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The world had better pay attention NOW – to soaring ocean temperatures

Soaring ocean temperature is ‘greatest hidden challenge of our generation’
IUCN report warns that ‘truly staggering’ rate of warming is changing the behaviour of marine species, reducing fishing zones and spreading disease,
Guardian, . 6 Sept 16, The soaring temperature of the oceans is the “greatest hidden challenge of our generation” that is altering the make-up of marine species, shrinking fishing areas and starting to spread disease to humans, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of ocean warming.


The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reportinvolving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries.

The profound changes underway in the oceans are starting to impact people, the report states. “Due to a domino effect, key human sectors are at threat, especially fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risk management, health and coastal tourism.”…..

The scale of warming in the ocean, which covers around 70% of the planet, is “truly staggering”, the report states. The upper few metres of ocean have warmed by around 0.13C a decade since the start of the 20th century, with a 1-4C increase in global ocean warming by the end of this century.

The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.

At some point, the report says, warming waters could unlock billions of tonnes of frozen methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the seabed and cook the surface of the planet. This could occur even if emissions are drastically cut, due to the lag time between emitting greenhouse gases and their visible consequences.

Warming is already causing fish, seabirds, sea turtles, jellyfish and other species to change their behaviour and habitat, it says. Species are fleeing to the cooler poles, away from the equator, at a rate that is up to five times faster than the shifts seen by species on land.

Even in the north Atlantic, fish will move northwards by nearly 30km per decade until 2050 in search of suitable temperatures, with shifts already documented for pilchard, anchovy, mackerel and herring.

The warming is having its greatest impact upon the building blocks of life in the seas, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton and krill. Changes in abundance and reproduction are, in turn, feeding their way up the food chain, with some fish pushed out of their preferred range and others diminished by invasive arrivals.

With more than 550 types of marine fishes and invertebrates already considered threatened, ocean warming will exacerbate the declines of some species, the report also found…….

Ocean acidification, where rising carbon dioxide absorption increases the acidity of the water, is making it harder for animals such as crabs, shrimps and clams to form their calcium carbonate shells.

The IUCN report recommends expanding protected areas of the ocean and, above all, reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases pumped into the atmosphere.

“The only way to preserve the rich diversity of marine life, and to safeguard the protection and resources the ocean provides us with, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially,” said Inger Andersen, director general of the IUCN.


September 7, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Britain’s national disgrace: nuclear reprocessing at Sellafield

The National Audit Office (NAO) stated these tanks pose “significant risks to people and the
environment”. One official review published in The Lancet concluded that, at worst, an explosive release from the tanks could kill two million Britons and require the evacuation of an area reaching from Glasgow to Liverpool. These dangerous tanks have also been the subject of repeated complaints from Ireland and Norway who fear their countries could be contaminated if explosions or fires were to occur.

In short, the practice of reprocessing at Sellafield has been and remains a monumental national disgrace.


Especially serious are the ~20 large holding tanks at Sellafield containing thousands of litres of extremely radiotoxic fission products. Discussing these tanks, the previous management consortium Nuclear Management Partners stated in 2012:

“there is a mass of very hazardous [nuclear] waste onsite in storage conditions that are extraordinarily vulnerable, and in facilities that are well past their designated life.”

most of all, we should recognize that nuclear policies, in both weapons and energy, have poorly served the nation.

sellafield-2011Sellafield exposed: the nonsense of nuclear fuel reprocessing  Ian Fairlie  6th September 2016   Last night’s BBC Panorama programme did a good job at lifting the lid on Britain’s ongoing nuclear disaster that is Sellafield, writes Ian Fairlie. But it failed to expose the full scandal of the UK’s ‘reprocessing’ of spent fuel into 50 tonnes of plutonium, enough to build 20,000 nuclear bombs – while leaving £100s of billions of maintenance and cleanup costs to future generations.

Many readers will have seen the interesting Panorama programme on the poor safety record at Sellafield broadcast on BBC1 last night.

The BBC press release stated this was a “special investigation into the shocking state of Britain’s most hazardous nuclear plant” – and it certainly was.

The most important of several whistleblower revelations was that the previous US managers had been shocked at the state of the plant when they took over its running in 2008.

Although the programme producers are to be congratulated for tackling the subject, it was only 30 minutes long and tells only a fragment of the whole sorry story.

This article tries to give more background information, and importantly, more analysis and explanation. The full story would require several books, and provide exceedingly painful reading.

What is reprocessing for? Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

More frequent, more powerful Super Typhoons, with climate change

text-cat-questionIs not the push for nuclear reactors in East Asia (almost always located on coast) a dangerous trend, in view of increasing typhoons?


Super typhoons becoming more powerful and more frequent, new study finds, SMH,  Peter Hannam  6 Sept 16  The most destructive categories of tropical storms to strike the heavily populated regions of east Asia are becoming more intense and increasing as much as four-fold in frequency because of climate change, according to new research by US-based scientists.


Since the late 1970s, typhoons making land in a region stretching from Vietnam and the Philippines to Korea and Japan have become 12 per cent to 15 per cent more intense.

Those hitting south-east Asia with a category 4 or 5 strength have more than doubled in number, with the increase even more for China and Taiwan and regions north, the paper published in Nature Geoscience on Tuesday found.

The increase in sea-surface temperature is key to providing extra energy to tropical storms, with the outcome for the megacities of the region looking grimmer……..

“The intensification is strongest for typhoons that tend to make landfall because of the stronger warming of the coastal waters near east and south-east Asia,” said Wei Mei, a researcher in the department of marine sciences at the University of South Carolina and co-author of the paper.

Additional warming is expected to intensify the storms, particularly in some of east Asia’s main economic centres, Dr Mei said: “The typhoons striking mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea will intensify further because of the faster warming of waters of 20 degrees north.”…….

The north-west Pacific basin has both the largest data set of super typhoon-strength storms and the clearest trend towards intensification as the planet warms, Steve Turton, an adjunct professor at the Central Queensland University, said.

This year has also been an active one for the region………

September 7, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

President Obama to stay with the policy of pre-emptive nuclear strike

Obama puppetObama to Stick With “First Strike” Nuclear War Doctrine, Claiming Deterrence Value  September 6, 2016  by  President Obama will not rule out the possibility of the United States conducting a first nuclear strike, keeping intact a policy that has been in place since the Cold War.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Obama won’t attempt to revise the so-called “First Strike” doctrine before leaving office in January 2017.

The paper noted he had faced criticism, including some from “former senior aides,” over unfulfilled campaign and first-term promises, to work towards “a world without nuclear weapons.”

“For months, arms control advocates have argued for a series of steps to advance the pledge he made,” the Times said. “An unequivocal no-first-use pledge would have been the boldest of those measures.”

The source of complaints about the President’s about-face are from roughly six years ago. In 2010, when Obama renewed the START treaty with Russia, he also agreed to modernize the US nuclear arsenal, per Congressional Republicans’ demands.

The Times said that a shift away from First Strike would be mostly cosmetic, with US presidents dating back to Harry Truman, having pledged to only use nuclear weapons as a “last resort.”

History, however, casts a pall over these pledges.

Truman ordered the dropping of two atomic bombs on an already-battered Imperial Japan in 1945, despite the fact that some American military officials–at the time and, in the years after–expressed doubt that the nuclear bombings were needed to force a Japanese surrender. Those critics included Dwight Eisenhower, Pacific fleet commander Adm. Chester Nimitz, and Truman’s Chief of Staff, Adm. William Leahy. The United States is still the only nation in history to use nuclear weapons against an adversary.

According to The New York Times’ Tuesday report, President Obama had considered a move away from First Strike this summer, not long after he became the first US President to visit Hiroshima—the first of the two Japanese cities targeted by nuclear weapons, under orders from Truman.

Obama was, however, persuaded to move away from altering the policy by his cabinet. The Secretaries of Defense, State and Energy—Ash Carter, John Kerry, and Ernest Moniz—were all opposed to the move.

Kerry and Carter were particularly concerned about upsetting allies in East Asia, South Korea and Japan, in the context of perceived US “weakness,” in the face of possible North Korean military strikes.

The Times also noted Kerry objecting to “weaken[ing] the nuclear deterrent while Russia is running practice bombing runs over Europe and China is expanding its reach in the South China Sea.”

President Obama also ran the risk of adopting a policy that would be quickly reversed by the next administration, the paper noted.

“[Donald] Trump bristled at the idea [of abandoning first strike], saying he would never want to weaken America’s leverage,” The Times said. “[Hillary] Clinton has not spoken on the issue during her campaign.”

September 7, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

The Dead Nuclear Plant Society – in nuclear trash burial business

Decommissioning‘Dead Plant Society’ lobby group booms as reactors close  Hannah Northey, E&E reporter Greenwire: September 6, 2016 “……..Reactors are closing as nuclear utilities struggle to compete with cheap natural gas, low demand for power and no national energy policy. And when the behemoth nuclear plants close, the Dead Plant Society grows.

As the teacher played by Robin Williams in the movie famously tells his young students, “We are food for worms, lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”

The group of doomed-reactor owners has doubled from its original five members to 10 and now includes Exelon Corp., the nation’s largest nuclear utility.

Operators who climb aboard are eager to weigh in on a high-profile rulemaking at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for decommissioning reactors and to find solutions — on or off Capitol Hill — for growing amounts of radioactive waste piling up across the country, said Smith, the president of Governmental Strategies Inc.

Exelon came to the society five years ago. The nuclear giant is deactivating reactors — or is planning to do so — at three sites in Illinois and one in New Jersey, Smith said. Entergy Corp. signed after it bought the shuttered Big Rock Point nuclear power plant near Charlevoix, Mich. And Pacific Gas & Electric Co. was next when it decided to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors in California.

Following years would see Southern California Edison join with the closure of the San Onofre reactors in California and Duke Energy Corp. as it shuttered the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.

All told, the tight-knit club represents more than a dozen reactors that have been closed or are about to be snuffed out in eight states. And nuclear executives have warned that an additional 15 to 20 reactors could close in coming years.

Many of the companies are either suing the federal government or involved in legal settlements after the Department of Energy failed to uphold its 1980s agreements and take possession of spent reactor fuel destined for the stalled repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. So far, DOE has paid out more than $5 billion, and the lawsuits are still mounting.

And like the industry implementing cost-cutting measures to keep reactors afloat, Smith said the Dead Plant Society is on a tight budget, spending under $160,000 a year on lobbying since its inception, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Working with Smith is Michael Callahan, president of CCMSC Corp. and a former NRC congressional affairs officer….

‘Real security and safety issues’

Smith isn’t thrilled about the group’s growth.

The former Hill staffer and Nuclear Energy Institute executive said he’d rather be promoting a growing industry, not burying cooling waste.

“I hope not to grow it; I don’t like being in the nuclear trash burial business,” said Smith, who worked for former Louisiana Sen. John Breaux (D), a former Entergy lobbyist. “I had a lot more fun when I was lobbying to get new plants up and running.”

Then again, most members of the Dead Plant Society would rather not belong to the group, either.

Owners of the three Yankee reactors in New England, for example, recently sued the federal government after DOE failed to pick up spent reactor fuel stored in concrete casks at the site of former reactors in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Co., Maine Yankee Atomic Power Co. and Yankee Atomic Electric Co. said they existed as corporations only because DOE had failed to pick up the waste, forcing the companies to build, staff and oversee on-site storage. The court awarded the companies $76.8 million in damages.

Tim Smith, a lobbyist and president of Governmental Strategies Inc., has represented the Decommissioning Plant Coalition since 2001, better known in industry as the “Dead Plant Society.” Photo courtesy of Governmental Strategies Inc.

strandedThe dispute, like many others, stems from the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which required DOE to remove spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste from reactors. The agency signed contracts with the companies to remove the waste by January 1998 and store it in a permanent repository, but the department failed to do so. The Obama administration later pulled support for building a waste repository under Yucca Mountain, forcing utilities across the nation to store spent nuclear fuel in wet pools or dry storage casks on-site……

DOE will see its legal problems grow should more reactors go dark.

The department could face between $29 billion and $50 billion in legal fees if it begins accepting waste by 2025, according to a recent study by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. If the decadeslong debacle slips past that date, costs could continue to grow by $500 million a year, said Christina Simeone, the report’s author. There are currently 19 lawsuits pending in federal court, according to a DOE report.

But the real losers are the ratepayers and taxpayers who have paid for a repository and may not realize that radioactive waste may live in their communities for ages, long after a reactor is snuffed out, she said.

What’s more, federal funds to move the process forward are off-limits unless the law is changed, she added. The $34 billion Nuclear Waste Fund — a cache nuclear customers have fed over years — is untouchable under statute for repository-related activities, and DOE legal fees are taken out of a federal fund made up of taxpayers’ contributions, she said.

“I don’t think these communities realize that when these plants close, the waste is going to stay there,” Simeone said. “The plant may be remediated, but there’s a portion of the land that’s going to remain under license at the NRC and is going to store waste indefinitely. There are real security and safety issues.”……..

The commission’s work — slated to be complete by 2020 — has spurred passionate debate between the industry and host communities, public advocates and environmental groups over funding for multibillion-dollar cleanups. Central to those discussions is what happens to pools and casks full of radioactive waste, the sizes of security forces and evacuation zones, and what role the host communities play.

As it stands, there are no such federal rules for dead nuclear plants.

Instead, companies must seek “exemptions” from regulations for operating plants as they power down the units.

Smith said the Dead Plant Society is supporting the NRC’s work to streamline the process and make it transparent, adding that operators set aside money to ensure they can remove or reduce radiation from the former plant sites so the land can be released or repurposed — a process that can cost as much as $400 million……..

The Vermont Yankee decommissioning panel has said host communities — people living near the nuclear plant within the 10-mile evacuation zone — need a voice on par with industry. The group has called on the NRC to take a closer look at the effect on communities hit by the multimillion-dollar loss in tax revenues after reactors close.

In their comments to the NRC, neighbors of nuclear reactors are asking the agency to ensure that decommissioning funds aren’t used for lobbying or operating expenses, and not to reduce evacuation zones. ……

September 7, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Outcry over secret trucking of weapons grade nuclear waste to South Carolina

secret-agent-SmWeapons-grade nuclear waste shipments to U.S. prompt outcry  Trucks expected to carry radiation-truckcasks containing highly enriched uranium and radioactive isotopes  CBC News Sep 05, 2016 A highly secretive plan to ship weapons-grade nuclear waste from a federal lab northwest of Ottawa to the United States is drawing ire in some of the southern Ontario and American communities along the potential route.

Radioactive waste from the former Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. laboratory in Chalk River, Ont., a major but dwindling world supplier of medical isotopes that is now run by a private consortium, is set to be transported in liquid form to a site in Savannah River, S.C., for processing and disposal. The route could take it through Ontario’s fruit-rich Niagara Region, or possibly even through the border crossing at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., into Michigan, according to a lawsuit trying to stop the shipments. Thelawsuit was filed in a U.S. federal court last month by a coalition of American environmental and nuclear watchdog groups. …….

Kept secret from emergency personnel

The plan is for about 150 shipments by truck to South Carolina, a minimum distance of nearly 1,700 kilometres from Chalk River, which is 180 km northwest of Ottawa. Each shipment would carry four 58-litre steel containers placed inside a larger steel and lead tube, carrying liquid radioactive waste including isotopes of cesium, iodine, strontium and plutonium, according to the U.S. lawsuit.

The waste would also contain a modest but dangerous quantity of highly enriched uranium, which can be used to make a nuclear bomb, the lawsuit states.

The waste is a byproduct of making molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in diagnostic tests of organs and other body parts.

The Niagara area’s regional government passed a motion last year opposing the shipments…….

One problem raised by opponents is that, for security reasons, the route through Canada and the timetable for shipments are being kept under tight secrecy — so secret that local emergency responders haven’t been kept in the loop.

“There would be no notice given, but of course it would be our first responders, my friends, my neighbours, working in our volunteer force and in our emergency services, that would be exposed… in case there was an accident,” Hodgson said, adding that even his local fire chief only found out through the media.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the federal nuclear safety regulator, approved the steel tube design last year for transporting the nuclear waste, but full environmental assessments have not been conducted in either Canada or the U.S., opponents complain. ……

September 7, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

European financiers very worried about Ukraine’s dire nuclear industry problems

piggy-bank--nuke-sadflag-UkraineHomeNews MediaBlogUkraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test

Ukraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test In a meeting today, the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee will again discuss Ukraine’s compliance with the Convention’s rules. A look back at the last months does not suggest a positive outcome.

 Much remains unknown about the basis for the European Commission’s decision to contribute to Ukraine’s nuclear safety upgrade program, but Bankwatch will not give up until this crucial information is made public.

Earlier this year Bankwatch approached the Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, and made a request for documents related to the EUR 300 million Euratom loan for the project. Specifically, we asked for the evidence used by the Commission in making the first EUR 100 million disbursement from the loan.

According to our information, Ukraine has not met the loan conditions and has in fact been violating international environmental treaties – namely, the Espoo Convention and the Aarhus Convention
But the response to our request (pdf) was insufficient, so we decided to take the case to the European Court of Justice. In our submission (pdf) we explain why we believe both conventions, as well as relevant EU legislation, apply to the Euratom Treaty and why transparency and improved nuclear safety are not mutually exclusive, as has been argued by the Commission.

A decision in this case can take some time, but old nuclear power plants could soon see their lifetimes extended, not only in Ukraine but across the EU. Yet, as we argued in a recent letter to the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee, any decision on prolonging the operations of nuclear power units beyond their design lifespan should be subject to a transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA) and transboundary public consultations.

The Committee is the only body with the power to rule on violations of the Espoo Convention. It is currently preparing a report for the June 2017 Meeting of the Parties on Ukraine’s adherence to the convention and will meet today, Monday, September 5, in Geneva to discuss the Ukrainian government’s progress (or lack thereof) with implementing the Committee’s requests.

And there is reason to worry. In April 2013 the Committee ruled that Ukraine’s decision to extend the lifetime of its two oldest nuclear units in the Rivne power plant was in breach of the convention and, as argued in our letter, this decision should be considered a precedent applicable to similar cases for the sake of legal certainty and equal treatment.

Unmet loan conditions

International treaties on their own are not the only reason Ukraine is expected to carry out transboundary EIAs before rewriting the expiry dates of its Soviet-era nuclear reactors. Each of the two EUR 300 million loans Ukraine’s nuclear safety upgrade program has received, from Euratom and from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is explicitly conditioned on full compliance with international environmental law, include the Espoo Convention that obliges the engagement with neighbouring countries in decisions on matters related to nuclear energy, such as nuclear units’ lifetime extensions. The European Commission has reiterated this obligation on several occasions.

Nevertheless, so far neither the Espoo Convention ruling in the Rivne case, nor the conditions to the European loans, have stopped Kiev from going ahead with lifetime extensions for two more nuclear units in the South Ukraine station without applying international requirements.

One other nuclear unit, in the Zaporizhia power plant, could see its lifetime extended as early as next week, and the state nuclear regulator contends these decisions fall outside the jurisdiction of the Espoo Convention.

In fact, Ukraine does not even have proper legislation on EIAs at national level. This has allowed Energoatom to release an “EIA report” for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant which ruled out any significant transboundary impacts from the plant’s operations.

Yet, Energoatom’s claims look even more invalid with the latest Espoo Implementation Committee’s ruling on the planned nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C in the UK, stating that a worst-case scenario should be taken into account when considering transboundary impacts.

Moreover, a recent incident in the 29 years old Khmelnitski nuclear power plant is but the latest reminder for the risks in Ukraine. Following a leak of radioactive water, the power station’s unit 1 was shut down for two months. This unit will reach the end of its projected lifetime next year.

According to the state nuclear regulator, the reason for the leak might have been a micro-crack in a tube in the heat exchanger. An expert report released in March 2015 by Bankwatch’s Ukrainian member group NECU has warned of the possible appearance of micro-cracks in the reactor vessel of unit 1 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant which has been granted a lifetime extension earlier.

The dire financial troubles facing Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom raise additional questions about the government’s blind reliance on this source of energy, and should be another warning sign for Ukraine’s European allies in Brussels and across its borders.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Australian delegation stopped from France’s nuclear waste agency by anti nuclear activists

protestflag-franceAustralian Delegation to France Blockaded By Anti-Nuclear Activists from Earth First! Newswire On the morning of September 1st an Australian delegation on a parliamentary inquiry into the management of nuclear waste, was blockaded in North-East France by anti-nuclear activists.

The delegation was visiting the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (ANDRA) facilities in the municipality of Bure, where an anti-nuclear movement under the banner of Bure Zone Libre (Bure Liberated Zone, BZL) has been burgeoning in recent years.

A group of about twenty masked activists dressed in white overalls and armed with water guns, drums and a sound system blocked the Australian delegation from entering the ANDRA laboratory, forcing the delegation to turn around and leave.

“We’re here in solidarity with indigenous resistance to the planned nuclear facility in Australia,” said one activist with a red clown nose. “Nuclear industry endangers life itself, and we will resist it everywhere.”

The BZL movement recently got national headlines in France for toppling a three kilometer long wall which ANDRA has erected around the forest near Bure. The wall was intended to stop the group from reoccupying the forest which ANDRA aims to uproot for the construction of a controversial nuclear waste facility.

“Wherever they’ll build walls, we’ll turn them into wall jam,” the activist laughed, explaining the French wordplay confiture de mur, as mur means both blackberry and wall.

About twenty gendarmes (French military police) patrolled Bure after the action had already ended. The area has been increasingly militarized recently, with activists facing trumped legal charges.

The BZL activists sent the Australian delegates a letter explaining their actions, presented below.

Letter to Australian delegation:

Dear distinguished Australian visitors,

Nuclear industry is a ticking time bomb, whether radioactive waste is dumped in Bure, Wallerberdina, or anywhere else. There is no known way to permanently neutralize it. All claims to the contrary are unfounded (visit for details). By accepting to dump nuclear waste in Australia you are not only endangering the lives of aboriginal people and Australians in the region, but of wildlife and of the lives of those who will suffer the consequences nuclear production from extraction to waste everywhere.

Here in Bure, Andra’s project has already cost the lives of two workers, most recently last January, showing the company’s incompetence and disrespect for human life. Undemocratically and illegally imposed on us, the costs of the Cigeo waste project rise as resistance to it is burgeoning, manifesting in absurd military and police presence in the area.

As nuclear power proves to be obsolete and dangerous the world over, and as sustainable alternatives are increasingly available, resistance materializes in Australia as well. You can choose to fight for a just, ecologically balanced world now, and leave Andra’s profit-driven propagandists to listen to what we have to say, or meet us from the other side of the barricades. We are fighting for our lives and for the lives of our children.

We are a growing contingent of local and international activists occupying Bure to stop nuclear catastrophe. In our collective way of organizing and living we present an alternative to nuclear waste and to the sick world which produces it.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

BBC programme investigates safety flaws at Sellafield nuclear site

Map Sellafield & Drigg wastesSellafield ‘riddled with safety flaws’, according to BBC investigation  Panorama programme claims there are numerous, potentially lethal safety flaws at the Cumbria nuclear plant Guardian, Ruth Quinn, 6 Sept 16, The Sellafield nuclear site is riddled with potentially lethal safety flaws, according to a BBC investigation.

The Panorama programme, broadcast on Monday night, uncovered a raft of safety issues on the site in Cumbria which stores almost all of the country’s nuclear waste.

The investigation was prompted by a whistleblower, once a senior manager in Sellafield, who revealed a litany of safety concerns including degraded infrastructure, improper storage of highly radioactive materials and chronic under staffing across the site……

The whistleblower said that his biggest fear for the site was for one of the nuclear waste silos to go up in flames – the consequences of which would be dire. He said: “If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across western Europe.”

It was also revealed that swaths of the plant often do not have enough staff to meet basic safety levels. Investigators for the programme found that in the space of 12 months between July 2012 and July 2013, minimum levels of safe manning levels were routinely breached……..

September 7, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Clinton campaign warns of nuclear war if Trump elected

USA election 2016Pro-Clinton group warns of nuclear war if Trump elected   By Jonathan Easley , September 06, 2016, The largest pro-Hillary Clinton super-PAC on Tuesday released a new ad warning that Donald Trump could lead the nation into a nuclear war if he’s elected president.

 The ad from Priorities USA, called “I Love War,” juxtaposes Trump’s past remarks about his affinity for war and the power of nuclear energy against a backdrop of images of mushroom clouds, land stripped bare by massive explosions and old-time war reels. “I’m really good at war, I love war in a certain way,” Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, says in one clip.
“Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes,” he says.
Priorities USA is putting $5 million behind the ad, which will run begin running on Friday in six battleground states: North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Nuclear is just, the power, the devastation is very important to me,” Trump says in the ad.
“I want to be unpredictable,” he says as the spot concludes.
Allies of Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, are hammering Trump in a coordinated effort to portray him as unfit to be commander in chief.
The Trump campaign is pushing back, rolling out endorsements on Tuesday from 88 retired military figures who are backing Trump for president, calling him the leader to deal with “burgeoning threats” facing the country.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Flooding – a dire hazard to nuclear power stations

Flag-USANuclear Reactors and Flood Protection  , DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR SAFETY PROJECT | SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 DISASTER BY DESIGN/ SAFETY BY INTENT #48    Safety by Intent  Oconee Flood Protection Issue

Flood Fort-Calhoun-nukeplant

In August 2006, NRC inspectors identified a deficiency in a flood protection measure at the Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina. Specifically, the inspectors discovered that workers removed a 6-inch by 10-inch panel in the 5-foot tall flood wall around the Standby Shutdown Facility (SSF) to allow temporary cables to be used during a modification. When the work was completed and the cables removed, the panel was not re-installed.

The SSF houses power supplies and emergency equipment that provide core cooling for all three Oconee reactors during certain accidents. The opening in the flood wall could have allowed water to enter the SSF and submerge the equipment, disabling it. The NRC’s preliminary determination was that the problem warranted a white finding.

The owner contested the white finding in October 2006 on grounds that the lower end of the opening is 4.71 feet above the ground and no credible flood could cause water to rise high enough to flow through the opening to threaten the equipment inside the SSF. The NRC considered the argument, then decided against it and issued the white finding in November 2006.

The owner appealed the white finding in December 2006 on largely the same grounds that the NRC had considered and rejected. The NRC formed a five-member panel to review the owner’s appeal. In February 2007, the NRC panel recommended that the appeal be denied. The NRC notified the owner on March 1, 2007, that the appeal was denied.

The owner appealed the denial of the first appeal in May 2007 on largely the same grounds that it had unsuccessfully trod twice before. Once again, the NRC formed another panel to handle the appeal.

The flood of appeals forced the NRC to closely examine the design basis flood event for Oconee. Included in the mix of things that could inundate the Oconee site was the failure of the Jocassee Dam, upriver about 20 miles. The NRC discovered that the owner made a mistake when calculating the probability of the dam’s failure—the dam’s failure was more than 10 times more likely than the owner had calculated. The NRC denied the second appeal in November 2007 to let the white finding stand.

But the owner’s failed appeals resulted in far more than a white finding. Along the way, the NRC discovered a larger problem than a 6-inch by 10-inch opening in a 5-foot tall flood wall. The NRC learned of a study completed in the early 1990s showing that Jocassee Dam’s failure could inundate the Oconee site up to 16.8 feet and cause the meltdown of all three reactors, rendering the presence or absence of a hole in a 5-foot tall flood wall somewhat moot. The NRC mandated in August 2008 that the owner respond, under oath or affirmation, with information explaining how Oconee is adequately protected against floods. The owner responded to the NRC’s mandate in September 2009.

The NRC sat down with the owner in November 2008 about flood protection deficiencies at Oconee. The NRC informed the owner that its response to the NRC’s mandate was “insufficient.” The NRC seemed more than a little perturbed by the owner’s insistence that Oconee could not possibly be inadequately protected against flooding caused by failure of the Jocassee Dam, because Oconee did not legally have to be protected against dam failures.

The owner and the NRC discussed/debated the matter until they agreed upon 15 compensatory measures to be taken at Jocassee and Oconee to reduce the chances of the dam’s failure and increase the chances of Oconee surviving a flood……….

Fort Calhoun Flood Protection Issue

As described in an All Things Nuclear post, the NRC identified in July 2010 several deficiencies in protective measures against flooding at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant (Nebraska). The owner attempted to justify the configuration as-is, largely on grounds that the plant had operated for over three decades without experiencing a flood requiring the protections the NRC deemed inadequate. The NRC considered that argument, then decided against it and issued a yellow finding in October 2010. (For context, the NRC issued 827 findings to plant owners during 2010 and only two were yellow in the green, white, yellow, and red hierarchy; it issued no red findings that year). The NRC pointed out that the flood barriers and related measures were installed for protection against the postulated failure of upriver dams, and the fact that the dams had not yet failed had little relevancy on the acceptability of deficient barriers.

The NRC’s identification of the flood protection deficiencies and their strong inducement for the owner to remedy them expeditiously came in handy when Fort Calhoun literally became an island in the Missouri River in June 2011.

Nationwide Flood Protection Issues

Prior to a flood in March 2011 causing three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan to melt down, the NRC discovered from Oconee, Bellefonte, and Fort Calhoun that protection against flooding hazards might not be as reliable and robust as necessary. On July 19, 2010, the NRC initiated Generic Issue 204 (GI-204), “Flooding of Nuclear Power Plant Sites Following Upstream Dam Failures.” The NRC was conducting due diligence for GI-204 (i.e., researching postulated floods and associated protections to assess which reactors might have what vulnerabilities) when Fukushima happened. The NRC finished its screening study for GI-204 in July 2011and accepted GI-204 as a generic issue in February 2012. The GI-204 effort helped inform the NRC’s decision-making about steps to be taken to reduce flooding vulnerabilities, the potential consequences of which had been vividly revealed by the Fukushima disaster………

Disaster by Design

Floods pose dire hazards to nuclear power plant safety for two reasons. First, flood waters can submerge and disable primary safety systems and their backups. Flooding can thus breach multiple barriers in the defense-in-depth approach to safety. Second, flood waters can impair efforts by workers to compensate for disabled systems and breached barriers.

The one-two punch of knocking out installed systems and impairing manual compensatory measures make floods a genuine risk to be reckoned with.

UCS’s Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent series of blog posts is intended to help readers understand how a seemingly unrelated assortment of minor problems can coalesce to cause disaster and how effective defense-in-depth can lessen both the number of pre-existing problems and the chances they team up.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Belarus – problems, secrecy, ignorance on nuclear unsafety

safety-symbol-SmMysteries Of The First Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, Belarus Digest Lizaveta Kasmach06 September 2016 On 26 August 2016, a 43-year old worker was injured and killed as a result of the explosion of an oxygen gas tank at the Astraviec nuclear power plant (NPP) construction site.

A series of unfortunate events

Reports of incidents at the Astraviec construction site have been piling up in 2016, bringing more and more attention to the first Belarusian nuclear project. For instance, in April 2016, Poland-based TV channel Belsat reported the collapse of a supporting structure in one of the maintenance buildings on the site.

This death was the latest in a series of accidents which have already started to raise nuclear safety concerns, both domestically and internationally.

In July 2016, the Belarusian media reported another dangerous incident which occurred during the installation of a reactor. It also turned out that the NPP’s management had been concealing this news for more than two weeks. This lack of transparency is reminiscent of the suppressed news of the Chernobyl catastrophe back in 1986.

As a result, NPP construction has come under closer scrutiny and even the state-run media picked up the topic of nuclear security. However, all these events have not led to massive anti-nuclear protests in Belarus.

Despite the fact that an employee tipped off journalists, the NPP management responded by denying that the accident had even taken place and referred to the news as “absolute nonsense.” Later, the Belarusian Ministry of Energy nevertheless confirmed the accident, trying to downplay its severity.

Less than two months ago, authorities tried to conceal another, more serious accident which interrupted the installation of the nuclear reactor. On 10 July 2016, the reactor casing, weighing over 330 tonnes, reportedly fell to the ground from a height of 2 to 4 metres.

However, the wider public became aware of this disaster only on 25 July. Local anti-nuclear activist and United Civil Party member Mikalai Ulasevich reported that more than ten anonymous insider sources could confirm that something went wrong during the test lifting procedure……..

Lithuania also expressed its concerns. On 23 August, president Dalia Grybauskaite referred to the Belarusian NPP as an instrument which could potentially be used in an unconventional manner against the Baltic states. In her opinion, the Belarusian NPP potentially represented “an energy, military, health, and territorial security problem, if used by a hostile country.”

What about Belarusian environmentalists?  Belarusian environmentalists had already adopted a clear anti-nuclear position by 2005, when officials started mentioning plans for an NPP. In 2006, the Belarusian NGOEcodom, backed by the opposition parties, pioneered anorganised anti-nuclear movement. By 2008, major anti-nuclear initiatives united within the Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign.

However, Belarusian authorities did everything possible to neutralise the dissenting green movement. For instance, during the so-called public debates on the NPP construction in October 2009, only a few anti-nuclear activists were allowed to attend. The event ended with the arrest of anti-nuclear expert Andrei Ozharovskii.

Moreover, the Institute of Sociology at the National Academy of Sciences produced surveys indicating a surprising turn in public opinion towards acceptance of nuclear energy. ……

Even though in 2016 the anti-nuclear movement has captured more attention, environmentalists fear that Belarusian society is dangerously naive when it comes to NPP construction. According to the coordinator of the Green Network association, Yaraslau Bekish, this explains why even serious accidents in Astraviec have not catalysed significant public protests.

So far, Belarusian authorities have succeeded in protecting their pet project in Astraviec. Neither Belarusian independent anti-nuclear activists nor the EU have the leverage to interfere in these plans. However, there is a chance that their voice could be heard if such emergencies and accidents continue in the future.   Lizaveta Kasmach is a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, Canada.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | Belarus, incidents, safety | Leave a comment

Australia, the Pacific pariah on climate change

It is the world’s largest coal exporter, and both major political parties are financially backed by the coal lobby. Rather than move away from coal, the government is seeking to expand exports dramatically, with public subsidies and taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

The contrast could not be starker. While Pacific leaders are praised for their efforts to develop global climate solutions, Australia faces ignominy. Unless Australia changes direction, it will continue to be seen as an irresponsible middle power – a rogue state undermining global efforts to tackle climate change.

australias-politiciansPacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold, The Conversation, , 7 Sept 16, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have some explaining to do when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei, Micronesia, this week.

Australia’s continued determination to dig up coal, while refusing to dig deep to tackle climate change, has put it increasingly at odds with world opinion. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australian politicians meet with their Pacific island counterparts.

It is widely acknowledged that Pacific island states are at the front line of climate change. It is perhaps less well known that, for a quarter of a century, Australia has attempted to undermine their demands in climate negotiations at the United Nations.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) – organised around an annual meeting between island leaders and their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand – is the Pacific region’s premier political forum. But island nations have been denied the chance to use it to press hard for their shared climate goals, because Australia has used the PIF to weaken the regional declarations put forward by Pacific nations at each key milestone in the global climate negotiation process. Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Once Again, Australia is the laggard on climate change action

US-China ratification of Paris Agreement ramps up the pressure on Australia, The Conversation,   September 5, 2016When President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their countries’ ratification of the Paris climate agreement ahead of last weekend’s G20 meeting in Hangzhou, they boosted its chances of coming into force by the end of this year, some 12 months after the deal was brokered last December.

To enter into force, the Paris Agreement requires ratification by at least 55 nations which together account for at least 55% of global greenhouse emissions. It will then become legally binding on those parties that have both signed and ratified it. These thresholds ensure that the deal has broad legitimacy among states, but are also low enough to limit the opportunities for blocking by states that may oppose its progress.

Aside from China and the United States – the world’s two largest emitters, which together produce 39% of the world’s emissions – another 24 countries have ratified the agreement.

To get over the threshold, it now only needs the support of a handful of major emitters like the European Union (a bloc of 27 countries producing some 10% of global emissions), India, Russia or Brazil. Ratification by countries such as Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom (each of which contributes about 1.5% of emissions) would also contribute significantly to this momentum………

australias-politiciansAustralia left as a laggard

The US-China announcement not only increases the momentum for ratification, but also increases pressure on Australia. With the Kyoto Protocol, Australia loyally supported the United States and refused to ratify until 2007. This time, similar recalcitrance is likely to be met with strong international disapproval.

However, ratification is only the beginning. Australia will then be required to revise and toughen its targets for 2030 and beyond. Its weak 2030 mitigation target is accompanied by policies inadequate to meet this goal.

The Paris Agreement, once in force, will require a more robust Australian target to be announced by 2023 at the latest. This in turn will further highlight the gap between current and sufficient implementation measures.

The US-China ratification announcement is the next step along a path that must see Australia climb – or be dragged – out of its current climate policy torpor.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy of big USA companies on climate change

hypocrisyU.S. companies tout climate policies, fund climate skeptics. Reuters,  6 Sept 16, By Richard Valdmanis and Grant Smith | BOSTON/NEW YORK

U.S. companies that have expressed the most fervent public support for President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda are also funding its biggest enemies – the scores of U.S. lawmakers who are climate change skeptics and oppose regulation to combat it, according to a Reuters review of public records.

Ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential and congressional elections, the donations from companies including PepsiCo, Dupont, and Google reveal a disconnect between how these companies present themselves to the public on environmental issues, and how they manage their political contributions to support business-friendly policy.

Many companies active in U.S. politics spread their political donations broadly on both sides of the aisle and consider multiple issues when deciding whom to support.

But inconsistency between a company’s environmental positions and its political giving may point up a need for better oversight, according to Jon Lukomnik, head of the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute.

“There really needs to be a process that looks at these issues … at C-suite and board levels on a periodic basis,” Lukomnik said.

The Reuters review covered donations made during the 2016 election cycle by the political action committees (PACs) of 30 of the biggest publicly traded U.S. companies that signed Obama’s “American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge” in 2015, a public promise to enact climate-friendly corporate policies and support strong climate change oversight like the global climate accord signed in Paris.

The review found that 25 of the 30 companies are funding the campaigns of lawmakers featured on a “climate deniers” list that was put together by Organizing For Action, a non-profit created by former Obama campaign aides to advocate his agenda.

The list includes more than 130 members of Congress, nearly all Republicans, and is a who’s who of the biggest opponents of Obama’s plan to combat climate change. Some of those on the list dispute the label “denier” and describe themselves as climate change “skeptics”.

The list includes Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, an energy advisor to presidential candidate Donald Trump who once argued the Earth was cooling not warming, and Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who last year held up a snowball on the Senate floor as evidence global warming does not exist.

The review found PepsiCo and DuPont’s political action committees gave about half or more of the money from their top donations in support of senators and congressmen on the list. That amounted to $56,500 from the Pepsi PAC’s 29 donations of $2,500 and above, and $40,000 from the DuPont PAC’s 19 donations of $2,000 and above.

Other signatories to the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge that gave more than a third of their top political contributions to lawmakers on the list include Google, AT&T, GE, Verizon, and Mondelez, according to the review.

Those levels of donations given to climate skeptics are relatively high given that the list covers about a quarter of U.S. Congress members………

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment