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

The Mysterious Case Of The Missing Fukushima Fuel


By Richard Wilcox, PhD

As the world forever hurtles toward Armageddon, the Fukushima nuclear disaster has largely faded from the front pages. But the issue is far from resolved. Radiation from nuclear accidents is not easily dispelled with estimates of clean-up time at Fukushima ranging from 40 to 500 years, and nearly six years have already passed. Even safely stored nuclear material is dangerous for 100,000 years (1).

Elvis Has Left The Building

The major question regarding the situation at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi (no.1 nuclear power plant) regards the location of the melted fuel at reactor units 1, 2 and 3.

Recent evidence of the location of the fuel in unit 2 was disputed, with Tokyo Electric Co. (Tepco) and the mainstream media taking one view and independent scientists taking another. Is the melted fuel still inside the container in the reactor building, or has it leaked out and is now penetrating in scattered areas laterally and vertically into the ground?

Large amounts of melted fuel could reach the ground water, and even the aquifer which is ultimately connected to the Tokyo water supply.

Let’s compare two assessments on this important issue based on the use of “Muon tomography”:

According to the Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) version of reality which relies solely on the Tepco report:

Most of the nuclear fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apparently did not melt through the pressure vessel (2).



Is it that simple? Tepco’s record of reliability has become rather tarnished over the years.

Note that in the graphic image above, the word “believed” is used, which reinforces the word “apparently” used in the text of the article referring to the uncertainty of the location of the melted fuel. However, the title of the article is more confident, stating that “most fuel was contained.” The title is blatantly misleading and since most readers just skim the news, that will be what they take away from the report.

On the other hand, the independent scientists at the Simply Info website differ about the location of the fuel in relation to the container, the “Reactor Pressure Vessel” (RPV):

Tepco’s superimposed mask demarcates the bottom head too low including fuel inside the rpv which according to the refined image is clearly shown below the bottom head….”there is no fuel in the bottom of the RPV in any significant amount” (3).



This graphic indicates that a different method was used by these scientists to view the location of the melted fuel.


In this graphic the Simply Info scientists argue that the container drawing was placed too low in the Tepco version, whereas in their version, it is higher, making it less obvious that the fuel is in the container.

Careful reading of this article reveals that Tepco’s analysis, as so glibly presented by the mainstream media, was based on technological smoke and mirrors, clearly intended to deceive. Tepco and the media should report on the range of plausible possibilities, not only the small slice of reality they wish the public to see (4; 5).

So will the Asahi Shimbun correct their fallacious reporting? Both the Japan Times and the Asahi Shimbunare heavily owned and controlled by foreign investors and media. TheAsahi shares offices with the New York Times in Tokyo and many Japanese English dailies rely on Western news wires such as the agenda driven, oligarchic news sources, Reutersand the Associated Press (6).

Decommissioning Or Out Of Commission?

In fact, in over five years much progress has been made to control the situation at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant. Much of the rubble has been cleaned up and fresh coats of paints are on the buildings, but the place is still intensely radioactive, and no human can approach the specific reactor meltdown sites.

The second major issue at Dai-ichi concerns the future plans for the decommissioning of the plant. All along Tepco has said they will retrieve the melted fuel and complete decommissioning within 40 years. In fact the technology to retrieve the fuel has not yet been invented. Not only is it impossible for human workers to approach the area, but even robots break down due to the radiation short circuiting their wires.

It was recently revealed that Japan is still considering an option that many people feel would be very dangerous in the long term, and that is the “sarcophagus” solution (7). The only time this has been tried is at Chernobyl — it looks like a high-tech barn placed over the site (8). Unlike Chernobyl where the ground is rock hard, at Fukushima the ground is akin to a wet sponge with soft topsoil, so while covering it will reduce radioactive atmospheric fallout, the radiation will continue to leak downwards to the aquifer and outwards to the ocean unless appropriate engineering measures are taken.

Nevertheless, progress is slow with efforts “underway to develop the equipment needed to retrieve corium (melted fuel) samples from inside the containment structures of units 1-3 at the plant. No solid time frame” has yet been was mentioned (9).

The Nuclear Story

In an interesting aside, the best documentary film on Fukushima I have see so far, Fukushima: A Nuclear Story was released in 2015 (10). It is an Italian production but with English narration and subtitles. The plot follows journalist Pio d’Emilio during the nuclear crisis as he tries to uncover the real situation in Fukushima. The film is engaging and educational at the same time, covering new ground and combining dramatic events as they unfold at the time with scientific explanations done in an entertaining, “manga” comic book style.

The film emphasizes the near catastrophe of Tepco’s panic during the accident, and the courage and wisdom of then prime minister Naoto Kan, and the Fukushima 50, led by the plant manager Masao Yoshida whose snap judgement literally “saved the world.”

The film raises one very interesting piece of information that I did not know about which is that it was only the luck of the pool fuel gate at unit 4 not closing, in other words, malfunctioning, which allowed water in to cool the scorching fuel rods. Had that not occurred, the fuel rods could have caught fire spreading massive radiation for hundreds of miles.

Note that had the Fukushima accident happened at night or on the weekend there would have been far fewer workers at the plant to tackle the problem, possibly leading to a completely out-of-control situation.

The Ice Wall Cometh…

The “ice wall” that Tepco built in order to freeze the ground around the plant to block water flow in and out of the plant, continues to have problems. It is a very expensive operation to build and maintain, prone to technical problems and no one really knows when or if it will ever be fully implemented (i.e., taxpayer boondoggle) (11; 12). Even if the ice wall operates as intended it will not stop all of the water flow allowing some to be contaminated (13).

Is this why the sarcophagus option is still on the table? Critics have argued that the ice wall was poorly conceived from the start because it did not address dealing with the source of water flow which is at the water shed above the plant in the nearby mountains (Tepco balked at the project due to the high cost).

Japan Nuke News

Various nuclear related issues pop up from time to time around country. Since the nuclear accident in 2011, the overwhelming public sentiment has been strongly anti nuclear, despite efforts by the Abe administration to downplay the accident and restart as many of the reactors around the country as possible. The logic of the restarts against public opinion is in order to satisfy the big banks who have financed Japanese utility company operations while reactors have remained idle (expensive but not profit producing) over the past years.

Ever since the hugely destructive earthquakes earlier in 2016 on the island of Kyushu, nuclear plant restarts along the path of the fault line, which basically travels through the middle of the entire country, have been in doubt. Still we see for example in Shikoku that nuclear reactors are restarting despite local opposition (14).

Although prime minister Abe keeps pushing for resumption of nuclear operations, he probably would not want to work at the Fukushima nuclear disaster clean up site himself. It was recently reported by Japanese scientists that insoluble radioactive cesium has been detected in workers exposed to high levels of radiation at the plant (15).

Indeed, the wildlife in Fukushima prefecture has long been reported to be contaminated with radiation, recently a wild boar was detected with massive levels of radiation in its body (16). This is an indication of the general contamination of the environment there.

This doesn’t stop the Fukushima tourist board from advertising how safe and wonderful life is there. In order to drum up tourist dollars the national government has carried out a massive public relations campaign despite the lingering possibility of numerous radioactive hotspots in the area (17; 18).

Trump Threatens Nuclear Cartel

Maybe things will change a bit if Donald Trump can be elected president in the United States. Trump has promised to reduce US military presence in Japan and let them sort out their own military affairs. This does not bode well for the US-Japan military racket which siphons off billions of dollars in tax revenue to satisfy the greed of both country’s military industrial complexes, which are intensely tied up with the nuclear weapons and power industries (20).

Isn’t it ironic that the bogeyman of North Korea which is constantly conjured by Japan to justify its own growth in militarism, obtained its original nuclear weapon technology from Britain, a supposed Japan ally (21).

Funny old world ain’t it.


Special thanks to the Simply Info website for their continuous work on the Fukushima issue; and to Activist Post for their continued reporting.

Richard Wilcox is a contributing editor and writer for the book: Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? (2014) and a Tokyo-based teacher and writer who holds a PhD in environmental studies. He is a regular contributor to Activist Post. His radio interviews and articles are archived at and he can be reached at


1 – Nuclear waste: keep out for 100,000 years

2 – New study on Fukushima reactor shows most fuel was contained

3 – Something Incredible Found In Fukushima Muon Scan

4 – First Fukushima Unit 2 Muon Scans Dispute New Scan Results

5 – Fukushima Unit 2 Muon Scan Not So Conclusive

6 – Democracy in Peril: Twenty Years of Media Consolidation Under the Telecommunications Act;

7 – NDF Tries To Walk Back Fukushima Daiichi Sarcophagus Admission

8 – The Chernobyl Gallery: Sarcophagus

9 – Melted Fuel To Be Sampled From Fukushima Reactors Containment

10 – Fukushima: A Nuclear Story

11 – Fukushima Frozen Wall Sees Small Progress From Concrete Addition

12 – Fukushima Frozen Wall Report For June 23 2016

13 – Fukushima No. 1 plant’s ice wall won’t be watertight, says chief architect

14 – Shikoku MOX plant restarts amid outcry over fresh quake fears


16 – 960 Bq/kg of Cs-134/137 detected from wild boar in Fukushima

17 – Tokyo to Fukushima: Route to enjoy modern, old Japan

18 – Fukushima tourism making strong progress on recovery

19 – Trump rips U.S. defense of Japan as one-sided, too expensive

20 – North Korea used British technology to build its nuclear bombs


The Mysterious Case Of The Missing Fukushima Fuel




August 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Kansai Electric starts removing fuel from Takahama reactor No. 4


FUKUI – Kansai Electric Power Co. on Wednesday began removing fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The removal is the result of a preliminary injunction issued in early March by the Otsu District Court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture ordering the power utility to halt operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant. The court upheld a petition filed by a group of residents who live near the plant in Shiga and are concerned over safety.

The work to remove 157 nuclear fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor started at noon and is slated to end around 7 p.m. Friday. The fuel assemblies will be transferred to a spent fuel storage pool.

Kansai Electric will begin to remove fuel from the No. 3 reactor on Sept. 5.

The No. 3 reactor, which was brought back online on Jan. 29, was shut down following the injunction. The No. 4 unit was reactivated on Feb. 26, but it automatically shut down on its own three days later due to a technical glitch.

Kansai Electric filed an appeal against the injunction but was turned down by the Otsu court in June.

The utility then filed an appeal with the Osaka High Court in July requesting the cancellation of the district court’s injunction.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

President Reagan worked with Russia to defuse the nuclear arms race; time that President Obama did that, too

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag_RussiaAn Urgent History Lesson in Diplomacy with Russia, CounterPunch,text-relevant 12 Aug 16 by RENEE PARSONS As prospects for peace appear dim in places like the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan and now with a renewed bombing of Libya, the President of the United States (and  his heiress apparent) continue to display an alarming lack of understanding of the responsibilities  as the nation’s highest elected officer.  As has been unsuccessfully litigated, Article II of the Constitution does not give the President right to start war; only Congress is granted that authority (See Article I, Section 8).

So for the nation’s Chief Executive Officer to willy-nilly arbitrarily decide to bomb here and bomb there and bomb everywhere in violation of the Constitution might be sufficient standard  for that CEO  to be regarded as a war criminal. Surely, consistently upping the stakes with a strong US/NATO military presence in the Baltics with the US Navy regularly cruising the Black and Baltic Seas, accompanied by a steady stream of confrontational language and picking a fight with a nuclear-armed Russia may not be the best way to achieve peace……

text-historyReagan, who was ready to engage in extensive personal diplomacy, was an unlikely peacemaker yet he achieved an historic accomplishment in the nuclear arms race that is especially relevant today as NATO/US are reintroducing nuclear weapons into eastern Europe……

According to Jack Matlock  who served as Reagan’s senior policy coordinator for Russia and later US Ambassador to Russia in his book, “Reagan and Gorbachev:  How the Cold War Ended,” one of Reagan’s pre-meeting [with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev] notes to himself read “avoid any demand for regime change.”  From the beginning, one of Reagan’s goals was to establish a relationship that would be able to overcome whatever obstacles or conflicts may arise with the goal of preventing a thermonuclear war. … 

After a lengthy personal, private conversation, it became obvious that the two men had struck a cord of mutual respect…. At the conclusion of Geneva, a shared trust necessary to begin sober negotiations to ban nuclear weapons had been established. Both were well aware that the consequences of nuclear war would be a devastation to mankind, the world’s greatest environmental disaster.  At the end of their Geneva meeting, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”……

In December of 1987, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington DC to sign the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (including Short Range Missiles) known as the INF Treaty.  The Treaty eliminated 2,611 ground launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers (310 -3,400 miles).  Paris is 2,837 (1,762 miles) kilometers from Moscow.

In  May 1988, the INF Treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a surprising vote of 93 – 5 (four Republicans and one Democrat opposed) and by May, 1991, all Pershing I missiles in Europe  had been dismantled. Verification of Compliance of the INF Treaty, delayed because of the USSR breakup, was completed in December, 2001.

At an outdoor press briefing during their last meeting together and after the INF was implemented, Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev.  A reporter asked if he still believed in the ‘evil empire’ and Reagan answered ‘no.”   When asked why, he replied “I was talking about another time, another era.”……..

As the current US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner prepares to leave office with a record of a Tuesday morning kill list, unconscionable drone attacks on civilians, initiating bombing campaigns where there were none prior to his election and, of course, taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin with unsubstantiated allegations, the US-backed NATO has scheduled AEGIS anti ballistic missile shields to be constructed in Romania and Poland, challenging the integrity of INF Treaty for the first time in almost thirty years.

In what may shed new light on NATO/US build-up in eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov denied US charges in June, 2015 that Russia had violated the Treaty and that the US had “failed to provide evidence of Russian breaches.”  Commenting on US plans to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged “Russian aggression” in the Ukraine, Lavrov warned that ‘‘building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’  Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the United States was leveling accusations against Russia in order to justify its own military plans.

In early August, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration authorized the final development phase (prior to actual production in 2020) of the B61-21 nuclear bomb at a cost of $350 – $450 billion.  A thermonuclear weapon  with the capability of reaching Europe and Moscow, the B61-21 is part of President Obama’s $1 trillion request for modernizing the US aging and outdated nuclear weapon arsenal.

Isn’t it about time for the President to do something to earn that Peace Prize?

August 17, 2016 Posted by | history, politics international, Reference, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International nuclear tensions: Russia builds ‘nuclear bomb proof’ underground bunkers

waste-bunker-Kent-UKflag_RussiaRussia builds underground bunkers strong enough to text-relevantsurvive a nuclear war, INQUISITR, Tara Dodrill 17 Aug 16  The Russians are reportedly building dozens of underground bunkers. The bunkers are not just simple underground storage units. They reportedly have been constructed in a manner that would allow them to survive a nuclear war.

A shocking report by United States intelligence officials also revealed the nuclear-proof bunkers have been under construction for several years in Russia, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

“Russia is getting ready for a big war which they assume will go nuclear, with them launching the first attacks,” former Pentagon nuclear policy official Mark Schneider said. “We are not serious about preparing for a big war, much less a nuclear war.”

Since the Cold War ended, both Russia and the United States had been working to reduce their respective nuclear arsenals. However, news of the underground bunkers and reports of enhanced missile production in the former Soviet Union have caused concern among some national security and intelligence officials.

Russia built similar underground bunkers during the peak of the Cold War, the Daily Mail reports. The bunkers were reportedly built underground in both Moscow and in the Ural Mountains.

Designed to sustain an atomic blast, the underground bunkers are also reportedly being built in Moscow. A report from the state-run media in Russia maintains the project is part of a “new national security strategy.”

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Vladimir Putin vowed to possess both the largest and best-equipped military in the world by 2020…….

The Russian bunkers are reportedly costing the nation billions. According to the Daily Mail, some are wondering if Putin is using aid funds from the United States to help cover the construction costs. Military and intelligence experts are predicting American officials will respond to the stunning turn of events by creating new deep-penetrating nuclear weapons that are capable of reaching and destroying the underground bunkers……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change is more urgent than we realised


Climate urgency:we’ve locked in more global warming than people realize Skeptical Science  15 August 2016 While most people accept the reality of human-caused global warming, we tend not to view it as an urgent issue or high priority. That lack of immediate concern may in part stem from a lack of understanding that today’s pollution will heat the planet for centuries to come, as explained in this Denial101x lecture:

So far humans have caused about 1°C warming of global surface temperatures, but if we were to freeze the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide at today’s levels, the planet would continue warming. Over the coming decades, we’d see about another 0.5°C warming, largely due to what’s called the “thermal inertia” of the oceans (think of the long amount of time it takes to boil a kettle of water). The Earth’s surface would keep warming about another 1.5°C over the ensuing centuries as ice continued to melt, decreasing the planet’s reflectivity.

To put this in context, the international community agreed in last year’s Paris climateaccords that we should limit climate change risks by keeping global warming below 2°C, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. Yet from the carbon pollution we’ve already put into theatmosphere, we’re committed to 1.5–3°C warming over the coming decades and centuries, and we continue to pump out over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The importance of reaching zero or negative emissions

We can solve this problem if, rather than holding the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide steady, it falls over time. As discussed in the above video, Earth naturally absorbs more carbon than it releases, so if we reduce human emissions to zero, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide will slowly decline. Humans can also help the process by finding ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it.

Scientists are researching various technologies to accomplish this, but we’ve already put over 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Pulling a significant amount of that carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it safely will be a tremendous challenge, and we won’t be able to reduce the amount in the atmosphere until we first get our emissions close to zero.

There are an infinite number of potential carbon emissions pathways, but the 2014 IPCC report considered four possible paths that they called RCPs. In one of these (called RCP 2.6 or RCP3-PD), we take immediate, aggressive, global action to cut carbon pollution, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels peak at 443 ppm in 2050, and by 2100 they’ve fallen back down to today’s level of 400 ppm. In two others (RCPs 4.5 and 6.0) we act more slowly, and atmospheric levels don’t peak until the year 2150, then they remain steady, and in the last (RCP8.5) carbon dioxide levels keep rising until 2250.

This is the critical decade

We don’t know what technologies will be available in the future, but we do know that the more carbon pollution we pump into the atmosphere today, the longer it will take and more difficult it will be to reach zero emissions and stabilize the climate. We’ll also have to pull that much more carbon out of the atmosphere.

It’s possible that as in three of the IPCC scenarios, we’ll never get all the way down to zero or negative carbon emissions, in which case today’s pollution will keep heating the planet for centuries to come. Today’s carbon pollution will leave a legacy of climate change consequences that future generations may struggle with for the next thousand years.

Five years ago, the Australian government established a Climate Commission, which published a report discussing why we’re in the midst of the ‘critical decade’ on climate change….. by dana1981

August 17, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Regions hit by world’s hottest month

global-warming1World’s hottest month shows challenges global warming will bring
July was hotter than any month globally since records began – but some areas, such as the Middle East, suffer more than others,
Guardian, , 17 Aug 16, In Siberia, melting permafrost released anthrax that had been frozen in a reindeer carcass for decades, starting a deadly outbreak. In Baghdad, soaring temperatures forced the government to shut down for days at a time. In Kuwait, thermometers hit a record 54C (129F).

July was the hottest month the world has endured since records began in 1880, scientists have said, and brought a painful taste of the troubles people around the world may have to grapple with as global warming intensifies. Results compiled by Nasa showed the month was 0.84C hotter than the 1951-1980 average for July, and 0.11C hotter than the previous record set in July 2015.

The temperature increase last month was not all due to climate change. Part of the increase came from the tail end of the El Niño phenomenon, which spreads warm water across the Pacific, giving a boost to global temperatures.

But scientists said the July record, which came after a string of new month-high temperatures, was particularly striking because it came as the impact of El Niño faded, and added weight to fears that 2016 will go down in history as the hottest year since records began.

“Even if we have it augmented by El Niño, it’s quite concerning as a citizen to see that we are flirting with very high numbers, and a record is a record,” said Jean-Noël Thepaut, head of Europe’s Copernicus climate change service……

The challenge for climate scientists, and politicians seeking to drive climate policy, has often been linking changes in global averages to shifting weather patterns at home that may or may not appear to reflect the worldwide data.

“This is a global average, so it can be difficult for people everywhere to perceive it themselves,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the LSE’s Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Hear Dr Perry on The Nuclear Brink

see-this.wayHear-This-way 16 August 2016  (view full episode)

While even a single nuclear detonation could destroy our way of life, most of us don’t regard thetext-relevant nuclear threat as a clear and present danger. However experts argue that the risk of nuclear catastrophe is greater today than during the Cold War.

In spite of earlier efforts by President Barack Obama to bring the world towards a nuclear free course, we are actually getting further away from reducing the nuclear weapons stockpiles. And a relations between Russia and the USA remain strained, Dr William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defence warns that we’re on the verge of a new nuclear arms race, and drifting back into Cold War mentality.

Dr Perry has completed his memoirs about his extensive experience in foreign policy and weapons analysis to send a message to the world.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Secretive manouvres involve tax-payer funds for Bill Gates’ small nuclear reactors

months have elapsed since the Microsoft Corp. co-founder and 27 other billionaires rolled out their Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC) — a promise to invest billions of dollars with a very long payback horizon on groundbreaking new carbon-neutral technologies. And the group has barely been heard from since.

Jonah Goldman, a spokesman for the coalition, said much of the work is happening behind the scenes.

Gates brought his message to Capitol Hill, where he met twice with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in the past year to press the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee chairman for federal support for research and development.

The two men discussed small modular nuclear reactors and carbon capture and storage technology at the meetings, an Alexander aide said.


Nineteen countries joined the United States in backing Mission Innovation in Paris, and the European Union signed on in June. Since then, the Obama administration has followed up with a fiscal 2017 funding request of $7.7 billion for clean energy R&D across the federal government, with $5.9 billion of that going to DOE programs

What’s happening with Bill Gates’ multibillion-dollar energy fund? EENews, Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter, ClimateWire: Monday, August 15, 2016 Bill Gates believes the key to addressing climate change is an “energy miracle,” and in November, he set about trying to conjure one.

Flanked by President Obama and more than a dozen other world leaders in Paris for the first day of a landmark climate summit, Gates claimed a role for the private sector in delivering new solutions.

“We must … add the skills and resources of leading investors with experience in driving innovation from the lab to the marketplace,” Gates said that morning. “The private sector knows how to build companies, evaluate the potential for Breakthrough Energy Coalitionsuccess, and take the risks that lead to taking innovative ideas and bringing them to the world.”

But months have elapsed since the Microsoft Corp. co-founder and 27 other billionaires rolled out their Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC) — a promise to invest billions of dollars with a very long payback horizon on groundbreaking new carbon-neutral technologies. And the group has barely been heard from since.

Jonah Goldman, a spokesman for the coalition, said much of the work is happening behind the scenes. The fund, he said, will make announcements about the kinds of investments that will be made when it is up and running, likely toward the end of this year.

“But the focus is definitely more on doing the work we’ve committed to than making public pronouncements,” he said.

A few things are clear. Some of the group’s contributions will flow through a fund that will concentrate on certain kinds of investments. The group is currently hiring scientists and investment professionals who will direct those decisions. Goldman declined to say how many people are working to stand up the fund or how many employees it will eventually have.

Other things remain a mystery, including the coalition’s eventual capitalization target. Gates promised to invest an additional $1 billion of his own dollars when he launched BEC, and predicted the other members would contribute a collective “couple” billion more toward the venture. But it is unclear how much of that $3 billion — if it is $3 billion — will flow through the fund, versus members investing it independently. Goldman said the total size of the fund and targets for investment will be based on this year’s fundraising.

He said the goal would be to raise a level of capital that the fund could deploy effectively, with the understanding that some of the group’s members will continue to invest in projects outside the fund.

“We feel tremendously confident that we will get significant participation in the ultimate funding vehicle, but each of the potential investors will have to make that decision based on the terms presented, and we’re not quite there yet,” he said…..

Gates brought his message to Capitol Hill, where he met twice with Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in the past year to press the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee chairman for federal support for research and development.

The two men discussed small modular nuclear reactors and carbon capture and storage technology at the meetings, an Alexander aide said.

Then, in the three months before Paris, Gates bore down. He joined Energy and State department officials and White House personnel on calls with foreign governments to urge them to sign on to Mission Innovation, a commitment by countries to double their individual R&D budgets by 2020. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz spearheaded the initiative, which was unveiled in Paris alongside BEC (EnergyWire, Dec. 17, 2015).

On those calls, former officials say Gates offered the private investors fund as a kind of carrot, promising to help carry technologies produced in national laboratories across the “valley of death” — where ideas often perish for lack of investment — toward greater development that leads to commercialization.

But first governments had to put up the money…….

DOE vague on BEC relationship

Nineteen countries joined the United States in backing Mission Innovation in Paris, and the European Union signed on in June. Since then, the Obama administration has followed up with a fiscal 2017 funding request of $7.7 billion for clean energy R&D across the federal government, with $5.9 billion of that going to DOE programs…….

DOE was less forthcoming about its work with BEC post-Paris. A department spokesman said in response to an inquiry only that the agency “is in communication with thousands of researchers, entrepreneurs, inventors, small businesses and large corporations.”

While the spokesman asserted that the investors’ group and Mission Innovation are “separate” and “complementary,” the private-sector group has popped up in DOE communications with interested members of civil society. It figured, for example, in a slideshow presentation that Office of International Science and Technology Collaboration Director Robert Marlay prepared for the U.S. Energy Information Administration earlier this year.

The presentation states that the fund would provide “seed, angel and series A” investments. Seed capital is offered in exchange for a stake in a company, while angel investments help startup companies. “Series A” investments are typically the first round of venture capital investments that are made in a new company….

Some of the Gates group’s radio silence appears to be strategic.

Bodnar said Gates and his partners opted not to put forward a concrete pledge of dollars in Paris because it wasn’t a venue where the contribution would appear in its best light. Even a funding target that would be enough to fulfill the group’s goal of readying promising technologies for the market would pale in comparison to the hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars that are routinely discussed in the multilateral climate process…..

what the 28 billionaires managed to do was to signal there will now be “truly patient, flexible” capital available for promising technologies that make it through the basic research phase. Patient capital is seen to be key, because the high risk and very long time horizons for payback have generally made these technologies unattractive to conventional investors.

Bodnar said Gates and his colleagues were confident that the money they put up would be sufficient to ensure the gap is bridged between federally funded basic research and ready-to-deploy commercial technologies……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties, technology, USA | Leave a comment

The health impacts of wildfires in America’s West

Wildfires burn in Alberta on May 7. Photo by Darryl Dyck / BloombergMapping the health threat of wildfires under climate change in US West Tens of millions will experience longer, more intense ‘smoke waves’ YALE SCHOOL OF FORESTRY & ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, Eureka Alert, 15 Aug 16 A surge in major wildfire events in the U.S. West as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.

The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than 82 million people will experience “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.

Their results, published in the journal Climatic Change, point to the need for new or modified wildfire management and evacuation programs in the nation’s high-risk regions, said Jia Coco Liu, a recent Ph.D. graduate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of the study.

“Our study illustrates that smoke waves are likely to be longer, more intense, and more frequent under climate change,” Liu said. “This raises critical health, ecological, and economic concerns. Identifying communities that will be most affected in the future will inform development of fire management strategies and disaster preparedness programs.”…..

August 17, 2016 Posted by | climate change, health, USA | Leave a comment

US Congress weighs problem of nuclear warheads stored in volatile Turkey

warheads nuclearCongress was briefed on possibly moving the US’s nuclear weapons from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, Business Insider ALEX text-relevantLOCKIE AUG 16, 2016, Business Insider previously reported on power being cut to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base during thefailed July 15 coup and the situation of some 50 B61 nuclear bombs there, but a new report from the Congressional Research Service shows that Congress was also briefed on the matter.

The brief may be the most official confirmation of the location of the bombs on record, and it goes into detail on why and how the bombs are stored.

Essentially, the presence of nuclear weapons at Incirlik owes to Cold War tensions and postures between the US and the former Soviet Union. The report asserts that nuclear weapons were stored in Europe, Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere, with a total of about 200 nuclear bombs in Europe.

The weapons at Incirlik are the shorter-range variety, and they are mainly valuable to deter potential aggression and demonstrate the US’s commitment to NATO. However, Incirlik is unusual in that Turkey does not own or maintain nuclear-capable aircraft, and Ankara does not allow the US to fly nuclear-capable bombers to that airbase.

So the bombs that sit in Incirlik can’t actually be used, or they would have to be hauled to another base first.

Are the bombs secure?  The report finds the security situation of the bombs adequate, as they are stored in facilities last updated in 2015, are heavily guarded by US troops, and are stored securely underground……

Should the US move the nukes? In its conclusion, the report weighs the alternatives to stationing nuclear weapons at Incirlik. Moving the warheads could possibly encourage Russia to cooperate more and possibly reduce their nuclear stockpile, though nothing guarantees that.A move could be seen as prudent in light of the evolving and uncertain relationship of the US to Turkey, and the weapon’s current proximity to ISIS territory and the Syrian quagmire….

August 17, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Environmental groups in America take legal action against transport of nuclear wastes

radiation-truckFlag-USAGreens Sue to Stop Nuclear Waste Transport actionnuclear-waste-transport.htm   By BRITAIN EAKIN WASHINGTON (CN)– The U.S. Energy Department’s unprecedented proposed transfer of “a toxic liquid stew” containing nuclear waste between Canada and the U.S violates federal law, seven environmental groups claim in court.

     The proposed $60 million deal would see more than 6,000 gallons of the liquid waste transported more than 1,100 miles from the Fissile Solutions Storage Tank at Chalk River in Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, according to a 47-page lawsuit filed Friday in Washington, D.C., Federal Court.
“The radioactive waste byproducts resulting from processing the HEU targets at Chalk River are acknowledged to be among the most radioactively hazardous materials on Earth,” the complaint states, abbreviating highly enriched uranium. “They would be more easily dispersed into the environment in liquid form than in solid form, in the event of a breach of containment during transport.”
The material in question, highly enriched uranyl nitrate liquid, or HEUNL, comes from Canadian production of medical radioisotopes with highly enriched uranium provided by the Energy Department.
“The targets are irradiated in a nuclear reactor and then dissolved in nitric acid so that certain useful medical isotopes can be chemically extracted from the liquid solution,” the complaint states, which environmental groups say results in a highly radioactive liquid waste that contains dangerous radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission.
According to the complaint, which names the Energy Department as the primary defendant, the transport will take several years and will require 150 separate trips.
   The lawsuit alleges that the Energy Department wrongly designated the liquid waste, which contains dozens of radioactive compounds often present in irradiated nuclear fuel. The liquid also contains small amounts of highly enriched uranium, “which is nuclear weapons usable material,” the environmental groups claim.
“Thus the material to be shipped is functionally equivalent to liquid high-level radioactive waste that results from dissolving spent nuclear fuel in nitric acid for the purpose of reprocessing,” the complaint states.
The conservationists say the liquid waste is similar to that being stored at Washington state’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which has never been transported in liquid form over public roads.
The complaint calls the public and environmental health dangers of the liquid waste “significant and in some cases even legendary.” Some of it could easily enter the food chain and be absorbed into muscle and organ tissues, the groups say.
Additionally, the lawsuit warns that the liquid waste requires careful monitoring and constant mixing to prevent the highly enriched uranium from becoming more concentrated, which in a worst case scenario could rupture the tank and release the material into the environment.
   “The import and transport of highly radioactive liquid waste is being justified under a U.S.-Canada agreement to return highly enriched uranium to the United States. However, shipping of high-level radioactive waste in liquid form over public roads has never occurred in the 75-year history of U.S. nuclear power, research, medical isotope production, and weapons programs,” the complaint states.
The environmental groups argue that other alternatives exist. The liquid waste can be solidified and stored at Chalk River, or it can be converted or “down-blended” so that it contains low-enriched, non-weapons grade uranium, which the Energy Department has said is a viable option, according to the complaint.
The groups that filed the lawsuit – Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Savannah River Site Watch, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club and Environmentalists Inc. – are asking the Energy Department to thoroughly analyze down-blending as an option for dealing with the waste.
According to the lawsuit, the agency has not compiled an environmental impact statement on the proposed shipments, which federal law requires it to do.
Instead, the agency published and adopted as policy its own analysis of the risks, which it determined are similar to transporting other nuclear material, the complaint says, thereby circumventing public notification and comment requirements.
“The agency found that there would be no significant environmental impacts from the proposed project and provided no meaningful discussion of the potential risks from accident, terrorism, sabotage and the associated possible breach of the transport container,” the lawsuit states.
The environmental groups seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions against the transport plan until the Energy Department compiles an environmental impact statement and complies with the National Environment Policy Act, the Atomic Energy Act and the Department of Energy Organization Act.
The Energy Department declined to comment.
Terry J. Lodge, attorney for the environmental groups, did not respond Monday to an emailed request for comment.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Legal, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

UK’s Crown Estate recommends UK switching attention from nuclear power to offshore wind

The Walney wind farm, in the Irish Sea. Credit: Wikimediaflag-UKHinkley C’s future is in doubt. Let’s turn our sights to offshore wind
Falling costs and increased reliability mean this clean power now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix Guardian 15 Aug 16  
Huub den Rooijen Director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at Crown Estate

With the government re-examining the case for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, it’s a good time to reflect on recent breakthroughs in another low carbon technology: offshore wind.

Offshore wind is already meeting about 5% of the UK’s electricity demand, more than any other country globally, and is on course to meet 10% by 2020. The sector has undergone a sea change over the last few years, driven by rapid advances in technology, cost, and industry’s ability to deliver on time and to budget.

In fact, over the last three years, construction costs have come down by more than 40% in the UK alone. And by 2025, industry and government expect UK prices to be comparable with new gas generation at about £85 per megawatt hour (MWh).

In the Netherlands, there has been an even bigger step change. Although there are differences in terms of regulation, most would agree that after a recent offshore wind tender the Dutch are now going to be paying the equivalent of about £80 per MWh for their 700MW windfarm. That is significantly lower than Hinkley Point C at £92.50per MWh.

As active managers of the UK seabed, including awarding leases for offshore wind, we take a keen interest in this result. After all, the Dutch windfarm is only about 75 miles away from UK waters, and has very similar conditions like water depth, wind speeds, and distances to ports. If costs can be slashed in the Netherlands, geography tells us they can be slashed here too……..

As the Committee on Climate Change urges government to consider alternatives if there are delays to renewing our nuclear fleet, we should remember our seabed is a powerful energy asset.

At present, we have 2,200 wind turbines in operation and under construction, taking up less than 1% of our total seabed. National Grid estimates that nearly half of all power could be generated from our seabed by 2030 through offshore wind, combined with tidal power lagoons and strong electrical connections to our neighbouring countries.

We have an inexhaustible supply of reliable and clean power right on our doorstep, and competitively priced offshore wind now offers a mature part of the solution for the UK’s energy mix.

August 17, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK Tories waking up to the diseconomics of nuclear power

Parkinson-Report-UK Tories wake up to nuclear folly, as wind and solar found to be cheapest By  on 16 August 2016

The decision by the UK’s Tory government to put a hold on approval for the world’s biggest single energy investment – the Hinkley C nuclear plant – may have less to do with concerns about the potential role of Chinese state companies and more to do with the realisation that new nuclear is a horrendously expensive boondoggle.

The fact that the cost of wind and solar is falling and the cost of nuclear is moving in the opposite direction is of little surprise to anyone involved in the energy markets, even if the nuclear industry and its supporters wish it were not so. But it is news, apparently, to the Tories.

New data uncovered from a previously unheralded National Audit Office report shows that the UK government is now advised that the cost of wind and solar could be around half that of new nuclear by 2025 – between £50-£75/MWh compared to between £80 and £125/MWh for nuclear.

The Guardian reported that previous forecasts, made in 2010 and 2013, showed that the two renewable technologies were expected to be more expensive than nuclear or around the same cost by the time that Hinkley was built. This is the first time the government has shown it expects renewables to be a cheaper option.

The Hinkley Point nuclear project has already blown out in costs and relies on significant government guarantees and subsidies over and above the £92.50/MWh tariff it promises to pay should it ever get built. That tariff then rises with inflation over the course of the 35-year contract, meaning it could more than double in price by 2050, even as the cost of wind and solar fall even further.

“The [energy] department’s forecasts for the levelised cost of electricity of wind and solar in 2025 have decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for gas has not changed, while for nuclear it has increased,” the NAO said, with a degree of understatement. The detailed energy department findings have yet to be released…..

Before the Brexit vote, the UK Tories had appeared entirely smitten by new nuclear, despite the evident folly of the project, which had not just blown out in cost from £16 billion to £24.5 billion, but because of the falling price of wholesale electricity, would require a lifetime subsidy of £29.7 billion compared to original estimates of £6.1 billion.

As Bridget Woodman from the University of Exeter wrote recently, accommodating Hinkley meant that the UK government had to essentially redesign the electricity market over the past few years in an effort to create a situation where investment in a new plant looked attractive.

“Pretty much every major policy design has been geared towards creating a perfect environment for Hinkley Point C. That’s why it’s such a surprise to see the government has now stepped back – a bit – from the brink,” she wrote.

And what the UK government was proposing to build was in sharp contrast to what is being recommended. The head of National Grid, for instance, had last year called for a complete rethink about the nature of energy systems.

“The idea of baseload power is already outdated,” he told Energy Post.

“I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload.

“Those are the electrons that are free at the margin. The point is: this is an industry that was based on meeting demand. An extraordinary amount of capital was tied up for an unusual set of circumstances: to ensure supply at any moment. This is now turned on its head.”

Those thoughts are now being echoed by other experts. David Elmes, the head of Warwick Business School Global Energy Research Network, wrote in the UK edition of The Conversation that the UK had painted itself into a corner, and needed to get over the idea that megaprojects were the solution to everything.

“Instead, it should think of a new mix between smaller and larger, be more joined up in considering consumption as well as supply and think more decentralised than central. That expands the industries, companies, institutions and government departments involved.”……

August 17, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

French Polynesia’s Protestant church takes action against France over nuclear testing

justiceMururoa-test-1971Tahiti Protestants take France to court, Radio New Zealand,  9 August 2016 French Polynesia’s Protestant church has decided to take France to the International Criminal Court over the legacy of the French nuclear weapons tests. The decision was announced at the conclusion of the Maohi Protestant Church Synod in Tahiti.

Its secretary general Celine Hoiore said the case will be filed in The Hague for alleged crimes against humanity as a result of 193 nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific.

The action is being taken for all the consequences of the tests, including contempt for the illnesses Polynesians suffer from as a result of the tests she said.

Oscar Temaru, a pro-independence opposition politician, has welcomed the church decision as historic.

The church will also raise its concern with the United Nations (UN) where Mr Temaru has already been campaigning on the matter as part of his decolonisation effort.

In October, the French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch is due to go to the UN as his government is against decolonisation.

He is yet to react to the church decision.

In 2010, France passed a law to compensate victims but the law’s scope has been too narrow to allow more than just a handful of people to get recognition and there have been calls to review the law…….

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power a poor deal for India, despite aggressive marketing by USA, France Russia

India is better advised to put money instead into its abundant solar energy, which will definitely be less expensive and less risky. “Investing in new solar photovoltaic capacity would be a much lower-cost, significantly less environmentally harmful and far more sustainable alternative to the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada projects,”


Nuclear power costly, inefficientSANKAR RAY | Fri, 12 Aug 2016- , Mumbai , dna Reactors reduced to status of old furniture as no new ones are being made With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barrack Obama, finalising the import of 12 AP1000 nuclear reactors plants – six from the Westinghouse Electric — for Mithi Virdi, Gujarat, and another six from the GE-Hitachi’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor for Kovvada, Andhra Pradesh, nuclear hawks have become super-active. The US Export-Import Bank is about to complete a financing package for the Toshiba Westinghouseproject. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Toshiba Corp’s (6502.T) Westinghouse Electric too confirmed that engineering and site design work would begin shortly. Small wonder, anti–US hawks too have swung into action to nail the very concept of importing nuclear power reactors from the US, arguing that the cost from the US reactors is very high, estimated provisionally at $7.5 million per megawatt in stark contrast to $ 2.9 million of the Russian ones that are installed at Kudankulam.

Prof Sujay Basu, a doyen among energy experts and former — the first too – director, School of Energy Studies, Jadavpur University, expressed his chagrin against import of reactors. “First, the Kudankulam reactors were sold by Russia at distressed price. Second, reactor manufacture, from the very beginning of the new century, ceased to be a profitable business. American nuclear industry is worried for want of buyers and escalation of cost.

France tried to sell one or two reactors to Finland but backed out. Nowhere in the world, except Japan, are new reactors marketable without political lobbying. Energy gap cannot be narrowed by setting up more nuclear plants. In India, the more pressing problem is how to retire several ageing with effective disposal of nuclear hazards.” Indeed, almost all the components of the reactor were manufactured during the 1980s and were rendered surplus due to post-Chernobyl cancellation of over two dozen reactors after the mega-catastrophe in the twilight years of Soviet Union.

V T Padmanabhan, noted analyst and member of the Nuclear Consultancy Group, considered as a crusader for nuclear safety and health effects (genetic and somatic) of ionising radiation, divulged in about six months ago that the Kudankulam reactor tripped 20 times and was off-grid for 468 days.

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP-1), the first reactor, built jointly by the NPCIL and Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE), is the only operating Generation-III pressurised water reactor (VVER-1000) the world over. During the 840 days of its grid connection since 22 October 2013, the reactor worked for 372 days, although this so-called brand new Russian machine, commissioned a year ago, underwent a seven-month-long overhaul since 24 June 2015 and achieved criticality in the afternoon of 21 Jan 2016.

Following a series of experiments, the generator was connected to the grid in the morning of 30 Jan 2016. According to the database of Power Reactor Information systems of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the KKNPP-1 operated for only 4,212 hours in 2014, less than half the time-schedule. Mentioning this, Prof M V Ramana, a nuclear physicist and currently associated with the Programme on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, a good fraction of those operations evidently involved the reactor generate below the corresponding rated power capacity. “In all, the reactor generated less than a third of the electricity that it could have if it had operated at full power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” Things worsened in the following year. The NPCIL website admitted that between April 2015 and January 2016, the plant had an abysmally load factor of 20 per cent.

There is no denying that the KKNPP-1 is a congenitally sick baby, a junk reactor. Maybe, the sickly state of KKNPP-1, prompted the NDA government (if not an alibi) to opt for the US plants. But in end-March this year, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, which is engaged in research and analysis on financial and economic issues related to energy, in order to quicken the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy, released a report, Bad Choice: The Risks, Costs and Viability of Proposed US Nuclear Reactors in India, which negates the economic viability of Indian plan to build 12 new nuclear-powered plants using untested technology. The lead author of it, IEEFA’s director of resource planning analysis, David Schlissel, stated that these nuclear plants are “first-of-kind” designs by Toshiba-Westinghouse and General Electric-Hitachi planned for the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada complexes, are neither economically nor financially viable.“They would take much longer than expected to build, they would result in higher bills for ratepayers, and, if they are built, they might not work as advertised.”

The IEEFA pointed out that it would take 11 to 15 years to build, if approved, the first new reactors at Mithi Virdi and Kovvada, provided there is no time lag. These reactors can’t start generation for the electric grid before 2029.

Furthermore, stated Schlissel, even if there is zero time-and-cost overruns, “both projects would require massive investment over the next two decades, ranging from Rs 6.3 lakh crores (US $95 billion) to 11.3 lakh crore rupees (US $170 billion).” The IEEFA warned against slowdown in project implementation due to lengthy land-acquisition and complicated nuclear liability issues. India is better advised to put money instead into its abundant solar energy, which will definitely be less expensive and less risky. “Investing in new solar photovoltaic capacity would be a much lower-cost, significantly less environmentally harmful and far more sustainable alternative to the Mithi Virdi and Kovvada projects,” quipped Schlissel…….

August 17, 2016 Posted by | India, marketing | Leave a comment