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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Mayor in rural Japan who supports construction of nuclear plant wins fourth term

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OMA, AOMORI PREF. – The mayor of Oma, Aomori Prefecture, who supports the construction of a local nuclear plant, was elected Sunday to a fourth term, defeating three first-time candidates.

The victory by Mitsuharu Kanazawa, a 66-year-old independent, came in the first mayoral voting in Oma in 16 years. In each of the past three races, he was handed a new four-year term since he ran unopposed.

Voter turnout came to 78.89 percent.

The main election issue was the ongoing project by Electric Power Development Co., better known as J-Power, to construct a nuclear plant in the town, with the start of operations slated for around fiscal 2024.

During the campaign, Kanazawa attracted voter support by highlighting the job-creation potential if the plant is constructed ahead of schedule.

Of the three challengers, Naofumi Nozaki, 61, a former town official, said Oma should not rely fully on the nuclear plant, while Hideki Sasaki, 67, called for a referendum on whether to go ahead with the project. The third, Atsuko Kumagai, 62, called outright for the project to be canceled.

Kanazawa garnered 2,081 votes while Nozaki gained 1,523. Sasaki received 79 votes and Kumagai got 34.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/16/national/politics-diplomacy/mayor-rural-japan-supports-construction-nuclear-plant-wins-fourth-term/#.WH1H133raM9

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January 16, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

7 Times More Leukemia in 2015 than 2014, 80% in Eastern Japan

Warning, this is not the result of an official study but the findings of the personal study of Kikko, a blogger who took as a base the number of hospitalized patients. But again we cannot expect the Japanese government to officially advertize it: “The number of patients diagnosed with leukemia in 2015 was about 7 times higher than the previous year.”

 

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From June 2015

Sharp increase in leukemia patients ~ Number of patients is about 7 times more than last year ~ Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Tokyo

According to the statistics of the National Public Medical Association from the hospitals of each prefecture, from April to October 2015, the number of patients diagnosed as “leukemia” was about seven times higher than in 2014.

About 60% or more of patients diagnosed with leukemia are acute leukemia,
Since 1978 when they began taking statistics, such high proportion never occured before.

About 80% of the patients are in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. Fukushima Prefecture is the largest, next, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Tokyo in that order.

Strontium 90 is the most probable cause. It acts inside the body as calcium so that it can be stored in bones and brain. It takes 2-3 years until symptoms develop. People inhaling it or ingesting it in foods such as milk, fish and meat.

http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/kawachikakekomian/13334773.html

http://ameblo.jp/64152966/entry-12045183016.html

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear: Game Over

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Nexit – Nuclear Exit

It took the world 48 years to gradually ramp up to a peak of 438 commercial nuclear power plants in 2002. Today, in 2016, we have dropped to 402 reactors with further closures foreshadowed.

There is about 200 years of uranium, if we consume it at the current rate. Scale up to 3000 reactors and we have only about 25 years of power left.

Humans globally consume roughly 15,000 gigawatts (GW) of power, in oil, coal, gas, nuclear, and renewables all added together.1 To put it another way, it means that, on average, we use 15,000 gigajoules (GJ) of energy every second of every day. That is an enormous number, equivalent to switching on 15 billion electric kettles.

 

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On the other hand, 15,000 GW is a relatively small number as it is 5000 times less than the average solar power hitting the planet’s surface. And remarkably, it is six times less than the solar power utilised by all plant life on Earth for photosynthesis.2 By far, the plant kingdom has already beaten the human race to the punch in terms of the sheer magnitude of solar collection achieved.

Yet this means that maintaining our current levels of consumption in a sus-tainable manner requires harnessing only 0.02% of the light at the surface of our planet. So do we really need nuclear power? Is nuclear sustainable? Given the awesome potential of renewable energy, is there an economic place for nuclear power? Why is nuclear power globally in decline at present? What are the limitations?

These are some of the key questions we’ll now examine.

Energy policy

Before we discuss power generation, it is important to first highlight that any robust government energy policy must be grounded by the concept of energy conservation. To understand why energy conservation and energy efficiency form the bedrock of policy, let us consider how power consumption can quickly add up and get out of hand.

Imagine 5 billion people all make one cup of tea per day, and overfill their kettles by as little as a quarter of a cup. Over a day, this excess requires an additional 2 GW of average power, which is equivalent to the output of the whole Hoover Dam.3

Consider the possibility of everyone on the planet driving a medium sized car for only one hour per day. That alone would average to two thirds of our total present global consumption, which is clearly unsustainable.

Suppose there were one billion medium-sized houses on the planet all heating or cooling by as little as 3°C relative to the outside temperature. By not having home wall insulation, the excess power needed would on average equal our total present global consumption. This alone illustrates the critical importance of having insulation standards for new buildings.

On the flip side, take an estimate of about 10 billion tungsten light bulbs in the world. On average each light bulb will be on about 10% of the time. If each was replaced with a modern LED light bulb – with a saving of 50W each – that equals a saving of 50 GW, the equivalent to about 50 nuclear power plants.

As such, there cannot be a future drive towards sustainable power generation without it being married to measures of energy effciency and conservation.

Nexit: Nuclear Exit

Around the world the nuclear industry is in gradual, inexorable decline. Starting from 1954, it took the world 48 years to gradually ramp up to a peak of 438 commercial nuclear power plants in 2002. Today, in 2016, we have dropped to 402 reactors with further closures foreshadowed.4

A report from the Swiss banking investment sector5 states “big, centralised power stations will not fit into the future European electricity system” and that they will share “the fate of the dinosaurs: too large, too inflexible, on their way to extinction.”

Participating countries are closing down nuclear power plants (NPPs) faster than they are being built. Nuclear apologists point to China as a role model that is actively building a number of NPPs. The fact is that China has built $160 billion in overcapacity of coal plants that are unused.6 Will their NPPs, which are presently under construction, become similarly redundant?

There simply aren’t enough Chinese students rushing to enrol into nuclear engineering courses, to produce the workforce for an expanded nuclear program.7 China’s ambitious nuclear expansion plans would require at least 50,000 students to be trained by 2030, but barely a few hundred students raise their hands each year.8 The shortage of trained nuclear technicians and engineers has already led to safety incidents.8

By contrast, in 2015, China invested five times more in renewables than nuclear power.4 Those nuclear projects will take many years to complete, whereas renewables are deployed and put to immediate use. Moreover, China’s nuclear investments may have an uncertain future and may meet the same fate as their renowned ghost cities. Significant Chinese street protests against nuclear, in 2013 and 2015, indicate a growing groundswell of discontent.9,10

Let us now examine some of the limitations of nuclear power generation that contribute to its uncertain future and an impending global energy market nexit.

Nuclear footprint

Nuclear marketeers brand NPPs as taking up a small physical land area with respect to renewables. However, consider all the processes and steps from mining uranium, processing it, burning it, and then dealing with the waste. Mark Z. Jacobson from Stanford University, has added up the footprint of all the globe’s NPPs, their exclusion zones, and supporting infrastructure.11 Jacobson found that if you divide that area by the total number of NPPs in the world, we obtain an average nuclear footprint12 of about 4.5 km x 4.5 km, which is roughly the same for equivalent solar power.

A hypothetical nuclear utopia powering the entire world’s energy needs would require in the order of 15,000 NPPs. This is a daunting scale-up compared to the dwindling number of 400 NPPs the world has at present. To see how impossibly challenging this would be, take a map of anycountry of the world and mark 100 possible locations for nuclear stations close to water and far from population centres. Even trying to place ten NPPs in acceptable locations is not an easy task. This obstacle alone counts out a nuclear utopia.

Uranium resource limits

But is a more modest vision of, say, 3000 reactors possible? This would at least replace all the world’s coal-fired plants.

Based on the known mining reserves of uranium there is about 200 years of uranium, if we consume it at the current rate.13 Scale up to 3000 reactors and we have only about 25 years of power left. Clearly this is a proposition that isn’t at all sustainable.

Nuclear apologists will then raise the question of yet undiscovered reserves of uranium. However, this makes little difference; if we double or quadruple the figure of 25 years, this is hardly a legacy investment for the future. One can’t pluck imaginary figures that are any larger, as we know the abundance of uranium in the Earth’s crust is about the same level as for rare earth metals.14

Proponents of nuclear power will then point out that there’s over 500 years worth of uranium in seawater. However, this is a fruitless suggestion as the uranium concentration is tiny, at 3.3 parts per billion. The energy it takes to lift a bucket of seawater by 50 metres is equal to the energy you’d get from its uranium.14 The energy return on investment simply doesn’t add up.15

In order to address this issue, the coun-terpunch is the promise of breeder-style Generation IV reactors. These will potentially increase fuel lifetime by a factor of 60. This indeed would be impressive, as we can now lift the bucket of seawater by 3 km. However, these types of reactors are riddled with advanced materials issues that have not yet been solved. The metal parts of these reactors are exposed to higher temperatures, a higher corrosive environment, and a higher neutron flux than in conventional reactors16 – suitable alloys that can withstand these conditions have not yet been found for long-term commercial operation.17

Governments do not form today’s energy policy based on arguments that largely hinge on commercially unproven or non-existent hardware. This would be akin to forming health policy based on promised drugs that are yet, unproven or undiscovered.

Reactor lifetime

A nuclear reactor has a lifetime of roughly 40 years.4 Due to heat, high-energy neutrons, and corrosion, the metal nuclear vessel eventually cracks. Every device runs and gets hot – this sets a limit to the reliability and lifetime of any machine. Everything from a light bulb to a car engine eventually pops, and nuclear reactors are no exception. At the end of its 40-year life, a nuclear station has to be decommissioned.

The nuclear vessel itself becomes radio-active, weighs up to 500 tonnes, and has to be buried. The costs of decommissioning a reactor at today’s prices are commensurate with building them in the first place. Attempts are made by NPPs to factor in decommission cost into their economics. However, who can predict what the costs will be 40 years into the future? Typically costs blow out and the taxpayer ultimately foots the bailout.

Elemental diversity

When an NPP comes to the end of its 40-year life, the metal reactor vessel and core are radioactive, as they have been exposed to high-energy neutrons. If there were a vast nuclear scale-up, where would we put all these ‘glowing’ vessels? Moreover, inside the vessel, hafnium may be used as a neutron absorber, beryllium a neutron reflector, and zirconium is used for fuel rod cladding. The steel that is used to construct the vessel has to be hardened against neutron damage, and so it is typically alloyed with elements such as molybdenum, niobium, and tantalum to name a few.18

Many high performance alloys in other industries use exotic metals too, but the point is that those metals can be recycled. Rare earth metals used in the renewable industry are recyclable too. In the case of NPPs the metals become radioactive and so a scale up to 15,000 reactors in the world would be out of the question, as it would limit our elemental diversity.

Is nuclear fusion the solution?

Nuclear fusion, if it ever becomes commercially useable, would be an even worse offender in terms of reduction in elemental diversity. What is not publicised is that the nuclear fusion process irreversibly consumes lithium.18 Every laptop, mobile phone, and electric car needs this coveted element. Moreover, fusion reactors end up with radioactive vessels and still require decommissioning, so the quandary of that waste remains. For these signicant practical reasons, fusion is unsustainable and not the panacea it is cracked up to be.

 

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Nuclear waste

Nuclear power plants globally produce about 10,000 tonnes of spent fuel waste per annum.19 When a spent fuel rod is removed from a reactor, the radiation level is so high that a one-minute dose at a metre’s distance is lethal to humans. Each spent fuel rod generates heat and has to be stored in a pool of water at least for five to ten years to cool down.

When a spent fuel pool runs out of room, the rods are then transferred into 100 tonne containers called dry casks. Each cask costs about $1 million each, and the spent fuel assemblies are transferred into the casks using costly robotic equipment to avoid human exposure. The casks are then filled with helium and are welded shut, at a cost of $500,000 each.

Dry casks are stored above ground, and the idea is that after about 50 years of further cooling the fuel can then be sent to a deep underground repository. Though, no country has yet succeeded in following through on this final costly step. A dry cask, which is stored above ground, in the meantime may corrode and leak, and transfer into a replacement cask is costly.20

Some isotopes in the spent fuel have decay half-lives over 10,000 years, and so an underground repository is the only viable final resting place for such waste.21

To repackage spent fuel from a dry cask to a special repository canister is incredibly costly. For the manufacture of canisters and provision of the equipment to perform the repackaging operation, one is looking in the vicinity of $50 billion.22

When a canister is placed in a deep repository, bentonite clay is used to delay the penetration of water and moisture. The canister eventually cracks and corrodes with time. This is accelerated due to the radiation, from the inside, and by natural bacteria23 from the outside. Once there is a leak, radioactive iodine-129 isotopes from the fuel can diffuse through rock.19

Radioactive actinides from the spent fuel are released into the biosphere through water.19 Should water ever breach the canisters, numerous chemical reactions can take place including the generation of explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen.19

Why is nuclear so expensive?

The principal costs of NPPs are the capital cost of the power station and decommissioning. Then consider the enormous number of steps involved in preparing the fuel, its deployment in a highly complex nuclear station, and then the repackaging and disposal steps needed at the end of the fuel cycle. At each step there are safety risks to nuclear workers and so the complexity of the management flow snowballs due to the necessary governance structures that are put into place. As there are so many steps with attendant risks, the full end-to-end cost appears to climb.

Nuclear decommission costs are high, and it is estimated that the decommissioning contracts over the next 15 years will amount to $220 billion.24 This sum is equivalent to the creation of solar power that would replace 44 nuclear stations.25

 

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Renewables vs. nuclear

While nuclear power plants experience economic decline, renewables are rapidly growing and penetrating the market on an exponential curve. The global annual increase in renewable generation for 2015 alone was 50 GW for solar panels, 63 GW for wind power, and 28 GW for hydropower.26

Nuclear power is large and centralised, with enormous entry and exit costs. By contrast, renewables are made up of small modular units that yield a faster return on investment. The revolution we are witnessing is akin to the extinction of big powerful dinosaurs versus resilient swarms of small ants working in cooperation. Nuclear power is sinking under the weight of its complexity, costs, and the headache of its waste issue. On the other hand solar power is brought to us via free sunshine exposing the promises of nuclear as mere moonshine.

Electricity prices

Nuclear advocates point out high electricity spot prices in regions with high renewable penetration.27 However, it is a misdirection to conclude that renewables are therefore costly – after all, renewables have zero fuel costs. The plants with flexible controllable power (eg. gas turbines) naturally take advantage of the situation and bid higher prices during times when renewable generation is low.28 Thus the solution is not to reduce the proportion of renewables, but instead to revise pricing policy to reflect the change in market dynamics and structure. The current policies are out-dated and based around the outmoded paradigm of all-controllable power generation.

A possible solution is that flexible controllable power sources (eg. gas, waste biomass fuelled power plants, solar thermal plants, pumped hydro, batteries etc) ought to be also rewarded for the ‘insurance’ they provide in backing up intermittent uncontrollable sources (eg. wind and rooftop solar), rather than solely for the energy they deliver so that they are not drawn into a price bidding game. Rewarding controllable sources for their back-up ability may provide investment incentives for such generators.

Intermittency

A common argument nuclear proponents raise is that renewables are intermittent; therefore nuclear power is essential to keep the lights on 24/7. This is wrong on a number of levels.

First, intermittency does not automatically imply unreliability. Take the analogy of rainfall. Rain is very intermittent and yet we have a continuous supply of water when we turn on the taps. Why? Because there is reservoir storage, river flow, and many pipe-interconnected collection areas and aquifers. Our water supply would be unreliable if we didn’t adequately design an appropriate grid of pipework, dams, and reservoirs. There’s no equivalent of a ‘nuclear station’ providing a constant baseload supply of water. The intermittency in rainfall becomes reliable due to planned storage and spatial diversity. The same principles apply to electricity.

Second, nuclear plants are intermittent too as they need planned shutdowns for maintenance and fuel rod changes. Then there are unplanned shutdowns, for example, if a pump breaks down or a critical pipe leaks. These ‘minor’ shutdowns often mean that 1 GW of nuclear power goes offine for 2–4 weeks. The ultimate in intermittency is when a nuclear station is closed down to due an accident or if a licence renewal has been refused due to old age. Then there’s over a 10-year lead-time before a replacement nuclear plant comes online. So nuclear power is intermittent too, but simply on a different timescale.29

By contrast, it makes no difference to a grid when a solar panel is damaged. Moreover, it can be replaced within a day. The modularity and diversity of a network of renewable sources can be designed to be much more robust than any large centralised power station.

Grid stability

Nuclear lobbyists create a further false dilemma by suggesting renewables make the electricity grid unstable and therefore nuclear power is required to ensure stability. First, nuclear power is not required because controllable renewable sources (with synchronous generation, such as solar thermal, hydroelectric power, and pumped hydro) already stabilise the grid. It is true that other renewable sources do give rise to grid management issues, but this is bread and butter for grid engineers.30 There are numerous research papers by grid engineers developing solutions for increased renewable penetration and none are suggesting the need for nuclear power.

In an Australian context, how does one adopt proven storage techniques for grid stability such as pumped hydro, when the country is mostly devoid of mountains? It is a fallacy to assume mountains are needed; as plateau regions provide perfect locations for pumping up water for later release and energy generation. For example, there is an ideal plateau of about 270 m high, between Port Augusta and Whyalla where seawater can be pumped for energy storage.

Nuclear in bed with renewables?

In desperation, nuclear advocates are putting a new spin on their marketing. The slogan now is that nuclear and renewables make perfect marriage partners, as nuclear provides the grid with ‘baseload’ power.

Unfortunately this pick up line cannot woo renewables into bed. The fact is that generators designed for constant baseload operation are exactly what uncontrollable renewable generators don’t need. Uncontrollable renewables need flexible controllable sources of power such as hydroelectric power, pumped hydro, waste biofuels, solar thermal, and solar generated hydrogen or syngas to provide power when generation from intermittent renewable sources is insufficient to meet demand. Nuclear power plants work best when they provide a constant power output and they lack the agility to follow the variability of renewable generators.

One can manage different uncontrollable and controllable renewable sources to work together, making baseload gen-eration redundant.31,32 The concept of operating a power system with a traditional baseload plant is becoming outmoded5 and signifficant future cost penalties are likely to be attached to generators designed for baseload operation33.

Nuclear promotion goes to some lengths to greenwash its image, in an attempt to make it appear on a par with renewables. But as we have demonstrated in this article, non-recyclable nuclear is highly resource-limited and therefore it isn’t a renewable source.

Another form of greenwashing is the catchphrase ‘nuclear saves lives’ reminding us that radiotherapy is used in hospitals. Amputating gangrenous limbs also saves lives too, but it would be a logical fallacy to use that fact to improve the image of chainsaws.34

What really matters is rate of carbon footprint reduction

The spin put on nuclear power as having a ‘low carbon’ footprint is a further case of greenwashing. For example, if there were a threefold ramp up of nuclear power this century, it would result in a modest 6% carbon reduction.35 On the other hand, the exponential uptake of renewables this century will far outstrip 6%.

What really matters is not the present carbon footprint today of each power source, but the rate of footprint reduction that they introduce. Presently nuclear is in decline, and solar uptake is exponentially growing. Thus the reduction in carbon footprint from solar will experience a ‘compound interest’ type of effect. Because the solar market is fast and flexible, whereas nuclear is economically slow and stunted, solar will vastly exceed nuclear in terms of rate of carbon mitigation.

In summary, the branding of nuclear as ‘green’ is fallacious and the opportunism of nuclear advocates proclaiming environ-mental concern is about as comforting as Donald Trump in a Mexican hat.

Should Australia adopt nuclear power?

The size of the Australian electricity market is of the order of $10 billion per annum,36 which is relatively small. Therefore there isn’t a business case to foot the bill for even one nuclear power station with its construction cost, decommission cost, and cost of spent fuel handling and repackaging.

Moreover, Australia simply doesn’t have the existing infrastructure, training, and governance structures to support a nuclear industry. It would be risky for Australia to enter an area fraught with high uncertainty, given the present global decline.

Should Australia store nuclear waste?

Possible motivations to build a deep underground repository for international high-level nuclear waste, in Australia, are the promises of income, increased employment, and support of a waning Australian uranium export industry.37

However, it is important to note that no pro-nuclear power country has yet opened such a repository. To enter a new business space, where even the highly experienced players have not delivered, is to take on considerable economic risk and uncertainty.

To invest in an industry that is in global decline, does not appear to be as rational as investing in a growth area such as renewable energy. Renewable energy is a business space where Australia has a multitude of trained engineers, existing infrastructure, and an abundance of sunshine. Building intentional renewable overcapacity in Australia will potentially be a wise investment, as that surplus can then be used to generate hydrogen or other fuels that can be liquefied and traded on overseas markets.

 

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Lack of public acceptance

Obtaining public acceptance in a country that has traditionally been free of nuclear power would likely be insurmountable, given the decreasing world-wide levels of public support.40

Lack of public acceptance cannot be underestimated. Even in pro-nuclear France, riots took place in the 1990s that overturned the government’s move to build a nuclear repository.41 Renewed protests have taken to the streets in China only this year.42

The citizens in the countries, with the most nuclear experience, show increasing opposition40 to expanding the nuclear industry,

1. Germany (90% opposed)

2. Mexico (82% opposed)

3. Japan (84% opposed)

4. UK (63% opposed)

5. USA (61% opposed)

6. China (58% opposed)

7. France (83% opposed

8. Russia (80% opposed).

With the current debacle of escalating costs of the Hinkley nuclear plant, in the UK, it is likely a fresh poll would show even stronger UK opposition against nuclear and further support for renewable energy.

 

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Conclusion

Nuclear power is a clunky technology borne out of a bygone Cold War era. Its best days are over and it cannot form a key part of sustainable energy policy.

The world doesn’t have the capacity to rapidly scale up nuclear power generation. As well as resource and geographic limitations, there simply isn’t the nuclear-trained workforce base. To install renewables, on the other hand, takes regular engineers of which there are millions in the world. Renewables therefore have a strong workforce base to draw upon.

Nuclear simply does not scale up in the time we need it. Renewables are flexible and uptake is fast with relatively low entry costs. Nuclear is burdensome and does not have the economic agility to survive a dynamically changing electricity market – it cannot adapt fast enough tocompeting game changers.

An economically declining nuclear industry is a dangerous one, as there is always the temptation to cut costs and fall short on safety standards.

The Economist43 aptly points out: “As renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, ‘baseload’ projects…. are numbered.”

There’s been a game change, and it is game over for nuclear.

AUTHOR:

Professor Derek Abbott is a physicist and electrical engineer based at the University of Adelaide. He won a 2004 Tall Poppy Award and the 2015 David Dewhurst Medal, Engineers Australia. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (USA), a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.

References

A Brave New World: Understanding the Ethics of Human Enhancement

1 For further discussion of the charge of ‘Playing God’ see C. A. J. Coady (2009) ‘Playing God’, in J. Savulescu and N. Bostrom (eds.) Human Enhancement, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 155-180.

2 Fukuyama, F. (2002). Our Posthuman Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

3 Kass, L. (2003). ‘Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Perfection’, The New Atlantis, Spring, 9-28.

4 Kekes, J. (1998). A Case for Conservatism. Ithica: Cornell University Press; Scruton, R. (2001). The Meaning of Conservatism, Third Edition. Houndsmills: Palgrave.

5 Kekes, J. (1998). A Case for Conservatism. Ithica: Cornell University Press; Scruton, R. (2001). The Meaning of Conservatism, Third Edition. Houndsmills: Palgrave.

6 Saletan, W. (2005). ‘The Beam in your Eye: If Steroids are Cheating why isn’t LASIK?’, Slate, April 18th. http://www.slate.com/id/2116858/

7 Buchanan, A. (2011). Beyond Humanity?: The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

8 Vedder, A. and Klaming, L. (2010). ‘Human Enhancement for the Common Good: Using Neurotechnologies to Improve Eyewitness Memory’, American Journal of Bioethics –Neuroscience,1, 3, 22-33.

9 Woollaston, V. (2013). ‘We’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years, Google expert claims’ Daily Mail, 20 June: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2344398/Google-futurist-claims-uploading-entire-MINDS-computers-2045-bodies-replaced-machines-90-years.html

Nuclear Power: Game Over

1 International Energy Outlook 2016, US Energy Information Agency (EIA) http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/data/browser/#/?id=2-IEO2016 This shows it is about 17,000 GW, but for convenience we have rounded this o to 15,000 GW. At this scale the exact numbers do not matter.

2 D. Abbott, “Keeping the energy debate clean: How do we supply the world’s energy needs?” Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 98, No. 1, pp. 42–66, 2010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2009.2035162

3 D. Abbott, “Hydrogen without tears: addressing the global energy crisis via a solar to hydrogen pathway,” Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 97, No. 12, pp. 1931–1934, 2009. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=5306145

4 M. Schneider and A. Froggatt, The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016. http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/20160713MSC-WNISR2016V2-HR.pdf

5 Global Utilities, Autos & Chemicals, UBS, 2014. http://www.qualenergia.it/sites/default/les/articolodoc/ues45625.pdf

6 F. Green, “China’s coal cuts continue amid boom in redundant coal-fired power stations,” The Interpreter, 2016. http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2016/07/22/Chinas-coal-cuts-continue-amid-boom-in-redundant-coal-red-power-stations.aspx

7 X. Yi-chong, The Politics of Nuclear Energy in China, Macmillan, 2010.

8 S. Chen, “Technician shortage in China threatens nuclear plant safety,” South China Morning Post, 2016. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2000147/technician-shortage-china-threatens-nuclear-plant

9 L. Hornby, “China protests force rethink on nuclear waste site,” Financial Times, 2016 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/003ecb60-5ec7-11e6-bb77-a121aa8abd95.html#axzz4HPHIkidz

10 M. Chan and H. Huifeng, “Jiangmen uranium plant is scrapped after thousands take part in protests,” South China Morning Post, 2016. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1281748/jiangmen-uranium-plant-scrapped-after-protest

11 M. Z. Jacobson, “Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security,’’ Energy Environ. Sci., vol. 2, pp. 148–173, 2009.

12 This is a little smaller than the area required by solar, with storage, to achieve an equivalent power. Solar thermal power typically uses up unused desert, whereas NPPs need to be located near large bodies of coolant water. Note that for wind farms on rural properties, land use continues in the normal way excepting for the relatively small area of the turbine tower footings and so the actual footprint is negligible.

13 Supply of Uranium, WNO, 2016. http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/uranium-resources/supply-of-uranium.aspx

14 D. Abbott, “Is nuclear power globally scalable?” Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 99, No. 10, pp. 1611–1617, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/JPROC.2011.2161806

15 Moreover, the quantities of seawater needed for processing and the quantity of uranium absorbent needed is simply unsustainable for large-scale deployment.

16. K. L. Murty and I. Charit, “Structural materials for Gen-IV nuclear reactors: Challenges and opportunities,” Nuclear Mater., vol. 383, pp. 189–195, 2008. http://www.cmt.ua.ac.be/golib/Rajabboy_aka/1-s2.0-S0022311508004960-main.pdf

17 Moreover the ‘better’ designs use liquid sodium as a coolant and it is notoriously dicult to mitigate against sodium leaks. Optimistic estimates are predicting these types of reactors will be online after 2040, but this is uncertain and relies on solutions to the materials issues. And then who knows how many years it will take thereafter to become commercially proven at economically feasible prices? One may be waiting around for a century for that. Or perhaps it may never come to pass.

18 D. Abbott, “Limits to growth: Can nuclear power supply the world’s needs?” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 68, No. 5, pp. 23–32, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0096340212459124

19 R. C. Ewing, “Long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel” Nature Materials, Vol. 14, No. 3 pp. 252–257, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmat4226

20 There are many mechanisms for breach of the dry cask, when one considers corrosion in combination with the radiation. One example is that alpha particles from the fuel create pockets of helium in the metal lattice of the cask. Those helium bubbles then crack the metal and then the contents can come into contact with the environment.

21 At signifficant further cost, the fuel could in theory be further ‘burned,’ but isotopes with 500-year decay times remain and a repository is still required.

22 S. Cooke, “The hidden costs of US nuclear waste,” 2016.http://www.energy-intel.com/pages/worldopinionarticle.aspx?DocID=929464

23 K. Pedersen, “Subterranean microorganisms and radioactive waste disposal in Sweden,” Engineering Geology, Vol. 52, pp. 163–176, 1999.

24 B. Felix and B. Mallet, “France’s EDF sets sights on $200 bln nuclear decommissioning market,” 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3674101/Frances-EDF-sets-sights-200-bln-nuclear-decommissioning-market.html

25 In my early days, as a physics student, we would jokingly call our nuclear physics lectures, ‘unclear’ physics. The anagram is apt, because nuclear is unclear power riddled with economic uncertainties.

26 Renewables 2016 Global Status Report. http://www.ren21.net/wp-content/ uploads/2016/06/GSR_2016_KeyFindings.pdf

27 I. Hore-Lacy, “South Australia’s green dream, or its nightmare?” World Nuclear News, 2016. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/V-South-Australian-green-dream-or-its-nightmare-2607161.html

28 B. Mountain, South Australia’s Wholesale Electricity Market What Really Happened in July 2016?http://cmeaustralia.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/160815-FINAL-south-australia-7-july-getup-report-.pdf

29 Moreover, the gaps in nuclear intermittency create a much larger power shortfall than renewables and in this sense is much a greater challenge.

30 M. Milligan, et al., “Alternatives no more: Wind and solar power are mainstays of a clean, reliable, aordable grid,” IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 6, pp. 78–87, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MPE.2015.2462311

31 B. Elliston, I. Macgill, and M. Diesendorf, “Least cost 100% renewable electricity scenarios in the Australian national electricity market,” Energy Policy, Vol. 59, pp. 270–282, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2013.03.038

32 M. Z. Jacobson, et al., “100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States,” Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 8, No. 7, pp. 2093–2117, 2015. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/USStatesWWS.pdf

33 Indeed, generators designed for baseload operation are in a sense a more expensive form of uncontrollable generation than intermittent generation.

34 Nearly all radiotherapy cancer treatments are carried out with X-ray units that do not use isotopes. In fact, most radiotherapy units with isotopes are obsolete technology. In any case, radiotherapy may well become a thing of the past given the promising emergence of new immunotherapy techniques. Immunotherapy may well become the ‘renewables’ of medicine and oust radiotherapy.

35 M. Englert, L. Krall, and R. C. Ewing. “Is nuclear ssion a sustainable source of energy?” MRS Bulletin, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 417–424, 2012.http://dx.doi.org/10.1557/mrs.2012.6

36 National Electricity Market Fact Sheet, AEMO. http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/-/media/CFE8057F1A304D7DBFDD8882D8089357.ashx

37 Australia’s uranium exports dropped from a peak of about A$1.2 billion around 2009 to about half that amount last year. http://www.minerals.org.au/resources/uranium/uranium_nuclear_forecasts

38 Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report, 2016. http://nuclear.yoursay.sa.gov.au/system/NFCRC_Final_Report_Web.pdf

39 The Royal Commission makes an implicit economic assumption that overseas countries will be willing to pay the considerable cost of sending waste to South Australia and will not break any signed commitments to do so. However, the Commission’s report is silent on the issue of fuel repackaging.

40. R. Black, “Nuclear power gets little public support worldwide,” BBC News, 2011. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-15864806

41 J. Palfreman, “Why do the French like nuclear power?” PBS online.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/readings/french.html

42 D. Stanway, “China halts work on $15 billion nuclear waste project after protests,” Reuters, 2016. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-nuclearpower idUSKCN10L0CX

43 “Hinkley pointless,” The Economist, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21703367-britain-should-cancel-its-nuclear-white-elephant-and-spend-billions-making-renewables

Rejuvenating the Brain: Ageing with Cognitive Sparkle

1 Oce for National Statistics, United Kingdom.

2 den Dunnen WF, Brouwer WH, Bijlard E, Kamphuis J, van Linschoten K, Eggens-Meijer E, Holstege (2008) No disease in the brain of a 115-year-old woman. Neurobiol Aging. Aug; 29(8):1127-32.

3 Claudia L. Satizabal, Ph.D., Alexa S. Beiser, Ph.D., Vincent Chouraki, M.D., Ph.D., Geneviève Chêne, M.D., Ph.D., Carole Dufouil, Ph.D., and Sudha Seshadri, M.D. (2016) Incidence of Dementia over Three Decades in the Framingham Heart Study. N Engl J Med 374:523-532

4 Qizilbash N, Gregson J, Johnson ME, Pearce N, Douglas I, Wing K, Evans SJ, Pocock SJ. (2015) BMI and risk of dementia in two million people over two decades: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. June 3(6):431-6. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(15)00033-9. Epub 2015 Apr 9.

5 Hsu DC, Mormino EC, Schultz AP, Amariglio RE, Donovan NJ, Rentz DM, Johnson KA, Sperling RA, Marshall GA. (2016) Lower Late-Life Body-Mass Index is Associated with Higher Cortical Amyloid Burden in Clinically Normal Elderly. Harvard Aging Brain Study. J Alzheimers Dis. June 18;53(3):1097-105. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150987.

6 Vukovic J, Borlikova GG, Ruitenberg MJ, Robinson GJ, Sullivan RK, Walker TL, Bartlett PF. (2013) Immature doublecortin-positive hippocampal neurons are important for learning but not for remembering. J Neurosci. April 10;33(15):6603-13. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3064-12.2013.

7 Walker TL, White A, Black DM, Wallace RH, Sah P, Bartlett PF. (2008) Latent stem and progenitor cells in the hippocampus are activated by neural excitation. J Neurosci. May 14;28(20):5240-7. D

8 Leinenga G, Götz J. (2015) Scanning ultrasound removes amyloid-β and restores memory in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Sci Transl Med. March 11;7(278):278ra33

Cell Therapies – Australia playing catch up?

1 World Health Organisation, [website], 2016, http://www.who.int/media-centre/factsheets/fs210/en/index2.html, (accessed 19 August 2016).

2 Giangrande, P.L., 2000. The history of blood transfusion. British Journal of Haematology, 110(4), p.760.

3 World Health Organisation, [website], 2016, http://www.who.int/media-centre/factsheets/fs210/en/index2.html, (accessed 19 August 2016).

4 Seattle Children’s Hospital, ‘Seattle Chlidren’s T-Cell Immunotherapy Clinical Trial for Children With Relapsed Leukemia Shows 93% Complete Remission Rate, Strong Against Cancer, [web blog], 2 June 2016, https://strongagainstcancer.org/news/seattle-childrens-t-cell-immunotherapy-clinical-trial-children-relapsed-leukemia-shows-93-complete-remission-rate/, (accessed 19 August 2016).

5 Kelly Scientic 2016. Global & USA Cancer Immunotherapy Market Analysis to 2020 – Updated Edition [abstract]6 2016 Regenerative Medicine & Advanced Therapies State of the Industry Briefing, 2016, available at le:///C:/Users/Natalie/Downloads/ARM_SOTI_2016_FINAL_web_version.pdf

7 Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, [website], 2016, https://ct.catapult.org.uk/about-us/who-we-are/, (accessed 19 August 2016).

8 Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, [website], 2016, http://www.wehi.edu.au/about-history/notable-scientists/professor-don-metcalf, (accessed 19 August 2016).

9 Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, ‘Q2 Quarterly Data Report’, 2016, p.2.

10 Australian Bureau of Statistics, [website], 2016, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs%40.nsf/94713ad4451425ca25682000192af2/1647509ef7e25faaca2568a900154b63?OpenDocument, (accessed 19 August 2016).

11 Roos, G. (2015). ATSE Focus Advanced Manufacturing. 192nd ed. [pdf ] Australia: Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Available at https://www.atse.org.au/Documents/focus/192-advanced-manufacturing.pdf

12 CSIROpedia, [website], 2009, https://csiropedia.csiro.au/extended-wear-contact-lenses, (accessed 19 August)

13 Stem Cells Australia, [website], 2016, http://www.stemcellsaustralia.edu.au/AboutUs/OurInvestigators/Dr-Robert-Nordon.aspx, accessed 19 August 2016).

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308432059_Nuclear_power_Game_over

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | | Leave a comment

How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming

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Supporters of nuclear power like to argue that nukes are the key to combatting climate change. Here’s why they are dead wrong.

Every nuclear generating station spews about two-thirds of the energy it burns inside its reactor core into the environment. Only one-third is converted into electricity. Another tenth of that is lost in transmission. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources. In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew eight times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11 percent more than the average coal plant.

Every day, large reactors like the two at Diablo Canyon, California, individually dump about 1.25 billion gallons of water into the ocean at temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the natural environment.  

Diablo’s “once-through cooling system” takes water out of the ocean and dumps it back superheated, irradiated and laden with toxic chemicals. Many U.S. reactors use cooling towers which emit huge quantities of steam and water vapor that also directly warm the atmosphere.

These emissions are often chemically treated to prevent algae and other growth that could clog the towers. Those chemicals can then be carried downwind, along with radiation from the reactors. In addition, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually by flying into the reactor domes and towers.  

The Union of Concerned Scientists states:

The temperature increase in the bodies of water can have serious adverse effects on aquatic life. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water, thus discharge from once-through cooling systems can create a “temperature squeeze” that elevates the metabolic rate for fish. Additionally, suction pipes that are used to intake water can draw plankton, eggs and larvae into the plant’s machinery, while larger organisms can be trapped against the protective screens of the pipes. Blocked intake screens have led to temporary shut downs and NRC fines at a number of plants.

And that’s not all.

All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are “carbon free.” And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive. The mining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas.    

And of course there’s the problem of nuclear waste. After more than a half-century of well-funded attempts, we’ve seen no solution for the management of atomic power’s intensely radioactive waste. There’s the “low-level” waste involving enormous quantities of troublesome irradiated liquids and solid trash that must be dealt with outside the standard civilian waste stream. And that handling involves fossil fuels burned in the process of transportation, management, and disposal as well  

As for the high-level waste, this remains one of humankind’s most persistent and dangerous problems. Atomic apologists have claimed that the intensely radioactive spent fuel rods can somehow be usable for additional power generation. But after a half-century of efforts, with billions of dollars spent, all attempts to do that have utterly failed. There are zero successful reactors capable of producing more reactor fuel than they use, or able to derive more energy from the tens of thousands of tons of spent fuel rods they create.   

Some reactors, like Fukushima, use “mixed-oxide” fuels that have proven to be extremely dirty and expensive. It’s possible some of this “MOX” fuel containing plutonium, actually fissioned at Fukushima Unit Three, raising terrifying questions about the dangers of its use. The mushroom cloud that appears on video as Fukushima Unit Three exploded stands as an epic warning against further use of these impossible-to-manage fuels.   

The MOX facility under construction near Aiken, South Carolina, is now projected to require another ten years to build with another ten possible after that to phase into production. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said on September 13, 2016, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the mismanaged project was “impossible” to carry out and that it could cost $30 billion to $50 billion. Even the current pro-nuclear Congress won’t fully fund the project and the Department of Energy DOE continues to recommend abandoning it.

There are no credible estimates of the global warming damage done by the intensely hot explosions at the four Fukushima reactors, or at Chernobyl, or at any other past and future reactor meltdowns or blowups.  

Atomic apologists argue that the disposal of high-level reactor wastes should be a relatively simple problem, lacking only the political will to proceed. The industry touts New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, or WIPP, which has long been the poster child for military attempts to deal with high-level trash from the nuclear weapons program. Accepting its first shipment of waste in 1999, WIPP was touted as the ultimate high-tech, spare-no-expense model that proved radioactive waste disposal “can be done.”

But a series of disastrous events in February,  2014, led WIPP to stop accepting wastes—the sole function for which it was designed. Most significant was the explosion of a single barrel of highly radioactive waste materials (it was mistakenly packed with organic rather than clay-based kitty litter). About a dozen WIPP workers were exposed to potentially harmful radiation. The entire facility remains closed. In a phone interview, facility management told me it may again accept some wastes before the end of this year. But at least part of the cavernous underground labyrinth may never be reopened. The Los Angeles Times estimated the cost of this single accident at $2 billion.

Overall, the idea that atomic power is “clean” or “carbon free” or “emission free” is a very expensive misconception, especially when compared to renewable energy, efficiency, and conservation. Among conservation, efficiency, solar and wind power technologies, there are no global warming analogs to the heat, carbon, and radioactive waste impacts of nuclear power. No green technology kills anywhere near the number of marine organisms that die through reactor cooling systems.

Rooftop solar panels do not lose ten percent of the power they generate to transmission, as happens with virtually all centralized power generators. S. David Freeman, former head of numerous large utilities and author of All Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future, says: “Renewables are cheaper and safer. That argument is winning. Let’s stick to it.”

No terrorist will ever threaten one of our cities by blowing up a solar panel. But the nuclear industry that falsely claims its dying technology doesn’t cause global warming does threaten the future of our planet.  

http://www.progressive.org/news/2016/09/188947/how-nuclear-power-causes-global-warming

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | | Leave a comment

Nuclear Economic realities – theme for February2017

ECONOMIC REALITIES 1The world is waking up to the unaffordable costs of the nuclear fuel chain.

Forget health, environment, safety, future generations, weapons proliferation – today’s  killer of the nuclear industry is that good old reliable thing – the exorbitant MONEY that is required

Are “developing” countries really buying the nuclear lobby’s advertising drivel?  Is China really on a nuclear build spree? Is Australia really going to “embrace” the nuclear fuel chain  and become the planet’s nuclear toilet?

The nuclear lobby , like everyone else, knows that the game is over as soon as the next radioactive catastrophe occurs. That’s predicted as 50% probability before 2050.  It could be this week.   That’s a big reason why the nuclear lobby is in such a panic to lock in contracts to buy its toxic products – while the going’s good.

Only tax-payers will fund nuclear facilities, despite the drivel from democracies about private enterprise. Russia, China are more honest about it – the State owns the nuclear companies.  And they’re all so keen to export the technology to other countries. Heck! Russia even pays for them to buy the stuff.

The nuke industry is in trouble – In USA the nuclear industry is a thing of the past. Investors flee Nordic nuclear company Vattenfall.  Finland pulls out of building Olkiluoto 4 nuclear reactor. AREVA teeters on bankruptcy.

A small number of nuclear enthusiasts, with more money than common sense, now pay journalists to advertise “new nukes’, especially Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Of course, their plan is for taxpayers to cough up – for fleets of even more expensive nuclear gimmicks.

 

 

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes | 3 Comments

Testing a deep borehole as a potential way to bury highly radioactive nuclear trash

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

It is a good idea to at least test the feasibility of deep boreholes. As one resident said “Something must be done with the wastes”. There is no obligation on that community to agree to actually accept high level nuclear waste – only to host the testing of the deep bore concept.

The whole project would really make sense if it were combined with a definite plan to STOP MAKING TOXIC RADIOACTIVE WASTES, by closing down all nuclear reactors. This could be done, with genuine good will, and planning for compensation and transition to other employment for workers in the nuclear industry.

New Mexico town steps up for nuclear borehole project  LMT Online, , January 15, 2017 “……. The U.S. Energy Department, Quay County and two energy development companies say the nation’s latest nuclear waste experiment could inject as much as $40 million into the county’s economy. Nara Visa residents just have to agree to let the companies drill a three-mile-deep borehole — seven times deeper than the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad — into the crystalline, granite crust of the earth a few miles outside of town, on land currently occupied by fat, black cattle.

Right now, the project is pegged as a scientific experiment. The Energy Department says no nuclear waste will be placed in the test borehole.

The ultimate goal is to find a permanent place to dispose of the ever-growing and deadly stockpile of spent nuclear fuel rods and high-level radioactive waste collected at nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons laboratories nationwide.

Until this year, no town in the U.S. had agreed to the proposal. But when the Quay County Commission approved the plan in October, it put Nara Visa on track to become the first.

About seven miles outside Nara Visa, there is a small, gravel roadside park where semi-truck drivers pull off U.S. 54 to sleep. Below the earth, the granite is devoid of oil but just right for deep drilling.

These 10 acres belong to Louis and Elaine James, who’ve agreed to lease it to the government………

As far as the nuclear waste component is concerned, Louis James, 69, said, “I have more of a problem with it sitting over at Pantex 100 miles away than I do with it being under the ground, because you know it will get you if they ever attack those spots.” He was referring to the Pantex Plant, a nuclear weapons assembly facility outside Amarillo, Texas……

The test hole planned for the James’ property is meant to be just 8 1/2 inches wide but would go deep below ground, first through the water table and a mile through sediment before hitting the top of a crystalline rock layer. From there, the hole would be drilled another two miles into the Earth. This is the layer where nuclear waste would be stored, then sealed off with a steel casing and concrete to protect the environment and water in the mile span separating the waste from the land’s surface.

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Utah-based DOSECC Exploration Services LLC and Enercon Federal Services, Inc., based in Atlanta, are developing the Nara Visa proposal and are one of four groups that have been granted the go-ahead from the Energy Department for Phase 1 of the project. This is referred to as “community buy-in,” gaining not only public approval but also support for the project, and securing the land for the borehole site.

If DOSECC and Enercon win this bid, they will get $35 million over a five-year period to drill the first hole. The Energy Department will grant an additional $50 million to drill a second, wider borehole if the first is successful……

State Rep. Dennis Roch said that after meeting with the companies, he felt confident there was “no connection between this viability test and the ultimate decision of where to dispose of nuclear waste way down the road.”…….

The Nara Visa site would only be permitted for drilling, he added. Nuclear waste storage would require an entirely different permitting and regulatory process…….

WIPP, after being closed for nearly three years following the radiation leak, began depositing waste below ground for the first time in December. But the stagnation of waste disposal at these facilities left the Energy Department scrambling for alternatives, and in 2012, deep boreholes resurfaced as a potential alternative, an idea that was first floated in the 1950s.

To store all of the waste sitting at 77 U.S. facilities, the Energy Department needs to drill 950 boreholes at an estimated $20 million per hole, or $71 billion for the entire project, including transportation, environmental reclamation, monitoring and site characterization, according to the 2010 Sandia study. In contrast, Yucca Mountain was estimated to cost $96 billion.

Each hole is expected to contain 400 vertically stacked fuel pods that, unlike the costly steel drums used to pack waste headed to WIPP, would not require specialized containers but instead would be stored in their spent fuel form or glass. Multiple boreholes could be drilled just over 200 meters apart to avoid thermal reactions.

Though the Sandia study said boreholes could be used for nuclear reactor waste, Mast from Enercon said he believes the Energy Department is only looking at boreholes for waste from nuclear weapons development.

To actually begin placing nuclear waste in the boreholes will require an amendment to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Before the proposal reaches that stage, Greg Mello, director of the watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, says the government should be more transparent about exactly what type of high-level nuclear waste would go in the holes: spent fuel rods, nuclear weapons waste or down-blended plutonium. …..http://www.lmtonline.com/news/article/New-Mexico-town-steps-up-for-nuclear-borehole-10858853.php

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

World’s largest largest rooftop solar farm to be built on Tesla’s gigafactory

text-relevantTesla building world’s largest rooftop solar farm on $5B NV gigafactory http://www.constructiondive.com/news/tesla-building-worlds-largest-rooftop-solar-Solar field at a VW plant in Chattanoogafarm-on-5b-nv-gigafactory/434022/   

Dive Brief:

 

 

 Dive Insight:

Another energy-saving strategy at the gigafactory, according to 2015 statements from JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer, was to eschew natural gas pipelines in the structure’s design so that there could be no future possible concessions regarding the company’s no-emissions policy.

Construction on the Nevada gigafactory — expected to be fully functional in 2018 — is progressing, and battery production is already underway. It is widely believed that the solar panels Tesla will use to build its rooftop solar farm will come from SolarCity, which Tesla purchased last year. Soon after the acquisition, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that SolarCity would begin to market a relatively low-cost solar roof shingle that mimicked the look of high-end slate and terra cotta roofs, removing the aesthetic barrier of traditional, industrial-looking solar shingles and panels.

Tesla’s solar ambitions, however, extend far beyond the U.S. and solar rooftops. In November, TechCrunch reported that Tesla and SolarCity were behind a solar microgrid project — funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the American Samoa Economic Development Authority — that aims to eliminate the island’s reliance on costly diesel generators by providing 72 hours of full power from a solar array that recharges with seven hours of sunlight.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Ontario public has a month to comment on plan for nuclear waste dump near Kincardine.

it’s “absolute madness” to “dig this hole beside the drinking water source for 40 million Canadians and Americans.”

 

Bruce NGS Great Lakes Lake HuronOPG identifies most of Ontario as alternate ‘location’ to bury nuclear waste: Ontario Power Generation was asked by the federal government to identify “actual locations” as alternates for its plan to bury nuclear waste. It’s now up to the minister as to whether they’ve done that. The Star, By , Jan. 10, 2017..……The hunt for an appropriate site for a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) to house waste from Ontario’s nuclear facilities is not a subject to be taken lightly. Everything from mops to materials close to the reactor core, such as ion exchange resins that bear a “significant amount” of Carbon-14, a radionuclide that has a half life of more than 5,700 years, is slated for permanent burial.

………. A report recently released by OPG cites Ryden’s GPS co-ordinates as one of the plot points in one of two contemplated alternate locations for the DGR. Equally curious, the co-ordinates for the second alternate include a stately two story brick home in Chaplin Estates, near Yonge St. and Davisville Ave.

This is worth digging into.

On Dec. 28, Ontario Power Generation submitted the results of its federally mandated assignment to present technically and economically feasible alternate locations for the DGR — alternate, that is, to OPG’s preferred strategy to inter the waste from the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear power plants at Bruce Nuclear near Kincardine.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will take until Jan. 16 to determine “whether OPG’s information is complete and that it conforms to the Minister’s information request.” A 30-day public comment period will follow.

When the federal Environment Ministry requested the study, 11 months ago, it sought details as to “specific reference to actual locations.” While OPG responded in April that it intended to assess two feasible “geological regions” in the province, “without providing specific reference to actual locations,” it says now that in this document and the main submission it is using specific references to actual locations.

The common reader may see the word “location” to mean, as it is conventionally defined, a particular or exact place.

OPG has provided something quite different and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna now must decide whether the power giant has come up with an evaluation that is good enough.

Let’s remember that the proposed Bruce site will be dug nearly 700 metres deep in limestone host rock a distance of 1.2 km from Lake Huron. The town of Kincardine is on side. Opposition voices on both sides of the border have been loud, particularly as it concerns protecting the Great Lakes.

The dominant question: is Bruce the best spot? And a corollary: wasn’t granite — the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario — discussed long ago as potentially the appropriate geology for toxic waste? The issue may pertain not just to low and intermediate waste, but ultimately the disposal of spent fuel rods, a headache for the generations that has yet to be effectively addressed………..

Rod McLeod’s view is that it’s “absolute madness” to “dig this hole beside the drinking water source for 40 million Canadians and Americans.”

OPG insists that, at least according to its own social media analysis, Ontarians aren’t bothered. “The topic is not a popular one, nor is it generating large volumes of curiosity,” the report states, adding that interest in the DGR has “flatlined.”

The public now has little more than a month to change that perception, should it care to. jenwells@thestar.ca    https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/01/10/opg-identifies-most-of-ontario-as-alternate-location-to-bury-nuclear-waste-jennifer-wells.html

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Greens Party running anti nuclear platform in UK by-election

logo Greens UKGreen Party to contest Copeland seat in anti-nuclear campaign http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/millom/Green-Party-to-contest-Copeland-seat-in-anti-nuclear-campaign-c289e405-159d-4963-b202-f53145038801-ds  15 January 2017 

THE Green Party has announced it will contest the upcoming Copeland by-election on an anti-nuclear and anti-poverty campaign.

Members of Allerdale and Copeland Green Party decided to stand in the Copeland vote which was brought about by the resignation of the constituency’s current Labour MP Jamie Reed.   A candidate will be selected on January 24.

Clare Brown, chairman of the Allerdale and Copeland Green Party, said: “We feel it’s vitally important to offer a vote to those people who want to see a fair and sustainable future for the area.

“There are clear differences between us and the other parties and we welcome this opportunity to campaign on our priorities, which include sustainable energy and standing against nuclear power, as well as anti-poverty measures and exposing the lie of austerity.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The Greens are the only party in Copeland campaigning against nuclear power, to defend the NHS and for a close relationship with Europe.”

Pundits say the poll for his replacement could be held on May 4, linking in with the county council elections. As the party that currently holds the seat, Labour has to formally move the by-election writ to select his replacement and can dictate the date constituents go to the polls.

Labour are defending a majority of 2,564 in Copeland from 2015, making it the tightest by-election for the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

The Liberal Democrats have already announced Cockermouth councillor and health campaigner Rebecca Hanson as their candidate.

Labour will choose a candidate from a shortlist of Barbara Cannon, Gillian Troughton and Rachel Holliday.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Political row over proposed west Cumbria nuclear plant

flag-UKRow breaks out over Labour’s position on proposed west Cumbria nuclear plant North West Evening Mail 16 January 2017  A POLITICAL row has broken out after the leader of the Labour Party refused to give his support for a nuclear development in west Cumbria.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Jeremy Corbyn did not endorse the proposed Moorside Power Station when asked.

He said: “I want to see a mix, I want to see a greater emphasis in the long-term on renewables in the way Germany and other countries have done but we do have nuclear power stations, we do have a nuclear base at the moment and that will continue for a long time.”

Responding to Mr Corbyn’s comments, John Stevenson, Conservative MP for Carlisle, said: “Once again Jeremy Corbyn refuses to back a new nuclear power plant at Moorside……..

The comments come at a crucial time as Labour and Conservatives battle for votes in the upcoming by-election in Copeland, home to Sellafield and the proposed Moorside project.

However, John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, insisted Labour’s stance on Moorside was clear.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn is more relaxed about expressing his personal opinions than most party leaders but Labour’s position on Moorside is clear: in government we passed the legislation that made new civil nuclear possible and locally and nationally we continue to champion the new power station……..

The Conservatives have put the nuclear industry at the centre of their campaigning, saying Corbyn’s views would be a “catastrophe” for Cumbria and industry jobs.

Responding to what his message to the constituency’s voters would be, Mr Corbyn said: “My message to the voters of Copeland is the NHS is in crisis, your hospital is about to be continuing underfunded and understaffed and your A&E department is at risk.

“We will be protecting jobs in that area and we would also be trying to protect the pensions of those people that have worked so very hard for so very long to keep the nuclear industry safe.” http://www.nwemail.co.uk/news/millom/Row-breaks-out-over-Labours-position-on-proposed-west-Cumbria-nuclear-plant-c4dc6fa7-c5aa-4608-b3b1-bbed6fe165d3-ds

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

Climate change facilitated the spread of the Zika disease

climate-changeZika outbreak ‘fuelled by’ El Niño and climate change, Skeptical Science  13 January 2017 The combination of a strong El Niño event and human-caused climate change created optimal conditions for the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in South America, a new study says.

The spread of Zika during 2015-16 caused hundreds of thousands of infections, a surge in cases of birth defects linked to the disease, and saw athletes withdrawing from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The warm conditions of 2015-16 were “exceptionally conducive” to mosquitoes spreading the disease across the continent, the researchers say, helped by the lack of natural immunity in the South American population.

And their results suggest there is a significant risk of summer outbreaks of Zika in the southeastern states of the US, southern China and southern Europe………

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the outbreak was very likely fuelled by the unusually high temperatures of the last two years – a result of a very strong El Niño event on top of ongoing human-caused climate change.

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to increase global temperature for a couple of years by releasing heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. The El Niño that developed in 2015 – and petered out in June 2016 – was one of the strongest on record.

Climate influence

An outbreak of Zika needs three main ingredients, says lead author Dr Cyril Caminade, a research associate in the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. He tells Carbon Brief:

“The minimum requirement for a vector-borne disease outbreak is the presence of competent mosquito vectors (Aedes mosquitoes), the presence of the pathogen (Zika is believed to have entered Brazil in 2013 but the World cup in 2014 must have helped too), and the presence of a suitable host (humans).”

There are then a series of factors that affect how far and how quickly an outbreak can spread. Some are socio-economic – such as poverty, access to sanitation, and the availability of healthcare and vaccines – but the climate ultimately “sets the background” to disease transmission, Caminade says……..

climate change has the potential to push vector-borne diseases like Zika into higher latitudes and altitudes, says Caminade. Though the scale of any outbreak will depend on other non-climate factors too, he adds……..https://www.skepticalscience.com/zika-outbreak-fuelled-el-nino-climate-change.html

January 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change, SOUTH AMERICA | Leave a comment

Ontario should close the Pickering nuclear station, NOT extend its license

New York to replace nuclear station with water power from Quebec   http://www.cleanairalliance.org/indianpoint/  Angela Bischoff,    Outreach Director January 9, 2017 

New York State has reached a deal to shut down the 40-year-old Indian Point Nuclear Station, located less than 30 miles north of New York City, on the basis that it is too close to a large urban area.

To New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, closing the aging plant was the only reasonable option, despite the request by Indian Point’s owner for a 20-year license extension: “Why you would allow Indian Point to continue to operate defies common sense, planning and basic sanity.” The state government has so little faith in the wisdom of continuing to operate Indian Point that it has also demanded additional safety inspections and more independent review of plant operations.

Contrast that to the reaction of the Wynne Government to Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) plan to seek a 10-year license extension for the Pickering Nuclear Station. Pickering is actually older than Indian Point. And there are twice as many people living within 30 km of Pickering than live within the same distance from Indian Point (2.2 million versus 1.1 million).

Despite a situation that should be ringing alarm bells at Queen’s Park – just as Indian Point raised alarms in the New York state capital – the Wynne Government is passively signing off on OPG’s request to extend the life of North America’s 4th oldest nuclear station (and one of its most expensive to operate) which is located right on Toronto’s doorstep.

It’s a study in contrasts, with one government actively seeking to replace an old and dangerous nuclear station with low-cost water power imports from Quebec, and the other clinging to a dinosaur that threatens the safety of millions of people.

If you think Ontario should learn from New York, close the Pickering nuclear station in 2018 when its license expires and replace it with low cost water power from Quebec, please sign our Close-Pickering.ca petition now.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

Growing problem of discarded electronic devices

Mountains of discarded smartphones, electronics raise health and environmental concerns across Asia , ABC News The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

Key points:

  • More than 12 million tonnes of waste dumped in 12 countries
  • Many countries lack laws governing discarded electronics, study finds
  • China identified as the biggest culprit, doubling its waste in five years

China was the biggest culprit, with its electronic waste more than doubling, according to a new study by the United Nations University.

But nearly every country in the region had massive increases between 2010 and 2015, including those least equipped to deal with the growing mountain of discarded smartphones, computers, TVs, air conditioners and other goods.

On average, electronic waste in the 12 countries in the study had increased by nearly two-thirds in five years, totalling 12.3 million tonnes in 2015 alone, according to the study……..

Asia as a whole is the biggest market for electronics and appliances, accounting for nearly half of global sales by volume, and produces the most waste.

Guiyu, a heavily-polluted rural town in China that specialises in dismantling consumer electronics, some of it exported from rich countries, has become synonymous with the costs of a throwaway high-tech world.

China has cleaned up Guiyu and other centres like it but the Basel Action Network, which brought Guiyu to international attention, said most of the dangerous practices continue in Guiyu, albeit concentrated within a new industrial park on its outskirts.

Ruediger Kuehr, one of the study’s authors, said the amount of waste being generated was higher than governments estimate, partly because of their narrower definitions, and should be a wake-up call to policymakers and consumers.

“We are all benefiting from the luxury of these electrical and electronic products to a certain extent, it makes our lives easier, sometimes more complicated,” he said.

“However if we want to continue like this we must be reusing the resources contained in electronic and electrical equipment.”

A smartphone, for example, uses more than half the elements in the periodic table, some of which are very rare, and in the longer-run will be exhausted without recycling, said Mr Kuehr. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-15/gadget-mountain-rising-in-asia-threatens-health-and-environment/8183908

January 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

Examining the role of New York’s Governor Cuomo in the Indian Point Nuclear Deal

What’s Really Behind the Indian Point Nuclear Deal? CounterPunch  There was general celebration among sensible-thinking people on January 9 when New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed a deal that would see the twin reactors at the Indian Point Nuclear Generating Station in Buchanan, NY, close by 2021.

Indian Point, on the shores of the Hudson River, has been plagued by safety problems for years, sits on two fault lines — putting it at high risk of earthquake — and was identified as a potential target by the 9/11 attackers who flew over the plant while taking flight training lessons.

In 2004, the group Riverkeeper commissioned physicist, Dr. Edwin Lyman, now with Union of Concerned Scientists, to analyze the outcome of a terrorist attack on Indian Point, a report entitled Chernobyl On The Hudson? Lyman calculated that, depending on the weather that day,  an attack on Indian Point “could result in as many as 44,000 near-term deaths from acute radiation syndrome or as many as 518,000 long-term deaths from cancer among individuals within fifty miles of the plant.”

Clearly, it’s high time Indian Point, less than 30 miles from Manhattan, was closed. It is equally obvious that 2021 is not soon enough, tempering the joy among those who have worked for decades to get the plant shut down.

Disappointingly, however, the Cuomo administration is at the same time handing out a massive bailout to four upstate nuclear reactors — two at Nine Mile Point and the single units at FitzPatrick and Ginna. FitzPatrick is the same GE Mark I boiling water reactor design as those that exploded and melted down at Fukushima. If we are going to shut down nuclear reactors,  the 30 of this design still operating in the U.S. should be top of the list.

Cuomo is a self-proclaimed advocate for renewable energy. Why then would he shoot its development in the foot by handing out $7.6 billion in state subsidies to keep decrepit and dangerous nuclear plants going upstate while shuttering Indian Point?

In a July 22, 2016 submission to the New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC), four advocacy groups noted that this massive bailout effectively values each of the 2,090 nuclear jobs at the three nuclear sites at $303,000 per year per worker, almost three times what these workers are currently paid.

All of this naturally provokes a frustrating level of cynicism about Cuomo’s motives. Is he really a green energy champion or just another pragmatic politician concerned only with (1) getting re-elected in 2018 and (2) raising campaign funds?

In the last gubernatorial election in 2014, Cuomo predictably ran strong in the affluent counties in and around New York City, including Westchester, where Indian Point is located. In wealthy, downstate counties, Cuomo easily defeated his Republican rival, Rob Astorino, by largely resounding margins………

Cuomo is vulnerable at ballot boxes in the farther reaches of the state, (excepting Erie County, home to Buffalo and where he won in a landslide). Making a show of “saving jobs” in these poorer areas could potentially translate into political capital.

Of course it’s an illusion, because propping up jobs at three times their value is a costly piece of lip service. Comments submitted in April 22, 2016 to the NYPSC by the Alliance for a Green Economy and Nuclear Information and Resource Service show that far more secure, long-term jobs are already being created in the renewable energy sector in the upstate region. And some nuclear jobs could still be retained while the plants are being decommissioned.

“The development of green industry, such as the Solar City factory in Buffalo, the 1366 Technologies factory near Rochester, and the Soraa LED lightbulb factory in Syracuse, NY” will collectively “create 6,420 long-term jobs” with just $937 million in state support, said the two groups.

It is in any case just a matter of time before these flawed, aging and uneconomic nuclear plants either close down or melt down. Where will the nuclear workforce go then? Is Cuomo more willing to risk a radiological disaster in low-income Oswego County than 30 miles from Manhattan? Clearly he can win the election without those upstate voters as the 2014 results showed.

Oswego and Ontario counties may have been conned for now into thinking they have been thrown a job-saving lifeline rather than a potential death sentence.  But while the bailout has been approved, it can still be challenged. That’s an essential strategy if we are to pre-empt a potential Fukushima on the Great Lakes.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear. She also serves as director of media and development.    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/whats-really-behind-the-indian-point-nuclear-deal/

January 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Prince Charles writes a book on climate change

text-cat-question
Will they ever let a man with a social conscience be king?  I doubt it

Prince Charles, a vocal critic of man-made climate change, has taken on the challenges and possible solutions in the book aimed at adults, according to reports.

He wrote the book with Tony Juniper, a former Friends of the Earth director, and Emily Shuckburgh, a Cambridge University climate scientist.

“His Royal Highness, Emily and I had to work very hard to make sure that each word did its job, while at the same time working with the pictures to deliver the points we needed to make,” Juniper told the Mail on Sunday.

“I hope we’ve managed to paint a vivid picture, and like those iconic titles from the 60s and 70s, created a title that will stand the test of time.”

Ladybird books traditionally targeted children but has recently found success with a range of humorous books for adults. Rowland White, a publishing director with Penguin, which produces Ladybird books, told the Sunday Times that Clarence House approached the publisher with the idea.

“It was a coincidence where we were thinking about a new series for adults after the huge success of the spoof books, but this time wanted some factual books by experts on science, history and arts subjects,” he said.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment