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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

The Present Threat to Coastal Cities From Antarctic and Greenland Melt

robertscribbler

Seas around the world are rising now at a rate of about 3.3 milimeters per year. This rate of rise is faster than at any time in the last 2,800 years. It’s accelerating. And already the impacts are being felt in the world’s most vulnerable coastal regions.

(Rates of global sea level rise continue to quicken. This has resulted in worsening tidal flooding for coastal cities like Miami, Charleston, New Orleans and Virginia Beach. Image source: Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise, and Superstorms.)

Sea Level Rise and Worsening Extreme Rainfall are Already Causing Serious Problems

Last week, New Orleans saw pumps fail as a heavy thunderstorm inundated the city. This caused both serious concern and consternation among residents. Begging the question — if New Orleans pumps can’t handle the nascient variety of more powerful thunderstorms in the age of human-caused climate change, then what happens when a…

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August 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August 18 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Climate change will likely wreck their livelihoods – but they still don’t buy the science” • In 50 years, Cameron Parish, Louisiana, will likely be no more, according to newly published calculations of the Louisiana government. Cameron Parish also has the greatest percentage of Trump supporters of any county in the US. [The Guardian]

Leo Adley Dyson Sr (Photo: Shanon Sims)

¶ “What Happens to Solar Power in an Eclipse? We’ll Find Out Monday” • As the eclipse carves a long shadow over California on Monday morning, it is expected to knock offline more than 5,600 MW of solar panels at its peak, a big chunk of the 19,000 MW of solar power that currently provide one-tenth of the state’s electricity. [New York Times]

Science and Technology:

¶ Getting electricity and clean water to remote villages can make a huge difference to those who live…

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August 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World Population Will Grow 30% To 9.8 Billion by 2050

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR: By 2050, our global population will increase by more than 2 billion people. That’s if nothing gets in the way. The projected growth comes at a time when the Earth’s capacity to support us is in decline. Add the increasingly fierce storms of an unbalanced climate system to the problems of dwindling resources, and calamity becomes unavoidable. It’s too late to rebuild Earth’s food-producing ecosystems, prevent climate upheaval, or control our reproductive urges in time to avoid disaster, but we can prepare for the inevitable crash. Those of us who can’t stuff our pockets with oil money can use our minds instead and begin studying the options.

“The global population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050, up from 7.5 billion now, according to the 2017 World Population Data Sheet. This year’s edition includes a special focus on the world’s youth (ages 15-24), with indicators and analytical graphics that…

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August 18, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Iodine-129 waste used to track ocean currents for 15,000 km after discharge from nuclear plants

In connection to the article I wrote last August 3, 2017 “Radioactive Contamination of Oceans: Sellafield, La Hague, Fukushima” https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/radioactive-contamination-of-oceans-sellafield-la-hague-fukushima/

This study is about radioactive 129I travelling the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, a 15,000 km journey, legally released since 20 years from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. Of course as usual, in complete disregard of recent studies about the dangerosity of low dose,They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

This study still is letting us envisage the travel of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant numerous radioactive contaminants which have been dispersed since March 2011, which still are being dispersed and will be additionally dispersed into the Pacific Ocean.

Radioactive 129I has travelled the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, since being released from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. The iodine’s 15,000 km journey begins in the nuclear plants at Sellafield and La Hague and continues via the Arctic Ocean and then southward via the Grand Banks towards Bermuda, where it is found at very low concentrations about 20 years later. This tracer has been used to provide the most complete up-to-date, high-accuracy mapping of the oceanic currents that transport CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to the abyssal depths of the deep North Atlantic Ocean. These results are being presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Paris.

artic loop of iodine 129 aug 16 2017.png

 

Radioactive contaminants have been legally released for more than half a century from the nuclear reprocessing plants at Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France). Scientists have recently begun to use the radioactive 129iodine (129I) as a way of tracking the movement of ocean currents. They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

“What we have found is that by tracing radioactive iodine released into the seas off the UK and France we have been able to confirm how the deep ocean currents flow in the North Atlantic. This is the first study to show precise and continuous tracking of Atlantic water flowing northward into the Arctic Ocean off Norway, circulating around the arctic basins and returning to the Nordic seas in what we call the “Arctic loop”, and then flowing southward down the continental slope of North America to Bermuda at depths below 3000 m” said lead researcher Dr John N. Smith (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada).

The research is part of the international GEOTRACES project, which aims to use geochemical markers to follow ocean currents, and so provide precise estimates of transit times and mixing rates in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. So far the 129I has been measured as far south as Puerto Rico, but the researchers assume that it will continue to flow southward into the South Atlantic and eventually spread throughout the global ocean.

Dr Smith continued, “These currents have previously been studied using dissolved CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) – the molecules which used to be used in fridges until banned in 1989. However, CFCs undergo ocean-atmosphere exchange which means that surface water is continually replenished with CFCs during the arctic leg of the journey, whereas the 129I plume retains the initial imprint of its input history over a long period of years. Further, 129I is relatively easy to detect at extremely low levels using accelerator mass spectrometry methods which gives us a large measurement advantage in terms of the signal to noise ratio. Since we know exactly where the 129I comes from and when it entered the ocean, for the first time we can be absolutely sure that detecting an atom in a particular place is as a specific result of the currents”.

“In many ways this is a bit like the old ‘stick in a stream’ game we used to play as kids – what people call ‘Pooh sticks’ in England – where you would drop a buoyant object in the water and observe where it comes out. Of course, it would be much better if these markers were not in the ocean at all, but they are, and we can use them to do some important environmental science”.

Commenting, Dr Núria Casacuberta Arola (ETH, Zurich) said:

“The work performed by John Smith and colleagues in recent years has greatly contributed to the understanding of water circulation, especially in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. The advantage of using 129I as a transient tracer in oceanography is the long half-life (15.7 My) of this isotope compared to the circulation times, and the fact that it is largely soluble in seawater. Now, major efforts are also devoted to find other artificial radionuclides with similar sources and behaviour than 129I (e.g. 236U, 237Np) so that the more tools we have, the better we will understand the ocean circulation. Recent advances in mass spectrometry (ICP-MS and AMS) allow today for very low detection limits so that we can measure very low concentrations of these isotopes in deep ocean waters”.
https://phys.org/news/2017-08-129i-track-ocean-currents-km.html#jCp

August 18, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , | Leave a comment

AIPRI Reports on 257 Tons of Corium and 180 Million Curies of Deadly Heavy Metal Poison and Radiation Released From Fukushima

From December 2011, reposting it today so that people won’t think that the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is behind us.

After 280 days of decaying, the 257 tons of lost corium from three of Fukushima’s reactors, which one assumes to have a burn rate of 14GWJ/t (14 kg fissioned per tonne), have produced a probable level of radioactivity of 180.37 million Curies, or 6.674E18 Becquerels (6673.6 PBq). […]

92.17% of this radioactivity is being emitted by fission products, and constitutes 28.07% of overall radiotoxicity. 7.83% of this radioactivity is made by activation products, and constitutes 71.93% of overall radiotoxicity. That is to say that here the radiotoxicity, which according to the eminently official ICRP’s dose factors equals 73.47 Billion potential lethal doses via inhalation and 15.53 Billion lethal doses via ingestion, results chiefly from the activation products, which by and large are alpha emitters.

On the other hand, the radioactivity in this case is produced primarily by fission products, which most often are beta (β− ) emitters. At the end of these 280 days of decaying, the radiation arises primarily from the following elements: Strontium 89 at 2.265%, Strontium 90 at 4.713%, Yttrium 90 at 4.713%, Yttrium 91 at 4.852%, …

…Yttrium 91 at 4.852%, Zirconium 95 at 8.067%, Ruthenium 106 at 9.297%, Caesium 134 at 4.737%, Cesium 137 at 6.209%, Barium 137 at 6.209%, Cerium 144 at 23.744%, Promethium 147 at 13.728%, Plutonium 241 at 5.505%, Cobalt 60 at 1.410%.

Consistent with the rate of decay of these 280 days, in 15 years the fuel will have lost 80.20% of its radioactivity, bringing it to 35.71 Curies – but its long-lived toxicity will be elevated by 13.35%, contrarily, to 83.28 Billion lethal doses. Without question, the overall radioactivity falls but the persistent radiotoxicity increases until 60 years or so later, it commences to decline ever-so slowly after 350 years! (This irrefutable augmentation of toxicity over time is largely due to the increase of Americium-241 – alpha – a daughter product far more toxic than its beta-emitting parent, Plutonium-241. Ultimately, it will take around 350 years for the radiotoxicity to return to its original level…”

 http://www.aipri.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/la-radioactivite-des-3-corium-de.html

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

World’s biggest problem is – endless Growth: technology will not save us

Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us, Post Carbon, Richard Heinberg, August 17, 2017 Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail……..

The strategy of buying time with a techno-fix presumes either that we will be able to institute systemic change at some unspecified point in the future even though we can’t do it just now (a weak argument on its face), or that climate change and all of our other symptomatic crises will in fact be amenable to technological fixes. The latter thought-path is again a comfortable one for managers and investors. After all, everybody loves technology. It already does nearly everything for us.

Hello Humanity, it’s me, Technology. We need to talk

During the last century it solved a host of problems: it cured diseases, expanded food production, sped up transportation, and provided us with information and entertainment in quantities and varieties no one could previously have imagined. Why shouldn’t it be able to solve climate change and all the rest of our problems?

Of course, ignoring the systemic nature of our dilemma just means that as soon as we get one symptom corralled, another is likely to break loose. But, crucially, is climate change, taken as an isolated problem, fully treatable with technology? Color me doubtful.

I say this having spent many months poring over the relevant data with David Fridley of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our resulting book, Our Renewable Future, concluded that nuclear power is too expensive and risky; meanwhile, solar and wind power both suffer from intermittency, which (once these sources begin to provide a large percentage of total electrical power) will require a combination of three strategies on a grand scale: energy storage, redundant production capacity, and demand adaptation. At the same time, we in industrial nations will have to adapt most of our current energy usage (which occurs in industrial processes, building heating, and transportation) to electricity. Altogether, the energy transition promises to be an enormous undertaking, unprecedented in its requirements for investment and substitution. When David and I stepped back to assess the enormity of the task, we could see no way to maintain current quantities of global energy production during the transition, much less to increase energy supplies so as to power ongoing economic growth. The biggest transitional hurdle is scale: the world uses an enormous amount of energy currently; only if that quantity can be reduced significantly, especially in industrial nations, could we imagine a credible pathway toward a post-carbon future.

Downsizing the world’s energy supplies would, effectively, also downsize industrial processes of resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste management. That’s a systemic intervention, of exactly the kind called for by the ecologists of the 1970s who coined the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, and recycle.” It gets to the heart of the overshoot dilemma—as does population stabilization and reduction, another necessary strategy. But it’s also a notion to which technocrats, industrialists, and investors are virulently allergic.

The ecological argument is, at its core, a moral one—as I explain in more detail in a just-released manifesto replete with sidebars and graphics (There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss”).  Any systems thinker who understands overshoot and prescribes powerdown as a treatment is effectively engaging in an intervention with an addictive behavior. Society is addicted to growth, and that’s having terrible consequences for the planet and, increasingly, for us as well. We have to change our collective and individual behavior and give up something we depend on—power over our environment. We must restrain ourselves, like an alcoholic foreswearing booze. That requires honesty and soul-searching.

In its early years the environmental movement made that moral argument, and it worked up to a point. Concern over rapid population growth led to family planning efforts around the world. Concern over biodiversity declines led to habitat protection. Concern over air and water pollution led to a slew of regulations. These efforts weren’t sufficient, but they showed that framing our systemic problem in moral terms could get at least some traction.

Why didn’t the environmental movement fully succeed? Some theorists now calling themselves “bright greens” or “eco-modernists” have abandoned the moral fight altogether. Their justification for doing so is that people want a vision of the future that’s cheery and that doesn’t require sacrifice. Now, they say, only a technological fix offers any hope. The essential point of this essay (and my manifesto) is simply that, even if the moral argument fails, a techno-fix won’t work either. A gargantuan investment in technology (whether next-generation nuclear power or solar radiation geo-engineering) is being billed as our last hope. But in reality it’s no hope at all.

The reason for the failure thus far of the environmental movement wasn’t that it appealed to humanity’s moral sentiments—that was in fact the movement’s great strength. The effort fell short because it wasn’t able to alter industrial society’s central organizing principle, which is also its fatal flaw: its dogged pursuit of growth at all cost. Now we’re at the point where we must finally either succeed in overcoming growthism or face the failure not just of the environmental movement, but of civilization itself……

machines won’t make the key choices that will set us on a sustainable path. Systemic change driven by moral awakening: it’s not just our last hope; it’s the only real hope we’ve ever had. http://www.postcarbon.org/why-climate-change-isnt-our-biggest-environmental-problem-and-why-technology-wont-save-us/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

China’s more rational response to the North Korean situation

China and the North Korean nuclear challenge, In Beijing’s eyes, the status quo is preferable to the upheaval that would result from action to topple Kim, Japan Times, BY RAMESH THAKUR, 17 Aug 17 GUANGZHOU, .ON A SUPERFICIAL READING, CHINA IS FEELING THE SQUEEZE TO TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION TO BRING NORTH KOREA TO HEEL OVER ITS ROGUE NUCLEAR PROGRAM. ON A DEEPER READING, CHINA’S GAINS FROM THE CRISIS EXCEED THE COSTS. ON A WIDER READING, WASHINGTON DAILY VINDICATES PYONGYANG’S NUCLEAR CHOICES……..

Stability and conflict-avoidance in its immediate region remains a vital national interest for China’s development and peaceful rise. Heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear antics risk an uncontrolled armed conflict, strengthened U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliances and enhanced prospects of nuclear breakouts by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

But China’s leverage over Pyongyang, although greater than that of others, is limited. Pyongyang has proven indifferent to what others think and impervious to external pressure. With 80 percent of trade with China, more U.N. sanctions amount to more sanctions on China. It is cost-free for Washington and Western countries to engage in virtue signaling by enacting still tougher international sanctions whose costs have to be borne by China.

If the sanctions succeed in destroying North Korea’s economy and engineer a collapse, millions of desperate refugees will flood into China and a crucial geographical buffer against U.S. forces will disappear.

By what right does Washington tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of its ally Israel but demand that China force a rollback of North Korea’s? In Beijing’s eyes, the U.S. provokes a crisis but holds China responsible for solving it. U.S. threats also stir memories among elderly Chinese of how they were treated in the early year’s of China’s own nuclear program.

Any further weakening of Pyongyang’s links with Beijing and Moscow will feed North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s siege paranoia and solidify reliance on nuclear weapons as the only assured guarantee of regime and personal survival. The U.S. record of infidelity to political package deals — the 1954 Geneva accords on Indochina, understandings with Russia on Eastern Europe on ending the Cold War, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s abandonment of his nuclear program — inspires distrust. Every fresh bellicose threat from Washington deepens Pyongyang’s dependence on and attachment to a nuclear deterrent that can strike the U.S. mainland.

On balance, therefore, in China’s calculation the status quo of a nuclearized North Korea, however unpalatable, is preferable to the upheaval that would result from military strikes or regime collapse. This is consistent with the sober conclusion of The Economist that all options for dealing with North Korea are bad but blundering into a war would be the worst………

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the very model of a circumspect, calm and statesmanlike leader urging restraint in rhetoric and action by both sides and calling for a phased program (freeze-for-freeze) to reduce tensions. Each new step on the escalation ladder does further damage to the U.S. reputation for responsible leadership while boosting China’s profile and prestige. It also obscures China’s own past culpability in enabling North Korea’s nuclear program while underlining the history of U.S. forcible regime change as the main driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuit.

This, in turn, this amplifies the larger narrative of the diminishing U.S. presence in Asia…..

Japan and South Korea have managed to live for years with the reality of vulnerability to North Korea’s nukes. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot learn to do the same. Kim should be left in no doubt that an attack on any of the three allies would bring instant military strikes and elimination of the regime. But there will be no preventive strikes. Instead a policy of containment — which requires credible threats, not bluster — will be instituted along with risk avoidance and crisis stability measures that served all sides well during the Cold War.

The only genuine progress on eliminating nuclear threats will be a universal ban treaty followed by a verifiable and enforceable plan for destroying and dismantling nuclear weapons programs in all countries.

Professor Ramesh Thakur is director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/08/17/commentary/world-commentary/china-north-korean-nuclear-challenge/#.WZYqftIjHGg

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate change is swallowing up the Solomon Islands

THE DROWNING ISLES, THE SOLOMON ISLANDS ARE AN ARCHIPELAGO FILLED WITH IDYLLIC BEACHES AND PERFECT WAVES, BUT AS TEMPERATURES AND SEA LEVELS RISE, MUCH OF THEIR PRISTINE COAST IS DISAPPEARINGSurfer ,AUGUST 17, 2017 BY ASHTYN DOUGLAS  “…….A few months prior to our visit, I came in contact with Dr. Simon Albert, a marine scientist at the University of Queensland. He and his colleagues had recently discovered, using time series and satellite imagery, that five Solomon Islands had been swallowed by the sea over the last 70 years, and another six islands had severely eroded. The cause was determined to be accelerated sea-level rise.

“Over the last 20 years, rates of sea-level rise in the Solomon Islands have been three times higher than the global average,” said Albert. “That’s about an 8 or 9 millimeter rise each year.” Half of that number, he explained, is the result of El Niño cycles, which naturally siphon the world’s water into the South Pacific. The other culprit is climate change.

In some parts of the country, this rapid sea-level rise, combined with high wave intensity, has eroded beaches and destroyed people’s properties. Even over the short span of five years, many have watched the ocean come into their villages and carry homes away.

“The changes have been really swift,” said Albert. “People living on those islands are feeling very physically and psychologically insecure because they’re feeling like their entire foundation of life is washing away.”….

This island, [ Beneamina, a small, circular island near Santa Isabel] Albert explained, is now only half the size it was 10 years ago. “When I was there in December, an island nearby had one house on it,” he said. “By the time we returned in February, that house had been washed away.”……

Most people talk about sea-level rise and other consequences of climate change using the future tense — as something our coastal-dwelling grandchildren will have to deal with 100 years from now. But according to Albert, that dystopian future has already arrived in parts of the Solomon Islands. “The rates we’re seeing there are the rates we’re likely to see over the next 50 years around the world as things get worse,” says Albert. “In a way, the Solomon Islands provide a window into the future.” http://www.surfer.com/features/the-drowning-solomon-islands/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

In order to defy Trump, Kim Jong-un will probably target waters near Guam

Ex-CIA analyst Bruce Klinger predicts Kim Jong-un will target Guam to defy Trump. Australian Financial Review, by John Kehoe, 13 Aug 17, Kim Jong-un will probably defy Donald Trump and soon try to land missiles in waters near the US Pacific island of Guam to show off strength and test the US President’s resolve, according to one of the world’s top North Korean analysts.

Ahead of a trip this week to Australia to speak to government officials about the North Korean nuclear crisis, former senior US Central Intelligence Agency officer for Korea, Bruce Klinger, said President Trump could hasten or delay war in attempting to shoot down any missile around the US military island.

“Given the specificity of what North Korea is saying they are thinking of doing and about the number of seconds the flight would take I would think they will launch the missiles towards Guam,” Mr Klinger said in an interview with The Australian Financial Review.

“I don’t think it’s an attack. It would be a very, very provocative demonstration…….

Mr Klinger, who led the CIA’s Korea branch in 1994 when president Bill Clinton nearly went to war with Pyongyang to stop its nuclear weapons program, said it was debatable whether or not the US or its allies should unleash missile defence systems if a North Korean demonstration missile were targeted just outside US territory………

Mr Klinger will visit Canberra and Sydney and consult with government intelligence and defence officials about the rapidly escalating North Korea nuclear weapon crisis.

 He met North Korean officials in Europe earlier this year and recently testified before Congress…….

Unless there was very strong evidence that Mr Kim was about to strike the US, Mr Klinger opposed a preventative US attack and said it could have “catastrophic” consequences for millions of people.

“The President’s trying to demonstrate resolve to our allies and send a signal to North Korea and China,” Mr Klinger said.

“The wording is over the top and distracting.” http://www.afr.com/news/world/asia/excia-analyst-bruce-klinger-predicts-kim-jongun-will-target-guam-to-defy-trump-20170813-gxv3cc

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change: its effects on health

How Climate Change Could Already Be Affecting Your Health, HealthLine,  by Gillian Mohney on August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, health | Leave a comment

Global warming is changing the Alps

Global warming ‘is causing the Alps to CRUMBLE’: Huge rock fall in Austria is latest sign of climate change’s effects on the mountain range – with SKI RESORTS at risk, Daily Mail, Temperature is rising twice as fast in the Alps than the global average.


  • Experts say 70 per cent of snow coverage in Switzerland will be gone by 2100
  • The permafrost in the Alps is melting, causing avalanches and landslides
  • This causes mountains crumbling, homes destroyed and water contamination

    By Koen Berghuis and Sara Malm for MailOnline, 18 August 2017   

    Global warming is causing the Alps to literally fall apart, as the rise in temperature is melting snow caps on the mountains, experts warn.

    The Alps’ permafrost – soil, sediment, or rock that stays frozen for at least two years – is thawing rapidly, causing rock avalanches and floods.

    This weekend, Salzburg’s St Johann im Pongau district in Austria was hit by a large rock slide, blocking a major road with clearing and reparation works expected to last at least three weeks.

    Climate experts say that the ski season in the Alps will be significantly shorter in the future, with 70 per cent of the current snow cover in Switzerland gone by the end of the century.

    In the summer months, the Alpine nations can expect mountains crumbling, destruction of infrastructure and even drinking water becoming contaminated by the melting permafrost. Scientists say that the temperature in the Alps has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last century, double the worldwide average.

    Prof. Dr Karl Krainer, a geologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, explained: ‘Permafrost is the glue that holds the mountains together above 2,500 metres.’

    ‘Obviously with increased global warming, the level at which permafrost is found is also rising. In the summer months when the permafrost is melting, this is when there is a risk of rockfalls and landslides.’

    Dr Marcia Phillips, the group leader for permafrost and snow climatology at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos, warned: ‘The consequences are already visible today.’

    Dr Phillips said: ‘The Alps are changing.’

    The Swiss scientists have been monitoring the permafrost at 30 drilling spots since the 1980s. And while they say that for a long time the influence of climate change on the Alpine permafrost was unclear, the consequences are now visible.

    Dr Phillips warned that local people can already see rock walls breaking off, unstable ridges, skidding slopes and even cracked buildings.

    Already cable cars and other mountain infrastructure across Austria and Switzerland have had to be secured in expensive operations.

    State commissioner Hans Mayr, who oversees the Salzburg road network, said that in the future more serious storms are likely to hit the Alps.

    Mr Mayr said: ‘As in the case of flood protection, events that we would expect to happen every 10 or 100 years have to be re-evaluated. Today the rain is much more intense than 20 or 30 years ago.’…….http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4799300/Global-warming-causing-Alps-CRUMBLE.html

 

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

California Scientists Push to Create Massive Climate Research Program

Effort backed by the state’s flagship universities comes as US President Donald Trump shrugs off global warming, Scientific American By Jeff TollefsonNature magazine on August 17, 2017 

California has a history of going it alone to protect the environment. Now, as US President Donald Trump pulls back on climate science and policy, scientists in the Golden State are sketching plans for a home-grown climate-research institute—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

The initiative, which is backed by California’s flagship universities, is in the early stages of development. If it succeeds, it will represent one of the largest US investments in climate research in years. The nascent ‘California Climate Science and Solutions Institute’ would fund basic- and applied-research projects designed to help the state to grapple with the hard realities of global warming. ……

California might ultimately have some company. At Columbia University in New York City, science dean Peter de Menocal—a palaeoclimatologist—hopes to build an alliance of major universities and philanthropists to support research into pressing questions about the impacts of climate change. Potential topics include local variations in sea-level rise and the changing availability of freshwater resources and food. …..https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/california-scientists-push-to-create-massive-climate-research-program/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

In South Africa, nuclear and coal lobbies wage a (losing) war against renewables

Nuclear and Coal Lobbies Threaten to Scupper Renewables in South Africa, http://energypost.eu/nuclear-and-coal-lobbies-threaten-to-scupper-renewables-in-south-africa/ August 17, 2017 by Hartmut Winkler, South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

It has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy. This translates to about 1% of Eskom’s current generated electricity, given that renewable energy supply is intermittent. This additional renewable energy would make up 5% of the total renewable energy generating capacity projected by 2030.

Eskom accepts the need to expand its generating potential in the long term. The additional contribution from renewables is well within its broader expansion targets. And tariffs on the energy from renewable sources would be almost half of the estimated cost of new coal and new nuclear power.

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive.

Eskom has furthermore listed renewables as the reason for planning to shut down four coal power plants. In reality, these old plants had already been destined for closure in anticipation of the imminent additional power supply expected from two new coal plants – Medupi and Kusile.

Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright

It’s suspicious that one of the power stations facing closure, Hendrina, is supplied by coal from the Optimum mine. The effect of stalling renewable power expansion could force the extension of Hendrina’s life span.

Brown is in the process of restructuring the Eskom board after Molefe departed, Koko was suspended and the chairperson of the board resigned. Although there are signs that the minister is aware that she has been misled by the Eskom board on other matters, she doesn’t seem to believe this is true when it comes to renewables, repeating recently the view that it’s too expensive.

Brown’s counterpart in the energy portfolio, Nkhensani Kubayi, has displayed little sympathy for the renewable energy sector, also making far-fetched and easily disprovable claims that the initial solar and wind power stations have resulted in zero jobs. Renewable energy is in fact estimated to eventually generate over 100 000 jobs in South Africa.

Kubayi has also shown that she’s highly receptive to the nuclear lobby. Visiting a nuclear industry fair in Russia in the middle of June she expressed concern that the judicial disqualification of the existing nuclear cooperation agreement damaged relations with that country.

It has been convincingly argued that South Africa can’t afford the nuclear option in the current economic environment.

The immediate future

The global ascendancy of renewables and their particular pertinence in South African climatic conditions may even make coal and nuclear energy technologies obsolete in the distant future. Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

First load of nuclear waste from Andreeva Bay arrives in Mayak

 https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/security/2017/08/first-load-nuclear-waste-andreeva-bay-arrives-mayak, Now starts the reprocessing of Russia’s Arctic Cold War-era legacy next door the the plant where Stalin’s first nuclear bomb was made. Thomas Nilsen, August 17, 2017 

The train carrying the first containers with spent nuclear fuel from the Northern Fleet’s rundown storage facility on the Kola Peninsula arrived on August 14, the information portal of Mayak informs.

Mayak is the enterprise in the closed town of Ozyorsk in the South-Urals where Russia’s only reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel is located.

Formerly known under the code-name Chelyabinsk-65, the secret town was the birthplace of Josef Stalin’s nuclear weapon program with several plutonium production reactors and processing plant for nuclear warheads material. Nowadays, the plutonium extracted from the reprocessing plant, is stored and could possible be used for so-called MOX-fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium for civilian nuclear power reactors.

The reprocessing plant to handle the fuel elements from Andreeva Bay storage, named RT-1, was first opened in 1977. From the early 1980ties, after Andreeva Bay stoped to receive more spent nuclear fuel from submarines, all uranium elements from the Northern Fleet and the Murmansk based fleet of civilian nuclear icebreakers were sent to the Mayak plant by train, from Murmansk and from Severodvinsk.

On June 27, the first batch with 470 spent fuel elements left Andreeva Bay. On the quay were both Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende and Rosatom’s Director General Alexei Likhachev.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Linear accelerators – a much safer way to obtain medical isotopes, than from nuclear reactors

How Better Cancer Treatment Can Also Mean Better Nuclear Security http://www.nonproliferation.org/how-better-cancer-treatment-can-also-mean-better-nuclear-security/August 14, 2017 C. Norman Coleman, Silvia Formenti, Miles A. Pomperrecent report in The Washington Post that the self-proclaimed Islamic State almost stumbled upon radioactive material in Mosul—in the form of cobalt-60, a substance used in radiation therapy—raises a profound dilemma about cancer treatment in developing countries and the risk of terrorists obtaining a key ingredient for making “dirty bombs.”

Cobalt-60 radiation machines are one of the many tools doctors have used in the treatment of cancer for the past 50 years. In North America, nearly all of these units have been replaced with more advanced technology called linear accelerators, which do not contain radioactive material and provide medically superior treatment. In developing countries, the cobalt-60 radiation machines remain prevalent. They are cost-effective and appealing in states with limited or intermittent electricity supplies and other physical infrastructure as well as a shortage of medical and technical expertise.

 

Iraq still has two cobalt-60 machines, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, having already transitioned to linear accelerators for its 10 other treatment machines. But as Mosul made clear, using even one or two of these radiation machines comes with security risks. If the wrong people, such as members of the Islamic State or another terrorist group, got hold of cobalt-60, they could potentially create a dirty bomb or a radiation exposure device. With more than 70 percent of all cancer deaths now occurring in developing countries, the problem of balancing cancer treatment with security risks will only get worse.

The surest way to prevent terrorists from acquiring these materials, while not limiting people’s access to necessary cancer treatment, is to phase out cobalt-60 radiation machines and replace them with linear accelerators. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, which is in charge of efforts to secure potentially dangerous radioactive material, has been supporting this approach for several years. To do so, developing countries need better technology and treatment environments, not only to support this transition away from cobalt-60 machines but to improve cancer treatment overall. Continue reading this article in World Politics Review

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference, safety | Leave a comment