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Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football

Trump’s COVID infection shows why it’s time to retire the nuclear football, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , By Tom Z. Collina, October 6, 2020   President John Kennedy took powerful pain medications. President Richard Nixon was a heavy drinker. President Ronald Reagan had dementia. And now President Donald Trump has the coronavirus. These conditions can significantly impair one’s ability to think clearly. And yet, as president, each had—or, in Trump’s case, still has–the unilateral authority to launch US nuclear weapons within minutes.

President Trump is followed 24/7 by a military aide that carries the “football,” the briefcase that holds all he would need to order the immediate launch of up to 1,000 nuclear weapons, more than enough megatonnage to blow the world back into the stone age. He does not need the approval of Congress or the secretary of defense. Shockingly, there are no checks and balances on this ultimate executive power.

President Trump took the nuclear football with him to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he received treatment for COVID-19. According to Trump’s doctor, the president’s blood oxygen levels had dipped. And this, according to independent health experts, can impair decision-making ability. He is taking dexamethasone, which can cause mood swings and “frank psychotic manifestations.” Yet as far as we know, at no point did the president transfer his powers to the vice president, as allowed under the 25th Amendment.

To state the obvious, we should not entrust nuclear launch authority to someone who is not fully lucid. (Reagan transferred authority temporarily before planned surgery, as did President George W. Bush before a medical procedure that required his sedation.) A nuclear crisis can happen at any time, including at the worst possible time. If such a crisis takes place when a president’s thinking is compromised for any reason, the results could be catastrophic. ……..

If the president or his advisors have reason to believe that Trump’s thinking may be compromised, nuclear launch authority should be transferred to the vice president, Mike Pence. If Pence also gets COVID, the football could then be passed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Pro Tempore of the Senate Chuck Grassley, and the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, in that order.

But kicking the football down the line does not solve the problem—and in fact shows why the system is broken. Does anyone really believe that the president pro tem of the Senate or the Treasury Secretary has spent much time preparing for nuclear war? And even if they had prepared, the central dilemma remains: All humans are imperfect, and we should not trust the fate of the world to any one person.

The whole concept of giving the president unilateral nuclear authority is built on the false assumption that Russia might launch a surprise first strike. In fact, Russia has never seriously considered a first strike against the United States for a simple reason: It would be national suicide. Both sides have to assume that an attack would provoke an unacceptable nuclear retaliation. Both nations, and much of the rest of the globe, would be obliterated. Starting such a war would be insanity………

It is time to retire the nuclear football. The only thing standing between us and nuclear holocaust is one man with COVID on heavy meds. That is the plan? Ending sole authority is better than entrusting it to any individual. In a vibrant democracy, no one person should have the unchecked power to destroy the world.


October 8, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Countries that have included nuclear in their green stimulus plans may want to rethink their strategy

The Biggest Obstacle For Nuclear Energy, Oil Price, By Haley Zaremba – Oct 06, 2020Nuclear has long been touted as one of the most promising”clean” energy alternatives to fossil fuels. As a form of energy production with zero carbon emissions, it’s commonly seen as key to decarbonization and an effective global clean energy transition in order to combat climate change.  It may come as no surprise, then, that China’s own ambitious plan to bring the nation’s carbon footprint all the way down to zero by the years 2060 relies heavily on the bolstering of its nuclear energy industry, which is on track to become the biggest in the world.Although nuclear has many vocal advocates, however, China is in the minority in its doubling down on nuclear energy. Around the world, nuclear has largely fallen out of favor. The United States, the world’s largest producer of nuclear energy, has allowed its nuclear fleet to age out and get priced out by a flood of cheap natural gas thanks to the domestic shale revolution. What is left of the nuclear industry is outdated and heavily reliant on government subsidies. Japan, another one of the world’s leading nuclear energy producers, has swerved sharply away from nuclear energy since the tragic Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. ……..

now, a new study spearheaded by the UK’s University of Sussex (UoS) for the scientific journal Nature Energy, shows that nuclear might not even be that great for lowering carbon emissions. 

In fact, the study found that renewables are “up to seven times more effective at reducing carbon emissions than nuclear power.” As summarized by PV Magazine, the study “concluded nuclear could no longer be considered an effective low carbon energy technology, and suggests that countries aiming to rapidly and cost-effectively reduce their energy emissions should prioritize renewables.” …………

This study comes at an essential moment in which nations around the world are designing economic stimulus packages to overcome the recession being ushered in by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Countries that have included nuclear in their green stimulus plans may want to rethink their strategy–even if it’s in concert with investment in renewables. Another report by Science Daily this week shows that trying to adopt a hybrid approach that includes both nuclear and renewables is even less effective. At a time when the world is reckoning with and engineering a “new energy order” and a “great reset, such findings have never been so important, and governments around the world would do well to read the reports.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, politics | Leave a comment

The very costly effort of trying to resuscitate the dying nuclear industry

Nuclear Energy — The High Cost Of A Dying Industry, Clean Technica, October 6th, 2020 by Johnna Crider 

Nuclear energy has had a seriously rough year. In an article by, the author asked a question: “Why is nuclear energy so expensive?” One answer, besides the obvious 2020 curse that was activated when Egyptian authorities opened up 30 ancient wooden coffins in 2019, is that other sources have just gotten much cheaper while nuclear hasn’t……….

As we know, in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shut down US energy demand, and this added nuclear energy to a long list of energy industries that are begging for taxpayer money — well, in the case of nuclear, even more taxpayer money. And the Trump administration came through for this dying and expensive industry. Back in June, the Department of Energy announced that it would award more than $65 million in nuclear energy research. This would cross-cut technology development, facility access, and infrastructure awards.

PowerTechnology reported that these awards would be for these departments’ nuclear energy programs:

  • The Nuclear Energy University Programme
  • Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies
  • Nuclear Science User Facilities.

That $65 million will also be poured into 93 advanced nuclear technology projects in 28 states. And the Office of Nuclear Energy, which is part of the US Department of Energy (DOE), has spent more than $800 million on research since 2009. OilPrice noted that the $65 million would probably be “too little, too late for domestic nuclear energy.” CleanTechnica‘s perspective is that nuclear has been long dead and we’re just waiting for the green leaves of the tree (existing power plans) to turn brown (close down). New nuclear is financially hopeless, many times more expensive than renewable energy options even with energy storage costs included.

Global State Of Nuclear Energy

At the end of last month, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR2020) was published and assessed major challenges that nuclear power is facing today. The news isn’t pretty. Mycle Schneider, who coordinated the report, explained that nuclear energy is irrelevant in today’s market. “Nuclear energy has become irrelevant in the electricity generating technology market.”

Antony Froggat, who co-authored the report and is a Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House in London, said, “At the same time, COVID-19 puts additional stress on the sector. In economic terms, renewables continue to pull away from nuclear power, over the past decade the cost estimates for utility-scale solar dropped by 89 percent, wind by 70 percent, while nuclear increased by 26 percent.”

The report shows just how hard the pandemic impacted nuclear energy and also pointed out that this was the first pandemic of this scale in the history of nuclear power. In the US, operators were granted permission to impose extremely long work hours. Some were working 16 hours a day and 86 hours a week. (That was my old shift at Goodwill last year and typically the shift of many who work minimum wage jobs — often more than one if they hold part-time positions. It’s not fun.)

Also in the US, force-on-force exercises were suspended. These are simulated terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants that use a mock adversary force to replicate design basis threat characteristics during an attack. These are supposed to help assess and improve readiness in case of an actual terrorist attack on a nuclear reactor.

In Russia and Sweden, control room staff were made to isolate in housing that was located onsite. They lived at their jobs. In Russia, one national operation reported weekly on infections among the nuclear staff. In July, there were a total of 4,500 cases.

Technology Costs

The report compared the costs of solar, onshore wind, and nuclear. The report looked at analyses for the US conducted by Lazard at the end of 2019, which advises on financial matters while managing investment portfolios. This is what they found out in a nutshell:

  • Solar PV (crystalline, utility-scale) averaged $40/MWh, compared to $65/MWh in 2015.
  • Onshore wind was $41/MWh, compared to $55/MWh in 2015.
  • Nuclear is $155/MWh, compared to $117/MWh in 2015.

The report points out that over the past 5 years, the annual Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) for nuclear has risen by over 50%. In stark contrast, renewables have become the most inexpensive of any type of power generation. “What is remarkable about these trends is that the costs of renewables continue to fall due to incremental manufacturing and installation improvements, while nuclear, despite over half a century of industrial experience, continue to see costs rising. Nuclear power is now the most expensive form of generation, except for gas peaking plants.”

The report also states that even though Trump’s White House supports nuclear power and coal, both have not thrived at all under his presidency. This is due, the report says, to renewables being cheaper and basic economics. Lazard also assessed that the costs of renewables continue to fall. You can learn more about the nuclear report here.

Whether it’s the curse of 2020 or humans are slowly evolving, we are phasing out of the old and phasing in the new. In the case of energy, it’s renewables, which will benefit not only our planet but the health and well-being of people all across the globe. For now, though, it seems that taxpayers will continue footing nuclear’s expensive high maintenance bills.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Ukraine’s President enthuses over their nuclear reactors – but they’re all ageing Soviet ones

Ukraine’s president embraces nuclear energy while relying on elderly reactors a visit to Ukraine’s Rivne nuclear plant, President Volodomyr Zelensky issue full throated support for the development of his country’s nuclear industry, despite opposition from other countries and a fleet of elderly Soviet-era reactors that are reaching retirement age, Interfax reported.   October 7, 2020 by Charles Digges

On a visit to Ukraine’s Rivne nuclear plant, President Volodomyr Zelensky issue full throated support for the development of his country’s nuclear industry, despite opposition from other countries and a fleet of elderly Soviet-era reactors that are reaching retirement age, Interfax reported.

His remarks came on October 1 and highlight his recent decree that orders the government to submit bills concerning the country’s nuclear power sector for parliamentary debate. Ukraine’s 15 reactors – all of which were built while the country was still a republic of the Soviet Union – supply more than half of the domestic electricity supply.

“We have a strategy for the development of nuclear energy and the completion of nuclear power plants in Ukraine,” the Zelensky said, addressing the possibility of completing two reactors at the country’s Khmelnitsky nuclear plant. The construction of those reactors, which are Russian-designed VVER-1000 units, began in the 1980s but was shelved in 1990.

He also dismissed opposition to nuclear development on grounds of safety, saying: “We understand that if professionals are doing the construction, if the state is working on the safety of nuclear power plants, then there is no threat either to the environment or the climate. It’s a safe form of electricity.”

Pushing back against a host of European countries that have begun to back away from nuclear power, Zelensky said Ukraine would instead embrace it as a national priority.

“In the coming years, many countries will work against nuclear power generation,” he said. “We, on the other hand, will defend it. We must do this because today we have every opportunity to be among the first [in nuclear energy], both in Europe and in the world.”

Zelensky’s remarks come as work to fully clean up the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is still ongoing. Since 2015, an enormous steel dome, called the New Safe Confinement, has enclosed the plant’s exploded  No 4 reactor, trapping radiation and facilitating risky dismantlement efforts. But most experts say it will take another 20,000 years before the area immediately surrounding the plant – called the exclusion zone from which more than 100,000 people were evacuated – will again be fit for human habitation.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine inherited not only the embers of Chernobyl, but also four other nuclear power plants: The Rivne plant in the country’s northwest; the Khmelnitsky plant, to Rivne’s south; The South Ukraine plant, near the Black Sea, and the Zaporizhia plant, whose six VVER-1000 reactors make it the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

All but three of Ukraine’s reactors began operations in the 1980s, putting most of them troublingly close to the end of their engineered lifespans of 40 years. In fact, 12 of Ukraine’s reactors were slated to retire this year.

To continue to produce some 52 percent of the country’s energy, it is presumed that all of these reactors will eventually be granted extensions on their runtimes of several decades.

Given the age of the nuclear industry as a whole, such lifetime extensions have become common practice worldwide. But two recent Bellona publications – one on Ukraine’s nuclear industry, and another on the practice of reactor lifetime extensions – have cast light on the dangers of this approach.

One study by Ukrainian experts, cited in Bellona’s report, shows that Ukraine’s older reactors are becoming more prone to accidents and malfunctions. It is hoped that safety upgrades that would precede the granting of lifetime would eliminate such technical glitches.

But the Bellona study highlighted that two reactors at the Rivne plant – the one Zelensky visited – had been given lifetime extensions without any safety upgrades at all.

The longer Ukraine’s reactors operate, the more they will contribute to the country’s supply of radioactive waste, which is currently the second largest in Europe. This problem has only gotten more serious since 2018, when Russia began returning to Ukraine the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste Moscow had been accepting and reprocessing after the Soviet Union dissolved.

The problem of Ukraine’s overabundant radioactive waste would seem less critical if the country were taking steps to build a long-term repository, such as finding a suitable location for one – or indeed even had plans to do so. But as the Bellona report reveals, the bureaucracies in Kiev that are responsible for such questions are inefficient, if not, in some instance, entirely lacking, and in any case have little in the way of public faith in their competent operation.

Prospects are slightly brighter when it comes to dealing with spent fuel from Ukraine’s nuclear reactors. Ukrainian nuclear Officials know how much there is and they intend to build a centralized facility to store it. But as is the case in other parts of the industry, Kiev has little hope of building it without significant funding from other countries.

While it’s unclear if Zelensky’s new embrace of nuclear energy has taken full account of the issues facing his aging reactors, it is hoped that any continued reliance on Ukraine’s Soviet inheritance will do so.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | politics, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Nuclear power, irrelevant to climate change – and in fact, hinders climate action

October 8, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

USA’s national chaos – time to put the big causes together- climate, war,racism, pandemic …

October 8, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Too much power to USA president, to control nuclear war strategy: what if he is ill?

Why The President Is The Weakest Link In U.S. Nuclear Strategy, Forbes, Loren Thompson  7 Oct 20 President Trump’s hospitalization after testing positive for Covid-19 is one of many instances in which the performance of the nation’s chief executive has been impaired by medical issues.

Eisenhower had a massive heart attack in 1955. His successor, John F. Kennedy, was afflicted by Addison’s disease and various other maladies that required heavy use of painkillers. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, was hospitalized during the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968.

Other presidents have seen their performance compromised by psychological issues.

Richard Nixon became clinically depressed during the Watergate controversy and took to drinking heavily. Ronald Reagan may have exhibited early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease during the closing years of his presidency.

Such frailties have long been a part of the human condition, but the advent of nuclear weapons raised alarming possibilities about where presidential disability might lead. You see, the president has unilateral authority to launch nuclear weapons, and that power is one of the few places in the federal system where no checks and balances exist.

Numerous articles were written during the 2016 presidential campaign about the prospect that nuclear launch authority might be conferred upon Donald Trump. The nation’s foremost expert on nuclear command and control, Bruce Blair, wrote a lengthy essay for Politico warning that Trump would enjoy “absolute control” over use of the nuclear arsenal, and that military personnel in the chain of command would have no legal authority to resist his orders.

So when CNN reported Tuesday that one of the military aides charged with carrying the president’s nuclear authentication and launch codes had tested positive for Covid-19, it should have been a reminder that a president always has awesome military power at his fingertips, waiting to be exercised on short notice.
…………..  unlike everybody else in the nuclear system, the president would have unfettered, unilateral authority to act. All the other actors in the system need a second person to cooperate in arming and launching nuclear weapons.
But not the president. As Wikipedia puts it, “The president has unilateral authority as commander-in-chief to order that nuclear weapons be used for any reason at any time.”
And once a presidential order is issued, everybody else in the chain of command is trained to execute that order. To quote longtime Pentagon nuclear specialist Frank Miller, “There’s no veto once the president has ordered a strike.”

Thus, the prosect that a president might be physically or mentally impaired is alarming………

Mr. Trump’s recent hospitalization highlights some of the things that might go wrong. A report released this week by the Northwestern Medicine healthcare system found that a third of the patients hospitalized for Covid-19 in the system’s Chicago-area facilities developed altered mental states, including confusion and delirium.

In addition, President Trump’s doctors administered a heavy regimen of drugs aimed at mitigating the health consequences of his infection. Unfortunately, one of those drugs was a steroid, and steroids are known to cause psychological symptoms in some patients such as anxiety, agitation and mood swings.

When you consider the awesome nuclear authorities vested in the president, it is unsettling to contemplate how impaired judgment or medical disability might impact decision-making in a crisis………

October 8, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pressure on U.S. Congress to reinstate research on links between nuclear stations and cancer

Activists push Congress to revive probe into links between nuclear plants and cancer

Nuclear Regulatory Commission killed study in 2015 after spending five years and $1.5 million on the effort,   Orange County Register,  By TERI SFORZA | |  October 5, 2020 Scientists and activists were stunned back in 2015 when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pulled the plug on what was designed to be the best study of cancer near nuclear power plants ever done.

The pilot study’s price tag was $8 million — a pittance in the NRC’s $1 billion budget — and five years of work had already gone into it. But it was killed because officials were convinced it would be too costly and couldn’t link reactors to disease, a Southern California News Group investigation found.

Last week, a petition with some 1,200 signatures demanding that the study resume went to members of Congress representing Southern and Central California.

“This is a scientific endeavor which will improve our understanding of cancer, the leading cause of death in California,” the petition states. “It is especially important for women, children, and the human fetus who are much more vulnerable to the biological effects of harmful ionizing radiation.”

No one knows threat

The retired San Onofre and Diablo nuclear power plants, both shut down in 2013, have been discharging low-level radioactivity into the ocean and atmosphere for decades, the petition continues, and no one knows for sure whether that poses a threat to nearby residents………

More modern studies in Europe have found that children living within 3 miles of nuclear power plants had double the risk of developing acute leukemia as those living farther away, with the peak impact on children ages 2-4.

Bart Ziegler, president of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation, said the inquiry is long overdue and must begin right away.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | health, politics, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Dept of Energy report shows danger of radioactive wastes leaking from Hanford’s old decayed tanks

Report: Hanford unprepared for potential nuclear waste leak,  by Associated Press,  Wednesday, October 7th 2020   TRI-CITIES, Wash. (AP) — A report by the Department of Energy has shown that the Hanford nuclear reservation  could face immediate issues as double-shell tanks holding high-level radioactive waste deteriorate.

An inspector general audit report released Monday said that the underground tanks at the Hanford site are planned to store waste until at least 2047, posing a threat if the deteriorating tanks fail, the Tri-City Herald reported.

The site produced plutonium for nuclear weapons during the Cold War and World War II, leaving 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks until it can be treated for disposal.

A major leak could potentially reach groundwater.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Design not even finished! But UK govt to subsidise Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

The plan is for 16 of them –  at ? £2bn each?   

FT 7th Oct 2020, Downing St considers £2bn support for mini nuclear reactors

Consortium wants to build up to 16 generators .  Downing Street is supporting plans to spend up to £2bn of taxpayers’ money on a
new generation of mini nuclear reactors. Consortium wants to build up to 16 generators to help UK meet carbon emissions targets. The first SMR is expected to cost £2.2bn and be online by 2029.

Government and industry figures confirmed that a pledge of £1.5bn-£2bn is being discussed which could even see taxpayers acquire an equity stake in the programme.

However, discussions are still ongoing and any final decision will be subject to the Treasury’s current multiyear spending review, which is due later this year. The government could also commission the first mini power station, giving confidence to suppliers and investors. The consortium, which also includes the National Nuclear Laboratory, will seek additional funding of at least £2bn, including from private investors and the capital markets.

Support for SMR technology is expected to form part of Boris Johnson’s “10-point plan for a green industrial revolution” which he will set out later in the autumn. …….. Under the plans being considered by Number 10, the small
modular reactors would be manufactured on production lines in central plants and then transported to sites for assembly. Each mini power station would operate for up to 60 years, providing 440MW of electricity per year — enough to power a city the size of Leeds.

The government’s support “should deliver sufficient cash to get the consortium through building
factories and well on the way to construction of power stations prior to finding more money from other sources,” said one person with knowledge of the situation.

The consortium is expected to finalise the SMR design by April next year, when it hopes to launch the four-year licensing process.
During that time it hopes to begin recruiting employees for the business, and identifying the sites for powers stations and the factories to build the components and modules for the SMRs. The business department hasalready pledged £18m towards the consortium’s early-stage plans.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear no option for hydrogen production: German government

Nuclear no option for hydrogen production: German government
Energy ministry state secretary Feicht says, however, that the rule of nuclear will be discussed at an EU level,
  Recharge  6 October 2020 By Bernd Radowitz   

A high-ranking official of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has ruled out nuclear power as a source to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, squaring Germany off against its closest EU ally, France, which considers to include atomic power as part of its own national hydrogen strategy.

“Nuclear isn’t an option for our energy system, be it the production of electricity for our electricity demand, [or] for the production of hydrogen,” Andreas Feicht, secretary of state in Germany’s economics and energy ministry, said at a virtual conference on hydrogen organized by his ministry……..

Green’ or ‘carbon-free’ hydrogen?

Germany by the end of 2022 will phase out its last atomic power stations, and in its €9bn ($10.6bn) national hydrogen strategy has laid down that it strives to ramp up a ‘green hydrogen’ economy mostly based on renewables such as offshore wind, with a temporary and limited role for ‘blue hydrogen’ produced from natural gas linked to carbon capture and storage (CCS)…………..

the Dutch government is planning to launch a consultation on building new nuclear power plants after a study commissioned by its economics and climate ministry claimed atomic energy is as cheap as wind or solar power – and supposedly the safest way to produce electricity in the country.

The study was conducted by a nuclear energy consultancy with links to the nuclear industry, though. At the same time, a flurry of studies advises against a nuclear renaissance.

‘Nuclear and renewables don’t mix’

The University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Mangement this week published an analysis of 123 countries over 25 years in Nature Energy that concludes that nuclear and renewables don’t mix, and only the latter can deliver truly low carbon energy.

The researchers found that unlike with renewables, countries around the world with larger scale nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions – and in poorer countries nuclear programmes actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions.

The researchers found that unlike with renewables, countries around the world with larger scale nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions – and in poorer countries nuclear programmes actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions.

Champagne of power fuels

Michael Bloss, a Green Party member of the European Parliament, at the same hydrogen conference stressed that only “green hydrogen is clean hydrogen.”

Blue hydrogen as considered as a temporary option by the German government is no real option due to high amounts of methane leakage during its production, which he argued is “much more detrimental for the climate than CO2.”

Despite €3.7bn in EU investments into CCS since 2009 (according to the European Court of Auditors), the technology remained at the “beginning of its development” and is still “not ready to be applied,” Bloss said.

Renewable energies such as offshore wind, meanwhile, are the most cost-competitive energy source and should be used for hydrogen production, he added, without going into the nuclear versus renewables controversy.

Bloss, however, stressed that it has been said that “hydrogen is the Champagne among power fuels,” which must be used only in difficult-to-decarbonise sectors where it cannot be replaced by other applications, such as steel, cement or chemicals.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | Germany, technology | Leave a comment

Dr. HELEN CALDICOTT on Nuclear Narcissism

Dr. HELEN CALDICOTT on Nuclear Narcissism  For the Wild,  7 Oct 20, This year, the government of Japan announced plans to dump contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. Till this day, cleanup of the 2011 Fukushima disaster continues and it is estimated that by 2022 the Fukushima site will be at capacity for storing contaminated water. As outrageous as this news is, even more so is how little coverage it received, or outcry it warranted. It exemplifies the absurdity of nuclear energy, the inability of nuclear power reactors to deal with their waste, the pervasiveness of nuclear contamination and its paradoxical invisibility.

Nuclear contamination is everywhere, yet we rarely talk about it. The threat of nuclear annihilation is always looming, yet we rarely talk about it. This week’s episode is dedicated to changing that. We talk to Dr. Helen Caldicott, who draws our attention to the realities of nuclear power reactors, proliferation and weapons, as well as the ways in which nuclearism has already wrought an unimaginable amount of havoc and trauma on our environment, culture and bodies.  ……….

The author or editor of eight books including Nuclear Madness, Missile Envy, and, most recently, Sleepwalking to Armageddon, she has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, the subject of three award-winning documentary films, and was named one of the 20th Century’s most influential women by the Smithsonian Institution.

In our conversation with Dr. Caldicott, we begin by discussing the environmental and health impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle in terms of uranium mining, plutonium contamination. The author or editor of eight books including Nuclear Madness, Missile Envy, and, most recently, Sleepwalking to Armageddon, she has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees, the subject of three award-winning documentary films, and was named one of the 20th Century’s most influential women by the Smithsonian Institution.
In our conversation with Dr. Caldicott, we begin by discussing the environmental and health impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle in terms of uranium mining, plutonium contamination.

October 8, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Speeded up decommissioning of Crystal River nuclear reactor – some concerns about this

Duke nuclear plant demolition timeline cut from half-century to 7 years, By KEVIN SPEAR, ORLANDO SENTINEL |OCT 07, 2020   Duke Energy is poised to begin demolition of its shuttered nuclear plant, with a timeline reduced from nearly six decades to seven years because of a drop in costs.

Duke’s 890-megawatt reactor near Crystal River at the Gulf of Mexico has been out of commission since 2009, when a construction accident crippled the containment building. In 2015, facing a projected demolition cost of more than $1 billion, Duke was prepared to let the plant remain for 60 years before removing it.

But with the aging of nuclear power around the world and competitive advances in demolition technology, Duke is proceeding with a fixed contract of $540 million to remove the plant. That cost is to be covered by a trust fund of $717 million already paid for by the utility’s customers.

A newly formed company, Accelerated Decommissioning Partners, has begun engineering designs for demolition and is about to remove structures and infrastructure outside of the reactor building.

Accelerated Decommissioning Partners is a joint venture that includes NorthStar Group Services, which describes itself as the world’s largest demolition company, with services ranging from hurricane cleanup to asbestos removal, and is currently taking down the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station.

The other partner is Orano USA, a supplier of nuclear materials and services. In 2018, the company transferred the Crystal River plant’s used nuclear fuel from a storage pool to containment within dry casks that are now stored in concrete bunkers at the plant site. There is no designated disposal facility in the U.S. for used fuel, and the dry casks could remain at Duke’s Crystal River site for years or decades………

In 2009, a major effort to extend the life of the the reactor damaged the reactor-containment building’s 3-foot-thick wall. After botched repair attempts, the plant was declared economically beyond repair.

The additional cost that customers had to absorb for the attempted upgrade and trying to fix the containment building was an estimated $1.7 billion, according to the Florida Office of Public Counsel, a legislatively created agency that serves as an advocate for utility customers.

Other lost nuclear costs would arise from Duke’s move to build a $22 billion plant in Levy County. That initiative was announced in 2006 but abandoned within a decade, resulting in costs that customers had to absorb of more than $870 million .

Charles Rehwinkel of the Office of Public Counsel said Duke’s contract with Accelerated Decommissioning Partners should have included better protections in case of demolition or financial problems.

We remained concerned that this process, which is fairly new, could have a problem down the road,” Rehwinkel said. “The problems we would be concerned about would be cost overruns and if they get part way through the process in an area where there is still contaminated metal components and there is a bankruptcy or some halt that leaves them in the position of Duke having to get somebody else to come in.”

Edward Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said there isn’t much track record yet for the kind of accelerated decommissioning and demolition being performed at Duke’s plant.

But his initial concern is that Duke’s fixed-price contract with the joint venture leaves little flexibility for dealing with unexpected challenges.

They are going to have a strong incentive to minimize cost and that could potentially come at the cost of safety,” Lyman said……..

The most challenging work will involve the reactor vessel, a cylindrical assembly the size of a semitruck, with steel walls at least 5 inches thick.

Roberts said crews will cut the vessel into pieces while submerged underwater, which blocks radiation.

Cuts will be done with robots and other remotely controlled machines with a variety of band saws, diamond-wire saws and high pressure water jets with abrasive ingredients. Cutting will be according to specific sizes, shapes and weights.

While still underwater, pieces will be inserted into canisters, which, in turn, will be inserted into steel casks for shipment “more than likely by rail” to a disposal site in west Texas, Roberts said……

October 8, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Ikata nuclear reactor to be shut down – 40 year decommissioning process

Regulator approves Ikata 2 decommissioning plan, WNN, 07 October 2020     Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) today approved Shikoku Electric Power Company’s decommissioning plan for unit 2 of its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime prefecture. Decommissioning of the unit is expected to be completed by 2059.

Ikata 2 is a 538 MWe pressurised water reactor that began operating in March 1988. It was taken offline in January 2012 for periodic inspections. Shikoku announced in March 2018 that it did not plan to restart the reactor. It said the cost and scale of modifications required to upgrade the 40-year-old unit to meet the country’s revised safety standards made it uneconomical to restart it. ……….

According to the plan, decommissioning of the unit will take about 40 years and will be carried out in four stages. The first stage, lasting about 10 years, will involve preparing the reactor for dismantling (including the removal of all fuel and surveying radioactive contamination), while the second, lasting 15 years, will be to dismantle peripheral equipment from the reactor and other major equipment. The third stage, taking about eight years, will involve the demolition of the reactor itself, while the fourth stage, taking about seven years, will see the demolition of all remaining buildings and the release of land for other uses…….

October 8, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Need to reconsider nuclear waste burial close to Lake Huron – on safety grounds

Plan for nuclear waste storage raises concerns,, The Reord,  Tue., Oct. 6, 2020  I recently learned about a proposed deep geological repository of nuclear waste, only 35 kilometres from Lake Huron, in South Bruce County.

Based on my understanding, this project will not ameliorate the risk associated with nuclear waste — it will only increase the risk by burying it, increasing the difficulty of monitoring how well it is being contained. If there is a radioactive leak underground, 40 million people in Canada and the U.S. who are located along the Great Lakes could be affected! With so many people depending upon these lakes for their drinking water, what will we do should this happen?

Higher standards for handling the disposal of nuclear waste exist elsewhere, and new technologies could emerge for better dealing with its disposal. Based on this, I strongly believe that this project needs to be reconsidered. Those who wish to learn more, or get involved, can visit…….. (registered readers only)

October 8, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment