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Saudi Arabia’s push for nuclear power and nuclear weapons ability has met an obstacle

Canada may secure America’s nuclear nonproliferation bacon,   http://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/401636-canada-may-secure-americas-nuclear-nonproliferation-bacon 

In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticism of the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle.

On Aug. 7, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and expelled Canada’s ambassador, canceled flights to and from Canada, ordered Saudi students and even Saudis in Canadian hospitals to leave Canada, ordered the immediate sale of Saudi-owned Canadian assets “no matter the cost,” and — what is most important for our story — suspended all new business with Canada.

Why this matters takes a bit of background. The story has, as they say, many moving parts.

The White House has been working hard for months to negotiate a U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation agreement to permit the sale of Westinghouse nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. Although headquartered in Pennsylvania, it was until recently owned by Toshiba Nuclear Energy Holdings. But it is headquartered near Pittsburgh and it has over 5,000 US employees in Pennsylvania, an important political state.

The company has not done well recently. After losing money through its mismanagement of two large US nuclear construction projects, Westinghouse was forced seek protection in Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2017. The one remaining two-unit construction project formerly run by Westinghouse, the Vogtle plant in Georgia, now has an estimated completion cost of $27 billion, double the original cost estimate. Toshiba, the parent company, which itself lost money from backing Westinghouse, decided it had enough and sold Westinghouse to Brookfield Asset Management. The deal became final on Aug. 8, and thereby pulled Westinghouse out of bankruptcy. The kicker is that Brookfield is a Canadian-owned company, one that presumably falls under the new Saudi edict.

The Trump White House is unlikely to let go. The Saudi nuclear business was supposed to be worth untold billions. The Saudis had announced they would start with a twin-unit nuclear plant and claimed they would go on to build a dozen more. That they would do so, and that they would choose Westinghouse was always implausible — it made much more sense for the Saudis to hire a South Korean construction team, and there are cheaper alternatives to nuclear power.

Last fall, the White House was reported to be “flexible” on the gold standard, a critical nonproliferation issue. This concerned whether to leave open in the U.S.-Saudi agreement the possibility of the Saudis reprocessing their spent (irradiated) fuel to extract the contained plutonium and, even more importantly, operating uranium enrichment plants. Such enrichment plants could also produce highly enriched uranium. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium are, of course, the basic nuclear explosives in nuclear weapons. Conceding that Saudi Arabia had the right to produce these explosives would be a major setback for US nonproliferation policy.

The United States had previously negotiated a gold standard agreement with the United Arab Emirates that ruled out reprocessing and uranium enrichment. The Saudis, and their paid supporters in Washington, have insisted that the Kingdom is too proud and too important — being the major weapons buyer in the world — to submit to such conditions. Moreover, the Saudi Crown Prince, in an interview during his charm tour of the United States, famously said that, although he was negotiating an agreement for “peaceful” nuclear cooperation and did not intend to make bombs, if Iran produced a nuclear weapon, so would Saudi Arabia. He made it unambiguous that Saudi Arabia intended to match Iran in uranium enrichment, and that the purpose was not to make fuel, but to have the capacity to make nuclear explosives.

Which presented a dilemma for the White House. It wanted to accommodate the Saudis, but the gold standard is precisely the restriction it wants to impose on Iran, and letting Saudi Arabia get into enrichment would make it much harder to get Iran to quit the technology. Significantly, the Israelis urged a tough US nonproliferation standard for the Saudis. The Trump administration told Congress it would stick with the tough standard. Nevertheless, hard cases make bad law, and the betting within the Beltway has been that the Trump White House, in its eagerness for the putatively lucrative deal, might soften the nonproliferation rules for the Saudis.

Now, however, the Saudi hysterical response to Canadian criticism has upended the betting. The Saudis appear to have left themselves no room for retreat. Nor does it seem that Canada will back down. If that remains so, it should become clear that the Westinghouse option is dead and that it will not help to weaken U.S. nuclear export rules. In that case, the nonproliferation gold standard may be left standing, which would be a clear win for nonproliferation.

Victor Gilinsky served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. He is program adviser for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future. He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993.

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August 15, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

For the first time, scientists can reliably estimate highly radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by Fukushima nuclear disaster 

First reliable estimates of highly radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by Fukushima disaster  https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/gc-1re081218.php GOLDSCHMIDT CONFERENCE

Scientists have for the first time been able to estimate the amount of radioactive cesium-rich microparticles released by the disaster at the Fukushima power plant in 2011. This work, which will have significant health and environmental implications, is presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Boston*.

The flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the disastrous earthquake on March 11 2011 caused the release of significant amounts of radioactive material, including cesium (Cs) isotopes 134Cs (half-life, 2 years) and 137Cs (half-life, 30 years).Initially scientists thought that all Cs was released in soluble form. Now however, they have realized that a part of the released Cs was in the form of glassy microparticles, formed at the time of the reactor meltdown; these particles were thrown over a wide area, but until now there has been no reliable estimate of how much radioactive cesium-rich microparticles was deposited in the surrounding area, and how this material was distributed.

Now a group of international scientists, led by Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya (Associate Professor of Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan) has been able to give the first accurate estimates of the amount of the radioactive microparticles in the environment. This work describes the significance of the microparticles to current radiation levels, and provides fundamental data for a future re-evaluation of health risks from the highly radioactive microparticles which remain in the local environment.

Most of the glassy microparticles are only a few microns in size, and were spread alongside the soluble cesium. The soluble cesium is generally bound to clay minerals after wet deposition, with the clay minerals also forming particles, so it was difficult to distinguish the cesium-rich microparticles from cesium absorbed on clay.” said Dr Utsunomiya, “However, we realized that the cesium-rich microparticle has an extremely high radioactivity ~1011 Bq/g compared with the much lower radioactivity for cesium-sorbing clay particles, and this can be used to distinguish the two types. So we have established a novel procedure to quantify the cesium-rich microparticles by applying a quantitative autoradiography method”.

Autoradiography exposes a photographic film or detector to a radioactive source, which causes the radiation to show up on the film (medical X-rays is the most common autoradiography technique). The team determined the threshold radioactivity for Cs-rich microparticles in the sieved fraction based on the relation between photostimulated luminescence signal and radioactivity. They applied this method to soil samples from 20 affected areas.

Dr Utsunomiya continued “In certain areas, these glassy particles are highly concentrated, so they are a major concern. We have found up to 318 of these particles in just 1 gram of soil, near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Most of these particles are still in the ambient environments, indicating the high stability.

Since the Fukushima accident we have been gradually coming to understand how the microparticles were distributed, and what this might mean to health and the environment. As you would expect, there are more radioactive particles nearer the reactor: we believe that there was a proportion of cesium released as soluble material, but we have found that the area south of the reactor contains a higher proportion of glassy particles. Our estimate is that around 78% of radioactive cesium was released as glassy particles. Many of the microparticles have been washed down from roofs and from plants, and have now gathered in radioactive hot spots.

Now that we have a better idea of the quantities involved and how the radiation has been distributed, it gives our team a better idea of how to approach the effect on health, which is obviously a major concern. This work does not imply that there is any additional radiation which has been missed – the total amount of cesium released at Fukushima remains the same. However, the glassy particles have concentrated the radiation, which means that there is still much new work to be done to understand how this concentrated radiation might affect health”

Commenting on the work, Dr Ken Buesseler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) said:

“The idea of microparticles has not been ‘missed’ in the assessment of total cesium levels in soil after Fukushima; it has been included, although this work highlights the fraction found in cesium microparticles. So we shouldn’t think that there is additional radiation to worry about, but nevertheless in this highly concentrated form it may have different health impacts. These researchers have done a fine job of developing new tools to quantify these microparticles, and that is an important story to tell”

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Dr Buesseler was not involved in this work, this is an independent comment.

*Part of the work was also recently published: Ikehara et al, Environmental Science & Technology, 52(11), (2018) 6390-6398, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06693. This press release contains additional material and comments.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | radiation, USA | Leave a comment

US Government’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) says renewable energy is surging while nuclear is declining

EIA Data Undermines Trump’s Love Affair With Coal & Nuclear https://cleantechnica.com/2018/08/13/eia-data-undermines-trumps-love-affair-with-coal-nuclear/  August 13th, 2018 by Joshua S Hill


A handful of reports published over recent weeks by the US Government’s own Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) have revealed that coal and nuclear continue their decline across the country, while renewable energy continues to surge with longevity which will quickly take it out beyond the reach of the United States’ traditional generators.

So far this month, the EIA has published its “Electric Power Monthly” report and its “Short-Term Energy Outlook” for August, while FERC published its “Energy Infrastructure Update.” When taken together, and excluding an expected decline in utility-scale solar capacity additions, it is good news for the renewable energy industry and bad news for the United States’ coal and nuclear sectors.

Specifically, the United States’ renewable energy sources — consisting of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind — now provide more electricity than nuclear power in over half the states across the country, and more electricity than coal in a third of the states. Further, according to data compiled from the reports by Ken Bossong of the Sun Day Campaign, over the next three years of capacity additions and retirements, the US coal industry will experience a net-loss of 15,898 megawatts (MW) and the nuclear industry will only see a net-increase of 756 MW.

Conversely, utility-scale renewable energy capacity is expected to skyrocket by 156,981 MW over the same time period, led primarily by wind energy with nearly 91 gigawatts (GW) and solar with just over 52 GW.

“EIA and FERC data underscore that the renewable energy train has left the station,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Trying to reverse that situation with costly subsidies for environmentally-polluting nuclear power and coal defies common sense.”

“Nuclear and coal simply can’t compete with renewable energy,” said Tim Judson, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Renewables will be generating more power than nuclear by 2020, and nuclear is poised for the same precipitous decline as coal in the coming years.”

It’s worth noting that “capacity” is not the same as “generation” — because, as Ken Bossong explains, “nuclear and coal typically have higher capacity factors than most renewable sources” — but one need only look at the figures to see that renewable energy is catching quickly here as well. Specifically, renewable energy generation over the first five months of 2018 accounted for 20.17% of the United States’ electrical generation, while nuclear only provided 20.14%. Further, while coal still maintains a healthy lead over both renewables and nuclear with 26.6% over the first five months of 2018, this is down from 39% five years ago when renewables only accounted for 14.3%.

The only substantial negative takeaway from this bundle of official US Governmental reports is that the EIA has downgraded its forecast utility-scale solar capacity additions for 2019 from 11.4 GW to 6.3 GW “As a result of incoming data reported in the Annual Electric Generator survey.” This will be combined with an estimated 3.94 GW worth of residential, commercial, and industrial solar, bringing the total 2019 expected solar capacity additions up to 10.3 GW — a 7% growth on the 9.58 GW expected to come online this year.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ indictment of the Trump administration’s position on nuclear arms

U.N. chief takes mighty swipe at Trump over his nuclear agenda, Asahi Shimbun, By MASATO TAINAKA/ Staff Writer, August 13, 2018  

NAGASAKI–U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mounted a thinly veiled attack on the Trump administration during his Aug. 9 peace ceremony address here to mark the 73rd anniversary of this city’s atomic bombing.

Guterres, the first U.N. chief to attend the annual ceremony in Nagasaki, deftly sidestepped naming the United States, but there was no disguising that his speech was a scathing indictment of the Trump administration’s position on nuclear arms.

“States in possession of nuclear weapons are spending vast sums to modernize their arsenals,” he said. “More than $1.7 trillion was spent in 2017 on arms and armies, the highest level since the end of the Cold War.”

Guterres noted “that is around 80 times the amount needed for global humanitarian aid.”

He stated that nuclear weapons states “have a special responsibility to lead” efforts toward nuclear disarmament.

The speech reflected his chagrin with the Trump administration over its refusal to be a party to the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and its pursuit of low-yield, more “usable” nuclear weapons.

Guterres’ decision to speak to a global audience from Nagasaki allowed him the freedom to voice concerns away from the confines of the U.N. headquarters in New York, and the ever-present threat of meddling from Washington.

Guterres also cited the “frustration” felt by many countries over the slow pace of disarmament. This was clearly a dig at the two nuclear superpowers, the United States and Russia, and the inability of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to move the issue forward.

But only 10 more countries have signed it since then. So far, 14 countries have ratified the pact, far below the 50 required for it to enter into legal force.

Resistance to the treaty by the nuclear powers is the key reason for this. A stark example of how this plays out was evident at the ceremony last December in Oslo to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a Geneva-based coalition of disarmament activists.

Ambassadors to Norway from the United States, Britain and France boycotted the ceremony, an unprecedented slight.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, attended the gathering to give a speech on behalf of the ICAN.

She said nuclear weapons are “not a necessary evil; they are the ultimate evil.”

“Disarmament processes have slowed and even come to a halt,” he said.

It clearly took courage to refer to the treaty banning nuclear weapons during his speech.

The nuclear prohibition treaty was adopted in July last year with 122 countries in favor, or more than 60 percent of the 193 U.N. member nations.

The treaty’s preamble touches upon hibakusha. It says states that are parties to this treaty are “Mindful of the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons.”

When the signing ceremony was held at U.N. headquarters last Sept. 20, Guterres said: “Civil society played a vital role in bringing the treaty to fruition. The heroic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki–the hibakusha–continue to remind us of the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.”

By the end of that day, 50 countries had signed the treaty…………….

Washington also withdrew from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was pushed by the Obama administration, intensifying tensions in a region already beset by conflict.

The United Nations also faces a financial crisis as the United States, the largest contributor to the global body’s regular budget, at 22 percent, has failed to pay its dues, along with 80 other member nations.

Asked about the NPR and U.S. refusal to pay its U.N. dues, Guterres adroitly avoided any direct criticism of the United States, telling reporters in Nagasaki that it was a U.S. decision. He added that the United Nations is still deciding what to do………http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808130052.html

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Low power prices add to nuclear industry’s woes: more reactors headed for shut-down

US nuclear units shut as low power prices threaten more retirements https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/081018-us-nuclear-units-shut-as-low-power-prices-threaten-more-retirements
William Freebairn  EditorStaff  Washington — When Exelon’s Oyster Creek nuclear unit disconnects from the grid at the end of September and permanently shuts, it will mark the start of a busy period of US nuclear power plant closures driven by low power prices that are placing dozens more units at risk.

As utilities threaten to shut nuclear units, a patchwork of state subsidies has emerged, and DOE and the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are mulling separate actions to prevent reactors from closing. The result is a confusing amalgam of measures that could benefit nuclear units in some locations but not others.

“We’re seeing these plants close, and the next question seems to be ‘Is anyone going to step in and stop it,'” said Tim Fox, a vice president at ClearView Energy Partners, in an interview Friday.

In 2012, the US had 104 nuclear units with total gross capacity of 107.6 GW. A series of retirements for technical and economic reasons shuttered 6 units with 4.7 GW of capacity by 2016.

But in recent years, continued low power prices and the competition from subsidized renewable energy and lower-cost natural gas-fired generation has accelerated the pace of nuclear plant retirement announcements. Thirteen additional units with combined capacity of 12.1 GW will shut permanently between September and 2025. The bulk of the announced retirements will be coming in 2019 (2 units), 2020 (3 units) and 2021 (4 units).

An estimated 12.4 GW in nuclear capacity is at high risk of retiring before its operating authorization ends, said Manan Ahuja, senior director of North American power analytics for S&P Global Platts Analytics. As many as half of all US nuclear units are at some risk of premature retirement, Platts Analytics said in an annual report on the topic in January.

“The biggest issue is plant economics,” Ahuja said in an interview Friday. Factors such as the existence of power purchase agreements, which can provide higher revenue for plant operators, plant-specific costs and the prices in capacity markets are important in determining the risks, he noted.

State, federal actions

The figures for early retirements would be higher had states not enacted subsidy programs, known as zero-emission credits, aimed at keeping nuclear units from shutting.

DOE and FERC are separately considering whether and how to compensate nuclear and coal plants for the benefits they provide to the grid.

The program in New York provides payments to three Exelon-owned upstate nuclear plants for 12 years. ZECs paid to generators increase from $17.48/MWh in the first of six two-year periods to $29.15/MWh in the final period through March 2029.

In Illinois, Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants, totaling nearly 3,000 MW, are receiving ZECs. The program could provide $235 million annually to the plant owners.

Power producers separately challenged the Illinois and New Jersey ZEC programs in federal court, saying they violate federal authority to regulate wholesale power markets. After courts ruled in favor of the states, power producers appealed those decisions.

A ZEC-like program was approved by New Jersey lawmakers this year. Plants that are approved for payments could receive 0.4 cent/kWh from retail customers.

In Connecticut, the two-unit 2,113-MW Millstone nuclear plant has been declared eligible to participate in a competitive solicitation for power payments to zero-carbon generating units for the first time. Ohio and Pennsylvania have debated supporting nuclear units, but no action has been taken by lawmakers.

DOE’s effort to consider using its authority to enact emergency measures relating to the power grid to support coal and nuclear plants remains underway and is expected to result in action, although the scope is unknown, said Christine Tezak, managing director at ClearView Energy. “It doesn’t seem imminent today, but it certainly hasn’t fallen off the radar screen,” she said Friday.

Helping save several dozen nuclear units could cost billions of dollars, according to a study by the Brattle Group last month. If all coal and nuclear plants were to receive an out-of-market annual payment of $50 per kilowatt of capacity, roughly the average operating shortfall for plants with a deficit, the cost would be $16.7 billion a year, or about $34 billion over two years. The amount would be somewhat lower if only plants in financial trouble received the support, Brattle said.

Market exposure

While all nuclear plants face competitive pressure, the units that are shutting for economic reasons are almost exclusively in deregulated electricity markets. Those in regulated states face fewer challenges because state rate-setting commissions have generally allowed them to recover their costs.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, a trade association of nuclear vendors and operators, has directed an effort to cut industry costs, and says those costs peaked in 2012 and have fallen 19% to $33.61/MWh. NEI says nuclear plants are not being compensated for the benefits they provide in terms of availability of fuel, high capacity factors and zero carbon emissions.

Market participants and the owners of natural gas-fired generating units have said markets are doing a good job of providing a steady flow of electricity at the lowest cost to consumers, and subsidies will distort those markets and raise customer costs.

In fact, the trend to provide support to nuclear, and potentially, coal units will keep generators online that would otherwise retire, and does nothing to curb the market’s biggest issue, that of overcapacity, Tezak said. It is hard to see wholesale power prices rising if more generators are encouraged by out-of-market subsidies to remain online, she said.

–William Freebairn, william.freebairn@spglobal.com

August 15, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Accidental nuclear war could result from using the same satellites for nuclear and conventional forces.

How Russia, China or America Could Accidentally Start a Nuclear War What happens when you use the same satellites to control nuclear forces as well as conventional troopshttps://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/how-russia-china-or-america-could-accidentally-start-nuclear-war-28692, by Michael Peck, 14 Aug 18

Accidental nuclear war, that’s what could happen.

That’s the warning by a Washington think tank, which argues that the U.S. is inviting nuclear war by using the same command and communications systems to oversee both nuclear and conventional forces. But such “dual use” systems risk an inadvertent nuclear war, because an attack on non-nuclear assets, such as satellites or radars, could be perceived as an attempt to cripple America’s nuclear deterrent.

The Trump administration’s draft nuclear policy already states that cyberattacks against America, or attacks on U.S. satellites, could constitute a strategic threat that merits a nuclearresponse. But this raises a problem called “nuclear entanglement,” where the traditionally bright lines between nuclear and non-nuclear systems become blurred.

In a study earlier this year , the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace pointed out that Russia and China were guilty of entanglement. For example, Russia keeps nuclear submarines and bombers at the same bases as conventional ships and planes: thus a strike by conventional U.S. forces against conventional Russian forces — the sort of operation common in World War II — could be mistaken by Russia as an American strike on its nuclear forces, triggering Russian nuclear retaliation. China plans to attack American satellites to disable U.S. command systems and smart weapons that rely on satellite guidance, because China believes this to be a part of conventional warfare — despite the Trump administration declaring otherwise.

But a new Carnegie study says the U.S. is making the same mistake. “Starting in the last decade of the Cold War, the United States has increased reliance on dual-use systems by assigning nonnuclear roles to C3I assets that used to be employed solely for nuclear operations,” writes James Acton, co-director of Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Program. “Until the mid-1980s, for example, U.S. early-warning satellites were used exclusively for detecting the launch of nuclear-armed missiles. Today, they enable a variety of nonnuclear missions by, for example, providing cuing information for missile defenses involved in intercepting conventional ballistic missiles.”

The U.S. has also scrapped its Cold War land-based communications systems for controlling nuclear forces. Which means that satellites have become virtually the only means for nuclear command and control, and those precious satellites are also handling non-nuclear communications.

Even as cyberwarfare and anti-satellite weapons have emerged as major threats, U.S. satellite systems have become less redundant. In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. had two satellite-based communication systems for nuclear weapons. “Today, the United States is in the process of deploying just four Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites that will be the nation’s sole space-based system for transmitting nuclear employment orders once legacy Milstar satellites have been retired,” writes Acton. Similarly, one of two radio networks for communicating with nuclear missile submarines has been shut down.

Acton explores several scenarios where the U.S. could overreact. “Russia might attack ground-based or space-based U.S. early-warning assets to defeat European missile defenses that were proving effective in intercepting its nonnuclear missiles,” he writes. “Washington might see such attacks, however, as preparations to ensure that limited nuclear strikes by Russia could penetrate the United States’ homeland missile defenses.”

The U.S. fears that Russia could launch limited nuclear strikes to paint America into a corner, where it must either back down or risk escalating into full nuclear war. But Russia could attack dual-use communications systems with the goal of disruptingthe operations of U.S. conventional forces, which the U.S. might perceive as an attempt to  cripple U.S. nuclear communications.

These issues apply to a lesser extent to China, which knows (and the U.S. knows that China knows) that a Chinese first strike wouldn’t be powerful enough to prevent massive American retaliation. Still, a Chinese attack on, say, the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Radar system could be taken as the prelude to a Chinese nuclear strike.

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Acton does point out that the U.S. reaction will depend to some extent on context, such as whether Russia has placed its nuclear forces on alert. But this is a slender reed on which to avoid nuclear destruction.

Untangling nuclear entanglement will not be easy. Russia, China and the U.S. are likely to balk at the cost of separating their nuclear and non-nuclear command and control systems and facilities. Nor are they like to accept limits on weapons that threaten an opponent’s command and control systems, even if those systems have a nuclear function. Acton does suggest a few mild measures to mitigate the problem, such as more resilient command and control systems, or small space-based sensors useful for detecting ICBM launches, but not for conventional warfare.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Rally in Ontario town against nuclear waste dumping

Hornepayne residents rally against nuclear waste storage https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/hornepayne-nuclear-waste-1.4783656  Tuesday’s rally includes march, guest speakers, Aug 14, 2018 

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

The dumping of mud and sediment from a nuclear plant site off Cardiff Bay has been delayed.

Hinkley Point nuclear site dumping off Cardiff Bay delayed https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45187727   , 14 Aug 18 The dumping of mud and sediment from a nuclear plant site off Cardiff Bay has been delayed.

Thousands of tonnes of material needs to be dredged from the Hinkley Point C building site in Somerset.

The developer wants to dispose of 300,000 tonnes of mud across the Bristol Channel in the Cardiff Grounds, a little over a mile out to sea from Cardiff Bay.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will monitor it, but it has been delayed.

We were initially told by the licence holder, NNB Genco, that they intended to begin the dredging/disposal operations on 16 August,” said NRW’s John Wheadon.

“We were subsequently informed that, due to external constraints, the dredging is now expected to begin in early September, although no specific date has yet been provided.”

The move has met with opposition, with some politicians opposing it as well as 7,000 people who signed a petition.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

More evidence of Israeli secret nuclear bomb test – radioactive sheep in Australia

Radioactive sheep shed light on secret nuclear weapons test, https://nypost.com/2018/08/14/radioactive-sheep-shed-light-on-secret-nuclear-weapons-test/ Christopher Carbone, Fox News, August 14, 2018 Newly discovered data from radioactive sheep provides strong evidence that a mysterious “double flash” detected almost 39 years ago near a remote island group was a nuclear explosion.

Ever since the flash was observed by a US Vela satellite orbiting above Earth in September 1979, there’s been speculation that it was produced by a nuclear weapon test by Israel. International researchers in the journal Science & Global Security analyzed previously unpublished results of radiation testing at a US lab of thyroid organs from sheep in southeastern Australia in order to make their determination.

The flash was located in the area of Marion and Prince Edward islands, which are in the South Indian Ocean about halfway between Africa and Antarctica.

“A new publication sheds further light on the Vela Incident of 1979,” said Professor Nick Wilson of Otago University at Wellington, who highlighted the findings but was not involved with the study itself. “[The research] adds to the evidence base that this was an illegal nuclear weapons test, very likely to have been conducted by Israel with assistance from the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Wilson, an epidemiologist and member of the Australia-based Medical Association for the Prevention of War, said the test would have violated the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed in 1963, and urged the United Nations to mount a full inquiry.

The researchers conclude that iodine-131, which is an unstable radioactive form of the element iodine found in the thyroids of some Australian sheep, “would be consistent with them having grazed in the path of a potential radioactive fallout plume from a [Sept. 22, 1979] low-yield nuclear test in the Southern Indian Ocean.”

Thyroid samples from sheep killed in Melbourne were regularly sent to the US for testing — monthly in 1979 but also in the 1950s and 1980s, researchers say.

According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the sheep had been grazing in an area hit by rain four days after the flash incident was observed, which would have been in the downwind path from the suspected explosion site.

Researchers also said the detection of a “hydroacoustic signal” from underwater listening devices at the time is another piece of evidence pointing to a nuclear test.

Israel, which has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a nuclear program, dismissed the claim that it was responsible for the 1979 incident.

srael’s ambassador to New Zealand, Itzhak Gerberg, told the Herald, when asked if Israel was responsible for the explosion: “Simply a ridiculous assumption that does not hold water.”

However, the country’s former Knesset speaker, Avrum Burg, told a conference in 2013 that “Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons” and called for public discussion.

Commenting on the findings, US nuclear weapons expert Leonard Weiss of Stanford University said in the online Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that the “important” new evidence “removes virtually all doubt” that the flash was a small-yield nuclear explosion.

Weiss added that there was “growing circumstantial evidence” that it was conducted by Israel.

“Israel was the only country that had the technical ability and policy motivation to carry out such a clandestine test,” he said.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Israel, secrets,lies and civil liberties, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lewis County Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons calls for USA support of Nuclear Weapons Ban

Nuclear Weapons Should be Unacceptable Option http://www.chronline.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor-nuclear-weapons-should-be-unacceptable-option/article_5c725692-9feb-11e8-9425-6737078872dc.html, Larry Kerschner

The Lewis County Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons wrote a resolution asking the Lewis County Board of County Commissioners to support the abolition of nuclear weapons. We asked them to place it on the agenda of a regular meeting in order to have a public discussion on this important issue. The commissioners have refused to even discuss the resolution.

Knowing the conservative bent of the commissioners, we didn’t have high expectation of the BOCC passing the resolution. We did have an expectation that since the United States Constitution and the Washington State Constitution guarantee a right of redress to the government they would place it on the agenda of a public meeting for citizen discussion.

There are approximately 1,000 nuclear weapons nearby at the Bangor Submarine Base on the Kitsap Peninsula, approximately 65 miles north of Lewis County and 20 miles west of Seattle. The United States has plans to spend between $1 trillion and $2 trillion over the next 30 years to completely rebuild all of its nuclear weapons and weapons systems (missile, submarine and airplane delivery systems).

The willingness to inflict massive indiscriminate destruction on civilian populations undermines our deepest human and ethical values. Massive nuclear retaliation is a form of genocide that should be completely unacceptable from any legal or sane point of view. It violates not only the principles of international law, common decency and common sense, but also the ethical principles of every major religion. 

The United States and all of its communities, instead of continuing the manufacturing of and the threat of the the use of nuclear weapons, should instead take the lead in the global rejection of nuclear weapons.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed April 8, 2010, in Prague by Russia and the United States and entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011. New START replaced the 1991 START Treaty, which expired December 2009, and superseded the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which terminated when New START entered into force. 

New START continues the bipartisan process of verifiably reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals begun by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. New START is the first verifiable U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty to take effect since START I in 1994.

Despite some recent belligerent talk, the governments of the two largest nuclear powers recognize the need to vastly reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world. Previous treaties have called for the eventual abolition of such weapons. 

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated at the United Nations headquarters in New York in March, June and July 2017, with the participation of more than 135 nations.

Similar resolutions have been discussed in a number of cities and counties around the country. I would be willing to predict that the majority of people in Lewis County if asked would agree that nuclear weapons should be eliminated. This should not be a difficult decision for the BOCC to make. Ask your commissioner to make it.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Lower Richland residents lambast Westinghouse over nuclear leak many knew little about

Angry crowd blasts Westinghouse over nuclear leak many knew little about, The State, BY SAMMY FRETWELL

sfretwell@thestate.com   August 14, 2018 HOPKINS 

Upset about contamination from a Westinghouse nuclear fuel plant, Lower Richland residents lambasted the company Monday night for failing to tell them about a recent uranium leak and for ignoring the rural, working-class community the company has operated in for nearly 50 years……..

The leak occurred in June, but high levels of uranium in the soil were not reported to state and federal regulators until July 12. Some people said they knew nothing of the leak until reading about it in The State newspaper in late July, shortly after the leak became public on a federal website.

Uranium levels in the soil were more than 1,000 times higher than what is normally found in dirt. The leak occurred when acid from part of the plant ate through a concrete floor, allowing the hazardous pollution to occur. A plastic liner atop the concrete failed, exposing the concrete to acid. Westinghouse and state regulators now are investigating to learn more about the contamination. …….

Regardless of whether the leak pollutes wells or not, some speakers at the meeting said Westinghouse’s overall operating practices are a concern. Groundwater pollution from plant operations has existed on the site for nearly 40 years, although the company says it has never gotten off site. …….. https://www.thestate.com/news/local/article216593920.html

August 15, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Protecting counterprotesters; nuclear repentance -National Catholic Reporter

Justice Action Bulletin: Protecting counterprotesters; nuclear repentance, National Catholic  Reporter,Aug 14, 2018by Maria Benevento

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

John Kotson: President Trump is in denial about nuclear threat

John Kotson: President Trump is in denial about nuclear threat http://www.timescall.com/columnists/opinion-local/ci_32068313/john-kotson-president-trump-is-denial-about-nuclear, By John Kotson   08/14/2018

In October 1962, as a young IBM engineer, I and another co-worker were sent to Walker AFB, Roswell, N.M., to work on problems with the IBM-built electronics on the brand new B-52 strategic bombers. The morning we finished our work and were planning on flying back home, we encountered a full “alert” at the airbase. The “Cuban Missile” crisis was underway and no one could enter or leave the base except mission critical personnel. The commercial airline used the AFB base runway for operations, so they were out of business and we were stuck in Roswell.

All three wings of B-52 bombers (approximately 45 airplanes) sat on alert pads completely fueled and fully armed with nuclear weapons. The flight crews were living in underground bunkers next to their airplanes awaiting orders to attack. They all knew this was a one-way mission; there would be no airbase, homes or families to return to. Another increase in the “DEFCON” (Defense of the Continent) alert level would have launched an attack against the Soviet Union such as the world has never known. Both the United States and Soviets would have suffered massive destruction and millions of deaths.

THAT NIGHT, WE WENT TO BED WONDERING IF WE WOULD LIVE TO SEE ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH. EVERYONE IN ROSWELL KNEW THAT WALKER AFB WAS A PRIME TARGET FOR THE SOVIETS AND THE CHANCES FOR SURVIVAL WERE MINIMAL. THE TOWN BARS WERE JAMMED FULL AS EVERYONE WAS TRYING TO SOOTH THEIR NERVES. THIS SITUATION CONTINUED FOR SEVERAL DAYS UNTIL COOLER HEADS PREVAILED AND BOTH COUNTRIES MOVED BACK FROM THE NUCLEAR PRECIPICE. TO THIS DAY, THAT IS THE CLOSEST AMERICA HAS EVER COME TO A NUCLEAR WAR.

NOW WE HAVE A PRESIDENT THAT THREATENS COUNTRIES WITH NUCLEAR WAR AT THE DROP OF A HAT. THE “COMMANDER-IN-TWEETS” HAS VERBALLY THREATENED BOTH NORTH KOREA AND IRAN WITH A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST FOR MAKING WAR-LIKE THREATS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES. AT THE SAME TIME, HE HAS ANGERED OUR NATO FRIENDS TO THE POINT THAT IT IS NO LONGER ASSURED THAT THEY WILL EVER COME TO OUR AID IN THE EVENT OF A CONFLICT.

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS SHOWN A LOVE FOR RUSSIA AND THEIR MURDEROUS, AUTOCRATIC, LEADER, VLADIMIR PUTIN THAT DEFIES ALL LOGIC. HE PROMISED THAT HIS SECRET ONE-ON-ONE MEETING WITH PRESIDENT PUTIN YIELDED ASSURANCES THAT RUSSIA IS NO LONGER A THREAT TO ATTACK THE U.S. RUSSIA WILL ALWAYS BE A THREAT TO THE U.S. AS LONG AS THEY CONTINUE ON A PATH OF SEIZING TERRITORY BY MILITARY MEANS AND THREATENING OUR NATO ALLIES. WE MUST REMEMBER, THE UNITED STATES IS COMMITTED UNDER THE NATO TREATY TO COME TO ANY MEMBER’S AID THAT IS ATTACKED BY ANOTHER COUNTRY.

THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN RUSSIAN NUCLEAR MISSILE SUBMARINES STATIONED JUST OFF U.S. COASTAL WATERS. PRESIDENT PUTIN BRAGS THAT HIS MISSILES CAN EACH CARRY UP TO 15 INDEPENDENTLY TARGETED NUCLEAR WARHEADS. IN A FIRST STRIKE SCENARIO, A LAUNCH OF THESE SUBMARINE MISSILES COULD DESTROY COUNTLESS U.S. MILITARY TARGETS, CITIES AND PEOPLES. THE MISSILE FLIGHT TIMES WOULD BE SO SHORT, IT WOULD BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO MOUNT AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSE AGAINST THEM. ONLY THE EXISTENCE OF MANY U.S. NAVY NUCLEAR MISSILE SUBMARINES PROVIDES A DETERRENT AGAINST RUSSIA STARTING SUCH A WAR.

I HAVE LIVED FOR 70 YEARS UNDER THE THREAT OF A NUCLEAR WAR, FIRST WITH THE SOVIET UNION AND MORE RECENTLY NORTH KOREA. DURING THAT TIME, MANY OTHER NATIONS HAVE ACQUIRED NUCLEAR WEAPONS, COMPOUNDING THE THREAT OF A MISTAKE CAUSING A NUCLEAR CONFRONTATION. PRESIDENT TRUMP TOTALLY IGNORES THE CATASTROPHIC CONSEQUENCES OF USING NUCLEAR THREATS TO ACHIEVE HIS OBJECTIVES. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS MAN HAS HIS FINGER ON A NUCLEAR TRIGGER THAT COULD START A WAR INSTANTLY.

I WORRY ABOUT MY CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN HAVING TO LIVE UNDER A NUCLEAR THREAT, AS NATION AFTER NATION STRIVES TO OBTAIN THESE WEAPONS. LIKE MOST AMERICANS, THEY PROBABLY WILL NEVER REALIZE THE THREAT THEY LIVE UNDER UNTIL THE DAY OF NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON ARRIVES. UNLESS ALL COUNTRIES SOON AGREE TO DESTROY THEIR NUCLEAR WEAPON STOCKPILES, OUR WORLD WILL SOMEDAY ENTER A WAR THAT WILL DESTROY ALL HUMANITY. LIKE THE DINOSAURS, WE WILL JUST CEASE TO EXIST.

JOHN KOTSON IS A LONGMONT RESIDENT. HE IS AN IBM RETIREE, FEDERAL SYSTEM DIVISION PREVIOUSLY; IBM SYSTEM ENGINEERING MANAGER FOR MISSILE WARNING AND TRACKING GROUND SYSTEMS; AND SPENT MANY YEARS WORKING ON PENETRATION AIDS AND WEAPON GUIDANCE SYSTEMS FOR THE U.S. AIR FORCE AND U.S. NAVY.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s removal of radioactive barge is helped by Italian floating dock

Italian vessel assists in removing Russian Navy’s nuclear waste http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2018-08-italian-vessel-assists-in-removing-russian-navys-nuclear-waste

An enormous floating dock given to Russia by Italy has been put to use transferring a radioactive barge from the Zvezdochka Shipyard in Severodvinsk to safe storage at the Sayda Bay facility near Murmansk.   by Charles Digges

An enormous floating dock given to Russia by Italy has been put to use transferring a radioactive barge from the Zvezdochka Shipyard in Severodvinsk to safe storage at the Sayda Bay facility near Murmansk.

The dock, called the Itarus, was a gift from Italy to Moscow as part of a multi-country nuclear cleanup drive called the Global Partnership for Nuclear Safety agreed to 15 years ago by the then-Group of Eight industrialized nations.

The radioactively contaminated barge, called the PM-124, was built in 1960 and used as a floating dock for servicing nuclear submarines in the Soviet Northern Fleet. Slated for use until 1985, it continued collecting fuel assemblies for another 20 years. Since 2005, the fuel assemblies have been removed, but but for a time the barge was used used for storing other forms of solid radioactive waste at Zvezdochka.

While nearly all decommissioned submarines from the Soviet Northern Fleet have been dismantled by a variety of international agreements, a number of other military nuclear hazards still lurk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, and the PM-124 was one of them.The Itarus is one of two nuclear-waste transport vessels that Italy provided for Russia under its Global Partnership obligations. The other, called the Rossita, a €70 million container ship, is now engaged in ferrying spent nuclear submarine fuel away from Andreyeva Bay, another major radioactive hazard left over after the Cold War.

For its part, the Itarus, which arrived in Russia in 2016, was designed specifically for shuttling reactor compartments from dismantled nuclear submarines to Sayda Bay, a facility run by SevRAO, the northern branch of RosRAO, one of Russia’s state nuclear waste handling contractor.

Rosatom has also billed it as a valuable tool in retrieving nuclear reactors and other radioactive debris intentionally scuttled in Arctic waters by the Soviet Navy.

No storage site for these underwater nuclear artifacts has yet been selected, but the Russian government has promised for years to raise them, and Rosatom’s submarine decommissioning chief, Anatoly Zakharchyov, has often suggested the Itarus, with its submersible dock features, would be handy for this endeavor.

In 2014, the Russian government revealed that the sunken waste in the Arctic includes 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.

Joint Russian and Norwegian expeditions to the K-27 and another sunken sub, the K-159, suggest neither pose imminent contamination risks. But experts on both sides agree it’s better to get them out of the water sooner than later, before radioactive leakage becomes an urgent problem.

Zakharchyov has said the reinvigoration of the  Gremikha naval nuclear waste storage facility could be a critical storage site for undersea nuclear hazards eventually netted by the Itarus.

August 15, 2018 Posted by | Italy, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Immediate safety changes are needed at UK Atomic Weapons Establishment

Ekklesia 13th Aug 2018 , *Burghfield** The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has required immediate safety
changes to be made at the UK’s nuclear warhead assembly facility and has
said that even with the changes, operations at the site can only continue
for a limited period of time.

If sufficient progress is not made on
reducing risk at the facility, ONR have said that operations may need to
stop altogether. The UK’s nuclear warheads are assembled in the Assembly
Technology Centre at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Burghfield,
using components manufactured at nearby AWE Aldermaston.

The work is carried out in buildings known as ‘Gravel Gerties’ which are designed
to collapse inwards and trap radioactive material if there is a partial
explosion during the assembly process. Burghfield’s Gravel Gerties are
thought to have been built in the 1950s. In May the National Audit Office
revealed that a replacement building is six years late and is expected to
cost £1.8 billion, an increase of 146 per cent over the £734 million
approved for the project in 2011.
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/26557

August 15, 2018 Posted by | safety, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment