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How Russia’s nuclear industry co-opted religion

How the Russian Church Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/russian-federation/2019-06-14/how-russian-church-learned-stop-worrying-and-love-bomb

Orthodoxy’s Influence on Moscow’s Nuclear Complex

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June 15, 2019 Posted by | Reference, Religion and ethics, Russia | Leave a comment

U.S. military intelligence agency increases accusations against Russia about nuclear testing

U.S. military intelligence steps up accusation against Russia over nuclear testing, WP,    By Paul Sonne,  14 June 19 The U.S. military intelligence agency stepped up its accusations against Russia over low-yield nuclear testing on Thursday, saying that the country has conducted nuclear weapons tests that resulted in nuclear yield.

The new statement from the Defense Intelligence Agency amounted to a more direct accusation against Russia, compared to hedged comments about Russian nuclear testing that DIA Director Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr. made in a speech in Washington in late May.

“The U.S. Government, including the Intelligence Community, has assessed that Russia has conducted nuclear weapons tests that have created nuclear yield,” the DIA statement released Thursday said. The agency didn’t give any details about the alleged tests or release any evidence backing the accusation.

Previously, the agency’s director said that Russia “probably” was not adhering to the “zero-yield” standard the United States applies for nuclear testing. He suggested that Russia was probably conducting tests with explosions above a subcritical yield as part of its development of a suite of more-sophisticated nuclear weapons.

Russia has vehemently rejected Washington’s accusations, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov describing them as delusional.

“We consider claims that Russia may be conducting very low-yield nuclear tests as a crude provocation,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the DIA first aired the allegations. “This accusation is absolutely groundless and is no more than another attempt to smear Russia’s image.”

DIA’s latest accusation came a day after Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea L. Thompson met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Prague to discuss arms control.

The meeting didn’t result in any significant decisions. After the meeting, Thompson said in a message on Twitter that she raised a range of issues on which the United States would like to engage in a more constructive dialogue with Russia. …… https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-military-intelligence-steps-up-accusation-against-russia-over-nuclear-testing/2019/06/13/2dadf2e2-8e26-11e9-b162-8f6f41ec3c04_story.html?utm_term=.9b2400d2dfbe

June 15, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The continuing and ever-increasing costs of America’s nuclear wastes

Americans Are Paying More Than Ever to Store Deadly Nuclear Waste as Plants Shut Down  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-14/u-s-bill-to-store-nuke-waste-poised-to-balloon-to-35-5-billion, By June 14, 2019, The Maine Yankee nuclear power plant hasn’t produced a single watt of energy in more than two decades, but it cost U.S. taxpayers about $35 million this year.Almost 40 years after Congress decided the U.S., and not private companies, would be responsible for storing radioactive waste, the cost of that effort has grown to $7.5 billion, and it’s about to get even pricier.

With no place of its own to keep the waste, the government now says it expects to pay $35.5 billion to private companies as more and more nuclear plants close down, unable to compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables. Storing spent fuel at an operating plant with staff and technology on hand can cost $300,000 a year. The price tag for a closed facility: More than $8 million, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The U.S. Energy Department “has been clinging to unrealistic expectations,” said Rodney McCulllum, senior director for decommissioning and used fuel at the institute, an industry trade group. “The industry was never supposed to have this problem.”

Higher and Higher

DOE’s estimates of its nuclear-waste storage liabilities increase every year

The issue has been long-discussed. Initially, the plan was to store the radioactive waste deep underground at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, starting in 1998. But the project faced strong opposition from environmental groups, state residents and Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who served as the U.S. Senate majority leader.

After years of legal challenges, President Barack Obama cut funding for the project in 2009. Since then, there have been few realistic alternatives. Lawmakers in Washington held a hearing Thursday to evaluate bills aimed at how best to handle the waste.

In the meantime, the U.S. has no permanent place of its own to store radioactive material that will remain deadly for several thousand years.

About 80,000 metric tons of nuclear waste have been stored at 72 private locations across the U.S., or enough to cover a football field to a depth of 20 meters (66 feet), according to the Government Accountability Office. While most are at operating plants, incorporated into the plant’s daily activities, 17 are at closed facilities, with seven at sites — including Maine — where the plant itself has been demolished.

In those cases, only the storage casks remain, and keeping them monitored and protected as they get older can be an expensive operation.

After a legal battle with the U.S., the Maine Yankee plant and two sister facilities in Connecticut and Massachusetts — responsible for 123 casks of nuclear waste — were awarded $103 million from a U.S. Treasury Department fund in February, covering their expenses from 2013 through 2016.

“We only remain in business because the federal government has not met its obligation to remove the fuel,” said Eric Howes, director of public and government affairs at Maine Yankee. “Our only purpose is to store the fuel.”

Meanwhile, the growing number of shuttered plants, along with the aging of existing facilities, means these costs are about to surge. Once a storage site hits the 20-year mark it has to be relicensed. Older ones require more thorough inspections and additional paperwork, including submitting a so-called aging management plan.

About 30 of these licenses have been renewed, and that figure will more than double by the end of next year, according to the NEI. Some sites have more than one license.

“As we shut down more plants, the costs of used-fuel storage is going to go up,” McCulllum said by telephone.

A Shrinking Fleet

U.S. nuclear reactors are losing ground

Most of the waste involves spent fuel rods, and some sites include casks with radioactive components from reactors that have been torn down. Even though the government is legally responsible for storage expenses, it doesn’t make it easy for companies to recover the costs. The Yankee companies have had to file four lawsuits over the years, and the Energy Department sometimes pushes back.

In the most recent case, the agency challenged about $1 million in legal fees and administrative costs that it successfully argued weren’t related to fuel-storage expenses.

“They’ve contested every step of the way,” Howes, the Yankee spokesman, said.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Oyster Creek Nuclear Station’s nuclear waste, and opposition to the Holtec plan

June 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

HBO’s Chernobyl Stokes Anti-Nuclear Mood in Kazakhstan — Mining Awareness +

From Eurasianet: https://eurasianet.org/hbos-chernobyl-stokes-anti-nuclear-mood-in-kazakhstan “HBO’s Chernobyl stokes anti-nuclear mood in Kazakhstan Jun 7, 2019 The hit series is drawing attention to an atomic energy deal with Russia. A recent television miniseries depicting the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its aftermath is stoking an anti-nuclear backlash in Kazakhstan at a time when the Central Asian country’s political […]

via HBO’s Chernobyl Stokes Anti-Nuclear Mood in Kazakhstan — Mining Awareness +

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe says Iran has ‘no intentions’ to make or use nuclear weapons

Iran has ‘no intentions’ to make or use nuclear weapons, Abe says, Aljazeera, 13 June 19
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe said Iran’s Supreme Leader made the comment during a meeting in Tehran.Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has assured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Iran has no intention to make, hold or use nuclear weapons, while saying that the country will not negotiate with the United States.

Abe met Khamenei – Iran’s top decision-maker – on Thursday during a trip to Iran in an attempt to ease tensions between the Islamic republic and the US.

Following the meeting, which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to have also attended, Abe told reporters that Khamenei had told him that Iran “will not and should not make, hold or use nuclear weapons, and that it has no such intentions”.

Shortly after, Iranian state news agency FARS confirmed the comment, but added that Khamenei had said Iran will not negotiate with the US and did not consider President Donald Trump “worthy” of a message from Tehran.

“I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him now or in the future,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.

The supreme leader also reportedly said that he does not believe Trump’s offer of honest negotiations and that he thinks the US president’s promise not to seek regime change in Iran is a lie.

The comments likely came as a blow to Abe, who told reporters at a joint press conference with Rouhani on Wednesday, that helping to ease tension in the region was “the one single thought that brought me to Iran”.

Abe is completing a two-day visit to Iran, becoming the first sitting Japanese premier to visit the country since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. ……….   https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/06/iran-intentions-nuclear-weapons-abe-190613064055043.html

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory – jobs, jobs – yeah – but is it safe, or even necessary?

Atomic bomb factory could produce more than 1,000 jobs for SC. But how safe is it?   https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/state/south-carolina/article231568153.html, BY SAMMY FRETWELL. JUNE 14, 2019     Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.

But the proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.

Savannah River Site Watch, a nuclear watchdog organization that tracks SRS, planned a public meeting Friday night in Aiken County to brief people on the government’s plan at SRS, a 310-square-mile complex in western South Carolina.

“We don’t think people are really aware of what is going on: that this new mission is fraught with risk that could come to SRS,’’ Savannah River Site Watch director Tom Clements told The State.

Nuclear watchdog groups from New Mexico and California joined SRS Watch for the forum in Aiken County, where many SRS workers live. Before the Friday meeting, the groups held a news conference to voice concerns. The U.S. Department of Energy plans its own forum on the proposal June 27 in North Augusta.

The Energy Department is proposing to convert its failed and unfinished mixed oxide fuel plant at SRS for use as a plutonium pit plant. The cost to convert the plant could be up to $5 billion, nuclear watchdogs said.

Federal records show the new SRS plant would produce at least 50 pits for nuclear weapons each year. A federal site in Los Alamos, N.M., would produce another 30 pits, according to the government’s plan. Part of the reason for needing more pits is to refresh the nation’s aging stockpile of atomic weapons, federal officials have said.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Energy were not immediately available Friday for comment, but a public notice this week said the pits it wants to replace were made from 1978-89. Most plutonium cores were produced at the Rocky Flats, Colo., nuclear site decades ago, but that site has since closed.

“Today, the United States’ capability to produce plutonium pits is limited,’’ according to a DOE public notice. The notice said producing 80 pits per year, beginning in 2030, would “mitigate the risk of plutonium aging.’’

“The security policies of the United States require the maintenance of a safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile,’’ the public notice said.

Pro-nuclear groups say the pit plant is a good replacement for the MOX facility. Not only will it provide jobs, but it will help keep the United States safe, they say.

“We are 100 percent supportive,’’ said Jim Marra, director of Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness. ‘’From a national defense standpoint, it is vitally important. Quite frankly, there’s no better place to do it, at least part of it, than Savannah River Site. The expertise in dealing with plutonium, and the existing work now going on with plutonium, is huge.’’

Clements and Jay Coghlan, who directs Nuclear Watch New Mexico, don’t see it that way.

“It will be a great waste of taxpayer’s money,’’ Coghlan said. “There also is a long history of chronic safety problems and environmental or waste problems associated with pit production.’’

Clements said plutonium, one of the most dangerous parts of a nuclear weapon, is toxic and a potential threat to the environment. Workers would be exposed to plutonium at SRS, and the public could be exposed to plutonium if an accident occurs, he said.

SRS was a vital cog in Cold War weapons production. Built in the early 1950s, it produced materials, such as tritium, that were used for nuclear weapons. It has been largely in a cleanup mode and looking for new missions since the early 1990s. More than 10,000 people work there.

One of the biggest questions raised by pit project critics is whether the pits are needed as badly as the DOE contends.

Existing plutonium pits, essentially the cores of nuclear bombs, have a longer shelf life than the government has recently said they have, said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES in California. She said past government studies have shown that. One study shows that plutonium pits can last 85- 100 years, about 25-40 years longer than previously thought.

But the government today is working on a new type of nuclear weapon the pits could be used in — and nuclear proliferation is a bad idea, critics say.

“If you don’t design new nuclear weapons, you will need to do very few pits every year,’’ Kelley said. “This enterprise is not necessary, and I would argue that we need a very robust discussion here.’’

She said if the U.S. develops a new weapon and tests it, other countries may do the same, potentially leading to an escalation of nuclear arms.

Marra said he’s not opposed to plutonium pits being used for new weapons.

“’If that includes new weapons systems, I think that’s the right thing to do,’’ he said. “Our adversaries are not standing still in this regard. China and Russia are continuing to modernize their nuclear weapons, and we all know about North Korea.’’

Plans to develop the plutonium pit factory are not final. A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, discussed recently in a key committee, would derail the plan.

The Department of Energy plans to conduct an environmental impact statement on how the plant would affect the environment and human health. The current proposal isn’t the first time the DOE has brought up the matter of a new pit plant. The agency proposed a pit factory more than 17 years ago, but the plan never went anywhere.

Reach Fretwell at 803-771-8537. @sfretwell83

June 15, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Escalating collapse of global insect populations

The Great Insect Dying: How to save insects and ourselves, MONGABAY,  BY JEREMY HANCE   13 JUNE 2019  

  • The entomologists interviewed for this Mongabay series agreed on three major causes for the ongoing and escalating collapse of global insect populations: habitat loss (especially due to agribusiness expansion), climate change and pesticide use. Some added a fourth cause: human overpopulation.
  • Solutions to these problems exist, most agreed, but political commitment, major institutional funding and a large-scale vision are lacking. To combat habitat loss, researchers urge preservation of biodiversity hotspots such as primary rainforest, regeneration of damaged ecosystems, and nature-friendly agriculture.
  • Combatting climate change, scientists agree, requires deep carbon emission cuts along with the establishment of secure, very large conserved areas and corridors encompassing a wide variety of temperate and tropical ecosystems, sometimes designed with preserving specific insect populations in mind.
  • Pesticide use solutions include bans of some toxins and pesticide seed coatings, the education of farmers by scientists rather than by pesticide companies, and importantly, a rethinking of agribusiness practices. The Netherlands’ Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery includes some of these elements……….. https://news.mongabay.com/2019/06/the-great-insect-dying-how-to-save-insects-and-ourselves/

June 15, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl” TV series gets high rating, highly viewed in Russia and Ukraine

BBC 12th June 2019 , Hours after the world’s worst nuclear accident, engineer Oleksiy Breus
entered the control room of the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear
power plant in Ukraine. A member of staff at the plant from 1982, he became
a witness to the immediate aftermath on the morning of 26 April 1986.

The story of the reactor’s catastrophic explosion, as told in an HBO/Sky
miniseries, has received the highest ever score for a TV show on the film
website IMDB. Russians and Ukrainians have watched it via the internet, and
it has had a favourable rating on Russian film site Kinopoisk. Mr Breus
worked with many of the individuals portrayed and has given his verdict of
the series.      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-48580177

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Kazakhstan, media, Resources -audiovicual, Russia | Leave a comment

Climate change denier makes big donations to Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

Open Democracy 12th June 2019  Revealed: Climate change denier makes big donations to Boris Johnson and
Jeremy Hunt. Tory hopefuls under fire for accepting cash from company
linked to major ‘climate science denial’ group. Johnson has yet to
declare the funding, ‘raising questions about who else is bankrolling
him’.
A prominent climate change sceptic’s company has donated £25,000
each to both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaigns,
openDemocracy has discovered. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s largest
donation was £25,000 on May 22 from First Corporate Shipping, according to
the register of MPs’ interests.
First Corporate Shipping is the trading
name of Bristol Port, which is co-owned by Tory donors Terence Mordaunt and
Sir David Ord. Mordaunt is a director of the Global Warming Policy Forum,
the advocacy arm of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | 1 Comment

The clean-up of the Chernobyl nuclear wreck- the costs and international effort

June 15, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl”s warning: attempts by governments to conceal and manipulate the truth

Chernobyl (2019) – What Have They Done?

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Japan’s restarted nuclear reactors could be forced to shut down for safety measures to be implemented

World Nuclear News 13th June 2019 Nuclear power reactors in Japan that have resumed operation could be forced
to temporarily shut down again if back-up safety measures are not in place
by specified deadlines under new rules approved by the country’s Nuclear
Regulation Authority (NRA). Operators of restarted units have already said
they expect delays in the completion of such facilities.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Safety-upgrade-delays-could-take-Japanese-units-of

June 15, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Shelby Surdyk, Alaska’s nuclear disarmament youth campaigner

From NYC to Sitka, this Alaskan is taking on nuclear disarmament https://www.ktoo.org/2019/06/13/alaskans-chip-away-at-nuclear-disarmament/  

By Sheli DeLaney, KRNN,  June 13, 2019   On Wednesday’s Juneau Afternoon, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weaponswas a topic of discussion as host Sheli DeLaney sat down with nuclear disarmament advocate Shelby Surdyk.Nuclear disarmament became Surdyk’s cause when she was in high school in Skagway and met a new teacher who had previously taught at the U.S. military base on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. The central Pacific Ocean nation was the site of U.S. nuclear testing between 1946 and 1958.

The teacher educated students about the history and impact that nuclear weapons testing had on the Marshallese people, and their story left a lasting impression on Surdyk.

“I think that once you become connected to people whose lives have been touched by nuclear weapons testing, it’s a path you can’t turn back from,” she said.

Today, Surdyk is the project manager for HOPE: Alaska’s Youth Congress for the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a five-day conference for high school students to be held in Sitka in April 2020. The idea for the youth congress was introduced by Veterans for Peace, an organization that opposes the proliferation of nuclear weapons as part of their philosophy.

Surdyk recently attended the 2019 NPT PrepCom, a conference held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City this spring. She will be speaking about her experience over a brown-bag lunch hosted by Veterans for Peace this Friday at noon at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

June 15, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Department of Energy moves to redefine ‘high-level’ nuclear waste. More waste coming to WIPP?

June 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment