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Opposition to South Carolina becoming a nuclear waste dumping ground

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said

Plan surfaces for new nuclear disposal ground in SC  Casks of spent nuclear fuel are stored above ground at many atomic energy plants because there is no national disposal site for the material U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission  BY SAMMY FRETWELL AND JEFF WILKINSON\  sfretwell@thestate.com,jwilkinson@thestate.com, COLUMBIA, SC 

A plan has surfaced to establish another nuclear waste disposal ground in South Carolina, a state with a history of taking atomic refuse from across the country.

An organization called the Spent Fuel Reprocessing Group wants federal approval to open a disposal area near Barnwell and the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons complex. Spent fuel, a type of highly radioactive waste, would be moved from the state’s four nuclear power plant sites and stored indefinitely at the new facility, records show.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July received notice of the plan. The proposal is a long way from becoming reality, but if eventually approved by the federal government, it would create a place for nuclear waste disposal that is likely to draw opposition.

Several environmental groups said this week they are preparing to fight any effort to create what they called an atomic waste dumping ground. Politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, also expressed reservations Monday. The subject of nuclear waste disposal is a touchy one in South Carolina because many people say the state has shouldered more than its share of the nuclear waste burden.

South Carolina already stores highly radioactive material from around the country and world at the Savannah River Site. It also has a low-level waste dump in Barnwell County that was used for decades to bury nuclear garbage from power plants across the country. That site has leaked radioactive tritium into groundwater.

Now, the government is being asked to allow an interim disposal site for high-level nuclear waste from power plants in South Carolina. The site would be near the Barnwell low-level waste dump, environmentalists said Monday. The site would be considered an interim disposal ground that would hold the nuclear waste while the government figures out what to do with it in the long run…….

Environmentalists say there is no need to move spent nuclear fuel off of atomic power plant sites. They contend it can be stored safely. Transporting it to a disposal area near Barnwell would increase risks to the public, they said. If a permanent disposal site were eventually developed nationally, the material would have to be transported again from the interim South Carolina site, according to Savannah River Site Watch, the S.C. League of Women Voters and the state Sierra Club.

“Packaging of the spent fuel for transport, unloading it at the consolidated storage site and eventually repackaging it to transport to a federal facility would unnecessarily pose a high economic cost and a logistical nightmare, both of which can be avoided if the spent fuel is left where it is now stored until such time as a geologic facility is available,’’ according to the groups…….

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change will expose top-secret US nuclear project in Greenland

Greenland’s receding icecap to expose top-secret US nuclear project Camp Century – part of Project Iceworm – is underground cold war network that had been thought buried forever, until climate change made that highly unlikely, Guardian, , 28 Sept,  A top-secret US military project from the cold war and the toxic waste it conceals, thought to have been buried forever beneath the Greenland icecap, are likely to be uncovered by rising temperatures within decades, scientists have said.

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The US army engineering corps excavated Camp Century in 1959 around 200km (124 miles) from the coast of Greenland, which was then a county of Denmark.

Powered, remarkably, by the world’s first mobile nuclear generator and known as “the city under the ice”, the camp’s three-kilometre network of tunnels, eight metres beneath the ice, housed laboratories, a shop, a hospital, a cinema, a chapel and accommodation for as many as 200 soldiers………

Project Iceworm, presented to the US chiefs of staff in 1960, aimed to use Camp Century’s frozen tunnels to test the feasibility of a huge launch site under the ice, close enough to fire nuclear missiles directly at the Soviet Union.

At the height of the cold war, as the US and the USSR were engaged in a terrifying standoff over the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the US army was considering the construction of a vast subterranean extension of Camp Century.

A system of about 4,000 kilometres of icy underground tunnels and chambers extending over an area around three times the size of Denmark were to have housed 600 ballistic missiles in clusters six kilometres apart, trained on Moscow and its satellites.

Eventually the engineers realised Iceworm would not work. The constantly moving ice was too unstable and would have deformed and perhaps even collapsed the tunnels.

From 1964 Camp Century was used only intermittently, and three years later it was abandoned altogether, the departing soldiers taking the reaction chamber of the nuclear generator with them.

They left the rest of the camp’s infrastructure – and its biological, chemical and radioactive waste – where it was, on the assumption it would be “preserved for eternity” by the perpetually accumulating snow and ice……..

Greenland’s temperatures broke new records this spring and summer, hitting 24C (75F) in the capital, Nuuk, in June – a figure that shocked meteorologists so much they had to recheck their measurements.

Between 2003 and 2010, the ice that covers much of the island melted twice as fast as during the whole of the 20th century. This year it began melting a month earlier than usual.

The researchers studied US army documents and drawings to work out how deep the camp and its waste – estimated to include 200,000 litres of diesel fuel, similar quantities of waste water and unknown amounts of radioactive coolant and toxic organic pollutants such as PCBs – were buried………

The Pentagon has said it “acknowledges the reality of climate change and the risk it poses” for Greenland, adding that the US government has pledged to “work with the Danish government and the Greenland authorities to settle questions of mutual security”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/27/receding-icecap-top-secret-us-nuclear-project-greenland-camp-century-project-iceworm

September 28, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

UK may be forced to leave Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, due to Brexit

flag-UKBrexit ‘could trigger’ UK departure from nuclear energy treaty https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/27/brexit-could-trigger-uk-departure-from-nuclear-energy-treaty

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned, Guardian, José Rojo for ENDS, part of the Guardian Environment Network. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU could also force it to exit the Euratom Treaty on nuclear energy, ENDS has learned.

The Euratom Treaty, which applies to all EU member states, seeks to promote nuclear safety standards, investment and research within the bloc. Although it is governed by EU institutions, it has retained a separate legal identity since its adoption in 1957.

Brian Curtis, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), told ENDS that his Committee had recently consulted the European Commission on whether Brexit would automatically lead to a UK exit of Euratom.

Curtis said the Commission had responded affirmatively, arguing that the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) applies to the Euratom Treaty under article 106 of the latter agreement. This would mean, it said, that the reference to ‘Union’ inTEU’s article 50 – which needs to be invoked by member states wishing to quit the bloc – would apply not only to the EU itself but to Euratom membership as well.

According to EESC, a Euratom withdrawal by the UK – which recently approved the controversial £18bn Hinkley C project – could have major strategic implications for the EU nuclear sector. “But anticipating specific outcomes at this stage is problematic,” the Committee added.

The Commission itself would not comment on the exchange, which took place as the EESC examined the EU’s latest nuclear plan.

The draft Nuclear Indicative Programme (PINC), which was unveiled in April, is the first to be published by the Commission since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

The EESC is required by the Euratom Treaty to give its opinion on such plans before they are finalised. It released its opinion on the latest PINC last week, after adopting it at a plenary vote.

The document praises the Commission for its analysis of investment needs during the entire nuclear fuel cycle and its emphasis on funding for nuclear decommissioning.

However, the Committee adds that the 2016 PINC is half the length of thepreceding plan from 2007 and fails to address key issues faced by EU nuclear energy.

These, it says, include the competitiveness of nuclear amid changes to construction and capital costs, its investment needs in the context of the EU’s Energy Union goals and the speed at which new technologies may be rolled out.

EESC’s opinion was published two weeks ahead of a meeting of the European Nuclear Energy Forum, which will be attended by EU member states and European institutions in Bratislava on 3-4 October.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Tokyo Responsibility to Reveal Truth of Fukushima

We already know what is Tokyo definition of “truth”: five years and half of continuous deception, lies and cover-ups, tidbits of truth released only when forced to do so….

Shinzo Abe - Pinocchio.jpg

 

More than five years after the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the legacy of the accident continues, characterized by constant radiation exposure and an ever-lasting sense of fear, not only in this island country but also beyond its territory.

Numerous reports about nuclear radiation and its damage to human bodies have been filed since the Fukushima disaster. An Asahi Shimbun article in 2014 revealed that high levels of accumulated radioactive cesium had been detected in the mud of 468 reservoirs outside of the Fukushima evacuation zone.

But more discouraging news awaits. According to a recent report by The Mainichi, an Environment Ministry survey found that high concentrations of radioactive cesium have been accumulating at the bottom of 10 major dams 50 kilometers away from Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, yet officials were quoted as saying that “it is best to contain cesium at those dams.”

It is the inaction that is most depressing. As people’s physical health is exposed to possible risks, the psychological fallout from the accident is worrying as well. As nuclear radiation reports are always published, people affected by the nuclear leak are fearful.

The aftermath of the Fukushima disaster that concerns the lives of millions has failed to prompt the Japanese government to assume responsibility actively on a massive scale.

Earlier this month, former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi accused current leader Shinzo Abe of lying to the international community that the situation at the nuclear power plant is under control.

Those in a position of Japanese authority should release information about Fukushima-related contamination once and for all. The government should also set up a mechanism which can inform the country and the international community of new findings in a timely manner.

As a neighbor of Japan, China has also felt uneasy with the radiation from the disaster. Years after the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors, Chinese travelers are still asking if it is safe to go to Japan. In terms of food safety, despite a ban by Chinese authorities on food imports and agricultural products from Fukushima and 11 other Japanese regions affected by nuclear contamination since the accident, potentially radiation-tainted seafood from Fukushima smuggled to China poses health threats to the Chinese people.

Since a large number of Chinese travelers are going to Japan, related information is indispensable. Therefore, China should also come up with solutions such as assigning experts to monitor the situation in Japan and offer credible advice to the anxious public. This “nuclear war without a war” will attest to the responsibility of a government to its people.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1008771.shtml#.V-sabiwjxlg.facebook

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo Electric Power : Financial Assistance from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation

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On September 23, we received a funding grant of 104.1 billion yen from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (hereinafter referred to as NDF) based on the revision of the Special Business Plan which was approved on March 31, 2016.


This financial assistance was given in response to the 56th request we made in order to cover the compensation payouts due by the end of October 2016. The amount of the payouts to be paid by that time had been estimated to exceed the sum of the compensation we had received in accordance with the ‘Act on Contract for Indemnification of Nuclear Damage Compensation’ (188.9 billion yen) and the financial assistance that the NDF has provided (6,229.9 billion yen).


With financial assistance from the NDF, we are determined to continue to pay the compensation with courtesy and compassion to all of those who have been afflicted by the nuclear damage.

http://m.4-traders.com/TOKYO-ELECTRIC-POWER-COMP-6491247/news/Tokyo-Electric-Power-Financial-Assistance-from-the-Nuclear-Damage-Compensation-and-Decommissioning-23125612/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Power Firms to Pay Some of the Decommissioning Costs

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New power firms may have to pay some costs for nuke reactor decommissioning

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has begun discussions on a plan to have new smaller electric power companies shoulder part of the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors, officials said.

This is due to fears that nine major power companies that operate nuclear plants and the Japan Atomic Power Co. alone cannot fully foot the costs of decommissioning their reactors in the future.

The government intends to draw a conclusion on the plan by the end of the year, but the move could spark criticism that nuclear plant operators would be given preferential treatment.

The industry ministry convened the first meeting of an advisory panel on electric power system reform on Sept. 27 to discuss challenges to the liberalization of the power market. At the meeting, the ministry proposed that the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors be added to power grid usage fees that new power supplies pay to major utilities.

If new power companies add the costs of reactor decommissioning to electricity charges, consumers will be required to shoulder such additional costs.

The industry ministry has worked out the plan, which could be viewed as a relief measure for major utilities, because the business environment surrounding these companies has worsened following the liberalization of the power market and criticism of nuclear power in the wake of the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The costs of decommissioning a nuclear reactor are about 10 times that for a thermal power generator. The operators of nuclear plants use part of their income from electricity charges to save enough money to dismantle their reactors in the future.

However, if the liberalization of the electricity market progresses, a growing number of consumers could switch to new power suppliers and the prices of electric power could further decline because of intensifying competition, making it more difficult for major utilities to secure enough funds to decommission their nuclear reactors.

The suspension of operations at most atomic power stations is also adversely affecting major power companies.

Power companies could secure enough funds to decommission nuclear reactors if they saved money on the assumption that the rate of utilizing such plants stood at 76 percent and that the lifespan of each reactor was 40 years.

However, the suspension of operations at many nuclear plants has been prolonged and power companies are being forced to decommission some reactors earlier than planned, as a result of which they have been unable to secure enough funds.

Under these circumstances, major power companies are insisting that new power companies should shoulder part of the decommissioning costs.

“Customers of new electric power firms previously used power generated by nuclear plants operated by major utilities. We would like these customers to shoulder a fair share of the costs for reactor decommissioning,” an official of one major power company said.

Major power suppliers have asked the executive branch of the government and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators to consider their requests.

The government has shown consideration to major power companies that are being forced to shoulder the expenses of changes in Japan’s energy policy — such as market liberalization and stepped up safety regulations — following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.

A working group within an advisory committee to the industry ministry called on the government in March 2015 to consider a system that would take advantage of the pricing system for power transmission and distribution to help power companies cover decommissioning costs.

However, new power suppliers are opposed to the move. “It’d be unreasonable for new electric power companies that don’t have nuclear plants to shoulder the costs of those facilities,” said an executive of a Kansai-based new power supplier.

Ennet Corp. President and CEO Tsutomu Takeda told the panel on Sept. 27, “We can’t convince our customers unless you (the government and major power companies) explain how much it will cost to decommission a reactor.”

An executive of a new power company based in the Tokyo metropolitan area said, “It’d be difficult to gain understanding from our customers who have switched from major power companies following the outbreak of the nuclear disaster.”

In response, the industry ministry will consider setting up a market in which power is traded and encouraging major utilities to supply less expensive power generated by nuclear power and coal-fired thermal power plants to the market. The ministry is aiming to allow new power companies to procure less expensive power from the power transaction market in a bid to persuade them to shoulder part of the costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors.

Under the old power supply system in which major utilities enjoyed regional monopolies, power companies were able to secure funds to build and decommission nuclear plants solely by using electricity charges, allowing them to take advantage of low fuel costs for nuclear plants.

With the liberalization of the power market, however, nuclear power plants have lost their edge.

The government has postponed discussions on whether to go ahead with the construction of new nuclear power plants.

The system proposed lately could give preferential treatment to nuclear plants and encourage power companies to build more atomic power stations.

In-depth debate needs to be held on whether nuclear plants will be consistent with the policy of liberalizing the power market.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160928/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

Related article from September 8, 2016

Gov’t may shift nuke accident, reactor decommissioning costs onto new power suppliers

The government is moving to bill new electricity suppliers for a portion of nuclear reactor decommissioning costs and compensation payments related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it was learned on Sept. 7.

After decades under regional utility monopolies, the electricity supply market was opened to competition in April this year. The government apparently fears that the old monopolies such as Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) lose too many customers to new suppliers and they may no longer be able to cover the high costs of decommissioning old reactors or compensate the victims of nuclear accidents, hence the move to shift some of the financial burden onto new market entrants.

However, these costs were originally supposed to be covered by the nine big utilities, and the government’s moves would essentially transfer that burden onto the Japanese people, making a clash more than likely.

Under the current system, large utilities must cover nuclear reactor operating expenses — including eventual decommissioning — from electricity bill income. Also, TEPCO receives monies to cover Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation claims from the government-licensed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which is in turn funded by all the large utility companies.

The new system being considered by the government would spread the financial burden of nuclear accident compensation and reactor decommissioning to new electricity suppliers, lightening the load on the big utilities. The government estimates the total cost for reactor decommissioning plus Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation paid before the NDF was established at some 8 trillion yen. The new power suppliers would likely pass on their share of these costs to their customers, resulting in monthly power bills up to about 200 yen higher than at present for an average three-person household.

However, forcing customers of the new electricity firms to pay for the old utilities to decommission their reactors and for TEPCO’s nuclear disaster liabilities runs counter to the goals of liberalizing the electricity market, which was intended to push down prices through competition. It would also in essence be corporate welfare for the big utilities operating nuclear plants.

A sub-committee to debate the new system will be established under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy reporting to the minister of economy, trade and industry. The committee will decide on what direction to take by the end of this year, with an eye to submitting a bill to revise the Electricity Business Act to the ordinary Diet session next year.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160908/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

The Japan Today article cites it as tsunami debris but it would also include debris from the reactor explosions at the plant. Pieces from these explosions have been found as far inland as Naraha. Why this work had not been done sooner was not mentioned.

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Japan performs tsunami debris cleanup off Fukushima 1st time since nuclear disaster

Local fisheries have begun a debris cleanup near the Fukushima plant for the first time since the tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster. However a plan to start trial fishing next year may face a setback as a nearly-completed ice wall is failing to halt water contamination.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan at 2:46pm local time, unleashing a deadly tsunami. Less than an hour after the earthquake, the first of many tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves reached heights of up to 39 meters (128 feet) at Miyako city and reached as far as 10 km (6 miles) ashore in Sendai, destroying everything in its wake. More than 15,000 people died.

At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the tsunami caused a cooling system failure resulting in a nuclear meltdown and the release of radioactive materials. The waves forced the failure of electrical power and backup generators, leading the plant to lose its cooling capabilities. The retreating water sucked a vast amount of rubble into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the traditional fishing grounds of the local companies.

Five years after the disaster a cleanup effort to remove the debris has finally been launched by collectives of local fishermen, who aim to start trial fishing expeditions within the area from 5 kilometers (3 miles) to 20 km (12 miles) off the wrecked plant.

On Monday Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association send out 32 fishing boats to recover debris from the ocean floor. That fleet is focusing their efforts on the North side of the nuclear power plant.

On Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association also sent in their fleet to help with the cleanup efforts of the southern side of the contaminated segment.

Once the debris is pulled out and delivered to shore, the unloading of the waste is handled by the industrial waste treatment company. The rubble is then sent to a temporary storage facility where after an inspection for radioactive reading, cleared waste is disposed of in an industrial manner. It is as of yet unclear how the contaminated waste will be treated.

The cleanup work of the seabed endorsed by the Fisheries Agency is scheduled to last at least until February of next year. Fishing on a trial basis can start as early as March.

However such a prospect seem problematic as the recently-completed ice wall around the crippled station has failed to meet expectations, with contaminated groundwater still seeping into the sea.

The $320 million Land-Side Impermeable Wall was built to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings and consequent flow of the contaminated water into the ocean.

But on Tuesday the Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported that 1.5 km (1 mile) barrier frozen barrier failed to produce the intended results, Nikkei reported

While gaps still remain in some sections of the ocean-facing side of the wall, TEPCO believes that the inflows that penetrate the contaminated reactor are concentrated at seven unfrozen sections on the inland side.

A similar concern was voiced last month by the operator which claimed that 99 percent of the wall’s is mostly solid and frozen. However, a remaining one percent showed temperatures of the barrier above the freezing point, meaning that the contamination is not fully contained.

TEPCO has been repeatedly facing criticism for the handling of the Fukushima crisis. Despite the ongoing problems encountered following the meltdowns, the company has set 2020 as the goal for ending the plant’s water problem.

The problem of water contamination however is just one of many surrounding the dismantling and decommissioning of the Fukushima plant debris which is estimated to take at least 40 years.

We will continue to move forward with the decommissioning and contaminated water management in a transparent way, visible to the world, and will also share with the international community the lessons learned from this accident,” Hirotaka Ishihara, state minister of the cabinet office of Japan, told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 60th General Conference earlier this week.

We are also making ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of food produced in Japan,” he added. “Recognizing that many countries have already lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, we encourage the international community to implement import policies based on scientific evidence.”

https://www.rt.com/news/360879-fukushima-fishery-cleanup-debris/#.V-s-7I2uaW0.facebook

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

FUKUSHIMA — For the first time since the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the removal of debris in seawater located up to 20 km from the plant site has finally started.

The recovery operation, which began Monday, focuses on the removal of rubble in seawater within 5 to 20 km of the wrecked plant, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Five and a half years after the disaster, fishing has yet to be carried out in these waters while tsunami debris on the ocean floor near the Fukushima plant has remained untouched. 

With an aim to start trial fishing operations within this targeted cleanup area, the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association employed 32 fishing boats to recover debris such as driftwood and gill nets on Monday.

Following suit, from Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association started debris removal operations and will continue the cleanup efforts until February of next year.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/debris-recovery-operation-in-sea-carried-out-for-first-time-since-fukushima-nuclear-disaster

 

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s lies about his climate change beliefs

Trump Campaign Equivocates on Climate as Debate Fallout Continues
Common Dreams, September 27, 2016  Campaign chief claims Trump believes global warming exists, but not caused by humans, as VP pick Mike Pence breaks with stance altogether  by Nadia Prupis, staff writer 
Among Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s many debate gaffes Monday night, one of the most blatant was his claim that he never said climate change was a hoax.
 Trump’s manager challenged on climate change position

At the Hofstra University debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton challenged Trump’s stance on the environment stating, “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it’s real.” Trump quickly interrupted her with “I did not, I do not say that.”

Not only was this a lie—one social media users quickly fact-checked—but Trump has also said that, if elected, he would implement a decidedly anti-climate platform that includes weakening the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); abolishing President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, without which the U.S. has little chance of meeting its Paris climate pledge; promoting increased fossil fuel exploration; and employing oil and gas executives, including high-profile climate skeptic Myron Ebell, to lead his cabinet.

The outcry from Trump’s many denials prompted his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, to tell CNN‘s Alisyn Camerota that the GOP nominee does, in fact, believe in climate change—he just doesn’t believe it’s caused by humans.

“He believes that global warming is naturally occurring,” Conway said. “There are shifts naturally occurring.”

That, too, is scientifically false. In fact, 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and man-made.

In fact, Trump’s climate stance appears to be too unrealistic for even his running mate to get behind. Vice presidential nominee and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who is well known for his staunchly right-wing policies, said Tuesday there is “no question” that human activity affects the environment.

In a separate appearance on CNN, Pence said, “Let’s follow the science…There’s no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate.”

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

US presidential debate: Donald Trump’s $1 trillion error about nuclear weapons

Donald Trump made a $1 trillion error about nuclear weapons during the first presidential debate, Business Insider, PAUL SZOLDRA SEP 28, 2016,  Donald Trump made a $1 trillion error when talking about the US military’s nuclear arsenal during Monday’s presidential debate.

After Lester Holt asked whether he would be against using a “nuclear first strike” — the idea of using nukes preemptively — the Republican presidential nominee first answered by criticising the US military’s existing nuclear weapons programs.

“Russia has been expanding their — they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint. I looked the other night. I was seeing B-52s, they’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not — we are not keeping up with other countries.”

 He went on to say that he would not do a nuclear first strike, but then said he wouldn’t “take anything off the table.”

But the idea that the US is not keeping up with Russia, or any other country in regards to nuclear weapons, is wrong.

One trillion dollars wrong.

That’s because in November 2015, a fighter jet dropped an unarmed “nuclear gravity bomb” at a Nevada test range called the B61-12, a new weapon costing around $8.1 billion.

The pricey new bomb is actually less than 1% of a $1 trillion push to keep the US nuclear arsenal up-to-date. Officials also say the program will actually help reduce the number of nukes in the world.

In reality, both the US and Russia have been reducing and updating their nuclear stockpiles since 2010. And the mighty B-52 Stratofortress that Trump derided has been continually upgraded since it was first introduced in 1955 — so much so that the Air Force is confident it will keep on running until 2040.…….http://www.businessinsider.com.au/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-2016-9?r=US&IR=T

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? (and this is ‘good for business’)

Dangerous Crossroads: Both Russia and America Prepare for Nuclear War? http://www.globalresearch.ca/dangerous-crossroads-both-russia-and-america-prepare-for-nuclear-war/5548074  By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, September 27, 2016 Barely acknowledged by the Western media. both Russia and America are “rearming” their nuclear weapons systems. While the US is committed to a multibillion dollar modernization project, Russia is largely involved in a “cost-effective” restructuring process which consists in decommissioning parts of its land-based ICBM arsenal (Topol) and replacing it with the more advanced Yars RS-24 system, developed in 2007. 

While a new arms race has “unofficially” been launched, the US modernization process pertains to the all three legs of the triad system, -i.e land based  airborne and submarine launched atomic missiles. It is also coupled with the development of the B61-12 tactical bomb to be deployed in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

Rest assured, the B61-12 is a “mini-nuke” with an explosive capacity of up to four Hiroshima bombs. It is   categorized as a “defensive” (peace-making) weapon for use in the conventional war theater. According to scientists on contract to the Pentagon, the B61-11 and 12 (bunker buster bombs with nuclear warheads) are “harmless to civilians because the explosion is underground”. 

The nuclear triad modernization project is at the expense of US tax payers. It requires the redirection of federal revenues from the financing of “civilian” expenditure categories (including health, education, infrastructure etc) to the “war economy”.  It’s all for a good cause: “peace and security”. 

missile-moneyWar is “Good for Business”

The multibillion dollar project is a financial bonanza for America’s major defense contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which are also firm supporters of Hillary Clinton’s stance regarding a possible first strike nuclear attack against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Reported by Defense News, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on September 26 called for the “need to modernize all three legs of the nuclear triad.” The project would require a major boost in defense expenditure.

Underscoring today’s “volatile security environment”, the multibillion dollar project is required, according to Carter, in view of threats largely emanating from Russia, China as well as North Korea:

Carter’s comments came during a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, … Under the fiscal year 2017 budget request, Carter said, the department pledged $19 billion to the nuclear enterprise, part of $108 billion planned over the next five years. The department has also spent around $10 billion over the last two years, the secretary said in prepared comments. The “nuclear triad” references the three arms of the US strategic posture — land-based ICBMs, airborne weapons carried by bombers, and submarine-launched atomic missiles. All of those programs are entering an age where they need to be modernized.

Pentagon estimates have pegged the cost of modernizing the triad and all its accompanying requirements at the range of $350 to $450 billion over the next 10 years, with a large chunk of costs hitting in the mid-2020s, just as competing major modernization projects for both the Air Force and Navy come due.

Critics of both America’s nuclear strategy and Pentagon spending have attempted to find ways to change the modernization plan, perhaps by cancelling one leg of the triad entirely.But Carter made it clear in his speech that he feels such plans would put America at risk at a time when Russia, China and North Korea, among others, are looking to modernize their arsenals. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter casually dismissed the dangers of a no-win global war, which could evolve towards a “nuclear holocaust”, Ironically  ”… He also hit at critics of the nuclear program — which include former Secretary of Defense William Perry, [who ironically is] widely seen as a mentor for Carter — who argue that investing further into nuclear weapons will increase the risk of atomic catastrophe in the future. (Defense News, September 26, 2016)

Carter expressed his concern regarding Russia’s alleged “nuclear saber-rattling”.

Russia’s  ICBM System

Were Carter’s timely statements in response to Russia redeployment and restructuring of its ICBM system on its Western frontier,  which were announced on September 20?

Last week, the Russian news agency Tass confirmed that “The westernmost strategic missile force division in the Tver region will soon begin to be rearmed with the missile system Yars.”

It will be a sixth strategic missile division where the newest mobile ground-based missile complexes will replace the intercontinental ballistic missile Topol,” the press-service of the Strategic Missile Force quotes its commander Sergey Karakayev as saying.

According to the official, this year regiments in the Irktusk and Yoshkar-Ola divisions began to be rearmed. The re-armament of the Novosibirsk and Tagil divisions is nearing completion. Earlier, the Teikovo division was fully rearmed.

The final decision to rearm the strategic missile division in the Tver Region will be made after a command staff exercise there. The press-service said the exercises will be devoted to maneuvering along combat patrol routes.

In the near future the ICBM RS-24 Yars, alongside the previously commissioned monoblock warhead ballistic missile RS-12M2 Topol-M, will constitute the backbone of Russia’s strategic missile force.

The Yars ICBM RS-24 was developed in 2007 in response to the US Missile Shield. It is nothing new in Russia’s military arsenal. It is a high performance system equipped with thermonuclear capabilities.

What this report suggests is the restructuring of Russia’s strategic missile force and the replacement of the Topol system (which Moscow considers obsolete) with the Yars ICBM RS-24.

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion in South Africa- doubts about request for proposals for the procurement of nuclear power

WILL JOEMAT-PETTERSSON ISSUE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR PROCUREMENT OF NUCLEAR POWER?  The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa’s nuclear build programme. Eyewitness News,  Gaye Davis , 27 Sept 16  CAPE TOWN Doubt has been cast on whether the request for proposals for the procurement of nuclear power will be issued on Friday as promised by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

joemat-pettersson-tina

The request for proposals would mark the official start of South Africa’s nuclear build programme, which President Jacob Zuma has made a top priority but which has been shrouded in secrecy and is the subject of much controversy.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says she doesn’t believe Joemat-Pettersson will be able to go ahead because the government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has yet to be updated.

The IRP forecasts the country’s energy demand, spells out generation plans and determines the required mix of energy sources.

Pandor was answering questions at a briefing by economics cluster ministers this afternoon.

Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament on 7 September the nuclear programme would kick off this Friday with the formal issuing of a request for proposals. But Pandor told journalists this afternoon she wasn’t certain the call for proposals could proceed this week.

Pandor says the next economics cluster meeting of Cabinet is set to discuss the versions of both the IRP, which projects energy demand and ways of meeting it, as well as the integrated energy plan – a kind of roadmap for energy provision………http://ewn.co.za/2016/09/27/Will-Joemat-Pettersson-issue-request-for-proposals-for-procurement-of-nuclear-power

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Widespread public mistrust f South African government’s nuclear power plans

corruptionFears mount over true motivations for SA’s planned nuclear deal, Mail and Guardian, Hartmut Winkler 27 Sep 2016  Nuclear energy in South Africa is a very contentious issue. The decision on whether to proceed with the construction of a fleet of nuclear power plants is destined to become the financially most far-reaching and consequential defining moment of the Jacob Zuma presidency.

There is widespread public mistrust of the nuclear expansion process. Its roots lie in the extraordinary announcement in 2014 that the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom had secured therights to build the new South African nuclear plants. The South African government played down the announcement, claiming that it was inaccurate.

But this precipitated a series of media investigations. These uncovered evidence that individuals close to the president and groups linked to the ruling ANC have significant financial interests in the matter.

Civil society organisations are taking government to court in an attempt to have the deal declared illegal. Their attempts to have details of the Russian agreement released are being resisted. This is likely to strengthen their case, and sway public opinion further.

It appears that those with a stake in the nuclear build are hoping to fast-track the process in the face of growing public opposition. This is evident from revelations that, bizarrely, contracts are being awarded, even though a formal process has not been set in motion by government.

 The most recent revelation was that a member of a business family with close links to President Jacob Zuma has been awarded a massive R171 million tender for a nuclear build programme management system.

The meaning of this is unclear. It has largely confirmed the fears that the nuclear build is being driven for the benefit of the politically connected rather than the national good.

Burning questions
The debate surrounding the nuclear project centres on three highly contested questions:

  • Is the country’s future energy generating potential and demand such that an expensive nuclear power station build is effectively unavoidable?
  • Can South Africa afford the associated costs and debt, especially in view of massive funding demands in other sectors such as education?
  • If approved, would the nuclear build lead to massive overspends, corruption and beneficiation ofpolitically connected individuals?…….

it is difficult to understand why the renewable fraction is not being increased further, and why the national power utility Eskom, under the leadership of Brian Molefe, a nuclear disciple, now opposes new renewable energy developments.

The promotion of nuclear energy at the expense of renewables bucks global trends………

The ANC’s internal nuclear war
The often obscure processes and overhasty developments require an insight into the present machinations within the governing party.

Tensions within the ruling party have escalated to the point where calls for the president’s resignation are now made openly. And even party leaders acknowledge that factions in their ranks are thriving on corruption.

The organisational fracture is equally evident in attitudes towards the nuclear build. Tensions over the issue have been cited as the major reason for Zuma’s dismissal of the financially prudent former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.

The official position…….

the legitimacy of the procurement process has already been undermined.

Looking ahead, actual construction would need to be preceded by the closure of funding agreements, the settling of legal disputes and further public engagement. This takes time.

In the unlikely event that the nuclear build actually does come to fruition, it will not commence any time soon.

Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original articlehttp://mg.co.za/article/2016-09-27-questions-mount-over-south-africas-planned-nuclear-power-deal

September 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

No fact checking for moderator in USA’s presidential debates!

USA election 2016Presidential Debates Commission Makes Outrageous Statement: Fact Checking Is Off The Table, Bipartisan Report By Sarah MacManus –September 25, 2016, In a mind-boggling statement on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates told host Brian Stelter that fact checking isn’t the duty of the moderator. In fact, she said candidates should fact check each other.
With the issue of honesty being such an influential factor in the 2016 election, it’s difficult to believe that the chief is taking this stand. Both candidates have been accused of and found to have issues with twisting the truth, and Donald Trump is a particularly egregious example.

Brown’s reasoning is even more confusing:

‘I think personally if you start getting into fact checking, I’m not sure. What is a big fact? What is a little fact? And if you and I have different sources of information does your source about the unemployment rate agree with my source? I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica.’

But recently, both candidates have been called to the carpet for serial falsehoods. Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was analyzed by POLITICO and found to lie every three minutes and 15 seconds over “nearly five hours of remarks.” By tallying up the approximate amount of time that Trump spoke and was interviewed, four hours and 43 minutes, they found he issued 87 separate falsehoods.

POLITICO also fact checked Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and found that her falsehoods usually only involved herself and her own behavior, including her handling of her pneumonia scare on September 11. POLITICO clocked Clinton in at 96 minutes of speaking, with eight falsehoods.

According to Brown, the commission “asks independent, smart journalists to be the moderators and we let them decide how they’re going to do this.”……..http://bipartisanreport.com/2016/09/25/presidential-debates-commission-makes-outrageous-statement-fact-checking-is-off-the-table/

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

Modernising America’s nuclear weapons: next President will face $1 trillion price tag

missile-moneyThe $1 trillion price tag of modernizing America’s nuclear weapons falls to the next president, Business Insider Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters   “………..-budget constraints almost certainly will force the next president to decide whether and how quickly to proceed with the Obama administration’s plans to maintain and modernize the US nuclear arsenal.

Crunch time

The crunch comes in the next decade as American ballistic missile submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles – the three legs of the nuclear triad – reach the end of their useful lives.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the total cost of nuclear forces through 2024 at $348 billion, but that does not include some of the costliest upgrades, scheduled for the latter half of the next decade. Independent estimates have put the cost of maintaining and modernizing the arsenal at about $1 trillion over 30 years.

“There’s a bipartisan commitment to doing that upgrade, so we have to assume those funds will come through,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Reuters on Sept. 20. “But it will be a significant budget increase, especially in the next decade.”

The Energy Department shares responsibility with the Pentagon for the nuclear arsenal, and some of its research and production facilities are 73 years old.

The next administration could abandon or delay some aspects of modernization to cut costs. Or it could raise taxes, increase the budget deficit, or cut domestic programs, all unpopular steps with American voters.

The most vulnerable elements of the modernization plans are a long-range standoff weapon, or LRSO – a nuclear-capable cruise missile launched from an aircraft – and new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Ten US senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, called on President Barack Obama in July to cancel the LRSO, saying it “would provide an unnecessary capability that could increase the risk of nuclear war.”

Some Pentagon officials and defense experts have said the cruise missile would be a hedge against improved air defenses that are difficult for even a stealthy bomber to penetrate……..http://www.businessinsider.com/r-cost-of-modernizing-us-nuclear-weapons-to-fall-to-next-president-2016-9?IR=T

September 28, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

The tragic illusion of nuclear deterrence – the Vatican

Vatican Radio , 26 Sept 16 The Vatican told the United Nations on Monday “nuclear arms offer a false sense of security, and that the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion.”

“Nuclear weapons cannot create for us a stable and secure world,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

He was speaking at an event marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation,” the Vatican diplomat said. The full statement of Archbishop Auza can be found below……….http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/09/27/holy_see_peace_of_nuclear_deterrence_a_tragic_illusion/1260960

September 28, 2016 Posted by | Religion and ethics | Leave a comment