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September 16 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Donald Trump’s new economic policy plan would be devastating to the climate” • It’s a laundry list of climate activists’ worst nightmares. It would eliminate the Clean Power Plan, end major protections for clean drinking water, increase allowable levels of pollutants causing asthma, put controls on methane in peril, and much more. [ThinkProgress]

(Credit: AP Photo / Evan Vucci) Donald Trump (Credit: AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

¶ “Hinkley Point will be obsolete before it even starts, but Theresa May had no choice” • The £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear plant will be overtaken by a host of cheaper technologies before it is even opened in the late 2020s, and risks degenerating into an epic white elephant as we pay fat subsidies into the second half of the 21st Century. [Telegraph.co.uk]

Science and Technology:

¶ In what has become a common refrain this year, last month ranked as the hottest August…

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September 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Approaching the First Climate Tipping Point — On Track to Hit 1.5 C Before 2035

robertscribbler

July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded. That record lasted for all of one month as global temperatures remained at record-high levels through August, resulting in a tie with July during a period when the Earth typically cools.

Given natural variability, we might expect August to remain hot if an El Nino were forming in the Pacific, but at that time, with a weak La Nina struggling to fire off, the exact opposite was the case. In other words, the El Nino/La Nina cycle, which typically helps to drive global warm and cool periods, was pointed in the direction of ‘cool’, but the world remained near record-hot levels.

global-temperatures-through-august-of-2016

(2016 Climate Year continues to redefine global temperature boundaries as August ties July for hottest month ever recorded. Image source: NASA GISS.)

So what the heck was going on?

Rising Greenhouse Gasses are Steadily Rearranging How the…

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September 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Theresa May, under pressure from France and China caves in on Hinkley C nuclear go-ahead

Hinkley C nuclear go-ahead: May caves in to pressure from France and China,Ecologist Oliver Tickell 15th September 2016 
The French and the Chinese may be celebrating the UK’s decision to press ahead with the Hinkley C ‘nuclear white elephant’, writes Oliver Tickell. But the deal is a disaster for the UK, committing us to overpriced power for decades to come, and to a dirty, dangerous, insecure dead end technology. Just one silver lining: major economic, legal and technical hurdles mean it still may never be built.
may-theresa

The UK’s energy department, BEIS, today announced the go-ahead for the controversial Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power plant in Somerset.

Only weeks ago Theresa May’s government delayed the signing of the deal with EDF to confirm its subsidy package which is likely to cost UK energy users anywhere from £30 billion to over £100 billion for 35 years after it opens.

The surprise move was widely welcomed due to a broad range of concerns about the HPC project, including:

  • its very high cost, more than double the current wholesale power price and far more than the current cost of even high-cost renewable power from offshore wind;
  • security concerns over China’s involvement in core UK infrastructure;
  • the lack of any single example of a working EPR reactor anywhere in the world;
  • the severe delays, cost overuns and technical problems at all EPR construction sites;
  • and the low value of HPC’s contribution to UK energy supply in the new decentralised ‘smart grid’ era.

Pre-announcement spin indicated that the HPC deal would be subject to a number of“significant conditions” that would address these problems. But in the event energy secretary Greg Clarke is giving the go-ahead for HPC to almost precisely the same deal that was on the table before.

Ther only difference to be found in the energy department announcement is that arrangements have been put in place to allow the Government to “prevent the sale of EDF’s controlling stake prior to the completion of construction, without the prior notification and agreement of ministers.”

In particular the price remains unchanged……….

And as far as China is concerned, the UK is desperate to reach a trade deal with what is now by some measures the world’s largest economy and a major exporter to the UK. In particular the UK is seeking tariff-free access to the fast-gowing Chinese economy for UK manufactures, and the powerful financial services industry.

We can be sure that both countries leaders and ministers put the frighteners onto Theresa May and her entourage at the recent G20 summit to go ahead with HPC – and that she succumbed to that pressure at enormous cost to the UK, failing to win even the smallest concession on price.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988131/hinkley_c_nuclear_goahead_may_caves_in_to_pressure_from_france_and_china.html

September 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Britain’s Tories stand to gain financially from Hinkley nuclear decision: what a conflict of interest!!

When you have EDF granted access to the heart of government, former ministers now acting as lobbyists for the nuclear industry, and top-level Conservatives with their fingers in Hinkley’s financial pies, what’s best for the UK goes out of the window.

toffs-and-money

Hinkley: where Tories’ private bank balances are going nuclear, The Canary SEPTEMBER 15TH, 2016“……….a quietly released report by Greenpeace shows that the deal was probably always
may-theresagoing to go ahead.

EDF: in bed with the UK governmentAnalysis done by Greenpeace found that ten advisers and civil servants who worked at the former Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the last five years had links to EDF. One was recently employed by the DECC and was also a manager at the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the regulator for the nuclear industry. This was before they became a licensing officer for EDF.

An EDF Strategy Manager had a 13-month secondment to the DECC commercial team while working for auditors KPMG. As Greenpeace notes, the DECC commercial team “played a crucial role in deciding to press ahead with the Hinkley project”. It was this team which had oversight on who invested in Hinkley Point C. Additionally, a communications officer for EDF was previously the Senior Ministerial Visits Manager at DECC until early 2016. And a policy adviser and analyst for the now-defunct department had previously done the same job at EDF.

This is on top of the fact that former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, now works as a lobbyist for MHP Communications – where EDF just happens to be a client. As Martin Williams describes in his book Parliament Ltd: A journey to the dark heart of British politics:

When he lost his seat in 2015, he [Davey] went off to join MHP Communications. He had connections with the firm already: MHP acted as lobbyists for EDF Energy, who Davey “had dealings with as a minister”… When MHP’s Chief Executive announced Davey’s appointment he was able to speak candidly about the benefits of employing a former energy minister. “Ed’s unique insight into the energy sector will be particularly valuable to the companies that we work with in that sector. His knowledge of the top-level workings of Britain’s political system will also prove immensely useful to a range of our clients and to MHP itself”. http://www.thecanary.co/2016/09/15/hinkley-tories-private-bank-balances-going-nuclear/

It was Davey who was responsible for the initial agreement between the government and EDF. But the links to EDF Energy and the Tory government run deeper than the Greenpeace analysis. And go right to the top of the Conservative Party.

Tories: in bed with EDF

Sir Richard Lambert heads EDF’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel. It gives EDF “strategic advice and direction”. Knighted under David Cameron, he’s a non-executive director of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, acting as lead advisor to the Foreign Secretary. He was in this role under Philip Hammond, who appears to have been crucial in getting the Hinkley deal pushed through. Lambert said of the Hinkley deal:

Tory peer Lord Patten of Barnes is the former governor of Hong Kong and a former Conservative Party Chairman. But currently, he too sits on EDF Energy’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel. On 9 September, Patten co-authored an open letter to the Financial Times (FT), calling on May to “press ahead with Hinkley Point”.

Also on the EDF panel is Sir Simon Robertson. Another Tory peer, who is a party donor to the tune of £765,000, he was knighted in 2010, just after the Tories came to office. Robertson was also Deputy Chairman of HSBC until April 2016. In 2014, HSBC arranged the financial backing for EDF to carry out the project at Hinkley. Robertson also signed the letter in the FT. He is also a long-standing member of the Tory “Leader’s Group“. This “club” costs £50,000 a year to be a member of and gives access to the likes of May and Hammond at exclusive private dinners.

Hinkley: benefitting everyone, except the public

And in another twist of ‘fate’, it would seem the Prime Minister may well benefit from Hinkley Point C going ahead. May’s husband, Philip, works for investment company Capital Group. It, in turn, has a nearly 10% stake in French company Schneider Electric, which has been awarded a contract at Hinkley.

It would seem that the Tories’ push for the Hinkley project is not driven so much by “energy security”, but more by vested interests.

When you have EDF granted access to the heart of government, former ministers now acting as lobbyists for the nuclear industry, and top-level Conservatives with their fingers in Hinkley’s financial pies, what’s best for the UK goes out of the window. Meanwhile, the cost to every household is around £25 per year extra on the energy bill.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the deal strikes the “right balance between foreign investment and national interest”. But the only “interests” being served, judging by who’s involved, are those of Tory bank balances.

Get Involved!

– Sign the petition against Hinkley Point C.

– Write to your MP to oppose the development.

– Find out when a protest is taking place.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry will grind to a halt, if no waste disposal solution

exclamation-SmFlag-USAProgress on waste issue key to support for nuclear: US senator Washington (Platts)–15 Sep 2016 US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said at an appropriations subcommittee hearing Wednesday that she cannot continue to support nuclear power if there is “no strategy for the long-term storage of the waste.”

Dr Pangloss
Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, criticized the nuclear power industry in her opening statement on what she called its failure to speak with “one voice” on the need for interim storage of utility spent fuel. The country, she said, “should be working to establish interim [spent fuel] storage far away from reactors and population centers.” The hearing was scheduled to look at the future of nuclear power.

The lesson of the Yucca Mountain repository project is “any solution to nuclear waste needs to be voluntary,” Feinstein said. She and subcommittee chairman Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, and Senators Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Maria Cantwell of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the energy committee, have introduced legislation that would, among other things, establish a consent-based siting process. The bill has not moved out of committee, however.

The Department of Energy dismantled the Yucca Mountain repository project in Nevada in 2010, two years after it submitted a repository license application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, saying in part that the state of Nevada’s unyielding opposition to the proposed disposal facility made the site unworkable.

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz told the subcommittee that a voluntary siting process is needed and that DOE will discuss during at a public meeting Thursday in Washington input the department received during eight public meetings held across the US on what a consent-based siting process should involve this year.

Support for a nuclear waste facility has to be aligned on the community, state and federal levels to avoid “bad surprises later on,” Moniz said.

In response to a question from Feinstein, Moniz said DOE’s general counsel has said the department has the authority, although not specifically stated, to use a private-sector facility to store utility spent fuel. He said DOE could move forward on setting up contracts with such facilities.

Currently, private-sector efforts are underway in Texas and New Mexico to site consolidated interim storage facilities that would have DOE as its only customer. http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/washington/progress-on-waste-issue-key-to-support-for-nuclear-21519625

September 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

September 26 Teleconference with Julian Borger on Nuclear Instability in Northeast Asia

text-Please-Note

Register Now for Our Teleconference with Julian Borger on Nuclear Instability in Northeast Asia
Register now for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ teleconference event on Monday, September 26, 2016 with The Guardian‘s world affairs editor, Julian Borger. This open-to-the-public teleconference will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. CDT.

North Korea’s fifth nuclear test confirms growing fears in the international community that the regime’s nuclear aspirations reach much further than once assumed. Pyongyang confirmed the test on September 9th, claiming that it is now capable of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles. Join our conversation with moderator Julian Borger of The Guardian, while experts Suzanne DiMaggio, Mark Fitzpatrick, and Chung-in Moon discuss what appears to be the most powerful nuclear test ever conducted by North Korea.

Participation is limited and space is sure to fill quickly. This conversation will be recorded and available on our website shortly after the call.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Major volcanic eruption predicted within 25 years, near Japan’s Sendai nuclear station

safety-symbol-Smflag-japanNew data points to major eruption of Japanese volcano Buildup of magma could trigger a repeat of Sakurajima volcano’s deadly eruption of 1914, scientists say, Guardian,  in Tokyo, 15 Sept 15 A major volcanic eruption in Japan threatening the safety of tens of thousands of people is possible within the next three decades, say experts who have used new techniques to identify a buildup of magma in one of the country’s most active volcanoes.

In a study published on Tuesday in the Scientific Reports journal, a team that included experts from Bristol University and the Sakurajima Volcano Research Centre in Japan said the new techniques showed a “substantial growing magma reserve” inside Sakurajima, located just off the coast of Kagoshima city, in south-west Japan.

The team said the magma buildup could trigger a repeat of the volcano’s deadly eruption of 1914, which killed 58 people and caused widespread flooding in Kagoshima, home to more than 600,000 people.

Dr James Hickey, the lead author of the study, said the team had found a new way to map the natural “plumbing system” inside volcanoes that could improve authorities’ ability to predict eruptions and issue earlier evacuation guidance.

“What we have discovered is not just how the magma flows into the reservoir, but just how great the reservoir is becoming,” Hickey said. “We believe that this new approach could help to improve eruption forecasting and hazard assessment at volcanoes not just in this area, but worldwide……

Sakurajima is about 30 miles from two nuclear reactors that were restarted last year, as Japan resumed its nuclear power programme after the March 2011Fukushima meltdown……..

The magma is entering the volcano at a faster rate than it can be released through small, frequent eruptions, leading the researchers to conclude that a much bigger eruption is possible within the next three decades.

“The 1914 eruption measured about 1.5 km cubed in volume – a massive event,” Hickey said. “From our data we think it would take around 130 years for the volcano to store the same amount of magma for another eruption of a similar size – meaning we are around 25 years away.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/13/new-data-points-to-major-eruption-of-japanese-volcano

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

Hillary Clinton’s role in the Fukushima nuclear disaster cover-up. Illegal hiding of emails

This blackout of the Fukushima related trip to Japan was so important, it required committing a crime to not provide these emails under subpoena.
I am dumping these screen captures of all the Fukushima emails that I reviewed.   I have all the PDFs downloaded and stored and backed up.

But I want to get this out there now, so you can view.  Of this $400B dollar a year industry (nuclear), how much do you think they funneled to Hillary or some Super-Pac?

First off, she knew of the dangers of Fukushima, and the precautions that should have been taken, the next 3 graphics are from 1 email, March 12, 2011

Clinton two facedHillary Clinton — Very Sick Person, Very Dangerous Person, Proof That She Is Willing to Kill Americans For Her Power http://nukeprofessional.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/hillary-clinton-very-sick-person-very.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+NukeProfessional+(Nuke+Professional)

She needs to be in treatment, not running for president.  I do not believe that she is a sociopath, for one, she can’t lie that well. I believe she is highly ambitious and power hungry and will do anything to get power. But at the same time, she realizes the evil that she does. That puts a lot of stress on a person. And it’s catching up.
Why do I say she is dangerous? 

Read below, this really spells it out very clearly. Hillary Clinton Threw American’s Under The Bus, Doubtless Costing Many Lives and Painful Diseases

Her emails, and lack of emails proves this clearly.

Here is the breakdown:

  1. Clinton was Secretary of State at the Time
  2. She was clearly briefed on the dangers of Fukushima
  3. She was getting several emails a day on Fukushima updates
  4. People in government were pushing her hard to make a trip to Japan even though she was very tired and overworked
  5. These same people were imploring her to “Go talk to Kissinger” about strategies for the Japan/Fukushima deal
  6. Hillary went and got a strategy from Kissinger, and decided to make the trip to Japan to meet one on one with top officials.

Now, with a big trip to a world super power and close allie, after the worst industrial accident in history, you know that there would be a lot of emails to coordinate the trip.

But after that meeting with Kissinger there was not a single Japan or Fukushima related email in what she turned over.   Not one.   They were all disappeared.   Under penalty of contempt of court, a jailable offense, or worse, she had all those emails purged.

Why would anyone take a risk this large just to coverup a trip and discussion with one of our closest allies?   60 other top secret emails were released to the FBI (not disappeared), BUT the coverup of the Fukushima story was so important that Clinton and her group committed a felony by removing these from the record.

What is known and what is the most likely story that makes sense.

Continue reading

September 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Marshall Islanders culture threatened: emigration as sea level rises

climate-changeLives in the balance: climate change and the Marshall Islands [excellent video]

The numerous atolls that make up the island nation are now regularly swamped due to sea level rise. But as more people flee for the US, many fear their culture will be lost to a country that has already taken so much from them, Guardian, by  and  in Majuro, Marshall Islands, and Springdale, Arkansas, 15 Sept 16

There may be music in the roar of the sea, as Byron eulogized, but the waves can also bring creeping unease. On low-lying fragments of land like the Marshall Islands, the tides are threatening to take away what they previously helped support: life.

Hilda Heine surveys the latest temporary sea wall that cleaves her property from the waves. It has been knocked down twice since February by floods and she frets about her plants that will probably face a salty demise.

Her vista would, sadly, be unremarkable in the Marshall Islands were it not for the policeman languidly guarding the corrugated metal wall – Heine is the president of the Pacific island nation. Here, no one is spared the rising seas.

“I need a better wall, one with rocks,” Heine mutters. Her presidency will probably be defined by climate change. Heine took charge in January and immediately declared a state of emergency over a drought so dire that water was rationed in the capital, Majuro. The nation also faces the existential threat of sea level rise and, with it, the potential exodus of its population.

“The numbers are increasing, of people leaving,” Heine says. “We see that almost every day. It concerns us. I think to a certain extent there are people who are thinking about the sea level rise and they’re wanting to make sure they’re on secure land.”

Better job prospects and a college education are major pulls, but climate change is now elbowing its way on to the list of considerations. A third of the Marshall Islands’ 60,000-strong population now resides in the US and some of those left behind fret that many more will follow, with the archipelago’s unique culture blemished by each departure. The Marshallese government has openly worried “about massive outmigration in recent years” – a fifth of the population left between 1999 and 2011.

As the seas rise, the pathway to the US could be closing. A compact of free association, which allows Marshallese people to live and work in the US without a visa, ends in 2023 and there are no guarantees it will be extended. Those already living in the US would be able to stay but, if the agreement isn’t extended, those living in the Marshall Islands will be treated like hopeful migrants from any other country……..

In 2014, after five-meter swells inundated Majuro for the third time in a year (historically, something that only happened once every few decades), the US Geological Survey released sobering research that shows that a mix of sea level rise and marauding waves means “many atoll islands will be flooded annually, salinizing the limited freshwater resources and thus likely forcing inhabitants to abandon their islands in decades, not centuries, as previously thought”.

The escape route is there, for now, but it has come at a cost. The option of moving to the US was born from the Marshall Islands’ misfortune of being under US administration during the cold war.

Between 1946 and 1958, the US conducted nuclear weapons testing on the islands, peppering Bikini atoll alone with 23 bombs. The largest, known as the Bravo shot, was 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb and vaporized three small islands.

While Bikini was evacuated, the wind blew radioactive detritus on to the inhabited atolls of Rongelap and Utrik. “Within hours, the atoll was covered with a fine, white, powder-like substance,” says Jeton Anjain, who led the eventual evacuation of Rongelap. “No one knew it was radioactive fallout. The children played in the snow. They ate it.”

Cancers, particularly of the thyroid, riddled many of those who came into contact with this radioactivity. But the wounds of dispossession are the ones that run deepest, 70 years on. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/15/marshall-islands-climate-change-springdale-arkansas

September 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Polar bears losing habitat as sea ice melting earlier, and refreezing later

climate-changePolar bears losing crucial sea ice: study, Guardian,14 Sept 16  Life-sustaining sea ice needed for hunting, resting and breeding is declining in all 19 regions of the Arctic inhabited by the species Polar bears are losing life-sustaining sea ice crucial for hunting, resting and breeding in all 19 regions of the Arctic they inhabit, a study warned on Wednesday.

As climate change pushes up Arctic temperatures, ice is melting earlier in spring and refreezing later in autumn, a team of researchers reported in the Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union.

Satellite data revealed that the total number of ice-covered days across the 19 regions declined at a rate of seven to 19 days per decade from 1979 to 2014, the researchers said.

“Their dependence on sea ice means that climate warming poses the single most important threat to (polar bears’) persistence,” wrote the team……..

Scientists say the Arctic is warming at nearly double the global rate as a result of climate change fuelled by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels, a process that emits heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

With longer iceless periods, polar bears have to swim further and further to find solid ground.

Last year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said the creatures could see their numbers dwindle by nearly a third by mid-century…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/14/polar-bears-losing-crucial-sea-ice-study-arctic

September 16, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Hinkley nuclear decision- .Great for France, China – but what about UK? The Brexit effect

Hinkley C nuclear go-ahead: May caves in to pressure from France and China, Ecologist Oliver Tickell 15th September 2016  “………Great for France, China – but what about us? The Brexit effect

Mrs May is known to have come under strong pressure from both French and Chinese governments to give HPC the go-ahead. Both governments have strong interests in seeing the project going ahead.

In the French case, the EPR reactor has cost EDF and Areva – both companies controlled and mostly owned by the French state – uncountable billions of euros. Four EPRs are under construction, in France, Finland and China. All are running very late and billions of euros over budget, while the French reactor at Flamanville may never open due to a faulty reactor vessel.

That means that HPC represents France’s last chance to present the EPR as a viable reactor for the lucrative nuclear export market, re-establish credibility, and regain value for its so far utterly failed investment in the EPR.

The deal also offers EDF a very high return on investment of over 10% based on the expected construction cost of €24 billion, making it (and UK energy consumers) a valuable ‘cash cow’ for the highly indebted company for many decades to come.

China is also intent on capturing its share of the global export market for nuclear power and HPC is its ‘way in’ to it. As part of the deal, Chinese nuclear company CGN is to get preferential treatment to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex to its new, untested ‘Hualong’ reactor design that it intends to promote to international buyers.

So, plenty of good reasons for China and France to want to progress the deal. But what’s in it for the UK? Answer: Brexit. By sucking up to France, the government hopes to win over France as an ally in negotiating a better deal for the UK in Brexit negotiations……….http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988131/hinkley_c_nuclear_goahead_may_caves_in_to_pressure_from_france_and_china.html

September 16, 2016 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

America’s role in shaping the North Korea nuclear crisis

Rooting Out the North Korean Nuclear Crisis: the Past and Present U.S. Role, CounterPunch, by CHRISTINE HONG – PAUL LIEM, 15 Sept 16,  North Korea’s nuclear test of September 9, 2016, the fifth and largest measuring twice the force of previous blasts, prompted a predictable round of condemnations by the United States and its allies along with calls for China to step up its enforcement of sanctions on North Korea. Yet few “expert” analyses suggest that China will risk destabilizing North Korea or that further United Nations resolutions and international sanctions will succeed in deterring North Korea from pursuing its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Obama administration’s reliance on China to rein in North Korea is at odds with its efforts to contain China’s influence in Asia, a quixotic goal in itself. It reflects an unrealistic desire for China to be influential just enough to do the bidding of the United States but not powerful enough to act in its own interests.

North Korea is, after all, China’s strategic ally in the region, and it is in South Korea that the United States plans to deploy THAAD, a defense system with radar capable of tracking incoming missiles from China. It is simply not in China’s interest to risk losing an ally on its border only to have it replaced by a U.S.-backed state hosting missile-tracking systems and other military forces targeting it. And China knows it is not the target of North Korea’s nukes. If the United States cannot punt the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons to China it must deal with North Korea directly.

Indeed, in response to U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent condemnation of China’s “role” and “responsibility” in failing to restrain North Korea’s nuclear pursuits, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on the United States to take a long hard look at its own foreign policy:……….

Despite President Barack Obama’s efforts over his two terms in office to “pivot” or “rebalance” U.S. foreign policy to Asia and the Pacific and his repeated identification of the United States as a Pacific power, the memory of nuclear ruin in the region is shadowed by the history of the United States as a first-user of atomic weapons against civilian populations in Japan at the close of World War II and as a tester of devastating nuclear technology, including human radiation experiments, in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War. Moreover, it has not gone unnoticed that President Obama, despite his professed commitment to nuclear de-escalation, has refused to issue an “unequivocal no-first-use pledge.”

In Korea, the one place on the planet where nuclear conflagration is most likely to erupt, given the current state of affairs, President Obama can still end the threat of nuclear warfare. This would require what few in his administration appear to have entertained, namely, the elimination of the demand for North Korea to agree to irreversible denuclearization as a precondition for bilateral talks. This rigid goal makes it virtually impossible for the United States to respond positively to any overture from North Korea short of a fantastic offer by that country to surrender all its nuclear weapons. The premise that the denuclearization of North Korea is necessary to ensure peace and stability on the Korean peninsula needs to be shelved, and all possibilities for finding common ground upon which to negotiate the cessation of hostilities on the Korean peninsula should be explored…….

Let us also recall that North Korea offered to halt testing of its nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to put an end to the annual U.S.-South Korea war games.[6] Combining live artillery drills and virtual exercises, these war games, as of this year, implemented OPLAN 5015, a new operational war plan that puts into motion a preemptive U.S. nuclear strike against North Korea and the “decapitation” of its leadership. Unsurprisingly, North Korea considers this updated operational plan to be a rehearsal for Libya-style regime change……..

President Obama should prioritize any and all possibilities for achieving a halt to North Korea’s nuclear programs by diplomacy, over the goal of achieving an illusory agreement for complete denuclearization. As an achievement, halting North Korea’s nuclear advances is far short of the peace treaty needed to bring an end to the Korean War and a lasting peace to Korea. It is far short of creating international conditions for the Korean people to achieve the peaceful reunification of their country. And it is a far cry from achieving nuclear disarmament on a global scale. Yet, as a redirection of U.S. policy towards engagement with North Korea, it would be the greatest achievement in U.S. Korea policy of the last fifteen years, and a concrete step towards achieving denuclearization in the region, and worldwide… (extensive references) http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/15/rooting-out-the-north-korean-nuclear-crisis-the-past-and-present-u-s-role/#_edn3

September 16, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The ex-Westinghouse employee accused of helping a foreign power with nuclear secrets

questionNuclear secrets: The ex-Westinghouse employee accused of helping a foreign power Power Source By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  September 15, 2016 Following the arrest of Allen Ho this spring, FBI agents appeared on the doorsteps of nuclear scientists across the United States.

In Murrysville, they met with Charles Beard, a retired Westinghouse Electric Co. software engineer who first connected with Mr. Ho in the 1980s when both men worked for that company. In 2011, Mr. Ho had approached Mr. Beard to consult for his Delaware-based firm Energy Technology International, according to documents in the case.

Mr. Beard had just retired and wasn’t sure it was worth it. He quoted an hourly rate so high it was intended to repel the advances, Mr. Beard told the FBI. But Mr. Ho agreed to the money, and so did Mr. Beard.

And thus he became part of a group of consultants — retired nuclear specialists, many from Cranberry-based Westinghouse — that Mr. Ho assembled on behalf of the China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN), one of several state-owned nuclear firms in one of the world’s largest commercial nuclear markets.

The consulting team was to “provide technology transfer in design, manufacturing, related training and technical support,” Mr. Ho wrote in an e-mail later obtained by the FBI. “They said budget is no issue.”

Since mid-April, Mr. Ho, 66, has been in jail in Tennessee awaiting a trial in which he faces a potential life sentence for violating a 60-year statute that has never before been tested in court. He spends 23 hours in a cell, in solitary confinement, according to his attorney.

In its case, the government has said that Mr. Ho’s consulting services amount to nuclear espionage and that he was acting as a foreign agent when he recruited nuclear scientists to educate China’s nuclear engineers on aspects of commercial reactors.

Mr. Ho, and one of his former consultants Ching Ning Guey whose plea deal last year helped the government build a case, are the first people to be charged under a statute of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 that says people who help make special nuclear material outside of the U.S. have to ask the Secretary of Energy for permission.

They are the only two people that have been charged in this case.

The “special nuclear material” in question is plutonium — a byproduct of the nuclear reaction that takes place inside commercial power plants. By helping a Chinese company with its operations, Mr. Ho was involved in making plutonium, the government said.

Last month, despite a slew of character letters from friends, some of which pledged their homes as collateral, Mr. Ho was denied bail.

Even if he were stripped of his U.S. and Chinese passports, and outfitted with a tracking anklet that confined him to his home, Chinese operatives might shepherd him out of the country, prosecutors warned. They cited his expensive house in Delaware, an apartment in China and a child he fathered there nine years ago………

Mr. Ho had, in fact, applied for the special authorization required by the Atomic Energy Act.

In 2013, he sent two letters to the U.S. Department of Energy describing his activities in China. One said he and his consultants were engaged in IT support work, such as converting code from one language to another and updating it with more recent fission and heat transfer models.

In less than two months, the energy agency replied to Mr. Ho that these activities don’t need special permission……..

Special permission

The government’s argument on the dangers of Mr. Ho’s actions follow two paths. On the one hand, the FBI has alleged Mr. Ho was selling commercial secrets, violating intellectual property protections and helping Chinese companies get ahead by bypassing the expense and time of research and development.

On the other hand, the government and the FBI agents that conducted the interviews with Mr. Ho’s consultants have sprinkled in questions about possible security concerns, given that the plutonium produced at commercial nuclear power plants can be used for military purposes.“Our idea of how China works, is that at the end of the day, whatever’s good for commercial is also good for military,” the federal agent told Mr. Ho after his arrest.

That dynamic is the focus of the Atomic Energy Act, a law passed in 1954 that guides how the U.S. balances the promotion of nuclear trade in the electric sector with the goal of keeping nuclear proliferation at bay.

There are 50 countries for which a special authorization is not required. For all others — including China — activities ranging from document transfers and e-mails to the “transfer of knowledge and expertise” in the area of nuclear reactors call for special permission from the Secretary of Energy.

George Rudy, who consulted for Mr. Ho, told an FBI agent on April 15 that Mr. Ho didn’t seem to understand the logic behind the authorization rules. “He felt that the requirements were the NSA and DOE trying to impede his progress,” Mr. Rudy told the FBI.

A 2014 Government Accountability Office report looking at how the Department of Energy handles the special authorization statute found that U.S. nuclear firms and the Nuclear Energy Institute commonly felt the requirements and the long approval times put U.S. firms and the interest of commercial nuclear development at a disadvantage to suppliers in other countries.

It’s OK for Westinghouse………

China’s nuclear ambitions are second to none. It is gobbling up Western nuclear technology and expertise, and developing its own in service of an aggressive plan to build dozens of reactors in the next decade.

“This whole thing doesn’t make any sense, because Westinghouse sold AP1000 reactors to China along with all of their proprietary information,” Mr. Rombough said this month. “If doing nuclear reactors in China is so off limits, why did they allow Westinghouse to do that?”

David Seel, another retired Westinghouse engineer, told FBI agents in April that his concerns “were mitigated by the assumption (Westinghouse’s) presence in China and AP1000-related business dealings illustrated consulting such as his was not prohibited.”………

While he declined to speak about Mr. Ho’s case in detail, Mr. Zeidenburg said it “falls into a long and depressing line of cases where the Department of Justice has arrested a Chinese-American first and asked questions later.”

In court filings, he has argued that the government — unable to find an espionage statute that sticks — has tried to “shoehorn” Mr. Ho’s legitimate commercial work into a statute that has never been tested in court.

Mr. Ho’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.

Anya Litvak: alitvak@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.http://powersource.post-gazette.com/powersource/companies/2016/09/15/Nuclear-secrets-The-ex-Westinghouse-employee-accused-of-helping-a-foreign-power/stories/201609140193

September 16, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobby sees decommissioning of reactors as the new financial bonanza

Future nuclear supply chain worth billions, report finds, WNN 14 September 2016 “……..The market for decommissioning is also substantial, with decommissioning work on projects involving immediate dismantling by 2035 potentially worth up to $111 billion. This includes at least $12.4 billion as the estimated cost for cleaning up the Fukushima Daiichi site, and at least $24.2 billion for decommissioning as Germany moves to phase out its nuclear power plants.

money-in-wastes-2

Eleven consolidated technology vendors from Canada, China, France, India, Japan, Russia and the USA today offer their services across much of the nuclear fuel cycle, and other significant technology vendors – such as BWX Technologies, Doosan and OMZ-Skoda – are internationally active. Each has built up a supply chain that is increasingly global in scope, and the leading vendors are, for the most part, internationally diversified in terms of their corporate make-up and supplier base…..http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Future-nuclear-supply-chain-worth-billions-report-finds-1509167.html

September 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Uncertainty about Hinkley nuclear project, despite UK govarnment’s approval

Hinkley planAn amber light for China in UK nuclear power https://www.ft.com/content/40dbd3fa-7b2f-11e6-ae24-f193b105145e

Uncertainty about the £18bn Hinkley project survives a review After unexpectedly announcing a review at the end of July, the UK government has given the go-ahead for construction of the nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. This is the most important strategic decision since Theresa May became prime minister — one that has a bearing not only on the UK’s future competitiveness, but on its relations with China and France.

Regrettably, Mrs May has eschewed the chance to amend the commercial terms of the project, to be built at the gargantuan cost of £18bn by EDF, the French utility, with co-investment from the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Guangdong Nuclear Power. She has, though, announced a plan for new rules governing foreign investment in critical infrastructure. The impact of these on the nuclear programme is uncertain. If sufficiently stringent they could yet put the Hinkley project in doubt.

When it was first conceived a decade ago as part of plans to kick-start a nuclear “renaissance” as old coal-fired plants become obsolete, the Hinkley project was a more attractive proposition. Expected to be competitive with other power sources, it would also help Britain meet ever tougher emissions targets. A decade on — and at a time when the costs of wind power, solar energy and natural gas have all been falling — the price built into the deal is nearly four times higher. The French utility will receive more than double the present UK wholesale power price, indexed and guaranteed for 35 years. Questions therefore remain as to whether the project marries Britain’s energy needs with emission reduction targets in the most cost-effective way.

Mrs May ordered the review to assess concerns over the cost, the unproven technology involved and the role of Chinese investors in a plant that is due to meet about 7 per cent of domestic electricity demand. Her amendments all focus on national security. As part of a new, as yet unclear, legal framework for foreign investment in critical infrastructure, the government will in future hold a golden share in all nuclear power projects. Unexceptionally, this ensures that significant stakes cannot be sold without UK consent.

Of more concern potentially to Beijing is the additional security scrutiny to which the government plans to subject future nuclear projects. Again, the principle is sound from a UK perspective, but the details remain obscure.

China’s objective in putting £6bn into Hinkley Point was to be able to build its own reactors in the UK. During the “golden era” of Sino-UK relations proclaimed by the previous government of David Cameron when President Xi Jinping visited London last year, Beijing envisaged Hinkley as a springboard for its nuclear industry seeking other deals worldwide.

Both EDF and the Chinese have welcomed Mrs May’s decision to go ahead with the project. At least publicly, Beijing sees no obstacle towards its other planned investments with EDF. However, uncertainty over the long-delayed project has survived the review in important respects. Should additional regulatory scrutiny get in the way of Beijing’s other nuclear ambitions in the UK, notably a planned power plant at Bradwell, it could jeopardise the rationale for Chinese investment at Hinkley Point. EDF has warned that, without Chinese money, it may not proceed with the Hinkley scheme.

The last word on Hinkley may not have been written. Mrs May has addressed the concernsof security chiefs with a compromise that avoids an outright block. But she has deferred greater clarity on the extent to which she sees China playing a strategic role as an investor in the UK.

September 16, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment