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Nuclear power is uninsurable. Britain’s Sizewell C and Bradwell B are not done deals

Energy Voice 3rd Sept 2019 Sizewell C and Bradwell B are not yet wholly done deals though groundwork
is under way with contracts issued and limited employment generated. At the end of July, for example, Atkins was awarded a £5m contract for preparatory works at Sizewell C for EDF. It is the first programme of construction work to start at the proposed nuclear power station, which will be located next to the existing Sizewell B plant on the Suffolk coast.

The situation at Bradwell in Essex is more complex, with the original power station now being decommissioned and China Electric pushing hard to get the green light for the new B station. In January, the new boss at Bradwell B peddled the claim that the nuclear plant “will bring significant benefits” to the community. Alan Raymant, a local lad, claimed: “The need for the reliable, low-carbon energy that nuclear provides continues to grow strongly. “Bradwell B will be a major part of Britain’s energy future, powering the national, regional and local economy for many years to

The project is being headed by China General Nuclear Power Group and EDF. UK technology content will be very limited. Same for Sizewell C. Neither project is slam-dunk. The case for their cancellation is very strong, not least that competitive civil nuclear is a total lie.

There is no such thing as economic or environmentally responsible nuclear. It is hugely expensive and most certainly not low carbon. Until now, all nuclear plant– more than 650 reactors – around the world has ridden on the back
of defence programmes and been subsidised.

And no one anywhere has solved the nuclear waste legacy, which is a trans-generational challenge and absolutely cancels out any of the contrived profit.

Moreover, early, high-capacity nuclear energy countries such as the UK, Canada and France have still not dismantled any of their reactors. These stations spend more time as industrial sarcophagi than they do generating electricity and

According to a fresh study published in July by Deutsche Welle of Germany, the challenges of the long-term storage of nuclear waste have been basically ignored, to the extent that today there are no long-term storage facilities for highly radioactive waste in operation.

In countries such as Germany, the UK and the US, the search for a suitable location has gone on for decades with governments all too ready to bribe communities to accept nuclear waste dumps on their doorstep, fortunately unsuccessfully.

Oh, and one more thing that no one talks about here. Civil nuclear is virtually uninsurable. So what if there is an accident? The answer is simple. According to Deutsche Welle: “Society will be asked to bear a very large proportion of these costs. The fact that nuclear power plant operators are not insured against the risk of accidents makes this abundantly clear.  Worldwide, there are no financial service organisations that offer insurance to them.”

September 5, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Thorium nuclear reactors – expensive, dangerous and leave dangerous radioactive isotopes with long half-lives

New nuclear power proposal needs public  debate,13071   By Helen Caldicott | 4 September 2019  The prospect of thorium being introduced into Australia’s energy arrangements should be subjected to significant scrutiny, writes Helen Caldicott.

AS AUSTRALIA is grappling with the notion of introducing nuclear powerinto the country, it seems imperative the general public understand the intricacies of these technologies so they can make informed decisions. Thorium reactors are amongst those being suggested at this time.

The U.S. tried for 50 years to create thorium reactors, without success. Four commercial thorium reactors were constructed, all of which failed. And because of the complexity of problems listed below, thorium reactors are far more expensive than uranium fueled reactors.

The longstanding effort to produce these reactors cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars, while billions more dollars are still required to dispose of the highly toxic waste emanating from these failed trials.

The truth is, thorium is not a naturally fissionable material. It is therefore necessary to mix thorium with either enriched uranium 235 (up to 20% enrichment) or with plutonium – both of which are innately fissionable – to get the process going.

While uranium enrichment is very expensive, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from uranium powered reactors is enormously expensive and very dangerous to the workers who are exposed to toxic radioactive isotopes during the process. Reprocessing spent fuel requires chopping up radioactive fuel rods by remote control, dissolving them in concentrated nitric acid from which plutonium is precipitated out by complex chemical means.

Vast quantities of highly acidic, highly radioactive liquid waste then remain to be disposed of. (Only is 6 kilograms of plutonium 239 can fuel a nuclear weapon, while each reactor makes 250 kilos of plutonium per year. One millionth of a gram of plutonium if inhaled is carcinogenic.)

So there is an extraordinarily complex, dangerous and expensive preliminary process to kick-start a fission process in a thorium reactor.

When non-fissionable thorium is mixed with either fissionable plutonium or uranium 235, it captures a neutron and converts to uranium 233, which itself is fissionable. Naturally it takes some time for enough uranium 233 to accumulate to make this particular fission process spontaneously ongoing.

Later, the radioactive fuel would be removed from the reactor and reprocessed to separate out the uranium 233 from the contaminating fission products, and the uranium 233 then will then be mixed with more thorium to be placed in another thorium reactor.

But uranium 233 is also very efficient fuel for nuclear weapons. It takes about the same amount of uranium 233 as plutonium 239 – six kilos – to fuel a nuclear weapon. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has already, to its disgrace, ‘lost track’ of 96 kilograms of uranium 233.

A total of two tons of uranium 233 were manufactured in the United States. This material naturally requires similar stringent security measures used for plutonium storage for obvious reasons. It is estimated that it will take over one million dollars per kilogram to dispose of the seriously deadly material.

An Energy Department safety investigation recently found a national repository for uranium 233 in a building constructed in 1943 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

It was in poor condition. Investigators reported an environmental release from many of the 1,100 containers could

‘… be expected to occur within the next five years because some of the packages are approaching 30 years of age and have not been regularly inspected.’

The DOE determined that this building had:

Deteriorated beyond cost-effective repair and significant annual costs would be incurred to satisfy both current DOE storage standards, and to provide continued protection against potential nuclear criticality accidents or theft of the material.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management now considers the disposal of this uranium 233 to be ‘an unfunded mandate’.

Thorium reactors also produce uranium 232, which decays to an extremely potent high-energy gamma emitter that can penetrate through one metre of concrete, making the handling of this spent nuclear fuel extraordinarily dangerous.

Although thorium advocates say that thorium reactors produce little radioactive waste, they simply produce a different spectrum of waste to those from uranium-235. This still includes many dangerous alpha and beta emitters, and isotopes with extremely long half-lives, including iodine 129 (half-life of 15.7 million years).

No wonder the U.S. nuclear industry gave up on thorium reactors in the 1980s. It was an unmitigated disaster, as are many other nuclear enterprises undertaken by the nuclear priesthood and the U.S. government.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, thorium | 1 Comment

Complete melting of Alaska’s sea ice

Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History , BY Dahr Jamail, Truthout, 3 Sept 19 The country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first glacier lost to the climate crisis. The once massive Okjökull glacier, now completely gone, has been commemorated with a plaque that reads: “A letter to the future. Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”

This reality is reverberating across the globe, far beyond Iceland. Even when no literal funeral is being held, we are, in a sense, witnessing an ongoing funeral for the world we once knew.

July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth since record keeping began in 1880. Nine out of the 10 hottest Julys ever recorded have occurred since 2005, and July was the 43rd consecutive July to register temperatures above the 20th century average.

In Greenland, scientists were stunned by how rapidly the ice sheet is melting, as it was revealed the ice there was not expected to melt like this until 2070. The melt rate has been called “unprecedented,” as the all-time single-day melt record was broken in August as the ice sheet lost a mind-bending 12.5 billion tons of water in one day. It is worth remembering that the Greenland ice sheet contains enough ice to increase global sea levels by 20 feet, and it is now predicted that it will lose more ice this year than ever before.

Also for the first time in recorded history, Alaska’s sea ice has melted completely away. That means there was no sea ice whatsoever within 150 miles of its shores, according to the National Weather Service, as the northernmost state cooked under record-breaking heat through the summer.


recent UN report estimates 2 billion people are already facing moderate to severe food insecurity, due largely to the warming planet……


Drought-induced blackouts are now besetting the people of Zimbabwe, where some places are seeing 18 hours per day without electricity. Imagine that in the summer heat. Dams providing hydropower lack water. Power blackouts are spreading.

In Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, the taps have run dry, affecting more than 2 million people, who have been trying to cope with not having access to municipal drinking water.

In India, a stunning 1 million people were displaced and at least 270 killedby severe flooding from heavier than usual monsoon rains……


These stunning satellite photos show an Arctic burning up in front of our eyes. In Alaska alone, at the time of this writing, at least 1.6 million acres have burned from at least 100 wildfires this summer. Wildfires in Siberiacould well burn into October when the first snows fall, as at least 6.7 million acres have burned across Russia…..


By 2050, Florida will have more days that feel like 100 degrees Fahrenheit (100°F) than any other state in the U.S…….

Denial and Reality

Ever busy denying the crisis, in the last month the Trump administration buried a large climate disruption response plan, as revealed by Politico. The outlet revealed how the Agriculture Department prevented the release of an already completed and sweeping plan about how the government should best respond to the climate crisis…….

September 5, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

‘All of us are in danger’: John Pilger delivers warning from Julian Assange

Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Roger Waters and John Pilger make powerful defence of Julian Assange in London, WSWS  3 September 2019

Up to 1,000 people gathered last night in central London to hear internationally acclaimed musician Roger Waters deliver a musical tribute to imprisoned WikiLeaks’ publisher Julian Assange.

Performing outside the UK Home Office, just miles from Belmarsh Prison where Assange is being held as a Category A prisoner, Waters sang Pink Floyd’s iconic song “Wish You Were Here.” He was accompanied by guitarist Andrew Fairweather Low.

Supporters filled the forecourt and pavement on both sides of Marsham Street, many carrying banners and placards demanding Assange’s freedom and the release of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Spontaneous chants rang out, “Free, Free Julian Assange!” and “There’s only one decision: No extradition!”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”

John Pilger, a veteran filmmaker and investigative journalist and a personal friend of Assange, opened the event with an impassioned speech. Pointing in the direction of the Home Office, Pilger told the crowd: “The behaviour of the British government towards Julian Assange is a disgrace. A profanity on the very notion of human rights. It’s no exaggeration to say that the treatment and persecution of Julian Assange is the way that dictatorships treat a political prisoner.”………

Pilger warned that Assange’s condition was a matter of grave concern. “I worry a great deal about him if he spends many months in Belmarsh,” he said. “The regime there is imposing a kind of isolation on him that is deeply psychologically wounding. He’s in a small cell in the hospital ward. They seem not to know what to do with him. Of course, what they should be doing is letting him out. He certainly should not be in a maximum-security prison.”…….

Underscoring the point made by Kristinn Hrafnsson about the mainstream media, no major British television station reported on the event on their evening news broadcasts. Today, in further flagrant and conscious censorship, no British, Australian or American newspaper is carrying a report on Waters’ initiative and the rally.

Via social media and publications such as the WSWS, however, reports and video of Waters’ performance, Pilgers’ speech and the statements of Gabriel Shipton are circulating widely and will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of people internationally over the coming days.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, media, UK | Leave a comment

Akademik Lomonosov — the first floating nuclear power stations – both a nuclear and a climate danger

‘It is not just a nuclear risk, but a climate risk’–66520

Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear expert of Greenpeace (Central and Eastern Europe), spoke to Down To Earth on about Akademik Lomonosov — the first floating nuclear power stations — in Russia

By Rajit Sengupta, 04 September 2019  Akademik Lomonosov is the first among a fleet of a dozen floating nuclear power stations to be used for fossil fuel exploration and exploitation in the Arctic. Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear expert of Greenpeace (Central and Eastern Europe), spoke to Down To Earth on how this project is not only about increasing nuclear risk, but also increasing climate change risks.

How safe is Akademik Lomonosov?

Unlike nuclear submarines, the Akademik Lomonosov is a barge without own propulsion, meaning it can only float (or sink) and not dive. It means that if the mooring is broken, the barge is steerless, adding considerable to the risk when compared to a submarine or an ice-breaker.

It can also not dive away from an iceberg or avoid sea-ice by going deep. For its operations, it will be partially dependent on a coastal electricity link, which will also be used for electricity intake in times of trouble. The cable is lot more vulnerable than that of an on-land reactor.

Accidents with naval reactors have happened in the past. In 1970, an uncontrolled start-up of the reactor of the nuclear submarine K-320, at the Krasnoye Sormovo wharf in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, caused the release of larger amounts of radioactivity. It led to 12 casualties and hundreds of people getting exposed to above-limit radiation doses.

An accident during fuel loading of the reactor of a nuclear submarine in Chazma Bay, in 1985, irradiated 290 workers leading to 10 casualties and 49 injured.

The radioactive content of the two reactors on board of the Akademik Lomonosov is around 25 times smaller than that of the Chernobyl nuclear power station, but is still considerable. A severe accident with bypass of the containment could cause substantial contamination kilometres downwind.

Will Akademik Lomonosov lead to further nuclearisation in Northern Sea Route?

The Akademik Lomonosov is a new step in the nuclearisation of the Arctic. The first was the introduction of nuclear submarines, followed by nuclear weapons, nuclear marine vessels, a few nuclear merchant ships and nuclear ice-breakers and the Bilibino nuclear power station, which is to be closed down soon.

Akademik Lomonosov is the first of a fleet of a dozen floating nuclear power stations that are to power ports to enable transport through the Northern Sea Route, and substantially increase fossil fuel exploration and exploitation in the Arctic. So it is not only about increasing nuclear risk, but also increasing climate change risks.

Russia plans to sell the technology to other countries including Sudan. Why are countries so interested in this technology?

The interest is much lower than what Rosatom (Russia’s state nuclear corporation) wants us to believe. Indonesia and Cabo Verde have already denied interest. I think Sudan, which was a military dictatorship a few months ago, is an exception.

Rosatom is making tall promises to sell the technology, which is unlikely to be fulfilled. It has promised financing, cheap or competitive electricity and waste management with little historical experience to back it up.

What has Russia benefitted from the project?

The Akademik Lomonosov is a symbol of the power-struggle between the old nuclear dinosaurs gathered in Rosatom and the upcoming and already much larger global clean renewable industry.

The Akademik Lomonosov is extremely expensive, certainly in comparison with viable renewable alternatives for Chukotka. Now nuclear power is being used to exploit more gas, oil and coal. Rosatom is a bad energy advisor for Russia and for foreign partners.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Japan nowhere near solving the problem of Fukushima nuclear waste water

Japan briefs diplomats on Fukushima nuclear water concerns,  Japan tried to reassure foreign diplomats Wednesday about safety at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Diplomats from 22 countries and regions attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors about safety at the plant, which was decimated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while pledging transparency.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said last month that it would run out of storage space for the water in 2022, prompting South Korea to raise safety questions amid tensions with Japan that have intensified over trade and history. South Korea was among those represented at Wednesday’s briefing.

Water must be continuously pumped into the four melted reactors at the plant so the fuel inside can be kept cool, and radioactive water has leaked from the reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater since the disaster.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium — a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen — cannot be separated.

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima’s melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

The water has been a source of concern, sparking rumors about safety, especially as Japan tries to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Import restrictions are still in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

“In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information,” Yumiko Hata, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of the Fukushima accident response, said at the briefing. “We appreciate your understanding of the situation and continuing support for the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.”

Officials said there were no complaints from the diplomats Wednesday about Japan’s handling of the water.

More than eight years after the accident, Japan has yet to decide what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five options, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean.

As disputes between Japan and neighboring South Korea escalated over export controls and colonial-era labor used by Japanese companies, Seoul last month announced plans to step up radiation tests of Japanese food products, and asked about the contaminated water and the possibility of its release into the sea.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decontamination efforts at the plant. Nuclear scientists, including members the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have recommended the water’s controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination, which would spell doom for Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture industries.

The panel recently added a sixth option of long-term storage.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, water | Leave a comment

Nuclear company FirstEnergy Solutions wants Supreme to stop Ohio statewide vote on financial rescue of nuke plants

Nuclear plants want court to stop vote on financial rescue,  COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) 4 Sept 19,  – The owner of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants is asking the state Supreme Court to block a proposed statewide vote that aims to overturn a financial rescue for the plants.

FirstEnergy Solutions argues in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the financial rescue approved by state lawmakers in July can’t be overturned by voters because it amounts to a tax.

The company says the Ohio Constitution prohibits tax levies from being overturned by voters.

Opponents of the $1.5 billion rescue package for the nuclear plants and two coal-fired plants are collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November 2020.

The financial rescue adds a new fee on every electricity bill in the state and scales back requirements that utilities generate more power from wind and solar.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

USA Democratic candidates split nuclear energy

Democrats split over nuclear energy amid climate fight, The Hill, BY MIRANDA GREEN – The use of nuclear power is splitting Democratic presidential candidates, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and businessman Andrew Yang among those calling for new plants and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) arguing vehemently against any expansions.

Somewhere in the middle stand former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who oppose building new reactors but support maintaining those already in operation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is vying with Sanders for the progressive mantle in the nomination fight and has been in the top three in polls alongside Sanders and Biden, hasn’t spelled out her position. Neither has Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of the Democratic hopefuls who released their stand-alone climate plan in the final hours leading up the forum.

Nuclear power is one of the only environmental and energy issues that splits the Democratic candidates, who generally agree on the big-picture need to take action to address climate change and to strengthen regulations to protect the environment. But there is no clear consensus when it comes to the role of nuclear energy.

As candidates are looking to distinguish themselves in a crowded field, and with two climate forums this month, some environmentalists say candidates’ stances on nuclear power will be the most telling. That belief is especially true for climate activists who oppose nuclear altogether.

“Given that we don’t have a way to deal with the waste from our existing nuclear reactors, let alone any additional ones, that’s a cause for concern,” said Mitch Jones, climate and energy program director at Food and Water Action.

“If you’re trying to extend the life of existing nuclear power, then you do not have the most environmentally friendly approach to the problem.”……..

the industry is struggling financially. So far this year, two reactors are expected to be retired despite various government subsidies helping the industry. Only one new nuclear power plant has come online since 2010.

The energy source also has a tainted past, rife with references to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. And nuclear waste remains an issue to this day.

Few permanent solutions have been determined as to where the toxic waste from reactors, which takes thousands of years to decay, should be stored………

September 5, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment