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U.S. won’t clean up Marshall Islands nuclear waste dome but wants it free of anti-U.S. graffiti

By Susanne RustStaff Writer

Nov. 14, 2019

5 AM

For years, American authorities have asserted they hold no responsibility for Runit Dome, a concrete-capped waste site in the Marshall Islands, where the United States dumped 35 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of atomic soil and debris created by its Cold War nuclear weapons testing program.

But sometime during the spring of 2018, unknown vandals spray-painted graffiti across its face: “Nuclear Waste. Property of USA Government. Please Return to Sender” and “Nuclear Waste. Property of the USA. Please Return to Sender.”

That grabbed the attention of the U.S. government and its contractors.

Despite its position that the dome and its radioactive contents belong to the Marshallese government, the U.S. Department of Energy paid a contractor to scrub off the offending message after getting permission from the mayor of Enewetak Atoll, where the dome is located.

The “graffiti on the dome was removed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a US DOE contractor,” the mayor, Jack Ading, said in an email this week to The Times.

Ading said he probably should have rejected the request to remove it — made by Terry Hamilton, a contractor for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — because the message on the dome reflected Marshallese sentiment that the United States should take ownership of its radioactive waste. But he decided to go along to avoid conflict.

“I did not want to fight with USG over a graffiti,” he said, referring to the U.S. government.

In a special report Sunday, The Times documented how Runit Dome is threatened by sea level rise and could eventually spill its radioactive contents into the ocean around Enewetak. While the United States has repeatedly declared it bears no obligation to fortify the structure or take ownership of the waste, the graffiti cleanup reveals it is attentive to keeping the dome free of anti-U.S. slogans.

Some find it ironic that the Energy Department and its contractors are keeping the surface of the dome clean, while doing nothing to prevent the radioactive waste from leaking out of it.

“When there are limited resources, it is disheartening that graffiti removal would take priority over other basic services and requests,” said Holly Barker, an anthropologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

World & Nation

15 months, 5 trips, a gut-wrenching sight: How we reported the Marshall Islands story

Nov. 10, 2019

From 1946 to 1958, the United States detonated 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands. Forty-three of those tests were conducted in Enewetak lagoon. It also conducted biological weapons testing in the atoll and shipped in 130 tons of soil from an atomic testing ground in Nevada for experiments.

During the late 1970s, as the United States was returning control of Enewetak to the Marshallese, the U.S. government initiated a cleanup of the atoll — to remove the most lethal and irradiated land-based soil and debris. It dumped that waste in a 350-foot-wide unlined nuclear bomb crater pit on Runit Island, and then covered it with an 18-inch-thick concrete cap.

The dome, which resembles an old, weathered Houston Astrodome and can be seen from miles away, is reportedly leaking plutonium-laced groundwater into the Enewetak lagoon and Pacific Ocean.

Journalist Mika Makelainen was at the dome on May 25, 2018, soon after the vandalism took place.

“The graffiti looked fairly new, and none of the Marshallese guys had seen it before,” said Makelainen, who works for the Finnish broadcast news service Yle.

He said it was rumored that “a very large sailing boat had visited Runit” before his arrival, and it was believed by the Marshallese that people on that boat could have been responsible.

World & Nation

Parts of the Marshall Islands just as radioactive as Chernobyl and Fukushima

Sep. 27, 2019

During an interview last fall, at his Livermore laboratory, Hamilton said he learned about the graffiti incident after being informed by Enewetak officials, whom he described as displeased by the vandalism, contrary to Ading’s account. Hamilton said he sent out one of the Energy Department technicians living on Enewetak to clean up the graffiti.

“They helped wash some of that off,” he said, adding that he thought the graffiti was still visible from a drone’s eye view. ”It’s not obvious when you are walking around.”

A Times reporting team did not see the graffiti when it visited in August 2018, and no sign of it is visible in The Times’ drone video or photographs.

A spokeswoman for Lawrence Livermore did not respond to recent inquiries about the graffiti, or the cost of the cleanup.

The U.S. government has provided the Marshallese with about $30 million a year since 2003. In 2023, a so-called compact of free association signed by the two countries, which governs the relationship between them, is set to expire.

This summer, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced that the United States intends to extend the compact. Negotiations are just beginning.

See Mäkeläinen’s article here. And Yle’s virtual reality tour of the Marshalls.

Source for article; https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-11-14/marshall-islands-runit-nuclear-waste-dome-site-graffiti

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

49 USA universities get lots of money for helping to develop nuclear weapons

‘Schools of Mass Destruction’: Report Details 49 US Universities Abetting Nuclear Weapons Complex https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/13/schools-mass-destruction-report-details-49-us-universities-abetting-nuclear-weapons “Why would an institution of higher learning support weapons that cause terrible humanitarian consequences?”

Nearly 50 universities across the United States are abetting the “nuclear weapons complex” with involvement that is at times “direct and unabashed.”

That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Schools of Mass Destruction: American Universities in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex.” The report calls out 49 educational institutions, describes their direct and indirect involvement, and recommends steps the universities, students, and faculty can take to address the issue.

The report names prestigious universities including Stanford, Georgetown, and MIT. The cited universities have reportedly engaged in four different avenues of complicity in nuclear weapons production, defying their own mission statements and international law.

In return, the report says, “universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.”

The complicity, according to ICAN, falls into one of four categories: direct management, institutional partnerships, research programs and partnerships, and workforce development programs.

From the report’s profiles on Georgetown University and the University of Nevada – Reno:

In return, the report says, “universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.”

The complicity, according to ICAN, falls into one of four categories: direct management, institutional partnerships, research programs and partnerships, and workforce development programs.

From the report’s profiles on Georgetown University and the University of Nevada – Reno:

  • Georgetown is listed as a university partner on the website of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. According to administration at Georgetown, the university has a formal agreement with the laboratory and collaborates in the areas of neuroscience, physics and cancer, with the lab hosting graduate students for summer internships. The Lawrence Livermore lab provides design and engineering for several nuclear warhead types and conducts simulated experiments to evaluate warheads.
  • The University of Nevada – Reno developed a new Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Packaging in partnership with the Department of Energy. A Nevada National Security Site engineer was the first to complete the program. The Nevada National Security Site is the location of nearly 1,000 tests of nuclear weapons in past decades, leading to serious health impacts for nearby residents and participating military personnel. Currently, staff at the site conduct simulated experiments to test the reliability and performance of nuclear weapons. The site also hosts “subcritical experiments” that allow for the evaluation of nuclear weapons materials under certain conditions, but do not cause a “self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.”

Those universities are not the “most complicit.” That dubious honor goes to the University of California,  Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of New Mexico. In a Twitter thread, ICAN highlighted those schools’ involvement:

#1 The state of California supports a ban of #nuclearweaponshttp://bit.ly/2pbn7OT,but  the @UofCalifornia has continuously managed the primary #nuclearweapons labs for the US since WWII. When will UC stop supporting weapons that pose a catastrophic threat to our existence?

#2 @TAMU administration has publicly stated its “commitment to the #nuclearweapons industry.”http://bit.ly/2CyVbau  Why would an institution of higher learning support weapons that cause terrible humanitarian consequences?

#3 @JohnsHopkins’ applied physics lab is directly involved in #nuclearweapons production. It receives more than twice as much funding from the US @DeptofDefense than any other U.S. university. @JHUPress @JHUNewsLetter

#4 More than 3,800 New Mexicans have suffered serious illness or death as a result of US nuclear weapons tests  http://bit.ly/33IL4vS  So why does the @UNM University of New Mexico wants its faculty and students to collaborate with #nuclearweapons lab scientists?

The report comes as Trump administration policies have given rise to fears of a new arms race. As the report notes,

In the United States, the Trump administration has expanded plans to upgrade the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Over the next ten years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion to maintain and modernize its country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, or almost $100,000 per minute.

Also noted in the publication is the administration’s withdrawal earlier this year from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which calls for “diversifying” the country’s nuclear arsenal.

That gives greater urgency to the call for the schools to sever their partnerships—and the clear support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, ICAN says, should be seen as an opportunity for action.

U.S. universities must reconsider connections to the nuclear weapons complex due to the devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons and because current U.S. policies make their use more likely,” says the report.

A first step is for schools to be more transparent about their involvement in the nuclear weapons complex but that’s not enough. “Universities would not willingly participate today in research enabling the production of chemical and biological weapons. Nuclear weapons are morally equivalent to these other weapons of mass destruction.”

Students and faculty can take action as well. ICAN suggests sharing the report to increase awareness, demanding the institutions make their research transparent, and calling on the schools to become part of the effort to  ban nuclear weapons by dropping their involvement.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Education, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The plight of Fukushima nuclear workers getting leukaemia

November 16, 2019 Posted by | employment, health, Japan, media, politics | Leave a comment

Will Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines make nuclear submarines obsolete?

Why is the nuclear lobby frantically propagandising nuclear reactors for Australian submarines, just as it looks as if cheaper AIP submarines look likely to take over?  (Sell SMRS for submarines off quickly to a dumb nation, before they’re obsolete?)

AIP powered-submarines have proliferated across the world using three different types of engines, with nearly 60 operational today in fifteen countries. Around fifty more are on order or being constructed.

Stealth:…..AIP submarines can, if properly designed, swim underwater even more quietly.

Cost: ….a country could easily buy three or four medium-sized AIP submarines instead of one nuclear attack submarine

 

November 16, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | Leave a comment

Indigenous opposition grows against proposal for grand nuclear waste dump in New Mexico

Some fear the “interim” storage facility could become a de facto permanent storage facility

transport of high-level radioactive waste across the state could also lead to potentially dangerous nuclear releases, leaving impacted communities responsible for emergency responses.

the proposal fits into a wider pattern of negligence and environmental racism on behalf of the federal government towards one of the United States’ poorest majority-minority states. 

November 16, 2019 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

China General Nuclear Power Group to invest $2.5 billion into a huge solar project – plus 2 GW of wind turbines

China’s nuclear operator to develop 1 GW solar field   https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/11/15/chinas-nuclear-operator-to-develop-1-gw-solar-field/

China General Nuclear Power Group is reportedly preparing to invest almost $2.5 billion into a huge solar project – plus 2 GW of wind turbines – in the autonomous province of Inner Mongolia. Local authorities say the massive project will be complete in 2021.

NOVEMBER 15, 2019 VINCENT SHAW Sources in Beijing have told pv magazine the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) is preparing to invest RMB17 billion ($2.43 billion) in renewables generation capacity in northern China, including 1 GW of solar panels.

The nuclear power company is also planning 2 GW of onshore wind capacity, with all the facilities to be built in the Inner Mongolian city of Ulanchabu.

The authorities in Ulanchabu say compliance reviews and administrative procedures will be carried out in the first half of next year with construction due to start on the massive renewables project by August, ready for completion in 2021.

Having been founded in 1994 in Guangdong province to operate China’s first nuclear power station – the Daya Bay plant – CGN has long since diversified into solar and wind power. The company claims to operate a 4.4 GW solar portfolio and 12.7 GW of wind facilities across all provinces of its homeland after funding more than 300 clean energy projects. The nuclear company also claims to have a 13.4 GW overseas renewable energy project pipeline.

The autonomous region of Inner Mongolia boasts excellent sunshine resources and the Inner Mongolia Solar Energy Industry Association said the construction of ultra-high voltage transmission lines in the province has enabled the authorities to set a curtailment target of near zero for solar electricity, and of 10% for wind power.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

Trump picks another lackey of the coal and nuclear industries as US Energy Secretary

Trump energy pick faces questions on coal, nuclear power

Timothy Gardner, WASHINGTON (Reuters) 15 Nov 19 – President Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Energy Department faced questions on emissions from energy operations and the future of nuclear power at his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but was greeted warmly by senators from both parties who want to see him quickly confirmed.

Dan Brouillette, 57, a former lobbyist at Ford Motor Co and Louisiana state energy regulator, would replace Rick Perry, who has said he is stepping down on Dec. 1.

Perry became known as one of the “three amigos” in a side-channel Ukraine policy led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, that has been at the center of the Trump impeachment probe. But Perry has said he was not involved in any conversations where former Vice President Joe Biden was brought up…….

If, as expected, he is confirmed by the Senate Energy Committee and then by the full Senate, Brouillette will work to carry out Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda of boosting U.S. production of oil and natural gas.

Brouillette told Republican senators from Wyoming and Louisiana that he supports technology on curbing climate change by capturing and storing underground carbon dioxide from coal and natural gas facilities, adding that fossil fuels would power a large portion of global energy needs for the next 40 to 50 years…….

Brouillette also said he wants to support development of advanced nuclear power plants, hopefully one day bringing microreactors that provide relatively small amounts of power to remote places like rural Louisiana, where he was born, to Alaska. ……

Democratic senators not on the Energy Committee, including Ed Markey and Tim Kaine, sent Brouillette a letter on Wednesday asking whether he supported nonproliferation standards in any deal on sharing U.S. nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia, a question he will likely continue to face if he is confirmed.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Peter Cooney and Tom Brown https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-energy/trump-energy-pick-to-face-questions-on-coal-nuclear-power-idUSKBN1XO1OH

November 16, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Before he’s even in the job, USA’s new Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is busily promoting SMRs for his REAL bosses, the nuclear industryg

Could tiny nuclear reactors power Alaska villages?

By Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media November 14, 2019 President Trump’s nominee to be the next secretary of energy says he would continue the quest to develop mini nuclear reactors that could one day power communities in rural Alaska.

“We want to get to a place where we can develop small micro-reactors, one to five megawatts,” Dan Brouillette said Thursday at his confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Energy Committee. …..

Brouillette is now the deputy secretary. He told Murkowski there’s reason to be optimistic about the development of reactors that are a fraction of the size of those in use today. ….. https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/11/14/energy-secretary-nominee-says-tiny-nuclear-reactors-could-power-alaska-villages/

November 16, 2019 Posted by | marketing, politics, USA | Leave a comment

New type of uranium nuclear fuel has safety risks

November 16, 2019 Posted by | safety, technology, UK, Uranium | Leave a comment

North Korea issues warning on nuclear negotiations deadline

North Korea warns U.S. will face ‘harsh suffering’ if nuclear deadline passes, Market Watch, Nov 13, 2019,  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un imposed an end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks with the United States.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s supreme decision-making body lashed out Wednesday at planned U.S.-South Korean military drills and warned that the United States will face a “bigger threat and harsh suffering” if it ignores North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks.

In a statement carried by state media, an unidentified spokesperson for the North’s State Affairs Commission said the drills would violate agreements between Kim and President Donald Trump on improving bilateral relations and compel North Korea to raise its war readiness.

Kim is chairman of the commission, which he established in 2016 following years of efforts to consolidate his power and centralize governance.

The statement is North Korea’s latest expression of displeasure over the military drills and slow pace of nuclear negotiations with Washington. The talks have stalled over disagreements on disarmament steps and sanctions relief.

North Korea has also ramped up its missile tests in recent months and experts say it is likely to continue weapons displays to pressure Washington as Kim’s deadline nears for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

The spokesperson said annual U.S.-South Korea military drills are continuing to cause a “vicious cycle” in relations between the U.S. and North Korea……  https://www.marketwatch.com/story/north-korea-warns-us-will-face-harsh-suffering-if-nuclear-deadline-passes-2019-11-13

November 16, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

European Union struggles to preserve Iran nuclear deal

November 16, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

US- North Korea negotiations may be revived

November 16, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment