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Nuclear power, far too slow to affect global heating – theme for July 20

In recent themes I wrote about nuclear power being in fact a big contributor to global warming,  and about how climate change will in fact finish off the nuclear industry.

But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few years to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation.  A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power”   projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.

But the new flavour of the month is Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs), which generate  from 50 to 200 megawatts. So the  world would need, quickly, to have a significant reduction of carbon emissions, i.e at least 7500 largish SMRs – or 30,000 smaller ones., (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)

Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.





June 25, 2020 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change | 3 Comments

NUCLEAR’s WHOPPING CLIMATE LIE – theme for July 2020

Goebbels, Joseph“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth ”

Dr Goebbels would be delighted with the nuclear lobby’s lie that nuclear power is zero carbon and will fix climate change. He would be even more delighted with the current success of this lie.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

The failing nuclear industry is fighting for its life. It now pitches its salvation on its claim to halt climate change. Even if marketing-pigs-trough
that were true (which it isn’t) the world would have to construct several thousand ‘conventional’ reactors, or several millions of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) very quickly, within a decade or two.

How is it that politicians , media, academics have swallowed this lie?


climate It's a lie

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

2,000 Covid-19 Cases in Severodvinsk, city that builds Russia’s nuclear submarines

The City That Builds Russia’s Nuclear Submarines Now Has Over 2,000 Covid-19 Cases, BThe Barents Observer, 24 June 20, 

Two naval construction yards in a northern Russian city near the site of last year’s mysterious nuclear testing accident have become new hotbeds for the coronavirus.

Severodvinsk is near the Nyonoksa testing site where an August 2019 explosion during a rocket engine test killed five nuclear workers and led to a radiation spike. The building of nuclear subs and other naval vessels continues despite the increasingly serious virus situation.

Approximately 43% of all infections in the Arkhangelsk region are in Severodvinsk, regional authorities recently announced.

That indicates that there now are more than 2,000 cases in the city.

The lion’s share of the people infected are affiliated with Sevmash and Zvezdochka, the two naval yards.

Despite the introduction of protective measures, the virus has continued to spread among the local population of about 180,000.

In the past week alone, more than 320 new cases have been registered in town, most of them among the shipbuilders, a statistics overview said.

Temperature testing is conducted at entry points to the yards as well as on the construction premises, and workers are required to wear masks.

But the mask requirement is not observed, a local employee told the Sever.Realii newspaper in early June. Every worker is given 10 masks every five days along with a liter of antiseptic.

But most workers still do not wear the masks and ignore social distancing rules, the worker said.

There are about 30,000 employees at the Sevmash and about 11,000 workers at the Zvezdochka.

While the Zvezdochka engages primarily in vessel repair and upgrades, the Sevmash builds nuclear submarines. At the moment, there are at least eight new vessels under construction onsite, among them four Borey-class and four Yasen-class subs. AT TOP

June 25, 2020 Posted by | health, Russia | Leave a comment

Testing for radiation in Fukushima – the continued anxiety

Nine years on, Fukushima’s mental health fallout lingers

As radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident subsides, a damaging social and psychological legacy continues, Wired

By SOPHIE KNIGHT 24 June 20,  If it were not illegal, Ayumi Iida would love to test a dead body. Recently, she tested a wild boar’s heart. She’s also tested the contents of her vacuum cleaner and the filter of her car’s air conditioner. Her children are so used to her scanning the material contents of their life that when she cuts the grass, her son asks, “Are you going to test that too?”

Iida, who is 35, forbids her children from entering the sea or into forests. She agonises over which foods to buy. But no matter what she does, she can’t completely protect her children from radiation. It even lurks in their urine.

“Maybe he’s being exposed through the school lunch,” she says, puzzling over why her nine-year-old son’s urine showed two-and-a-half times the concentration of caesium that hers did, when she takes such care shopping. “Or maybe it’s from the soil outside where he plays. Or is it because children have a faster metabolism, so he flushes more out? We don’t know.”

Iida is a public relations officer at Tarachine, a citizens’ lab in Fukushima, Japan, that tests for radioactive contamination released from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Agricultural produce grown in the area is subject to government and supermarket testing, but Tarachine wants to provide people with an option to test anything, from foraged mushrooms to dust from their home. Iida tests anything unknown before feeding it to her four children. Recently, she threw out some rice she received as a present after finding its level of contamination – although 80 times lower than the government limit – unacceptably high. “My husband considered eating it ourselves, but it’s too much to cook two batches of rice for every meal. In the end we fed it to some seagulls.”

Tarachine is one of several citizen labs founded in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which obliterated a swathe of the country’s northwest coast and killed more than 18,000 people. The wave knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering a meltdown in three of the reactor cores and hydrogen explosions that sprayed radionuclides across the Fukushima prefecture. More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuate. A government decontamination programme has allowed evacuation orders to be lifted in many municipalities, but one zone is still off limits, with only short visits permitted.

Driven by a desire to find out precisely how much radiation there was in the environment and where, a group of volunteers launched Tarachine in Iwaki, a coastal city that escaped the worst of the radioactive plume and was not evacuated, through a crowdfunding campaign in November 2011. It is now registered as a non-profit organisation, and runs on donations.

In a windowless room controlled for temperature and humidity and dotted with screens showing graphs, two women sort and label samples, either collected by staff or sent in by the public: soil from back gardens, candied grasshoppers, seawater. In the beginning, mothers sent in litres of breastmilk. Tarachine initially charged a tenth of what a university lab would charge to make the testing accessible to as many people as possible; last year, they made it free.

To test for caesium-137, the main long-term contaminant released from the plant, staff finely chop samples and put them inside a gamma counter, a cylindrical grey machine that looks like a centrifuge. Tarachine’s machines are more accurate than the more commonly accessible measuring tools: at some public monitoring posts, shoppers can simply place their produce on top of a device to get a reading, but this can be heavily skewed by background radiation (waving a Geiger counter over food won’t give an accurate reading for the same reason). Tarachine tries to get as precise readings as possible; the lab’s machines give results to one decimal place, and they try to block out excess background radiation by placing bottles of water around the machines.

Measuring for strontium, a type of less penetrative beta radiation, is even more complicated: the food has to first be roasted to ash before being mixed with an acid and sifted. The whole process takes two to three days. Tarachine received training and advice from university radiation labs around the country, but the volunteers had to experiment with everyday food items that scientists had never tested. “There was no recipe like ‘Roast the leaf for two hours at so-and-so Celsius’, you know?” says Iida. “If it’s too burnt it’s no good. We also had to experiment with types of acid and how much of the acid to add.”

Japanese government standards for radiation are some of the most stringent in the world: the upper limit of radioactive caesium in food such as meat and vegetables is 100 becquerels per kilogram, compared with 1,250 in the European Union and 1,200 in the US (the becquerel unit measures how much ionizing radiation is released due to radioactive decay). Many supermarkets adhere to a tighter limit, proudly advertising that their produce contains less than 40 becquerels, or as few as 10. Tarachine aims for just 1 becquerel.

“How I think about it is, how much radiation was there in local rice before the accident? It was about 0.01 becquerel. So that’s what I want the standard to be,” says Iida. Continue reading

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation, social effects | Leave a comment

How we can manage the intermittency of renewables and attain 100% renewables

June 25, 2020 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s expensive problem of nuclear power’s inflexibility

Because of the inflexibility of the AGRs, RE suppliers are shut off first. This is explained in a recent report by the newly-formed pressure group, 100 percentrenewable uk, which explains that the inflexible nature of nuclear power is instrumental in forcing the National Grid to turn off large amounts of wind power (ie in the jargon to be ‘constrained’) in Scotland when there is too much electricity on the network. 

This appears nonsensical as the Grid is turning off cheap renewables to preserve expensive nuclear, and then paying large compensation payments to them to do so.

UK Electricity: Renewables and the problem with inflexible nuclear,  Ian Fairlea, June 21, 2020

In recent years, the share of the UK’s electricity supplied by renewable energy (RE) sources has increased substantially to the point that RE is now the second largest source after gas: It now supplies 20% to 25% of our electrical needs. This is greater than the amount supplied by nuclear – about 15% to 18%. Coal, hydroelectric, and mainly gas (~40%) constitute the other sources. See chart [on original] for Britain’s electrical power supplies in 2019.

Why are AGR reactors inflexible?  Continue reading

June 25, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Trump administration says it won’t carry out a nuclear weapons test ‘at this time’

Trump administration says it won’t carry out a nuclear weapons test ‘at this time’, By Kylie Atwood, CNN, June 24, 2020  Washington , The US told Russia that that there is no reason for the Trump administration to carry out a nuclear weapons test “at this time,” during nuclear negotiations in Vienna this week, but reserved the right to conduct one if they see a need to do so.

“We made very clear, as we have from the moment we adopted a testing moratorium in 1992, that we maintain and will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see any reason to do so, whatever that reason may be,” said Marshall Billingslea, the top US envoy for nuclear negotiations, as he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. “But that said, I am unaware of any particular reason to test at this stage.”
The top nuclear negotiator said the Russians had asked him about the possibility of a US nuclear test during their meetings, based on a media report about a test being discussed by US officials last month.
“I won’t shut the door on it, because why would we,” Billingslea said………
China currently has far fewer nuclear weapons than the stockpiles of the cold war foes. The US and Russia both have at least 5,000 nuclear warheads while it is estimated that China only has about 320, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The Trump administration has recently focused on developing some new nuclear weapons.
The US military deployed a new submarine-launched low-yield nuclear weapon earlier this year, the first new US nuclear weapon in decades. The weapon was called for in the Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which warned that adversaries might believe they could use a smaller nuclear weapon against the US or its allies without fear of the US launching a nuclear retaliation due to American weapons being disproportionately more destructive.
The Pentagon sees the weapon development as critical to countering the threat posed by Russia’s arsenal of smaller tactical nukes. But the rhetoric from Trump administration officials continues to focus on China……..

June 25, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste from Germany to Russia

Nuclear waste shipment leaves Germany for Russia, 24 June 2020

A shipment of 600 tonnes of depleted uranium has left a nuclear fuel plant in Germany bound for Russia, a Russian environmentalist group says.

Twelve rail cars left the Urenco plant in the town of Gronau, close to the Dutch border, on Monday 22 June, according to the Ecodefense group.

The waste will reportedly be moved by sea and rail to a plant in the Urals.

Urenco told the BBC its uranium would be further enriched in Russia and the process met environmental standards.

Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, Rosatom, insisted it was “inaccurate and misleading” to refer to the depleted uranium as waste.

But environmental activists have long been concerned that Russia may become a “dumping ground” for radioactive material from power plants.

Greenpeace protested last year after German media reports that Urenco had resumed shipping depleted uranium from Germany to Russia after a gap of 10 years. Russia had halted the practice in 2009 under pressure from environmentalists.

On Monday activists in Germany posted video on social media of what appeared to be the train en route from Gronau, as well as photos of anti-nuclear protesters.

Why is the shipment being sent to Russia?

According to the report (in Russian) by Ecodefense, some of it will be shipped by sea to Russia via the port of Amsterdam.

It will, the group says, eventually arrive at the Ural Electrochemical Combine in Novouralsk, 3,400km (2,500 miles) away in Russia’s Ural Mountains.

The group believes that nearly 3,000 tonnes of depleted uranium have already been shipped from Germany to Russia this year.

The Urenco spokesperson contacted by the BBC said they could not give details of shipments for “safety and security reasons”.

But Urenco did confirm that it had a contract with a firm called Tradewill, a subsidiary of Tenex which is the overseas trade company of Rosatom.

Under the contract, it said, depleted uranium “tails” are sent to Russia for further processing. The enriched uranium product then returns to Urenco while the “depleted fraction” remains with Tenex.

“This is common and legal practice,” Urenco says. “We also retain depleted uranium at Urenco in Europe.”

Urenco, which is a partnership between German, British and Dutch companies, said its representatives had inspected the facilities involved in the process and had found that they complied with “all internationally recognised logistics standards, which includes handling, storage, safeguarding and processing of nuclear material, as well as appropriate environmental standards”.

Why are environmentalists so concerned?

One of the big questions is how much of the waste is eventually returned to Germany, with activists arguing that most of it stays in Russia.

There are also fears of toxic pollution in the event of any spill.

On 15 June, a petition to stop the shipments was sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. It was signed by environmental groups and activists from Russia, Germany and the Netherlands.

The petition calls for an end to the “colonial policy of moving hazardous cargoes from Europe to Russia’s Siberian and Ural regions”.

It argues that Germany has the technology to deal with its own nuclear waste and ends with the words: “Russia is not a dumping ground!”

Greenpeace argued last year that Russia lacked a plan to utilise depleted uranium on a large scale. Continue reading

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Germany, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Coalition for Responsible Energy Development wants a stop to nuclear expansion in Canada

New Coalition Wants All Nuclear Expansion Abandoned,  Saint John, NB, Canada / Country 94, Stephanie Sirois, June 24, 2020  A new coalition wants the provincial and federal governments to close down coal burning stations and abandon all plans for nuclear expansion.

The Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick includes public interest organizations and individuals and is intended to advocate for responsible energy development.

David Thompson is a project coordinator for CRED-NB.

“I guess a number of people in the province were looking at organizations also, were looking at the way energy was proposed to be developed and the kind of energy we had here and we felt that something a lot better could happen,” he said.

Thompson said there is a need to reduce the demand for energy in the province by eliminating energy waste and maximizing energy efficiency.

“We respond to climate change and to promote emission-free and waste-free energy, that sort of thing and to get on the bandwagon of the new renewable energies,” he said.

CRED-NB wants the provincial and federal government to invest in sources of renewable energy such as wind, solar, geo-thermal, tidal, certain types of bio-energy and water-driven power.

“I think everyone wants more cost-effective energy and energy that’s not going to leave behind waste or pollute our environment and we have to get energy in place rather quickly now to deal with climate change.”

The coalition is calling upon governments to invest in less costly and safer renewable energy, coupled with energy efficiency and conservation programs. CRED-NB says this will create more jobs and economic activity in New Brunswick.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

Opposition by Saugeen-Ojibway nation brings end to plan for nuclear waste near Lake Huron

Ontario Power Generation Formally Ends Effort To Place Nuclear Storage Site Near Lake Huron, WKAR

By BEN THORP 24  June 20, A Canadian company has officially ended efforts to place an intermediate-level nuclear storage facility along the shore of Lake Huron. The decision comes after the Saugeen-Ojibway nation, on whose land the nuclear site was proposed, voted overwhelmingly against the project.

In letters sent in May, Ontario Power Generation officially withdrew from an environmental assessment of the project and an application for a construction license. Those withdrawals were first reported in the Detroit Free Press.

Fred Kuntz is with OPG. He said after fifteen years the company decided to look elsewhere to build a storage facility.

“You need three things in Ontario for a project like this to proceed. You need good geology, which we had, you need municipal support, which we had, and you need indigenous support. Without that, we couldn’t proceed with the project.”

Kuntz said the company will begin looking for alternate locations. …….

In letters sent in May, Ontario Power Generation officially withdrew from an environmental assessment of the project and an application for a construction license. Those withdrawals were first reported in the Detroit Free Press.

Fred Kuntz is with OPG. He said after fifteen years the company decided to look elsewhere to build a storage facility.

“You need three things in Ontario for a project like this to proceed. You need good geology, which we had, you need municipal support, which we had, and you need indigenous support. Without that, we couldn’t proceed with the project.”

Kuntz said the company will begin looking for alternate locations. …..A second, high-level nuclear storage facility could still be built near Lake Huron. The Canadian Nuclear Waste Management Organization is considering two possible sites for a facility, one of which is near the lake.

A spokesperson for the organization said the Saugeen-Ojibway vote was not a referendum on their plan

The organization is expected to select a site for the facility by 2023.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at U.S. nuclear weapons lab

Lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at U.S. nuclear weapons lab, Science, By Adrian ChoJun. 24, 2020 , An unusual lawsuit alleges scientific misconduct at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, one of the United States’s three nuclear weapons labs. Peter Williams, a 50-year-old physicist, worked at Livermore from January 2016 until May 2017, when he says he was fired in retaliation for complaining that his superiors were mishandling a computer program that simulates the detonation of high explosives, undermining their ability to predict how a particular nuclear weapon would perform if used. Williams, who now works at a private research lab, has sued Livermore and seven individuals for reinstatement and $600,000 in damages.

Researchers familiar with the labs say Williams’s allegations should be taken seriously. ……

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Iran, Legal | Leave a comment

Board of IAEA issues mild rebuke to Iran

IAEA mildly reprimands Iran over suspect nuclear sites, Atlantic Council, JUN 22, 2020 by Mark Fitzpatrick After more than a year of stonewalling about apparently undeclared nuclear material at a site in Iran—and months of refusing access to two other sites—the Islamic Republic of Iran could have been in for harsh condemnation when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors met on June 19.

Iran hawks in and outside the US government wanted a finding of non-compliance with Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA and a report to the UN Security Council to buttress their campaign of “maximum pressure.”

That did not happen. Instead, the board on June 19 issued a mild rebuke, echoing IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi’s expression of “serious concern” that Iran has not provided access to two locations where unreported nuclear activity allegedly took place nearly two decades ago. He added that Iran has not clarified Agency questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities……..
Iran has found international sympathy since US President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA two years ago and re-imposition of draconian sanctions. It must not be easy for Iranian citizens to distinguish between the illegitimate pressure waged by Washington and the IAEA’s entirely legitimate insistence on knowing what happened with unreported nuclear material—reportedly traces of natural (not enriched) uranium. But being bullied by Trump does not obviate Iran’s obligations under its safeguards agreement, predating the JCPOA, to answer IAEA questions. ……..
The current US administration is hypocritical in condemning Iran for not accepting complementary access requests, as required by the Additional Protocol. Not to excuse Iran’s intransigence, but its obligation to abide by the Additional Protocol is derived from the JCPOA, from which the US has reneged on its obligations for sanctions relief. Thus, the E3 was right to express concern about actions by both Washington and Tehran.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Crash of nuclear waste truck, fortunately the cask was empty

Brattleboro Reformer 22nd June 2020, An oversized flatbed truck carrying an empty nuclear waste cask headed to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant drove onto a soft shoulder on Route 11 in Andover and tipped over Friday morning, setting off a 36-hour effort to retrieve the cask and reopen the busy east-west highway. The cask is slated to be used at the Vernon nuclear power plant which is undergoing demolition and decommissioning. The cask, which weighs upwards of 50 tons, is used as an on-site cask to transfer waste on site, according to Curtis Roberts, a spokesman for Orano, one of the companies involved in the
decommissioning project with main owner NorthStar Vermont Yankee LLC.

He said the cask is owned and manufactured by Orano [Ed note: formerly AREVA, which went bankrupt] . Orano is disassembling the nuclear reactor core, which contains high levels of radioactivity.,607654

June 25, 2020 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment