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Ukrainian authorities declare wildfires near Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Wildfires near Chernobyl under control, Ukrainian authorities say,  April 14, 2020 The fires reportedly came within two kilometers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

April 14, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant is threatened by approaching wildfires

Blaze rages near Chernobyl, endangering abandoned nuclear plant

“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk”   By Margaryta Chornokondratenko and Alexander Marrow | Reuters

KIEV – A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometer from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday, citing satellite images.

Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.

Video footage shot by Reuters on Sunday showed plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky and trees still

ablaze, with firefighters in helicopters trying to put out the fires.

Aerial images of the 19 mile exclusion zone around the plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smoldering trees.

The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, “did not exceed natural background levels.”

Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.

On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.

“According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares,” it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometer away from the defunct plant.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.

Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.

“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk,” Alimov said. “In this case we’re hoping for rain tomorrow.”

Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.

He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometers from where “the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.” He called on officials to warn people of the danger.

Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.

The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests. Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.

It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires “for fun,” is partly or fully responsible.


April 14, 2020 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

Changes for a low carbon economy are possible: we must advocate for this

The major impact of coronavirus on the trajectory of climate change must not be a temporary reduction in emissions from cars, trucks and airplanes. It must be a collective recognition that rapid and significant voluntary changes in our behavior are possible. For individual climate action to be sustained, people must find honor and joy in it. And that action must also be supported by government leadership and coordination. We must advocate now, as vocally as we can, for immediate and significant investments in green infrastructure. To avert disaster, we must change how we live.  

The Coronavirus and Climate Action  Confronting global warming will take a completely different approach from confronting the pandemic, By Laura J. Martin on April 10, 2020

In recent weeks, many Americans have voluntarily and radically altered their behavior in order to protect others from the novel coronavirus. Those who are less vulnerable are making sacrifices in order to protect those who are more vulnerable: the elderly, the immunocompromised, and—in our country, with its broken social safety net—the uninsured and the poor.

Climate scientists have been quick to draw parallels between the need to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus spread and the need to flatten the carbon emissions curve. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that we must reduce emissions by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 in order to lessen the severity of future emergency; to reduce, but not eliminate, the probability of catastrophic changes in sea level, ocean acidity, extreme weather, food security and biodiversity.

But confronting climate change will require a completely different generational politics than confronting coronavirus. Rather than young people changing their lifestyles to protect the elderly, the large and growing proportion of older citizens in industrialized countries will have to change their lifestyles in order to protect children and those not yet born. Those with power and resources today will have to change their lifestyles dramatically in order to protect the world’s poorest and most marginalized, those who will not be able to move away from climate hazards. This is the message that youth activists like Zero HourIsra Hirsi and Greta Thunberg implore us to heed. It is also the premise of DearTomorrow, a storytelling project where people write climate messages to loved ones living in the future.

While such activists argue that individuals must opt to change their lifestyles, to travel less and consume less, others contend that voluntary climate action is a pipe dream. They refer to psychologists and economists who argue that we humans are “hardwired” to prioritize the present over the future, and thereby make decisions that benefit us today, even if they harm us later. This second camp of environmentalists argues that policy makers must enact laws and regulations that radically reshape energy infrastructure and national economies.

Who is right? Continue reading

April 14, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

The planet needs a green recovery. But are governments up for this?

April 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Belarus to get a new nuclear reactor along with $10 billion debt to Russia

Belarus Says New Nuclear Power Plant To Go Online In Autumn, Radio Free Europe, 13 Apr 20,  Officials in Minsk say a nuclear power plant being constructed in western Belarus will be launched during the summer and start producing electricity in the autumn…..

The plant is being built in the town of Astravets near the border with Lithuania. It is just 40 kilometers from Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.

In January, Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas told RFE/RL that the Belarusian plant is “a threat to our national security, public health, and environment.”

“The key question is the site selection, which was done politically — geopolitically,” Vaiciunas told RFE/RL.

Plans for the nuclear plant were unveiled by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 2008 when Minsk received a $10 billion loan from Moscow for the project.

The general contractor for the Belarusian nuclear power plant building is Atomstroiexport, an affiliate of Russia’s state-owned Rosatom.    Based on reporting by TASS, ONT, and RFE/RL correspondent Matthew Luxmoore

April 14, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, politics international | Leave a comment

Environmental rules governing radioactive waste, fish farming, recycling and other sectors are being weakened due to Covid 19

Radioactive Waste Regulations – Scotland

The Ferret 12th April 2020, More than 5,000 business sites across Scotland are going to escape
judgement on their environmental breaches in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Environmental rules governing radioactive waste, fish farming, recycling and other sectors are also being relaxed by the Scottish
Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) to help companies cope with Covid-19.

The Faslane nuclear base and nuclear power plants have been given the green light to break safety limits on radioactive waste. Sepa has relaxed environmental rules for specific sectors, notably the military and civil
nuclear industry. A “temporary regulatory position statement” posted on its website offered radioactive waste exemptions to the Faslane navel base on the Clyde, as well as nuclear plants at Hunterston in North Ayrshire,
Torness in East Lothian and Dounreay in Caithness.

“During a significant outbreak of Covid-19 the ability of operators to run their operations may be compromised by a lack of available staff,” the statement said. “We expect operators to be ensuring that the impacts of Covid-19 on the environment are minimised. We recognise, however, that in some cases operators may be unable to comply for reasons beyond their control.” It added: “Any failure by the operator to comply with the conditions of their authorisation will not be treated as a non-compliance”.  This only applied “where non-compliance with authorisation conditions is unavoidable and a direct result of emergency resulting from Covid-19 outbreak and will not lead to significant environmental harm,” Sepa said.

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament warned that more dangerous radioactivity could be discharged into the environment. “It is outrageous to suggest that the pandemic is a reason for relaxation of the regulatory
requirements,” said campaign chair, Lynn Jamieson. “Willingness to tolerate possible breaches of regulations by civil or military nuclear facilities demonstrates shocking inadequacy on the part of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Whose environment are they in place to protect?”

The nuclear-free group of local authorities also expressed concern. “These new rules from Sepa seem to allow further leeway on nuclear sites over the handling of radioactive waste,” said the group’s vice convenor in Scotland, Renfrewshire SNP councillor Audrey Doig. “Sepa should be very wary of relaxing rules and find ways of continuing to
regulate the industry in the robust, safe and secure way the public expects.”

The National 12th April 2020 

April 14, 2020 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Artificial Intelligence in nuclear weapons and military systems

Inside the grave new world of Atomic AI   While AI is shifting Asia’s nuclear battle space, it has the potential not only to destroy humanity – but also to shield it, Asia Times, By ANDREW SALMON, APRIL 13, 2020   Stand by. Terminator-style nuclear weapons and systems are coming to a military near you.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles and space planes are likely to be “the AI-enabled weapons of choice for future nuclear delivery,” a leading military think tank revealed during a recent seminar in Seoul.

AI, or artificial intelligence, enables faster decision-making than humans and can replace humans in the decision matrix at a time when leadership reacts too slowly – or is dead.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, released its report The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Strategic Stability and Nuclear Risk Volume II; East Asian Perspectives in a forum hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Seoul.

April 14, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A win-win for USA and North Korea? Helping to fight coronavirus

April 14, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment