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NASA getting excited about plutonium powered space missions

NASA Pushes for Nuclear-Powered Space Missions, Scientific American, 24 Jan 18,
The space agency’s Kilopower project could end a half-century hiatus for U.S. reactors in space,
 By Harrison on January 23, 2018  “…….

Unlike previous technologies, the Kilopower reactor is simple, inexpensive and relies on fuels and technologies that are already well understood, NASA officials said. It uses active nuclear fission, like a conventional nuclear reactor, which will enable it to harvest far more energy from its uranium alloy core than an RTG could…………

In 2012, Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio conducted a successful proof-of-concept test of the reactor, and NASA gave them the go-ahead to continue development and testing at the Nevada National Security Site. Right now, the team is conducting component testing to determine the reactivity-worth of each of the reactor’s parts, namely how they react to the neutron radiation generated by the fission reaction. This phase of testing should be completed this week, according to officials at the conference. Then the project will progress to cold-critical testing, which will test the reactor’s components, this time with the enriched uranium fuel core inside, officials said at the conference. Full power testing is scheduled to begin in mid-March.

NASA’s interest in sending astronauts to Mars has provided the primary impetus behind the Kilopower project: The power demands for a human mission to Mars will be far greater than the requirements for previous robotic missions…..

“A successful Kilopower test will be a great leap forward for space nuclear power,” Jurczyk said…….


January 24, 2018 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership resuscitated: companies can still sue governments

Controversial Pacific trade pact revived, Perth Now, Lisa Martin with Reuters | AAP, January 24, 2018   The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which had been on life support since America’s withdrawal, has finally been resuscitated.

The 11 remaining countries are expected to sign a tweaked agreement on March 8 in Chile, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has confirmed.

Canada threw a spanner in the works at the APEC summit in Vietnam last year derailing efforts to finalise the deal.

Ottawa has since been coaxed back to the fold following lobbying efforts from Tokyo and Canberra……….The TPP 11 is made up of:

Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam……..

Some opponents of the TPP fear it opens doors for companies to sue governments for changing policies if it harms their investments. The deal has a controversial investor state dispute settlement clause.

* China is not part of the TPP and is trying to get up a rival deal with seven TPP countries, including Australia, and eight others.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnershp is much narrower and less ambitious.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Austria to sue EU over allowing expansion of Hungary nuclear plant

 Reuters, Shadia Nasralla, VIENNA -23 Jan 18,  Austria is planning to sue the European Commission for allowing Hungary to expand its Paks atomic plant, it said on Monday, not viewing nuclear energy as the way to combat climate change or as being in the common European interest.

The country, which shares a border with Hungary, prides itself on supporting environmentally sound energy. It has for decades opposed nuclear power, which triggers huge disagreements about cleanliness, safety, and renewability.

The anti-nuclear position was reiterated in a coalition agreement struck last month between Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party.

“We in the government have agreed that there are sufficient reasons to sue (the Commission),” a spokesman for Austrian Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger said.

“EU assistance is only permissible when it is built on common interest. For us, nuclear energy is neither a sustainable form of energy supply, nor is it an answer to climate change. …….

January 24, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Hinkley Point C to get £14bn from UK and Japanese taxpayers – despite ever-cheaper renewables

Guardian 21st Jan 2018, Finance aside, renewables will be nuclear’s real foe in the future. The
new chief executive of EDF Energy admitted last week that it had been a
“monstrous job” drumming up the backing for the UK’s first new
nuclear power station in decades.
The next nuclear plants will need to be built for a much cheaper, subsidised price
of power than the generous one awarded to EDF’s Hinkley Point C, Whitehall has warned.
So those who undertake construction will need every possible weapon at their disposal to
defeat their biggest enemy: financing.
Public finance is the magic sword that some think could slay the Godzilla-sized challenge facing Japanese
firm Hitachi, which wants to build a plant on the island of Anglesey.
Japanese press reports recently put the capital cost of the project at
£19.5bn, with more than £14bn to come from loans from the UK and Japanese
governments. The rationale for Tokyo is clear. The big question is why the
UK would want to shoulder the risk of such a huge scheme.
The idea of taxpayers taking on any of the construction risk of building new nuclear
plants has been political anathema for years. It has become a government
mantra that the subsidy cost promised to EDF is justified because the
public is not bearing the risks of building Hinkley.
By 2030, when Sizewell C might be under construction, there could be five times as much offshore
wind capacity as there is today, according to a report this week.
Renewables, battery storage and other technologies could prove to be the
real monster facing nuclear.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Japan, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Ontario’s nuclear dreams no match for the reality of falling electricity demand

 Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director, 23 Jan 18, Since 2005, demand for electricity in Ontario has been steadily falling.  In 2017, it fell a further 3.6% meaning that demand has dropped by 16% since 2005. That is the equivalent of taking 2.5 million homes off the grid –  like unplugging all the houses and apartments in the City of Toronto twice over.

Ontario is not alone in seeing a sustained drop in demand. This is a trend that has taken hold in many countries and provinces thanks to new technologies such as super-efficient LED lighting and smart controls, cost-effective energy efficiency programs, and economic changes. In fact, reducing the need to generate electricity in the first place has become Ontario’s lowest cost way of addressing our energy needs – the province paid on average just 2.2 cents to save a kilowatt-hour of electricity in 2016.

But oddly, the Wynne government shows no signs of recognizing the growing mismatch between its plans to spend billions of dollars on re-building aging nuclear reactors and the ever-decreasing need for the power they would produce.  In fact, in order to justify continuing to operate the 47-year-old Pickering Nuclear Station – the highest cost nuclear plant in North America – the province is currently curtailing 26% of the potential annual output of our cleaner and safer wind and solar power plants.

Does it make sense to pay 7 times more to re-build aging nuclear reactors than to enhance energy efficiency? Should we rebuild nuclear reactors that have to run 24/7 when demand is falling and supply patterns are being rapidly changed by the introduction of increasingly low-cost renewable sources? These are questions the government seems determined to ignore.

Instead of simply ignoring the numbers, a far better way to act on these trends is to strike a deal with Quebec to import low-cost, flexible water power; continue to expand our cost-effective conservation programs; and embrace new renewable energy opportunities right here at home.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Shame on Trump – Uranium mines in Bears Ears?

Editorial: Uranium mines in Bears Ears? Shame on Trump, THE DENVER POST EDITORIAL BOARD |

Denver Post A uranium company that is headquartered  in Colorado “lobbied extensively” for President Donald Trump to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument, according to an investigation in last Sunday’s New York Times.

The implications of the story written by Hiroko Tabuchi were staggering: an area of long-held federal land only recently protected by President Barack Obama at the end of his administration for its significance to five Native American tribes could one day be pocked with uranium mines.

Tabuchi found that there are more than 300 uranium mining claims inside Obama’s boundaries for the national monument, nearly a third of which are tied to the Lakewood-based Energy Fuels Resources.

“The vast majority of those claims fall neatly outside the new boundaries of Bears Ears,” Tabuchi wrote…….

The valleys, buttes and desert landscape of Bears Ears are largely untouched and full of historical significance to the five Indian nations whose ancestors left their artifacts, ruins and hieroglyphics across the land as evidence that they were there first. Bears Ears deserves protection.

As Trump celebrated shrinking Bears Ears last month at the Utah Capitol, he said: “I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens.”

Trump is wrong. The land is still all federally owned, outside of the control and taxation of local entities. What Trump’s ruling did do was open up the possibility of private interests taking what they want from the land. Until Tabuchi’s reporting, we were all supposed to believe no one wanted this land for private gain. Now we all know the sad truth.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Project: Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Project Information 

 Printer Friendly Version
Project Title:

Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
PIN: DELS-NRSB-17-03       

Major Unit:

Division on Earth and Life Studies

Sub Unit: Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

RSO: Heimberg, Jennifer 
Subject/Focus Area: Earth Sciences; Engineering and Technology; Environment and Environmental Studies; International Issues; National Security and Defense; Transportation and Infrastructure 
Project Scope
The National Academies will evaluate the general viability of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) conceptual plans for disposing of surplus plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to support U.S. commitments under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, identify gaps, and recommend actions that could be taken by DOE and others to address those gaps. This evaluation will specifically address the following issues:

1. DOE’s plans to ship, receive, and emplace surplus plutonium in WIPP.

2. DOE’s understanding of the Impacts of these plans on the following:

a. Transportation safety, security, and regulatory compliance.

b. Current and future WIPP operations, including the need to construct additional waste disposal panels and/or operate WIPP beyond its currently planned closure date.

c. Disposal of other potential waste streams in WIPP, for example other plutonium wastes, Greater-than-Class-C-like wastes, and tank wastes.

d. WIPP pre- and post-closure safety and performance.

e. Compliance with WIPP waste acceptance criteria; Environmental Protection Agency disposal regulations; and The Land Withdrawal Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requirements.

The Academies may examine policy options but should not make policy recommendations that require nontechnical value judgments. 

Project Duration: 20 months 

Provide FEEDBACK on this project.

Contact the Public Access Records Office to make an inquiry, request a list of the public access file materials, or obtain a copy of the materials found in the file.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Crisis time for U.S. nuclear industry

Watershed year ahead for US nuclear industry, WNN,  22 January 2018   This may be a “watershed” year for the US nuclear industry, which must maintain a strong domestic sector by keeping its reactors operating but must also demonstrate it can build new plants, while paving the way for advanced reactors, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) John Kotek told the US Energy Association’s State of the Energy Forum on 18 January………

Kotek said the nuclear industry must demonstrate that it can build and complete nuclear plants. He said the decision to proceed with the nuclear construction project at Vogtle in Georgia was significant, offering an opportunity for the US nuclear sector to show it can “successfully” build new reactors……..

January 24, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Under the Russian wing, Zambia becomes a Rosatom nuclear power customer

Zambia establishes an Interim Secretariat on Nuclear Science and Technology, Lusaka Times, January 23, 2018, Government has established an Interim Secretariat on Nuclear Science and Technology (ISNST) constituted by senior officers from various Government Ministries and Institutions. The Units under the ISNST include Nuclear Applications, Public Awareness and Consultation, Economics Assessment, Legal and Regulatory, and Programme Development.

The ISNST will spearhead implementation of Zambian’s nuclear energy programme as well as the development of the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNST). The officers have since commenced work, which among others, will involve public awareness and consultations……..Government is hopeful that the nuclear energy programme will transform the country into an industrial hub in the region. A group of students have already been sent to Russia to study in various areas of nuclear science, who upon completing their studies would work in the CNST.

Government has since signed various agreements with the Russian Federation that have culminated into the implementation of the nuclear energy programme………

The ISNST has embarked on a robust public sensitisation programme beginning with Members of the Cabinet and Members of Parliament.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Cumbria Trust reminds UK nuclear lobby that hosting nuclear waste is a VOLUNTARY process

Cumbria Trust 22nd Jan 2018, Cumbria Trust notes with interest that a source close to the process is
quoted as saying:  “The mess they made in the past can’t be repeated.It’s outrageous it became a victim of local politics last time.”

Let us not forget that this was supposed to be a voluntary process, where local
councils had the right to withdraw their interest. How could it be
considered outrageous to exercise that right to withdraw? The new process
starting this week is also based on voluntarism and councils are supposedly
free to withdraw at will. Are we to assume that once a council has
volunteered, it will be made increasingly difficult to withdraw? Is this
voluntarism or coercion?

January 24, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Evacuation is no solution to nuclear weapons

With nuclear weapons, evacuation is not an option, The Hill , The fire, named the Thomas Fire, turned out to be the biggest in California history. ……..We were under mandatory evacuation from our home for 12 days, and then were evacuated from the place we were staying as the evacuation zone was expanded. The fire roared on in the backcountry, continuing to spew ash from the dry brush and trees it was consuming.

Throughout the area, people were wearing masks to keep from breathing in the ash. The sky was a sickening yellow-gray. It looked and felt like we were survivors of a nuclear attack. We were living with apprehension day to day, glued to the news, except when the electricity went out.

The fire was finally brought under greater control, and we were allowed to return to our homes. But a few weeks later, the expectation of heavy rains and possible flooding caused us to again be put under mandatory evacuation.

While still evacuated and feeling the pain of our community’s disaster, news came that on Jan. 13 a worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency accidentally released an Emergency Alert warning that a ballistic missile was inbound to the state and that the people should seek immediate shelter. The alert emphasized, “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” It was all too believable.

People scurried to be with loved ones or to call them to tell them they loved them and to say goodbye. The threat seemed very real, but the solution offered by the authorities was ridiculous. Shelter does not protect against thermonuclear weapons.

Nothing protects against thermonuclear weapons: not shelter, not nuclear deterrence, not missile defenses.

Thirty-eight minutes later came the message that the warning had been a “false alarm.” This is yet another reminder that accidents happen and humans are fallible, even in the best designed systems……..

I would hate to see the catastrophe experienced by our community played out on a global nuclear battlefield, but that is the direction in which the world is heading. The time ending the nuclear weapons threat to humanity is now, before it is too late. The draft Nuclear Posture Review should be scrapped and replaced with the commitment to take nuclear weapons off high alert status; to implement pledges of No First Use; and to commit to negotiate to achieve the only number that makes sense in a nuclear context: Zero.

With nuclear weapons, evacuation is not an option.

David Krieger is a founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and has served as its president since 1982.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment