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To January 7 – Nuclear and Climate News

I’ve made my New Year’s vows –  to keep this newsletter shorter, and to include good news – good things happening. I am mindful of Greta Thunberg’s dictum – “Look for action – then the hope will come”   Climate change: six positive news stories you probably missed in 2018

All the same, climate change’s drastic and rapid impacts must not be ignored. Paul Beckwith keeps us up to date on developments, especially in the all-important Arctic.

I wish that I knew the Russian language, and had access to Russian information, because climate change in the very Northern region is profoundly affecting Russia – its business, agriculture, and especially its operations in the Arctic. It is a chilling thought (no pun intended) that Putin has now put the nuclear industry in charge of shipping safety in the Arctic.

Russia certainly has toxic nuclear sites. This, along with Putin’s fervour for nuclear imperialism, means that, without media coverage, the world is ignorant of Russia’s nuclear health, environmental, and safety toll.

Then there’s the reality of escalating nuclear weapons tensions. While there is hope, in The U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty, the Doomsday Clock  (monitoring the risk of nuclear war) is at a record 2 minutes to 12.

Weather – perhaps our best hope of bringing home the urgent message of climate change.

Between USA’s John Bolton, and Russia’s nuclear hawks – the fragmentation of nuclear arms control spells global danger.

The nuclear power industry is moribund.

Brave environmental journalists face increasing threats and dangers.

Climate change brings a boom in jellyfish, and a threat to nuclear reactors.

ARCTIC. Tons of methane being released into atmosphere by melting ice sheets.

UK. Academic whitewash of leukaemia incidence near Sellafield nuclear site. The nuclear lobby will be delighted with this knighthood, earned for obscuring the cause of leukaemia.  UK govt offers up to £2.5million to prospective “nuclear dustbin” communities, but not to communities endangered on nuclear transport routes. UK govt now prevents any one local council from pulling out of plans for a vast underground nuclear waste dump in Cumbria.


JAPAN. Fukushima prosecutors demand TEPCO execs get 5 years for negligence that led to nuclear meltdown.   Japan losing hope for having a nuclear export industry. Japan abandoning ambition to sell nuclear power reactors to Turkey. Costs for scrapping 79 nuclear facilities estimated at 1.9 tril. Yen. Farmers struggle to keep cows left behind near Fukushima plant.

RUSSIA. President Vladimir Putin’s new secret weapon –NUCLEAR drone which sends 1,640ft high WAVES.

NORTH KOREA. Earthquakes still being set off due to North Korea’s September 2017 nuclear test.

INDIA. Uranium mining brings disease, deaths, deformities to Jharkhand, India.

GERMANYRenewables beating coal energy in Germany.

CHINA. Chinese state media boasts nuclear weapons escalation, in response to Trump.

AUSTRALIA. Dave Sweeney reflects on the achievements of Australia’s nuclear-free movement in 2018.  The global nuclear lobby co-opts academianow they’ve got University of Tasmania.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | 3 Comments

Hanford’s nuclear wastes. How do you navigate a situation where safety is impossible to promise?

January 8, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | 2 Comments

Forget party politics- the climate does not care – Katherine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe: ‘A thermometer is not liberal or conservative’ Guardian, Jonathan Watts,  6 Jan 19   Katharine Hayhoe: ‘Fear is a short-term spur to action, but to make changes over the long term, we must have hope.’  

Let Science Speak – Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

The award-winning atmospheric scientist on the urgency of the climate crisis and why people are her biggest hope  “….. In 2018, we have seen forest fires in the Arctic circle; record high temperatures in parts of Australia, Africa and the US; floods in India; and devastating droughts in South Africa and Argentina. Is this a turning point? 
This year has hit home how climate change loads the dice against us by taking naturally occurring weather events and amplifying them. We now have attribution studies that show how much more likely or stronger extreme weather events have become as a result of human emissions. For example, wildfires in the western US now burn nearly twice the area they would without climate change, and almost 40% more rain fell during Hurricane Harvey than would have otherwise. So we are really feeling the impacts and know how much humanity is responsible.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 1.5C report in October. A month later, the US federal government’s climate assessment – to which youcontributed – came out. How did these two massive studies move our understanding along? 
These assessments are important because there is a Schrödinger’s Cat element to studying climate impacts. The act of observing affects the outcome. If people aren’t aware of what is happening, why would anyone change? Assessments like these provide us with a vision of the future if we continue on our current pathway, and by doing so they address the most widespread and dangerous myth that the largest number of us have bought into: not that the science isn’t real, but rather that climate change doesn’t matter to me personally.

Compared to past studies, how much media attention did these reports receive?

There was significant coverage but a lot of media survive by generating controversy so they bring on opposing voices rather than explaining the scientific facts. Climate change shouldn’t be fodder for commentators who represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry by muddying the science. As a human and a scientist, this focus on controversy is frustrating. A thermometer is not liberal or conservative.

Are there any signs that public opinion is shifting in the US and elsewhere

We haven’t yet reached the tipping point to motivate sufficient action. But there has been a change. Ten years ago, few people felt personally affected by climate change. It seemed very distant. Today, most people can point to a specific way climate affects their daily lives. This is important because the three key steps to action are accepting that climate change is real, recognising it affects us, and being motivated to do something to fix it. Opinion polls in the US show 70% of people agree the climate is changing, but a majority still say it won’t affect them.

Trump was dismissive of these reports and has repeatedly tried to deny any link between climate change and extreme weather. What are the politics behind this denial? 

It’s a vicious cycle. The more doom-filled reports the scientists release, the stronger the pushback from politicians whose power, ideology and funding depends on maintaining the status quo, and who are supported by those who fear the solutions to climate change more than they fear its impacts. Opposition to climate change is a symptom of a society that is politically polarised between those who cling to the past and those who recognise the need for a better future. Fossil fuels have brought us many benefits – and I’m grateful for their contribution to my life – but the solution to our current crisis is to stop using them. That change can be scary, especially for those with most to lose financially from this shift. If you feel threatened, the instinctive reaction is to push back………

On current trends, if you had to give a percentage breakdown of the likelihood of the following three outcomes by 2100, what would you give: a) keeping to 1.5C; b) keeping to 2C; c) rising above 3C; and d) overshooting 4C?
I’d put my money on a gradual bend away from a higher scenario, which is where we are now, until accumulating and worsening climate disasters eventually lead to a collective “oh shit!” moment, when people finally realise climate impacts do pose a far greater threat than the solutions. At that point, I would hope the world would suddenly ramp up its carbon reduction to the scale of a Manhattan Project or a moon race and we would finally be able to make serious progress. The multitrillion-dollar question is simply when that tipping point in opinion will come, and whether it will be too late for civilisation as we know it. I hope with all my heart that we stay under 1.5C, but my cynical brain says 3C. Perhaps the reality will be somewhere between my head and my heart at 2C.

What is the best way out of the climate crisis? What policies would make a difference? 
The most important thing is to accelerate the realisation that we have to act. This means connecting the dots to show that the impacts are not distant any more: they are here and they affect our lives. It also means talking about solutions. The technology and knowledge are there. The economics already make sense. In Texas, where I live, the biggest military base, Fort Hood, switched last year to renewables because they were cheaper than natural gas. And finally, it means weaning ourselves off fossil fuels, which is challenged by the fact that the majority of the world’s richest companies have made their money from the fossil fuel economy – so the majority of the wealth and power remains in their hands. ………

January 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Misgivings in UK about China’s involvement in Bradwell nuclear project, as enthusiasm for ‘new nuclear’ wanes

FT 7th Jan 2019 The Huawei affair has revived the unresolved question of whether the non-Chinese world can trust Chinese companies as the country becomes an industrial superpower. The US has cited Huawei’s alleged breaches of Iranian sanctions to request the extradition of Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer, from Canada, but it is clear that the real concern is about the ability of Huawei’s advanced technology to gather information.
The US, Australia and New Zealand have already banned Huawei from future G5mobile projects. The UK will soon have to face up to an additional aspect of the issue as a key decision approaches on Chinese plans to build a series of civil nuclear reactors in Britain, starting with Bradwell B on the site of a former air base in Essex.
But what happens next is not simply a matter for the US and the UK. China itself must decide what place in the world it wants. For the UK, the test of whether to follow the American line
will focus not just on Huawei but also on the proposed development of Bradwell B. The plant is intended to be a joint project between the Chinese nuclear company CGN and France’s EDF, with CGN set to own 66.5 per cent of the venture and use its HPR 1000 nuclear reactor. CGN is, on its own estimation, the world’s third largest nuclear power company but its operations have so far been concentrated in China and Bradwell would be a flagship project for its international ambitions.
The HPR Hualong design is going through the assessment process required by the UK nuclear regulator,but there is no reason to suppose it will fail on technical grounds. For the moment, CGN’s plans to build Bradwell B are going ahead but warning signs are appearing. The company was not encouraged to take up the option of developing the planned nuclear project at Moorside in Cumbria that was abandoned by Toshiba in November.
The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission has said the need for new nuclear is much less clear than envisaged in 2013 when the current plans were drawn up.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Bill Gates’ dangerous love affair with plutonium

Bill Gates’ nuclear ambitions go beyond mere ideas. He actually possesses financial holdings in one very dangerous situation indeed – a situation that is presently causing residents around St. Louis, Missouri to live under an all-out nuclear nightmare

Bill Gates’ Plutonium Pipe Dream: Convert Mountains of Depleted Uranium at Paducah to Power Earth for Centuries (Pt. 2)  EnviroNews DC News Bureau on March 14, 2016

“………Cunnings: The man considered by many to be supposedly a humanitarian trailblazer when it comes to combatting disease, has a plan to fast-breed the mountainous heaps of depleted uranium at Paducah into plutonium – one of the most dangerous and disease-causing substance on the face of the planet. Then in turn, this plutonium would be used to power what would be the so-called new fourth-generation nuclear power plants. Let’s listen to Gates articulate his plutonium scheme.

Voice of Bill Gates – Excerpt #2: The concept of this so-called “TerraPower reactor” is that you, in the same reactor, you both burn and breed. So, instead of making plutonium and then extracting it, we take uranium – the 99.3 percent that you normally don’t do anything with – we convert that, and we burn it.

[Editor’s Note: Bill Gates is the current Chairman of the Board of TerraPower — a Washington-based nuclear power technology company.]

Cunnings:Now get this, only 60 seconds after Gates acknowledges the tremendous problem of bringing more plutonium into this world, he turns around and makes a joke about it to a crowd filled with university students from nuclear programs – all this, only a few months after the catastrophic triple melt-through at Fukushima Daiichi.

Bill Gates – Excerpt #3: Our flame is taking the normal depleted uranium – the 99.3 percent that’s cheap as heck, and there’s a pile of it sitting in Paducah, Kentucky that’s enough to power the United States for hundreds and hundreds of years. You’re taking that and you are converting it to plutonium (humorously under his breath) – and then you’re burning that.

Cunnings: Oh yes, Mr. Gates seems to have a little love affair going on with plutonium – and the notion is that we need nuclear power to save ourselves from climate change. ……

Bill Gates Excerpt #8: I love nuclear. It does this radiation thing that’s tricky (laughter). But they’re good solutions. You know, it was interesting; recently, in Connecticut this natural gas plant blew up 11 guys. It just blew them up.

Bill Gates Excerpt #8: Murray: But you are personally investing in nuclear?

Gates: Right.

Cunnings: EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry chatted with the esteemed nuclear industry expert and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen to explore whether Gates’ plan is a good idea or not.

Emerson Urry: Let’s go back to Bill Gates again, [and] the fourth generation nuclear power. I’ve heard him out there speaking about this, and essentially his ambition to, let’s say, convert Paducah, Kentucky [to plutonium]..

……….. the Paducah site is a very expensive cleanup that is going to take 20 or 30 years to decontaminate. You know, it’s like all of these bomb legacy sites – Hanford in Washington State…

Gundersen:   Hanford is going to take 70 years and cost 110 billion dollars to clean up. So, here we are paying over half of a century for the legacy of building bombs for five years in 1940. And so, Paducah is another one of those sites. It was built to enrich uranium. Why did we do that? Because we had a bomb program. And now we’re stuck with these huge costs that are underfunded or unfunded by Congress. That plant is going to sit there for 30 years. It will create a lot of employment for a lot of people knocking it down, but it also is highly radioactive, and it’s got to be done so cautiously, and it’s a really difficult problem.

Cunnings: There’s no known disintegration of plutonium small enough that doesn’t possess the ability to cause cancer. To be clear, there is no safe amount to be exposed to whatsoever.

Plutonium, though a naturally occurring element was virtually non-existent on planet earth before the dawn of the nuclear age. Now, each of the roughly 400 uranium-powered nuclear reactors in the world create approximately 500 pounds of plutonium each year – or enough to create about 100 nuclear warheads each.

…….. Bill Gates’ nuclear ambitions go beyond mere ideas. He actually possesses financial holdings in one very dangerous situation indeed – a situation that is presently causing residents around St. Louis, Missouri to live under an all-out nuclear nightmare……

January 8, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

How does plutonium affect human health?

TOXICOLOGICAL PROFILE FOR PLUTONIUM , Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine/Applied Toxicology Branch,  Atlanta, Georgia

” …….Plutonium may remain in the lungs or move to the bones, liver, or other body organs. It generally stays in the body for decades and continues to expose the surrounding tissues to radiation. Lung, liver, and bone cancer You may develop cancer depending on how much plutonium is in your body and for how long it remains in your body. The types of cancers you would most likely develop are cancers of the lung, bones, and liver…….

The risks of mortality and morbidity from bone and liver cancers have also been studied in Mayak workers. Increasing estimated plutonium body burden was associated with increasing liver cancer mortality, with higher risk in females compared to males…….

Cardiovascular Effects. Epidemiological Studies in Humans. Possible associations between exposure to plutonium and cardiovascular disease have been examined in studies of workers at production and/or processing facilities in the United Kingdom (Sellafield)……..  within a cohort of Sellafield workers   morality rate ratios for plutonium workers were significantly elevated for deaths from circulatory disease and ischemic heart disease . ….

the Mayak studies provide evidence for increased risk of cancer mortality (bone, liver, lung) in association with increased internal plutonium-derived radiation dose and/or body burden, with approximately 4-fold higher risks in females compared to males…….

Risks of mortality and morbidity from bone and liver cancers have also been studied in Mayak workers ….. Increasing estimated plutonium body burden was associated with increasing cancer mortality, with higher risk in females compared to males…..

U.K. Atomic Energy Authority and Atomic Weapons Establishment Workers. ………..The mortality rate ratio was significantly elevated for breast cancer  and cerebrovascular disease  in a cohort of female Sellafield workers identified as plutonium workers……..

Comparisons of mortality rates between plutonium workers and other radiation workers yielded significantly elevated mortality rate ratios for all deaths , all cancers , breast cancer, circulatory disease , and ischemic heart disease.

GENOTOXICITY Abundant information is available regarding the genotoxicity of ionizing radiation……….Although epidemiological studies do not provide conclusive evidence that plutonium produces genetic damage in humans, results of some studies provide suggestive evidence of dose-related increases in chromosomal aberrations in plutonium workers with measurable internalized plutonium……. ……

January 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health, Reference | 1 Comment

Major financial group in Japan bans lending to those developing, making or possessing nuclear weapons 

Resona bans lending to those developing, making or possessing nuclear weapons, January 7, 2019 (Mainichi Japan) TOKYO — Resona Holdings Inc., a major financial group in Japan, has announced a policy of not extending loans to borrowers that are involved in the development, production or possession of nuclear weapons.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

The debate should now be over: climate change is upon us

Are we clear about climate change?

Bill Fletcher Jr., For New Pittsburgh Courier  (NNPA)—In the last two months we have had two devastating hurricanes along with two devastating reports regarding climate change. If anyone wants to further deny the reality of climate change they need to go into a corner along with those who continue to believe that the Earth is flat.

Let’s start with the hurricanes. Florence and Michael have brought tremendous and near apocalyptic damage to the regions that they hit. Entire towns have been wiped out. Looking at pictures of the Florida panhandle in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael brought to mind pictures of areas that had been devastated by carpet bombing.

The warnings, in connection with both hurricanes, were very ominous. The strength of the hurricanes before they hit, with Florence initially off the charts and with Michael the strongest on record to hit the panhandle, should have led even the dimmest light in the room to glow brightly. Something is definitely wrong. Scientists explained this in the immediate aftermath of Michael: yes, they said, there is a direct connection between climate change and the increased intensity and unpredictability of hurricanes. There, it’s been stated.

There were also two reports. The first was from the Trump administration itself, and one, from what I can figure, they did not want the public to see. In essence the report indicated that the Administration expects the temperature of planet Earth to jump 6-7 degrees by the 22nd century. Ironically, they also conclude that nothing can be done, therefore, there is no point in increased regulations on the greenhouse gases that promote climate change! Did I hear that right?

The other report was from the United Nations warning us that nations are not keeping to their agreed targets from the Paris Climate Accords and, as a result, the planet is hurtling towards a point of no return, which could arrive within the next 10-15 years.

The conclusion that we should take from all of this is that the debate is finally over. There is clear and verifiable evidence of climate change underway and the direct relationship of human activity to this phenomenon. For those who raise the point that there has been climate change in the past and that this is natural, guess again. Yes, there has been climate change and it has taken place over hundreds of years. There is no precedent for what we are currently experiencing. This is something new and it is dangerous. And it is something that may envelope humanity in our current life-times, not to mention the life-times of our children.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Can the Green New Deal be saved? — Beyond Nuclear International

Congressional progressives and youth activists delivered it. Democratic leadership killed it. What happens now?

via Can the Green New Deal be saved? — Beyond Nuclear International

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Building a solar-powered Ethiopia — Beyond Nuclear International

Samson Tsegaye’s solar program has transformed lives

via Building a solar-powered Ethiopia — Beyond Nuclear International

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good on the Morning Star for reporting that there is opposition to this Coal Plan… —

Originally posted on Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole: MORNING STAR Friday January 4th 2019 by Peter Lazenby “PLANS to sink the first new deep coal mine in Britain for decades are being backed by the National Union of Mineworkers. The support comes in the face of intense opposition from environmental campaigners, who will protest…

via Good on the Morning Star for reporting that there is opposition to this Coal Plan… —

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA Veterans Dept refuses disability benefits to nuclear worker despite their own doctors diagnosing radiation-caused throat cancer

Navy veteran with throat cancer continues uphill fight with VA for disability benefits, By,  January 05, 2019

Charlotte veteran Dan Parks has been fighting with the Department of Veterans Affairs for five years to get disability benefits.”This has been an uphill battle all the way,” Parks said. Parks showed WSOC-TV paperwork from multiple doctors who determined his throat cancer was caused by exposure to ionizing radiation during his service in the Navy.

He took care of guns and ammunition in the early 1970s, including in an area that housed nuclear torpedo heads.

Now, because of the cancer, his larynx and thyroid were removed.

Twenty-four years after his diagnosis, he still has side effects and takes 18 pills a day, and the VA denies his disability benefits. “If the VA won’t respect their own doctors’ decisions, who does a guy turn to?” Parks asked.

“I’m not trying to bother anybody out of anything,” Parks said. “I just want what is owed to me.”

Parks has received help from both Sen. Thom Tillis and Rep. Alma Adams.

He’s hoping they can help again as he starts the process for benefits all over.

The VA has not yet responded to WSOC-TV.

Parks has been in the appeals process, but just in the past month, he received a letter from the VA that states it couldn’t find his transcript and he has to start over in his request for disability benefits.

“You feel like a criminal. You served your country,” Parks said.

Because of the burden from medical bills and ongoing health needs, Parks has trouble paying his bills every week and says disability benefits would make a huge difference.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | health | Leave a comment

China reportedly tests powerful non-nuclear weapon  8 Jan 19

China has tested one of the most powerful non-nuclear weapons in existence, according to state media. Video released by the Xinhua news agency shows the testing of the massive bomb, dubbed the Chinese ‘Mother of All Bombs’.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Extreme weather shuts down Dounreay nuclear site: all 1,200 staff have been evacuated

Dounreay nuclear site closed due to high winds David McPhee,  7 Jan 19The Dounreay nuclear site has been closed due to extremely high winds, according to a spokeswoman.

The site was officially closed at 1pm after the bosses took advice from the Met Office.

All 1,200 staff have been evacuated after winds had battered the nuclear site for a couple of hours.

A spokeswoman for Dounreay Site Restoration (DSRL) said “the safety of staff was paramount”, adding that DSRL “take their lead from the Met Office, resulting in us officially closing the site at 1pm this afternoon.”

DSRL are decommissioning the site at a cost of £2.32 billion. – 07/01/2019

January 8, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Unusual damage to UK nuclear submarine

January 8, 2019 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment