nuclear-news

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

April 10 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Trump Mocks Climate Change. That’s A Key To Defeating Him.” • While one of Africa’s the worst weather disasters ever was unfolding, President Trump was urging Republicans not to kill the Democrats’ Green New Deal proposal. This was not because Trump wants to work with it, but because he wants to run against […]

via April 10 Energy News — geoharvey

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April 9, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The past week in nuclear and climate news

This week, I’m briefly aberrating, to draw attention to the situation of Julian Assange. No, this is not directly relevant to nuclear or climate issues. But, knowing the corruption and lying ingrained in the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, it’s important to be mindful of the role of whistleblowers. The Australian government, which generously supports Australian convicted murderers and drug dealers in foreign lands, has done nothing to help Australian citizen, Julian Assange.  Assange is in dire danger of extradition to USA, of being locked up, “disappeared” forever, because in 2010 he exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.   The branding of this truth teller as “criminal” should be a warning to the world.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8j42o04AZA

On nuclear issues – India and Pakistan came close to the brink.

And the media is awash with propaganda about nuclear energy being essential to combat climate change. Especially propaganda about “new nukes” – small nuclear reactors (SMRs) . The reality is that it’s desperate hubris about a nonexistent technology without a future. Despite heavy promotion, SMRs are too expensive and there are no buyers.

CLIMATE – Climate change threatens millions of Bangladeshi children, warns UNICEF.     Some good news. Dozens of Countries Have Been Working to Plant ‘Great Green Wall’ – and It’s Holding Back Poverty.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIj764m7bys

Before we enter “a new nuclear age” – learn from the newly declassified Chernobyl health records.

Risk of nuclear weapons use is now at a record high.- Nuclear weapons accidents and losses 1950s – 2000s.

Book – “Deadly Dust – Made in the USA: Depleted Uranium Weapons Contaminating the World”

Challenges in Nuclear Verification– IAEA .

Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and the campaign to criminalise whistleblowing.

Reflective roofs can reduce overheating in cities and save lives during heatwaves.

EUROPE. European Parliament votes to exclude nuclear power from receiving a green stamp of approval on financial markets.

JAPAN. Japan Business Federation, Keidanren, wants maximum service life of nuclear power plants extended to over 60 years Few evacuees are likely to return next week to parts of Okuma, host of Fukushima nuclear plant.  New legal action compensation claim by 25 Fukushim evacuees.  Japanese panel says that people under 40 should have iodine tablets ready, in advance of nuclear emergencies.

USA.

SAUDI ARABIA. Saudi Arabia moves forward on developing a nuclear industry.  Tensions in volatile Middle East region, as Saudi nuclear program accelerates.  Saudi Arabia resists IAEA’s inspection regime, as it completes its first nuclear reactor. IAEA head UN nuclear inspector asks Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material.

CHINA. China will fall short of its nuclear power generation capacity target for 2020. China to Resume Approving Nuclear Power Plants.

SWEDEN. Doubts on safety of Sweden’s copper canisters for radioactive wastes.

UKRAINE. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko issues nuclear decree, demands new reactors be built.

FRANCE.  It’s likely that Flamanville nuclear reactor will be delayed yet again, with discussion on how to fix faulty welds.  France’s Orano (formerly bankrupt Areva) to send MOX fuel to Japan.  France’s ‘public consultation’ on old nuclear reactors – full of bureaucratic jargon – no debate took place.

KAZAKHSTAN. Research on gene mutations caused by nuclear radiation – Kazakhstan .  Russia keen to market nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan.

SOUTH AFRICA. Concerns about radioactive waste incidents – Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

UK. 

BRAZIL. Former Brazilian President Michel Temer indicted on corruption charges Involving nuclear plant bribes.

SPAIN. Spain to Shut Down Nuclear Plants And Push Forward Clean Energy Plan.

GERMANYRenewables provide over half of German net power in March .

CANADA.  Canada replaces largest North American coal plant with solar.

NEPAL.  Nepal assures South Asian doctors that UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weaponswill be ratified soon.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

The growing threat of nuclear confrontation

“Storm clouds are gathering”: Nuclear expert warns of new arms race

A New Nuclear Arms Race: As NATO Marks 70th Anniversary, Threat of Nuclear Confrontation Grows

DEMOCRACY NOW APRIL 08, 2019 Commemorations—as well as protests—were held last week to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President Trump used the anniversary to push for NATO countries to increase military spending. During an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump demanded Germany and other NATO countries increase their military spending from 2 to 4 percent of GDP. The push for more military spending could benefit U.S. weapons manufacturers including Boeing. This comes as Acting Pentagon Chief Patrick Shanahan is under investigation for improperly advocating on behalf of Boeing, where he worked for 30 years. We speak with Joe Cirincione, president of the global security foundation Ploughshares Fund……….

JOE CIRINCIONE: We’re cursed in this discussion by a very narrow definition of national security. We’ve all come to accept that national security equals military forces and weapons, when, in fact, as you point out, a national security is more often determined by the health and welfare of its citizenry, the system of justice, whether citizens feel that they’re engaged in the country and have a role in the governance of that country. And spending on military is just one small part of national security, but this has become the test of whether a country is carrying its fair burden. So, burden sharing with NATO countries has been an issue in this town for decades. Republicans and Democrats have both harped on it, because it’s kind of an easy way for them to show that they’re tough, that they’re strong.

But let’s put this in perspective. What are we talking about here? The world as a whole, every year, spends about $1.7 trillion on military weapons and forces. One-point-seven. The United States and our NATO allies account for $1 trillion of that. So more than half of all global spending is spent by the United States and our NATO allies. The NATO allies alone account for about $240 billion. That’s what they spend. What are they spending it to guard against? Well, if you think that Russia is the main threat, Russia only spends about $66 billion every year on defense. In fact, its spending dropped by 20% between 2016 and 2017, the last year we have figures for. So, its spending is going down.

So why this demand for the NATO allies to spend more, when they’re beset with all kinds of problems that have nothing to do with military, all kinds of internal, economic, immigration problems, social justice problems, health and welfare problems? Why? Well, one, it’s simple. The 2% solution, it’s a simple mantra that is repeated. And, two, this directly benefits military contractors.

Who makes the money off of this? Well, most of the money that we spend in this country on defense, and that the Europeans spend, go to a relative handful of defense contractors: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc. And they lobby incessantly for these kind of increases, in Washington, in NATO headquarters, in the capitals of Europe.

And now we have the absurd situation where a 31-year veteran of Boeing, a corporate executive, Patrick Shanahan, is the acting secretary of defense. I mean, this is such an obvious conflict of interest, you would think that people would say, “Well, no, you can’t do that.” But, of course, this is Trump’s Washington, where oil industry executives are running the EPA, and pharmaceutical companies run the FDA, so it’s become accepted. But it’s not right. It’s not fair. And it distorts us.

And it’s dangerous. Just one last fact: If you take Trump at his word that he wants them to contribute 4%, well, that means you want Europe to double their defense spending, from about $230 billion to $460 billion. For what? To do what? What does this go towards? We’ve lost track of the real security needs we face, and we’ve become obsessed with spending more and more on military weapons that in fact have only a minor role to play in the national security of a country.-year veteran of Boeing, a corporate executive, Patrick Shanahan, is the acting secretary of defense. I mean, this is such an obvious conflict of interest, you would think that people would say, “Well, no, you can’t do that.” But, of course, this is Trump’s Washington, where oil industry executives are running the EPA, and pharmaceutical companies run the FDA, so it’s become accepted. But it’s not right. It’s not fair. And it distorts us.

And it’s dangerous. Just one last fact: If you take Trump at his word that he wants them to contribute 4%, well, that means you want Europe to double their defense spending, from about $230 billion to $460 billion. For what? To do what? What does this go towards? We’ve lost track of the real security needs we face, and we’ve become obsessed with spending more and more on military weapons that in fact have only a minor role to play in the national security of a country…….

AMY GOODMAN: Joe, you’ve written several books, one of them Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. Do you think it’s too late? And what do you think needs to happen?

JOE CIRINCIONE: All the arrows are pointing in the wrong direction, so nuclear storm clouds are gathering. For example, John Bolton, the national security adviser, has been very successful in sabotaging talks with North Korea. The one benefit of the Trump presidency might be that he could negotiate a solid deal with Kim Jong-un. It now appears, according to reports this week, that at the Hanoi summit John Bolton sabotaged those talks by presenting a list of unacceptable demands, an all-or-nothing offer to the North Koreans that caused them to call off the talks.

He has killed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This is a Ronald Reagan treaty, that successfully pulled out and destroyed 3,000 nuclear weapons from Europe. You may have been covering this in the ’80s, Amy. When we were pouring nuclear weapons into Europe, massive demonstrations. The biggest rift in the NATO alliance until this point was that crisis. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated a treaty. Bolton never liked it. He killed it.

And why did he kill it? He used the excuse of a Russian violation, which I believe is real but the kind of thing that can be fixed within the treaty framework. And what—but why did they kill it? Because there are elements in the U.S. military and the defense industry that want to build new nuclear weapons that were prohibited by that treaty, to deploy against China and to put into Europe.

So, weeks after we announced we were withdrawing from the treaty, it was revealed that the Department of Defense is starting manufacturing, research and development and production of a new ground-launched cruise missile, a so-called GLCM. You may remember this phrase from the ’80s. It was GLCMs and Pershing IIs that we were pouring into Europe. And so, Secretary General Stoltenberg sought to assure the Congress that NATO would not accept a new intermediate nuclear forces nuclear weapon in Europe.

So Bolton is doing this a little cleverly. It’s like a Trojan horse. It’s going to be a conventionally armed ground-launched cruise missile, a conventionally armed GLCM, that will go into Europe, perhaps in the next couple of years. But, of course, you can easily swap out the conventional warhead for a nuclear warhead. So I think they’re planning to put these weapons in to avoid the kind of mass demonstrations, and later, possibly, equip them with nuclear weapons.

This is the kind of Cold War policy that we thought was behind us. We thought the arms race was over. It’s not over. We are in a new arms race. Every single nuclear-armed country is building new nuclear weapons and heading towards a confrontation point. You’ve got to be a real optimist to think that you can keep thousands of nuclear weapons in fallible human hands indefinitely and something terrible is not going to happen. I am very worried about the direction of the arms race, the direction of our policies.

AMY GOODMAN: Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. To see Part 1 of our interview, go to democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now!

https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/8/trump_calls_for_growing_nato_budgets

April 9, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Melting glaciers causing sea levels to rise at ever greater rates

 https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/uoz-mgc040419.php

UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH 8 Apr 19, Melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic as well as ice melt from glaciers all over the world are causing sea levels to rise. Glaciers alone lost more than 9,000 billion tons of ice since 1961, raising water levels by 27 millimeters, an international research team under the lead of the University of Zurich have now found.

Glaciers have lost more than 9,000 billion tons (that is 9 625 000 000 000 tons) of ice between 1961 and 2016, which has resulted in global sea levels increasing by 27 millimeters in this period. The largest contributors were glaciers in Alaska, followed by the melting ice fields in Patagonia and glaciers in the Arctic regions. Glaciers in the European Alps, the Caucasus and New Zealand were also subject to significant ice loss; however, due to their relatively small glacierized areas they played only a minor role when it comes to the rising global sea levels.

Combination of field observations and satellite measurements

For the new study, the international research team combined glaciological field observations with geodetic satellite measurements. The latter digitally measure the surface of the Earth, providing data on ice thickness changes at different points in time. The researchers were thus able to reconstruct changes in the ice thickness of more than 19,000 glaciers worldwide. This was also possible thanks to the comprehensive database compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service from its worldwide network of observers, to which the researchers added their own satellite analyses. “By combining these two measurement methods and having the new comprehensive dataset, we can estimate how much ice has been lost each year in all mountain regions since the 1960s,” explains Michael Zemp, who led the study. “The glaciological measurements made in the field provide the annual fluctuations, while the satellite data allows us to determine overall ice loss over several years or decades.”

335 billion tons of ice lost each year

The global mass loss of glacier ice has increased significantly in the last 30 years and currently amounts to 335 billion tons of lost ice each year. This corresponds to an increase in sea levels of almost 1 millimeter per year. “Globally, we lose about three times the ice volume stored in the entirety of the European Alps – every single year!” says glaciologist Zemp. The melted ice of glaciers therefore accounts for 25 to 30 percent of the current increase in global sea levels. This ice loss of all glaciers roughly corresponds to the mass loss of Greenland’s Ice Sheet, and clearly exceeds that of the Antarctic.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Canada’s controversial nuclear waste disposal design for Chalk River

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

“Northern Canada has warmed and will continue to warm at more than double the global rate.”

Canada Warming Twice as Fast as World, Report Warns  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2019-04-05/global-warming-is-twice-as-fast-in-canada-as-rest-of-the-world-report-says?int=98f508

Many environmental effects being seen in the country are ‘effectively irreversible, say authors of study.

By Sintia Radu, Staff WriterApril 5, 2019 CLIMATE CHANGE IS ONE of the top threats that people in countries say confronts the world. Global warming is often referenced as a consequence of pollution and human activity. Levels vary across countries, yet a new report is showing a dire concern for one of the largest countries on the planet – Canada.

The North American nation is warming on average at twice the rate of the rest of the world, according to a new scientific report produced by the Environment and Climate Change Canada, the national government agency responsible for coordinating the country’s environmental policies. The average temperature in Canada today is 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than 70 years ago, according to the report. By comparison, the average global temperature increase during the same period is 0.8 degrees Celsius.

Both past and future warming in Canada is, on average, about double the magnitude of global warming,” say the authors of the report. “Northern Canada has warmed and will continue to warm at more than double the global rate.”

Additionally, the warming produced from carbon dioxide emissions from human activity is “effectively irreversible,” the report’s authors warn.

Among some of the report’s major findings:

  • Changes in temperature already show in various areas of the country and scientists say they will only intensify.
  • Precipitation is projected to increase, on average, yet summer rainfall may decrease in particular regions.
  • The Canadian Arctic and Atlantic Oceans have been the most impacted, with both experiencing “longer and more widespread sea-ice-free conditions”, the report says.
  • The availability of freshwater is changing, the report says, with the risk of water supply shortages expected to increase in the summer.

The magnitude of climate change in high versus low emission scenarios paint two future scenarios for the country, according to the scientists. If large and rapid warming occurs, Canada’s climate with be severely affected as greenhouse gas emissions will grow. Limited warming may only occur, the report notes, if Canada and the rest of the world work on eliminating carbon emissions early in the second half of the century and on substantially lowering other greenhouse gases

Research for the report began in February 2017 and draws “primarily from existing sources of information that have been peer-reviewed and are publicly available,” the authors say.

The report’s authors also say human influence on climate change is clear. “It is likely that more than half of the observed warming in Canada is due to the influence of human activities.”

Earlier this year a global survey of people in 26 countries named climate change as the greatest threat to international security.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

Australian rare earths processing company Lynas is rebuked by Malaysian environmental and consumer groups

Lynas is being unscientific, not SAM or CAP  https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/471173  SM Mohamed Idris   6 Apr 2019 Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) refer to the letter by Lynas Malaysia reported in Malaysiakini on 5 April 2019, which says that our recent statements about the plant’s wastes are “false and ignore scientific fact.”

The controversy is over the definition of wastes from the Lynas’ water leach purification (WLP) process, which contains thorium and uranium.

Lynas claims that the wastes are naturally-occurring radioactive material (called NORM), while we claim that the wastes are not naturally-occurring, but have been technologically-enhanced and should be called technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material known as TENORM.

Citing “two eminent scientists”, Lynas states as fact that “the small amount of thorium and uranium in the WLP generated are not man-made but naturally occurring radionuclides found in soil, water and in food.”

Lynas is clearly distorting the facts.

First of all, the thorium and uranium containing wastes generated by Lynas are not found to naturally occur in the Gebeng area, where the plant is located. On the contrary, the raw material which is processed by the Lynas plant is lanthanide concentrate that contains the thorium, uranium and the rare-earth.

This raw material is processed and imported from the Mount Weld mine in Australia and is brought to Malaysia. It is then subject to further processing in Gebeng by Lynas.

Therefore, how can it be said that say that the thorium and uranium are naturally occurring in the soil, water and in food when they were not there before in the Gebeng area, if not for the Lynas operations?

Moreover, what is even more significant is that we are talking about the generation of an accumulated amount of more than 450,000 metric tonnes of radioactive wastes from the Lynas operations thus far. To call this naturally-occurring radioactive material is indeed unscientific.

Secondly, the wastes that Lynas has generated from the WLP process clearly falls within the definition of TENORM, as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as: “Naturally occurring radioactive materials that have been concentrated or exposed to the accessible environment as a result of human activities such as manufacturing, mineral extraction, or water processing.”

April 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malaysia, RARE EARTHS | Leave a comment

Kings Bay Plowshares: Peace Activists Face 25 Years for Action at U.S. Nuclear Submarine Base

Kings Bay Plowshares: Peace Activists Face 25 Years for Action at U.S. Nuclear Submarine Base
Kings Bay Plowshares: Peace Activists Face 25 Years for Action at U.S. Nuclear Submarine Base  Democracy Now  8 Apr 19, A group of peace activists have been jailed for over a year before trial for entering the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia last April to protest U.S. nuclear weapons. The action took place on April 4, 2018—the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Armed with hammers, crime scene tape and baby bottles containing their own blood, seven anti-nuclear activists secretly entered Kings Bay—one of the largest nuclear submarine bases in the world—under the cover of night.
Their goal was to symbolically disarm the six nuclear ballistic missile submarines kept there. Each submarine carries 20 Trident thermonuclear weapons. One year after this historic action, three of the Plowshares activists remain jailed in Georgia. The other four are out on $50,000 bond with electronic ankle monitors. All seven face up to 25 years in prison for their actions. On Thursday, global leaders, activists and scholars, including Nobel Peace Prize-winning South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, released a petition addressed to U.S. Attorney General William Barr demanding all charges against the Kings Bay 7 be dropped immediately. Democracy Now! recently spoke with the four Plowshares activists who are out on bond: Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, Patrick O’Neill and Clare Grady………..https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/8/kings_bay_plowshares_peace_activists_face

April 9, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

NY Radiation Specialists Unveils State-of-the-Art Linear Accelerator at NYCBS

NY Radiation Specialists Unveils State-of-the-Art Linear Accelerator at NYCBS  benzinga, 8 Apr 19,   Port Jefferson Station, NY, April 08, 2019 –(PR.com)– On Tuesday, March 25, New York Radiation Specialists unveiled its brand new Varian Halcyon Linear Accelerator, at New York Cancer & Blood Specialists’ Eastchester Center for Cancer Care. The “NYCBS” Eastchester location is a multi-lingual facility located at 2330 Eastchester Road in the Bronx, just minutes from the Pelham Parkway. The Halcyon makes the NYCBS Eastchester Center for Cancer Care the most state-of-the-art radiation site in the region.

This cutting edge machine boasts features and benefits previously considered impossible. The Halcyon uses optimized guided radiotherapy technology to shape radiation beams to precisely match a patient’s tumor. These “beam shapers” deliver pinpoint accuracy of radiation to the areas that need it, protecting surrounding tissue and reducing the risk of side effects. In addition, the sophisticated design drastically reduces a patient’s table time. Since the accelerator is a self-contained unit, it is free to rotate up to four times faster than traditional models. The Halcyon can deliver effective radiation therapy in as little as five minutes. “Having the ability to deliver more effective treatment in less time is a win for the patient and aligns perfectly with New York Cancer & Blood Specialist’s mission to provide the highest quality of care,” said Dr. Reuven Grossman, an NYCBS Radiation Oncologist. “This new technology provides the most targeted and effective radiation treatment available anywhere.” Patients even have the option of checking themselves into the unit using a touchscreen and their I.D.
…….The entire installation process took two weeks which is a marked improvement over the industry standard of three months. This invariably enables patients to receive lifesaving treatment and therapy faster. … https://www.benzinga.com/pressreleases/19/04/r13503382/ny-radiation-specialists-unveils-state-of-the-art-linear-accelerator-at-nycbs

April 9, 2019 Posted by | health, USA | Leave a comment

Concern in both Democrats and Republicans about Hanford nuclear waste, as costs escalate, and Trump administration cuts back the budget

The Columbian 6th April 2019 The slow pace of cleaning up the nation’s largest cache of radioactive
waste left over from the production of nuclear weapons is frustrating state
officials from both major political parties, who blame the Trump
administration for not doing more.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently
proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts for cleaning up the
vast Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington, even though
the estimated cost of the cleanup has at least tripled and could reach more
than $600 billion.

“That’s a huge, huge cost increase,” said Tom
Carpenter, director of the watchdog group Hanford Challenge. At a hearing
in Washington, D.C., last week, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray questioned
Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s assertion that his agency can still meet a
legally-binding cleanup schedule despite the proposed budget cuts. Much of
the site’s aging infrastructure is deteriorating, including underground
waste storage tanks and tunnels.

https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/apr/06/u-s-officials-propose-budget-cuts-after-cost-estimate-multiplies/

April 9, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Concern over Chalk River Nuclear Site’s radioactive wastes

How safe is the Ottawa River from nuclear waste? Canada’s National Observer   April 8th 2019  “……..Canada’s first nuclear reactor began operating at Chalk River, about 160 kilometres northwest of Ottawa. Since 1944, the facility has served as Canada’s major nuclear science hub. Researchers at CRL have studied reactors, nuclear energy and weaponry and produced medical isotopes for patients around the world.

“It is crucial to protect the drinking water source of over two million people,” says Ottawa Riverkeeper, a full-time, non-profit organization that serves as a public advocate for the watershed and is a key intervenor in the environmental assessment of the waste proposal.

The Chalk River site resembles an old university campus. It’s cut out of a thick and isolating forest spanning about 10,000 acres, with neatly trimmed patches of grass, and a regimented mix of large brick and smaller white structures.

The facilities owned by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) are about seven kilometres from the gate at the border of Chalk River, a community of fewer than 1,100 residents, some of whom work at the lab which has about 2,800 employees.

Signs on a chain link fence and tree trunks along the perimeter indicate the grounds are protected by armed officers. Surveillance cameras cast a visual blanket over the road to the security clearance booth and over much of the site.

Chalk River Laboratories has for decades faced questions over the way it deals with its radioactive waste. Environmentalists have decried the facility for discharging waste into the river and for leaks. CNL says its methods for treating waste are sound and the regular liquid effluent discharges into the river have no significant public health or environmental impact on drinking water. It reports a steady evolution of environmental stewardship.

Fresh concern erupted after CNL announced detailed plans to build a nuclear disposal facility to permanently house one million cubic metres of radioactive waste — about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth.

In May 2016, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission launched the environmental assessment process for the disposal project with an initial call for public comment.

Environmentalists and concerned citizens questioned how nuclear waste can remain securely contained for hundreds of years, and how it might endanger water quality if any leaks.

The waste has accumulated over decades of Chalk River’s operations. It includes low-level material, such as equipment from operations that has been irradiated and buildings that housed the reactors, and intermediate-level waste, such as filters used to purify reactor water systems and reactor core components. The irradiated material sits anywhere from a few metres to a few kilometres from the Ottawa River. ……..

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) promotes itself as a global leader in developing applications for nuclear technology through research, engineering and waste management services.

It is a subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a federal Crown corporation, and operated by the Canadian National Energy Alliance, a private consortium. Its operations are licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the nation’s nuclear regulator.

What do water quality tests near Chalk River say?

Some nearby residents and environmental groups have argued that, while CNL says it is committed to safeguarding the health of the Ottawa River during the decommissioning process, questions remain about the lab’s ability to safely dispose of radioactive waste.

The lab’s history is peppered with minor leaks and malfunctions – and a few major ones. Critics worry that the organization’s confidence in the safety of decommissioning efforts is misplaced.

For instance, critics claim the lab is not fully transparent about its water quality testing methods and has not properly informed the public on plans for permanent storage and disposal of the radioactive material.

Ottawa resident Ole Hendrickson is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, an Ottawa-based environmental activist group whose volunteers have worked for the clean-up and prevention of radioactive pollution from the nuclear industry in the Ottawa Valley for more than 40 years. He’s also a member of CRL’s environmental stewardship council, which convenes company officials, community representatives and other stakeholders several times a year to discuss updates from the lab.

Hendrickson said in an interview that CNL is stingy about providing environmental monitoring data, and that many of the documents with information on testing he has received through access to information requests include significant redactions.

Yet authorities in nearby towns appear unconcerned.

Brenda Royce works at the Ontario Clean Water Agency in Petawawa, about 20 kilometres downstream from Chalk River. It is a provincial Crown agency that the town contracts to do its water quality testing and water system maintenance.

In addition, Royce said her office collects a water sample from the Ottawa River at Petawawa every day for CNL to conduct its own tests. But the office does not get the results of the tests back from the private lab.

Every year, Petawawa’s water agency publishes its own report on the town’s drinking water quality and treatment system. The agency’s report includes testing for many chemicals — including uranium — but not for the two main radionuclides that might be discharged from Chalk River Laboratories operations: tritium and strontium. “It’s just what we do,” Royce said, adding she has never been curious to see results on radioactive waste in the water system.

Petawawa’s director of public works said he has never met with Chalk River officials over potential water quality hazards in the area……..

In 2012, the site’s former Crown operator contracted Université Laval to conduct independent environmental tests of the water, air and vegetation around Chalk River Laboratories and the municipalities of Petawawa and Pembroke, just south of the facility, which would be most directly affected by any potential nuclear contamination in the river. The results for 2012, 2013 and 2015 have been posted on the nuclear industry regulator’s website, and results for 2018 will be published. As of yet, no tests returned results that were expected to cause adverse health effects.

Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission did not provide data or respond to technical questions before publication and was not available for an interview.

Test results from 2015 show levels of radioactive isotopes present in the river, such as strontium and tritium, were far below the threshold that would affect human health.

Health Canada guidelines state the maximum concentrations of strontium and tritium in drinking water are seven milligrams per litre, and 7,000 becquerels per litre, respectively.

Independent tests for strontium and tritium in the Ottawa River at Rolphton, Petawawa, and Pembroke were conducted specifically for this story. The results found strontium and tritium were not at dangerous levels in the water, as of November 2018. All indicated waste levels in the river were similar to results found by researchers from Université Laval in 2015, and reported last year by the lab itself.

While some local opponents believe there is no safe dose of radiation or safe level of radioactive waste, CNL says it abides by the standards set by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations body.

Members of CNL’s team acknowledge there are differences in international standards when it comes to certain substances, including tritium and strontium………..

When it comes to its own environmental monitoring, CNL releases a monthly performance report that indicates routine groundwater sampling at 170 locations across the site. The report does not include detailed results for the specific radioactive substances tested.

The Ontario Ministry of Environment conducts water quality tests at Petawawa every year and has never shown any concern over potential nuclear material in the water. As part of its Nuclear Reactor Surveillance Program, the Ontario Ministry of Labour published reports in 2011 and 2012 that show very low tritium levels in Ottawa’s water. No further reports have been published since.

This publication contacted recently elected municipal and provincial representatives, and the local federal politician whose seat will be up for election in 2019.

None of the representatives for the Chalk River area commented on the proposed waste facility or its possible impact on water quality. Renfrew-Nippising-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski did not provide an interview. The area’s federal MP, Cheryl Gallant, was not available. Laurentian Hills mayor John Reinwald, the chief administrative officer and all council members did not respond to interview requests………..https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/04/08/features/how-safe-ottawa-river-nuclear-waste

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Satellite images reveal that Saudi Arabia has almost completed its first nuclear reactor site

Saudi Arabia has almost completed its first nuclear reactor site, satellite images reveal

Saudi Arabia’s latest construction is raising eyebrows in the West, with these new satellite images sparking fears about the kingdom’s quest for power. News.com.au, Gavin Fernando, @gavindfernando, 8 Apr 19

Saudi Arabia has nearly completed construction of its first nuclear reactor, sparking fears about the country’s quest for nuclear power.

New satellite images, first published by Bloomberg, show construction on the building site has made significant process over the past three months.

The three images below [on original] show the rapid developments on the site between April 2017 and today.

The images show the construction of a 10-metre high steel vessel, which would contain nuclear fuel, and construction work on the surrounding concrete building.

The facility is located in the southwest corner of the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh.

………Robert Kelley, a nuclear expert and veteran of the US Department of Energy, said the reactor could be completed in “nine months to a year”.

He said the construction appears to be small in size and intended for research and training purposes.

Mr Kelley also said that, before the kingdom can insert nuclear fuel into the reactor, it would have to abide by international agreements.

He said it had been surprising to him “how non-transparent” the kingdom had been in the process of building the reactor and “how they seem very cavalier about modifying their arrangements with the IAEA”.

Mr Kelley was referring to agreements the kingdom has signed. The kingdom agreed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty three decades ago. In 2005, it signed an agreement with the IAEA known as the “small quantities protocol” that allowed countries with negligible nuclear programs to be exempt from regular inspections or nuclear monitoring.

However, once nuclear fuel was brought into the country to operate this small reactor, inspections by the IAEA would be required, Mr Kelley added.

…….. He said the Saudi reactor was being built by the Argentinian government-owned company INVAP. Before Argentina brings nuclear fuel to Saudi Arabia for the reactor, the IAEA agreement in place that exempts Saudi Arabia from inspections would need to be rescinded, Mr Kelley said.

“I think it’s a 100 per cent certainty that Argentina is not going to supply uranium fuel to a country that doesn’t have a safeguards agreement in force,” he added.

……….  the kingdom has previously pushed back against agreeing to US standards that would block two paths to potentially making fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was adamant that it was unacceptable for Saudi Arabia to become a nuclear power.

“We will not permit that to happen. We will not permit that to happen anywhere in the world,” he told CBS. “The President understands the threat of proliferation. We will never write a $150 million check to the Saudis and hand them over the capacity to threaten Israel and the United States with nuclear weapons, never.”

The publication of the satellite images follows a struggle between the Trump administration and Congress over the sale of nuclear technology to Riyadh.

Last month, The Daily Beast revealed the US Department of Energy had approved six authorisations for US companies that were looking to conduct nuclear-related work in the Middle Eastern kingdom.

The approvals, known as Part 810 authorisations, would allow companies to do preliminary work on nuclear power ahead of any deal but not ship equipment that would go into a plant………https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/saudi-arabia-has-almost-completed-its-first-nuclear-reactor-site-satellite-images-reveal/news-story/64346c4fbf0906ee7c2ddb3b95541c4d

 

April 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Many obstacles to small modular nuclear reactors, but U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends them, anyway

NRC recommends issuing early site permit for Clinch River Nuclear Site, OAK RIDGE TODAY,  APRIL 8, 2019BY JOHN HUOTARI The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final environmental impact statement, and the staff has recommended, based upon the environmental review, issuing an early site permit for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge, where two or more small modular nuclear reactors could be built.The final environmental impact statement, or EIS, was issued by the NRC on April 3. A notice of the EIS and the staff’s recommendation were published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 8.

The 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site is located in Roane County along the Clinch River……….

An early site permit is the NRC’s approval of a site for one or more nuclear power facilities. It does not authorize the actual construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant. That requires a construction permit and an operating license, or a combined license. ………

The Clinch River Nuclear Site could be used to demonstrate small modular reactors with a maximum total electrical output of 800 megawatts………

Now that the final EIS has been published, there will be a mandatory hearing with the NRC after a final safety evaluation report is issued. The NRC expects that report to be published in June. The five-member commission will make a decision after the hearing about whether to issue the early site permit.

A contested hearing could be held by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel if a member of the public or an organization successfully files a petition that raises safety or environmental concerns about granting the site a permit, the NRC said.

The NRC said an authorization for the construction or operation of new nuclear units at the Clinch River site is not being sought at this time.

The potential timing of any reactors being built at the site is not clear. Among other things, TVA doesn’t control the reactor certification process.

“There are currently no certified small modular reactor designs available, but TVA will continue working to ensure we are ready to fully evaluate them when they are available,” Hopson said.

Financial considerations would have to be evaluated, and the TVA board of directors would have the final decision “based on what they believe will be in the best interest of the people of the Tennessee Valley,” Hopson said.

Since a design hasn’t been certified for a small modular reactor, TVA used what is known as a “plant parameter envelope” as a surrogate for a nuclear power plant and its facilities when applying for the early site permit. The “plant parameter envelope” estimated the potential environmental impacts of building and operating two or more small modular reactors at the site. TVA used information from four small modular reactor vendors to develop the “plant parameter envelope.”

A reader has asked why TVA might consider adding new generating capacity at the Clinch River site even as it plans to retire coal-fired units like the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton, citing flat or declining demand………https://oakridgetoday.com/2019/04/08/nrc-recommends-issuing-early-site-permit-clinch-river-nuclear-site/

April 9, 2019 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Standing in the Fire With Young Climate Activists,

Barbara CecilTruthout, 8 Apr 19,  A global student uprising is underway, with youth worldwide demanding that adults face the climate crisis head on. They need a strong foundation in themselves and adult partnership for the challenges ahead.

Sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg became one of the most well-recognized faces of this movement following her speech before world leaders at a UN climate conference in Poland in December 2018, when she said, “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.”

Youth leaders like Thunberg are rising up across the globe. I had the privilege of working with a group of them from the United World College of the Atlantic in early March this year when I co-led a retreat in the U.K. with 17- and 18-year-olds. There were six adults in the retreat as well as students from 11 countries. All of the students had been on the front lines of the most recent strike; all of them carry deep questions about their futures. A young woman from the Netherlands named Maura Van der Ark — whom I had met in the Amazon Rainforest two summers ago, as Truthout reporter Dahr Jamail and I conducted research for his book, The End of Ice — had organized the retreat to help fellow students find a solid footing in these times.

These young people were exhausted from overwork, highly pressured to succeed by society’s standards, confused about their pathways into the future, and angry at their planetary inheritance. They were harboring a severe need to slow down, be themselves, reflect, and connect deeply with the Earth, with one another and with supportive, understanding adults. My experiences with them left a deep impression on me…….. https://truthout.org/articles/standing-in-the-fire-with-young-climate-activists/

April 9, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

UK Nuclear workers vote to strike over pay

Nuclear workers vote to strike over pay, David McPhee,    https://www.energyvoice.com/other-news/196648/nuclear-workers-vote-to-strike-over-pay/    Workers including security guards at an airport and nuclear site have voted to take industrial action in separate disputes over pay and other issues.

Members of the Unite union employed by Mitie at London City Airport and the

Sellafield reprocessing site in Cumbria voted heavily in favour of action.

Security guards, catering staff and other workers at Sellafied will stage a series of strikes from April 19 to 29 and from May 4 to 13 as well as banning overtime.

Unite said its members at the airport, including security guards and staff helping passengers with mobility issues, will also be taking industrial action.

Unite regional officer Michelle Cook said: “Mitie is treating its workforce with complete contempt. Workers are being subjected to low pay and third rate conditions.

“Mitie is drinking in the last chance saloon and if it wants to avoid industrial action they need to immediately enter into meaningful negotiations and properly address the workers concerns.”

April 9, 2019 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment