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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Transport of nuclear waste – as big a problem as storage

Nuclear Waste Travels With One Heck Of An Entourage  Truck Yeah, Andrew P Collins , 27 Oct 16 Do you compost? Rinse and separate your recycling? Yeah, getting rid of garbage is a pain. Unless your garbage is nuclear waste. Getting rid of that is apparently a production of epic proportions……..

October 27, 2016 Posted by | safety, wastes | Leave a comment

National and Texas groups unite against nuclear waste “interim” storage scheme

text-relevantThe groups are concerned that the “interim” storage facility may become the de facto permanent home
for the highly toxic waste……. taxpayers footing the entire bill, those that generated the waste would have no incentive to ensure its safe disposal in a permanent geologic repository.

‘storage sites’ likely would create a de facto high level national waste sacrifice zone.

Flag-USAFour Groups Urge NRC To Halt Review Of License Application For High-level Nuclear Waste Dump In Texas https://www.yahoo.com/news/four-groups-urge-nrc-halt-review-license-application-143000265.html    WASHINGTON and AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –– Opposed to an industry scheme that risks a proposed short-term nuclear waste storage site becoming a permanent site while sticking taxpayers for the bill, four leading national and Texas groups — Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), Public Citizen, and the Texas-based Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition — are calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to follow the law and terminate its review of the license application for the controversial plan by Waste Control Specialists (WCS) to construct an interim high-level nuclear waste dump in Andrews County, TX.

WCS seeks a permit to build and operate the supposedly short-term storage facility for up to 40,000 metric tons of highly dangerous nuclear waste in Andrews County, but only if the U.S. government first assumes responsibility for the waste and further agrees to ship it to the Texas site by rail. The license application is for the first 5,000 metric tons but the company’s promotional materials show they are planning on expanding the site to accommodate more than half of the estimated 75,000 metric tons of commercial nuclear waste currently in the U.S.The groups are concerned that the “interim” storage facility may become the de facto permanent home for the highly toxic waste. Given the long battle over Yucca Mountain, the groups have zero confidence that Congress or federal regulators would have the stomach for fighting to move the nuclear waste a second time from WCS or any other “interim” site. And, with utilities totally off the hook and taxpayers footing the entire bill, those that generated the waste would have no incentive to ensure its safe disposal in a permanent geologic repository.

Available online at http://pubc.it/2eMSaXM, the letter from the four groups to the NRC’s top executive argues that the WCS proposal would require the NRC to break federal law, which bars the U.S. government from assuming responsibility for interim waste storage in the absence of a federal repository for permanent disposal. They contend that, until a long-term geological repository is ready, federal law forces utilities to solve their own interim storage problems, including bearing the economic burden for facility construction and operation, and liability for accidents.

The groups’ letter demands that NRC immediately drop its review of the WCS application, including its plans to embark on an environmental study.

High-level radioactive wastes are irradiated nuclear fuel rods, and short-term exposure at close range, with no shielding, can cause immediate death. Lesser exposure can cause death or cancer for over a million years. It is so dangerous that Congress required that it be buried deep underground in geologically isolated repository for millennia. This danger also prompted federal lawmakers to prohibit putting taxpayers on the hook for “interim” solutions that could become de facto permanent surface storage sites.

According to the groups, there is no safety imperative for moving the waste to a consolidated storage facility. The safety and security of our toxic nuclear waste stockpile, not financial gain for this private entity, should drive NRC waste storage activity.  Rather than reviewing this premature and illegitimate proposal the NRC should focus its efforts on safeguarding the onsite storage of waste at nuclear facilities across the country.

“By requiring a permanent deep geological repository to be operating beforecentralized interim storage could be opened, Congress wanted to prevent the very real danger of a de facto permanent parking lot dump – a nuclear waste storage site that would be designed for the short-term but be there forever,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist, Beyond Nuclear. He added: “WCS is a cynical shell game and taxpayers are sure to lose. Congress was right that liability for the costs of storing commercial irradiated nuclear fuel belongs with the generators and should not be shifted onto the backs of the American public.”

Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), said: “Moving nuclear power waste over roads, rails and waterways to a supposedly temporary site puts us all at risk and creates only an illusion of a solution.”

 Karen Hadden, executive director, SEED Coalition, added: “Due to risks of radioactive contamination from leaks or accidents or potential terrorist actions, nuclear waste should only be moved once, and only when a deep underground permanent repository is in place that could safely isolate the dangerous waste for the million years that it will remain hazardous.”

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Public Citizen Texas office, said: “Texans do not consent to the risky plan to store high-level radioactive waste at private sites on an open pad above ground in Texas. Another company near Hobbs New Mexico – less than 50 miles away — is expected to file an application to open a storage site that would accept the rest of the nation’s high level nuclear waste. These twin ‘storage sites’ likely would create a de facto high level national waste sacrifice zone. This proposal invites disaster because the private owners will be cutting costs at every turn to maximize profits. If there was radioactive contamination our land, air, water, and human health could be harmed for millennia.”

October 27, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear armed countries band together against UN moves for nuclear disarmament

boys-with-toysNuclear-armed foes unite against a UN call to shed their weapons By Kambiz Foroohar | Bloomberg October 27, 2016

For all the divisions among world powers, one concern unites Russia and the U.S., India and Pakistan, North Korea and Israel at the United Nations: Keeping their nuclear weapons.

Those nuclear-armed states and the three others — China, France and the U.K. — are working to head off a resolution calling for a global conference to establish a binding “legal process” to ban the manufacture, possession, stockpiling and use of the weapons. They’re bucking a popular cause backed by 50 nations, from Ireland to Brazil, which say the measure could win as many as 120 votes in the 193-member General Assembly……

After international efforts to ban the use of biological and chemical weapons, land mines and cluster bombs, arms control advocates say it’s time to deal with nuclear bombs as the remaining weapons of mass destruction that aren’t prohibited. Sponsors of the resolution include Austria, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa……http://www.stripes.com/news/us/nuclear-armed-foes-unite-against-a-un-call-to-shed-their-weapons-1.436090

October 27, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Republicans’ foreign policy approach more moderate than that of Democrats

USA election 2016Trump, Clinton, and “Nuclear Launch Codes”,   By Dillon AubinGlobal Research, October 24, 2016  “…….if we take a closer look at the track records of Trump’s political rivals, a republican victory in November could be the safest route for preserving global stability.

The Republican Primary debates presented a narrow spectrum of foreign policy approaches towards the Middle East. The only candidate who favored a limited military response to Syria and Iraq was libertarian senator Rand Paul, who dropped out early in the race.

Top candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump supported a relatively moderate approach, in which ground troops alone would be deployed to counter ISIS expansion. In typical neocon fashion, the majority of Republican candidates proposed the disastrous concept of both a ground offensive and a no-fly-zone (4), a combination that would push the US closer to a direct conflict with Russia.

Since September of 2015, Moscow has been maintaining a military presence in the Syrian War (5). Though Russia had been financially and diplomatically supporting the Assad regime since the war’s beginning in 2011, a series of rebel advances prompted Putin’s military escalation. Both ground forces and air support are currently in active duty, most notably in the rebel held city of Aleppo. An American no-fly-zone in Syria would potentially mean downing Russian or Syrian aircraft, an event that could bring two nuclear armed states to war. During an interview on Fox News, former Republican candidate Chris Christie bluntly explained the process:

“Well, the first thing you do is you set up a no-fly zone in Syria, and you call Putin, and you say to him, ‘Listen, we’re enforcing a no-fly zone, and that means we’re enforcing it against everyone, and that includes you. So, don’t test me” (6).

With this type of rhetoric plaguing mainstream republican thought, Donald Trump is easily among the safest choices for a party nominee.

Though Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes a ground offensive, she too is in favor of a no-fly-zone over Syria. While Trump has been calling for renewed relations with Russia, Clinton and her supporters criticize his willingness to cooperate with a supposed adversary (7).

What is most puzzling is how the cultural elite paint Clinton as a safer choice despite her long history of pushing for war (8). In her early years as a senator, Clinton supported the Bush administration’s call for an invasion of Iraq. As Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton played a starring role in NATO’s destruction of Libya and even boasted about Colonel Gaddafi’s death in a CBS interview (9). Clinton’s most damaging position is her backing of the CIA’s plan to fund Syrian rebels, an operation that has perpetuated the worst humanitarian crisis of the century thus far. With so much blood on her hands, it’s hard to believe that Hillary Clinton could resist escalating the Syrian conflict into a global catastrophe.

So the next time you hear an A-list celebrity whine about a nuclear codes, consider the alternatives. Trump defeated the most powerful republicans in the country, most of whom casually spoke of downing Russian aircraft over Syria. Though he is inexperienced and buffoonish, he is the only candidate open to sharing a fair dialog with Russian officials. ……http://www.globalresearch.ca/trump-clinton-and-nuclear-launch-codes/5552631

October 27, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

The danger of war between USA and Russia now greater than in the cold war

Germany Warns of the Danger of War  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-friedman/germany-warns-of-the-dang_b_12565994.html George FriedmanGeopolitical Forecaster and Strategist, 26 Oct 16 

 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Oct. 8 that the situation between the U.S. and Russia today is more dangerous than it was during the Cold War. As he put it, “It’s a fallacy to think that this is like the Cold War. The current times are different and more dangerous.” Since most of us think of the Cold War as by far the most dangerous time we have known, Steinmeier’s view is startling. It is important to understand what he is saying, not simply because he is the foreign minister of an important country, but because he is a smart man.

In the interview, Steinmeier discussed the Russian intervention in Syria, the standoff with the United States and the frozen but still dangerous confrontation over Ukraine. When we look at these two confrontations between the United States and Russia (Germany doesn’t have the military strength to affect this balance) either situation could result in a direct confrontation of U.S. and Russian forces.

On paper, the United States remains committed to the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while the Russians are protecting it. There is now combat in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria. Russian and Assad regime forces seem to be trying to take control of the city. The United States sees Aleppo as a bastion of anti-Assad forces and doesn’t want to see it fall. The U.S. has the option to try to block the Russian and Assad advance. Russia has to decide whether to stand and fight or withdraw. Neither side is confident it knows the other’s intentions, but both believe that Aleppo is a critical if not decisive battle. The chances of intentional conflict are real, as is the possibility of an unintended clash escalating.

At the same time, Syria is not essential to the national security of Russia or the United States. It is not without importance, but a defeat or capitulation there will not change the balance of power between them at all. It would of course affect psychological and political perception, but in the long run, perception ultimately comes down to substantial military and economic power. The United States can afford to back off. The Russians will find it more difficult, but can contrive reasons for slowing or halting the attacks.

In Ukraine, the issue is fundamental to Russia and secondary to the United States. Therefore, it is far more dangerous than Syria. For Russia, a Ukraine dominated by a third power, with forces deployed in Ukraine, represents a fundamental threat to its national security. For the United States, it is a secondary issue that can rise to a primary one.

As I have written, the foundation of U.S. foreign policy since World War I was preventing any single power from dominating Europe and Russia, as their combined strength in technology and resources would threaten American interests. Therefore, Russia returning to its prior position, with the potential to dominate the European Peninsula, would rise to a primary issue. If Russia invaded Ukraine and used it as a base to threaten its former satellite states, this would begin escalating to a primary level. But that is several steps from happening, and if it did, it would still not constitute a direct threat to the entire European Peninsula.

The Cold War focused on the center of Germany, and the possibility of a Soviet seizure of Western Europe did not appear far-fetched. Since the U.S. was defending Western Europe at a distance, its conventional forces facing the Soviets appeared to be inferior. Therefore, part of U.S. strategy, at least officially, was the use of nuclear weapons, both strategically and on the battlefield, to stop a Soviet offensive. That meant that should the Soviets have chosen to undertake an offensive, or if they detected a U.S. offensive, they had to go nuclear at the earliest possible moment.

This is what kept the Cold War from turning into a shooting war. The Soviets and the Americans, along with their allies or subordinates in Europe, saw themselves in an existential crisis. The deterrence against conventional war in Europe, as opposed to proxy wars elsewhere such as Vietnam or Afghanistan, was nuclear war. Wars that did not involve primary and overwhelming interests did not involve the risk of nuclear war. There was no military target worth a nuclear strike in either country, nor would either country risk immolation over Vietnam or Afghanistan. Therefore, these wars could take place.

I think this is Steinmeier’s point. The confluence of extremely critical fears and interests paradoxically reduced the chance of conflict, because it increased the chance of nuclear war. Today, none of the friction points between the United States and Russia are of primary interest to both countries. Syria is at best secondary to both, and Ukraine really matters only to Russia. This cannot result in nuclear war, and therefore, each side will take greater risks than they would have in Central Europe during the Cold War.

Therefore, the situation is more dangerous now precisely because the stakes are lower. In lowering the stakes, the risks decline and the possibility of serious conflict between U.S. and Russian forces rises. That direct clash did not occur during the Cold War, at least not on any significant scale. That means that the risk of nuclear war is diminished, but the risk of direct conflict is higher. This would not be proxy wars, but direct war. Undisciplined crises are the most dangerous.

Steinmeier’s observation seems valid. The mystery, of course, is what he is planning to do about that. Having made the declaration, it would seem reasonable that Germany would try to defuse the U.S.-Russian confrontation. Is Germany announcing that it is shifting its role in global politics to a more active role, albeit mediation? These crises raise the question of what Germany will do. That is a question with an ominous past. But if the German foreign minister is speaking for Germany, then this is exactly where his logic would lead him.

October 27, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

27 October: governments vote whether to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons

world-disarmament-1Today governments vote whether to negotiate a ban on nuclear weapons—they should vote YES http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/governments-are-voting-on-banning-nuclear-weapons/blog/57851/ Jen Maman – 27 October, 2016 Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction not yet explicitly banned by an international treaty, unlike chemical and biological weapons. But that could soon change.

Today, Thursday 27th October, the United Nations General Assembly will vote on a draft resolution starting negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

The draft resolution would convene a UN conference to “negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination” and would take place in 2017. The adoption of this resolution would mark a major breakthrough for nuclear disarmament.

Nearly 25 years after the end of the Cold War there are still estimated to be 16,300 nuclear weapons at 98 sites in 14 countries.  Rather than disarm, the nine nuclear-armed states continue to spend a fortune maintaining and modernising their arsenals. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of accidental or deliberate use will be present.

If used, nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences, and in the case of a detonation, no state or humanitarian organisation could provide any meaningful relief. 

Past processes suggest that a treaty to ban nuclear weapons would even affect the behaviour of those states outside the treaty. The existence of the treaty would require states to decide if they support nuclear weapons or not. This pressure would influence other international forums, as well as debates at the national level.

A ban on nuclear weapons will establish an international norm against the possession of nuclear weapons, which will help to reduce the perceived value of such weapons. It will draw the line between those states that believe nuclear weapons are unacceptable and illegitimate and those states that believe nuclear weapons are legitimate and able to provide security.

A growing number of governments have indicated they will vote Yes. Earlier today, the European Parliament has taken a clear stance in support, calling its member states to “support the convening” and “participate substantially’ in the negotiation of a treaty. This however, is a non-binding recommendation and does not guarantee how EU governments will vote.

Greenpeace supports the call for all governments to vote yes to the resolution and participate in negotiations of a new legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.

October 27, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Investment firm Carlyle Group LP foresees end of nuclear power in USA, unless saved by tax-payers

terminal-nuclear-industryEnd of Nuclear in U.S. Seen by Carlyle Group Without Subsidies, Bloomberg,    naurtorious   JonNCrawford    

October 27, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Causal connection between nuclear radiation and Alzheimers’ Disease – European research

text-what-radiation

Concern that radiation may contribute to development of Alzheimer’s https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/uosd-ctr102716.php  UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN DENMARK MORE HUMANS THAN EVER ARE EXPOSED TO HIGHER LEVELS OF IONIZING RADIATION FROM MEDICAL EQUIPMENT, AIRPLANES, ETC. A NEW STUDY SUGGESTS THAT THIS KIND OF RADIATION MAY BE A CONFOUNDING FACTOR IN THE NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASE ALZHEIMER´S.

Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause for dementia in the elderly, and its global prevalence is supposed to increase dramatically in the following decade – up to 80 million patients by 2040.

– It is crucial that we investigate the potential factors behind this disease, says postdoc Stefan J. Kempf, University of Southern Denmark. His research focuses on possible connections between radiation and cognitive impairments.

In a new study, he and an international consortia involving colleagues from Italy, Japan, Germany and Denmark show that low doses of ionising radiation induce molecular changes in the brain that resemble the pathologies of Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

October 27, 2016 Posted by | health, radiation | Leave a comment

British opinion – rising support for renewables, opposition to nuclear and fracking

poster renewables not nuclearPublic support for renewables rises as nuclear and  fracking falls, Edie.net   27 October 2016, source edie newsroom

Public backing for nuclear energy and fracking has fallen in recent months while support for clean energy continues to surge, according to the latest opinion tracker from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The new figures highlight a negative impact on support for nuclear and shale gas exploration in the wake of Government energy policy decisions, with the majority of people across the UK voicing support for the use of clean technologies.

Public backing for the use of nuclear energy significantly fell in the past three months, with support falling to 33% from 36% in the previous quarterly review. A quarter were opposed to nuclear strategy, in the wake of the Government’s recent controversial decision to give the go-ahead to the Hinkley Point C power station.

In terms of support for shale gas extraction, half of respondents stayed neutral (48%) or said they were unsure (2%), reflecting a general lack of detailed public knowledge. One-third were opposed to fracking, while only 17% provided their backing, representing the lowest level of public support since the tracker began in 2012. The report identified the loss or destruction of natural environment as a major reason for a shift towards opposition.

Nuclear picnic?

Renewable energy continued its high level of popularity at 79%, up two points from the previous tracker in May. Opposition to clean technologies was very low at 4%, with only 1% strongly opposed. Solar technology achieved the highest support at 82%, while back for wave and tidal energy remain very high at 75% each.

Commenting on the results, renewable energy company Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport said: “Renewable energy still remains the UK’s favourite form of energy – it’s local, it’s sustainable and it’s pioneering.

“Government should listen to public opinion, champion renewable energy and throw its weight behind tackling climate change. What would you rather picnic next to – a wind turbine or a nuclear reactor? I know which one I’d choose.”

The tracker revealed a record high of 71% of people supporting onshore wind, up from the previous high of 70% in 2014. This echoes the findings of opinion poll carried out by market research and consultancy firm ComRes last week, which revealed the British public’s overwhelming support for onshore winddespite Government cutbacks……http://www.edie.net/news/10/Public-show-support-for-renewables-revolution/

October 27, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Reheating the cold war between Russia and the West

Cold war 2.0: how Russia and the west reheated a historic struggle
As chasm grows between a resurgent Russia and a divided US and Europe, diplomats say conflict is now more dangerous, with ‘no clear rules of the road’,
Guardian,  and   Washington 25 October 2016

Shirreff, then deputy supreme allied commander Europe, was at Nato’s military HQ in Mons, Belgium, when an American two-star general came in with the transcript of Putin’s speech justifying the annexation. “He briefed us and said: ‘I think this just might be a paradigm-shifting speech’, and I think he might have been right,” Shirreff recalled.

The Russian president’s address aired a long list of grievances, with the west’s attempts to contain Russia in the 18th to 20th centuries right at the top.

The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said: “The reality is that behind the appearance of consensus … a form of world disorder took hold. We are now paying the price for that error of assessment that gave westerners a feeling of comfort for two decades”.

In the UK, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said in his party conference speech that the west had been mistaken in its belief that “the fall of the Berlin Wall meant the world had come to a moment of ideological resolution after seven frozen and sometimes terrifying decades of communist totalitarian rule”.

Others such as Sir John Sawers, the former head of MI6, warned: “We are moving into an era that is as dangerous, if not more dangerous, as the cold war because we do not have that focus on a strategic relationship between Moscow and Washington.” But unlike the cold war, there are now “no clear rules of the road” between the two countries.

The German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an advocate of dialogue, made the same point: “It’s a fallacy to think that this is like the cold war. The current times are different and more dangerous.”………

Many acknowledge the west must take its share of the blame for the collapse of relations. The mistakes are real, notably the scale of Nato expansion to the east and in the Baltics. Russia also feels deeply that it was duped into accepting a UN resolution criticising Muammar Gaddafi in Libya in 2011, only to find it was used as cover for regime change. Hillary Clinton, then at the State Department, did little to mange the Russians. Russia has not voted for humanitarian action at the UN since……….

The issue in Europe and the US now is how to respond to Putin? Some believe Russian statehood requires a more aggressive foreign policy. The Kremlin, faced by an ailing economy and declining population, needs external threats of war and violence in the media because Putin “has no civilian project to offer to society”, said Dr Andrew Monaghan at Chatham House. Putin instead offers a mobilisation strategy. The answer is to confront and push back, acknowledging that Putin sees offers of dialogue as a sign of weakness.

Others insist the west must continue to engage and keep pressing the reset button because coexistence is the only option.

In the US and Europe, the question about what to do with Russia is far from settled, something Putin is likely to continue to exploit……

The German chancellor, who has probably devoted more hours to the Putin relationship than any other western politician, is exasperated. She is a dealmaker, but in 2014 – following a conversation with Putin on Ukraine’s annexation – she told Obama that the Russian president was “living in a different world”. But a second round of sanctions in an election year is not attractive.

In Britain, the pre-eminent home for anti-Russian rhetoric since Cameron’s failed attempt at detente in 2011, Johnson has warned Russia that if it continues on its path it could be deemed a rogue nation.

But there are British voices urging calm. Tony Brenton, Britain’s ambassador to Moscow from 2004 to 2008, calls for realism. He argues that the post-war international system – or “liberal hegemony” as he puts it – no longer works. “We have failed with Russia and we are failing with China,” he said.

Brenton’s answer is to accept the limits of 21st-century western influence. “We are going to have to moderate our own ambitions. We can defend ourselves. We can protect our interests. But telling other bad countries how they should behave is less and less possible,” he said.

What’s next? How the west could respond to Russian threatsThe EU, in search of a policy response, is reaching again for sanctions. They have been estimated to have cost the Russian economy $280bn in capital inflows and to be taking roughly 0.5% a year off the GDP. In a society devoid of internal political and institutional constraints on the behaviour of the elite, extended sanctions could weaken Putin’s grip on power………

ultimately the key decisions will be taken in the new White House. Anthony Cordesman, a strategic analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the new administration must confront three realities. “First, Russia is a now broad strategic rival and is likely to remain so at least as long as Putin is in power. Second, the US can’t rebalance to Asia away from Europe or the Middle East. And third, short of being chased off the stage, the United States will have to play out a weak hand in Syria to limit and contain Russian influence.”

“There are no easy answers to the Russians,” said a Washington-based European diplomat. “They are deploying such aggressive rhetoric and policy. During the cold war there was an accepted vocabulary between the sides. There was a game, there was an accepted game,” the diplomat said. “Now the danger is there is no order. There is no accepted language. We are not talking the same language”. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/24/cold-war-20-how-russia-and-the-west-reheated-a-historic-struggle

October 27, 2016 Posted by | politics international, Russia, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea’s anxiety: talk of pre-emptive strikes on North Korean missile and nuclear facilities

South Korea’s March Toward a Strike-First Nuclear Policy An increasingly provocative North Korea and wavering U.S. support leave Seoul scrambling for more forceful defense options. WSJ  By DONALD KIRKOct. 25, 2016 Seoul

After years of hesitation, South Korean defense officials and members of President Park Geun-hye’s ruling Saenuri Party are openly discussing the possibility of pre-emptive strikes on North Korean missile and nuclear facilities. Increasingly, political figures are urging both their own government and the U.S. to go beyond the level of study promised by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and enshrine the right to respond to North Korean threats at least with the heaviest conventional weapons in their arsenal as a formal tenet of U.S. and Korean policy.

Nor is “strike first” the only demand gaining common currency among conservative Koreans. While North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, orders missile and nuclear tests, voices are rising within the Saenuri for South Korea to develop its own nuclear deterrent. The U.S. has opposed proliferation ever since physicists at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute were discovered looking into it during the presidency of Ms. Park’s father, Park Chung-hee………

Calls for a South Korean nuclear submarine are rising in tandem with North Korean missile testing. The North has a large submarine fleet—and has spread alarm by testing a ballistic missile fired from one of its subs.

One South Korean assembly member, Won Yoo-chul, derided longtime U.S. guarantees of a “nuclear umbrella” since the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from the South 25 years ago. “We cannot borrow an umbrella from a neighbor every time it rains,” he warned. “We need to have a raincoat and wear it ourselves.”

 The North Koreans for their part vow to strike first—against a nuclear-armed U.S. “We will not step back,” said Lee Yong Pil, an official at the North Korean Foreign Ministry, as long as the U.S. “has nuclear weapons off our coast, targeting our country, our capital and our Dear Leader, Kim Jong Un.”

U.S. and South Korean officials are talking openly about “decapitation” of the North Korean leadership in a quick strike at Pyongyang. If the word seems hyperbolic to Americans, North and South Koreans alike take it seriously. North Korea has said the term clearly shows why the North has to have a nuclear program “for self-defense” while many South Korean officials see “decapitation” as the ultimate solution—with or without nuclear weapons.

“Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation” was the name the Koreans gave a massive exercise this month in the Yellow Sea in which the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan led a joint U.S.-South Korean strike force. Their mission was more sharply defined than in previous war games. This time, said a Korean defense official, ships and planes focused specifically on imaginary North Korean nuclear and missile facilities, command headquarters—and Kim Jong Un…..http://www.wsj.com/articles/south-koreas-march-toward-a-strike-first-nuclear-policy-1477414963

October 27, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA and North Korea are talking, unofficially

diplomacy-not-bombsUnofficial US-N. Korea talks held in Malaysia https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/32991266/unofficial-us-n-korea-talks-held-in-malaysia/#page1   October 24, 2016 Seoul (AFP) – A group of former US diplomats held closed door talks at the weekend with senior Pyongyang officials, even as international efforts gather pace to further isolate North Korea, diplomatically and economically.

The two-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur, which was confirmed by the South Korean and US governments, was the latest in a series of unofficial talks commonly referred to as Track 2 that are closely monitored in the absence of any official contact between Washington and Pyongyang.

In July, the North cut off its only remaining official channel of diplomatic communications with the United States in retaliation for American sanctions against its leader, Kim Jong-Un.

The so-called “New York channel” had previously served as a key point of contact between North Korean and US diplomats at the United Nations.

American participants at the talks in the Malaysian capital included Robert Gallucci, who had led the US negotiating team that brokered a 1994 deal with Pyongyang on freezing its nuclear weapons programme.

Among those on the North Korean side was vice foreign minister Han Song-Ryol, who previously served as deputy ambassador to the UN.

The meeting came after North Korea on Thursday test-fired a powerful new medium-range missile and Leon Sigal, an academic specialising in the Koreas who attended the talks, said the North’s nuclear weapons programme had dominated the discussion.

Sigal told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency that the North had reiterated the need to sign a peace treaty with the United States before moving on its weapons programme.

The US side stressed that the moves to scrap the nuclear programme had to come first, said Sigal. Under President Barack Obama, the United States has eschewed an official dialogue with the North, but with a looming change in the White House, there is growing speculation as to whether a new administration might adopt a different track.

Critics of the current policy say sanctions and non-engagement have done nothing to prevent the North’s accelerated drive towards a credible nuclear deterrent that could directly threaten the US mainland.

South Korea, which has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the US hardline on Pyongyang, stressed that the talks with North Korea had no governmental involvement.

“We are aware that the US government maintains a firm stance that rushing into dialogue in the absence of North Korea’s will to denuclearise will only justify their wrong behaviour,” a foreign ministry official told AFP.

The UN Security Council is currently discussing a new resolution to punish North Korea over its fifth nuclear test in September — having already imposed tough economic measures after a fourth test in January.

The Track 2 talks have been taking place sporadically for years, with meetings in Singapore, Berlin, Beijing and elsewhere.

October 27, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Massive underestimation of Cost to scrap Fukushima nuclear plant Japanese officials admit

Money down holeCost to scrap Fukushima nuclear plant massively underestimated, Japanese officials admit A revised figure expected by the end of the year could be more than double the current price tag  SCMP,  25 October, 2016, The cost of cleaning up Tokyo Electric Power’s wreckedFukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may rise to several billion dollars a year, from less than US$800 million now, Japan’s industry ministry said on Tuesday.

The increased cost projections appeared in ministry documents prepared for a panel tasked with devising a viable financial plan for the utility company known as Tepco, which is struggling to cope with rising costs at its Fukushima plant nearly six years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Japan’s Minister of the Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, told reporters after the panel meeting, its second, that the government will provide a firmer estimate for annual decommissioning costs for the nuclear plant by the end of the year,

Surging decommissioning costs are being addressed by the panel but it is also looking into options including a break up of Tepco, which is under state control after an earthquake and tsunami sparked meltdowns at the Fukushima reactors in March 2011……..

The meltdowns of three reactors released radiation over a wide area, contaminating water, food and air, and forcing more than 160,000 people to evacuate.

Dismantling the reactors is expected to take about 40 years, but Tepco is still struggling to contain radioactive water from the plant and has said it can’t predict the eventual total costs of the clean-up and decommissioning. http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2039929/cost-scrap-fukushima-nuclear-plant-massively-underestimated

October 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Closure of Fort Calhoun nuclear station will save $millions

Power plant closing just the start of decades-long process FORT CALHOUN, Neb. 25 Oct 16  – The nation’s smallest nuclear power plant permanently shuts down Monday after 43 years of service. The Omaha Public Power District’s board decided in June that the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant is no longer financially sustainable due to market conditions with consumers using less energy and low natural gas prices.

By ceasing operations, the district expects to save between $735 million and $994 million over the next 20 years.

The shutdown is just the first step in a decommissioning process that could stretch on for as long as 60 years and cost more than $1 billion. During that process, the utility will have to decontaminate and disassemble elements of the power plant north of Omaha.

October 27, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Wind and solar power set to take over as Fort Calhoun nuclear plant closes

poster renewables not nuclearAs Fort Calhoun nuclear plant closes, OPPD weighs its future in renewable energy http://www.omaha.com/money/as-fort-calhoun-nuclear-plant-closes-oppd-weighs-its-future/article_1475d290-c89c-5924-8be4-17cb76ba06a4.html By Cole Epley / World-Herald staff writer, 25 Oct 16  The winds of change are howling in the Nebraska energy industry.

The Omaha Public Power District’s closure of its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant today clears the way for new renewable generation to fill the void left by the 478-megawatt plant, even though the utility plans to replace just a portion of its output.

OPPD will have virtually doubled the portion of energy it receives from renewable sources by the time the new year rolls around. Renewables refers to sources of energy that aren’t depleted when they’re used — wind, sun and water, for instance.

 The largest wind project in state history — the 400-megawatt Grande Prairie wind farm — now is mostly online. When it’s fully up and running, OPPD will eventually increase its total renewable generation portfolio to more than 818 megawatts.

With the nuclear plant at Fort Calhoun set to churn out its last gasp of energy today, renewables’ share of total generation at OPPD will be about 31 percent once Grande Prairie comes fully online. That’s a rise from its current 15 percent.

And that share stands to grow: OPPD will replace about 42 percent of the nuclear plant’s 478-megawatt output with wind and other renewables. The remaining void left by the nuclear plant’s shutdown will go unfilled because the utility is already generating more electricity than ratepayers use.

OPPD isn’t yet taking energy produced at Grande Prairie, but it will soon — most likely by the beginning of the year, at the latest. Grande Prairie is on 45,000 acres east of O’Neill, which is about 185 miles northwest of Omaha.

Thomas Budler, president of Des Moines-based BHE Wind, told The World-Herald that 78 of 100 turbines at its Grande Prairie project in Holt County are “commissioned and up and operating.”

“We’re really in good shape to deliver the project at its fully commissioned operating date by Nov. 30,” Budler said. BHE Wind is a division of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

The privately built project — which will sell 100 percent of its electricity output to OPPD — cost about $610 million.

Once Grande Prairie is fully online, its generation will be enough to increase Nebraska’s total statewide wind capacity by about 40 percent. With the recent approval of an additional 300 megawatts of wind in Saline County by Lincoln-based Aksamit Resource Management, wind developers are building even more momentum in the state.

OPPD in July issued a request for proposals up to 400 megawatts for wind or up to 100 megawatts for solar, though the request is not confined to projects only within Nebraska.

BHE Wind’s Budler said his organization is looking at additional projects in Nebraska but would neither confirm nor deny whether it responded to the recent OPPD request.

The Omaha utility has gotten responses to backfill the gap left by Calhoun from projects both inside and outside of Nebraska. Wind proposals ranged from 10 megawatts up to 400 megawatts; solar proposals ranged from 1 megawatt to 100 megawatts

October 27, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment