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Ethics, Nuclear Power, and Global Heating – theme for December 2019

“Ethics” seems to be a dirty word in this strange era in which “Economics”, (i.e money) is apparently the only credible argument for taking any action.

Yet, now, under those truly awful shadows of a heating planet, and nuclear conflict, ethics might be our only sane guide.

What are ethics in relation to climate and nuclear issues?

Surely – ethical behaviour,  -behaving decently and honestly. In the face of these dire threats – this is the way to go.

Not that it’s easy. No-one wants to pay the price, – changed employment, lifestyle changes, increased taxes….

BUT – we have borrowed this world from our children, and great grandchildren.  We need to return it in good condition.

This means facing up to the reality of all the effects of climate change, the horrors of nuclear weapons, the environmental poison of ionising radiation.

And then – taking action on all levels, from the personal to global co-operation. A tall order?  It means plain, honest, speaking, just treatment of under-privileged groups and countries, taking investment out of dirty industries.

An impossible order? Perhaps, but it would be a shame not to try. Even in this period of ethically and often environmentally ignorant , narcissistic national leaders Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Boris Johnson, Jair Bolsonaro, Scott Morrison …….still there are thousands of individuals and groups working for a clean and nuclear-free planet.

We don’t need to be taken in by the big words and twisted arguments of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries and their bought politicians and journalists. The facts on climate change are clear. The facts on nuclear dangers are clear.

Even the economic facts point us to climate action and to scrapping nuclear power and weapons. But surely, human beings can do better than that, and be guided by ethics.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes, Religion and ethics | 8 Comments

Plans for nuclear waste disposal, but there’s no long term solution

The Staggering Timescales Of Nuclear Waste Disposal,  Christine Ro  https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinero/2019/11/26/the-staggering-timescales-of-nuclear-waste-disposal/#621facec29cf

High-level nuclear waste consists largely of spent fuel from nuclear reactors. Though it makes up a small proportion of overall waste volumes, it accounts for the majority of radioactivity. This most potent form of nuclear waste, according to some, needs to be safely stored for up to a million years. Yes, 1 million years – in other words, a far longer stretch of time than the period since Neanderthals cropped up. This is an estimate of the length of time needed to ensure radioactive decay.

Yet existing and planned nuclear waste sites operate on much shorter timeframes: often 10,000 or 100,000 years. These are still such unimaginably vast lengths of time that regulatory authorities decide on them, in part, based on how long ice ages are expected to last. To some extent all of these figures are little better than educated guesses.

They’re also such mind-bogglingly long periods that in 1981, the US Department of Energy established the Human Interference Task Force to devise ways to warn future generations of the dangerous contents of nuclear repositories. This was a challenging task then, and nuclear semiotics remains the stuff of science fiction. Written language has only existed for about 5,500 years, so there’s no guarantee that Earth’s inhabitants, tens of thousands of years from now, would understand any of the writing systems currently in use. The meanings of visual signs also drift over time. The more whimsical “ray cat solution,” of genetically engineering cats to glow in the presence of radioactive material, is even less reliable.

Even stopping nuclear power operations is a necessarily drawn-out process. Decommissioning a single nuclear reactor typically takes about 20 years. Most countries grappling with nuclear waste are planning for at least 40 to 60 years just to implement their repository programs.

After brief flirtations with amusingly bad ideas including shooting nuclear waste into space, the consensus among nuclear scientists is that the best option for dealing with high-level nuclear waste is deep geological disposal. One of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s conditions for such a geological site is low groundwater content, which has been stable for at least tens of thousands of years, and geological stability, over millions of years. Thus, Japan, with its seismic instability, is unlikely to have any suitable candidates for deep geological disposal.

Like many countries, Japan is relying on interim storage of high-level waste while hoping that longer-term solutions will present themselves eventually. In fact, no country even has an operational deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel. (The US has a deep disposal site in New Mexico for “transuranic” waste from nuclear weapons, which is long-lived and intermediate-level waste whose elements have higher numbers than uranium in the periodic table.)

It’s challenging to find a site that ticks all of the geological boxes (including relatively impermeable material with little risk of water infiltration), and that isn’t politically controversial. To take two notable examples, communities in Nevada, US and Bure, France have hotly opposed plans to establish repositories. Given the history of environmental justice globally, it’s likely that any future locations approved for nuclear waste dumps will be found in poor areas.

Only one country, Finland, is even building a permanent spent-fuel repository. Even in Finland, however, it’s estimated that a license won’t be issued until 2024. Similar licenses for other European countries scouting out possible locations likely wouldn’t be available until 2050 in Germany and 2065 in the Czech Republic. And these countries are outnumbered by those that don’t even have an estimated timeframe for licensing, as they’re so far back in the process of searching for a site.

Strategies remain worryingly short-term, on a nuclear timescale. Chernobyl’s destroyed reactor no. 4, for instance, was moved in July 2019 into a massive steel and concrete “sarcophagus” that will only last 100 years. Not only will containers like this one fall short of the timescales needed for sufficient storage, but no country has allotted enough funds to cover nuclear waste disposal. In France and the US, according to the recently published World Nuclear Waste Report, the funding allocation only covers a third of the estimated costs. And the cost estimates that do exist rarely extend beyond several decades.

Essentially, we’re hoping that things will work out once future generations develop better technologies and find more funds to manage nuclear waste. It’s one of the most striking examples of the dangers of short-term thinking.Check out my website.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

France wants to label nuclear as “green”. Germany will have none of it

Paris, Berlin divided over nuclear’s recognition as green energy   https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/france-and-germany-divided-over-nuclears-inclusion-in-eus-green-investment-label/  By Cécile Barbière | EURACTIV.fr | translated by Daniel Eck  27 Nov 19, Disagreement on the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU’s upcoming green finance taxonomy has revived long-standing divisions between France and Germany over the energy transition. EURACTIV France reports.

Franco-German relations have already been strained by French President Emmanuel Macron’s radical comments on NATO’s “brain death,” which attracted strong rebukes in Berlin.

Now, the European Commission’s proposed taxonomy for sustainable finance has emerged as a new bone of contention.

Tabled in 2018, the EU taxonomy aims to determine which economic activities can benefit from a sustainable finance label at European level. The objective is to give clear indications to investors so they can redirect their financing towards environmentally-friendly sectors.

Six pre-defined environmental objectives must be met in order to obtain the label. If any technology seriously undermines one of those goals, it is automatically disqualified.

It is because of this double level of control that nuclear energy failed to win the green label in the European Parliament, until the Council representing EU member states voted to reinstate it in September.

Although nuclear energy largely meets the low-carbon emissions objective, “it was not possible to include nuclear power because there is no scientific evidence for waste treatment. This means that the sector does not meet both requirements,” explained  Jochen Krimphoff, WWF’s deputy director for green finance.

Since the beginning of the negotiations on the EU’s taxonomy, France has been pushing to reintroduce nuclear power, much to Germany’s dismay.

“France will advocate that nuclear energy should be part of this eco-label,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire at the conference to replenish the Green Fund at the end of October.

“We cannot succeed in the ecological transition, and we cannot achieve our goal in terms of combating global warming without nuclear energy,” the French minister said.

Although nuclear energy largely meets the low-carbon emissions objective, “it was not possible to include nuclear power because there is no scientific evidence for waste treatment. This means that the sector does not meet both requirements,” explained  Jochen Krimphoff, WWF’s deputy director for green finance.

Since the beginning of the negotiations on the EU’s taxonomy, France has been pushing to reintroduce nuclear power, much to Germany’s dismay.

“France will advocate that nuclear energy should be part of this eco-label,” said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire at the conference to replenish the Green Fund at the end of October.

“We cannot succeed in the ecological transition, and we cannot achieve our goal in terms of combating global warming without nuclear energy,” the French minister said.

The move is all the more surprising given France’s rather progressive positions on the taxonomy. For example, Paris has, like the Commission and Parliament, been calling for the taxonomy to enter into force as early as 2020, while the Council has advocated for implementation in 2023.

For its part, Germany would not be opposed to labeling gas as green. This could be at the risk of a deal that would see both gas and nuclear power re-entering the scheme.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | France, Germany, politics international | 1 Comment

Tipping points leading to ‘Hothouse Earth’ already “active”, scientists warn — RenewEconomy

Group of leading climate scientists warn that tipping points that could cause irreversible and rapid global warming are already ‘active’. The post Tipping points leading to ‘Hothouse Earth’ already “active”, scientists warn appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Tipping points leading to ‘Hothouse Earth’ already “active”, scientists warn — RenewEconomy

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sellafield Wants Free Rein to Discharge Radioactive Substances Under the Guise of Reducing Emissions; Impacts Drinking Water; Comment Till 1st December — Mining Awareness +

Sellafield wants carte blanche to discharge radioactive emissions to the environment – meanwhile much of West Cumbria’s fresh water is being pulled from boreholes just a mile away from the Sellafield site There is a short consultation by the Environment Agency going on now which has been described by the BBC as a proposed “New…

via Sellafield Wants Free Rein to Discharge Radioactive Substances Under the Guise of Reducing Emissions; Impacts Drinking Water; Comment Till 1st December — Mining Awareness +

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Despite Halting Progress, UN Continues its Push for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East

 http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/11/despite-halting-progress-un-continues-push-nuclear-weapons-free-zone-middle-east/

By Thalif Deen  UNITED NATIONS, Nov 27 2019 (IPS) – A longstanding proposal for a regional nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East – one of the world’s most conflict-ridden regions – has been kicked around the corridors of UN committee rooms since 1974.

And as another effort to negotiate a legally-binding treaty concluded last week, there were lingering questions crying out for answers: how realistic is the proposal in the face of implicit opposition from US and Israel? Is the proposal still in the realm of political fantasy?

Expressing confidence in the ongoing negotiations, Emad Kiyaei, Director at the Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) and a former director at American-Iranian Council told IPS, a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East is far from being a fantasy– and is based on the goodwill of the states from within the region to reach an agreement.

Last week’s conference, he said, was “a positive step forward and the states in the (committee) room were showing more flexibility and constructive discourse that we have witnessed in decades on this issue.”

He pointed out that the danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East shows that business cannot continue as usual.

“It is a real threat, however, and this threat is further exacerbated by the global nuclear weapons states that have used the Middle East in their power games and scapegoated in not reaching a final document at the 2015 NPT Review Conference.”
He said the states from within the region understand the gravity of the threat and
the need for a comprehensive process that reduces tensions and serves as a starting point for an inclusive discussion in goodwill.

The United Nations says it has been working to eliminate nuclear weapons, including through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), as well as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), both of which are yet to enter into force.

Dr Rebecca Johnson of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy and author of “Unfinished Business” on multilateral negotiations, told IPS: “The stakes for international as well as regional security could not be higher.”

“Ending weapons of mass destruction possession and use in the Middle East has to be a vital priority for everyone.”

“It’s helpful that most of the P5 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the UK, US, France, China and Russia) — and relevant states of the region attended the UN Conference — but very worrying that the United States and Israel decided to boycott,” she said.

“They behave as if they want to keep at least nuclear weapons and freedom of action for the foreseeable future. That’s a dangerous position to take, particularly after Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the JCPOA (2015 nuclear restraint agreement with Iran), which has reopened the door for Tehran to accelerate its nuclear production programmes, including uranium enrichment.”

Last week’s conference “was very limited in what it can accomplish in a week. What will it take to restore the JCPOA and bring Israel and the US to the table?”

“Politics is of course key here”, declared Dr Johnson.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed “the successful conclusion of the Conference” and congratulated the participating States, in particular on the adoption of a Political Declaration, and supported their continuing efforts to pursue, in an open and inclusive manner, the establishment of a Nuclear-Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the region.

Currently, there are five regional nuclear-weapon-free-zones – in Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa; Central Asia; Southeast Asia; and the South Pacific.

According to the United Nations, treaties covering those States are: African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Pelindaba); South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga); Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Treaty of Bangkok); Treaty on a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in Central Asia (Semipalatinsk Treaty); and, the first ever such zone, the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco).

The world’s five declared nuclear powers are the P5 in the UN Security Council while the four undeclared nuclear powers are India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

But there are at least three countries in the region—Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – harboring intentions of going nuclear perhaps in a distant future.

Asked about the progress made so far, Kiyaei said since 2016, civil society in the region has been working with states from within the region and the international community to draw attention to the fact that the most important component missing was the belief that such a zone is possible and the goodwill needed to sustain this process.

The Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) with international experts has issued a draft treaty text that shows several possibilities to move forward if only the states want to achieve the zone, instead of using this topic to bash each other for short-term political points, he added.

“We have noticed a change of language that was shown even in the UN Resolution that was adopted for an annual conference on the WMD Free Zone. This is a rare opportunity whereby the conference on the zone is initiated and led by states within the Middle East, while the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (minus the United States) serve as observers”, said Kiyaei, co-author of “Weapons of Mass Destruction: A new approach to non-proliferation” (Brookings Institution and Chatham House).

Dr Johnson said: “The main diplomatic challenge is to take forward a positive process that engages positively with the existing treaty regimes covering all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).”

At a minimum, it would have been important for the November Conference to commit to holding a follow up conference under UN General Assembly auspices.

“They should also consider what positive initiatives can be taken to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference in 2020, especially in light of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East and the failure to hold the 2012 Conference that was agreed in 2010.”

“I’ve been talking with various regional and P5 states about what diplomatic initiatives could be practical to propose in 2020, but let’s see first how last week’s UN Conference has progressed.”

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the UN General Assembly, warned delegates about the continued existence of more than 15,000 nuclear warheads stockpiled around the world, “and any use of these weapons would be a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe, causing irreplaceable damage.”

Although nuclear weapons have only been used once in history, the 1945 bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War attest to their devastation, he added.

Asked who the key non-starters are, Kiyaei said the United States and Israel decided not to participate in this year’s conference, however, their absence in the room is not necessarily a bad thing at this moment as it allows the other states to have a constructive discussion to serve as a positive and crucial step towards a positive outcome.

“Having said that, we call on Israel to pay attention that with consensus on all final decisions on the WMD Free Zone treaty, it has nothing to lose by joining the process and everything to gain.”

The US’s stand is that the time is not right and the states in the region are not ready for disarmament. “We would like to remind that there is huge difference between disarmament and dismantlement—there is no such thing as not being ready for disarmament as disarmament begins with a conversation if there is
goodwill”.

The question is not readiness, wanting or not wanting—as Israel has on numerous times supported the establishment of a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East.

“It is time to start this discourse—just as it is time for the nuclear weapons states to dismantle their stockpiles based on a specific timeline,” he declared.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Thorny topic of Fukushima food at the 2020 Olympics

Should Fukushima food be served at the Olympics? Japan Times, BY KARYN NISHIMURA, AFP-JIJI 26 NOV 19, FUKUSHIMA – For years, the government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the prefecture’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?

It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Olympics in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Government officials tout strict checks on food from the prefecture as evidence the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.

In Fukushima, producers are keen to see their products served in the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organizers………

It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Olympics in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Government officials tout strict checks on food from the prefecture as evidence the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.

In Fukushima, producers are keen to see their products served in the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organizers.

But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: Numerous countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.

South Korea, currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.

“We have requested the Olympic organizers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.

“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.

The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: While it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter…….

The International Olympic Committee has said it is still weighing how to handle the matter……. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/11/26/national/fukushima-food-olympics-tokyo-2020/#.Xd7rfugzbIU

November 28, 2019 Posted by | health, Japan | Leave a comment

The negotiations in Madrid for COP 25 Climate Change Conference

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE UN’S COP 25 CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE,  https://ensia.com/notable/cop-25-un-climate-talks/    Andrew Urevig @aurevig   November 26, 2019 — In 2015, 195 countries adopted an international treaty aiming to limit global warming to less than 2 °C (3.6 °F) above average preindustrial temperatures in order to avert the worst of Earth’s climate emergency.

How exactly will these countries implement that treaty, the Paris agreement? That’s a key question for the thousands of people set to attend the COP 25 negotiations, the 25th annual Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Despite a last-minute change of location from Chile to Spain, the talks are still slated for December 2–13.

Representatives of countries around the world are preparing to negotiate rules for international carbon markets, finalize details on climate finance and ready the world for the crucial next decade of action on the climate crisis. Chilean environmental minister Carolina Schmidt will preside over the negotiations.

Double Counting Strikes Back

According to Schmidt, “COP 25 will be the COP of implementation.” The main goal is to fill in the legal and technical details of the Paris agreement. That work began at COP 24, which was held last year in Poland.

Left unresolved last year were the rules for voluntary carbon emissions markets, which would let nations meet their pledged emissions cuts by trading reductions with other countries. In a June interview, Schmidt said that these rules, covered under Article 6 of the Paris treaty, would be a major focus of COP25.

Finishing the work of COP 24, this year’s negotiations should finalize the details of the Paris agreement. But consensus could be difficult to reach. During the last climate talks, according to Carbon Brief, draft rules for the carbon markets would have prohibited double counting of emissions, a scenario in which reductions would be counted by both the country that achieved them and the country purchasing those reductions as emissions offsets. But the delegation from Brazil rejected that prohibition, pushing the conversation off to this year.

Other Issues

Other issues will be on the table, too. Countries at COP 25 will discuss details for climate finance to support countries designated as developing as they adapt to climate change and mitigate their carbon emissions.

Outside the halls of power, COP 25 could see street demonstrations and other protests. Last year’s talks coincided with protests worldwide, including 3,000 who marched in Katowice, Poland, where the talks were held.

U.S. diplomats will be among the negotiators — but potentially for the last time. President Donald Trump notified the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Nov. 4, 2019, that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement. The U.S. is scheduled be officially out of the deal by Nov. 4, 2020, less than a week before COP 26 will begin in Glasgow, Scotland. A U.S. delegation will still be invited to attend the conference — but not to negotiate, in an official capacity, the future of the Paris accord.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Pope Francis, in Japan, Warns of ‘Selfish Decisions’ on Nuclear Energy

November 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Catholic doctrine; the use and even the possession of nuclear is immoral

Pope Francis: not using or possessing nuclear arms will be added to the Catechism, Catholic Outlook,27 November 2019 During the in-flight press conference aboard the plane bringing him back to Rome from Japan, Pope Francis answers journalists’ questions on a variety of issues: from the immoral use and possession of atomic weapons, to the financial investigation inside the Vatican.

“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, which is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity.”

In addition to repeating this strong message pronounced at Hiroshima, Pope Francis responded to many questions posed to him by the journalists during the flight bringing them back to Rome from Japan.

Now follows an unofficial translation of the in-flight press conference……….

Hiroshima was a real human catechesis on cruelty. I could not visit the Hiroshima museum because time did not permit, because it was a difficult day. But they say it’s terrible. There are letters from Heads of State, Generals explaining how a greater disaster could be produced. The experience was much more touching for me. And there I reiterated that the use of nuclear weapons is immoral, that is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity. The words of Einstein come to mind: ‘The Fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones.’ ” …….

The ugly hypocrisy of the ‘arms trade’. Christian countries, European countries that talk about peace and live off weapons. This is hypocrisy, a word from the Gospels: Jesus said it in Matthew, Chapter 23. We have to stop this hypocrisy. It takes courage to say: “I can’t talk about peace, because my economy earns so much through arms sales’”. These are all things we need to say, without insulting and vilifying any country, but speaking as brothers and sisters, for the sake of human fraternity: we must stop because this is a terrible thing. “………… https://catholicoutlook.org/pope-francis-not-using-or-possessing-nuclear-arms-will-be-added-to-the-catechism/ 

November 28, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste Bill in U.S. House of Representatives – resistance in New Mexico to nuclear waste dump

Nuclear waste bill advances to House, could push forward storage site in New Mexico Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus Nov. 27, 2019 A federal bill to alter policy for nuclear waste advanced to the full U.S. House of Representatives and could support the case for temporary storage of  temporary storage of high-level waste at a facility like the one Holtec International proposed to build in southeast New Mexico.

The Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act was advanced by a unanimous voice vote to the House by the Energy and Commerce Committee on Nov. 20.

The bill, if passed, would move forward with safety licensing for a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, while providing the U.S. Department of Energy the authority to proceed with a program for consolidated interim storage (CIS) while the Yucca Mountain project progresses.

It also prioritized the transportation of spent nuclear fuel from generator sites in seismically active areas, and ensured the DOE has the funds to build and operate a repository

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the only representative from New Mexico who sits on the committee, introduced an amendment that was approved to create a grant program to study the impacts radiation exposure including family members and non-workers resulting from uranium mining.

“Though we have a responsibility to address the waste issues that result from our country entering the atomic age, I am deeply concerned that this bill makes it more likely that a future interim storage site — potentially one in New Mexico — becomes a permanent home for nuclear waste,” he said.

One such interim facility, proposed by Holtec to be built in a remote, desert area near the Eddy-Lea county line, drew concerns from New Mexico environmentalist groups as it could put local communities at risk as well.

Don Hancock, nuclear waste program director at the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque cited a clause in the bill that required the governor of a state that would host a CIS facility to consent before moving forward.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham voiced her opposition to the Holtec project earlier this year, calling it “economic malpractice” as it could negatively impact two of the state’s biggest industries: oil and gas and agriculture.

“The bill says you must have approval from the state’s governor,” Hancock said. “New Mexico would be a non-starter. She (Lujan Grisham) has said she’s opposed to it.”

Hancock said he also opposed the project and the bill over the suggestion of transporting the waste hundreds or thousands of miles away from generator sites where it is currently stored.

Even if the waste approved to be shipped to a remote location like southeast New Mexico, Hancock argued it would take years for the infrastructure to be built and the waste to be moved.

“This approach doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Why not do it in places that already have storage sites? It’s going to sit there for years. Let’s make that less dangerous. It can be done without massive transportation around the country.”…….. https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2019/11/27/nuclear-waste-bill-advances-house-may-support-new-mexico-holtec-site/4297822002/

November 28, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Hungary wants EU to weaken nuclear licensing rules, as it wants to expand Rosatom nuclear project

Hungary makes EU bid to soften nuclear licensing rules to ease Paks expansion, BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary has submitted draft legislation to the European Commission to amend the country’s nuclear safety protocols to custom-fit a 12 billion euro Russian-led nuclear plant expansion project that it wants to speed up, eight sources told Reuters.  Marton Dunai, 27 Nov 19, 

The EU review was confirmed by an EU official requesting anonymity, as well as several Hungarian government sources. Eight sources, including high-ranking government officials, confirmed the plan.

Hungary wants to expand its 2-gigawatt Paks nuclear power plant with two Russian-made VVER reactors, each with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts.

The project, awarded in 2014 without a tender to nuclear giant Rosatom, an arm of the Russian government, is often cited as a sign of exceptionally warm ties between Hungarian premier Viktor Orban and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a connection that has unnerved Western allies.

However, Rosatom struggled to meet EU and Hungarian safety criteria, delaying the project by several years, and the Russian and Hungarian governments now want to accelerate it.

Under the proposed new rules, license applications to build the reactor hole and surrounding insulating slurry wall could be considered before the entire project receives the green light – a break with prior protocol, which only allowed partial licenses to be considered once the construction license was granted.

Hungary’s top official in charge of energy policy, Technology Ministry State Secretary Peter Kaderjak, confirmed to Reuters the government was working with the European Commission to recast nuclear power plant construction rules.

Kaderjak called the Paks 2 project “the cornerstone of Hungary’s energy and climate strategy”.

“We are seeking ways to cut the project execution time as short as possible, fully respecting nuclear safety,” he said. “That explains this draft amendment.”

RISKY MOVE

The modification carries risks and makes the project much more difficult to abandon or modify as the framework, literally, will be set in stone, according to seven sources with knowledge of the matter who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

But the move could help the Hungarian government in its haggling with Moscow to modify the current build-and-finance package. Hungary wants to extend the current payment start date of 2026, which was fixed when the project was first conceived.

Russia wants to avoid paying delay penalties – by putting off the completion deadline to about 2029 and by having Hungary ease regulatory hurdles such as this one, these sources said.

The changes will appear in a government decree called the Nuclear Safety Regulations once the European Commission’s nuclear arm, the Euratom Supply Agency, approves the changes.

An EU source also confirmed the Commission was assessing draft legislation against the EU’s latest Nuclear Safety Directive, adding it had three months to make recommendations, a deadline that is not yet up.

“In this framework, the Hungarian authorities have made several such notifications to the Commission in recent years,” the EU source told Reuters. “The latest of these notifications was received this year and is currently being assessed.”

Asked about the changes, the HAEA told Reuters that reactor hole and slurry wall work, and some equipment that takes a long time to manufacture, may undergo the licensing process parallel with the evaluation of the construction license application.

“Licenses cannot be granted before the construction license is issued – except for work on soil solidification, soil removal, and the water insulation work to section off the work area, especially the slurry wall permits.”

Experts estimate the reactor hole to be several hundred meters wide and several hundred meters long, up to 100 meters deep, surrounded by a concrete slurry wall more than a meter thick. This phase alone could take a year or more to execute.

The changes are designed to save time so once the overall construction license is issued work can begin on the power plant buildings.

But experts warned the slurry wall and reactor hole could cost hundreds of millions of euros, and hastening them carries risk: if the HAEA find faults with the overall design, it may require changes that conflict with the concrete already poured, causing a potential cost spike and long delay.

“Even with these permits Paks 2 carries responsibility for any work it executes, as the ongoing construction licensing process could influence all other licensing,” the HAEA said.

November 28, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

Onagawa nuclear plant to get approval for restart

Nuclear watchdog approves restart of Onagawa reactor in Miyagi hit by 3/11 tsunami, Japan Times KYODO, STAFF REPORT. NOV 27, 2019

A nuclear power plant reactor that was damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster and idled under stricter safety standards following the Fukushima crisis won approval from the nuclear watchdog on Wednesday for operations to resume.

The No. 2 unit of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture received the green light after the addition of disaster prevention measures, including a towering seawall that is nearing completion.

The approval, given in a unanimous vote, was the first to be secured by the operator under the revised standards. The reactor is only the second of those damaged in the March 2011 calamity to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety regulations, after the Tokai No. 2 power station in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Before the reactor can be restarted, the plant, which straddles the town of Onagawa and the city of Ishinomaki, still needs to finish installing anti-disaster measures, which are expected to be completed in fiscal 2020, and receive consent from the local governments.

Tohoku Electric expects to spend ¥340 billion ($3.1 billion) on the measures, the bulk of that being spent the seawall — which will run along 800 meters of Pacific coast and rise 29 meters above sea level to guard against tsunami as high as 23.1 meters. In the March 2011 disaster, parts of the basement floors of Onagawa’s No. 2 unit were flooded.

Costs for enhanced safety measures have ballooned and are expected to swell further with the construction of facilities to be used in the event of a terrorist attack, also required under the new safety standards.

The Onagawa plant is the closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and heavy shaking triggered an automatic shutdown of its three reactors……..

Onagawa’s approval will be formalized following a roughly one-month period where the NRA will accept comments from the public. During the meeting Wednesday, NRA Commissioner Shinsuke Yamanaka said the safety of the plant’s structural design had been reviewed carefully, in consideration that the Tohoku region has been hit by big earthquakes in the past. ……..

“I think there’s sufficient electricity without nuclear power,” said housewife Chisato Uno, 69. “Taking into account our children and grandchildren, no nuclear power is better.”….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/11/27/national/nuclear-watchdog-restart-reactor-march-2011-tsunami/#.Xd7b2-gzbIU

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

November 27 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Climate Change ‘Converts’ Reveal What Changed Their Minds” • In what feels like a former life, Jerry Taylor penned op-eds, appeared on cable news networks, and worked the “entire orbit of right-wing media,” arguing climate change was not a real problem. Now he is the head of a think-tank promoting a carbon tax. […]

via November 27 Energy News — geoharvey

November 28, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Africa to create extra space for nuclear waste

Business Times, WED, NOV 27, 2019 [JOHANNESBURG] Radioactive waste storage facilities at South Africa’s nuclear power station Koeberg will fill up next year, the power utility Eskom said Tuesday, adding it has begun creating extra space.

South Africa is the only country on the continent with a civilian nuclear industry, and its two reactors have been in service for more than 30 years.

The Koeberg nuclear power plant, located outside Cape Town, produces 1,860 megawatts contributing about four percent of the national power output.

Eskom in a statement that its “spent fuel pools are essentially full in 2020 and for this reason a project was initiated to create additional space”…….

Koeberg was originally set to be mothballed in 2024, four decades after its inception, but it is being upgraded and it is now expected to operate until 2044.

Environmental campaigners have warned against the nuclear project.

“It is incredibly short-sighted for the government to pursue extending Koeberg’s lifespan, potentially at the expense of our safety,” Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa’s Climate and Energy Campaign Manager said Tuesday.

“Not only are South Africans going to have to fork out more money for more storage for high-level radioactive waste, but there is also no long-term solution for this waste, which can remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years,” Ms Steele said.

Currently, 90 per cent of the country’s electricity is generated from coal-fired stations.

The government last year dropped controversial plans to build new nuclear power stations, deals that had been initiated by former leader Jacob Zuma and that could have bankrupted the country to enrich his allies. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/south-africa-to-create-extra-space-for-nuclear-waste

November 28, 2019 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment