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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The week in Climate and Nuclear news

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

The various human-caused threats to life on this Earth are becoming more apparent. Sometimes, it seems almost silly to separate them out -as climate change, pollution, deforestation etc, as they all add up to one grand global human disrespect for nature. The latest U.N. study reports loss of biodiversity as a even greater crisis than climate change.

It’s a global disgrace, that it’s been left to children to take the lead on climate action. World wide climate protests, by hundreds of thousands of school students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtZ12FOat_8

Southern African States, Mozambique, Zimbabwe,  are now devastated by Cyclone Idai.  Sure, they’ve had cyclones before, but climate change is increasing the intensity, to record levels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S5RlM7KGZI

On the nuclear scene, one veteran correspondent asks  “Who will be the world’s next nuclear policeman?”, as USA abandons its historic role as  the world’s chief advocate for de-nuclearis.ation.  Meanwhile, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton leads us back to the Nuclear Precipice. Trump’s USA is committed to dominating the world – heading for weapons in space. 

Over 1.4 million young people went on strike for climate action.  Mary Robinson, international climate badass, on why green solutions require a feminist lens.

JAPAN. 

INDIA. Indian military confirms deployment of nuclear subs amid rising tensions with Pakistan.

USA.

NORTH KOREA. The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now.

UK. UK Labour undermines renewable energy pledges with state ownership plan for new nuclear power plant.  UK pledges to fully fund EU nuclear-fusion facility.  EDF Energy extends outages at UK’s Hunterston B nuclear plant.  Are the UK’s cracked Hunterston nuclear reactors safe?  UK communities not convinced by bribes to host nuclear waste. UK govt’s health study of nuclear veterans – but they’ve lost half the records.

RUSSIA. Danger in Russia’s nuclear- powered icebreakers parked at Murmansk.

BRAZIL. Nuclear transport trucks in the thick of gang gunfire in Brazil.

IRELAND. Irish Council opposes dumping of UK’s nuclear waste in any part of Ireland.

ROMANIA. NuScale includes Romania in its desperate search for taxpayer funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

NORWAY. Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Has Been Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.

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March 21, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Southern Africa: they’ve had cyclones before, but climate change increases the intensity

Cyclone Idai: The worst humanitarian crisis in Mozambique’s history | DW News

‘Bodies are floating’: Cyclone Idai leaves trail of destruction with more than a million affected, news.com.au Stephanie Bedo and Ben Graham, MARCH 20, 2019

They can’t even count the dead in a city of 500,000 people as chilling images show the unprecedented disaster is far from over.

Countless people have been killed and almost a million left destitute after what could be one of the worst weather-related disasters in the southern hemisphere.

A national disaster has been declared after Cyclone Idai left a trail of death, destruction and homelessness in southern Africa.

Where once streets teemed with life, only the swamped shells of homes are left in the wake of the devastation that has affected millions in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Footage taken from the skies over Mozambique’s central port city of Beira, a city of half a million people, shows there is no discernible trace of life left.

More than 90 per cent of the city was destroyed as 170km/h winds tore across southeastern Africa, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

If the worst fears are realised … then we can say that it is one of the worst weather-related disasters, tropical-cyclone-related disasters in the southern hemisphere,” said Clare Nullis of the UN World Meteorological Organisation.

Emergency workers called it the region’s most destructive flooding in 20 years, and heavy rains are expected to continue until Thursday. In the low-lying coastal city of Beira, the water has nowhere to drain. “This is not going to go away quickly,” Ms Nullis said.

In Mozambique, the rapidly rising floodwaters created “an inland ocean,” endangering tens of thousands of families, aid workers said as they scrambled to rescue survivors and airdrop food, water and blankets to survivors.

Those left clinging to life amid the ruins could be battered by eight-metre waves during high tides over the coming days. Herve Verhoosel of the World Food Program said the crisis “is getting bigger by the hour”.

…. The official death toll of Cyclone Idai — the deadliest storm in generations to hit Mozambique and Zimbabwe — more than doubled to more than 350 overnight, but that is expected to rise again, dramatically.

…… The waters of the Pungue and Buzi rivers overflowed, making whole villages disappear and isolating communities, and bodies are floating,” said Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.

Mr Nyusi said Idai, which ripped through the impoverished southeast African country of 30 million people on Thursday, was a “disaster of great proportions”.

The cyclone struck the Indian Ocean city of Beira late that day and then moved inland to Zimbabwe and Malawi, with strong winds and torrential rain lashing the region.

But it has taken days for the scope of the disaster to begin to emerge in Mozambique, which has a poor communication and transportation network and a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

……United Nations officials said on Tuesday that more than 2.6 million people had been affected and $28 million had been allocated to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi from its emergency response fund. …….. https://www.news.com.au/world/africa/more-than-1000-feared-dead-from-cyclone-in-mozambique/news-story/193caf3fb1ac18040e2891964f969e27

March 21, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Trump administration plans to cut spending on Hanford nuclear waste clean-up

Trump administration calls for sharp drop in Hanford nuclear reservation spending ,    https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article228065049.html#storylink=cpy Tri City Herald, BY ANNETTE CARY, 18 Mar 19,

-The Trump administration is proposing cutting Hanford nuclear reservation spending for fiscal 2020 by $416 million.

The nuclear reservation’s annual budget would drop from about $2.5 billion this fiscal year to $2.1 billion next year under the budget request submitted to Congress by the administration.

The biggest hit would be to the Richland Operations Office.
Its budget would drop by almost 25 percent. Current spending of about $954 million would drop by about $236 million to $718 million under the administration’s proposal.

The budget for the Office of River Protection would drop by almost 12 percent, or about $181 million. Spending would be reduced from almost $1.6 billion to about $1.4 billion.

Money proposed for the Office of River Protection included $715 million for the vitrification plant and $677 million for the tank farms.

A further breakdown of how the money is proposed to be spent on individual projects had not been released on Monday.

The Office of River Protection is responsible for 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks and the $17 billion vitrification plant being built to treat much of the tank waste for disposal.

The Richland Operations Office is responsible for general operations of the site, including roads and utilities, and all other environmental cleanup, including polluted groundwater, unneeded buildings, old dump sites and contaminated soil.

CONGRESS SETS HANFORD BUDGET

The 580-square-mile site is contaminated from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

The administration proposes a spending amount for Hanford annually to Congress, which then sets the spending amount for the next fiscal year.

“Unfortunately, presidents on both sides of the aisle have proposed funding cuts that would slow down Hanford cleanup,” said Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. “And just as I have worked before with my colleagues through the appropriations process to restore funding, I will do so again.”

The federal government created the waste at Hanford and has a moral and legal obligation to finish cleaning up the site, he said.

In 2018 Washington’s congressional delegation was able to increase the administration’s spending proposal for the current fiscal year by about $342 million more than proposed by the Trump administration.

The proposed spending cut comes as a new estimate of remaining cleanup at Hanford at least triples the estimated cost released three years ago.

The Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost Report released at the end of January puts the remaining cleanup costs for Hanford at $323 billion under a best case scenario. At worst it could be $677 billion.

The estimate before the current one put the remaining costs as of 2016 at $108 billion.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

All life on Earth threatened – the rapid loss of biodiversity

The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has grim implications for the future of humanity.  By John Vidal, HuffPost US 16 Mar 19, Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.

The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May.

The study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), expected to run to over 8,000 pages, is being compiled by more than 500 experts in 50 countries. It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth.

Nature underpins all economies with the “free” services it provides in the form of clean water, air and the pollination of all major human food crops by bees and insects. In the Americas, this is said to total more than $24 trillion a year. The pollination of crops globally by bees and other animals alone is worth up to $577 billion.

The final report will be handed to world leaders not just to help politicians, businesses and the public become more aware of the trends shaping life on Earth, but also to show them how to better protect nature……….

An obsession with economic growth as well as spiraling human populations is also driving this destruction, particularly in the Americas where GDP is expected to nearly double by 2050 and the population is expected to increase 20 percent to 1.2 billion over the same period. …….

Insects, vital to the diets of other animals, as well as the pollinators of our food, are facing a bleak future as populations appear to be collapsing. Land use changes and increased pesticide use are destroying habitats and vastly reducing numbers. In Europe, up to 37 percent of bees and 31 percent of butterflies are in decline, with major losses also recorded in southern Africa, according to the pollinators section of the report…..

This destruction is also driving mass human migration and increased conflict. Decreasing land productivity makes societies more vulnerable to social instability, says the report, which estimates that in around 30 years’ time land degradation, together with the closely related problems of climate change, will have forced 50 to 700 million people to migrate………

The study will also recognize that much of the remaining wealth of nature depends on indigenous people, who mostly live in the world’s remote areas and are on the frontline of the damage caused by destructive logging and industrial farming. According to IPBES, indigenous communities often know best how to conserve nature and are better placed than scientists to provide detailed information on environmental change……..

Saving nature will require a major rethink of how we live and how we think about nature, but that it is possible to turn this dire situation around if governments want it to happen.

“There are no magic bullets or one-size-fits-all answers. The best options are found in better governance, putting biodiversity concerns into the heart of farming and energy policies, the application of scientific knowledge and technology, and increased awareness and behavioral changes,” Watson said. “The evidence shows that we do know how to protect and at least partially restore our vital natural assets. We know what we have to do.”

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March 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

USA committed to dominating the world – heading for space weapons

COUNTDOWN TO FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE  This is what it’s really all about MARCH 20, 2019
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance” by T.J. COLES, CounterPunch 

The US is formally committed to dominating the world by the year 2020. With President Trump’s new Space Directive-4, the production of laser-armed fighter jets as possible precursors to space weapons, and the possibility of nuclear warheads being put into orbit, the clock is ticking…

Back in 1997, the now-re-established US Space Command announced its commitment to “full spectrum dominance.” The Vision for 2020 explains that “full spectrum dominance” means military control over land, sea, air, and space (the so-called fourth dimension of warfare) “to protect US interests and investment.” “Protect” means guarantee operational freedom. “US interest and investment” means corporate profits.

The glossy brochure explains that, in the past, the Army evolved to protect US settlers who stole land from Native Americans in the genocidal birth of the nation. Like the Vision for 2020, a report by the National Defense University acknowledges that by the 19th century, the Navy had evolved to protect the US’s newly-formulated “grand strategy.” In addition to supposedly protecting citizens and the constitution, “The overriding principle was, and remains, the protection of American territory … and our economic well-being.” By the 20th century, the Air Force had been established, in the words of the Air Force Study Strategy Guide, to protect “vital interests,” including: “commerce; secure energy supplies; [and] freedom of action.” In the 21stcentury, these pillars of power are bolstered by the Cyber Command and the coming Space Force.

The use of the Army, Navy, and Air Force—the three dimensions of power—means that the US is already close to achieving “full spectrum dominance.” Brown University’s Cost of War project documents current US military involvement in 80 countries—or 40% of the world’s nations. This includes 65 so-called counterterrorism training operations and 40 military bases (though others think the number of bases is much higher). By this measure, “full spectrum dominance” is nearly half way complete. But the map leaves out US and NATO bases, training programs, and operations in Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Ukraine.

As the US expands its space operations—the fourth dimension of warfare—the race towards “full spectrum dominance” quickens. Space has long been militarized in the sense that the US uses satellites to guide missiles and aircraft. But the new doctrine seeks to weaponize space by, for instance, blurring the boundaries between high-altitude military aircraft and space itself. Today’s space power will be harnessed by the US to ensure dominance over the satellite infrastructure that allows for the modern world of internet, e-commerce, GPS, telecommunications, surveillance, and war-fighting.

Since the 1950s, the United Nations has introduced various treaties to prohibit the militarization and weaponization of space—the most famous being the Outer Space Treaty (1967). These treaties aim to preserve space as a commons for all humanity. The creation of the US Space Force is a blatant violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of those treaties. In more recent decades, successive US governments have unilaterally rejected treaties to reinforce and expand the existing space-for-peace agreements. In 2002, the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (1972), allowing it to expand its long-range missile systems. In 2008, China and Russia submitted to the UN Conference on Disarmament the proposed Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects. This would have preserved the space-as-a-commons principle and answered US claims that “enemies” would use space as a battleground against US satellites.

But peace is not the goal. The goal is “full spectrum dominance,” so the US rejected the offer. China and Russia introduced the proposed the treaty again in 2014—and again the US rejected it. Earlier this year, the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Last month, President Trump sent an unclassified memo on the new Space Directive-4 to the Vice President, Joint Chiefs of Staff, NASA, and the Secretaries of Defense and State.

The document makes for chilling and vital reading. It recommends legislating for the training of US forces “to ensure unfettered access to, and freedom to operate in, space, and to provide vital capabilities to joint and coalition forces.” Crucially, this doctrine includes “peacetime and across the spectrum of conflict.” As well as integrating space forces with the intelligence community, the memo recommends establishing a Chief of Staff of the Space Force, who will to join the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The memo also says that US space operations will abide by “international law.” But given that the US has rejected anti-space weapons treaties, it is barely constrained by international law.

In late-2017, Space.com reported on a $26.3m Department of Defense contract with Lockheed Martin to build lasers for fighter jets under the Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments program. The report says that the lasers will be ready by 2021. The article links to Doug Graham, the Vice President of Missile Systems and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. In the original link Graham reveals that the Air Force laser “is an example of how Lockheed Martin is using a variety of innovative technologies to transform laser devices into integrated weapon systems.”

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) states in a projection out to the year 2050: “Economies are becoming increasingly dependent upon space-based systems … By 2050, space-based weapon systems may also be deployed, which could include nuclear weapons.” But this is extremely reckless. Discussing technologies, including the artificial intelligence on which weapons systems are increasingly based, another MoD projection warns of “the potential for disastrous outcomes, planned and unplanned … Various doomsday scenarios arising in relation to these and other areas of development present the possibility of catastrophic impacts, ultimately including the end of the world, or at least of humanity.”

“Full spectrum dominance” is not only a danger to the world, it is a danger to US citizens who would also suffer the consequences, if and when something goes wrong with their leaders’ complicated space weapons.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/03/20/countdown-to-full-spectrum

March 21, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear transport trucks in the thick of gang gunfire in Brazil

Brazilian drug gang opens fire on convoy of trucks carrying nuclear fuel, Guardian Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro 20 Mar 2019 Latest incident raises concerns about Brazil’s nuclear security in a state struggling with violent crime A convoy of trucks carrying nuclear fuel came under armed attack on a highway in Rio de Janeiro state on Tuesday as it drove past a community controlled by a drug gang. Gang members armed with rifles opened fire on the convoy, Rio’s O Globo newspaper said.

Armed police escorting the convoy exchanged fire with armed gang members as the trucks carrying uranium continued to a nearby nuclear plant. The attack is the latest of several violent incidents in the area where Brazil has two nuclear reactors and has raised concerns about its nuclear security in a state struggling with high levels of violent crime.

The attack happened as the convoy passed the Frade community around noon near the tourist town of Angra dos Reis in the Green Coast (Costa Verde), around 200km from Rio de Janeiro. It reached the Angra 2 nuclear plant less than half an hour later, Brazil’s nuclear agency said……

Typically, such convoys have around five or six trucks and are escorted by regular police and motorbike outriders from Brazil’s Federal Highway police, the Eletronuclear spokesman Marco Antonio Alves told the Guardian. It was carrying uranium fuel to supply the Angra 2 nuclear power plant, which began operating in 2001. ……. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/20/brazilian-drug-gang-opens-fire-on-convoy-of-trucks-carrying-nuclear-fuel?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR3RPlZ7l2eqbDbUKOavFnccBnocR5AjCpeedTMeCQT7686-HKxuii8rfwE

Comment by  Raymond John Cockram I‘m figuring the probability that it was refined into fuel rods is closer to the truth given it was on its way to the reactor site, what you need to remember is that the Brazilian President is a self confessed fascist so media manipulation MUST be expected.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Brazil, incidents | Leave a comment

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton leads us back to the Nuclear Precipice

Back to the Nuclear Precipice, Project Syndicate, Mar 20, 2019 

Long a global leader in efforts to reduce nuclear-weapons stockpiles and limit nuclear proliferation, the United States is now fostering the conditions for a new global arms race. With hawks calling the shots in US President Donald Trump’s administration, a nuclear conflagration in one of the world’s hot spots is becoming more likely.

………. the author of The Art of the Deal has followed the advice of someone who has yet to meet a deal he didn’t want to tear up: Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton. Having already dispensed with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, during his tenure in President George W. Bush’s administration, Bolton has used his position in the Trump administration to launch attacks against the INF Treaty and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action(JCPOA) with Iran. Most likely, his next target will be New START. Signed by Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague in 2010, that nuclear arms reduction treaty will expire in 2021, barring an agreement on its extension.

With the steady collapse of the international arms-control architecture has come a fresh race to develop new types of nuclear weapons. The potential use of these weapons is now discussed with such frivolity as to foreshadow a return to the darkest days of the Cold War, but one that is even more dangerous, because other countries not subject to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), such as North Korea, have since joined the nuclear club.

During Trump’s first year in office, his incendiary public exchanges with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought relations between Washington, DC, and Pyongyang to their tensest point in decades. While Trump has since abandoned his threats of “fire and fury” and given diplomacy a chance, his administration’s approach to North Korea has ignored all of the canons of effective diplomacy. This has given rise to another kind of frivolity: the spectacle of vacuous praise.

In the end, the lack of consensus among US foreign policymakers and the misaligned expectations of the two negotiating parties, combined with Trump’s own improvisations, condemned his recent summit with Kim to failure. A reorganization is now urgently needed, particularly to incorporate the other regional powers and keep Bolton and other hawks in the administration from derailing the process further.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan, two other NPT non-signatories, recently engaged in a cross-border military confrontation, following a terrorist attack last month in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Once deemed “the most dangerous place in the world” by former US President Bill Clinton, Kashmir is essentially shared between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, and China. Not since Pakistan revealed its nuclear capacity to the world in the late 1990s have Indian-Pakistani relations been so tense. Worse, as the latest instability shows, the presence of nuclear weapons is not sufficient to prevent conflict. Instead, it merely raises the risk that quarrels will escalate into existential conflagrations.

Lastly, in the Middle East, the Trump administration has actively sowed the seeds for nuclear proliferation. The decision to abandon the JCPOA was entirely counterproductive, merely reflecting Trump’s blind support for Israel – another NPT non-signatory – and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the Trump administration is even exploring the possibility of exporting nuclear material to the Saudi regime without putting the necessary safeguards in place.

Apparently, Trump is not bothered by the fact that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has neither ruled out developing nuclear arms nor committed to a strict regime of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. One false step, though, could plunge the Middle East into a nuclear arms race – truly a worst-case scenario for such a fraught region.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump raised a red flag for the umpteenth time when he suggested that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons as a means of self-defense. This idea couldn’t have been more wrongheaded. Logic dictates that if more countries acquire nuclear weapons, the likelihood of such weapons being used will increase.

The Cold War gave us a glimpse of the risks we run when our single-minded pursuit of some geopolitical interests causes us to lose sight of the most important of them all: international security. As Obama emphasized ten years ago in Prague, the US is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons, and therefore has an historic responsibility to ensure that they are never used again. For the US to forsake this responsibility and champion a new era of nuclear proliferation would be a tragic outcome. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-trump-nuclear-proliferation-by-javier-solana-2019-03

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Fukushima radioactive water – a million tons, and still coming

Fukushima water headache: 1 million tons and counting http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903190042.html THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,March 19, 2019The crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached an undesired milestone on March 18: Storage tanks at the site now contain more than 1 million tons of radiation-contaminated water.The announcement by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., came as the utility and the central government continue to weigh water-disposal methods while hearing the concerns of fishermen who fear for their livelihoods.

Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has repeatedly said a decision must be made soon on how to deal with the contaminated water.

“We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable,” Fuketa recently said.

Groundwater becomes contaminated when it flows into the buildings of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Water that is used to cool the nuclear fuel debris is processed to remove radioactive substances, but the system cannot get rid of tritium.

These problems have forced TEPCO to store the contaminated water in hundreds of tanks installed at the Fukushima plant.

If more storage tanks are constructed, the overall capacity of 1.37 million tons at the site will likely be reached by the end of 2020.

Fukushima fishermen are already on alert for the one option they have already criticized–diluting the water and dumping it into the Pacific Ocean.

The economy ministry in 2016 said that measure could be implemented in the shortest time frame and at a low cost.

Fuketa has also said this is the most realistic option, but he noted that it would require years of preparation.

ome experts said the go-ahead for the dilution measure should have been given at the end of 2018 to start the process before the storage tanks reach capacity.

Economy ministry officials tried to explain various measures being considered at a public hearing in Fukushima in August 2018, including releasing the diluted water into the ocean.

“It will have a devastating effect on fishing in Fukushima,” said Tetsu Nozaki, who heads the Fukushima prefectural federation of fisheries cooperative associations.

Fukushima fishermen have slowly resumed operations since all forms of fishing were prohibited after high levels of radiation were found in fish caught off the Fukushima coast.

Fish auctions restarted at Fukushima ports in spring 2017, but the volume of fish brought in is still only about 20 percent of levels before the 2011 nuclear accident.

The last thing Fukushima fishermen want is an increase of negative publicity about their catches if the diluted water is dumped into the Pacific.

The government has spent about 34.5 billion yen ($309 million) to build a frozen underground earth wall around the three reactor buildings to divert the groundwater to the ocean. The “ice wall” has cut down the flow of groundwater, which at one time reached about 500 tons a day.

But still, groundwater continues to flow into the three reactor buildings at a rate of about 100 tons daily.

(This article was compiled from reports by Chikako Kawahara, Hiroshi Ishizuka, Toshio Kawada and Kazumasa Sugimura.)

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The children’s climate fight is a fight against despair

March 21, 2019 Posted by | climate change, election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Over 1.4 million young people went on strike for climate action

Hong Kong students join global school strike calling for action against climate change

School climate strikes: 1.4 million people took part, say campaigners, Guardian, Damian Carrington, Environment editor @dpcarrington, 19 Mar 2019

Activist Greta Thunberg, 16, says action proved ‘no one is too small to make a difference’  
More than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action, according to environmental campaigners.Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student whose solo protest last August prompted the global movement, said: “We proved that it does matter what you do and that no one is too small to make a difference.”

Children walked out of schools on Friday in 2,233 cities and towns in 128 countries, with demonstrations held from Australia to India, the UK and the US, according to the Fridays for the Future website. Further strikes are planned for 12 April…….https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/19/school-climate-strikes-more-than-1-million-took-part-say-campaigners-greta-thunberg

March 21, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Trump to the rescue of nuclear industry – $3.7 billion in aid for troubled Vogtle nuclear project.

Trump to finalise $3.7 billion in aid for troubled nuclear reactor project  https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/trump-to-finalise-3-7-billion-in-aid-for-troubled-nuclear-reactor-project-119032001089_1.html

The plant is seen as critical to the nuclear industry’s future because existing reactors are struggling to compete with cheap natural gas and renewable energy  Ari Natter | Bloomberg March 20, 2019 

The Trump administration will finalize $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to Southern Co. and its partners who are building a troubled nuclear reactor project in Georgia — the last of its kind under construction in the U.S. — according to two people familiar with the matter.

The guarantees, expected to be announced Friday when U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visits Plant Vogtle alongside Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Southern Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning, represents a critical lifeline for the project, which is more than five years behind schedule and has doubled in cost to $28 billion.

The additional help also puts taxpayers on the hook for more money if the project were to collapse. Southern and its partners in Plant Vogtle were already recipients of record $8.3 billion in federally-backed loan guarantees from the Obama administration, but asked the Trump administration to come to their aid amid ballooning costs and setbacks caused in part by the bankruptcy of a contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co.

The plant, near Waynesboro, Georgia, is seen as critical to the nuclear industry’s future because existing reactors are struggling to compete with cheap natural gas and renewable energy. Scana Corp. abandoned its plans to build two reactors in South Carolina after expenses spiraled above $20 billion.

President Donald Trump has made the revival of the coal and nuclear industry a priority. His administration in 2017 announced it would provide a conditional loan guarantee for the Plant Vogtle project.

Representatives of the Energy Department and Southern didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

The climate change “generation gap”

A generation gap, when it comes to climate change?, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Dana Nuccitelli, March 15, 2019   “……….A record number of Americans now view global warming as a serious threatand blame human activities as the cause. But there is apparently a generation gap out there when it comes to accepting the scientific evidence. And an ethnic gap, a gender gap, and a gap in political leaning—along with whether one can be considered one of society’s “haves” or “have nots.” So, who are these climate deniers? What is their profile?

A June 2014 Washington Post-ABC News poll asked a nationally representative sample of American respondents several questions about their support for climate policies. Specifically, those surveyed were asked whether they would be in favor of government greenhouse gas regulations that increased their monthly energy expenses by $20 per month. Overall, 63 percent of respondents expressed support for the proposed policy, including 51 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of Democrats.

Interestingly, there was a significant age gap among the responses. For Democrats under age 40, support for the policy proposal was 78 percent, as compared to 62 percent over age 65. Among Republicans, 61 percent under age 50 supported the proposed regulations, as compared to 44 percent over age 50. According to a Pew Research Center survey, younger Americans are also more likely to correctly answer that the planet is warming and that this warming is primarily due to human activities.

……. A recent survey conducted by the National Center for Science Education found that teachers who identified as Republicans, teachers who regarded the Bible as the actual word of God to be taken literally, and teachers who favored libertarian and small-government views, were all less likely to emphasize the scientific consensus on climate change and more likely to air opposing views in the classroom.

Consequently, this survey of US middle and high school science teachers found that while approximately 70 percent of these teachers spent one to two  hours on climate change per course, only 54 percent taught students about the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Thirty percent incorrectly characterized climate change as being natural in origin, and 15 percent ignored the origins of climate change or the topic of climate change entirely. Although the survey identified systemic obstacles to teaching about climate change in American classrooms, those obstacles will eventually be overcome, and climate literacy will improve as a result—at least among the younger generation.

Exposure to the opinions of one’s peer group may also help explain the climate age gap, as older men are the most common faces of climate denial. For example, in 2009 the American Physical Society was petitioned by 206 of its members (approximately 0.45 percent of its membership) to change its climate position and reject the expert consensus on climate change. An analysis of the petition signatories by John Mashey found that approximately 86 percent were born before 1950 (compared to approximately 40 percent of the society’s membership as a whole), and 97 percent were born before 1960 (compared to approximately 60 percent of the overall membership). Climate denial conferences are also disproportionately attended by old white men.

But age is not the only predictor of climate change denial.

The climate acceptance ethnicity gap. African- and Hispanic-Americans were also more likely to correctly answer the Pew Research Center climate questions—and to express concern about climate change—than white Americans. ……..

Climate denial caters to a small and dwindling population of old, white, conservative, American men. As with global temperatures, American acceptance of and concern about human-caused climate change is currently at record levels, and is certain to keep rising in the long-term. https://thebulletin.org/2019/03/a-generation-gap-when-it-comes-to-climate-change/?utm_source=Bulletin%20Newsletter&utm_medium=iContact%20email&utm_campaign=GenerationGap_03152019

March 21, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Irish Council opposes dumping of UK’s nuclear waste in any part of Ireland

Councillors back motion to oppose dumping of nuclear waste, The Impartial Reporter, 18th March A motion to oppose the dumping of any toxic waste in any part of Ireland was passed unanimously by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, however it was not without some political wrangling between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

The motion proposed by Sinn Fein’s John Feely states the Council’s opposition who said that the “dumping of nuclear waste has dire consequences for our environment and also poses a serious health risk to the population”.

Councillor Feely said the geological screening for geological disposal facilities for nuclear waste raised a number of questions such as about how much radiation would reach the surface and water sources.

He added that the proposals by the British Government showed once again “the complete and total disregard” it has for the citizens of “Fermanagh and Omagh, the North of Ireland and all its people”.

Councillor Barry Doherty seconded the motion saying everybody had obligation to ensure future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the area in the same way that people do today and Ireland should not turn into anyone’s dumping ground……..

Councillor Alex Baird said the UUP were happy to support the motion with an amendment to stop anybody dumping toxic waste in Northern Ireland.

Councillors, Shields, McAnespy and Deehan all welcomed the motion, with Councillor Deehan describing the prospect of a disposal facility for nuclear waste in the country as “chilling”…….. https://www.impartialreporter.com/news/17495254.councillors-back-motion-to-oppose-dumping-of-nuclear-waste/

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Ireland, politics international, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now

Nuclear North Korea Can Keep Its Weapons, Kim Jong-un may not be willing to denuclearize now, but it’s possible that his calculations could change after some trust has been established and Pyongyang’s relations with its neighbors have become more productive.

National Interest, 20 Mar 111119,  Daniel R. DePetris Follow @DanDePetris on Twitter   Over two weeks removed from a U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi that concluded without even a minor agreement to meet again, North Korean vice foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had some pointed remarks for the Trump administration during a March 15 news briefing in Pyongyang. While she notably left President Donald Trump out of her critiques, Choe tore apart his negotiating team as inept and insincere charlatans worried more about politics than making a mutually-acceptable deal. She accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton of deliberately sabotaging the talks with a hardline approach. She questioned why U.S. negotiators let a good opportunity slip from their fingers. And she was unapologetic about Pyongyang’s position, calling its demand for a relaxation of some of the most stringent UN Security Council sanctions a fair payment for the closure of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear research center.

Then came the kicker: Kim Jong-un, Choe said, may decide to suspend the talks with Washington altogether. “On our way back to the homeland, our chairman of the state affairs commission [Kim] said. “For what reason do we have to make this train trip again?” she told the room . “I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the United States will eventually put the situation in danger. We have neither the intention to compromise with the United States in any form nor much less the desire or plan to conduct this kind of negotiation.”

Secretary Pompeo brushed aside the comments the next morning at the State Department, calling them all part of the song-and-dance of high-stakes diplomacy. Coming on the heels of a report in the Washington Post detailing confusion in the Trump administration about how it should proceed post–Hanoi and during a period of increased murmuring on Capitol Hill for additional sanctions on the North Korean economy, the current negotiations appear to be incredibly vulnerable to an irrevocably break.

Trump has three general options going forward. Option one would be to persist with what can best be described as the John Bolton model, where Washington continues to demand immediate, full, and complete nuclear disarmament from Kim in exchange for economic sanctions relief and diplomatic normalization later on. Option two would be the status quo, but with more sanctions slapped on the North Koreans in the hope that more restrictive banking measures and oil quotas will coerce Kim into desperately returning to the table in a far weaker position.

As was vividly demonstrated in Hanoi, the first choice is a road to nowhere—one that would not only eliminate whatever diplomatic opening was available but could very well result in a confrontation neither the United States or North Korea wants. The second choice will likely miss the mark too; as the latest comprehensive report from the Security Council panel of experts dutifully documents, the Kim regime is a master at sanctions evasion. Previous sanctions regimes on North Korea have been regarded as ineffective by UN monitors, and there is no evidence that more Security Council resolutions would be any more impactful on Kim’s wallet than the dozen that came before it (China can single-handedly render sanctions moot). Indeed, if Pyongyang can find loopholes in the three strongest Security Council resolutions enacted since 2017, then it can find loopholes in the fourth.

Fortunately, there is a third option.

For the past quarter-century, U.S. policy has been centered on denuclearization-for-peace. In this policy, the Kim regime can only have peaceful relations with the United States and become a full valve in East Asia’s economic engine if it gives up each and every last nut and bolt of its weapon of mass destruction program—including its chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. Successive U.S. administrations have operated on the same paradigm ever since the North Korean nuclear issue became a top U.S. national-security concern. The only difference across the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations is the negotiating tactics each administration has used to persuade North Korea to denuclearize. ……….

Rather than denuclearization before peace, the Trump administration should shake up the playbook and reverse the order. Just because the Kim regime will remain nuclear-capable for the foreseeable future does not mean the United States and its allies in South Korea and Japan should have a perpetually hostile relationship with the North. If Washington dealt with a nuclear-capable Soviet Union, China, and Pakistan with cordiality, then Washington can do the same with a nuclear North Korea.

This does not mean the United States has to accept Pyongyang’s nuclear status, its human rights abuses, its illicit arms sales, or its cyberhacking—none of which are conducive to acceptable international behavior. If U.S. security, political, or economic interests are directly at stake, then the Trump administration should not hesitate to defend them.

What this change in approach does require, however, is a Washington that is finally prepared to end its daily fixation on short or even medium-term North Korean nuclear disarmament at the cost of everything else, including an inter-Korean reconciliation process that—if taken to its fruitful conclusion—would lessen the hostility on the Korean Peninsula considerably……..

As a country infinitely stronger and more resourceful than North Korea, the United States can afford to wait for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. What the United States should no longer wait for, though, is an end to seventy years of animosity.

Daniel R. DePetris is a foreign affairs columnist for the Washington Examiner and the American Conservative and a frequent contributor to the National Interest. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/nuclear-north-korea-can-keep-its-weapons-48342

March 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Tohoku Electric says donation not a payoff for idle nuclear plant

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN  March 20, 2019 Tohoku Electric Power Co. plans to give an estimated 400 million yen ($3.58 million) to a village that hosts one of its nuclear power plants, but denies it is compensation for losses stemming from the facility’s suspension since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The utility said March 19 it will make a donation to Higashidori, Aomori Prefecture, where its Higashidori nuclear power plant is located, through a corporate version of the “furusato nozei” (hometown tax payment) system.

The company did not disclose the amount, but only said it wants to donate “about half” the maximum amount that the village is allowed to receive under this system. The ceiling for the village is about 800 million yen.

The village government called for Tohoku Electric’s response because the volume of work related to the nuclear plant, such as maintenance, declined due to the suspension and a number of accommodations relying on plant workers have closed.

Satoshi Shimoyashiki, vice manager of Tohoku Electric’s Aomori branch, rejected the notion that the donation was meant as compensation for such economic losses and emphasized that it is being made as “part of corporate social responsibility (CSR).”…….. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903200054.html 

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment