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North Korea would Permanently Dismantle Nuclear Complex If U.S. Takes Corresponding Steps on the peninsula

North Korea Agrees to Permanently Dismantle Nuclear Complex If U.S. Takes Corresponding Steps, TIME,  ERIC TALMADGE AND KIM TONG-HYUNG / AP , September 19, 2018   (PYONGYANG, North Korea)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced a sweeping set of agreements after their second day of talks in Pyongyang on Wednesday that included a promise by Kim to permanently dismantle the North’s main nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding measures, the acceptance of international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and a vow to work together to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

Declaring they had made a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, the two leaders were side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning……

The statement caps off the third summit between Kim and Moon, who is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in its efforts to get Kim to completely — and unilaterally — abandon his nuclear arsenal. ……..

The question is whether it will be enough for President Donald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off.

Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship, and both leaders have expressed interest in a follow-up summit to their meeting in June in Singapore. North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader mentioned it as they read the joint statement.

In the meantime, however, Moon and Kim made concrete moves of their own to reduce tensions on their border.

According a joint statement signed by the countries’ defense chiefs, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes. They also agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone by December and to establish a no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones………

September 21, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 1 Comment

Sea levels could rise by up to 30 feet, due to Antarctic melting

At this rate, Earth risks sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet, historical analysis shows  New research finds that a vast area of Antarctica retreated when Earth’s temperatures weren’t much warmer than they are now, WP  Chris Mooney, September 20  2018

Temperatures not much warmer than the planet is experiencing now were sufficient to melt a major part of the East Antarctic ice sheet in Earth’s past, scientists reported Wednesday, including during one era about 125,000 years ago when sea levels were as much as 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now.

“It doesn’t need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time, this is the end game,” said David Wilson, a geologist at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the new research, which was published in Nature. Scientists at institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Spain also contributed to the work.

The research concerns a little-studied region called the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, which is roughly the size of California and Texas combined and contains more than 10 feet of potential sea-level rise. Fronted by three enormous glaciers named Cook, Mertz and Ninnis, the Wilkes is known to be vulnerable to fast retreat because the ice here is not standing on land and instead is rising up from a deep depression in the ocean floor.

Moreover, that depression grows deeper as you move from the current icy coastline of the Wilkes farther inland toward the South Pole, a downhill slope that could facilitate rapid ice loss.

What the new science adds is that during past warm periods in Earth’s history, some or all of the ice in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin seems to have gone away. That’s an inference researchers made by studying the record of sediments in the seafloor just off the coast of the current ice front……..

Humans have caused about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming above the preindustrial planetary temperatures experienced before the year 1880 or so. The world has pledged to avoid a warming above 2 degrees Celsius, and even hopes to hold the warming to 1.5 degrees, but current promises made by countries are not nearly enough to prevent these outcomes.

n other words, we are already on a course that could heat the planet enough to melt some or all of the Wilkes Basin.

“We say 2 degrees beyond preindustrial, and we’re already beyond preindustrial,” Wilson said. “So this is potentially the kinds of temperatures we could see this century.”

The study cannot reveal, however, just how quickly ice emptied out of the Wilkes Basin. The past warm periods in question are thought to have been driven by slight variations in Earth’s orbit as it rotates around the sun, leading to stronger summer heat. That warmth was maintained for thousands of years.

…….. The new research “contributes to the mounting pile of evidence that East Antarctica is not as stable as we thought,” Isabella Velicogna, a glaciologist at the University of California at Irvine, said by email. Velicogna was not directly involved in the paper…….

September 21, 2018 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Plutonium a risk to humans and environment for thousands of years

Even if the optimism of the scientists and engineers is well-founded, it will still take almost two more decades for the vitrification plant to run at full bore. So it may be 2047—or later—before the ghosts of plutonium are finally laid to rest.

illustration by Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator, American Institute of Physics

September 21, 2018 Posted by | - plutonium, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Emergency lifted at Brunswick nuclear plant

September 21, 2018 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Mock nuclear waste cask to Montpelier, in protest campaign against temporary mobile storage for high-level nuclear waste.

Anti-nuclear waste rally in Montpelier,  18 Sept 18 MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) An anti-nuclear waste campaign visited Montpelier Tuesday night, delivering a replica radioactive waste cask. The event was organized by the “Citizens Awareness Network” as part of a multi-stop tour throughout New England.

Activists say they are responding to a bill now in the U.S. Senate that would establish Anti-nuclear waste rally in Montpelier 18 Sept 18 MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) An anti-nuclear waste campaign visited Montpelier Tuesday night, delivering a replica radioactive waste cask. The event was organized by the “Citizens Awareness Network” as part of a multi-stop tour throughout New England.

Activists say they are responding to a bill now in the U.S. Senate that would establish temporary mobile storage for high-level nuclear waste. The storage casks would travel from places like the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and would be transported to southwestern states like Texas and New Mexico. The group’s goal is to leave the waste where it is, but better protected.

“We have to find a responsible way to deal with this waste and what the industry is trying to do is just get this waste off of their hands as quickly as possible,” said Tim Judson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

“In New Mexico, we are concerned about not just our communities because of the storage, but the transport would impact everyone across the nation. Anywhere between a nuclear power plant and the waste site,” said Leona Morgan of the Nuclear Issues Study Group.

The nuclear cask will stop Wednesday night in Brattleboro at the Congregational Church.

. The storage casks would travel from places like the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant and would be transported to southwestern states like Texas and New Mexico. The group’s goal is to leave the waste where it is, but better protected.

“We have to find a responsible way to deal with this waste and what the industry is trying to do is just get this waste off of their hands as quickly as possible,” said Tim Judson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

“In New Mexico, we are concerned about not just our communities because of the storage, but the transport would impact everyone across the nation. Anywhere between a nuclear power plant and the waste site,” said Leona Morgan of the Nuclear Issues Study Group.

The nuclear cask will stop Wednesday night in Brattleboro at the Congregational Church.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea is willing to allow outside inspectors to check its closed nuclear weapons test site

South Korea Says Pyongyang Willing to Open Up Nuclear-Weapons Test Site

Moon makes disclosure after returning from summit with Kim, in bid to win over North Korea skeptics, WSJ, By Andrew Jeong and Dasl Yoon,  Sept. 20, 2018 SEOUL—North Korea is open to allowing outside inspections of a nuclear-weapons testing site it closed in May, South Korea’s leader said Thursday, just a day after the North agreed to open a missile site to inspectors.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Vogtle Nuclear Power plant – last hope of the industry might not be completed: opposition grows

Growing Opposition Threatens Completion of Last U.S. Nuclear Plant

Primary owners of Georgia’s Vogtle power plant are set to vote on the project—already years behind schedule, billions over budget, WSJ, By Russell Gold

September 21, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Trump keen to have Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to speak at UN nuclear meeting

Trump mulls inviting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to UN nuclear meeting, CBS News,  By KYLIE ATWOOD CBS NEWS September 20, 2018, In a show of President Trump’s staunch support of Saudi Arabia, his administration is mulling the possibility of having that nation’s young leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, speak at the U.S.-hosted UN Security Council meeting next week, according to sources familiar with its planning.But now that the U.S. agenda has shifted away from a narrow focus on Iran, pulling off this diplomatic showcase will be hard to finagle.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, initially declared that Mr. Trump would host a UN Security Council meeting on “to address Iran’s violations of international law” and its actions to sow instability in the region. But that meeting has since changed to focus more broadly on counter-proliferation……

The Trump administration holds the reins on the agenda for the meeting because the U.S. is chairing the Council this month. …..

If Iran had remained the focus, the country would have been offered a seat, and a voice, at the table. But now they will not, as administration officials wanted to avoid a possible confrontation between Mr. Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. Now they say Mr. Trump will have more breathing room and, in theory, avoid getting bashed on the world stage for exiting the Iran deal.  ….

moving away from Iran as the meeting’s focus also makes it logistically more complicated to secure a role for Saudi Arabia, which is not a member of the Security Council……

As of now, Saudi Arabia has not been invited to partake in the discussion. When asked about the possibility of inviting another country to speak at the meeting, a Security Council diplomat explained that “in theory” it could happen, but was not certain it would.  ….

But even after avoiding an embarrassing barrage of criticism for exiting the Iran deal, some experts say that putting Mr. Trump at the helm is still risky.  …

September 21, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Trump to address U.N. on nuclear non proliferation (pardon my mirth)

September 21, 2018 Posted by | weapons and war, Women | Leave a comment

Five Out of 7 Nuclear Reactors in Belgium Halted – National Regulator (Sputnik) – Five out of seven reactors of the two Belgian nuclear power stations have been stopped, the press service of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (AFCN) confirmed to Sputnik Thursday.

“Five out of seven reactors have been stopped, the necessary technical work is being carried out,” the press service said.

Rectors 1 and 2 at Doel have been stopped over cooling system  leak.

READ MORE: Belgian Nuclear Plant Test Reveals ‘Abnormal’ Findings, Raises Safety Concerns

The AFCN said on Wednesday that the analysis of the concrete was being carried out at Doel 4 and Tihange 2, after the initial checks found that it was getting old.In July, specialists discovered the degradation of the concrete quality at Tihange 3, while previously similar problems were found at Doel 3. The latter has since been repaired and restarted.

The AFCN specialist declined to comment on the potential rise of electricity prices in the upcoming winter due to power deficit. The AFCN representative stressed that the regulator’s specialization was the security. Belgian Minister of Energy Marie-Christine Marghem said earlier in September that there would be no strategic reserve of electricity for the upcoming winter as the interior production and import possibilities would be enough.

The two nuclear power stations have a total capacity close to 6,000 megawatts and cover about 50 percent of the electricity used in Belgium, according to the plants’ operator Engie Electrabel.

The Belgian government is planning to shut down all of the reactors by 2025.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

USA Democrats’ Bill to ban new low-yield nuclear weapons

Democrats trying to ban low-yield nuclear warhead

September 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

California law to protect workers, community and environment, as Diablo nuclear power plant to close

California Gov. Brown Signs Historic Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Bill, Magazine,  09/20/2018 SACRAMENTO, CA  – California Gov. Jerry Brown today signed into law a bill to protect the environment, workers, and local communities during the closure of  California’s last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon near San Luis Obispo.Senate Bill 1090, which had wide bipartisan support, will help to ensure that the electricity generated by the giant plant is replaced with zero-carbon options led by energy efficiency and renewable energy. The new law also mandates full funding of a $350 million employee retention program and the $85 million community impact mitigation program, which are needed to ensure that the plant is adequately staffed and essential emergency services are provided through the end of the plant’s license period in 2025.

Plant owner Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), citizen and environmental groups including NRDC, and labor organizations in June 2016 announced an agreement to close the two reactors by August 2025 and replace their generation with lower-cost, zero-carbon alternatives. Their joint proposal asked the California Public Utilities Commission to authorize the replacement of the electricity being generated by the plant 250 miles south of San Francisco with emissions-free options led by energy efficiency, wind and solar power, and included protections for plant workers and surrounding communities during the transition. When the CPUC rejected much of the historic joint proposal in January, supporters turned to the Legislature.

Following is a statement from Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Governor Brown made climate history again today when he signed this legislation to specifically authorize that Diablo Canyon’s electricity generation be replaced with carbon-free resources like energy efficiency and wind and solar power. This groundbreaking legislation also ensures that we account for the full impact of the plant’s closure on the workers and surrounding communities.”

September 21, 2018 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

U.N. looks forward to more countries signing and ratifying nuclear ban treaty

UN expects early enforcement of nuclear ban treaty The United Nations says another 10 countries will likely move toward ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in a signing ceremony next week.

The treaty adopted in July last year says nuclear weapons violate international humanitarian law. It prohibits countries from not only using, but also developing and possessing nuclear weapons.

50 countries need to ratify the treaty before it takes effect.

Santiago Villalpando, the Chief of the Treaty Section of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, indicated on Wednesday that as many as 10 countries are expected to sign the treaty or submit ratification documents after having completed domestic procedures.

To date, 15 countries and territories have ratified the treaty.

Villalpando says the number shows many countries promptly responded within one year of its adoption.

He expressed his high hope that the treaty will take effect at an early date.

Among those who will attend the signing ceremony are General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, and UN Under Secretary General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu.

Beatrice Fihn, the head of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, will also be present.

The non-governmental organization known as ICAN has contributed greatly to the UN approval of the treaty. For its effort, the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US govt plan to improve worker safety at Hanford polluted nuclear site

US agrees to improve worker safety at polluted nuclear site, By: PHUONG LE, Associated Press, Sep 19, 2018 –  SEATTLE (AP) – The U.S. government will test and implement a new system to capture and destroy dangerous vapors released at the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site as part of a settlement agreement reached Wednesday.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told reporters that the agreement represents a major win for hundreds of workers who have been getting sick for years while cleaning up the nation’s nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington.

“Those workers deserve to be protected,” Ferguson said.

He added that the U.S. Department of Energy did not take the issue seriously and resisted putting protections in place.

“There’s no way to sugar coat this,” Ferguson said.

The Energy Department will for the first time test a new technology that Ferguson called “game-changing” that would protect workers from the vapor exposures.

Under the agreement, the agency will pay $925,000 in fees and costs to the state and Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group that has for decades been warning about worker safety. The agency will also install a new vapor monitoring and alarm system and maintain safety measures that are currently in place, including supplying air and respirators.

The Department of Energy said in an emailed statement that the agreement “acknowledges the extensive actions” that the agency, and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions LLC, have taken to protect workers from potential exposure to chemical vapors.

The agency said they continue to “take a very conservative approach to protecting workers from potential exposures to chemical vapors” and that agreement reinforces the ongoing effort.

The state, Hanford Challenge and the pipefitters union Local 598 sued the Energy Department in 2015 and its contractor for tank farms containing nuclear waste, seeking better protection for workers at risk of inhaling vapors or gases that leaked from underground storage tanks.

The agreement puts that federal lawsuit on hold while the Energy Department tests and implements a new system to capture and destroy vapors escaping waste tanks. Ferguson said if the federal agency doesn’t meet its obligations, legal action could resume.

“Hearing and documenting dozens of stories of sick workers was heartbreaking,” said Meredith Crafton, a lawyer representing Hanford Challenge, whose voice broke as she spoke to reporters.

The agreement protects workers in the interim but also creates incentives to find better technology to protect workers in the future, she said.

The 586-square-mile (943-square-kilometer) Hanford nuclear site located along the Columbia River in Eastern Washington state produced up to 70 percent of the plutonium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal since it was established in World War II.

Hanford has 177 underground tanks made of steel that contain more that 54 million gallons (204 million liters) of radioactive and chemical wastes.

Ferguson said studies over the last 20 years, including by the Energy Department and other government agencies, have shown workers falling ill after being exposed to the vapors. They’ve experienced dizziness, nausea and other issues.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | employment, safety, USA | Leave a comment

UK: Labour parliamentarians raise concerns about Nuclear plant mud dumping

Nuclear plant mud dumping worries raised by Labour AMs , BBC News, 19 September 2018 

Two senior Labour AMs have raised concerns in the Senedd about the dumping of mud from a nuclear plant site into the sea near Cardiff.

Julie Morgan and Jane Hutt – both close to leadership frontrunner Mark Drakeford – said constituents had safety worries about dredging 300,000 tonnes of mud from Hinkley Point.

Dumping began last week. AMs were told the mud poses no risk to human health.

Campaigners have called for more tests, and are seeking an injunction.

Ms Morgan and Ms Hutt quizzed Rural Affairs Secretary Lesley Griffiths following a topical question raised by independent AM Neil McEvoy.

The project to build the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset includes dredging mud and sediment from Bristol Channel near the sites of the decommissioned Hinkley Point A and B nuclear plants, and disposing of it just over a mile out to sea from Cardiff Bay.

Protestors want the licence from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) which permitted the dredging to be scrapped, amid worries the mud could be contaminated from discharges from Hinkley.  In the assembly on Wednesday, Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan asked why the dumping site was chosen “when it’s only two kilometres from the shore”, and what the benefits to south Wales were. ……..

September 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes | Leave a comment