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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Korea soon to announce plans to phase out nuclear power

Korean govt likely announce its nuclear power phase-out plan next month, http://pulsenews.co.kr/view.php?year=2017&no=361752 By Ko Jae-man and Jin Young-tae
2017.05.30 South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to announce his roadmap to phase out from heavy reliance on nuclear energy on June 19 while attending a ceremony closing down the country’s first reactor.

During a briefing session of the presidential planning and advisory committee on Monday, Lee Kae-ho, head of the commission’s second economic team, urged nuclear related organizations including the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission (NSSC) to map out long-term outline of shifting energy policy more oriented towards renewable clean sources from fossil-fueled and nuclear reactors that carry environmental and security risks as promised by Moon during campaign.

Moon had vowed to close down aged nuclear plants and stop building new ones in an aim to push the number of 25 reactors to zero over the next 40 years. Korea started to build atomic plants in the 1970s and runs 25 that are responsible for about a third of the country’s power supply. Moon has vowed to shift the country’s energy dependency away from nuclear power to natural gas and renewable energies.

The commission, in charge of setting up public policy of the new administration for the next five years, also asked the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) to participate in the briefing sessions on nuclear power policy.

Based on the plans to be prepared by related government departments, President Moon will likely announce his zero nuclear plant roadmap during an event to be held on June 19 to permanently shut down the country’s oldest Kori-1 nuclear reactor, according to sources.

The KHNP has suspended building Shin Hanul 3 and 4 reactors scheduled to start construction this month until the new government’s plans on atomic energy come out. The Shin Kori 3, 4 and Shin Hanul 1, 2 reactors are still under construction as they are almost 90 percent completed, but industry watchers believe the construction of Shin Kori 5, 6 reactors that are just 28 percent completed would be stopped.

The Wolsung-1 reactor located in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, will also likely to be closed down as environmental groups and local residents won a court injunction on the government’s approval of extended operation for another 10 years of the reactor that had already completed its 30-year run in November 2012. The reactor has been at the heart of the safety concerns for old nuclear plants due to a series of breakdowns caused by power outages. If the plaintiff wins once again in an appeals trial scheduled on June 5, experts believe the NSSC and KHNP would announce the shutdown of the reactor.

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May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Endless growth is an unsustainable dream

Reading: ‘Energy, finance and the end of growth.’ A prescient 2013 analysis predicts Trump’s rise—and explains why his promises of endless growth can’t happen. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2017/may/economics-growth-trump, May 30, 2017 By Pete Myers
Environmental Health News I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how economics and environmental issues are so intertwined. And I’ve been thinking particularly hard about the conflict between our desire for boundless economic growth and the realities of our planet’s finite resources.

I’ve also—like many of us—been struggling to understand Trump.

I recently found this 2013 paper by Tim Morgan, the former global head of research at Tullett Prebon, a firm offering investment advice and risk mitigation to commercial and investment banks.

This is the last report he wrote for the research shop. It is fabulous. I particularly like the way Morgan integrates concerns about globalization as contributing to the collapse to world economies and our larger social order. It’s uncanny how he anticipates, way back in 2013, Trump’s rise.

And it’s great to have this analysis from a deeply qualified source widely separated from hippy preppers (if you want more, Morgan’s blog, Surplus Energy Economics, is worth following).

One relevant excerpt from the paper:

One would have to look back to a Spanish empire awash with bullion from the New World to find a combination of economic idiocy and minority self-interest equal to the folly of globalization. The compounding mistake, where the Western countries were concerned, was a wide-eyed belief that ‘globalization’ would make everyone richer, when the reality was that the out-sourcing of production to emerging economies was a self-inflicted disaster with few parallels in economic history.

The big problem with globalization was that Western countries reduced their production without making corresponding reductions in their consumption. Corporations’ outsourcing of production to emerging economies boosted their earnings (and, consequently, the incomes of the minority at the very top) whilst hollowing out their domestic economies through the export of skilled jobs.

Fundamentally, what had happened here was that skilled, well-paid jobs had been exported, consumption had increased, and ever-greater quantities of debt had been used to fill the gap.

This was, by any definition, unsustainable.

Talk of Western economies modernizing themselves by moving from production into services contained far more waffle than logic—Western consumers sold each other ever greater numbers of hair-cuts, ever greater quantities of fast food and ever more zero-sum financial services whilst depending more and more on imported goods and, critically, on the debts used to buy them.

Corporate executives prospered, as did the gate-holders of the debt economy, whilst the vast majority saw their real wages decline and their indebtedness spiral. For our purposes, what matters here is that reducing production, increasing consumption and taking on escalating debt to fill the gap was never a remotely sustainable course of action.

What this in turn means is that no return to the pre-2008 world is either possible or desirable

May 31, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Danger of conflict between USA and North Korea: North Korea has 100 Unidentified Nuclear Facilities

38 North: N. Korea Has 100 Unidentified Nuclear Facilities http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/news_In_detail.htm?No=127670 2017-05-30The managing editor of the U.S.-based North Korea-monitoring Web site 38 North says that the North has roughly 100 unidentified nuclear facilities.

According to the Sankei Shimbun on Tuesday, Managing Editor Jenny Town told the Japanese newspaper that it remains unclear where North Korea is manufacturing and storing nuclear weapons.

She said purposes and locations have been identified for only a few of some 100 facilities presumed to be related to the North’s nuclear activities.

Town said that there is a chance that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may misunderstand red lines presented by the U.S. and head into a military conflict with the U.S.

She added that the North is just waiting for a justification to conduct a nuclear test. 

May 31, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Notorious Three Mile Island nuclear power station to close

Infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant is latest casualty of shale boom, The Virginian Pilot, 30 May 17 By Jim Polson Bloomberg “….Exelon’s Three Mile Island reactor near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, site of the worst commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history in 1979, will close in 2019 after losing money for five years, the company said Tuesday in a filing. At least five nuclear power plants have retired in the past five years including Fort Calhoun in Nebraska, which closed in October, as shale gas and rising output of wind and solar power depress prices.

While New York and Illinois have stepped in with mandates that customers pay more for nuclear power to save jobs and curb greenhouse gas emissions, Pennsylvania has not. Last year, Illinois approved a $235 million-a-year lifeline for Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton reactors after the company announced they would close.

 The announcement smacks of “posturing,” Shahriar Pourreza, a New York-based analyst for Guggenheim Securities, said by phone Tuesday. “This is no different than what they did in Illinois. It’s the right tactic. They’ve got time.”

The Pennsylvania plant, with one reactor still in operation, has become a money loser amid falling power prices, according to Chicago-based Exelon. For the third consecutive year, the plant failed to win generating capacity payments last week in an auction held by PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. power market……

Exelon’s Three Mile Island reactor near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, site of the worst commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history in 1979, will close in 2019 after losing money for five years, the company said Tuesday in a filing. At least five nuclear power plants have retired in the past five years including Fort Calhoun in Nebraska, which closed in October, as shale gas and rising output of wind and solar power depress prices.

While New York and Illinois have stepped in with mandates that customers pay more for nuclear power to save jobs and curb greenhouse gas emissions, Pennsylvania has not. Last year, Illinois approved a $235 million-a-year lifeline for Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton reactors after the company announced they would close.

 The announcement smacks of “posturing,” Shahriar Pourreza, a New York-based analyst for Guggenheim Securities, said by phone Tuesday. “This is no different than what they did in Illinois. It’s the right tactic. They’ve got time.”

The Pennsylvania plant, with one reactor still in operation, has become a money loser amid falling power prices, according to Chicago-based Exelon. For the third consecutive year, the plant failed to win generating capacity payments last week in an auction held by PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. power market…….

Exelon will record one-time costs of as much as $110 million pretax in the second quarter to retire the plant before its license expires in 2034, according to the filing. Charges of as much as $25 million a year may be recorded in 2018 and 2019. Cash costs related to the closing may reach $70 million, mostly for employee-related expenses. The plant employs about 675 people, the company said in the statement.

 Exelon shares rose 0.5 percent to $36 at 10:53 a.m. in New York, outperforming the S&P 500 Utilities Index.

“Investors want them to close the plant,” Pourreza said. “It’s not a great plant. It’s old, it generates negative cash flow.” http://pilotonline.com/news/nation-world/national/infamous-three-mile-island-nuclear-plant-is-latest-casualty-of/article_45587ac5-bd06-5e1e-bfdb-8cef7d75255d.html

May 31, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Europe’s nuclear power stations aging – nearing retirement: Nuclear transboundary consultations

Nuclear transboundary consultations are a test for public participation and transparency across Europe https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ana-maria-seman/nuclear-transboundary-consultations-are-test-for-public-participation-and-   ANA-MARIA SEMAN 30 May 2017

Over the next three years, 30 nuclear reactors across Europe will reach their retirement age. Making the decision-making process over their future open and transparent is crucial.

One month ago, the Ukrainian government took an unexpected step. It invited neighbouring governments to participate in consultations regarding lifetime extension of nine of its nuclear reactors.

For more than four years Bankwatch and other civil society groups have been calling on Ukraine to recognise its obligations under the Espoo Convention (which provides a framework for environmental impact assessment in a transboundary context) and carry out public consultations. But at a time when public trust in government institutions across Europe is at a record low and given the major inconsistencies in the practice of transboundary consultations on nuclear issues, this is only the start of a test for public participation and transparency in Europe’s nuclear sector.

The upcoming Meeting of Parties (MOP) to the Espoo convention in June will be the battleground for anti-nuclear government to set clearer rules for applying the convention.

Not a box-ticking exercise

Ageing nuclear reactors are fast becoming a serious threat across Europe. In addition, rather than devising energy transition strategies and allocating  the financial resources needed for decommissioning of outdated reactors,  governments inside and outside the EU, often pushed by the nuclear industry’s lobbyists, choose to extend the lifetime of nuclear reactors beyond the expiration date of their licences.

Of Belgium’s seven nuclear units, three (Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1) have been granted 10-year life extensions. This move has sparked harsh reactions from neighbouring Germany over the lack of transboundary consultations, taking the Belgium government to court. Close by, both the Netherlands and the Czech Republic are being investigated by the Implementation Committee of the Espoo convention for the lifetime extension of Borselle and Dukovany nuclear reactors without consulting neighbouring states. On Europe’s eastern flank, Ukraine has already prolonged the operations of six reactors beyond their original lifetimes without conducting any transboundary consultations.

But this is not just about these four countries. No less than 30 nuclear reactors across Europe will reach their retirement age over the next three years. The inconsistent application of the Espoo Convention procedures for decisions on extending their lifetimes is thus a serious concern. In fact, the Convention’s implementation committee already ruled in 2013 that Ukraine extending the lifetime of two reactors (Rivne 1 and 2) was in breach of the international treaty due to the lack of environmental impact assessments and transboundary consultations. 

When other governments saw Ukraine subsequently ignoring the ruling, continuing with lifetime extensions for four more nuclear units, they took it as justification for avoiding public scrutiny in decisions on lifetime extensions for their own reactors. This has led to a situation where since the Rivne decision in 2014, five new cases of incompliance have piled on the table of the Espoo implementation Committee, all following complaints from civil society and potentially affected countries.

The irregular application of the Espoo Convention is one of the subjects on the table for next month’s meeting of parties (MOP) to the convention. The situation in Ukraine has garnered particular interest in light of the large number of reactors with licences extended and the very limited progress made on ensuring public participation in lifetime extension decisions since the Rivne decision at the previous meeting. Ukraine’s notification on transboundary consultations received in late April by the governments of Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Poland and Belarus, although an important first step, shows just that — the poor quality of environmental documentation and lack of guidance on how to apply the convention to nuclear lifetime extensions. The notification, supported by a handful of documents limited to non-technical summaries of environmental impact assessments (EIAs), is unclear about the purpose and the activity that is subject to transboundary consultations. As such it looks like little more than a lip service, in turn making neighbouring governments and citizens into rubber stamps for Kiev’s reckless nuclear energy enterprise.

Rather than allowing citizens and governments in neighbouring countries to have a say on the final decisions on nuclear units’ lifetime extensions, the Ukrainian notification only invites comments on some vague aspects of  electricity production in Ukraine. This effectively renders the whole process meaningless. What’s more, of the nine reactors in question, four have already had their operation licenses extended, thus casting serious doubts over the point of these consultations.

The periodic Safety Reviews of the relevant nuclear units, the reports on safety upgrade measures, full EIAs for each reactor, are only some of the documents that have to be provided to the public for consultation and which are missing from the documents submitted for consultations by Ukraine. Transparency is a key condition to ensuring meaningful public participation as well as the timeliness of consultations, which ought to take place before the decisions on lifetime extension are made.

For civil society groups monitoring the situation as well as neighbouring governments that are currently commenting on the notification, the Ukrainian government still has to bring more clarity on the connection between the outcome of consultations and the decision-making processes on lifetime extensions which have already been granted in Ukraine. More clarity and additions need to be brought as well to the documentation which should be in line with the requirements of the EU directive on environmental impact assessment. Public participation in the decision-making on lifetime extension must not be a box-ticking exercise, but a genuine opportunity to consider alternative strategies, environmental sustainability as well as financial means for decommissioning of the plants, sooner or later.

The parties to the convention, including the representatives from the European Union, will not have the option of undermining the calls for more clarity, as was done at the previous MOP due to political pressure, and will have to endorse clear recommendations for how the convention should be applied to lifetime extensions.

These recommendations should be clear on the obligation to apply the convention to lifetime extension decisions, on the environmental documentation that has to accompany the notifications which needs to be in line with EU EIA directive and on the timeline and forms of consultations with the public, national and European. This is absolutely crucial for setting the grounds for current and future decision-making processes and for governments to not get away with sloppy consultation processes.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Lithuania renews its opposition to nuclear power station being built in Belarus

Vilnius redoubles pushback against Belarusian nuclear plant http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-05-vilnius-redoubles-pushback-against-belarusian-nuclear-plant

Lithuania has renewed its long-held opposition to a Russian-built nuclear power plant going up just 50 kilometers from its capitol in neighboring Belarus by passing a law against buying its electricity. May 30, 2017 by Charles DiggesLithuania has renewed its long-held opposition to a Russian-built nuclear power plant going up just 50 kilometers from its capitol in neighboring Belarus by passing a law against buying its electricity.

Vilnius has worked to torpedo the project since 2010 over its violations of transnational environmental regulations, and the new legislative move to sap its potential energy markets could land a blow. More recently, the country has fanned out its ambassadors through Europe to inveigh against the project, one of whom, Darius Degutis, recently spoke with Bellona.

Belarus, as with many of Russia’s increasingly familiar foreign deals, is building two VVER-1200 reactors on one of Moscow’s build-own-operate structures that offers Minsk billion of dollars in state-backed financing.

Many in the West, Lithuania among them, see Russia’s ambitions to built nuclear plants abroad as attempt to cast Moscow’s apron strings into the European Union. By fully financing reactor builds, they say, the Kremlin is offering a Faustian bargain: energy independence in exchange for long-term debt and Moscow friendly politics.

The right wing, Moscow-leaning government of Viktor Orban in Hungary is a prime example. The country relies on a Soviet-built nuclear power plant for 50 percent of its electricity, and recently signed a €12 billion deal for a second Russia-built plant. Budapest is also unlikely to pester Moscow over sensitive issues like its proxy war in Ukraine.

Moscow has a habit of conducting foreign policy by choking, then reviving, natural gas supplies to the EU. Disputes between Russia and Ukraine, which remain bitter, led to cuts in Europe’s gas supply from Russia during the winter in 2006 and 2009.

With its new law, Lithuania is attempting to opt out of becoming a hostage to Moscow’s new zero-sum nuclear energy policy.

Officially, the law passed by Lithuania’s parliament in April codifies what the country calls “necessary measures” against dangerous nuclear power plants in third countries, and spells out Vilnius’s refusal to buy energy from any nuclear power plant it considers dangerous to its public and its environment.

But its unambiguous target is Belarus’s Ostrovets nuclear plant, whose builders recently made headlines by dropping a 330 ton reactor pressure vessel, which houses the core, and by accidentally running another one into a cement column while unloading it from a train.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom replaced the dropped unit, and officials in Belarus have said the Ostrovets plant is cruising toward its 2020 opening date despite the clumsiness.

To Degutis, the accident-prone nature of the Ostrovets site is just one of many concerns. Others are the selection of the site to begin with. Of more than 20 areas surveyed in the 1990s to host the plant, the one chosen was among the four least desirable from Lithuania’s point of view. Indeed, the plant is actually visible from the Lithuanian capital on a clear day.

Such proximity issues, Lithuania has said for years, are a clear violation of the Espoo Convention against trans-border pollution and environmental hazards.

And there are other violations. For instance, Belarus has failed to provide ecological documentation on the plant, which would allow for an accurate assessment of the environmental dangers it may pose. For its part, Lithuania has said it would need a countrywide evacuation plan in the event of an accident.

But targeting the potential customer base for Ostrovets seems to follow the lessons offered by other flailing nuclear power plants in the Baltic Region that in recent years have been starved of interested consumers.

Russia’s plans for a nuclear plant in its Kaliningrad enclave have been quietly shelved over an acute lack of countries that would buy its power. Poland, for instance, publically declared in 2011 that it wouldn’t invest in Baltic Nuclear plant because it didn’t want to but its power.

Lithuania’s own plans for a nuclear power plant have taken a more tortured route. Since 2009, the country has been discussing the Visaginas plant to replace the Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear station. In 2012, after Fukushima, Visaginas became the subject of a polarized debate over the country’s energy independence, and former Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius came to power pledging to stop the plant from proceeding.

Ironically, during the early discussion around Visaginas, Belarus leveled claims against Lithuania for itself violating the Espoo Convention.

The plant had a hard time drawing investors until Japan’s Hitachi offered to bankroll the project after Poland had, as in Kaliningrad, backed out of financing the project. But Hitachi has failed to move the plant forward ever since, and it, too, has quietly receded as a priority.

While Lithuania’s new law will force the question of dwindling customers for Ostrovets, Vilnius will again push its claims that Belarus is violating the Espoo Convention at a meeting of the agreements signatories to be held next month, oddly enough in Minsk.

Charles Digges

charles@bellona.no

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear power company Eskom wants a blank cheque from the South African government

Eskom asks Gigaba for blank cheque, news 24, Sipho Masondo

2017-05-28 Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has been asked to approve various components of the nuclear deal and effectively give Eskom a “blank cheque”.

These requests are contained in a letter Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane wrote to Gigaba earlier this month. In the letter, dated May 10, Ngubane also pleads with the minister to intervene in the stand-off between Treasury and Eskom regarding the Gupta family’s Tegeta Mine.

The letter was sent to Gigaba two weeks after the Western Cape High Court’s ruling that key elements of the nuclear deal were unconstitutional.

The letter appears to be an attempt by Ngubane to set a new tone for the relationship from the somewhat tense one that Eskom had with Treasury under ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan. Treasury and Eskom clashed repeatedly in recent years as the former insisted that the power utility abide by the rules and questioned its procurement practices.

 In his letter, Ngubane:

. Asked for a direct line to Gigaba;

. Pleaded with Gigaba to revise the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) or rush to introduce the Procurement Act to enable “radical economic transformation”;

. Requested the finance minister to relax the stringent conditions relating to the extension of the power utility’s R350 billion guarantees;

. Appealed to Gigaba to approve various programmes relating to the nuclear deal. These included exempting Eskom from the PPPFA and the approval of the Standard Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management; and,

. Raised concerns that Treasury had appointed another service provider to review Eskom’s coal contract with Tegeta and that the stand-off between the two parties regarding the power utility’s coal contracts with the Gupta family’s Tegeta mine had been going on for two years……..

ast month, City Press also reported Eskom was set to get the nuclear deal underway in June by issuing a request for proposals.

At that time, sources had told City Press that President Jacob Zuma had removed finance minister Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas because they were opposed to the nuclear deal and were dragging their feet in having it implemented.

After seeing Ngubane’s letter, a source with knowledge of Treasury’s workings said: “Now you know why Gordhan and Jonas were removed. This is the completion of state capture.”

The source said Ngubane and the Eskom leadership wanted the PPPFA to be relaxed “so that they can do as they please with procurement”.

“Why would they want the conditions that come with guarantees to be relaxed? You must remember, for government to give guarantees, there must be stringent conditions. You simply cannot relax them,” he said.

Such conditions, he said, included a corporate plan that should be seen and approved by Treasury, and procurement policies that were in line with the Public Finance Management Act and the PPPFA.

A senior executive at Treasury said: “Baldwin [Ngubane’s middle name] is saying the previous minister was not a friend of Eskom. He was strict and put Eskom under watch through guarantees and other procurement conditions.

“He is asking the new minister to relax conditions, approve the nuclear deal, exempt Eskom from procurement measures and give the favours as outlined in the letter.” http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/eskom-asks-gigaba-for-blank-cheque-20170527

May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Washington Post awash with articles by weapons lobbyists

Washington Post Keeps Running Op-Eds by Lobbyists Pushing Their Clients’ Weapons http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/washington_post_running_op-eds_lobbyists_pushing_weapons_20170527    By Adam Johnson / AlterNet For the third time in two months, The Washington Post has published, without disclosure, an op-ed by a lobbyist for weapons makers pushing for weapons their client makes.

Twice this has been done by staff columnist and BGR Group lobbyist Ed Rogers on behalf of Raytheon, the third time was by Podesta Group lobbyist Stephen Rademaker on behalf of Lockheed Martin.

In early April, after President Trump capriciously decided to bomb a Syrian air force base using Raytheon missiles, Raytheon lobbyist Ed Rogers took to the opinion section of Washington Post–where he, unaccountably, has a recurring column–to lavish praise on the President for doing so.

Rogers’ lobbying firm BGR received $120,000 in 2016 for lobbying on “defense and communications procurement; Defense appropriations and authorizations,” for Raytheon, Media Matters reported at the time.

Rogers boosted Trump again on behalf of his client six weeks later–this time both Saudi Arabia and Raytheon–in his post “The upcoming international trip is an opportunity for Trump and his staff”. The column, while not directly addressing weapons system. painted a glowing picture of a courageous Mr. Trump heading to the middle east to make peace and forge relationships.

Ed Rogers’ firm BGR was paid $500,000 by Saudi Arabia in 2015 to lobby on behalf of the Middle East dictatorship. In addition, the weapons deal finalized by the Trump administration on the trip greatly benefited Rogers’ other client, Raytheon, which has paid BGR $270,000 in the past two and a half years.

Raytheon is also the primary sponsor of Washington Post’s corporate puff interview series “Post Live: Securing Tomorrow” hosted by NatSec-friendly David Ignatius.

A third, and more egregious instance, of the lobbyist-as-pundit practice was from Podesta Group pitchman Stephen Rademaker in a post last week on North Korea’s missile program, “The North Korean nuclear threat is very real. Time to start treating it that way.

Not only did Rademaker generally push a war his client was helping arm-–as Mr. Rogers did–he expressly lobbied the US to procure two specific weapons systems made by his client, Lockheed Martin:

It’s time to take North Korea’s words and actions at face value: North Korea is a nuclear-armed state and is determined to remain one. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile defense system to South Korea is a welcome first step to contain the threat, allowing us to shoot down short- and intermediate-range missiles fired from North Korea.

As North Korean missile capabilities grow, THAAD needs to be augmented with more robust missile defense systems, including the ship-borne Aegis system, the Aegis Ashore system now being deployed in Romania, expanded interceptor capabilities in Alaska and the corresponding sensors necessary to maximize the effectiveness of all these systems.

Both the THAAD missile system and the Aegis Ashore system are made by Lockheed Martin, one of Podesta Group’s major clients. Lockheed Martin paid Podesta Group $130,000 in the first quarter of 2017 alone and $1.8 million since 2014. According to Podesta Group’s own internal marketing collateral, one of their aims is to “Win key government Projects” for Lockheed Martin.

“At a time when the federal government was seeking to reduce its spending dramatically, Lockheed Martin asked the Podesta Group to ensure one of its flagship programs continued to receive full funding,” their promotional material reads. Presumably writing op-eds pushing Lockheed products in the most influential newspapers in Washington fits neatly into this marketing effort.

The Washington Post mentions Rademaker is a principal at Podesta Group but does not mention Podesta Group is a lobbying firm nor do they mention they’re a lobbying firm on behalf of the makers of THAAD and Aegis Ashore weapons systems being expressly hawked in the post.

In April, liberal watchdog Media Matters documented twelve separate times Post Columnist Ed Rogers didn’t disclose his conflicts of interest, ranging from Dodd-Frank to the Keystone Pipeline to Climate Change legislation. Podesta Group’s Rademaker previously pushed then-President Obama to not reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal in 2014 without disclosing a $200,000-a-year client of his at the time, Huntington Ingalls Industries, built nuclear weapons systems.

The practice of allowing lobbyists to write “opinion” pieces that act as little more marketing pushes for their clients shiny new war products is an even more vulgar extension of the media’s habit of allowing defense industry-funded think tanks to push for increased military spending and saber-rattling, all without even the pretense of academic research or analysis.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | media, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Africa: corruption and th ecapture of the State

Betrayal of the Promise: The Anatomy of State Capture https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-05-26-betrayal-of-the-promise-the-anatomy-of-state-capture#.WS4FiJKGPGg  RANJENI MUNUSAMY

South Africans have been bombarded with revelations of how the state has been hijacked to amass wealth for a connected power elite involving President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family. An academic research partnership has consolidated all available information into a frightening compendium on state capture, mapping the deals, the key players and the modus operandi for commandeering control of state institutions and parastatals. Their report shows why it is necessary for a judicial inquiry and criminal prosecution for corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering and, possibly, treason. It also shows the danger of key enablers such as Zuma, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Eskom CEO Brian Molefe remaining in their posts. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

 When President Jacob Zuma executed his most overt act of betrayal of the people and party who put him in power by firing Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas as minister and deputy of finance, he probably did not foresee that this would turn an entire society against him. Opposition parties, the ANC’s alliance partners Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, civil society, business, veterans and stalwarts, religious leaders and now academics are standing up to oppose and expose the Zuma-Gupta contagion.

Last week, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) released a report of an Unburdening Panel comprising evidence of whistle-blowers who approached church leaders about their experiences of state capture. On Thursday, the State Capacity Research Project, a team of leading academics from four universities, released a 72-page report detailing what they call a “silent coup” by an organised criminal network.

Betrayal Of The Promise: How South Africa Is Being Stolen is a report that sought to respond to Gordhan’s challenge to “connect the dots” around all the allegations of state capture and why he and Jonas were fired.

“While corruption is widespread at all levels and is undermining development, state capture is a far greater, systemic threat. It is akin to a silent coup and must, therefore, be understood as a political project that is given a cover of legitimacy by the vision of radical economic transformation. The March 2017 Cabinet reshuffle was confirmation of this silent coup; it was the first Cabinet reshuffle that took place without the full prior support of the governing party.

“This moves the symbiotic relationship between the constitutional state and the shadow state that emerged after the African National Conference (ANC) Polokwane conference in 2007 into a new phase. The reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom’s chief executive officer (CEO) a few weeks later in defiance of the ANC confirms this trend,” the report states.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

A promising first: hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

Battery storage paired with wind farm in ground-breaking Spanish trial, REneweconomy By Sophie Vorrath on 30 May 2017


The first hybrid wind power storage plant in Spain using batteries

A world first hybrid renewables trial, pairing a grid-connected wind farm with lithium-ion battery storage and energy management software, has been switched on in Spain, in a bid to boost the integration of variable-generation renewables into electricity networks around the world.

The project, led by Spanish wind energy giant Acciona, will use in-house developed “simulation” software to control the battery storage systems at a specially developed hybrid power plant, which is located next to Acciona’s experimental wind farm at Barasoain (Navarra)…..http://reneweconomy.com.au/battery-storage-paired-with-wind-farm-in-ground-breaking-spanish-trial-69731/

May 31, 2017 Posted by | energy storage, renewable, Spain | Leave a comment

South Africa’s anti nuclear movement renews its campaign

Group that ended Eskom’s nuclear bid plans next move  http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/group-that-ended-eskoms-nuclear-bid-plans-next-move-20170528   Matthew le Cordeur   May 28 2017 Cape Town – The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) has moved on from its court victory over government and Eskom in April, which set aside the nuclear procurement programme.

High court ruling on nuclear was a victory for SA – Liziwe McDaid

A month after winning the court bid, Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid said the victory opened space for other civil society organisations to come together to keep the nuclear programme from moving forward.

McDaid, who was engaging with stakeholders in Khayelitsha last week, told Fin24 that the court victory was a major boost in bringing other stakeholders together.

“For civil society, this has opened a space,” she said. “It has meant that organisations involved in child care, youth work (and) social justice have realised what the impact of such a deal could have on their work.

“Right now, it’s up to civil society to consolidate that gain, to spread that message and to mobilise going forward.”

McDaid said Safcei would focus its attention on the Department of Energy’s draft integrated resource plan and energy plan, which is currently undergoing stakeholder engagement and public hearings.

“One of our critical areas is the electricity plan, which was five years out of date,” she said. “We want to make sure that process runs properly and that renewable energy is given its proper place, because we want to see South Africa move into the future.

“The future energy is definitely renewable and not nuclear,” she said. Continue reading

May 31, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Global nuclear lobby ponders on what is the best sort of nuclear propaganda

The psychology of nuclear power: Stop saying it’s safe, Power Technology, by Molly Lempriere, 30 May 17 

At the end of this year’s Nuclear Industry Forum, talk turned to the psychology of nuclear propaganda, including why – as Imperial University fellow Malcolm Grimston explains -calling it safe is not always a good thing. The aircraft industry amongst others learnt a long time ago that you do not lead your advertising with your weak points. That is why it does not often emphasis safety on its adverts but instead focuses on the joys of the holiday you are flying too.

Imperial University Centre for Environmental Policy senior research fellow Malcolm Grimston believes that this is something the nuclear industry needs to learn. Faced with criticism over the safety of nuclear power from charities, groups and individuals, the nuclear industry long ago embarked on a campaign to try and convince the public of its inherent safety. But this approach has been ineffectual according to Grimston………

What is the best type of propaganda?

So how can the nuclear industry really convey its importance and use, as well as safety to the masses in an effective way? “It’s not a matter of trying to play up problems that are out there, it’s a matter of saying this is something that has some very positive points that can contribute towards finding the solution to some of the difficulties out there,” suggests Grimston.

As nuclear new build Hinkley Point begins construction in the UK, it will be interesting to see if the nuclear industry leads with the old safe message, a more emotive take, or nothing at all.http://www.power-technology.com/features/featurethe-psychology-of-nuclear-power-stop-saying-its-safe-5822092/

May 31, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Is it time to stop the astronomically expensive ICBM race?

Upgrading U.S. nuclear missiles, as Russia and China modernize, would cost $85 billion. Is it time to quit the ICBM race? LA Times, W.J. Hennigan and Ralph Vartabedian   Contact Reporters 30 May 17 
 The sky over the turbulent Pacific was pitch-black earlier this month when a Minuteman III missile blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a column of fire that illuminated the California coastline for miles.
The unarmed missile thundered past the outer reaches of the atmosphere, tracing a fiery arc around the globe before plunging into a lagoon at Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,200 miles away. The Minuteman III tested May 3 near Lompoc is a critical element of U.S. defense strategy: a fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of obliterating any spot on Earth with a nuclear blast in 30 minutes or less.

Although the flight test proved Minuteman is still capable of performing its missionmajor components of the missile and the control centers used to launch them are Cold War-era relics that have become increasingly expensive to maintain. Spare parts are in such short supply that the military has been known to pull them from museums.

At the same time, Russia and China are upgrading their nuclear capabilities. Pakistan, India and Israel continue to build new nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Air Force officials worry increasingly about the Minuteman’s ability to penetrate adversaries’ future missile defense systems.

The result is one of the most strategically complex and financially difficult challenges the Trump administration faces in making good on the president’s pledge for a “great rebuilding of the armed forces,” including the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal.

The Pentagon has begun work to replace the Minuteman fleet with a new generation of missiles and launch control centers, but the plan would cost an astronomical $85 billion, one of the most expensive projects in Air Force history.

Two defense firms will be awarded three-year contracts for $359 million each this year, with a test flight program scheduled for launch in the mid-2020s.

The tremendous expense of deploying a missile fleet capable in the long term of countering nuclear threats has spawned a debate in the American military establishment: How essential, in the 21st century, are the 400 strategic missiles embedded in silos deep under the plains of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota?

The discussion has opened for review the very essence of the nation’s nuclear defense strategy: the “triad” deployment of nuclear weapons, in submarines, strategic bombers and land-based silos, to guarantee the ability to retaliate against any nuclear strike……

Pentagon officials want to replace almost the entire nuclear arsenal, at a cost of up to $1 trillion. But no component has raised more questions than the replacement of the ICBM fleet, which critics have said is no longer crucial to preventing a nuclear war.

The argument for eliminating ICBMs is stronger than at any time in the past. Advocates of that strategy say submarine-based missiles and strategic bombers have improved their capability and are now more than potent enough to deter an enemy attack.

Former Defense Secretary William J. Perry fired the opening salvo last year, calling for phasing out the entire land-based ICBM force. He argued that its continued deployment is too costly. And with the missiles on continuous alert in order to be able to launch instantly if an enemy launch is detected by satellites and radar, a mistake or faulty warning could trigger an accidental nuclear war.

“The ICBM system is outdated, risky and unnecessary,” Perry, who served in the Clinton administration 20 years ago, said in a recent interview. “Basically, it can bring about the end of civilization with a false alarm. It’s a liability because we can easily achieve deterrence without it.”

Perry has not been alone in expressing doubts about the ICBM program, but senior Pentagon leaders have always been persuaded to keep it. Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called for elimination of ICBMs before entering office and then changed his mind. Trump’s Defense secretary, James N. Mattis, questioned the need for the missiles in 2015 when he was a four-star general. But as soon as he was nominated, he began supporting a full-blown modernization of the triad.

The reevaluation of the role of ICBMs in America’s defense comes in an era when nuclear weapons are proliferating, not fading away. GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike, who has analyzed U.S. military systems and strategies for more than three decades, says critics “are gaining no traction” in calling for the elimination of the ballistic missile fleet…….. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-icbm-2017-story.html

May 31, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

In Sweden, civil society can influence nuclear waste decisions

How can civil society influence nuclear waste decisions? Nuclear Transparency Watch Johan Swahn, ENEF May 23 2017 I have worked with radioactive waste issues for many years, first at university and since 12 years for the Swedish environmental movement.

In Sweden the systems set up for access to information, consultation and public information are very favourable for dialogue. It is not always easy to interest the general public or politicians in the
complexity of radioactive waste issues, but the interactions between the industry (SKB), the regulator (SSM), the nuclear communities (Östhammar and Oskarshamn), the Swedish Council for Nuclear Waste (the Government’s scientific advisory board), academia, the environmental movement and other
actors are well developed.  http://www.nuclear-transparency-watch.eu/activities/presentation-of-johan-swahn-during-the-enef-on-may-23-2017-panel-on-radioactive-waste-management.html

May 31, 2017 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Canadian company still wants to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron

 http://www.wxyz.com/news/canadian-company-still-wants-to-bury-nuclear-waste-near-lake-huron

May 31, 2017 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment