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Delicious Fukushima Peaches at the “konbeni” Checkout

Via Bruce Brinkman on August 16, 2017
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Don’t forget to pick up some delicious Fukushima peaches at the *konbeni* checkout
 
Never mind the “harmful rumors”
(a.k.a. measurements of cesium 137, cesium 134, strontium 90, americium, plutonium, uranium, and a splattering of other radionuclides)
 
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and as the next days those peaches just aren’t moving: ¥50 off to help sales !

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

High-priced Fukushima ice wall nears completion, but effectiveness doubtful

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A subterranean ice wall surrounding the nuclear reactors at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant to block groundwater from flowing in and out of the plant buildings has approached completion.

Initially, the ice wall was lauded as a trump card in controlling radioactively contaminated water at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which was crippled by meltdowns in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. But while 34.5 billion yen from government coffers has already been invested in the wall, doubts remain about its effectiveness. Meanwhile, the issue of water contamination looms over decommissioning work.

In a news conference at the end of July, Naohiro Masuda, president and chief decommissioning officer of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., stated, “We feel that the ice wall is becoming quite effective.” However, he had no articulate answer when pressed for concrete details, stating, “I can’t say how effective.”

The ice wall is created by circulating a coolant with a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius through 1,568 pipes that extend to a depth of 30 meters below the surface around the plant’s reactors. The soil around the pipes freezes to form a wall, which is supposed to stop groundwater from flowing into the reactor buildings where it becomes contaminated. A total of 260,000 people have worked on creating the wall.

ice wall 16 august 2017 2.jpgThis photo shows pipes to freeze soil for the ice wall next to the No. 4 reactor at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 1, 2016. (Mainichi)

 

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) began freezing soil in March last year, and as of Aug. 15, at least 99 percent of the wall had been completed, leaving just a 7-meter section to be frozen.

Soon after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, about 400 tons of contaminated water was being produced each day. That figure has now dropped to roughly 130 tons. This is largely due to the introduction of a subdrain system in which water is drawn from about 40 wells around the reactor buildings. As for the ice wall, TEPCO has not provided any concrete information on its effectiveness. An official of the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) commented, “The subdrain performs the primary role, and the ice wall will probably be effective enough to supplement that.” This indicates that officials have largely backtracked from their designation of the ice wall as an effective means of battling contaminated water, and suggests there is unlikely to be a dramatic decrease in the amount of decontaminated groundwater once the ice wall is fully operational.

TEPCO ordered construction of the ice wall in May 2013 as one of several plans proposed by major construction firms that was selected by the government’s Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment. In autumn of that year Tokyo was bidding to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the government sought to come to the fore and underscore its measures to deal with contaminated water on the global stage.

Using taxpayers’ money to cover an incident at a private company raised the possibility of a public backlash. But one official connected with the Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment commented, “It was accepted that public funds could be spent if those funds were for the ice wall, which was a challenging project that had not been undertaken before.” Small-scale ice walls had been created in the past, but the scale of this one — extending 1.5 kilometers and taking years to complete — was unprecedented.

At first, the government and TEPCO explained that an ice wall could be created more quickly than a wall of clay and other barriers, and that if anything went wrong, the wall could be melted, returning the soil to its original state. However, fears emerged that if the level of groundwater around the reactor buildings drops as a result of the ice wall blocking the groundwater, then tainted water inside the reactor buildings could end up at a higher level, causing it to leak outside the building. Officials decided to freeze the soil in stages to measure the effects and effectiveness of the ice wall. As a result, full-scale operation of the wall — originally slated for fiscal 2015 — has been significantly delayed.

ice wall 16 august 2017.jpgA worker makes checks with a hammer on an impermeable wall near TEPCO’s No. 4 reactor in the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture on Feb. 24, 2017. (Mainichi)

 

Furthermore, during screening by the NRA, which had approved the project, experts raised doubts about how effective the ice wall would be in blocking groundwater. The ironic reason for approving its full-scale operation, in the words of NRA acting head Toyoshi Fuketa, was that, “It has not been effective in blocking water, so we can go ahead with freezing with peace of mind” — without worrying that the level of groundwater surrounding the reactor buildings will decrease, causing the contaminated water inside to flow out.

Maintaining the ice wall will cost over a billion yen a year, and the radiation exposure of workers involved in its maintenance is high. Meanwhile, there are no immediate prospects of being able to repair the basement damage in the reactor buildings at the crippled nuclear plant.

Nagoya University professor emeritus Akira Asaoka commented, “The way things stand, we’ll have to keep maintaining an ice wall that isn’t very effective. We should consider a different type of wall.”

In the meantime, TEPCO continues to be plagued over what to do with treated water at the plant. Tainted water is treated using TEPCO’s multi-nuclide removal equipment to remove 62 types of radioactive substances, but in principle, tritium cannot be removed during this process. Tritium is produced in nature through cosmic rays, and nuclear facilities around the world release it into the sea. The NRA takes the view that there is no problem with releasing treated water into the sea, but there is strong resistance to such a move, mainly from local fishing workers who are concerned about consumer fears that could damage their businesses. TEPCO has built tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 plant to hold treated water, and the amount they hold is approaching 800,000 metric tons.

In mid-July, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura said in an interview with several news organizations that a decision to release the treated water into the sea had “already been made.” A Kyodo News report on his comment stirred a backlash from members of the fishing industry. TEPCO responded with an explanation that the chairman was not stating a course of action, but was merely agreeing with the view of the NRA that there were no problems scientifically with releasing the treated water. However, the anger from his comment has not subsided.

Critical opinions emerged in a subsequent meeting that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki at the end of July regarding the decontamination of reactors and the handling of contaminated water. It was pointed out that prefectural residents had united to combat consumer fears and that they wanted officials to act with care. One participant asked whether the TEPCO chairman really knew about Fukushima.

The ministry has been considering ways to handle the treated water, setting up a committee in November last year that includes experts on risk evaluation and sociology. As of Aug. 15, five meetings had been held, but officials have yet to converge on a single opinion. “It’s not that easy for us to say, ‘Please let us release it.’ It will probably take some time to reach a conclusion,” a government official commented.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170816/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

 

August 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Japanese Nuclear Regulator Permits Completion of ‘Ice Wall’ Beneath Fukushima

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Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the completion of the remaining parts of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s “ice wall” ground freeze beneath the station in order to prevent groundwater from entering the damaged reactor’s facilities, local media reported Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The plan stipulates creating a 0.9 mile long barrier by circulating coolant of 30 degrees below zero in pipes buried around the building. The “ice wall” is expected to keep groundwater from entering the station and therefore prevent an increase in amounts of water contaminated by radioactive substances. Initially, the Nuclear Regulation Authority was concerned with the fact that if the whole wall was created, it would probably lead to a drastic decrease in water in the area around the station and cause leakages of contaminated water outside the damaged reactor’s building. Experts thus previously ruled to leave a 23-foot section of the wall unfrozen.

According to the NHK broadcaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), responsible for the project, claimed that the completion of the wall would not result in a sudden decrease of water levels, and even if it would, the company promised to take immediate measures. After considering the company’s position, experts allowed to complete the “ice wall.”

The broadcaster said that TEPCO will begin the remaining work on August 22, completing the soil freeze that first began in March 2016. It was also reported that after the works are completed, the Nuclear Regulation Authority would carefully assess the results and examine whether there have been any positive improvements in water contamination.

In 2011, a major earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s Fukushima NPP and led to the leakage of radioactive materials and the shutdown of the plant. Following the incident, Tokyo shut down all the NPPs in Japan and began to restart them after introducing new security standards.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201708151056482387-japan-fukushima-ice-wall/

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August 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

America’s lack of morality – expressed in Donald Trump’s nuclear threats

Trump’s apocalyptic threats demand a moral case for disarmament,Guardian, Daniel José Camacho, 14 Aug 16,    It’s easy to understand why Trump is potentially one of the worst people to be in charge of our nation’s nuclear codes. Yet, the problem runs much deeper. 

Martin Luther King Jr once said: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” Now, it appears Donald Trump might be the man who makes us pay for our country’s moral gap.

Trump has rekindled fears of war and nuclear strikes by threatening North Korea, saying: “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” True to form, Trump’s words flew out of his mouth without much thought or preparation. In turn, the North Korean government has threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam.

It’s easy to understand why Trump is potentially one of the worst people to be in charge of our nation’s nuclear codes. Yet the problem runs much deeper. Trump’s apocalyptic threat is a reminder that we need to revive the moral argument for disarmament and against militarism.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the road to this moment has been paved with the consensus of the foreign policy establishment. Both neocons and hawkish Democrats have pushed for an aggressive posture that has US special operations forces operating in 137 countries. US defense spending consistentlydwarfs the rest of the world.

King also said: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Based on our record, it looks like this nation has been beyond spiritually dead for some time.

 Before Trump, the Obama administration brokered more weapons sales than any other administration since the second world war. Although Hillary Clinton campaigned on strong gun control, the state department under her leadership exhibited little restraint when it came to selling arms……

King was someone who acutely understood the danger of American militarism and nuclear weapons. In his 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace, he said: “If somebody doesn’t bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody’s going to make the mistake through our senseless blundering of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere.”

Recovering King’s political vision can help us today…….

As long as war remains a business profiting a few, peace will remain a low priority. The problem is not simply Trump or the preceding presidential administrations, but an entire system that profits from violent conflicts and war.

The former president Dwight D Eisenhower understood this when he described the grave implications of the “military-industrial complex” in his 1961 farewell address. According to him: “The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – [of an immense military establishment and arms industry] is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government.”…..

 

Far from being idealistic, it is King’s framework which has regained relevance in the Trump era. As he wrote towards the very end of his life: “We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/11/trump-apocalyptic-threats-moral-case-disarmament

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Still possibility of a non military solution to the USA- North Korean nuclear crisis

Korean leaders, US open door to diplomacy in nuclear crisis, Yahoo News, The Canadian Press, August 16, 2017 SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — North Korea’s military on Tuesday presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to launch missiles into waters near Guam and “wring the windpipes of the Yankees,” even as both Koreas and the United States signalled their willingness to avert a deepening crisis, with each suggesting a path toward negotiations.

The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea amid worries Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought goal of being able to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland. Next week’s start of U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year could make diplomacy even more difficult.

During an inspection of the North Korean army’s Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a “close and careful plan” and said he would watch the “foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees” a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim appeared in photos sitting at a table with a large map marked by a straight line between what appeared to be northeastern North Korea and Guam, and passing over Japan — apparently showing the missiles’ flight route.

The missile plans were previously announced. Kim said North Korea would conduct the launches if the “Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity,” warning the United States to “think reasonably and judge properly” to avoid shaming itself, the news agency said.

The Trump administration had no immediate comments on Kim’s declaration……..

Kim’s conditional tone, however, hinted the friction could ease if the U.S. offered a gesture that Pyongyang sees as a step back from “extremely dangerous reckless actions.”

That could refer to the U.S.-South Korean military drills set to begin Aug. 21, which the North claims are rehearsals for invasion. It also could mean the B-1B bombers that the U.S. occasionally flies over the Korean Peninsula as a show of force…….

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, meanwhile, a liberal who favours diplomacy, urged North Korea to stop provocations and to commit to talks over its nuclear weapons program……..

North Korea’s military said last week it would finalize the plan to fire four ballistic missiles near Guam, which is about 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles) from Pyongyang. It would be a test of the Hwasong-12, a new missile the country flight-tested for the first time in May. The liquid-fuel missile is designed to be fired from road mobile launchers and has been described by North Korea as built for attacking Alaska and Hawaii. https://ca.ne

August 16, 2017 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

The 3 types of American climate denialists – the axis of climate evil

The Axis of Climate Evil, NYT,  AUG. 11, 2017, “It’s Not Your Imagination: Summers Are Getting Hotter.” So read a recent headline in The Times, highlighting a decade-by-decade statistical analysis by climate expert James Hansen. “Most summers,” the analysis concluded, “are now either hot or extremely hot compared with the mid-20th century.”

August 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Americans all too easily to accept the idea of a pre=emptive nuclear strike?

The Real Nuclear Option, Americans are disturbingly unbothered by the idea of striking first with nuclear weapons, Slate ,By Fred Kaplan, 15 Aug 17, As President Trump rails against North Korea, threatening to rain down “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it so much as tests another long-range missile, the world can’t help but wonder: Would he really do this? Would he order a nuclear strike, the ultimate fire and fury, against a country that hadn’t attacked us first?

August 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China again urging calm dialogue, not angry words and actions, on the Korean peninsula

China urges all sides to put out fire, not add to flames, in North Korea standoff, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-china-idUSKCN1AV0N5?il=0Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Philip Wen; Editing by Nick Macfie, BEIJING (Reuters) AUGUST 15, 2017– China on Tuesday reiterated calls for restraint on the Korean peninsula, saying it hoped all sides could put out the flames, not add oil to the fire, with their words and actions.

Speaking at a daily press briefing in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged a peaceful resolution of the standoff.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next, the North’s state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea’s president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

If USA imposes new sanctions, Iran could abandon the nuclear agreement

Iran could quit nuclear deal in ‘hours’ if new U.S. sanctions imposed: Rouhani,  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-nuclear-rouhani-idUSKCN1AV0LWDUBAI (Reuters), 14 Aug 17  – Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.“If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.

Iran says new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China and three European powers in which it agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile programs as well as human rights abuses.

The United States imposed unilateral sanctions after saying Iran’s ballistic missile tests violated a U.N. resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.

It stopped short of explicitly barring such activity.

Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

“The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the (nuclear deal), has broken its word on the Paris agreement and the Cuba accord…and that the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” Rouhani said.

Trump said last week he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

What would be the process, if Trump decides to launch anuclear attack?

President Trump holds the ‘nuclear football’ but what is the process to launch an attack? 9 News, Aug 15, 2017 On January 20 Donald Trump was inaugurated as President, giving the former reality star the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack.

After being sworn in, an aide who had arrived with outgoing president Barack Obama carrying a satchel containing a briefcase, known as “the nuclear football”, moved quietly to Trump’s side.

The symbolism was clear: Trump now had complete control of the launch codes for a strategic nuclear strike.

 It was a moment Trump had been waiting for – indeed, even thinking about for a long time……..

And it seems not all US politicians have confidence in the current system.

Ted Lieu – a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives – has filed a proposal to require congressional approval before the president could launch a first nuclear strike, labelling the current process “unconstitutional”.

“Right now one person can launch thousands of nuclear weapons, and that’s the president. No one can stop him. Under the law, the secretary of defense has to follow his order. There’s no judicial oversight, no congressional oversight,” Lieu said.

But what exactly is the current process to launch a nuclear attack? The current approval process dates back to after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan to end World War II.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1946, signed by President Harry Truman, gave the president full responsibility over the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

That means, the president can use nuclear weapons with a single verbal order – an order that cannot be overridden.

Unlike other executive branch decisions, there are very limited checks and balances to launching a nuclear strike.

While Lie argues the current process is unconstitutional, the answer to that is not definitive – with possible answers lying in murky territory.

The American Constitution allows the president to use significant military force without congressional approval, if it is in self-defence.

That suggests North Korea would have to attack the US, or a US territory, such as Guam, first before Trump could legally pull the trigger on a nuclear retaliation.

However, a wrinkle in that comforting thought is the Korean War.

The Korean War which ran from 1950 to 1953 did not ever formally end – rather it ended with an armistice, with a peace treaty scheduled in Geneva in 1954 never being signed by the two parties.

Therefore, Trump could still attack North Korea first using the argument the US is already at war with the despot regime.While Trump may be able to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea on his say alone, the 1973 War Powers Resolution requires the president to have or to gain congressional approval to send troops to a foreign territory for combat purposes.

9RAW: Trump threatens ‘big, big trouble’ for North Korea

While the president can send the troops without the approval of Congress, the president then requires to get a yes otherwise they must terminate combat within 60 to 90 days.

While the Western world watch the continued exchange of verbal blows between North Korea and the US – a comment made by Trump in 1984, at the height of the Cold War, when the now President told a Washington Post reporter he wanted to be put in charge of US-Russia nuclear arms negotiations.

“It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles,” Trump said. “I think I know most of it anyway.”

In March last year, Trump asserted he would be the last person to use nuclear.

“I’m not going to take cards off the table. We have nuclear capability,” he said.

“The last person to use nuclear would be Donald Trump. That’s the way I feel. I think it is a horrible thing. The thought of it is horrible. But I don’t want to take anything off the table. We have to negotiate. There will be times maybe when we’re going to be in a very deep, very difficult, very horrible negotiation.”

It’s a negotiation the world is watching now as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un continues to move ahead with a plan to strike an area around US territory Guam with four missiles.

August 15 could see North Korea begin preparations to launch four intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missiles near Guam, should Kim follow through on his rhetoric.

The rogue state’s head said today he will watch the actions of the United States for a while longer before making a decision, according to North Korea’s official news agency.

Kim said: “The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash.”The ball seems to be sitting firmly in Trump’s court – and the world watches to see if he becomes the president to open the ‘nuclear football’.http://www.9news.com.au/world/2017/08/15/13/17/trump-north-korea-nuclear-codes

August 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Climate denial in America and Australia

The Madhouse Effect: this is how climate denial in Australia and the US compares, The Conversation August 14, 2017 Michael Mann is well known for his classic “hockey stick” work on global warming, for the attacks he has long endured from climate denialists, and for the good fight of communicating the environmental and political realities of climate change.

Mann’s work, including his recent book The Madhouse Effect, has helped me, as a dual US-Australian citizen, think about the similarities and differences between the US and Australia as we respond to what has been called the climate change denial machine.

In both countries, the denialists and distortionists have undermined public knowledge, public policy, new economic development opportunities, and the very value of the environment. Climate policy is being built upon alternative facts, fake news, outright lies, PR spin and industry-written talking points.

From the carbon industry capture of the two major parties, to the Abbott-Turnbull government parroting industry talking points, to coal industry lobbyists as government energy advisers, to the outright idiotic conspiracy pronouncements of senators funded and advised by the US- based denial machine, the Madhouse Effect is in full force in Australia.

How we can expose and counter this denialist machine? To partly lay out the task, I will discuss three points of contrast between the US and Australia.

Political culture

There is a key difference between the two countries’ political cultures. As much as the denialists have determined Australian energy and climate policy, they have not been as successful, yet, at undermining deep-seeded respect in Australian culture for the common good, for science, for expertise and knowledge…….

Last year, when the government fired climate scientists at CSIRO, there was another huge public backlash. The government had to step back a bit, both on the actual science to be done and the radical agenda change away from science for the public good.

And again, when the government wanted to support the dubious work of Bjorn Lomborg, that caused an outcry from both the university sector and the public. Even though the government wound up paying more than A$600,000 on what The Australian called his “vanity book project”, they couldn’t import him and plant him at any Australian university.

As Mann says, the main issue in implementing good, sound climate policy is no longer simply the science. The main issue is the cultural understanding of, and respect for the role of science in informing political decisions.

That’s not to say there are no attacks on science – clearly, these continue (such as the recent challenges to normal Bureau of Meteorology practices). But, overall, climate denialists and their enablers are outnumbered outliers in Australia, rather the norm.

The power of the carbon industry

My second point of comparison is not quite as positive.

The problem in Australia is less a culture turning against the Enlightenment, and more the direct political power and influence of the carbon industry. ……

even here I think there is some hope. We have seen, over the last few years, an incredible coalition grow – one focused on the end of carbon mining, on protecting communities, on creating real jobs, and on supporting renewables.

Once-unthinkable coalitions of farmers and Aboriginal communities are fighting new mines, new attacks on sacred and fertile land and water.

We have intensive household investment in rooftop solar – and as the feed-in tariffs are undermined, those folks will increasingly invest in battery storage. And we’re finally seeing states move in this direction, with increasing development of utility-scale renewable and storage projects. As hard as the federal government and its allies resist, renewables are growing and the public supports this – even conservative voters. https://theconversation.com/the-madhouse-effect-this-is-how-climate-denial-in-australia-and-the-us-compares-81822

August 16, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina nuclear power backers push for tax-payer aid

After failure of SC nuke plant, backers seek federal aid,  By MATTHEW DALY, 14 Aug 17, WASHINGTON (AP) — Proponents of nuclear power are pushing to revive a failed project to build two reactors in South Carolina, arguing that the demise of the $14 billion venture could signal doom for an industry that supplies one-fifth of the nation’s electricity…..Supporters were alarmed when two South Carolina utilities halted construction on a pair of reactors that once were projected to usher in a new generation of nuclear power……

The July 31 suspension of the partly completed V.C. Summer project near Columbia, South Carolina, leaves two nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia as the only ones being built in the U.S. The collapse of the nearly decade-old project in South Carolina could cost ratepayers billions of dollars for work that ultimately provides no electricity and could signal that new nuclear plants are impossible to complete in the United States.

“These reactors failing would be the end of a nuclear renaissance before it even started,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Graham and other lawmakers from both parties are urging Congress to extend a production tax credit that would provide billions of dollars to the South Carolina project and the two Georgia reactors. The House approved an extension in June, and Graham is pushing for a Senate vote after Congress returns from its August recess….

The Vogtle plant in Georgia faces similar economic and competitive threats, including the Westinghouse bankruptcy. The plant’s operator, Atlanta-based Southern Co., has said it will decide in coming weeks whether to finish the two reactors, which are years behind schedule and billions of dollars above projected costs……

Besides the production tax credit, nuclear supporters want the extension of an Energy Department loan guarantee program that has helped Vogtle and other energy projects secure funding. Vogtle received an $8.3 billion loan guarantee under the Obama administration – the largest ever issued by the loan program and a deal that some critics say could end up biting taxpayers…..https://www.apnews.com/1746c2dee6464b1586dbbedda6714bc4

 

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Vogtle’s two new nuclear reactors: will they be economically viable?

The challenge to building new nuclear reactors in the U.S. has to do with new technology, the exacting construction and the relative affordability of other energy sources, experts said. While there could be long-term advantages to new nuclear energy, including its relative efficiency and lack of greenhouse gas emissions, the short-term costs are considerable and could sink the projects before they are completed, experts said.

The recently suspended nuclear expansion at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina over its burgeoning costs has raised questions about the future of Vogtle’s two new nuclear reactors and other projects……

Capital costs could increase from $5.7 billion to $7.4 billion and financing costs from $2.3 billion to $3.5 billion. Because Georgia Power has the only publicly reported numbers attached to the project, some have used those figures to calculate the total cost at $25 billion, but it cautioned against that figure because the costs for the other companies involved in the project are different.

If the costs came in at the highest estimate and were the same across the board for all partners, the project would actually exceed $27 billion…….

One way of assessing whether adding a new nuclear plant makes economic sense is by looking at measures that seek to compare energy technologies based on what it costs to build and operate them, called levelized cost of electricty, and comparing it with the value of the electricity it would add to the overall system based on the cost of producing it. According to a report earlier this year from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a nuclear reactor that came online in 2022 would actually cost nearly $40 more in kilowatt hour of electricity produced than generating that same electricity by other means……… http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/2017-08-12/questions-remain-about-viability-building-new-nuclear-reactors#.WZDB9dbWk2A.twitter

August 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Review of Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan: nuclear phaseout is essential

Editorial.Phasing out nuclear power a must for Japan’s new energy plan, Asahi Shimbun, August 14, 2017, The industry ministry has opened discussions for reviewing Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan, which defines a grand framework for how the country will consume, and cover the demand for, electric power, heat and other forms of energy.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko has said the core part of the plan will remain basically unchanged. Minor adjustments alone, however, would simply not suffice under current circumstances.

The ongoing edition of the plan is questionable in many respects, including in the way it defines nuclear energy as a mainstay power source despite broad public opposition to restarts of nuclear reactors.

A big wave of change is occurring on a global scale. For example, there are moves, mostly in advanced industrialized nations, for pulling the plug on nuclear power. There is also a trend for moving from coal-fired thermal power generation, given that the Paris Agreement has now taken effect for fighting global warming. Renewable energy options, such as wind and solar power, are spreading rapidly.

Japan should also redraw the image of its future self. First and foremost, a phase-out of nuclear power should define the foundation of the country’s new future perspective…….

nuclear energy is falling out of favor with the times both in Japan and abroad following the Fukushima disaster. For example, the public has grown more skeptical about the use of nuclear power, and the costs of implementing required safety measures have soared.

The question of how to dispose of radioactive waste from nuclear power reactors remains unlikely to be solved any time soon in most of the countries that have such reactors, including Japan. Efforts are spreading, mostly in advanced nations, for seeking to scrap all, or a considerable part, of a national fleet of nuclear reactors.

The forthcoming edition of Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan should no longer define atomic energy as a mainstay source of power. Minimizing dependency on nuclear power should be designated a priority issue instead of being left as a hollow promise. Discussions should be made on what efforts are necessary for achieving that goal, and a road map should be presented in a concrete manner.

PHASE OUT NUCLEAR, FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING

Intensive power-saving efforts, combined with a substantial growth in renewable energy options, will represent a solution to the question of how to phase out nuclear power and fight global warming at the same time. It has been pointed out that such measures are costly and have other disadvantages, but possibilities have been opening up for them in recent years………

Renewable energy sources have already replaced thermal energy and nuclear energy as the leading destinations of global investments into the electric power sector.

Japan should quickly switch its energy policy instead of turning its back on the international trend. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201708140020.html

August 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Trump uses executive order to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change

Trump to reverse Obama-era order aimed at planning for climate change, WP,  August 15  President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers……

The White House confirmed that the order issued Tuesday would revoke an earlier executive order by former President Barack Obama that required recipients of federal funds to strongly consider risk-management standards when building in flood zones, including measures such as elevating structures from the reach of rising water. Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established in 2015, sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims.
Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/08/15/trump-to-reverse-obama-era-order-aimed-at-planning-for-climate-change/?utm_term=.da3dc6e28f48

August 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment