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Intensifying the Fukushima denial campaign

Not contented with its media strong censorship and its 2013 passed State Secrecy Law discouraging any possible whistleblower inside Japan , Japan’s government is now directing its Fukushima denial propaganda toward the international community, in preparation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics venue and its numerous visitors to come, and also to encourage its Asian neighbor countries to lift their import restrictions, their radiation contamination tests, for them to buy anew Eastern Japan’s agricultural and marine products.

Its Ministry of Environment has added a new segment to its website on radioactive decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture to promote the ‘understanding of progress’ in Fukushima’s environmental recovery among people residing outside Japan.

The irony is that they have the balls to call one of their programs, the Fukushima Diairies. I think many of you remember that the Fukushima Diary Blog was one of the very few blogs informing us about the Fukushima catastrophe from 2011 to 2016. Especially during the first year, 2011, the blogger, Iori Mochizuki, was the only one bringing out Fukushima news from inside Japan. http://fukushima-diary.com/

 

are japanese more resistant to radiation.jpg

 

New Website Segment on Fukushima Environmental Remediation Updates Content, Offers Overseas TV Shows Produced with MOEJ Cooperation
TOKYO, Dec. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Ministry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) has added a new segment to its website on radioactive decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture, introducing broadcast programs and events produced with the MOEJ’s cooperation. The main purpose of the new website segment is to promote the understanding of progress in Fukushima’s environmental recovery among people residing outside Japan.
The MOEJ cooperates with the production of select broadcast programs aired overseas to help widely communicate correct information on Fukushima and eliminate misconceptions about the area. The ministry has added this new website segment to allow users to view such programs, free of charge.
Specifically, the MOEJ has so far cooperated with the production of certain programs aired mostly in Southeast Asia on Discovery Channel and CNBC Asia Channel Japan.
To access the new website segment, follow one of the two links below:
– English site
– YouTube (Discovery: English)
(Outlines of the programs)
– Discovery Channel
— Program title: Fukushima Diaries
— Program outline: The 30-minute show was produced by Discovery Channel, the world’s leading documentary channel, with the MOE’s cooperation, and was broadcast throughout the Southeast Asian region and Japan, together containing some 27 million viewing households.
In the show, three bloggers from overseas each visit a different destination within Fukushima Prefecture following their respective interests. They report discoveries and moving experiences they have had respectively in Fukushima. Their themes are varied, including (1) comprehensive conditions of environmental remediation, (2) tourism and food, and (3) technological innovation and development.
– CNBC ASIA (Channel Japan)
— Program outline: The documentary series of four 15-minute episodes on diverse topics related to Fukushima’s environmental recovery was developed and produced by TV-U Fukushima (TUF). The series features key persons who have led Fukushima’s environmental recovery and reconstruction moves in their own respective fields. Watching the stories of their professional and personal commitments, viewers will see great progress in those moves, as well as appreciating the prefecture’s appeals as seen from the respective key characters’ expert viewpoints.
— 3rd & 4th episodes and Highlights version will be broadcast sequentially.
Contents
– Episode 1: How Did Foreign Students Feel About Fukushima?
The storyteller featured in this episode is William McMichael, Assistant Professor, Fukushima University International Center. McMichael covered up close the 21 students from abroad attending the 12-day Fukushima Ambassadors Program held in August 2017 to tell the story of changes in their thoughts and feelings during their stay.
– Episode 2: Meeting Challenge of Revitalizing Fukushima by Younger Generation
Riken Komatsu and Hiroshi Motoki, both leading local efforts to revitalize Iwaki City, Fukushima, are the two storytellers of this episode. Komatsu talks about UDOC, an alternative multipurpose space he opened in May 2011, and the Sea Lab where fish caught close to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are tested for radioactive concentration. Meanwhile, Motoki discusses the Tomato Theme Park — Wonder Farm, a unique facility he opened in 2016 by combining agriculture and tourism. As they talk, both express positive thoughts about Fukushima’s future.
– Episode 3: Creating a New Fukushima by Robotics
Characters featured in this episode are Koki Watanabe and Yuna Yasura, both engaged in robotics. Watanabe is developing underwater robots capable of moving freely deep in the ocean and exploring narrow passages, while Yasura wearable robots (muscle tools) to assist people’s motion function, both at their local companies in the Hamadori district, Fukushima. The episode focuses on their dedicated professional efforts, as well as their dreams and shared belief that for Fukushima’s true reconstruction, vibrant local industries are necessary to support the local economy.
– Episode 4: Record of Research as a Physicist in Fukushima for 6 Years – Ryugo
Hayano –
Ryugo Hayano, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, has been involved energetically with Fukushima as a “nuclear physicist who acts” since the calamitous disaster. This episode presents a wide range of Dr. Hayano’s achievements related to recovery from the disaster, including the tweets he began as an expert immediately after the disaster hit, his tests of the Fukushima people’s exposure to radiation and related research, his development of a whole-body radiation counter for children, his joint research with local high-school students and his vigorous communication of related information for audiences both within Japan and without.
SOURCE Ministry of the Environment, Japan

 

 

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December 12, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

China builds refugee camps – prepared for influx should Kim Jong-un’s regime collapse

China building network of refugee camps along border with North Korea https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/12/china-refugee-camps-border-north-korea Document suggests at least five camps are being set up as Beijing prepares for possible influx of refugees should Kim Jong-un’s regime collapse, Guardian, Tom Phillips , 12 Dec 17, China is quietly building a network of refugee camps along its 880-mile (1,416km) border with North Korea as it braces for the human exodus that a conflict or the potentially messy collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime might unleash.

The existence of plans for the camps, first reported in English by the Financial Times last week, emerged in an apparently leaked internal document from a state-run telecoms giant that appears to have been tasked with providing them with internet services.

The China Mobile document, which has circulated on social media and overseas Chinese websites since last week, reveals plans for at least five refugee camps in Jilin province.

The document, which the Guardian could not independently verify, says: “Due to cross-border tensions … the [Communist] party committee and government of Changbai county has proposed setting up five refugee camps in the county.”

It gives the names and locations of three such facilities: Changbai riverside, Changbai Shibalidaogou and Changbai Jiguanlizi. The New York Times reportedthat centres for refugees were also planned in the cities of Tumen and Hunchun.

A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry declined to confirm the camps’ existence at a regular press briefing on Monday but did not deny they were being built. “I haven’t seen such reports,” Lu Kang told reporters.

The question was purged from the foreign ministry’s official transcript of the briefing, as regularly happens with topics raised by foreign journalists that are considered politically sensitive or inconvenient.

North Korea fortifies part of border where defector escaped

The leaked document contains the name and telephone number of a China Mobile employee who drafted it but calls to that number went unanswered on Tuesday. The construction of the camps appears to reflect growing concern in Beijing about the potential for political instability – or even regime collapse – in North Korea.

Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea specialist from Renmin University in Beijing, said while he could not confirm whether the document was genuine, it would be irresponsible for China not to make such preparations.

“Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula … it is on the brink of war. As a major power and a neighbouring country, China should make plans for all eventualities.”

Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese documentary maker who runs a network of citizen journalists inside North Korea and on the Chinese side of the border, said a contact in Changbai county had recently told him that while they had not seen signs of camps being built there, they “had heard there are plans to build a facility”.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have soared this year as the US president, Donald Trump, has stepped up pressure on his North Korean counterpart and Pyongyang has accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Trump has baited Kim with the nickname “Little Rocket Man” and threats of military action, while Kim has responded with insults of his own, and a succession of nuclear and missile tests that have brought two new rounds of UN sanctions.

Following its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test on 29 November, Pyongyang claimed the ability to strike anywhere on US soil.

‘Quite backwards’: Chinese tourists gawk at impoverished North Koreans

In an interview with the Guardian in Beijing on Monday, Dennis Rodman, the NBA star turned would-be peacemaker, played down fearsof a catastrophic nuclear conflict and denied Kim, whom he calls his friend, was “going to try and bomb or kill anyone in America”.

“We ain’t gonna die, man, come on, no … It’s not like that,” Rodman insisted, urging Trump to use him as an intermediary to engage with Kim. He described the verbal war between Trump and Kim as “a chess game” that should not be taken too seriously.

Beijing seems less certain. Last week one official newspaper in Jilin, the Chinese province closest to North Korea’s nuclear test site, hinted at that nervousness with a full-page article offering tips on how to react to a nuclear incident.

Iodine tablets, masks and soap were useful allies in the event of such a catastrophe, readers of the Jilin Daily learned.

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen and Justin McCurry in Tokyo.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

How easily one Trump tantrum could set off a nuclear war with North Korea:

Here’s how one crazed Trump tweet could set off a nuclear war with North Korea: Arms control expert  HTTPS://WWW.RAWSTORY.COM/2017/12/HERES-HOW-ONE-CRAZED-TRUMP-TWEET-COULD-SET-OFF-A-NUCLEAR-WAR-WITH-NORTH-KOREA-ARMS-CONTROL-EXPERT/   BRAD REED 11 DEC 2017 

Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert and a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, has written a terrifying war game scenario for the Washington Post in which he shows how one particularly ill-timed and ill-tempered tweet from President Donald Trump could set off a chain of events that would end in a nuclear war with North Korea.

In Lewis’ scenario, the trouble begins when North Korea shoots down a commercial South Korean aircraft that had strayed into North Korean airspace that it mistook for an American bomber.

In response to this, South Korea orders a limited missile strike against North Korea’s air defense battery to send a message aimed at deterring further attacks from Pyongyang.

Things quickly go haywire, however, Trump sends out an all-caps tweet in the wake of Seoul’s retaliatory strike that reads, “LITTLE ROCKET MAN WON’T BE AROUND MUCH LONGER!”

This leads the North to believe that Trump is planning an imminent invasion — and at that point, Pyongyang unloads its full nuclear arsenal at targets in Seoul, Tokyo, San Diego, Manhattan and, yes, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

It would be years before the U.S. government could provide an accounting of the toll,” writes Lewis in his conclusion. “The Pentagon would make almost no effort to tally the enormous numbers of civilians killed in North Korea by the massive conventional air campaign. But in the end, officials concluded, nearly 2 million Americans, South Koreans and Japanese had died in the completely avoidable nuclear war of 2019.”

Read the entire piece at this link.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – a very real issue for the Marshall Islands

Nobel award for ICAN resonates in nuclear-tested Marshall Islands https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/12/0e5663e5f728-focus-nobel-award-for-ican-resonates-in-nuclear-tested-marshall-islands.html  Majuro, By Ronron Calunsod, KYODO NEWS –  The awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is resonating in the Marshall Islands, boosting hopes there will no longer be a repeat of its exposure to radiation as happened when the United States conducted almost 70 nuclear tests here from 1946 up to 1958.

“I am very glad for ICAN, that they received the recognition. I think a nuclear ban treaty is a realistic long-term goal,” President Hilda Heine told Kyodo News in the Pacific island-nation’s capital Majuro, in an interview ahead of last Sunday’s award ceremony that took place in Oslo, Norway, some 12,400 kilometers away.

“It gives countries like the Marshall Islands hope that perhaps, in the future, we would be able to eliminate nuclear (weapons) in the world,” she said.

ICAN, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations from around 100 countries that was founded in 2007 in Australia, was recognized by the Nobel Committee for its efforts that led to the adoption at the United Nations earlier this year of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The treaty, however, still runs short of the required ratification by 50 countries for entry into force, nor does it have the backing of major powers and nuclear weapon states.

Citing data from the Federation of American Scientists, ICAN said close to 15,000 nuclear weapons are possessed by the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

“It’s disappointing that those nuclear-armed countries are not supportive of the treaty,” lamented Heine whose country, located near the equator in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean, was chosen by the United States as a nuclear test site after World War II, at which time it was under U.S. administrative control.

Among the 67 tests carried out here, the most powerful and most destructive was the Castle Bravo Test on March 1, 1954 on Bikini Atoll, which exposed some islands and their residents, as well as the crew of a Japanese fishing boat, to nuclear radiation.

“Nuclear should be a concern for every country. We had our experience with the nuclear testing, and we know what it can cause, and the effects on the lives of people and property,” Foreign Minister John Silk said in a separate interview.

Silk said that in the current situation where nuclear powers remain outside the treaty, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN goes “a long way towards promoting public opinion” that may eventually force them “to voluntarily reduce their nuclear weapons, and even come to the table to sign up on the agreement at some point in time.”

“That’s a very hopeful thinking, but I think that’s what everybody wants to see at the end — a world without nuclear weapons,” he said.

Having been exposed to radioactive fallout on her home island of Rongelap, northwest of Majuro, 69-year-old Nerje Joseph could not agree more.

“They took us away (from there) and destroyed our place, our home,” Joseph said of the Americans, in an interview with Kyodo News at a home provided for her close to the western tip of Majuro Atoll.

Amid the ballistic missile and nuclear threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un these days, Joseph, who survived thyroid cancer and had two miscarriages caused by radiation exposure, said in jest, “If I were a man, and I had a weapon, I’d shoot him in the forehead!”

On achieving a nuclear-free world, the mother of 10 children and grandmother of a dozen said, “I don’t really know when it’s going to happen, but I have faith that it will happen soon…I don’t want this kind of devastation to continue.”

Fellow fallout victim Lemeyo Abon, 77, also from Rongelap, said more than the compensation she receives from the United States, “what’s important is a place to call home, a place to live freely.”

“The identity of being a Marshallese is gone when you’re moved to another place,” Abon said. “In a way, it took away our identity, and that’s what bothers me most.”

Heine said the Marshall Islands, which created this year a National Nuclear Commission to develop a strategy and plan of action for pursuing justice, will continue to assert to the U.S. government the concerns of the Marshallese people, and also work with the United Nations.

“We think that the settlement is not enough. We think that the U.S. government still owes the Marshallese compensation for their lost land — the fact that people are not back to their land, they are still nomads in their own country, and also the fact that we have high rate of cancer,” Heine said.

“I think they need to compensate the people and the government for these impacts on the people and the country.”

According to the U.S. Embassy in Majuro, the United States has “expressed regret about the Bravo accident when 253 Marshallese were exposed to high doses of radiation.”

It has extended more than $604 million in compensation to affected communities, while a $6.3 million worth of services is annually provided under the Department of Energy Special Medical Care Program and the Environmental Monitoring Program.

Radiation victim Abon, who worries about the future of her seven children and more than 10 grandchildren, remains pessimistic about the prospects for a nuclear-free world “as long as there are selfish people in the world — those that know they have the power, they are smart, and they want to strive to be No. 1.”

But the leader of the tiny nation of around 40,000 people spread across 29 low-lying coral atolls and five islands, with another 20,000 in the United States, sees a glimmer of hope with ICAN’s influential efforts.

“The advocacy and the work that ICAN is doing should continue because I think in the long run, people may change their opinions. If they push the countries to change their opinions, perhaps, there is a future, there is a hope that nuclear-armed countries can actually agree to stop,” Heine said.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France’s nuclear corporation EDF to make a massive push into solar energy

FT 11th Dec 2017, On the eve of the climate summit in Paris, French nuclear utility EDF has announced a massive push into solar power that will cost up to 25bn euros.

The company said on Monday that between 2020 and 2035 it would build solar
plants in France totalling 30GW of installed capacity, through its
subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles. The targeted capacity is four times
greater than France’s current solar energy capacity, EDF said.

Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF chairman and chief executive said: “The Solar Power Plan is of an
unparalleled scale and marks a real turning point in EDF’s development of
solar power capacity. It is a concrete illustration of the goals outlined
in the Group’s CAP 2030 strategy, which was initiated in 2015 and aim to
double the Group’s installed renewable energy capacity by 2030. EDF now has
a new roadmap in renewables for the next fifteen years”.
https://www.ft.com/content/7b6d0b53-e6ce-35aa-ac72-ecad5f73b450

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate change effects intensify – and California burns

California burns as the effects of climate change intensify, Independent Australia  Norm Sanders As the California fires continue to rage and over 200,000 homes are evacuated, Trump, Abbott and others can deny it all they want but climate change is to blame, writes Dr Norm Sanders. “………At this writing, more than 210,000 acres had burned and 200,000 people had had to flee their homes. The flames were approaching the eastern edge of Santa Barbara at Montecito where I had lived with my family. Residents have been ordered to evacuate. Some are staying put. …..

Is climate change to blame? California Governor Jerry Brown thinks so. Governor Brown has told the State’s residents to get used to destructive wildfires in winter, declaring them “the new normal”. He said it will take “heroic” efforts in the U.S. and abroad to stem climate change and urged Congress to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes. He told network television that Donald Trump did not appreciate that actions such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate deal might contribute to more such devastating events.

The California fire season was once largely confined to the hotter months when rain is scarce, but firefighters are coming to realise that climate change is now a year-round threat. It is now official: 2017 is the deadliest and most destructive year on record for wildfires in California. Dry conditions, high temperatures, roaring winds and bone-dry trees and brush are all factors responsible for the devastation. A key factor is wind.

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain told KPCC radio:……..

Lack of rain is another factor. Between 2012 and 2016, California was riddled with extreme drought. Droughts in and of themselves aren’t uncommon, but the most recent one was made worse by human-caused climate change, according to a paper written by A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University. (There has been no rain in Los Angeles at all so far in this “wet” season.)

The current lack of rain can be blamed on a ridge of high pressure sitting off the west coast of North America, blocking storms from passing over the State.

USDA agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey said:

“Hopefully this’ll [SIC] be a temporary feature, maybe it’ll stick around for just a couple of weeks, but man, I sure hope it’s not going to stick around for the entire winter.”

Abundant research supports the theory that warming in the western tropical Pacific is associated with the arrival of blocking ridges This area seems to be warming faster than the other parts of the ocean.

The melting of Arctic sea-ice could also contribute to the formation of ridges off the West Coast according to another recent study. Caused by global warming, the Arctic could be ice-free during the summer months resulting in large shifts in climatic patterns.

The other important factor in the fires is the fuel load. There was enough rain last winter to promote grass growth and there was also an abundance of dead brush, which had died during the drought. The grass has become tinder dry since then, not only from a lack of rain but also because of the heat during the record-setting summer and fall.

As temperatures rise, so does the speed at which moisture evaporates from the soil. Higher temperatures combined with a lack of rain and dry hills covered in brush create perfect conditions for rapidly spreading fires……..https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/california-burns-as-the-effects-of-climate-change-intensify,11022

December 12, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Top S. Korean diplomat calls for building effective communication lines with N. Korea

2017/12/11 SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) — South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Monday raised the need to establish effective communication lines with North Korea to convey the international community’s voice for the country’s denuclearization.

“Opening effective communication channels should be pursued in order to deliver the international community’s voice to the isolated and secluded North Korea,” Kang said in an international forum on a “Nuclear-Free Korean Peninsula” hosted by the state-run Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS).

“It’s (also) crucial to arrange reunions of separated families between South and North Korea and restore a hotline between the military authorities,” she also said, stressing the Moon Jae-in government’s policy vision to increase engagement with the North.

“The South Korean government plans to start with contact (with North Korea) to achieve those specific tasks in the process of seeking a more meaningful inter-Korean relationship,” said the foreign minister.

North Korea’s participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea would be “a favorable opportunity” in that vein, she also noted……..http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2017/12/11/0401000000AEN20171211005952315.html

December 12, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Why are aftershocks from North Korea’s nuclear tests still happening?


Why North Korea’s nuclear test is still producing aftershocks, BBC, 11 December 2017  “…….

Why are aftershocks still happening?

According to the USGS, last weekend’s tremors were “relaxation events”. They measured a magnitude of 2.9 and 2.4.

“When you have a large nuclear test, it moves the earth’s crust around the area, and it takes a while for it to fully subside. We’ve had a few of them since the sixth nuclear test,” an official told Reuters.

The “movement of the earth’s crust” is akin to the very definition of an earthquake and scientists say it is only to be expected in the weeks and months after an explosion of that magnitude.

“These aftershocks for a 6.3 magnitude nuclear test are not very surprising,” Dr Jascha Polet, seismologist and professor of geophysics at California State Polytechnic University, told the BBC.

After any tremor of that size, aftershocks with declining magnitude are common, as the rock moves around and releases stress.

The area around the quake site “experiences deformation, and this creates areas of increased and decreased stress, which affects the distribution of aftershocks,” Ms Polet said.

“The fact that the source of the earthquake is an explosion doesn’t change how we expect the energy to redistribute,” geophysicist and disaster researcher Mika McKinnon, told the BBC.

But research on explosions of a similar magnitude as the North Korea nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site in the US where over decades nuclear tests were carried out, has found that the aftershocks of these events were fewer in number and lower in magnitude.

So each location is unique.

Can tremors destroy the test site?

One of the speculations after the September test was that it would damage the tunnel system North Korea has dug into the mountains at its test site.

“The more energy you put into an area, the more unstable it’s going to get,” Mika McKinnon explained.

“The more tests are happening, the more energy there is, the more redistribution of stress and the more rocks will be breaking.”

There have been some indications of individual tunnel collapses, she explained. “Seismic signals that look more like rock fall than anything else. That will happen more and more.”

But, she adds, there is no way of really knowing whether the entire tunnel system will collapse as this is an engineering problem far more than a scientific one.

It is unclear whether this process already has rendered the current test site unusable but North Korea has hinted its next nuclear test could be above ground…….http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42305161

December 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, North Korea | Leave a comment

Why New Jersey really doesn’t need a nuclear industry bailout

New Jersey’s considering a nuclear bailout. Here’s why we don’t need it. http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2017/12/12/new-jerseys-considering-a-nuclear-bailout-heres-why-we-dont-need-it/

By Mary Barber | BioDecember 12, 2017 The New Jersey State legislature is entertaining a lame duck proposal by the Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), the parent company of New Jersey’s largest utility, Public Service Gas & Electric (PSE&G) to subsidize two PSEG nuclear plants and to have it paid for by New Jersey electricity customers – in other words, a customer-funded bailout.

We don’t need a nuclear bailout, especially since the utility acknowledges that its plants are profitable. To approve subsidies for PSEG’s power plants during this time would be misguided because the company hasn’t provided any proof that their facilities are in need of financial assistance to serve customers or what, if anything, customers would get out of the deal.

Where’s the proof?

There is no proof that PSEG needs subsidies. PSEG has refused to release any information or analysis that supports the idea that their nuclear plants are struggling financially. Has PSEG opened its books so independent market analysis can be conducted, or considered how its request will affect people’s electricity bills? Has the legislature considered how this will impact clean energy investments, or jobs and economic development? The answer is no.

Who pays for what?

Bailing out these plants would surely pad PSEG’s bottom line, but what about the customers who would foot the bill?

PSEG has 2.2 million electricity customers throughout New Jersey. If this bill is passed, customers could pay $350 to $400-million dollars a year within the next 10 years. New Jersey residents and businesses will be ill-served if the focus of this debate remains solely on PSEG’s corporate strategy.

To protect customers’ interest in the future, we must consider this bailout in context, not isolation. If the bailout PSEG is requesting is granted solely to support uneconomic nuclear plants, how will that impact state investment in other clean energy alternatives like energy efficiency and solar?

How is PSEG double-dipping?

The New Jersey legislature isn’t the only venue in which PSEG is seeking a bailout. PSEG was one of a few electric utilities that submitted comments in support of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed rulecurrently before the Federal Electricity Regulatory Commission (FERC) to prop up aging coal and nuclear plants, rather than allowing market competition.

Secretary Perry’s proposal has attracted nearly universal opposition – from gas, solar and wind companies, Democrat and Republican members of Congress, conservative organizations, environmental and consumer advocacy groups, free-market advocates, and others in the business community. It’s not an exaggeration to say the only groups that support the Department of Energy’s proposal are those in the coal or nuclear industry who stand to benefit or those lobbying on their behalf. In fact, several utility companies that own fossil fuel assets came out against the DOE proposal because they believe in competitive markets.

Where do we go from here?

Let’s slow down. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the premature retirement of these plants, including the loss of low carbon-emitting energy sources before the transition to clean energy is complete and the loss of jobs and contributions to the local tax base. But the issues are complex and can’t be considered in a rushed lame duck legislative session.

Before the debate continues, and certainly before there’s any decision on whether or not to provide subsidies, PSEG must provide proof that its plants are in financial distress, and an independent analysis using all available market data must be conducted.

Moving in favor of PSEG’s proposed bailout now would put the state’s economy and energy future on the wrong course. These issues are too complex and too important to be rammed through.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Donor nations to pay up for trying to fix Russia’s devilish nuclear waste problem at Andreeva Bay

Donors pledge more funding to remove broken nuclear fuel at Andreyeva Bay http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-12-donors-pledge-more-funding-to-remove-broken-nuclear-fuel-at-andreyeva-bay

Donor nations backing the cleanup of Andreyeva Bay, one of Russia’s most deviling Cold War legacy projects, have agreed to put more funding toward removing damaged and broken nuclear fuel rods lurking at the site, which is located just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border. Bellona,  by Charles Digges

Donor nations backing the cleanup of Andreyeva Bay, one of Russia’s most deviling Cold War legacy projects, have agreed to put more funding toward removing damaged and broken nuclear fuel rods lurking at the site, which is located just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border.

The removal of some 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies left by Russia’s submarine fleet began earlier this year, constituting a major international victory toward securing radioactive hazards on the Kola Peninsula near Murmansk.

This is no small task. Spent fuel began building up at Andreyeva Bay, a Soviet nuclear submarine maintenance base, in the 1960s. Over the next two decades, many facilities at the site sprang radioactive leaks, and still more of the fuel was left out in the open air, where it degraded and threatened to contaminate portions of the Barents Sea.

Bellona and the Norwegian government took up the charge to clean up Andreyeva Bay in 1995. On June 27 of this year, their efforts finally met with success when a ship called the Rossita sailed away with the first of some 50 loads of spent nuclear fuel bound for storage and reprocessing at the Mayak Chemical Combine.

But complex problems of broken fuel elements, for which there are few blueprints in the annals of radioactive waste management, still remain

In 1982, a crack developed Andreyeva Bay’s now-notorious Building 5, a storage pool for thousands of spent fuel assemblies. The water was drained and the fuel painstakingly moved, but that created other problems. Some of those fuel elements broke, and remain at the bottom of storage pools within.

The fuel elements that were successfully removed were transferred to another facility at the site known as building 3A, where they were stuffed into chambers and cemented into place. This arrangement was only intended as temporary, but it lasted for 30 years. During that time, the cladding on much of the fuel has rusted, and the cement job makes it virtually impossible to remove them without risking further contamination.

A late November meeting of nations donating to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development’s nuclear window project was aimed at solving those problems.

The funders, which are comprised of Sweden, Finland, Belgium, France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and the United Kingdom, have agreed to put €100,000 to prepare Building 3A for fuel removal–and another €675,000 for studies on removing broken elements from Building 5.

This funding is an addition to the $70 million these nations have already contributed toward Andreyeva Bay cleanup. Norway leads in funds contributed, however. The nation has giving $230 million toward the efforts over the last 20 years.

As unloading work continues at Andreyeva Bay’s other facilities, it is not expected that removal of the broken elements will begin before 2023.

Two loads of spent fuel assemblies have so far been removed from Andreyeva Bay since April. The fuel is first taken out by water and delivered to the Atomflot nuclear icebreaker port in Murmansk. Once there, it is loaded in railcars, and taken the remaining 3000 kilometers to the Mayak Chemical Combine.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan picks ‘North’ as 2017 symbol amid growing missile threat from North Korea

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Kiyomizu temple master Seihan Mori writing the kanji character for “north” at the temple in Kyoto on Dec 12, 2017. PHOTO: AFP/JIJI PRESS

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Tuesday (Dec 12) chose the Chinese character for “North” as its traditional “defining symbol of 2017” following a series of North Korean missile launches.

Japanese TV stations went live to broadcast the annual announcement, in which Seihan Mori, master of the ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, wrote the character on a huge white panel using an ink-soaked calligraphy brush.

“It was the year in which people felt threatened and anxious by North Korea following repeated ballistic missile launches and a nuclear test,” said the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, the event organiser.

At the end of every year, the general public votes for a Chinese character they think embodies the key news and events of the previous 12 months.

A total of 7,104 people out of 153,594 voted for the character “North.”

A 38-year-old woman from northern Fukushima prefecture who voted for the character said she was “constantly scared of North Korean missiles”.

“Our generation never experienced war … What if a missile actually falls on Japan? It is horrifying,” she said, according to the organiser.

Last year, Japan picked “gold” to celebrate the success of Japanese athletes winning gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

Chinese characters, or Kanji, are widely used in Japanese, along with other types of alphabets.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japan-picks-north-as-2017-symbol-amid-growing-missile-threat-from-north-korea

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan says its CO2 emissions are back to pre Fukushima levels with only 4 nuclear reactors running!

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TOKYO | Tuesday, Dec 12 2017 IST

Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 0.2 percent to a six-year low in the financial year that ended last March, government figures showed on Tuesday, amid growing use of renewable energy and the gradual return of nuclear power.

Emissions in the 2016 financial year fell for a third straight year to 1.322 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent from 1.325 billion tonnes the year before, hitting their lowest since fiscal 2010, according to preliminary data from the environment ministry.

The world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter, Japan has set a goal to cut its emissions by 26 percent from 2013 levels to 1.042 billion tonnes by 2030.

Screenshot from 2017-12-12 08:12:52

The nation’s emissions rose after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima that led to the closure of atomic power plants and an increased reliance on fossil fuel-fired energy.

Four of 42 commercial reactors are now generating power, although the pace of restarts has been slower than many expected as all units need to be relicensed.REUTERS CJ 0901

https://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/World/20171212/3231792.html

Source for graphs (Above) Oct 2016 current status of renewable energy report of Japan ( The Oct 2017 report not available for some odd reason. Has Japan overtaken Germany yet? ) ; http://www.isep.or.jp/en/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/JSR2016Summary-EN.pdf

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

India out to protect interests of nuclear vendors while abstaining from nuclear treaty

kumar sundaram
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After protecting interests of nuclear vendors, Modi Govt which abstained in the UN General Assembly that adopted the treaty against nuclear weapons, now boycotts Nobel peace prize ceremony

This Sunday, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. On behalf of the Campaign, Hiroshima-survivor, Setsuko Thurlow will receive the coveted prize, for ICAN’s relentless campaign over the past few years which made the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons a reality this September, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted it.

India, along with other nuclear weapons states, has chosen to boycott the Nobel Prize ceremony. While the western nuclear weapons powers have openly stayed away, ambassadors of India and Pakistan ‘will be travelling’ at the time of the ceremony, according to the Nobel Institute.

The nuclear ban treaty will commit its signatories “never under any circumstances to ‘develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

‘There are two things that make this new treaty distinct. Firstly, the initiative seeks to outlaw all atomic weapons, thus, going beyond the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which created categories of nuclear ‘haves’ and have-nots. Once ratified and signed by a majority in the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the proposed Nuclear Ban Treaty will make all nuclear weapons illegal.

Although a legal ban is not the same as physical dismantling of existing stockpiles, it will be an important step in stigmatising and discouraging atomic weapons. The treaty aims at filling the ‘legal gap’ in the international system concerning nuclear weapons. And secondly, this new initiative does not depend on bringing the Nuclear Weapons States to the table and convincing them to disarm. Institutionalising a legal prohibition requires a majority within the UNGA, and, encouragingly, an overwhelming majority of countries in the world have been supporting nuclear disarmament at various forums, including the NPT Review Conferences.

India’s conspicuous absence is a complete departure from the country’s principled diplomacy, since its independence, of championing nuclear disarmament globally. India provided moral and diplomatic leadership to the cause at the dawn, even at the height of the nuclear arms race during the Cold War. In 1988, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, presented a disarmament action plan to the UN General Assembly – the most comprehensive, time-bound and concrete proposal for nuclear abolition since the advent of the nuclear age. The proponents of skewed ‘realism’ who seek to pursue diplomacy through calculation of power, fail to acknowledge that India’s diplomatic strength in the world, much larger than what a country like India could command after coming out of the yoke of colonialism, stemmed from its moral authority in the world.

It was in recognition of this diplomatic stature, built meticulously through decades of diplomacy, that the Vajpayee government adopted a peaceful nuclear posture, consisting of no-first-use declaration and the doctrine of minimum credible deterrence. The Indian government at the time at least maintained that it would promote a comprehensive and universal nuclear disarmament along with other nuclear weapons states, even as it possessed its own weapons.

Under the Manmohan Singh regime, the government promoted several disarmament initiatives and proposals, including informally supporting a new version of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for Disarmament. This new proposal advocated a pro-active stance on nuclear abolition, whereby India would adopt a posture to claim that it would be the only country in possession of nuclear arms to use its diplomatic weight to urge other nuclear powers to disarm in a credible and legally-binding manner and promote security in a world free of nuclear weapons.

The U-turn under Modi

It was this posture that earned the Indian nuclear diplomacy, credibility, and enabled the government to use its image of a ‘responsible nuclear state’ to convince the member-states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to not only end the embargo against India, but also not club it with any of the nuclear pariah states like Pakistan and North Korea.

However, after coming to power, Narendra Modi has severely weakened India’s nuclear posture which so far, had enjoyed consensus across the political spectrum. His party’s election manifesto raised concerns internationally, as it indicated the ruling party’s intent to revise the doctrines of ‘no-first-use’ and ‘minimum credible deterrence’.

Frivolous statements made by senior BJP leaders, particularly the utterings of the former Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar and the former party president, Nitin Gadkari, have trivialised the nuclear weapons discourse at a time when the world is more concerned about them than ever before.

This year, the famous Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the closest-ever to midnight. More importantly, for the first time since 1998 the doomsday clock statement mentioned the potential danger of the irresponsible and unprofessional handling of India-Pakistan tensions escalating into a full-blown nuclear war. If anything, India is now increasingly coming across as a nuclear adventurist on the global stage, even as the task of exercising nuclear restraint and taking gradual but concrete steps for weapons abolition has assumed greater importance than ever.

When the Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN was announced in September this year, the Modi government found itself in a corner as it had to grudgingly praise the international Coalition for its disarmament advocacy. India, under Modi, stayed away from the negotiations of the Nuclear Ban Treaty, even as it had participated in the ICAN-facilitated Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit in February 2014 in Mexico under the previous Government.

This author had participated as an ICAN South Asia campaigner and was witness to India’s participation in the Conference, setting it apart from other nuclear weapons powers which were perceived as defending these inherently immoral weapons. From Rajiv Gandhi labelling nuclear arms as the “ultimate expression of the philosophy of terrorism” at the UN, India has trudged a long and dangerous path where it has begun to shed even the minimum moral consistency of being regarded as a reluctant nuclear state that would still lead from the front, towards global disarmament.

Interests of nuclear vendors

While the BJP had vociferously opposed the India-US Nuclear Deal in the Parliament, Modi has taken a complete U-turn – furthering agreements to procure nuclear technology, has been the promotion pitch of all his foreign tours since he assumed power. In fact, Narendra Modi has gone out of the way to accommodate the interests of nuclear vendors by diluting the nuclear liability law that the Indian Parliament passed in 2010 to protect Indian citizens in case of nuclear accidents.

When in opposition, the BJP strongly opposed any liability waiver to foreign suppliers. Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had said at the time: “Clearly, the life of an Indian is only worth a dime compared to the life of an American.” His colleague Sushma Swaraj had then called for an India-specific liability law, while likening the Indo-US nuclear deal to Jehangir who allowed the British East India Company to do business in India.

Swaraj is now the External Affairs Minister in the Modi Government, which has brazenly undermined suppliers liability provisions of the Act under her nose during the visit of President Obama in 2016. Modi’s nuclear diplomacy therefore, actually makes India pay bigger costs even as it squanders whatever gains the country’s foreign policy establishment claims to have made.

While Modi government might think that joining other nuclear powers in boycotting the historic Nobel event would propel it to the super power club, it is actually stigmatising India’s nuclear posture internationally. BJP’s delusional politics of nuclear-jingoist rhetoric hides its collosal failures which would cost dearly to India.

The author is the Editor of DiaNuke.org, and has been associated with the International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/india-out-to-protect-interests-of-nuclear-vendors

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ruthenium 106 investigation update 12 Dec 2017. Who is lying and why?

Screenshot from 2017-12-12 05:23:28

Exclusive to nuclear-news.net

Europe blames Russia and Russia blames Europe but could the release have come from somewhere else?

The story behind Ru 106 that is given little attention is the fact that it is quite an aggressive isotope that is used mainly in the manufacture of medical isotopes. Its nature is to become very volatile when heated and exposed to air. Then Ru 106 becomes both oxidized which deposits on surfaces and also is lofted into the air in a pure gaseous version. The deposited oxidized version then over time becomes gaseous (which might explain the weeks that the Ru 106 was being sampled in the air.

The main areas of interest to most people is where did it come from? What is a likely source?

After some research I was drawn to the Hungarian nuclear Ruthenium 106 experiments which have run since 2002 (and possibly before) that were supported by the EU commission to find out how damaged fuel rods might react in different situations. In Hungary I discovered at least two possible sources for where this isotope may be created.

These test reports mention Fukushima and may be useful to the cleanup there. Also, High Burn up fuel rods (fuel rods used for longer)  and MOX fuel rods (As used in unit 3 Daichi in Fukushima)  hold much more Ruthenium than normal nuclear fuel rods. There is another possibility that a Spent fuel pool from a reactor/waste site that had a slow leak and that conditions created the Ru 106 isotope but this is not as likely as a research created source.

Screenshot from 2017-12-12 03:37:28

Source for image; https://stresa.jrc.ec.europa.eu/facilities/ruset

Screenshot from 2017-12-12 03:37:56

Source for image; https://stresa.jrc.ec.europa.eu/facilities/e110dbaeki

Presuming that it was from Hungary, why would both the EU and Russia want to cover it up? well the UN based IAEA nuclear regulator has been known to cover up contamination incidents from Hungary in the past. Read on for more!

September 2011 nuclear releases from Hungary, Fukushima or Pakistan?

The Pakistan nuclear industry was blamed by Poland and the IAEA either ignored the data from Europes radiation monitoring system EURDEP, or were lied to by the Hungarians (links below). However, by the 17th WNN had released a statement on the matter and linked the Hungary reactor to the incident with the caveat that the levels were too low for any health issues in Europe which was untrue. CRIIRAD and independent nuclear advisory group, set up after Chernobyl, actually went to Budapest and recommended locals to not eat leafy vegetables and avoid dairy products sourced locally because of the levels of Iodine 125 (which would not degrade from the environment for 2 years).

A recurring theme is to delay the announcement of the releases of radiation so that it would be hard to find the source of the pollution as isotopes breakdown and dissipate with weathering. Even though radiation is very easy to find (especially the isotopes reported), The nuclear industry and the IAEA put peoples lives at risk and this has been mentioned by  CRIIRAD.org here concerning the February 2017 report of radioactive pollution and then in March 2017 a more robust critique of this nuclear industry delay strategy here . My personal feeling is that the February 2017 release was from Hungary.

So why would the nuclear industry be so protective of the Hungarian nuclear industries excess pollution problems?

Firstly a lot of money goes into research, secondly it is much easier to hide a pollution incident in a country that is very corrupt and autocratic and thirdly the pressures to manufacture high profit medical isotopes that are in short supply.

Russia works closely with all countries concerning nuclear issues, including covering up the health effects in Fukushima and Chernobyl. Russia also helps finance the Norways ancient Halden research reactor that had an accident in October 2016 and was blamed (unfairly) for a release in March 2017.

So there is some speculation on my part and it is possible that Mayak still might be the source as the Russians are not letting international reporters onto the site for another 2 months (to allow the cleanup of the contamination?) whilst allowing local reporters on site (who are less likely to turn up with sophisticated testing devices perhaps?). I am sure that the IAEA will not tell us nor will any nuclear industry groups, so much for the new “transparency” post Fukushima, just business as usual!

Posted by Shaun McGee on 12 Dec 2017

 

SOURCE NOTES FOR REPORT

Prevarication by the nuclear industry on the 2011 release of iodine 125

17 November 2011 – The cause of trace detection of radioactive iodine-131 in Europe has been identified as ‘most probably’ a release from a Hungarian factory making medical isotopes….. The Izotop facility is near to the Budapest Research Reactor. As well as iodine-131 it supplies radioisotopes for pharmaceutical, scientific and industrial use including yttrium-90, technetium-99m, iodine-125, samarium-153, holmium-166 and lutetium-177.

Nov. 12, 2011 – Authorities in that country today informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of their theory that the release may have begun at a facility run by Institute of Isotopes Ltd (Izotop) on 8 September and continued until yesterday.

No KANUPP linkage to Radioactivity in Europe, PAEC clarifies, AP of Pakistan, Nov. 12, 2011 – The entire news item is based upon the statement attributed to the spokesman of the Polish atomic energy agency who only said: “Unconfirmed reports suggest there may have been an incident at a nuclear power station in Pakistan but this requires further confirmation”

11 November 2011 – THE IAEA PRESS RELEASE – “11 November 2011 | Vienna, Austria – The IAEA has received information from the State Office for Nuclear Safety of the Czech Republic that very low levels of iodine-131 have been measured in the atmosphere over the Czech Republic in recent days.
The IAEA has learned about similar measurements in other locations across Europe.
The IAEA believes the current trace levels of iodine-131 that have been measured do not pose a public health risk and are not caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan.
Iodine-131 is a short-lived radioisotope that has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days.
The IAEA is working with its counterparts to determine the cause and origin of the iodine-131.
The IAEA will provide further information via its website as it becomes available.

Sources for the technical aspects concerning Ru 106 mentioned in my report;

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) carried out some tests which consisted of heating pieces of irradiated fuel pellets, under different atmospheres. The fuel BU of the test called H02 was 10 GWd/tU. This test was performed under Ar/H 2 atmosphere, and next in air. The maximum temperature reached was 2163 K. Figure 2 shows that, as soon as an oxidizing atmosphere is present (transition from Ar/H 2 mixture to air atmosphere), ruthenium release increases drastically to reach a value close to that of 133 Xe, which is a very volatile compound, released at nearly 100%. It is worth noticing the presence of an induction time (approximately 5000 seconds) assumed to correspond to time necessary for oxidation of the UO 2 matrix by air, next Ru release is extremely quick [12]. 5In the frame of the PHEBUS–RUSET programme, in 2002 the Hungarian research organization (AEKI) studied the ruthenium release at high temperature in oxidising environment. These tests confirmed the presence of a gaseous type of ruthenium [13].

https://hal-irsn.archives-ouvertes.fr/irsn-00177621/document

Air ingress and its contact with fuel can result in significant releases of some fission products. This is especially the case for ruthenium which has the same radiotoxicity as iodine in short term through caesium in medium term through 103 Ru isotope and as 106 Ru isotope. Globally, the ruthenium release from the core may be 10 to 50 times higher than with steam only and the ruthenium tetra-oxide might represent a problem comparable with that of iodine. The safety impacts of such air ingress was analysed in an AECL test [18] and most recently in an AEKI RUSET test [19] and also discussed at the PHEBUS Air Ingress Working Group.

………………………..
3.3.2 FUEL DEGRADATION PROCESS IN SPENT FUEL POOLS

At first sight, it seems reasonable to assume that air could be present when melting occurs in the open spent fuel pool, in contrast to the closed RPV where no air access is possible. The presence of air instead of steam would, in particular, change the chemistry of the degradation process: Zr would be oxidized by Oxygen from air instead of by Oxygen from water. The thermal output of Zr-air oxidation is higher, but on the other hand less or no hydrogen would be produced. Volatile Ruthenium oxide could be produced by air impact, which is very relevant in terms of radiological effect. However, analyses performed (see appendix 10.1) with MELCOR under various conditions show that the previous evaporation of the large amount of water from the SFP would almost
completely generate a steam atmosphere with little air having access to the degrading fuel. There are only two potential scenarios which may lead to significant oxidation by air: A rather fast loss of coolant from the SFP can be practically excluded in some SFP designs), or an extremely low evaporation from the SFP with most of the steam being condensed before fuel degradation. However, the latter sequence may last for weeks, and have such a low energetic level that even without water the SFP may not heat up to the threshold for chemical reaction.
During fuel degradation in the SFP (before Molten Corium Concrete Interaction (MCCI) begins) the temperatures in some of the sequences are lower than in RPV accidents during normal operation. Therefore less radionuclides are released from fuel. However, after MCCI has started the release fractions from fuel reach levels which are known from accidents in the RPV.

http://asampsa.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/ASAMPSA_E-WP40-D40-6_L2PSA-SFP-shutdow-PSA-research-review.pdf

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rick Perry Gives FERC a 30-Day Reprieve on Coal, Nuclear Cost-Recovery Decision

Energy Secretary Perry gives FERC more time, but repeats unsupported claims on grid security, as photo evidence of the coal industry’s influence on the DOE plan emerges.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/rick-perry-gives-ferc-a-30-day-reprieve-on-coal-nuclear-cost-recovery#gs.MlHYlLo

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has agreed to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 30 more days to make a decision on a controversial proposal to shore up coal and nuclear power plants in the name of grid resilience, extending a deadline that would otherwise have expired today.

In a Friday letter granting FERC’s request for a deadline extension, Perry repeated unsubstantiated claims that coal and nuclear plants need to be given more money “immediately” to deal with “serious threats to the nation’s electricity grid,” even as evidence of the coal industry’s influence on crafting DOE’s proposal continues to mount.

Perry’s move came a day after newly sworn-in FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre asked to extend FERC’s review period for the Department of Energy’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR). McIntyre, a Republican and Trump appointee, last week replaced interim chairman Neil Chatterjee, who said in recent weeks that he supports creating an interim rule that could extend some financial support to coal and nuclear plants.

But McIntyre’s letter to Perry indicated that the new chairman was not interested in a rushed interim ruling. McIntyre noted the extreme difficulties for FERC to meet the Dec. 11 deadline, given that it has added two new commissioners, McIntyre and Democrat Richard Glick, in the past two weeks, and is facing more than 1,500 comments on the NOPR.

The NOPR, filed by DOE on Sept. 28 with a 60-day deadline for a decision, asked FERC to provide cost-recovery status for power plants that keep 90 days of fuel on-site — something only nuclear and some coal-fired power plants can do. It claimed this was needed to slow the retirement of these power plants, which it contended are uniquely capable of maintaining grid reliability and resilience against storms, terrorist attacks, and other major disruptions.

But the NOPR has been roundly criticized by trade groups representing every energy industry sector except coal and nuclear power, as well as by independent energy analysts and economists, a bipartisan group of 11 former FERC commissioners and every grid operator in the country.

These groups have pointed out that improving grid reliability would best be served by strengthening the country’s distribution and transmission grids, and maintaining an energy market that promotes a mix of resources, while driving down costs and fostering energy innovation. The NOPR’s cost-recovery plan, by contrast, would promote failing power plants and raise consumer energy prices by billions of dollars, without providing any provable benefits in grid reliability.

Perry’s letter granting the 30-day extension repeats many of the NOPR’s unsupported claims. For example, the letter claims that the record of more than 1,500 comments on the NOPR “provide substantial evidence of, and otherwise confirm, the threat to the nation’s electricity grid and the urgent need for Commission action to reform market rules to preserve fuel-secure generation resources.”

But many of the comments filed with FERC undermine this contention. For example, a study by U.S. power outage data over the past five years indicates that power plant fuel-supply disruptions have been responsible for 0.00007 percent of all power outages in the country.

Even the DOE staff report on grid reliability, ordered by Perry in April and delivered this summer, which has been used as justification for the NOPR, lacks the data to justify the NOPR, according to one of its authors, energy consultant Alison Silverstein.

Opponents have also pointed out the clear influence of coal industry lobbyists on the NOPR, including Murray Energy, the coal mining company owned by Trump supporter Robert Murray. The same is true of FirstEnergy, a Midwestern utility that’s facing severe financial challenges in managing a group of money-losing coal-fired power plants in the region served by grid operator PJM, where the NOPR’s rule change could provide the utility a massive new influx of cash.

Many opponents of the NOPR have said that these coal companies’ needs, rather than regulatory reason, are behind the unprecedented short deadline that DOE gave FERC to make a decision. This week brought more evidence of this link, as The Washington Post published photographs of Perry and Murray embracing during a March 29 meeting to discuss an “action plan” that called for the financial rescue of FirstEnergy’s struggling coal facilities.

Murray has denied any involvement in crafting the DOE NOPR. But he has acknowledged drafting recommendations to the Trump administration, telling The Post, “I think we’ve pointed out the urgency of the problem.”

In his Friday letter, Perry noted that failure to act as fast as possible by FERC would be “unjust, unreasonable and contrary to the public interest.” These phrases match up with the mandate FERC is under, to determine whether today’s market structures are “unjust and unreasonable,” before it considers replacing them with DOE’s alternative.

But the DOE’s NOPR has presented an unusually compressed timeline for crafting a new rule that would radically disrupt the way energy markets run today. It would also go against the principles that have guided the country’s interstate energy markets for more than two decades, as the former FERC commissioners who have come out against the rule have pointed out.

FERC now has a full commission for the first time since late last year, and it’s far from clear that its members will be supportive of DOE’s request for a major change to market rules. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, the sole remaining Obama appointee, has joined Trump appointee Rob Powelson in speaking out against the NOPR. McIntyre and newly sworn-in Democrat Richard Glick both expressed their preference for maintaining FERC’s neutrality in managing energy markets during their Senate confirmation hearings.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment