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September 20, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian  

https://theecologist.org/2019/sep/10/advanced-nuclear-power-sector-dystopian, Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor 10th September 2019  The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian because of its connections to fossil fuel mining and nuclear weapons proliferation.

A documentary called New Fire was released promoting ‘advanced’ nuclear power concepts last year. The heroes of the film were young entrepreneurs Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie, founders of a start-up called Transatomic Power that was developing a ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’.

Problems arose during the long gestation of New Fire. Transatomic Power gave up on its plan to use nuclear waste as reactor fuel after its theoretical calculations were proven to be false, and the waste-annihilating reactor was reinvented as a waste-producing, uranium-fuelled reactor.

Worse was to come: just before the release of New Fire, Transatomic Power went broke and collapsed altogether. An epic fail.

Reactor

The Australian parliament’s ‘inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy‘ is shaping up to be another epic fail. The conservative chair of the inquiry claims that “new technologies in the field are leading to cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production.”

But the ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced and it isn’t advancing.

The next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation will be Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, designed to help exploit fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic ‒ fossil fuel reserves that are more accessible because of climate change. That isn’t ‘advanced’ ‒ it is dystopian.

Russia’s enthusiastic pursuit of nuclear-powered icebreaker ships (nine such ships are planned by 2035) is closely connected to its agenda of establishing military and economic control of the Northern Sea Route ‒ a route that owes its existence to climate change.

China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) says the purpose of its partly-built ACPR50S demonstration reactor is to develop floating nuclear power plants for oilfield exploitation in the Bohai Sea and deep-water oil and gas development in the South China Sea.

God-awful

‘Advanced’ nuclear reactors are advancing climate change. Another example comes from Canada, where one potential application of small reactors is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from tar sands.

Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more nuclear waste than they produce. That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail.

An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by Allison Macfarlane, a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.”

The subclass of sodium-cooled fast reactors called ‘integral fast reactors’ (IFRs) could theoretically gobble up nuclear waste and convert it into low-carbon electricity, using a process called pyroprocessing.

But an IFR R&D program in Idaho has left a god-awful mess that the Department of Energy (DOE) is struggling to deal with. This saga is detailed in a 2017 article and a longer report by the Union of Concerned Scientists’ senior scientist Dr. Edwin Lyman, drawing on documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

Breeder

Dr. Lyman writes: “Pyroprocessing has taken one potentially difficult form of nuclear waste and converted it into multiple challenging forms of nuclear waste. DOE has spent hundreds of millions of dollars only to magnify, rather than simplify, the waste problem. …

The FOIA documents we obtained have revealed yet another DOE tale of vast sums of public money being wasted on an unproven technology that has fallen far short of the unrealistic projections that DOE used to sell the project”.

Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more fissile (explosive) nuclear material than they produce. Instead of contributing to weapons proliferation risks and problems, they could contribute to the resolution of those problems.

That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail. After Russia’s floating nuclear plant, the next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation may be the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) in India.

Weapons

The PFBR has a blanket with thorium and uranium to breed fissile uranium-233 and plutonium respectively ‒ in other words, it will be ideal for weapons production.

India plans to use fast breeder reactors (a.k.a. fast neutron reactors) to produce weapon-grade plutonium for use as the initial ‘driver’ fuel in thorium reactors.

As John Carlson, the former Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office, has repeatedly noted, those plans are highly problematic with respect to weapons proliferation and security.

There’s nothing “cleaner, safer and more efficient” about India’s ‘advanced’ reactor program. On the contrary, it is dangerous and it fans regional tensions and proliferation concerns in South Asia ‒ all the more so since India refuses to allow International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards inspections of its ‘advanced’ nuclear power program.

And if those regional tensions boil over into nuclear warfare, catastrophic climate change will likely result. Fossil fuels provide the surest route to catastrophic climate change; nuclear warfare provides the quickest route.

Reactors

The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced ‒ it is dystopian. And it isn’t advancing ‒ it is regressing.

The Russian government recently clawed back US$4 billion from Rosatom’s budget by postponing its fast neutron reactor program; specifically, by putting on hold plans for what would have been the only gigawatt-scale fast neutron reactor anywhere in the world.

France recently abandoned plans for a demonstration fast reactor. Pursuit of fast reactor technology is no longer a priority in France according to the World Nuclear Association.

And funding is tight because of yet another failing project: a 100-megawatt materials testing reactor that is 500 percent over-budget (and counting) and eight years behind schedule (and counting).

Other fast reactor projects have collapsed in recent years. TerraPower abandoned its plan for a prototype fast reactor in China last year due to restrictions placed on nuclear trade with China by the Trump administration, and requests for US government funding have reportedly received a negative reception.

The US and UK governments have both considered using GE Hitachi’s ‘PRISM’ fast reactor technology to process surplus plutonium stocks ‒ but both governments have rejected the proposal.

Failed

Fast reactors and other ‘advanced’ concepts are sometimes called Generation IV concepts.

But fast reactors have been around since the dawn of the nuclear age. They are best described as failed Generation I technology ‒ “demonstrably failed technology” in the words of Allison Macfarlane.

The number of operating fast reactors reached double figures in the 1980s but has steadily fallen and will remain in single figures for the foreseeable future.

Currently, just five fast reactors are operating ‒ all of them described by the World Nuclear Association as experimental or demonstration reactors.

Modular

As discussed previously in The Ecologist, most of the handful of small modular reactors (SMRs) under construction are over-budget and behind schedule; there are disturbing connections between SMRs, weapons proliferation and militarism more generally; and about half of the SMRs under construction are intended to be used to facilitate the exploitation of fossil fuel reserves.

SMRs aren’t leading to “cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production”. And SMRs aren’t advancing ‒ projects are falling over left, right and centre:

  • Babcock & Wilcox abandoned its mPower SMR project in the US despite receiving government funding of US$111 million.
  • Westinghouse sharply reduced its investment in SMRs after failing to secure US government funding.
  • China is building a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) but it is behind schedule and over-budget and plans for additional HTGRs at the same site have been “dropped” according to the World Nuclear Association.
  • MidAmerican Energy gave up on its plans for SMRs in Iowa after failing to secure legislation that would force rate-payers to part-pay construction costs.
  • Rolls-Royce sharply reduced its SMR investment in the UK to “a handful of salaries” and is threatening to abandon its R&D altogether unless massive subsidies are provided by the British government.

 

Zombie reactors

Fast reactors are demonstrably failed technology. SMRs have failed previously and are in the process of failing yet again. What else is there in the ‘advanced’ nuclear sector?

Fusion? At best, it is decades away and most likely it will forever remain decades away. Two articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Dr. Daniel Jassby ‒ a fusion scientist ‒ comprehensively debunk all of the rhetoric spouted by fusion enthusiasts.

Thorium? There are no fundamental differences between thorium and uranium, so building a thorium fuel cycle from scratch to replace the uranium fuel cycle would be absurd ‒ and it won’t happen.

High-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) including the pebble-bed modular reactor sub-type? This zombie concept refuses to die even as  one after another country embarks on R&D, fails, and gives up. As mentioned, China is building a prototype but has dropped plans for further HTGRs.

Paper reactors

Claims that new nuclear technologies are leading to “cleaner, safer and more efficient energy production” could only be justified with reference to concepts that exist only as designs on paper.

As a nuclear industry insider quipped: “We know that the paper-moderated, ink-cooled reactor is the safest of all. All kinds of unexpected problems may occur after a project has been launched.”

There’s nothing that can be said about ‘advanced’ reactor rhetoric that wasn’t said by Admiral Hyman Rickover ‒ a pioneer of the US nuclear program ‒ all the way back in 1953.

“An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose (‘omnibus reactor’). (7) Very little development is required. It will use mostly off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now.

“On the other hand, a practical reactor plant can be distinguished by the following characteristics: (1) It is being built now. (2) It is behind schedule. (3) It is requiring an immense amount of development on apparently trivial items. Corrosion, in particular, is a problem. (4) It is very expensive. (5) It takes a long time to build because of the engineering development problems. (6) It is large. (7) It is heavy. (8) It is complicated.”

This Author

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, technology | Leave a comment

Iraqi children with congenital disabilities caused by depleted uranium

September 20, 2019 Posted by | children, depleted uranium, Iraq, Reference | Leave a comment

Who is secretly funding campaign to bail out Ohio’s nuclear reactors?

Voters need to know who’s behind nuclear campaign, groups argue,   https://www.toledoblade.com/local/politics/2019/09/19/voters-need-to-know-who-s-behind-nuclear-campaign-groups-argue/stories/20190919150    JIM PROVANCE,

COLUMBUS — Holes in Ohio’s campaign finance law allow corporations to secretly fund campaigns battling over Ohio’s new nuclear bailout, which undermines direct democracy and intimidates voters, government watchdog groups said on Thursday.

They called on lawmakers to update the state’s campaign finance law to prevent such groups from hiding behind nebulous nonprofit and limited liability corporations to shield the identities of the deep pockets behind them.

“It’s fear-mongering,” said Jen Miller, director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “It’s this idea that somehow China wants our information. … They probably wouldn’t make those kinds of statements if they would be held accountable by their shareholders or by the public if we knew who they were.”

The U.S. Supreme Court held in its 2010 Citizens United decision that corporations may exercise political speech through money and blocked states from limiting that speech. But the court left the door open for government to require public disclosure of those putting up the cash.Ohio talked about doing that but never followed through.

Most of the criticism on Thursday focused on Ohioans for Energy Security, the group trying to thwart efforts by petitioners to put House Bill 6 on the November, 2020, election ballot in hopes voters will reject it.

As tracked by Columbus-based Medium Buying, the group has purchased nearly $3.4 million in TV, cable, and radio airtime through Friday as it seeks to convince would-be petition signers that the Chinese are behind the repeal effort. Through these ads and direct mail, they’ve also said signing the petitions would amount to turning over personal information to the Chinese government.

But both sides of the energy law fight have created limited liability corporations to fund their operations. Both have promised to follow Ohio law as it is, but that means they could still use their corporate entities to shield the names of their individual, business, or union backers and the amounts they ponied up.

“We’re asking for a light to be shown on all the money,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio. “… We’re really interested in understanding the political landscape and to be able to follow the money no matter who spends it.”

House Bill 6 is set to go into effect Oct. 21. It would surcharge consumers on their electricity bills to create a $170 million-a-year fund through 2026. Of that, $150 million would go to support FirstEnergy Solutions’ Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Oak Harbor and Perry plant east of Cleveland.

The remaining $20 million would go to six utility-scale solar fields that already have received siting approval, most of them in southern Ohio.

The law also separately would impose statewide surcharges through 2030 to support two 1950s-era coal-fired power plants owned by a multiutility corporation. Those plants are in southern Ohio and southeast Indiana.

There is no official campaign yet. Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the entity hoping to ask voters to repeal House Bill 6, has until Oct. 21 to file at least 265,774 valid signatures of registered voters to put the law on hold at least through the 2020 vote.

That group will have to file its first report 30 days after the filing of signatures detailing its petition circulation activities, but it remains to be seen how specific that filing will be in terms of individual names and amounts.

Nothing would prevent either side from voluntarily disclosing their donors.

“We will exercise our First Amendment rights as any citizen is allowed to do,” said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohioans for Energy Security. “When the law requires us to disclose, we will disclose, just like the other side.

“… They’re not letting you know that it’s a handful of natural gas companies … ” he said. “When the law requires them to disclose, they will disclose. When the law requires us to disclose, we will certainly disclose.”

The group maintains that a bank tied to the government of China is financially backing natural gas operations in Ohio and, therefore, the petition effort.

On the other side, the conjecture has been that FirstEnergy Solutions or its investors is behind the campaign.

“We are left assuming the worst about FirstEnergy Solutions, but we don’t actually know,” Ms. Turcer said. “It could be FirstEnergy Solutions. We should not be in a time period where we receive something in the mail about elections and we don’t actually understand what it’s about.”

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Radioactive debris to stay above vital aquifer in Idaho for 20 years more?

Agency could keep Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idahohttps://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/agency-mile-island-nuclear-debris-idaho-65652583 ByKEITH RIDLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS BOISE, Idaho — Sep 16, 2019, 
Nuclear waste stored in underground containers at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Federal authorities want to store the partially melted core from one of the United States worst nuclear accident for another 20 years in Idaho.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 it’s considering a request from the U.S. Department of Energy to renew a license to store the radioactive debris from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. The core of a reactor south of Harrisburg, Pa., partially melted in 1979.

The partially melted reactor core from the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history could remain in Idaho for another 20 years if regulators finalize a license extension sought by the U.S. Energy Department, officials said Monday.

The core from Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania partially melted in 1979, an event that changed the way Americans view nuclear technology.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has determined there would be no significant impact from extending the license to store the core at the 890-square-mile (2,305-square-kilometer) site that includes Idaho National Laboratory.

“No significant radiological or non-radiological impacts are expected from continued normal operations,” the commission said about its finding.

The agency would also have to complete a safety evaluation report before renewing the license. Commission spokesman David McIntyre said that will likely happen in the next several days.

Holly Harris, executive director of the Idaho-based nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance, wasn’t immediately available to comment.

The Energy Department site sits atop the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, a Lake Erie-size underground body of water that supplies cities and farms in the region with water.

The new license would be good through 2039, four years past a deadline the Energy Department initially set with Idaho to remove the radioactive waste.

State and federal officials say the waste could still be shipped out of Idaho ahead of the 2035 deadline and would not affect the 1995 agreement that contains penalties for missed deadlines.

Idaho is already fining the Energy Department for missing a deadline involving radioactive liquid waste stored at the site.

It’s not clear where the Three Mile Island waste could be moved, as the U.S. doesn’t have a designated repository.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says there’s some 77,000 tons (70,000 metric tons) of spent nuclear fuel stored at commercial nuclear sites around the country because there’s no place else to put it.

The Department of Energy said no additional material would be added to the waste storage site in Idaho.

The previous license expired in March. It said the maximum amount of Three Mile Island debris that could be stored at the Idaho site was 183,000 pounds (83,000 kilograms) of damaged nuclear fuel assemblies and 308,000 pounds (140,000 kilograms) of material removed from the reactor vessel.

Court battles between Idaho and the federal government culminated with the 1995 agreement requiring the Energy Department to clean up the Idaho site as well as prevent the area from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Exelon Generation, the company that owns the remaining nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, has said it will shut down the facility by the end of this month.

The company blamed economic challenges and what it said are market flaws that fail to recognize the value of nuclear plants.

Agency keeps Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idaho By KEITH RIDLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOISE, Idaho — Sep 16, 2019,

The Energy Department site sits atop the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer, a Lake Erie-size underground body of water that supplies cities and farms in the region with water.

The new license would be good through 2039, four years past a deadline the Energy Department initially set with Idaho to remove the radioactive waste.

State and federal officials say the waste could still be shipped out of Idaho ahead of the 2035 deadline and would not affect the 1995 agreement that contains penalties for missed deadlines.

Idaho is already fining the Energy Department for missing a deadline involving radioactive liquid waste stored at the site.

It’s not clear where the Three Mile Island waste could be moved, as the U.S. doesn’t have a designated repository.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says there’s some 77,000 tons (70,000 metric tons) of spent nuclear fuel stored at commercial nuclear sites around the country because there’s no place else to put it.

The Department of Energy said no additional material would be added to the waste storage site in Idaho.

The previous license expired in March. It said the maximum amount of Three Mile Island debris that could be stored at the Idaho site was 183,000 pounds (83,000 kilograms) of damaged nuclear fuel assemblies and 308,000 pounds (140,000 kilograms) of material removed from the reactor vessel.

Court battles between Idaho and the federal government culminated with the 1995 agreement requiring the Energy Department to clean up the Idaho site as well as prevent the area from becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dump.

Exelon Generation, the company that owns the remaining nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island, has said it will shut down the facility by the end of this month.

The company blamed economic challenges and what it said are market flaws that fail to recognize the value of nuclear plants.

THE BIG LIE AS USUAL
“No significant radiological or non-radiological impacts are expected from continued normal operations,” the commission said about its finding. THE WASTE IS IMPROPERLY STORED IN BARRELS OVER ONE OF THE LARGEST AQUIFERS IN THE NW USA

September 20, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Donald Trump talks gibberish about nuclear weapons then announces trip to Mars

Jimmy McCloskey, Metro UK 20 Sep 2019  Donald Trump spouted a stream of gibberish about the US’s nuclear arsenal at a press conference Friday. The President of the United States told reporters at the White House: ‘Nobody can beat us militarily. No-one can even come close. ‘Our nuclear was getting very tired..Now we have it in, as we would say, tippy-top shape. ‘Tippy top. We have new and we have renovated and it’s incredible. We all should pray we never have to use it.’ Trump was speaking in response to questions about the US’s military capability amid increasing tensions between America and Iran…….

The president tore up his precedessor Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal which saw Iran agree to wind down its attempts to build a nuclear weapon and have economic sanctions lifted against it in return. Meanwhile, Trump also announced plans to send US astronauts to Mars on Friday – and said they’d be stopping off on the moon en route. Speaking at the joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump said: ‘We’re going to Mars.
‘We’re stopping at the moon – the moon is actually a launching pad, that’s why we’re stopping at the moon.’ Trump explained plans to charge space tourism entrepreneurs like Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos to use US launchpad facilities to help fund the planned missions.   https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/20/donald-trump-talks-gibberish-nuclear-weapons-announces-trip-mars-10782103/

September 20, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Embarrassing for Australia, Trump suggests they join USA in possibly nuclear war with Iran

Scott Morrison scrambles to contain political mushroom cloud after Trump raises nuclear option with Iran

The Australian press pack was hyperventilating when the US president made the suggestion Australia might be asked to join a coalition of the willing. Then collective amnesia set in, Guardian Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo 21 Sep 2019 It seemed appropriate, albeit entirely surreal, to be inducted into the vagaries of the Trumpiverse by bearing witness, in the Oval Office, to the American president suddenly raising the spectre of using nuclear weapons against Iran.

Friday’s program in Washington ran like clockwork while everybody had a script. But once we’d cleared the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonial welcome for Scott Morrison on the South Lawn of the White House, once the Australian press pack tumbled out of the sparkling spring sunshine into the Oval Office – we discovered Trump in an expansive mood……..

The president then volunteered he intended to have a quiet word to Scott Morrison over the course of their meetings on Friday, Washington time, about potential military options in Iran, and whether Australia might be persuaded to join a new coalition of the willing. ….

Morrison maintained his best poker face as the president informed the hyperventilating press pack “I always like a coalition”…..

Before we could process the information that Australia might be off to war in Iran, things spiralled. The unheralded military action could be – wait for it – nuclear.

Trump noted America had renovated the arsenal and acquired new nuclear capability, and the rest of the military was “all brand new”……..

With vexed options now tumbling out of Trump’s mouth at a clip, it did seem prudent to check in with the prime minister at this point. What was his position on Australia joining military action in Iran?……

The politically vexed question about whether Australia would do more than protect freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz was therefore moot. If any request was forthcoming, Australia would consider it on its merits, through the prism of national interest, Morrison said, before gathering his host, smiling at the cameras, and exiting, stage right. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/21/scott-morrison-scrambles-to-contain-political-mushroom-cloud-after-trump-raises-nuclear-option-with-iran

September 20, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Pro-Nuke Holocaust Denier Cory Booker Must Not Be President

Harvey Wassermann, 21 Sept 19, Senator Cory Booker has become a Pro-Nuke Holocaust Denier and must not be president or vice.
As desperate mostly-young millions march worldwide for the survival of our Earth, Booker embraces explosive atomic 500-F climate killing machines that are roasting Her.
Any of our 96 badly run, rarely inspected US nukes could explode into a nuclear holocaust at any time.
In Booker’s New Jersey, three dying public-subsidized nukes spew heat, radiation and carbon.  Their safety is “guaranteed” by Trump’s fake Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  They’re dangerously decrepit, but what’s he done to to guarantee their safety?  (Hint:  they can’t get private insurance).
Now he’s Trump-style slandering the global grassroots safe energy movement for demanding nuke accountability.
Nuke reactors spew gargantuan quantities of waste heat and deadly radiation.  That includes Carbon 14, a global warming agent.
Carbon-emitting reactor fuel production demands carbon-emitting mining, milling, transport and enrichment.  So does fuel to run pools for spent rods that will explode if not forever cooled (see WIPP, New Mexico).
40 years ago this month 90,000 eco-fans heard the Musicians United for Safe Energy Concerts over 5 nights in Madison Square Garden.  Some 200,000 rocked our rally at Battery Park City.
Three Mile Island had earlier poured radiation into central Pennsylvania.  TMI’s owner denied the melt-down, the emissions, the health impacts.
But after the concerts I visited local farms, met the families, consulted their doctors.…and veterinarians…  The feds had long since predicted a reactor accident could wipe out an area the size of Pennsylvania and kill thousands.
At kitchen tables I heard awful tales of death and disease, of stillborn infants, dying children, Down’s Syndrome, dead animals and orchards.  I held a dog born with no eyes, saw a cat that couldn’t stand, horses that couldn’t breed, a pile of dead wild birds.  The Baltimore News-American confirmed the stories, as did Dell/Delta’s Killing Our Own: The Disaster of America’s Experience with Atomic Radiation (now free on line), and others.
In 1996, in Kiev and Russia, I heard far more/worse stories from Chernobyl survivors.  I will not return to Japan, where I’d joined giant marches demanding Fukushima not be built on seismic faults washed by tsunamis.
Over nearly a half-century of activism I’ve never met a No Nuker who denies climate change.  Saving our eco-balance remains everywhere a major motivation to shut all nuke reactors before the next one blows up.
But now the come-lately genius Corey Booker tells us we’re all Climate Deniers.
He might’ve joined the debate with dignity and respect.   But since any of the three falling-down Trump-run nukes in his own state (where I have children and grandchldren) could at any time render the entire east coast a radioactive ruin, filled with human agony and ecological horror, let’s just call him what he is:  a Holocaust Denier.
Harvey Wasserman coined the phrase “Solartopia” and helped with “No Nukes.”  His The People’s Spiral of US History will soon be at www.solartopia.org.  He hosts California Solartopia at KPFK-FM in Los Angeles and Green Power & Wellness at www.prn.fm.  

September 20, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Nuclear watchdog groups warn legal action over environmental impact of plutonium pit production

September 20, 2019 Posted by | environment, legal, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More robots needed to clean up nuclear trash at Sellafield UK

World’s largest heap of untreated nuclear waste needs more bots to cart around irradiated crap.  Chernobyl? That’s cute https://www.theregister.co.uk/2019/09/20/sellafield_robots/

By John Oates 20 Sep 2019 Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria, northern England, is calling for help to increase the number of robots it uses to monitor and clean the site.

The plant already employs a number of machines to assist with maintenance but is seeking more innovation in specific areas. Some of these robots stretch the definition a bit – like the repurposed swimming pool cleaner now leading a less glamorous life scrubbing the walls of Sellafield’s pile fuel storage ponds.

There’s also the remote-control submarine called Avexis, which was dropped into the liquor of the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo. As well as filming, it can be moved to dislodge solid bits of waste from the silo walls.

In conjunction with the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear Research Hub (RAIN), Sellafield has put out a call for robotic assistance with three defined tasks.

It needs robots that can be deployed to remotely work at height in hazardous areas. It is also looking for machines able to autonomously remove “Special Nuclear Material” packages from a store and put them in a container for export, as well as droids that can remotely inspect the packages.

Sellafield is in the process of being decommissioned, meaning staff and robots are retrieving nuclear waste and reprocessing spent fuel. The Magnox reprocessing plant is due to close next year, which signals an end to nuclear fuel reprocessing in the UK.

Sellafield opened in 1950 and now lays claim to the unenviable title of the world’s largest inventory of untreated nuclear was

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cory Booker Compares Anti-Nuclear Democrats To Republican Climate Deniers

  Huffington Post, 20 Sep 19 “…….The remark ― one of the most pointed critiques of the anti-nuclear position in the Democratic primary so far ― grazes a particularly sensitive nerve in the climate policy debate.The United States hasn’t licensed a new reactor in a quarter century. Yet nuclear power is deeply unpopular. In 2016, Gallup found a majority of Americans opposed nuclear energy for the first time since the pollster began surveying the question in 1994. If the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, stoked fear in a generation too young to recall 1979’s Three Mile Island accident, HBO’s new hit miniseries “Chernobyl” exposed viewers to the horrors of radioactive contamination. ……

In a presidential election, Nevada, where voters who cast ballots in a decisive early primary staunchly oppose storing nuclear waste in the desert, raises the stakes.  ……..

Now consider the climate platforms top Democratic presidential candidates proposed…. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pledged to start “weaning ourselves off nuclear energy” with the goal of shutting down existing plants by 2035.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took an even firmer stance against nuclear power. He led the charge to shut down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, which closed in late 2014, and proposed a bill last year to start decommissioning plants across the country.  …….

a heating planet raises some of nuclear power’s biggest risks. Nuclear reactors require 720 gallons of cooling water per megawatt-hour of electricity they produce ― a concern as water resources grow scarcer on a hotter planet, as HuffPost previously reported. The threat of violence increases in a heated world with depleted resources and unprecedented numbers of refugees, raising concerns of nuclear sabotage in terrorist attacks or war.

“From transportation, to storage, to waste that remains lethal for more than 100,000 years, nuclear plants pose numerous threats to our families and our communities,” said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s global climate policy director. “Meanwhile, clean energy from solar and wind is outcompeting dirty fuels and only getting cheaper, while new nuclear plants are outrageously expensive, over budget by billions, and economically failing.”

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko warned that even mini-reactors will mean more accidents.

“Every day almost you see a new story, talking about how we’re not going to solve the problem of climate change without nuclear reactors,” Jaczko told WBUR this week. “And when I see those things I scratch my head and wonder if they’re talking about the same industry I’ve been familiar with, because I don’t see how nuclear power plants are going to solve that problem.”

Building new plants will be costly, and it’s not clear such an investment is a better deal than renewables that continue to grow cheaper. And Democratic presidential candidates, despite stark differences on new nuclear plants, are less clear on more pressing, wonky questions, said Jesse Jenkins, an energy systems engineer and professor at Princeton University. Those likely include whether candidates support state or federal subsidies to keep financially distressed nuclear plants open, or if they’d extend licenses up to 60 years on stations deemed safe. ….. https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/cory-booker-nuclear_n_5d8299bae4b0957256b0ad04

September 20, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Japan Just Let the Executives Who Oversaw the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster off the Hook

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

America’s 1,032 Nuclear Weapons Tests, and the tons of problems they caused

Little-Known Fact: America Tested 1,032 Nuclear Weapons on Its Own Soil   https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/little-known-fact-america-tested-1032-nuclear-weapons-its-own-soil-81706  

That’s a lot of nukes.

by Kyle Mizokami  20 Sept 19  Key point: A high number of tests were common during the Cold War, but also caused a ton of problems.
Nuclear weapons have a mysterious quality. Their power is measured in plainly visible blast pressure and thermal energy common to many weapons, but also invisible yet equally destructive radiation and electromagnetic pulse. Between 1945 and 1992, the United States conducted 1,032 nuclear tests seeking to get the measure of these enigmatic weapons. Many of these tests would be today be considered unnecessary, overly dangerous and just plain bizarre. These tests, undertaken on the atomic frontier, gathered much information about these weapons—enough to cease actual use testing—yet scarred the land and left many Americans with long-term health problems.
The majority of U.S. nuclear tests occurred in the middle of the Western desert, at the Nevada Test Site. The NTS hosted 699 nuclear tests, utilizing both above-ground and later underground nuclear devices. The average yield for these tests was 8.6 kilotons. Atmospheric tests could be seen from nearby Las Vegas, sixty-five miles southeast of the Nevada Test site, and even became a tourist draw until the Limited Test Ban Treaty banned them in 1963. Today the craters and pockmarks from underground tests are still visible in satellite map imagery.
The bulk of the remaining nuclear tests took place in Pacific, at the islands of Bikini, Enewetak, Johnson Island and Christmas Island. The second nuclear test, after 1945’s Trinity Test, took place at Bikini Atoll. The Pacific tests were notable not only for their stunning visuals, the most compelling imagery of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima, but also the forced relocation of native islanders. Others that were near tests were exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive fallout and forced to fleet. In 1954, the crew of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru accidentally sailed through fallout from the nearby fifteen-megaton Castle Bravo test. Contaminated with nuclear fallout, one crew member died, and the rest were sickened by radiation.
The first test of a thermonuclear, or fusion, bomb took place on November 1952 at Enewetak Island. Nicknamed Ivy Mike, the huge eighty-two-ton device was more of a building than a usable nuclear device. The device registered a yield of 10.4 megatons, or the equivalent of 10,400,000 tons of TNT. (Hiroshima, by contrast, was roughly eighteen thousand tons of TNT.) Ivy Mike was the biggest test by far, creating a fireball 1.8 miles wide and a mushroom cloud that rose to an altitude of 135,000 feet.
One of the strangest atmospheric tests occurred in 1962 at the NTS, with the testing of the Davy Crockett battlefield nuclear weapon. Davy Crockett was a cartoonish-looking recoilless rifle that lobbed a nuclear warhead with an explosive yield of just ten to twenty tons of TNT. The test, code-named Little Feller I, took place on July 17, 1962, with attorney general and presidential adviser Robert. F. Kennedy in attendance. Although hard to believe, Davy Crockett was issued at the battalion level in both Germany and North Korea.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New nuclear weapons that could make continents uninhabitable

Russia’s New Nuclear Weapon Could Make America Uninhabitable, The National Interest•September 20, 2019  

Can’t lose if we all lose.

by Sebastien Roblin  Key point: This is a weapon of last resort. Total overkill  
“…….Like the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) operated by United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, and India, the primary purpose of Borei-class submarines is almost unimaginably grim: to bring ruin to an adversary’s cities, even should other nuclear forces be wiped out in a first strike.

Each of the submarine’s sixteen R-30 Bulava (“Mace”) missiles typically carries six 150-kiloton nuclear warheads designed to split apart to hit separate targets. This means one Borei can rain seventy-two nuclear warheads ten times more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on cities and military bases over 5,800 miles away. ……..

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NRC weakens safety measures at nuclear power plants

A Meltdown in Nuclear Security  A commando raid on a nuclear power plant seems the stuff of Hollywood. So why are nuclear security experts so worried? U.S. News, By Alan Neuhauser Staff Writer, Sept. 20, 2019 IT RANKS AMONG THE worst-case scenarios for a nuclear power plant: an all-out assault or stealth infiltration by well-trained, heavily armed attackers bent on triggering a nuclear blast, sparking a nuclear meltdown or stealing radioactive material.

For nearly two decades, the nation’s nuclear power plants have been required by federal law to prepare for such a nightmare: At every commercial nuclear plant, every three years, security guards take on a simulated attack by hired commandos in so-called “force-on-force” drills. And every year, at least one U.S. nuclear plant flunks the simulation, the “attackers” damaging a reactor core and potentially triggering a fake Chernobyl – a failure rate of 5 percent.

In spite of that track record, public documents and testimony show that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s fleet of commercial nuclear reactors, is now steadily rolling back the standards meant to prevent the doomsday scenario the drills are designed to simulate.

Under pressure from a cash-strapped nuclear energy industry increasingly eager to slash costs, the commission in a little-noticed vote in October 2018 halved the number of force-on-force exercises conducted at each plant every cycle. Four months later, it announced it would overhaul how the exercises are evaluated to ensure that no plant would ever receive more than the mildest rebuke from regulators – even when the commandos set off a simulated nuclear disaster that, if real, would render vast swaths of the U.S. uninhabitable.

Later this year, the NRC is expected to greenlight a proposal that will allow nuclear plants – which currently must be able to fend off an attack alone – to instead begin depending on local and state law enforcement, whose training, equipment and response times may leave them ill-prepared to respond to a military-grade assault.

The moves have inflamed open dissent within the commission, which has been riven in recent years by internecine conflict between Republican and Democratic commissioners…….

Nuclear security experts, consultants, law enforcement veterans and former NRC commissioners – several of whom spoke with U.S. News on condition of anonymity in order to address the issue candidly – are nothing short of alarmed. They openly question whether top regulators at the NRC, ceaselessly lobbied by an industry strapped for cash, have fallen prey to valuing quarterly earnings, lucrative contracts and potential plum job opportunities over day-to-day security.

A longtime nuclear security expert minced no words about the potential consequences:   “I know how easy it is to cause a Fukushima-scale meltdown, radiation release or worse. And the timelines are very short. You don’t have much room to maneuver if you misjudge what the threat is,” says Ed Lyman, senior scientist in the global security program and acting director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “You can’t afford to be wrong once.”

‘No One Likes Security’

Force-on-force exercises, a mix of live-action role playing and military-grade laser tag, are not unique to the nuclear sector – they’re used to test military bases, and police departments engage in a version of them in active-shooter drills. For obvious reasons, they remain cloaked in secrecy.

Some details about the nuclear drills, though, are publicly available: The attacking force is expected to deploy a range of tactics, from disabling alarm systems to using automatic weapons and silencers, attacking one or multiple entry points, employing land and water vehicles, and using “incapacitating agents” and explosives. The types of attacks are explicitly outlined in NRC regulations…….

The industry has long lobbied to either eliminate the drills or, more recently, conduct them internally, with regulators relegated to the role of passive observer rather than planning and directing each exercise.

“The industry is under economic strain, so they’re looking to cut wherever they possibly can, and this is one place that they’ve been harping on for a long time to cut,” a former NRC chairman says……

Such an assault may seem the stuff of Hollywood. But intelligence assessments show that despite a spate of so-called “lone wolf” incidents in the U.S. and overseas, groups like al-Qaida and domestic terrorists in the U.S. remain as determined as ever to launch spectacular attacks. U.S. nuclear plants are at the top of the target list, experts say. …..

As recently as 2016, authorities in Belgium warned that Islamic State group operatives were planning to attack nuclear plants. The gunman who opened fire that year at a gay nightclub in Orlando worked for a contractor as a security guard at a nuclear plant in the U.S. Intelligence officials have fingered Russia in repeated cyberattacks on nuclear power plants, which could be used in conjunction with an armed infiltration.

But serious breaches have occurred even without the help of rogue insiders, heavy weaponry or foreign adversaries. With just a pair of bolt-cutters, a nun and a pair of pacifist activists in 2012 broke into a nuclear weapons complex on federal land that supposedly had higher security standards than civilian nuclear energy sites. They did little more than spray paint protest slogans, but some 30 minutes passed before guards realized a breach had occurred. Yet despite sparking a flurry of headlines and investigations, the incident prompted a collective shrug within the civilian nuclear sector, surprising security experts and contractors…….

Commissioner Baran, the lone NRC dissenting vote, later spoke out at a Senate committee hearing in April.

“We should not allow licensees to inspect themselves,” he testified. “Doing so would be fundamentally inconsistent with our role as an independent nuclear safety regulator.”  Writing in a comment accompanying his vote opposing the change, he insisted that “efficiency” – or, put more bluntly, companies’ bottom lines – appeared to be the only consideration that mattered to regulators.

“Going from two NRC-conducted FOF exercises to one would provide no security benefits,” Baran wrote. Rather, one of the only benefits “would be to reduce the costs of conducting the exercises.”……

Nuclear power plant owners had long lobbied to weaken the evaluation process, former NRC commissioners say. ……..https://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2019-09-20/nuclear-power-regulators-ease-security-and-experts-sound-the-alarm

September 20, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment