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To 27 January – climate and nuclear news

Australia’s bushfires still dominate the climate news. Despite helpful rain, as of last Tuesday, 107 fires were still burning.-More extreme heat, and more fires, are predicted. Indeed, as I write, a new bushfire is reported, in Australian Capital Territory.

Still, Australia is far from the only climate story this week.  Climate change could unlock new microbes and increase heat-related deaths.    Deadly flooding and landslides are striking Brazil. Extreme weather is causing falling iguanas, rise of deadly spiders and swarms of locusts.  And, no doubt of prime importance to “sensible” and “corporate” humans, Climate Change could blow up the economy and the banks aren’t ready.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the “Doomsday Clock” to 100 minutes to midnight, its closest to doomsday since it began ticking, due to nuclear proliferation, failure to tackle climate change and “cyber-based disinformation”.

Six legal arguments against the extradition of Julian Assange to America.

New interactive flood-risk map shows that global vulnerability to sea level rise is worse than previously understood.  Davos conference – an expensive exercise in corporate spin. Greta Thunberg says climate demands ‘completely ignored’ at Davos.

The global danger as insect species disappear

Nuclear recycling is a bad idea.  The nuclear nations push the fantasy of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

World’s first public database of mine tailings dams aims to prevent deadly disasters.

Solar, storage, and wind tipped as top energy job generators.

EUROPE. Wildfires – drastic climate effects in Australia, but Europe cops it, too.


IRAN. Understanding Iran.  Iran will never seek nuclear weapons – P.M Rouhani.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea abandoning talks with “hostile” USA.


UK. Significant item –   In UK deep disposal is planned for the mounting, costly and forever problem of nuclear wastes. Rolls Royce’s fantasy plan for so-called ‘mini’ nuclear reactors. In UK “big” nuclear power versus “small” (both unaffordable) at Wylfa

FRANCE. Sloppy safety and waste management at Electricite de France’s nuclear sites.

CANADA,  Ontario landowners sign deal with agency looking to store used nuclear fuel.

INDIA. India – a case study in regulatory capture by the nuclear industry.   India joins the panic to sell costly, impractical, nuclear power to Africa and Middle East.  India installed 7.5GW of solar and 2.4GW of wind in 2019.

SWEDEN. Swedish Parliament Rejects Proposal to Halt Nuclear Shutdown.

ROMANIA. Romania quits deal with China for new nuclear reactors.

RUSSIA. Unsafety of Russia’s November-class submarines.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Nuclear recycling is a bad idea

This “interim storage” initiative is a statement of the failure of the nuclear industry and the federal government to address the most toxic waste we have ever created.
Nuclear power: Recycling a bad idea, Citizens Awareness Network By DEB KATZ, 1/26/2020Nuclear industry advocates always seem to come up with grand ideas that nuclear power will “solve” our energy problems. Now it’s a solution to climate change.
Their solutions always downplay any problems with high-level nuclear waste claiming that nuclear power is safe and finding a solution for its toxic waste is easy. If it’s so easy, why don’t they have a workable solution? Is it really just peoples’ unreasonable fears that obstruct the industry and the federal government from creating a final solution?

Originally we were told that there was no waste problem because the waste would be reprocessed and used again in bombs and new “breeder” reactors. That idea failed! Miserably! The only reprocessing facility for commercial nuclear waste that ever existed was West Valley in upstate New York and it shuttered after only five years because it contaminated the land and water around it with radiation. It remains a Superfund site to this day. Without the technology to safely reprocess it, nuclear fuel waste remains in fuel pools and dry storage at reactor sites all over the country.

Because of the threat of nuclear proliferation, where the waste is stolen and used as bomb material by evil forces, President Jimmy Carter ended the research on reprocessing and breeder reactors. Suddenly there was a “waste problem.” Carter commissioned a study to determine the best way to deal with the problem. The level of naivety, arrogance and thoughtlessness is remarkable. Some of the ideas included sending the waste into space, but a payload accident could contaminate the planet; placing the waste in a hole in Antarctica or Greenland ice and letting it melt down into the ocean bed was considered, but the waste would contaminate the ocean. Carter’s commission finally settled on deep geological burial in a hole or an abandoned mine.
All this was codified under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA). Once established, investigations began to determine the best dump site/s. But every state that was identified as a potential site for a repository threatened to sue. Instituting the NWPA was in crisis. The NWPA was amended and Congress targeted Yucca Mountain because
Nevada had little political clout at the time.
After spending $14 billion of taxpayer money developing Yucca Mountain, it failed to meet the necessary criteria for safe isolation of the deadly material. With the failure of the federal government and the nuclear industry to establish Yucca Mountain as the national repository for nuclear waste, nuclear corporations were forced to establish onsite storage at their operating and shuttered reactor sites. Six out of nine reactors in New England have shuttered due to significant public opposition and their inability to compete with gas and renewables. These six sites are in varying degrees of cleanup. Without a “solution” as to dealing with the nuclear waste, these sites have devolved into ad hoc nuclear waste dumps. All have created onsite storage for their high level waste. It costs a lot to store the waste onsite — at least $5 million out of pocket for each year. This waste could remain onsite for decades if not centuries. So costs could really add up for corporations without any revenue. Naivety, arrogance, and thoughtlessness add up to a lot of money!

With waste piling up at shuttered reactor sites throughout the country, the industry has a perception problem. This is not a favorable image for an industry trying to reinvent itself as the answer to global warming. So what’s the industry’s answer? It wants to create “interim storage” dump sites in west Texas and New Mexico in working poor, Hispanic communities to make this problem disappear. These sites don’t have to meet the strict environmental standards that sunk Yucca Mountain— i.e., isolation from the environment for 1,000 years and isolation from groundwater for 10,000 years.

This “interim storage” initiative is a statement of the failure of the nuclear industry and the federal government to address the most toxic waste we have ever created. We don’t need more nukes; we don’t need half baked “solutions”. We need a commitment to put our best minds to solve this thorny problem. What is needed is a scientifically sound and environmentally just solution, not more magic or wish fulfillment. A qualified “panel” must be established and funded to create the standards required to meet the health and safety of the public and the planet, not the profit-driven, short-sighted monetary bottom line of a moribund industry.

Deb Katz is the executive director of the Citizens Awareness Network, which was founded locally in 1991 and has offices in Shelburne Falls and Rowe. Here’s a link to our website

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, USA | 1 Comment

Six legal arguments against the extradition of Julian Assange to America

Six legal arguments show why the US extradition of Julian Assange should be denied Tom Coburg  25th January 2020 The first of two articles examining Julian Assange’s upcoming extradition trial.

There are at least six legal reasons why the extradition request by the US against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be dismissed by the UK courts. The main extradition hearing is scheduled to commence 24 February 2020, with district judge Vanessa Baraitser presiding. The evidence to support Assange is compelling.

1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
2. The initial charge is flawed
1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached
3. Initial charge relies on co-operation from Manning
4. Additional charges raised by the US are political
5. US legal precedent argues that Assange’s work is protected by the US Constitution
6. Threats of violence against Assange mean he’s unable to receive a fair trial

1. Client-lawyer confidentiality breached Continue reading

January 27, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, legal | Leave a comment

New interactive flood-risk map shows that global vulnerability to sea level rise is worse than previously understood.

Eastern Daily Press 23rd Jan 2020, Huge swathes of the Broads, the Fens and even parts of Great Yarmouth and Norwich could be under water in 30 years unless drastic action is taken to halt global warming.

That is the shocking conclusion drawn from a new
interactive flood-risk map built by US-based researchers who claim that
global vulnerability to sea level rise is worse than previously understood.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Democratic presidential candidates not well informed on nuclear weapons

2020 Dems Need To Get Up To Speed on Nuclear Weapons. Fast.    Last week, U.S. voters had two opportunities to inspect the leading Democratic presidential candidate’s national security credentials. In both the Democratic debate in Iowa and the New York Times editorial board’s interview series, candidates were asked to explain their views on key aspects of nuclear weapons policy. Unfortunately, all three of the leading candidates flubbed some of their responses. For the existential sake of the country, the candidates need to get up to speed on nuclear weapons policy. Fast.

  • Despite being a leader on a number of nuclear weapons issues, including a promise to commit the United States to a No First Use doctrine, Sen. Elizabeth Warren seemed unaware of the controversial existence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey. Even though the issue made headlines as recently as October.
  • Despite giving an answer that spoke eloquently of his long abhorrence of nuclear weapons, Sen. Bernie Sanders did not seem to know how many countries have nuclear weapons. The number is nine, not the eleven or twelve the senator claimed.
  • Despite his compelling recent defense of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal he helped obtain, Vice President Joe Biden seemed to mischaracterize President Trump’s North Korea policy. Speaking of the North Koreans at the Democratic debate, he said the President “weakened the sanctions we have against them.” CNN’s fact-checkers soon rebuked the Vice President. As they put it, “Trump has not weakened the sanctions his administration has placed on North Korea to date, and has in fact ratcheted them up from the Obama administration.”No one is perfect, but these mistakes matter for several reasons. Nuclear weapons are the most acute national security threat we face. From Iran to North Korea, South Asia to Russia, they are still drivers of major international dangers. Any lack of clarity on such a grave topic should be alarming. But there are also more specific implications of each of the candidate’s misstatements. With tensions between the U.S. and Turkey increasing on a number of fronts, the question of whether to keep basing U.S. nuclear weapons at Incirlik is a serious one, especially when one considers that Turkey might attempt to steal them.
  • With the 2020 Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference looming, the question of how many countries have nuclear weapons is a crucial barometer for judging the success of that agreement. And by criticizing nonexistent sanctions relief, Vice President Biden ignores the real failure of the Trump administration’s North Korea policy, which has been its inability to translate summitry into productive diplomacy.Clearly, the country should expect better on this important issue from the leading Democratic candidates. Moreover, it is also to the candidates’ electoral benefit to get up to speed on nuclear weapons policy.
  • First, the candidates should remember that the emerging consensus within the Democratic Party on nuclear weapons issues is politically popular. All three aforementioned candidates support a No First Use policy, as do 57 percent of voters in Iowa and 73 percent of voters in New Hampshire. All three support extending key arms control agreements with Russia, like New START. They are in the company of eight in ten registered voters, including over 75 percent of Republicans. And all three prefer the diplomacy of the Iran nuclear deal to starting another endless war in the Middle East – as do the American people.
  • Second, nuclear policy issues are frequently used as ‘gotcha’ questions by the media. The media will keep asking questions on nuclear policy and it’s important for candidates to be ready. For instance, during the 2016 primaries the media infamously tripped candidate Trump up with a ‘gotcha’ question on the nuclear triad. Trump took the hit but recovered in the general election, by which time he had learned his way to a more coherent responseThird, nuclear issues simply aren’t going away. With tensions high from South Asia to the Korean Peninsula and Iran, the candidates will likely need to address a nuclear-related foreign policy crisis soon. Such moments can be politically decisive – there’s no faster way to solidify support than by handling a crisis well; it was only in the heat of the financial collapse of 2008 that Sen. Obama’s lead over Sen. McCain solidified. Candidates should do their homework in advance of such a moment.The three front-runners have each made important contributions to preventing the use and spread of nuclear weapons, although voters could use more policy specifics. Unlike some of their competitors, they have also had the courage to answer pressing questions about nuclear weapons. But with the Iowa caucus just days away, they need to do more.

    Akshai Vikram is the Roger L. Hale Fellow at the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation. Before coming to Ploughshares, he worked as an opposition researcher for the Democratic National Committee and a campaign staffer for the Kentucky Democratic Party

January 27, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Should women run the world? — Beyond Nuclear International

Would nuclear weapons go away if men leave power?

via Should women run the world? — Beyond Nuclear International

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Donald Trump tweets that US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran

US will not lift sanctions to secure nuclear deal with Iran , 26 Jan 2020, Donald Trump has tweeted that the US will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate a new nuclear deal.

The United States will not lift sanctions on Iran in order to negotiate, US President Donald Trump has tweeted, seemingly in response to a Der Spiegel interview with Iran’s foreign minister.

“Iranian Foreign Minister says Iran wants to negotiate with The United States, but wants sanctions removed. @FoxNews @OANN No Thanks!” Trump tweeted in English on Saturday and later in Farsi.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded on Sunday by tweeting an excerpt from the interview with Der Spiegel published on Friday, where he said Iran is still open to negotiations with America if sanctions are lifted.

“@realdonaldtrump is better advised to base his foreign policy comments & decisions on facts, rather than @FoxNews headlines or his Farsi translators,” Zarif said in the tweet with the interview excerpt.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have reached the highest levels in decades after the US killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, prompting Iran to fire missiles days later at bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed.

Tensions between the two have been increasing steadily since Trump pulled the United States out of Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers in 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have driven down Iran’s oil exports and hammered its economy.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

World’s first public database of mine tailings dams aims to prevent deadly disasters

World’s first public database of mine tailings dams aims to prevent deadly disasters

Previously unreleased data offer unprecedented view into mining industry’s waste storage practices


Until now, there has been no central database detailing the location and quantity of the mining industry’s liquid and solid waste, known as tailings. The waste is typically stored in embankments called tailings dams, which have periodically failed with devastating consequences for communities, wildlife and ecosystems.

“This portal could save lives”, says Elaine Baker, senior expert at GRID-Arendal and a geosciences professor with the University of Sydney in Australia. “Dams are getting bigger and bigger. Mining companies have found most of the highest-grade ores and are now mining lower-grade ones, which create more waste. With this information, the entire industry can work towards reducing dam failures in the future.”

The database allows users to view detailed information on more than 1,700 tailings dams around the world, categorized by location, company, dam type, height, volume, and risk, among other factors.

“Most of this information has never before been publicly available”, says Kristina Thygesen, GRID-Arendal’s programme leader for geological resources and a member of the team that worked on the portal. When GRID-Arendal began in-depth research on mine tailings dams in 2016, very little data was accessible. In a 2017 report on tailings dams, co-published by GRID and the UN Environment Programme, one of the key recommendations was to establish an accessible public-interest database of tailings storage facilities.

“This database brings a new level of transparency to the mining industry, which will benefit regulators, institutional investors, scientific researchers, local communities, the media, and the industry itself”, says Thygesen.

The release of the Global Tailings Portal coincides with the one-year anniversary of the tailings dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, that killed 270 people. After that disaster, a group of institutional investors led by the Church of England Pensions Board asked 726 of the world’s largest mining companies to disclose details about their tailings dams. Many of the companies complied, and the information they released has been incorporated into the database.

For more information on tailings dams, see the 2017 report “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident” and the related collection of graphics, which are available for media use.

About GRID-Arendal

GRID-Arendal supports environmentally sustainable development by working with the UN Environment Programme and other partners. We communicate environmental knowledge that motivates decision-makers and strengthens management capacity. We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity-building services.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Understanding Iran — Beyond Nuclear International

With the Iran nuclear deal crushed, war looms

via Understanding Iran — Beyond Nuclear International

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ask presidential candidates about nuclear and climate issues, says former energy secretary Moniz

January 27, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Japan could decide on fate of radioactive waste water before the Olympics in July

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Japan, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Lawmakers seek safeguards on decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

January 27, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Tepco estimates 44 years to decommission its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant.

Japan Times 23rd Jan 2020, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has estimated that it will take 44 years to decommission its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant. Tepco presented the outline of decommissioning plans to the municipal assembly of Tomioka, one of the two host towns of the nuclear plant, on Wednesday.

The Fukushima No. 2 plant is located south of the No. 1 plant, which suffered a triple meltdown accident in the wake of the March 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami.

According to the outline, the decommissioning process for the No.
2 plant will have four stages, taking 10 years for the first stage, 12
years for the second stage and 11 years each for the third and fourth

Tepco will survey radioactive contamination at the nuclear plant in
the first stage, clear equipment around nuclear reactors in the second,
remove the reactors in the third and demolish the reactor buildings in the
fourth. Meanwhile, the plant operator will transfer a total of 9,532 spent
nuclear fuel units at the plant to a fuel reprocessing company by the end
of the decommissioning process, and 544 unused fuel units to a processing
firm by the start of the third stage.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Republicans try to get nuclear power accepted as “renewable” in California

Proposed bill would include large hydro, nuclear in California’s renewable portfolio standard,  Utility Dive, By Kavya Balaraman Jan. 23, 2020  
Dive Brief:

  • California Republicans on Tuesday introduced legislation to temporarily halt the requirements of the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program and redirect funds to ensure utilities improve their infrastructure and vegetation management programs.
  • The proposed bill would also, if and when the program is reinstated, include nuclear generation and all hydroelectric facilities operating as of January 1, 2021 in the program’s definition of an “eligible renewable energy resource.”
  • The bill, along with a second piece of legislation introduced by state Assemblyman James Gallagher, R, and Sen. Jim Nielsen, R, “will help prevent future wildfires and utility power shutoff events,” according to a press release. But environmental advocates say that the move to extend RPS eligibility to hydro and nuclear facilities might not go far in California’s current political landscape.

Dive Insight:

California established its RPS program in 2002, requiring at the time that renewable resources make up 20% of electricity retail sales by 2017. However, the program’s targets have changed over the years; the state passed Senate Bill 100 in 2018, accelerating RPS requirements to 60% by 2030, as well as requiring that carbon-free resources supply all of the state’s electricity by 2045.

Large hydropower and nuclear generation don’t currently count toward the RPS standard requirements, but the state is still defining the zero-carbon requirement passed in SB 100, Alex Jackson, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Utility Dive.

In the last three years, California utilities have also been wrestling with the increased threat of wildfires posed by their infrastructure. Devastating fires in 2017, 2018 and 2019 have caused billions of dollars in damage across the state, pushing Pacific Gas & Electric to declare bankruptcy in early 2019.

To reduce this risk, the utility adopted a public safety power shut-off (PSPS) program, proactively de-energizing areas that are particularly prone to fires during windy or dry weather conditions. The shut-offs have drawn widespread criticism from regulators, lawmakers and customers in Northern California……..

Environmental advocates pushed back against the proposal to include both large hydropower and nuclear generation as eligible resources under the RPS program.

The RPS is part of a deliberate state move away from fossil fuels, and utilities already get a lot of their power from hydro, so counting it in the RPS requirements would discourage investments in wind, solar, and other renewables, Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, told Utility Dive…..

On the nuclear energy front, “there’s no way you can call nuclear renewable,” she said. “It doesn’t emit carbon, but it has lots of other very intense environmental impacts.”

“Nuclear is being phased out not because of its ineligibility for RPS requirements, but because these large inflexible baseload plants are increasingly incompatible with a system that’s predominantly run on intermittent clean energy resources,” according to Jackson.

Flexibility is key going forward and the high operating costs of nuclear plants is what led PG&E to propose the retirement of the Diablo Canyon plant in the first place, he added. …….

January 27, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Class action lawsuit about failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant goes back to state court

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment