The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Saudi Arabia’s $US50bn clean energy plan focusses on solar and wind

text-relevantSaudi Arabia to focus on solar, wind in $US50bn clean energy plan REneweconomy By  on 18 January 2017 PV Magazine Speaking yesterday at an Abu Dhabi’s Sustainability Week (ADSW) event, Saudi Arabia’s energy, industry and mineral resources minister Khalid Al-Falih announced a new grand energy plan for the country. The new program is set to commence in a few weeks’ time, when Saudi Arabia’s government will launch the first round of bidding for a new renewable energy tender, energy minister Al-Falih announced at the World Future Energy Summit 2017 (WFES) in Abu Dhabi.

The energy minister did not, however, provide any details regarding the capacity that will be auctioned in the tender.

He did inform the attendants that Saudi Arabia’s new master program for the energy sector will require between USD 30 to 50 billion investment, which will need to come via the private sector.

Solar and wind power will be the preferred technologies in the auctions, but geothermal and waste projects will also be considered, just with a smaller role to play.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest oil producer, is aiming for renewable energy installations, primarily of solar and wind, of 9.5 GW by 2023, but this is just the starting point, the country’s energy minister told the ADSW.

By 2030, the country will generate 70 percent of its electricity from natural gas and 30 percent from renewables and other sources, promised Al-Falih.

“Other resources” include nuclear power plants, of which plans for two nuclear reactors totaling 2.8 GW are currently in the early stages of consideration and planning……..

January 20, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Would Donald Trump authorise a nuclear weapon strike?

TrumpDonald Trump and the ‘nuclear football’: What’s stopping President-elect launching lethal weapon strike ‘In theory the president has full discretion over authorisation of nuclear use’ Peter Walker  @petejohn_walker , 19 Jan 17 Donald Trump will be simultaneously handed power to launch nuclear weapons as he is inaugurated tomorrow.
Here we explain how the “thin-skinned” and “impulsively tempered” President-elect can wield the power of the ‘nuclear football’ and what’s stopping him from using it.

  • When does he get the nuclear codes?

    An unknown military aid will accompany President Barack Obama during the handover ceremony tomorrow. They will be carrying the briefcase which inside holds the digital piece of hardware, measuring 3in by 5in, known as “the biscuit”, and will pass it to Mr Trump’s side.

    A briefing for the incoming president on how to activate them will have already taken place in private.

  • Cristina Varriale, a research analyst in proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told The Independent: “Right from the moment he is inaugurated and officially becomes the president of the United States, Trump will have access to the nuclear codes.”
  • What could stop him using it?

    “In theory the president has full discretion over authorisation of nuclear use, however in practice, launch will still depend on other factors, including a human element,” added Ms Varriale.

    Mr Trump would make the decision first, but he would be giving permission to US Secretary of Defence, retired US Marine General James Mattis, to authorise the launch.

    Mr Mattis could disobey the order but this would constitute mutiny and the president could fire him and turn to his deputy secretary of defence – and so on.

    Also, under the 25th Amendment of the US Consitution, a vice-president could declare the President mentally incapable, but would need majority backing from cabinet.

    Non-proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, also told BBC News: “There are no checks and balances on the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike.

    “But between the time he authorises one and the time it’s carried out there are other people involved.”

  • How the message is sent?

    Inside the briefcase is a black book with a menu of strike options. He then authenticates his identity as commander-in-chief using a plastic card.

    Once that’s done, the order is passed via the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Pentagon war room, and then, using sealed authentication codes, to the US Strategic Command HQ in Offutt Airbase in Nebraska.

    The order to fire is transmitted to launch crews using encrypted codes that have to match the codes locked inside their safes.

  • How quick?

    Less than an hour apparently. Land-based missile flight times between the US and Russia, or US and China, are around 30 minutes. That could be as little as 12 minutes from a submarine lurking in the Western Atlantic Ocean.

    How much damage could do?

    “The US still remains one of world’s nuclear superpowers – the other being Russia – with an arsenal that has the potential to be incredibly destructive and change the world as we know it,” said Ms Varriale.

    As of September 2016, according to the BBC, America had 1,367 strategic nuclear warheads, Russia had 1,796, and the UK had 120.

  • Why would he use it?

    Mr Trump has given mixed messages on nuclear weapons.

    In March he said it was a “last resort”, in Mr Trump’s interview with Michael Gove he said it should be “reduced very substantially”, but last month he tweeted the US must “expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes”.

    President Harry Truman used two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in 1945 to, by his justification, end the Second World War.

    Ms Varriale added: “Although there are still many questions over Trump’s understanding of nuclear weapons, and how he see’s nuclear use, there would still need to be a number of significant steps before the prospect of intentional nuclear use by Trump becomes a near term possibility.”

January 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Crash in Toshiba shares as nuclear financial crisis deepens

scrutiny-on-costsflag-japanToshiba shares crash as nuclear writedown crisis deepens Shares in Toshiba have dived 16% on reports that the embattled Japanese conglomerate faces bigger losses at its US nuclear power business. BBC News 19 Jan 17 

It is feared Toshiba may have to write down the value of the unit by a larger-than-expected 700bn yen ($6.1bn; £5bn).

There are unconfirmed reports Toshiba is seeking aid from the government-backed Development Bank of Japan (DBJ).

Toshiba said the exact writedown figure was not finalised, and declined to comment on any DBJ approach.

The laptops-to-hydro power giant was plunged into crisis late last year when it emerged it faced huge cost overruns on projects handled by a newly-bought company that builds US nuclear power plants. ……. on 27 December Toshiba admitted that it faced writedowns of “several billion dollars”. The company later indicated that the size of the writedowns would be between $1bn and $4.5bn.

Toshiba’s nuclear services business brings in about one-third of the industrial giant’s revenue.

The share price, down 26% at one stage on Thursday, is now 50% lower than when the writedown revelations emerged amid fears that the company still has no firm grip on the final costs………

January 20, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Shimane nuclear power plant found to have dangerous corroded holes in air ducts inside the No. 2 reactor

safety-symbol-Smflag-japanCorroded holes found inside nuclear plant in Shimane January 19, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) Japanese versionMATSUE — Nineteen corroded holes have been discovered in air ducts inside the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane nuclear power plant, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned. As a consequence of this discovery, the Nuclear Regulation Authority decided on Jan. 18 to order all electric power companies to carry out checks on ducts inside all of their nuclear power plants.

The corroded holes were discovered when insulating material — that had been wrapped around the ducts — was removed during a check in December 2016 at the No. 2 reactor at the Shimane plant, which is operated by Chugoku Electric Power Co. The largest hole of the 19 was found to be approximately 30 centimeters by 100 centimeters in size.

Corroded holes in ducts present a threat as there is a chance that radioactive material could flow into the central control room via the holes during an accident — thereby exposing power plant staff to radiation.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows radioactive waste to be dumped Under Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifer,

water-radiationlegal actionFPL Wins Battle to Store Radioactive Waste Under Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifer, Miami New Times, BY JERRY IANNELLI JANUARY 16, 2017  Environmental activists have started a petition urging Florida lawmakers to prevent FPL from storing waste underground.   South Florida sits atop two gigantic underground stores of water: the Biscayne and Floridan Aquifers. Miamians get most of their drinking water from the upper Biscayne Aquifer, while the government has used the lower portion of the Floridian to dump waste and untreated sewage — despite the fact that multiple studies have warned that waste could one day seep into the drinking water.

So environmentalists are concerned that Florida Power & Light now wants to dump full-on radioactive waste into the that lower water table, called the Boulder Zone. A small group of activists called Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) tried to stop FPL’s plan, but their legal petition was shot down this past Friday.

According to NRC documents, CASE’s petition was dismissed for being filed “inexcusably late” in FPL’s application process.

“This was thrown out on procedural grounds,” says CASE’s president, Barry J. White. “The science is still there.”

CASE had filed a petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but the NRC on Friday threw out CASE’s complaint, saying the environmental group had filed too late in FPL’s approval process.

The fight stems from the energy company’s plan to build two nuclear reactors at the controversial Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station south of Miami by roughly 2030. The towers might not be operational for a decade or two, but that doesn’t mean the public should stop paying attention to them. FPL is submitting numerous proposals about the project to the government.

As part of that package, FPL told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it plans to store contaminated water used to clean the reactors, as well as radioactive waste (“radwaste”) in the Boulder Zone. In October, the NRC issued a report, stating FPL’s plan would pose “no environmental impacts” to the South Florida environment.

Roughly a month later, on November 28, CASE filed a legal petition demanding that the NRC hold a hearing on FPL’s radioactive waste plan. CASE alleges the government failed to address a host of concerns about the power company’s plan.

“Everything will be put into a supposedly ‘hermetically sealed’ Boulder Zone,” White told New Times in December. “But anybody who lives in South Florida knows nothing below us is hermetically sealed.” Environmentalists say the plan could leak carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium right into the drinking-water aquifers……..

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA, water | Leave a comment

Legal action against subsidising of Amereca’s aging nuclear reactors

legal actionGroups sue to end ratepayer subsidies of aged nuclear power plants BEACON – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and a number of co-petitioners filed in Supreme Court a challenge to the recently enacted mandatory 12-year nuclear subsidy that is expected to cost New York ratepayers between $7 billion and $10 billion.The surcharge was ordered by the state Public Service Commission as part of its Clean Energy Standard.

The petitioners argue that the $7.6 billion nuclear subsidy imposed on the state’s electricity consumers was unjustified and that the PSC did not follow the law when it enacted them.

The subsidies will be paid by ratepayers on their monthly energy bills based on usages. That cost will “most seriously impact low-income ratepayers and businesses operating on a thin profit margin,” the groups said.

“New Yorkers who are currently using and who are committed to renewable energy and who are paying additionally for Renewable Energy Credits for 100 percent of their electrical needs should not also be billed for this $7.6 billion nuclear plant subsidy,” said North Salem Town Supervisor Warren Lucas.

“This action has brought to challenge the PSC’s nearly $8 billion bailout of the unsustainable and polluting nuclear industry, based on the mistaken premise that nuclear energy production is emission-free,” said attorney Susan Shapiro, owner of petitioner Goshen Green Farms. “Nuclear energy is not, nor has it ever been emission-free, as it routinely emits radiation, heat and greenhouse gases, which are all climate change catalysts.”

Clearwater Environmental Director Manna Jo Greene noted at Diablo Canyon in California, they are phasing out their last nuclear plant by committing to 100 percent renewable replacement energy, while protecting plant workers by retaining those with critical institutional memory and highly technical knowledge. She said they are also retraining those who are not needed for safe decommissioning, and placing them in jobs in the renewable energy economy.

“New York needs to create a just transition plan, not a prolonged nuclear bailout,” Greene said.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany want Belgium’s dangerous nuclear reactors to be closed

Neighbouring countries concerned about the risk of a Belgian Nuclear meltdown  19th January, 2017 

On 10 January 2017 a new emergency plan was presented in a commission in Belgium’s Parliament. The evacuation perimeter was conveniently halved to 10km to avoid an evacuation of Belgium’s second and third cities in case of a meltdown. The plan has been called totally inadequate. NICK MEYNEN reports

It’s not the metaphorical political meltdown of Belgium that neighbouring governments fret about, but a nuclear meltdown. The Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany have all asked Belgium’s government to close its most risky reactors with immediate effect. The city of Aachen and 30 other major cities and districts are also suing Belgium for not closing them. The German government no longer trusts the Belgian Nuclear Safety Agency and wants permission for its own agency to do safety checks. So far, foreign pressure is falling on deaf ears.

Belgians have even more reasons to worry. On 10 January 2017 a new emergency plan was presented in a commission in Belgium’s Parliament. The evacuation perimeter was conveniently halved to 10km to avoid an evacuation of Belgium’s second and third cities in case of a meltdown. Nuclear Transparency Watch, a European organisation created by Members of the European Parliament of all political colours, called Belgium’s plans totally inadequate and incoherent.inad

So rather than signing agreements with Belgium about sharing information, where are the economic sanctions for Belgium? There are both EU and UN regulations that could shut the reactors down, as more than a million people requested a year ago. Belgium’s neighbours have reasons to get tough.

Belgium is your backyard

Belgium’s recent nuclear history reads like a mirror of Germany’s, where the highest court decided that Merkel’s decision to speed up the nuclear phase-out after the Fukushima incident was justified. Belgium did just the opposite. The Belgian government reversed a nuclear phase-out law from 2003 only a year after the Japanese reactors exploded, pushing retirement back from 2015 to 2025. The last bill to postpone retirement with 10 years was approved at the end of 2016. The Government can ‘take comfort’ at the fact that 2017 started better than 2016: unlike last year when only a week incidents after which the first incident (in which one person got severely injured) took place with an unexpected shutdown as result.

Yes, the protesting former president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz was born and raised close to Belgium’s border and yes, I was born and raised 15 km from four nuclear reactors in Doel, in the city of Antwerp (half a million people). But before you call us NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists: our backyard contains six to seven million people that in the event of a nuclear meltdown would never be able to go home again. Depending on the wind direction on the day of a meltdown, a radioactive cloud will poison and kill many additional people in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin as well. The possibility of that scenario has increased in recent years.

Cracks, extortion and sabotage

In 2012 it became known that the mantle around the old Tihange 2 reactor shows signs of erosion. Further research in 2015 concluded that there are thousands of cracks of up to 15 cm. Later that year, 10 security incidents were recorded in Tihange in just six weeks, leading Belgium’s nuclear safety agency to suspend four members of staff and raise serious questions about the safety culture. In 2015, Belgian’s nuclear plants spent longer in shutdown or “maintenance” than in being operational.

Who said nuclear energy was a reliable source of energy?

But it is the Doel plant that reads like the script of an apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster, part one. The plant was sabotaged in 2014. The sabotage was found before things spiralled out of control, but the culprit(s) remain unknown. A year later, police found hidden cameras that followed the movements of a nuclear researcher, raising alarming questions about criminals extorting staff. Research also revealed a staggering number of cracks in the mantle that is supposed to keep the Doel 3 reactor in check: 13,047. The cracks are on average 1 to 2 cm wide, but the largest ones are up to 18cm. And with 35 years of operational history, the researched Doel 3 is the second “youngest” of Doel’s four reactors. Belgium’s nuclear safety agency concluded after the tests in Tihange and Doel that the erosion of the mantle was due to normal reactor activity. They can thus be expected to be present in all plants in the world of similar age and to keep multiply through normal reactor use.

The economic and terrorist threats

In terms of potential economic impacts, Doel is by far number 1 in Europe. The major Fukushima disaster knocked 2 to 10% from Japan’s GDP, but when Doel goes into meltdown, the cost is estimated to be 200% of the GDP of Belgium. In such a scenario, GDP won’t really mean much. Most of Flanders and the capital of Europe will become inhabitable zones, sending millions of refugees to France, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Will they open their borders for a flood of immigrants from Belgium?

And then there’s terrorism. For the last two years, Belgian authorities have claimed we are living under emergency level 3, just one notch below the State of Emergency that France is living under. This means a terrorist threat is “serious” and an attack “probable”. France has already experienced a series of undeclared drone flights over various nuclear power stations. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists later explained that the danger of that is not about drones carrying small explosives and crashing on the plant because in theory a nuclear plant can cope with a jumbo jet crash (although this has never been tested). But drones can easily carry AK47s and drop them inside the territory of the plant, even at night.

In another scenario laid out by the atomic scientists, drones can attack the power lines and then the diesel generator back-up system. It requires a bit more organisation than driving a truck into a crowd, but less than teaching a terrorist team how to fly a jumbo jet, hijack several at the same time and fly them into the two WTC towers and the Pentagon. As we have learned the hard way in recent years, Belgium also happens to be a favourite hide-out for terrorists. Belgium’s authorities want us to believe that the terrorist risk has never been so high, but they don’t want you to connect that with our nuclear plants and with unexplained drone flights over nuclear plants.

Corrupted centralised power plants

All this raises the question: is it still smart to count on a few vulnerable centralised power plants? And what about the waste of state money that seems to come hand-in-hand with nuclear power? Bulgaria wasted 1,221 billion euro on a plant that never materialized. Bulgaria is also still spending money to deal with the legacy of uranium mining, even though the last mine closed in 1992. When I visited the surroundings of the now closed Buhovo mine, stones of a size that would fit a child’s hand showed radiation 100s of times above normal. They were ready to be picked up and played with at a popular local picnic place.

Conflicts against nuclear power plants and the formulation of constructive alternatives are popping up outside Europe as well: from India to Japan. So are the conflicts and externalised costs around the uranium that now feeds most of our reactors, from Niger to Namibia. Although there’s one other country that has become the EU’s main supplier: Russia. But as environmental justice, geopolitical weakening or financial debacles don’t seem to stop the nuclear addiction: will it have to take another meltdown? Policymakers seem to have forgotten that our countries signed up to the precautionary principle, which the EU still has in its Treaty. Maybe it’s time that the Germans, who are kicking nuclear out of their country, march once more on Belgium. As a Belgian citizen I do kindly request to come in peace and only armed with the renewable energy solutions that swept your country.

This Author

Nick Meynen was the organiser of a 72km long anti-nuclear energy march from Doel to Brussels. He works for the ENVJUSTICE project and writes articles and books on environmental issues.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch

U.S. sees indications of possible North Korea missile test-launch Yahoo News,  By James Pearson and Phil Stewart January 20, 2017 SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday, after South Korean media reported movement of what could be components of an upgraded prototype of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was seeing activity in North Korea indicating a possible ballistic missile test, including positioning of two mobile missile launchers.

Still, the timing of the test and precise type of missile remained unclear, the officials said.

In his New Year’s speech, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea was close to test launching an ICBM, and state media has said a launch could come at any time. Experts on the isolated and nuclear capable country’s missile program believe the claims to be credible.

The Pentagon declined comment on its intelligence about the North Korea threat, but spokesman Peter Cook assured reporters that Washington’s readiness would be not be diminished during the U.S. presidential transition, due to take place on Friday.

“I can’t get into intelligence matters. I can’t confirm what’s been reported there,” Cook told a news briefing.

“We would once again encourage North Korea not to engage in provocative actions that do nothing but destabilize the region.”

South Korean media said a test could potentially coincide with the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, South Korean media said.

Trump on Jan. 2 tweeted, “It won’t happen!” about North Korean ICBMs, although his precise meaning was unclear. The Pentagon has said it would not necessarily strike a test-launched ICBM if it did not pose a threat.


South Korean intelligence agencies reported on Wednesday that they had recently spotted missile parts being transported, believed to be the lower-half of an ICBM, raising fears that a test-launch may be imminent, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified military sources…….

January 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pakistan vows nuclear retaliation if India attacks 19 Jan 17  Threat follows confirmation of Delhi’s military assault plans in times of crisis  by: Kiran Stacey in New Delhi and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad Pakistani officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons should India invade, after India’s new army chief admitted to secret military plans for attacking its neighbour in the event of a crisis…….

January 20, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Northeast USA predicted to heat up faster than most of the rest of the world

global-warming1Parts of United States are heating faster than globe as a whole A new study shows the Northeast USA will reach the dangerous 2°C warming threshold faster than most of the rest of the planet, Guardian, , 17 Jan 17, A new study shows the Northeast USA will reach the dangerous 2°C warming threshold faster than most of the rest of the planet,

Global warming obviously refers to temperature increases across the entire globe. We know the Earth is warming, we know it is human-caused, we have a pretty good idea about how much the warming will be in the future and what some of the consequences are. In fact, when it comes to the Earth’s average climate, scientists have a pretty good understanding.

On the other hand, no one lives in the average climate. We live spread out north, west, east, and south. On islands, large continents, inland or in coastal regions. Many of us want to know what’s going to happen to the climate where we live. How will my life be affected in the future?

This type of question is answered in a very recent study published by scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The team, which includes Dr. Raymond Bradley and researcher Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar looked specifically at the Northeastern United States. They found that this area will warm much more rapidly than the globe as a whole. In fact, it will warm faster than any other United States region. The authors expect the Northeast US will warm 50% faster than the planet as a whole. They also find that the United States will reach a 2 degree Celsius warming 10–20 years before the globe as a whole.

So why does this matter? Well first, it matters because some of the effects people will experience are directly tied to the temperature increase in their region. For instance, we know that warmer air leads to more intense precipitation. In fact, we are already observing increases in very heavy rainfall across the United States (especially in the Northeast). Based on this new research, that trend will only get worse. It means that winters in this region will get warmer and wetter – more winter precipitation will likely occur as rain rather than snow. This affects the availability of water into the spring months. It also means that summers will have more intense heat waves which will lead to more severe droughts.

However, there is another impact to this study……..

January 20, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Proposed Energy Secretary Risk Perry – ignorant about nuclear security!


Rick Perry: Energy Secretary nominee didn’t know his job would involve managing nuclear weapon stockpile The 66-year-old is said to be facing a ‘steep learning curve’ The Independent Andrew Buncombe New York  @AndrewBuncombe   Rick Perry  made embarrassing headlines when he could not remember the name of the federal agency he wanted to scrap.

He listed the Department of Commerce and the Department of Education, but failed to recall the third – the Department of Energy. Soon after the performance at that Republican debate, he dropped out of the race.

Mr Perry is now back as Donald Trump’s nominee to head that very same department. But reports suggest the former Texas governor will have a steep learning curve; when he accepted the job, he did not realise one of his major tasks as Energy Secretary would be overseeing the US’s vast nuclear arsenal……..

Mr Perry’s confirmation process before the Senate started on Thursday. If approved, he will replace Ernest Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science.

Prior to that, the job was held by Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.

Mr Perry is likely get pressed on the issue of nuclear security, an area in which he has little experience…….

January 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment