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December 6 Energy News



¶ “Going 100% renewable: An exciting new energy game” • An exciting new home energy game opened up for me this week when I made enquiries with my energy retailer. The average Australian emits 4.5 times the global average CO2, so the goal is to lower our household carbon emissions. It is an exciting game we play every day. [The Fifth Estate]

Wind turbines at sunrise (Wind Data Centre) Wind turbines (Wind Data Centre)

¶ “Trump brings Koch network’s green-energy foes from the fringe to the center of power” • The head of the anti-renewable Institute for Energy Research is suddenly at the center of power. A former Koch Industries lobbyist who has led a coordinated national assault on renewable power is at the DOE, in charge of its transition. [Chicago Tribune]

¶ “Wind and Solar Are Better Together” • Building turbines and photovoltaics at the same location can reduce grid and…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Skeletons in the Closet of EU Energy Policy: EU Supporting Old Russian Nuclear Reactors in the Ukraine

Mining Awareness +

Skeletons are hiding in the closet of Europe's energy policy by Bankwatch cropped
Skeletons are hiding in the closet of Europe’s energy policy – letter to Maroš Šefčovič on the EU’s support for nuclear energy
Advocacy letter,  December 1, 2016   
Accompanied by a public action, Bankwatch and Global 2000 presented European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič with this open letter. The letter points out the inconsistencies behind European public money supporting lifetime extension of soviet era nuclear reactors in Ukraine, which are made in violation of international environmental conventions and with insufficient implementation of safety requirements.

So far, the EU’s support for Ukraine is a bad precedent for nuclear decision-making across Europe. It is time to set things straight!”
Letter To: Maroš Šefčovič VP of the European Commission for the Energy Union  December 1st, 2016 from Bankwatch

Click to access letter-Sefcovic-UAnuclear-01Dec2016.pdf

CC-BY-SA: (Emphasis our own. Original text, pdf of letter and event video at links)
No to EU Funded Nuclear Risk by Bankwatch


Photos: “Skeletons are hiding in the closet of Europe’s energy policy” by Bankwatch via Flickr: Top photo cropped

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Planet at its hottest in 115,000 years thanks to climate change, experts say #auspol


The global temperature has increased to a level not seen for 115,000 years, requiring daunting technological advances that will cost the coming generations hundreds of trillions of dollars, according to the scientist widely credited with bringing climate change to the public’s attention.
A new paper submitted by James Hansen, a former senior Nasa climate scientist, and 11 other experts states that the 2016 temperature is likely to be 1.25C above pre-industrial times, following a warming trend where the world has heated up at a rate of 0.18C per decade over the past 45 years.
This rate of warming is bringing Earth in line with temperatures last seen in the Eemian period, an interglacial era ending 115,000 years ago when there was much less ice and the sea level was 6-9 meters (20-30ft) higher than today.
In order to meet targets set at last year’s Paris climate accord to avoid runaway…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate change could drive 122m more people into extreme poverty by 2030 #auspol 


Up to 122 million more people worldwide could be living in extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of climate change and its impacts on small-scale farmers’ incomes, a major UN report warned on Monday.
Climate change is “a major and growing threat to global food security”, said the report, warning that it could increase the global population living in extreme poverty by between 35 and 122 million by 2030, with farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa among the hardest hit.
The 2016 State of Food and Agriculture report, published by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), calls for “deep transformations in agriculture and food systems” and for the world’s half-billion small-scale farms to receive particular support.
The report warns that without “widespread adoption of sustainable land, water, fisheries and forestry practices, global poverty cannot be eradicated”.
It adds that action must also be taken to reduce farming’s own contributions…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate Change Growing Increasingly Bad & Increasingly Unfair #Auspol


Reports unveiled at COP22 underscore the urgency of negotiations, particularly in regards to financing climate adaption and mitigation in poor countries.

Inspecting failed corn crops in Mauritania. In 2015, Africa was the continent hardest hit by extreme weather events, such as drought and heat waves. (Photo: Oxfam International/cc/flickr)
There is no equity when it comes to who is most affected most by climate change, researchers said Tuesday, as a pair of new reports were unveiled, highlighting who will suffer the most as a result of the record “hot and wild” climate as well as the “increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather.”
“We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016,” declared Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which released its five-year study of the global climate to…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 5 Energy News



¶ “Reliable renewable electricity is possible if we make smart decisions now” • Our recent research took a highly conservative approach to testing the cost question. With very conservative assumptions, we found that strategies to manage the variability of renewable resources were effective in a 100% renewable energy mix. [EconoTimes]

Wattle Point wind farm near Edithburgh, South Australia (Photo: ScottDavis / Wikimedia) Wattle Point wind farm near Edithburgh, South Australia
(Photo: ScottDavis / Wikimedia)

¶ “Push towards renewable energy in India indicates coal is becoming yesterday’s fuel source” • Revelations that Labor has plans to progressively retire Australia’s coal-fired power stations put the cat among the energy pigeons. But, the fact is Australia is being buffeted by winds of change blowing far from our shores. [Courier Mail]

¶ “Through climate change denial, we’re ceding global leadership to China” • China was no more prepared for the results of the American election than the US. But it has…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pastoralists count losses as climate change takes a toll #auspol 


Many pastoralists believe that old adaptation mechanisms of mobility hold the key to curbing harmful effects of climate change. PHOTO | FILE


As heavy rains pound parts of the country, livestock are dying in other areas due to prolonged drought.
According to a November 2016 report published by the National Drought Management Authority, pastoralists in arid regions have suffered huge losses.
Last month, livestock deaths were reported in Garissa, specifically in Ijara, Isiolo (in Oldonyiro, Garbatulla and Kinna) as well as in Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Marsabit, Tana River and Taita Taveta.
Climate change is to blame. Research findings released at a climate change conference in Dar es Salaam a few weeks ago show that pastoralists and livestock keepers are most hurt by climate change.
“In the Horn of Africa, arid and semi-arid areas account for more than 60 per cent of the total surface area, with…

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December 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima Long Active Fault


A seismologist says about three-fifths of an active fault running more than 50 kilometers off the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima shifted in last month’s powerful earthquake.

The magnitude-7.4 quake on November 22nd registered a 5 minus on the Japanese seismic scale of 0 to 7. A tsunami 1.4 meters high was observed at a port in Miyagi Prefecture.

Professor Shinji Toda of Tohoku University analyzed the active fault that triggered the temblor, using data on seabed terrain and the locations of aftershocks.

He says a stretch of about 30 kilometers in the fault that runs from northeast to southwest shifted in the earthquake.

He believes a shift of the entire fault would have caused a more powerful quake, with a possible magnitude of 7.7.

He warns that the remaining part of the fault is close to the shore and has the potential to trigger a magnitude-7 quake.

Toda’s findings contradict a 2014 analysis of the area by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It stated that 2 fault lines, each about 20 kilometers long, could cause an earthquake with a magnitude of up to 7.1, much less than that of November’s quake.

Toda says it is important to improve that analysis, since the quake was more powerful than the utility’s estimate.

TEPCO says it will review its estimates if necessary.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Fish and Shellfish Radiation Levels Drop”Announced”


Volunteer group continues checking fish off Fukushima as radiation levels drop

An olive flounder, estimated at 11 years old, measuring 90 centimeters long and caught in waters near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is seen on a ship about 2 kilometers from the plant, on Nov. 13, 2016.

IWAKI, Fukushima — As radioactive cesium levels in fish caught off the Fukushima Prefecture coast show lower levels that fall within safety limits set by the government, the Mainichi Shimbun recently accompanied a volunteer group that continues to measure these fish on one of its outings.
The group, called “Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo” (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), began its activities three years ago. Rather than relying on the national government, Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. or others for data on radioactive pollution in the ocean off Fukushima Prefecture, the group aims to obtain this information itself and share it across the country.

On Nov. 13, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter boarded one of the group’s fishing ships, which set out from Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Two kilometers from the disaster-stricken plant, the group pulled up a large, 90-centimeter, 7.7-kilogram olive flounder. This fish was caught by Eriko Kawanishi, a civil servant who came from Tokyo to participate in the outing and said it was her first time ever to hold a fishing rod. A 90-centimeter fish would be a rare catch even for a veteran fisherman.

The olive flounder was refrigerated and taken back to veterinarian Seiichi Tomihara at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki for dissection. Based on the growth rings on its “otoliths,” a structure located near the brain, Tomihara estimated the fish’s age at 11 years. He said there is research estimating the life expectancy of olive flounders at around 12 years, adding, “This looks like one of the oldest (one can find).”

A 1-kilogram slice of the fish put in a detector showed 14.6 becquerels of radioactive cesium — below the 100 becquerels-per-kilogram national safety limit for regular food products. Lately the research group has found no fish, including bottom-dwelling fish like olive flounder, that exceed this limit. In addition, radiation checks done by the prefectural government find hardly any cases of fish that top the safety limit.

Riken Komatsu, 37, joint-representative for the group, says, “This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved.”

Fish that were already adult at the time of the disaster, with a slowed metabolism and a narrow range of habitat, tend to show high radiation levels, Komatsu says. With time having passed since the disaster, the generational replacement of the fish in the area has moved forward. The group says the highest radiation level it has detected so far was 138 becquerels from a 56-centimeter olive flounder in July 2014.

Olive flounder caught off of Iwaki are known as “Joban-mono” and have a good reputation. There is hope among locals that the fish will regain their pre-disaster popularity.

Komatsu says, “The prefectural government and fishing cooperatives are also releasing radiation readings from fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture, but I feel there are few taken from waters near the nuclear plant. Stronger data showing the fish’s safety (like data from fish near the plant) should raise the value of Fukushima olive flounder.”


Surf clams caught in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in June

Radiation in fish off Fukushima tests below detectable level

FUKUSHIMA–Radiation in all seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture tested below the detectable level in November for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Species including bass, rockfish and stone flounder–sales of which were banned by the central government–were tested between Nov. 11 and Nov. 28, and the prefectural government said they all fell below the detection threshold, meaning radioactive cesium was not detected in any samples.

The main reason is that most fish species have undergone a generation change over the past five years with the contaminated marine life dying out, said officials at the prefectural government’s fisheries experimental station.

In addition, the passage of time helped fish exude radioactive cesium from their bodies.

The prefectural government began the tests in April 2011 following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the previous month.

Forty thousand fish and shellfish samples have been checked from 186 species over the past five and a half years.

The initial tests found that more than 90 percent of the samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium above the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The percentage of polluted fish and shellfish then declined annually.

The tests since April last year showed that the pollution in all samples was within the safety limit.

The monitoring covers seafood caught in 30 locations, in waters with a depth of 5 meters and at a distance of hundreds of meters from the shore, including the area in a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant.


December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

As Costs of Disaster Keep Rising, State Ownership of Tepco Continues


Tokyo says Tepco may stay nationalized to deal with massive cost of nuclear disaster

Faced with massive ongoing costs stemming from the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. may remain under state control longer than initially planned, the government said Monday.

Under the current plan, the utility would gradually reduce government involvement in its management from April.

However, at a key panel meeting the government proposed a revised option in light of the huge compensation and decommissioning expenses that are involved.

The government leads the business operations of the utility, known as Tepco, acquiring 50.1 percent of its voting rights through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.

Some ministry bureaucrats have also been dispatched to the utility.

It is understood the state-backed body will assess efforts to reform the company in late March and make a decision on whether to reduce state involvement.

The direction of Tepco reform is coming into sight,” said Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko at the panel meeting. “We have to come up with a more detailed picture of the reform.”

The government is seeking to split the activities of the utility into “business operations,” including retail sales and power generation, and “Fukushima operations” related to decommissioning reactors at the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation, which would remain under public control.

As for Tepco’s business operations, the government plans to free them of state control at an early date, hoping to promote industry reorganization involving nuclear and energy distribution businesses.

The plan was revealed at the panel meeting at the trade ministry to study compensation and decommissioning issues facing the utility. The panel will compile proposals by the end of this year.

The government also seeks cooperation from other power companies in reactivating Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which would be the main source of its revenue.

With the involvement of other utilities, the government hopes to ease local distrust of Tepco’s nuclear plant operations. Two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are under prolonged safety examinations by nuclear regulators.

State ownership of TEPCO likely to continue as costs keep rising

The government will likely prolong its effective state ownership of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. because the expected costs for decommissioning its ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation continue to soar.

The industry ministry mentioned the rising expenses at a meeting on Dec. 5 with scholars and others.

The ministry at the meeting showed a six-item report titled, “Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the state’s role.” One pillar of the report was that the state should urge TEPCO to perform its responsibilities.

However, one of the participants said, “The state should hold a certain ratio of (TEPCO) shares for a long period.”

The government-approved Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. currently holds 50.1 percent of shares with voting rights of TEPCO.

The government planned to reduce the stake to less than 50 percent if it concluded at the end of this fiscal year that TEPCO could operate independently.

However, that scenario has collapsed.

Some sources now say total costs, including expenses for decommissioning and compensation, will probably exceed 20 trillion yen (about $176 billion).

TEPCO initially said that it would need a total of 11 trillion yen to resolve problems related to the plant that suffered a triple meltdown after being hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

That amount includes 2 trillion yen to decommission the reactors, 5.4 trillion yen to pay compensation to people affected by the disaster and 2.5 trillion yen to decontaminate areas polluted with nuclear substances.

However, an internal report worked out by the industry ministry in August showed that the costs for decommissioning would probably increase by 4 trillion yen and the compensation sum would likely rise by 3 trillion yen, making the total amount 18 trillion yen.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Human Error Stopped Reactor 3 Cooling System


Cooling water briefly stopped at Fukushima plant

Injections of water to cool melted fuel in a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stopped briefly due to human error on Monday.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says an alarm system was activated at around 10 AM when a water pump at the No. 3 reactor shut down.
An internal investigation by the utility found that a worker had mistakenly hit the pump’s switch with his elbow while checking instruments. TEPCO resumed the water injections using a different pump about 1 hour later.
The utility notified local prefectural authorities and nearby areas of the problem just one minute before it resumed the water injections.
TEPCO officials say they detected no changes in the temperature at the bottom of the reactor or in radiation levels at monitoring posts around the plant.
Also on Sunday night, cooling operations temporarily stopped in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the plant’s numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactors when some valves inexplicably opened.
TEPCO says it takes these human errors seriously and will do it best to prevent recurrences.

Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection

One of the melted reactors at tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow aisle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system.

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said cooling for the No. 3 reactor, one of the three reactors that melted following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was out for nearly one hour Monday until a backup pump kicked in.

TEPCO said the reactor had enough water left inside and there was no temperature increase or radiation leak from the incident.

TEPCO acknowledged some other key switches are in similarly tight locations.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Belarus’s radiation tragedy of Chernobyl is only just developing

Exiled scientist: ‘Chernobyl is not finished, it has only just begun’


Chernobyl through the eyes of an artist

Kim Hjelmgaard , USA TODAY Yury Bandazhevsky, 59, was the first scientist in Belarus to establish an institute to study Chernobyl’s impact on people’s health, particularly children, near the city of Gomel, about 120 miles over the border from Ukraine. He was arrested in Belarus in 1999 and sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly taking bribes from parents trying to get their children admitted to his Gomel State Medical Institute. He denied the charges.

The National Academy of Sciences and Amnesty International say he was detained for his outspoken criticism of Belarus’ public health policies following the nuclear disaster. He was released in 2005 and given French citizenship, after rights groups took up his case along with the European Union, Britain, France and Germany. He now runs a medical and rehabilitation center outside Kiev dedicated to studying and caring for Chernobyl’s victims.

Here are his words, edited and condensed for clarity: 

KIEV, Ukraine — If you were told that a lot is already known in Ukraine and Belarus about what Chernobyl has done to these countries, than I can tell you that you are wrong. How can I put it? It is only after 30 years that we are starting to see the real impact. We can say for sure that Belarus was affected more. There was more radioactive fallout there. The doses the general population received were huge. My students and colleagues and I observed it when I arrived in Gomel in 1990 to organize the medical institute (now a university).

At the first, we were observing the effects of the large doses because Gomel was located in the epicenter of this high level of contamination. Then we started to look at the accumulation of radioactive elements in internal organs at lower doses, children’s in particular. We were already seeing a complex pathology affecting the endocrine system (which produces hormones), the cardiovascular system and almost all the internal organs. This was work that had never been done in Belarus and has not been done since.

When I arrived in Ukraine in 2009, I did not find any serious objective source of information about the state of health of the children and people in the Ivankiv and Polesskiy regions (two areas that neighbor Chernobyl). There was no interest. We have now examined about 4,000 second-generation children and most of them have serious problems with their cardiovascular systems. I was starting to see the same thing in Belarus before I left. I am especially disturbed by irregularities I see in teenagers, in particular boys ages 12-17.

Several million people in Ukraine live on land contaminated by radiation, so we need to evaluate a very large number of people. But there are no such projects. You have to live among the people here to truly understand what is happening, because the problem is very complicated. I have even tried to send interested people to the cemetery in Ivankiv so they can see for themselves how many graves are there — many who died at a very young age. None of this is in the official statistics.

I don’t have any objective information about what is happening now with the health of children in Belarus. Everything is closed. The government says, ‘Everything’s OK, everything’s OK.’ But I get telephone calls from people in Gomel and they tell me that many of the children we were observing before I left have died. They were of different ages: 6, 12, 14. I will never forget appearing on television in Belarus with the president (Alexander Lukashenko). I was saying we were seeing very serious problems in children because of radiation, while he was saying ‘Everything’s OK.’ But I can’t touch this, because I can’t go there, or work there.

For me, the problem of Chernobyl is not finished, it has only just begun.

I am very much afraid that in one or two generations from now, the (descendants) of the population of Belarus and Ukraine that were affected by Chernobyl will vanish. I am afraid of that very much. I don’t want my countrymen to perish. It’s possible that help from the international community to understand what is going on is needed now, just as much as it was immediately after the accident.

December 6, 2016 Posted by | Belarus, health | Leave a comment