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Council must clearly communicate reliable information on radiation

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First of all, the standard of 20 millisieverts per year is the international standard for nuclear workers inside nuclear power plants. In comparison the international standard for civilians is 1 millisievert per year. Nuclear workers are willingly choosing the risks to their health and are paid to take those risks. To make people live in an environment with more than 1 milliesievert per year and to lie to them that it won’t be harmful to their health is plainly criminal, especially when it comes to pregnant women, children, infants, who are so much more vulnerable to radiation.

Second, to place such Radiation Council under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, is to put the fox in charge of the chicken house.

All the rest is damage control, lies and deception….The Japan News, The Yomiuri Shimbun, is a pro-government newspaper, a government propaganda organ.

Thoroughly implementing scientific radiation protection and safety measures so that post-disaster reconstruction from the nuclear accident at a power plant in Fukushima Prefecture can be accelerated: This is the duty the government’s Radiation Council must carry out.

The council, under the jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, comprises experts working at medical institutions or universities.

The matters taken up for discussion by the council had previously been limited to inquiries submitted by government ministries or agencies. As radiation measures have gained importance, the council’s functions were strengthened with the revision of a related law in April, enabling the council to conduct investigations and make proposals based on its own judgment. Now with five additional members, the council has become a 13-member entity, and related research budgets have been allocated.

Rebuilding a legal structure is a task at hand for the council.

After the accident, ministries and agencies concerned developed a number of laws and regulations. The government’s headquarters has set a radiation standard by which residents must evacuate from a place where 20 or more millisieverts are gauged in a year. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has set standards for levels of radioactive cesium in food products, while the Environment Ministry has set standards for decontaminated waste.

As all of these standards were set by the ministries and agencies concerned on their own, the safety levels are difficult to understand for ordinary citizens.

The standard of 20 millisieverts for evacuation orders was adopted by the administration led by the then Democratic Party of Japan based on the opinions of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and others. It is in line with international standards, but there are some who have misgivings about it.

Reflect reality in law

The standard limits for radioactive substances in food products are far lower than those adopted overseas. While the United States allows 1,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of drinking water, the permissible level is 10 becquerels in Japan.

The standard limits for radioactive substances in general foods other than drinking water and the like are calculated on the presumption that 50 percent of the general foods eaten by Japanese people are contaminated with radioactive substances. Given the current situation, in which food contamination has rarely been detected, the standard limits are out of tune with the reality.

Regarding these standards, the Environment Ministry has compiled “uniform, basic data,” which have been widely circulated in pamphlets and via the internet. It also presents information saying that radiation exposure of less than 100 millisieverts does not pose a significant cancer risk. But disaster-hit areas and the like remain in the grip of the “1-millisievert curse.”

From now, the council plans to scrutinize the ICRP’s latest recommendations on radiation protection and safety measures, and have them reflected in related laws.

Laws and regulations should be created to reflect the real situation of the areas concerned, including the fact that there has been a steady decline in the amount of radiation.

In a speech advocating the phase-out of nuclear power generation in his country, South Korean President Moon Jae In said that 1,368 people died in the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and that it is impossible to even grasp the number of deaths or how many have developed cancer due to the impact of radiation. On what basis did Moon say this?

The World Health Organization and other bodies have presented a view that there is a low possibility of confirming the health impacts from radiation. In order to wipe out harmful misconceptions, the council must communicate reliable information both inside and outside the country.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003784039

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June 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO vows decommissioning of Fukushima N-plant

A TEPCO logo is pictured on a sign showing the way to the venue of the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Tokyo

FUKUSHIMA (Jiji Press) — The new leaders of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. told Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori on Monday of their resolve to promote the decommissioning of the company’s disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

There is no change at all that Fukushima is our basic focus,” TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura said to Uchibori at a meeting in the prefectural government office, after explaining that TEPCO’s new management team was launched after approval at a general meeting of its shareholders on Friday.

Kawamura said, “We will proceed safely and steadily with the decommissioning work for the Fukushima No. 1 plant,” where a serious nuclear accident occurred after the March 2011 major earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. The prefecture hosts the plant.

Meanwhile, Uchibori said the people of Fukushima Prefecture strongly want all reactors at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, also located in the prefecture, to be decommissioned, the same as they want the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 plant and the implementation of accident compensation plans.

Since the 2011 disaster, TEPCO has halted all four reactors at the No. 2 plant. The Fukushima prefectural assembly and the assemblies of all 59 municipalities in Fukushima have adopted resolutions calling on the company to decommission the No. 2 plant or taken similar steps.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003784590

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nationwide UPLAN Press Conference about Fukushima Children Recuperation Program

 

June 26, 2017 – 108 organizations
Present status of “recuperation”: Over 9000 people participate annually
After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, many private organizations at citizen level throughout the country have carried out a recuperation program r
esponding to the needs of children of the Fukushima Prefecture or its vicinity, implemented a recuperation program centered on outdoor activities.

The number of people who wish to participate in recuperation has increased as housing support ended last March.
However, 7 % of the budget of the organizations recuperation program comes from donations. Now in the seventh year, it has come to a tough phase of finance and human resources.
Among the rress conference participants:
Aozora childcare NPO (Fukushima), Fukushima city One Parent NPO (Fukushima), and from other areas: Refresh Support Kikumi Hikida, Fukushima warm-up project Eriko Yano (Fukushima prefecture).

20170626 UPLAN【要望書提出・記者会見】「保養団体に公的支援を」
【全国108団体】
「保養」の現状:年間延べ9000人以上が参加
東京電力福島第一原発事故以降、全国の多くの民間団体が市民レベルで、福島県又はその近隣の子どもたちや保護者のニーズに応え、野外活動を中心とする保養プログラムを実施してきました。昨年3月の住宅支援打ち切りに伴い保養参加希望者は増えています。
しかし、保養支援団体の収入の7割が一般の寄付によって成り立ち、7年目にして資金的、人材的に厳しい局面にきています。
記者会見参加者
NPO
法人青空保育たけの子 代表(福島県)
福島市の保護者1名、他の地域の保護者2名(福島県)
リフレッシュサポート 疋田香澄
福島ぽかぽかプロジェクト 矢野恵理子

 

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Test to stop water leakage conducted in Fukushima

 

A research institute working on decommissioning the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has started testing a method to stop leakage of highly contaminated water.

Nuclear fuels in reactors No. 1 through No. 3 melted during the 2011accident. This caused highly contaminated water to flow into the containment vessels outside the reactors.

It’s believed the water is leaking inside the buildings through cracks in equipment that link the reactor with the containment vessel.

The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning is developing a method to fill the equipment with concrete.

The institute has started testing the new method at its facility in Naraha Town, Fukushima Prefecture.

Mock equipment containing water was set up in a building at the facility.

Concrete was poured into it through pipes and hoses.

The test is being remotely controlled, with the height of the accumulating concrete measured every 10 minutes.

About 200 cubic meters, or 4,800 tons of concrete will be infused over an 8-hour period.

Researchers at the institute say they will see if the concrete will solidify and stop the water leakage.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170624_16/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

New Tepco chief reaffirms Fukushima commitment, but underscored need for plant restarts

b-tepco-a-20170624-870x691Tomoaki Kobayakawa

 

Dealing with the aftermath of nuclear disaster at Fukushima No.1 power plant remains the most important mission for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., Tomoaki Kobayakawa, Tepco’s new president, said Friday, but he also stressed the need to restart nuclear plants for the sake of continuing the utility’s business.

To fulfill responsibilities over (disaster in) Fukushima is the fundamental (policy) for our company, and that will never change at all,” Kobayakawa, the former chief of the Tepco’s electricity retail arm, said at a news conference at the firm’s headquarters in Tokyo.

Kobayakawa officially took the helm as head of the ailing power giant after the reshuffle of top management was approved at a shareholder’s meeting earlier on Friday.

Struggling financially amid ballooning costs for dealing with the aftermath of the nuclear accident caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Tepco is effectively under control of the state with the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. holding the majority of its shares.

Ten of 13 board directors were replaced with new members, including honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd. Takashi Kawamura. Kawamura was appointed the new chairman to back Kobayakawa.

Under the new board, Tepco will proceed with the new revitalization program it mapped out in May. The plan includes reactivating Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, so as to make up for the estimated ¥22 trillion cost of dealing with damage, including decommissioning of Fukushima No.1 and compensation for disaster-hit areas.

I believe securing safety and gaining the understanding of local people are our utmost priorities” in order to reactivate the nuclear plant, Kobayakawa said.

In October 2016 in the Niigata gubernatorial election, voters elected doctor and lawyer Ryuichi Yoneyama, whose anti-nuclear stance is firmly against any restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, over a pro-nuclear candidate from the Liberal Democratic Party.

At the shareholder’s meeting in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward earlier Friday, which was attended by about 1,200 people, some expressed diverse opinions on the company’s intention to restart nuclear power plants.

One suggested that restarting a nuclear power plant could be a “ray of hope” that stands as the symbol of recovery from the disaster, while another claimed Tepco’s financial recovery will “never be possible” without reactivating ceased plants.

Others were concerned about the firm’s plan to continue its nuclear power business.

One shareholder called the proposed restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant as “a long-shot gamble” repeatedly saying that the Niigata plant is “good-for-nothing”, and that it has only caused the utility to incur costs of ¥680 billion for safety measures.

Another shareholder urged the utility to abandon its plan to reactivate Fukushima No.2 and Kariyazaki-Kariwa, and open them for engineers worldwide to use as research centers for decommissioning technologies.

These proposals were turned down at the end of the three-hour meeting after facing opposition from board members.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/23/business/corporate-business/new-tepco-chief-reaffirms-fukushima-commitment-underscored-need-plant-restarts/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Opposition toTennessee Valley Authority’s plan for Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Environmental groups challenge TVA nuclear reactor plan, Miami Herald, 25 June 17 The Associated Press  OAK RIDGE, TENN. 

Environmental groups are challenging the Tennessee Valley Authority’s proposal to use a Tennessee nuclear reactor design site abandoned in the 1970s to develop new small modular reactors.

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press , the Southern Alliance for Clean Power, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League have challenged the Oak Ridge project’s site application. They say the reactors remain untested, unsafe and unneeded.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing the application to determine if the site works for two or more reactors generating up to 800 megawatts of nuclear power.

Sara Barczak, the high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, compared the project to the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project that was planned for the site in the 1970s, but was scrapped amid escalating prices for the technology.

“We are very concerned that history is once again repeating itself,” Barczak said. “And we are concerned that billions of dollars could be spent on a technology that is unproven, untested and significantly more expensive than other types of power technology that are available to TVA.”…….. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article158140124.html

June 26, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, technology, USA | Leave a comment

New Federal investigation into error in shipment of nuclear materials from Los Alamos National Laboratory

‘Absolutely unacceptable’ error in shipment of nuclear materials prompts probe, By Rebecca Moss | The New Mexican, Jun 24, 2017 

Los Alamos National Laboratory is facing a new federal investigation for shipping nuclear materials out of state by aircraft, in violation of federal law, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which called the error “absolutely unacceptable.”

The agency released a statement Friday, saying the lab had mislabeled shipments of “special nuclear materials” — a term used for radioactive, weapons-grade plutonium and uranium — that were headed last week to the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

The shipments were packaged for ground cargo transportation, but instead were shipped by air, which is “a mode of transportation not authorized by Federal regulations,” according to the statement.

 Matt Nerzig, a spokesman for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, referred questions to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The incident follows similar violations at the lab this spring involving mislabeled chemicals and hazardous waste, including nuclear materials. It also comes as the lab has faced a fresh wave of scrutiny from federal officials over whether it is capable of handling increasing quantities of plutonium as the nation ramps up its production of plutonium pits — the grapefruit-sized cores that trigger nuclear bombs — over the next 15 years at a Los Alamos facility.

The protocols for shipping sensitive nuclear materials by air are significantly different than those for ground shipments. More sensitive climate and pressure controls must be in place to transport plutonium by air, and special external controls are required to guard against an accident during flight or a radiation release, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said the incident didn’t lead to any loss of radioactive materials or contamination.

The agency said it will investigate “to determine the root cause of this incident, as well as procedures to avoid future incidents of this type,” and said it intends to hold the responsible parties accountable under the full terms of the lab’s management contract, currently held by Los Alamos National Security LLC, a consortium led by the University of California, Bechtel and other corporations.

The contract is currently up for bid, a decision made by the federal government following a series of management and safety issues. The lab is expected to be under new management in 2018.

But significant safety lapses continue.

In April, work was paused at the lab’s plutonium facility after a worker handled an unlabeled waste container that ignited, causing a small fire that gave one worker second-degree burns. In May, the lab failed to accurately document the pH levels of liquid hazardous waste shipped in drums to Colorado — the second time such an incident had occurred in six months. The waste was far more acidic than documented on its labels, which means it was likely more volatile. Those incidents triggered reviews of workplace and emergency protocols.

The lab also informed the New Mexico Environment Department this spring that it had been storing two drums containing nitrate salts in a special containment area for months, believing they were part of a volatile waste stream, only to learn the canisters were not dangerous.

These drums highlight one of the most notorious mispackaging mistakes in the lab’s recent history. A nitrate salt drum containing items laced with radioactive waste was packed with the wrong type of absorbent kitty litter at Los Alamos, causing a chemical reaction that led the drum to burst in the salt caverns of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad in February 2014.

The event led to a low-level radiological release and shut down the underground nuclear waste facility for nearly three years, at a cost of over $1 billion.

At a hearing in Santa Fe earlier this month, federal officials raised questions about how the lab would deal with “unprecedented” levels of plutonium, in order to build as many as 80 pits per year by 2030 as part of the nation’s goals of modernizing its nuclear weapons stockpile.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which advises the Department of Energy and the president, asked federal and lab officials about a lack of foresight as the program moves forward, as well as aging infrastructure at the lab. Questions also were raised about the lab consistently failing to meet expectations in its nuclear criticality safety program — which is meant to ensure serious nuclear accidents don’t occur and potentially cause a widespread release of radiation…….http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/absolutely-unacceptable-error-in-shipment-of-nuclear-materials-prompts-probe/article_5c845fee-4b05-51e8-9f19-efa63afee7a9.html

June 26, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Britsh govt still intending to pump billions of tax-payers’ money in Hinkley nuclear white elephant

Hinkley Point: Britain’s nuclear white elephant trumpets again The NAO has produced a scathing report on a prestige project that could cost more than any tinpot tyrant’s folly, Independent, James Moore Chief Business Commentator @JimMooreJourno , 25 June 17 Brits, eh. We like to think we’re all about common sense (except, well, Brexit, but we’ll park that for the moment). We certainly don’t pump money into white elephants. Surely that sort of thing is best left to dictators with God complexes. We’re responsible with taxpayers’ cash!

If that is so, how on earth does the Government explain the plans for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset?

The National Audit Office has just put a swarm of new flies into that particular bottle of radioactive ointment with the release of a scathing new report.

  • Here’s the (withering) top line: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits.”

    Ouch.

    But there’s more, and as the NAO makes clear, it’s we consumers who will be suffering the pain of it. The report says the Government failed to consider the costs, and the risks of the project. Moreover, the subsidy handed to its overseas backers, has ballooned.

    “Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C contract for difference has increased from £6bn to £30bn.”

  • That’s right: £30bn. You might have read about the capital city of Myanmar, Naypyidaw, which is 7,054 square kilometres in size and roughly four and a half times the size of London (1,569 square kilometres) but with only a tenth of the population.

    The cost of that white elephant has been put at just over £3bn, a bit less than a tenth of where the NAO currently has Hinkley’s subsidy, agreed to guarantee that the developers will make a profit when it is built, regardless of what happens to electricity prices.

    It should be said that the project still isn’t exactly risk free for the backers. EDF had directors resign over its interest in the thing.

    But let’s say EDF and its partners start to encounter difficulties during its construction. Do you think they’ll take any cost over-runs on the chin, as the contractual terms suggest that they should? Or do you think it’s more likely that we will see them knocking on the Chancellor’s door in search of another hand out?

    I’d bet on the latter, because that’s the way these things always seem to go. The NAO certainly fears that is what will happen……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/hinkley-point-britains-nuclear-white-elephant-trumpets-again-a7805311.html

June 26, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Meeting between Narendra Modi and Donald Trump not likely to lead to any nuclear trade deal with India

PM Modi-Trump talks: Civil nuclear deal to figure, no pact on reactors,Time of India.| Jun 25, 2017, 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • A pact between the NPCIL and Westinghouse to build six power reactors in Andhra Pradesh is unlikely to be signed.
  • The progress on the 2008 civil nuclear deal is likely to be discussed during the meeting.
  • During his visit to the US on June 25-26, Modi is slated to meet Donald Trump.
NEW DELHI: The Indo-US civil nuclear deal is expected to figure during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump on Monday, but a pact between the NPCIL and Westinghouse to build six power reactors in Andhra Pradesh is unlikely to be signed.
A host of strategic issues are expected to be discussed during the parleys between the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies,….
They said a financial turmoil in Westinghouse and absence of a functional reference atomic plant were the main impediments behind the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited’s (NPCIL) unwillingness to sign the agreement with the American nuclear giant.

According to a joint statement by Modi and the then US president Barack Obama in 2015, both the sides had resolved to work towards “finalising the contractual agreement by June 2017”.

However, a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then.

Westinghouse, which was acquired by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba in 2007, filed for bankruptcy in March.

Apprehending uncertainty, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the NPCIL are unwilling to go ahead with any agreement with the beleaguered company till it comes out of the financial turmoil……http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-modi-trump-talks-civil-nuclear-deal-to-figure-no-pact-on-reactors/articleshow/59311335.cms

June 26, 2017 Posted by | India, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear project to cost billions more than was forecast

Nuclear plant to cost consumers ‘billions more’ News 24 24 June 17 London – A highly-controversial UK government deal for the new Hinkley Point nuclear power plant will cost British energy consumers billions more pounds than forecast, the country’s National Audit Office said on Friday.

“The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits,” the NAO said in a report.

Under the project, UK energy users will have sums added to their bills for a period of 35 years.

The NAO said the combined cost of such payments is set to surge to $38bn.

 “Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C’s contract… has increased $38bn,” the report said……

The contract for a French-Chinese consortium to build Britain’s first nuclear plant in a generation was signed in September after a string of controversies threatened to scupper the huge deal.

China’s involvement

The British government had delayed agreement over concerns about China’s involvement, while there were also questions about how the French state-owned power giant EDF would fund the construction of Hinkley Point.

But Britain finally gave the go-ahead last September for the complex, which is expected to provide seven percent of the country’s power needs. Beijing’s state-run China General Nuclear Corporation is set to finance £6bn of the cost of the Hinkley Point plant, with French state-owned power giant EDF providing the remaining £12bn.

Critics have focused on an electricity price guarantee to be paid to EDF of £92.5 for every megawatt hour of power produced by Hinkley for the next 35 years, rising with inflation, despite falling energy prices…….http://www.news24.com/World/News/nuclear-plant-to-cost-consumers-billions-more-20170624

June 26, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

The Fight Against Hinkley Nuclear Isn’t Over – UK Greens

Green Party 23rd June 2017,Lucas: “Consumers and taxpayers are going to be ripped off by this absurd
project” Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, has responded to
a report by the National Audit Office on Hinkley Power Station.

The report says that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s
deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a ‘risky and expensive
project’ with uncertain strategic and economic benefits. The multibillion
pound project at Hinkley is currently supported by both Labour and the
Coservatives, but opposition to the plans is expected to grow as the costs
soar.

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The National
Audit Office’s damning report confirms what many of us have been saying
for a long time: the Hinkley deal is overpriced and risky. Not only are
consumers and taxpayers going to be ripped off by this absurd project but
it will also divert resources away from building the clean energy
infrastructure we need, and threaten our climate change targets because of
the snail’s pace at which it will be built.

“The fight against Hinkley isn’t over – and we will be joining campaigners in continuing to
highlight the major shortcomings of this project. This is a crossroads for
Britain – and the signing of this deal has seen us swerve down the wrong
path. By reversing this decision we can put the resources needed into
building a decentralized energy system where Britain puts to use its most
abundant resources: the sun, sea and wind.”
https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/06/23/caroline-lucas-nao-report-on-hinkley-is-damning/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing Within America’s ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

INSIDE THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: PARANOIA AND STIFLED WORKBased on interviews with 47 current and former EPA employees, a new report paints a picture of a deeply divided and stymied agency. Pacific Standard, FRANCIE DIEP, JUN 20, 2017 A new report paints the Environmental Protection Agency under Scott Pruitt’s leadership in a particularly bad light.

Among the allegations from the report, which relies on anonymous sources: that Pruitt, despite his role as EPA head, has almost never met with environmental groups, and is, in fact, hamstringing his own agency’s law enforcement and regional offices; that Pruitt has banned employees from taking pen and paper into meetings out of fear of information being leaked; and that Pruitt’s office suppressed plans for an agency Earth Daypicnic because it seemed too combative.

“Beneath the veneer of Pruitt’s public statements and appearances, I think there’s a lot of dysfunction,” says Christopher Sellers, a history professor at Stony Brook University who interviewed 32 current and former EPA employees for the report, which was released publicly today by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, an activist group of university professors. EDGI organized shortly after President Donald Trump’s election in a response to what founders saw as anti-science sentiment in the administration.

The new EDGI report indicates there’s widespread demoralization and dissent within the EPA. That’s not surprising. Trump has long called for policies that are sure to be unpopular at the agency. While running for office, he vowed to shutter the agency. Since then, he has blamed environmental regulation for killing jobs; worked to repeal EPA rules; and, in his proposed budget, called for a 31 percent cut to the agency’s funding, which would likely eliminate thousands of jobs. Pruitt, meanwhile, has denied the reality of climate change, then later said he thought the Earth is warming, but wasn’t sure how much human activity had to do with it. What the new report offers are fresh details about Pruitt’s internal decisions and how they may already be affecting the agency’s work.

For the report, Sellers worked with seven other academics to interview 10 current and 37 former employees of the EPA between December of 2016 and May of this year. They recruited their sources through EPA alumni groups and by asking people they were already in contact with to refer them to others. They did not reveal their sources’ identities to Pacific Standard. Requests for comment from the EPA were not returned.

EDGI’s work paints a picture of an imbalanced agency that favors certain industries and constituents over others and is stymied by distrust between its head and his staff. Indeed, some doubt whether Pruitt wants the EPA to work at all. “I think the plan is to get rid of EPA,” one employee told the EDGI interviewers. “I think this is just phase one.”

ONLY SOME STAKEHOLDERS

Pruitt hasn’t been around for his staff, interviewees told EDGI. Few of the interviewees had seen him in the Washington, D.C., office. Instead, the sources said Pruitt seems to travel frequently and to pay attention to a select group of stakeholders: He’s gone to meet the governors of Western states, farmers, and coal miners, for example. He decorated headquarters with posters showing him shaking hands with miners. In late March, Trump visited the EPA headquarters to sign an executive order rewriting the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and starting the process of lifting a moratorium on coal leasing on federal land. He did so with Pruitt at his side and several coal miners surrounding him. “You know what it says, right?” Trump told the miners. “You’re going back to work.”…..https://psmag.com/environment/paranoia-and-stifled-work-at-epa

June 26, 2017 Posted by | psychology - mental health, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump Wants America To Be Topp in Energy Exports

Trump to Call for U.S. ‘Dominance’ in Global Energy Production, Bloomberg By Jennifer A Dlouhy, 25 June 2017
  • President to flag historic shift as U.S. becomes net exporter
  • Renewables and nuclear power technology also set to gain

Donald Trump will tout surging U.S. exports of oil and natural gas during a week of events aimed at highlighting the country’s growing energy dominance.

The president also plans to emphasize that after decades of relying on foreign energy supplies, the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas, coal and other energy resources.

As with previous White House policy-themed weeks, such as a recent one focusing on infrastructure, the framing is designed to draw attention to Trump’s domestic priorities and away from more politically treacherous matters such as multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

With “Energy Week,” Trump is returning to familiar territory — and to the coal, oil, and gas industries on which he’s already lavished attention. Trump’s first major policy speech on the campaign trail, delivered in the oil drilling hotbed of North Dakota in 2016, focused on his plans for unleashing domestic energy production. The issue has also been a major focus during Trump’s first five months in office, as he set in motion the reversal of an array of Obama-era policies that discourage both the production and consumption of fossil fuels.

Plans for the week were described by senior White House officials speaking on condition of anonymity because the details hadn’t yet been formally announced.

Exports Equal Influence

Trump is set to deliver a speech at the Energy Department on Thursday focused almost entirely on energy exports ……

Dominance’ Sought

Trump’s theme of “energy dominance” marks an evolution. For years, the catch phrase of choice has been “energy independence,” as politicians and industry officials sought to highlight how a new era of abundance was helping the U.S. wean itself from foreign sources of oil and natural gas.

That was in turn a dramatic change from the 1970s, when former President Jimmy Carter turned down the White House thermostats and used a televised address in February 1977 to urge consumers to conserve energy …..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-25/trump-to-call-for-u-s-dominance-in-global-energy-production

June 26, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) a very poor bet for Oak Ridge

Environmental groups challenge TVA plans for small nuclear reactors in Oak Ridge, Times Free Press, June 25th, 2017, by Dave Flessner  The Tennessee Valley Authority wants to use the site of a nuclear reactor design abandoned in the 1970s to develop a new technology of small modular reactors.

But environmental critics of the Oak Ridge project say the new small modular reactors are still untested, unsafe and unneeded.

Sara Barczak, the high risk energy choices program director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, likened TVA’s proposal to locate the new small reactor designs in Oak Ridge to the Clinch River Breeder Reactor that was planned for the same site in the 1970s. Ultimately, then President Jimmy Carter killed the project because he feared the liquid metal fast breeder reactor might lead to more nuclear proliferation around the globe, and he complained about the escalating price for the innovative technologyy.

“The Clinch River site has a very long, troubled and expensive history because of a failed nuclear experiment, which was one of the most expensive plants for never generating any power,” Barczak said. “We are very concerned that history is once again repeating itself and we are concerned that billions of dollars could be spent on a technology that is unproven, untested and significantly more expensive than other types of power technology that are available to TVA.”

In 1971, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated the Clinch River project would cost about $400 million. But ultimately, the project was projected to cost $8 billion to complete, and it was finally scrapped in 1983. Barczak said she fears the proposed Small Modular Reactor concept, which has yet to get an approved design from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will prove too costly and not be adequately tested before one is built……..

The Southern Alliance for Clean Power and the Union of Concerned Scientists have joined the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League in petitioning the NRC to deny the early site permit for the small reactors in Oak Ridge. The environmental groups argue TVA has failed to justify its bid to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors from the standard 10-mile zone to the site boundary of about two miles.

“TVA expects the public near the Clinch River site to accept on faith that the fantasy nuclear reactors it wants to build there will be so safe that no evacuation plan is needed, even in the event of a core meltdown or a spent fuel pool fire,” Lyman said. “TVA has apparently failed to learn a major lesson of the Fukushima disaster: Public safety during a nuclear emergency depends critically on being prepared for the unthinkable.”

M.V. Ramana, a professor and chair of the Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said TVA’s site application for the small reactors is “more like an advertisement brochure than an examination of the environmental impacts of constructing these reactors.

“There is a long history of experimentation with small nuclear reactors, and the evidence so far suggests that small reactors cost too much for the little electricity they produce,” Ramana said……..

The NRC is expected to consider TVA’s early site permit over the next couple of years, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2017/jun/25/environmental-groups-challenge-tvplans-small/434802/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Judge rules against companies wanting to store plutonium on New Mexico-Texas border

Judge Rules Against WCS – EnergySolutions Merger http://www.ladailypost.com/content/judge-rules-against-wcs-energysolutions-merger, by Chris Clark  June 24, 2017 , CCNS News: Federal District Judge Sue L. Robinson entered her sealed opinion Wednesday in favor of the U.S. Department of Justice and prohibited Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and EnergySolutions from moving forward with the proposed $367 million merger of the two-nuclear waste storage and disposal companies.

 The judge’s decision was based on anti-trust law.
In a written statement, Andrew Finch, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said, “Substantial evidence showed that head-to-head competition between EnergySolutions and Waste Control Specialists led to better disposal services at lower prices.”
He continued, “Today’s decision protects competition in an industry that is incredibly difficult to enter. While EnergySolutions’ preference was to buy its main rival rather than continue to compete to win business, today’s decision ensures that customers will benefit from the competitive process.”
In anticipation of the antitrust trial and the growing expenses involved in expanding WCS’s business to include the storage of plutonium fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants, in April, WCS asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to temporarily suspend review of its application.
WCS applied for a 40-year license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for 44,000 tons of high-level radioactive waste. WCS planned to build the de facto parking lot dump on its 14,900 acres on the New Mexico-Texas border, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment