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This week in nuclear and climate news

It’s all sounding a bit same-same: nuclear posturing from Kim Jong Un and from Donald Trump. Trouble is – in our atmosphere of “nuclear brink fatigue’, it still IS getting closer to the nuclear brink.

I don’t know about you, but in my patch, Australia, well you just wouldn’t know that from Sept 20, the 10-page treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will be open for signatures from any UN member state. No media coverage. It’s as if the thought of nuclear war just doesn’t matter. Hell, it could even be an acceptable idea, nowadays. Or maybe not.

Same-same on climate, too.  But again, not really, as the planet’s weather patterns change inexorably,  glaciers melt, and mainstream media covers the subject less than ever.


The global impact of glaciers shrinking as climate change affects them. Satellites reveal global fingerprints of sea-level rise.  – Pope Francis urges climate change sceptics to consult with a scientist.

Global Doctors Congress recognises nuclear war as the greatest public health threat.

About The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017  Nuclear power industry in  decline, as renewables get ever cheaper and more effective. The problem of plutonium: justification for its reprocessing is now dead.

UK UK’s ‘Operation Temperer’ replaces police with military personnel at nuclear power plants.— Police see Sellafield nuclear site seen as “a great strategic target for terrorists”.  EDF warns on Britain’s nuclear safety problems, in the exit from the European Union. Closed since 1977, Dounreay Fast Reactor at last being emptied of radioactive fuel elements Spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind brings Hinkley nuclear plan into question.

USA. Nuclear 

USA Climate

NEPAL. Himalayas facing grave threat from climate change.

IRAN.UN nuclear watchdog defends Iran deal.

RUSSIA. Russia to advise USA to stay in the Iran nuclear agreement.  Mayor of Russian cvoastal towm makes a fuss about abandoned radioactive generator, and other nuclear junk sunk in oceans by Russia

NORTH KOREA.  North Korea Fires a Ballistic Missile Over Japan for the Second Time in Three Weeks.   Mystery seismic energy release following North Korea nuclear test.

SOUTH KOREAPresident Moon says No to nuclear weapons in South Korea. South Korean opposition party in USA asking Washington for nuclear weapons.

FRANCE. EDF has increasing safety problems on its nuclear power stations in France.

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



September 16, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

UK’s ‘Operation Temperer’ replaces police with military personnel at nuclear power plants

Soldiers on the streets and extra armed police on patrol as Theresa May raises terror level to CRITICAL after ISIS claim Tube bucket-bomb attack was carried out by a cell of several jihadis –IED had timer attached meaning terrorist probably exited at an earlier station but bomb failed to detonate CLG News,  15 Sept 2017 | Soldiers are being deployed on London’s streets as the terror threat level is raised to critical amid fears the Parsons Green bomber could strike again, Theresa May announced tonight.

Operation Temperer will see military personnel replacing police at key sites such as nuclear power plants to free up extra armed police for regular patrols. Scotland Yard said it is making ‘excellent’ progress in hunting the suspected terrorist who set off an improvised bucket bomb on a packed commuter train by Parsons Green tube station in west London at 8.20am. Mrs May said in a statement from Number 10: ‘The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical – this means their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.’ Minutes later Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley suggested there may have been more than one person involved stating that police were ‘chasing down suspects’.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

USA again talking of “military options” against North Korea

US warns of military option if North Korea nuclear and missile tests continue
UN ambassador and national security adviser float possibility if new sanctions fail: ‘We have been kicking the can down the road and we’re out of road’,
Guardian, Julian Borger , Justin McCurry and Tom Phillips , 16 Sept 17,  The US has warned it could revert to military options if new sanctions fail to curb North Korean missile and nuclear tests, after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan for the second time in two weeks.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and the national security advisor, HR McMaster, told reporters that the latest set of UN sanctions – imposed earlier this week after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test – would need time to take effect, but they suggested that after that, the US would consider military action……..

In a unanimous statement late on Friday, the UN Security Council said it “strongly condemned” the missile launch, but did not threaten further sanctions on Pyongyang.

The missile flew further than any missile tested by the regime, triggering emergency sirens and text alerts minutes before it passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday morning.

Flight data shows the missile travelled higher and further than the one involved in the 29 August flyover of Japan, suggesting the regime is continuing to make advances in its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

A new UN security council session was called on Friday to address North Korean defiance, but Haley said there was little more that UN measures could do to change Pyongyang’s behaviour…….

when he was asked about a possible US military response, Mattis said: “I don’t want to talk about that yet.”…..

Many strategic analysts argue there is no feasible military option for curtailing North Korean nuclear and missile development, as any pre-emptive attack would be likely to trigger a devastating barrage on Seoul, without any guarantee that all Pyongyang’s missiles and nuclear weapons would be put out of action……..

The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing objected to North Korea’s latest launch but believed diplomacy was the only way to solve the “complicated, sensitive and grim” problem.

“The top priority is now to prevent any provocative acts,” Hua told reporters.

But Hua rejected the theory – advanced, among others, by Trump and Theresa May, the British prime minister – that Beijing held the key to thwarting Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile ambitious.

“China is not the focus. China is not the driving force behind the escalating situation. And China is not the key to resolving the issue,” Hua said.

Hua said China had already made “great sacrifices” and “paid a high price” in its bid to help rein in Pyongyang: “China’s willingness and its efforts to fulfill its relevant international responsibilities cannot be questioned.”

In an online editorial, the Communist party-controlled Global Times newspaper said it was the US and South Korea, not China, that needed “to guide North Korea into a new strategic direction” through dialogue.

“An isolated North Korea will be more rational if the international society treats it in a rational way,” argued the newspaper, which sometimes reflects official views. It said attempts to intimidate North Korea with threats or shows of force would fail.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power industry at last admitting its connection to nuclear weapons

Energy Collective 13th September 2017, The nuclear power industry, under pressure economically, is arguing that it
deserves government support because it is essential for “national
security”, notes Jim Green, editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

Green explains why he finds this argument disingenuous and unconvincing.
The nuclear power industry has long maintained that it has no connection
whatsoever to nuclear weapons proliferation. This argument was always based
on lies and half-truths.

Ironically, the nuclear industry is now admitting they were not telling the whole truth. Its proponents are arguing it
deserves public support precisely because it is essential for national
security reasons! Some of them are adding a peculiar twist to their
argument: they are saying that a strong nuclear power sector needs to be
maintained in western countries so that they can maintain a capability to
constrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Now the world must again view nuclear war as absolutely taboo

In the shadow of Fat Man and Little Boy: how the stigma of nuclear war was unravelled,

Dr Becky Alexis-Martin is a senior Research Fellow in Nuclear Geography, University of Southampton, UK.

Dr Stephanie Malin is an assistant Professor of Environmental Sociology, Colorado State University, USA.

Dr Kristen Iversen is a professor of English, University of Cincinnati, USA.

Dr Kathleen Sullivan is Director of Hibakusha Stories, New York, USA.

Dr Mwenza Blell is a lecturer in Sociology, University of Cambridge, UK. 15 Sept 17 

Atomic bombs ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy’ exploded over Nagasaki and Hiroshima 72 years ago creating a lasting nuclear taboo – until now. What has changed?”……..Thanks to President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, our generation’s own volatile Fat Man and Little Boy, the sensible norms of restraint and careful diplomacy that have previously surrounded nuclear deterrence proliferation and use are now under stress. President Donald Trump seems indifferent to social norms, and behaves without rationality. He made several public statements, via Twitter and traditional media, that glamorise the use and increased production of nuclear weapons. All while his administration slashes budgets and slashes programs designed to protect communities from the well-documented risks that come from producing nuclear weapons. Trump has ostracized himself from international leadership nearly every turn, including NATO and G-20 summits, isolating himself from democratic world leaders, and aligning himself more with leaders of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. He has divided America, twisting the knife into historical wounds of racism and civil rights abuses, as well as upending environmental protection, denying climate change and proposing a tax regime that will create persistent poverty – to name a few examples.

North Korea is currently basking in its own nuclear disruption, finally gaining the place that it feels it deserves in the geopolitical arena – for all the wrong reasons. Like a child who learns to gain attention for bad behaviour, Kim relishes this moment. However, there is a tragic legacy behind his trumped-up attempts at power. Poverty and human rights violations are experienced by many North Koreans, and there is a dark legacy of Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace programme that originally took nuclear technology to South East Asia in the hopeful 1960s. We mustn’t forget the human beings who live in North Korea, and the way that UN sanctions are already affecting their lives.

The bickering across Twitter has escalated, and the sheer ubiquity of Trump and Kim’s threats have to some extent re-legitimised the use of nuclear weapons to ‘solve’ conflict rather than deter such “fire and fury” that might bring to an end life as we know it. Indeed, recent research suggests that a limited use of nuclear weapons could disrupt the climate in such a way that would radically alter food production, and in turn lead to global famine.

Trump needs to cut the sass, to scale back his inflammatory and impulsive rants, and to start engaging in the nuclear debate with much greater sensitivity. We want the most peaceful resolution that is now possible, to prevent further escalation of conflict. We do not want stumble into nuclear war, a risk that exists beyond bellicose displays of power. The current hot-threat engagement is not just a security issue, but a massive humanitarian one too. Kim starves his own people in the pursuit of nuclear defence technology. Trump and Kim’s verbally violent exchange is as serious as North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons. It could have devastating future implications if the stigma of nuclear weapons is not restored. The people of the supposed democracy of the USA and the totalitarian state of North Korea both seem powerless to change the behaviour of their leaders.

However, international attitudes are more progressive. The stigma of nuclear deterrence has not been lost on the majority of nations, 122 of whom endorsed a nuclear weapon ban treaty that seeks to prohibit the development, production, possession, testing, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. The BAN treaty is likely to enter into force on 20 September 2017, when it opens for signatures at the United Nations in New York. Although no nuclear possessor nation supports this treaty, they understand that the BAN will re-stigmatize nuclear weapons and re-invigorate public debate and action for nuclear abolition.

Our taboos are a greater reflection of our global society and ethics.. What does it say about us at this point in history, if we let the taboo of the unspeakable horror of nuclear warfare disappear? We cannot uninvent the bomb, so we need to rethink and redesign the rules of de-escalation and disarmament, if we are to avoid the fallout of nuclear conflict.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Nuclear power industry in terminal decline, as renewables get ever cheaper and more effective

Renewable Energy Industry Hotting Up as World Goes Cold on Nuclear Power power is on its way out the world over, with its global share of energy generation declining and construction of just one new nuclear reactor being undertaken in 2017. Renewable energy seems poised to take its place as the energy source of the future.

Nuclear power is in a state of terminal decline, with construction of just one new nuclear reactor being undertaken in 2017, according to the World Nuclear Industry Report, an annual study of the sector that analyzes data on capacity, production and construction of nuclear reactors around the world.

Once vaunted as the future of energy production, nuclear power has suffered an unceremonious fall from grace since the 1960s — to the point the report suggests it will be phased out entirely in due course.

The number of nuclear reactors under construction has diminished for the fourth consecutive year, falling from 68 in 2013 to 53 in 2017 — and the report’s authors suspect projects are often ongoing purely because of uncertainty and inertia in the industry.

Russia and the US shut down reactorsin 2016, while Sweden and South Korea both closed their oldest units in the first half of 2017. There are 37 reactor constructions behind schedule, of which 19 reported further delays over the past year — eight projects have been under construction for a decade or more, of which three for over 30 years. In January, there were 17 reactors scheduled for startup before the end of the years, although as of mid-2017, but two of these units had started up and 11 were delayed until at least 2018.

The industry’s financial crisis may play a role in the failure of projects to get off the ground on schedule — after the discovery of massive losses over its nuclear construction projects, Toshiba filed for bankruptcy of its US subsidiary Westinghouse, the largest nuclear power builder in history, and industry giant AREVA has accumulated US$12.3 billion in losses since 2011.

Nonetheless, nuclear power’s global share of electricity generation has only declined meagerly (-0.2 percent), to 10.5 percent in 2017, with five countries producing 70 percent of total nuclear energy in the world — although in 1996, this figure stood at 18 percent. The two largest producers, the US and France, account for half total production.

By contrast, wind power output grew by 16 percent and solar by 30 percent in 2016. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh, solar by 77 TWh, respectively 3.8 times and 2.2 times more than nuclear’s 35 TWh. Renewables represented 62 percent of global power generating capacity additions, and rnewable energy auctions achieved record low prices at and below US$30/ MWh in Chile, Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and the US. Average generating costs of amortized nuclear power plants in the US were US$35.5 in 2015.

The fall in costs for renewable energies has attracted significant investment, with over US$240 billion  invested in renewable energies compared to only about US$10 billion in the nuclear sector.

Look East

Nonetheless, the report highlights that China is a notable exception to the overall anti-nuclear trend — in 2016, the world’s nuclear production increased by 1.4 percent due to a 23 percent increase in Beijing’s production, and China is “the only country” to persist in building a “significant number” of nuclear reactors. Of the world’s remaining nuclear reactors under construction, 20 are sited in China, although 11 are behind schedule.

Still, the Chinese exception could also be nearing its end, given in 2017 no nuclear reactor was built in the country, although the report acknowledges it’s “too early” to draw concrete conclusions.

The two biggest issues with nuclear energy are set-up costs for production, and dealing with resultant waste. Every few years, a portion of a nuclear power station’s spent fuel — composed of uranium that failed to fission, the products of fission, and plutonium — is removed from the reactor to be stored in water, which both cools it and blocks its radiation. This decay can take up to hundreds of thousands of years, however.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Russia to advise USA to stay in the Iran nuclear agreement

Russia to the United States: Stay in Iran Nuclear Deal 15, 2017UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said Moscow’s message to the United States during a likely meeting of the parties to the Iran nuclear deal next week on the sidelines to the United Nations General Assembly was to stay in the deal.

“That is not only our message, but the rest of the participants and those that are outside are trying to send this message across,” Nebenzia told reporters on Friday.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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

The global impact of glaciers shrinking as climate change affects them

Glacial melt will wreck ecosystems by Tim Radford The alarming rate of glacial shrinkage worldwide threatens our current way of life, from biodiversity to tourism, hydropower to clean water supply.

Glaciers cover one-tenth of the planet’s land surface – but not for much longer.

Glaciers worldwide are in retreat, and losing mass. They are shrinking and melting, and that will create problems almost everywhere, according to new research.

Between 2003 and 2009, glaciers melted on a gargantuan scale, with an estimated 1,350 cubic kilometres of meltwater streamed from what had once been vast streams of slowly flowing ice.

Ice has been in retreat in the Gulf of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, Greenland and Antarctica. In the European Alps summers have become measurably warmer during the last 30 years, snowfall has diminished and 54% of the ice cover in the mountains has disappeared since 1850. By 2100, Alpine summits may have lost around nine-tenths of the ice that still covered them in 2003. In South America, the glaciers of Bolivia lost almost 50% of their mass in the last 50 years. In western Canada, somewhere between 60% and 80% of the ice measured in 2005 will have disappeared, and flowed into the sea to raise sea levels everywhere.

And, says an international team of scientists, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the loss of mountain ice creates problems for the people who live downstream.

Glaciers in the basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus rivers are right now losing 24 billion metric tons of ice a year: between 2003 and 2009, that added up to about a tenth of all the glacial ice lost everywhere in the world. Ice loss upstream means changes in the timing, magnitude and frequency of the flows downstream, and that in turn affects the levels of sediment, and the nutrients, both for the human populations who depend on the farmland in the valleys and plains below, but also for the natural ecosystems in the rivers, lakes and coastal zones.

It is time, the scientists argue, for some serious thinking: glacier loss cannot be separated from complexities such as changes in natural hazards such as flooding and drought, in agriculture, tourism, hydropower, cultural life and political economy.

“We don’t believe that the sheer enormity of the impact of glacial shrinkage on our downstream ecosystems has been fully integrated to date. From biodiversity to tourism, from hydropower to clean water supply, the breadth of risk to our current way of life is vast. The first step must be a realignment in how we view glacial shrinkage, and a research agenda that acknowledges the risk to regions likely to be most affected,” says Alexander Milner, professor of river ecosystems at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, who led the study.

Four tasks

He and colleagues, from Alaska, Switzerland, Norway, Austria, France, Iceland, Denmark, Italy and other UK universities, want the global science community to think about four big things.

They want new technologies to map the details of ice loss with greater precision. They want better global monitoring of the nutrients and contaminants that are now trickling at ever greater rates from glaciers into downstream waterways.They want to see better understanding of the impact of what scientists like to call “ecosystem services” delivered by glaciers – and that includes what happens to salmon habitats and sports fisheries. And they would like to see management plans for change in the most sensitive glacier regions, and that could include international legislation to protect what they call “strategic glacier-derived water resources”.

Researchers have been warning about glacial loss for many years: they have highlighted regional alarms in Greenlandcentral Asiathe Antarctic, and the Bolivian Andes.

They have firmly linked glacial loss to global warming driven by profligate human fossil fuel combustion and they have warned that such loss risks social change and potential catastrophe for millions.

Glacial water

So the latest study is a kind of summary of the research so far, and an attempt to identify what glaciologists, geographers, hydrologists and social scientists should do to understand the problems ahead, and identify steps to ameliorate some of the worst impacts. They see potential for conflict over access to dwindling water supplies downstream from what had once been great glacier systems.

And, they warn, there is even a religious dimension.

“For example, thousands of pilgrims annually traverse the Gangotri Glacier in India, considering it a sacred spot, and in Peru and the Yukon Territory of Canada, indigenous people consider glaciers as gods. In Peru, the loss of ice and snow from mountain peaks is thus associated with the god’s departure and the end of the world. On the Tibetan Plateau, residents consider the glacierised Yulong Snow Mountain their spiritual home, but already 65% have recognised the necessity to potentially migrate to adapt to climate change and achieve a sustainable livelihood,” they write.

“These social upheavals would clearly lead to implications across the wider array of services that human populations use from glacier-fed rivers.”
– Climate News Network

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

A new psychiatry book warns about Donald Trump

“A Duty to Warn” and the Dangerous Case of Donald Trump Renowned psychiatrist says despite “Goldwater Rule,” mental health experts have unique responsibility when someone in power may be dangerous, Common Dreams by Bill MoyersRobert Jay Lifton , 15 Sept 17 

There will not be a book published this fall more urgent, important, or controversial than than The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, the work of 27 psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health experts to assess President Trump’s mental health. They had come together last March at a conference at Yale University to wrestle with two questions. One was on countless minds across the country: “What’s wrong with him?” The second was directed to their own code of ethics: “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn” if they conclude the president to be dangerously unfit?

As mental health professionals, these men and women respect the long-standing “Goldwater rule” which inhibits them from diagnosing public figures whom they have not personally examined. At the same time, as explained by Dr. Bandy X Lee, who teaches law and psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, the rule does not have a countervailing rule that directs what to do when the risk of harm from remaining silent outweighs the damage that could result from speaking about a public figure — “which in this case, could even be the greatest possible harm.” It is an old and difficult moral issue that requires a great exertion of conscience. Their decision: “We respect the rule, we deem it subordinate to the single most important principle that guides our professional conduct: that we hold our responsibility to human life and well-being as paramount.”

Hence, this profound, illuminating and discomforting book undertaken as “a duty to warn.”

The foreword is by one of America’s leading psychohistorians, Robert Jay Lifton. He is renowned for his studies of people under stress — for books such as Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima (1967), Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans — Neither Victims nor Executioners (1973), and The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide(1986). The Nazi Doctors was the first in-depth study of how medical professionals rationalized their participation in the Holocaust, from the early stages of the Hitler’s euthanasia project to extermination camps.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump will be published Oct. 3 by St. Martin’s Press.

Here is my interview with Robert Jay Lifton — Bill Moyers………

“And that’s what I call malignant normality. What we put forward as self-evident and normal may be deeply dangerous and destructive. I came to that idea in my work on the psychology of Nazi doctors — and I’m not equating anybody with Nazi doctors, but it’s the principle that prevails — and also with American psychologists who became architects of CIA torture during the Iraq War era. These are forms of malignant normality. For example, Donald Trump lies repeatedly. We may come to see a president as liar as normal. He also makes bombastic statements about nuclear weapons, for instance, which can then be seen as somehow normal. In other words, his behavior as president, with all those who defend his behavior in the administration, becomes a norm. We have to contest it, because it is malignantnormality. For the contributors to this book, this means striving to be witnessing professionals, confronting the malignancy and making it known”……..

“the only reality he’s capable of embracing has to do with his own self and the perception by and protection of his own self. And for a president to be so bound in this isolated solipsistic reality could not be more dangerous for the country and for the world. In that sense, he does what psychotics do. Psychotics engage in, or frequently engage in a view of reality based only on the self. He’s not psychotic, but I think ultimately this solipsistic reality will be the source of his removal from the presidency.”………

September 16, 2017 Posted by | politics, psychology - mental health, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Abandoned radioactive generators and other nuclear junk sunk in oceans by Russia

Feisty mayor in Russia’s Far East wants his nuclear trash collected

While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.  by Charles Digges  While lighthouses run on atomic batteries in Russia have become rare, especially along the coasts of the Baltic and Barents Seas, they still have their adherents in the country’s Far East.

A group of radioactivity tracking sleuths on Sakhalin Island in the Pacific say they have hunted down an abandoned generator that ran on strontium-90 sunk off the shores of one of its premier beach resorts.

But that, they say, is just the tip of the iceberg: The discovery lies in the middle of a radioactive graveyard that includes no fewer than 38 sunken vessels containing nuclear waste, and two nuclear warheads that went down when a Soviet bomber crashed near the island’s southern tip in 1976.

Though the Russian Ministry of Defense recently began acknowledging the lost bomber, tracing the origins of the other nuclear cast offs is not so easy.

But at least, says Nikolai Sidirov, mayor of the coastal town of Makarov on Sakhalin’s Bay of Patience, his town knows what this new discovery is – and they want it raised from the depths with the rest of the glowing junk.

Speaking to Novaya Izvestiya, a popular tabloid that morphed out of the official Soviet-era mouthpiece Izvestiya, Sidirov said satellite photos tracking the location of the crashed bomber have turned up something else lurking under the waves: An RTG.

That’s short for Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, a small radioactive energy source that for decades powered thousands of Soviet lighthouses and other navigational beacons along Russia’s Baltic, Arctic and Pacific coasts.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and the crash of the Russian economy, officials lost track of many of the RTGs as bureaucracies collapsed and records went missing. Thieves pillaged them for their valuable metal, exposing their strontium innards. Hikers and shepherds, drawn to their atomic heat, would stagger out of the woods sick with radiation poisoning.

Around Murmansk and on the Pacific coast, frightful reports about strontium elements turning up on beaches proliferated in local media. Some newly independent Soviet republics telegraphed anxieties about their inherited RTGs back to Moscow – along with requests to come take them away.

And then there was the biggest fear of all: What if strontium 90 from these virtually unguarded, remotely radiological sources ended up in the hands of terrorists who wanted to make a dirty bomb?

So far, that hasn’t happened – anybody trying to make off with a strontium battery would likely end up very ill or dead. But when three woodsmen in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia turned up in a hospital with radiation burns and caught the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the dangers of orphaned Soviet RTGs were finally on everyone’s mind.

A colossal effort spearheaded by the Norwegian government entirely rid the coasts of the Barents, Kara and White Seas of more than 180 RTGs. By infusing €20 million into the push, Norway helped Russia replace the strontium 90 batteries on these lighthouses and beacons with solar power over a six year period ending in 2015.

In all, Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, says it has decommission more than 1000 RTGs throughout the country, adding that it has mostly eliminated the hazard of these stray radioactive sources from its coastlines.

But some areas have not been so lucky, at least according to the mayor of Makarov out on Sakhalin Island, six times zones east of Moscow. Sidirov, a feisty campaigner who had been publicly heckling the capital about the nuclear trash in the seas near his town for years, says divers have located the RTG, and that he now has the coordinates of where it lies. He told Novaya Izvestiya he will pass on the RTGs location to what he calls “competent authorities” lest it end up in scheming hands.

How the RTG, which lies in 14 meters of water, came to be there is still anyone’s guess. The Russian Navy sent a statement to the newspaper insisting that all RTGs under the purview of the Pacific Fleet have been hunted down and destroyed.

But Russia’s environmental oversight agency confirmed that there were numerous radioactive foundlings in the oceans off Sakhalin Island, though they didn’t identify Sidirov’s RTG specifically.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone screwed up with an RTG in the area, however. Twenty years ago, in 1997, a helicopter from Russia’s Emergency Services Ministry accidentally dropped a strontium-powered RTG into Sakhalin’s waters. It was later retrieved by the navy.

So far, Rosatom has remained mum on the veracity of Sidirov’s claim about the RTG. But since the history of the downed bomber and the other hazards in his area has been confirmed, there’s every reason to believe him about the RTG. And he wants it gone.

“The ecological authorities and the military, they’re being very stubborn about coming to collect it,” Sidorov told Novaya Izvestiya. “It’s there job to collect it – if they’re ever interested, I’ll be here to show them exactly where it is.”

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Finland, oceans, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

If Now’s Not the Time to Talk About Climate Change, When Is?  

A nation serious about mitigating natural disasters like the ones we’ve just seen can’t afford to let this moment slip away.  I’ve witnessed the debate over when is—and when isn’t—the appropriate time to discuss the role that climate change may have played in calamitous natural disasters such as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the raging wildfires that have now destroyed more than eight million acres in the American West. On one side of the debate, we have those who believe it’s wrongheaded and offensive to be bringing up climate change while so many people are still mourning loved ones, sorting through debris, and picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. On the other side, we have those who believe we simply can’t afford to postpone the conversation—that any delay is tantamount to abdication.

For the people in this second group, humanity finds itself “confronted with the fierce urgency of the now,” in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Confronted, that is to say, with evidence of an actual crisis in progress, as opposed to a predicted crisis taking place somewhere down the line. And that partially explains the frustration felt by many at the position taken by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and his allies, who decry any discussion of climate change in the immediate aftermaths of Harvey and Irma. It’s hard to swallow an accusation that the “double-C phrase” is “insensitive to mention,” coming from the figurehead who takes every available opportunity to side with the oil and gas industry over the public and to weaken rather than strengthen environmental protections. Rather than a plea for compassion, it sounds much more like yet another muted threat from a climate denier……..

Like Tom Bossert, Scott Pruitt, and Donald Trump, Americans everywhere are seeing the effects of climate change right before their eyes. But unlike them, we aren’t disinclined to study, analyze, dissect, or discuss the causes. Because if there’s anything at all that we can be doing to reduce the chances of another crisis, we’re on board.

We understand the risks of denial—and also of waiting too long to act. They’re the same risks.

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

City of Zion stuck with costly, dirty, dangerous nuclear wastes

Zion skyline in for a change with planned razing of nuclear towers, Mary McIntyre, News-Sun, 15 Sept 17,  The green-capped concrete towers of Zion’s barren lakefront will be gone soon, but the nuclear waste that has crippled the city economically will remain. Zion Solutions, which is part of Utah-based EnergySolutions, will finish deconstructing and demolishing the former Zion nuclear power plant and its 20-story containment silos in 2018, according to EnergySolutions Vice-President Mark Walker, but 61 casks full of spent nuclear rods will remain on-site indefinitely.

The silos — which were the tallest structures in Lake County when they opened in the early 1970s and are second in overall structural height to the 330-foot Sky Trek Tower at Six Flags Great America — are scheduled to come down during the first quarter of next year.

“The project will be physically completed with (deactivation and decommissioning) in 2018,” Walker said. However, although the federal government designated decades ago that the waste would go to Yucca Mountain in Nevada for permanent storage, the facility has not yet opened, and Zion is stuck with the waste until a solution can be found.

“We’re very concerned with the fact that these casks are visible, and they’re vulnerable,” Kraft said.

Kraft said storing the casks near Lake Michigan is not appropriate in a post-9/11 world.

“They’re lined up like bowling pins,” he said. City officials are also unhappy with the storage of the casks, attributing Zion’s economic troubles to the closed facility.

When ComEd was running the plant, Zion received about $19.5 million annually in taxes from it, according to Zion Finance Director David Knabel. However, with the plant shut down, the 267 lakefront acres owned by the Exelon, which now owns ComEd, generate only $500,000 annually in taxes……

Under a law passed in 1982, energy companies have sued the Department of Energy for billions of dollars because of its failure to provide long-term nuclear storage. However, Knabel said, since Zion’s agreement was not with the federal government, it cannot sue under that law.

Last year, then-U.S. Rep. Bob Dold introduced legislation that would have granted Zion $15 million per year for seven years to compensate for the economic damage caused by storing the nuclear waste. Dold lost re-election last year to Brad Schneider, who is exploring similar legislation with U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth that would include a grant to the city and tax incentives for businesses to come there, according to a Schneider spokesman.

Schneider plans to hold a general meeting for constituents Saturday at the Zion City Hall on Sheridan Road at 11 a.m.

City officials are also unhappy with the storage of the casks, attributing Zion’s economic troubles to the closed facility……..

When ComEd was running the plant, Zion received about $19.5 million annually in taxes from it, according to Zion Finance Director David Knabel. However, with the plant shut down, the 267 lakefront acres owned by the Exelon, which now owns ComEd, generate only $500,000 annually in taxes…….

September 16, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The case for closing Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

US nuclear plants deteriorating as regulators talk doubling life expectancy

Russia Today 30th March 2016, Old but useful: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is again trying to make the
case for closing the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant just north of New
York City. This comes following an inspection that revealed hundreds of
faulty or missing bolts meant to hold reactor plates together. For more on
aging nuclear infrastructure, RT America’s Simone Del Rosario is joined
by investigative journalist Karl Grossman, who has covered nuclear energy
for decades.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

UK: spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind brings Hinkley nuclear plan into question

Nuclear plans ‘should be rethought after fall in offshore windfarm costs’
Lib Dems and green groups say reduced price of state support should sound death knell for plants such as Hinkley Point C,
Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 12 Sept 17 The government is under pressure to reconsider its commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations after the cost of offshore wind power reached a record low.

Experts said green energy had reached a tipping point in the UK after two windfarms secured a state-backed price for their output that was nearly half the level awarded last year to Britain’s first new nuclear power site in a generation, Hinkley Point C.

Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the breakthrough should prompt a rethink of the government’s energy plans, which have pencilled in atomic plants at Wylffa in Wales, Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex.

“The spectacular drop in the cost of offshore wind is extremely encouraging and shows the need for a radical reappraisal by government of the UK’s energy provision,” he said.

The government spending watchdog this year described Hinkley as a “risky and expensive” project that generations of British consumers will have to pay for through electricity bills. Experts hailed Monday’s auction results, for a group of windfarms that will open early in the next decade, as evidence that large scale renewable projects had come of age in Britain.

“The epoch of renewables as the most cost competitive technology has arrived,” said energy analysts Cornwall Insight, while the Economist Intelligence Unit said they showed “the trajectory of cheaper renewable technologies is irreversible”.

Ministers said the multimillion-pound pot of subsidies would generate clean power for 3.6m homes. Two windfarms – the Hornsea 2 project off the Yorkshire coast and the Moray offshore windfarm in Scotland – secured a guaranteed price for their power of £57.50 per megawatt hour (MWh) from the government. This is far below the £92.50 awarded to Hinkley last year.

Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said: “The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced today.”………

September 16, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

About The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 12th Sept 2017, The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 (WNISR2017) provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear power plant data, including information
on operation, production and construction. The WNISR assesses the status of
new-build programs in current nuclear countries as well as in potential
newcomer countries.

The WNISR2017 edition includes a new assessment from an
equity analyst view of the financial crisis of the nuclear sector and some
of its biggest industrial players. The Fukushima Status Report provides not
only an update on onsite and offsite issues six years after the beginning
of the catastrophe, but also the latest official and new independent cost
evaluations of the disaster.

Focus chapters provide in-depth analysis of
France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The
Nuclear Power vs Renewable Energy chapter provides global comparative data
on investment, capacity, and generation from nuclear, wind and solar
energy. Finally, Annex 1 presents a country-by-country overview of all
other countries operating nuclear power plants.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment