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No, despite the propaganda, Fukushima nuclear clean-up not under control

Dying robots and failing hope: Fukushima clean-up falters six years after tsunami
Exploration work inside the nuclear plant’s failed reactors has barely begun, with the scale of the task described as ‘almost beyond comprehension’, Guardian,   at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 9 Mar 17.
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Barely a fifth of the way into their mission, the engineers monitoring the Scorpion’s progress conceded defeat. With a remote-controlled snip of its cable, the latest robot sent into the bowels of one of Fukushima Daiichi’s damaged reactors was cut loose, its progress stalled by lumps of fuel that overheated when the nuclear plant suffered a triple meltdown six years ago this week.

As the 60cm-long Toshiba robot, equipped with a pair of cameras and sensors to gauge radiation levels was left to its fate last month, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), attempted to play down the failure of yet another reconnaissance mission to determine the exact location and condition of the melted fuel.

Even though its mission had been aborted, the utility said, “valuable information was obtained which will help us determine the methods to eventually remove fuel debris”.

The Scorpion mishap, two hours into an exploration that was supposed to last 10 hours, underlined the scale and difficulty of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi – an unprecedented undertaking one expert has described as “almost beyond comprehension”.

Cleaning up the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl after it was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, is expected to take 30 to 40 years, at a cost Japan’s trade and industry ministry recently estimated at 21.5tr yen ($189bn).

 The figure, which includes compensating tens of thousands of evacuees, is nearly double an estimate released three years ago……
Developing robots capable of penetrating the most dangerous parts of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors – and spending enough time there to obtain crucial data – is proving a near-impossible challenge for Tepco. The Scorpion – so called because of its camera-mounted folding tail – “died” after stalling along a rail beneath the reactor pressure vessel, its path blocked by lumps of fuel and other debris.

The device, along with other robots, may also have been damaged by an unseen enemy: radiation. Before it was abandoned, its dosimeter indicated that radiation levels inside the No 2 containment vessel were at 250 sieverts an hour. In an earlier probe using a remote-controlled camera, radiation at about the same spot was as high as 650 sieverts an hour – enough to kill a human within a minute.

Shunji Uchida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, concedes that Tepco acquired “limited” knowledge about the state of the melted fuel. …

Robotic mishaps aside, exploration work in the two other reactors, where radiation levels are even higher than in reactor No 2, has barely begun. There are plans to send a tiny waterproof robot into reactor No 1 in the next few weeks, but no date has been set for the more seriously damaged reactor No 3………

‘The situation is not under control’

On the surface, much has changed since the Guardian’s first visit to Fukushima Daiichi five years ago. Then, the site was still strewn with tsunami wreckage. Hoses, pipes and building materials covered the ground, as thousands of workers braved high radiation levels to bring a semblance of order to the scene of a nuclear disaster.

Six years later, damaged reactor buildings have been reinforced, and more than 1,300 spent fuel assemblies have been safely removed from a storage pool in reactor No 4. The ground has been covered with a special coating to prevent rainwater from adding to Tepco’s water-management woes.

Workers who once had to change into protective gear before they approached Fukushima Daiichi now wear light clothing and simple surgical masks in most areas of the plant. The 6,000 workers, including thousands of contract staff, can now eat hot meals and take breaks at a “rest house” that opened in 2015.

But further up the hill from the coastline, row upon row of steel tanks are a reminder of the decommissioning effort’s other great nemesis: contaminated water. The tanks now hold about 900,000 tons of water, with the quantity soon expected to reach 1m tons.

Tepco’s once-vaunted underground ice wall, built at a cost of 24.5bn yen, has so far failed to completely prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor basements and mixing with radioactive coolant water.
The structure, which freezes the soil to a depth of 30 metres, is still allowing 150 tonnes of groundwater to seep into the reactor basements every day, said Yuichi Okamura, a Tepco spokesman. Five sections have been kept open deliberately to prevent water inside the reactor basements from rising and flowing out more rapidly. “We have to close the wall gradually,” Okamura said. “By April we want to keep the influx of groundwater to about 100 tonnes a day, and to eliminate all contaminated water on the site by 2020.”

Critics of the clean-up note that 2020 is the year Tokyo is due to host the Olympics, having been awarded the Games after Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that Fukushima was “under control”.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Babcock-Hitachi nuclear engineer, accuses Abe and other government officials of playing down the severity of the decommissioning challenge in an attempt to win public support for the restart of nuclear reactors across the country.

“Abe said Fukushima was under control when he went overseas to promote the Tokyo Olympics, but he never said anything like that in Japan,” says Tanaka. “Anyone here could see that the situation was not under control.

“If people of Abe’s stature repeat something often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/fukushima-nuclear-cleanup-falters-six-years-after-tsunami
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March 11, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

on 5th anniversary of Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the global nuke industry is in decline

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist,  Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017  With the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster falling on 11 March , nuclear lobbyists are arguing over solutions to the existential crisis facing nuclear power, writes Jim Green. Some favour a multinational consolidation of large conventional reactor designs, while others back technological innovation and ‘small modular reactors’. But in truth, both approaches are doomed to failure

Saturday March 11 marks the sixth anniversary of the triple-disaster in north-east Japan – the earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

And the news is not good. Scientists are wondering how on earth to stabilise and decontaminate the failed reactors awash with molten nuclear fuel, which are fast turning into graveyards for the radiation-hardened robots sent in to investigate them.

The Japanese government’s estimate of Fukushima compensation and clean-up costs has doubled and doubled again and now stands at ¥21.5 trillion (US$187bn; €177bn).

Indirect costs – such as fuel import costs, and losses to agricultural, fishing and tourism industries – will likely exceed that figure.

Kendra Ulrich from Greenpeace Japan notes in a new report that “for those who were impacted by the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, the crisis is far from over. And it is women and children that have borne the brunt of human rights violations resulting from it, both in the immediate aftermath and as a result of the Japan government’s nuclear resettlement policy.”

Radiation biologist Ian Fairlie summarises the health impacts from the Fukushima disaster: “In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum:

  • Over 160,000 people were evacuated most of them permanently.
  • Many cases of post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations.
  • About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv
  • An estimated 5,000 fatal cancers from radiation exposures in future.
  • Plus similar (unquantified) numbers of radiogenic strokes, CVS diseases and hereditary diseases.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, about 2,000 deaths from radiation-related evacuations due to ill-health and suicides.
  • An, as yet, unquantified number of thyroid cancers.
  • An increased infant mortality rate in 2012 and a decreased number of live births in December 2011.”

Dr Fairlie’s report was written in August 2015 but it remains accurate. More than half of the 164,000 evacuees from the nuclear disaster remain dislocated. Efforts to restore community life in numerous towns are failing. Local authorities said in January that only 13% of the evacuees in five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have returned home after evacuation orders were lifted.

As for Japan’s long-hyped ‘nuclear restart’: just three power reactors are operating in Japan; before the Fukushima disaster, the number topped 50……….http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.html

March 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Evidence for radiation release from Halden nuclear reactor in Norway into Sweden

Wind maps for 17th 18th and 20th Feb 2017 Oslo and missing data points from EURDEP in Sweden, Norway and one reading from Denmark showing the radiation was OK on the 20th .

Winds did come from the north at times and also from the southeast as well during these dates, early If a release was done in the early hours/morning of the 17th Feb 2017, the plume would have moved into Sweden and then later been sent west.

The data on the Denmark monitor was largely missing but did actually have the 20th Feb 2017 data showing normal radiation levels

I added some radiation monitoring data from the east coast of Norway and heading north (including one monitor in the mountains)  from there to show that a lesser plume made this distance but the data removed was for a shorter time frame. The wind maps show that the direction of the wind did also, at times, head east to account for this Plume.

I also checked the Finnish monitoring system but the data was generally intact but for a small brief rise on one east coast of Finland monitor  showing the plume was likely dissipated or broken up over the Baltic sea.

Data compiled by Shaun McGee

Historical wind chart data from Norway  [on original] ; https://www.yr.no/place/Norway/Oslo/Oslo/Oslo/almanakk.html?dato=2017-02-20

Radiation Mapping data from; http://eurdepweb.jrc.ec.europa.eu/EurdepMap/Default.aspx

Note; The Halden reactor monitor for October 2016 (the original release) was for only a few hours and the data is missing to show that. Over a few months some small rises and missing data points are evident but the largest period of missing data in February 2017 is the same as the Oslo data maps below, over a few days.

March 11, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Trump administration locks out the media, retreats into secrecy

Locked-Out Media Watch While Trump Administration Retreats Into Secrecy MEDIA MATTERS, Blog ››› March 9, 2017  ERIC BOEHLERT“We want to ensure at all times, if confirmed, that the secretary of state and the State Department is fully transparent with the public.” – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his January 11, 2017, confirmation hearing.

On Tuesday, bureau chiefs for major news organizations held a conference call to discuss the fact that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not going to allow the press to travel with him on his plane during an upcoming trip to Asia. According to Poynter.org, which reported on the call, not allowing reporters on Tillerson’s government plane would be would be “very unusual, if not unprecedented, certainly in recent annals, with substantial access given by recent Secretaries of State, including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.”

As Poynter explained, “[T]he logistics of keeping up with [Tillerson] by assembling stringers or hopscotching about on commercials flights makes coverage exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.” According to CNN, a senior official “told reporters Tuesday Tillerson prefers to travel on a smaller plane and ‘carries a much smaller footprint.'” Tillerson’s plan to exclude the press from traveling with him overseas represents a stunning State Department policy reversal, while further cementing his image as a secretive cabinet figure who has had virtually no contact with journalists since being sworn in. “The secretary of state has given only a handful of prepared statements to the press and has not taken any questions,” CNN noted.

That veil of secrecy has quickly emerged as the hallmark for this shadowy administration.

It’s important to note that while President Trump’s ongoing war on the press has received most of the attention this year as he threatens journalists and restricts their access, there are plenty of indications that the rampant secrecy and disdain for transparency is widespread. “The retreat from the press has taken place administration-wide,” Politico noted.

There seems to be a collective closing of the gates now underway in terms of the federal government separating itself from journalists.

Just look at what unfolded on Monday:

  • Tillerson, along with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, held an event with journalists to announce the administration’s latest attempt to restrict travel to the U.S. from six Muslim-majority countries. But none of the men responded to press questions about the controversial initiative.
  • Unlike how the administration treated the original travel ban signing, Trump signed the revised travel ban executive order without photographers or reporters present to record the event.
  • When the White House held a background conference call with reporters to discuss the updated travel ban it did not identify officials on the call, which prompted a New York Times reporter to tweet:

Been on dozens of background conference calls: DOJ/DOS/DHS call was first time I’ve been on 1 where officials didn’t give their names.

The next day, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell was escorted from a photo-op with Tillerson and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin after trying to ask several questions. The questions were “met with silence.”

All of that constitutes an historic effort by the Trump administration to lock out the press from the government’s official duties and business.

This, of course, comes after the White House’s radical move to banish several major news outlets from a press “gaggle,” likely because the administration was unhappy with what the organizations were reporting. What followed was a highly unusual, weeklong blackout in terms of televised press briefings from White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

That drawing of the curtain is part of a larger administration effort to march back transparency. For instance, in recent weeks there’s been a paucity of senior administration officials available for on-the-record interviews. Traditionally, senior officials, including cabinet members, have been made available for in-depth interviews, especially on the Sunday morning shows. But not the Trump team.

The White House seems to have specifically singled out CNN, repeatedly, and refused to provide officials for interviews there……..https://mediamatters.org/blog/2017/03/09/locked-out-media-watch-while-trump-administration-retreats-secrecy/215610

March 11, 2017 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima anniversary anti nuclear march in Taiwan

Thousands expected to march to protest nuclear power today http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2017/03/11/2003666562 By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter The nation’s annual march against nuclear power plants is to be held today, with activists on Thursday calling for more openness and civic participation in crafting a nuclear waste disposal plan.

“We have to keep the pressure on the government, otherwise it will stall — our hope is that there should be a result by the conclusion of the Democratic Progressive Party’s [DPP] four years in power,” Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said while leading more than a dozen people in a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

People plan to congregate on Ketagalan Boulevard this afternoon for the march, a major annual environmental demonstration.

“This will be our first march since the DPP took full control [of the government] and there are a lot of issues — from retiring nuclear reactors to transitioning to different forms of energy — where we feel there is a need for society to rigorously inspect whether the government has sufficient political resolve,” Tsuei said.

Tsuei added that nuclear waste disposal and energy taxes were key issues.

“Nuclear waste disposal cannot be something where Taiwan Power Co just makes a decision for itself,” Mom Loves Taiwan secretary-general Yang Shun-mei (楊順美) said, calling for open discussion of how waste is to be addressed, included the geology of proposed disposal sites.

“Statements the government has made about future energy prices have been extremely conservative and vague,” Green Citizens’ Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) said, calling for the government to stop avoiding demands for an energy tax.

“The government should definitely be taking action and I trust that now is the time for the DPP to realize the promises it made before the election,” said DPP Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), who represented the party’s legislative caucus in talks with the protesters.

He said the party is considering establishing a cross-party legislative committee to draft plans for the disposal of nuclear waste.

March 11, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Trump brinkmanship as B-52 NUCLEAR BOMBERS sent to South Korea

Donald Trump sends B-52 NUCLEAR BOMBERS to South Korea after North fires missiles at Japan and US warns of ‘overwhelming’ response https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3049573/donald-trump-sends-b-52-nuclear-bombers-to-south-korea-after-north-fires-missiles-at-japan-and-us-warns-of-overwhelming-response/

Secretary of Defence James Mattis said the US “remains steadfast in its commitment” to the defence of its allies By Jon Lockett 9th March 2017 

March 11, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Small Modular Reactors have little hope of saving the nuclear industry

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist, Jim Green / Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017 

“……..Small is beautiful? The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors argue that nuclear power must become substantially cheaper – thus ruling out large conventional reactors “operated at high atmospheric pressures, requiring enormous containment structures, multiply redundant back-up cooling systems, and water cooling towers and ponds, which account for much of the cost associated with building light-water reactors.”

Substantial cost reductions will not be possible “so long as nuclear reactors must be constructed on site one gigawatt at a time. … At 10 MW or 100 MW, by contrast, there is ample opportunity for learning by doing and economies of multiples for several reactor classes and designs, even in the absence of rapid demand growth or geopolitical imperatives.”

Other than their promotion of small reactors and their rejection of large ones, the four authors are non-specific about their preferred reactor types. Any number of small-reactor concepts have been proposed.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) have been the subject of much discussion and even more hype. The bottom line is that there isn’t the slightest chance that they will fulfil the ambition of making nuclear power “substantially cheaper” unless and until a manufacturing supply chain is established at vast expense.

And even then, it’s doubtful whether the power would be cheaper and highly unlikely that it would be substantially cheaper. After all, economics has driven the long-term drift towards larger reactors.

As things stand, no country, company or utility has any intention of betting billions on building an SMR supply chain. The prevailing scepticism is evident in a February 2017 Lloyd’s Register report based on “insights and opinions of leaders across the sector” and the views of almost 600 professionals and experts from utilities, distributors, operators and equipment manufacturers.

The Lloyd’s Register report states that the potential contribution of SMRs “is unclear at this stage, although its impact will most likely apply to smaller grids and isolated markets.” Respondents predicted that SMRs have a “low likelihood of eventual take-up, and will have a minimal impact when they do arrive”.

The Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors are promoting small reactors because of the spectacular failure of a number of large reactor projects, but that’s hardly a recipe for success. An analysis of SMRs in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists sums up the problems:

Without a clear-cut case for their advantages, it seems that small nuclear modular reactors are a solution looking for a problem. Of course in the world of digital innovation, this kind of upside-down relationship between solution and problem is pretty normal. Smart phones, Twitter, and high-definition television all began as solutions looking for problems.

“In the realm of nuclear technology, however, the enormous expense required to launch a new model as well as the built-in dangers of nuclear fission require a more straightforward relationship between problem and solution. Small modular nuclear reactors may be attractive, but they will not, in themselves, offer satisfactory solutions to the most pressing problems of nuclear energy: high cost, safety, and weapons proliferation.”

Small or large reactors, consolidation or innovation, Generation 2/3/4 reactors … it’s not clear that the nuclear industry will be able to recover – however it responds to its current crisis……..http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.htm

March 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Investors worried about bankruptcy risk in Toshiba’s troubled nuclear business Westinghouse

Toshiba’s troubled nuclear business Westinghouse is bringing in bankruptcy lawyers, City AM, Courtney Goldsmith, 9 Mar 17, Toshiba’s US nuclear business, Westinghouse, has hired bankruptcy attorneys, signalling to investors it is serious about the potential of a Chapter 11 filing.

The Japanese conglomerate brought in law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges to explore the option, but it had not yet taken a decision on a bankruptcy filing, sources told Reuters.

Toshiba’s shares closed down 7.2 per cent today.

The firm unexpectedly delayed its financial update last month as it announced it needed more time to probe its US nuclear business after revealing a multi-billion pound hole. It’s due to report earnings Tuesday, but a source has told Reuters the likelihood of Toshiba meeting this deadline was “fifty-fifty”.

If the firm fails to meet that deadline, it has until 27 March to file or could be delisted.

Although the troubled firm said it’s not aware of any intention for Westinghouse to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, sources have said it is one of several options being considered. The nuclear business faces cost overruns at two projects.

Toshiba has also hired a Japanese law firm to help estimate the how a US bankruptcy will impact the broader group, sources said…..

one issue may be financing guarantees given by the US government to help fund the construction of reactors at the Vogtle plant in Georgia, one of the two projects at the core of Westinghouse’s woes.

A 2014 statement on the US department of energy’s website says the loan guarantees totaled $8.3bn (£6.8bn)

Toshiba is also pursuing the sale of most, or even all, of its prized flash memory chip business, which will help protect it against future financial problems. Bids on the company, which Toshiba values at least 1.5 trillion yen, are due at the end of the month. http://www.cityam.com/260648/toshibas-troubled-nuclear-business-westinghouse-bringing

March 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s Environment Punishing Agency Now – as Scott Pruitt promotes climate change denialism

NEW EPA boss says carbon dioxide not primary cause of climate change By New Scientist staff and Press Association, SHORT SHARP SCIENCE, 9 March 2017 The new chief of the US Environmental Protection Agency has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming……..

Pruitt’s view is at odds with mainstream climate science, including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The two agencies reported in January that Earth’s 2016 temperatures were the warmest ever.

The planet’s average surface temperature has risen by about 2 degrees F since the late 19th century, “a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere”, the agencies said in a joint statement.

Environmental groups seized on Pruitt’s comments as evidence he is unfit for the office he holds.

“The arsonist is now in charge of the fire department, and he seems happy to let the climate crisis burn out of control,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.

Pruitt “is spewing corporate polluter talking points rather than fulfilling the EPA’s mission of protecting our air, our water, and our communities,” Brune said, noting that the EPA has a legal responsibility to address carbon pollution.

Senator Brian Schatz (Democrat, Hawaii) said the comments underscore that Pruitt is a “climate denier” and insisted politicians will stand up to him. “Anyone who denies over a century’s worth of established science and basic facts is unqualified to be the administrator of the EPA,” Schatz said in a statement.

Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in co-ordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge former president Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda.

He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times……The Republican has previously cast doubt on the extensive body of scientific evidence showing that the planet is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2124098-epa-boss-says-carbon-dioxide-not-primary-cause-of-climate-change/

March 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear lobbyists in disarray on what to do about the nuclear industry’s crisis

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist, Jim Green / Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017

“……..Nuclear lobbyists debate possible solutions to the nuclear power crisis

Michael Shellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute argues that a lack of standardisation and scaling partly explains the “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West”. The constant switching of designs deprives the people who build, operate and regulate nuclear plants of the experience they need to become more efficient.

Shellenberger further argues that there is too much focus on machines, too little on human factors:

“Areva, Toshiba-Westinghouse and others claimed their new designs would be safer and thus, at least eventually, cheaper, but there were always strong reasons to doubt such claims. First, what is proven to make nuclear plants safer is experience, not new designs. …

“In fact, new designs risk depriving managers and workers the experience they need to operate plants more safely, just as it deprives construction companies the experience they need to build plants more rapidly.”

Shellenberger has a three-point rescue plan:

1. ‘Consolidate or Die’: “If nuclear is going to survive in the West, it needs a single, large firm – the equivalent of a Boeing or Airbus – to compete against the Koreans, Chinese and Russians.”

2. ‘Standardize or Die’: He draws attention to the “astonishing” heterogeneity of planned reactors in the UK and says the UK “should scrap all existing plans and start from a blank piece of paper”, that all new plants should be of the same design and “the criteria for choosing the design should emphasize experience in construction and operation, since that is the key factor for lowering costs.”

3. ‘Scale or Die’: Nations “must work together to develop a long-term plan for new nuclear plant construction to achieve economies of scale”, and governments “should invest directly or provide low-cost loans.”

Wrong lessons

Josh Freed and Todd Allen from pro-nuclear lobby group Third Way, and Ted Nordhaus and Jessica Lovering from the Breakthrough Institute, argue that Shellenberger draws the wrong lessons from Toshiba’s recent losses and from nuclear power’s “longer-term struggles” in developed economies.

They argue that “too little innovation, not too much, is the reason that the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies”. They state that:

  • The Westinghouse AP1000 represents a fairly straightforward evolution in light-water reactor design, not a radical departure as Shellenberger claims.
  • Standardisation is important but it is not a panacea. Standardisation and building multiple reactors on the same site has limited cost escalation, not brought costs down.
  • Most of the causes of rising cost and construction delays associated with new nuclear builds in the US are attributable to the 30-year hiatus in nuclear construction, not the novelty of the AP1000 design.
  • Reasonable regulatory reform will not dramatically reduce the cost of new light-water reactors, as Shellenberger suggests.

They write this obituary for large light-water reactors: “If there is one central lesson to be learned from the delays and cost overruns that have plagued recent builds in the US and Europe, it is that the era of building large fleets of light-water reactors is over in much of the developed world.

“From a climate and clean energy perspective, it is essential that we keep existing reactors online as long as possible. But slow demand growth in developed world markets makes ten billion dollar, sixty-year investments in future electricity demand a poor bet for utilities, investors, and ratepayers.”

A radical break

The four Third Way / Breakthrough Institute authors conclude that “a radical break from the present light-water regime … will be necessary to revive the nuclear industry”. Exactly what that means, the authors said, would be the subject of a follow-up article.

So readers were left hanging – will nuclear power be saved by failed fast-reactor technology, or failed high-temperature gas-cooled reactors including failed pebble-bed reactors, or by thorium pipe-dreams or fusion pipe-dreams or molten salt reactor pipe-dreams or small modular reactor pipe-dreams? Perhaps we’ve been too quick to write off cold fusion?

The answers came in a follow-up article on February 28. The four authors want a thousand flowers to bloom, a bottom-up R&D-led nuclear recovery as opposed to top-down, state-led innovation.

They don’t just want a new reactor type (or types), they have much greater ambitions for innovation in “nuclear technology, business models, and the underlying structure of the sector” and they note that “a radical break from the light water regime that would enable this sort of innovation is not a small undertaking and will require a major reorganization of the nuclear sector.”

To the extent that the four authors want to tear down the existing nuclear industry and replace it with a new one, they share some common ground with nuclear critics who want to tear down the existing nuclear industry and not replace it with a new one.

Shellenberger also shares some common ground with nuclear critics: he thinks the UK should scrap all existing plans for new reactors and start from a blank piece of paper. But nuclear critics think the UK should scrap all existing plans for new reactors and not start from a blank piece of paper……….http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.html

March 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Jane Goodall on intelligence of animals, and the mystery of humans’ dangerous use of their intelligence

Goodall: Why Earth’s most intellectual creature is destroying its only home, The Independent, By Harold Reutter harold.reutter@theindependent.com 10 Mar 1Jane Goodall, the world’s leading expert on chimpanzees, told a Grand Island audience Thursday night that she is constantly amazed at the intelligence of various species in the animal world, even the lowly bumblebee.

Through her 55-year study of chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, Goodall was the first to discover that chimpanzees could make and use tools. She described how she observed a chimpanzee place stalks of grass into termite holes. When the stalk was removed from the hole, it would be covered with termites, which the chimpanzee would then eat.

She also observed how chimpanzees would bend a twig and strip it of all leaves, effectively making that tool.

 Goodall’s observations demolished long-held accepted scientific theory: That humans were the only species on earth that could make and use tools. Goodall said many other animal species have the capacity to learn; even bumblebees can learn how to retrieve nectar simply by observing another bumblebee.

Goodall, though, acknowledged the explosive development of the human brain gives humankind a capacity to do things far beyond the capacity of even the most intelligent animal. She noted only humans have the intelligence to send a spaceship to Mars and then remotely control a motorized vehicle to explore the surface.

“So isn’t it peculiar that this most intellectual creature to ever walk the planet is destroying its only home?” she asked……..

Goodall said it is very hard to deny climate change when people can observe the earth’s ice caps melting, when they can see people forced to leave their island homes because of rising ocean levels and to see sea levels rise on coastal beaches. She said humans cannot colonize Mars: “you’ve seen the pictures, it’s really not an option.”

“You know, this planet is very beautiful,” Goodall said. “There’s still a lot that is beautiful, so why are we consistently as a species harming it so badly?

“It seems to me there is a disconnect between the clever, clever, clever brain and the human heart,” she said.

Goodall said it seems there are too many people who only think about how an action affects them, while not considering how it affects their children and grandchildren. She said “we (the older generation) have not borrowed the future from our children. We have stolen it.”

She said it is now time for the generations to work together for the planet’s benefit.

One of the reasons that she founded Roots and Shoots is to give young people hope for the future. The organization’s message is “every single one of us matters and has some role to play. Every single one of us makes some impact on this planet. Every single day we have a choice about what kind of impact we’re going to make.”

Goodall said Roots and Shoots sees a holistic connection between people, animals and the environment. It lets young people choose the kind of project they want to undertake to make the earth a better place. Roots and Shoots is now in 97 countries…….http://www.theindependent.com/news/local/goodall-why-earth-s-most-intellectual-creature-is-destroying-its/article_dcddcdc0-0550-11e7-9f6d-6bc30b44a48f.html

March 11, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

UK’s Shadow Chancellor,John McDonnell vows to end nuclear power and nuclear weapons

John McDonnell’s vow to end nuclear power and weapons in first 100 days of a Labour government  9 MARCH 2017

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has promised that Labour would bring an end to nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the first 100 days of a Labour government.

In footage uncovered by The Telegraph, Mr McDonnell said that he wanted to build on the early success of Gordon Brown, who mapped his first days in power shortly after becoming prime minister.

The shadow chancellor also said that Labour would introduce a wealth tax and a land tax, renationalise the railways and pull out of Afghanistan.

Speaking at a Labour meeting in July 2012, Mr McDonnell said: “From the Left now […] we should now be mapping out not in manifesto form but in a manual form the first 100 days of a Labour government going into power.

“The issues around energy, you immediately announce no more nuclear power. …….http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/09/john-mcdonnellvows-end-nuclear-power-weapons-first-100-days/

March 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

A landmark climate lawsuit – Trump government trying to stop it

This climate lawsuit could change everything. No wonder the Trump administration doesn’t want it going to trial, WP,  March 9 A groundbreaking climate lawsuit, brought against the federal government by 21 children, has been hailed by environmentalists as a bold new strategy to press for climate action in the United States. But the Trump administration, which has pledged to undo Barack Obama’s climate regulations, is doing its best to make sure the case doesn’t get far.

The Trump administration this week filed a motion to overturn a ruling by a federal judge back in November that cleared the lawsuit for trial — and filed a separate motion to delay trial preparation until that appeal is considered.

The lawsuit — the first of its kind — argues the federal government has violated the constitutional right of the 21 plaintiffs to a healthy climate system.

Environmental groups say the case — if it’s successful — could force even a reluctant government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take other measures to counter warming.

“It would be huge,” said Pat Gallagher, legal director at the Sierra Club, who is not involved in the case. “It would upend climate litigation, climate law, as we know it.”

The landmark lawsuit was originally filed during the Obama administration. The 21 plaintiffs,  now between the ages of 9 and 20, claim the federal government has consistently engaged in activity that promotes fossil fuel production and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby worsening climate change. They argue this violates their constitutional right to life, liberty and property, as well the public trust doctrine, while holds that the government is responsible for the preservation of certain vital resources — in this case, a healthy climate system — for public use.

While legal experts are uncertain as to the lawsuit’s likelihood of success, few have disputed its pioneering nature. Similar cases have been brought on the state level, but this is the first against the federal government in the United States. And in November, the case cleared a major early hurdle when U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken denied motions filed by the Obama administration, as well as the fossil fuel industry, to have the lawsuit dismissed, ordering that it should proceed to trial.

The move allowed the case to join the ranks of climate lawsuits filed in other nations, which could upend the way environmental advocacy is conducted around the world. Just last year, a court in the Netherlands ordered the Dutch government to cut carbon emissions by a quarter within five years. Similar climate-related suits have been brought and won in Austria, Pakistan and South Africa.

Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, the plaintiffs submitted a request that the Department of Justice preserve all documents that could be relevant to the lawsuit, including information on climate change, energy and emissions, and cease any destruction of such documents that may otherwise occur during the presidential transition. The request came just days after reports began to surface of climate information disappearing from White House and certain federal agency websites.

“We are concerned with the new administration’s immediate maneuver to remove important climate change information from the public domain and, based on recent media reports, we are concerned about how deep the scrubbing effort will go,”Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for the plaintiffs and executive director of the advocacy group Our Children’s Trust, said in a statement at the time. “Destroying evidence is illegal and we just put these new U.S. Defendants and the Industry Defendants on notice that they are barred from doing so.”…….https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/09/this-climate-lawsuit-could-change-everything-no-wonder-the-trump-administration-doesnt-want-it-going-to-trial/?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.14eb9ea766c0

March 11, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

China planning nuclear power for space projects

China plotting SPACE INVASION as groundbreaking nuclear programme announced, Daily Star UK , 10 Mar 17  CHINA is going to use nuclear power as part of the superpower’s ultimate goal of dominating space. The country is testing and developing nuclear technology that can be used as part of its galaxy exploration plan.

Wang Siren, the vice chairman the China Atomic Energy Authority, confirmed the news yesterday.

He said nuclear power is going to be the most viable source of energy for conducting space projects, such as those planned for Jupiter and Mars…..

The announcement comes amid increasing fears of a potential cosmic conflict as countries battle it out for space dominance…..

Last year, a US official warned that the use of intergalactic weapons could have devastating consequences for people on Earth…..http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/595456/china-space-war-nuclear-power-russia-weapons-us-rockets-missiles

March 11, 2017 Posted by | China, technology | Leave a comment

The Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END) taking over from nuclear construction

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist, Jim Green / Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017  “……….The ageing of the global reactor fleet isn’t yet a crisis for the industry, but it is heading that way.

The assessment by the ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group that 151 GW of worldwide nuclear power capacity could be shut down by 2030 is consistent with figures from the World Nuclear Association (132 reactor shut-downs by 2035), the International Energy Agency (almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040) and Nuclear Energy Insider (up to 200 shut-downs in the next two decades). It looks increasingly unlikely that new reactors will match shut-downs.

Perhaps the best characterisation of the global nuclear industry is that a new era is approaching – the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END). Nuclear power’s END will entail:

  • a slow decline in the number of operating reactors (unless growth in China can match the decline elsewhere);
  • an increasingly unreliable and accident-prone reactor fleet as ageing sets in;
  • countless battles over lifespan extensions for ageing reactors;
  • an internationalisation of anti-nuclear opposition as neighbouring countries object to the continued operation of ageing reactors (international opposition to Belgium’s reactors is a case in point);
  • a broadening of anti-nuclear opposition as citizens are increasingly supported by local, regional and national governments opposed to reactors in neighbouring countries (again Belgium is a case in point, as is Lithuanian opposition to reactors under construction in Belarus);
  • many battles over the nature and timing of decommissioning operations;
  • many battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for decommissioning;
  • more battles over proposals to impose nuclear waste repositories on unwilling or divided communities; and
  • battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for nuclear waste disposal.

As discussed in a previous article in The Ecologist, nuclear power is likely to enjoy a small, short-lived upswing in the next couple of years as reactors ordered in the few years before the Fukushima disaster come online. Beyond that, the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning sets in, characterised by escalating battles – and escalating sticker-shock – over lifespan extensions, decommissioning and nuclear waste management.

In those circumstances, it will become even more difficult than it currently is for the industry to pursue new reactor projects. A positive feedback loop could take hold and then the industry will be well and truly in crisis………http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.html

March 11, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment