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Japan-India nuclear cooperation agreement signed, Japan to supply India with nuclear power equipment, technology


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) is greeted by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the start of their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan November 11, 2016.

Japan to supply India with nuclear power equipment, technology

Japan and India signed a civilian nuclear accord on Friday, opening the door for Tokyo to supply New Delhi with fuel, equipment and technology for nuclear power production, as India looks to atomic energy to sustain its rapid economic growth.

It was the first time Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, had concluded such a pact with a country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“Today’s signing … marks a historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a joint news conference with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

The accord stipulates that the nuclear fuel and equipment provided can only be used for peaceful purposes, and a separate document signed in parallel has a clause allowing Japan to terminate the pact if India conducts a nuclear test.

“As a sole nation to have been nuclear-bombed, we bear the responsibility for leading the international community towards the realization of a world without nuclear weapons,” Abe told the same news conference.

“The agreement is a legal framework to ensure that India will act responsibly for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It will also lead us to having India participate practically in the international non-proliferation regime.”

India says the NPT is discriminatory and that it has concerns about its two nuclear-armed neighbors, China and Pakistan.

India is already in advanced negotiations to have U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, build six nuclear reactors in southern India, part of New Delhi’s plan to ramp up nuclear capacity more than 10 times by 2032.

Japanese nuclear plant makers such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd are desperate to expand their business overseas as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster chilled domestic demand for new nuclear plants.

The agreement with Japan follows a similar one with the United States in 2008, which gave India access to nuclear technology after decades of isolation.

That step was seen as the first big move to build India into a regional counterweight to China.

On India’s infrastructure development, Abe said that construction of a high-speed railway connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad, which will be based on Japan’s “Shinkansen” bullet train technology, was scheduled to start in 2018, with commercial operation slated for 2023.

“In Japan, the era of high economic growth began when Shinkansen started its service in 1964. I hope the advent of high-speed railway will trigger fresh economic growth in India as well,” Abe said.

Modi earlier on Friday praised the “growing convergence” of views between his nation and Japan, saying strong ties would enable them to play a stabilizing role in Asia and the world.

Japan-India nuclear cooperation agreement signed

The prime ministers of India and Japan have welcomed the signature today of a nuclear cooperation agreement between the two countries. Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe said the agreement reflects a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership for clean energy, economic development and a peaceful and secure world.

The agreement between the two countries was signed during a visit by the Indian prime minister to Japan and has taken six years of negotiations. Its signature follows the signing of a memorandum on cooperation by the two leaders in December 2015. It will open the door for India to import Japanese nuclear technology. India has been largely excluded from international trade in nuclear plant and materials for over three decades because of its position outside the comprehensive safeguards regime of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Modi said signing of the Agreement for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy marked a “historic step in our engagement to build a clean energy partnership”, adding that their cooperation would help “combat the challenge of climate change”.

In a joint statement, the two prime ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to work together for India to become a full member of the international Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as well as of the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, with the aim of strengthening international non-proliferation efforts.

In a separate statement, Modi thanked Abe for his support for India’s membership of the NSG. Membership of the NSG, which seeks to prevent nuclear proliferation by controlling the export of materials, equipment and technology that could potentially be used to manufacture nuclear weapons, has up to now been limited to NPT signatories. Following the approval of an India-specific safeguards agreement by the International Atomic Energy Agency, an exception under NSG rules and bilateral nuclear cooperation deals, India formally applied to become a member of the NSG in May.


November 11, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Study pinpoints protein that detects damage from radiation


Small intestine tissue from mouse after high-dose X-ray radiation. Green fluorescence shows dying epithelial cells.

High doses of radiation from cancer treatment can cause severe damage to cells and tissues, resulting in injury to bone marrow and the gastrointestinal tract. The consequences can be fatal. Yet researchers do not fully understand how exposure to radiation triggers this damage at the molecular level.

Led by Yale professor of immunobiology Richard Flavell, an international team of researchers studied the radiation response using animal models. They identified a novel mechanism of radiation-induced tissue injury involving a protein called AIM2, which can sense double-strand DNA damage and mediate a special form of cell death known as pyroptosis.

They observed that in animals lacking AIM2, both the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow were protected from radiation. While the role of AIM2 as a sensor that detects infectious threats to the body was known, this study is the first to describe the protein’s function in the detection of radiation damage to the chromosomes in the nucleus, said the researchers.

When a cell receives a high dose of radiation, the DNA is broken into pieces, which can be joined together again. However this aberrant rejoining of chromosomal fragments can lead to chromosomal abnormalities and cancer. Flavell and his team believe that when this chromosomal damage is inflicted, the AIM2 pathway is activated in order to kill the cell to avoid the deleterious consequences of these chromosomal translocations, such as those commonly seen in cancer cells.

For this reason, the cells that accumulate this chromosomal damage are dangerous to the person or animal and are therefore killed by this AIM2 pathway. This pathway is beneficial to the person or animal under normal circumstances because it eliminates dangerous cells, but when a high dose of radiation is given the pathway is detrimental because it leads to bone marrow and digestive tract injury.

These findings suggest that a drug that blocks or inhibits the AIM2 pathway could potentially limit the deleterious side effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy on cancer patients, said the researchers.

Read the full paper in Science.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , | Leave a comment

November 11 Energy News


Science and Technology:

¶ Fish being caught for our tables are shrinking according a survey of studies published in the journal Science. There has been a 23% decrease in commercial catches because of smaller body size, caused by rising ocean temperatures. This is particularly concerning because fish provide 17% of our protein. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Smaller catches (Photo: Andrew Quilty) Smaller catches (Photo: Andrew Quilty)

¶ Climate change has already touched almost all life on the planet, even under moderate rates of global warming, according to a report published in the journal Science. An international team of researchers found 82% of key biological processes necessary for healthy ecosystems had been impacted by the phenomenon. [Huffington Post]

¶ Lappeenranta University of Technology’s global Internet of Energy Model uses a 100% renewable energy system for the electricity sector by 2030. Sych a system appears to be possible worldwide, as the…

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November 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Monday Holtec-USNRC to Discuss Peening of Spent Nuclear Fuel Canister Welds – Apparently before Flipping Areva-NuHoms Canisters from Sideways to Upright to Move to Holtec Interim Storage

Mining Awareness +

US NRC Meeting on Monday “To discuss Holtec International’s (Holtec) technical details and proposed plans to perform peening of dry shielded canisters (DSCs) welds for Holtec’s dry cask storage systems. 11/14/16 2:00PM – 4:00PM, Contact Jose Cuadrado 301-415-0606

The discussion appears to be about peening already filled spent nuclear fuel canisters. In short, Holtec apparently wants to move Areva-Nuhoms canisters from their sideways storage to Holtec’s upright system at an “interim” storage place. Thus, this also seems to involve turning waste canisters designed to be on their side in Areva-Nuhoms casks to upright position in Holtec casks – a position which they weren’t designed for and which presumably would change stresses. Furthermore, the moved canisters must be within their 20 year design-license life, meaning that they could be, for instance, 19 years old. And, then what?

Peening will induce a higher hardness into the weld and this…

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November 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

COP22 in Marrakesh: A Critical Nuts-and-bolts Carbon-cutting Summit #auspol 


The Paris Agreement is without question an historic achievement.

World leaders authored the first-ever blueprint to broadly tackle climate change.

The agreement was ratified globally with unprecedented haste and achieves the force of law this week, on November 4th, four years earlier than anticipated.
Meanwhile, more than 100 countries, including the U.S., China and India, agreed last month to dramatically limit the future use of hydroflourocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas used in air conditioners. Another climate victory was hailed.

But those headed to COP22 will emphatically tell anyone listening: Folks, we’re not there yet. We’re not even close. So COP22, the Conference of the Parties — running from November 7-18 — will need to top Paris in many very practical ways.

Creating an operations manual for curbing climate change

Marrakesh negotiators must get nuts-and-bolts meticulous about exactly how the world’s nations will reduce carbon emissions; how we will adapt to…

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November 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sea levels rising at unprecedented rate could displace millions of people by end of the century #auspol


High water levels could hit the Eastern US especially hard
Sea levels are rising at unprecedented rates, scientists say.

New research shows that by 2040, more than 90 percent of the world’s coastal areas could be experiencing sea level rises of more than 8 inches.

But certain areas, like the Eastern US, will be hit even harder with water levels climbing more than a foot.

By 2100, New York City, for example, could see coastal waters between 3.5 and 7.3 feet higher than they are now.

The consequences, in terms of displacing millions of people, could be catastrophic.

Some climate models currently predict that by 2040, global temperatures could be 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrialization temperatures.

By the end of the 21st century, we could see global temperatures climb more than 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Paris climate accord wants to keep the planet’s…

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November 11, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A big week in climate and nuclear news

a-cat-CANEven under Trump, there will still be reason for climate action hope – climate action internationally and in USA States. Donald Trump wants to blow up the global climate effort. People are now saying hopeful things about Trump. And I do agree – it is possible for a narcissistic, bullying, misogynist, lying, sociopath to change –  it just doesn’t happen all that often.

Anyway, Paris climate change agreement will not be derailed by Donald Trump. Paris climate deal now in force. The global nuclear lobby gears up to influence UN climate talks.

Trump will soon control America’s nuclear weapons codes. His defence policies may spark a nuclear arms race.

Human-induced climate change has already impacted every aspect of life on Earth. Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be ‘Game Over’ , scientists warn. Climate Disruption’s Legacy: Megadroughts, Extinctions, Obituaries for Reefs.

 UK. British nuclear lobby now going after government subsidies. British nuclear wastes to remain at old nuclear power plants.

SOUTHEAST ASIA now a disappointment to the global nuclear marketing driveVietnam ditches nuclear power plans.

AUSTRALIA. . An extraordinary turnaround. It looks as though South Australia is about to dump the nuclear dump idea. South Australian Labor’s nuclear waste plan – “dead and buried” say Liberals.

INDIA. Nuclear non-proliferation is undermined by India-Japan deal.

USA.  Trump’s Promise to be America’s Most Dangerous, Divisive President. Drought, Climate Change Spur Severe Election Day Wildfire Outbreak Across Four-State Area. The nuke heads want to use small nuclear reactor for Mars travel (I suppose it’s on tax-payers’ money).

Continuing serious problems with USA’s Watts Bar Unit 2, last old nuclear reactor of the 20th century. Explosion-Fire at Nuclear Power Station Near New York City on Election Day Due to Equipment Failure.

JAPANDwindling future prospects for Japanese nuclear companies. Japanese government’s underhand scheme to subsidise nuclear power.

FRANCE. France’s nuclear power dependence causing anxiety.

SOUTH AFRICA. Vested interests and corruption in South Africa’s nuclear procurement. South Africa’s Eskom ‘just can’t do nuclear’

November 11, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Even under Trump, there will still be reason for climate action hope

There’s no way around it: Donald Trump looks like a disaster for the planet  Vox  by  Nov 9, 2016 “…….So is there any hope things won’t actually be this bad?  Okay, now time for a deep breath.

HopeEven under Trump, there will still be reason for hope. Political change unfolds in unexpected ways, and not everything on Earth revolves around the machinations of the US federal government. So here are a few reasons to think the fight against climate change is not yet lost:

    • States like California and New York are still pursuing their own ambitious climate policies, and it’s possible those efforts could be so successful that other states decide to follow suit.
    • Likewise, wind power, solar power, and electric cars will keep getting cheaper — it’s possible they’ll acquire a self-sustaining momentum, even without support from the US government. Or maybe some other new low-carbon technologies will emerge to shake up climate politics. (Small modular reactors, anyone?)
    • Climate activists will continue to push for action at local levels — much as they did during the George W. Bush years, when the Sierra Club began blocking a major planned expansion of coal power. It’s possible that opposition to Trump will galvanize a new generation of climate activists who find creative ways to address global warming.
    • Other countries still have their own reasons for tackling climate change, even China and India (which, note, is choking on deadly levels of air pollution in Delhi right now). It’s possible that Trump’s recalcitrance on climate change could motivate the rest of the world to redouble their efforts at curtailing emissions without us.
    • Heck, it’s even possible that Trump and the GOP could have a change of heart and decide that global warming is a real issue that needs to be taken seriously. It’s possible that Republicans could balk at repealing all these pollution regulations, realizing that they’re actually quite popular. Stranger things have happened.

So lots of stuff is possible. Climate change will continue to be a defining issue for generations, long after Donald Trump is gone — and there’s never reason to give up. But the landscape has undeniably shifted. The prospect of staying below 2°C looks increasingly bleak. Right now Trump has given every indication that he wants to gamble with the future of the only planet around that’s known to support life. And it’s a wildly irresponsible bet.

Further reading

— The 6 most important parts of Donald Trump’s energy policy

— From my colleague Ezra Klein: It’s now on America’s institutions — and the Republican Party — to check Donald Trump

— Andy Revkin offers a somewhat more optimistic take on environmentalism under Trump here. I disagree with his assessment of global politics, but obviously I could be wrong! His take is worth reading.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, USA | 1 Comment

Donald Trump’s defence policies may spark a nuclear arms race

Republican hawk (Trump)President Trump’s defence deals may spark a nuclear arms race Debora MacKenzie

“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” The words of his vanquished opponent, Hillary Clinton, are perhaps the biggest anxiety hanging over the shock election of Donald Trump to the US presidency: can he be trusted with the power to launch Armageddon?

Every US president has constant access to a nuclear launch device only he can activate. Born in the Cold War, it is designed for when Russian nuclear missiles are detected making their 30-minute flight to the US, allowing 10-15 minutes to decide to order a counter-strike which would not be countermanded. But it could be used in other scenarios. “There is nothing to prevent a launch for very little reason,” says Paul Ingram of the British American Security Information Council, an arms control think-tank in London.

Would Trump hit the button? He has said he would be “very, very slow on the draw” but has refused to rule out using nukes, asking several times during the campaign, if they are never used, “why do we make them?

 The answer is deterrence: so fear of retaliation will deter any nuclear attack. Trump’s refusal to rule out their use is in fact close to existing US policy, but he has also suggested using them against ISIS, even though conventional weapons would have similar tactical effects.

“The very fact that one person, whoever it is, can decide to launch a nuclear strike is very worrying,” says Ingram.

Hair-trigger alert  The president’s ability to respond rapidly is to allow the launch of 450 US land-based missiles before they are destroyed in an attack – for which reason they are kept on hair-trigger alert.

One way to reduce the risk of a rash launch would be for President Obama to take US missiles off hair-trigger alert before he leaves, which would be politically delicate to reverse. Or Trump, who wants better relations with Russia, might do it himself.

The use of existing nukes is one thing; proliferation is another. Trump has said he will “renegotiate” last year’s agreement with Iran to limit its uranium enrichment. Arms control experts say we are never likely to get a better deal, so Trump’s plan could see Iran resume its efforts.

And as North Korea approaches nuclear capability, Trump has suggested its neighbours might develop their own nuclear weapons. In April he said that US allies should pay more for the nuclear protection offered by the US umbrella – or defend themselves, “including with nukes”.

Japan and South Korea, under threat from North Korea, are already under pressure to do that. But both are non-nuclear states in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and have sworn never to develop their own weapons. Their abandonment of that pledge could well be the death-knell of the treaty. While it has failed to disarm the major nuclear powers, it has kept other countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, from trying to develop the bomb.

Anti-nuclear norms  Its failures in disarmament led a large majority of UN members to vote in October to start work on a new treaty that simply bans nuclear weapons for everyone. Existing nuclear nations rejected the idea (apart from North Korea, which voted for it), as, ominously, did Japan and South Korea. Non-nuclear NATO members backed it in the hope of strengthening global anti-nuclear norms.

Those may not last long in the Trump era. He has long called NATO “obsolete” and questions US commitments to Europe. The threat of losing reliable US defence could lead to military build-up in Europe, handing nuclear deterrence to the small UK and French nuclear arsenals, which would then be more likely to go ahead with expensive upgrades.

Thomas Homer-Dixon at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, sees a more insidious threat. He believes Trump could pick fights abroad and incite attacks on alleged enemies at home to generate a constant “emergency” to bolster his support. Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has long admired, uses such tactics.

“The risk of a slide into war which ultimately involves nuclear weapons is very real,” he says. “Trump has an insatiable need to dominate, and he seems incapable of ignoring a slight.” The deadly nuclear winter predicted to follow even a limited nuclear exchange could one day answer the president-elect’s question: if we have these weapons, why don’t we use them?

November 11, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Mr Trump will soon control America’s nuclear codes

TrumpDonald Trump and the nuclear codes  Mr Trump will soon control America’s nuclear codes 12th 2016 IN A ritual out of sight of the cameras on Inauguration Day in January, America’s “nuclear briefcase” will change hands and President Donald Trump will receive a card, sometimes known as the “biscuit”. The card, which identifies him as commander-in-chief, has on it the nuclear codes that are used to authenticate an order to launch a nuclear attack. At that point, should he wish, Mr Trump can launch any or all of America’s 2,000 strategic nuclear missiles.

There are no constitutional restraints on his power to do so. Even if all his advisers have counselled against it, as long it is clearly the president giving the command, the order must be carried out. There are no checks and balances in the system. Moreover, once the order is given there is likely to be only a matter of minutes in which it could be rescinded. Once the missiles are flying, they cannot be called back or disarmed. Mr Trump, from what he has said, does not take this responsibility lightly. Indeed, he has often stated that he believes nuclear weapons to represent the greatest threat to humanity and that he will not be trigger-happy, “like some people might think”. But in common with his predecessors, he does not rule out their use.
With little more than ten minutes to take a decision that could kill hundreds of millions of people, even the calmest individual would be under intolerable stress if informed that America was under imminent attack. It is not Mr Trump’s fault that the system, in which the vulnerable land-based missile force is kept on hair-trigger alert, is widely held to be inherently dangerous. Yet no former president, including Barack Obama, has done anything to change it.

Of greater concern would be how Mr Trump might behave in an escalating confrontation if Russia were to rattle its nuclear sabre even more loudly. It is possible that his apparent desire to be buddies with Vladimir Putin might help defuse a dangerous situation. He is, however, notoriously thin-skinned and unable to stop himself responding to any perceived slight with vicious (verbal) attacks of his own. He also revels in braggadocio and is known to be reluctant to take advice. Marco Rubio, a rival for the Republican nomination, questioned whether he had the temperament to be put in charge of the nuclear codes. So did Hillary Clinton. They were right to do so. But it is now Mr Trump, not them, who takes the biscuit.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump wants to blow up the global climate effort

trump-worldThere’s no way around it: Donald Trump looks like a disaster for the planet  Vox  by  Nov 9, 2016   This is happening. Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States.

And there’s no way around it: What he’s planning to do looks like an absolute disaster for the planet (and the people on it). Specifically, all the fragile but important progress the world has made on global warming over the past eight years is now in danger of being blown up.

Trump has been crystal clear about his environmental plans. Much of the media never wanted to bring it up, never wanted to ask about it in debates, never wanted to turn their addled attention away from Hillary Clinton’s email servers to discuss what a Trump presidency might mean for climate change. But the warning signs were there:

  • Trump called global warming a Chinese hoax. He couldn’t have been blunter about this. He also tapped Myron Ebell, an avowed climate denier, to head his EPA transition team.
  • Trump has said, straight up, he wants to scrap all the major regulations that President Obama painstakingly put in place to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions, including the Clean Power Plan. If Trump wants to rewrite these rules through executive action, he can. Or Republicans in Congress could try to pass a law forbidding the EPA from ever regulating CO2 again.
  • Trump has also hinted he wants to downsize the EPA. “What they do is a disgrace,” he has said. He now has the power to rewrite or scale back other regulations on mercury pollution, on ground-level ozone, on coal ash, and more.
  • Trump has said he wants to repeal all federal spending on clean energy, including R&D for wind, solar, nuclear power, and electric vehicles. This would require Congress, but it’s not impossible.
  • Trump has said he wants to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal. There’s nothing stopping him here. Technically, the US can’t officially withdraw for four years, but for all practical purposes, the Trump administration could ignore it.

So what happens if Trump gets his way? More air pollution, more carbon emissions. Exactly how much more remains to be seen. There are, after all, plenty of other factors pushing down US emissions that Trump has no control over. Natural gas from fracking would continue to kill coal power. Wind and solar would continue to grow. But it’s nearly impossible to imagine emissions under Trump dropping at the sharp pace necessary to slow global warming. And emissions could even rise, as this analysis from Lux Research suggests.

 Even more importantly, the impact of Trump’s moves on the rest of the world could be seismic.

The world is making cautious progress on global warming. Trump wants to blow that all up.

For the last eight years, the Obama administration has been using every regulatory lever at its disposal to push down US greenhouse gases — aiming for a 28 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025. Obama has also been trying to coax countries like China to participate in a global climate deal, in which every country would voluntarily pledge to restrain its emissions and meet regularly at the UN to ratchet up ambitions over time.

That plan finally came to fruition last December, when the world agreed to a sweeping climate agreement in Paris. The Paris deal was always delicate, and the current pledges weren’t nearly enough to avoid dangerous global warming, defined as 2°C or more. But the deal was a start. And the hope was that by cooperating and exerting diplomatic pressure on each other, all countries would steadily increase action over time.

 This plan, which Clinton wanted to build upon, was far from a sure bet to halt global warming. But it was arguably the most plausible and promising accord yet proposed in the history of international climate talks.

Now it’s in peril. If Trump yanks the United States out of the Paris agreement, the deal won’t die, but momentum could wane. One can imagine China and India deciding they don’t need to push nearly as hard on clean energy if the world’s richest and most powerful country doesn’t care. At best, progress would slow. At worst, the entire arrangement could falter, and we set out on a path for 4°C warming or more.

These are decisions that will reverberate for thousands of years and affect hundreds of millions of people. We can’t easily undo the effects of all that extra carbon dioxide we keep putting into the air. Without drastic reductions in emissions (or possibly risky geoengineering), global temperatures will keep rising. The ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica will keep melting. Once that process gets underway, we can’t reverse it. The seas will rise. South Florida will eventually vanish beneath the oceans. Megadroughts will become more likely in the Southwest. For generations and generations.

This is the future of humanity at stake. We’re at risk of departing from the stable climatic conditions that sustained civilization for thousands of years and lurching into the unknown. The world’s poorest countries, in particular, are ill-equipped to handle this disruption.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

The world is already experiencing dramatic impacts of human-induced climate change

Climate change already dramatically disrupting all elements of nature  
Source:  Wildlife Conservation Society

Global changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth from genes to entire ecosystems, with increasingly unpredictable consequences for humans, according to a new study.

Global changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth from genes to entire ecosystems, with increasingly unpredictable consequences for humans — according to a new study published in the journal Science.

The study found a staggering 80 percent of 94 ecological processes that form the foundation for healthy marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems already show signs of distress and response to climate change.

Impacts to humans include increased pests and disease outbreaks, reduced productivity in fisheries, and decreasing agriculture yields.

“There is now clear evidence that, with only a ~1 degree C of warming globally, very major impacts are already being felt,” said study lead author Dr Brett Scheffers of the University of Florida. “Genes are changing, species’ physiology and physical features such as body size are changing, species are rapidly moving to keep track of suitable climate space, and there are now signs of entire ecosystems under stress.”

Said the study’s senior author, Dr. James Watson from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Queensland: “The level of change we have observed is quite astonishing considering we have only experienced a relatively small amount of climate change to date. It is no longer sensible to consider this a concern for the future. Policy makers and politicians must accept that if we don’t curb greenhouse gas emissions, an environmental catastrophe is likely.”

But the study also points to hope as many of the responses observed in nature could be applied by people to address the mounting issues faced under changing climate conditions.  For example, improved understanding of the adaptive capacity in wildlife can be applied to our crops, livestock and fisheries. This can be seen in crops such as wheat and barley, where domesticated crops are crossed with wild varieties to maintain the evolutionary potential of varieties under climate change.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

British nuclear wastes to remain at old nuclear power plants

wastes-1flag-UKNuclear waste to remain at old UK plants rather than moved off-site
Leaving more contaminated soil and rubble on-site instead of moving it to dedicated dumps is cheaper and allows for quicker clean-ups, say officials,
Guardian, , 10 Nov 16  More contaminated soil and rubble will remain at the sites of Britain’s old nuclear power plants rather than going to a dedicated dump, under government-backed proposals.

But officials said that the sites would not be left in a hazardous state because international radiological standards would still be upheld.

They argued the changes would mean former nuclear sites could be cleaned up more quickly, less waste would need to be moved around the country, and decommissioning would be cheaper than under today’s regime.

Experts were split over the proposals. Some said that it showed the UK did not know what to do with its nuclear waste, but others welcomed it as a way of saving money.

 The government said a change to the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, outlined in a discussion paper last week, is needed now because several sites will reach the final stage of cleanup in the early 2020s, such as Winfrith in Dorset and Dounreay in Caithness.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) currently oversees the licensing of 17 nuclear sites that are slated for decommissioning and cleanup. The final stage involves dealing with large amounts of rubble, concrete, brick and soil, some of which is radioactive and designated low level waste (LLW). That waste currently goes to the UK’s only LLW site, at Drigg in Cumbria, which is almost full……..

nuclear critics said the changes showed the government lacked a long-term plan on nuclear waste.

“It’s another example of how much of the stuff we have and we don’t really know what we’re going to do with it, we’re just leaving it [the LLW]. It’s an appalling choice,” said Dr Paul Dorfman of University College London, who was involved in the decommissioning of Harwell in Oxfordshire, a former nuclear research site which is now partly used as a business park.

“The notion of the acceptability about LLW being just low level: you can say low, but this stuff is dangerous. You don’t want this stuff near you,” he said.

Under the proposed changes, former sites would no longer be considered “nuclear” at the end of their cleanup, and therefore no longer the responsibility of the ONR. Regulation would fall instead to the Health and Safety Executive and environment agencies.

“What the government is suggesting is, they’re turning off the liability but they’re not turning off the risk or hazard,” said John Large, a nuclear consultant who has advised the UK government on nuclear issues.

He said one of the drivers behind the change might be the pressure on the ONR from regulating and overseeing the new nuclear reactors planned in the UK, such as EDF’s new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and the regulator wanting to lighten its load. “I suspect the ONR are cutting their cloth here, I suspect they are hard pushed,” he said.

The government’s discussion paper said the changes could not be made without legislation being amended to allow the ONR to relinquish regulation of sites in their final stages of decommissioning. A public consultation on the proposal is planned in 2017.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Southeast Asia now a disappointment to the global nuclear marketing drive

market-disappointeddespite the news here and there about the conclusions of new nuclear cooperation agreements by ASEAN nations, it is very difficult to conceive that a nuclear power plant will actually be built in one of these countries

Nuclear Energy in Southeast Asia: A Bridge Too Far?
Hopes for a nuclear renaissance in Southeast Asia have proven overly ambitious.
The Diplomat By Viet Phuong Nguyen November 09, 2016 In the late 2000s, energy forecasts began to use the term “nuclear renaissance” to refer to the fast-growing nuclear power program of China, and to the emergence of the so-called “nuclear aspirants” embarking on their first nuclear power projects. Many among these newcomers are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For this reason, nuclear suppliers like the United States, Russia, Japan, and South Korea have been particularly active in signing cooperation agreements with ASEAN nations or supporting these countries to explore the feasibility of nuclear energy.

However, after almost a decade of pondering the nuclear option, no ASEAN state has made the decision to go nuclear. This article will discuss the evolution of the nuclear endeavor in Southeast Asian nations in order to show that ASEAN may not be a potential market for nuclear energy as the major vendors hoped.

The Philippines  Under the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines became the first Southeast Asian country to build a nuclear power plant after the Philippine government awarded the American company Westinghouse with a 600-MW project in Bataan in 1973. Facing a fierce anti-nuclear movement and allegations of corruption, the construction of the Bataan nuclear power plant was only completed in 1984. With the overthrow of the Marcos regime in 1986, however, the ill-fated plant has since been mothballed without a single day of operation.

Having invested more than $2 billion for the construction of the nuclear project, and probably another significant amount to maintain it in good condition, the Philippine government has explored plans to revive the Bataan project or to convert it into a thermal power station. None of these plans were seriously considered due to the high projected cost and strong public opposition, particularly from the Catholic Church. Most recently, speaking at a nuclear conference in Manila, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi proposed the idea of restarting the Bataan plant to cope with the energy demand of the country, only to be quickly rebuffed by the newly-elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, citing safety and security concerns.


Among the potential customers of nuclear energy in Southeast Asia, Vietnam been has been considered the most serious given its high-profile agreements with Russia and Japan on the construction of two plants in Ninh Thuan province, and its ambitious plan to build up to ten nuclear units by 2030. In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, when neighboring states like China or Thailand decided to either slow down their nuclear programs or withdraw from the race altogether, the Vietnamese government still reiterated their commitment to follow through with the announced plan and even broadened the country’s nuclear cooperation by signing a nuclear agreement with the United States (commonly known as the “123 Agreement”) in 2014.

After several years of progress, the first signs of trouble in the Ninh Thuan nuclear project came in late 2015 when it was reported that the start of the first unit’s construction would likely be delayed for six years, from the initially planned 2016 to 2022, with the operation date moved further to July 2028. Later that year, Vu Ngoc Hoang, the second-in-command of the Vietnam Communist Party’s propaganda machine, surprised the media and the public with an article alluding to a disagreement among the Party’s leadership on the feasibility of the Ninh Thuan project and proposing to stop the nuclear development program for good. Although Hoang retired not long after the article’s publication, considering the Party’s consensus-driven process of policy making and Hoang’s seniority within the Communist Party as a member of the Party’s Central Committee, it is difficult not to wonder about a dire future for nuclear energy in Vietnam.

Signs of a possible moratorium on or even termination of nuclear development in Vietnam have become apparent since early 2016 with the promulgation of the revised National Electricity Development Plan. The updated plan confirmed the 2028 delay for Ninh Thuan, alongside a significant drop of nuclear power estimates by 2030 (from 10.1 percent in the original plan down to 5.7 percent). In October 2016, “issues related to the construction of the nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan” were announced by the Fourth Plenum of the new Central Committee, implying that the public will hear soon about the fate of the nuclear project. One month later, the Japanese news agency Kyodo confirmed the Vietnam Communist Party’s decision to postpone both the Russian and Japanese nuclear power projects due to the current financial constraints of the country. Interestingly enough, this definitive confirmation came from a foreign outlet, whereas in recent months Vietnamese domestic media has still focused on debating the necessity of nuclear energy for the country or discussing the risks of the Chinese nuclear plants that have been built and operated near the border with Vietnam.

Other Southeast Asian States

Among the Southeast Asian states, Thailand was the first country to conclude the 123 Agreement with the United States, as well as the earliest contender in the nuclear race, with proposals dating back to the 1960s. After several dormant decades due to safety concerns and the abundance of natural gas, nuclear advocacy made a comeback in Thailand in the 2000s when the Thai government contracted the consulting firm Burns and Roe to study the feasibility of a nuclear power project in the country. However, this renewed interest in nuclear energy has met with intense public opposition, especially after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, to the point that the Thai government has had to indefinitely postpone its nuclear endeavor. As a result, the Thai government did not seek to extend the 123 Agreement, when the agreement expired in 2014. Extending the 123 Agreement is a prerequisite condition if Thailand wants to import nuclear technologies of U.S. origin.

Having one of the more advanced nuclear programs in the region, Indonesia has considered introducing nuclear energy to decrease the country’s dependence on coal and oil since the early 1990s. However, a combination of precarious geological conditions, public opposition, and lack of political determination has made nuclear an undesirable choice in Indonesia’s energy planning. Lately, Indonesian officials reportedly emphasized that nuclear energy would only be considered beyond 2025 if the country’s renewable energy target cannot be met by other options.

The last potential nuclear energy user in the ASEAN community is Malaysia, where the nuclear option has been seriously considered since the late 2000s. Despite having a careful and well-organized development plan, the Malaysian government has continuously moved back the starting date of the country’s first nuclear project in order to gain public support and adjust the technical and financial feasibility of the project. Lately, the CEO of the Malaysian Nuclear Power Corporation stated that 2030 is the earliest date possible for the construction of the first nuclear plant in Malaysia.

Finally, despite once possessing a controversial nuclear research program, the reformed Myanmar has halted a major part of its nuclear activities in order to show its willingness for political transparency and international cooperation. Furthermore, together with Cambodia and Laos, Myanmar does not have the financial capacity, manpower, or necessary infrastructure for such a complex and expensive project as a nuclear power plant. On the other hand, the leading nation of ASEAN in these aspects – Singapore – has made an official decision to not explore the nuclear option, which is understandable given its limited landmass and environmental concerns.


In reviewing the history of nuclear development (or lack thereof) in Southeast Asia, one can identify the major obstacles for nuclear advocacy, namely the anti-nuclear sentiment, persistent safety concerns, and a lack of consistent political willingness from Southeast Asian governments. Even though nuclear energy has been considered an attractive option in the fight against climate change, which has emerged as one of the most important threats to the region, it is unlikely that those obstacles can be alleviated anytime soon. Rather, similar to the situation in South Korea, where nuclear acceptance has deteriorated significantly in the past two decades, the growing middle class in ASEAN nations will probably become more concerned about environmental issues, of which nuclear energy has always been one of the most poignant.

One example of the increasing power of the environmentalist movement can be found in Vietnam, where mass protests occurred at unprecedented scale in reaction to the large-scale fish kill in the coastal region due to chemical spill from a Taiwan-owned steel factory. Participants in these protests included local people, religious leaders, activists, and lawyers; a similar grouping was observed during the anti-nuclear activities that led to the shutdown of the Bataan nuclear power plant in the Philippines during the 1980s. Therefore, despite the news here and there about the conclusions of new nuclear cooperation agreements by ASEAN nations, it is very difficult to conceive that a nuclear power plant will actually be built in one of these countries, at least in the next one or two decades.

Viet Phuong Nguyen is a predoctoral fellow in the Belfer Center’s International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom. He is a Ph.D. candidate in nuclear engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) after receiving a B.Sc. in nuclear physics from the Vietnam National University and a M.Sc. in nuclear engineering from KAIST.

November 11, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, marketing | Leave a comment

Vietnam rejects nuclear power

Vietnam ditches nuclear power plans, DW, 10 Nov 16 

Vietnam has decided to scrap plans to build two nuclear power plants, which would have been the first in southeast Asia. Hydropower and coal are set to remain dominant in the fast-industrializing country. Vietnam’s ruling communist party decided Thursday that two planned plants in the southern region of Ninh Thuan will not feature in the country’s future energy mix, state-controlled media reported.

MP Duong Quang Thanh, chairman of the Electricity Committee in the National Assembly, confirmed that no budget for the plants – which were approved in 2008 with a combined capacity of 4,000 megawatts (MW) – had been included in a long-term energy plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the DTI news website reported.

Le Hong Tinh, vice chairman of the National Assembly’s Science, Technology and Environment Committee, said a key reason for the government’s decision was that the price for the plants had doubled to $18 billion (about 16.5 billion euros)……..

November 11, 2016 Posted by | politics, Vietnam | Leave a comment