL 14, 2016 THE bankruptcy filing on Wednesday by Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private- sector producer of coal, is the latest in a series of major coal company collapses that threaten to leave behind a costly legacy that will haunt taxpayers and consumers for years.

The abandonment of hundreds of mines over the years led Congress in 1977 to pass a law that requires coal companies to clean up after mining. Left untreated, these sites are more than eyesores: They create long-lingering problems including polluted drinking water.

And the problem is likely to become more pronounced in the wake of these bankruptcies. Mining companies are supposed to buy insurance to cover the cost of cleanups. But Congress has allowed some of the more financially secure coal producers to “self-bond,” promising to pay for cleanups themselves.

coal mine

This arrangement made sense when the industry was healthy and had deeper pockets. But now taxpayers are at risk of having to foot the bill as mining companies either file for bankruptcy or redirect their dwindling dollars elsewhere to stay afloat — including paying obscenely generous compensation packages to executives. A recent congressional estimate puts outstanding cleanup liabilities nationally at $3.6 billion.

Perhaps the most glaring instance of self-bonding gone bad is Peabody Energy. Leading up to its bankruptcy, Peabody had been frantically trying to preserve its $1.47 billion in self-bonding agreements in states where they had been called into question by regulators.Two other major coal companies, Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, recently filed for bankruptcy, leaving hundreds of millions in reclamation guarantees in limbo. A deal between Arch Coal and regulators in Wyoming suggests taxpayers will get stuck with the bulk of the cleanup costs. The company agreed toearmark at most $75 million to cover self-bonded reclamation liabilities of more than $450 million………

The recent bankruptcies of the nation’s leading coal producers are the latest benchmark in the steady decline of the coal industry. The industry’s problems are also hurting consumers, who are being hit by unnecessarily high electric rates approved by regulators to keep open coal-fired power plants that are no longer competitive with cheaper natural gas and renewables. …… electricity companies blinded by history and tradition are sticking with coal and neglecting more sensible and affordable strategies that include natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency……

April 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, USA | Leave a comment outlines the 8 most dangerous nuclear plants near earthquake fault lines

nuke-earthquakeDisasters waiting to happen: 8 most dangerous nuclear plants near earthquake fault lines, [excellent pictures] 5 Apr, 2016  

 “ ……….dozens of potential atomic bombs operate along seismic fault lines. Here are eight of the most deadly, including one that may never be built because of Fukushima.

Koeberg nuclear power plant, Capetown Koeberg is the only nuclear power plant on the continent of Africa and just 8km from the Milnerton fault, which crosses Table Bay. While the largest earthquake to hit the city came more than 200 years ago, the Milnerton fault has the potential to hit at least 6.5 on the Richter scale. Energy company Eskom have insisted the plant is built to “ensure that no radiation escapes under any conceivable circumstances, from an earthquake to a jumbo jet collision.”

Diablo Canyon Power Plant, California Situated along by the shores of the Pacific Ocean – and four active fault lines, this plant has come under scrutiny since Fukushima. Diablo Canyon’s two reactors lie in an earthquake red zone with the Hosgri fault, the Los Osos fault, the San Luis Bay fault, and the Shoreline fault all nearby – and the major San Andreas fault 80km away…..

Indian Point, New York The Empire State’s Indian Point is considered by many to be the next Fukushima.Not only has the plant been plagued with operational problems, but it is situated almost on top of the Rampano fault line.A study by Columbia University in 2008 suggested the New York area was at greater risk of high-magnitude earthquakes than first thought, with the discovery of a new potential disaster area, the Stamfrod-Peekskill line. A spill of radioactive water at the plant in January led environmentalists to call for its closure, with the Riverkeeper group declaring that the site, which runs reactors from the 1970s, “isn’t safe anyone.”

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project, India The French company Areva NP are proposing to build one of the largest nuclear plants in the world in India, capable of producing 9900 MW of power. Greenpeace is among those opposing the six reactor plant, questioning the safety of its pressurized water cooling system and the shaky ground on which it might be built.  Like Fukushima Daiichi, Jaitapur would be operate along by the sea. Critics say the 16 fault lines on the west coast pose a serious threat to safety. However, India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board are satisfied that there are no faults within5km.

Columbia Generating Station, Washington state The last nuclear power plant remaining in the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia Generating Station (CGS) could be a potential disaster because of its Fukushima-like boiling water reactor.It’s located near the Columbia river along the Cascadia subduction zone, acknowledged by the Washington State Department as capable of producing “some of the largest and most damaging earthquakes in the world.” A 2013 Seattle Times report quoted a geologist working with the Physicians for Social Responsibility as saying the plant had not undergone structural upgrades since its opening in 1984. A March 2015 risk assessment stated that seismic damage to the site “is low for CGS.”

Arkansas Nuclear One, Arkansas A study of the US Geological Survey hazard map suggests the Arkansas state nuclear plant could be at risk from the New Madrid zone, one of North America’s most active areas for earthquakes. A quake in 1811 was thought to be 8.0 on the Richter scale and reportedly rang bells over a thousand miles away in Boston. The US government warns the damage to the area is likely to be 20 times larger than a “big one” in California due to the “less fractured nature” of the rock.

Sendai Nuclear Power Station, Japan…….Sendai and other Japanese power plants need to withstand their precarious position near the tectonic plate zone called the Japan Trench. Because of plate movements in this area, the Pacific country is hit by an estimated 1,500 earthquakes per year.

Akkuyu Nuclear Plant, Turkey The US$20-billion Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant in Turkey slated to go up along the Mediterranean coast is a joint project with Rosatom. Foundations for the four reactor facility were laid in April last year despite opposition to its location, which is approximately 25km from the Ecemis fault line. The Republic of Cyprus expressed its concern with the plans when Energy Minister Antonis Paschalides questioned the decision to construct it in “a seismically active area.”

April 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Climate Change threatens the already leaking Marshall Islands radioactive dome

This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it’s leaking
The Runit Dome in the Marshall Islands is a hulking legacy of years of US nuclear testing. Now locals and scientists are warning that rising sea levels caused by climate change could cause 111,000 cubic yards of debris to spill into the ocean , Guardian  Coleen Jose,  and Jan Hendrik Hinzel on Runit Island  3 July 2015    

“……..Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

waste dome Enewetak Atoll

Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.

Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents.

Now locals, scientists and environmental activists fear that a storm surge, typhoon or other cataclysmic event brought on by climate change could tear the concrete mantel wide open, releasing its contents into the Pacific Ocean.

“Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.

“It resulted from US nuclear testing and the leaving behind of large quantities of plutonium,” he said. “Now it has been gradually submerged as result of sea level rise from greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries led by the United States.”

Enewetak Atoll, and the much better-known Bikini Atoll, were the main sites of the United States Pacific Proving Grounds, the setting for dozens of atomic explosions during the early years of the cold war……..

April 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change, environment, OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

Parents, Radiation Safety Experts Petition Against 2020 Olympics in Radioactive Fukushima

Young Athletes, Women, More Susceptible to Radiation Dangers Washington, DC — Apr 14, 2016 / ( — On March 11, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima triple nuclear meltdowns, the Japanese Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo stated that preliminary softball, baseball and possibly other games would likely be moved from the host city of Tokyo to Fukushima Prefecture.  In fact, organizers are already far into the process of developing J Village, located 19 km (12 mi) from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, into a training facility for Japan’s soccer team and possibly more uses.  J Village was used as a disaster staging and support facility during the early days of the ongoing catastrophic Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

In a stunning development in 2013, Japan’s Olympic bid was won by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he promised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it (Fukushima Daiichi) “has never done, and will never do, any damage in Tokyo”.  Now, according to the Olympic Minister’s recent statements and credible news reports in Japan, the IOC and IPC will be required to use venues not only in Tokyo as originally agreed upon, but also in Fukushima Prefecture, not far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site.  “The Abe administration’s willingness to expose both their own population and the world’s to lethal particles in order to deny the horrendous contamination of their land, is morally reprehensible”, says Mary Beth Brangan, Co-Director of Ecological Options Network.


The person in charge of decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi has publicly stated that there is no solution in sight to the massive radioactive releases at there and appealed to the international community for assistance.  Radiation has been documented well beyond Fukushima to several areas around Japan that have been used for the past 5 years for the open storage and subsequent incineration of toxic and radioactive tsunami rubble, garbage, and more.  Cesium 134, 137 and other cancer causing radionuclides from the disaster have been found in tap water and vacuum cleaner bags sampled at different locations around Japan. Hundreds of radioisotopes are released in nuclear accidents, many of which are long-lived and remain hazardous for millions of years.  Once inhaled, they pose a significant health risk to everyone in affected environments and to athletes during strenuous competition.  Women and children are the most vulnerable as stated in the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR 7) report issued by the National Academy of Sciences.

“Instead of spending money on the Olympics, Japan should spend it ensuring that citizens of its country are not forced to live in contaminated areas in the same prefecture where Japan now wants to host some of these games”, states Cindy Folkers, Radiation and Health Specialist at Beyond Nuclear.  “In 2012, the UN Commissioner on Human Rights traveled to Japan and concluded that the government should “reduce the radiation dose to less than 1mSv/year” in accordance with recommended international standards. Instead, Japan is forcing some evacuees to be exposed to up to 20 times this amount, while telling the world, and the Olympic committee, everything is fine.”

Presidential candidate and US Senator Bernie Sanders has called for the immediate closure of the aging and leaking Indian Point nuclear reactors near New York City.  Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN) is asking other leaders to also make an informed decision where nuclear hazards are concerned by calling for an immediate halt to the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics games planned in Fukushima Prefecture. Petition recipients include UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon, Secretary of State John Kerry, Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, UNICEF, the World Health Organization and others.

Contact: Continue reading

April 16, 2016 Posted by | health, Japan | Leave a comment

USA Democrats probing oil companies’ campaign against action on climate change

Dem AGs mounting Big Tobacco-style probe of oil companies, industry fights back By Jennifer G. Hickey April 12, 2016   Democratic officials’ campaign against fossil fuel companies is entering a new phase as state attorneys general launch investigations that mirror the Justice Department’s landmark case against “Big Tobacco,” probing claims that oil companies misled the public about the risks of global warming — a charge industry representatives adamantly reject.

Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands are the latest to announce probes, specifically into whether ExxonMobil was up-front regarding what it knew about climate change.

“Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change should be held accountable. That’s why we have joined in investigating ExxonMobil,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in announcing the inquiry.

The announcements follow a similar investigation by New York Attorney GeneralEric T. Schneiderman, who subpoenaed Exxon’s financial records and emails last November. Schneiderman has indicated ExxonMobil is not the only energy company in his office’s crosshairs, vowing to prosecute any that committed fraud to maximize profit at the public’s fossil-fuel-fightback-1expense “to the fullest extent of the law.”

Yet industry representatives and their allies say what’s really going on is a coordinated attempt to silence climate change skeptics while punishing the industry itself for society’s use of fossil fuels, all based on spurious claims of a cover-up. Exxon representatives say the accusations against the oil giant are “laughable” and “not credible,” blasting recent news reports that assert the industry tried to mislead the public about global warming dangers.  ……..

April 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

With concerted effort, world could phase out fossil fuels within a decade

Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade, says new study UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX  The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank in the UK.

Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, believes that the next great energy revolution could take place in a fraction of the time of major changes in the past.

But it would take a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort to get there, he warns. And that effort must learn from the trials and tribulations from previous energy systems and technology transitions.


In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science, Professor Sovacool analyses energy transitions throughout history and argues that only looking towards the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture.

Moving from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use.

But this time the future could be different, he says – the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.

The study highlights numerous examples of speedier transitions that are often overlooked by analysts. For example, Ontario completed a shift away from coal between 2003 and 2014; a major household energy programme in Indonesia took just three years to move two-thirds of the population from kerosene stoves to LPG stoves; and France’s nuclear power programme saw supply rocket from four per cent of the electricity supply market in 1970 to 40 per cent in 1982.

Each of these cases has in common strong government intervention coupled with shifts in consumer behaviour, often driven by incentives and pressure from stakeholders. Professor Sovacool says: “The mainstream view of energy transitions as long, protracted affairs, often taking decades or centuries to occur, is not always supported by the evidence.

“Moving to a new, cleaner energy system would require significant shifts in technology, political regulations, tariffs and pricing regimes, and the behaviour of users and adopters.

“Left to evolve by itself – as it has largely been in the past – this can indeed take many decades. A lot of stars have to align all at once.

“But we have learnt a sufficient amount from previous transitions that I believe future transformations can happen much more rapidly.”

In sum, although the study suggests that the historical record can be instructive in shaping our understanding of macro and micro energy transitions, it need not be predictive.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

USA could be powered 40% by electricity from rooftop solar panels

Rooftop solar panels could provide nearly half US power

Rooftop panels could supply 40% of country’s power with open spaces such as parking lots offering further potential, study shows. Conservation magazinereports Guardian, Prachi Patel To take advantage of the sun’s energy to satisfy our ever-increasing need for electricity, Americans will have to take a fresh look at their roofs. A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that if all suitable roof areas in the United States were plastered with solar panels, they would generate about 1,118 gigawatts of solar power. That is 40% of the power that Americans consume every year.

Solar panels. Reuters photo.

And that isn’t the half of it. The study only estimates the solar power potential of existing, suitable rooftops, and does not look at the immense potential of ground-mounted photovoltaics (PV), said NREL senior energy analyst Robert Margolis in apress release. “Actual generation from PV in urban areas could exceed these estimates by installing systems on less suitable roof space, by mounting PV on canopies over open spaces such as parking lots, or by integrating PV into building facades. Further, the results are sensitive to assumptions about module performance, which are expected to continue improving over time.”

The new study doubles the estimate from a 2008 NREL study on US rooftop solar potential, which showed an estimate of 664 GW. Margolis and his colleagues attributed the higher numbers to increases in better-performing modules, improvements in estimation of building suitability, higher estimates of the total number of buildings, and better methods to calculate photovoltaic performance.

For the new report, which is the result of three years of research, the team used light detection and ranging (Lidar) data and geographic information system (GIS) methods to map the topography of 128 cities around the country down to the square meter. This helped them determine the total amount of roof area suitable for hosting rooftop solar panels. Then they simulated the productivity of the panels on this roof area to estimate total rooftop solar potential, and finally extrapolated that data to the whole country.

The report ranked cities with the highest capability to meet energy consumption using potential solar power capacity. Mission Viejo, California topped the charts with a 88% solar potential rating, followed by Concord, New Hampshire at 72%, and Buffalo, New York at 68%.

The six states with the highest potential to offset electricity use all have significantly below-average household energy consumption, the analysts note, indicating that any state that wants to make the most of solar incentives should also prioritize energy efficiency.

Source: Pieter Gagnon, Robert Margolis, Jennifer Melius, Caleb Phillips, and Ryan Elmore, NREL. Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Trouble for nuclear deal: Iranian banks unable to process global financial transactions.

Iran’s Central Bank Chief Warns Banking-Access Issues Jeopardize Nuclear Deal Valiollah Seif says Obama administration needs to help facilitate Iran’s banking transactions world-wide WSJ, By  JAY SOLOMON in Washington, ASA FITCH in Dubai, and BENOIT FAUCON in London April 15, 2016

Iran’s central bank governor, in a rare visit to Washington, demanded the Obama administration take more steps to facilitate his country’s banking transactions world-wide and warned the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year could be at risk if the U.S. doesn’t act.

Iranian banks have been unable to process international money transfers and finance trade freely in the months since the deal went into effect in January. Iran also has faced obstacles in repatriating tens of billions of dollars of its oil revenues that were frozen in overseas accounts under U.S. sanctions. Some Western banks have acknowledged avoiding dealings with Iran due to fears of crossing the U.S. Treasury.

The troubles have jeopardized the big economic dividend the government hoped to secure from the nuclear deal Iran and six world powers struck last July, and underscored the West’s lingering suspicion toward Tehran.

Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions that hurt its economy. “They need to do whatever is needed to honor their commitments,” Iran’s central bank governor Valiollah Seif said during a 90-minute presentation that came on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington on Friday. ”Otherwise, the [Iran nuclear deal] breaks up under its own terms,” he said.

Mr. Seif’s comments came a day after a face-to-face meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that was largely focused on Iranian demands for more sanctions relief in the wake of the landmark nuclear accord, according to Iranian and U.S. officials.

The U.S. and other world powers agreed to lift most sanctions on Iran as part of the deal. But the Treasury still bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system or the American dollar…….

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Embarrassing failure of North Korea’s latest missile launch

North Korea fails to launch Musudan missile, US defence official says, ABC News, 15 Apr 16  North Korea’s attempt to launch what appears to be a medium-range Musudan missile has failed on the birthday of founding leader Kim Il-sung, a high-profile misstep after Pyongyang claimed a series of breakthroughs in its nuclear weapons program.

Key points:

  • North Korea fails to launch what appears to be a Musudan-class missile
  • Launch failure occurred on the birthday of founding leader Kim Il-Sung
  • Musudan missiles are reported to have a range of up to 4,000 kilometres

There had been widespread intelligence reports in recent days that the North was preparing a first-ever flight test of the Musudan, believed to be capable of striking US bases in the Pacific island of Guam.

The US and South Korean militaries both detected and tracked the early morning test.

“We assess that the launch failed,” a US defence official said, adding that it was “presumably” a Musudan.

The April 15 birthday of Kim Il-sung — the grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong-un — is a major public holiday in North Korea, where key political anniversaries are often marked with displays of military muscle.

A Pentagon spokesman described the attempted launch as a catastrophic failure………

Failed launch heightens possibility of further nuclear tests

South Korean officials and international experts said the failed launch heightened the possibility of North Korea conducting another nuclear test, possibly within weeks.

“North Korea is capable of conducting an additional nuclear test at any time if there is a decision by Kim Jong-un,” said a senior South Korean official involved in national security policies involving the North…….

April 16, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef in grave danger from global warming

Now the scientists have found that the coping mechanism barrier reef corals use to prepare themselves to face warm summer water is also under threat from global warming, and from human activities such as agriculture, shipping, and fishing.

“As temperature warms, the evidence is that this protective mechanism will no longer function

coral bleachingHow the Great Barrier Reef is going from bad to worse  Christian Sciencebarrier-reeef Monitor, 14 Apr 16 Though the corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef historically have managed to adjust to gradually warming seawater of the summer months, they will likely lose their defenses when the ocean warms overall in the near future, say scientists. (at left – coral bleaching )

This was the latest finding from a team of American and Australian coral reef experts from James Cook University, the University of Queensland, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These same scientists recently reported that their aerial surveys of some of the 3,000 coral reefs that make up this iconic natural wonder off Australia’s northeastern coast have showed that coral bleaching this year is the worst that has ever been observed. This is largely due to a recurring weather event known as El Niño, a storm system that is expected to become more frequent and more severe in the future.

I agree that El Niño is a natural variability; it’s a part of nature, but that variation in patterns and temperatures is superimposed upon a trend of warming,” Scott Heron, a NOAA coral reef scientist based in Australia, tells The Christian Science Monitor in an interview. “There are ups and downs, but now there are just higher ups than ever before, and the downs are not as low,” he says.

Coral bleaching happens when ocean temperatures rise to a point that zooxanthellae – tiny algae that live on corals and provide them with nutrients and their radiant colors – leave their coral homes, thereby rendering coral white or “bleached.” When corals go without zooxanthellae for too long, they die. This affects about a quarter of marine species that depend on coral reefs for shelter, and the humans who depend on those species for their livelihoods.

This year’s is the third major bleaching event in recent history for the 2,300-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef, which is home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. But this one is much worse than the bleaching events that occurred in 1998 and 2002, say scientists who recently found bleaching in almost 1,100 kilometers of northern barrier reef, from the island of New Guinea to the Australian coastal city of Cairns. The researchers estimate that 30 to 50 percent of the corals there are already be dead.

Now the scientists have found that the coping mechanism barrier reef corals use to prepare themselves to face warm summer water is also under threat from global warming, and from human activities such as agriculture, shipping, and fishing.

“As temperature warms, the evidence is that this protective mechanism will no longer function,” C. Mark Eakin, a scientist with NOAA Coral Reef Watch, tells the Monitor in an interview…….

The most viable immediate remedy, say paper authors, is to reduce the carbon emissions that cause warming and restrict other human activities near the reefs that add more stress, including runoff from agriculture, unsustainable fishing practices, and physical damage to the reef from ship groundings.

“These are all human stressors on reef that have to be minimized or eliminated for reefs to be able to bounce back from these bleaching events, even in a decade or two,” Eakin says.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

China General Nuclear Power Corp keen to export nuclear, named as conspirator

flag-Chinasecret-dealsU.S. Conspiracy Charges Spotlights China Nuclear Champion   sstapczynski 

  • CGN indicted for conspiracy to illegally make nuclear material
  • Company part of venture to develop China’s Hualong One unit
  • A U.S. indictment on charges against China General Nuclear Power Corp. for conspiracy to illegally produce nuclear material is shining a light on one of the Asian country’s leading atomic energy companies and a key player in its effort to export nuclear technology.

    The state-owned company, part of a venture designing the country’s first homegrown reactor, was named as conspirator in an indictment unsealed by the U.S. government Thursday. The reactor, known as Hualong One, is the centerpiece of China’s efforts to compete globally against more-established nuclear developers including Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. and Paris-based Areva SA.

  • “They are the largest nuclear power company, but less known compared with big oil, telecom or Internet names,” said Helen Lau, an analyst at Argonaut Securities (Asia) Ltd. in Hong Kong.
     China is seeking to shift from being a buyer of foreign technology to developing homegrown expertise it can sell globally. CGN and China National Nuclear Corp. last month established a joint venture to export the technology and the country plans tobuild about 30 nuclear units by 2030 in Asia and Europe, CNNC chairman Sun Qin said last month, according to China Daily.

    Related: U.S. Charges Chinese Nuclear Firm, Engineer With Conspiracy

    “We have noted the announcement from the Department of Justice of the U.S. We cannot comment at this stage,” CGN said in an e-mail.

  • Technical Assistance

    The U.S. accused CGN of directing Szuhsiung Ho, a nuclear engineer in the U.S. also known as Allen Ho, to obtain technical assistance from U.S.-based experts related to the development and production of special nuclear material without required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy. The indictment said the assistance was related to CGN activities including its Small Modular Reactor and advanced fuel assembly program, as well as “verification and validation of nuclear reactor-related computer codes,” according to the indictment.

     CGN and Electricite de France SA signed an accord in October to build three nuclear power stations in the U.K., including the 18 billion pound ($25.5 billion) Hinkley plant in southwest England, in exchange for the opportunity to build a Chinese-developed reactor at a separate site. The company may develop a Hualong One reactor at Bradwell in southern England in the future as part of the agreement signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country in October.
  • AP1000

    CGN signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenyan government in September to build Hualong One reactors and agreed with Romania in November to build two reactors. CNNC has its own projects in Argentina and Pakistan.

    The CGN indictment isn’t the first time the U.S. accused China of illegal activity in the nuclear industry. The U.S. charged five Chinese military hackers in 2014 of cyber espionage against U.S. corporations, including Westinghouse.

    Between 2010 and 2012, Chinese hackers stole confidential designs and internal communications from Westinghouse’s computer systems while it was engaged in negotiations with an unidentified state-owned company about building four of the American company’s AP1000 reactors, the Justice Department said at the time. The hackers stole internal e-mails in which Westinghouse executives discussed talks with the Chinese company, it said.

    Pipe Specifications

    The attackers also sought to acquire pipe specifications that “would enable a competitor to build a plant similar to the AP1000 without incurring significant research and development costs,” the 2014 indictment said.

  • Westinghouse referred questions about the most recent case to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment Thursday, referring questions to the Justice Department.

    “The notion of stealing U.S. civil nuclear technology is bizarre, given the close technical R&D relationships between China and the U.S.,” Ian Hore-Lacy, senior research analyst at World Nuclear Association, said by e-mail Friday. “Chinese nuclear engineers have been helping to build the AP1000 reactors in the U.S.”

April 16, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

China to set up nuclear reactors in Bulgaria: Bulgaria says no government guarantees

Buy-China-nukes-1Bulgaria Seeks Chinese Investors into Nuclear Power,,  April 15, 2016, Bulgaria is looking for a strategic investor into an expansion of nuclear capacities, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has told a committee in Parliament…….

She has made clear Sofia will commit itself to a construction project for nuclear units only if no state guarantees are required by the respective company. –

She has explained there is certain interest from China in getting involved in Bulgaria‘s nuclear sector.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

Walt Disney Florida Resort to get Mickey Mouse shaped solar farm

sunDisney launches new Micky Mouse-shaped solar farm 15 April 2016, source edie newsroom

A 22-acre solar facility arranged in the shape of Micky Mouse’s head will provide 5MW of renewable energy at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. A total of 48,000 on-site solar panels will produce the power – which is equivalent of 1,000 residential solar rooftops systems – for the entertainment and recreation facility along with its partners such as the Four Seasons Resort and Hotel Plaza Boulevard hoteliers.

Walt Disney World Resort environmental integration director Angie Renner said: “As a company that cares about the environment, we continually take steps of varying sizes to benefit the environment and protect the planet. This new solar facility will help us in our efforts to conserve natural resources.”

The solar farm was designed by Duke Energy as part of an on-going renewable energy development project which will see the electric power holding company add up to 500MW of additional power to Florida by 2024……..

April 16, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment