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The nuclear industry’s cunning strategy to pass its clean-up costs to the tax-payer

“This is a way that bankruptcy is increasingly being used by companies — to shed their environmental liability.”
“To the extent that decommissioning and environmental repair costs exceed Energy Harbor’s ability to pay, those costs will be borne by Ohio through its ratepayers or taxpayers.
The cleanup envisioned for Perry and Davis-Besse plants in Ohio and the two Beaver Valley units in Pennsylvania would extend for the better part of a century — from 2021 through 2083,
By the time FirstEnergy Solutions emerged from bankruptcy in February, it had a new name, Energy Harbor, and it had largely released its former parent company, FirstEnergy Corp., from any responsibility to clean up the nuclear plants it used to own.
The nuclear bailout nobody’s talking about, By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal, 19 Oct 20,

Ohio state government continues to be gripped by an alleged $61 million bribery scandal involving a billion-dollar nuclear bailout.

But while the effort for that bailout was brewing as part Akron-based FirstEnergy’s strategy to prop up and spin off unprofitable nuclear power plants, another part of the strategy might have resulted in an additional — and potentially larger — bailout in a separate venue.

And, some observers warn, many more such bailouts throughout the country might be on the way.

In February, seven months after Gov. Mike Dewine signed the $1.3 billion ratepayer bailout that mostly would subsidize two Northern Ohio nuclear plants, FirstEnergy might have gotten an even bigger break in U.S. bankruptcy court. That’s when Judge Alan M. Koschik signed off on a settlement that largely excused FirstEnergy from footing part of the bill to clean up the aging nuclear plants in Ohio and another in Pennsylvania that it had bequeathed to to its successor, now known as Energy Harbor, in the event that company goes belly up.

If the new company can’t make a go of it with the nuclear and coal plants that had been owned by FirstEnergy, taxpayers could well be on the hook for whatever part of the estimated $10 billion nuclear cleanup that Energy Harbor and a trust fund it’s required to maintain can’t.

Those are cleanups that, for financial reasons, will take 60 years — decades during which the crumbling cooling tower of the company’s Davis-Besse plant, for example, will loom over the Lake Erie shoreline in view of South Bass Island, one of Ohio’s premier tourist attractions.

Energy Harbor’s “financial future doesn’t look bright and when we say (FirstEnergy) needs to set aside money for (shutting down and cleaning up the plants), their response is going to be, ‘The bankruptcy court approved the reorganization, FirstEnergy isn’t on the hook anymore,’” said Margrethe Kearney, senior staff attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is appealing the bankruptcy ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. “This is a way that bankruptcy is increasingly being used by companies — to shed their environmental liability.”

And, Kearney said, companies across the country that own nuclear generators likely will try to use the bankruptcy to ease looming cleanup costs off of their books and onto the backs of taxpayers.

“Especially here in the Midwest we have a lot of nuclear power plants, a lot of them are coming to the end of their useful life, most of them are out of the money, so it doesn’t really make sense to invest in them because natural gas and renewable energy is less expensive and we’re going to have a real crisis when it comes to the decommissioning of power plants and the financial ability to pay for them,” she said.

A doozy of a scandal

The Ohio Capitol was rocked in July when the FBI arrested then-House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates in what U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said was “likely the largest bribery and money-laundering scheme ever in the state of Ohio.”

DeVillers alleged that $61 million flowed from FirstEnergy and related companies through 501(c)(4) dark money groups and into campaigns of House candidates who later elected Householder speaker, a perch from which he shepherded House Bill 6, the $1.3 billion bailout, to passage. (House Bill 6 was cosponsored by Hillsboro Republican State Rep. Shane Wilkin and Rep. Jamie Callender, a Lake County Republican.)

The money also funded a nasty, xenophic campaign to block a voter initiative to repeal HB 6, while Householder and his associates simultaneously lined their own pockets with some of the loot, DeVillers said.

It wasn’t the only such scandal to break in July. In Illinois, Commonwealth Edison and parent company Exelon admitted to an eight-year bribery scheme targeting people around Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who hasn’t been charged. One of the things the company received from the legislature during that period was a $2.35 billion bailout of two struggling nuclear power plants in that state.

In Ohio, nobody from FirstEnergy has been charged. But DeVillers in July said his investigation was far from over.
In September, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost named FirstEnergy and associated companies as defendants in a civil suit. Among other things, it demanded that bailout funds be blocked and that the companies that funded the HB 6 scheme either fire the officials involved or see the companies themselves dissolved.

Who was in charge?

The funds promised by HB 6 were far from the first ratepayer largesse enjoyed by companies related to FirstEnergy, whose name graces the stadium in which the Cleveland Browns play. Last year, Ohio Rep. Mark Romanchuk, R-Ontario, said the company’s Ohio nuclear plants had received $10.2 billion in state subsidies since 1999.

The attorney general’s lawsuit says that four years ago, what to do about the failing nuclear plants was at the heart of what he said was a corrupt scheme to obtain a bailout.

“In late 2016, FirstEnergy Corp. had a problem,” the suit says. “The nuclear power generation plants it owned through its subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. had turned from assets to liabilities.”

It also said that by spinning off the plants, passing the bailout and sending its former subsidiary through bankruptcy, FirstEnergy did lasting harm to the state. That’s because, the suit said, FirstEnergy had potentially shifted some of the burden to clean up the Perry and Davis-Besse reactors in Ohio from itself and onto the taxpayers.

“Ohio’s environmental future has been damaged, because the costs for the ultimate decommissioning of the nuclear plants are now secured by Energy Harbor, a company with far smaller capitalization than FirstEnergy Corp.,” the suit said. “To the extent that decommissioning and environmental repair costs exceed Energy Harbor’s ability to pay, those costs will be borne by Ohio through its ratepayers or taxpayers — a scenario that already played out once in the FirstEnergy Solutions’ bankruptcy plan that created Energy Harbor.”
Yet, FirstEnergy maintains that after 2016 its leaders had no control over the former subsidiary that owns nuclear as well as coal plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“FirstEnergy leadership has not had any decision-making power regarding the strategic direction of FES since November 2016, and FirstEnergy and Energy Harbor are now separate, unaffiliated companies,” FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said in September after the Ohio attorney general’s lawsuit was filed.

However, that claim seems hard to credit because FirstEnergy CEO Chuck Jones is also CEO of FirstEnergy Services.

Until June, First Energy Services provided the power plant-owning company that became Energy Harbor with many — if not all — of the services one would associate with running it. They include “administrative, management, financial, compliance, ethical, external affairs, and political and regulatory advocacy services. ”

For her part, Young said that the companies are independent because they have separate boards.

Long-term strategy

In late 2016, as FirstEnergy was spinning off the company that after bankruptcy became Energy Harbor, Jones announced a strategy of seeking a bailout for the spun-off company’s failing nuclear assets.

“We are advocating for Ohio’s support for its two nuclear plants, even though the likely outcome is that FirstEnergy won’t be the long-term owner of these assets,” Jones said.

In an affidavit supporting criminal charges against the former Ohio speaker and others, FBI Special Agent Blane Wetzel introduces the case for a criminal conspiracy by referring back to that time.

“In 2016, (FirstEnergy) Corp.’s nuclear generation future looked grim,” it said. “In its November 2016 annual report to shareholders, Ohio-based (FirstEnergy) Corp. and its affiliates reported a weak energy market, poor forecast demands, and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, particularly from its nuclear energy affiliate…

“Given this backdrop, (FirstEnergy) announced future options for its generation portfolio as follows: ‘legislative and regulatory solutions for generation assets’; asset sales and plant deactivations; restructuring debt; and/or seeking protection under U.S. bankruptcy laws for its affiliates involved in nuclear generation.”

On March 31, 2018, Energy Harbor predecessor FirstEnergy Solutions exercised one of those options when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Ohio.

Broad immunity

By the time FirstEnergy Solutions emerged from bankruptcy in February, it had a new name, Energy Harbor, and it had largely released its former parent company, FirstEnergy Corp., from any responsibility to clean up the nuclear plants it used to own.

“It makes it really difficult to get into the pockets of the parent if the subsidiary runs out of money,” Kearney, of the Environmental Law and Policy Center said of the settlement.

In fact, the release worked out between FirstEnergy, a primary creditor, and its former subsidiary was so broad that Judge Koschik disallowed part of it, saying it would make the overall settlement legally unconfirmable.

“The only (nuclear cleanup) ‘mechanism’ offered by (Energy Harbor) is its own assumption of these long-term environmental obligations and a promise that as a reorganized debtor with new capital structure facilitated by (FirstEnergy Corp.), it will stalwartly stand by and satisfy these claims if and when they arise,” Koschik wrote.

FirstEnergy and its former subsidiary modified the “third-party releases” and Koschik signed off on the overall settlement.

But he did so without allowing Kearney’s group to put on testimony from an expert witness, Peter Bradford, a former commissioner with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Bradford planned to testify that there were expenses far in excess of what the commission — which is responsible only for the cleanup of radioactive material — requires nuclear operators to pay into a trust fund, Kearney said.

Koschik’s refusal to hear from Bradford is a big part of why the Environmental Law and Policy Center and associated groups are appealing the bankruptcy settlement, although they also have briefed the appellate court on the federal criminal and state civil actions surrounding the HB 6 bailout scandal.
“We are asking to have our expert heard on the nuclear decommissioning issues,” Kearney said. “That doesn’t mean that the entirety of the bankruptcy proceeding will be reopened.”

Cleanup of the century

Asked last week about what it would cost to clean up its former nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania, FirstEnergy’s Young said, “FirstEnergy’s liabilities related to nuclear decommissioning are hypothetical and comparable to any former owner of nuclear generating facilities. The bankruptcy did not change that. The other questions you asked about decommissioning would need to be directed to Energy Harbor since they are the current owners and operators of the plants and are primarily liable for decommissioning. As you’ll recall, Energy Harbor is a separate company now unaffiliated with FirstEnergy.”

Calls and emails to two Energy Harbor spokesmen were unanswered.

Young said that as of June, Energy Harbor’s nuclear decommissioning trust funds were worth about $2 billion.

The cleanup envisioned for Perry and Davis-Besse plants in Ohio and the two Beaver Valley units in Pennsylvania would extend for the better part of a century — from 2021 through 2083, according to 2018 studies performed for FirstEnergy as part of the bankruptcy. Kearney said the longevity of the process isn’t because the cleanup is so complex. It’s because the money in the trust fund isn’t enough to pay for it now, so it needs time to grow.

However, based on the estimates commissioned by FirstEnergy, it’s hard so see how $2 billion would be enough. They list four categories of costs associated with the cleanup:

• Decommissioning, including a 17% contingency;

• Hefty NRC license-termination fees (fees are a major source of the agency’s funding);

• Spent-fuel management; and

• Non-nuclear demolition.

Taken together, the combined estimated cost to shut down and clean up all the facilities is $9.6 billion in 2014 dollars. And not nearly all of the $2 billion in the trust fund will be allowed to grow until 2074 to meet it.

The total cost to clean up Beaver Valley Unit 2, for example, is estimated at just under $2 billion, or about 20% of the total.

The timeline in the estimate calls for about an eighth of that — $233 million — to be spent through 2026 preparing for a 48-year “dormancy” period. The estimate says that it will cost between $6 million and $7 million a year for the first 33 years and $3 million to $4 million a year for the next 15.

In other words, if Energy Harbor were to stop paying into the trust fund tomorrow, far less than $2 billion will be allowed to grow until the final cleanup starts in 2075.

The estimates were financed by an interested party, FirstEnergy. But even if they weren’t, Kearney stressed that they could be significantly off — especially since they’re drawn out over such a long period. She said, however, “That $2 billion represents about half of the (overall) estimated cleanup costs.”

The uncertainty over how much the nuclear cleanups will cost and whether Energy Harbor can pay for them makes it unjust that its bankruptcy let FirstEnergy off the hook — especially in light of the criminality alleged in Ohio’s other nuclear bailout, the state’s official consumer representative said.

“An inadequate funding of the future decommissioning costs for the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants would also be of concern to Ohioans who, one way or another, may ultimately be asked to pay the tab for any shortfall in funding of these costs,” the Office of the Ohio Consumer Counsel said in a brief filed with the 6th Circuit. “Such a result would be objectionable for consumers.”

The OCC needn’t have limited his claims to the potential burden to Ohioans. As things stand now, if Energy Harbor can’t cover the cost of the cleanup, it will fall on all U.S. taxpayers.

Read the federal complaint

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He’s won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Why nuclear power is unsustainable.

Dragon Trailz (accessed) 18th Oct 2020, Why Nuclear Power Is Unsustainable. I’ve collated some resources here outlining why nuclear power is neither safe, sustainable, nor low carbon.
Of late, forceful lobbying from the nuclear industry has attempted to frame nuclear power as a solution for our future energy provision needs. The evidence suggests otherwise. New nuclear power is the most expensive form of electricity generation, with long lead times and many modern reactor builds running well over budget.
There has also been a major push to try and insert nuclear energy into the ‘Net Zero’ discourse, an increasingly confusing and corporatised conversation. These resources should help to debunk narratives that are pushed through mainstream media and by politicians who are still stuck in Cold War era thinking.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear pollution in China – the Uighur people pay the health and environmental price

Nuclear imperialism in China’s Xinjiang, Observer Research Foundation,TARA RAO,  19 Oct 20, 

A third of the PRCs uranium for nuclear energy comes from extortion in the Yili basin of Xinjiang. This is also home to a great population of Uighurs.

Today, China has one of the world’s largest nuclear energy development programmes. During the Cold War era, there did not exist a political or economic motivator for commercialising nuclear energy as coal-fired power stations and hydroelectric energy dominated the system. However, after 2005, China has been able to reinvent this narrative. Notably, what this resurrected was a reassertion of spaces of injustice for their minorities. Their lands were first grounds for nuclear weapons’ testing and now used for energy rather than warfare purposes, thus continuing a historical subjugation to nuclear imperialism. This nuclear imperialism situates itself within an already prevalent cyclic violence against China’s far western frontier region of Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities, the predominantly Muslim Uighurs, ever since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.

Given the inherent differentiation between the Uighurs and the Chinese dominant ethnicity, the Hans, the former’s identity was always up for scrutiny. The government came down particularly hard on the Uighurs after the events of 9/11 initiated the Global War on Terror (GWOT), as well as the Ürümqi riots on 5 July 2009 which saw clashes between protesting Uighurs, Han people, and China’s People’s Armed Police, leaving nearly 200 people dead in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has attributed security concerns with the certain ‘terrorist’ acts committed by a handful of them. Taking what some might perceive as an opportunist stand, China was able to claim being victim to global terrorism, to justify crackdown on the minority group. What this terrorist narrative in turn ushered in was a transnational territory of uncontrolled spaces where ‘dangerous populations’ need not be afforded legal protections and therefore be made to quarantine; containing their actions that often correspond to security threats. The antagonism was not restricted to the few Uighurs rioters. Instead the entire Uighur community as a single biological group was treated as the Homo Sacer.

………….. The systematic discrimination of the Uighur feeds into a larger understanding of necro-politics of Uighur lives having become too consequential juxtaposed with a system which is ready to dispense with this minority population. The emphasis here is on China’s first nuclear weapons test in Lop Nor, and the legacy it has translated onto the present day context through states sponsored uranium mining in the Yili Basin, underscoring a new kind of imperialism.

Nuclear weapon testing began in the mid-1960s. Soon a kind of nuclear imperialism started to take root in the existing Han colonisation of Uighur spaces. The latter revolved around a combination of contestation over the sovereignty of the Uighur homeland and the resource-rich soils they inhabited. The aftermath of the Sino-Soviet split meant a collapse in PRCs nuclear relationship with China which acted as a driver for hastening and furthering their ambitious nuclear programmes. The PRC became the fifth nation to develop nuclear weapons during the Cold War. They formally established the 10,000 km sq. Lop Nor Nuclear Test base in 1956. It still stands as the largest site of its kind in the world………

Professor Jun Takada conducted a study explaining how peak levels of radioactivity from large yield tests might have had prolonged consequences in the biological makeup of the generations to come observing congenital defects and cancer incidents in some. The cancer incidents in the region were approximately 35% higher than the rest of the state. Uighur traditional medicine could not cope with these cases. In short, a biopolitical regime protected the state from liability, meanwhile for the Uighurs, contestation around state assurance and health risks posed a blurring in the causation between sickness and exposition.

The Uighurs who were affected by the Lop Nor test therefore have been given no compensation or recognition from the state. Many Hans on the other hand were given assurance from the state especially in terms of healthcare on various occasions. This only furthered the resentment and tension between the Hans and the Uighurs of Xinjiang in the years to come.

Following this, peaceful protests sprung up. In November 1985, protests led by students in Beijing against nuclear weapon tests were met with brute state coercion. In 1993, Uighurs gathered at Log Nor and demanded the ban of nuclear testing but were interrupted by PLA forces, some protestors were shot in the process. The Tigers of Lop Nor were an organisation that even managed to send tanks inside nuclear spaces and blew up planes in protest. Moreover, enveloped in this environment, the Uighur identity that already clashed with Han nationalism was simply made starker; the anti-nuclear movement began to echo separatist tendencies.

Today, a third of the PRCs uranium for nuclear energy comes from extortion in the Yili basin of Xinjiang. This is also home to a great population of Uighurs. The PRC has placed a moratorium on the manufacturing of fissile material for deterrence purposes, transforming Xinjiang into the primary hub for the nuclear energy industry. The NINT continues to partake in nuclear research, to the north of the Lop Nor test site. There is no state system in place to ensure the safety of those dwelling the Yili. What this reflects is a revival of a past narrative of nuclear imperialism as uranium energy extraction seems to have overtaken nuclear testing. There appears to be no incentive from the ends of the government; a lacking in enforceable nuclear legislations and regional systems of monitoring and regulating nuclear activity. …….

. China now possesses over 44 nuclear reactors in operation and 18 others under construction and is striving towards ensuring that 1/5th of their energy comes from their power plants by 2030. Activism from the minorities in the region is often counted by officials as acts of Islamism or cultural protests rather than a legacy of activities against the nuclear industry which is another layer of discrimination that has been recognised by the Uighurs.

More anti-nuclear activism seems to be entering the eastern provinces of Shandong, Jiangsu, and Guangdong as a result of general community concerns against an unprotected nuclear policy. Online petitions and active media are slowly entering the scene to influence and mobilise public opinion. However, it is only perhaps a matter of time before the PRC silences them too.

Censorship is often used to subdue this kind of opposition online. What is worse is that the Uighurs of Xinjiang lack the agency to voice their grievances while practitioners in the east who are often familiar with the political systems and often well-educated are able to make negotiations with the state in terms of the relocation of nuclear power plants. ………


October 20, 2020 Posted by | China, civil liberties | Leave a comment

American election. Joe Biden’s climate plan would give the world a fighting chance

BBC 18th Oct 2020, Who occupies the White House for the next four years could play a critical role in the fight against dangerous climate change, experts say. Matt McGrath weighs the likely environmental consequences of the US election.

Scientists studying climate change say that the re-election of Donald Trump could make it “impossible” to keep global temperatures in check. They’re worried another four years of Trump would “lock in” the use of fossil fuels for decades to come – securing and enhancing the infrastructure for oil and gas production rather than phasing them out as environmentalists want. Joe
Biden’s climate plan, the scientists argue, would give the world a fighting chance.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Scientific women get together in plan for marine protected area for Antarctica Peninsula

All-female scientific coalition calls for marine protected area for Antarctica Peninsula Plus other ways to help penguins, whales, and seabirds, EurekAlert, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY, Research News  19 Oct 20, The Western Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest warming places on earth. It is also home to threatened humpback and minke whales, chinstrap, Adélie and gentoo penguin colonies, leopard seals, killer whales, seabirds like skuas and giant petrels, and krill – the bedrock of the Antarctic food chain.With sea ice covering ever-smaller areas and melting more rapidly due to climate change, many species’ habitats have decreased. The ecosystem’s delicate balance is consequently tilted, leaving species in danger of extinction.

Cumulative threats from a range of human activities including commercial fishing, research activities and tourism combined with climate change is exacerbating this imbalance, and a tipping point is fast approaching.

Dr Carolyn Hogg, from the University of Sydney School of Life and Environmental Sciences, was part of the largest ever all-female expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula, with the women in STEMM initiative, Homeward Bound, in late 2019. There, she witnessed the beauty and fragility of the area, and the negative impacts of climate change and human activity on native species, first-hand. As part of the Homeward Bound program she learnt about the science, conservation and governance of Antarctica.

In a new commentary piece published in Nature, Dr Hogg and her colleagues from the expedition outline these threats, and importantly, offer ways to counter them. More than 280 women in STEMM who have participated in the Homeward Bound initiative are co-signatories to the piece.

A global initiative, Homeward Bound ‘aims to elevate the voices of women in science, technology, engineering mathematics and medicine in leading for positive outcomes for our planet’.

Women are noticeably absent in Antarctica’s human history, which is steeped in tales of male heroism. Female scientists are still a minority in the region’s research stations.

“Now, more than ever, a broad range of perspectives is essential in global decision-making, if we are to mitigate the many threats our planet faces,” said Dr Hogg.

“Solutions include the ratification of a Marine Protected Area around the Peninsula, set to be discussed on 19 October, at a meeting of a group of governments that collectively manage the Southern Ocean’s resources,” said Dr Hogg. “The region is impacted by a number of threats, each potentially problematic in their own right, but cumulated together they will be catastrophic.”

Decreasing krill affects whole ecosystem

The Peninsula’s waters are home to 70 percent of Antarctic krill. In addition to climate change, these krill populations are threatened by commercial fishing. Last year marked the third largest krill catch on record. Nearly 400,000 tonnes of this animal were harvested, to be used for omega-3 dietary supplements and fishmeal.

“Even relatively small krill catches can be harmful if they occur in a particular region, at a sensitive time for the species that live there,” said Dr Cassandra Brooks, a co-author on the comment from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “For example, fishing when penguins are breeding lowers their food intake, and affects their subsequent breeding success. A Marine Protected Area will conserve and protect this unique ecosystem and its wildlife, and we need to implement it now.”

Climate change is fundamentally altering the Western Antarctic Peninsula:……

Three ways to protect the Peninsula

1. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation for the waters………

2. Protect land areas ………

3. Integrate conservation efforts…….


October 20, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ANTARCTICA, climate change, environment | Leave a comment

Many 1000s sick in USA, but government spending priority is $billions, $trillions – for nuclear missiles!

October 20, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Considering the future of the Iran nuclear deal

The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

For nuclear nonproliferation, the remaining parties to the JCPOA must continue with constructive dialogue to help keep the deal alive.
By Elif Beyza Karaalioglu • Oct 19, 2020.   The future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran nuclear deal — is uncertain. In the absence of US leadership, representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Russia and Iran met on September 1 in Vienna to discuss the accord.

The deal, which imposes limitations on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program, was agreed in July 2015 between the Iranians and the P5+1 group — China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — and implemented six months later. The deal was struck when the Obama administration was in the White House following years of negotiations. The JCPOA gave Iran relief from international economic sanctions in return for dismantling major parts of its nuclear program and giving access to its facilities for inspection.

Yet ever since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, the future of the JCPOA has hung in the balance. Trump made it a campaign promise to pull out of the Iran deal. He kept his word and officially withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018, saying the deal is “defective” and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its interference in the affairs of other countries in the Middle East.

Washington has since reinstated US sanctions on Iran and sought to penalize any nation doing trade with the Iranians, which has led to widespread criticism. In response, Iran has resumed its uranium enrichment at the Fordow nuclear plant, which is banned under the JCPOA.

The events surrounding the Iran deal have seen their ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: The collapse of the JCPOA is in no one’s best interest………….

Considering that US–Iran diplomatic relations are a nonstarter under the Trump administration, the result of the US presidential election on November 3 will be critical. President Trump has promised to reach a new deal with Iran “within four weeks” if he is reelected. If he wins, his administration would have to reshape its approach toward Iran in a constructive way to meet the timeline he has set. On the other hand, if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, his administration would likely rejoin the JCPOA, as well as seek additional concessions from Tehran. In a recent op-ed for CNN, Biden stated, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”

Biden served as the vice president under the previous Obama administration, which, together with the P5+1 group, negotiated the JCPOA back in 2015. Therefore, it is safe to say that the future of the nuclear deal might just rest on the outcome of the US election.

A Regional Arms Race

For now, however, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has weakened the impact of the accord. More importantly, the near-collapse of the deal could have a direct impact on the next Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference in 2021, potentially drawing criticism from non-nuclear-weapon states that may wish to pursue civilian programs of their own.

The JCPOA is not only important for global nonproliferation efforts, but also for stability in the Middle East. The complete failure of the deal would have severe implications.  ………

Sanctions on Iran

On August 20, France, Germany and the UK issued a joint statement saying they do not support the US request for the UN Security Council to initiate the “snapback mechanism” of the JCPOA, which would reimpose the international sanctions against Iran that were lifted in 2015. As the US is no longer a party to the JCPOA, it has limited influence over its enforcement. Therefore, the Security Council rejected the US move.

The Iranian economy was already fragile before President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, and US-enforced sanctions are further complicating the situation. High living costs, a deep recession and plummeting oil exports are just the tip of the iceberg………..

Nuclear Nonproliferation

With all of this in mind, it is vital that the remaining parties to the JCPOA continue with constructive dialogue to try to uphold the agreement. Everyone benefits from the deal, and its success depends on each side’s fulfillment of their responsibilities and commitments, particularly Iran’s full compliance.

Most importantly, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is necessary for the future of nuclear nonproliferation. If the deal collapses, then the world enters uncharted territory.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Royal Navy officer in charge of submarine’s nuclear weapons, sent back to UK, alleged to be drunk on duty

Royal Navy officer in charge of sub’s nuclear weapons sent back to UK for ‘clocking on after night of drinking’   Lieutenant Commander Len Louw was carrying a bag of barbecue grilled chicken when he arrived for work. Sky News ,By Lucia Binding, news reporter, Monday 19 October 2020 ……….
A Royal Navy officer who allegedly turned up to work after a night of drinking has been sent back to the UK from a submarine in the US.

Lieutenant Commander Len Louw was declared unfit for duty when he arrived at HMS Vigilant to take charge of nuclear missiles last month………..
Lieutenant Commander Louw was responsible for all weapons and sensors on the vessel.  ……

October 20, 2020 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

In Germany , a new dispute over the old abandoned Gorleben nuclear waste site

16 October 2020  Pledge Times (India/Germany)

New dispute over Gorleben

In an interview, the President of Germany’s Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management says it was problematic that Gorleben (current interim but beleaguered radwaste site) has been ruled out in the first review stage of the process to identify a geological repository site. The Green Party responded that the President “did not understand the procedure for which he is in charge. The search for a repository follows scientific criteria.”

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

USA aiming to beat Russia, China etc, in marketing nuclear reactors to Poland

October 20, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

The very genuine promise of cheap electricity – solar power

Nuclear power never delivered on its promise, but will solar?  John Quiggin, Canberra Times, 19 Oct 20, 

The International Energy Agency attracted attention recently when executive director Fatih Birol declared that solar would be “the new king of electricity markets.” Long known for its conservative view of renewables, the IEA’s latest Global Energy Review marked a radical change. Instead of growing slowly over time, solar (along with wind and other renewables) is now seen as meeting all new electricity demand, with coal set for a sharp decline. …….

Solar modules cost virtually nothing to operate, and last a long time. Manufacturers’ warranties typically run for 25 years, guaranteeing at least 80 per cent performance. Experience and experimental evidence suggest this is conservative: even after thirty years, modules installed today should still be working at around 85 per cent of their initial capacity. A working lifetime of twenty-five years is therefore conservative…………
Once a solar module has been installed, a zero rate of interest means that the electricity it generates is virtually free. Spread over the lifetime of the module, the cost is around 2c/kwh (assuming $1/watt cost, 2000 operating hours per year and a 25-year lifetime). That cost would be indexed to the rate of inflation, but would probably never exceed 3c/kwh. There is, then, a real possibility that solar PV and other renewable technologies could fulfil the promise made decades ago by the promoters of nuclear power: that it will deliver electricity “too cheap to meter”. (Even with access to cheap capital, nuclear power never delivered on that promise.)

The prospect of electricity this cheap might seem counter-intuitive to anyone whose model of investment analysis is based on concepts like “present value” and payback periods. But in the world of zero real interest rates that now appears to be upon us, such concepts are no longer relevant. Governments can, and should, invest in projects whenever the total benefits exceed the costs, regardless of how those benefits are spread over time.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

France’s anti nuclear activists to train citizen scientists to measure radioactivity levels around a nuclear site

La Depeche 17th Oct 2020, The actinists who have been mobilizing on the ground for years against the
Orano-Malvesi plant (conversion and enrichment of uranium ore), want to
train citizens to take samples themselves to measure the radioactivity
around the nuclear site.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | France, Uranium | Leave a comment

Britain’s zero emissions policy will bring many 1000s of jobs, investing in green infrastructure

Times 19th Oct 2020, Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will create as many as 80,000 jobs and
help to achieve Boris Johnson’s national renewal mission, a report
published today says. Investment in green infrastructure and technologies
will prevent long-term scarring of the labour market in the wake of the
Covid-19 crisis, the report by the London School of Economics adds.
It calls on the prime minister to make good on his “levelling-up” promise
this summer to “build back better, build back greener, build back
faster” after GDP collapsed by a record 19.8 per cent as a result of a
national lockdown.
The report highlights six labour-intensive areas where
government investment would create the maximum number of jobs while also
helping to achieve the UK’s commitment of carbon neutrality, including
renewable energy infrastructure, electric vehicle production and home
energy efficiency retrofits. The UK was the world’s first major economy
to enshrine in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | employment, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

A green recovery from the pandemic will bring more jobs, more economic success

Business Green 19th Oct 2020, Analysis published by We Mean Business coalition recommends policymakers
reject traditional stimulus programmes that focus on VAT reductions and
boosting household spending in favour of targeted support for green
technologies and solutions.

In the latest addition to the library of
studies that has underscored the benefits of a ‘green recovery’ to the
coronavirus pandemic, economists have today published a new research
detailing how stimulus packages that invest in low carbon technologies and
infrastructure will generate more income, jobs, and GDP than traditional
recovery measures.

Economies around the world stand to benefit if
governments opt to invest in energy efficiency improvements, tree planting,
and electricity grid upgrades, while supporting an acceleration in the roll
out of wind and solar power capacity and introducing car scrappage schemes
that boost sales of electric vehicles, according to a report published this
morning by the We Mean Business Coalition.

After modelling a ‘green
recovery’ plan against a ‘return-to-normal’ plan across the UK, Germany,
Poland, US, India, and globally, researchers from Cambridge Econometrics
concluded the impact of a green recovery strategy would be “consistently
larger” than that delivered through a standard stimulus package.

“This report confirms what many companies already know – investing in the zero
carbon future is the best way to ensure business success,” said Maria
Mendiluce, chief executive of the We Mean Business coalition. “For
governments, spending and tailoring policies in a way that boosts green
technologies and innovation brings benefits to businesses, economies and
people as well as cutting emissions. To invest in any other way would be to
set the world on course for economic and environmental disaster at a time
when we need to build resilience.”

October 20, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD | Leave a comment

Swedish council votes in favour of nuclear waste disposal facility

Swedish council votes in favour of nuclear waste disposal facility, Energy Live, 19 Oct 20, The final decision now lies with the Swedish Government and is the last remaining decision point for developer SKB to obtain the construction licence for the repository in Forsmark.
The Municipality Council of Östhammar in Sweden has voted in favour of plans to build a geological disposal facility (GDF) for spent nuclear fuel. ……
The final decision now lies with the Swedish Government and is the last remaining decision point for SKB to obtain the construction licence for the repository in Forsmark……..

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Sweden, wastes | Leave a comment