nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Climate and Nuclear news for the past week

When their finances are affected by climate change, the guys at the top at last start to pay attention.  G20 finance ministers and central bank governors met in Saudi Arabia, and sounded the alarm over the climate emergency, despite U.S. objections. Leaked report for world’s major fossil fuel financier says Earth is on unsustainable trajectory.

Of course, nuclear weapons tensions are always there, particularly as regards USA and Iran.  However, when it comes to the so-called “peaceful nukes”, things are very quiet.  All that continues is an endless stream of  “journalism” promoting Small Modular Reactors (they leave out that unpopular word ‘Nuclear’). This hype resembles the early 2000s hype about the “nuclear renaissance’ and is sounding more and more hollow.

A bit of good news – All Australian Bushfires in NSW Have Officially Been Contained Thanks to Week of Heavy Rain. Australian Soldiers Are Using Their Time Off to Care for Koalas Displaced by the Fires.

Immoral and illegal spying on Julian Assange and his lawyers Investigative journalism – How will Julian Assange’s extradition case proceed in court?

All the world is betraying the world’s children, the World Health Organisation has found.

A war correspondent turns to today’s war on climate change, as he studies Antarctica.

Scientists warn on the seriousness of the collapse of many insect species.

Climate denialists using bots on Twitter to get their message across.

Reprocessing is NOT a solution to the nuclear waste problem.  Small nuclear reactors are no better than large ones.

UK. Britain buying new nuclear warheads from USA: Pentagon knew about it. Nuclear Energy Agency’s “pretend transparency“.  UK Parliament did not.  Chinese-led nuclear company pretending that Sizewell project is a ‘fait accompli’ – no, it is far from it.  Huge rise predicted for Britain’s seas and tidal rivers.

JAPAN. Survey finds most Japanese do not want to attend live Olympic or Paralympic events. Replace Tokyo by London as Host of 2020 Olympics. Time running out on Tokyo Olympics. South Korean activists and professors sign petition against Japan’s push to dump radioactive water into the ocean.  Japan’s paralysis over what to do with the nuclear industry’s plutonium wastes.

USA.

FRANCE.  Anti Nuclear activists break into France’s Tricastin nuclear station. France starts out on the path to withdraw from nuclear energy. France shuts down Fessenheim reactor in first phase of retreat from nuclear power.

INDIA. Trump to visit India as salesman for Westinghouse nuclear reactors.Large U.S. nuclear delegation to India to con Indians into buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. Why India is not defined as a “Nuclear Power”, though it has nuclear bombs.

INDONESIA. Indonesian authorities investigate suspected nuclear waste dumping at housing estate.   Positive tests for Caesium-137 in some South Tangerang residents. Indonesia eases import limits on processed foods from Japan imposed after Fukushima nuclear disaster.

BAVARIA (GERMANY). Bavaria’s renewable capacity growing as nuclear plant shutdown boosts power imports.

CANADA. Bruce County, Ontario, protest against nuclear waste dump plan.

ALGERIA. Algeria and French Polynesia suffer from France’s 30 years of nuclear bomb testing.

TAIWAN. Taiwan searches for a solution to its nuclear waste problem.

AUSTRALIA.    Australia the ‘poster child’ for climate change inaction.

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Unjustified hype over non existent Small Nuclear Reactors

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. But declaring them a success before they are even built is quite a leap of faith.
This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet.

Let’s call SMRs what they are, Leaving out “nuclear” doesn’t minimize the danger, or the cost https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/02/23/lets-call-smrs-what-they-are/By Gordon Edwards, Michel Duguay and Pierre Jasmin,  February 23, 2020, On Friday the 13th, September 2019, the St John Telegraph-Journal’s front page was dominated by what many gullible readers hoped will be a good luck story for New Brunswick  – making the province a booming and prosperous Nuclear Energy powerhouse for the entire world.

After many months of behind-the-scenes meetings throughout New Brunswick with utility company executives, provincial politicians, federal government representatives, township mayors and First Nations, two nuclear entrepreneurial companies laid out a dazzling dream promising thousands of jobs – nay, tens of thousands! – in New Brunswick, achieved by mass-producing and selling components for hitherto untested nuclear reactors called SMNRs (Small Modular Nuclear Reactors) which, it is hoped, will be installed around the world by the hundreds or thousands!

On December 1, the Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers hitched their hopes to the same nuclear dream machine through a dramatic tripartite Sunday press conference in Ottawa featuring the premiers of the provinces. The three amigos announced their desire to promote and deploy some version of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in their respective provinces. All three claimed it as a strategy to fight climate change, and they want the federal government to pledge federal tax money to pay for the R&D. Perhaps it is a way of paying lip service to the climate crisis without actually achieving anything substantial; prior to the recent election, all three men were opposed to even putting a price on carbon emissions.

Motives other than climate protection may apply. Saskatchewan’s uranium is in desperate need of new markets, as some of the province’s most productive mines have been mothballed and over a thousand uranium workers have been laid off, due to the global decline in nuclear power. Meanwhile, Ontario has cancelled all investments in over 800 renewable energy projects – at a financial penalty of over 200 million dollars – while investing tens of billions of dollars to rebuild many of its geriatric nuclear reactors. This, instead of purchasing surplus water-based hydropower from Quebec at less than half the cost.

Three previous “small reactor” failures in Canada so far

These new nuclear reactors are so far perfectly safe, because they exist only on paper and are cooled only by ink. But declaring them a success before they are even built is quite a leap of faith, especially in light of the three previous Canadian failures in this field of “small reactors”. Two 10-megawatt MAPLE reactors were built at Chalk River and never operated because of insuperable safety concerns, and the 10-megawatt “Mega-Slowpoke” district heating reactor never earned a licence to operate, again because of safety concerns. The Mega-Slowpoke was offered free of charge to two universities – Sherbrooke and Saskatchewan – and several communities, all of whom refused the gift. And a good thing too, as the only Mega-Slowpoke ever built (at Pinawa, in Manitoba) is now being dismantled without ever producing a single useful megawatt of heat.

This current media hype about modular reactors is very reminiscent of the drumbeat of grandiose expectations that began around 2000, announcing the advent of a Nuclear Renaissance that envisaged thousands of new reactors — huge ones! — being built all over the planet. That initiative turned out to be a complete flop. Only a few large reactors were launched under this banner, and they were plagued with enormous cost-over-runs and extraordinarily long delays, resulting in the bankruptcy or near bankruptcy of some of the largest nuclear companies in the world – such as Areva and Westinghouse – and causing other companies to retire from the nuclear field altogether – such as Siemens.

Speculation about that promised Nuclear Renaissance also led to a massive (and totally unrealistic) spike in uranium prices, spurring uranium exploration activities on an unprecedented scale. It ended in a near-catastrophic collapse of uranium prices when the bubble burst. Cameco was forced to close down several mines. They are still closed. The price of uranium has still not recovered from the plunge.

Large nuclear reactors have essentially priced themselves out of the market. Only Russia, China and India have managed to defy those market forces with their monopoly state involvements.  Nevertheless, the nuclear contribution to world electricity production has plummeted from 17 percent in 1997 to about 10 percent in 2018. In North America and Western Europe, the prospects for new large reactor projects are virtually nil, and many of the older reactors are shutting down permanently without being replaced.

During long construction times nuclear makes the climate problem worse

Many people concerned about climate change want to know more about the moral and ethical choices regarding low-carbon technologies: “Don’t we have a responsibility to use nuclear?”  The short reply is: nuclear is too slow and too expensive. The ranking of options should be based on what is cheapest and fastest — beginning with energy efficiency, then on to off-the-shelf renewables like wind and solar energy.

As a case in point, Germany installed over 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity in only 8 years, after deciding to close down all of its nuclear reactors by 2022. That is an impressive achievement – more than twice the total installed nuclear capacity of Canada. It would be impossible to build 30,000 megawatts of nuclear in only 8 years.

By building wind generators, Germany obtained some carbon relief in the very first year of construction, then got more benefit in the second year, even more benefit in the third, and so on, building up to a cumulative capacity of 30,000 MWe after 8 years. With nuclear, even if you could manage to build 30,000 megawatts in 8 years, you would get absolutely no benefit during that entire 8-year construction period.

In fact you would be making the problem worse by mining uranium, fabricating fuel, pouring concrete and building the reactor core and components, all adding to greenhouse gas emissions – earning no benefit until (and IF) everything is finally ready to function.

In the meantime (10 to 20 years), you will have starved the efficiency and renewable alternatives of the funds and political will needed to implement technologies that can really make an immediate and substantial difference.

In Saskatchewan, professor Jim Harding, who was director for Prairie Justice Research at University of Regina where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project, has offered his own reflection. Here is the conclusion of his December 2, 2019 comment:

In short, small reactors are another distraction from Saskatchewan having the highest levels of GHGs on the planet – nearly 70 metric tonnes per capita. While the rest of Canada has been lowering emissions, those here, along with Alberta with its high-carbon tar sands, have continued to rise. Saskatchewan and Alberta’s emissions are now almost equal to all the rest of Canada. Shame on us!

In the USA, engineers and even CEO’s of some of the leading nuclear companies are admitting that the age of nuclear energy is virtually over in North America. This negative judgment is not coming from people who are opposed to nuclear power, quite the opposite — from people lamenting the decline. See, for example, one major report from the Engineering faculty at Carnegie-Mellon University.

The SMR order book is filled with blank pages; there are no customers

That Carnegie-Mellon report includes Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in its analysis, without being any more hopeful for a nuclear revival on that account. The reason? It is mainly because a new generation of smaller reactors, such as those promised for New Brunswick, will necessarily be more expensive per unit of energy produced, if manufactured individually. The sharply increased price can be partially offset by mass production of prefabricated components; hence the need for selling hundreds or even thousands of these smaller units in order to break even and make a profit. However, the order book is filled with blank pages — there are no customers. This being the case, finding investors is not easy. So entrepreneurs are courting governments to pony up with taxpayers’ money, in the hopes that this second attempt at a Nuclear Renaissance will not be the total debacle that the first one turned out to be.

Over 150 designs and none built, tested, licensed or deployed

Chances are very slim however. There are over 150 different designs of “Small Modular Reactors”. None of them have been built, tested, licensed or deployed. At Chalk River, Ontario, a consortium of private multinational corporations, comprised of SNC-Lavalin and two corporate partners, operating under the name “Canadian Nuclear Laboratories” (CNL), is prepared to host six or seven different designs of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors — none of them being identical to the two proposed for New Brunswick – and all of these designs will be in competition with each other. The Project Description of the first Chalk River prototype Small Modular Reactor has already received over 40 responses that are posted on the CNSC web site, and virtually all of them are negative comments.

The chances that any one design will corner enough of the market to become financially viable in the long run is unlikely. So the second Nuclear Renaissance may carry the seeds of its own destruction right from the outset. Unfortunately, governments are not well equipped to do a serious independent investigation of the validity of the intoxicating claims made by the promoters, who of course conveniently overlook the persistent problem of long-lived nuclear waste and of decommissioning the radioactive structures. These wastes pose a huge ecological and human health problem for countless generations to come.

Finally, in the list of projects being investigated, one finds a scaled-down “breeder reactor” fuelled with plutonium and cooled by liquid sodium metal, a material that reacts violently or explodes on contact with air or water. The breeder reactor is an old project abandoned by Jimmy Carter and discredited by the failure of the ill-fated French SuperPhénix because of its extremely dangerous nature. In the event of a nuclear accident, the Tennessee Clinch River Breeder Reactor was judged capable of poisoning twelve American states and the SuperPhénix half of France.

One suspects that our three premiers are only willing to revisit these bygone reactor designs in order to obtain funding from the federal government while avoiding responsibility for their inaction on more sensible strategies for combatting climate changes – cheaper, faster and safer alternatives, based on investments in energy efficiency and renewable sources.

Gordon Edwards PhD, is President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. Michel Duguay, PhD, is a professor at Laval University. Pierre Jasmin, UQAM, is with Quebec Movement for Peace and Artiste pour la Paix.

 

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Extradition case for Julian Assange – how it will proceed

Julian Assange’s extradition case is finally heading to court – here’s what to expect  more   https://www.sbs.com.au/news/julian-assange-s-extradition-case-is-finally-heading-to-court-here-s-what-to-expe
February 24, 2020
 Holly Cullen, Adjunct professor, University of Western AustraliaThe extradition hearing to decide whether to send Julian Assange to the United States to be tried for publishing classified military documents on Wikileaks is expected to finally begin today in London.Assange is charged with 17 counts under the Espionage Act, involving receipt, obtaining and disclosing national security information. He has also been charged with one count of conspiracy to assist Chelsea Manning to crack a US Department of Defense password to enable her to access classified information.

Assange has been in Belmarsh prison since his arrest in April 2019. He had been in solitary confinement in a prison medical unit, but was recently moved into a less isolated section of the prison due to concerns about his mental health.

From May to September of last year, Assange served a sentence for bail absconding, but since then has been waiting for the extradition hearing.

How will the process play out? Continue reading

February 24, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Britain buying new nuclear warheads from USA: Pentagon knew about it, UK Parliament did not

February 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scientists warn on the seriousness of the collapse of many insect species

February 24, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, environment | Leave a comment

Nuclear power for Australia a fantasy – Australian Labor Party

February 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | Leave a comment

Trump jumping into Nevada’s nuclear waste dilemma

February 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Climate denialists using bots on Twitter to get their message across

February 24, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Huge rise predicted for Britain’s seas and tidal rivers

February 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, oceans, UK | Leave a comment

USA’s Energy Dept’s failure to monitor Hanford nuclear site, parts not inspected for 50 years

Parts of Hanford nuclear waste site have not been inspected in 50 years, government auditors say, The former defense site in Washington state has a troubled past. The latest lapse involves the Energy Department’s failure to analyze the cause of a tunnel collapse.WP, By Aaron Gregg Feb. 22, 2020

Companies responsible for cleaning up a decommissioned plutonium plant in rural Washington state failed to conduct comprehensive safety checks at facilities containing nuclear waste, even after a 2017 tunnel collapse put surrounding communities on lockdown, government auditors reported Thursday.

The report about the Hanford nuclear waste site raises new concerns about environmental and safety risks posed by one of the United States’ worst toxic waste sites.

The Government Accountability Office found that the Energy Department waived a “root cause analysis” of the tunnel collapse because it was asked to do so by the contractor handling inspections, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Jacobs Engineering. The department did conduct a separate review to determine weaknesses and risks related to contaminated facilities, but that evaluation “was based largely on old data” and “did not include any physical or non-physical inspection” to flag facilities for cleanup, the office reported.

Sitting in a rural area of southwestern Washington, the Hanford site was once the U.S. military’s primary source of enriched plutonium used in nuclear warheads, including one of the weapons dropped on Japan at the end of World War II. Hanford’s workforce once numbered more than 50,000 people. Plutonium production ended in 1987.

Parts of the site have not been entered or inspected in more than 50 years, the Government Accountability Office reported, suggesting there could be additional safety risks of which the Energy Department is not aware. And the inspections that were carried out found structural problems severe enough that they “could lead to the potential release of hazardous or nuclear materials” at five of 18 facilities there, the office reported……..

Since the late 1980s, the Energy Department has worked with teams of contractors on the monumental task of dealing with radioactive waste that accumulated over several decades. The massive scale and longevity of the weapons production activities at Hanford mean cleanup efforts are likely to continue for most of the next century.

The project has been fraught with waste, with milestones continually pushed back as contractors experienced difficulties. Earlier reports found that the department spent more than $19 billion over 25 years on “treatment and disposition of 56 million gallons of hazardous waste” without actually treating any hazardous waste. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2011 at a cost of $4.3 billion.

Besides the cost overruns, the haphazard way in which some waste was stored has made cleanup a hazardous task for the thousands of workers…….

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) scolded the Energy Department for its handling of the nuclear waste cleanup effort in a letter to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. The letter notes that the department has accepted all of the office’s recommendations but says those changes are not sufficient to protect the lives of workers and citizens throughout the region.

Wyden blamed the 2017 tunnel collapse on the Energy Department’s failure to conduct comprehensive inspections.

The tunnel collapse “seems largely due to a failure of [the Energy Department] and its contractors to independently verify the tunnel’s physical condition ― a state of affairs replicated over many years across the site’s facilities,” Wyden wrote. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/21/parts-hanford-nuclear-waste-site-have-not-been-inspected-50-years-government-auditors-say/

February 24, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian MP calls on #ScottyFromMarketing (Australia’s Prime Minister) to help save Julian Assange from extradition to U.S.

February 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, civil liberties, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explains Trump’s plan to kill off the Iran nuclear agreement

February 24, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Karen Silk remembered – nuclear unsafety whistleblower

Observer 23rd Feb 2020, Life is never easy for whistleblowers – see Mordechai Vanunu, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden among many others. But in 1974 Karen Silkwood, a lab technician who had doubts about the safety of the nuclear plant she worked at in Oklahoma, died – in extremely mysterious circumstances – before she could reveal the information.

It was her death itself that led
investigations into safety practices at the plant. Joyce Eddinton
interviewed Meryl Streep, who played Silkwood in Mike Nichols’s eponymous
film, for the Observer Magazine of 8 April 1984 (‘The Karen Silkwood
File’).https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/feb/23/from-the-archive-meryl-streep-as-muclear-whistleblower-karen-silkwood-1984-mike-nichols-film

February 24, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Positive tests for Caesium-137 in some South Tangerang residents

Two people living in South Tangerang exposed to radioactive waste: Nuclear agency, News Desk, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta   /   Sat, February 22, 2020 . The Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) has reported that two people living in South Tangerang at the Batan Indah housing complex in Banten, where radioactive materials were recently found discarded, had tested positive for exposure to Caesium-137……..https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/02/22/two-people-living-in-south-tangerang-exposed-to-radioactive-waste-nuclear-agency.html

February 24, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Indonesia | Leave a comment