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Gizmodo thoroughly debunks the false story of a nuclear explosion in the South China Sea

No, China Did Not Secretly Detonate A Nuke In The South China Sea To Signal The Start Of WWIII, Gizmodo Tom McKay, Nov 22, 2019,  The Chinese government has almost certainly not secretly detonated a tactical nuclear weapon in the South China Sea to send a warning signal to the United States, experts told Gizmodo, regardless of widespread claims to the contrary on social media.

The source of this particular rumour appears to be Hal Turner, a far-right New Jersey radio host and former FBI informant considered a white supremacist by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Centre (and who once was sentenced to over nearly three years in prison for calling for the murder of three federal judges). A post on Turner’s website claimed that unidentified “military sources” had said that around 6:22 p.m. ET on Wednesday, a nuclear explosion of some kind 50 meters below the surface of the South China sea had “caused an underwater shock wave of such sudden presence, and of such strength, that the explosion itself ‘had to be between 10 and 20 Kilotons.’” Later, the article on Turner’s website was updated to claim that the uRADMonitor Global Environmental Monitoring Network had detected “significant” radiation readings on the southern coast of China near Zhangjiang and Hong Kong, as well as Taiwan.

Turner speculated that the Chinese government had detonated a nuclear weapon to quietly send a signal to the U.S. government that it was fed up with intervention against Chinese oppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, or perhaps simply to suggest that World War III was around the corner:

Did China detonate a small, tactical, nuclear device to send a warning to the United States over the US Senate and US House approving the Hong Kong Democracy Act, which China views as an “assault” upon China’s internal affairs?

Has China had enough of US “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea?

Is China feeling the sting of economic downturn from its Trade War with the USA, and are they “upping-the-ante” signalling actual war?

This is normally the kind of thing that reasonable people would simply ignore. But thanks in part to a series of tweets from an account using the official-sounding handle “IndoPacific_SCS_Info” and others, Turner’s claims gathered the attention of thousands on Twitter.  [Numerous Twitter examples given]

It should come as no surprise that this is hot bullshit. For one, the uRADMonitor site itself pegs the supposedly gigantic radiation spike at 0.24 microsieverts per hour. That’s about the same as in South India, parts of the southwestern U.S., and Mexico—and it is an absolutely negligible amount of radiation. For comparison, the World Nuclear Association estimates the global average of naturally occurring background radiation at 0.17-0.39 microsieverts per hour, according to Reuters. If one were exposed to 0.24 microsieverts per hour, that would equate to around 2,100 microsieverts a year, or just over two millisieverts. The U.S. defines the upper boundary of safe occupational exposure at 50 millisieverts per year.

One university radiation safety specialist, who spoke anonymously with Gizmodo because they were not authorised to talk to the media, confirmed that the supposedly ominous uRADMonitor readings appeared to reflect normal background radiation levels and called the claims “unsupported wild-arse speculation.” (That specialist also warned that uRADMonitor was not a reliable source.) Readings of airborne radioactive particles posted on the Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet Honolulu page, as well as the Institute for Information Design Japan’s Japan Radiation Map, also seemed to show nothing out of the ordinary (other than elevated levels in the area of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster).

That’s generously assuming that those readings even matter in the context of a covert underwater Chinese nuclear explosion, which Gizmodo has it on good authority they don’t

Gizmodo spoke with Robert Rosner, a former Department of Energy scientist and current University of Chicago theoretical physicist who chairs the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. Rosner laughed at the idea that anyone would be able to identify an underwater nuclear test from ground-based detectors, or that anyone would be stupid enough to conduct such a test in the South China Sea.

“I would be amazed if there had been an event that somebody would then identify as an event based on a radioactive signature,” Rosner told Gizmodo via phone. “That’s unbelievably unlikely.”

Rosner added that the primary way of detecting such an event would be seismic; the first underwater nuclear tests in the world, the 23-kiloton Baker nuke at Bikini Atoll in 1945, set off seismographs the world over. There’s been no such indication that any kind of similar event happened on Wednesday……..

In addition to security concerns, Rosner said, the region is also monitored for seismic events because of “really deadly tsunamis” like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Rosner said that a 10-20 kiloton blast would “definitely be notable” on that scale, noting that the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of similar magnitude.

In other words: You should not believe a racist radio host who says completely unremarkable background radiation readings are evidence that China is about to start World War III……..

November 23, 2019 Posted by | China, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Ohio: the nuclear industry’s violent assault on democracy

November 23, 2019 Posted by | legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

France’s government is giving mixed messages on future of nuclear energy

EDF gives Macron little reason to come clean on nuclear   Problems at a flagship nuclear reactor means French government can take time over future of EDF, BEN HALL , Europe editor NOVEMBER 20 2019  

The earthquake that shook the Rhone valley in south-east France last week could have been another financial disaster for energy giant EDF in what has been a bruising year. Its share price has taken a battering over concerns that it will struggle to pay for the upkeep of its ageing fleet of reactors, find money to build new ones and service its €37bn of net debt. The worries have been amplified by further delays and cost overruns at the mammoth nuclear plant it is building on the Normandy coast. The Rhone valley is home to four of the country’s 19 atomic power stations and a nuclear fuel processing facility, all operated by EDF. The tremor was the worst to hit France in 16 years. Three reactors at Cruas had to be shut down until mid-December for mandatory safety checks.

“It made me shudder,” said one French official. At 5.4 on the Richter scale, the quake was not strong enough to damage or seriously disrupt EDF reactors. Anything worse, the official said, could have killed confidence in what was only recently regarded as an industrial crown jewel, an emblem of France’s technical ingenuity and energy independence.  That confidence had been dealt a blow last month in a damning report commissioned by the government into what has gone wrong in Normandy, with France’s first European Pressurised Reactor, a bigger, safer and more efficient type of plant. The EPR at Flamanville was supposed to have cost €3.3bn and taken four and a half years to build. Instead, the price has ballooned fourfold and construction will last 15 years.  
 The report, by Jean-Martin Folz, a former boss of Peugeot, identified a litany of failures, starting with EDF’s initial gross underestimation of costs and construction challenges, multiple delays, faults and technical problems, poor project management, chronic tensions among contractors and partners and a lack of technical skills. Many of the flaws in construction have come from substandard welding contractors. The report also pointed to the stop-start nature of France’s nuclear reactor construction after the 1980s splurge. Work at Flamanville began in 2007. Work on the last reactor before that began in 1991.

The French government, which owns 83.7 per cent of the company, is giving mixed messages about the way forward. It will not decide whether to build more EPRs until Flamanville is up and running — conveniently after the 2022 presidential election, allowing Emmanuel Macron to avoid the wrath of France’s increasingly powerful environmental movement. But according to Le Monde newspaper, the government has also secretly ordered EDF to draw up a feasibility study for six new EPRs built in pairs.

Under an energy planning law enacted this year, France must reduce the share of its electricity produced by nuclear from 72 per cent to 50 per cent by 2035, with the rest coming from renewables. EDF will have to shut down 14 ageing reactors. Given the expected rise in energy demand, though, it will have to extend the life of many others.
  So for Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF chief executive, a bigger problem than when to build new EPRs is persuading the government to raise electricity prices to help the company finance a vast maintenance and investment programme — not easy when your big flagship project has been so badly managed. UBS estimates a total investment requirement of more than €100bn, if 80 per cent of today’s reactors secure a 20-year life extension.
Ministers and EDF have floated the idea of splitting EDF into a nuclear arm and renewables one to help persuade EU authorities that it would not use more generous electricity tariffs to cross-subsidise renewables and to raise money for wind and solar energy, where France lags behind its European partners. But France’s trade unions dislike the idea, fearing partial flotation of the renewables arm could lead to full privatisation.
  “The restructuring is definitely interesting for shareholders. But the longer you have to wait, the longer you have for things to surprise you in the business,” said Sam Arie, analyst at UBS. That has been the story of 2019, with a litany of problems at Flamanville and other plants weighing on the share price. The failures at Flamanville have given Paris reason to withhold the clarity EDF needs — even if Mr Macron’s regards the nuclear industry as a strategic asset for France and Europe. The risks of nuclear power to health and safety and the costs of decommissioning and waste storage may be overblown, as Jonathan Ford has argued in this column. But if the more basic challenge of building vaguely on time or on budget cannot be met, nuclear energy soon loses its appeal.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

A call for John Hopkins University to stop helping nuclear weapons industry

Hopkins must take a stand against its nuclear weapons production,

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD | November 21, 2019 After years of protests from students, the University continues to invest in fossil fuel companies. It has an exclusivity contract with PepsiCo, a company that uses suppliers who violate child labor laws, going against ethical and sustainable business practices. Most recently, the University was slow to end contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency that is responsible for separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The University’s involvement in these contracts has been well publicized and heavily criticized by students and professors alike. Adding to this list of questionable practices is a partnership that is less well-known, but just as problematic: a contract with the U.S. government to take part in nuclear weapons research.

On Nov. 13, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) published a report stating that 49 U.S. universities are complicit in the production of nuclear weapons. The group calls on students and faculty to “demand their universities stop helping to build weapons of mass destruction.”

The report is scathing. It repeatedly mentions Hopkins, highlighting its involvement in creating nuclear weapons for the U.S. ICAN notes that Hopkins receives twice as much funding as any other university from the Department of Defense (DOD) largely because of the work of its renowned Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Created in 1942 for weapons development in World War II, the APL has since served as a technical resource for the U.S. government, developing numerous technologies for air and missile defense, naval warfare, computer security and space science.

In 2017, the APL received a seven year contract with the DOD for $93 million to continue the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s strategic partnership. This contributes to the multi-year contract with the agency that is now worth more than $7 billion.

The research involved in this deal is largely classified. On the surface, this seems to contradict the University’s policy against classified research. However, the APL is exempt from this policy, as it is the only part of the University listed as a “non-academic division.”

The University continues to brand itself as an ethical research institution. However, its direct involvement with the development of weapons of mass destruction is contradictory to these actions.

We believe that Hopkins should remove itself from all contracts associated with nuclear weapons. Instead, the APL should focus on research that does not have the same devastating and inhumane implications that nuclear weapons do.

Those who support the University’s work with nuclear weapons may argue that Hopkins receives a high monetary benefit from their partnership with the Department of Defense. They may also claim that Hopkins, which is just one of nearly 50 universities conducting research, can’t make any difference on its own. Even if Hopkins ends the contracts, why would other schools do the same?

These arguments are valid, and we understand the concerns that are associated with terminating the contracts. It is true that Hopkins receives a hefty sum for its involvement with the DOD. According to ICAN, “the funding ceiling for its ongoing contract was extended beyond $7 billion” in 2019.

There is also a turning tide against nuclear weapons development across the world. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, introduced to the United Nations in 2017, bans the development and use of nuclear weapons by signatories. So far, 122 countries have signed on, though the U.S. and most western countries have not. If Hopkins and other reputable institutions take a stand against nuclear weapons development, it will send a sign to the world at large that we want to move on from using these weapons of mass destruction.

Large scale change starts small, and it starts with us. We encourage students to take a stand for what they believe in. As with any other issue, there are multiple ways to tell Hopkins that it’s time for a change. On their website, ICAN outlines three ways that students can speak out. They recommend publicizing the issue, demanding transparency from universities and calling on them to end their work with nuclear weapons.

We know that there’s no guarantee that Hopkins will end its contracts and stop working on nuclear weapons development. But by speaking out, we can initiate the change. Activists who are part of sustainability and pro-peace groups can protest against nuclear weapons production. Students who are majoring in STEM fields can take a stand against working at the associated departments at the APL, and should be aware of the larger implications of any research they are involved in. All students can tell Hopkins that we demand an explanation and that we take issue with the greater mission behind the research.

The University’s mission statement, in part, mentions that its goal is “To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.” We hope that the University will refocus its attention on these goals. If Hopkins turns away from nuclear weapons research, other institutions may follow in our path. Making the world a safer place is the best way to bring the benefits of our discovery to everyone.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Education, USA | Leave a comment

A Labour government in UK would revive Wylfa nuclear power project

November 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

China’s $2.5bn renewables investment in Inner Mongolia

November 23, 2019 Posted by | China, renewable | Leave a comment

To Make the Olympics Look Good Japanese Government Wants Evacuees To Return To Fukushima


While Japan might want to make the Olympics look good, – internationally the IAEA , nuclear nations and global nuclear industries want the Olympics to make the nuclear industry look good!


November 23, 2019 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Taiwan govt to give $2.55 billion to Orchid Island in nuclear waste compensation

Orchid Island to get NT$2.55 billion in nuclear waste compensation,  Focus Taiwan,  (By Flor Wang, Elaine Hou, Lu Tai-cheng  Taipei, Nov. 22 (CNA) The government will pay NT$2.55 billion (US$83.6 million) to Orchid Island residents to compensate them for infringing on their rights by maintaining a nuclear waste storage facility there over the past five decades, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced Friday.

Tsai announced the compensation at a news conference in Taitung and hailed the move as reflecting the goal of the current government to pursue transitional justice for indigenous tribes based on fact-finding efforts.

“Evidence we collected showed that the then-government decided to build a nuke waste storage in reserved lands for the Yami people on Orchid Island without their previous knowledge or agreement,” Tsai said.

She described the payment as a step toward compensating Orchid Island and its people, but said there was still a lot to do to “correct our past errors.”

The decision to position the facility to handle low- and medium-level nuclear waste from Taiwan’s nuclear power plants on Orchid Island was made in 1974 and it began receiving shipments in 1982.

The process has long been recognized as deceptive, with a report titled “Orchid Island: Taiwan’s Nuclear Dumpsite” in the newsletter Nuclear Monitor in 1993 detailing how residents were led to believe a cannery was being built.

The Executive Yuan brought up historical documents showing that former President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) and Premier Sun Yun-suan (孫運璿) went ahead with the decision to build the facility without informing the local Yami people in advance.

Since residents realized in the late 1980s what was actually on the site, they have feared it would contaminate the food chain and force them off the island and also led protests against nuclear power……

November 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

What possible excuse is there for such monstrous, nation-destroying weaponry?

November 23, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK Labour touts ‘green industrial revolution’, BUT INCLUDES NUCLEAR POWER AS “GREEN”!

November 23, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

France’s company EDF selling out of USA nuclear plants, Exelon to buy.

EDF Will Bail on Three Nuclear Plants, Exelon Holds the Bag, Power Mag 11/21/2019 | Aaron Larson   Exelon Generation said EDF Group—a French integrated electricity company—is exercising a put option to sell its 49.99% interest in the R.E. Ginna, Nine Mile Point, and Calvert Cliffs nuclear energy facilities. The two companies will now begin negotiations for Exelon to acquire full ownership of the plants.

EDF’s involvement in the facilities was through the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG), a joint venture between it and Constellation Energy, which was negotiated in 2009. Exelon acquired its majority stake in the plants as part of a merger with Constellation Energy, a deal that closed in March 2012.

EDF said the disposal of CENG shares is part of a previously announced non-core-asset disposal plan. The put option could have been exercised by EDF anytime between Jan. 1, 2016, and June 30, 2022. A transaction price will follow from the determination of the fair market value of CENG shares pursuant to the contractual provisions of the put option agreement, EDF said.

……..  The facilities consist of the single-unit 576-MW R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant (Figure 1) and the dual-unit 1,907-MW Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, which are both in upstate New York, and the dual-unit 1,756-MW Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland. The upstate New York plants were under economic pressure and faced possible closure a few years ago, but subsidies approved by the state have kept the units financially viable.

Exelon said if an agreement cannot be reached, the price will be set through a third-party arbitration process to determine fair market value. The transaction will require approval by the New York Public Service Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The process and regulatory approvals “could take one to two years or more to complete,” Exelon said.  ……..

November 23, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, France, USA | Leave a comment

For UK elections, top issue is climate change

Climate crisis topping UK election agenda is ‘unprecedented’ change 
Environmentalists say such political focus on green issues ‘unthinkable’ just five years ago,
Guardian, Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent, Fri 22 Nov 2019  The climate emergency has risen to the top of the UK’s election agenda in a way that would have been “unthinkable” even five years ago, leading environmentalists have said, predicting that it augurs a permanent change in British politics.On Wednesday, Labour took the unprecedented move of putting green issues as the top section of its manifesto, the first time one of the UK’s two major parties has done so. Jeremy Corbyn led the appeal to voters with policies including an £11bn windfall tax on oil and gas companies, a million new jobs in a “green industrial revolution” and commitments on moving to a net-zero carbon economy.“Such focus on climate and the environment would have been almost unthinkable five years ago,” said Shaun Spiers, executive director of the Green Alliance. “Tackling climate change runs through this manifesto in a way that is unprecedented from either of the main parties ahead of a UK general election.”

“It would not have been possible five years ago,” said Tom Burke, chairman of environmental thinktank E3G and former adviser to several governments, who said the move marked a permanent change in British politics, as younger voters in particular were “energised” over the environment. Public anxiety had been fuelled by people seeing extreme weather around the world, and the rise of climate activism in movements such as Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikes reflected that. “The politicians are following the public on this, not the other way round.”

…….. The Liberal Democrats, while focusing on Brexit, have also made the climate emergency a key priority, promising to generate 80% of the UK’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, to bring forward to 2045 the deadline for net-zero carbon, and to expand electric vehicles and ban fracking. The Green party wants to spend £100bn a year for the next decade on the climate crisis, replacing high-carbon infrastructure and creating jobs….

November 23, 2019 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

EDF’s misleading and deficient safety report on Hunterston nuclear station

November 23, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

In Germany , renewables replace nuclear and lower emissions simultaneously

Renewables replace nuclear and lower emissions simultaneously Energy Transmission, by Craig Morris, 20 Nov 2019

A myth is haunting the English-speaking world: Germany allegedly shows that emissions rise because renewables can’t replace nuclear – and that France is right to stick with nuclear. What do the data show? Craig Morris reports

It’s not just trolls: Cambridge professors are saying it, and top US journalists are saying it, and a US presidential candidate told it to the New York Times:

“Germany initially set out to close all of its nuclear reactors by 2022, but as a result, they are now likely to miss their emissions reduction targets. And France is now considering options to extend the life of many of its older nuclear power plants.”

— US presidential candidate Marianne Williamson in the New York Times

What’s worse, US policymakers are saying it. Five US states now subsidize nuclear to keep reactors from closing, and it’s possible that all of them have done so based on this incorrect assumption. It happened years ago in New York State with explicit reference to German emissions allegedly rising because of the phase-out, it then happened in Illinois, and as one press report from Ohio put it this year when the new nuclear subsidy was announced:

The experience of Germany was repeatedly used as an example of what might happen in Ohio. Germany decommissioned its nuclear plants in favor of an all-renewable strategy. Electricity prices spiked and carbon pollution spiked, in part because of the ramping up of fossil-fuel plants to compensate for when wind and solar faltered.

“If the studies are correct, the Germans must not know how to do this,” Mr. Randazzo [chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio] said.

“If the studies are correct” indeed: So do Germany and France show that climate change requires nuclear, as Williamson says? Let’s start with France………..

France’s concern is theoretical: they didn’t actually close any reactors and try to replace the power with renewables. Rather, the French left nuclear on, and renewables hardly grew; solar (1.9%) and wind (5.1%) made up a mere 7.5% of French power supply in 2018. (In Germany, solar alone covered 7.7% of demand in 2018, with wind adding another 18.7% for a total of 26.4%). But in Germany, replacing nuclear with renewables isn’t just a postponed political ambition; it’s happening. So what do we know?

Germany emissions during the nuclear phaseout

In 2011, eight of Germany’s 17 reactors were closed. From 2010-2017, emissions in the power sector fell by more than 15%. For 2018, the power sector numbers are not yet in, but emissions from the energy sector fell by nearly two percentage points. And to date in 2019, renewables have nearly reached 50% of power supply. Germany now has some 210 TWh of non-hydro renewable power, far more than the record level of 171 TWh in 2001 for nuclear. Since 2010, renewable power has grown nearly twice as fast as nuclear shrank. Some nine tenths of it is wind and solar alone. Clearly, Germany shows that renewables can reduce emissions during a nuclear phaseout.

At this point, I hear objections. The first: “but Germany is going to miss its 2020 climate target!” Yes, it is expected to reach a 32% emissions reduction, not 40% relative to 1990 (French emissions fell by 15% from 1990-2017 in comparison, albeit from a much lower level thanks to nuclear). But the Germans don’t see the power sector as the main problem. As Deutsche Bank recently put it, “So far, Germany’s efforts… have focused on the electricity sector. However, attention is increasingly shifting towards the transport sector and its steadily rising carbon emissions.” Former Environmental Minister and Christian Democrat Klaus Töpfer recently worded the German consensus well: “We have the highest taxes on electricity although we have reduced emissions there the most.” That’s right: Germany has performed best in the sector where it has removed nuclear and worse in sectors where nuclear plays little or no role: mobility, agriculture, and heat.

The second objection is generally: “Germany would have lowered emissions even more if it had phased out coal, not nuclear.” That’s a fine thing to discuss, but it only moves us from a falsehood (“German phaseout raised emissions”) to revisionist history – not to facts. The revisionist historians act as though renewables would have been built anyway if nuclear remained online. As I wrote in my 50-page paper entitled Can reactors react (2018), the Germans argued a decade ago that renewables were unlikely to be built if nuclear stayed online.

What do the French and German cases show about how much renewable energy gets added when nuclear stays online? The French are also failing to add new nuclear as quickly as its own power company closes old reactors it wishes to keep on. From 2010-2018, wind and solar grew by 27.4 TWh in France, while nuclear shrank by 14.7 TWh (and demand stayed flat). During the same timeframe in Germany, nuclear shrank by 64.6 TWh – but solar and wind alone grew by 91.8 TWh.

The current French situation suggests that, if you remain committed to nuclear, nuclear power nonetheless shrinks; to make matters worse, the growth of renewables struggles to close the gap. Germany suggests that, if you stick with renewables and phase out nuclear, renewables growth outstrips the drop in nuclear nearly twofold, and you reduce emissions by 2 percentage points annually in the power sector.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Germany, renewable | Leave a comment

Russian Watchdog Detects ‘Radiation Incident’ in South China Sea

November 23, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment