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Delay in preparations for Wylfa nuclear plant

North Wales Chronicle 7th May 2020, The firm behind a planned multi-billion-pound nuclear plant has asked for more time to carry out significant improvements to a 16 kilometre stretch
of road linking the development with the A55. In July 2018 Anglesey
Council’s planning committee approved the plans which include widening
and putting down a new surface on the A5025 between Valley and
Llanynghenedl, Llanfachraeth and Llanrhuddlad, and Cefn Coch to the
proposed Wylfa Newydd power plant site. But with the project officially on
hold and a UK Government decision on a Development Consent Order (DCO) not
expected until at least September, developers have now asked to extend the
condition ruling that work would have to start within two years.

May 9, 2020 Posted by | UK | Leave a comment

A potential US extradition of Assange poses existential threats to democracy.

In his fight against extradition to the US, where he faces 175 years in prison and being subjected to harsh conditions under “Special Administrative Measures”, Assange is rendered defenseless. He is in effective solitary confinement, being psychologically tortured inside London’s maximum-security prison. With the British government’s refusal to release him temporarily into home detention, despite his deteriorating health and weak lung condition developed as consequences of long detention, Assange is now put at risk of contracting coronavirus. This threatens his life.

Now, as the world stands still and becomes silent in our collective self-quarantine, Assange’s words spoken years ago in defense of a free internet call for our attention from behind the walls of Belmarsh prison:

“Nuclear war, climate change or global pandemics are existential threats that we can work through with discussion and thought. Discourse is humanity’s immune system for existential threats. Diseases that infect the immune system are usually fatal. In this case, at a planetary scale.”

Assange’s US extradition, Threat to Future of Internet and Democracy, CounterPunch by NOZOMI HAYASE 8 May 20 On Monday May 4, the British Court decided that the extradition hearing for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, scheduled for May 18, would be moved to September. This four month delay was made after Assange’s defense lawyer argued the difficulty of his receiving a fair hearing due to restrictions posed by the Covid-19 lockdown. Monday’s hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court proceeded without enabling the phone link for press and observers waiting on the line, and without Assange who was not well enough to appear via videolink.

Sunday May 3rd marked World Press Freedom Day. As people around the globe celebrated with online debates and workshops, Assange was being held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison for publishing classified documents which exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this day, annually observed by the United Nations to remind the governments of the importance of free press, Amnesty International renewed its call for the US to drop the charges against this imprisoned journalist.

The US case to extradite Assange is one of the most important press freedom cases of this century. The indictment against him under the Espionage Act is an unprecedented attack on journalism. This is a war on free speech that has escalated in recent years turning the Internet into a battleground.

Privatized censorship Continue reading

May 9, 2020 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Pandemic may force USA to cut back on bloated spending on nuclear weapons

May 9, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global heating – lethal heat plus humidity already coming to areas across the world

Potentially fatal bouts of heat and humidity on the rise, study finds

Scientists identify thousands of extreme events, suggesting stark warnings about global heating are already coming to pass, Guardian,  Nina Lakhani 9 May 2020 Intolerable bouts of extreme humidity and heat which could threaten human survival are on the rise across the world, suggesting that worst-case scenario warnings about the consequences of global heating are already occurring, a new study has revealed.Scientists have identified thousands of previously undetected outbreaks of the deadly weather combination in parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and North America, including several hotspots along the US Gulf coast.

Humidity is more dangerous than dry heat alone because it impairs sweating – the body’s life-saving natural cooling system.

The number of potentially fatal humidity and heat events doubled between 1979 and 2017, and are increasing in both frequency and intensity, according to the study published in Science Advances.……

The ominous findings come as something of a surprise to scientists, as previous studies had projected such extreme weather events would occur later in the century, mostly in parts of the tropics and subtropics where humidity is already a problem. …..

May 9, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

“Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

An unidentified member of AIM Native American woman sits with her rifle at ready on steps of building in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, March 2, 1973. Indians still have control of town having seized it on Tuesday. Eleven hostages they had taken were finally released. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills

Can the Lakota win a “paper war” to save their sacred sites?

Mother Jones,  BY DELILAH FRIEDLER; PHOTOS BY DANNY WILCOX FRAZIER, MARCH/APRIL 2020 ISSUE, Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant Indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo. She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers—“It was a man’s world,” she says—but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back,   was on front pages across the country the following Sunday……..

Today, Brave and other Lakota elders are staring down yet another encroachment on their historic lands: a 10,600-acre uranium mine proposed to be built in the Black Hills. The Dewey-Burdock mine would suck up as much as 8,500 gallons of groundwater per minute from the Inyan Kara aquifer to extract as much as 10 million pounds of ore in total. Lakota say the project violates both the 1868 US-Lakota treaty and federal environmental laws by failing to take into account the sacred nature of the site. If the mine is built, they say, burial grounds would be destroyed and the region’s waters permanently tainted.
A legal win for the Lakota would represent an unprecedented victory for a tribe over corporations such as Power­tech, the Canadian-owned firm behind Dewey-­Burdock, that have plundered the resource-rich hills. And it could set precedents forcing federal regulators to protect Indigenous sites and take tribes’ claims more seriously. The fight puts the Lakota on a collision course with the Trump administration, which has close ties to energy companies and is doubling down on nuclear power while fast-tracking new permits and slashing environmental protectionseven using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to further roll back regulations. All of this makes Black Hills mineral deposits more attractive than they’ve been in decades.
For Brave, the Dewey-Burdock mine is just the latest battle in a long war to stop settlers’ affronts to Lakota lands and sovereignty. “They’re taking so much from [the earth] and not giving anything back,” Brave tells me, a hand-rolled cigarette dangling from her fingers. “I’m thinking we should say to them, ‘Get the hell off. Your rent is over.’”
When the gold rush petered out, mining companies pivoted to silver, tungsten, iron, and limestone. In 1951, uranium was discovered. Within 20 years, there were more than 150 uranium mines centered on a small boomtown called Edgemont, in Paha Sapa’s southern foothills, where the Oglala once made their winter camp………
The southern foothills are rocky and quiet, but just north, bikers and families in RVs clog the highways to visit abandoned gold mines, old-timey saloons, and the main attraction, Mount Rushmore, which was carved into a sacred mountain known to the Lakota as the Six Grandfathers. “We call it the Shrine of Hypocrisy,” says Tonia Stands, an Oglala Lakota who has been one of Pine Ridge’s most persistent voices against uranium mining.
For decades, Lakota activists have raised alarms about the risks uranium mining poses to their communities. In 1962, radioactive material seeped from a broken dam into the Cheyenne River, upstream from Pine Ridge. Mining ceased in 1973, but the reservation continues to grapple with epidemic levels of birth defects, cancer, and kidney disease. Today, Pine Ridge has the lowest life expectancy of any US county. The rampant health issues help explain why reservation leaders took swift action to stem the spread of coronavirus before they even confirmed their first case.
While no evidence has definitively linked their health problems to mining, many Lakota believe that uranium contamination is partly to blame, and they point to the Environmental Protection Agency’s settlements in response to the effects of mining in the Navajo Nation, which acknowledged links between high levels of uranium in soil and drinking water and cancer, kidney disease, and reproductive issues on the reservation…….
Stands wears her hair in a single black braid reaching all the way down her back. Her grandmother was a “uranium fighter,” as was her late uncle Wilmer Mesteth, who helped found the Oglalas’ Tribal Historic Preservation Office. In 2010, three years after Powertech began the process of licensing Dewey-Burdock, Mesteth and the tribe filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which oversees uranium mine permitting, to stop construction. They argued that the project was moving forward in violation of their sovereign will as well as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the landmark 1970 law requiring federal agencies to document the impacts of all projects they build or license. According to the tribe and local geologists, Powertech failed to collect enough data to prove that the mine would not contaminate groundwater, and did not adequately assess how it would affect sites of cultural importance. …..
Adding a layer of oddity to the whole situation, Powertech is so far a mining company only on paper. It has never produced an ounce of ore and can only keep litigating as long as investors remain convinced that footing its bills will eventually pay off. Powertech anticipates the mine will net about $150 million, yet it says it’s already sunk $10 million into the NRC license, not including litigation or staffing costs. Its parent company, Azarga Uranium, trades as an underregulated penny stock; investment firm Haywood Securities rates its risk factor as “very high.”…..
 today, Powertech is just one of several companies applying to open new mines, anticipating that an administration bent on deregulation, and the appeal of nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source, could increase profitability……
Trump’s proposed 2021 budget would allocate $150 million to stock a new reserve with domestically mined uranium. The share prices of US mining companies jumped after the report’s release, while factors related to COVID-19 caused the global price of uranium to surge throughout March and April.
Trump has found other ways to boost mining and energy interests in and around reservations and sacred Native sites.  …..
He’s also waging war on the cornerstone of environmental law: …..
Last August, Brave and a dozen tribal members gathered in a hotel ballroom in Rapid City for the latest hearing in their case. The NRC judges, three white men, sat at one end of the room, a photo of Mount Rushmore at their backs. Having lost their claims about environmental harm, the tribe’s lawyers are still trying to convince regulators that the uranium mine would irreparably damage Lakota burial grounds, places of ceremony, and other sacred sites………
Energy and mining companies are treated “like clients instead of regulated entities,” says Jeff Parsons, one of the tribe’s lawyers. The NRC and its permittees “are in absolute lockstep, opposed to citizen and tribal involvement” in a process designed to protect exactly that.
It’s not just the NRC. After the agency rejected the tribe’s environmental arguments, Parsons filed an appeal with the DC Circuit Court. In 2018, the court agreed that the NRC violated the law by licensing Dewey-­Burdock even after its own review panel found “significant deficiency” in the cultural review. But the court declined to vacate the license, citing Powertech’s lament that its stock price “would plummet.”……
After the hearing, Brave and Stands met in a nearby park with the other Lakota who’d driven from Pine Ridge. Sharing their huge pot of stew with homeless people there, most of the group concurred that their case looked strong. But the judges were unmoved: In December, they ruled that the NRC had satisfied NEPA’s requirement to take a “hard look” simply by making a “reasonable effort,” resolving the last objection to the license. “The system is set up to fail our people,” Stands says.
When Brave was just a kid, her grand­father made her memorize the text of the violated 1868 treaty. That came in handy when tribes and the Army Corps of Engineers, which issues permits for projects that cross waterways, were fighting over the Dakota Access pipeline. “When we were at Standing Rock, they said, ‘This is Army Corps of Engineers land.’ And I said, ‘Bullshit. This is treaty territory. The Army Corps of Engineers is not a country and cannot make a treaty with us. We’re sovereign.’”
For the Lakota, sovereignty means the right to determine for themselves what happens on their lands. ……
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights…….
A shift from merely consulting tribes to making projects contingent on tribes’ involvement and input, a central tenet of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, would represent a monumental change. Under such a policy, the Keystone XL pipeline would likely be blocked by the tribes whose lands it would cross. In 2019, the state of Washington became the first to require the “free, prior, and informed consent” of recognized tribes on any project that “directly and tangibly affects” their people, lands, or sacred sites. In both federal and state supreme courts, tribes are beginning to win more rulings in favor of their long-­forgotten treaty rights………..

In October, Brave spoke at Magpie Buffalo Organizing’s inaugural “No Uranium in Treaty Territory” summit, which offered a crash course on tribal sovereignty. The activists are closely tracking the various Keystone XL permits, which the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is challenging in court as a treaty vio­lation. As the threat of both uranium and gold mining looms, there’s talk of occupying land in the Black Hills, as the American Indian Movement did in 1981.

For most of her life, Brave hadn’t understood why her grandfather made her memorize the treaty. It didn’t stop the Black Hills gold rush in the 19th century or the uranium boom in the 20th. Nobody knows how many sacred sites were destroyed—but now there’s a chance to protect those that remain……….

May 9, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | 4 Comments

Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans a dangerous deregulation of radioactive waste

Critics alarmed by US nuclear agency’s bid to relax rules on radioactive waste

Nuclear Regulatory Commission keen to allow material to be disposed of by ‘land burial’ – with potentially damaging effects  Daniel Ross  8 May 2020  The federal agency providing oversight of the commercial nuclear sector is attempting to push through a rule change critics say could allow dangerous amounts of radioactive material to be disposed of in places like municipal landfills, with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment.

“This would be the most massive deregulation of radioactive waste in American history,” said Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear industry watchdog non-profit, about a proposal that would permit “very low-level” radioactive waste to be disposed of by “land burial”.

Currently, low-level radioactive waste is primarily disposed of in highly regulated sites in Texas, Washington, South Carolina and Utah. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) also provides exemptions allowing “low-level waste” to be dumped in unlicensed disposal sites, but these exemptions are given only rarely, and are conducted with strict case-by-case protocols in place.

The proposed “interpretive” rule change relaxes the rules surrounding how radioactive materials would be disposed of in unlicensed disposal sites “significantly”, said Hirsch.

“If you dump radioactive waste in places that aren’t designed to deal with it, it comes back to haunt you. It’s in the air you breathe, the food that you eat, the water you drink,” he added.

In an email, David McIntyre, an NRC spokesperson, explained that the rule would apply only to a “small subset” of very low-level waste, and that the agency would not allow such disposals “if we felt public health and safety and the environment would not be protected”.

But major sticking point, say experts, concerns how the term “very low-level waste” is not defined by statute or in the NRC’s own regulations.

The NRC describes low-level wastes as contaminated materials like clothing, tools, and medical equipment. According to McIntyre, the radioactivity of “very low-level waste” is just above background. “The radioactivity level of very low-level waste is so low that it may be safely disposed of in hazardous or municipal solid waste landfills,” he wrote.

Nevertheless, “background doesn’t mean it’s safe,” said Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who added that the interpretive rule’s loose language “opens the floodgates” for nuclear waste to be disposed of “as if not radioactive”.

The proposal caps the maximum annual “cumulative dose” to a person from the radioactive wastes dumped into unlicensed sites to 25 millirems – the same limit the NRC uses for highly regulated waste disposal sites. That measurement, said D’Arrigo, is a “projected” amount that can be manipulated through modeling.

Experts point out that the nuclear industry has long sought cheaper ways to dispose of its wastes. As the nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants continues to age, and as more of them approach retirement, some of the decommissioning funds set up to safely dismantle the reactors are proving inadequate.

“The NRC regulations are in effect a cost-benefit analysis,” explained Rodney Ewing, a professor of nuclear security at Stanford University. “It’s been a common trend to look for waste streams that, if separated out, they could be disposed of in less expensive ways.”

Some environmentalists fear the rule change will also disproportionately impact low-income, marginalized communities who are more likely than their wealthier neighbors to be situated near solid waste landfills.

According to Caroline Reiser, nuclear energy legal fellow with the Natural Resources Defense Council, if the proposal is successfully passed, then the issue could end up in court.

“Once it starts getting implemented, that’s when the real fights end up happening,” she said.


May 9, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Close to 100 USA Environmental Rules now removed by Trump govt: here’s the list

The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.  NYT,  By NADJA POPOVICH, LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA and KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS  May 6, 2020

After three years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled most of the major climate and environmental policies the president promised to undo.

Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. Several major reversals have been finalized in recent weeks as the country has struggled to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

In all, a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law SchoolColumbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 60 environmental rules and regulations officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump. An additional 34 rollbacks are still in progress.

With elections looming, the administration has sought to wrap up some of its biggest regulatory priorities quickly, said Hana V. Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program. Further delays could leave the new rules vulnerable to reversal under the Congressional Review Act if Democrats are able to retake Congress and the White House in November, she said.

The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants.

At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections……

All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts.

Below, [on original] we have summarized each rule that has been targeted for reversal over the past three years.


May 9, 2020 Posted by | environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Bosnia aims to stop Croatia’splan for radioactive waste dump close to the border

May 9, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Lithuania presses Belarus to delay use of nuclear fuel, for safety reasons

May 9, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

South Korea sticking to its policy of phasing out nuclear power, switching to renewables

Seoul keeps to plan of weaning the country off nuclear fuel, expand renewables to 40%, Pulse,  By Oh Chan-jong and Lee Eun-joo   8 May 20,  South Korea on Friday kept its plan to phase out of nuclear fuel intact despite snowballing losses at state utility firms as the result, with a goal to replace energy sourcing with renewables to 40 percent by 2034 through retiring aged fossil and nuclear powered stations.

According to the ninth long-term plan announced by a working group under the Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy on Friday, the government plans to close all coal-fired power plants whose 30 years of operational years expire by 2034 and replace the fuel with liquefied natural gas (LNG). It will also reduce the number of nuclear power stations to 17 units by 2034 after a peak at 26 units in 2024.

Under the plan, the government will reduce dependence on nuclear and fossil fuel from current 46.3 percent to 24.8 percent by 2034 while expand dependence on renewables from 15.1 percent to 40 percent.

The plan was announced by a working group under the energy ministry that held 51 meetings since March to draw up the country’s basic energy supply plan. The latest announcement is a draft of the 2020-2034 plan that is established once every two years under the electricity enterprises act to stabilize energy supply. …….

Renewable energy will take up 40 percent of total power supply by 2034, up from 15.1 percent. In addition to the closing down of 10 coal-fired plants as announced during the previous roadmap, 14 additional units will shut down by 2030. The government expected to be able to reach its goal announced in July, 2018, to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 32.5 percent by 2030.

May 9, 2020 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

“Stand-down” of activities at Michigan nuclear reactor, due to certain number of COVID-19 workers

Pandemic concerns interrupt Michigan nuclear plant outage, S and P Global Platts, Author Michael McAuliffe EditorKeiron Greenhalgh CommodityElectric Power   8 May 20  Washington — Some work has resumed after a coronavirus pandemic-caused “stand-down” of activities at DTE Energy’s Fermi-2 nuclear reactor in Newport, Michigan, that interrupted a refueling and maintenance outage, company spokesman Stephen Tait said Thursday.   The “stand-down,” in which contractor work was suspended, would add to the duration to the outage, which began March 21, but the company does “not provide estimates of outage or individual project durations,” Tait said.

DTE previously confirmed it had employees test positive for the novel coronavirus, but Tait said: “As a company, we are not releasing numbers of positive cases.”

The 1,205-MW plant is located in Monroe County, Michigan, and Kim Comerzan, health officer/director of the Monroe County Health Department, said in an interview Thursday the department is working with DTE Energy to determine the number of regular employees and contractors who have tested positive for the virus.

The stand-down began May 1, with some work resuming Monday. Normal crews that maintain the plant remained on the job over the weekend to ensure plant safety, according to Tait.

During refueling outages, hundreds of contract workers are brought in to supplement permanent staff and complete fuel replacement as well as a variety of maintenance tasks and inspections that can only been done with the reactor shut……..

Many nuclear units in the US and overseas have reduced the scope of outages to limit the number of on-site workers and are employing distancing measures to reduce the chance of spreading the novel coronavirus.

While some outages have been completed in shorter-than-normal times as a result, some have been extended both for health reasons and, in some European countries that are heavily reliant on nuclear power, because of a sharp drop in demand for power due to lockdowns related to the pandemic.

May 9, 2020 Posted by | health, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Concern growing over plan for high level nuclear waste storage in West Texas

High Level Nuclear Waste Storage Facility in West Texas One Step Closer, Live,   By Sonia Ramirez-Muñoz | May. 8, 2020   ANDREWS, TX West Texas is becoming a hotbed for nuclear waste storage after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a report that recommended the approval of radioactive waste to be stored in Andrews County.

According to CBS7, Waste Control Specialists, which currently has a facility near the Texas-New Mexico border, and a joint venture called Storage Partners want to bring the country’s high-level nuclear waste to the Permian Basin…….

ANDREWS, TX – West Texas is becoming a hotbed for nuclear waste storage after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission released a report that recommended the approval of radioactive waste to be stored in Andrews County.

According to CBS7, Waste Control Specialists, which currently has a facility near the Texas-New Mexico border, and a joint venture called Storage Partners want to bring the country’s high-level nuclear waste to the Permian Basin.

Andrews County residents are concerned about becoming the new home for nuclear waste.

“Very dangerous,” said Elizabeth Padilla with the group ‘Save Andrews County’. “We’re talking about the nation’s spent fuel from nuclear reactors across the country. The waste that nobody wants. The high radioactive waste.”

Cities like Midland could also be impacted as the transport of the waste could go through the downtown area as well as Texas cities through which the nuclear waste will be transported through.

“Midland, in particular, it would definitely come right through the downtown area,” said Karen Hadden with SEED Coalition. “This material has to be isolated from living things for a million years, and there is no way that a facility in Texas, the one that’s being looked at, could do that.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now hosting public meetings where community members can provide public comment on the draft. The final environmental impact statement is scheduled to be released in May of next year.

May 9, 2020 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment