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Saudis want nuclear energy to ‘save oil’ (nothing to do with chance for nuclear weapons?)

Saudis weigh nuclear energy to ‘save oil’ https://seekingalpha.com/news/3332081-saudis-weigh-nuclear-energy-save-oil  |By: Yoel Minkoff, SA News Editor 

The world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is exploring the use of nuclear energy for domestic energy consumption as part of its transition away from an oil-based system.

“We are looking at a number of countries that have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes… so that we can save the oil and export it in order to generate revenue,” Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said at the Munich Security Conference.

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February 17, 2018 Posted by | Saudi Arabia, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Parks Township nuclear dump cleanup delayed again

  | TribLive,  Feb. 17, 2018 

While 14 years seems like a long time to clean up the 44-acre nuclear waste dump in Parks Township, progress seems imminent.

But only after another delay.

The resolution of a bid challenge for the $350 million contract to excavate and remove radioactive contamination from 10 shallow trenches added 1 12years to the cleanup process, which now could run through 2032.

President Trump’s 2019 budget allotment of $8 million to the Army Corps of Engineers will continue the planning, testing and other preparations for the cleanup.

Excavation stopped at the site in 2011 because a Corps contractor allegedly mishandled and found more complex nuclear material than expected.

But progress is guaranteed for the project.

The Parks Township cleanup is among the three most important in the country for sites with contamination from nuclear weapon production for the Cold War arms race, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, which administers the program…….http://triblive.com/local/valleynewsdispatch/13298668-74/parks-township-nuclear-dump-cleanup-delayed-again

February 17, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Chinese state sponsored physics experiment prompts questions over nuclear salted bombs 

 http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/inventions/chinese-state-sponsored-physics-experiment-prompts-questions-over-nuclear-salted-bombs/news-story/b84298fdae3416dcd00fc8cbde775fd7 15 Feb 18

AN experiment backed by the Chinese government has raised concerns about its ambitions to reboot a devastating bomb dreamt up during the Cold War.

Nick Whigham  @NWWHIGHAM  STATE-sponsored experiments at an ion research facility in China have raised questions about the potential they could be used to build a devastating bomb dreamt up during the Cold War but never seen.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences recently announced that scientists had successfully fired superheated beams of a radioactive isotope of tantalum, a rare metal that can be added to warheads with potentially devastating consequences.

The experiment was carried out at the Institute of Modern Physics in Lanzhou in the north of the country, in part to “meet a critical strategic demand of China’s national defence,” researchers said.

Those responsible reportedly confirmed the project had potential military applications but would not elaborate.

At the centre of the physics experiment tantalum. The rare metal is used as a minor component in alloys and electronics but when you learn it’s named after Tantalus, a villain from Greek mythology, you know it must have some potentially nasty uses.

It is part of a group of heavy metals that could theoretically be added to a nuclear warhead to increase the release of radioactive fallout, causing lasting environmental contamination and rendering a large area uninhabitable in the near future.

Such a thing is known as a “salted bomb”.

These bombs can use elements like gold, cobalt or tantalum to produce a radioactive isotope that maximises the fallout hazard from the weapon rather than generating additional explosive force.

The term refers to the way such bombs are manufactured but also takes its name from the phrase “to salt the earth”, meaning to render the soil unable to host life for years to come.

No salted bomb has ever been atmospherically tested, and as far as is publicly known none have ever been built, according to the online Nuclear Weapon Archive.

But some believe the new research by Chinese scientists could be applied to make such a bomb, or at least be used for other military applications such as shooting the tantalum beam at China’s own military equipment to test its durability in extreme events.

This potential prompted Hong Kong newspaper, the South China Morning Post, to hypothesise that China could be “rebooting a nuclear doomsday device”.

It’s highly unlikely that a salted bomb is the end goal of its latest experiment, but two experts told the Post that they believe the experiments could be used for future military applications such as a laser-like device to achieve targeted damage.

Han Dejun, a professor of nuclear science and technology at Beijing Normal University, said of the tantalum accelerator experiment: “The most likely application that I can think of is in nuclear research.

“By generating a powerful beam of tantalum ions we can observe how the metal interacts with other elements and change form in high-speed collisions. It simulates what will happen in a real nuclear reaction.”

Beijing National Space Science Centre associate researcher Cai Minghui said: “In theory, the particle beam of a heavy element such as tantalum can be used as a directed energy weapon.”

Meanwhile a third expert from China’s Arms Control and Disarmament Association said the likelihood the research could lead to the Chinese Communist Party stockpiling salted bombs was “very low”.

“These are highly immoral weapons,” he said.

A COLD WAR CREATION

The idea of a salted bomb was initially proposed by Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard during the Cold War.

The scientist was instrumental in the beginning of the Manhattan Project. Along with Albert Einstein, he helped write a letter to US president Franklin D. Roosevelt encouraging him to begin building the atomic bomb.

The British did test a kind of salted bomb that used cobalt as an experimental radiochemical tracer in September 1957. The device was exploded underground in the Maralinga range in Australia, however the experiment was regarded as a failure and not repeated.

The US also tested a dirty bomb in an open field in 1953. While dirty bombs use conventional explosives rather than nuclear devices, the weapon was loaded with 30kg of the same isotope used in the Chinese test, releasing a lethal dose of gamma rays over the target area, according to a declassified US Defence Technical Information Centre document.

China doesn’t want to fall behind in nuclear technology and research. But given the serious environmental consequences and the threat of the spread of contamination from the detonation of salted bombs, it is highly unlikely it would seek to resurrect such devices.

A NEW NUCLEAR MINDSET

Compared to the United States and Russia, China has a maintained a relatively small nuclear arsenal since its first nuclear test in 1964.

At last count, the Communist Party was estimated to contain just 270 warheads, compared to the 6800 held by the US and Russia’s 7000, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

However the Asian superpower has stepped up the quantity and quality of its nuclear arsenals in recent years.

According to Science and Global Security website, Beijing is estimated to have between 14 and 18 tons of highly enriched uranium and 1.3—2.3 tons of weapon-grade plutonium stockpiled. This enough for anywhere between 750 and 1600 nuclear weapons

In November, China unveiled a next-generation nuclear weapon that is said to be able to strike “anywhere in the world”.

The nuclear warhead, called the Dongfeng-41, will be capable of reaching distances of at least 12,000km — putting the US well into the line of target. With a speed of up to Mach 10 (around 12,000kp/h), it can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads.

The weapon is scheduled to enter China’s arsenal this year.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

France’s Electricite de France (EDF) boasts new cheaper nuclear reactor – makes Hinkley C nuclear project look unwise.

Times 17th Feb 2018, EDF has claimed that a new nuclear reactor it is developing will be a
better and cheaper version of the two it is building in Britain. The
state-owned French energy group said that its “optimised” version of the
European Pressurised Reactor being installed at Hinkley Point in Somerset
would be unveiled in 2020 and was destined initially for the French market.

A spokeswoman said that the optimised reactor would be between 25 per cent
and 30 per cent cheaper than the existing version. It is scheduled to be
available for use from 2030. The newspaper Le Monde reported that the new
reactor could cost as little as 6 billion euros or £5.3 billion.

The cost of the two reactors due to come on stream at Hinkley Point in 2025 is
£19.6 billion. Any improvements in EDF’s reactors would raise more
questions about the sustainability of the Hinkley Point C project and
another power station at Sizewell, Suffolk.

However, British experts derided the announcement of an optimised and cheaper reactor as a sign of
the French company’s desperation. Paul Dorfman, founder of the Nuclear
Consulting Group, said EDF’s claim that costs could come down “goes against
all technological logic”. He dismissed the claim as a public relations
exercise to avert a plunge in EDF’s credit rating and as an attempt to woo
President Macron, who is strongly in favour of nuclear power.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/edf-promises-nuclear-reactors-cheaper-than-hinkley-points-9nvq0crlq

February 17, 2018 Posted by | France, marketing of nuclear, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Continuing plunge in Britain’s electricity consumption

Telegraph 16th Feb 2018, A rise in energy efficiency led to the biggest drop in UK electricity
consumption in three years for EDF. Both domestic and commercial customers
cut their electricity usage in 2017, leading to an overall drop of 1.9pc,
while gas consumption fell 2.6pc as milder weather meant customers used
their central heating less.

Domestic energy use has been in decline
nationally since 2010, despite a growing population and consumers using an
increasing number of electrical appliances. Successive regulations in
recent years, such as the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, have
forced appliance manufacturers to make their products less wasteful.

Average energy consumption by fridges and freezers plunged by more than
half between 1990 and 2016, according to official statistics, while “wet
appliances” such as washing machines and dishwashers have improved more
moderately.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/02/16/uk-energy-consumption-falling-says-edf-profits-slip/

February 17, 2018 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Netanyahu says Israel could act against Iran’s ’empire’

Robin EmmottThomas Escritt  18 Feb 18  MUNICH (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel could act against Iran itself, not just its allies in the Middle East, after border incidents in Syria brought the Middle East foes closer to direct confrontation……… https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-security-israel-iran/netanyahu-says-israel-could-act-against-irans-empire-idUSKCN1G20C8?feedType=RSS&feedName=newsOne

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons testing again for Nevada? Pointless and dangerous

Nuclear weapons testing on U.S. soil is as pointless as it is dangerous https://lasvegassun.com/news/2018/feb/18/nuclear-weapons-testing-on-us-soil-is-as-pointless/,  Three paragraphs into Time magazine’s Feb. 12 cover story came a sentence that should have contained a warning for Nevada residents: Do not read this while standing up.

The sentence revealed that the Trump administration had ordered the Department of Energy to be ready to conduct a nuclear test at the Nevada National Security Site in as little as six months. Time reporter W.J. Hennigan went on to write that the White House was considering conducting a nuclear test as a show of force.

“The point, this and other sources say, would be to show Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Iran’s Ayatullah Ali Khamenei and other adversaries what they are up against,” Hennigan reported.

For a megaton of reasons, this test absolutely must not happen.

First and foremost, there’s simply no need to stage this kind of demented theater, because the nation’s adversaries are well aware “what they’re up against.” It’s annihilation. There are nearly 7,000 warheads in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, deliverable across the globe at a moment’s notice by missile, aircraft and submarine. The biggest nuke is the B83 bomb, which at 1.2 megatons is 80 times more powerful than the World War II bomb that wiped out Hiroshima and killed at least 90,000 people.

Triggering a U.S. nuclear strike would be suicide. That’s not in question.

So it’s no more necessary to prove that point with a nuclear test in the Nevada desert than it is to stage a military parade, yet another stupid idea that has spun out of the White House during President Donald Trump’s 13 months in office.

It demonstrates an astonishing lack of understanding about the nation’s military and the world’s perception of the U.S. More than anything, it proves that Trump’s feelings of inadequacy and inferiority know no bounds.

To be clear, Trump hasn’t ordered a nuclear test. But the fact that the administration has even considered it is chilling. A U.S. test would almost certainly provoke other nations into following suit and building up their own arsenals.

And for what? It’s not as if there’s any question that nuclear weapons work. The U.S. conducted more than 1,000 tests, many at the test site 90 miles north of Las Vegas, during an arms race that culminated when the former Soviet Union unleashed a 50-megaton monster of a bomb in 1961.

For Nevadans to allow a new test would be to disrespect generations of heroic state residents who fought to stop the testing. That fight led to George H.W. Bush imposing a self-imposed moratorium in 1992, and there hasn’t been a U.S. test since then.

The door should remain closed.

The good news is that Gov. Brian Sandoval says he has received “100 percent confirmation” that the Trump administration isn’t planning to test a nuclear device in the Nevada desert.

But just in case Trump or anybody on his team is wondering whether Nevadans want him to set off one of his oversized firecrackers in our state, the answer is a loud hell no.

It’s bad enough that Trump’s new budget contains funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, a project that would lead to high-level nuclear waste being transported through the heart of Las Vegas.

That project should be buried and forgotten, and so should any notion of testing a nuclear devicein the Nevada desert.

Trump should stop treating our state like enemy territory.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Notice Of Proposed Floodplain Actions At LANL

https://ladailypost.com/content/notice-proposed-floodplain-actions-lanl-0, Submitted by Carol A. Clark  on February 17, 2018 –   NNSA News:

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Los Alamos Field Office is proposing to install a permanent fire break across the canyon bottom, which includes approximately 300 feet of the 100-year floodplain.

The proposed work will occur in Portrillo Canyon in Technical Area (TA) 36. The purpose of this work is to further reduce wildfire risk in upper Potrillo Canyon from the Lower Slobbovia firing site operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

 In accordance with 10 Code of Federal Regulations 1022 Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements, NNSA has prepared a floodplain assessment for the proposed action.
The Floodplain Assessment for the Proposed Fire Break at the Lower Slobbovia Firing Site at Los Alamos National Laboratory is available in the LANL Electronic Public Reading Room, on the Los Alamos Field Office NEPA Documents webpage or in hard copy at the LANL Public Reading Room, 94 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque, NM. The 15-day public comment period for this assessment ends March 2, 2018.
To submit comments or for further information, contact Kristen Dors at the NNSA Los Alamos Field Office at Kristen.Dors@nnsa.doe.gov.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | environment, USA | Leave a comment

Documentary “Atomic Homefront” delves into St. Louis-area radioactive landfill – nuclear weapons before people

‘Atomic Homefront’ unboxes the cruel consequences of Missouri’s radioactive landfill, The Daily Dot —Feb 18 

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual, USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

#NukeGate: Shady Offline Negotiations Must Stop

#NukeGate: Shady Offline Negotiations Must Stop, FITS News, 17 Feb 18     

More than perhaps any other lawmaker, fiscally liberal state senator Luke Rankin of Horry County, South Carolina bears direct responsibility for the now-notorious “Base Load Review Act.”

This, of course, is the constitutionally dubious, special interest legislation that effectively socialized $2 billion (and counting) worth of investment risk associated with the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear power expansion project – a.k.a. #NukeGate.

Basically, lawmakers allowed crony capitalist utility SCANA and its state-owned partner, Santee Cooper, to force ratepayers to shell out this cash on a pair of next generation reactors that are now unlikely to ever be completed.

In addition to being a lead sponsor of this legislation in the Senate, Rankin – a party-switching “former” Democrat – was a member of the S.C. Senate judiciary subcommittee that advanced this legislation to the floor of the Senate (where it passed on a unanimous voice vote).

His fingerprints are all over the hated law, in other words.

Same goes for establishment “Republican” senator Larry Grooms of Berkeley County – who joined Rankin and more than a dozen other senators (ahem) in sponsoring this abomination back in 2007.

Why are we singling out Rankin and Grooms today?  Because these two politicians – who deserve to be run out of the S.C. State House on a rail for their shortsightedness and subservience to the status quo – are among the state senators currently engaged in offline negotiations to “extricate” the Palmetto State from this $10 billion hole in the ground.

That’s right … the politicians who landed our state in this mess now want us to trust them to dig us out.

Oh, and they want to conduct their negotiations under the cover of darkness …

What could possibly go wrong, right?

We addressed these offline negotiations earlier this week in this piece, and several weeks ago we exclusively reported on another round of offline negotiations involving newly elected state senator Mike Fanning – who represents the district where the abandoned reactors are located.

In fairness to Fanning, he has infinitely more credibility here than either Rankin or Grooms (who ought to recuse themselves from any role in these discussions).  Not only does Fanning represent the impacted area, but as a newly elected senator he has no connection to the legislation that created this debacle in the first place.

Still, all of these offline negotiations are problematic …

First and foremost, they are being conducted behind closed doors – which is especially troublesome considering one of the items up for sale is a government-owned utility.

Shouldn’t public officials discussing the possible sale of a state-owned asset conduct their deliberations in the light of day?

Absolutely …https://www.fitsnews.com/2018/02/17/nukegate-shady-offline-negotiations-must-stop/

 

February 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Plagued by disease, ridiculed for their explanation: A Three Mile Island ‘survivors’ group is growing

Plagued by disease, ridiculed for their explanation: A TMI ‘survivors’ group is growing, York Daily Record, Joel Shannonjshannon@ydr.com  12 Feb 18,  

February 17, 2018 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Hatoko Comes Home: Civil Society and Nuclear Power in Japan

Article

 https://works.bepress.com/daniel_aldrich/13/ Journal of Asian Studies (2011), Daniel P AldrichPurdue University, Martin DusinberreNewcastle University  

Abstract

This article seeks to explain how, given Japan’s “nuclear allergy” following World War II, a small coastal town not far from Hiroshima volunteered to host a nuclear power plant in the early 1980s. Where standard explanations of contentious nuclear power siting decisions have focused on the regional power utilities and the central government, this paper instead examines the importance of historical change and civil society at a local level.

Using a microhistorical approach based on interviews and archival materials, and framing our discussion with a popular Japanese television show known as Hatoko’s Sea, we illustrate the agency of municipal actors in the decision-making process. In this way, we highlight the significance of long-term economic transformations, demographic decline, and vertical social networks in local invitations to controversial facilities. These perspectives are particularly important in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis, as the outside world seeks to understand how and why Japan embraced atomic energy.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Indian Point reactor automatically shuts down again, feds investigating

Lohud, Thomas C. Zambitotzambito@lohud.com Feb. 16, 2018  One of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors automatically shut down early Friday when a generator failed, prompting an inquiry by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear news in brief – week to 18th February

A thaw in North Korea’s attitude, with the Winter Olympics. Cynics dismiss this as propaganda, but it has obviously brought some calm to the situation in the two Koreas, and perhaps even changed the equation North Korea v USA.

The nuclear news this week has been dominated by the global problem of nuclear waste – what to do with it? France’s EDF proposes a  gigantic nuclear garbage pool.  Japan has a glut of plutonium wastes. America’s Hanford wastes cleanup will cost $111 billion.  The Swedish version of UK’s Radioactive Waste Management was rejected by Swedish Environment Court. Only now after 32 years, is Ukraine starting to remove the liquid nuclear wastes from the shattered Chernobyl reactor. Cumbrians are rejecting UK’s nuclear waste. The Australian government is quietly trying to bribe outback communities into hosting nuclear waste, with a deceptive tale about “medical needs” . As for Fukushima – don’t get me started.

Of course – none of the authorities in any of these countries has suggested the idea of stopping making  radioactive trash!

 

2017 – 2018 The trends in nuclear power construction.

Research into low dose radiation – a very complex issue.

SOUTH KOREAQuiet diplomacy brought South and North Korean athletes together for the Winter Olympics.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea wants to mend relations with South Korea – but also to continue nuclear military development.

UK.

JAPAN. Japan’s problem of no place to put low-level waste from nuclear reactors. (They haven’t got anywhere for high level wastes either) . Japan has enough plutonium for 5,000 nuclear warheads, and its Constitution does not rule them out 2020 Japan Olympics and the threat of nuclear terrorism. Kobe steel firm might have falsified data on nuclear waste container safetyDrone to probe Fukushima N-plant interior.

USA.

FRANCE.  EDF and the director of the Cruas-Meysse nuclear power plant (Ardèche) fined over nuclear waste mismanagement.  France’s energy giant EDF now making a revolutionary change – from nuclear to renewables?

SOUTH AFRICA. Hopes that South Africa’s new president will scrap nuclear deal.

RUSSIA. Mayak area- Radiation levels last fall 1,000 times above normal. Residents of Russia’s Yaroslavl region got a “false’ radiation alert scareBlow to Russia’s nuclear marketing ambitions – other investors back out of Turkey nuclear build.

ALGERIA. The untold story of Algeria’s victims of French nuclear bomb tests.

CHINA. China again delays building Westinghouse-designed AP1000 nuclear reactor, because of safety worries.

PAKISTANNew types of nuclear weapons being developed by Pakistan.

 

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Nuclear propaganda to the kids – Boy Scouts this time

Boy Scouts try their hand at nuclear science at Byron plant  RRStar Feb 17, 2018, BYRON — The alarm was buzzing and the lights were blinking in the Byron Nuclear Generating Station simulation room Saturday.

It was a faux reactor trip, and dozens of Boy Scouts were there to learn how the plant staff would respond in such a crisis…….

Scouts had the opportunity to take two four-hour classes to earn two merit badges. But those interested in nuclear science only had time for one badge, since that career path took all day and concluded with a tour of the plant. …….

Before going into the simulation room, Scouts studying nuclear science sat in classrooms and learned about different types of radiation and ionization.

This is the first time in a while the plant hosted the merit badge event; its been held at Sauk Valley for the past 15 years or so.

Paul Dempsey, the station’s community manager, said bringing the Scouts to Byron also benefits the station.

“This takes the plant into future generations,” he said. “We have plenty of guys who got their (nuclear science) merit badge who now work for us.”…….http://www.rrstar.com/news/20180217/boy-scouts-try-their-hand-at-nuclear-science-at-byron-plant

 

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Education, USA | Leave a comment