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Ireland aims to divest from fossil fuels, campaign details and instructions from Friends of the Earth

su-divestment-graphic

Next Thursday July 12th, Ireland could become the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels. But the thing is, we need TDs to actually be there to vote. We, those campaigning for progressive action on climate, know how important this is, but the reality is that TDs have lots of other issues to contend with. Unfortunately, they might not show up and vote unless they’re asked by their constituents.

Will you take 30 seconds to ask your TDs to be there to vote for a strong Divestment Bill?

Yes, I’ll email my TDs

If the Bill passes the critical Report Stage in the Dáil on Thursday, it will seal the deal to make Ireland become the first country to take its investments out of the fossil fuel industry.

Right now the Government is in negotiations with Deputy Thomas Pringle, the Bill’s sponsor, about whether they will support the Bill on July 12th . We are hopeful they will support it, but it’s not a done deal yet. We need to keep the pressure on.

Will you email your TDs now?

Nationally, where are we on climate action?

  • We are currently ranked second last in the EU on our performance on climate action [1].
  • Ireland will at best achieve only a 1% reduction on 2005 emission levels by 2020, instead of the target of 20% [2].
  • We pushed for loopholes within the EU targets which means we will have to achieve a 21% reduction from 2005 levels instead of 30% by 2030 [3].
  • Our peat-burning stations provide us with less than 10% of our electricity, but cause a quarter of our climate pollution from electricity. And yet there are no solid plans to close these stations and support those currently working there to transition to other employment. Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth Director, spoke on Prime Time about this last night [4].

But passing this Bill could help us continue to turn the tide of climate action in our favour.

  • In 2016 we banned fracking.
  • The Climate Emergency Measures Bill to ban offshore oil and gas drilling has progressed to Committee Hearings in the Dáil.
  • The government, under pressure from the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, has just announced that they will establish a special Oireachtas committee on climate action to consider the report from the Citizens’ Assembly [5].

These changes came about because of people power, because of people like you pushing politicians to take progressive action on climate.

Will you continue to use your voice to protect our fragile climate?

Meaghan for signature

Meaghan Carmody
Head of Mobilization
Friends of the Earth

 

P.S. Did you know that you can attend the debate in person on the 12th at 2:10pm? All you have to do is simply follow these four simple steps to contact your local TD (you can use this handy tool if you don’t already know who they are http://www.whoismytd.com/) who can put your name on the list of attendees:
  1. Call the switch board in the Dáil – 01 618 3000
  2. Ask to be put through to one of your TD’s offices
  3. Tell them you are a constituent (give them your address) and leave a message saying ‘you would like to be put on the list to attend the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill Report Stage debate on Thursday July 12th at 2.10pm.
  4. Leave your phone number and ask for a call back to confirm your name is on the list.

Notes

[1] Ireland and Poland worst countries in EU for action and ambition on climate change
[
2] Government admits projected failure to meet greenhouse gas target ‘deeply disappointing‘ 
[
3] Ireland’s Climate and Energy Policy within a European Context – A Critical Perspective 
[
4] Peat Harvesting – Prime Time, 5th July 2018
[5] Oireachtas to set up Special Joint Committee on Climate Action

 

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Research shows link between civil and military nuclear in UK

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Major attention is being given to research by Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone, which shows there is a link between the UK’s military submarine-related nuclear activities and civil new build agendas.

They identify that the need to maintain submarine nuclear capabilities in the military sector has played an influential role in the UK’s decisions to champion nuclear power. The findings have been profiled in a Guardian news story (12 October 2017), which highlights the potentially “extremely expensive” cost of this subsidisation for electricity consumers.

In investigating military documentation, the authors found previously unacknowledged links between civil and defence programmes. Their findings provide a compelling explanation for the UK’s resolute commitment to new nuclear energy projects (such as Hinkley Point C), despite the widespread criticism of its economic and technical feasibility.

In written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Inquiry on Hinkley Point C, Prof Stirling and Dr Johnstone highlighted a number of “significant but neglected queries” over public accounting for UK nuclear power. They wrote:

“The issues arise in the problem that growing recognition of the seriously unfavourable costs of HPC [Hinkley Point C] when compared with other low carbon energy, appears to be having little effect on the intensity of UK Government commitments to nuclear power. We outline evidence that the persistence of these nuclear attachments, despite adverse economics, is partly due to a perceived need to subsidise the costs of operating and renewing the UK nuclear-propelled submarine fleet.

This military nuclear infrastructure shares with civil nuclear power a necessity to maintain a large-scale national base of nuclear-specific skills, research, training, design, engineering, industrial and regulatory capabilities. Without large revenue flows to this highly-specialised joint industrial base from civil nuclear supply chains ultimately funded by electricity consumers, we document clear concern in defence policy debates, that the costs of UK nuclear submarine capabilities could be insupportable.”

In the Committee’s subsequent oral evidence session (9 October 2017), its Chair Meg Hillier MP drew on this evidence to question Stephen Lovegrove CB (Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence) on whether “Hinkley is a great opportunity to maintain our nuclear skills base” (Q84).

His response confirmed that there had been talks with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on the subject, and acknowledged that:

“As a nation we are going into a fairly intense period of nuclear activity… We have at some point to renew the warheads, so there is very definitely an opportunity here for the nation to grasp in terms of building up its nuclear skills… it is going to require concerted Government action to make it happen.” (Q84-5)

Through a series of written questions to the Ministry of Defence, Caroline Lucas MP (Leader of the Green Party) has been querying “the relevance of UK civil nuclear industry skills and supply chains to the maintaining of UK nuclear submarine and wider nuclear weapons capabilities”. Responding to these, Harriett Baldwin MP (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Defence) has confirmed that:

“We engage regularly with counterparts from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), other Government Departments and industry, to address the issue of nuclear skills across both the defence and civil nuclear sectors, and will continue to do so… In all discussions it is fully understood that civil and defence sectors must work together to make sure resource is prioritised appropriately for the protection and prosperity of the United Kingdom.”

Speaking at the annual Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) Conference on 14 October 2017, Mrs Lucas MP declared:

“Nobody could possibly justify Hinkley C… The only way that I think we can explain the ideological obsession with Hinkley – with nuclear power – is because of the cross-subsidy between nuclear power and nuclear weapons… I’ve just been asking some parliamentary questions in the last few weeks, helped very much by Professor Andy Stirling at Sussex University. And now it’s getting on the record, coming back from the government – the fact that they are conceding, effectively, that our heating bills are directly subsidising nuclear weapons… So let us never forget that those two things are utterly interconnected.”

Rolls Royce have also formally acknowledged the benefits that a civil nuclear reactor programme has for the military nuclear submarine industry, in their bid to secure governmental funding for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

Last autumn, to coincide with the government’s green light for Hinkley Point C, Prof Stirling, Dr Johnstone and Emily Cox published a SPRU Working Paper titled ‘Understanding the Intensity of UK Policy Commitments to Nuclear Power.’ The report illuminates many important cross-overs between UK submarine and civil nuclear supply chains.

Begun in 2013, as part of the ESRC-funded Discontinuity in Technological Systems (DiscGo) project, Prof Stirling and Dr Johnstone’s research has gained significant UK and international coverage in the New York Times, Die Tageszeitung (Germany) and the Climate News Network. Their findings have since featured several more times in the Guardian; see: Hinkley Point: the ‘dreadful deal’ behind the world’s most expensive power plant (21 December 2017), Military secrets of our nuclear power plants (27 December 2017).

Report source; SPRU Science Policy Research Unit

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/newsandevents/2017/findings/nuclear

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Nuclear power big or small, old or new – all unlikely to help against climate change

The vanishing nuclear industry, Science Daily, July 2, 2018, Source: College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Summary:
Could nuclear power make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the US energy system over the next three or four decades? Probably not.

Could nuclear power make a significant contribution to decarbonizing the U.S. energy system over the next three or four decades? That is the question asked by four current and former researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP). Their answer: probably not.

In a paper, “U.S. nuclear power: The vanishing low-carbon wedge,” just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), the team examined the current U.S. nuclear fleet, which is made up of large light water nuclear reactors (LWRs). While for three decades, approximately 20% of U.S. power generation has come from these LWRs, these plants are ageing, and the cost of maintaining and updating them along with competition from low cost natural gas, makes them less and less competitive in today’s power markets.

In place of these LWRs, the team asked whether advanced reactor designs might play a significant role in U.S. energy markets in the next few decades. They concluded that they probably would not. Then, the team examined the viability of developing and deploying a fleet of factory manufactured smaller light water reactors, known as small modular reactors (SMRs). The team examined several ways in which a large enough market might be developed to support such an SMR industry, including using them to back up wind and solar and desalinate water, produce heat for industrial processes, or serve military bases. Again, given the current market and policy environments, they concluded that the prospects for this occurrence do not look good. …https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180702154736.htm

July 6, 2018 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

For climate change action, nuclear is a poor choice

Many argue that NPPs are necessary to mitigate climate change, but only one stage out of the 14-stage nuclear fuel cycle is carbon free. Unless equipped with desalination facilities, reactors consume vast amounts of water, an increasingly-scarce resource in countries like Pakistan, which is predicted to completely run out of water by 2025. Nuclear waste must be stored and secured for tens of thousands of years, not to mention the environmental disasters caused by reactor meltdowns. There are other strategies to limit global temperature rise below two degrees, and the idea that countries should deploy all low-carbon technologies no matter the costs should not be used to support such a volatile industry

Why the Civil Nuclear Trap Is Part and Parcel of the Belt and Road Strategy
Civil nuclear energy presents grave pitfalls in terms of cost, innovation and security that BRI countries cannot and should not afford. The Diplomat   By Sam Reynolds July 05, 2018 
 The Larger Point

Although China will continue to promote the benevolent aspects of the BRI, countries along its corridors and elsewhere should not fall victim to the civil nuclear trap. Nuclear energy is too costly, too time-consuming and too risky, especially in light of better alternatives. Instead, developing countries should lead the way towards a secure, low-carbon, low-cost energy future without NPPs.

Nuclear advocates argue correctly that nuclear has comparable levelized costs to solar photovoltaics (PV). The irony is that projects regularly go over budget and costs can actually increase the more nuclear experience a country has, contradicting the learning curve phenomenon. Although the French nuclear program was incredibly successful, it demonstrated “negative learning,” wherein costs actually increased for additional projects. (Solar PV and wind costs decreased the fastest with every doubling of experience.)

Therefore, innovations and experience in nuclear technology might not lead to cost reductions. Continue reading

July 6, 2018 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faces delicate task of negotiating with North Korea on reducing nuclear weapons

Mike Pompeo under pressure to secure nuclear progress in North Korea visit , Guardian Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies 5 Jul 2018   Secretary of state faces pressure to establish timeline for denuclearisation as well as duty to reassure regional allies  Weeks after Donald Trump declared the world a safer place following his historic summit with Kim Jong-un, Mike Pompeo is due to arrive in Pyongyang on Friday amid growing doubts over the regime’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons.

Unnamed US intelligence officials also concluded that North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear stockpile.

Pompeo will also use his visit to consult and reassure Washington’s allies in the region, with meetings planned with Japanese and South Korean officials in Tokyo on Sunday. Japan has voiced support for the leaders’ Singapore declaration, but reacted cautiously to Trump’s decision to cancel a joint US-South Korea military exercise scheduled for August.

Pompeo must establish how far North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have advanced before US officials can even attempt to draw up a potential timeline for America’s central demand – their complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantlement [CVID].

At present, the US has no reliable information on where all of North Korea’s production and testing facilities are located or the size of its ballistic inventory.

In a tweet this week, Trump said Washington and Pyongyang had been having “many good conversations” with North Korea over denuclearisation. “In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months, he said. “All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”

Sceptics have pointed out that Kim no longer believes such tests are necessary now that the North has successful developed an intercontinental ballistic missile, and that dismantling North Korea’s missile and nuclear infrastructure represents a much tougher diplomatic challenge that could take years and cost billions of dollars, if it happens at all.

“Denuclearisation is no simple task,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, wrote in a commentary. “There is no precedent for a country that has openly tested nuclear weapons and developed a nuclear arsenal and infrastructure as substantial as the one in North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.”

Experts have played down Trump’s upbeat appraisal of his 12 June meeting with Kim in Singapore, where the leaders made a loose commitment to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and agreed goodwill measures such as the possible return of the remains of US soldiers from the 1950-53 Korean war.

There are signs Pompeo might abandon all-or-nothing demands for CVID and replace them with incremental steps that South Korea has reportedly suggested would be more likely to secure Kim’s cooperation…….https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/05/mike-pompeo-north-kroea-visit-pressure-nuclear-progress

July 6, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The entire USA nuclear weapons industry depends on the civilian nuclear industry

This loss of nuclear competence is being cited by nuclear and national security experts in both the U.S. and in Europe’s nuclear weapons states as a threat to their military nuclear programs. The White House cited this nuclear nexus in a May memo instructing Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, to force utilities to buy power from unprofitable nuclear and coal plants. The memo states that the “entire US nuclear enterprise” including nuclear weapons and naval propulsion, “depends on a robust civilian nuclear industry.”

A Double First in China for Advanced Nuclear Reactors, https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/nuclear/a-double-first-in-china-for-advanced-nuclear-reactors  By Peter Fairley   5 July 18  Call it the world’s slowest photo finish. After several decades of engineering, construction flaws and delays, and cost overruns — a troubled birth that cost their developers dearly — the most advanced commercial reactor designs from Europe and the United States just delivered their first megawatt-hours of electricity within one day of each other. But their benefits — including safety advances such as the AP1000’s passive cooling and the EPR’s airplane crash-proof shell — may offer too little, too late to secure future projects.

Both of the design debuts happened in China late last month. On Thursday, June 29 a 1,400-MW EPR designed in France and Germany synced up to the grid at the Taishan nuclear power plant. The next day the U.S.-designed 1,117-MW AP1000 delivered first power at China’s Sanmen plant.

Both projects are coming online years behind schedule, and they are still at least several months away from full commercial operation. But the real problem for the AP1000 and the EPR are the designs’ unfinished Western debuts.

Delays are commonplace in the nuclear industry. For instance, the Korean-built nuclear reactors originally due to begin starting up last year in the United Arab Emirates were recently pushed back to late 2019 or early 2020. But the AP1000 and EPR troubles are in a different league.

The AP1000 is designed to passively cool itself during an accidental shutdown, theoretically avoiding accidents like the one at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi. But AP1000 developer Westinghouse declared bankruptcy last year due to construction troubles, particularly at dual-reactor plants for utilities in Georgia and South Carolina. The latter abandoned their pair of partially built AP1000s after investing US $9 billion. The Georgia plant, initiated in 2012, is projected to be completed five years late in 2022 and at a cost of $25 billion — $11 billion more than budgeted.

Delays for the EPR, whose dual-layered concrete shield protects against airplane strikes, contributed to the breakup of Paris-based nuclear giant Areva in 2015. And the first EPR projects in France and Finland remain troubled under French utility Electricité de France (EDF), which absorbed Areva’s reactor business, Fromatome. The Finnish plant, started in 2005 and expected to take four years, is currently slated for startup next year, and deadlines continue to come and go. In June, Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj announced that startup had slid another four months to September 2019.

The troubled EPR and AP1000 projects show that U.S. and European firms have lost competence in nuclear construction and management. ”It’s no coincidence that two of the four AP1000s in the U.S. were abandoned, and that the EPRs that started much earlier than Taishan’s in Finland and France are still under construction,” says nuclear energy consultant Mycle Schneider, principal author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. “The Chinese have a very large workforce that they move from one project to another, so their skills are actually getting better, whereas European and North American companies haven’t completed reactors in decades,” says Schneider.

This loss of nuclear competence is being cited by nuclear and national security experts in both the U.S. and in Europe’s nuclear weapons states as a threat to their military nuclear programs. The White House cited this nuclear nexus in a May memo instructing Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, to force utilities to buy power from unprofitable nuclear and coal plants. The memo states that the “entire US nuclear enterprise” including nuclear weapons and naval propulsion, “depends on a robust civilian nuclear industry.”

letter sent to Perry last month by 75 former U.S. military, industrial and academic leaders adds to the nexus argument, citing a statement from the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review about the United States’ inability to produce enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. “Re-establishing this capability will be far easier and more economical with a strong, thriving civil nuclear sector,” write the signatories.

Heavy dependence on China, meanwhile, puts the global nuclear industry in a vulnerable position. Total nuclear generation declined last year if one takes out China, notes Schneider. And he says a Chinese nuclear growth gap is coming since it hasn’t started building a new reactor in 18 months.

For more than a decade, the AP1000 has been the presumed successor to China’s mainstay reactors, which employ a 1970s-era French design. Areva’s EPR was a fallback option. The Chinese government may now wait to see how the first reactors actually operate before it approves a new wave of reactor construction.

All the while, nuclear is falling further behind renewable solar and wind power. As Schneider notes, the 3.3 GW of new nuclear capacity connected to the grid worldwide in 2017 (including three in China and a fourth in Pakistan built by Chinese firms) pales in comparison to the 53 GW of solar power installed in China alone.

 

July 6, 2018 Posted by | China, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Quel embarras! Superman drone crashed by Greenpeace into French nuclear site – showing security risks

Greenpeace crashes Superman drone into nuclear plant

Greenpeace ‘crash’ Superman drone into French nuclear facility to show security flaws http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-03/greenpeace-fly-superman-drone-into-nuclear-facility/9936884

Greenpeace activists say they have crashed a drone into a French nuclear site, posting footage of the flight on the groups Facebook page.

The group said the stunt was to highlight the lack of security around the facility, adding that “at no time was the drone intercepted or even worried about”.

The drone, which was decked out to resemble a tiny Superman, slammed into the tower in Bugey, about 30 kilometres from Lyon, according to the video released Tuesday.

The environmental activist group says the drone was harmless but showed the lack of security in nuclear installations in France, which is heavily dependent on atomic power.

“This action has once again demonstrated the extreme vulnerability of French nuclear installations, designed for the most part in the 1970s and unprepared for external attacks,” the post read.

France generates 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power in 19 nuclear plants operated by state-controlled EDF.

EDF said that two drones had flown over the Bugey site, of which one had been intercepted by French police.

“The presence of these drones had no impact on the security of the installations,” EDF said, adding that it will file a police complaint.

The drone stunt follows a series of staged break-ins by Greenpeace activists into French nuclear plants, which Greenpeace says are vulnerable to outside attack, especially the spent-fuel pools.

These pools can hold the equivalent of several reactor cores, stored in concrete pools outside the highly reinforced reactor building.

Greenpeace said the spent-fuel buildings were not designed to withstand outside attacks and were the most vulnerable part of French nuclear plants.

“Spent-fuel pools must be turned into bunkers in order to make nuclear plants safer,” Greenpeace France’s chief nuclear campaigner Yannick Rousselet said.

EDF said the spent-fuel pool buildings were robust and designed to withstand natural disasters and accidents.

Greenpeace’s security breaches have sparked a parliamentary investigation into nuclear security, which is due to present its report on Thursday.

In October, Greenpeace activists broke through two security barriers and launched fireworks over EDF’s Cattenom nuclear plant.

In February, a French court gave several Greenpeace activists suspended jail sentences while ordering the group to pay a fine and $78,900 in damages to EDF.

Greenpeace is notorious for attention-grabbing stunts, which have included climbing the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and scaling Big Ben.

 

July 6, 2018 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Iran warns that it may reduce co-operation with IAEA if USA increases sanctions

Iran threatens to cut cooperation with nuclear body after Trump move https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-oil-sanctions/iran-threatens-to-cut-cooperation-with-nuclear-body-after-trump-move-idUSKBN1JU1E9?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, -5 July 18 

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head on Wednesday, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales.

In May, Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

“Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.

“The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added.

Rouhani said earlier in the day Tehran would stand firm against U.S. threats to cut Iranian oil sales.

“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero … It shows they have not thought about its consequences,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.

On Tuesday, Rouhani hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington tries to cut its exports.

He did not elaborate, but an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander explicitly said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile U.S. action.

“If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Ismail Kowsari was quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force, in charge of foreign operations for the Revolutionary Guards, said in a letter published on IRNA: “I kiss your (Rouhani’s) hand for expressing such wise and timely comments, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”

Rouhani, in Vienna trying to salvage the nuclear deal, said U.S. sanctions were a “crime and aggression”, and called on European and other governments to stand up to Trump.

“Iran will survive this round of U.S. sanctions as it has survived them before. This U.S. government will not stay in office forever … But history will judge other nations based on what they do today,” he said.

Rouhani told reporters that if the remaining signatories – the Europeans Britain, France and Germany as well as China and Russia – can guarantee Iran’s benefits: “Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Artificial intelligence (AI) can show where radioactive fallout would spread

In Case of a Nuclear Emergency, This New AI Shows Where Radioactive Fallout Will Spread   Head upwind. Science Alert, DAVID NIELD 4 JUL 2018

One of the areas where artificial intelligence really excels is in working out scenarios with a huge number of complex variables – like how radiation might spread after an accident at a nuclear power plant.

This is the focus of a new AI system developed in Japan, and it’s showing us more accurately than ever before where the safest (and most dangerous) points could be following a meltdown. Spoiler: stay upwind.

While it’s obviously better if nuclear plants don’t fail in the first place, knowing which way the fallout will travel can be crucial in organising emergency responses and keeping people safe. It can quite literally save lives – and a lot of them.

The new AI, developed by a team from the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo, is able to factor in accident variables and prevailing weather patterns to work out where the threat of radiation could be worst, up to 33 hours in advance.

“Our new tool was first trained using years of weather-related data to predict where radioactivity would be distributed if it were released from a particular point,” says one of the team, Takao Yoshikane.

“In subsequent testing, it could predict the direction of dispersion with at least 85 percent accuracy, with this rising to 95 percent in winter when there are more predictable weather patterns.”

You can see the model in action below:

……..The new prediction model can provide useful information about which areas will be worst affected and need evacuating, and which areas have a lower risk – in these areas the residents might just get warnings about being careful what they eat and drink.

With the high temperatures associated with nuclear disaster, radioactive material can travel up to 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) into the air, the scientists report – reaching winds in the upper troposphere that can spread fallout all across the world.

At the lowest level, sea breezes and mountain valley winds can spread fallout locally. All these variables need to be accounted for to get a model that works………https://www.sciencealert.com/ai-can-figure-out-radioactive-fallout-spread

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Japan, technology | Leave a comment

A week of unprecedented heat records across the planet

All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/all-time-heat-records-have-been-set-all-over-the-world-during-the-past-week-20180705-p4zply.htmlBy Jason Samenow

Washington: From the normally mild summers of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded over the past week.

Large areas of heat pressure or heat domes scattered around the hemisphere led to the sweltering temperatures. No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.

Let’s take a tour around the world of the recent hot-weather milestones.

North America

A massive and intense heat dome has consumed the eastern two-thirds of the United States and south-east Canada since late last week. It’s not only been hot but also exceptionally humid. Some of the notable all-time records include:  Denver tied its all-time high-temperature record of 40.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday; Burlington, Vermont, set its all-time warmest minimum temperature ever recorded of 26.6 degrees on Monday; Montreal recorded its highest temperature in recorded history, dating back 147 years, of 36.6 degrees on Monday. The city also posted its most extreme midnight combination of heat and humidity.

Excessive heat torched the British Isles late last week. The stifling heat caused roads and roofs to buckle, the Weather Channel reported, and resulted in multiple record highs in Scotland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland.

Eurasia

A large dome of high pressure, or heat dome, has persistently sat on top of Eurasia over the past week, resulting in some extraordinarily hot weather.

In Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday, the capital city soared to 40.5 degrees, its all-time record, while Yerevan, Armenia, temperatures soared to 42 degrees, a record high for July and tying its record for any month.

Several locations in southern Russia topped or matched their warmest June temperatures on record on Thursday.

Middle East

Qurayat, Oman, posted the world’s hottest minimum temperature ever recorded on June 28: 42.6 degrees.

These various records add to a growing list of heat milestones set over the past 15 months that are part and parcel of a planet that is trending hotter as greenhouse gas concentrations increase because of human activity.

In late May 2017, the western town of Turbat in Pakistan hit 53.5 degrees, tying the all-time highest temperature in the country and the world-record temperature for May.

It followed the hottest temperature ever observed on Earth during the month of April — 50.2 degrees also in Pakistan.

Washington Post

July 6, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

UK media ignores UK Committee on Climate Change’s report – renewables quicker and cheaper than nuclear

 

 

David Lowry’s Blog 2nd July 2018 , A key message from the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC’s) 267-page
annual report 2018 “If new nuclear projects were not to come forward, it is likely that renewables would be able to be deployed on shorter timescales and at lower cost.”

But you would not find this very important assessment in the British media coverage. Why might this be? Perhaps because on the day before, the UK Government published its long-trailed so-called ‘Nuclear Industry Sector Deal’on which the media clearly had been well briefed in advance.
http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2018/07/nuclear-threat-to-sustainable-energy.html

July 6, 2018 Posted by | media, UK | Leave a comment

Botched nuclear clean-up forces UK govt to take it back into public hands

UK nuclear cleanup contract back in public hands after £122m bill
Botched tender was for the disposal of materials at 12 UK sites including Dungeness,  https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/02/uk-nuclear-cleanup-contract-back-in-public-hands-after-122m-bill  Guardian,  Adam Vaughan, 2 July 18.

The UK government has been forced to take a multibillion-pound nuclear cleanup contract back into public ownership, after a botched tender to the private sector landed the taxpayer with a £122m bill.

The government will take over the decommissioning of Britain’s 12 Magnox sites, including the former nuclear power stations at Dungeness in Kent and Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The move is a response to the fallout from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) awarding a 14-year deal to the international consortium Cavendish Fluor Partnership in 2014.

Last year the government settled with two US companies that lost out on the £6.2bn contract and brought a legal challenge over the tender process.

Ministers terminated the contract early, leading to speculation over whether it would be put out to tender again to the private sector or brought back into public hands.

David Peattie, the NDA’s chief executive, told staff he understood they had faced uncertainty in recent months, as he confirmed that the private company Magnox Ltd would become a subsidiary of the NDA on 1 September. He said the change would result in “more efficient decommissioning”.

A source close to the process said: “The reason that this has been done is to remove some of the commercial complications and the large fees paid to contractors. This will ensure more money is spent directly on cleaning up these sites.”

Unions said they wanted talks with the new management regime for assurances over pay and terms.

Peter McIntosh, the Unite union’s acting national officer for energy, said: “This decision is long overdue. The 2014 contract should not have been awarded to any organisation.”

He added: “We need to ensure the taxpayer gets value for money through the transfer of the business and it is not paid for at the expense of the workforce.”

Whitehall’s spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has strongly criticised the NDA and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the handling and oversight of the nuclear cleanup contract, one of the government’s biggest ever.

A review of the failings that led to the bungled process, written by the former National Grid boss Steve Holliday, is due to be published later this year.

Bringing the Magnox work back into the public sector means that about 85% of Britain’s nuclear cleanup work is in public hands, after the NDA’s takeover of the Sellafield storage and reprocessing site in 2016.

The PAC last week announced an inquiry into the NDA’s work at Sellafield, which is forecast to be £913m over budget and faces potential delays.

Magnox Ltd looks after 10 former Magnox power stations and two nuclear research sites.

July 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Developing countries should not fall victim to civil nuclear energy and indebtedness to China

Why the Civil Nuclear Trap Is Part and Parcel of the Belt and Road Strategy
Civil nuclear energy presents grave pitfalls in terms of cost, innovation and security that BRI countries cannot and should not afford. The Diplomat   By Sam Reynolds July 05, 2018 

July 6, 2018 Posted by | China, marketing | Leave a comment

UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) fails to report on Sellafield’s highly dangerous Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) facility

CORE 4th July 2018 ,As a site, the full appreciation of chemical legislation, including The
Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations DSEAR, has been
inadequate’. [Sellafield Ltd Board of Investigation report on 2017
‘chemical event’ and made available to CORE in April 2018]

Many of the findings of the more recently published (20th June 2018) National Audit
Office (NAO) report will come as little surprise, once again apportioning
blame for a litany of missed milestones, mismanagement of contracts and
delays and overspend on major projects by site owner the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA).

The report also criticises the Government’s failure to challenge and assess the NDA’s performance. Of
Sellafield’s 1400 buildings (operational and legacy), some are considered
by NAO to fall short of modern standards and, through deterioration,
‘pose a significant risk to people and the environment’.

Identified as amongst Sellafield’s top 10 highest hazards is the site’s plutonium
stock and associated management facilities, the NAO report warns
specifically of decaying plutonium canisters – a leak from which would
add to the growing list of ’intolerable risks’ posed by Sellafield as
identified by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the acknowledged
risks posed by the volumes of hazardous wastes and materials stored in
run-down buildings.

Yet curiously absent from the references to run down
buildings and intolerable risks – and despite making the national
headlines when the Army’s bomb squad was rushed to Sellafield late one
October weekend last year to deal with unstable chemicals – is the
site’s Analytical Services Laboratory (ASL) facility and the cocktail of
chemicals and radioactive materials it holds.

One of the oldest facilities on site (built in 1951) and located in the tight and highly controlled
confines of Sellafield’s Separation Area alongside old reprocessing plant
and the high hazard legacy ponds and silos, around 50 of ASL’s original
150 laboratories are currently operational. Described by the Office for
Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in June 2017 as a ‘relatively high risk’
facility whose laboratories hold a ‘considerable radiological
inventory’ that ‘has potentially high off-site consequences in the
event of a major accident’, it is little wonder that the Bomb Squad’s
arrival in late October 2017 to deal with ‘unstable chemicals’ and
their potential to ignite or explode; the evacuation of workers and a
100-metre cordon thrown up around ASL should have triggered major alarm
bells locally and further afield.
http://corecumbria.co.uk/briefings/chemical-chaos-and-confusion-at-sellafield-yet-another-intolerable-risk/

July 6, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

USA’s B61-12 gravity bomb of limited usefulness, but enormous cost.

Air Force conducts flight testing on new nuclear bomb — but do they need it? SOFREP News, BY ALEX HOLLINGS 07.04.2018  Late last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the U.S. Air Force announced two successful “end to end” non-nuclear system qualification flight tests aboard B-2 Spirits for the newest nuclear bomb to enter into the American arsenal, the B61-12 gravity bomb.

These tests are intended to determine how effectively the bombs can be loaded onto aircraft and deployed using existing methodologies and procedures. Incorporating this new bomb design into existing processes is important for multiple reasons: specialized training for specific weapons systems would dramatically increase the overall cost of the platform’s introduction, and because the B61-12 gravity bomb is slated to slowly replace America’s existing stockpile of B61 nuclear bomb variants, it’s important that the new bombs blend seamlessly into the force. It will take time to transition the old platforms into new ones, and in the meantime, the whole family of B61 bombs needs to be able to play well with one another.

……… Despite rising concerns about the growing expense related to the B61-12 program, these new platforms are expected to enter service within the next two years, phasing out existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs by 2025. The last legacy bombs to remain in the arsenal will be the B83-1 and B61-11 gravity bomb, both of which possess superior penetration capabilities intended to access and destroy bunkers and other underground facilities.

…….. Unlike nuclear missiles, the B61 family of bombs are simply dropped over their targets the old-fashioned way, using a tail section for stability and offering no further propulsion or navigation.

With America looking to maintain its reliance on the B-52 Stratofortress as integral to the airborne portion of the nuclear triad, it’s hard to imagine a conflict that could see these bombs being dropped from the aging platform at all. The Air Force acknowledges that the B-52 is too slow and lacks the stealth to fly into contested airspace (where such a bomb would almost certainly be used), and the B-2 is currently slated for retirement once the new B-21 Raider enters service. ……..https://sofrep.com/105418/air-force-conducts-flight-testing-on-new-nuclear-bomb-but-do-they-need-it/

July 6, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment