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Japan’s massive accumulation of nuclear weapons-usable plutonium

Japan’s intentional plutonium surplus https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/08/39a5a7121fcf-opinion-japans-intentional-plutonium-surplus.html ByAlan J. Kuperman, KYODO NEWS , 17 Aug 17,

 Japan owns nearly 50 tons of separated plutonium. That is enough for over 5,000 nuclear weapons. Yet Japan has no feasible peaceful use for most of this material.

This raises an obvious question: How did a country that forswears nuclear arms come to possess more weapons-usable plutonium than most countries that do have nuclear arsenals?

Some argue it is the unforeseen consequence of unexpected events, such as the failure of Japan’s experimental Monju breeder reactor, or the Fukushima accident that compelled Japan to shut down traditional nuclear power plants.

Indeed, Kyodo News quoted a former U.S. government official last year making such a claim. He asserted that “The accumulation of plutonium by Japan was not anticipated by Congress or any agency of the U.S. government,” when Washington in 1988 gave Japan 30-year approval to separate plutonium from spent fuel originally supplied by the United States or irradiated in U.S.-technology reactors.

But that is false.

Japan’s massive accumulation of nuclear weapons-usable plutonium was foreseen three decades ago.

In testimony submitted to the U.S. Congress in March 1988, and published that year, Dr. Milton Hoenig of the Nuclear Control Institute — where I worked at the time — documented how Japan’s planned separation of plutonium from spent fuel greatly exceeded its planned recycling of such plutonium in fresh fuel. The inevitable result, he predicted, was that Japan would accumulate enormous amounts of separated plutonium.

As his testimony detailed: “By the end of the year 2017…according to present plans, about 255 metric tons of Japanese-produced plutonium will have been separated in reprocessing plants in Japan and Europe. The announced plans of Japan demand the use of some 130 metric tons of separated plutonium as reactor fuel through the year 2017, mainly in light-water reactors in a commercial program to begin in 1997.”

Thus, he concluded, Japan’s declared plans would yield 125 tons of surplus plutonium by 2017.

Subsequent unforeseen events did not cause Japan’s huge plutonium stockpile, as the U.S. official claimed, but actually reduced it somewhat. Notably, Japan has postponed the commercial operation of its huge Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which could separate another eight tons of plutonium each year.

The hard truth is that creation of a plutonium surplus was not an accident but the inevitable consequence of Japanese nuclear policy that the U.S. government acquiesced to in 1988.

Why did Japan intentionally acquire a stockpile of plutonium sufficient for thousands of nuclear weapons? Neighboring countries suspect it is to provide Japan the option of quickly assembling a large nuclear arsenal. Not surprisingly, both China and South Korea are now pursuing options to separate more plutonium from their own spent nuclear fuel.

Three urgent steps are necessary to avert this latent regional arms race. First, Japan should terminate its Rokkasho plant, which is an economic, environmental, and security disaster. The last thing Japan needs is more surplus plutonium.

Second, the United States and Japan should seize the opportunity of their expiring 1988 deal to renegotiate new terms restricting plutonium separation, which could also serve as a model for ongoing U.S.-South Korea nuclear negotiations.

Finally, innovative thinking is needed to shrink Japan’s plutonium stockpile. In light of the worldwide failure of breeder reactors, and post-Fukushima constraints on traditional reactors, most of Japan’s plutonium will never become fuel. Instead, it should be disposed of as waste. The U.S. government has recently made a similar decision, abandoning plans to use recovered weapons plutonium in fuel and instead intending to bury it.

U.S.-Japan collaboration to dispose of surplus plutonium in a safe, secure and economical manner could help make up for the misguided bilateral decisions that created this problem 30 years ago.

(Alan J. Kuperman is associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project — www.NPPP.org — at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.)

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August 18, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Pledge for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

ICAN Parliamentary Pledge    http://www.icanw.org/projects/pledge/   Parliamentarians played a major role in realizing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Now we are seeking their help to promote the signature and ratification of the treaty by all nations. The Parliamentary Pledge is a commitment by parliamentarians around the world to work for their government to join the treaty.

Download the Pledge →

Pledge for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
We, the undersigned parliamentarians,warmly welcome the adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on 7 July 2017 as a significant step towards the realization of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

We share the deep concern expressed in the preamble about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons and we recognize the consequent need to eliminate these inhumane and abhorrent weapons.

As parliamentarians, we pledge to work for the signature and ratification of this landmark treaty by our respective countries, as we consider the abolition of nuclear weapons to be a global public good of the highest order and an essential step to promote the security and well-being of all peoples.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | ACTION, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Beneath Antarctica’s ice, 91 previously unknown volcanoes have been found

Another climate-change nightmare: 91 new volcanoes beneath Antarctica’s ice, WP ,  August 15 “….now it turns out Antarctica has problems we didn’t even know about. Deep problems. Volcanoes-under-the-ice problems, which doesn’t sound healthy.

University of Edinburgh researchers on Monday announced the discovery of 91 previously unknown volcanoes under west Antarctica. They do not sound nearly as alarmed as, say, Quartz, which called the possibilities terrifying.

“By themselves the volcanoes wouldn’t be likely to cause the entire ice sheet to melt,” said lead researcher Max Van Wyk de Vries, whose team published the study in the Geological Society in late May. But if the glacier is already melting because of global warming, he said, “if we start reducing significant quantities of ice … you can more or less say that it triggers an eruption.”

In a worst-case scenario, the researchers say, we could see a feedback loop of melting ice that destabilizes volcanoes, which erupt and melt more ice, and so on until Antarctica’s troubles to date seem halcyon in comparison……

While some are quite worried, de Vries doubted that a little blast of molten rock would do much harm to a massive Antarctic ice sheet. Directly, at least.

But he laid out a worst-case scenario in which lava managed to melt through a glacier, and warm ocean water seeped into the hole, and the whole system began melting even faster, potentially unleashing vast magmatic forces beneath the ice. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/08/15/another-climate-change-nightmare-dozens-of-volcanoes-beneath-antarcticas-thinning-ice/?utm_term=.fe9ede7c33c3

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

Stability of East Antarctic ice sheet, even if western ice sheet melts

Study validates East Antarctic ice sheet to remain stable even if western ice sheet melts https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-08/iu-sve081717.php INDIANA UNIVERSITY, INDIANAPOLIS — A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis validates that the central core of the East Antarctic ice sheet should remain stable even if the West Antarctic ice sheet melts. 

The study’s findings are significant, given that some predict the West Antarctic ice sheet could melt quickly due to global warming.

If the East Antarctic ice sheet, which is 10 times larger than the western ice sheet, melted completely, it would cause sea levels worldwide to rise almost 200 feet, according to Kathy Licht, an associate professor in the Department of Earth Sciences in the School of Science at IUPUI.

Licht led a research team into the Transarctic Mountains in search of physical evidence that would verify whether a long-standing idea was still true: The East Antarctic ice sheet is stable.

The East Antarctic ice sheet has long been considered relatively stable because most of the ice sheet was thought to rest on bedrock above sea level, making it less susceptible to changes in climate. However, recent studies show widespread water beneath it and higher melt potential from impinging ocean water.

The West Antarctic ice sheet is a marine-based ice sheet that is mostly grounded below sea level, which makes it much more susceptible to changes in sea level and variations in ocean temperature.

“Some people have recently found that the East Antarctic ice sheet isn’t as stable as once thought, particularly near some parts of the coast,” Licht said. Recent studies have determined that the perimeter of the East Antarctic ice sheet is potentially more sensitive and that the ice may have retreated and advanced much more dynamically than was thought, Licht said.

“We believed this was a good time to look to the interior of the ice sheet. We didn’t really know what had happened there,” Licht said.

The research team found the evidence confirming the stability of the East Antarctic ice sheet at an altitude of 6,200 feet, about 400 miles from the South Pole at the edge of what’s called the polar plateau, a flat, high surface of the ice sheet covering much of East Antarctica.

To understand how an ice sheet changes through time, a continuous historical record of those changes is needed, according to Licht. The team found layers of sediment and rocks that built up over time, recording the flow of the ice sheet and reflecting climate change. Finding that record was a challenge because glaciers moving on land tend to wipe out and cover up previous movements of the glacier, Licht said.

The big question the team wanted to answer was how sensitive the East Antarctic sheet might be to climate change.

“There are models that predict that the interior of the East Antarctic ice sheet wouldn’t change very much, even if the West Antarctic ice sheet was taken away,” Licht said. According to these models, even if the ice sheet’s perimeter retreats, its core remains stable.

“It turns out that our data supports those models,” she said. “It’s nice to have that validation.”

The team’s research findings are presented in a paper, “East Antarctic ice sheet stability recorded in a high-elevation ice-cored moraine,” that was published today online in the journal Geology. The research presented is in collaboration with Mike Kaplan, Gisela Winckler, Joerg Schaefer and Roseanne Schwartz at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.

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

USA does not grasp China’s point of view on the North Korea nuclear situation

US Talks to China about North Korea, But Does Not Listen, UCS, GREGORY KULACKI, CHINA PROJECT MANAGER AND SENIOR ANALYST | AUGUST 16, 2017The United States and China both want North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The North Korean leadership continues to defy them both. The United States says it is willing to risk a war to stop them. China is not.

China’s top priority is preserving the peace, however uneasy that peace might be. A credible North Korean capability to launch a nuclear-armed ICBM may make US officials psychologically uncomfortable. But the Chinese leadership does not feel that increased US anxiety is a sufficient justification for starting a war that could conceivably kill hundreds of thousands of people and collapse Asia’s economy, even if no nuclear weapons were used.

China has made its priorities clear to both the United States and North Korea. An August 10 editorial published in China’s Global Times warned both sides against striking first. The editorial was not an official statement of Chinese government policy but it almost certainly was reviewed and approved at the highest level. It suggested to the leadership in Pyongyang that, “If North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral”. It also suggested to Washington that, “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

China has also made it clear that it will not agree to sanctions that strangle North Korea’s economy. China supports economic penalties that punish North Korea for defying the United Nations and continuing its testing programs. And China is willing to work with the United States and the international community to deny North Korea access to critical technologies. But on August 5th, in an official statement made at the time of the vote on the latest round of UN sanctions, China emphasized, as it has many times in the past, that China “did not intend to negatively impact such non-military goods as food and humanitarian aid.”

US Refusal to Listen

Though China’s position on North Korea is clear and consistent, US policy is based on the assumption that China’s position will change.  On August 13th, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson penned an editorial in which they repeated the claim, believed by most US policy makers and analysts,  that China has “decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea.” The implication is that China can force the North Korean leadership to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The joint editorial reiterated a US policy announced earlier this year by Secretary Tillerson, who said the Trump administration was engaged in an unprecedented effort to “lean hard into China” in order to pressure its leaders to change their policy.

Presumably this means trying to compel China to take steps to strangle the North Korean economy. The United States reportedly attempted to include a crude oil embargo in the latest round of UN sanctions. But China refused, as it has in the past, to agree to sanctions that would have the kind of suffocating economic impact the United States believes would force North Korea to surrender its nuclear ambitions. In their editorial Tillerson and Mattis told their Chinese counterparts they expect China to “do more” than enforce the current round of UN sanctions. They want China to cut off North Korea’s “economic lifelines.”…..

History may well record that in this particular moment of high tension, China’s president acted with greater patience, skill and prudence than the president of the United States.

On August 14th, as tensions began to subside, an editorial in the overseas edition of China’s People’s Daily chastised both the United States and North Korea for “playing a game of chicken on the Korean peninsula.” That’s not the language of a country that lacks confidence in its current position or is overly concerned about upsetting the United States. http://allthingsnuclear.org/gkulacki/us-talks-to-china-about-north-korea-but-does-not-listen

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

Risky venture for Utah counties? will they gamble on speculative thorium nuclear venture?

Will Utah counties fund thorium reactor?  Salt Lake Tribune,  14 Aug 17,  “….Now a Utah startup is developing a thorium reactor, perhaps the first in the U.S. in half a century, and a consortium of eastern Utah counties is exploring whether to participate in the project. The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition (SCIC) last month issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking a “project analyst” to evaluate “a thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. as proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corp.”……

 concerns about the use of limited county resources in such a speculative venture. Nor is it clear how the thorium proposal squares with the coalition’s legal mission, which is to “build essential regional infrastructure elements,” such as pipelines, roads, transmission and rail needed to deliver extracted minerals and power to markets…….
The coalition’s financing and procurement practices have recently come under intense scrutiny by Utah Treasurer David Damschen, who believes the group could be flouting accountability standards.
As a new member of the state Community Impact Board (CIB), which gives out federal mineral royalties to rural counties, Damschen has raised numerous concerns about the coalition’s management of CIB grants— its sole source of revenue. At recent meetings, the state treasurer has openly wondered whether the coalition steers contracts to insiders instead of the best qualified people and spends public money in ways that provide minimal public benefit…….

 thorium technology has years of costly research and development ahead before it’s ready to produce power and isotopes, according to Mike Simpson, a University of Utah metallurgical engineering professor.

“It‘s not accurate to say it’s proven to work. Aspects of it have been proven, but everything that has to be tied together hasn’t happened,” said Simpson….. many technical hurdles remain and these rural counties are not positioned to help address these challenges other than siting assistance for a reactor, Simpson added.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | technology, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls on European Union to actively support Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Iran’s Rouhani urges EU’s active role in JCPOA implementation, Trend, 16 August 2017 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on the European Union to play a more active role to help the full implementation of the country’s nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), for the benefit of the Middle East and Europe, PressTV reported.

“The full implementation of the JCPOA benefits the EU and the region, so it is essential that the EU step up its efforts and role in this regard,” Rouhani said during a meeting with the new Austrian ambassador to Tehran, Stefan Scholz, on Wednesday.

Rouhani said the post-JCPOA era had offered a good opportunity for the further promotion of ties between Iran and the European countries, including Austria. Hailing Austria’s successful hosting of the Iranian nuclear negotiations, Rouhani said all parties would reap the benefits of the JCPOA.

“The JCPOA is a win-win agreement, which on the one hand, removed false concerns of certain Western countries, and on the other hand, lifted cruel sanctions against the Iranian nation,” the Iranian president said, adding that the agreement had brought about peace and provided a suitable economic condition for investors.

He said Iran was keen to seize the post-JCPOA opportunities for investment and expand economic ties, especially banking transactions.

The Austrian envoy, for his part, lauded the Tehran-Vienna ties as deeply-rooted and based on mutual respect, and said his country supported Iran’s policies at the international arena……https://en.trend.az/iran/politics/2787546.html 

August 18, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Another big nuclear problem in Asia – accumulation of plutonium

Tokyo and Washington Have Another Nuclear Problem, Foreign Policy, BY HENRY SOKOLSKIWILLIAM TOBEY, AUGUST 17, This week, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera are meeting in Washington with their U.S. counterparts, Rex Tillerson and James Mattis, to discuss how the United States and Japan should respond to the latest North Korean provocations. This is wise; only through close cooperation with Japan and South Korea, and by working with China, will we be able to address effectively the nuclear threat Pyongyang poses.

       ….Finally, there is South Korea, which has long complained that Washington has prohibited Seoul from reprocessing U.S.-origin spent reactor fuel, although Japan is permitted to do so. South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, is an opponent of nuclear power plants and may not continue to push for such rights under the U.S.-ROK civilian nuclear cooperative agreement. His political opponents (Moon won his election with only a 40 percent plurality), however, are eager to secure such an option. Indeed, some opposition party figures have spoken openly of a South Korean nuclear weapons option.

Not surprisingly, all of this plutonium production planning has raised regional fears and antipathy……..

Fortunately, there is a simple fix. The Trump administration, which has zeroed funding for a U.S. capacity to make plutonium-based reactor fuel, should encourage Japan along with China and South Korea to defer proceeding with their own planned programs……

North Korea is an important problem, but it is not the only nuclear issue in Northeast Asia. If the United States, China, Japan, and South Korea can head-off a plutonium production capacity race, they will not only make joint action on Pyongyang’s nukes easier, they will prevent a potentially deeper crisis in the future. This too should be on the agenda for Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/17/tokyo-and-washington-have-another-nuclear-problem-china-korea/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, ASIA | Leave a comment

Cancer and other health problems still being caused because of past nuclear explosions

Nuclear explosions from the past are still causing cancer and health problems today https://www.businessinsider.com.au/nuclear-explosion-fallout-cancer-health-effects-2017-8?r=US&IR=T, KEVIN LORIA AUG 18, 2017 

August 18, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pre-emptive attack on North Korea is not an option: get used to N Korea having nuclear weapons

North Korea’s nuclear weapons ‘aren’t going away’, says former US intelligence boss, ABC News Breakfast, 17 Aug 17, 

Gregory Treverton was the chairman of the powerful US National Intelligence Council until he stood down in January, and today said the US may need to back down a bit to avoid conflict.

“We have got to find a way to avoid [war] … That means climbing down on our side,” he told News Breakfast.

“It means, over time, I think [it will be] very, very hard for us, but to recognise those North Korean nuclear weapons aren’t going to go away.

“The best thing we can try and do is cap them, contain them.”

After a week of rising tensions and threats, US President Donald Trump this week praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a “wise and well reasoned” decision not to fire missiles towards Guam. However, Mr Treverton said the threat of war had by no means passed…….

The plain fact is there is no good military option.”

According to Mr Treverton a pre-emptive attack by the US against North Korea was not a feasible option.

He said North Korea had been building hidden facilities and moving its missiles around. And even if the US could target its nuclear facilities, it would still have non-nuclear options that could devastate South Korean targets.

Trump’s diplomacy is ‘erratic’

Mr Treverton said Mr Trump had “painted himself into a corner” after ramping up his threats towards North Korea and that his approach to foreign policy was “really quite erratic”.

“I came to realise that almost nothing he says has any content,” Mr Treverton said.

“It’s really attention, self-aggrandisement, upsetting the apple cart.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-arent-going-away/8816010

August 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors? a very risky enterprise for Utah

crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns. 

While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure.

Will Utah counties fund thorium reactor? JDSUPRA,  PretiFlaherty 17 Aug 17, Could a coalition of rural counties in Utah and a startup company develop a thorium-fueled nuclear reactor for electric power and other purposes?

According to its website, the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition is currently comprised of seven counties in eastern Utah: Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, San Juan, Sevier, and Uintah.  The website describes the Coalition’s main roles and mission as “to identify revenue-producing infrastructure assets that will benefit the region” and “to plan infrastructure corridors, procure funding, permit, design, secure rights-of-way and own such facilities,” with operation and maintenance possibly outsourced to third parties.

Apparently under consideration by the Coalition are energy projects, including a “thorium energy” project and a “hydrogen plant” project.  For example, the “Procurement” section of the Coalition’s website includes a Request for Qualifications for Project Analyst for Potential Thorium Energy and Hydrogen Plant Projects, as well as a Request for Qualifications Project Financial Analyst on Potential Thorium Energy Project.

Under the Project Analyst RFQ, which closed August 1, 2017,

The Coalition seeks an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on two proposed projects, how to evaluate emerging technologies, and the respective project teams. One project is a thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. as proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation. The second project consists of hydrogen plants to be used as fueling stations for hydrogen/electric semi-trucks as proposed by Nikola Motor Company, LLC.

Responsibilities defined in this original RFQ would include evaluation of the thorium energy and hydrogen plant projects, including an evaluation of “the feasibility and viability of projects in general, as well as the proposed projects, and determine how the Coalition and its members may use their assets to best benefit the public.”

According to its website, Alpha Tech Research Corp.’s motto is “Changing the face of nuclear power with clean, safe, molten salt reactor technology.”  But little other public information is easy to find on the company.

………crucially the technology, regulation, and business structures necessary to support a thorium reactor may not yet exist.

Fifteen days after the Project Analyst RFQ closed, the Coalition issued another request for qualifications “to seek an individual or team to act as a Project Analyst to advise it and its member counties on a proposed project related to thorium energy. In addition, the Coalition seeks guidance on how to evaluate emerging technologies, and companies or groups proposing projects to the Coalition. The thorium energy facility for producing electricity, etc. is proposed by Alpha Tech Research Corporation.” Proposals under this subsequent RFQ are due by 2:00 PM on October 2, 2017.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, a coalition representative reported, “The coalition’s initial request for qualifications drew no adequate responses by its Aug. 1 deadline.”  (Query why not.)

It’s unclear how far the Utah counties’ efforts can go.  The coalition’s stated criteria for evaluating potential projects include requiring appropriate project benefits (such as facilitating needs in rural Utah that would otherwise go unaddressed), as well as avoidance of any “fatal flaws” (such as “obvious non-Coalition sponsor that should take the lead”, project success unlikely” and “low perceived benefit compared to cost.”)  The coalition is presumably at the stage where it is seeking expert advice to help it evaluate the thorium energy project under these criteria.

In its materials, the coalition emphasizes its expectation to rely on public-private partnerships, in part to allocate project risk to private entities with special expertise in taking those risks.  But developing the first commercial thorium reactor inherently involves a variety of risks — including developing a technology that works, securing all necessary regulatory approvals, and having business or financial arrangements in place that make the project a success.  These risks could pan out in the counties’ favor — but might not.  A coalition of South Carolina utilities developing what would have been the nation’s first new commercial nuclear reactor recently announced a decision to suspend that project partway through construction, following years of delay, billions of dollars in cost overruns.  While a thorium reactor might avoid some of these challenges, others are likely systemic to the state of the nuclear power industry from a technological, regulatory, and business perspective, and would be hard for the counties to avoid. The counties may also have more proximate opportunities to achieve similar goals, including by facilitating or developing renewable energy infrastructure……http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/will-utah-counties-fund-thorium-reactor-26541/

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, thorium, USA | Leave a comment

USA brain drain, as climate scientists take up the invitation from France

France’s Climate Science Grants Want To Make The Planet Great Again–And Thousands Have Applied
France’s response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord was to offer safe harbor for scientists and entrepreneurs who might lose funding in the U.S. For worried Americans, it might be a good deal. Fast Company,
BY ADELE PETERS ,  In the past, a young American climate researcher with a PhD might have applied to work at NASA or NOAA. Now, some are considering moving to Europe instead.

Since French president Emmanuel Macron announced the “Make Our Planet Great Again” initiative on June 1–inviting climate researchers, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to come to France, hours after Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement–roughly 11,000 people have applied. The program offers $69 million in support to selected applicants; Germany recently announced that it will join France and offer another $17 million….

The grants are flexible, with no set limits on the amount of time someone can work in France or preference for particular research areas or businesses, as long as they address climate change and are judged to have strong potential…….

“In the U.S., the current administration seems poised to do real damage to U.S. climate science, both in terms of critical observations and the science that goes with it,” says Dennis Hartmann, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. “The effects would be long lasting, as young scientists, especially, would be forced out of the field, and critical observational information would be lost, and some long-term time series broken……

After France made its offer, others have followed: Germany plans to launch its own website as a partner to the initiative. The U.K. also launched a new fund–though not specifically focused on climate–designed to attract international researchers. Canada is similarly investing in a new program to attract international researchers.

France’s program, like the others, is open worldwide, but Americans make up many of the applicants, likely both because of the strength of American academia and business and the current political climate…..

France is hoping that the program can be part of helping the world meet–and even go beyond–the objectives of the Paris agreement to limit global warming. “If collectively, all over the world, we achieve to respect that agreement, it would be a great thing,” says the Elysée source. “Secondly, we want to improve research and an understanding of our world and climate phenomena. A third aspect is that we expect it to deliver hope . . . we do believe that cleantech can offer new jobs, new industries of the future.” https://www.fastcompany.com/40446915/frances-climate-science-grants-want-to-make-the-planet-great-again-and-thousands-have-applied

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

UK govt inviting plans for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

Utility Week 15th Aug 2017, Major players in the nuclear industry have been summoned by the government
to present their plans for the development of small modular reactors.
NuScale and Rolls-Royce among companies reportedly invited to talks with
the government over the next few weeks. Hitachi and Westinghouse have also
been invited.

The meeting is likely to relate to a competition launched by
the government in March 2016 to find the best value SMR design for the UK.
The results were originally due to be revealed last autumn alongside a
roadmap for the development of SMRs. Appearing before the House of Lords
science and technology committee in March former energy minister Jesse
Norman told members the competition would be “back on track” soon.
http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/nuclear-players-to-present-smr-plans-to-ministers/1309792

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Radioactive materials unearthed by construction workers at the Flamanville nuclear site

Jersey Evening Post 15th Aug 2017, TRACES of radioactive material have been unearthed by construction workers
at the Flamanville nuclear site – less than 30 miles from Jersey’s
coast.

The incident has been reported to the French nuclear regulator ASN
– the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire – and has been classed as a
‘Significant Environmental Event’. Employees were said to have been in
the process of clearing 8,700 tons of non-nuclear waste as part of a larger
project to build a car park, when they came across nearly 100 suits used by
technicians working in zones exposed to nuclear activities. A spokesman for
the plant said that the construction had been stopped following the
incident and that some of the waste had been in the ground since 1989.
http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/08/15/radioactive-material-unearthed-at-p

August 18, 2017 Posted by | environment, France | Leave a comment

USA power utilities have a long history of abandoning nuclear projects

US POWER COMPANIES HAVE A HISTORY OF WALKING AWAY FROM NUCLEAR PROJECTS, Platts Snapshot. William Freebairn, senior managing editor, Platts Nuclear Publications, August 17, 2017  

After spending close to $10 billion, two South Carolina power companies recently walked away from a half-finished nuclear power plant they were building, and a decision is expected by the end of August about a Georgia project. William Freebairn explains how the story of the Summer project in South Carolina demonstrates the capital-intensive nature of nuclear energy and the substantial risks of cutting-edge nuclear plant design. Will the Vogtle project in Georgia join the ranks of abandoned projects in the US?……

SANTEE COOPER AND SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTRIC AND GAS ABANDONED SUMMER EXPANSION ON JULY 31….

 
OWNERS OF VOGTLE PROJECT IN GEORGIA EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE PROJECT DECISION BY END OF AUGUST
The owners of the Vogtle project in Georgia are expected to announce their decision by the end of August.

It’s certainly not the first time a partly – or even mostly – built nuclear plant was abandoned. In the 1970s, the Tennessee Valley Authority walked away from 11 nuclear reactors for which it had started construction; in fairness, it went back and finished one recently.

Dozens of plants were canceled as costs rose and financial problems mounted, forcing one company, the Washington Public Power Supply System to default on more than $2 billion in bonds and giving the company a new nickname: “whoops”!

The factors that forced all those nuclear plant cancellations in the 1980s may sound familiar to those building today’s plants. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 created pressure for increased safety standards in the middle of construction for those plants, and Fukushima in 2011 did the same for today’s projects.

STARTING CONSTRUCTION BEFORE ENGINEERING IS COMPLETE AND UNDERESTIMATING WORK CAN BE BLOWS TO PROJECTS

Additionally, construction got started before engineering was completed. As with many large infrastructure projects, there was a tendency to underestimate the amount of work required to complete the installation of miles of pipes, cables and concrete.

Whoops indeed. https://www.platts.com/videos/2017/august/snapshot-us-nuclear-power-summer-vogtle-081717

August 18, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment