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Nuclear worker at Fukushima gets compensation for thyroid cancer

thyroid-cancer-papillaryThyroid cancer compensation for Fukushima plant worker http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612170027.htmlBy YURI OIWA/ Staff Writer December 17, 2016 A man who developed thyroid gland cancer after working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has for the first time won the right to work-related compensation.

While the case ranks as the third time a worker at the Fukushima plant has been recognized as eligible for work-related compensation because of cancer caused by radiation exposure, it is the first instance involving thyroid gland cancer.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its decision Dec. 16.

The man in his 40s, an employee of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., worked at the Fukushima plant after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. He was diagnosed with thyroid gland cancer in April 2014.

The man worked at various nuclear plants, including the Fukushima facility, between 1992 and 2012. He was mainly involved in operating and overseeing reactor operations.

After the March 2011 nuclear accident, the man was in the plant complex when hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 and No. 3 reactor buildings. His duties included confirming water and pressure meter levels as well as providing fuel to water pumps.

The amount of his accumulated whole body radiation exposure was 150 millisieverts, with about 140 millisieverts resulting from the period after the nuclear accident. Of that amount, about 40 millisieverts was through internal exposure caused by inhaling or other ways of absorbing radioactive materials.

Along with recognizing the first work-related compensation involving thyroid gland cancer, the labor ministry also released for the first time its overall position on dealing with compensation issues for workers who were at the Fukushima plant after the accident.

The ministry said it would recognize compensation for workers whose accumulated whole body dose exceeded 100 millisieverts and for whom at least five years have passed since the start of work involving radiation exposure and the diagnosis of cancer.

Ministry officials said the dose level was not a strict standard but one yardstick for recognizing compensation.

According to a study by TEPCO and a U.N. scientific committee looking into the effects of radiation, 174 people who worked at the plant had accumulated whole body doses exceeding 100 millisieverts as of this past March.

There is also an estimate that more than 2,000 workers have radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts just in their thyroid gland.

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December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, health, Japan | Leave a comment

A climate scientist who faces death threats

exclamation-Smclimate-changeI’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under TrumpMichael E. Mann, The Washington Post, December 18, 2016  Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

My Penn State colleagues looked with horror at the police tape across my office door.

I had been opening mail at my desk that afternoon in August 2010 when a dusting of white powder fell from the folds of a letter. I dropped the letter, held my breath and slipped out the door as swiftly as I could, shutting it behind me. First I went to the bathroom to scrub my hands. Then I called the police.

It turned out to be only cornstarch. And it was just one in a long series of threats I’ve received since the late 1990s, when my research illustrated the unprecedented nature of global warming, producing an upward-trending temperature curve whose shape has been likened to a hockey stick.

I’ve faced hostile investigations by politicians, demands for me to be fired from my job, threats against my life and even threats against my family. Those threats have diminished in recent years, as man-made climate change has become recognized as the overwhelming scientific consensus and as climate science has received the support of the federal government. But with the coming Trump administration, my colleagues and I are bracing for a renewed onslaught of intimidation, from inside and outside government. It would be bad for our work and bad for our planet.

Donald Trump, of course, famously dismissed global warming as a Chinese hoax and “a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money.” This month he framed his position on climate change as “nobody really knows – it’s not something that’s so hard and fast.” He has vowed to cancel U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement and threatened to block the Clean Power Plan, a measure to reduce carbon emissions in the power sector.

The strong anti-science bent of his advisers is similarly ominous. Among the members of his Environmental Protection Agency transition team are some of the most notorious climate change deniers. One adviser has threatened to cut NASA’s entire climate research program, disparaging it, with no apparent sense of irony, as “heavily politicized.”………

We are afraid that four (possibly eight) years of denial and delay might commit the planet to not just feet, but yards, of sea level rise, massive coastal flooding (made worse by more frequent Katrina and Sandy-like storms), historic deluges, and summer after summer of devastating heat and drought across the country.

We also fear an era of McCarthyist attacks on our work and our integrity. It’s easy to envision, because we’ve seen it all before. We know we could be hauled into Congress to face hostile questioning from climate change deniers. We know we could be publicly vilified by politicians. We know we could be at the receiving end of federal subpoenas demanding our personal emails. We know we could see our research grants audited or revoked.

I faced all of those things a decade ago, the last time Republicans had full control of our government………

I’ve also come under pressure at the state level. In Pennsylvania, an organization funded by conservative Richard Mellon Scaife persuaded Republican state senators to threaten to hold my university’s funding hostage until “appropriate action” was taken against me. In Virginia, then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a tea party Republican, accused me of fraud and sued the University of Virginia for all my personal emails from when I was teaching there. When Cuccinelli was unsuccessful, a Koch brothers-funded front group attempted to sue for the same emails. That effort, too, was ultimately blocked by the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled that unpublished research should be protected in the interest of academic freedom.

In all, I’ve been through roughly a dozen investigations prompted by climate change deniers. Each time, I’ve been exonerated: Investigators find my methods are sound, my data is replicable and my lab is run responsibly. But by then, much time has been lost, expense has been incurred, and abuse and vilification has been endured on my part.

And then there have been the threats of violence. I’ve received email warnings that “the public will come after you,” suggesting that I’ll find myself “six feet under” and hoping to read that I had “committed suicide.”

Such threats could spike again under a president and Congress hostile to climate science. As we’ve seen recently, a segment of Americans is receptive to fake news, and some are eager to act on it. Wild conspiracy theories have propelled a woman to make death threats against the parent of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary and motivated a man to discharge an assault rifle in a family pizza restaurant in Washington.

I fear the chill that could descend. I worry especially that younger scientists might be deterred from going into climate research (or any topic where scientific findings can prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests). As someone who has weathered many attacks, I would urge these scientists to have courage.

The fate of the planet hangs in the balance.

Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. He co-authored, with Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, “The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy.”     http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/I-m-a-scientist-who-has-gotten-death-threats-I-10804229.php

December 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Fun online tool – checks effect of nuclear bomb in your area

see-this.wayWhat would happen if a nuclear weapon was detonated in your nearest city? Find out with this online tool Telegraph   

If you feel your life is lacking a little in pointless anxiety this festive season, here’s a fun online tool that lets you find out how much damage would occur if a nuclear bomb exploded in your neighbourhood.

NUKEMAP was created by  Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology.It’s been around for a few years, but has gone viral in recent days after appearing in the Data Is Beautiful section of Reddit.

Simply type in the name of the city you want to virtually nuke, and select the size of explosion, from a 20 kiloton ‘Davy Crockett’ (the smallest nuclear weapon produced by the US) to the terrifying 100 megaton “Tsar Bomba”.

The map then displays colour-coded circles indicating fireball radius, radiation radius, air blast radius and thermal radiation radius.

Here are the likely effects of a Chinese Dong Feng-5 ICBM exploding over central London: [maps on original] ……..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/12/17/would-happen-nuclear-weapon-detonated-nearest-city-find-online/

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Just another little increase in costs for Hanford nuclear clean-up – increase of $4.5 billion

Hanford-waste-tanksThe price tag for cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford site just went up another $4.5 billion LA Times, 16 Dec 16 Ralph Vartabedian  Contact Reporter The U.S. Energy Department said Friday that its long-troubled attempt to build a plant to process highly radioactive sludge at a former nuclear weapons site in central Washington state will cost an additional $4.5 billion, raising the project’s price tag to $16.8 billion.

The Hanford treatment plant, a small industrial city with some two dozen facilities on a desert plateau along the Columbia River, is more than a decade behind schedule and will cost nearly four times the original estimate made in 2000.

The government aims to transform 56 million gallons of deadly sludge stored in leaky underground tanks into solid glass, which theoretically could then be stored safely for thousands of years.

But the effort has involved an extended history of errors, miscalculations and wrongdoing. The result has been a massive, partially built concrete facility that has been under a stop-work order for three years because of serious technical doubts.

The biggest technical problems involve two giant facilities, a melter building for high-level radioactive waste and a pretreatment building to prepare the sludge for chemical processing.

After an exhaustive technical review, the Energy Department at the beginning of this year ordered fixes for more than 500 problems, some of them fundamental design deficiencies at the melter. Construction of the building and equipment was 78% complete at the time of the review.

And in November, the Justice Department settled a False Claims Act suit against two major contractors at the plant, San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. and AECOM, an engineering, design and construction management company based in Los Angeles. The allegations originally were brought by three engineers at the plant, who had long raised concerns that the fundamental design of the plant was flawed. The two companies agreed to pay $125 million in damages, a portion of which will be awarded to the three whistle-blowers……..

outside watchdogs say the giant cost increase could jeopardize the cleanup at a time when the incoming president, Donald Trump, has already sharply criticized high-cost government projects and contracts.

Tom Carpenter, executive director of the Hanford Challenge, which has helped whistle-blowers disclose problems at the site, said the new cost estimate puts a target on the plant that could lead the Energy Department to begin searching for lower-cost and less safe solutions to the waste problem.

One potential lower-cost remedy at Hanford, which has been used at other former nuclear waste sites, would be to pour concrete into the tanks to solidify the waste and then simply leave it in place. The risk is that the concrete might eventually break down, leak radioactivity into the groundwater and contaminate the Columbia River about seven miles away, Carpenter said.

“There are a lot of question marks about the fate of this facility,” Carpenter said.

The revised plan disclosed Friday is part of an effort to get the waste treatment plant started up sooner, though the estimated delay for full operational status seems to be growing.

In 2013, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu stopped most construction on the project after a whistle-blower warned about a potential for explosion from accumulated hydrogen gas in the melter tanks. In an effort to get the cleanup moving again, Chu’s successor, Ernest J. Moniz, ordered that some of the lower-level waste be solidified without any pretreatment — a so-called direct feed system — and on a faster schedule at the low-level melter.

The early processing could begin in 10 years or less, but the full capability for the most highly radioactive sludge that requires the high-level melter is now scheduled for a 2036 start-up, some 20 years past the original schedule, Carpenter said.

“It is an astounding date,” he said.  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-hanford-cost-20161216-story.html

December 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Clean-up costs for Fukushima nuclear wreck now set to double

TEPCO: Fukushima nuclear clean-up, compensation costs nearly double previous estimate at $250 billion http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-17/fukushima-nuclear-clean-up,-compensation-costs-nearly-double/8127268  By Tokyo correspondent Rachel Mealey   The total cost of decommissioning the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima and providing compensation to victims has nearly doubled, with a new estimate placing the cost at $250 billion.Five and a half years after the nuclear disaster, the painstaking work of cleaning up the radioactive disaster zone is progressing very slowly.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Mismanagement and incompetence as the nuclear industry plunders Britain’s public purse

Sellafield on seaNuclear plundering of the public purse – the Sellafield and Moorside billions, Ecologist, Martin Forwood 13th December 2016 

While the government is cutting vital public expenditure across the board there’s one industry for which no costs are too great, writes Martin Forwood. The price of an ‘evaporator’ at the Sellafield nuclear complex is escalating towards £1 billion, while billions more of taxpayer finance are being lined up to finance cooling systems, power lines and transport links for the adjacent Moorside new-build nuclear power plant.

The Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s elevation to the US Presidency have turned the international status quo upside down.

But some things – like the nuclear industry’s insatiable appetite for taxpayers’ money – never change.

Sellafield’s Evaporator D project, with NuGen’s Moorside in hot pursuit, is a prime example as it limps along, sustained only by ever increasing helpings from the public purse.

With nuclear power rightly acknowledged as being a hideously expensive way of boiling a kettle, then Evaporator D – known to the Sellafield workforce as the ‘Big Kettle’ – must be breaking all records.

Initially costed at £90 million (2007) and originally due to come into operation in 2010/11, the cost has increased eight-fold to £740m – as at September 2015. With a ‘challenging’ operational date currently pencilled in as 2017/18, and with updated figures yet to be published, the sky is clearly the limit for Evaporator D.

The tortured progress of the new Evaporator, designed to reduce (by evaporation) the volume of the dangerous liquid High Level Wastes (HLW) produced by spent fuel reprocessing, reveals a catalogue of project mismanagement and eye-watering cost hikes that show little sign of abating.

Promoted specifically by BNFL and subsequently by the NDA as being urgently needed to support continued reprocessing operations in the B205 (magnox fuel) and THORP (oxide fuel) plant, Evaporator D is currently being shoe-horned into the HLW complex.

There it will join its three fellow but semi-crippled evaporators (A,B & C) whose increasing unreliability through age and internal corrosion had underpinned the urgency for Evaporator D.

A tale of mismanagement and incompetence

Despite claiming not to recognise the £90m estimate of 2007, the NDA was nevertheless happy to confirm a price tag of £100m in 2008, since when the cost of Evaporator D has risen in almost annual increments – with the biggest hike to over £600m.

That number comes in a damning report by the National Audit Office that was highly critical of the NDA’s project management and that of its subsequently sacked contractor Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) who had acted for the NDA as Sellafield’s Parent Body Organisation since 2008. As the NAO reported,

“Gaps in the capability of subcontractors in the supply chain to undertake work to the standards required for nuclear installations have had direct consequences for the speed and efficiency of project delivery. For example, the Authority estimates that £50 million of the £244 million increase in the cost of evaporator D and part of the 18-month delay since 2009 is because the subcontractor lacked experience in welding to the necessary nuclear quality standards.

“The Authority was aware of these risks when it approved the start of construction. It relied on Sellafield Limited’s assurances that its subcontractor could manage the risks. The Authority did not obtain assurance from Sellafield Limited that it had put in place appropriate quality assurance and training.”

The cramped conditions in and around the HLW complex was a major factor in employing the novel option of having the main elements of the Evaporator built off-site (by Interserve at Ellesmere Port) and delivered by barge to Sellafield beach in the form of 11 modules, the largest weighing 500 tonnes and measuring 12.5 x 7.5 x 27 metres tall. The Evaporator, whose top and bottom sections are shown above being fabricated at Ellesmere Port, will operate in an upright position once installed at Sellafield.

Novel as the option was, it soon fell foul of a range of problems that included a disorganised supply chain, design changes, the quality of module fabrication, and seismic qualification.

With the modules delivered to Sellafield beach and hauled onto site between 2011 and 2013, Evaporator D’s cost increases from 2013 onwards are largely attributed by the NDA to the ‘transfer of incomplete modules to site’. This resulted in extensive additional cutting and welding work being needed – in a confined work space – to connect together the component parts of the Evaporator system.

And now Evaporator D looks set to miss the ‘reprocessing boat’

The greatest irony of all is, of course, that despite the early hullabaloo about its urgent and crucial support role for reprocessing at Sellafield, Evaporator D can be of service to THORP reprocessing (due to finish in 2018) for no more than one year at best.

At worst it will be of service only for THORP’s post-2018 clean out, the remnant days of B205 reprocessing which is due to end around 2020 and other site decommissioning work.

Faced with this prospect and the embarrassing reality that its much vaunted Evaporator D could indeed miss the THORP reprocessing boat for which it was primarily designed, the NDA and Sellafield Ltd damage limitation teams have recently swung into top gear – by stressing the Evaporator’s future decommissioning role through its ability to deal with the larger waste particles expected to be encountered during the coming years of clean-up work.

For a project whose £740m cost will undoubtedly escalate further, aggrieved taxpayers may take some comfort from Sellafield’s 2012 announcement that plans for a fifth (£600m) Evaporator E had been scrapped. But they should now cast a wary eye to NuGen’s new-build project just across the road from Sellafield where the prospect of further pilfering from the public purse is simmering on the back-burner.

Moorside nuclear power plant – another massive drain on taxpayers’ money …….

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988449/nuclear_plundering_of_the_public_purse_the_sellafield_and_moorside_billions.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

December 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Iran has shown commitment to the nuclear agreement – UN atomic energy watchdog

Head of U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran showing commitment to deal http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-amano-idUSKBN147083?il=0

Iran has shown commitment to the deal on its nuclear program agreed with world powers, the head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said on Sunday, following complaints by Tehran over what it calls a U.S. violation of the accord.

The White House said on Thursday that a bill extending U.S. sanctions against Iran for 10 years would become law without President Barack Obama’s signature, adding this would not affect overall implementation of the nuclear agreement.

“We are satisfied with the implementation of the (agreement) and hope that this process will continue,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano was quoted as telling reporters in Tehran by the IRNA news agency.

 “Iran has been committed to its engagement so far and this is important,” Amano was quoted as saying after meeting Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi.

In response to the U.S. sanctions extension, Iran ordered its scientists last week to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels.

That action is expected to worsen tensions with Washington, already heightened by a promise by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s to scrap the deal.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Amano on Sunday and “expressed hope Iran and the IAEA will be able to have good technical cooperation on nuclear propulsion for transports”, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

Iran’s nuclear energy chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said he presented the nuclear propulsion project to Amano during their meeting, adding that Iran would provide details of it in three months, IRNA reported.

Nuclear experts have said that Iran’s move, if carried out, would probably require Tehran to enrich uranium to a fissile purity above the maximum level set in the nuclear deal to allay fears of the country building an atomic bomb.

Salehi said the fuel used for nuclear propulsion could range between 5 and 90 percent in enrichment, but added: “We will certainly act within the framework of the (agreement),” IRNA reported.

Under the 2015 deal, Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium above a 3.67 percent purity for 15 years, a level unlikely to be enough to run such vessels, according to experts.

Iran on Saturday also requested a meeting of a commission comprising representatives of signatories to the accord that is overseeing its implementation.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Sami Aboudi and Raissa Kasolowsky)

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Highland airport runway – unsafe for planes carrying radioactive trash?

Airplane dangerflag-UKCalls to ban ‘unsafe’ nuclear flights from Highland airport   Sunday Herald, Rob Edwards, 18 Dec 16 FLIGHTS loaded with weapons-grade uranium that are being launched from a Highland airport are in dangerous breach of runway safety limits, according to documents released under Freedom of Information (FoI) law.

The revelations have led to angry accusations from politicians and environmental groups that a “horrific gamble” is being taken on these flights and calls for the nuclear transports to be banned immediately.

Bombs-grade uranium from Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness is being flown from Wick John O’Groats Airport to America aboard 130-tonne C-17 US Air Force planes, which according to the documents, are too heavy for most of the runway.

The company that runs the airport denies these accusations and says the runway complies with current industry standards.

A deal to fly 700 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium waste from Dounreay to the US was announced by former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, at a nuclear security summit in Washington DC in March. The first flight took place from Wick airport under armed guard on September 17 – and more are expected next year.

There were earlier reports that Wick’s runway was too short for C-17 aircraft and that the airport’s rescue and firefighting capability was inadequate. The flight from the US in September landed at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, which experts say could have been to minimise the weight of fuel it was carrying for its short hop to and from Wick.

Now detailed technical reports obtained by the Sunday Herald disclose that the runway may not be strong enough to withstand the flights. Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) had commissioned the US engineering firm AECOM to examine the structural suitability of Wick’s runway for C-17s, and it produced a 46-page report in October 2015.

Under safety standards used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the report found that most of the runway was deficient. “The movements of the C-17 will not meet the necessary criteria for normal overloading operations as stated in the guidance and thus should only be allowed in emergency situations,” it said……….

John Finnie MSP, transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, called for the flights to be suspended pending a safety review. “The public will rightly be alarmed by this disclosure,” he said.

“It clearly suggests that no legitimate risk assessment has been undertaken and a lower standard is being applied simply because of what the cargo is. I intend raising this matter in the Scottish Parliament.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland described the released documents as damning. “It is almost beyond belief that these flights are using a runway that is not fit for purpose,” said the environmental group’s director, Dr Richard Dixon.

“Gambling against the horrific consequences of one of these flights crashing is bad enough but vastly increasing the risk of a crash by using an unsuitable airport is almost too stupid to believe. Whoever thought this was an acceptable plan should lose their job and these flights should be banned immediately.”

Tor Justad, chairperson of the campaign group Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, demanded an “absolute assurance” that the C-17 aircraft would not damage the runway or suffer an accident. “Safety standards are being compromised to allow the uranium flights to go ahead,” he said………….. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14973582.Calls_to_ban___39_unsafe__39__nuclear_flights_from_Highland_airport/?ref=rss

December 19, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Solar energy is transforming global energy markets – emerging economies are in the lead

Solar at dawnWorld Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind Emerging markets are leapfrogging the developed world thanks to cheap panels. by Tom Randall December 15, 2016, 

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

The chart below [on original] shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon.

“Solar investment has gone from nothing—literally nothing—like five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects.

Half the Price of Coal

This year has seen a remarkable run for solar power. Auctions, where private companies compete for massive contracts to provide electricity, established record after record for cheap solar power. It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity—roughly half the price of competing coal power.

“Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil fuel prices, BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich said in a note to clients this week.

Those are new contracts, but plenty of projects are reaching completion this year, too. ……https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-15/world-energy-hits-a-turning-point-solar-that-s-cheaper-than-wind

December 19, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

America’s biggest economic opportunity is in climate action – Leonardo DiCaprio

Di Caprio, LeonardoLeonardo DiCaprio: climate fight is US history’s ‘biggest economic opportunity’, Guardian, Reuters in New York, 18 Dec 16  Actor and environmental activist tells UN awards ceremony that truth about climate change has spread like ‘wildfire’ despite prominent science deniers Tackling climate change is the “biggest economic opportunity” in the history of the US no matter who holds political office, the Hollywood star and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio said on Friday.

But “the truth” about climate change has spread like “wildfire”, he said.

DiCaprio’s comments, as he received a prize for his work as a global citizen, did not refer to the US president-elect, Donald Trump, by name but were a thinly-veiled reference to his views and nominations of climate sceptics with oil industry ties for cabinet posts.

Earlier this month, 42-year-old DiCaprio and the head of his foundation met Trump and his team, reportedly arguing that support for renewable energy could create millions of jobs.

Trump has suggested climate change is a hoax and raised the possibility of withdrawing US support for a new global accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which most scientists believe are driving up sea levels and causing more droughts and violent storms.

“In less than 100 years of our pollution-based prosperity, we humans have put our entire existence in jeopardy,” said DiCaprio, who released his own documentary, Before the Flood, on the impacts of global warming two months ago.

DiCaprio, who won an Oscar this year for playing a fur trapper battling nature in The Revenant, said his documentary was the most viewed “in history … [showing] just how much the world cares about the issue of climate change”.

But he said the battle to address it was far from over, calling on the world to implement the Paris agreement on climate change, which came into effect in November, and to “go further”.

People everywhere are acting to curb the damage to humans, nature and wildlife from a warming planet, DiCaprio said – from putting a price on carbon emissions to buying cleaner cars, eating less meat, and businesses vowing to be carbon-neutral…….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/17/leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change-united-nations

December 19, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Cheap and dangerous nuclear cleanup in Winnipeg?

Cheap nuclear ‘cleanup’ dangerous http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/cheap-nuclear-cleanup-dangerous-406711405.html By: Dave Taylor 12/15/2016  Just as Manitobans were beginning to think the toxic mess at Whiteshell Laboratories in Pinawa would soon be moved off-site and the lands returned to their natural state, we now learn the federal government has given the Canadian Nuclear Labs (CNL) free rein to cheap out on the cleanup.

The most striking part of the plan to entomb the defunct WR1 reactor is that the cement or grout they are developing to seal it will break down well before the rotting hulk is safe. According to CNL officials who have relied on international research findings, “initial chemical degradation of grout is modelled to begin around 350 years,” well short of the thousands of years for which this sarcophagus will be toxic to all living things.

Since CNL are just the contractors responsible for the immediate decommissioning, long-term monitoring is beyond the scope of their work and it will ultimately be left to future Manitobans. Sure, it would cost the federal government four times as much to dismantle it now, but imagine the costs for our distant descendants who will have to deal with radioactive groundwater leaking into the Winnipeg River from a crumbling block of poisonous concrete several generations in the future.

Due to a very serious accident at the reactor in 1978, it is likely far more radioactive than it would normally be. The radiological report on that accident has not been made public, but when a pump failed, the geiger counters were going off at 3 million counts-per-minute, and a worker in protective clothing using a safety rope had to descend through a hatch to close valves with a hand-wheel as the fuel rods in the core of the reactor became damaged. It is an accident that remains shrouded in secrecy. This has become part of the unsustainable 50-year legacy that the nuclear industry has left us.

Two decades ago, Canada’s nuclear crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., conducted similar “grout” research for the purpose of disposing of high-level radioactive waste in the Canadian Shield and started building a “test facility” at Lac du Bonnet called the Underground Research Lab. The objective of this plan was to seal off huge mine shafts with “bentonite grout” and entomb high-level radioactive waste from reactors across Canada and potentially from around the world. The lab leaked like a sieve as groundwater poured into the shaft, confirming that groundwater is almost unstoppable. Manitobans realized the folly in this idea and lobbied for the enactment of the High Level Radioactive Waste Act, which is still the law in our province.

And just where does our provincial government sit on this ill-conceived plan? Local politicians have remained incredibly silent on this issue, yet the act clearly states that any radioactive waste with levels comparable to spent fuel cannot be disposed of in this province, period. It also states clearly that in the case of a corporation, “a fine of not more than $1,000,000 for each day that the offence continues” will be levied.

Cathy Cox, our minister of sustainable development, has a responsibility to get the straight goods on how tainted this reactor is and to enforce the laws of our land, because, as the saying goes, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Dave Taylor is an instructor at the University of Winnipeg, and has been a watchdog of the nuclear industry for over 40 years.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Canada, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Proposal to remove handguns from nuclear security guards

Duke Energy may take handguns from security at nuclear plants, wsoctv.com  by: Paul Boyd   Dec 18, 2016 CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two Duke Energy insiders said they’re risking their jobs to speak out about a proposal aimed at taking handguns away from nuclear security officers.

Duke Energy operates six nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. They’re among the most highly secured and fortified facilities in the country.

Terrorist groups consider nuclear power plants high-value targets.

“We’re only there for one reason. To stop a breach into that plant,” one of the nuclear security officers said.We’ve hidden the faces and altered the voices of the security officers in our report.

They agreed to speak to Whistleblower 9 because of what they feel is an imminent safety threat — a Duke Energy proposal to take away their handguns.”If they take these weapons away, they’re not providing what we need to protect these plants,” one officer said.

“Taking away the handgun would provide us with zero backup. It’s a safety issue. It’s an officer safety issue,” the other officer said. Rifles are the nuclear security officer’s primary weapon but they say their handguns are a crucial backup weapon if a rifle jams or fails.”In this day and time with the terrorist activity escalating, taking away half of our weapons platform — that is ludicrous,” one officer said.

Channel 9 confirmed a proposal is in place to take away the security guard’s handguns. We obtained an internal document from Duke Energy that reads “efficiency bulletin” and “handgun elimination” for nuclear security officers.

The document says it is Duke Energy’s “intent” to move forward with the plan……..http://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/duke-energy-may-take-handguns-from-security-at-nuke-plants/476623922

December 19, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

DOME INSTALLED FOR CHINA NUCLEAR PLANT

 http://www.breakbulk.com/dome-installed-china-nuclear-plant/ A 300-ton containment dome has been installed at China’s first, domestically designed nuclear power plant in Fujian province, marking a key development for an effort to export the nation’s nuclear technology worldwide.

The successful lift project at the Fuqing nuclear complex construction site was announced via a news report on state-run CCTV television Nov. 26.

The plant, slated to open in 2020, is one of two being built at Fuqing with the China-designed Hualong One reactor. Two power plants at the Fangchenggang complex in Guangxi province will also use the reactor.

When completed, the report said, the Hualong reactor plants – called Fuqing 5 and Fuqing 6 – will be “significantly larger” than four other plants at the complex sporting reactors jointly designed by China and the French company Areva.

For safety, the report said, the 48-meter-diameter dome installed at Fuqing 5 was built with concrete and a steel alloy that’s six times stronger than regular steel.

Fuqing’s builder China National Nuclear Corp. and Fangchenggang’s builder China General Nuclear Corp. have been marketing the Hualong reactor worldwide. Customers so far include Britain, Pakistan and Argentina.

December 19, 2016 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment