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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Fukushima nuke plant decommissioning still has long way to go

 

Mainichi Shimbun reporters visited the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on July 27. While the working environment at the station has improved, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) still has a mountain of problems to tackle, such as removing melted nuclear fuel from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors and treating contaminated water.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170811/p2a/00m/0na/025000c

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August 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

The comic strip journalist who reports on the fallout from Fukushima

On the eve of his appearance at a Victoria University event in Wellington, comic book author Fumio Obata talks to Guy Somerset about his ongoing project chronicling the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster.

At art school, Fumio Obata was taught the importance of “the theme, having something of your own, something only you can do”. The theme that has preoccupied Obata for the past five years is one he has truly made his own. He has been chronicling, through striking comic book reportage, the devastating consequences of the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that struck off the northeast Pacific coast of Japan in March 2011, causing a tsunami and meltdowns and radioactive contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Published in Italian magazine Internazionale and on his website, Obata’s comic strips capture the long-term effects of Fukushima and explore some of the knotty social, political and environmental issues raised by the disaster and its aftermath. The strips are destined to become his second book, his first being 2014’s internationally successful graphic novel Just So Happens, for which The Observer reviewer Rachel Cooke praised his “crazily accomplished” storytelling and described him as “a talent to watch”.

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Reviews like that – and there were plenty more where it came from – can bring a writer a lot of opportunities and Obata was no exception, but he laughs: “I haven’t used them very well. Terrible, isn’t it? The good guys who had their debuts the same time as me, they are already on to their third or fourth book. Whereas me, I’m just caught up in this massive theme. Strategy-wise, I’m not very good!”

Obata is at Victoria University of Wellington this week as a visiting scholar in its School of Design. While he’s there, he’s taking part in a four-day international symposium on cultural sustainability, including a free public event with fellow writers Australian Ellen van Neerven and New Zealander Pip Adam.

His trip from the UK, where he has lived since 1991, when his Anglophile parents sent him to boarding school there from Japan, was broken with a stop-off in Tokyo and more reporting from the region around Fukushima, where 19,416 people died as a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. There are still 2553 people listed as missing and 123,000 evacuees scattered around the country.

A YouTube video on Obata’s website gives a sense of what such reporting can entail. In it, dressed in a white protective suit, he walks through an eerily desolate ghost town that is about two kilometres from Fukushima and part of the designated exclusion zone.

 

If you become friends with a resident, they have a pass and you can go there with them,” he says. He and his friend wore protective suits, but clear-up and other workers don’t. “They don’t become ill. They say it is fine. Even in the exclusion zone, it’s not all equally radioactive. Because particles are not going to be evenly dispersed. When you walk around with the Geiger counter, you notice that sometimes the figure is very low, then you go several feet away from that spot and the figure jumps up. Even outside the exclusion zone, if you go to the bits closest to the zone you find the figures are very high.”

Obata’s reporting, which he describes as “a kind of journalism, but I’m more doing my philosophical take on it”, begins with him taking photographs and recording interviews.

Because I’m trying to structure a narrative, usually it’s the words I start with. I listen to the interviews I did and write down as much as I can. Then I take out the key words, the phrases I think are important, simplifying it. It’s very important simplifying the information. Because what I’m making is a comic strip. It’s not an article, which allows you to have I don’t know how many words: 2000, 3000. I need the space for pictures so I can’t have 3000 words.

After that, I look at the photographs. Again, I may have about 200 photographs. I have to go through them and use about 10 out of 200. Those photographs are going to be my visual sources. Then I start sketching. All those sketches and rough pictures, they are like pieces of the puzzle. I’ve got a dozen pieces of puzzle with words and phrases and I’ve got the other side of the puzzle with the photographs, and I basically put them together.”

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One of the most affecting stories Obata tells is that of Norio Kimura, whose father, wife and seven-year-old youngest daughter Yūna were lost in the tsunami. While the bodies of his father and wife were found in April 2011, Yūna’s remained missing. After the official search for her ended, Kimura continued looking, taking 1000km round trips to do so. After five years and nine months, a piece of bone was discovered that DNA testing proved was one of Yūna’s.

Yūna was torn apart into small pieces, taken away with contaminated debris, now stored around anonymously,” reads one of the story’s panels. “Had they done the search longer and more carefully from the start, she could have been found a lot earlier, with her body almost intact too.”

The story ends with a panel reading: “A child has been left out alone in the shadow of the reconstruction. And her presence now poses a lot of questions to us.”

This is emotionally momentous material, very different to some of Obata’s other work, be it his 2004 anime of Duran Duran’s song Careless Memories for their then stage show or the short comic about the art of pencil sharpening you’ll find on his website.

Getting it right must weigh upon him, one imagines: these are hugely significant events and he’s almost certainly the only person who’s going to approach them in this form.

Yeah, big pressure,” he says. “It’s very difficult to do. I appreciate people allow me to talk to them. Some say no, of course. I’ve heard tragic stories but they’ve asked me not to write about it. It’s interesting because they wanted to share that with somebody, somebody who’s not shared the same experience they have.

The father I met is very vocal because he’s angry. He’s just full of anger. He’s trying to change something about the law, for the love of his daughter. It’s very moving. That’s why he basically opened up to me. His story is still developing and he’s still searching for the remains of his daughter.”

Another panel in the same story is of a city skyline at night and reads: “The nuclear plant was built to provide electricity to the capital region. By knowing Fukushima today, Tokyo could look arrogant, with all the excess of lights and luxury.”

It’s a point elegantly distilled – even poetically so.

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But Obata is not one to cast simplistic blame. “It is something I have to tell people, especially my students [at the University of Gloucester and other universities around the UK where he teaches as a guest lecturer] when they try to do something about the world. They are angry young men, angry young people, but there are layers to things. There’s no right or wrong; the people are goodies and the people are baddies as well.

When a tragedy happens, we tend to think there’s a victim and there’s an offender. There’s going to be people who get accused and there are victims who get all the sympathy from the public. But sometimes it’s not like that. Sometimes you can’t make things black and white.

What’s happening with nuclear is one of these things. If you start reading just a short history of the nuclear industry, or nuclear technology, you see a lot of people believe in the technology and I can’t blame them, because I can’t prove them wrong. They get accused and the people who accuse them have right things to say and I can’t blame them either.

So basically there are no answers to it and it’s very uncomfortable for the human mind not to have answers. You need a bit of patience and courage to accept that. This is one of the things I am going to say at the end, I think: it’s difficult to accept an open ending but you’ve got to have the courage.”

As for Tokyo: “The consumption of energy really helped to establish today’s Japan’s reputation. And I’m part of it. I can’t really criticise it. I just have to take in the contradiction and try to respond.”

Responding to this and the other contradictions he’s encountered in the past five years still has a way to run for Obata. Asked if he’s going to make the 2018 publication date his website gives for his book, he laughs: “Nah, of course not. I just have to put a lot of energy into it and hope the pictures can deliver the intensity of what I’ve seen.”

https://thespinoff.co.nz/media/09-08-2017/the-comic-strip-journalist-who-reports-on-the-fallout-from-fukushima/

 

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

To 14 August – nuclear and climate news

Some puzzlement. North Korea threatens to fire intermediate-range ballistic missiles into waters NEAR Guam. USA and its deputy sheriff Australia see this as an attack ON Guam. Kim Jong Un might not be  a very nice man. But he’s not mad. He saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Gaddafi in Libya, seeing that they didn’t have nuclear weapons. As for Trump – a narcissistic sociopath who delights in his own unpredictability – who knows what he might do?

A great pity that the very real global crisis of climate change is now taking a media back seat to the  USA-North Korea tensions.

I’m  attaching a picture this time – surely the saddest image from the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. A boy standing at rigid attention with the dead body of his infant brother strapped to his back at a crematorium in Nagasaki . Photographer Joe  O’Donnell recalled that the boy stared motionless as bodies were being burned and he awaited his turn. He also noticed that the boy’s lips were caked with blood because he was biting them so hard, although no blood spilled.

 

NUCLEAR. Can Donald Trump be prevented from plunging the world into nuclear war?

Donald Trump: USA ready to act militarily against North Korea: Merkel calls for de-escalation of the rhetoric.

Risk of US-N.Korea nuclear war increases, but is still unlikely.

China confident about new sanctions on North Korea: Trump prepared for “preventive war”

CLIMATE. The human effect – as New York and other cities become climate changed sweltering hotspots.

Temperatures of 55°C to emerge if global warming continues. By the end of the century, extreme weather could kill 150,000 people each year in EuropeNo Climate Money for Nuclear Power.

USA – Climate 

USA – Nuclear

NORTH KOREA. A North Korean miniaturised hydrogen bomb would change everything. New UN sanctions on North Korea: US, South Korea pleased, China is wary.

JAPAN.Hiroshima’s mayor urges that Japan join the UN nuclear weapons ban: PM Abe toes the USA line on keeping nuclear weapons.    Mayor Remembers Nuclear Bombing of Nagasaki; Calls For Nuclear Disarmament; Stands with Fukushima Victims.  Ibaraki Governor vows not to allow restart of Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant.   Radioactive Hot Particles in Japan: Full Radiation Risks not Recorded  . 1,700 Contaminated Vehicles Removed from Fukushima Daiichi Plant Site. Unexploded bomb found at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

IRAN. It’s up to Europe to save the nuclear agreement withIran

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un unlikely to commit nuclear suicide. (but what about Trump?)

Where will Trump and Kim’s nuclear brinkmanship lead?  CBS News, 13 Aug 17, President Trump says the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in its confrontation with North Korea. But how exactly would all that firepower be used? Here’s David Martin at the Pentagon:Behind the “fire and fury” rhetoric, there is one very hard fact: If the U.S. were to unleash its military power against North Korea, it would result — in Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ words — in “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

Before he retired, Admiral James Winnefeld was the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the number two man in uniform, during the Obama Administration.  He knows that one submarine like the USS Kentucky can by itself carry enough nuclear weapons to annihilate North Korea.

When asked to compare America’s nuclear forces to Korean nuclear forces, Adm. Winnefeld replied, “Well, there’s just no comparison whatsoever.”

Martin asked, “Were Kim Jong Un, for whatever reason, to launch a nuclear weapon against the United States, would he, in essence, be committing suicide?”

“Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, there is just no question that we would undertake a proportional response,” Adm. Winnefeld replied. “But in the case of a nuclear weapon, that proportional response would be overwhelming and would probably mean the end of the Kim regime — and he knows it.”…..

“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely-populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea,” said Mattis.

Kim — like his father and grandfather before him — has lived under what he believes to be the constant threat of an attack from the south.  That fear (some would call it paranoia) is what is driving his quest for a nuclear weapon.

“He wants to have what we would view as a credible nuclear threat so we won’t attack him,” WInnefeld said, …. he could not be certain a nuclear armed missile would get through the missile defense system, but he could be certain that if he tried, it would be the end of his regime.

“I think At the end of the day,” said Adm. Winnefeld, “two essential facts stand out: The first is, it’s very unlikely that he will ever willingly give up his program. But it’s also very, very unlikely that he will ever use it, as long as we don’t try to overthrow his regime.”

Can the U.S. live with that? It’s up to the commander-in-chief, who has said he will not allow North Korea to threaten America or its allies. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-kim-jong-un-nuclear-brinkmanship/

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global suicide – the climate effects of nuclear war with North Korea

Nuclear war with North Korea ‘would be suicidal’, climate experts warn, Mashable BY ANDREW FREEDMAN, 10 Aug 17, It’s winter, 2018, in Iowa, five months after the last of the nuclear bombs detonated across megacities in northeast Asia, from Seoul to Tokyo to Shanghai. Radioactive fallout was the initial concern, but now something else is going awry: the weather.

American farmers accustomed to snow and cold during the winter would be forgiven for mistaking their corn and wheat fields for the Arctic tundra, as temperatures dip well below zero at night, and barely recover above 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, under a milky, leaden sky.

Forecasters say the corn and wheat harvest may be significantly shortened this year, and for the next several years. In fact, fears of a famine on an international scale are settling in.

This is what our world could look like just a few months to years after a regional nuclear war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula and spreads to include China and possibly Russia.

 Whether from a deliberate strategy or a terrifying miscalculation, such a war could trigger a global climate catastrophe, experts warn, that is not being factored into leaders’ planning.

Such a war could cause the planet to cool by up to 10 degrees Celsius, or 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with larger regional swings and extremes, according to Owen Brian Toon, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The amount of cooling could be far lower, depending on whether the conflict were more limited in scope.

Apocalyptic visions of a so-called global “nuclear winter” were popular during the Cold War when envisioning a U.S. conflict with the then-Soviet Union, but the odds of a regional nuclear war in recent times have jumped higher after President Donald Trump’s bellicose rhetoric toward North Korea on Tuesday. …….

It’s not just national security experts who are horrified by Trump’s words. Trump’s rhetoric, and history of openly considering using nuclear weapons, is also concerning to climate scientists.

 Two researchers, in particular, are taking note of the North Korean threat: Alan Robock, of Rutgers University, and Toon. Robock and Toon are modern day Cassandras, having warned for decades about the potentially ruinous climate change consequences of a nuclear war, most recently focusing on regional conflicts.

Robock has conducted much of the research into the idea of a nuclear winter, whereby a global thermonuclear war vaults so much smoke into the upper atmosphere to block out the sun for years afterwards, causing temperatures to plunge and killing off vital crops and plant and animal species…….

Robock says most people, including high-ranking defense officials, are unaware that a nuclear war occurring halfway around the world from the U.S. could seriously harm the homeland, by altering the climate.

A new little ice age

Simulations in the 1980s, he said, found that temperatures would plunge so far after a U.S.-Soviet nuclear war that high temperatures in the summer temperatures would stay below freezing worldwide. ……..

The modern-day nuclear scenario that Robock, Toon and others have studied closely involves an exchange of nuclear weapons between India and Pakistan, with about 50 bombs of 15 kilotons each, which is less than half of those nations’ nuclear arsenals.

 A 2007 study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics found that, if these weapons were aimed at the center of large cities, the direct fatalities would be “comparable to all of those worldwide in World War II.”

Such a war would induce massive firestorms in urban areas that could send up to 5 million tons of smoke high into the upper atmosphere, where tiny particles known as aerosols would scatter sunlight, preventing it from reaching the Earth’s surface.

This would turn the planet’s climate sharply colder, despite the effects of human-caused global warming, and impact areas far from the actual fighting. The global cooling from such a regional war could be near 1.25 degrees Celsius, or 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit, studies have shown.

Once in the stratosphere, the particles contributed by the smoke would stick around for a long time, Toon and Robock’s simulations show. Observations after volcanic eruptions and wildfires support the model simulations.

“It circles the globe and stays there for many years,” Toon said. ……..http://mashable.com/2017/08/09/north-korea-nuclear-war-climate-change-winter/#WoP6BE3O6iq4

August 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear war danger – GREAT FOR INVESTORS IN WEAPONS!!!

Arms Stocks Soar While Trump, Kim Trade Threats https://sputniknews.com/business/201708121056414815-Trump-Kim-spat-pleases-business/  13.08.2017  US President Trump’s tit-for-tat war of nuclear words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is good for Wall Street.

Following Pyongyang‘s August 8 pronouncement that it had successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead for its burgeoning ICBM fleet, US President Donald Trump made several inflammatory statements involving the phrase “fire and fury” and, one day later, the stocks of arms builders and weapons manufacturers skyrocketed.

While the stock market has been noted to be on an upswing in recent weeks, last week’s midweek figures were notably down — except for those of weapons manufacturers.

Defense technology companies Textron, General Dynamics, L3 Technologies and Huntington Ingalls all notched gains, while weapons giants Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin saw the highest stock valuation of their history, according to Defense One.

Financial analysts gushing about potential profit quickly alerted investors to developing or planned missile defense interceptor networks and the lucrative firms that design and manufacture those weapons.

Weapons builders and military equipment suppliers are an attractive investment, if you can stomach that your money comes from selling devices that are made specifically to kill people, according to Defense One.

A recent Morgan Stanley analysis of weapons builders has suggested that stocks will rise.

“[W]e expect this intense budget debate over the next few weeks and months to yield positive results,” asserted an L3 Technologies spokesperson only last month.

The business and financial community note that US military spending is on track to top last year, and that increases are likely in the coming months.

“I believe that there is real interest and desire in additional [military] spending which will manifest itself in some more additional funding and budget for defense,” said General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic.

“It’s just a question of how much,” she said.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Homeowners will find themselves underwater literally and figuratively – rising sea levels on USA coast

Stoddard believes flood insurance rates — which have been subsidized for years by governments — will be the so-called tipping point for homeowners in the U.S.

When rates are allowed to rise to a level that matches the actuarial risk of flooding, homeowners will find they cannot afford their flood insurance and will pressure elected officials to take action, he argued.

“Homeowners will find themselves underwater literally and figuratively,” Stoddard

Refugees of a different kind are being displaced by rising seas — and governments aren’t ready

  • Sea levels are on the rise, displacing entire populations and stirring fears for ‘climate refugees’ that must relocate.
  • A ‘tipping point’ is nearing as costs mount, and governments appear unprepared.
  • The impact is being felt as far away as Panama, and as close as Louisiana.
Matt Zdun, special to CNBC.com , 13 Aug 17, This week, University of Florida scientists discovered the sea level along the southeastern U.S. coast has risen far more quickly than the long-term rate globally, underscoring new concerns about the effects of climate change.

Increasingly, the phenomenon of rising sea levels has amplified fears over climate refugees — individuals forced to leave their homes due to changing environmental conditions in their respective homelands. Climate watchers estimate that at least 26 million people around the world have already been displaced, and that figure could balloon to 150 million by 2050, according to the Worldwatch Institute.

Relocating those populations costs vast sums of money, raising the question of who will cover those costs as sea levels continue their uptrend. The rise in global sea levels has accelerated since the 1990s amid rising temperatures, with a thaw of Greenland’s ice sheet pouring ever more water into the oceans, a team of international scientists reported last month.

 In the U.S., the cost of climate change is expected to be steep. A Science study estimates that every one degree Celsius increase in global mean temperature will cost the U.S. 1.2 percent of its economic growth. Separately, a recent assessment by Lloyds estimated that flooding ranked high among the top five risks to global economic growth, and could cost upwards of $430 billion.

Mark Witte, a professor of public finance at Northwestern University, said climate relocation demonstrates a classic economic problem when it comes to addressing slow moving, long-term challenges. “We’re waiting for the tipping point,” Witte told CNBC recently. “We’re going to wait too long, and it’ll be a more expensive fix in the long term than if we just did something now.”……..

for people like 27-year-old Panama native Diwigdi Valiente, climate change is “not a fairy tale anymore.” In addition to washing away homes and schools on the inhabited islands, rising seas are set to engulf hundreds of Kuna-owned tourist beaches off the Caribbean coast, which locals use as their main source of revenue.

Valiente, part of an indigenous population called the Kuna, is one of tens of thousands of autonomous islanders who may need to relocate to the mainland within the next 20 years, as rising seas threaten to swallow their homes. Some Kuna are facing moves to the mainland even sooner than that as puddles of water form on the islands………

Panama’s government has pledged to help fund the Kuna’s relocation. However, according to Valiente, the effort is not moving quickly enough, and may not cover the full costs………

For millions of individuals living in low coastal areas across the world, and for the policymakers debating what to do and how to pay for it, climate change is no longer an abstract, far-off concept.

“We all thought this is something that was going to happen in 100 years or something,” said Valiente. “But it’s happening right now.”………

Louisiana, however, is just one recipient of federal aid. Other states haven’t been as fortunate, at least not yet.

Philip Stoddard, the mayor of South Miami, said he does not expect to see financial assistance from the federal government anytime soon — even though one in eight homes in Florida could be underwater by 2100, Zillow data states.………. Stoddard believes flood insurance rates — which have been subsidized for years by governments — will be the so-called tipping point for homeowners in the U.S.

When rates are allowed to rise to a level that matches the actuarial risk of flooding, homeowners will find they cannot afford their flood insurance and will pressure elected officials to take action, he argued.

“Homeowners will find themselves underwater literally and figuratively,” Stoddard said.https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/11/climate-change-refugees-grapple-with-effects-of-rising-seas.html

August 14, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

A pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea? – catastrophic, and illegal

A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Be Catastrophic and Illegal TruthOut , August 12, 2017, By Marjorie Cohn, As Special Counsel Robert Mueller impanels two grand juries to investigate Donald Trump and his associates, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home is searched, Trump needs to distract attention from the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing.

North Korea has provided just such a distraction — albeit a potentially catastrophic one.

On Tuesday, Trump stated, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Friday morning, Trump warned North Korea that the US military is “locked and loaded.”

Trump has learned that bombing other countries enhances a president’s popularity. In April, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each armed with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, he went from scoundrel-in-chief to national hero virtually overnight. The corporate media, the neoconservatives and most of Congress hailed Trump as strong and presidential for lobbing the missiles into Syria, reportedly killing nine civilians, including four children.

Several hours after Trump’s recent “fire and fury” statement, Pyongyang warned it was “carefully examining” a strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, the site of an important US military base and home to more than 160,000 people.

North Korea has accused the United States of planning a “preventive war,” saying that plans to mount one would be met with an “all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland.” A spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army promised, “the tragic end of the American empire will be hastened.”

In an attempt to tamp down fears of all-out war, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there is not “any imminent threat” from North Korea.

But Defense Secretary James Mattis cautioned that Pyongyang “should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.” And National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the White House is considering all options, including “preventative war.”…….

An Attack on North Korea Would Be Dangerous

The Intercept reports that “even a conventional war between the US and [North Korea] could kill more than 1 million people; a nuclear exchange, therefore, might result in tens of millions of casualties.”……

A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Violate the UN Charter

A preemptive strike on North Korea would be illegal. It would violate the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use of military force unless conducted in self-defense or when approved by the Security Council…..

Sign a Peace Treaty, End the Korean War

Moreover, North Korea cannot forget the 1950-1953 Korean War, which reduced North Korea’s population of 10 million by approximately one-third. Sixty-four years ago, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement, but the US never permitted the creation of a peace treaty……..

Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long-overdue end.”

A month ago, China and Russia proposed a “freeze-for-freeze” strategy, which would entail North Korea freezing its nuclear and missile testing, and in return, the US and South Korea would end their annual joint military exercises. This proposal, issued in a joint statement by the Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministries after meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a diplomatic solution that should be pursued……..

As we stand on the precipice of a disastrous war, these are the right circumstances for Trump to meet with Kim Jong-un. If Trump were to successfully negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea, he would receive plaudits for being a real diplomat. The unthinkable alternative is military action that would cause the deaths of untold numbers of Koreans, Japanese people and Americans. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41598-a-preemptive-strike-on-north-korea-would-be-catastrophic-and-illegal

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Avoiding the fate of Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi – this is Kim Jong-un’s nuclear strategy

Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons as a way to escape fate of Saddam and Gadhafi  North Korea’s nuclear weapons unnerve the world, but are a security blanket for the regime, By Mark Gollom, CBC News   Aug 13, 2017 William Tobey, a nuclear non-proliferation expert who has taken part in past Six Party Talks with North Korea, says anyone who claims to perfectly understand the motivations of the North Korean government, and does not live in Pyongyang, is probably blowing smoke.

But Tobey and most experts agree that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s No. 1 goal is self-preservation. For Kim, the pursuit of nuclear weapons and a missile program is a rational way to stave off attempts by the U.S. to overthrow his regime.

“I think most people ascribe a motivation of regime preservation to their nuclear programs,” Tobey said. “So it would be used to deter any attacks that would be aimed at dislodging the government.”

Nuclear ‘treasure sword’

The North Korean government has said as much in its public statements, Tobey said, and those should be taken “at face value.”

A commentary published by North Korea’s state KCNA news agency in January last year stated that “history proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider’s aggression.”

The piece suggested North Korea fears suffering the same demise as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, that neither could “escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord.”

Philip Yun, a former senior adviser to two U.S. co-ordinators for North Korea at the Department of State, said that he has been in hundreds of hours of negotiations with the North Koreans. “Every single time during that period, they talked about [Slobodan] Milosevic and they talked about Saddam Hussein and subsequently talked about Gadhafi — if they had nuclear weapons they’d still be there.”…….

Preserving the dynasty

If North Korea truly believes an attack is imminent, it would launch its own strike, believing it has nothing to lose, said Tom Collina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a think-tank dedicated to reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons.

But North Korea would not attack “out of the blue,” because it knows that would be suicidal, the end of the regime, he said…….

Tobey said he believes the “no viable options” view is a myth and that the U.S., South Korea and Japan need to step back and take a deep breath. North Korea, he reminded, is a tiny country, with a tiny economy, and it knows the regime would end if it deployed any serious weapons.

“We managed to deter the Soviet Union for decades with basically rough parity in the two military arsenals. There’s no comparison with U.S. and North Korea military capabilities. We can deter them.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-donald-trump-1.4244020

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As UK’s BIG nuclear projects look like failing, the SMALL nuclear confidence men approach the government

Government holds crunch talks with industry giants over the future of British nuclear energy, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/13/government-holds-crunch-talks-industry-giants-future-british/ The key nuclear power players have been called in by the Government for crunch talks on plans to meet Britain’s energy demands with new small reactor technology, amid mounting fears over delays and Whitehall paralysis.

Industry giants including NuScale, Rolls-Royce, Hitachi and Westinghouse have been summoned by ministers in a bid to reignite interest in the project. They have been asked to present their plans in meetings over the next few weeks.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a fraction of the size and cost of major nuclear power stations such as EDF’s controversial Hinkley Point C project. The Government signalled a key role for the technology in efforts to secure the energy supply and meet climate change targets two years ago.

An apparent lack of action since then has drawn criticism and raised industry concerns that the project has fallen by the wayside amid the political instability of Brexit and the general election.

In May, a House of Lords report branded the Government’s failure to publish the results of a competition for development funding as “particularly alarming”.

Companies considering investments in the technology had hoped that ministers would indicate which proposals they would support months ago, but they received no communication, fuelling the speculation that SMRs were being quietly abandoned.  Renewed government interest in the technology is a boost to the nuclear industry. Rolls hopes to adapt technology developed to power Royal Navy submarines, for instance.

It has said developing SMRs for civil use will cost £1.2bn, with the first installation expected to require a further £1.7bn. Costs are forecast to fall as more mini reactors are built. Modular design allows the systems to be built in “blocks” in factories then assembled on-site. An SMR is expected to require a site about a tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear power station and generate between 200 megawatts and 450 megawatts of power.

Hinkley Point C, currently under construction in Somerset, is set to generate 3.2 gigawatts. Cost projections on the project have soared from £6bn in 2013 to £20bn, and the first new power is not expected to be generated until at least 2025.

Last month, the National Audit ­Office (NAO) hit out at Hinkley Point, saying taxpayers could face a final bill of as much as £50bn, because the wholesale market price for electricity is falling steadily while nuclear power construction remains expensive and high-risk. Under a 2013 deal between the Government and EDF, Hinkley is guaranteed to earn £92.50 for every megawatt-hour (MWh) of energy produced through a combination of wholesale market prices and a levy on consumer energy bills. At the time, the Government said this would require top-up payments totalling £6bn from consumers’ energy bills to meet the “strike price”, but falling market prices have widened the forecast gap every year since then.

The NAO criticised the Government’s nuclear plans, saying ministers had “committed electricity consumers and taxpayers to a high cost and risky deal in a changing energy marketplace. Time will tell whether the deal represents value for money”.

Plans for another nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria are also in doubt after Westinghouse, the US nuclear ­reactor developer which is owned by ­Japan’s Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid spiralling losses brought about by cost over-runs and project delays.

Toshiba is currently a 60pc shareholder in the consortium to develop the 3.8 gigawatt plant at the Moorside site.

Moving to a new backer could push development of the plant back years with regulatory delays and costs likely to go up.

A spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy said of the small reactor plans: “We are currently considering next steps for the SMR programme and we will communicate these in due course.”

Success for SMRs could hinge on developing production lines and export businesses that would increase scale and bring costs down further in the years ahead

Tony Roulstone of the Cambridge ­Nuclear Energy Centre, a former senior Rolls engineer, recently told The Engineer magazine: “The cost of building nuclear plants is related to their complexity and the work you have to do on site to build them, and nothing the industry has tried has worked. So it’s time to try something else.

“The manufacturing approach works in every other industry. Nuclear is the only industry in which production engineering is not used.”

Mr Roulstone added: “It’s only by getting into a factory environment and building these things over and over again that you learn how to bring the cost down.”

When George Osborne, the then chancellor, announced £250m of taxpayer funding for development of the technology in 2015, he said the cash would be allocated by 2020.

Mr Osborne, whose time as chancellor came to an abrupt end last year, added that the money would help to “revive the UK’s nuclear expertise and position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies”.

 

August 14, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

How USA’s Argonne National Laboratory abused a small Australian boy, with plutonium injections

Paul Langley,  https://www.facebook.com/paul.langley.9822/posts/10213752429593121CAL-2, 14 Aug 175 yr-old Simon Shaw and his mum. Simon was flown from Australia to the US on the pretext of medical treatment for his bone cancer. Instead, he was secretly injected with plutonium to see what would happen. His urine was measured, and he was flown back to Australia.

Though his bodily fluids remained radioactive, Australian medical staff were not informed. No benefit was imparted to Simon by this alleged “medical treatment” and he died of his disease after suffering a trip across the world and back at the behest of the USA despite his painful condition. The USA merely wanted a plutonium test subject. They called him CAL-2. And did their deed under the cover of phony medicine.

“Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515-2107, Edward J. Markey, 7th District, Massachusetts Committees, [word deleted] and Commerce, Chairman Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, Natural Resources, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe] MEMORANDUM To: Congressman Edward J. Markey From: Staff Subject: The Plutonium Papers Date: 4/20/94

Staff Memo on Plutonium Papers

The medical file for Cal-2 also contains correspondence seeking follow-up from Argonne National Laboratory in the 1980s. Cal-2 was an Australian boy, not quite five years old, who was flown to the U.S. in 1946 for treatment of bone cancer. During his hospitalization in San Francisco, he was chosen as a subject for plutonium injection. He returned to Australia, where he died less than one year later.

Document 700474 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to an official at the Institute of Public Health in Sydney, Australia, in an attempt to reach the family of Cal-2. This letter reports that the child was “injected with a long-lived alpha-emitting radionuclide.” Document 700471 is a letter from Dr. Stebbings to New South Wales, Australia (names and town deleted), inquiring about recollections of the boy’s hospitalization in 1946. The letter notes that, “those events have become rather important in some official circles here,” but provides few details to the family.

A hand-written note on the letter reports no response through October 8, 1987. Considering the history on the lack of informed consent with these experiments, it is surprising that the letters to Australia failed to mention the word “plutonium.”

The Australian news media has since identified Cal-2 as Simeon Shaw, the son of a wool buyer in New South Wales, and information on the injection created an international incident. The information in the medical file does indicate that at a time when Secretary Herrington told you that no follow-up would be conducted on living subjects, the Department of Energy was desperately interested in conducting follow-up on a deceased Australian patient.

In an effort to determine the full extent of follow-up by the Department after 1986, your staff has requested, through the Department’s office of congressional affairs, the opportunity to speak with Dr. Stebbings, Dr. Robertson, and any other officials who may have been involved in the follow-up. So far, that request has been unsuccessful. It remains an open question as to what was the full extent of follow-up performed in the 1980s, and whether the efforts then would facilitate any further follow-up on subjects now. It seems appropriate for the Interagency Working Group to address these questions as its efforts continue.”

Source: National Security Archives, George Washington Universityhttp://www.gwu.edu/…/…/mstreet/commeet/meet1/brief1/br1n.txt

See also ACHRE Final Report.

NO MORE DUAL USE ABUSE OF AUSTRALIANS MR PRESIDENT. STOP FUNDING SYKES AND FLINDERS UNIVERSITY IN THE DOE QUEST FOR CHEAP CLEANUP OF URANIUM CONTAMINATED SITES.

Mr. President, you are wrong if you think you can do the same again re hormesis funding in Australia as the USA did with CAL-2. We have not forgotten and do not trust you or your paid agents in Australian universities such as Flinders.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, radiation, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Pyroprocessing causes MORE nuclear wastes, not less

The Pyroprocessing Files http://allthingsnuclear.org/elyman/the-pyroprocessing-files. ED LYMAN, SENIOR SCIENTIST | AUGUST 12, 2017, The ARTICLE BY RALPH VARTABEDIAN in the Los Angeles Times highlights the failure of the Department of Energy’s decades-long effort to chemically process a stockpile of spent nuclear fuel at Idaho National Laboratory, ostensibly to convert the waste to forms that would be safer for disposal in a geologic repository. A secondary goal was to demonstrate the viability of a new type of processing spent fuel—so-called pyroprocessing. Instead, it has demonstrated the numerous shortcomings of this technology.

It is particularly important to disseminate accurate information about the failure of this DOE program to dispel some of the myths about pyroprocessing. The concept of the “Integral Fast Reactor”—a metal-fueled fast neutron reactor with co-located pyroprocessing and fuel fabrication facilities—has attracted numerous staunch advocates.

In addition to Argonne National Laboratory, which first developed the technology, the concept has been promoted in the popular media (most notably in the 2013 documentary Pandora’s Promise) and by GE-Hitachi, which seeks to commercialize a similar system. South Korea has long sought to be able to implement the technology, and countries such as China, Japan and Russia all have expressed interest in pursuing it. But this interest has been driven largely by idealized studies on paper and not by facts derived from actual experience.

DOE internal documents reveal problems

The LA Times article refers to a June 2017 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report that draws on documents that UCS received in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. UCS initiated the request in 2015 to seek information that could shed light on DOE’s troubled program for pyroprocessing 26 metric tons of “sodium-bonded” metallic spent fuel from the shutdown Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II).

Pyroprocessing is a form of spent fuel reprocessing that dissolves metal-based spent fuel in a molten salt bath (as distinguished from conventional reprocessing, which dissolves spent fuel in water-based acid solutions). Understandably, given all its problems, DOE has been reluctant to release public information on this program, which has largely operated under the radar since 2000.

The FOIA documents we obtained have revealed yet another DOE tale of vast sums of public money being wasted on an unproven technology that has fallen far short of the unrealistic projections that DOE used to sell the project to Congress, the state of Idaho and the public. However, it is not too late to pull the plug on this program, and potentially save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

History of the pyroprocessing program

DOE originally initiated the pyroprocessing program for EBR-II spent fuel in the mid-1990s as a consolation prize to Argonne-West National Laboratory (now part of present-day Idaho National Laboratory) after it cancelled the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) program. The idea was that the metal-based spent fuel from the reactor could be pyroprocessed in a facility connected to the reactor, which would extract plutonium, uranium and other elements to be fabricated into new reactor fuel. In theory, this could be a system that could convert its nuclear waste into usable fuel on site and thus could be largely self-contained. Pyroprocessing was billed as a simpler, cheaper and more compact alternative to the conventional aqueous reprocessing plants that have been operated in France, the United Kingdom, Japan and other countries.

Although DOE shut down the EBR-II in 1994 (the reactor part of the IFR program), it allowed work at the pyroprocessing facility to proceed. It justified this by asserting that the leftover spent fuel from the EBR-II could not be directly disposed of in the planned Yucca Mountain repository because of the potential safety issues associated with presence of metallic sodium in the spent fuel elements, which was used to “bond” the fuel to the metallic cladding that encased it. (Metallic sodium reacts violently with water and air.)

Pyroprocessing would separate the sodium from other spent fuel constituents and neutralize it. DOE decided in 2000 to use pyroprocessing for the entire inventory of leftover EBR-II spent fuel – both “driver” and “blanket” fuel – even though it acknowledged that there were simpler methods to remove the sodium from the lightly irradiated blanket fuel, which constituted nearly 90% of the inventory.

Little progress, big cost overruns

However, as the FOIA documents reveal in detail, the pyroprocessing technology simply has not worked well and has fallen far short of initial predictions (Figure 1) (Refs. 1-3). Although DOE initially claimed that the entire inventory would be processed by 2007, as of the end of Fiscal Year 2016, only about 15% of the roughly 26 metric tons of spent fuel had been processed. Over $210 million has been spent, at an average cost of over $60,000 per kilogram of fuel treated. At this rate, it will take until the end of the century to complete pyroprocessing of the entire inventory, at an additional cost of over $1 billion.

But even that assumes, unrealistically, that the equipment will continue to be usable for this extended time period. Moreover, there is a significant fraction of spent fuel in storage that has degraded and may not be a candidate for pyroprocessing in any event (Ref. 4). The long time to completion is problematic because DOE has an agreement with the state of Idaho to remove all spent fuel from the state by the year 2035. The FOIA documents reveal that DOE is well aware that it is not on track to comply with this obligation (Ref 5). Yet DOE has not made any public statements to that effect and continues to insist that it can meet the deadline.

More waste, not less

 An impure uranium waste product is deposited on a cathode in a  pyroprocessing cell (Source: Idaho National Lab)

What exactly is the pyroprocessing of this fuelaccomplishing? Instead of making management and disposal of the spent fuel simpler and safer, it has created an even bigger mess. Pyroprocessing separates the spent fuel into three principal waste streams. The first is an enriched uranium metal material called the “spent fuel treatment product.” Because this material contains unacceptably high levels of plutonium and other contaminants, the uranium cannot be used to make new nuclear fuel unless it is further purified; thus it is a waste product. Meanwhile, the material is accumulating and taking up precious space at INL storage facilities, causing its own safety issues.

The second waste stream is the molten salt bath that is used to dissolve the spent fuel. Fission products and plutonium have accumulated in this salt for 20 years. Eventually it will have to be removed and safely disposed of. But for various reasons—including cost and a lack of available space for the necessary equipment—INL is reconsidering the original plan to convert this waste into a stable ceramic waste form. Instead, it may just allow it to cool until it hardens and then directly dispose of it in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico (Ref. 6).

The third waste stream consists of the leftover metal cladding tubes that encased the nuclear fuel, and the metal plenums that extended above the fuel region, which are contaminated with fission products and sodium. The original plan was to convert these scraps into a stable, homogeneous waste form. But the FOIA documents reveal that DOE is also reconsidering this plan, and considering redefining this material as transuranic or low-level waste so it could be disposed of without further processing in WIPP or a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility. Storage of the accumulating metal scrap material is also becoming an increasing burden at INL (Ref. 7).

In other words, pyroprocessing has taken one potentially difficult form of nuclear waste and converted it into multiple challenging forms of nuclear waste. DOE has spent hundreds of millions of dollars only to magnify, rather than simplify, the waste problem. This is especially outrageous in light of other FOIA documents that indicate that DOE never definitively concluded that the sodium-bonded spent fuel was unsafe to directly dispose of in the first place. But it insisted on pursuing pyroprocessing rather than conducting studies that might have shown it was unnecessary.

Everyone with an interest in pyroprocessing should reassess their views given the real-world problems experienced in implementing the technology over the last 20 years at INL. They should also note that the variant of the process being used to treat the EBR-II spent fuel is less complex than the process that would be needed to extract plutonium and other actinides to produce fresh fuel for fast reactors. In other words, the technology is a long way from being demonstrated as a practical approach for electricity production. It makes much more sense to pursue improvements in once-through nuclear power systems than to waste any more time and money on reprocessing technologies that pose proliferation, security and safety risks. DOE continues to consider alternatives to pyroprocessing for the blanket fuel (Ref. 8). It should give serious thought to the possibility of direct disposal of the remaining inventory without processing.

Links to FOIA documents

Below are links to some of the documents that UCS obtained from its FOIA request. We will provide more documents and analyses of them soon.

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina’s state-owned utility drops plans for rate hikes for failed nuclear project

Utility drops rate hike plans for failed nuclear project, By SEANNA ADCOX New Jersey Herald : Aug. 11, 2017 COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Millions of customers who have been footing the bill for years for a now-abandoned nuclear power project may get a temporary reprieve from rising bills, as South Carolina’s state-owned utility dropped plans Friday for two consecutive rate hikes.

Santee Cooper’s board canceled the approval process for average increases of 3.5 percent in 2018 and 3.9 percent in 2019. A vote on the requested hikes had been set for December.

They would have been the utility’s sixth and seventh hikes since 2009 for the now-abandoned expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia. Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas decided July 31 to halt construction on two new reactors they’d already jointly spent $10 billion to build, much of that paid by customers.

“Conditions have changed materially since the rate process began,” said Santee Cooper board Chairman Leighton Lord.

But the cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean rates won’t eventually rise for the more than 2 million customers served by Santee Cooper, which provides power directly and through local electric cooperatives. The board directed the utility’s staff to come back in October with a new financial plan.

“Santee Cooper will still need to cover costs related to our load, other system improvements and environmental compliance,” said Santee Cooper CEO Lonnie Carter. “We will tighten our belts and continue to look for ways we can be more efficient to make up the balance.”

Carter said the state-owned utility would have had to raise rates by 41 percent to continue with the project.

Friday’s unanimous vote comes amid a backlash from the public and lawmakers.

The scuttled nuclear project already accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G’s residential electricity bills and more than 8 percent of Santee Cooper’s. SCE&G is seeking permission from the Public Service Commission to recoup an additional $5 billion over 60 years. Those regulators approved all nine of SCE&G’s rate hike requests since 2009. Legislators have publicly warned commissioners they may be fired.

Three of those commissioners are up for re-election early next year by the Legislature. Seven people, including the incumbents, filed for the three slots by Friday’s noon deadline. The commission has no authority over the state-owned utility…….http://www.njherald.com/article/20170811/AP/308119851#

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA Federal Government not stepping in to save South Carolina nuclear power project

Trump administration silent on demise of nuclear project it once called ‘massively important’, Post and Courier By Thad Moore and EmmaDumain tmoore@postandcourier.com eduman@postandcourier.com, Aug 12, 2017   The day after two South Carolina power companies decided to bail out on two partially built nuclear reactors, state regulators asked the project’s top executives what it would take to restart construction.

Kevin Marsh, CEO of South Carolina Electric & Gas parent SCANA Corp., answered with a must: The federal government would need to step in to cover the spiraling costs, he said, and guarantee that ratepayers wouldn’t foot the bill for a project with an uncertain price tag.

Nearly two weeks later, support from D.C. doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

President Donald Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who have both advocated pro-nuclear positions, haven’t addressed the project’s demise publicly. And one of the two utilities that were building the reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia says it hasn’t heard from the administration since giving it the news.

Santee Cooper, the state-run power utility that owns 45 percent of the project, says it told the White House it was ditching the reactors but hadn’t heard anything since. SCE&G, which owns the other 55 percent, declined to answer questions about its communications with the administration.

The silence from Washington casts further doubt on the prospect of reviving the scuttled project, even as state lawmakers and Gov. Henry McMaster scramble to have at least one reactor completed…..http://www.postandcourier.com/business/trump-administration-silent-on-demise-of-nuclear-project-it-once/article_7bd33fc6-7e9d-11e7-8f2e-7b8e4872296c.html

August 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Lawsuit against S.C. Electric & Gas – accuses mismanagement of over $1 billion of its customers’ money

Lawsuit accuses SCE&G of negligence in scuttled South Carolina nuclear construction project, Post and Courier By Thad Moore tmoore@postandcourier.com Aug 12, 17, 

A lawsuit filed late Friday accuses S.C. Electric & Gas of mismanaging more than $1 billion of its customers’ money in the power company’s bid to build two nuclear reactors near Columbia that have since been scuttled.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, says the utility hid financial problems at the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant from its customers, even as costs spiraled and delays mounted. It’s the first of its kind to be brought against the power company since the project was abandoned last week.

The case was filed in Richland County circuit court by LeBrian Cleckley, a Columbia man who says he and thousands of other ratepayers paid more than $1 billion for a project that may never generate a single kilowatt of electricity.

If it’s approved as a class-action case, the lawsuit would cover a massive swath of South Carolinians: SCE&G has 709,000 electric customers across the state.

A spokeswoman for SCE&G declined to comment, saying the power company doesn’t discuss pending litigation.

SCE&G customers have been paying for the project for nearly a decade thanks to a 2007 state law that allows electric companies to charge ratepayers for the cost of building power plants before they come online. SCE&G and its partner, Santee Cooper, sunk some $9 billion into the project before pulling the plug……http://www.postandcourier.com/news/lawsuit-accuses-sce-g-of-negligence-in-scuttled-south-carolina/article_d273b663-7dd6-5599-96eb-308f2d336ffd.html

August 14, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment