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A swift verified nuclear disarmament by North Korea is simply not feasible

Rather than pushing for a swift disarmament, the report suggests small, achievable steps, including a continued freeze on nuclear and ballistic missile tests and a shut-down of the enrichment facility at Yongbyon. It might take six to 10 years of phased concessions on both sides before the nuclear risk is substantially eliminated

A nuclear deal with North Korea would require unprecedented access to secret weapons sites, LA Times, By DAVID S. CLOUD, JUN 03, 2018 

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June 4, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Malaysia questions why only North Korea, Iran must denuclearise. Why not America, China, Russia, India, Pakistan?

KL: All nuclear powers must denuclearise, Straits Times,  Reme Ahmad, South-east Asia Editor , 3 June 18 

Malaysia’s Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said yesterday that his country supports the move to denuclearise the Korean peninsula, but that all the nuclear powers should be stripped of their nuclear arsenal in the future.

Malaysia is also hopeful for a good outcome for the June 12 summit in Singapore between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr Mohamad said in a media interview on the sidelines of the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue security conference.

“Malaysia is fully supportive of any commitment towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. The problem is why only Korea? Why only Iran?

“Why not America, China, Russia, India, Pakistan? So that is monopoly.

“We hope that denuclearisation must be (for) all.”

He said that it was “dangerous for the world” to have the US or North Korea threatening each other with their nuclear weapons.

He described the Trump-Kim summit as a good start towards denuclearisation.

“Whether the meeting will be successful or not, that is another matter, than the fact they would even meet,” said Mr Mohamad, who was sworn in as Defence Minister two weeks ago.

He is attending the Shangri-La Dialogue for the first time and has been meeting his regional and international counterparts…….https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/kl-all-nuclear-powers-must-denuclearise

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Malaysia, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Qatar won’t be part of any military action against Iran

  https://apnews.com/97fe306ffca04550ada18f325fd3939f SINGAPORE (AP), 3 June 18,  — A senior Qatari official said Sunday his country will not be dragged into any conflict with Iran.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Khalid Al Attiyah told an international security conference in Singapore that Qatar has “a lot of differences” with Iran but it does not mean “we go and fuel a war” in the region.

“Is it wise to call the United States and to call Israel to go and fight Iran? … Whether any third party is trying to push the region or some country in the region to start a war in Iran, this will be very dangerous,” he said.

He did not name any party but could be referring to Iran’s rival Saudi Arabia, which has also led a blockade of Qatar with its Persian Gulf allies since June last year, accusing Doha of supporting extremists and refusing to cut ties with Tehran.

“Iran is next door. We should call Iran, put all the files on the table and start to discuss to bring peace rather than war,” he said in a speech.

Responding to a question whether Qatar’s air bases could be used to launch airstrikes on Iran, al-Attiyah said that his country was not a “fan of war” and supported engagement and dialogue.

Qatar is hosting 10,000 U.S. troops stationed at sprawling al-Udeid Air Base as part of its campaign against the Islamic State group and the war in Afghanistan.

Al Attiyah called for salvaging a 2015 nuclear accord between world powers and Iran that offered Tehran sanctions relief for curbs on its nuclear program. The U.S. withdrew from the deal last month.

“Everyone should keep holding on to this and advance with this. In my own judgement, I think the United States is wiser than to enter in a war with Iran,” he said.

He also said Qatar is “firmly aligned” against terrorism and has implemented U.N. resolutions and penalties targeting militants.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste? 

FUKUSHIMA 2018: FUKUSHIMA CONTAMINATION, OLYMPICS 2020

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/16/is-fukushima-doomed-to-become-a-dumping-ground-for-toxic-waste       Despite promises of revitalisation from Japan’s government, seven years on from the nuclear disaster the area is still struggling   This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.

No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.

The Fukushima prefecture government is currently promoting a plan, dubbed The Innovation Coast, that would transform the unwelcoming region into a thriving sweep of high-tech innovation. Much of the development would be directed towards a “robot-related industrial cluster” and experimental zones like a robot test field.

The test field would develop robots tailored for disaster response and for other purposes on a course simulating a wide range of hurdles and challenges already well represented in Fukushima itself. Large water tanks would contain an array of underwater hazards to navigate, mirroring the wreckage-strewn waters beneath the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where a number of meltdown-remediating underwater robots have met a premature demise in recent years.

Elsewhere on the robot test field, dilapidated buildings and other ruins would serve as a proving ground for land-based disaster-response robots, which must navigate twisted steel rods, broken concrete and other rubble. Engineered runways and surrounding radiation-hit areas would serve as prime territory for testing parlous aerial drones for a range of purposes in various weather conditions – which would be difficult or impossible to achieve elsewhere in relatively densely populated Japan.

The planned site for the test field would link with a secluded test area about 13km south along the coast to coordinate test flights over the exclusion zone’s more or less posthuman terrain.

Naturally, unlike Fukushima’s human residents, robots would be oblivious to the elevated radiation levels found outside the Fukushima Daiichi facility. In addition, prefectural officials have suggested that the exclusion zone environs could play host to a range of other services that don’t require much human intervention, such as long-term archive facilities.

Proud long-time residents of Fukushima, for their part, see all this development as a continued “colonisation” of the home prefecture by Tokyo – a well-worn pattern of outsiders using the zone for their own purposes, as were the utility representatives and officials who built the ill-fated plant in the first place.

Years of colossal decontamination measures have scraped irradiated material from seemingly every forest, park, farm, roadside, and school ground. This 16 million cubic metres of radioactive soil is now stored in provisional sites in and around the exclusion zone, waiting to be moved to an interim storage facility that has hardly been started and for which nearly half of the land has not yet even been leased.

The state has promised to remove all the contaminated soil from Fukushima after 30 years, and government officials have been scrupulous in insisting that this will be the case – for soil. Yet in a nation with about 17,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel rods and no willing candidates for secure repositories, it is only a matter of time before it becomes possible for politicians to publicly back the idea of transforming the area around Fukushima Daiichi into a secure repository.

Government officials, including those tasked with nuclear waste storage, describe the quintessentially Japanese strategy of saki-okuri, or calculated postponement, in the context of nuclear waste storage. Such perception management is a subtle business, but by quietly and unrelentingly pushing back the day of reckoning – slowly changing the terms of debate – the broadly distasteful prospect of storing Japan’s most dangerous material in its most tragically maltreated region would become gradually less intolerable to Japanese sensibilities.

The expanse of Fukushima in and around the exclusion zone represents an already contaminated area with, since 2011, far fewer residents to protest against such plans. Such a rare opportunity for relatively unopposed intervention in a struggling area will surely prove irresistible to the nuclear lobby.

Fukushima has been marginalised, disenfranchised, and outmanoeuvred for decades. After all, the electricity from Fukushima Daiichi went straight to the capital, not to Fukushima itself, which bore the risks. Since 2011, Fukushima has been saddled with the staggering burden of the meltdown’s aftermath that, despite government PR, will encumber and stigmatise its citizens for at least several decades.

 Peter Wynn Kirby is a nuclear and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

UK Tax-payer to cop huge payments for Wylfa nuclear power project, and costs may still balloon further

Times 3rd June 2018 ,Ministers will this week reverse decades of opposition to investing taxpayer money in nuclear energy by agreeing to bankroll a £15bn-plus power station in Wales. The government will commit to taking a direct stake in the Wylfa plant on Anglesey, planned by the Japanese industrial giant Hitachi, after more than two years of negotiations.

It is understood the government will also provide the vast bulk of the £9bn debt. State equity will slash the cost of borrowing, but leave the taxpayer exposed if costs balloon or the project overruns. It has, though, helped ministers to
negotiate a strike price — a guaranteed payment for the plant’s electricity — of about £77.50 per megawatt hour. The government was determined to achieve a cheaper price than the £92.50 agreed with EDF, which is building the £20bn Hinkley Point power station in Somerset.

It is understood that this week’s heads of terms agreement with Hitachi will refer to “lessons learnt” from Hinkley. That deal was criticised by the National Audit Office for driving up the cost by piling too much risk on EDF. The deal this week has had to overcome opposition from the Treasury and will be a coup for the business secretary Greg Clark, who sees nuclear power as a key pillar of the government’s industrial strategy. Hitachi is believed to be considering increasing the number of reactors at Wylfa from two to four, with a strike price of less than £70, and to be planning a plant in Gloucestershire. Wylfa’s three shareholders — the UK and Japanese governments and Hitachi — will pump in about £6bn of equity on top of the £9bn debt provided largely by UK taxpayers.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/taxpayer-bankrolls-15bn-nuclear-plant-at-wylfa-in-wales-0p7dnxfhq

June 4, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | 1 Comment

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis taking a tough line on North Korea-USA negotiations

Mattis Warns of Bumpy Road to US, North Korea Nuclear Summit  Military.com    The Associated Press 3 Jun 2018 By Lolita C. Baldor SINGAPORE — It will be a “bumpy road” to the nuclear negotiations with North Korea later this month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Sunday, telling his South Korean and Japanese counterparts they must maintain a strong defensive stance so the diplomats can negotiate from a position of strength.

Mattis was speaking at the start of a meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on the final day of the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference. He said allies must remain vigilant.

…….. Plans are moving forward for a nuclear weapons summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore. And Mattis repeated the U.S. position that North Korea will only receive relief from U.N. national security sanctions when it demonstrates “verifiable and irreversible steps” to denuclearization…….https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/06/03/mattis-warns-bumpy-road-us-north-korea-nuclear-summit.html

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Buddhist priest Tomonobu Narita at forefront of movement to withdraw money from banks that support coal, nuclear


Japan’s divestment campaign pits Buddhist priest against banks In the wake of Fukushima, Tomonobu Narita is at the forefront of a movement to withdraw money from banks that back environmentally harmful energy projects.
by Daniel Hurst   May.29.2018 NBC News, YOKOHAMA, Japan — Buddhist priest Tomonobu Narita admits he hadn’t thought much about energy policy until the Fukushima nuclear meltdown forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in 2011. 

Now he’s at the forefront of a budding movement in Japan to withdraw money from banks that provide finance for environmentally harmful energy projects.

“I was taught about the idea of how changing your bank account can contribute to bettering the environment, and that was an enlightenment for me,” said Narita, the third-generation head priest of a temple in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

The campaign to “divest” from fossil fuels such as coal has gained traction in the United States, Europe and Australia in recent years, but environmental activists are now targeting Japan. They see the country as crucial to the success of international efforts to address climate change.

On top of fossil fuels — which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when burned, contributing to global warming — campaigners here are working to oppose nuclear power.

While advocates of nuclear power say it can provide carbon emissions-free energy, critics say the overall dangers are too high.

Residents are still barred from returning to some of the towns closest to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, where three reactor meltdowns occurred after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Most of the country’s nuclear plants remain offline amid safety checks and legal challenges.

Driven by concern about nuclear power, Narita recently shifted some of his temple’s funds to a financial firm that is rated as one of Japan’s 45 “earth-friendly” banks. This means the bank is not known to provide finance for the fossil fuel and nuclear sectors.

Narita told NBC News he planned to explain the decision to his counterparts in other temples, believing that “we need to be more mindful of what we’re blessed with.”

“That small action when combined [with the actions of others] leads to a bigger effect, so I hope for divestment to have that kind of spread in Japan,” he said during an interview at Totsuka Zenryo Temple. ………

Japan’s Mizuho provided an estimated $11.5 billion in loans to the world’s top coal-plant developers from January 2014 to September 2017, according to analysis published by BankTrack, a pro-renewable energy network. That led to Mizuho being assessed as the most prolific lender in that category, followed by another Japanese financial group, MUFG, in second place, while Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation came in at fifth.

These banks have signaled that they are weighing their future lending criteria………

Takejiro Sueyoshi, a former senior banking executive who is now a special adviser to the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative, believes it will require strong government leadership for banks to take a more assertive step toward renewables. …….

Some senior government figures, at least, seem to be paying attention. The foreign minister, Taro Kono, recently blasted his country’s lackluster embrace of renewable sources like wind and solar as “lamentable.” ……. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japan-s-divestment-campaign-pits-buddhist-priest-against-banks-n876301

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

There’s be no escape from the horrible consequences of nuclear war – not even in New Zealand

According to various experts, New Zealand would indeed likely be the best place to be in the event of a nuclear holocaust. But “best” is a relative term, and this belies just how hellish life could become on one of the world’s last inhabitable countries.

It’s a reminder that whatever happens on June 12 and at future global nuclear negotiations, New Zealand is not a disinterested bystander – and neither are those around the globe who want to treat this country like their own personal bomb shelter. No one gets to opt out of nuclear war.

What happens to NZ if global nuclear war breaks out?  News Hub, 4 June 18 Anxiety over nuclear annihilation is lodged in our collective psyche. And fair enough: we’ve blundered our way to the precipice of nuclear warfare so many times by this point that it’s a wonder how we never made it over the edge.

This month, Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will, all going well, attempt to alleviate these fears somewhat, in what is arguably the best opportunity in decades to end conflict in the Korean peninsula and drive nuclear tensions down. But even if North Korea successfully de-nuclearises and the US stops its sabre-rattling, the world won’t be safe from the threat of future catastrophe: there remain around 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, nearly 14,000 of which are held by Russia and the United States, two countries currently experiencing a renaissance of mutual loathing.

Of course, the question on everybody’s lips is: should global nuclear war break out, what will happen to New Zealand? We after all currently enjoy the status of being the “bolt hole” for the world’s terrified billionaires, and our geographic distance and general disentanglement from the rest of the world’s geopolitical jostling suggests that should the worst happen, we at the very least won’t be in the firing line.

This is a small consolation. According to various experts, New Zealand would indeed likely be the best place to be in the event of a nuclear holocaust. But “best” is a relative term, and this belies just how hellish life could become on one of the world’s last inhabitable countries.

……… some have tried to map out a potential aftermath. In a 2014 paper for Earth’s Future, a team of scientists attempted to model the effects of a limited, regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan that would see each country use 50 warheads, each with a yield of 15 kilotons, about the same as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The results weren’t pretty. Even a “limited” war like this would send five megatonnes of smoke into the stratosphere, heating it by up to 100degC and wiping out most of the earth’s ozone layer for as long as a decade. This means the average burn time in the sun would halve for humans, while the resulting surge of UV radiation would wreak havoc on the world’s vegetation and sealife, including, in the latter case, disrupting the entire food chain of the ocean and damaging marine life in its early, developmental stages.

More alarming is the fact that the colossal amount of black carbon sitting up in the stratosphere would cause a global nuclear winter, the coldest average surface temperatures in 1,000 years. That means shorter growing seasons and the destruction of crops by killing frosts, which Brian Toon, one of the authors of the report, has said would reduce yields of corn, wheat and rice by 10-40 percent for years afterwards.

And this is just for a “limited” war.

“After a full scale nuclear war, temperatures would plunge below Ice Age conditions,” Toon explained to a TED audience earlier this year. “No crops would grow. It’s estimated 90 percent of the population of the planet would starve to death.”

Where does New Zealand fit into all this? Based on what several experts have told me, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is, we would likely be spared the worst consequences of all this. Experts like Toon and Brian Martin, a social scientist at the University of Wollongong who has a PhD in theoretical physics, say that we’d have little to fear from radiation drifting our way. The most harmful isotopes would decay before reaching our shores, and even fallout drifting over from a potential attack on Australia would likely be blown eastward, where it would be rained out.

It’s a similar story when it comes to surface temperature. According to the 2014 study, the scenario it’s based on would produce a drop of around somewhere between 1 and 1.5 degrees – nothing to sneeze at, but substantially less than the 5-7 degrees below normal predicted in the centres of North America and Eurasia.

“In New Zealand, you can still be growing crops,” says Michael Mills, an atmospheric scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, and another of the study’s authors.

Brian Toon, however, sees a less cheerful forecast in the case of a full-scale nuclear war. “It would cause low light levels and winter conditions in New Zealand for several years, perhaps up to a decade,” he says. “No one has evaluated the impact directly on New Zealand, but I would imagine nothing would grow for several years.”

……… It’s a reminder that whatever happens on June 12 and at future global nuclear negotiations, New Zealand is not a disinterested bystander – and neither are those around the globe who want to treat this country like their own personal bomb shelter. No one gets to opt out of nuclear war. https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/06/what-happens-to-nz-if-global-nuclear-war-breaks-out.html

June 4, 2018 Posted by | New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Court dismisses Texas lawsuit to force Nevada’s Yucca Mountain as nuclear waste dump site

Texas’ lawsuit to force Yucca Mountain dismissed, Nevada Appeal staff report, 1 June 18, 

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced on Friday the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted his office’s motion to dismiss the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste lawsuit filed by the State of Texas.

In filing its lawsuit, Texas sought to force congressional funding and rush the Nuclear Regulatory Commission into completing the Yucca Mountain licensing process within a year or less. Texas also sought to prevent the U.S. Department of Energy from pursuing a consent-based siting policy for nuclear facilities.

“Today’s decision comes after many hard fought legal efforts to protect Nevadans from the poster-child for federal overreach — a cram down of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain,” said Laxalt. “This victory proves Nevada is unified in its fight.

“This type of litigation victory happens but once a decade, and is a credit to the hard work of lawyers in my office including my Solicitor General’s Office that is responsible for the legal briefing in this case. We are also proud to work cooperatively with the Office of Nuclear Project’s staff and the Governor’s Office.”

“As Governor of Nevada, I am incredibly pleased by today’s motion to dismiss,” Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “Our state has long been united in the fight against Yucca Mountain and, whether in court or in Congress, we will continue to oppose the siting of a nuclear waste repository in our great ………https://www.nevadaappeal.com/news/government/texas-lawsuit-to-force-yucca-mountain-dismissed/

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Fukushima clean-up – a tremendous long-term task, at tremendous cost

FUKUSHIMA 2018: FUKUSHIMA CONTAMINATION, OLYMPICS 2020

Without doubt, the road ahead of TEPCO is a long one, beset with challenges greater than those faced to date. The Mid- and Long-Term Roadmap—the Japanese state-curated document outlining the decommissioning of Fukushima—envisions operations stretching a full 30-40 years into the future. Some have suggested it’s an optimistic target, others say that the plan lacks details on key, long-term issues such as permanent solid-waste storage beyond the onsite repository currently being employed. Certainly it is the case that key decisions remain. ……..

By all accounts, it is hard to gauge the costs for the Fukushima clean-up. Kohta told Ars that works completed to date have cost about 500.2 billion yen, or $4.7 billion—a tremendous sum, to be sure, but fractional compared to the estimate of 8 trillion yen ($74.6 billion) approved by the Japanese state last May for the complete decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi.

THE REMEDIATION OF FUKUSHIMA —Remediating Fukushima—“When everything goes to hell, you go back to basics”ars Technica  It may take 40 years for the site to appear like “a normal reactor at the end of its life.”WILLIAM STEEL – 

 

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Corporate Socialism: bailing out Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant for the third time?

Three Mile Island Documentary: Nuclear Power’s Promise and Peril | Retro Report | The New York Times

We’ve already bailed out Three Mile Island twice. The third time isn’t a charm http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/06/weve_already_bailed_out_three.htmlBy Eric Epstein

June 4, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Groups Release Key DOE Documents on Expanded Plutonium Pit Production, DOE Nuclear Weapons Plan Not Supported by Recent Congressional Actions

 https://nukewatch.org/pressreleases/PR-Pit-Production-Docs-5-31-18.pdf  May 31, 2018 Contact Tom Clements, SRS Watch, 803.240.7268, tomclements329@cs.com Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch NM, 505.989.7342, c. 505.470.3154, jay@nukewatch.org

  Santa Fe, NM & Columbia, SC – Two key U.S. Department of Energy documents on future production of plutonium “pits” for nuclear weapons, not previously released to the public, fail to justify new and upgraded production facilities at both the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The report reveals that the initial cost estimate for these new and upgraded facilities at both sites is $10 billion by 2030, and around $46 billion in total life cycle costs. Plutonium pits are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons. Cost overruns are the rule for major projects undertaken by the National Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency within DOE, so the costs are likely to rise yet more, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch.

NNSA’s Pu Pit Production Engineering Assessment, originally marked Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information, was finalized on April 20, 2018. The 293-page document was obtained by Nuclear Watch and is being released so that the public may be fully informed about the agency’s misguided pursuit of new plutonium pit production facilities for future new-design nuclear weapons. The new NNSA Administrator has called future plutonium pit production her highest priority. But the Engineering Assessment fails to answer the most crucial question: why are at least 80 plutonium pits per year needed to begin with?

As background, on May 10, 2018, NNSA announced in a one-page statement:

 To achieve DoD’s [Department of Defense] 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This two-prong approach – with at least 50 pits per year produced at Savannah River and at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos – is the best way to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of such a vital undertaking.

Nuclear Watch also obtained NNSA’s 14-page Plutonium Pit Production Engineering Assessment (EA) Results. That summary document, dated May 2018, relied on the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review for claiming the need for expanded plutonium pit production. However, that high-level review failed to state any concrete justification for the alleged pit need. Moreover, Congress is balking at funding any new pit production facilities at SRS, primarily because Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vociferously opposes repurposing the MOX facility, now undergoing termination, and the New Mexico congressional delegation opposes any pit production outside of the Los Alamos Lab.

The Engineering Assessment details that NNSA analyzed four pit production options, one in the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS and three options at Los Alamos. NNSA chose the most expensive combination, repurposing the MOX facility and increasing pit production at LANL to 30 pits per year. Los Alamos is currently authorized to produce 20 pits per year, but has failed to achieve even that because of ongoing nuclear criticality safety issues (moreover, LANL proposed to produce all 80 pits per year, which NNSA rejected). SRS has never produced pits, raising new nuclear risks at that site and concern about new waste streams.

The Engineering Assessment makes clear that “moderate risks” in the option of repurposing the MOX plant at SRS includes any failure to quickly terminate the MOX project, due to subsequent delays in closing out the project and terminating contracts. Likewise, the report affirms a longheld concern that there is a “very high probability for incomplete construction records/as-built drawings” for the MOX project. On May 10, DOE began congressionally sanctioned termination of the bungled MOX project, but it is being opposed in last-ditch, desperate attempts by Senator Lindsey Graham and the State of South Carolina. The Engineering Assessment makes explicitly clear that terminating the MOX program is the crucial prerequisite for plutonium pit production at SRS and that “some work [on repurposing the MOX plant] can be completed during MOX closeout,” contrary to both the wishes of Congress and requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Expanded plutonium pit production is NOT needed to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile, according to Nuclear Watch. In fact, no pit production for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile has been scheduled since 2011, and none is scheduled for the future. Up to 15,000 “excess” pits and another 5,000 in “strategic reserve” are already stored at DOE’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX. In 2006 independent experts found that pits last a least a century1 (they currently average 40 years old). A 2012 follow-on study by the Livermore Lab found that the “graceful aging of plutonium also reduces the immediate need for a modern highcapacity manufacturing facility to replace pits in the stockpile.” 2

 Future pit production is for speculative future new designs being pushed by the nuclear weapons labs, so-called Interoperable Warheads for both land- and sub-launched missiles that the Navy does not support. 3 Moreover, as the Engineering Assessment makes clear, future pits will NOT be exact replicas of existing pits. This could have serious potential consequences because heavily modified plutonium pits cannot be full-scale tested, or alternatively could prompt the U.S. to return to nuclear weapons testing, which would have severe international proliferation consequences.

The Engineering Assessment also explicitly links raising the administrative limit on plutonium at LANL’s “Rad Lab” to expanded pit production. This contradicts a recent draft environmental assessment in which NNSA claimed that re-categorizing the Rad Lab as a Hazard Category-3 nuclear facility was necessary only to maintain basic analytical chemistry capabilities, while omitting any reference whatsoever to expanded plutonium pit production.

The Engineering Assessment briefly outlines what could be a major vulnerability to NNSA’s pit production plans, that is the agency’s future compliance (or not) with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Assessment states that if “compliance is delayed, [this] extends the schedule, increases costs, and/or delays production.” Both Nuclear Watch and SRS Watch assert that the law requires that major federal proposals be subject to public review and comment before a formal decision is made. Arguably, a formal decision to raise production to 80 pits or more per year necessitates a new or supplemental nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), which the new dual-site decision strongly buttresses. Follow-on site-specific NEPA documents will then be necessary, with full public participation and hearings. All of this could introduce substantial delays to NNSA’s plutonium pit production plans.

“While it’s clear that the bungled MOX project is unworkable from technical and cost perspectives and must rapidly be terminated, there is no justification to convert the abandoned facility to a nuclear bomb production plant,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch. “We agree that money must now be spent closing and securing the MOX building, but not on the new, unauthorized pit mission. Spending taxpayer funds to now begin conversion of the MOX plant to pit production, as is indicated in the pit report, is premature and can’t even be considered until Congress approves the NNSA approach for new facilities and an environmental impact review with public participation takes place,” added Clements.

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch Director, commented, “NNSA has already tried four times to expand plutonium pit production, only to be defeated by citizen opposition and its own cost overruns and incompetence. We realize that this fifth attempt at a new pit plant is the most serious yet, but we remain confident it too will fall apart. The enormous financial and environmental costs of new nuclear bomb factories and the fact that expanded plutonium pit production is simply not needed for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile will doom this effort. We think the American public will reject new-design nuclear weapons, which is what this expanded pit production decision is really all about.”

June 4, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Chinese firm Ocean Nuclear, links to former UK Prime Minister, on a fund-raising roadshow in London

City AM 1st June 2018 Energy investment firm Ocean Nuclear today announced the launch of a $5bn (£3.8bn) nuclear energy industry fundraising roadshow in London. The Chinese company has negotiated nuclear infrastructure projects in more than
20 countries and will use 144 meetings at the roadshow to raise money for the programmes.

Ocean Nuclear has backing from firms including Silk Road Energy, which aims to raise $80m, and has been backed by the Belt and Road initiative, which has links to former Prime Minister David Cameron.
http://www.cityam.com/286792/chinese-firm-launches-5bn-london-nuclear-energy-industry

June 4, 2018 Posted by | China, spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear power projects drag ratepayers into a quagmire of higher cost electricity

Construction Delays Boost Cost Of Nuclear Power Plants By Up To 20%, Give Renewables Another Economic Advantage https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/01/construction-delays-boost-cost-of-nuclear-power-plants-by-up-to-20-give-renewables-another-economic-advantage  June 1st, 2018 by Steve Hanley 


Researchers from Imperial College London, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and the University of Minho have looked at the difference between the projected cost of nuclear power plants from 2010 to the present and compared them to the actual cost of those projects once completed. They find that, on average, delays in the construction process added about 18% to the budgeted cost of those projects.

At a time when entrenched energy interests are doing everything in their power to convince regulators new nuclear facilities make economic sense, it’s important to know that what the planners say a project will cost is only an hypothesis. What it actually costs will be significantly higher, based on historical data. Which means those comparing the cost of renewables to the cost of nuclear should use the higher number that experience shows to be accurate rather than some pie in the sky projections that are more likely to be dreams than real numbers? The new research has been published recently by the journal Energy Policy.

Lead author Dr. Joana Portugal Pereira of the Center for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, said: “Nuclear projects are actually becoming more complex to carry out, inducing delays and higher costs. Safety and regulatory considerations play heavily into this, particularly in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident in Japan.”

When assessing the cost of new nuclear projects, decision makers often use “overnight construction costs,” according to Science Daily. The assumption is that projects will be built on time, usually within five years. However, the “lead-time” — the time between the initiation of the project and its completion — can cause significant extra costs.

The study included nuclear projects in China, India, and the UAE in addition to traditional locations like Europe, the USA, and Japan. Dr. Pereira adds, “If we want to decarbonize our energy system, nuclear may not be the best choice for a primary strategy. Nuclear power is better late than never, but to really address climate change, it would be best if they were not late at all, as technologies like wind and solar rarely are.”

The research should be a warning to those who finance and insure such projects — the projected costs are often little more than vaporware designed to get a project moving forward. The researchers say nuclear projects are more like ‘mega-projects’ — such as large dams — which require more rigorous financial assessments due to their high uncertainty and risk.

Once a new nuclear project gets moving, it takes on a life of its own, dragging ratepayers deeper and deeper into a quagmire of higher cost electricity that may last for 40 years or more. Regulators also need to be aware of this research, as it suggests many of the basic assumptions about the cost of new nuclear facilities are artificial and bear little relation to reality.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Terra Power’s Traveling Wave Nuclear Reactor sounds great – BUT!

TerraPower’s Nuclear Reactor Could Power the 21st Century. The traveling-wave reactor and other advanced reactor designs could solve our fossil fuel dependency IEEE Spectrum, By Michael Koziol  3 June 18,    “….  ..In a world defined by climate change, many experts hope that the electricity grid of the future will be powered entirely by solar, wind, and hydropower. Yet few expect that clean energy grid to manifest soon enough to bring about significant cuts in greenhouse gases within the next few decades. Solar- and wind-generated electricity are growing faster than any other category; nevertheless, together they accounted for less than 2 percent of the world’s primary energy consumption in 2015, according to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century.

June 4, 2018 Posted by | China, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment