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Russia’s nuclear-powered ice-breakers lead towards military domination of the Arctic

Russia’s Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Is a Step Toward Military Domination

The country is fast becoming an icebreaking superpower.  BY KYLE MIZOKAMI, SEP 24, 2020   Russia’s newest icebreaker, the nuclear-powered Arktika, is headed to its new homeport in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ship, painted in the colors of the Russian state flag, will operate north of the Arctic Circle in anticipation of a year-round shipping route across the icy far north. Arktika is part of Moscow’s emerging policy of exploiting a warming arctic region—and protecting its stake in the region from competitors.

  • Russia’s first new nuclear-powered icebreaker in decades, Arktika, is joining the country’s large fleet of icebreaking ships.
  • Arktika is capable of smashing through ice that’s nearly 10 feet thick.<
  • Millions of Russians live above the Arctic Circle, and warming ocean temperatures could create ice-free shortcuts between Asia and Europe.Russia’s newest icebreaker, the nuclear-powered Arktika, is headed to its new homeport in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ship, painted in the colors of the Russian state flag, will operate north of the Arctic Circle in anticipation of a year-round shipping route across the icy far north. Arktika is part of Moscow’s emerging policy of exploiting a warming arctic region—and protecting its stake in the region from competitors.

<Arktika is the first of a new class of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Construction began at the Baltic Shipyards in St. Petersburg in 2012 with a scheduled launch in 2017, but delays pushed the completion back to 2020. This past February, a short circuit damaged one of the ship’s three 300-ton electric motors, disabling one of the three propellers. Russian authorities ordered the ship to continue, however, and the ship is currently moving on just two propellers.

In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the country would ultimately have a fleet of 13 icebreakers, the majority of them nuclear-powered. …………..

Iceabreakers like Arktika could also allow Russia to militarily dominate the Northern Sea Route, smashing a route for Russian warships and transports full of Russian Marines. Warming temperatures will mean other countries, such as Canada and the U.S., will likely move to unlock natural resources previously trapped under sheets of sea ice, and Russia will be in a position to threaten oil, gas, and mineral exploration and exploitation…………. https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a34128219/russia-nuclear-powered-icebreaker-arktika/

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Media avoids covering the Assange extradition – despite it being the media “trial of the century”

Julian Assange: Press Shows Little Interest in Media ‘Trial of Century’  https://fair.org/home/julian-assange-press-shows-little-interest-in-media-trial-of-century/, ALAN MACLEOD   25 Sept 20,

Labeled the media “trial of the century,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing is currently taking place in London—although you might not have heard if you’re relying solely on corporate media for news. If extradited, Assange faces 175 years in a Colorado supermax prison, often described as a “black site” on US soil.

The United States government is asking Britain to send the Australian publisher to the US to face charges under the 1917 Espionage Act.  He is accused of aiding and encouraging Chelsea Manning to hack a US government computer in order to publish hundreds of thousands of documents detailing American war crimes, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. The extradition, widely viewed as politically motivated, has profound consequences for journalists worldwide, as the ruling could effectively criminalize the possession of leaked documents, which are an indispensable part of investigative reporting.

WikiLeaks has entered into partnership with five high-profile outlets around the world: the New York TimesGuardian (UK), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany) and El País (Spain). Yet those publications have provided relatively little coverage of the hearing.

Since the hearing began on September 7, the Times, for instance, has published only two bland news articles (9/7/209/16/20)—one of them purely about the technical difficulties in the courtroom—along with a short rehosted AP video (9/7/20). There have been no editorials and no commentary on what the case means for journalism. The Times also appears to be distancing itself from Assange, with neither article noting that it was one of WikiLeaks’ five major partners in leaking information that became known as the CableGate scandal.

The Guardian, whose headquarters are less than two miles from the Old Bailey courthouse where Assange’s hearing is being held, fared slightly better in terms of quantity, publishing eight articles since September 7.However, perhaps the most notable content came from columnist Hadley Freedman (9/9/20).

When asked in an advice article: “We live in a time of so much insecurity. But is there anything we can expect from this increasingly ominous-looking winter with any certainty?” she went on a bizarre tangential rant ridiculing the idea that Assange’s trial could possibly be “politicized,” also crassly brushing off the idea that his young children would never see their father again, and never answering anything like the question she was asked. Holding people to account “for a mess they could have avoided,” she notes, “is not ‘weaponizing’ anything — it is just asking them to do their jobs properly.” She also claimed that believing Assange’s trial was politicized was as ridiculous as thinking antisemitism claims were cynically weaponized against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, which, she meant to suggest, was a preposterous idea. This was not an off-the-cuff remark transcribed and published, but a written piece that somehow made it past at least one editor.

Like the Times, the Guardian appeared to be hoping to let people forget the fact it built its worldwide brand off its partnership with WikiLeaks; it was only mentioned in a forthright op-ed by former Brazilian president Lula da Silva (9/21/20), an outlier piece.

The Guardian should be taking a particularly keen role in the affair, seeing that two of its journalists are alleged by WikiLeaks to have recklessly and knowingly disclosed the password to an encrypted file containing a quarter-million unredacted WikiLeaks documents, allowing anyone—including every security agency in the world—to see an unredacted iteration of the leak. In 2018, the Guardian also falsely reported that Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort had conducted a meeting with Assange and unnamed “Russians” at the Ecuadorian embassy (FAIR.org12/3/18). And, as former employee Jonathan Cook noted, the newspaper is continually being cited by the prosecution inside the courtroom.

There were only two articles in the English or French versions of Le Monde (9/7/209/18/20) and only one in either of Der Spiegel’s English or German websites (9/7/20), although the German paper did at least acknowledge its own partnership with Assange. There was no coverage of the hearings in El País, in English or Spanish, though there was a piece (9/10/20) about the US government thwarting a Spanish investigation into the CIA spying on Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London—accompanied by a photo of a protester against his extradition.

The rest of corporate media showed as little interest in covering a defining moment in press freedom. There was nothing at all from CNNCBS’s two articles (9/7/209/22/20) were copied and pasted from news agencies AP and AFP, respectively. Meanwhile, the entire sum of MSNBC’s coverage amounted to one unclear sentence in a mini news roundup article (9/18/20).

Virtually every relevant human rights and press freedom organization is sounding the alarm about the incendiary precedent this case sets for the media. The Columbia Journalism Review (4/18/19), Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation note that the government includes in its indictment regular journalistic procedures, such as protecting sources’ names and using encrypted files—meaning that this “hacking” charge could easily be extended to other journalists. Trevor Timm, founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the court this week that if the US prosecutes Assange, every journalist who has possessed a secret file can be criminalized. Thus, it essentially gives a carte blanche to those in power to prosecute whomever they want, whenever they want, even foreigners living halfway around the world.

The United Nations has condemned his persecution, with Amnesty International describing the case as a “full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression.” Virtually every story of national significance includes secret or leaked material; they could all be in jeopardy under this new prosecutorial theory.

President Donald Trump has continually fanned the flames, demonizing the media as the “enemy of the people.” Already 26% of the country (including 43% of Republicans) believe the president should have the power to shut down outlets engaging in “bad behavior.” A successful Assange prosecution could be the legal spark for future anti-journalistic actions.

Yet the case has been met with indifference from the corporate press. Even as their house is burning down, media are insisting it is just the Northern Lights.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | media, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | 1 Comment

Essential points from the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report

Three takeaways from the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, https://thebulletin.org/2020/09/three-takeaways-from-the-2020-world-nuclear-industry-status-report/

John Krzyzaniak   The size of the global nuclear fleet has been stagnant for 30 years, and last year was no different. According to the 2020 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, released Thursday, there were 408 nuclear reactors online across the world as of July 1, 2020—a decline of nine units since the middle of last year and roughly on par with the number of reactors in operation in 1988.

The bulky 361-page industry report was compiled by an international team of independent experts led by Mycle Schneider, a consultant based in Paris. Over the last 15 years, it has become well-known for offering accurate but often sobering assessments of the state of nuclear energy across the globe. Last year, Schneider pointedly asserted that “the world is experiencing an undeclared ‘organic’ nuclear phaseout.”

Although the 2020 report is overflowing with data, several key trends stand out.

First, although the raw number of worldwide reactors is well below its all-time high of 438, their actual combined electricity generation came close to setting a record. As a whole, they generated 2,657 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2019, only three terawatt-hours below the historic peak in 2006. The United States, Russia, and China all hit individual country records for total electricity production from nuclear energy. Nevertheless, nuclear energy’s share of the energy market is in long-term decline, as other forms of energy witness rapid expansion.

Second, China continues to be the main driver of new nuclear energy, but over the long term its intentions are uncertain. The number of new projects there appears to be slowing. Whereas two years ago there were 20 units under construction, today there are only 15. Moreover, China missed its nuclear energy goals for 2020 by a sizeable margin: It planned to have 58 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity and 30 more gigawatts under construction, but it currently has about 45 gigawatts capacity online and only 14 more under construction.

Third, reactor construction delays and cost overruns continue to plague the nuclear industry and, notably, early indications suggest that small modular reactors may be no exception.

For 63 reactors that came online worldwide between 2010 and 2019, the mean construction time was 10 years. Tennessee’s Watts Bar Unit 2, which took more than 43 years from construction start to grid connection, was the only reactor completed in the United States during that time period. But even in China, where average construction times were among the lowest, delays were widespread, and in many cases the real construction times were double the initial expectations.

While small modular reactors exist mostly on paper, there are many companies hoping to change that, promising units that are safer, cheaper, and faster to build. Last month, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a small modular reactor design submitted by a company called NuScale Power. Though several hurdles remain, NuScale plans to build its first reactor at the site of the Idaho National Laboratory and supply power to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems as early as 2029.

But other countries’ recent experiences, detailed in the report, point to the difficulties ahead. Russia brought two small reactors online in 2019, but these took over 12 years to build, and at a cost about six times as much as the original estimates. These are the famed floating reactors of the Akademik-Lomonosov—they’re literally installed on a large ship, and that complication almost certainly contributed to the delays and high costs.

But there are more comparable examples for NuScale. The CAREM-25, a 25-megawatt prototype small modular reactor in Argentina, was supposed to receive its first fuel load in 2017 but is at least three years behind schedule. Similarly, China’s High Temperature Reactor project is running four years behind schedule and, while China originally planned to build 18 more of these smaller reactors, the report suggests its appetite may be sated after just one.

That means if countries want to wean themselves off of fossil fuels and stave off the worst effects of climate change, they may need to look elsewhere. And, the report suggests, they already are. The world added 184 gigawatts of non-hydro renewable capacity in 2019, a stark contrast to the 8-gigawatt decline in nuclear capacity.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Importing of increased amounts of uranium hexafluoride to Russia – illegal and dangerous

Moscow Times 23rd Sept 2020, A series of toxic radioactive waste shipments to Russia from Germany is likely importing more waste than officially declared, Greenpeace Russia said Tuesday. European enrichment firm Urenco resumed exports of uranium
hexafluoride, a waste product known as “tails,” last year after a 10-year pause initiated by Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom due to storage safety concerns. The shipments have sparked outcry from environmental activists, who say importing nuclear waste is illegal and threatens human and environmental safety.

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/09/23/russias-nuclear-waste-imports-likely-larger-than-declared-greenpeace-a71520

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Dirty and devilishly dangerous – the aging Diablo Canyon nuclear station

And If You Don’t Know, Now You Know,   https://www.independent.com/2020/09/24/all-about-diablo-canyon-nuclear-plant/  David Weisman, 24 Sept 20, 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Latest World Nuclear Industry Status Report shows high levelised cost of nuclear power

September 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Canada to splurge $billions on non-existent small nuclear reactors, ineffective and no use against climate change

GIBBONS: Nuclear power no solution to climate change https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/gibbons-nuclear-power-no-solution-to-climate-change, Author of the article:, Jack Gibbons, Sep 25, 2020  At a time when action on climate change has never been more urgent, the federal Liberals want to throw billions of dollars at non-existent technology that will not make a difference for decades, if ever.

But that’s pretty much the way things have always been when it comes to federal spending on nuclear power: As long as the word “nuclear” is attached, we put common sense aside and fund projects that lead to one dead end after another.

More than $400 million for Advanced CANDU reactors that never got built? You bet. Another $600 million on the infamous Maple medical isotope reactor design, which proved unsafe to operate? No problem.

Now the industry’s latest pitch is Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and off we go on another wild goose chase with Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan once again promising billions for technology that is nowhere in sight, let alone use.

Meanwhile, costs for wind and solar have plunged to the point where these energy sources are now outcompeting even natural gas.

Nuclear, for its part, is fading fast. Due to its high costs and safety concerns, nuclear’s share of the world electricity market has cratered in the past two decades. More places are now retiring aging reactors than building them.

The nuclear industry loves to claim they are a critical climate change solution — except on a cost per tonne basis.

Nuclear is like buying a Mercedes to go to the corner store.

Ontario pays as little as two cents a kilowatt hour (kWh) for energy efficient improvements that could displace the need for nuclear while reducing greenhouse gas pollution.

Alberta is now paying around five cents per kWh for solar and four cents for wind.

Ontario Power Generation says it will need to be paid 16.5 cents per kWh for nuclear by 2025.

A whole lot has changed since the bad old days of Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

Yes, the sun doesn’t always shine or the wind blow. Which is why it is fortunate that in Ontario we live beside a giant battery.

Quebec has an enormous water-power reservoir system that Hydro Quebec is keen to integrate with renewable sources for its out-of-province customers.

When we have surplus solar and wind, Quebec stores water. When not, it produces hydro power for export.

We have the connections necessary to make this system work and can expand them at a cost that looks like spare change next to what it costs to rebuild a nuclear reactor or get an SMR prototype built.

The nuclear industry is grasping at straws. Its technology is obsolete, its promises unfulfilled and its costs ever rising.

Betting on nuclear as a climate solution is just sticking our heads in the sand because SMR technology is decades away, extremely expensive, and comes with a nasty pile of security and waste headaches. Yes. Virginia, SMRs still produce lots of highly radioactive waste and we still have no place to put the stuff.

That our government would be this gullible is distressing, especially given the havoc already being wreaked by a changing climate.

We have simple, affordable, reliable and truly clean answers to our climate problem at our fingertips.

Yet our government sits and waits for the nuclear industry to call with some good news. And the phone never rings.

— Jack Gibbons is chairman of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Trump Appoints Pair of Climate Science Deniers to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA While Climate-Fueled Fires and Storms Rage

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

The irresponsible restartof a dangerous nuclear reactor in Scotland

Largs & Millport Weekly News 24th Sept 2020, Extract of Letter Elizabeth McLardy: Our worst unbelievable nightmare has just been confirmed. Contrary to all the concerns of individuals and numerous organisations, EDF and ONR have decided to ride roughshod over every one of us and fire up a defunct nuclear reactor that was shut down over two and a half years ago because it was unsafe to continue operating.

Over that time, it most certainly will not have improved any – if anything it will have deteriorated. EDF have done more computer modelling, given more estimates and predictions and outrageously ONR have said no problem fire it up. The silence from the Scottish Government is deafening.

All we have heard about is the loss of jobs (yet) there will be countless jobs for years to come, but astonishingly not a word about the real danger to millions of lives. (not on the web)

https://www.largsandmillportnews.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/

September 26, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the International Space Station

Radiation exposure on the moon is nearly three times that on the ISS, 25 September 2020

By Layal Liverpool Astronauts on the moon would face nearly three times more radiation exposure than those aboard the International Space Station, which could make long-term missions riskier than thought.

“Once you’ve survived being on the moon and come back to Earth, radiation damage is what stays with you for the rest of your life and that’s why this is a critical measurement,” says Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber at the University of Kiel in Germany.

Wimmer-Schweingruber and his team analysed several weeks of data acquired by China’s Chang’e … (subscribers only) https://www.newscientist.com/article/2255545-radiation-exposure-on-the-moon-is-nearly-three-times-that-on-the-iss/#ixzz6Z61souv7

September 26, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

Northampton shuns business with companies involved in creating nuclear weapons,

Northampton shuns business with companies involved in creating nuclear weapons,  https://www.gazettenet.com/Governor-signs-home-rule-petition-36428827   By GRETA JOCHEM, Staff Writer, 9/24/2020 

NORTHAMPTON — Under a new state law, Northampton is allowed to refuse contracts with companies involved in the creation of nuclear weapons.

The act comes from a home rule petition recommended by Mayor David Narkewicz and approved by the the City Council in 2019.

“Basically, under Massachusetts contracting law, you are not allowed to discriminate against one sector or industry,” Narkewicz said, explaining the need for the change.

In July, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an act into law that reads, “the city of Northampton may disqualify from an award of a contract a bidder or vendor who participates in the design, manufacture or maintenance of nuclear weapons.”

Saturday marks the United Nations’ International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Rallies will be held in Northampton, Springfield, Sunderland and Greenfield, according to Massachusetts Peace Action. In western Massachusetts, they are hosted by a number of organizations, including The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice and Arise for Social Justice. In Northampton, for example, The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice is holding a rally at L3Harris Technologies at 11 a.m. at 50 Prince Street in Northampton. When L3 Technologies and Harris Corp. merged into L3Harris Technologies last year, the company said it created the sixth-largest defense company in the country and a top 10 defense company worldwide.

Saturday will also be “Nuclear Ban Day” in Northampton, as Narkewicz read a proclamation Thursday declaring it.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.

September 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Transport of nuclear wastes – a Pandora’s Box of problems for North Texans

Transporting the waste to the New Mexico and West Texas facilities by rail car and through major cities, including those in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, could be a Pandora’s Box of problems for North Texans

September 26, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio. Amid debate over repealing House Bill 6, Energy Harbor still won’t say whether its nuclear plants are profitable.

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Economic distress for Exelon’s 4 nuclear plants in Illinois

A look at Exelon’s 4 economically challenged nuclear plants in Illinois,  S & P Global, Author, Anna Duquiatan,  25 Sep 20,  Exelon Corp.-owned nuclear power plants in Illinois eyed for early retirement have had declining financial margins of late, according to an analysis using S&P Global Market Intelligence’s plant-level production cost model. ………

Exelon Generation Co. LLC announced Aug. 27 that it plans to retire its 2,346-MW Byron and 1,805-MW Dresden nuclear power stations in September 2021 and November 2021, respectively.

The Exelon Corp. subsidiary added that the 2,384-MW Braidwood Generating Station and 2,313-MW LaSalle County Generating Station are “also at high risk for premature closure,” though the company has not yet projected any closure dates for those plants………

The two-unit Dresden plant in Grundy County, the first of the four northern Illinois plants to enter service, in the early 1970s, is licensed to operate until 2029 and 2031. Braidwood in Will County, Byron in Ogle County, and LaSalle in LaSalle County all began operating in the mid- to late 1980s and are licensed to operate until the 2040s. …………..

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers
Wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic, solar project developers installed nearly three times as much solar power capacity in Q2’20 compared to the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. wind industry posted one of its strongest second quarters on record in 2020, adding 2,369 MW of capacity, and the 2020 development pipeline stands strong at 30,554 MW.
Q2: U.S. Wind Power by the numbers

Essential Energy Insights – September, 2020

Numbers  Utility-Scale Solar Surge Reaches 1.6 GW in Q2

Utility-Scale Solar Surge Reaches 1.6 GW in Q2
Wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. solar project developers installed nearly three times as much solar power capacity in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago………..https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/a-look-at-exelon-s-4-economically-challenged-nuclear-plants-in-illinois-60342724

September 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, USA | 1 Comment

EDF wants cash-strapped UK government to subsidise costly Sizewell nuclear plan

Ministers urged to support new nuclear at a critical time for the industry

The energy giant is pressing the case for a plant at Sizewell but backing from a cash-strapped government could be limited, Sky News, Ian King 23 Sept 20,  This is a critical time for the UK’s nuclear energy industry.
The construction of the UK’s first new nuclear power station for a generation, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, is well advanced and EDF Energy, the French-owned energy giant building the plant, is keen to pick up the pace on its next big infrastructure project.

Sizewell C, in Suffolk, is envisaged as a replica project to Hinkley Point C.
..But  The  future of new nuclear build in the UK has again been thrown into doubt by last week’s decision by Hitachi, the Japanese company, to abandon the Horizon project – which would have seen new nuclear power stations built at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and at Oldbury on Severn in south Gloucestershire.
Meanwhile, a cash-strapped government is unlikely to want to provide the financial support that its predecessors have given Hinkley Point C, under which EDF Energy was guaranteed a minimum price of £92.50 per megawatt hour (MWh), inflation-linked, for 35 years.
Under the contract, signed by David Cameron’s government, the government pays the difference between the wholesale energy price and the price it has guaranteed EDF Energy……………….  https://news.sky.com/story/ministers-urged-to-support-new-nuclear-at-a-critical-time-for-the-industry-12079473

September 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment