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Humboldt Bay – a case study in how not to involve the community in cleanup of a dead nuclear reactor

The audience found it noteworthy that no seats had been assigned to tribal representation.
the public has known very little about the decommissioning process. No seats on the CAB were given to the media, no one on the CAB thought it was their job to speak with the press, PG&E did not speak with the press, and the NRC has a very hands off approach to the decommissioning process and the utility’s relationship with the CAB. 

Input from the public included a strong sentiment that this was a very poor storage location for the spent fuel. 

Laird went on to say that while there’s already been half a meter of sea level rise, a meter more, which is predicted to occur within 40 years, will fully inundate the generation station, 101 in that area and cause the dry cask storage area to become an island, until it is eroded away.  

Notably, PG&E’s Decommissioning Fund will run out in 2025, a mere 5 years from now, the casks the waste are in only have a shelf life of 40 to 50 years, and the half life of the waste in storage in those casks in PG&E’s custody, is 24,000 years.  


Bruce Watson the Branch Chief in charge of Reactor Decommissioning at the NRC led the meeting. He instructed everyone that the sole purpose of the meeting was for him to collect their input on the best practices of the Citizen Advisory Boards. He said, “We are not here to talk about other issues related to decommissioning.” The speakers allowed some of their remarks to drift over to address what should be done about the spent fuel rod still being stored at the King Salmon site.

On January 14th, the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA) was signed into law. According to Jurist Legal News and Research website, NEIMA makes several changes to the licensing process for nuclear reactors. The NEIMA gave the NRC less than a year to “develop and implement a staged licensing process for commercial advanced nuclear reactors.” Continue reading

September 22, 2019 Posted by | investigative journalism, Reference | Leave a comment

Corporate greed, fighting over America’s extravagant $85 billion nuclear missile program

Boeing, Northrop spar over $85 billion nuclear missile program  With Northrop poised to become the Defense Department’s primary provider of ballistic missiles, Boeing has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign, 

There was an $85 billion elephant in the room at this year’s Air Force Association conference, an annual trade show where thousands of uniformed airmen rub shoulders with suit-clad defense contractors hawking the latest advanced weaponry.

Those entering the conference hotel in National Harbor, Md., were welcomed by an enormous blue banner splashed with the Northrop Grumman logo and the words “LEGENDARY DETERRENCE” ― a not-so-subtle reference to the company’s ballistic missile ambitions.

Northrop is poised to take over a massive Air Force nuclear weapons program called Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD, which will call on a team of contractors to replace the U.S. military’s aging stock of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. But Boeing’s Arlington-based defense business, which has handled the Minuteman program since 1958, has launched an aggressive lobbying campaign in defense of its interests.

Northrop “is on a path to a sole-source opportunity,” Boeing GBSD Program Manager Frank McCall warned in an interview Wednesday on the floor of the trade show.

“There has never been a time in the history of the Minuteman when the Air Force wasn’t supported by both companies,” he said, adding that he thinks the Pentagon is taking “a winner-take-all approach” that is “unprecedented in the history of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

The ground-based missiles make up one leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, which aims to be ready to deliver warheads at a moment’s notice from air, land or sea. They are meant to deter other countries from launching a nuclear strike by sending a message that any first-mover will be destroyed immediately.

The different components of the triad are extremely expensive to build and keep at the ready. For the new ground-based missiles, the Pentagon faces a difficult dilemma as it tries to get the best solution for the best price.

The Air Force had hoped to evaluate multiple competing options. But Boeing, thought to be the only viable competitor aside from Northrop, says it won’t participate unless the Air Force changes its approach.

With Boeing out, the Northrop-led team appears to be the Pentagon’s only option, something that could make it hard for the government to negotiate a fair price.

It is a common dilemma facing Defense Department weapons buyers, who have the impossible task of running a competitive marketplace when there are, at best, two or three potential suppliers for the most expensive weapons systems. The U.S. defense industry has consolidated to a worrying degree in the decades since the Cold War, officials and analysts say, with a handful of dominant suppliers exerting tremendous influence.

A White House report released last year found 300 cases in which important defense products are produced by just a single company, a “fragile” supplier, or a foreign supplier.

There is big money at stake for Boeing and Northrop: Defense Department estimates for the long-term cost of the program range between $62 billion and $100 billion. Both companies have formidable lobbying operations, spending $7.2 million and $8.3 million, respectively, on Washington lobbyists in 2019.

Boeing’s stewardship of the Minuteman program brought it roughly 600 defense contracts totaling $8 billion in the first 30 years of the programs, according to estimates provided by the company. Northrop has traditionally taken a secondary role handling complex systems integration.

In 2017, Northrop and Boeing were awarded contracts worth $349.2 million and $328.6 million, respectively, to develop their own version of a next-generation replacement for the Minuteman. In July, the Air Force asked each company to submit a proposal, hoping to compare the two missile designs and negotiate a fair price.

Boeing quickly threw a wrench into that plan, announcing July 25 that it would walk away from the competition because the Air Force’s request for proposals allegedly favored Northrop.

Boeing’s concerns stem from Northrop Grumman’s 2017 acquisition of a company called Orbital ATK for $7.8 billion. Orbital ATK ― which operates as a Northrop Grumman business unit called Innovation Systems ― is a dominant producer of rocket motors that power ballistic missiles. Aerojet Rocketdyne, the other U.S. manufacturer of rocket motors, also is working with Northrop.

Boeing has taken its case to the Pentagon, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission, but has failed to block the deal.

“We continue to stand ready to support this important program,” wrote Leanne Caret, president of Boeing’s Arlington-based defense business, in a July 23 letter seen by The Washington Post. “As we have discussed, we believe there are other procurement structures that could provide this capability more rapidly at less cost, and we will look for ways to leverage the work … to help support this critical national security mission.”

Boeing later approached Northrop about the possibility of teaming up but was rejected, a Boeing official said. So it came as little surprise Monday when Northrop released the list of companies it is teaming up with, and Boeing isn’t on it.

Air Force officials stood by their approach but declined to comment on how they will proceed.

“We are very open to a variety of proposals. … We are open to teaming relationships. We just don’t want to dictate,” Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters Monday. “We think it should be decided by industry and what they think is best value.”

Soon afterward, Boeing countered that it is pursuing a multifaceted advocacy and lobbying campaign asking the government to force Northrop to collaborate.

“We believe it is a path to a better weapons system solution that will allow us to field the solution more quickly than either company could handle on its own,” said McCall, the Boeing official.

Analysts expressed concern over the current arrangement, in which Northrop will almost certainly be the only bidder. Whether Boeing’s proposal will resolve the problem is less clear.

“I would much rather see a direct competition between Northrop and Boeing,” said Dan Grazier, a former Marine Corps captain working at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group. “The best practice for any acquisition system would be a solid, honest, competitive prototyping, where the government can weigh competing options and get a competitive price.”

September 22, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s chilling nuclear warning to Iran

September 22, 2019 Posted by | politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump keen to build a military partnership with Australia’s PM ‘man of titanium’

Donald Trump suggests China ‘a threat to the world’ while praising Scott Morrison as a ‘man of titanium’  US president signalled he would raise with Morrison a military contribution in Iran but then indicated he did not do so, Guardian,  Katharine Murphy Political editor

 @murpharoo, Sat 21 Sep 2019 Donald Trump has declared China is a threat to the world “in a sense” and raised the spectre of Australia joining a coalition of military action against Iran as he characterised his ally Scott Morrison, as a “man of titanium”.

Following a ceremonial welcome for Morrison on Friday Washington time attended by more than 4,000 guests, Trump praised Morrison’s personal fortitude, describing him as “a man of real, real strength, and a great guy”.

The American president signalled he would raise with Morrison a possible military contribution in Iran beyond the current freedom of navigation commitment in the Strait of Hormuz, but later in the day indicated he had not, in fact, raised the issue during a bilateral meeting at the White House.

The Australian prime minister made a point of praising the president’s restraint in relation to Iran to date and made no commitment beyond saying the government would consider any request from the administration on its merits. …….

Trump said he was interested in building a coalition for military action with Australian participation, but then told reporters at a subsequent press conference Iran wasn’t discussed, and Morrison then described Australia’s possible participation as “moot”……..

September 22, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Ever cheaper wind energy a big threat to UK’s nuclear white elephants

Times 21st Sept 2019, Alistair Osborne: Who wouldn’t prefer clean energy from Dogger than, say, Hinkley Point C: the £20 billion nuclear disaster in leafy Somerset?

The latest round of offshore wind contracts is quite a moment. For the first time, it looks like being subsidy-free. Companies have agreed to build 5.5 gigawatts of new capacity, enough to power almost seven million homes, for a guaranteed price of as little as £39.65 per megawatt hour – in 2012 prices. Compare that to the price for when the turbines start whirring in 2023-24, also in 2012 money: £48.13/MWh. In short, clean energy without any extra cost to the consumer.

In just five years, wind has blown the competition away. It was only in 2014 that Dong Energy, now Orsted, signed up to build the 1,200MW Hornsea 1 project at a strike price of £140/MWh.
By September 2017, the guaranteed price for the 1,386MW Hornsea 2 was down to £57.50. And now it’s 30 per cent cheaper again: a dizzying drop that drives home two things.

First, that Britain, blessed with a nice bit of breeze, leads the world in offshore wind: by next year it’ll have 10GW of installed capacity. Second, that the more you build, the cheaper it gets.

If only the same thing could be said for nuclear power. The strike price for Hinkley Point, in the same 2012 money, is a rapacious £92.50/MWh: a socking bribe to get France’s EDF and its Chinese partner to build the thing. It’s set to rip off consumers for 35 years. Naturally, it’s at least eight years late: now shooting for operations in 2025, not 2017. Its French prototype in Flamanville, where building costs have more than trebled to €10.9 billion, is at least ten years late. Oh, and its welding’s dodgy, too.

And nuclear’s not even green: it comes with a vast clean-up bill. True, it brings baseload energy that wind can’t yet match. But storage technology is advancing all the time.

So why’s the government persisting with last century tech that comes at a radioactive price? Yes, offshorewind might endanger a seabird that’s forgotten its specs. But, luckily, it’s a bigger threat to another species: nuclear white elephants.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Standing up and fighting back — Beyond Nuclear International

The Climate Strike goes to the Capitol

via Standing up and fighting back — Beyond Nuclear International

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

You’ve Got to See These Inspiring Photos to Understand the Scale of Today’s Global Climate Strikes, Mother Jones — Rise Up Times

We Are All Connected!

via You’ve Got to See These Inspiring Photos to Understand the Scale of Today’s Global Climate Strikes, Mother Jones — Rise Up Times

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

New York’s Climate Strike and the Things That Make Teen-Agers March — limitless life

Cultural Comment New York’s Climate Strike and the Things That Make Teen-Agers March By Alexandra Schwartz September 20, 2019 What had brought so many teens to Foley Square, in Manhattan, for the New York climate strike? Everyone’s answer was the same, the only one possible: a sense of existential threat. Photograph by Jonno Rattman for The […]

via New York’s Climate Strike and the Things That Make Teen-Agers March — limitless life

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

Shutdown of Three Mile Island’s infamous nuclear plant symbolises the end of the nuclear energy era

Three Mile Island’s infamous nuclear plant shuts down after 45 years

It won’t be free of radioactive material until 2078.
Jon Fingas@jonfingas  An important if ignominious chapter in American nuclear energy has come to a close. Exelon has shut down Three Mile Island’s Generating Station Unit 1 reactor after 45 years of use. The reactor isn’t the one behind the accident in March 1979, but this effectively marks the closure of the plant — Unit 2, the reactor that failed, has been dormant for the past 40 years. It didn’t directly provide a reason, but it had warned in 2017 that it would shut down the plant in 2019 due to the high running costs.

This doesn’t mark the end of the overall story, however, as it’ll take decades to clean up. Some of the teardown will take place quickly. Staff will remove the reactor’s fuel supply in the next few weeks and store it in the used fuel pool. It’ll take much longer to fully decommission the reactor, however. Exelon estimated that the plant won’t be fully clear of radioactive material until 2078, or more than a century after it entered service. Unit 2 is expected to close in 2036.

Unit 1 has been relatively safe, with the only notable incident being an air pressure change that briefly exposed 20 employees to a mild amount of radiation. However, the reactor has long lived in the shadow of Unit 2, whose partial meltdown exposed nearly 2 million people to radiation. There don’t appear to have been any publicly disclosed health effects, but the incident led to stricter oversight and, along with the Chernobyl disaster, defined the public perception of nuclear energy.

Exelon wasn’t shy in trying to pin the blame on local government. It claimed that Pennsylvania law “does not support the continued operation” of the reactor, and that rules “fail to evenly value clean energy resources” while dirty power sources could “pollute for free.” It doesn’t think nuclear is getting a fair shake compared to renewables and other clean energy sources, in other words. It has also complained about low natural gas prices that make Unit 1 difficult to run.

It’s not certain just what happens next, but the odds aren’t high for a revival. While nuclear is relatively clean, the rises of both renewables and natural gas have reduced the demand for it. Like it or not, the industry has moved on — the closure is a symbol of that transition.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Surface melting causes Antarctic glaciers to slip faster towards the ocean

Direct link between surface melting and short bursts of glacier acceleration in Antarctica

September 20, 2019
University of Sheffield
Study shows for the first time a direct link between surface melting and short bursts of glacier acceleration in Antarctica. During these events, Antarctic Peninsula glaciers move up to 100% faster than average. Scientists call for these findings to be accounted for in sea level rise predictions…….


September 22, 2019 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Despite previous warnings, and findings, court finds Tepco executive not guilty after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Fukushima trial ends in not guilty verdict, but nuclear disaster will haunt Japan for decades to come, By James Griffiths, CNN, September 19, 2019  The only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has ended in not guilty verdicts, in a blow to families displaced by the meltdown, as the fallout promises to haunt northern Japan for decades to come.

A court in Tokyo acquitted the former chairman and two former vice presidents of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the firm which operated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, according to public broadcaster NHK. The trio were accused negligence for failing to implement safety measures, all three pleaded not guilty. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro argued they could not have reasonably foreseen the disaster and thus were not responsible for its effects, including the premature deaths of 44 hospital patients linked to the emergency evacuation.
Japanese prosecutors had previously refused to charge the men, and only took up the case after a concerted legal effort by the families of the dead and those who were evacuated from the area around Fukushima.
The cleanup from the disaster — caused when an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the plant — is expected to take decades, and cost billions of dollars. Tens of thousands of people still remain displaced, eight years after the original meltdown.
This month, officials said that water pumped into the stricken plant to cool its nuclear cores might have to be dumped into the ocean, due to a lack of storage space for the thousands of tons of contaminated liquid. Around 300 to 400 tons of highly radioactive water is generated every day; it’s currently stored in hundreds of tanks at the site, from which there have been multiple leaks in the years since decommissioning started.
“There are no other options,” environment minister Yoshiaki Harada said of dumping the water into the sea, though other officials claimed a final decision has not yet been made.
The suggestion of dumping even diluted radioactive runoff raised alarm in neighboring South Korea, and could effect the Japanese fishing industry over fears of contamination, regardless of whether these are valid. The original disaster sparked panics in China and on the United States West Coast, where radioactive isotopes have been detected in the California wine crop.
Tepco has previously estimated the Fukushima cleanup could take up to 40 years, at a cost of some $50 billion……….
Tepco’s liability has been a key point of contention since the meltdown.
The firm has firmly maintained that the disaster was just that, a catastrophic event that could not have been planned for. The Tohoku earthquake was the fourth largest in world history, the largest ever to strike Japan, and Tepco’s position is that it simply could not have been expected to guard against such a disaster.
But evacuees — some of whom may never be able to return to their homes — have argued this lets plant officials off the hook.
Certainly, Tepco’s response in aftermath the disaster has provided plenty of ammunition for critics, such as the delay in announcing a meltdown was taking place, Tepco’s own admitted downplaying of safety concerns, and multiple leaks of contaminated water during the cleanup process.
In 2012, a Japanese government report found that measures taken by Tepco and the Japanese nuclear regulator to prepare for disasters were “insufficient” and response to the crisis “inadequate.” That came in the wake of a study presented in parliament which said the disaster, far from being an act of nature, was a “man-made” catastrophe which should have been predicted and prepared for.
In fact, of all the studies of the disaster, only Tepco’s own internal report found that no one could have predicted the scale of the earthquake and tsunami and prepared for them. A parliamentary panel said that “the direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011.”
Despite these damning findings, however, Japanese authorities have shown little desire to hold Tepco officials accountable. Prosecutors twice refused to bring charges, and this week’s court case only occurred after residents appealed.
Thursday’s decision now closes the legal chapter on Fukushima. But as tons and tons of contaminated water continue to build up at the site of the former plant, and fuel rods remain to be cleared, the ghosts of the disaster will be with Japan for decades to come.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki contributed reporting from Tokyo.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment