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September 15 Energy News



¶ “Is Oil Industry Threatened By More Than Electric Vehicles?” • Execs at a number of top fossil fuel companies have suggested that even after demand for oil and natural gas peaks, demand for petrochemical feedstocks for plastics, fertilizers, and other chemicals will stay strong. But plastics pose serious problems that have to be addressed. [CleanTechnica]

Oil and agriculture


¶ Emerging markets including India and China could be the best bets for investors hoping to fight climate change and boost returns, according to a report by Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing and The Economist Intelligence Unit. If the planet is allowed to heat up by 5° C (9° F), it may mean $7 trillion in losses for investors. [Livemint]

¶ Renewable microgrids are cropping up all around the world as developing and developed countries alike turn to them for their increased resiliency and…

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September 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US NRC Response on Crystal River Nuclear Power Station Spent Fuel Pool Near Tampa; Our Response, and More

Mining Awareness +

Our question re the closed Crystal River Nuclear Power Station and Hurricane Irma. (Screenshots of the original correspondance and of NRC documents on the cracked spent fuel pool at Crystal River found at the bottom of this blog post.)
… despite claims to the contrary, there remains some risk due to the nuclear waste at the Crystal River nuclear site north of Tampa. Are you checking that site? Will you? How many workers does Duke have on site? Do you have any? Any status available re the crack in the spent fuel pool at Crystal River noted by you 5 to 8 years ago? Has anyone examined what happens if the roof comes off of the spent fuel pool and the huge amounts coal dust piled up nearby for the Crystal River coal plant fly into the spent fuel pool? I haven’t found anything.

At least Mr. Neil…

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September 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US NRC Teleconference Meeting Re Turkey Pt.; St. Lucie; Seabrook; Point Beach; and Duane Arnold Nuclear Power Stations – Register By 3 PM EDT Sept. 18th

Mining Awareness +

The meeting is September 20th (Wednesday), in the afternoon, in Rockville Maryland. People can participate via teleconference. Register by Monday, September 18th, 3 pm EDT. Turkey Point and St. Lucie are in Florida; Seabrook is in New Hampshire, Point Beach is in Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, and Duane Arnold in Iowa.
Meeting info
The purpose of the meeting is for Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) and NextEra Energy to discuss with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff their plans for an upcoming submittal on closing out Generic Safety Issue (GSI)-191 and Generic Letter (GL) 2004-02.
Meeting Feedback

Meeting Dates and Times
1:00PM – 4:00PM

Meeting Location
NRC One White Flint North
11555 Rockville Pike
Rockville MD
Justin Poole

Booma Venkataraman

Participation Level
Category 1
NRC Participants
Justin Poole, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Booma Venkataraman, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

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September 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

President Moon says No to nuclear weapons in South Korea

No nuclear weapons in South Korea, says President Moon, By Paula Hancocks and James Griffiths, CNN September 14, 2017 

Story highlights

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korean opposition party in USA asking Washington for nuclear weapons

A South Korean delegation asks Washington for nuclear weapons, WP,  September 14, 17The heated debate in South Korea over redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory has now reached Washington. A senior delegation of South Korean lawmakers is in town making the case to the Trump administration and Congress that such a move is needed to confront North Korea’s growing nuclear capability and place more pressure on China.

“We are here to ask for redeployment of tactical nuclear warheads in South Korea,” Lee Cheol Woo, the head of the intelligence committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, told me Thursday morning.

Lee is heading a delegation of members of the Liberty Korea Party, the opposition to President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party. He is also the chairman of the assembly’s special committee for nuclear crisis response.

Moon told CNN yesterday that he does not agree that tactical nuclear weapons should be reintroduced to South Korea or that Seoul should develop its own nuclear weapons. He warned it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.” But Lee’s delegation believes that as the North Korea nuclear crisis worsens, a push by the Trump administration or Congress could help persuade Moon’s government to change its position, as it has already done regarding the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system……

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Honor Iran deal – arms control experts urge President Trump

Arms control experts urge Trump to honor Iran nuclear deal, The New York Times– Alarmed that President Trump may soon take steps that could unravel the international nuclear agreement with Iran, more than 80 disarmament experts urged him on Wednesday to reconsider and said the accord was working.

In a joint statement, the experts said the 2015 agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration and the governments of Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, was a “net plus for international nuclear nonproliferation efforts.”

Because of the monitoring powers contained in the agreement, they said, Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons had been sharply reduced. They also said the agreement made it “very likely that any possible future effort by Iran to pursue nuclear weapons, even a clandestine program, would be detected promptly.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly assailed the agreement — a signature achievement of his predecessor — describing it as ”a terrible deal” and a giveaway to Iran.

He also has said that he believes Iran is violating the accord, an assertion that has been contradicted by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear monitor that polices Iran’s compliance. The accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, severely limited Iran’s nuclear activities in return for ending or easing many sanctions that were hurting the Iranian economy.

Under an American law, Mr. Trump must recertify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the nuclear accord, or the American sanctions that were lifted could be reinstated. The next 90-day deadline is in mid-October.

When he reluctantly signed the last recertification in July, Mr. Trump said “if it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.”

The possibility that Mr. Trump may find a reason to declare Iran noncompliant, regardless of the merits, alarmed the nonproliferation experts.

They warned in their statement that “unilateral action by the United States, especially on the basis of unsupported contentions of Iranian cheating, would isolate the United States.”

Last week, Mr. Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, suggested in a Washington speech that the president would be justified in decertifying Iran even if it was technically honoring the accord.

Iranian officials have said that any resumption of the nuclear-related sanctions by the United States would violate the accord.

Whether that would lead to its unraveling is unclear, but President Hassan Rouhani of Iran has suggested the country could quickly restore the nuclear-fuel enrichment capabilities that had been limited by the agreement.

The signers of the statement urging Mr. Trump to respect the agreement are experts in nuclear nonproliferation diplomacy from around the world.

They included Nobuyasu Abe, commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission; Hans Blix, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Thomas E. Shea, a former safeguards official at the International Atomic Energy Agency; and Thomas M. Countryman, a former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation.

The statement was organized by the Arms Control Association, a disarmament advocacy group based in Washington.

The Trump administration’s concerns with Iran have come as the United Nations Security Council, prodded by the United States, has ratcheted up pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear and missile testing and resume disarmament talks.

Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, expressed worry that if the administration abandoned the Iran agreement, any possibility of inducing North Korea to negotiate would be lost.

“Given that we are already struggling to contain the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis, it would be extremely unwise for the president to initiate steps that could unravel the highly successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which would create a second major nonproliferation crisis,” she said.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Britain and USA differ on Iran nuclear agreement

Tensions surface between UK and US over Iran nuclear deal, But Boris Johnson and Rex Tillerson unite in urging Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against massacre of Rohingya, Guardian, Patrick Wintour, 15 Sept 17, Tensions between the US and UK over whether to tear up the Iran nuclear deal were exposed on Thursday when the secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the US viewed Iran in default of the deal’s expectations, but the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson urged the world to have faith in its potential to create a more open Iran.

Tillerson repeatedly emphasised the US decision of whether to end the agreement signed in 2015 will be based on a wider assessment of Iranian behaviour – including in Yemen and Syria – and not just whether Tehran is complying with the strict terms of the deal……

September 15, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear threats to Japan

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Weapon Action On Japan, U.S. For Supporting UN Sanctions”Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.” HuffPost  14/09/2017 A North Korean state agency threatened on Thursday to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.
Pyongyang’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the United States.

“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

 Juche is the North’s ruling ideology that mixes Marxism and an extreme form of go-it-alone nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

Regional tension has risen markedly since the reclusive North conducted its sixth, and by far its most powerful, nuclear test on Sept. 3.

The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously on a U.S.-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday in response, banning North Korea’s textile exports that are the second largest only to coal and mineral, and capping fuel supplies.

The North reacted to the latest action by the Security Council, which had the backing of veto-holding China and Russia, by reiterating threats to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“Let’s reduce the U.S. mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” the statement said……..

September 15, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

On the global scene, nuclear power is on the decline

Report: Nuclear power on the decline Cécile Barbière | | translated by Paola Tamma  Sep 14, 2017 Nuclear power seems on its way out, as construction of only one new nuclear reactor was undertaken in 2017, according to the World Nuclear Industry Report 2017. EURACTIV France reports.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Mystery seismic energy release following North Korea nuclear test

Seismologists stumped by mystery shock after North Korean nuclear test, Nature
A second jolt felt minutes after this month’s detonation continues to confound researchers.
 David Cyranoski, Eight-and-a-half minutes after North Korea set off a nuclear bomb on 3 September, a second burst of energy shook the mountain where the test had just occurred. More than a week later, researchers are still puzzling over what caused that extra release of seismic energy — and what it says about North Korea’s nuclear-testing site, or the risks of a larger radiation leak. Monitoring stations in South Korea have already picked up minute levels of radiation from the test.

A number of theories have emerged to explain the second event, ranging from a tunnel collapse or a landslide to a splintering of the rock inside Mount Mantap, the testing site. But seismologists can’t agree and say that they may not get enough evidence to pin down the cause.

“This is an interesting mystery at this point,” says Göran Ekström, a seismologist at Columbia University in New York City.   The nature of the first seismic signal is clearer because it matches the profile of a bomb blast. The US Geological Survey (USGS) determined the magnitude of the seismic event associated with the nuclear explosion at 6.3, whereas the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna calculated it at 6.1 on the basis of a separate analysis. The explosion was many times the size of past North Korean tests and was the largest seismic signal from a nuclear test ever detected by the international network of seismic monitoring stations used by the CTBTO.

The second event came 8.5 minutes later and registered as magnitude-4.1, reported the USGS. The agency suggested that it was associated with the test and may have been a “structural collapse”. The possibility that the smaller shock was caused by a tunnel collapse inside the testing site has dominated discussion in the media. But Paul Earle, a seismologist at the USGS, told Nature that was just one possibility that was raised in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. The USGS, he said, was “basing that on previous nuclear tests of comparable size that had a collapse”.

Possible signs of a collapse are visible on satellite images taken of the testing site, according to an analysis released on 12 September by 38 North, a partnership of the US-Korea Institute and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

But the seismic signal doesn’t match what would be expected from a collapse, says Lianxing Wen, a geophysicist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A collapse would produce mostly vertical movement of rock, but his own unpublished work suggests that the seismic clues point to a large horizontal movement as well, something he says would be more consistent with a landslide.

Sliding scale

Although the satellite data do show a lot of landslides on Mount Mantap, other researchers argue that they could not have caused the magnitude-4.1 event. Much larger landslides, such as at Bingham Canyon mine in Utah in 2013, haven’t produced seismic signals close to that size, says Ekström.  He also argues that the seismic signals he has seen do not match the pattern expected from a landslide……

September 15, 2017 Posted by | incidents, North Korea | Leave a comment

HOW 5 PEOPLE SURVIVED NAGASAKI’S NUCLEAR HELL   Three days after Hiroshima, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. A new book tells stories of those who lived through horror. on August 9, 1945, an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, obliterating much of it and killing 74,000 people, mostly civilians. It was only the second time in history an atomic bomb had been used as a weapon. BY SIMON WORRALL 14 SEPTEMBER 2017  In Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, Susan Southard follows the lives of five hibakusha (survivors) who escaped the firestorm and through extraordinary courage and resilience went on to live happy, fulfilled lives.

Speaking from her home in Arizona, she talks about the battle for the truth over what happened in Nagasaki; how square dancing helped heal the wounds of war; and why the survivors no longer harbour feelings of animosity towards Americans.

Yours is the first book to tell this story. Why has it taken so long?

“Some people may know about Hiroshima, but they don’t know about Nagasaki. They say, “Oh, there was a second bombing?” Many people also don’t know that people survived the bombings.

One of the reasons is that the bombs were kept top secret. Very few military leaders knew they existed, except for the people who were creating the bombs and those directly overseeing them. After the bombs were dropped, several factors, both in the U.S. and Japan, contributed to people not knowing the effects.

One was direct denial of any radiation effects by key U.S. military leaders like General Leslie Groves, General Thomas Farrell and the U.S. War Department. During the U.S. occupation of Japan, which lasted from 1945 to 1952, General Douglas MacArthur also instituted a strict press code banning “false or destructive criticism” of the Allied powers out of concern that too much anger could put the thousands of U.S. troops in Japan at risk.

General Groves and others promoted the idea that the Japanese were using the effects of the bomb as anti-American propaganda. So, the people of Japan, other than the people in the cities directly affected, didn’t know for years what was happening in their own country. There was medical censorship as well. Physicians working with the survivors weren’t allowed to publish studies or findings of what was happening.

They also didn’t want the decision to use the bombs to be challenged in the U.S., by books like John Hersey’s Hiroshima. So President Truman and the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, made a concerted effort to publish articles justifying the use of the bombs, excluding any information about what happened to the people beneath the atomic clouds.

The justifications were so airtight that they became the dominant way of perceiving the decision to use the bombs on Japan: that the two bombs ended the war and saved a million American lives.”

What made you want to write this book?

“It has deep roots in my life. In high school, I spent a year as an exchange student in Japan and happened to go on a field trip to the southern island of Kyushu, where I visited the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I stood next to my Japanese classmates as the only American and observed the destruction.

But the key event came in 1986, when one of the Nagasaki survivors, Taniguchi Sumiteru, who was 57 years old by then, came to Washington on a speaking tour. I went to hear him speak, then, through a series of unexpected events, his interpreter became unable to complete the last few days of his time in Washington, and I became his interpreter.

In between his presentations we spent hours together. I got to ask him questions and tried to grasp what his experience had been like; it was truly a horrific experience. His entire back had been burned off. From that time on I couldn’t get out of my mind what it would be like to have survived nuclear war.”

Explain the term “hypocenter” and describe the destructive power of the blast in relation to it.

“Contrary to what some of us might imagine, the bomb did not explode on the ground but about one-third of a mile above ground. The purpose was to maximize the blast force and the effect of the heat on the city because the blast and the heat would travel further.

The area directly beneath the blast is called the “hypocenter.” The heat on the ground directly below it was about 5,000 to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. For quite a long distance, buildings were pulverized and trees, plants, and animals were blown away or carbonized. It’s an unimaginable level of instantaneous destruction.”

You recount the stories of five survivors. I want to focus on two of them: Do-oh Mineko and Taniguchi. Where were they at the moment of impact and what happened to them?

“Taniguchi was 16 years old at the time. He was delivering mail in the northwestern part of the valley on his bicycle. He was facing away from the blast a little over a mile away. He was thrown off his bicycle and although he didn’t know it at the time, because he was in a daze, his entire back was burned off. He also had severe burns on his arms and legs.

The earth was shaking but he was able to stand up. He gathered the mail he could still see. All the children that had been playing around him were dead. He wandered to a factory and some men carried him to a hillside where they laid him on his stomach. He lay there for two nights, dipping in and out of consciousness, while his grandfather searched for him.

Do-oh was about three-fourths of a mile from the hypocenter, inside a Mitsubishi torpedo factory. The massive steel and concrete Mitsubishi factory collapsed on top of her and thousands of others. Remarkably, she was able to get up. She had a big gash in the back of her neck and was desperate to escape because fires were beginning to flare around her. She had to step over dead bodies to get to an embankment, where her father found her.”

Tanaguchi’s ordeal is of almost biblical proportions. Tell us about his first few years after the bombing.

“There were no hospitals or medical supplies in Nagasaki, so he was taken to a village outside Nagasaki with his grandfather and cared for in a very basic way for three months. He was finally taken to a naval hospital in Omura, 22 miles north of Nagasaki, where he finally began to get proper medical care.

He lay on his stomach in extraordinary agony for three years. As he wasn’t able to lie on his sides or his back, he got incredibly deep bedsores—so deep, that the doctors could see his internal organs, including his heart beating. He was finally released from the hospital on March 20, 1949, when he was 20 years old.”

One of the more bizarre actions taken by the Americans after the bombing was to introduce square dancing. What was that all about?

“It’s so crazy! And quite lovely in the end. It began in Nagasaki. The people assigned to lead the occupation efforts in Nagasaki were very sympathetic toward the suffering of the survivors and tried to find ways to help them. One night, the civilian education officer for the U.S. occupation in Nagasaki, Winfield Niblo, was at a dinner party with Japanese educators.

Afterwards, there was a presentation of Japanese folk dancing. Niblo decided to present some American square dancing to add to the festivities. It caught on nationally to become a post-war American contribution to Japanese life.”

One of the things that shocked me was the extent to which the hibakusha werediscriminated against and mocked by their fellow Japanese. They were even called “tempura face.”

“It was surprising to me as well. The children were made fun of and laughed at. Those who were disfigured, even after the economy recovered a decade later, had trouble getting jobs. Even those who had no physical disfigurement often kept their status as a hibakusha quiet. It made it difficult to get a job and their marriage prospects were almost completely eliminated. Anyone who found out they were hibakusha was afraid of the genetic effects that radiation would have on their children. Many of them married other hibakusha.”

It took many years for the survivors to tell their stories. Why was it so difficult for them to go public and what changed their minds?

“Recovering from nuclear war is a very long process—healthwise, psychologically and economically. Some lost every member of their family and all their friends. The survivors I write about were all in their teen years at the time of the bombing. It was something so extremely painful that they didn’t want to revisit it.

The people who did decide to speak out, including the five survivors I feature in my book, had very personal reasons. One told me that as he held his first granddaughter in his arms, he had a flashback of a baby’s charred body that he had to step over as he was helping in the relief effort. He suddenly realized I have to do something about this, I don’t want my beautiful granddaughter to ever experience what I experienced.

Together, he and other hibakusha are fighting to ensure that Nagasaki will be the last city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb.”

How did the survivors feel towards the United States?

“Each survivor is different. Two I know well had a lot of anger towards the U.S. for dropping the bomb and causing this suffering. Others were so preoccupied with survival and grief and trying to deal with the medical implications that they didn’t think about the Americans too much. They just had to survive. The five I know well no longer feel negatively toward Americans. They accept that it was the governments and militaries of each nation that waged war, not individuals.”

Do-oh’s story has a remarkable happy ending. Tell us about her afterlife in Tokyo.

“Do-oh lost all her hair after the bomb. It didn’t grow back for 10 years, so she remained in her house until she was 25 years old. Her father said she had to learn how to support herself as an adult.

Before the war, she had dreamed of being in fashion so she got a part time job in Nagasaki in a cosmetics shop and was eventually offered a job in Tokyo with that same company. Against her parents’ wishes and cultural norms, she went on her own to Tokyo and began a new life. She worked fiercely and over time rose in the ranks to become a Senior VP of Utena, one of Japan’s leading cosmetics companies. It was unheard of at that time for a woman to have such a high executive position with a corporation.

She then returned to Nagasaki for retirement. She was an artist and poet as well, and she created this beautiful work of art, with green stems and a purple flowering iris. In Japanese writing from the top right, down, she says, “Thank you for a good life.”

How did the time you spent with these survivors change your life, Susan?

“It expanded my appreciation of human courage, resilience and strength. I also learned to appreciate the complexity of political and military actions and decisions, the consequences of those decisions, and how we respond and react to them.

I’ve been changed very profoundly by getting to know these people and being allowed to know the many difficult, intimate moments of their lives, which were split in half by nuclear war.”

September 15, 2017 Posted by | health, history, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan’s international low-enriched uranium bank makes the world LESS SAFE

Banking on Uranium Makes the World Less Safe  There is a curious fallacy that continues to persist among arms control groups rightly concerned with reducing the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. It is that encouraging the use of nuclear energy will achieve this goal.

This illogical notion is enshrined in Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which rewards signatories who do not yet have nuclear weapons with the “inalienable right” to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

Now comes the international low-enriched uranium bank, which opened on August 29 in Kazakhstan, to expedite this right. It further reinforces the Article IV doctrine— that the spread of nuclear power will diminish the capability and the desire to manufacture nuclear weapons.

The uranium bank will purchase and store low-enriched uranium, fuel for civilian reactors, ostensibly guaranteeing a ready supply in case of market disruptions. But it is also positioned as a response to the Iran conundrum, a country whose uranium enrichment program cast suspicion over whether its real agenda was to continue enriching its uranium supply to weapons-grade level.

The bank will be run by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose remit is “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy.” Evidently the IAEA has been quite successful in this promotional endeavor since the agency boasts that “dozens of countries today are interested in pursuing nuclear energy.”

A caveat here, borne out by the evidence of nuclear energy’s declining global share of the electricity market, is that far more countries are “interested” than are actually pursuing nuclear energy. The IAEA numbers are more aspiration than reality.

Superficially at least, the bank idea sounds sensible enough. There will be no need to worry that countries considering a nuclear power program might secretly shift to nuclear weapons production. In addition to a proliferation barrier, the bank will serve as a huge cost savings, sparing countries the expense of investing in their own uranium enrichment facilities.

The problem with this premise is that, rather than make the planet safer, it actually adds to the risks we already face. News reports pointed to the bank’s advantages for developing countries. But developing nations would be much better off implementing cheaper, safer renewable energy, far more suited to countries that lack major infrastructure and widespread electrical grid penetration.

Instead, the IAEA will use its uranium bank to provide a financial incentive to poorer countries in good standing with the agency to choose nuclear energy over renewables. For developing countries already struggling with poverty and the effects of climate change, this creates the added risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident, the financial burden of building nuclear power plants in the first place, and of course an unsolved radioactive waste problem.

No country needs nuclear energy. Renewable energy is soaring worldwide, is far cheaper than nuclear, and obviously a whole lot safer. No country has to worry about another’s potential misuse of the sun or wind as a deadly weapon. There is no solar non-proliferation treaty. We should be talking countries out of developing dangerous and expensive nuclear energy, not paving the way for them.

There is zero logic for a country like Saudi Arabia, also mentioned during the uranium bank’s unveiling, to choose nuclear over solar or wind energy. As Senator Markey (D-MA) once unforgettably pointed out: “Saudi Arabia is the Saudi Arabia of solar.” But the uranium bank could be just the carrot that sunny country needs to abandon renewables in favor of uranium.

This is precisely the problem with the NPT Article IV. Why “reward” non-nuclear weapons countries with dangerous nuclear energy? If they really need electricity, and the UN wants to be helpful, why not support a major investment in renewables? It all goes back to the Bomb, of course, and the Gordian knot of nuclear power and nuclear weapons that the uranium bank just pulled even tighter.

Will the uranium bank be too big to fail? Or will it even be big at all? With nuclear energy in steep decline worldwide, unable to compete with renewables and natural gas; and with major nuclear corporations, including Areva and Westinghouse, going bankrupt, will there even be enough customers?

Clothed in wooly non-proliferation rhetoric, the uranium bank is nothing more than a lupine marketing enterprise to support a struggling nuclear industry desperate to remain relevant as more and more plants close and new construction plans are canceled. The IAEA and its uranium bank just made its prospects a whole lot brighter and a safer future for our planet a whole lot dimmer.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Kazakhstan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

UN nuclear watchdog defends Iran deal

 News 24 2017-09-12 Vienna – The UN atomic watchdog hit back on Monday at US criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, insisting its inspections there are the world’s toughest and that Tehran is sticking to the accord.

“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under [the 2015 accord] are being implemented,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano told reporters.

“The verification regime in Iran is the most robust regime which is currently existing. We have increased the inspection days in Iran, we have increased inspector numbers… and the number of images has increased,” he said in Vienna.

“From a verification point of view, it is a clear and significant gain.”…..

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Pope Francis urges climate change sceptics to consult with a scientist.

Pope Francis On Climate Change Denial: ‘Man Is Stupid’ Huff Post, WASHINGTON, 14 Sept 17 — Climate change denials amid catastrophic hurricanes are a reminder that humans are not a particularly smart species, Pope Francis said Sunday while flying over areas in the Caribbean decimated by Hurricane Irma.

 “Man is stupid,” he said, referencing a passage in the Old Testament, according to the The New York Times and The Associated Press. “When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.”

A correspondent for Crux Now had a slightly different translation of the pontiff’s comments: “Man is a stupid and hard-headed being who doesn’t see.”

The pope — who has sparred with President Donald Trump on several issues, including climate change — also urged the climate skeptics of the world to consult with a scientist.

 “Those who deny climate change need to go to scientists and ask them,” Francis said, according to Crux. He said the scientific community has been “clear and precise” in linking human activities to the ongoing crisis and that “each [person] has a moral responsibility, bigger or smaller.” Climate change is a “serious matter over which we cannot make jokes,” he said.
Pope Francis’ comments came during a flight from Colombia to Rome, which passed over areas of the Caribbean left devastated by Hurricane Irma. According to Crux, journalists asked the pope about the moral responsibility world political leaders have to fight against climate change.

Francis warned that “history will judge those decisions,” and that if humans fail to curb climate change we “will go down,” according to reports.

When Trump met with Francis in May, the pope gave the president a copy of his 2015 encyclical on climate change and the environment, “Laudato Si.” In the 184-page document, Francis argues that climate change is inherently a moral and spiritual issue and criticizes local and national governments that refuse to address it. ……

September 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

No solution insight for the eternal storage of nuclear radioactive trash

Nuclear waste: Where to store it for eternity? Russell, 12 Sept 17 

Nuclear power stations have been churning out radioactive waste for decades. At least 10 new reactors came online last year – making the question of long-term storage all the more pressing. There’s no solution in sight.

In 2016, 10 new nuclear reactors went online – and two more are set to go online in the first half of 2017, according to the 2017 World Nuclear Industry Status Report published Tuesday. Six of these new nuclear power plants are based in China, which now ranks third on the list of the “big five” nuclear generating countries after the United States and France.

The big five make up 70 percent of the world’s nuclear energy, while the US and France account for almost half of global nuclear energy generation.

In this time period, only four reactors were shut down.

As nuclear reactors continue to go online, the question of what to do with nuclear waste becomes all the more pressing – and still hasn’t been answered properly.

In September this year, Germany begins the search to find a final storage solution for nuclear waste. A special commission is to scour the country for a suitable geological site to build a deep repository, where it can bury the toxic legacy of decades of nuclear power production – once and for all.

The government aims to find a site by 2031. But critics are skeptical that it will meet the deadline.

There are complex technical questions over whether clay, granite or salt might provide the best protection against leakage or contamination. The site has to be secure for a million years – so scientists have to be sure it will survive eventualities such as future ice ages.

But just the biggest challenge will be to persuade communities to accept a nuclear waste dump on their doorstep.

Four decades of resistance at Gorleben

In the late 1970s, West Germany chose a salt site at Gorleben in Lower Saxony for exploration as a possible final nuclear waste repository. A decades-long battle ensued, with locals vehemently protesting against the project.

Protestors long argued that Gorleben, a sparsely populated area close to the East German border, was selected for political rather than scientific grounds.

Technical questions were also raised.

Science vs. politics

US nuclear expert Robert Alvarez say at least Germany has a well-defined set of scientific criteria to select a site that will be geologically stable and protect the waste in barrels from oxidation, and therefore corrosion.

“I think the German government has been paying more attention to the geologists and to the nuclear safety people,” Alavarez, an associate fellow at the US Institute for Policy Studies, told DW.

In the United States, President Donald Trump has been making moves to restart work on a repository at Yucca Mountain, a former nuclear weapons test site in the remote Nevada desert.

Alvarez describes the selection of the site ahead of the 1988 election as the result of a political move by Congress, which scrapped a survey of various locations around the US.

“People went crazy – and it scared all the politicians who were running for election,” Alvarez explains. “So by 1987 when the process was unfolding, Congress just changed the law, and said: ‘We’re going to put it in Yucca Mountain, all you guys are off the hook.'”

He points out that the site was already contaminated from nuclear testing, and that Nevada has just one electoral college vote. But he says geological conditions at Yucca Mountain are far from ideal, and would require large-scale ventilation for at least 100 years to keep the waste cool.

“There is a lot of baloney about it being scientifically the best site,” Alvarez says. A granite site, like those being explored in Finland and Norway, would be far more suitable, he says.

“We have quite a lot of granite geology in our country but it happens to be in populated areas,” Alvarez added.

Scandinavia leading the way

Finland has made headlines with what has been lauded as the world’s first final long-term nuclear waste repository, 400 meters deep in the granite bedrock off the country’s west coast. A similar project is underway in Sweden.

Alvarez says these Scandinavian countries are very much leading the way. But can we really be sure that these deep granite repositories will be safe in hundred of year, as Finland intends?

“To put it mildly, that claim contains strong elements of speculation,” Alvarez says. “How can we predict what the world will be like even 100 years from now?”

And other countries face bigger challenges.

Repository plans collapse around the world

“The problem in Finland and Sweden is dead simple,” says Andy Blowers of independent expert group Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates. “You have one type geology, and lots of it – you’ve got very few power stations, and so a defined amount of waste.”

France, which gets three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear, planned to open a repository at Bure in eastern France by 2030. But, like Yucca Mountain, it has been beset by technical problems and safety concerns, and protestors are campaigning against the project.

In the United Kingdom, plans for a repository located close to its Sellafield decommissioning and reprocessing site were scrapped following public and scientific consultation.

And in Australia this past summer, the government abandoned plans for an international repository that would take nuclear waste from around the world – due to public opposition.

Waiting for a solution

So, with even Finland yet to begin loading its repository, what’s happening to all the waste generated over the more than six decades we’ve been powering out economies with atomic energy?

For the most part, it’s sitting around – above ground, in temporary and interim storage facilities with widely varying levels of security, which were never intended to store so much waste, for so long.

Alvarez says Germany is, again, managing better than most. For one thing, Germany was using casks that are Mercedes models compared the United States’ old Chevys, he said. They are far thicker and can safely contain waste for longer.

Wet storage threatens disaster

There is a big difference between wet and dry storage. Nuclear waste has to be cooled in liquid. But if the liquid evaporates, spent fuel quickly heats up – and could result in fires with consequences experts say would dwarf Chernobyl.

When the Fukushima accident occurred in 2011, a pool containing a spent reactor was badly damaged and such an accident briefly arose as a possibility.

In fact, a leak refilled the pool. Without this happy accident, tens of millions of people – perhaps as much at 27 percent of Japan‘s population, according to some experts – would have had to be evacuated.

And yet, despite the dangers, countries including France, the UK, Korea and the US are storing nuclear waste in pools well after experts say it should have been put into dry cask storage.

Experts say the most pressing problem is not finding sites for final repositories, but ensuring that intermediate storage is safe – and will continue to be safe for as long as it takes to solve the riddle of how to get rid of humankind’s most toxic garbage.

Buying time

“I suspect that what we are going to be looking at over time is that there’s going to have to be a great deal longer period of surface storage,” Alvaraz says.

Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear policy analyst and lead author of the annual status report, is not convinced geological storage should even be the ultimate goal, and that waste should be retrievable in case we find a better way to deal with it.

For time being, he says, it’s a matter of finding the least-bad solution.

“It’s very clear,” Schneider told DW. “Take spent fuel out of the pools as quickly as possible and into dry storage, even if that storage might not be ideal to begin with. Then you get to next stage, which is an appropriate building, and then into hardened storage, like a bunker.

“And from there, you can begin to think about eternity.”

September 15, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment