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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

Persistent outages plaguing Grand Gulf nuclear plant are adding millions to the bills of New Orleans customers

by MICHAEL ISAAC STEIN, NOVEMBER 27, 2019  Entergy’s Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson, Mississippi is enormous. With the largest nuclear reactor in the US, it has an output capacity of 1,443 megawatts, 11 times more than the company’s controversial gas plant project in eastern New Orleans. Entergy New Orleans — the Entergy subsidiary that serves the city of New Orleans — has had an agreement to purchase 17 percent of the plant’s energy since it started operating in 1985.

Grand Gulf is supposed to run almost every single day at full capacity, acting as a foundational “base load” plant in the region’s energy system. It represents roughly one-fifth of all the generation that Entergy New Orleans owns or has purchase agreements for.

But over the last few years, Grand Gulf has been beset by a series of planned and unplanned outages that have made it the least reliable nuclear generator in the US, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. In fact, the plant was in the middle of an outage this week.

These outages cost New Orleans residents millions of dollars, according to figures Entergy has provided the City Council…. …..https://thelensnola.org/2019/11/27/persistent-outages-plaguing-grand-gulf-nuclear-plant-are-adding-millions-to-the-bills-of-new-orleans-customers/

 

November 28, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

US Bishops stand with the Pope calling for a world without nuclear arms

A statement issued by the Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops calls for action on the path to nuclear disarmament. Vatican News, By Linda Bordoni , 27 Nov 19, In the wake of Pope Francis’s powerful appeal for a world that is free from atomic warfare, and his affirmation that not only the deployment, but also the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral, the Catholic Bishops of the United States issued a statement calling on their nation “to exercise global leadership for mutual, verifiable nuclear disarmament”……. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-11/us-bishops-statement-nuclear-weapons.html

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

To 27 November – the week in climate and nuclear news

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are now at a record high levelMountain water serving half the world is disappearing.

Against the background of all the disturbing climate news, it’s a bit of a shock to learn the lengths of duplicity to which politicians will go, to prevent climate action.

And, on the nuclear scene, duplicity of a different kind. I hate to use that tawdry phrase “fake news”, but that’s what it was, a false report of a nuclear explosion in the South China Sea.

Some bits of good news – In India, an intrepid old farmer grew a lush oasis in a cold deserthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-foEwcAu_zw. In drought-stricken Australia, some farmers are learning to improve the soil, and conserve water, with regenerative farming.  Patients’exposure to medical radiation is going down.

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Journalism’s future in crisis – the case of Julian Assange.  Political manipulations– the Swedish allegations against Julian Assange.

Global heating is shrinking and accelerating the jet stream.   Pursuing nuclear power slows down real action on climate change by faster, cheaper, energy sources. Analysis: Global coal power set for record fall in 2019.

On nuclear radiation – past and future – extract from article on Chernobyl.

MARSHALL ISLANDS. As the Runit nuclear waste dome crumbles, Marshall Islanders want honesty and justice.

IRAQ. New report on Iraqi babies, deformed due to thorium and uranium from U.S. military actions and bases.

UK. 

CHINA. Further debunking of the conspiracy nonsense about a nuclear explosion in the South China Sea.  China’s $2.5bn renewables investment in Inner Mongolia.

UKRAINE. Studies on Chernobyl nuclear disaster show that it’s relevant today, and for the future.

JAPAN.

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea nuclear regulator wants information on radioactive Fukushima water release.

USA.

AUSTRALIA. 

FRANCE.  France’s nuclear company EDF – report – a litany of failures  France’s Flamanville nuclear financial catastrophe gets worse. France’s government is giving mixed messages on future of nuclear energy. France’s company EDF selling out of USA nuclear plants, Exelon to buy.

INDIA. India’s government ignores opposition as it plans to build spent nuclear fuel storage facility.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa’s nuclear waste storage almost completely full; a dangerous situation.

RUSSIA.  Putin told bereaved families that nuclear accident scientists were working on an “unparalled”weapon.

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

GERMANY. In Germany , renewables replace nuclear and lower emissions simultaneously.

CANADA. Toxic flushing of nuclear poisons into Lake Winnipeg.

IRELAND. Irish wind power for France, as France’s EDF nuclear electricity is in a financial mess

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

New report on Iraqi babies, deformed due to thorium and uranium from U.S. military actions and bases

IRAQI CHILDREN BORN NEAR U.S. MILITARY BASE SHOW ELEVATED RATES OF “SERIOUS CONGENITAL DEFORMITIES,” STUDY FINDS   https://theintercept.com/2019/11/25/iraq-children-birth-defects-military/  Murtaza Hussain, November 26 2019,  MORE THAN A decade and a half after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, a new study found that babies are being born today with gruesome birth defects connected to the ongoing American military presence there. The report, issued by a team of independent medical researchers and published in the journal Environmental Pollution, examined congenital anomalies recorded in Iraqi babies born near Tallil Air Base, a base operated by the U.S.-led foreign military coalition. According to the study, babies showing severe birth defects — including neurological problems, congenital heart disease, and paralyzed or missing limbs — also had corresponding elevated levels of a radioactive compound known as thorium in their bodies.

“We collected hair samples, deciduous (baby) teeth, and bone marrow from subjects living in proximity to the base,” said Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the study’s lead researchers. “In all three tissues we see the same trend: higher levels of thorium.” Savabieasfahani, who has authored studies on the radioactive footprint of the U.S. military presence in Iraq for years, says that the new findings contribute to a growing body of evidence about the serious long-term health impact of U.S. military operations on Iraqi civilians. “The closer that you live to a U.S. military base in Iraq,” she said, “the higher the thorium in your body and the more likely you are to suffer serious congenital deformities and birth defects.”
The new study piles onto a growing wealth of knowledge about severe ill effects of the U.S. military on the environments in which it operates. All industrialized military activity is bad for ecological systems, but the U.S., with its enormous military engaged in activities spanning the globe has a particular large environmental footprint. Not only does the U.S. military lead the world in carbon output, but its prodigious presence around the globe leaves a toxic trail of chemicals that local communities have to deal with, from so-called burn pits on bases releasing poisonous smoke to the radiation of depleted uranium rounds mutating the DNA of nearby populations.

The suffering of Iraqis has been particularly acute. The results of the new study added to a laundry list of negative impacts of the U.S.’s long war there to the long-term health of the country’s population. Previous studies, including some contributed by a team led by Savabieasfahani, have pointed to elevated rates of cancer, miscarriages, and radiological poisoning in places like Fallujah, where the U.S. military carried out major assaults during its occupation of the country.

The study published in Environmental Pollution was conducted by a team of independent Iraqi and American researchers in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2016. They analyzed 19 babies born with serious birth defects at a maternity hospital in the vicinity of Tallil Air Base, compared with a control group of 10 healthy newborns.
“Doctors are regularly encountering anomalies in babies that are so gruesome they cannot even find precedents for them,” said Savabieasfahani. “The war has spread so much radiation here that, unless it is cleaned up, generations of Iraqis will continue to be affected.”

SOME OF THESE negative health effects of the American war in Iraq can be put down to U.S. forces’ frequent use of munitions containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium, a byproduct of the enriched uranium used to power nuclear reactors, makes bullets and shells more effective in destroying armored vehicles, owing to its extreme density. But it has been acknowledged to be hazardous to the environment and the long-term health of people living in places where the munitions are used.

“Uranium and thorium were the main focus of this study,” the authors note. “Epidemiological evidence is consistent with an increased risk of congenital anomalies in the offspring of persons exposed to uranium and its depleted forms.” In other words: The researchers found that the more you were around these American weapons, the more likely you were to bear children with deformities and other health problems.

In response to an outcry over its effects, the U.S. military pledged to not use depleted uranium rounds in its bombing campaigns against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, but, despite this pledge, a 2017 investigation by the independent research group AirWars and Foreign Policy magazine found that the military had continued to regularly use rounds containing the toxic compound.

These depleted-uranium munitions are among the causes of hazards not only to the civilians in the foreign lands where the U.S. fights its wars, but also to American service members who took part in these conflicts. The chronic illnesses suffered by U.S. soldiers during the 1991 war in Iraq — often from exposure to uranium munitions and other toxic chemicals — have already been categorized as a condition known as “Gulf War syndrome.” The U.S. government has been less interested into the effects of the American military’s chemical footprint on Iraqis. The use of “burn pits” — toxic open-air fires used to dispose military waste — along with other contaminants has had a lasting impact on the health of current and future Iraqi generations.

Researchers conducting the latest study said that a broader study is needed to get definitive results about these health impacts. The images of babies born with defects at the hospital where the study was conducted, Bint Al-Huda Maternity Hospital, about 10 kilometers from Tallil Air Base, are gruesome and harrowing. Savabieasfahani, the lead researcher, said that without an effort by the U.S. military to clean up its radioactive footprint, babies will continue to be born with deformities that her study and others have documented.

“The radioactive footprint of the military could be cleaned up if we had officials who wanted to do so,” said Savabieasfahani. “Unfortunately, even research into the problem of Iraqi birth defects has to be done by independent toxicologists, because the U.S. military and other institutions are not even interested in this issue.”

November 26, 2019 Posted by | children, Iraq, Reference, thorium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global heating: greenhouse gases now at a record high level

Climate-heating greenhouse gases hit new high, UN reports  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/25/climate-heating-greenhouse-gases-hit-new-high-un-reports  

Head of World Meteorological Organization says ‘no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline’   Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington, Mon 25 Nov 2019 The concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases has hit a record high, according to a report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.The jumps in the key gases measured in 2018 were all above the average for the last decade, showing action on the climate emergency to date is having no effect in the atmosphere. The WMO said the gap between targets and reality were both “glaring and growing”.

The rise in concentration of greenhouses gases follows inevitably from the continued surge in global emissions, which was described as “brutal news” for 2018. The world’s scientists calculate that emissions must fall by half by 2030 to give a good chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, beyond which hundreds of millions of people will suffer more heatwaves, droughts, floods and poverty.

But Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary-general, said: “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind.

“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5m years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now.”

Three-quarters of the emissions cuts pledged by countries under the Paris agreement of 2015 are “totally inadequate”, according to a comprehensive expert analysis published earlier in November, putting the world on a path to climate disaster. Another report has found that nations are on track to produce more than double the fossil fuels in 2030 than could be burned while keeping heating under 1.5C.

“The [CO2 concentration] number is the closest thing to a real-world Doomsday Clock, and it’s pushing us ever closer to midnight,” said John Sauven, head of Greenpeace UK. “Our ability to preserve civilisation as we know it, avert the mass extinction of species, and leave a healthy planet to our children depend on us urgently stopping the clock.”

The WMO report, published on Monday, found the global average concentration of CO2 reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5ppm in 2017. It is now 50% higher than in 1750, before the industrial revolution sparked the widespread burning of coal, oil and gas.

Since 1990, the increase in greenhouse gas levels has made the heating effect of the atmosphere 43% stronger. Most of that – four-fifths – is caused by CO2. But the concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, the two other key greenhouse gases, also surged in 2018 by a higher amount than the annual average over the past decade.

Methane, which is produced by cattle, rice paddies and fossil fuel exploitation, is responsible for 17% of the heating effect. Its concentration is now more than double pre-industrial levels.

Nitrous oxide, which comes from heavy fertiliser use and forest burning, is now 23% higher than in 1750. The observations are made by the Global Atmosphere Watch network, which includes stations in the Arctic, high mountains and tropical islands.

“The record rise in greenhouse gas concentrations is a cruel reminder that for all the real progress in clean technology, we have yet to even stop global emissions increases,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive of think tank E3G. “The climate system cannot be negotiated with. Until we stop new investment in fossil fuels and massively scale up green power the risks from catastrophic climate change will continue to rise.”

When the world’s nations agreed the Paris deal in 2015, they pledged to ramp up their promised emissions cuts by the annual UN climate summit in 2020, which will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. This year’s summit needs to do vital preparatory work and begins on 2 December in Madrid, Spain. Chile had been due to host but cancelled because of civil unrest.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit in the UK, said: “This record level of greenhouse gases should act as a sobering reminder to governments that so far they are collectively reneging on the pledge they made at the Paris summit, of attempting to keep global warming to 1.5C. That window is closing, and Chile, Italy and the UK [must] use all the diplomatic tools they have to put emissions on a trajectory closer to what science recommends and the public want.”

November 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

On nuclear radiation – past and future – extract from article on Chernobyl

DOES CHERNOBYL STILL MATTER? Public Books, BY GABRIELLE HECHT , 25 Nov 19, “……. The question is not whether an accident of Chernobyl’s gravity can happen elsewhere, but how to prepare for the consequences when it does.

That’s one of the questions Kate Brown considers in Manual for Survival. Offering a wealth of new information and analysis, Brown speeds past the reactor explosion. Instead, she focuses on dozens of previously untold stories about how people coped with their newly radioactive lives.

Brown’s protagonists include women who worked at a wool factory fed by contaminated sheep and butchers ordered to grade meat according to radioactivity. Ukraine, we learn, kept serving as the Soviet breadbasket, despite food radiation levels that exceeded norms. The concentrations of radionuclides were biomagnified by receptive organisms and ecologies, such as mushrooms, wild boar, and the Pripyat Marshes. Defying expectations, some foods, over time, have even become more contaminated.

Brown’s descriptions add historical flesh to arguments first developed by Olga Kuchinskaya, in her 2014 book on Belarus’s Chernobyl experience, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl.

Since the first studies of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science on the biological effects of radiation exposure has been subject to controversy. Like all scientific work, these early survivor studies had limitations. Exposure estimates were unreliable.

The largest study began data collection five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, so it didn’t include people who died or moved between 1945 and 1950. Another problem lies in the applicability of these studies. Bomb exposures, such as those in Japan, mostly consist of high, external doses from one big blast. Yet postwar exposures have mainly consisted of low doses, delivered steadily over a long period. They often involve internal exposures—such as inhalation of radioactive particles or consumption of irradiated food—which can be deadlier.

Irrespective of their limitations, however, the findings of these survivor studies have served as the basis for establishing regulatory limits for all types of radiation exposures. Critics argue that extrapolating from the Japan data underestimates low-dose effects: If you’ve already decided that the only possible health effects are the ones you’ve already found, surely you’re missing something? Among other limitations, studies of external gamma radiation exposures cannot illuminate the long-term health effects of inhaling radioactive alpha particles.

Brown injects the work of Dr. Angelina Gus’kova into this story. Gus’kova started treating radiation-induced illnesses in the 1950s, while working at the top-secret Mayak plutonium plant (where the radioactive spills from a 1957 accident continue to contaminate people, land, and water). A neurologist, Gus’kova made observations that extended beyond the narrow cancer focus of most Western practitioners who studied the health effects of radiation exposure. Her patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, which Gus’kova and her colleagues dubbed “chronic radiation syndrome.” Not that they neglected cancer: a 40-year study of 1.5 million people who lived near Mayak found significantly higher cancer and death rates than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Soviet rubric of “chronic radiation syndrome” did not exist in the West. Yet Gus’kova’s findings did align with those of dissident scientists in the US and the UK. Thomas Mancuso, for example, was pushed out of the US Atomic Energy Commission because he refused to give the Hanford plutonium plant a clean bill of health after finding that workers there sustained high rates of cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, and other illnesses.

Alice Stewart, meanwhile, was shunned by the British establishment after her 1956 research showed that x-raying pregnant women increased the risk of cancer and leukemia in their children by 50 percent. Over the years, these and other scientists whose data challenged the findings of American and European nuclear establishments found themselves sidelined and defunded.

In tandem with perestroika, Chernobyl opened communication between Soviet and Western nuclear experts, engendering what Brown calls an “unholy alliance.” In 1990, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a mission to Belarus and Ukraine to assess radiation damage. Belarusian scientists reported rising rates of many diseases in contaminated areas. Nevertheless, the IAEA team rejected radiation as a possible cause. Such correlations didn’t appear in Western data.

Instead, the IAEA teams used dose estimates provided by distant Moscow colleagues and ignored local Belarusian and Ukrainian descriptions of people’s actual consumption habits, which included significant amounts of contaminated food and milk. The IAEA assessments neglected the internal exposures resulting from this consumption. Yet these assessments now serve as international reference points. “Underestimating Chernobyl damage,” Brown warns, “has left humans unprepared for the next disaster.” …….

Brown is on the right track. Many modes of scientific inquiry aren’t equipped to address our most urgent questions. Clear causal chains are a laboratory ideal. The real world brims with confounding variables. Some scientists studying Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone”—the region officially declared uninhabitable due to contamination—are trying new techniques to grapple with this reality. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, for example, collect data on the zone in its ecological entirety, rather than focusing on single organisms. Their findings belie romantic tales of wildlife resurgence (such as the one offered up by a 2011 PBS special on the radioactive wolves of Chernobyl). They too have met resistance. …..

we can refuse to see Chernobyl and its kin as discrete events of limited duration. Brown, for example, treats Chernobyl as an acceleration of planetary-scale contamination that began with the atomic arms race.

Let’s be clear: the contamination continues. After the triple meltdown at Fukushima, scientists found highly radioactive, cesium-rich microparticles in Tokyo, 150 miles south of the accident site. When inhaled, such particles remain in human lungs, where their decay continues to release radioactivity for decades. Contaminants from future accidents will, in turn, accrete on the radioactive residues of their predecessors.   https://www.publicbooks.org/does-chernobyl-still-matter/

November 26, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd says Assange faces ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disproportionate’ punishment

Rudd says Assange faces ‘unacceptable’ and ‘disproportionate’ punishment  https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/rudd-says-assange-faces-unacceptable-and-disproportionate-punishment-20191125-p53duj.html By Rob Harris, Kevin Rudd says Julian Assange would pay an “unacceptable” and “disproportionate” price if he is extradited to the United States, arguing the WikiLeaks founder should not take the fall for Washington’s failures to secure its own classified documents.

In a significant intervention into Mr Assange’s extradition fight, the former Australian prime minister said US prosecutors had not made any specific allegations that anyone was seriously harmed as a consequence of the release of highly classified documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2010.

The Morrison government is resisting a rising tide of demands to intervene in the case of the 48-year-old Australian citizen, as his supporters grow increasingly concerned over his deteriorating health in a British prison.

Mr Rudd, himself targeted in WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 250,000 leaked diplomatic cables nine years ago, said while he had “serious reservations” about Mr Assange’s character and conduct, he did not believe he should be extradited to face an “effective life sentence” in the US.

In a letter to the Bring Julian Assange Home Queensland Network, seen by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Rudd said he could not see the difference between Mr Assange and the editors of many American media outlets that reported the material he had provided them.  

“If [the US prosecutors’] case is essentially that Mr Assange broke the law by obtaining and disclosing secret information, then I struggle to see what separates him from any journalist who solicits, obtains and publishes such information,” Mr Rudd wrote.

“In other words, why should Mr Assange be tried, convicted and incarcerated while those who publicly released the information are afforded protection under provisions of the US constitution concerning press freedom?”

The group was briefed by barrister Jen Robinson, a member of Mr Assange’s London legal team, as well as Greg Barns from the Australian Assange Campaign and human rights and due process advocate Aloysia Brooks.

Mr Rudd said he was “deeply opposed” to the leaking of classified diplomatic or intelligence communications, which needed to be protected to maintain Australia’s national security interests and that of its allies.

“Ultimate responsibility for keeping sensitive information secure rests with governments. The United States government demonstrably failed to effectively secure the classified documents relevant to this case,” he wrote.

“The result was the mass leaking of sensitive diplomatic cables, including some that caused me some political discomfort at the time. However, an effective life sentence is an unacceptable and disproportionate price to pay. I would therefore oppose his extradition.”

More than 60 doctors from the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe and Sri Lanka, wrote to British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday asserting that Mr Assange urgently needs medical treatment at a university hospital.

The doctors said in a letter, distributed by WikiLeaks on Monday, that he was suffering from psychological problems including depression as well as dental issues and a serious shoulder ailment.

Mr Barns welcomed Mr Rudd’s intervention saying his comments, like his former colleague Bob Carr, rightly pointed to the threat to freedom of the media.

“The Australian government and all MPs we hope will place pressure on the US to make it understand that the treatment of an Australian citizen this way is not something that should happen,” Mr Barns said.

“Mr Rudd and Mr Carr could never be described as anti-Washington but they clearly understand the need for Canberra to take action to prevent this gross injustice.”

Mr Assange will return to court briefly next month before a full hearing of a US extradition request in which he faces a 175-year jail sentence if found guilty on 18 charges relating to computer fraud and obtaining and disclosing national defence information.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon’s outspoken opposition to use of nuclear weapons

We don’t make the world safer by making it more dangerous first.

We [the UK] should lead the way by scrapping nuclear weapons and investing that money in our communities and our public services.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

The global uranium industry is really on the skids

Uranium bulls ‘as rare as white unicorns’ Jim Green, Online Opinion, 26 November 2019, https://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=20623&page=0

Uranium bulls are “as rare as white unicorns” according to a commentary in FNArena in September 2019, and the market is “sick and dying” with uranium “quickly becoming a dinosaur of a commodity”.

Canadian company Cameco recently said it cannot see any case for construction of new uranium mines for some years to come. Chief financial officer Grant Isaac said that new mines will not win financial backing without a far stronger recovery in demand for uranium than is currently on the horizon.

“It’s pretty hard to say you’re going to take the risk on an asset … that isn’t licensed, isn’t permitted, probably doesn’t have a proven mining method, when you have idle tier one capacity that’s licensed, permitted, sitting there,” Isaac said.

Moreover, Cameco has no plans to restart mines put into care-and-maintenance in 2016 and 2017: McArthur River (and the Key Lake mill) and Rabbit Lake in Canada, and the Crow Butte and Smith Ranch-Highland in-situ leach mines in the US. Plans to expand Crow Butte were abandoned in March 2019.

Instead, Cameco will continue to meet its contracts by purchasing uranium on the spot market. Delivering the company’s third-quarter results (a small loss), chief exec­utive Tim Gitzel said that only 9 million pounds of uranium oxide will be produced from its mines next year, with the remainder of its requirement of 30‒32 million pounds supplied from spot market purchases.

Cameco’s workforce in Canada has halved. Before the Fukushima disaster, the company employed more than 2,100 people in Saskatchewan. Since then, 810 mine and mill workers have been sacked, along with 219 head office employees in Saskatoon. Continue reading

November 26, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Further debunking of the conspiracy nonsense about a nuclear explosion in the South China Sea

A nuclear detonation in the South China Sea? No, more Twitter conspiracy nonsense, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Matt Field, November 25, 2019  The Twitter account @IndoPac_Info pushes out news at a relentless pace; it’s a seemingly good feed to follow for those interested in military issues in Asia. By Friday afternoon last week, the account had posted dozens of tweets over a 36-hour-or-so period linking to stories from outlets such as Reuters and Foreign Policy on topics ranging from US naval activity in contested waters to Pentagon drone policy. Oh yeah, and then there was the one about a nuclear detonation in the South China Sea.

The big news that China had perhaps exploded a tactical nuclear weapon in the ocean originated with a man labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a former federal convict, white supremacist, and FBI informant named Hal Turner. Turner posted the story on his website and touted the supposed scoop further on his nighttime AM radio show, attributing the information to military sources. On Friday, a Pentagon spokesperson called Turner’s article “silly fiction.” And the man behind @IndoPac_Info himself—he describes himself as a Spanish man living in Vietnam—now seems to agree. “Without further evidence or independent corroboration of Hal Turner’s article, it may not be credible at this point,” he tweeted. “Apologies.”

A laudable course correction, no doubt, but it came after one of @IndoPac_Info’s tweets on the Turner story was retweeted almost 2,000 times. And in an age when online disinformation campaigns like the Russian government effort to sway the 2016 US presidential election are a major feature of public discourse, it’s an open question: Could an online conspiracy theory about nuclear weapons gain traction and have a real-world impact?

The @IndoPac_Info account helped give Turner traction, but as far as impact goes, the radio host’s nuclear story failed to launch, in part because it was so easily debunked.

The idea that a 10 to 20 kiloton explosion, possibly a nuclear one, could have occurred in the busy and contested South China Sea and not been widely observed was laughable to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board chair Bob Rosner. The physicist and former director of the Argonne National Laboratory told Gizmodo, “There is so much surveillance that it would be stunning if no one had noticed that.”……..

Despite Turner’s serious dearth of credibility, he was able to piggyback on @IndoPac_Info’s. That account, after all, is followed, by journalists, academics, and others from reputable organizations like Reuters and the University of Pennsylvania. Indeed, the @IndoPac_Info account user was concerned that he’d helped promote Turner’s wild story. “I was not aware of his record,” he said.

“A follower sent me his story and I went with it.” https://thebulletin.org/2019/11/a-nuclear-detonation-in-the-south-china-sea-no-more-twitter-conspiracy-nonsense/

November 26, 2019 Posted by | China, spinbuster, USA | 1 Comment

Studies on Chernobyl nuclear disaster show that it’s relevant today, and for the future

DOES CHERNOBYL STILL MATTER? https://www.publicbooks.org/does-chernobyl-still-matter/ 11.22.2019 BY GABRIELLE HECHT  Since it first announced electricity “too cheap to meter,” in the 1950s, the nuclear industry has promised bountiful futures powered by a peaceful—and safe—atom. Design principles, the industry claims, limit the chances of core damage to one incident every 50,000 reactor-years of operation. History, however, has delivered a different verdict: together, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the three Fukushima reactors represent five meltdowns in only 100 reactor-years. What lessons do these accidents hold for the future of nuclear power?

Each meltdown has impelled design, operational, and regulatory changes, increasing the cost of nuclear power. Today, says the industry, the technology is safer and more vital than ever. No other source of electricity can offer so much baseload power with so few carbon emissions. But who can make money when a single US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) inspection costs $360,000?

For the current US administration, the remedy for waning profits lies in cutting inspection hours. In a July 2019 proposal, which drew heavily on nuclear industry recommendations, the NRC also suggested crediting utility self-assessments as “inspections” and discontinuing press releases about problems of “low to moderate safety or security significance.” Translation: fewer inspections, less transparency, and weaker environmental and health oversight at the nation’s nuclear power plants.

The cause, costs, and consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl accident loom large in these battles. Was Chernobyl a fluke, the result of faulty technology and a corrupt political system? Or did it signal a fundamentally flawed technological system, one that would never live up to expectations?

Even simple questions are subject to debate. How long did the disaster last? Who were the victims, and how many were there? What did they experience? Which branches of science help us understand the damage? Whom should we trust? Such questions are tackled, with markedly different results, in Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl, Kate Brown’s Manual for Survival, and HBO’s Chernobyl (created by Craig Mazin).

Serhii Plokhy’s book and Craig Mazin’s miniseries, both entitled Chernobyl, focus primarily on the accident and its immediate aftermath. Both build on the standard plotline embraced by nuclear advocates.

In this narrative, Soviet love of monumental grandeur—or “gigantomania”—led to the selection and construction of Chernobyl’s RBMK1 design: an enormous 1000-megawatt reactor, powered by low-enriched uranium fuel, moderated by graphite, and cooled by water. The utterly unique RBMK had fundamental design flaws, hidden by corrupt state apparatchiks obsessed with secrecy, prestige, and productivism. Operators made inexcusable errors. The accident was inevitable. But the inevitability, Plokhy and Mazin affirm, was purely Soviet.

Plokhy gives more backstory. The enormous scale of Soviet industrialization put huge strains on supply chains, resulting in shoddy construction. Some of the men in charge had no nuclear background. The pressure to meet production quotas—and the dire consequences of failure—led bureaucrats and engineers to cut corners.

For both Plokhy and Mazin, these conditions at Chernobyl came to a head during a long-delayed safety test.   When the moment to launch the test finally arrived, shortly before midnight on April 25, 1986, there was confusion about how to proceed. The plant’s deputy chief engineer, Anatolii Diatlov, who did have extensive nuclear experience, believed he knew better than the woefully incomplete manuals. He pushed operators to violate the poorly written test protocol. (Disappointingly, Mazin’s miniseries portrays Diatlov more as a deranged bully than as someone with meaningful operational knowledge.)

The reactor did not cooperate: its power plummeted, then shot back up. Operators tried to reinsert the control rods. The manual didn’t mention that the RBMK could behave counterintuitively: in other reactor models, inserting control rods would slow down the fission reaction, but in the RBMK—especially under that night’s operating conditions—inserting the rods actually increased the reactivity. Steam pressure and temperature skyrocketed. The reactor exploded, shearing off its 2000-ton lid. Uranium, graphite, and a suite of radionuclides flew out of the core and splattered around the site. The remaining graphite in the core caught fire.

At first, plant managers didn’t believe that the core had actually exploded. In the USSR—as elsewhere—the impossibility of a reactor explosion underwrote visions of atomic bounty. Nor did managers believe the initial radiation readings, which exceeded their dosimeters’ detection limits. Their disbelief exacerbated and prolonged the harm, exposing many more people to much more radiation than they might have otherwise received. Firefighters lacked protection against radiation; the evacuation of the neighboring town of Pripyat was dangerously delayed; May Day parades proceeded as planned. Anxious to blame human operators—instead of faulty technology or (Lenin forbid!) a broken political system—the state put the plant’s three top managers on trial, in June 1987, their guilt predetermined.

Mazin’s miniseries follows a few central characters. Most really existed, though the script takes considerable liberties. The actions of the one made-up character, a Belarusian nuclear physicist, completely defy credibility. But hey, it’s TV. Dramatic convention dictates that viewers must care about the characters to care about the story. Familiar Cold War tropes are on full display: defective design, craven bureaucrats, and a corrupt, secrecy-obsessed political system. A few anonymous heroes also appear: firefighters, divers, miners, and others who risked their lives to limit the damage.

Nuclear advocates—many of whom believe that Chernobyl was a fluke, one whose lessons actually improved the industry’s long-term viability—object to the unrealistically gory hospital scenes portraying acute radiation sickness. But these advocates should feel appeased by the closing frames, which ignore the long-term damage caused by the accident.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Instead, the miniseries skates over post-1987 events in a few quick captions. The managers went to prison, a scientist committed suicide, people were evacuated. Yes, controversy persists over the number of casualties (31? That was the official Soviet number. How about 4,000? That’s the number issued by the Chernobyl Forum, an entity that includes representatives from the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other international organizations. As for the 41,000 cancers suggested by a study published in the International Journal of Cancer—that number isn’t even mentioned). But all is under control now, thanks to the new confinement structure that will keep the area “safe” for a hundred years. Mazin himself insists that the show isn’t antinuclear.

Plokhy also addresses the accident’s role in the breakup of the USSR. In 2006, Mikhail Gorbachev famously speculated that “the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Plokhy delivers details. Ukrainian dissidents trained their writerly gaze on Chernobyl, vividly describing the damage. Street demonstrations depicted the accident and its coverup as “embodiments of Moscow’s eco-imperialism.” This vision spread and morphed, animating protests in Belarus—also severely contaminated by the accident—and elsewhere. Chernobyl served as Exhibit A for why the republics should shed the Soviet yoke.

If you’re hoping for clear technical explanations, however, you’ll be disappointed. A stunning error mars the first few pages: Plokhy declares that each RBMK produced 1 million megawatts of electricity. This is off by a factor of 1,000. Typo? No, because he doubles down in the next sentence, affirming that the station produced 29 billion megawatts of electricity in 1985. He gets the orders of magnitude right later on, but these early missteps undermine reader confidence. Muddled technical descriptions and uninformative diagrams add to the confusion.

Readers seeking to understand the technology should turn instead to journalist Adam Higginbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. He uses global nuclear history to illuminate Soviet efforts to manage the Chernobyl crisis. By comparing the crisis to reactor accidents elsewhere, Higginbotham shows that deep vulnerabilities are widespread. Plokhy’s engineers and managers seem bumbling, verging on incompetent. Higginbotham’s more nuanced portrayal reflects how complex engineering projects of all types necessitate informed improvisation. The three-dimensional world doesn’t faithfully obey manuals. Adjustments are always required.

Higginbotham and Plokhy differ most starkly in their treatment of Soviet reactor choice. In the1960s, technocrats weighed the RBMK design against the VVER,2 the Soviet version of a pressurized light water reactor similar to those sold by Westinghouse and used in the United States. For Plokhy, it’s simple. The VVER was “safe.” The RBMK was not, but its size and cost appealed to Soviet productivism.

Higginbotham, however, wisely relies on Sonja Schmid’s pathbreaking Producing Power: The Pre-Chernobyl History of the Soviet Nuclear Industry (2015) to show that reactor safety isn’t a yes-no proposition. Plutonium-producing reactors similar to the Soviet RBMK (albeit half its size) existed in North America and Western Europe. Like nine of its French cousins, the RBMK could be refueled while continuing to operate. This presented significant advantages: light water reactors had to shut down for refueling, which entailed several weeks of outage. Even the risks presented by RBMK design vulnerabilities seemed manageable. “Nuclear experts elsewhere considered the RBMK design neither technologically novel nor particularly worrisome,” Schmid writes, noting that “what we consider good and safe always depends on context.” In the Soviet context, “selecting the RBMK made very good sense.”

Neither Schmid nor Higginbotham absolves the Soviet technopolitical system. The specific circumstances that led to Chernobyl’s explosions might not recur. But, as sociologist Charles Perrow has been arguing since his 1983 book Normal Accidents, highly complex technological systems create unpredictable situations, which inevitably lead to system failures. The question is not whether an accident of Chernobyl’s gravity can happen elsewhere, but how to prepare for the consequences when it does. 

That’s one of the questions Kate Brown considers in Manual for Survival. Offering a wealth of new information and analysis, Brown speeds past the reactor explosion. Instead, she focuses on dozens of previously untold stories about how people coped with their newly radioactive lives.

Brown’s protagonists include women who worked at a wool factory fed by contaminated sheep and butchers ordered to grade meat according to radioactivity. Ukraine, we learn, kept serving as the Soviet breadbasket, despite food radiation levels that exceeded norms. The concentrations of radionuclides were biomagnified by receptive organisms and ecologies, such as mushrooms, wild boar, and the Pripyat Marshes. Defying expectations, some foods, over time, have even become more contaminated.

Brown’s descriptions add historical flesh to arguments first developed by Olga Kuchinskaya, in her 2014 book on Belarus’s Chernobyl experience, The Politics of Invisibility: Public Knowledge about Radiation Health Effects after Chernobyl.

Since the first studies of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science on the biological effects of radiation exposure has been subject to controversy. Like all scientific work, these early survivor studies had limitations. Exposure estimates were unreliable.

The largest study began data collection five years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts, so it didn’t include people who died or moved between 1945 and 1950. Another problem lies in the applicability of these studies. Bomb exposures, such as those in Japan, mostly consist of high, external doses from one big blast. Yet postwar exposures have mainly consisted of low doses, delivered steadily over a long period. They often involve internal exposures—such as inhalation of radioactive particles or consumption of irradiated food—which can be deadlier.

Irrespective of their limitations, however, the findings of these survivor studies have served as the basis for establishing regulatory limits for all types of radiation exposures. Critics argue that extrapolating from the Japan data underestimates low-dose effects: If you’ve already decided that the only possible health effects are the ones you’ve already found, surely you’re missing something? Among other limitations, studies of external gamma radiation exposures cannot illuminate the long-term health effects of inhaling radioactive alpha particles.

Brown injects the work of Dr. Angelina Gus’kova into this story. Gus’kova started treating radiation-induced illnesses in the 1950s, while working at the top-secret Mayak plutonium plant (where the radioactive spills from a 1957 accident continue to contaminate people, land, and water). A neurologist, Gus’kova made observations that extended beyond the narrow cancer focus of most Western practitioners who studied the health effects of radiation exposure. Her patients displayed a wide range of symptoms, which Gus’kova and her colleagues dubbed “chronic radiation syndrome.” Not that they neglected cancer: a 40-year study of 1.5 million people who lived near Mayak found significantly higher cancer and death rates than those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Soviet rubric of “chronic radiation syndrome” did not exist in the West. Yet Gus’kova’s findings did align with those of dissident scientists in the US and the UK. Thomas Mancuso, for example, was pushed out of the US Atomic Energy Commission because he refused to give the Hanford plutonium plant a clean bill of health after finding that workers there sustained high rates of cardiovascular disease, immune system damage, and other illnesses.

Alice Stewart, meanwhile, was shunned by the British establishment after her 1956 research showed that x-raying pregnant women increased the risk of cancer and leukemia in their children by 50 percent. Over the years, these and other scientists whose data challenged the findings of American and European nuclear establishments found themselves sidelined and defunded.

In tandem with perestroika, Chernobyl opened communication between Soviet and Western nuclear experts, engendering what Brown calls an “unholy alliance.” In 1990, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a mission to Belarus and Ukraine to assess radiation damage. Belarusian scientists reported rising rates of many diseases in contaminated areas. Nevertheless, the IAEA team rejected radiation as a possible cause. Such correlations didn’t appear in Western data.

Instead, the IAEA teams used dose estimates provided by distant Moscow colleagues and ignored local Belarusian and Ukrainian descriptions of people’s actual consumption habits, which included significant amounts of contaminated food and milk. The IAEA assessments neglected the internal exposures resulting from this consumption. Yet these assessments now serve as international reference points. “Underestimating Chernobyl damage,” Brown warns, “has left humans unprepared for the next disaster.”

For some, hope springs eternal. In 2017, Chernobyl’s “New Safe Confinement” finally became operational, after two decades of design and construction. This $1.7 billion structure aims to contain the spread of radioactive rubble while workers inside dismantle the reactor and its crumbling sarcophagus. Ownership was transferred from the builders of the structure to the Ukrainian government in July 2019.

At the transfer ceremony, newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a tourism development plan for the radioactive exclusion zone, including a “green corridor” through which tourists could travel to gawk at the remains of Soviet hubris. “Until now, Chernobyl was a negative part of Ukraine’s brand,” declared Zelensky, who was nine years old when the reactor exploded. “It’s time to change.” (Zelensky further demonstrated his dedication to “branding” two weeks after this ceremony, when he emphasized his recent stay in a Trump hotel during his now-infamous phone conversation with the US president.)

Change also seems possible to Plokhy, who optimistically predicts that new reactor designs will be “cheaper, safer, and ecologically cleaner.” But Allison Macfarlane, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Obama, recently noted that these “new” options are actually “repackaged designs from 70 years ago.” They still produce significant quantities of highly radioactive, long-lived waste.

Meanwhile, regulators in France—the world’s most nuclear nation—are taking the opposite approach from the United States’ NRC. Rather than rolling back oversight, France is intensifying inspections of their aging reactor fleet. After four decades of operation, many French reactors have begun to leak and crack. Keeping them operational will cost at least $61 billion. Despite the phenomenal cost, there are many who believe such an investment in the nuclear future is worthwhile.

Brown is far less sanguine about our nuclear future. Predictably, she has been denounced for believing marginal scientists and relying too heavily on anecdotal evidence. She does occasionally go overboard in suggesting conspiracy. Cover-ups clearly occurred on many occasions, but sometimes people were just sticking to their beliefs, trapped by their institutional and disciplinary lenses. Brown’s absence of nuance on this point matters, because the banality of ignorance—its complicity in all forms of knowledge production—can be more dangerous than deliberate lies: more systemic, harder to detect and combat.

Overall, though, Brown is on the right track. Many modes of scientific inquiry aren’t equipped to address our most urgent questions. Clear causal chains are a laboratory ideal. The real world brims with confounding variables. Some scientists studying Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone”—the region officially declared uninhabitable due to contamination—are trying new techniques to grapple with this reality. Tim Mousseau and Anders Møller, for example, collect data on the zone in its ecological entirety, rather than focusing on single organisms. Their findings belie romantic tales of wildlife resurgence (such as the one offered up by a 2011 PBS special on the radioactive wolves of Chernobyl). They too have met resistance.

How, then, can we harness the immense power of scientific analysis while also acknowledging its limitations? The nuclear establishment is quick to lump its opponents together with climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers. Some may deserve that. But much dissident science is well executed. So how do we, the lay public, tell the difference? How can dissent and uncertainty serve, not as a block to action, but as a call?

One way: we can refuse to see Chernobyl and its kin as discrete events of limited duration. Brown, for example, treats Chernobyl as an acceleration of planetary-scale contamination that began with the atomic arms race.

Let’s be clear: the contamination continues. After the triple meltdown at Fukushima, scientists found highly radioactive, cesium-rich microparticles in Tokyo, 150 miles south of the accident site. When inhaled, such particles remain in human lungs, where their decay continues to release radioactivity for decades. Contaminants from future accidents will, in turn, accrete on the radioactive residues of their predecessors.

And, we might add, on the ocean floor. The Russian state-run firm Rosatom recently announced the inauguration of its first floating reactor, towed across the melting Arctic to serve a community in Siberia: yet another manifestation of how climate change favors nuclear development. Rosatom is currently negotiating contracts for reactors (floating and otherwise) in some 30 countries, from Belarus to Bangladesh, Egypt to South Africa.

Threatened, the US nuclear industry sees Russian expansion as “another reason that the United States should maintain global leadership in nuclear technology exports.” And so we hurtle forward: rolling back oversight, acceleration unchecked.

This article was commissioned by Caitlin Zaloom.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | history, investigative journalism, Reference, Ukraine | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear waste storage almost completely full; a dangerous situation

Waste storage at Africa’s only nuclear plant brimming, Channel News Asia, 25 Nov 19, CAPE TOWN: Spent fuel storage at South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant will reach full capacity by April as state power utility Eskom awaits regulatory approval for new dry storage casks, the company said on Monday (Nov 25).

Storage of high-level radioactive waste is a major environmental concern in the region, as South Africa looks to extend Koeberg’s life for another two decades and mulls extra nuclear power plants.

Koeberg, Africa’s only nuclear facility, is situated about 35km from Cape Town and was connected to the grid in the 1980s under apartheid.

“The Koeberg spent fuel pool storage capacity is currently over 90 per cent full. (These) pools will reach (their) capacity by April 2020,” Eskom told Reuters in a statement.

Koeberg produces about 32 tonnes of spent fuel a year. Fuel assemblies, which contain radioactive materials including uranium and plutonium that can remain dangerous for thousands of years, are cooled for a decade under water in spent fuel pools….

Anti-nuclear lobby group Earthlife Africa said South Africa could not afford the social, environmental and economic costs associated with nuclear waste.

“We have a ticking bomb with high-level waste and fuel rods at Koeberg,” said Makoma Lekalakala, Earthlife Africa’s director.   https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/waste-storage-at-africa-s-only-nuclear-plant-brimming-12123664  brimming-12123664

November 26, 2019 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear deterrence is weakened by the absence of diplomacy, and the demise of arms control. 

Trump’s Track Record Of Nuclear Deterrence Without Reassurance Is Dangerous, Forbes, Michael Krepon, 25 Nov 19,   The first time President Ronald Reagan announced that “A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought” was before the Japanese Diet on November 11, 1983. Reagan was sensitive to public concerns over the rocky state of U.S.-Soviet relations. His speech came nine days before the airing of an ABC movie, “The Day After,” depicting the impact on Lawrence, Kansas, of a nuclear strike against nearby Kansas City. The “Day After” was watched by 100 million viewers. Reagan had an advance screening. It’s hard to identify a television program that has had a more dramatic impact on public and presidential consciousness of nuclear danger.

Late in 1983, Reagan also began to appreciate how disturbed key Politburo members were by his rhetoric, aggressive U.S. air and naval exercises around the Soviet Union’s periphery, his nuclear build-up, arms reduction proposals that seemed designed to be rejected, and by his beloved Strategic Defense Initiative.
Even as he was speaking in Tokyo, U.S. and NATO authorities were engaged in a command post exercise practicing nuclear release procedures. This exercise, Able Archer 83, worried key members of the Politburo even more, including General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Soviet intelligence operatives were ordered to step up their surveillance of indicators that Washington might be preparing for a nuclear war. They looked for the number of lights on at the Pentagon late into the night and they checked activity at blood banks.
Reagan’s formulation before the Diet didn’t change anything. All good affirmations require repetition. He repeated it during his 1984 State of the Union address. Speaking directly to his audience in the Soviet Union, he said,

There is only one sane policy, for your country and mine, to preserve our civilization in this modern age: A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used.”

Reagan’s canonical statement was, in effect, a declaration of No Use. Saying this twice still wasn’t convincing because only a very few people then knew that Reagan was dead set against Armageddon on his watch and harbored abolitionist views.

When Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev jointly repeated this formulation at their Geneva summit in 1985, skeptics began to take notice. The canonical affirmation by then had congealed into “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” When Reagan and Gorbachev began to act in accordance with this belief, scales fell from before our eyes. Defenders of deterrence orthodoxy became alarmed. Both men meant what they said.

The affirmation of No Use lies at the heart of a norm-based global nuclear order. A safe global nuclear order requires no battlefield use, no nuclear tests, and no nuclear proliferation – vertical as well as horizontal. The first norm is now almost three-quarters of a century old. The second norm (with the exception of one outlier) is already more than two decades old. The third has yet to be put in place. Successful nonproliferation requires extending the first two……..
Deterrence is being dressed up at a cost of over one trillion dollars, while diplomacy is threadbare. The Trump administration has no evident skills in diplomacy and arms control. It has torn down the diplomatic and arms control achievements of its predecessors. It has great difficulty repeating Reagan and Gorbachev’s canonical affirmation that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
Why? Because to repeat these words might weaken deterrence. But deterrence isn’t undermined by the current state of U.S. nuclear forces; it is undermined by weak leadership, the absence of diplomacy, and the demise of arms control.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkrepon/2019/11/25/trumps-track-record-of-nuclear-deterrence-without-reassurance-is-dangerous/#6309193f518a

November 26, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Analysis: Global coal power set for record fall in 2019 — RenewEconomy

Global electricity production from coal is on track to fall by around 3% in 2019, the largest drop on record. The post Analysis: Global coal power set for record fall in 2019 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

via Analysis: Global coal power set for record fall in 2019 — RenewEconomy

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment