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Dangerous nuclear arms race to follow, if New Start Treaty is not renewed

Clock’s ticking on one of world’s most important nuclear treaties. A dangerous arms race may be next, By Eliza Mackintosh, CNN,  July 20, 2019 This week, senior American officials traveled to Switzerland to deliver President Donald Trump’s “vision for a new direction in nuclear arms control.” That vision is to strike a wide-ranging deal that would limit the arsenals of not only the US and Russia, but also China for the first time.

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July 22, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Lies and deceptions surrounding the planned costly bailout of Ohio’s nuclear power plants

There’s still time to say no to Ohio’s costly nuclear bailout   https://www.crainscleveland.com/opinion/personal-view-theres-still-time-say-no-ohios-costly-nuclear-bailout  Jeff Barge  21 July 19, There may have been a case once for Ohio to subsidize FirstEnergy Solutions’ two nuclear plants in Ohio. But the company’s deceit and dishonesty in providing false and misleading information to the state legislature and the public now make that virtually impossible. That may be why the bailout failed to pass as scheduled on July 17 by one vote and may not be brought up again until Aug. 1.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

China faces up to the pollution and radioactive waste problems of rare earths mining and processing

“To us as an environmental group, we hope that the environmental damage can stop and that these external [pollution costs] could be internalized in the cost” of products, Ma Jun, a leading Chinese environmentalist and director of the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs, said in a phone interview.

Ma’s fear is that other regions around the world could suffer a similar fate if they become, like China, the supplier of cheap rare earth elements, with little or no environmental price attached

China Wrestles with the Toxic Aftermath of Rare Earth Mining    https://e360.yale.edu/features/china-wrestles-with-the-toxic-aftermath-of-rare-earth-mining, 

China has been a major source of rare earth metals used in high-tech products, from smartphones to wind turbines. As cleanup of these mining sites begins, experts argue that global companies that have benefited from access to these metals should help foot the bill.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | China, environment, RARE EARTHS, Reference | Leave a comment

The Pentagon’s scary new nuclear doctrine

CIS:E.1512-2004

The Pentagon’s new nuclear doctrine is scary as hell, Rt.com Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst who focuses on US foreign policy in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific region. He is fully qualified as a lawyer in two international jurisdictions. 18 Jul, 2019 The Pentagon is actively contemplating the use of nuclear weapons to win wars that need not be fought in the first place. As expected, opposition to the US nuclear doctrine is almost non-existent in the mainstream media.

It used to be the case that the idea of using nuclear weapons in a real-world conflict was such a taboo idea that no one was ever openly to contemplate it. We need only look back to the end of World War II to realize how catastrophic and harmful nuclear weapons can be on civilian populations; yet we shouldn’t have had the blueprint of Nagasaki and Hiroshima to know that the use of nuclear weapons would be a frightening and criminal act. They are deadly and unnecessary, end of story. You can all save me the cliched response “But they ended a war.”

Firstly, the use of nuclear weapons didn’t end a war – it started one (the Cold War). Secondly, anyone who knows even a little bit of history knows that Japan was on the verge of defeat. But don’t take my word for it – I wasn’t there. But those who were typically made statements to the effect that “[t]he use of [the atomic bombs] at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.” But I digress.The United States military has decided that the only chance it has of maintaining a stranglehold over its empire is to actively contemplate the scenarios and situations in which it should deploy the use of nuclear weapons. ……

The Pentagon apparently believes that it is “necessary” and “prudent” to “preplan nuclear employment options for contingencies prior to a crisis,” which includes “a means to assess the anticipated effectiveness of options prior to execution,” as well as a “means to assess the nature and extent of unintended consequences.”……..

Having executed an option, the US military is unlikely to stop there. According to the document, “planning and operations must not assume use in isolation but must plan for strike integration into the overall scheme of fires.” The document also states that “there may be a requirement to strike additional (follow on and/or emerging) targets in support of war termination or other strategic objectives.” Commanders must “maintain the capability to rapidly identify and strike previously unidentified or newly emerging targets.”

Forget the Iran nuclear deal. Where is the US nuclear deal? Where is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to stop global annihilation by nuclear holocaust by a former reality TV star billionaire (the JCPOATSGABNHBAFRTSB)?

The spectrum of nuclear warfare may range from tactical application,” the document eerily confirms, “to limited regional use, to global employment by friendly forces and/or enemies.

As the Military Times was astute to note, the new doctrine reflects a world in which the US military is losing its “technological edge” over “other near-peer military rivals.” Just to give you a hint, the list of near-peer military rivals does not include Iran. It includes two nuclear giants in particular who are beginning to put the US military on the backfoot to the extent that the Pentagon has no choice but to release documents which call the employment of nuclear weapons “essential” to mission success.

The urge to deploy the use of nuclear weapons only makes sense if you live in a world in which you must always be prepared to win a war against every potential adversary. Americans amongst you reading this may be thinking: “Yeah, so what?” But take it from the rest of us who don’t wake up every morning swearing allegiance to a flag that to many others represents death and destruction, that winning wars tends to be less of a focus when compared to other issues such as healthcare, housing, climate change, and the list goes on.

Perhaps if the US gave up on the idea that it needs to fight wars in order to predicate its survival in the first place, it wouldn’t need to contemplate such a catastrophic doctrine. …..

Just to summarize: the US is the only nation to deploy nuclear weapons during battle. The Trump administration suspended its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in February this year, and is releasing documents left, right and center which suggest they are actively considering using nuclear weapons again…..https://www.rt.com/op-ed/464467-nuclear-weapons-doctrine-american/

July 22, 2019 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Vladimir Shevchenko – heroic photographer of Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe

I watched the “Chernobyl” miniseries, and I was struck by the accuracy. The scene on the roof of the reactor as depicted in the fictional episode, was accurate in so much detail, compared to  the 1986 real film.

The Soviet film maker who filmed his own death at Chernobyl    https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/the-soviet-film-maker-who-filmed-his-own-death-at-chernobyl/news-story/b06e971263baff167fdeab00061d9e9c

There were many who risked their lives after the Chernobyl disaster — but none more so than a man desperate to show the world what happened,   LJ Charleston,  21 July 19  When Soviet filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko took his camera onto the roof of Chernobyl’s reactor four in the aftermath of the fatal explosion, he had no idea he was right in the middle of what was — in April 1986 — the most dangerous place on earth.

He also had no idea that his chilling documentary Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, about the clean-up of the radioactive material at Chernobyl, would be his very last.

He died of acute radiation sickness a year later.

The award-winning film director, who was working for Ukrainian TV at the time, was said to have been quite unaware of the dangers he was putting himself in when he agreed to film from the roof next to reactor four.  

He’d been hired to film in the exclusion zone. But his gravest error was agreeing — along with two assistants — to climb up to the most lethal area of all, just days after one of the worst man-made disasters of all time.

Even 33 years after the explosion, Shevchenko’s film is still an eerie reminder of the sacrifices made by those who risked their lives in the clean-up efforts at Chernobyl.

Today, as the world focuses once again on those events due to HBO’s series Chernobyl, it’s worthwhile putting the spotlight on the courageous Shevchenko.

He gave his life so that we could see with our own eyes what went on during the clean-up. It was, at times, incredibly basic and put so many lives at risk.

And, by doing so, Shevchenko was unknowingly filming his own death……

Shevchenko, who was the first and only film maker allowed on location in the exclusion zone of Chernobyl, is best known for Chernobyl — Chronicle of Difficult Weeks. You can watch the full cut of his film here.

The film is entirely in Russian, although it’s believed people are currently working on English subtitles. It includes interviews with beleaguered scientist Valery Legasov, now famous due to the HBO series in which he’s played by Jared Harris.

Legasov committed suicide two years after the disaster, on the anniversary, due to the horror of his experiences and the lies he had to tell the International Atomic Agency in Vienna to cover up Soviet mishandling of the event.

Shevchenko’s footage of Chernobyl has not been widely seen and the fact he lost his life a year after the explosion has been completely obscured, as his name isn’t listed on official records of deaths. At the time, his two assistants were receiving hospital treatment, but there is no word of what became of them.

Sydney archaeologist Mr Robert Maxwell, the only archaeologist who has worked in Chernobyl across two field excursions, told news.com.au Shevchenko was well-respected and trusted to film the clean-up efforts, as it was such a highly sensitive time for the Soviets.

“He was granted permission to film the clean-up, including the incredibly dangerous work of the ‘biobots’,” Mr Maxwell said, referring to the name given to the workers sent in to clean up……..

THE ‘BIOBOT FOOTAGE’

One of the most memorable and unbelievable scenes in the TV series Chernobylfeatures liquidation workers on the roof, using shovels to throw highly radioactive material back into the core.

If it wasn’t for Shevchenko’s 1986 footage, we would not know that this happened. The men could only work in frantic 90 second shifts; any longer and their exposure to the radiation would be fatal.

What makes the footage so compelling is that we can clearly see some men picking up the radioactive graphite with gloved hands. We also see Shevchenko filming from the roof top, wearing only a flimsy mask and cap for protection. Then we can see how badly damaged the footage is as the radiation makes an impact on the film itself.

It’s harrowing to see how much work the men are doing with their hands.

This is Shevchenko’s footage focusing on the rooftop clean-up.

Chernobyl. Cleaning the roofs. Soldiers (reservists). 1986.

July 22, 2019 Posted by | media, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Five myths about the Chernobyl disaster — Beyond Nuclear International

Countless victims, wildlife not thriving, and far reaching impacts are a few of the harsh realities

via Five myths about the Chernobyl disaster — Beyond Nuclear International

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uranium mines harm Indigenous people — Beyond Nuclear International

But a new one is approved at Yeelirrie in Australia

via Uranium mines harm Indigenous people — Beyond Nuclear International

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry getting its demands – to reduce safety inspections, roll back requirements

Nuclear industry has been pushing for less oversight, and it’s working. L A Times ELLEN KNICKMEYER, JULY 17, 2019

They’re part of the money-saving rollbacks sought by the country’s nuclear industry under President Trump and already approved or pending approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, largely with little input from the general public.

The nuclear power industry says the safety culture in the U.S. nuclear industry — 40 years after a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania — is “exceptional” and merits the easing of government inspections.

Maria Korsnick, president of the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute trade group, said she welcomed changes in NRC plant oversight “to ensure that it reflects a more robust understanding of the current performance of the U.S. nuclear fleet.”

Opponents say the changes are bringing the administration’s business-friendly, rule-cutting mission to an industry — nuclear reactors — in which the stakes are too high to cut corners.

While many of the regulatory rollbacks happening at other agencies under the current administration may be concerning, “there aren’t many that come with the existential risks of a nuclear reactor having a malfunction,” said Geoff Fettus, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council on nuclear issues.

This week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released staff recommendations for rollbacks in safety inspections for the 90-plus U.S. nuclear power plants and for less flagging of plant problems for the public. Democratic lawmakers and one commissioner expressed concern about the safety risks and urged the commission to seek broader public comment before proceeding.

The country’s nuclear regulators were looking at “far-reaching changes to the NRC’s regulatory regime without first actively conducting robust public outreach and engagement,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki.

Svinicki and two other commissioners did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment made through the agency’s public affairs staff. Public affairs director David Castelveter said the commission would respond directly to lawmakers on Pallone’s letter.

A fourth commissioner, Jeff Baran, spoke out Tuesday, saying he opposed cutting inspections and reducing oversight. Baran called for more public input on proposed rollbacks.

Nuclear regulators post notices of meetings on proposed rollbacks of oversight of nuclear power plants on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission website. Lawmakers complained that there has been scant notice to the public at large about the meetings or proposals.

In general, according to attendance logs, the rollbacks are being hashed out at meetings attended almost solely by commission staffers and nuclear industry representatives. ……

Edwin Lyman, a nuclear safety expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists said the security changes “are jeopardizing public health and safety by restricting the NRC’s ability to ensure that nuclear plants are sufficiently protected against radiological sabotage attacks.”

In January, in one of the comparatively few widely reported changes, commissioners rejected staff recommendations for making nuclear plants harden themselves against natural disasters on the scale of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused meltdowns at three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan……

Some rollbacks pushed by the industry have been rejected by the commission’s staff. Others are still under consideration, including one that would further cut inspections by regulators and allow more self-inspections overseen by plant operators.

This week’s staff recommendations for rollbacks in government oversight are “just the tip of the iceberg,” Lyman said. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-07-17/nuclear-commission-considers-cutting-back-on-nuclear-power-plant-inspections

July 22, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Hinkley Pt nuclear station’s cooling system will mean massacres of fish

July 22, 2019 Posted by | environment, technology, UK | Leave a comment

A lot of safety worries for Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear plant

Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear plant facing numerous safety concerns – Birgün,  https://ahvalnews.com/akkuyu/turkeys-akkuyu-nuclear-plant-facing-numerous-safety-concerns-birgun  21 July 19,Top-level officials working at Turkey’s Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant construction project say a series of problems, including lack of design adaptation and a shortage of competent engineers on site, are posing serious safety concerns, left-wing Birgün newspaper reported.Located in Turkey’s Mediterranean coastal town of Mersin, Turkey’s first nuclear power plant Akkuyu is a joint Russian-Turkish project with Russian energy company Rosatom as the majority stakeholder. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin kicked off the construction of the plant on Apr. 3 amid concerns about the potentially destructive ecological consequences of the plant.

The project hit a snag in May when fissures discovered in the foundations, according to pro-government outlet HaberTürk. New concrete was laid only for more cracks to be discovered.

The problem of the cracks, discovered by Turkey’s Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK), have since been fixed, however the foundation of the plant remains a problem.

The design of the plant was created with Russian landscape and weather in mind and is in need of revision to be adapted to Turkey’s warm climate, officials told Birgün.

“For example, sloping in the mountains should be conducted in a more horizontal fashion, but it has been done vertically to minimise costs and this is resulting the boulders continually rolling down the hills,’’ one official said.

The ground the plant is being built on, which according to a geology engineer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is filled with gaps and cannot support the plant.

“Technically speaking, you can construct a structure over any kind of surface. However, the structure at hand is not a copy-paste matter, it must be revised according to the present surface. None of this is happening because the engineers of the project are not competent,’’ the engineer said, pointing to gaps that may lead to condensation, among other problems.

The project is run entirely on the ‘’past experiences’’ contractors, one official said.  ‘’They are acting as though a building is being constructed instead of a nuclear reactor. And even during the process of constructing a building, a much more serious plan of action is followed.’’

The cooling of the plant is to take place through the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The warm water to be released into the sea after the cooling process, a chemical engineer who spoke to left-wing Birgün daily said, will lead to increased temperatures in the water, which in turn affects marine life.

’Chlorine is placed in the water to avoid mussels etc. from sticking to the pipes used to draw the water. And then this water, which now naturally has chlorine in it, is released into the sea,’’ the official said. ‘’Imagine the damage this can create in the sea, which is filled with living organisms.’’

July 22, 2019 Posted by | safety, Turkey | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – at least 10 years away – Canadian Nuclear Association

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 1 Comment

Port Townsend City Council passes resolution to ban nuclear weapons

Residents tout small steps in same direction , Peninsula Daily News, By Sunday, July 21, 2019 , PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend City Council members were moved when several residents impressed upon them the value of taking small steps toward a larger issue.

The council unanimously passed a resolution last week in support of a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons following similar actions earlier this spring by the Jefferson County commissioners and the county health department.

“My sense about what this means is not just moving away from the constant waste of money that, if it’s ever put to use, may cost us all of our lives, but also to free up the science and technology and engineering necessary to move towards a more useful strategy as a country,” said Port Townsend’s Doug Milholland, a resident who drove the efforts to pass the resolution.

“Let’s say yes to life.”

Forest Shomer, a speaker in May at the Global Earth Repair conference in at Fort Worden, said that whatever happens in the Key City reverberates.

“We’re right across the water from [Naval Magazine] Indian Island,” Shomer said. “We’ve heard the words so much, ‘Neither confirm nor deny,’ so we don’t know if, right at this moment, we’re sitting three miles away from nuclear weapons.

“It’s pretty personal to Port Townsend to make a statement of how we feel about that.”….  bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.   https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/port-townsend-city-council-passes-resolution-to-ban-nuclear-weapons/

July 22, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New type of nuclear fusion plan, but the reality is as far away as ever

Skunk Works’ Exotic Fusion Reactor Program Moves Forward With Larger, More Powerful DesignThis will be the company’s fifth major design iteration as it pushes ahead toward building a potentially revolutionary practical prototype.  The Drive, BY JOSEPH TREVITHICK, JULY 19, 2019,   Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is building a new, more capable test reactor as it continues to move ahead with its ambitious Compact Fusion Reactor program, or CFR. Despite slower than expected progress, the company remains confident the project can produce practical results, which would completely transform how power gets generated for both military and civilian purposes……

The CFR program is built around new patented reactor design, which The War Zone has explored in detail in the past, that uses superconducting coils to more effectively generate a magnetic field to contain the heat and pressure of the reaction. Lockheed Martin’s hope is that this will overcome challenges that have relegated nuclear fusion power generation to the realm of experimentation since the first concepts emerged in the 1920s.

Since then, teams in various countries have built functional fusion reactors, but they remain large, inefficient, and expensive. Last year, China touted progress on its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), but without highlighting that this reactor is situated inside a two-story building within the Dongpu Science Island, a large research campus on a lakeshore peninsula in China’s Anhui Province. An international consortium also hopes to have the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) up and running in France in 2021, but this reactor will weigh approximately 23,000 tons.

Containing the reaction, the same one that occurs in our sun and other stars, and doing so for a protracted period of time, remains the biggest hurdle. Nuclear fusion creates temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees Fahrenheit, which, in turn, also generate extremely high pressures inside the reactor vessel. The energy from fusion reactions can be so powerful that countries have already weaponized it in the form of hydrogen bombs. …….

Unfortunately, despite the progress that Skunk Works has made, many questions remain about whether its new reactor concept will be able to succeed whether other designs have failed. Lockheed Martin has initially suggested it might have a viable prototype ready this year or the next.

By 2017, that schedule had gotten pushed back to sometime in the mid-2020s. In his interview with Aviation Week, Babione did not offer any more of a specific timeline for when a practical reactor, which the company refers to as TX, might be ready……. https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/29074/skunk-works-exotic-fusion-reactor-program-moves-forward-with-larger-more-powerful-design?fbclid=IwAR3KPPiShDzNPTS-Zz3XHjhC8QjyBE3S0Ymlc2sgdg0BL7NrJAmt-KLusZg

July 22, 2019 Posted by | technology | Leave a comment

UK: Camden’s Citizens Assembly works on climate change action

Guardian 19th July 2019 Britain’s first climate “citizens assembly” opened its final session
on Saturday morning at which more than 50 Londoners will decide on
carbon-cutting measures they want their district to enact in order to
confront climate change.
Camden’s Citizens Assembly, convened to
interrogate what locals, neighbourhoods and the council can do for the
environment, is deliberating action that would reduce fossil fuel usage in
homes and public buildings and on roads. The wishlist will be considered by
the council as it draws up an environment action plan for 2020.
The outcome
of the assembly will be closely watched by other councils planning to
follow suit this year, and by Westminster which will hold its own national
climate assembly in the autumn. Council officials say there is a clear
intention to implement at least some of the recommendations.
“I hope
there will be some concrete action that we can take forward as a
council,” said Georgia Gould, the council leader. “That’s the idea of
it being an open process – you are letting go of that control. Our
climate is in a crisis and we need to act in radical new ways and this
assembly is part of developing those new ideas.”
Ideas being considered
include community energy projects such as solar panels on schools, GP
surgeries and public buildings, a revolution in heating buildings that
favours air source heat pumps over old-style gas boilers, better insulation
and urban greening.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/19/uk-first-climate-assembly-camden-draws-up-wishlist-for-council-action

July 22, 2019 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Great Britain GB electricity system operator – demand-side response (DSR) is more reliable than nuclear power

The Energyst 18th July 2019 The GB electricity system operator has suggested demand-side response (DSR) is more reliable than nuclear power in its latest Capacity Market auction
guidelines. National Grid ESO has given DSR a de-rating factor of 86 per
cent, while nuclear is de-rated to 81 per cent.

DSR is also deemed to be
marginally more reliable than biomass, coal and most interconnectors, per
the guidelines. Industry participants suggested the move reflected the
expertise of DSR providers in managing their portfolios. “Presumably [the
de-rating factors] reflects recent reliability of the UK nuclear fleet, and
superior performance of aggregators in delivering contracted response,”
wrote Jon Ferris, strategy director at energy blockchain firm Electron.

His comments were welcomed by the Association for Decentralised Energy.https://theenergyst.com/national-grid-dsr-more-reliable-than-nuclear/

July 22, 2019 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment