nuclear-news

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

Nuclear, climate news, for the week that has been

Well, I know that the big story remains the North Korea   – USA nuclear standoff. This is dominating the nuclear news, perhaps all of the news.

Still, other things nuclear are happening, and the most fascinating this week is the political drama being played out in South Africa. Briefly, The Zuma government has had to stall its plans for nuclear procurement, as the result of a court ruling. This is the latest event in the extraordinary history of corruption in South Africa’s nuclear plans.  Democracy is on the line in South Africa, if the government presses on with the project.

 

 

World’s nuclear experts forming a Nuclear Crisis Group to Advise World Leaders on Avoiding Nuclear War.   Chinese diplomat warns that talk between USA and North Korea is essential – tipping point is near.  Pope Francis suggests Norway as mediator, urges a diplomatic solution to North Korean nuclear crisis.  Vatican says nuclear weapons “provide a false sense of security”.

The Independent WHO examines the World Health Organisation and finds it dishonest on ionising radiation.

CLIMATE. Early Greenland Melt Spike Possible as Forecast Calls for Temperatures of up to 50 F Above Average   Lakes around the world are affected by heat from climate change. The disappearing Arctic ice, and its consequences.

NORTH KOREA. China tells its citizens – Get out of North Korea. Russia: “It is evident that Pyongyang will not abandon its nuclear weapons as long as it sees itself directly threatened. North Korea accuses USA of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, with its bomber flights. North Korea threatens a pre-emptive nuclear strike on USA. Trump administration trying to make China responsible for fixing North Korean crisis.

UK. Brexit will mean that Britain will be stuck with Europe’s nuclear waste. Nuclear Industry Association (NIA)makes 6 demands for arrangements to replace Euratom. Problems compounded for NuGen’s Moorside nuclear project in Cumbria.  World Nuclear Lobby bewails Britain’s lack of progress on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs).  Even the fake charity Weinberg Next Nuclear recognises the link between Small Modular Nuclear Reactors and Weapons.

FRANCE. Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron – very different views on nuclear power. Macron pins reactor closures to renewables growth.

JAPAN. Japan wants stronger Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer. Mount Juman forest fire in Namie spreads radioactive material.  Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima ‘No-Go Zone‘. Fukushima authorities ask troops to help deal with forest fires near crippled nuclear power plant.

UKRAINE. 2,397,863 registered Chernobyl-related health victims now in treatment. 453,391 ARE CHILDREN.  Chernobyl Remembered. Consequences of Chernobyl.

BELARUS. Belarus march against nuclear power on Chernobyl anniversary.

USA.

SOUTH AFRICA. Medium and long term impact of South African court ruling – not good for the nuclear industry. South Africa’s new energy minister talks about nuclear transparency, “public participation”. South African govt will challenge High Court’s ruling against nuclear power procurement. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) excludes nuclear power for South Africa’s energy mix. South African research institutions were paid hush money to shut up about nuclear power.

IRAN. Growing trade between Iran and European Union following implementation of the nuclear deal. Nuclear deal is an issue in Iran’s electionRex Tillerson attacks Iran nuclear deal.

UAE. Lacking nuclear expertise, United Arab Emirates postpones start-up pf nuclear reactors.

QATAR. Qatar calls for nuclear-free zone in Middle East.

GERMANY. Germany’s record 85% renewables over weekend.

CANADATwo thirds of Canada’s electricity now comes from renewable energy.

RUSSIA. Early Season Russia-Siberia Wildfire Outbreak Expands Due to Heat

INDIA. Lots of renewable energy news

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Tax-payer money urged for funding Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

However, nuclear critics point out that the small modular reactors remain unproven. Because none has been built, questions remain about whether they would be safer or more economical than full-size reactors


Newhouse asks Trump for small modular reactor money,
Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY acary@tricityherald.com, 6 May 17 Federal money to establish the United States as a leader in small modular nuclear reactors would pay off with economic and security benefits, Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., has told President Donald Trump.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Pope Francis – shocked at use of the word “mother” to label US’ biggest non-nuclear bomb

Pope Francis slams use of ‘mother’ to label US’ biggest non-nuclear explosive, http://www.smh.com.au/world/pope-francis-slams-use-of-mother-to-label-us-biggest-nonnuclear-explosive-20170506-gvznqa.html Milan: Pope Francis has criticised naming the US military’s biggest non-nuclear explosive the “mother of all bombs”, saying the word “mother” should not be used in reference to a deadly weapon.

The US Air Force dropped such a bomb, officially designated the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on suspected Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan last month.

The nickname was widely used in briefings and reporting on the attack.

“I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Pope Francis told an audience of students on Saturday. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?”

Pope Francis is set to meet US President Donald Trump on May 24 in a potentially awkward encounter, given their opposing positions on immigration, refugees and climate change.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Exposure to ionising radiation; we all got a tiny increase due to Fukushima nuclear disaster

Fukushima accident gave everyone an X-ray’s worth of radiation By Andy Coghlan, 6 May 17 https://www.newscientist.com/article/2129988-fukushima-accident-gave-everyone-an-x-rays-worth-of-radiation/

“We don’t need to worry,” says Nikolaos Evangeliou at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, whose team has conducted the first global survey of radiation exposure caused by the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan after a tsunami struck in 2011.

Evangeliou’s team has calculated the approximate exposure of everyone on Earth to two radioactive isotopes of caesium, using all the data available so far. Most of this came from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors radiation in the environment using a global network of measuring stations.

“More than 80 per cent of the radiation was deposited in the ocean and poles, so I think the global population got the least exposure,” Evangeliou told the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, Austria, last month. He has estimated the dose that most individuals received to be 0.1 millisievert. “What I found was that we got one extra X-ray each,” says Evangeliou.

 Impact on wildlife

Even in Japan, the average person’s radiation dose was low: 0.5 millisieverts, which is close to the annual recommended limit for breathing in naturally occurring radon gas. In comparison, the average annual exposure from background levels of radiation in the UK is around 2.7 millisieverts a year.

Doses were unsurprisingly higher for residents of Fukushima and neighbouring areas during the first three months of the accident, ranging from 1 to 5 millisieverts. But such doses are still relatively low – a typical CT scan delivers 15 millisieverts, for example, while it takes 1000 millisieverts to cause radiation sickness.

But Evangeliou says that the effects on wildlife around the plant might be more severe. Already, he says, increased levels of radiation around Fukushima have been linked to declines in bird populations there between 2011 and 2014. “There have also been reports of declines in other species such as insects and some mammals,” he says.

However overall, Evangeliou says the hazards posed by fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine in 1986 are still much greater than those from Fukushima, because the fallout was larger, and it fell upon more densely populated areas.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

AREVA abandons Nunavut uranium project, due to indigenous opposition and low market prices

Areva pulls out of Baker Lake, Nunavut uranium mine remains mothballed, NUNATSIAQ ONLINE, Nunavut May 05, 2017 JANE GEORGE Areva Resources Canada, the proponent of the Kiggavik uranium project, has decided to close shop in Baker Lake and put its office building up for sale.

“After over 10 years exploring in the territory, studying the possibility of developing the Kiggavik Project and making numerous friends in the Kivalliq region, it’s time to say good bye,” the company said in an advertisement in the Nunatsiaq News print newspaper of May 5…..

The decision to sell the building comes after Areva opted to place its uranium mining project on hold.

That followed a 2015 recommendation from the Nunavut Impact Review Board that the project, 80 kilometres east of Baker Lake, should not proceed.

Then, in July 2016, the four federal ministers with authority over the project said they accepted the NIRB’s recommendation.

Kiggavik will remain in care and maintenance for an “indefinite period,” McCallum said May 4.

Meanwhile, its permits will be maintained and the property will be secured and visited once a year, he said.

The uranium mine to be located at two sites, Kiggavik and Sissons, would have comprised four open pits and an underground operation.

Areva said the project, with an estimated lifespan of about 12 years, would have been operating by some time in the 2020s or 2030s.

But opponents, such as the Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit group, said uranium mining posed a serious risk to the Kivalliq region’s caribou herds and that the environmental risks associated with the operation would outweigh its economic benefits.

While the mine would have cost $2 billion to build, McCallum said Areva had spent $80 million on developing the project, with $30 million going to northern contractors since 2006—numbers he recently shared in a meeting with the mayor of Baker Lake and the Kivalliq Inuit Association……The price of uranium currently stands at about $22 per pound—down nearly by half since 2013 and much lower than its high of more than $136 per pound in 2007. http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674areva_pulls_out_of_baker_lake_as_nunavut_uranium_mine_mothballed/#.WQzPWFlWLhM.twitter

May 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, indigenous issues, Uranium | Leave a comment

Plans put on hold, for Cumbria’s Moorside nuclear project

Moorside nuclear plant ‘on hold’ as review announced, BBC News 4 May 2017 A plan to build a nuclear power station in Cumbria has been put on hold while the company behind it carries out a strategic review.

NuGen, which is overseeing the planned Moorside plant, was initially co-owned by French firm Engie and Toshiba.

Last month the Japanese technology giant announced it was taking 100% control and that has led to NuGen announcing the pause…….http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-39804933

May 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Future of Britain’s Moorside nuclear power project now looking uncertain

Toshiba bankruptcy threatens Moorside, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/06/toshiba-bankruptcy-threatens-moorside/ 6 MAY 2017 

Toshiba’s bankrupt nuclear arm may be prevented from providing any emergency funds to its overseas interests, throwing the future of the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria into fresh doubt.

It has emerged that Westinghouse, the Toshiba-owned American nuclear reactor developer, faces orders not to prop up any joint venture agreements that it entered into before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

Wall Street private equity giant Apollo has pledged an $800m (£617m)rescue loan to the Pennsylvania-based company, which is awaiting court approval, while a group of hedge funds is also interested in providing emergency financing. However, it is understood that many of these prospective new investors want to see any fresh funds funnelled into Westinghouse and its main subsidiaries, not foreign joint venture projects like Moorside. They are calling for partners involved in Toshiba’s overseas interests to also step in and provide support.

The £18bn Moorside project is a central pillar of the UK’s atomic energy programme. The 3.4 gigawatt plant will power up to 6m homes but it has been thrown into doubt by Toshiba’s financial crisis and the bankruptcy of Westinghouse. The reactor maker, which the Japanese corporation bought from the British government in 2006, had been due to install three of its AP1000 reactors at Moorside. The project received a further blow when its other backer, French energy provider Engie, pulled out. Without the support of the only remaining backer, there are fears that the plant will never be built.

However, an industry source said: “Engie is a nuclear developer and a nuclear operator – it’s what they do. Senior people in the company have said that if the project found a way to move forward they would be interested in coming back.”

 

May 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

USA – hooray to nuclear weapons – boo to nuclear ban treaty talks

US military: “We are prepared to use nuclear weapons”

by John LaForge,  May 07, 2017

Twice in seven days the United States shot nuclear-capable long-range missiles toward the Marshall Islands, but the same government refused in March to join negotiations for a new treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Tests conducted April 26 and May 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base launched modernized Minuteman-3 ballistic missiles, and the US Air Force said in a statement that such tests ensure “the United States’ ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of US national security…”

In late March, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley explained why the US would boycott the “treaty ban” negotiations that began March 27 at the UN in New York City. Haley said about nuclear weapons, “[W]e can’t honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them, and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.” North Korean president Kim Jong-un could have said the same thing about his seven nuclear warheads, especially in view of US bombs and missiles currently falling on seven countries — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya — and engagement in massive war games off the Korean peninsula.

Ambassador Haley managed to avoid being two-faced on one level. Joining the ban treaty talks would have been openly hypocritical while her colleagues in the war department were preparing both new nuclear weapons production and a series of test launches. Another April test, at the Tonopah bombing range in Nevada, dropped a so-called “B61-12” the newest US H-bomb now in development and scheduled to go into production after 2022.

Jackie Cabasso, of the Western States Legal Foundation, explained April 20, “In 1997… President Bill Clinton signed Presidential Directive-60, reaffirming the threatened first use of nuclear weapons as the ‘cornerstone’ of US national security.… President Obama left office with the US poised to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads…. Over the past couple of years, the US has conducted a series of drop tests of the newly modified B61-12 gravity bomb…. Each new bomb will cost more than twice its weight in solid gold.” Of the 480 B61s slated to become B61-12s, about 180 are scheduled to be placed at six NATO bases in Europe.

US military: “We are prepared to use nuclear weapons” As it did Feb. 21 and Feb. 25, 2016, the Air Force regularly tests Minuteman-3s. Deputy Pentagon Chief Robert Work explained before the Feb. 25 launch that the US had tested “at least” 15 since January 2011, “And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.” This is a Big Lie. To “use” nuclear weapons produces only massacres, and massacres are never defensive.

Jason Ditz put the rocket tests in context for Antiwar.com: “Everywhere and (mostly) without exception, the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) would be angrily condemned by the United States as a dangerous provocation, and the firing of a nuclear-capable rocket would be treated as tantamount to an act of war. Not today [April 26], of course, when the missile in question was test-fired from California by the United States flying some 4,000 miles before hitting a test target near the Marshall Islands. The missile was identified as a Minuteman III, a nuclear-capable weapon of which the US has 450 in service.”

The two times Haley flubbed her March 27 “peace and safety” speech were alarming. Haley stumbled once saying, “We would love to have a ban on nuclear treat… nuclear weapons.” A ban on nuclear treaties is clearly what Haley’s bosses do want. So she didn’t correct herself when she said, “One day we will hope that we are standing here saying, ‘We no longer need nuclear weapons.’” Translation: today the US does not even hope to get rid of nuclear weapons.

Instead, the United States is simultaneously bombing and rocketing across the Middle East, hitting civilians with drones, Cruise missiles, depleted uranium, and even a 21,600-pound “Massive Ordnance Air Blast” or MOAB bomb, also tested April 13, destroying caves in Afghanistan. This giant “thermobaric” or “fuel-air” explosive (FAE) has the mass of five Lincoln Continentals, and reportedly killed 95 people including a teacher and his son. Such is the peace and safety delivered by “those of us that are good.”

One Defense Intelligence Agency report uncovered by Human Rights Watch said that because “shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue…it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate.”

On March 29, two days after her UN speech Haley spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations and cleared up any confusion the Pentagon’s bombing spree might cause. Haley declared, “The United States is the moral conscience of the world.” Well, “And I,” Dorothy Parker said, “am Marie of Romania.”

May 8, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How to Warn the Future About Toxic Waste?

Radioactive Cats and Nuclear Priests: How to Warn the Future About Toxic Waste, Motherboad, DANIEL OBERHAUS, May 7 2017 

Nuclear waste can remain toxic for tens of thousands of years. How do you warn the future that they’re standing on nuclear waste when there’s no one around to translate?

This is a series around POWER, a Motherboard 360/VR documentary about nuclear energy. Follow along here.

In 1999, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside of Carlsbad, New Mexico accepted its first deposit of mid-level nuclear waste. A massive network of tunnels extending nearly a quarter of a mile into the Earth, WIPP is tasked with safely storing the United States’ growing stockpile of nuclear waste for the next million years.

Due to the timescales involved when handling nuclear waste, designing deep geological repositories like WIPP is one of the most challenging engineering problems ever faced by our species. But, as it turns out, the main problem has less to do with engineering, and more to do with linguistics: namely, how to design a warning message about the repository that will be intelligible to future generations of humans who might happen across it hundreds of thousands of years from now.

The solution isn’t as simple as it seems. Humans have only been writing for about 5,500 years, and many ancient languages have forever been lost to history. The idea of using a language to write out a warning message that would last 200 times longer than the most ancient languages seems improbable at best. Even conventional warning symbols like the skull and crossbones are far from universal.

As for building giant, foreboding monuments to scare people away? One need only look to the great pyramids to see how well that worked at keeping people out. Another idea was simply to bury the waste and forget about it, which raises a significant ethical issue: Do we have an obligation to warn future generations about our nuclear waste?

In 1981, the US Department of Energy convened an eclectic panel of experts to design a warning message that would last millennia. Known as the Human Interference Task Force, the group was led by the renowned semiotician Thomas Sebeok.

The group’s message was being designed for Yucca Mountain, a controversial high-level waste repository in Nevada that is still not open for business, largely due to the extremely complex nature of designing a million-year nuclear vault.

Following the initial call for ideas, a poll was conducted by the German Journal of Semiotics between 1982 and 1983 that asked for proposals addressing the question of how to communicate the dangers of a nuclear waste repository to people 10,000 years in the future. The most compelling was Sebeok’s plan for a nuclear priesthood, which would pass on information to future generations through myths and rituals. It was based on the idea of the Catholic Church, which has managed to transmit its messages for nearly 2,000 years.

Less formal styles of oral tradition, such as Icelandic family sagas, have also been shown to retain a high degree of accuracy after 1,000 years.

Other ideas were slightly more outlandish. Stanislaw Lem, a Polish sci-fi writer, suggested periodically putting satellites into orbit that would transmit information about the sites to Earth for hundreds of years at a time. A similar proposal was put forth by Philipp Sonntag, who advocated for “an artificial moon in the sky” as the safest place to store information about the repository. Another of his ideas was to encode information about the site into the DNA of plants, which would then be planted around the repository opening.

 In a similar vein, the Italian semiotician proposed breeding “radiation cats” that would change color when they came near radioactive sites. The thinking was that, based on the long history of human-feline cohabitation, there was a good chance that this would continue into the future and our feline friends could warn us of the danger.

After two years of deliberation, the Human Interference Task Force issued a large technical report for the Department of Energy containing their final recommendations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, neither ray cats nor radioactive flowers made the cut. Instead, the task force proposed creating a large monument over the site, consisting of several stone monoliths inscribed with information in all human languages, as well as a subterranean vault with more detailed information, and a number of earthen walls making access to the site intentionally difficult.

Furthermore, the group recommended dispersing detailed information about the site to libraries around the globe, to prevent some sort of cataclysmic, Library of Alexandria-type of information loss should a disaster strike one of the sites……… https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/radioactive-cats-and-nuclear-priests-how-to-warn-the-future-about-toxic-waste

May 8, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

Iran warns on USA nuclear tests and the arms race

Iran raps US nuclear stance as provocative, warns about arms race, http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/05/06/520793/Iran-US–Dehqani-NPT-Conference-Nuclear-Weapons-Vienna A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official has criticized the “provocative” nuclear stance adopted by the United States, saying the world is witnessing an arms race among nuclear powers.

The director general for political and international security affairs at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Gholam-Hossein Dehqani, made the remarks in an address to the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Saturday.

“The existing nuclear weapons have already endangered international peace and security and the current world cannot deal with the beginning of a new round of arms race,” Dehqani said.

“That is the reason why any attempt at [unleashing] an arms race must be ended,” he added.

He said lack of real progress towards disarmament over the past 50 years was the “biggest challenge” to the NPT implementation.

The Iranian official expressed concern about the persistence of such a situation and warned that NPT’s credibility would be undermined if no immediate action was adopted to that effect.

According to the NPT, countries that possess nuclear weapons must fulfill their legal commitments to slash their atomic arsenals “completely, immediately, with goodwill and without any precondition,” he said.

It is estimated that there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, which is “a big threat to the survival of humanity,” Dehqani added.

US President Donald Trump said in February that he wants to ensure the US nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity.

Under Article VI of the NPT, all parties to the treaty undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament and the cessation of nuclear arms race.

The preparatory committee, which opened in Austria on May 2 and will conclude on May 12, is responsible for addressing substantive and procedural issues related to the NPT.

May 8, 2017 Posted by | Iran, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

1961 the thermonuclear bomb that they dropped in North Carolina

A thermonuclear bomb slammed into a US farm in 1961 — and part of it is still missing https://www.businessinsider.com.au/nuclear-bomb-accident-goldsboro-nc-swamp-2017-5?r=US&IR=T, DAVE MOSHER MAY 8, 2017,

May 8, 2017 Posted by | history, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Medical scientists report on impact of climate change on health in USA

Medical scientists report on the impact climate change is having on health https://www.skepticalscience.com/medical-scientists-report-climate-health-impact.html5 May 2017 by John Abraham mEDICAL sCIENTISAs a climate scientist, I spend time and energy studying how fast the Earth is warming and what is causing the warming. This knowledge helps us predict what the future will look like. But, what most people are interested in is, “how will it affect me?”

Some impacts we are pretty clear about, like the impacts related to sea level rise, increased storms and heavy precipitation, and increased drought and heat waves – particularly the impacts these events have on the economy. But climate change will affect us personally as well (by personally, I mean our physical person).

In fact, climate change is already affecting personal human health around the world. This subject was the focus of a summary report just published by the Medical Society Consortium. What I really liked about this report is that it breaks down some of the key impacts by region. Unfortunately, the report is limited in scope to the USA. However, the general conclusions and trends can be illuminating for people outside the USA as well.

What was also welcome is that this report was prepared by physicians (not climatescientists) of major medical societies and the conclusions are based on the best available and current information of both the climate and health fields.

So what did they find? Perhaps most importantly they find that climate change is already affecting our health. This isn’t a future problem for the next generation. It is a problem that is present and growing. They also report that some populations are more susceptible to climate change effects. Among the most vulnerable groups are children, student athletes, pregnant women, elderly, people with chronic health conditions, and the impoverished. A third key takeaway is that the problems will get much worse as climate change continues.

The study reports that if you live on the West Coast, wildfires, extreme temperatures, poorer air quality, extreme weather events, and agricultural risks are occurring. On the East Coast, you can add vector-borne diseases as a risk area. The central USA region is also similarly being affected.

As you dig deeper into the report, you learn about how these various climate-related features are affecting health. Each factor is dealt with by three questions: 1) What is happening? 2) How does it harm our health? 3) Who is being harmed?

For instance, with respect to extreme weather, the report correctly notes that the frequency and severity of some weather events such as heavy downpours, floods, droughts, and major storms are increasing. This harms our health because these events can cause direct injury and death as well as displacement. Extreme weather can also harm vital infrastructure like communication systems, homes, and reduce the availability of clean water and food. Finally, extreme weather can lead to acute outbreaks of infectious disease while at the same time reducing access to health care.

Click here to read the rest

May 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Fossil fuel companies donating heavily to Republican candidates in US Congress Special Elections

Fossil Fuel Companies Spend Big to Boost GOP in Heated Special Elections for Congress  Saturday, May 06, 2017By Alex Kotch, Truthout | Report President Donald Trump nominated several sitting Congress members to lead federal agencies, and high-profile elections to fill their vacated seats are under way. The election to fill CIA director Mike Pompeo’s Kansas House seat took place on April 11, 2017, and a Bernie Sanders-supporting Democratic candidate came within seven points of the Republican winner in a heavily red district that hasn’t gone blue since 1992. In a Georgia election to fill Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s seat on April 18, young Democrat Jon Ossoff took 48 percent of the vote, not quite enough to avoid a runoff against Republican Karen Handle, scheduled for June 20. An election to fill the House seat of former Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke, now Secretary of the Interior, is coming up on May 25 in another district that has reliably voted Republican but is now in play after Trump’s exceedingly unpopular first 100 days.

These elections are the first since Trump took office, and their results may represent Americans’ discontent with their new leader, whose record-low approval rating is now at about 42 percent. A Democratic win in any of the upcoming races could give the fractured party a much-needed boost as it prepares its 2018 campaigns in hopes of taking back the House and hampering the White House agenda.

In Georgia and Montana, independent political spending groups are shelling out millions of dollars to aid their favorite candidates. A Truthout investigation finds that among the biggest funders of the outside groups backing Republican candidates are fossil fuel companies, which tend to favor conservatives who will join the Trump administration in rolling back environmental regulations that limit their profits. Oil, gas and coal companies and trade groups, including Arch Coal, Chevron and Occidental Petroleum, have bankrolled conservative nonprofits that are spending millions of dollars to elect Republicans in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District and Montana’s at-large congressional district. In the Georgia race, GOP-aligned political groups have accounted for roughly 94 percent of the huge amount of outside spending, yet Ossoff has a good shot at winning.

An Explosion of Outside Spending in Georgia

Combined outside spending for the primary and runoff elections so far is at nearly $14 million — it’s on track to be the most expensive congressional race ever.

The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a super PAC founded in 2011 to boost Republican House candidates and funded by private interests, will spend at least $6.5 million in the GA-06 race, the most of any outside group. The committee has already reported independent expenditures of $4 million opposing Ossoff in Georgia. These funds translate into television advertisements, mail and digital ad campaigns and a get-out-the-vote ground game.

Since its founding, CLF has relied on conservative millionaires and billionaires and large corporations for its funds. So far in 2017, the group has reported receiving $250,000 from oil giant Chevron and $3.5 million from the American Action Network (AAN), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit and CLF’s sister organization that is also partially funded by the fossil fuel industry. While 2017 data is not yet available, AAN has taken in hundreds of thousands of dollars from the industry over the years, including $250,000 from the American Petroleum Institute in 2012 and $35,000 from the American Natural Gas Alliance in 2010, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics………..

Fossil fuel spending outside of political races is also seeing a major uptick, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Not only did oil, gas and coal companies and their executives provide 10 percent of Trump’s inauguration funds — a huge increase from the companies’ share of funds for Barack Obama’s second inauguration — they also spent 11 percent more on lobbying during the first quarter of 2017 than they did during the same period the year before.

The spending seems to be working, as Trump and his cabinet appear dedicated to doing all they can to increase profits for fossil fuel companies. Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have already slashed environmental regulations including the Stream Protection Rule, rolled back the Clean Power Plan, and sped up fossil fuel projects, including the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Zinke, who as interior secretary is in charge of conserving federal land, overturned a moratorium on coal leasing of federal lands in March and supports opening up these lands to more oil and gas exploration.

As the Georgia and Montana elections near, look for the dirty energy industry to keep the funds flowing.http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40489-fossil-fuel-companies-spend-big-to-boost-gop-in-heated-special-elections-for-congress

May 8, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Problems of cleaning up the shut down Vermont Nuclear Power Plant

SOME PREDICT TROUBLE OVER RUBBLE AT VERMONT YANKEE, VT DIGGER
MAY. 3, 2017, BY MIKE FAHER   VERNON – Tearing down Vermont Yankee could produce more than 2.1 million cubic feet of crushed concrete.

And new documents show that more than half of that concrete – 1.1 million cubic feet – might be buried on site as part of a “rubblization” plan developed by NorthStar Group Services, the company that wants to buy the shut-down Vernon nuclear plant.

Both NorthStar and current plant owner Entergy pledge that only clean concrete will be used as fill. And administrators are touting the plan’s benefits, saying it will save millions of dollars and keep thousands of trucks off local roads.

Vermont Yankee has “large quantities of uncontaminated concrete acceptable for reuse as fill that would provide economic benefits, with no health or safety risk due to residual radioactivity, and avoid unnecessary traffic, transportation and disposal offsite,” Steven Scheurich, an Entergy vice president, wrote in documents filed with the state Public Service Board.

But the proposal could prove to be a sticking point for state officials and activists. Ray Shadis, a technical adviser with the watchdog group New England Coalition, argues that NorthStar is planning, “in essence, a capped landfill.”

“It’s a very important issue for us,” Shadis said. “It’s a major issue.”

Entergy is seeking approval from the Vermont Public Service Board and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to sell Vermont Yankee to NorthStar, a New York-based decommissioning company.

NorthStar says it can clean up most of the site – with the exception of a spent fuel storage facility – by 2030 and possibly as early as 2026. That’s decades sooner than Entergy had been planning.

But some observers are wondering about NorthStar’s ability to follow through on its promises. That skepticism – or, at the very least, curiosity – is apparent in the 10 entities that have been granted permission to intervene in the Public Service Board’s deliberations.

In late April, NorthStar and Entergy filed hundreds of pages of responses to discovery questions posed by some of those intervenors. The documents cover a variety of issues, but restoration and future use of the Vermont Yankee site are prominent topics……..https://vtdigger.org/2017/05/03/predict-trouble-rubble-vermont-yankee/

May 8, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

‘Nuclear Impact Utah’ – poetry from 16 nations

Rock Canyon Poets show nuclear power’s cost in ‘Nuclear Impact Utah’,Court Mann, Daily Herald, May 6, 2017 The new poetry anthology “Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands” is pretty massive: nearly 500 pages long, with pieces from 163 poets from 16 nations.

“If you think about it, there are only nine nations in the world in control of nuclear power,” said Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen, a Utah resident and cofounder of Rock Canyon Poets, a growing local poetry group. “And so obviously, it doesn’t just impact those of us who have the buttons to push.”

Shiffler-Olsen and other members of Rock Canyon Poets have contributed to the new anthology, which explores the human cost of nuclear power around the world. From the world’s first nuclear test in 1945 (a New Mexico-based explosion known as Trinity) to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, “Nuclear Impact” covers the broad spectrum of world-changing nuclear events on a personal level. It’s not about dates and figures, but individuals and families.

The anthology also hits close to home in Utah: Many of America’s aboveground nuclear tests happened near the Nevada-Utah border. Utah residents felt the effects, many through radiation-induced disease and eventual death. On Monday, Rock Canyon Poets host “Nuclear Impact Utah – Poets on the Nuclear West” at Pioneer Book in downtown Provo. The event will include readings from the anthology, as well as showings from the recent documentary “Downwinders,” which examines how those nuclear tests affected citizens of the Intermountain West, and a Q&A with the “Downwinders” filmmakers………http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/arts-and-theater/rock-canyon-poets-show-nuclear-power-s-cost-in-nuclear/article_3ac09bee-1861-5bb3-94dd-0c31a5f74b84.html

May 8, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment