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School students’ Global Strike for Future – March 15

16 Year Old Protester Changes The World | Greta Thunberg | Goalcast

Striking for the future: From Australia to Japan to India, youths will skip school on March 15 to protest against climate change

Students from at least six Asian countries will take part in Global Strike for Future
But authorities in some countries have warned students not to disrupt classes South China Morning Post Zoe Low 10 Mar, 2019 On March 15, students from at least six countries in the Asia-Pacific will be part of a global school strike to demand concrete action from governments to tackle climate change.

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March 12, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Nobody wants to host Fukushima’s millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil

Fukushima grapples with toxic soil that no one wants   https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/11/fukushima-toxic-soil-disaster-radioactive Eight years after the disaster, not a single location will take the millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil that remain, Justin McCurry in Okuma 12 Mar 2019 
Workers at a soil separation facility for decontamination work in Okuma. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Not even the icy wind blowing in from the coast seems to bother the men in protective masks, helmets and gloves, playing their part in the world’s biggest nuclear cleanup.

Away from the public gaze, they remove the latest of the more than 1,000 black sacks filled with radioactive soil and unload their contents into giant sieves. A covered conveyor belt carries the soil to the lip of a huge pit where it is flattened in preparation for the next load. And there it will remain, untouched, for almost three decades.

It is repetitive, painstaking work but there is no quick way of addressing arguably the most controversial physical legacy of the triple meltdown that occurred eight years ago at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

In the years after the disaster, about 70,000 workers removed topsoil, tree branches, grass and other contaminated material from areas near homes, schools and public buildings in a unprecedented ¥2.9tn (£21bn) drive to reduce radiation to levels that would enable tens of thousands of evacuees to return home.

The decontamination operation cleaned generated millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil, packed into bags that carpet large swaths of Fukushima prefecture.

Japan’s government has pledged that the soil will moved to the interim storage facility and then, by 2045, to a permanent site outside of Fukushima prefecture as part of a deal with local residents who do not want their communities turned into a nuclear dumping ground.

But the government’s blueprint for the soil is unravelling: so far, not a single location has agreed to accommodate the toxic waste.

While workers inside the ruined nuclear plant struggle to contain the build-up of more than 1m tonnes of radioactive water, outside, work continues to remove, process and store soil that will amount to 14m cubic metres by 2021.

The task is expected to take another two years, according to Jiro Hiratsuka, an environment ministry official who is guiding a small group of foreign journalists, including the Guardian, around the interim storage facility.

“We are required by law to find a final storage place outside Fukushima, so it can’t be kept here indefinitely,” Hiratsuka said. “It’s true that we have yet to find an appropriate location, but a lot will depend on how much space we need and the level of radioactivity in the soil.”

There is opposition, too, to the idea of using soil with lower radiation levels – or less 8,000 becquerels per kilogram – as the foundation for roads, embankments and other infrastructure in Fukushima.

The storage facility straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba, located west of the power plant, where radiation levels are still too high for residents to return. So far, 2.3m cubic metres of soil – about 15% of the total – have been brought to the site.

The operation involves thousands of workers, including drivers who make 1,600 return trips every day. So far, 355,000 trucks have been used – and officials say they need more.

“I am aware that some people are saying it would be better to keep it here, but the people of Okuma and Futaba have had a really tough time, and they agreed the soil could be kept here on the condition that it would eventually be moved out of Fukushima,” Hiratsuka said.

Despite the decontamination efforts, only a small number of residents who were ordered to leave after the triple meltdown have returned to neighbourhoods where evacuation orders have been lifted, according to local government data.

A poll by the Asahi newspaper and a local broadcaster found that almost two-thirds of evacuated residents felt anxious about radiation despite official claims that decontamination work had been a success.

As Japan marked the eighth anniversary on Monday of the magnitude-9 earthquake and deadly tsunami that triggered the Fukushima meltdown, environmental groups warned that some “safe” neighbourhoods still contained radiation hotspots.

Greenpeace investigation revealed high levels of radiation in areas that had been declared safe, and accused the government of misleading the international community about the risks faced by returning evacuees and decontamination workers.

“Some areas still have significantly high levels of radiation,” said Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany who is based in Japan. “They are much higher than background radiation before the accident.”

Minoru Ikeda, who took part in the decontamination effort, said workers cut corners to meet strict deadlines. “There were times when we were told to leave the contaminated topsoil and just remove the leaves so we could get everything done on schedule,” he said. “Sometimes we would look at each other as if to say: ‘What on earth are we doing here?’”

He was sceptical of official claims that a permanent home would be found the for soil. “I don’t believe for a minute that they will be able to move all that soil out of Fukushima,” he said. “The government has to come up with a plan B.”

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike

Adults won’t take climate change seriously. So we, the youth, are forced to strike. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Maddy FernandsIsra HirsiHaven ColemanAlexandria Villaseñor, March 7, 2019 Editor’s note: The authors are the lead organizers of US Youth Climate Strike, part of a global student movement inspired by 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strikes in Sweden and other European countries.

We, the youth of America, are fed up with decades of inaction on climate change. On Friday, March 15, young people like us across the United States will strike from school. We strike to bring attention to the millions of our generation who will most suffer the consequences of increased global temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather. But this isn’t a message only to America. It’s a message from the world, to the world, as students in dozens of countries on every continent will be striking together for the first time.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has pumped greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere. Thirty years ago, climate scientist James Hansen warned Congress about climate change. Now, according to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global temperature rise, we have only 11 years to prevent even worse effects of climate change. And that is why we strike.

We strike to support the Green New Deal. Outrage has swept across the United States over the proposed legislation. Some balk at the cost of transitioning the country to renewable energy, while others recognize its far greater benefit to society as a whole. The Green New Deal is an investment in our future—and the future of generations beyond us—that will provide jobs, critical new infrastructure and most importantly, the drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions essential to limit global warming. And that is why we strike.

To many people, the Green New Deal seems like a radical, dangerous idea. That same sentiment was felt in 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed the New Deal—a drastic piece of legislation credited with ending the Great Depression that threatened (and cost) many lives in this country…….

The alarming symptoms of Climate Denialism—a serious condition affecting both the hallways of government and the general population—mark our current historical crossroads of make-it-or-break-it action on climate change. Although there are many reasons for this affliction—such as difficulty grasping the abstract concept of a globally changed climate, or paralysis in the face of overwhelming environmental catastrophe—the primary mode of Climate Denialism contagion involves lies spouted by politicians, large corporations, and interest groups. People in power, like Senator McConnell and the Koch brothers, have used money and power to strategically shift the narrative on climate change and spread lies that allow themselves and other fossil fuel industry beneficiaries to keep the fortunes they’ve built on burning fossil fuels and degrading the environment. …….

We strike because our world leaders haven’t acknowledged, prioritized, or properly addressed the climate crisis. We strike because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color and low income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We strike because if the societal order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then influential adults will be forced to take note, face the urgency of the climate crisis, and enact change. With our future at stake, we call for radical legislative action—now—to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We strike for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100 percent renewable economy, and to stop creation of new fossil fuel infrastructure. We strike because we believe the climate crisis should be called what it really is: A national emergency, because we are running out of time. https://thebulletin.org/2019/03/adults-wont-take-climate-change-seriously-so-we-the-youth-are-forced-to-strike/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=ClimateStrikeOpEd_03072019

March 12, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

A nuclear nightmare is brewing between India and Pakistan

March 12, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive boars thrive in Fukshima towns

Times 11th March 2019 The towns around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant are among the
most perilously radioactive in the world, yet in their own strange way they have never been busier. The people who lived here fled in a rush after the meltdown of the nuclear reactors, but a new citizenry has established itself and is thriving in the unusual conditions. They squat in family groups in the wooden interiors of the traditional Japanese houses. They
thrive on the fruit on the trees and the water that flows around the old rice fields. They are hairy, tusked and weigh 200lb.

They are the radioactive wild boars of Fukushima. It is eight years today since the massive earthquake and tsunami that smashed into Fukushima Dai-ichi, and a good deal has changed since the terrible weeks that followed. The spewing
reactors have been largely contained, although it will be a lifetime before they are fully dismantled. The radiation in the towns has been reduced and in those marginal areas where the levels are lowest people have been permitted to return.

Even when gas and electricity are reconnected, their once thriving towns have few shops, schools or social services. But there is another obstacle to their return: the takeover of the evacuation zone by wild animals. In the absence of Man, nature has marched off the forested mountains and taken over his former home. Raccoons and rats, monkeys and
palm civets have all taken advantage of the empty houses to find food, shelter and a convenient place to breed. But none has better adapted, or done more damage, than the wild boar.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/26b333e2-435f-11e9-924d-9729bcd51a7f

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference | 1 Comment

The US has hardened its position on North Korea- the influence of John Bolton?

A top US diplomat just laid out the new approach to North Korea. It’s doomed.

Stephen Biegun told a Washington audience that “we are not going to do denuclearization incrementally.”Vox, By The top US diplomat tasked with negotiating with North Korea just laid out a denuclearization plan that’s destined to fail.

above – John Bolton 

In his first public comments since President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Vietnam last month, Stephen Biegun, the US special representative for North Korea, told a Washington audience Monday that the administration wants Pyongyang to give up all of its weapons of mass destruction before anything else.

“We are not going to do denuclearization incrementally,” the envoy said at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s nuclear conference. “The foundation of US policy is denuclearization.”

But it’s not just nuclear weapons: The Trump administration also wants the complete removal of chemical and biological weapons from North Korea, Biegun said, meaning the US wants Pyongyang only to have conventional weapons by the end of the process.

Let’s be extremely clear about what this means: If the US maintains this position, any chance for the US to convince North Korea to part with its nuclear arsenal is gone.

Pyongyang for years has said that the only way it would consider giving up its nuclear weapons is through a step-by-step process where both sides offer reciprocal, commensurate concessions. By resolving smaller disagreements, like lifting sanctions in exchange for the closure of an important nuclear facility, over time the US and North Korea would eventually arrive at the grand prize: the end of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

But Biegun said the US won’t do that. Instead, the Trump administration wants to see North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before it offers any economic or diplomatic benefits. That’s just not going to work, experts say.

The US has hardened its position on North Korea………..

It’s unclear why the US position has changed so starkly. One of the main theories is that National Security Adviser John Bolton, a noted North Korea hardliner, has gained more power in the negotiation process. ……… the US now openly holds an “all or nothing” stance toward North Korea. And if that’s the case, the talks are doomedhttps://www.vox.com/world/2019/3/11/18260024/north-korea-stephen-biegun-nuclear-trump-kim-bolton

March 12, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Where climate threat and nuclear threat meet: Top Secret US Cold War Nuclear Base in Greenland

Melting Ice Sheets Could Reveal Top Secret US Cold War Nuclear Base https://www.iflscience.com/environment/melting-ice-sheets-could-reveal-top-secret-us-cold-war-nuclear-base/ 11 Mar 19, Among the many Bond villainesque plans dreamed up during the Cold War, few come stranger than “Project Iceworm,” the shady US program to build a network of top secret nuclear missile launch sites beneath the Danish territory of Greenland. The largest and most impressive of the US bases was Camp Century, a warren of tunnels and labs under northwest Greenland’s ice sheet that was powered by its own portable nuclear reactor.

After just eight years of operation, Camp Century was decommissioned in 1967 due to engineering woes and a political scandal centered on whether Denmark had actually given the US full permission to house nuclear materials in their territory.

As the Cold War ended, the base was largely forgotten, not least because it was hoped to remain “preserved for eternity” under a blanket of snow and ice. However, with climate change knocking at the door, it looks like a different kind of thaw could reveal all.

A study published in 2016 used simulations to show that the ice above and around Camp Century could thaw by 2090 under a “business-as-usual” climate change scenario. Not only would this unearth the once-secret abandoned military base, but it also holds the potential to let loose the huge amounts of chemical and nuclear waste left at the site. These pollutants could leech into the surrounding surface water and spark a plethora of problems for the island’s human population and ecosystem.

Another study, published last year in the journal Global Environmental Politics, took a further look at the situation at Camp Century, arguing it has the potential to fire up some long-frozen geopolitical tensions. It’s not very clear how much Denmark knew about the US’ plans in Greenland. While they agreed the US could have the Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland, the issue of nuclear weapons in Danish territory was a big no-no. To make matters even thornier, Greenland has since transitioned to a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark.

If the climatic scenario predicted does hit, as anticipated, who will be responsible for the clean-up of toxic chemicals and radioactive materials?

As the study argues, Camp Century is not the only problem. This scenario serves as just one example of how climate change could trigger a huge number of unforeseen consequences in international politics, especially when it comes to overseas military bases.

“The case could be the proverbial canary in the coal mine for future politics surrounding overseas military bases,” according to study author Jeff Colgan.

“Climate change can create knock-on environmental problems associated with a military base’s infrastructure or waste that disrupt the international politics that govern the base,” he wrote in the study. “Any cleanup costs or compensation related to the knock-on environmental problems create an unfunded liability for the host country, the country operating the base, or both.”

This is just another unexpected fallout of the climate issue we’re facing that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Most evacuees under 50 from three Fukushima towns near nuclear disaster have no plan to return

9 Mar 19, KYODO A majority of people under age 50 who had lived in three towns close to the site of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster have no plans to return, an official survey showed Saturday……..https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/09/national/evacuees-50-three-fukushima-towns-near-nuclear-disaster-no-plan-return/#.XIbWXckzbGg

March 12, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

R.I.P. Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

An obituary for small modular reactors Jim Green, The Ecologist, 11 March 2019,https://theecologist.org/2019/mar/11/obituary-small-modular-reactors

The nuclear industry is heavily promoting the idea of building small modular reactors (SMRs), with near-zero prospects for new large power reactors in many countries. These reactors would have a capacity of under 300 megawatts (MW), whereas large reactors typically have a capacity of 1,000 MW.

Construction at reactor sites would be replaced with standardised factory production of reactor components then installation at the reactor site, thereby driving down costs and improving quality control.

The emphasis in this article is on the questionable economics of SMRs, but a couple of striking features of the SMR universe should be mentioned (for details see the latest issue of Nuclear Monitor).

First, the enthusiasm for SMRs has little to do with climate-friendly environmentalism. About half of the SMRs under construction (Russia’s floating power plant, Russia’s RITM-200 icebreaker ships, and China’s ACPR50S demonstration reactor) are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. Another example comes from Canada, where one application of SMRs under consideration is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from oil sands.

A second striking feature of the SMR universe is that it is deeply interconnected with militarism:

  • Argentina’s experience and expertise with small reactors derives from its historic weapons program, and its interest in SMRs is interconnected with its interest in small reactors for naval propulsion.
  • China’s interest in SMRs extends beyond fossil fuel mining and includes powering the construction and operation of artificial islands in its attempt to secure claim to a vast area of the South China Sea.
  • Saudi Arabia’s interest in SMRs is likely connected to its interest in developing nuclear weapons or a latent weapons capability.
  • A subsidiary of Holtec International has actively sought a military role, inviting the US National Nuclear Security Administration to consider the feasibility of using a proposed SMR to produce tritium, used to boost the explosive yield of nuclear weapons.
  • Proposals are under consideration in the US to build SMRs at military bases and perhaps even to use them to power forward operating bases.
  • In the UK, Rolls-Royce is promoting SMRs on the grounds that “a civil nuclear UK SMR programme would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability”.

Independent economic assessments

SMRs will almost certainly be more expensive than large reactors (more precisely, construction costs will be lower but the electricity produced by SMRs will be more expensive).

They will inevitably suffer diseconomies of scale: a 250 MW SMR will generate 25 percent as much power as a 1,000 MW reactor, but it will require more than 25 percent of the material inputs and staffing, and a number of other costs including waste management and decommissioning will be proportionally higher.

It’s highly unlikely that potential savings arising from standardised factory production will make up for those diseconomies of scale.

William Von Hoene, senior vice president at Exelon, has expressed scepticism about SMRs: “Right now, the costs on the SMRs, in part because of the size and in part because of the security that’s associated with any nuclear plant, are prohibitive,” he said last year. “It’s possible that that would evolve over time, and we’re involved in looking at that technology. Right now they’re prohibitively expensive.”

Every independent economic assessment finds that electricity from SMRs will be more expensive than that from large reactors.

study by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, commissioned by the 2015/16 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated costs of A$180‒184/MWh (US$127‒130) for large pressurised water reactors and boiling water reactors, compared to A$198‒225 (US$140‒159) for SMRs.

A 2015 report by the International Energy Agency and the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency predicts that electricity costs from SMRs will typically be 50−100 percent higher than for current large reactors, although it holds out some hope that large volume factory production of SMRs could help reduce costs.

report by the consultancy firm Atkins for the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy found that electricity from the first SMR in the UK would be 30 percent more expensive than power from large reactors, because of diseconomies of scale and the costs of deploying first-of-a-kind technology.

An article by four current and former researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy, published in 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, considered options for the development of an SMR market in the US. They concluded that it would not be viable unless the industry received “several hundred billion dollars of direct and indirect subsidies” over the next several decades.

No market

SMR enthusiasts envisage a large SMR market emerging in the coming years. A frequently cited 2014 report by the UK National Nuclear Laboratory estimates 65‒85 gigawatts (GW) of installed SMR capacity by 2035, valued at £250‒400 billion.

But in truth there is no market for SMRs. Thomas Overton, associate editor of POWER magazine, wrote in 2014: “At the graveyard wherein resides the “nuclear renaissance” of the 2000s, a new occupant appears to be moving in: the small modular reactor (SMR) … Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one.”

Let’s briefly return to the National Nuclear Laboratory’s estimate of 65‒85 GW of installed SMR capacity by 2035. It is implausible and stands in contrast to the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s estimate of <1 GW to 21 GW of SMR capacity by 2035. But even if the 65‒85 GW figure proved to be accurate, it would pale in comparison to renewable energy sources.

As of the of end of 2017, global renewable energy capacity was 2,195 GW including 178 GW of new capacity added in 2017. On current trends, even in the wildest dreams of SMR enthusiasts, SMR capacity would be roughly 50 times less than renewable capacity by 2035.

SMRs under construction

SMR projects won’t be immune from the major cost overruns that have crippled large reactor projects (such as the AP1000 projects in the US that bankrupted Westinghouse). Indeed cost overruns have already become the norm for SMR projects.

Estimated construction costs for Russia’s floating nuclear power plant (with two 35-MW ice-breaker-type reactors) have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / GW (US$740 million / 70 MW). A 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the Russian floating plant is expected to cost about US$200 per megawatt-hour (MWh), with the high cost due to large staffing requirements, high fuel costs, and resources required to maintain the barge and coastal infrastructure.

The CAREM (Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares) SMR under construction in Argentina illustrates the gap between SMR rhetoric and reality. Cost estimates have ballooned. In 2004, when the CAREM reactor was in the planning stage, Argentina’s Bariloche Atomic Center estimated an overnight cost of US$1 billion / GW for an integrated 300 MW plant. When construction began in 2014, the estimated cost of the CAREM reactor was US$17.8 billion / GW (US$446 million for a 25-MW reactor). By April 2017, the cost estimate had increased to US$21.9 billion / GW (US$700 million with the capacity uprated from 25 MW to 32 MW). The CAREM project is years behind schedule and costs will likely increase further. In 2014, first fuel loading was expected in 2017 but completion is now anticipated in November 2021.

Little credible information is available on the cost of China’s demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR). If the 210 MW demonstration reactor is completed and successfully operated, China reportedly plans to upscale the design to 655 MW. According to the World Nuclear Association, China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology at Tsinghua University expects the cost of a 655 MW HTGR to be 15-20 percent more than the cost of a conventional 600 MW PWR. A 2016 report said that the estimated construction cost of China’s demonstration HTGR is about twice the initial cost estimates, with increases due to higher material and component costs, increases in labour costs, and increased costs associated with project delays. The World Nuclear Association states that the cost of the demonstration HTGR is US$6,000/kW.

NuScale Power’s creative accounting

Cost estimates for planned SMRs are implausible. US company NuScale Power is targeting a cost of just US$65/MWh for its first plant. But a study by WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, commissioned by the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, estimated a cost of US$159/MWh based on the US NuScale SMR design. That’s 2.4 times higher than NuScale’s estimate.

A 2018 Lazard report estimates costs of US$112‒189/MWh for electricity from large nuclear plants. NuScale’s claim that its electricity will be 2‒3 times cheaper than large nuclear is implausible. And even if NuScale achieved costs of US$65/MWh, that would still be well above Lazard’s figures for wind power (US$29‒56) and utility-scale solar (US$36‒46).

Likewise, NuScale’s construction cost estimate of US$4.2 billion / GW is implausible. The latest estimate for the AP1000 reactors under construction in Georgia is US$17.4 billion / GW. NuScale wants us to believe that it will build SMRs at less than one-quarter of that cost, even though every independent assessment concludes that SMRs will be more expensive to build (per GW) than large reactors.

No-one wants to pay for SMRS

No company, utility, consortium or national government is seriously considering building the massive supply chain that is at the very essence of the concept of SMRs ‒ mass, modular factory construction. Yet without that supply chain, SMRs will be expensive curiosities.

In early 2019, Kevin Anderson, North American Project Director for Nuclear Energy Insider, said that there “is unprecedented growth in companies proposing design alternatives for the future of nuclear, but precious little progress in terms of market-ready solutions.”

Anderson argued that it is time to convince investors that the SMR sector is ready for scale-up financing but that it will not be easy: “Even for those sympathetic, the collapse of projects such as V.C Summer does little to convince financiers that this sector is mature and competent enough to deliver investable projects on time and at cost.”

A 2018 US Department of Energy report states that to make a “meaningful” impact, about US$10 billion of government subsidies would be needed to deploy 6 GW of SMR capacity by 2035. But there’s no indication or likelihood that the US government will subsidise the industry to that extent.

To date, the US government has offered US$452 million to support private-sector SMR projects, of which US$111 million was wasted on the mPower project that was abandoned in 2017.

The collapse of the mPower project was one of a growing number of setbacks for the industry in the US. Transatomic Power gave up on its molten salt reactor R&D last year. Westinghouse sharply reduced its investment in SMRs after failing to secure US government funding. MidAmerican Energy gave up on its plans for SMRs in Iowa after failing to secure legislation that would force rate-payers to part-pay construction costs. The MidAmerican story has a happy ending: the company has invested over US$10 billion in renewables in Iowa and is now working towards its vision “to generate renewable energy equal to 100 percent of its customers’ usage on an annual basis.”

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has set the goal of siting a new demonstration SMR at its Chalk River site by 2026. But serious discussions about paying for a demonstration SMR ‒ let alone a fleet of SMRs ‒ have not yet begun. The Canadian SMR Roadmap website simply states: “Appropriate risk sharing among governments, power utilities and industry will be necessary for SMR demonstration and deployment in Canada.”

Companies seeking to pursue SMR projects in the UK are seeking several billion pounds from the government to build demonstration plants. But nothing like that amount of money has been made available. In 2018, the UK government agreed to provide £56 million towards the development and licensing of advanced modular reactor designs and £32 million towards advanced manufacturing research. An industry insider told the Guardian in 2017: “It’s a pretty half-hearted, incredibly British, not-quite-good-enough approach. Another industry source questioned the credibility of SMR developers: “Almost none of them have got more than a back of a fag packet design drawn with a felt tip.”

State-run SMR programs

State-run SMR programs ‒ such as those in Argentina, China, Russia, and South Korea ‒ might have a better chance of steady, significant funding, but to date the investments in SMRs have been minuscule compared to investments in other energy programs.

And again, wherever you look there’s nothing to justify the high hopes (and hype) of SMR enthusiasts. South Korea, for example, won’t build any of its domestically-designed SMART SMRs in South Korea (“this is not practical or economic” according to the World Nuclear Association). South Korea’s plan to export SMART technology to Saudi Arabia is problematic and may in any case be in trouble.

China and Argentina hope to develop a large export market for their high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and small pressurised water reactors, respectively, but so far all they can point to are partially-built demonstration reactors that have been subject to significant cost overruns and delays.

All of the above can be read as an obituary for SMRs. The likelihood that they will establish anything more than a small, niche market is vanishingly small.

Dr Jim Green is the lead author of a Nuclear Monitor report on small modular reactors, and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Germany’s huge task in dismantling its nuclear power stations

Germany’s atomic phase-out: How to dismantle a nuclear power plant https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-atomic-phase-out-how-to-dismantle-a-nuclear-power-plant/a-4782376611 Mar 19, Germany now has just seven nuclear plants left in operation, but what becomes of those that are already decommissioned? Bits of them are recycled, and could ultimately end up in our kitchens.

When Egbert Bialk looks at the giant demolition robot perched on top of the cooling tower at the Mülheim-Kärlich nuclear power plant, it makes him happy.

“Happy that the eyesore is finally being dismantled,” he told DW. “Some said we should leave it standing as a memorial or piece of art. But for me the tower is like a symbol of humanity’s arrogance, of us playing with fire.”

Bialk began campaigning against the reactor when it was built near his home in the 1970s, and has since joined the local chapter of environmental group BUND to observe the 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) decommissioning of the facility.

The dismantling of the western German plant, which will take two decades to complete, started in 2004, seven years before the Fukushima disaster that prompted Angela Merkel’s government to announce the nation’s complete withdrawal from nuclear power by 2022.

With just a couple of years to go before that deadline, seven plants  are still in operation, and even after they’ve shut down for good, it will take many more years before all the country’s reactors have been safely dismantled, and contaminated sites cleared and deemed free of radiation

One of the most pressing questions during this lengthy process, is what to do with the radioactive waste?

Buried in mines

The first things to be removed are the heavily contaminated spent fuel rods, which contain the nuclear fuel that is converted into electrical power.

Because Germany doesn’t yet have a long-term depository for highly radioactive waste, the rods are currently stored in so-called Castor containers in several locations across the country.

By the time all the nation’s reactors have been decomissioned, there will be around 1,900 such containers in interim storage. And there they will remain until a suitable location for their permanent resting place has been found

Read more: Nuclear waste in disused German mine leaves a bitter legacy

“We expect the storage phase to take 50 years,” Monika Hotopp, spokeswoman of BGE told DW.

Exactly what it will all cost, is unknown. Much depends on the ultimate location, but the 4.2 billion euro preparations of a former iron ore mine known as pit Konrad to be used as the final depository for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste could serve as some kind of indicator.

Once things like technical equipment and parts of buildings exposed to nuclear fission reaction for years, have been buried in the mine, it will be filled up with concrete and sealed.

“When sealed, it’s safe and there should be no danger of nuclear radiation for the environment,” Hotopp told DW.

Environmental groups however, warn that nuclear waste remains a threat even when buried deep under the ground.

“The depositories have to be able to contain radiation for up to 500,000 years,” local environmentalist Bialk told DW. “We are giving a time bomb to future generations.”

Building materials recycled into roads and pots

And what happens to the rest of the waste? The hundred of thousands of tons of metal, concrete, pipes and other building materials that accumulate during the dismantling process?

Because under German law, the entire plant, including offices and the canteen, are considered radioactive, no single item can be removed before operators can prove it is no longer contaminated. Once considered free of radiation or at least to be below the safety limit, the waste can be disposed of at regular landfills and recycling sites.

Environmental groups and locals criticize this practice, on the grounds that once materials have been recycled, nobody knows where they end up. Concrete from nuclear power plants could be used to pave our roads, while metals could be melted and turned into pots and pans.

“Melted metals could even be turned into braces for kids; they could be contaminated by radiation and no one would know,” he told DW. “I think it would be useful to track where the materials from nuclear sites end up.”

But experts don’t regard post-decommissioning monitoring as necessary.

“The risks are minimal,” Christian Küppers, who specializes in nuclear facility safety at the environmental research center Oeko-Institut, told DW. “The safety limits for radiation correspond to what we are naturally exposed to in the environment,”

All the material from nuclear power plants that expose radiation below 0.01 millisieverts per year can be recycled, Küppers continued.

By way of comparison, the Oeko- Institut says people are exposed to natural radiation of 2.1 millisieverts per year in Germany, and a one-way transatlantic flight exposes those on board to between 0.04 and 0.11 millisieverts of radiation.

From nuclear site to “greenfield”

Once the nuclear power plants have been completely dismantled, all the waste removed and when there is no longer any measurable trace of radiation, the premises can be returned to greenfield status.

At this point, the premises are considered to be regular industrial sites, and can be sold as such.

Likewise pit Konrad. Once the mine has been closed and sealed, which is expected to happens around the year 2100, the land on top of it will also be returned to greenfield space. Theoretically, houses could then be built on it.

Whether anybody would want to live there, is another question, says Monika Hotopp from BGE, the federal company in charge of the long-term storage sites.

Because ultimately, nuclear power has become synonymous with danger. And as Bialk puts it, even when all the  plants have been dismantled and the waste stored, the problem won’t have gone away.

“First, the radioactive waste remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Second, other countries still rely on nuclear power,” he said. “There are more than 50 nuclear power plants in France alone, and if an accident were to happen there, it would affect us, too.”

March 12, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

TEPCO-USNRC Knew Fukushima Was A Triple Meltdown (Units 1,2,3) Almost Immediately; Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool Believed Failed — Mining Awareness +

Originally posted on Mining Awareness + : Photo of the 4 Fukushima Daiichi Reactors on Idaho National (Nuclear) Lab, INL, web site. http://youtu.be/teV44bW30Z4 US NOAA model of dispersion, showing that it blew offshore and was mostly impacting North America: http://sos.noaa.gov/Datasets/dataset.php?id=332 Fukushima has continued to discharge radioactive materials into the air, and water, as even admitted by TEPCO…

via TEPCO-USNRC Knew Fukushima Was A Triple Meltdown (Units 1,2,3) Almost Immediately; Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool Believed Failed — Mining Awareness +

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Much opposition and anxiety, as Japan prepares to restart the biggest nuclear station in the world

Japan’s Tepco fights for return to nuclear power after Fukushima, DW, 11 Mar 19 
Eight years after the accident in Fukushima, preparations are underway to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant operated by Tepco. But residents fear a second disaster. Kiyo Dörrer reports from Kashiwazaki.

Decades ago, nuclear power was supposed to be the perfect solution for Japan’s thirst for energy and for its rural economies. And in the sleepy town of Kashiwazaki, in the prefecture next to Fukushima, the solution was supposed to be the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, run by the power company Tepco — the company responsible for the 2011 Fukushima accident.

When in full operation, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant is the biggest in the world, capable of servicing 16 million households. But all of its seven reactors have been idle since the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi. This is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear power plant apart from the tsunami-stricken plants in Fukushima, in the neighboring prefecture.

Tepco has been repeatedly criticized for its negligence and has been ordered to pay compensation to the residents. The cleanup of the Fukushima power plant has been causing major headaches, while the reasons for the accident have yet to be clarified even eight years later.

But amid the controversy, in 2017 Japan’s nuclear regulation authority gave the go-ahead to launch the lengthy process toward a restart of two of Tepco’s reactors, which are located about 250 km (155 miles) east of the Fukushima plants, on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The reactors No. 6 and No. 7 at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant, which are being prepared for a restart, are both the same type as those that melted down in Fukushima.

This time everything is going to be different, the deputy head of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, Toshimitsu Tamai, assures visitors on a tour of the facility. To banish fears of a second Fukushima, Tepco has built a 15-meter (49-foot) wall that is supposed to be able to withstand the highest tsunamis imaginable………..

Majority of residents against the nuclear reactors

But the local residents aren’t all buying Tepco’s story. Hopes of an economic boost ring hollow in the almost deserted shopping streets; the once bustling town center is now full of shuttered storefronts. Like many other country towns, Kashiwazaki has fallen victim to economic problems caused by the aging population and a growing rural exodus — trends no nuclear power plant can change.

According to the exit polls held in last year’s governor’s race, over 60 percent of residents of Niigata Prefecture, in which Kashiwazaki lies, are against the restart of the nuclear power plant. Locals have been alarmed by multiple mishaps during the preparations. In December 2018, the cables connecting reactor No. 7 with emergency backup power caused a fire for unknown reasons. And as recently as February 28, radioactive water leaked out of the core inside one of the idle reactors.

“To be honest, we just keep thinking: not again! They take one step forward and three steps back,” says Tsutomu Oribe, who runs a sushi restaurant in central Kashiwazaki. “We’ve all learned too well what could happen.”

“I don’t think that anybody should entrust Tepco with restarting a nuclear power plant if the company doesn’t even know what happened in Fukushima,” says Kazuyuki Takemoto, a retired local councilor and veteran anti-nuclear activist.https://www.dw.com/en/japans-tepco-fights-for-return-to-nuclear-power-after-fukushima/a-47836968

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Manual For Survival – A Chernobyl Guide to the Future

Science 6th March 2019 Two decades after Chernobyl, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations (UN) Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation stated that “fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers,” because radiation levels were considered too low to have caused any detectable harm. This conclusion was based on data derived from the atomic bomb survivors life-span study, a program that began in 1950 to document the long-term health effects of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian scientists vehemently disputed this assessment, estimating Chernobyl-linked fatalities in the hundreds of thousands. The UN agencies later recognized a broader spectrum of Chernobyl-related health effects,
yet the idea that there were no long-term consequences to human health proved hard to dislodge.
The UN-WHO-IAEA assessment was repeated in many venues and was cited by journalists as a scientific consensus. After the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, residents in the affected region were told by experts from many of the same international institutions that there would be no direct long-term health effects because their radiation exposure was low.
Because there was no post-Chernobyl equivalent to the atomic bomb survivors life-span study, the argument went, the data on the Japanese survivors remained the gold standard of international nuclear regulations.
The notion that no such data existed, however, was not entirely true as regards Chernobyl. Kate Brown’s meticulously researched Manual for Survival is the first environmental and medical history that recovers decades-long efforts of scientists and doctors in Ukraine and Belarus to document the long-term health impacts from the Chernobyl meltdown.
Unlike the Japanese atomic bomb survivors life-span study, which began 5 years after the exposure, Soviet doctors worked in contaminated areas right after the Chernobyl accident—many of these areas populated by people who didn’t
know that they were exposed to radiation. Over the years, Soviet scientists amassed vast evidence of a broad range of debilitating health effects from low-level radiation, including cancers; anemia; gastrointestinal problems; and severe disorders of the liver, kidneys, thyroid, and other organs.
The individuals who collected these data risked their careers and lives, enduring harassment from regional politicians and Soviet secret police and accumulating radioactive isotopes in their own bodies.

https://blogs.sciencemag.org/books/2019/03/06/manual-for-survival/

March 12, 2019 Posted by | radiation, resources - print, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Hanoi nuclear summit: Where were the women?

Hanoi Summit: Where were the women?Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  By Rachel Emond, March 7, 2019 Based on the pictures from the second Trump-Kim summit, it looks like the women who spent the most time in the room where the leaders met were the interpreters.

This is a far cry from previous administrations that had women running or helping to run nuclear negotiations—Madeleine AlbrightCondoleezza RiceWendy Sherman, and Rose Gottemoeller, to name a few.

No doubt, there were women present at the margins in Hanoi. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was in the room with Vietnamese officials when the Trump administration pitched arms exports from the United States to their hosts. Kim Yo-jong—Kim Jong-un’s younger sister—was spotted holding an ashtray for the North Korean leader and mostly stayed not more than a few feet from her brother throughout the summit. Other women were serving in support roles back in Washington, but that’s not the same as being at the table.

So who are the women that have been most involved in the Trump-Kim summit process so far?……..

By excluding women from active negotiating roles, Washington and Pyongyang reduced their possible chances for success. There is no excuse for this, as there are scores of women experts on North Korea nuclear policy, and more who focus on the peace process. For example, Women Cross DMZ—a group of female activists working to achieve a peaceful end to the Korean conflict—places a special emphasis on the role that women should play in peace negotiations. Their philosophy is not baseless. According to research, peace agreements that are signed by women feature higher-quality content and higher rates of implementation than those not signed by women, and therefore lead to longer-lasting agreements. On the whole, women are also more likely to insist that parties stay at the table until an agreement is made. There were a lot of factors that played into the outcome (or lack thereof) of the summit in Hanoi, but to ensure future success, leaders in Washington and Pyongyang should think about bringing more women to the next negotiations. …… https://thebulletin.org/2019/03/hanoi-summit-where-were-the-women/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=WomenatSummit_030720

March 12, 2019 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war, Women | Leave a comment

Trump budget increases funding for nuclear weapons agency amid new production

 Defense News, Aaron Mehta 11 Mar 19,  WASHINGTON — The National Nuclear Security Administration will receive an 8.3 percent increase over its current budget, with an eye on completing production of a new low-yield nuclear missile this upcoming fiscal year.

March 12, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment