nuclear-news

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

As nuclear costs rise, top economist urges nuclear operators on early decommissioning of reactors

nuke-reactor-deadUS operators urged to decommission immediately to prevent costFlag-USA hikes, Nuclear Energy Insider, Sep 7, 2016  Nuclear plant operators should start decommissioning activities of shutdown reactors as early as possible as the deferral of decontamination and dismantling (D&D) exposes operators to delay-related costs, investment risks and loss of crucial expertise as workers leave the industry, Geoffrey Rothwell, Principal Economist at the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, told Nuclear Energy Insider.

There are currently 17 U.S. nuclear power plants being decommissioned and this will soon increase following a recent spate of plant closure announcements due to sustained low power prices.

Operators have announced the early closures of California’s Diabolo Canyon, Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun and Illinois’ Clinton and Quad Cities plants in recent months as low gas prices, rising renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency measures pressure electricity prices.

graph-decommission-costs-16

The majority of current U.S. decommissioning projects are being carried out under the deferred “SAFSTOR” method of deferred decontamination, but this process incurs the risk of cost hikes, Rothwell said.

U.S. operators build up nuclear decommissioning trust funds (DTFs) based on estimated costs but data from completed projects shows the actual cost of decommissioning has varied substantially, as operators have faced fresh site-specific challenges and regulation which can differ between states.

The variance in costs of three completed ‘immediate’ D&D projects was highlighted earlier this year in a report by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), co-authored by Rothwell, which cited figures from a Pacific Northwest National Laboratories [PNNL] study.

The chart below shows actual costs for the Haddam Neck, Main Yankee and Trojan plants, laid out alongside estimated costs for 14 other reactors, showed large differences in spending on Project Management, Decontamination and Dismantling (D&D) and Waste Management.

Internal expertise

Project management costs tend to be a function of the duration of D&D activities, rather than plant size and this is highlighted by the data from completed projects, Rothwell noted.

Portland General Electric (PGE), licensee of the 1.2 GW Trojan plant, decided to perform the decommissioning of the plant itself and conducted the project efficiently and without major changes or setbacks.

In comparison, the licensees for the 582 MW Haddam Neck plant in Connecticut and the 900 MW Maine Yankee plant chose to contract the D&D work to a decommissioning operations contractor (DOC) and then later in the process they chose to resume execution of decommissioning activities themselves.

In both cases, the management changes led to complications and delays and escalated costs, NEA said in its report.

A major advantage of carrying out D&D activities immediately is that current operations staff have in-depth knowledge of plant specifics, including previous incidents and undocumented facility detail, which avoids unnecessary work-arounds, Rothwell said.

“The maintenance crew have all sorts of implicit, tacit knowledge…If you wait for 60 years they are all gone,” he said.

Dismantling challenge

Actual D&D costs have varied substantially as a lack of identical reference projects has meant operators have had to perform “first of a kind” operations such as the time-consuming task of dismantling main reactor components, Rothwell said.

“It’s cutting up the reactor and the steam generator, these are big pieces of equipment and we are just learning how to do this,” Rothwell said.

PG&E was able to limit the D&D costs for its Trojan plant through its access to the U.S. Ecology low-level waste facility at Hanford, Washington. PG&E was permitted to ship reactor internals to the Hanford facility as one package and avoid some of the on-site cutting-up of components.

At Haddam Neck, the segmentation of the internals proved challenging and took approximately 29 months, according to NEA’s report. Regulations also required the operator to store the internals on-site at the ISFSI.

The duration of D&D activities at Haddam Neck exceeded original estimates, as did the total radiation exposure accrued during the operations, NEA said.

“Decontamination of exposed faces of buildings and foundations were also extensive tasks,” it said.

The results of an environmental survey at the Trojan plant site indicated no radioactivity had spread to the environment, including surface water and groundwater, which also limited costs.

By deferring D&D activities for a substantial time, operators raise the chance of chemical or radiation leaks spreading, which can require further D&D work and incur higher costs, Rothwell said.

Waste rules

According to the NEA’s report, waste management costs do not necessarily depend on the capacity of the plant.

“Waste costs appear to be more sensitive to the management strategies and solutions selected or assumed, for the specific plant, and the related unit costs individually applied. The accessibility of waste management routes can even determine the way the decommissioning of the reactor is undertaken,” NEA said.

PG&E’s ability to ship the reactor vessel for the Trojan plant as a single package reduced the volume of waste and the number of radioactive shipments, and also reduced personnel exposure. However, NEA noted that without regulatory changes, the single package approach will not be available to other commercial nuclear plant decommissioning projects in the US.

In contrast, waste management costs for Haddam Neck were driven up by high volumes of waste produced, “mostly attributable to the release criteria and clean-up levels adopted by the State of Connecticut,” the report said.

Regulatory risk is another reason to commence D&D immediately as regulation is more likely to increase if there is a long time period before SAFSTOR facilities are decommissioned, Rothwell said.

Operators choosing to defer D&D also face investment risks for DTFs, in addition to escalating cost estimates, Rothwell noted.

Rates of return for DTFs have been lower than expectations, and operators which have accelerated closure plans should leverage current staff expertise and optimize decommissioning schedules to allocate decommission fund portfolios so the “liquidity matches your plans,” he said…….http://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/us-operators-urged-decommission-immediately-prevent-cost-hikes?utm_campaign=NEI+07SEP16+Newsletter+B&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=ce386029dbb04d9db19579ed2046a746&elq=f4dbaf77167c423b93658800346bc887&elqaid=22066&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=9714

 

September 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

The “Red Button” nuclear war system can be reformed: Donald Trump’s rise illutrates the need for this

Once a president makes that decision, no one can stop it.

The problem is larger than any individual candidate or president.

Trump has single-handedly, albeit inadvertently, drawn the spotlight to the little understood danger inherent in continued U.S. reliance on a Red Button nuclear weapons strategy — one that’s geared for first-strike and quick-launch, with autocratic control in the hands of the president. For that, I suppose we should thank him — even as we mobilize to keep his finger as far away from the button as possible.

Fortunately, we can reform — and end — the Red Button nuclear system. Progress on this front can take a number of forms. We can ban the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict, take our arsenal off hair-trigger alert, or even eliminate altogether the categories of weapons (land-based missiles) that are geared only for a quick-launch, first-strike attack. Any of these steps would make us safer and more secure. All of them have the backing of credible nuclear security experts.

TrumpIf President Trump Ordered A Nuclear Strike, No One Could Stop Him http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/if-president-trump-orders-a-nuclear-strike-no-one_us_57d05ca2e4b0273330aba003    09/07/2016 After years as a back-burner public issue, the terrible specter of nuclear war has come into focus as a first-order concern for the American electorate. This is due in part to rising tensions in recent years between the United States and Russia. But the most combustible fuel for this anxiety is the unlikely rise of Donald J. Trump.

Since Marco Rubio first opened this line of attack in late February — calling him “a lunatic trying to get ahold of nuclear weapons” — the unsettling prospect of Trump’s finger on the proverbial Red Button has steadily gained attention.

Unique among issues in these polarizing times, this concern now cuts across partisan divides. Scores of political leaders and national security experts from both political parties are questioning whether the Republican nominee has the experience, temperament and judgment to have his finger on that button. This view is shared by a substantial majority of the American public: only 27% trust him to make the right decisions about the use of nuclear weapons. Large blocs of voters now rate the handling of nuclear weapons as a top issue of concern for them in the election.

If you find the thought of Trump’s finger on the Red Button alarming, there is good reason. Just last month, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough reported Trump asked three times in a one-hour policy briefing, “If we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?”

More importantly, that button is shorthand for a deadly-efficient system built for blind deference and speed. It is extremely vulnerable to accidents, false warnings, rushed decision-making and bad judgment. There are no firewalls — legal, political, operational or otherwise — between a president’s itchy trigger finger and civilization-ending weaponry.

The thousands of nuclear weapons at the president’s disposal — each one 10-20 times more powerful than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima — are locked in attack-mode, ready to fire at any moment. That adds the potential for catastrophic nuclear violence to every geopolitical conflict, every crisis, every misidentified flock of geese (seriously, it’s happened). Within minutes of receiving a short burst of computer code, they will launch from their silos and can’t be recalled.

Once a president makes that decision, no one can stop it.

Certainly, Trump is unfit for the task. His deficiencies on that score could fill a book. Time and again, he has shown himself easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation, ill-informed of even basic international and military affairs — including, most especially, nuclear weapons (dropping them on Europe isn’t “off the table”).

But that critique, however accurate, misses the point: The problem is larger than any individual candidate or president.

Trump has single-handedly, albeit inadvertently, drawn the spotlight to the little understood danger inherent in continued U.S. reliance on a Red Button nuclear weapons strategy — one that’s geared for first-strike and quick-launch, with autocratic control in the hands of the president. For that, I suppose we should thank him — even as we mobilize to keep his finger as far away from the button as possible.

But we should bear in mind that this catastrophic threat didn’t end after the Cold War, and it won’t end after the fall of Donald Trump. We must dismantle the unjust, undemocratic and terrifyingly absolute power bound up in that button and the insane system it represents. It shouldn’t be harder for the president to appoint a mid-level bureaucrat than it is to kill hundreds of millions of people.

Fortunately, we can reform — and end — the Red Button nuclear system. Progress on this front can take a number of forms. We can ban the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict, take our arsenal off hair-trigger alert, or even eliminate altogether the categories of weapons (land-based missiles) that are geared only for a quick-launch, first-strike attack. Any of these steps would make us safer and more secure. All of them have the backing of credible nuclear security experts.

At the Republican primary debate in December, Trump pointed to the possibility of a “madman getting his hands on a nuclear weapon” as the biggest problem the American people would face. He had it partly right. It’s not just the madman from a rogue nation we should lose sleep over. It’s the idea that any single person anywhere — including in the United States — has a Red Button at their fingertips and the power to light the world on fire.

___

Derek Johnson is the executive director of Global Zero Action, the U.S. advocacy arm of the international Global Zero movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, and spokesman for the #NoRedButton campaign. For more information, visit www.noredbutton.org.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Energy chief says Hinkley Point is a deal out of date and too expensive

Money down holeflag-UKHinkley Point deal out of date and too expensive, says energy chief, Telegraph, UK,   Emily Gosden, energy editor 3 SEPTEMBER 2016  The head of energy giant ScottishPower has waded into the row over Hinkley Point, insisting that the controversial subsidy deal for EDF’s proposed nuclear plant should be renegotiated because it is too expensive.

Keith Anderson, the firm’s chief corporate officer, said the deal, provisionally agreed by the Government in 2013 following lengthy negotiations, no longer made sense in the light of lower gas and offshore wind costs.

“It looks like a contract that was written five years ago on a business case that was probably pulled together 10 years ago. It looks out of line with what’s going on in the market now,” he said.

In an interview with Telegraph, Mr Anderson praised Theresa May’s “brave” decision to review the £18bn project and urged her to look at it in its entirety, not just her apparent concerns over Chinese state nuclear firms’ involvement.Becoming the latest high-profile figure to criticise the deal, Mr Anderson said that it now looked “expensive” and that gas and offshore wind offered faster, easier and cheaper ways of keeping the lights on and decarbonising, respectively.

“I can’t understand why anybody feels we need to sign a contract of that size and over that time period, at that price,” he said.

ScottishPower is seeking government support to develop both offshore wind and gas-fired power stations.

Its East Anglia offshore wind farm project last year won a subsidy contract at nearly £120 per MWh for 15 years. However, costs are falling rapidly, with ministers setting a cap of £105 per MWh on future contracts and a target of £85. EDF has insisted the deal is good value……http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/03/hinkley-point-deal-out-of-date-and-too-expensive-says-energy-chi/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

IAEA confidential report shows Iran is Not Cheating on Nuclear Deal

flag-IranIAEA: Iran Not Cheating on Nuclear Deal KEVIN DRUM SEP. 8, 2016 Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, a report by the U.N. nuclear agency found.

The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by Reuters did not point to any violations in Tehran’s observance of the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by skeptics in the West. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/09/iaea-iran-not-cheating-nuclear-deal

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Renewable energy heading to replace nuclear power in Switzerland

poster renewables not nuclearflag-SwitzerlandStudy pushes Swiss post-nuclear power potential, Swiss Info Ch. 8 Sep 16    Wind farms and solar installations already produce almost 50% of the energy that Switzerland gets from nuclear power plants, a new study finds.

Renewable energy sources could replace all of the power that Switzerland gets from nuclear plants sooner than people think, according to the study released on Thursday by Energy Future Switzerland.

That’s because of the fast pace of investment in renewable energy, the Swiss association says.

“At this pace of investment all the Swiss nuclear power plants can be replaced by renewable energy within about six years,” said the nonprofit’s director, Aeneas Wanner, in a statement. The association partners with utilities and others to promote energy efficiency and develop renewable energy sources…….

On November 27, Switzerland will hold a nationwide vote on its nuclear power plants. The Swiss popular initiative calls for amending the Constitution to prohibit getting electricity or heat from nuclear power. It also would set times for when the five plants must be shut down…….http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/renewable-energy_study-pushes-swiss-post-nuclear-power-potential/42430574

September 9, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Nuclear power procurement costs for South Africa could cost triple the estimate

burning-moneyflag-S.AfricaMPs told nuclear power could cost triple the estimate http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2016/09/08/MPs-told-nuclear-power-could-cost-triple-the-estimate JAN-JAN JOUBERT | 08 September, 2016 

Parliament was warned yesterday that the final bill for nuclear power procurement could be three times higher than projected because of unpredictable cost escalations and the expense of decommissioning nuclear power plants.

The parliamentary budget office briefed MPs yesterday morning on the cost and other considerations of the country’s electricity generation options.

The office’s research on the costs incurred by more than 400 projects worldwide found that nuclear power generation costs exceeded the original estimates by an average of 117%, compared with 70% for hydroelectric power, 13% for thermal, including coal, 8% for wind power and 1% for solar power.

The office agreed with DA MP Gordon Mackay when he said that decommissioning added 100% to nuclear power costs. The office said the outlay for nuclear power was 67% higher than for gas and 16% more than for coal.

Mackay took the budget office to task for a lack of clarity on:

  • The actual cost of the projected nuclear building programme, estimated at R600-million to R1.7-billion;
  • Infrastructure construction costs not factored into projections for gas as an energy resource;
  • No reference being made by the budget office to the energy preferences listed in the National Development Plan, which supposedly guided government policy;
  • The budget office had not reached any conclusion on the costs to consumers of the energy options;
  • The effect of each option on the country’s economic growth was not adequately estimated;
  • The huge decline in South African energy demand was not sufficiently explained; and
  • The decommissioning of the coal-fired power stations was not factored in.

Budget office head Mohammed Jahed said that Mackay’s objections fell outside the mandate given to his office by parliament’s appropriations committee but could be dealt with at a follow-up meeting.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Attempts to sabotage Iran nuclear deal – who stands to gain in this?

diplomacy-not-bombsDespite the benefits that several countries would receive if the deal fell through, its success would serve the interests of the international community in a greater capacity by improving Iranian relations with the world.

The international community should invest heavily on the proper implementation of the JCPOA as it is the most comprehensive agreement ever reached in the history of nuclear nonproliferation. While Iran has fully complied with its JCPOA commitments, the U.S. must take steps to fill current gaps in implementing its commitments. This could open the door to using the experience of JCPOA to resolving other regional crises through diplomacy.

Ultimately, the cost of the potential downfall of the deal far outweighs the individual gains of a single nation.

Who Benefits Most From a Sabotaged Iran Nuclear Deal, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seyed-hossein-mousavian/sabotaged-iran-nuclear-deal_b_11897718.html  Hesam Rahmani, PhD student at UC Irvine, 8 Sept 16 On July 14, 2016, one year after the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal was struck in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 nations, respective administrations in Iran and the U.S. released statements asserting their commitment towards ensuring the deal’s success. But despite these commitments, the future of the JCPOA is at risk.

In the U.S., the Republican-controlled Congress largely opposes President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement and frames his diplomatic efforts for conflict resolution with Iran as a display of weakness. Meanwhile, JCPOA critics in Tehran continue to pessimistically cite the deal as another corroborative chapter of the U.S.’s treacherous and hostile history with the Islamic Republic.

Moreover, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently described the JCPOA as an “experience” demonstrating “the futility of negotiations with the Americans.” He and many other Iranian officials believe the U.S. has failed to live up to its JCPOA commitments. While Iran has enjoyed meaningful benefits since the deal’s implementation, such as drastically increasing its oil exports, gainingaccess to $30 billion of its frozen assets abroad and inking investment agreementstotaling $60 billion, the sanctions have nonetheless left a chilling effect in preventing business normalizations between Iran and western countries — particularly in the banking sector — something Iranian officials, among others, continue to point out.

Radical voices on both sides that have sought to undermine the deal will win, and escalation will once again become the name of the game between Iran and the U.S.

Foreign firms understandably fear legal repercussions either from accidentally violating convoluted sanctions laws yet to be abrogated or from having any business agreement sabotaged in case of future sanctions. Additionally, despite President Obama’s promise to veto any congressional attempt to sabotage the deal, hawkish lobby groups have continued efforts to prevent foreign business deals with Iran.

With pressure to break the deal mounting in Washington and pessimism growing in Tehran, it begs the question: who benefits most from a sabotaged deal?

ISRAEL

Israel’s firebrand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu infamously condemned the JCPOA as a “mistake of historic proportions.” Such rhetoric has not abated among Netanyahu allies, with former Israeli National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror recently accusing the U.S. of “forfeiting a historic opportunity to dismantle Iran’s nuclear capability.” In Washington, hardline pro-Israel groups like theFoundation for Defense of Democracies have been leading the lobbying campaign to undo the nuclear deal. It is apparent that the far-right Israeli government views U.S.-Iran détente and an Iran that has returned to the international fold as a threat that can only be alleviated by undermining the nuclear deal. It is important to bear in mind that a failed JCPOA may lead to Iran revamping its nuclear program to pre-deal capabilities — a move that depending on the circumstances could result in renewed pressure against Iran by the West, which plays into the Israeli leadership’s interests.

SAUDI ARABIA

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have increased dramatically over the past half-decade, with the two sides coming to a head over their opposing policies inSyriaYemen and Bahrain. Their relations have become further strained by the 2015 Hajj stampede, which left a disproportionate number of Iranians dead and an overall death count the Saudi government has been accused of attempting to cover up, as well as the January 2016 execution of prominent Saudi civil rights activist and Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the subsequent storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Recent Saudi support to Iranian terrorist groups like the The People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, or MEK, has also been deeply provocative and lowered the chance for any rapprochement between the two countries in the near future.

The stakes have risen so high that an unlikely Israeli-Saudi alliance based on a mutual antipathy towards Iran is beginning to form. Some have described the Iran-Saudi rivalry as a new age “Middle East Cold War.” Needless to say, a failed JCPOA has the potential to ostracize Iran and strengthen Saudi Arabia’s regional position.

THE EASTERN BLOC

During the period Iran was under nuclear-related sanctions, its trade with Western countries was all but eliminated. Its economic ties with the East, in particular China, however, dramatically increased. The EU used to be Iran’s largest trading partnerless than a decade ago, but after sanctions China quickly assumed this position and bilateral trade between the two countries now stands at an estimated $60 billion. While Iran turned more to China during the sanctions period, largely because it had little other choice, it is in the post-JCPOA era seeking to diversify its trading partners and hoping to increase its economic ties with Europe. In the event of a JCPOA failure, this trend will reverse and Iran will move to further cement its economic relationship with China at the expense of Western countries.

In the post-JCPOA era, Russia and India have also moved towards developing closer ties with Iran. Russia for its part has moved farther away from the possibility of supporting anti-Iran sanctions again and has pursued developing a strategic relationship with Tehran, as indicated by its sale to Iran of the sophisticated S-300 missile defense system, use of an Iranian air base for strikes in Syria andannouncement that it will construct two new nuclear power plants in Iran.

For India, the expanded relationship comes in the form of oil, as it looks to reestablish itself as a top importer of Iranian oil and has pledged to spend $500 million to develop the Chabahar port in southeastern Iran. In the event of a JCPOA failure, it is unlikely these countries will abandon their more entrenched political and economic bonds with Iran.

Despite the benefits that several countries would receive if the deal fell through, its success would serve the interests of the international community in a greater capacity by improving Iranian relations with the world. President Obama declared in a statement following the announcement of the JCPOA in July 2015 that the deal, “offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.” This promise for a better future for not only Iran and the U.S. but the entire world as well still exists, but now more than ever it is critical to maintain the gains of the JCPOA and ensure its self-interested opponents do not achieve their aims.

The international community should invest heavily on the proper implementation of the JCPOA as it is the most comprehensive agreement ever reached in the history of nuclear nonproliferation. While Iran has fully complied with its JCPOA commitments, the U.S. must take steps to fill current gaps in implementing its commitments. This could open the door to using the experience of JCPOA to resolving other regional crises through diplomacy.

Ultimately, the cost of the potential downfall of the deal far outweighs the individual gains of a single nation.

Beyond the personal interests of the states mentioned above, a JCPOA failure will serve to diminish the pragmatic minds in Tehran and Washington that negotiated it and bolster the voices of the more polarized camps on both sides that prefer a hostile U.S.-Iran relationship. The hardline opponents of the JCPOA in the U.S. CongressIsrael and Saudi Arabia will gain legitimacy and boost their respective standings. In Iran, mistrust of the U.S. will be reaffirmed in the once-hopeful masses and opportunities for further dialogue will disappear. Overall, the radical voices onboth sides that have sought to undermine the deal will win, and escalation will once again become the name of the game between Iran and the U.S.. The path to peace will diverge back onto the path to war. Ultimately, the cost of the potential downfall of the deal far outweighs the individual gains of a single nation.

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a professional specialist at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators. His latest book, “Iran and the United States: An Insider’s view on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace,” was published by Bloomsbury Publishers in May 2014. Hesam Rahmani is a PhD student in political science at UC Irvine, California.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Nuclear terrorism fears: Japan to check background of nuclear workers

Target-nuclear-chainJapan to check background of nuclear workers to prevent terrorism, Kyodo News, TOKYO, Sept. 7, Kyodo  Japan’s nuclear watchdog decided Wednesday to make operators of nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities check the background of their workers to prevent terror attacks.

Following the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will introduce the new regulation in late September, although the actual implementation is expected to be from next year or later due to necessary procedures, such a revision of the rules regarding the handling of nuclear materials.

It is also unclear how the new measure will be effective in preventing terrorism as the operators will conduct the background checks based on information workers provide themselves, rather than by referrals to police or other law enforcement authorities….. (subscribers only)  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/09/432517.html

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | 1 Comment

The Ugly Australian Uranium Companies in Africa

uranium-oreflag-AustraliaAfrica Down Under: Tales Of Australian Woe On The ‘Dark Continent’, New Matilda, By  on September 7, 2016 A mining conference underway in Perth states its aim is to help boost the fortunes of one of the poorest regions on earth. But boost the fortunes for whom, asks Dave Sweeney from ACF.

Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.

But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.

No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media.

According to the organisers “the ancient land mass of Africa is without question the world’s greatest treasure trove. A new era of joint ventures with juniors and grub-staking is taking place. The action across the continent is taking place hard and fast there could not be a better time to explore the options and hear the stories from the people who are unlocking the wealth of the formerly ‘Dark Continent’.”

While the agenda for conference participants seems clear, the benefits for communities in Africa are less so.

Recent years have seen a marked increase in Australian mining operations and ambitions in Africa with a major increase in the number of Australian mining companies and resource service companies active in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over a 150 publicly listed companies are operating in more than 30 African nations.

There have been new allegations of Australian companies involved in irregular and illegal practices off-shore, including confirmation that the Australian Federal Police are actively investigating trouble prone Sundance Resources over bribery allegations linked to its Mbalam-Nabeba iron ore project in Congo.

But Sundance is not the only Australian miner generating headlines and heartache. Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.

The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.

As this decade began, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre expressed the situation clearly stating: “Many Australian companies, particularly mining companies, can have a severe impact on human rights throughout the world, including the right to food, water, health and a clean environment. Despite this, successive governments lack a clear framework of human rights obligations for Australian corporations operating overseas. This is particularly problematic in countries with lax or limited regulations.”……..

Expanding the extractives industry in regions with major governance, capacity and transparency challenges is a concern for communities and civil society groups in both Australia and Africa. The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home………

Tracey Davies, a lawyer with the South African-based Centre for Environmental Rights told Fairfax medialast year that there is a widespread and “very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia”……https://newmatilda.com/2016/09/07/africa-down-under-tales-of-australia-woe-on-the-dark-continent/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

$25,000 funnelled into Cabinet Minister’s riding, by nuclear company SNC Lavalin

corruption-1Cabinet minister’s riding may have received $25K from SNC-Lavalin execs   CTVNews.ca Staff  CTV News, , November 28, 2014 

SNC-Lavalin executives involved in an illegal political slush fund for Quebec provincial parties may have conducted the same practice at the federal level, CTV News has learned.

Elections Canada records reveal that 10 top SNC-Lavalin managers and their wives wrote personal cheques in 2009 to two federal Conservative riding associations that showed little chance of winning.

A total of $25,000 was funnelled to the ridings of Laurier-Sainte-Marie and Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier……..

A top SNC-Lavalin executive has previously admitted to Quebec’s corruption inquiry, the Charbonneau Commission, that the company illegally donated more than $1 million to Quebec provincial parties.

Managers made personal donations and were reimbursed with salary bonuses……http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/cabinet-minister-s-riding-may-have-received-25k-from-snc-lavalin-execs-1.2125096

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Canada, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Canada’s federal election rules violated by nuclear company SNC-Lavalin

corruption-1flag-canadaSNC-Lavalin violated election rules with campaign donations, commissioner rules
CBC News  September 8, 2016  The federal elections commissioner says SNC-Lavalin has entered into a compliance agreement for making nearly $118,000 in contributions that violated the Canada Elections Act over a seven-year period.

Problematic contributions made between 2004 and 2011 The Canadian Press Sep 08, 2016 

The federal elections commissioner says SNC-Lavalin has entered into a compliance agreement for making nearly $118,000 in contributions that violated the Canada Elections Act over a seven-year period.

The commissioner says the contributions were made to the Liberals and Conservatives between March 9, 2004, and May 1, 2011.

In the past, CBC has reported on one instance of something similar, in which a number of SNC-Lavalin executives and their families donated $15,000 to the campaign of a conservative candidate in the 2011 election.

The commissioner’s report Thursday singles out almost $118,000 in contributions made to federal parties and subsequently reimbursed, including:

  • Liberal Party of Canada: $83,534.51;
  • Various registered riding associations of the Liberal Party of Canada: $13,552.13;
  • Contestants in the Liberal Party of Canada’s 2006 leadership race: $12,529.12;
  • Conservative Party of Canada: $3,137.73; and
  • Various registered riding associations and candidates of the Conservative Party of Canada: $5,050.00.
  • According to the compliance agreement, the commissioner says former senior executives with the Montreal-based engineering firm solicited employees to make political contributions and in some cases, those employees were reimbursed with false personal expenses, fictitious bonuses or other benefits……….http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/snc-lavalin-campaign-donations-1.3752869?cmp=rss

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Terrestrial Energy faces safety risks and poor market prospects for its new nuclear reactors

Nuclear Firm’s $17 Million Bid on a New Reactor Design “…….Terrestrial Energy is looking to use the money raised up until now to complete the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s pre-licensing vendor design review, a technology assessment usually carried out in advance of a license application……

A Canadian nuclear power expert –     question marks over whether impurities in the molten salt might lead to nuclear activation of the coolant over time.

“Dirty tools, dirty components, cleansers [and] foreign material in the coolant stream will cause the coolant to activate over time,” he predicted. “I’m curious what the releases and radioactivity accident risks look like with the coolant after 10 years of operation.”……

Even if Terrestrial Energy is able to sail through licensing and brush off safety concerns, though, it will still have to overcome the problem of a diminishing appetite for nuclear power across a number of the industry’s key markets, including the U.S…... Greentech Media 8 Sept 16 

September 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Deputy President South Africa says that there is no nuclear deal!

text politicsflag-S.AfricaSouth Africa: No Nuclear Deal Entered Into – Deputy President . All Afric a, 8 Sep 16 Cape Town — Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says no nuclear deal has been entered into with any country. The Deputy President said this when responding to oral questions at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday.

A Member of Parliament had asked, among other questions, whether government has entered into a nuclear deal with any country.

“Government has not entered into a nuclear deal with any country,” the Deputy President said.

The Deputy President said government remains committed to an open, fair and transparent procurement process.

Government wants to implement the programme at a scale and pace that the country can afford.

“A request for proposals for a nuclear new build programme of 9,600 MW will be released to the market during this financial year in line with the Cabinet decision taken on 9 December 2015.

“The Department of Energy is currently consulting with relevant stakeholders to finalise the documentation,” he said…….http://allafrica.com/stories/201609081107.html

September 9, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s parliamentary budget office warns on high cost of nuclear power

Money down holeflag-S.AfricaGovernment quibbles over true cost of nuclear – but it’s going to be very expensive http://mg.co.za/article/2016-09-08-government-quibbles-over-true-cost-of-nuclear-but-its-going-to-be-very-expensive   Phillip de Wet 08 Sep 2016 Any decision to proceed further with the nuclear build programme will only take place after the request for proposal process has been completed,” Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament during a question session on Wednesday afternoon.

Almost simultaneously, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament’s other house, the National Assembly: “As far as I’m concerned, a request for proposal will be issued on September 30 for the procurement process in which we have Cabinet approval to test the market on the procurement of nuclear.”

Both insisted that there is, as yet, no firm commitment to buy a fleet of nuclear power stations, which it is estimated will cost more than R1-trillion, despite long-standing signals of an obstinate political will to do so.

 But even as these members of the executive were telling Parliament how the nuclear-build decision would unfold, a little-known parliamentary office was all but begging MPs not to let them.

“Within the range of conventional technologies considered, nuclear energy is the most expensive,” the parliamentary budget office said in a report it delivered to Parliament’s standing committee on appropriations, also on Wednesday.

Its 23-page report, Electricity Generation Technology Choice: Costs and Considerations, the office said “present the key factors that need to be considered by Members of Parliament concerned with public finances in considering technology choice”. The standing committee had requested the report.

Throughout its study, the office steered scrupulously clear of recommending or denigrating any type of electricity generation. Selection of technology is complicated, it explained, and needs to take into account everything from the carbon footprint to local industrialisation.

But nuclear fares very poorly, indeed, in the office’s analysis.

Nuclear is 16% more expensive than the most expensive type of coal electricity production, the office said, drawing on figures more current than any the department of energy has released and 67% more expensive than the most costly way of using natural gas to generate power.

Eskom, which was once excluded from the nuclear preparations, has recently claimed in a series of statements by its CEO, Brian Molefe, that nuclear generation is the cheapest way for South Africa to build additional base-load capacity.

The plans that supposedly underpin the plans to build new nuclear power stations are wildly out of date, the parliamentary budget office said. The official integrated resource plan (IRP) dates from 2010 and its 2013 update does not yet have official status — because, some have speculated, it provided an insufficiently rosy picture to justify a nuclear build.

“Using an out-of-date IRP will result in a sub-optimal mix of generation plants and higher electricity prices,” the office said, with graphs showing how electricity demand declined as prices soared and the economy stalled. Even the most pessimistic integrated resource plan projection had forecast fast-growing demand.

Overbuilding generation capacity based on mistaken assumptions can be costly, the office warned gently. And past experience shows that nuclear and hydropower projects are most prone to high cost overruns and delays — and are almost impossible to adjust once ground is broken.

“It may be prudent in situations of high uncertainty to avoid very large capital investments where the repayments of loans are certain but returns from the project are uncertain and possibly volatile,” it said.

“In pursuance of a suitable energy mix, government is determined that our investment in generation capacity should be evidence-based,” Ramaphosa told the NCOP.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

“astonishing and reckless” – South Africa’s Energy Minister’s statement on nuclear deal to commence soon

exclamation-SmNews that nuclear deal will start by end-September is ‘reckless’, DA says http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2016/09/08/news-that-nuclear-deal-will-start-by-end-september-is-reckless-da-says  BY LINDA ENSOR,   ENERGY Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s shock announcement that the first phase of the nuclear deal is to commence by the end of September was both “astonishing and reckless,” DA energy spokesperson Gordon Mackay said on Thursday.

The minister announced in the National Assembly on Wednesday that a request for proposals for the nuclear build programme would be issued on September 30. The government has decided to build nuclear plants that will generated 9,600MW.

“Not only is the proposed nuclear deal the subject of litigation in the Western Cape High Court, but the announcement will add yet further fuel to the fire that will see SA’s international credit rating go up in smoke,” Mackay said.

“Critically, the minister’s decision to commence with the first phase of the nuclear new build programme, despite the fact that not a single document with regard to the deal has ever been presented to Parliament, is a blatant abuse of power.”

Mackay said Joemat-Pettersson’s announcement came before October’s tabling of the medium-term budget statement by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and represented a “blatant attempt to bully the Treasury into to coughing up the trillions of rand required to fund this unaffordable pet project of President Jacob Zuma”.

He said the DA would demand that all documentation relating to the nuclear deal be made available to Parliament’s energy committee and tabled in the National Assembly.

The DA was in possession of a parliamentary legal adviser opinion, which requires ministers to provide all necessary documentation to portfolio committees, irrespective of their so-called sensitivity.

September 9, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment