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Trump’s USA is pushing NuScale’s small nuclear reactors for South Africa

The US nuclear company with an eye on South Africa  just got a R23 billion boost, courtesy of Donald Trump,    Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA Oct 22, 2020, 

  • American nuclear energy company NuScale has been citing Cape Town as an example of an ideal customer for its still-theoretical generators.
  • It has now received in-principle financial support from the American government to build a nuclear power station in South Africa.
  • NuScale’s pathfinder project for its new technology, in Idaho, just got a promise of an infusion of US government cash worth some R23 billion.
  • While South Africa abandoned plans to create next-generation PBMR systems, the administration of Donald Trump has pushed small-scale nuclear development.

NuScale, a company with roots in US-funded research, this week received assurances that the American government will provide up to $1.4 billion (around R23 billion) in subsidies for a 12-module reactor it hopes to start building in Idaho by 2025.

The project is a commercial one, with municipal buyers lined up for the electricity, but the cash from the US department of energy is intended to bring the cost of that electricity down to $55 per MWh on a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) basis, making the project at least vaguely competitive with other forms of power generation.

Without the subsidies, the supposedly once-off cost of building a first-of-its kind power station would make the NuScale project commercially unviable, its planned customers say.

Just how once-off such costs are, and how much money the US government ends up actually spending on the project, will be closely watched in South Africa

Last week the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced it had signed a letter of intent to support NuScale “to develop 2,500 MW of nuclear energy in South Africa”.

NuScale has cited Cape Town as a purely theoretical customer for a 12-module version of its nuclear energy system, saying that such an installation could desalinate enough water to keep the entire city going.

But the 2,500MW number cited by the DFC suggests its South African ambitions are substantial. That is the full generating capability the South African government now envisages adding to the national grid from nuclear stations – but the government plan calls for a mixture of the conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs) such as Russia’s Rosatom sells, and the type of small modular reactors (SMRs) NuScale is developing.

By seeking development finance for the full 2,500MW, NuScale appears to be signalling a plan to bid for the whole thing, rather than seeking to build only part of a new set of nuclear generators in SA alongside companies from China or elsewhere.

That matches the aggressive posture of the US government under the administration of Donald Trump. The DFC letter of intent is the first time the organisation has supported any nuclear project; a ban on its involvement in nuclear energy was lifted on the recommendation of a working group formed by the White House.

The state funding for the NuScale project in the US, meanwhile, comes after consistent and determined efforts under Trump’s presidency to “revitalise” nuclear energy in America, both in production and through research and development on next-generation systems.

South Africa, though determined to buy new nuclear power stations, has not had a similar political appetite to invest in research. In 2010 it mothballed work on the pebble bed modular reactor, a project launched in the late 1990s to create a safe, small, modular reactor system for both domestic use and sale abroad.

Russia once thought it had a done deal to build new nuclear reactors in South Africa. Half a decade later, thanks to its sheer political weight, China seems to be a serious contender for the job. Both France and South Korea have, at various points, been in the running too.

But as of this week, an American company with no track record of actually building commerical nuclear reactors yet is lining up the kind of money from the US government that could make its plans for South Africa viable – replacing a dream of home-grown next-generation nuclear with an imported version.

As of this year there are still vague plans to revive the project, in one form or another, but even if those were to succeed, the pace of development would have to be improbably fast for it to have any place in South Africa’s current round of explorations.


October 24, 2020 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Africa | Leave a comment

The Atlantic raised the big question. In a crisis, do Americans want Trump’s finger on the nuclear button?

The Atlantic’s endorsement of Joe Biden raises a sobering point all Americans should consider. Daily Kos, Dartagnan Community, Friday October 23, 2020   “……….   —The Atlantic reminds us that the person in charge of this country’s nuclear arsenal matters.

In most matters related to the governance and defense of the United States, the president is constrained by competing branches of government and by an intricate web of laws and customs. Only in one crucial area does the president resemble, in the words of the former missile officer and scholar Bruce Blair, an absolute monarch—his control of nuclear weapons. Richard Nixon, who was president when Major Hering asked his question, was reported to have told members of Congress at a White House dinner party, “I could leave this room and in 25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.” This was an alarming but accurate statement.

When contemplating their ballots, Americans should ask which candidate in a presidential contest is better equipped to guide the United States through a national-security crisis without triggering a nuclear exchange, and which candidate is better equipped to interpret—within five or seven minutes—the ambiguous, complicated, and contradictory signals that could suggest an imminent nuclear attack. These are certainly not questions that large numbers of voters asked themselves in 2016, when a transparently unqualified candidate for president won the support of 63 million Americans..
The presidency is much more than a “position” to be filled from time to time. As we have all bitterly learned from the pandemic, the implications of a manifestly unfit president are profound and potentially lethal to millions of Americans. To provide someone proven to be as erratic and delusional as Donald Trump with the power to end all of our lives by initiating (or reacting to) a potential nuclear attack is simply insane. Americans may not have known exactly what they were putting into the Oval Office in 2016, but there is no such excuse now. We’ve all seen the movie, and it ends in death.
That crisis—or something close to it— is bound to come, whether we want to acknowledge it or not.  So Americans need to ask themselves who they really trust to make that call when it happens, and whether they really want those fat little fingers so close to that red button. ·

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Donald Trump and Joe Biden on climate change

Independent 23rd Oct 2020 It has been around 20 years since a lengthy discussion on climate change featured in a presidential debate during which time a monumental shift has happened in how America views the crisis.

Two-thirds of Americans think that the US government should do more on climate change and moderator Kristen Welker asked both Donald Trump and Joe Biden how they would step up
on the issue during the final presidential debate on Thursday, with millions of Americans already taking to the polls ahead of election day on 3 November.

Calling it an “existential crisis”, Mr Biden sounded the alarm for the world to address global warming, as Mr Trump took credit for pulling the US out of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, the international agreement aimed at doing precisely that. Mr Trump said his focus was saving
American jobs, while taking credit for some of the “cleanest air and water the nation has seen in generations” — partly down to regulations passed in the Obama era.

Independent 23rd Oct 2020, President Trump, who has repeatedly called climate change a  “hoax”, said he planned for a “trillion trees” before touting America’s “clean air”, “clean water” and lower carbon emissions (all of which are, at best, misleading, as The Independent has reported).

The president then pivoted to an attack on clean energy, taking particular issue with windmills. “He thinks wind causes cancer. Windmills,” Mr Biden noted. “I know more about wind than you do,” Mr Trump replied, before going on to say windmills are extremely expensive, “kill all the birds” and “the fumes coming up, if you’re a believer in carbon emission … for these massive windmills is more than anything we’re talking about with natural gas which is very clean”.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Climate change a big threat to nuclear reactors – as water supplies at risk

Climate change poses big water risks for nuclear, fossil-fueled plants, S and P Global, Esther Whieldon Taylor Kuykendall, 23 Oct 20,

Exelon Corp.’s Clinton Power Station nuclear plant in Illinois uses about 248.5 billion gallons of water annually, the utility said in its 2020 report to CDP. The plant is in an area projected to face increased water stress by 2030.
As global warming climbs and humanity’s water consumption increases, nuclear and fossil-fueled power plants that rely on freshwater for cooling may not be able to perform at their peak capacity or could be forced to shut down temporarily even as demand for their supplies for indoor cooling and other uses increase, according to researchers and industry experts.
Climate change-exacerbated water shortage issues pose a near-term and longer-term performance risk to power plants, such as hydropower and nuclear, around the world. And in the Lower 48, more than half of the fossil-fueled and nuclear fleet is located in areas forecast to face climate-related water stress by the end of this decade under a business-as-usual scenario, according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

But electric utilities’ overall exposure to power plant water stress risks could diminish as they pursue decarbonization strategies and replace water-dependent plants with wind and solar generation that require little to no water. Some companies are also implementing water management and related investment strategies to reduce their exposure. ……..

According to projections from the World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, water stress — when humanity’s competition for water exceeds the rate at which nature can replenish its stocks — could grow materially by 2030 in the drought-prone Western U.S., as well as the upper Midwest and portions of the Northeast and Florida, due to climate change.

About 61.8% of existing fossil-fueled and nuclear power plants in the Lower 48, or a combined 535 GW of operating capacity, is in areas that could face medium-high to extremely high water stress in 2030, based on an analysis of Market Intelligence’s power plant data paired with the Aqueduct water stress projections.

Moreover, 68.6% of the Lower 48’s natural gas-fired fleet, 73.3% of its oil-fueled fleet, 61.0% of its nuclear fleet, and 44.6% of its coal-fired fleet are in areas expected to face medium-high to extremely-high water stress that year.

“As we’re seeing snowpack decline — a natural mountainous reservoir of water — and as we’re getting lower amounts of total precipitation and available water in the U.S. West, this is going to be a really serious issue for the power sector,” said Betsy Otto, director of the Global Water Program at the World Resource Institute, or WRI. Moreover, scientists have said the West is entering a megadrought that could last more than 20 years.

Otto also noted that several other U.S. regions not normally thought of as facing water supply issues are already experiencing chronic water challenges that, if left unchecked, could become a problem if extended droughts, heatwaves, and other major extreme weather events should occur.

A number of utilities use WRI’s Aqueduct tool to assess their water risks in their annual reports to the CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project, and other organizations. But those reports typically focus on the WRI’s current water stress models and not the tool’s future climate projections.

WRI’s current water stress models show a number of regions that are facing water stress will be in the same situation, or worse, at the end of the decade.

Along those lines, Moody’s Investors Service in August reported that about 48 GW of nuclear capacity across the U.S. face elevated exposure to combined heat and water stress, including plants owned by Exelon Corp., Vistra Corp., Entergy Corp., and the Arizona Public Service Co.

In hot water

A plant’s location is not the only factor that will determine its vulnerability to water stress. A plant’s water source, cooling technology and the temperature of the water when it is withdrawn are also key factors, according to scientific reports. The Market Intelligence analysis using the WRI tool does not account for those three factors.

In addition, rising ambient air and water temperatures can also create operational and legal issues for plants. Because plants primarily use water to cool their systems, “if that water is hot or warmer to start with, that’s not so good. That makes the power plant less efficient” and it also means the plant risks violating federal restrictions on how hot water can be when it is discharged, said Auroop Ganguly, director of the Northeastern University College of Engineering Sustainability and Data Sciences Laboratory.

Ganguly co-authored a study that found that by the 2030s, climate-induced water stress in the form of increased water temperatures and limited freshwater supplies will hurt the power production of thermoelectric plants in the South, Southwest, West and West North Central regions of the U.S. According to the 2017 study, U.S. nuclear and fossil-fueled plants at that time used about 161 billion gallons per day, or 45% of the nation’s daily freshwater usage, 90% of which was for cooling.

The technologies used by a power plant can also make a big difference in how much water it needs. Dry-cooling technology uses very little water but is costlier and less efficient than alternatives. And while once-through cooling systems withdraw more water than recirculating systems, once-through cooling returns nearly all of the water to the source while recirculating systems consume more water due to evaporation……….

October 24, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 2 Comments

Fossil fuels are ”very clean” – Donald Trump

Guardian 23rd Oct 2020, In Donald Trump’s world – laid bare during Thursday night’s final
presidential debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden in Nashville – fossil fuels are “very clean”, the US has the best air and water despite his administration’s extensive regulatory rollbacks, and thecountry can fix climate change by planting trees.
But according to the harsh realities being laid out by climate scientists, Trump’s world does
not exist. Humanity has just eight years to figure out how to get climate change under control before the future starts to look drastically worse – multiple-degree temperature increases, global sea-level rise, and increasingly disastrous wildfires, hurricanes, floods and droughts. Doing so will mean that unless there is a technological miracle, humans will at some point have to stop burning oil, gas and coal.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Another city leaves small nuclear reactor project – unanimous vote by Murray City Council, Utah

Murray City votes to withdraw from nuclear power project,  Salt Lake Tribune, By Taylor Stevens– 23 Oct 20,  The Murray City Council voted unanimously this week to back out of a first-of-its-kind nuclear power project that has the support of a number of Utah municipalities.

It’s the fourth Utah city to exit the small modular nuclear reactor pursuit over the last few months amid pressure from opponents who have raised concerns about environmental and financial risks of the proposed 12-module plant, which would be located at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls and produce a total 720 megawatts of electricity.

During the city’s Tuesday council meeting, Murray Power Manager Blaine Haacke outlined several advantages of the project, including the potential that it could fill the energy gap that will be left when the Hunter Power Plant in Castle Dale goes offline in the coming years.

But he ultimately recommended that the council vote to back out of the project, saying there were too many risks involved in committing another $1.1 million to $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars, with an ultimate anticipated price tag to city residents of around $2.1 million.
“I think there’s just enough stumbling blocks out there that I’m really concerned about,” Haacke told the council.
The project’s projected costs have ballooned significantly, from $4.5 billion a few years ago to around $6 billion now. And he said there’s a chance that leadership or priority changes on the national level could affect federal appropriations toward the nuclear reactor plant.
But Haacke told the council Tuesday that his biggest concern is that the plant is only 25% subscribed — and it’s not a sure thing that new customers will suddenly come on board once it’s built.,,,,,,,,,
Ahead of the vote, city staff also read several public comments from residents, all of which urged their elected officials to back out of the project over concerns about both cost and potential environmental impacts.
Rusty Cannon, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, was among those who sent in a written comment, arguing that the municipal power company should not act as a “seed investor” for the new technology.
That responsibility, he said, should lie with the private sector, and “municipal power companies could instead look to purchase power from such a project upon its completion” around 2029.
Environmental groups, such as the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, have also raised concerns about the radioactive waste that would be generated by the project.
Despite the federal government’s support, the future of the project seems murkier now that Murray has joined Lehi, Logan and Kaysville in backing out of the project. And Haacke said he’s heard rumors that other cities are considering an exit as well ahead of a recently-extended deadline to “off-ramp” from the project.

He told the council that he expects UAMPS will carry the project forward without Murray. But he said the association’s members will meet during the first week of November to make a final decision, after they find out how many cities have exited.

“If there are enough [municipalities] that have dropped out, as a UAMPS committee we will say, ‘let’s just drop it and move on,’” he said. …………
The Utah cities that remain in the Carbon Free Power Project have until Oct. 31 to drop out or to appropriate additional funds to the small modular reactor project.  ….

October 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Delayed freezing of Arctic sea due to continued freakish warm weather

October 24, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, oceans | 1 Comment

Not only Fukushima – UK nuclear reactors also empty radioactive water into the sea

October 24, 2020 Posted by | oceans, UK | Leave a comment

Largest wildfires in Colorado’s history

October 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Australia has nuclear waste problems

Japan plans to dump a million tonnes of radioactive water into the Pacific. But Australia has nuclear waste problems, too   The Conversation,October 23, 2020  Tilman Ruff. Associate Professor, Education and Learning Unit, Nossal Institute for Global Health, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Margaret Beavis,  Tutor Principles of Clinical Practice Melbourne Medical School .  

Nuclear waste storage in Australia

This is what happens at our national nuclear facility at Lucas Heights in Sydney. The vast majority of Australia’s nuclear waste is stored on-site in a dedicated facility, managed by those with the best expertise, and monitored 24/7 by the Australian Federal Police.

But the Australian government plans to change this. It wants to transport and temporarily store nuclear waste at a facility at Kimba, in regional South Australia, for an indeterminate period. We believe the Kimba plan involves unnecessary multiple handling, and shifts the nuclear waste problem onto future generations.

The proposed storage facilities in Kimba are less safe than disposal, and this plan is well below world’s best practice.

The infrastructure, staff and expertise to manage and monitor radioactive materials in Lucas Heights were developed over decades, with all the resources and emergency services of Australia’s largest city. These capacities cannot be quickly or easily replicated in the remote rural location of Kimba. What’s more, transporting the waste raises the risk of theft and accident.

And in recent months, the CEO of regulator ARPANSA told a senate inquiry there is capacity to store nuclear waste at Lucas Heights for several more decades. This means there’s ample time to properly plan final disposal of the waste.

The legislation before the Senate will deny interested parties the right to judicial review. The plan also disregards unanimous opposition by Barngarla Traditional Owners.

The Conversation contacted Resources Minister Keith Pitt who insisted the Kimba site will consolidate waste from more than 100 places into a “safe, purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility”. He said a separate, permanent disposal facility will be established for intermediate level waste in a few decades’ time.

Pitt said the government continues to seek involvement of Traditional Owners. He also said the Kimba community voted in favour of the plan. However, the voting process was criticised on a number of grounds, including that it excluded landowners living relatively close to the site, and entirely excluded Barngarla people.

Kicking the can down the road

Both Australia and Japan should look to nations such as Finland, which deals with nuclear waste more responsibly and has studied potential sites for decades. It plans to spend 3.5 billion euros (A$5.8 billion) on a deep geological disposal site.


October 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission to effectively deregulate massive amounts of radioactive wastes



PEER 21st Oct 2020, The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is finalizing a year-long drive to functionally deregulate disposal of massive amounts of radioactive waste.
NRC’s plan would allow commercial nuclear reactors to dump virtually all their radioactive waste, except spent fuel, in local garbage landfills,  which are designed for household trash not rad-waste, according to commentsfiled today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

October 24, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Your Senators: NO nuclear waste in your local landfill

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BHP abandons plan to expand Olympic Dam uranium mine – a sign foe the future


Wire 21st Oct 2020, The news this week that mining giant BHP will not continue with its long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project is a sign that the market is turning against the controversial mineral.

It spells good news for the future of renewables but leaves the problem of leftover radioactive waste at Olympic Dam. There is no decision to change tack and mine the many many rare earths which also exist at the site.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

European Commission commits to retainng Iran nuclear deal

European Commission reassures Iran of commitment to nuclear deal October 2020  The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran remains an essential part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and its signatories are committed to expanding the special purpose vehicle that enables European businesses to maintain trade with the country, according to the European Commission’s foreign affairs spokesperson Peter Stano.

In an interview with the Tehran Times published on 20 October, Stano referred to remarks Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, had made to the European Parliament on 7 October. Borrell said Iran had “legitimate expectations that the nuclear deal would result in more concrete economic benefits”.

The E3 – France, Germany and the UK – triggered the JCPoA’s dispute resolution mechanism in January, following Iran’s further steps away from its commitments. In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution calling on Iran to cooperate fully in implementing its NPT Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.

In August, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi held talks with Iranian officials on access for IAEA inspectors to the country’s nuclear sites. His visit to Tehran followed the US Administration’s request to the UN Security Council to initiate the ‘snapback’ mechanism of the Iran nuclear deal. This mechanism allows a party to the agreement to seek the re-imposition against Iran of the multilateral sanctions lifted in 2015 in accordance with resolution 2231. The USA withdrew from the JCPoA in May 2018.

Stano told the Tehran Times that the EU considers the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law.

“The lifting of sanctions is an essential part of the JCPoA agreement,” he said. “In this regard, the EU fulfilled its commitments and lifted all its economic and financial sanctions in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme. Furthermore, the EU member states sitting in the UN Security Council prevented the US efforts to use the so-called ‘snapback’ and re-introduce UN sanctions that were lifted as a result of the JCPoA.”

The EU had taken “a series of concrete actions”, he said, including updating its Blocking Statute in August 2018 and, the following year, setting up INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges). In addition, the European Commission recently launched two online platforms to support European economic operators “to engage in legitimate trade with Iran”.

“This underscores the continued EU commitment to the full and effective implementation of the JCPoA,” Stano said, adding that the first transactions under INSTEX are being processed. “The number of participants of INSTEX is not shrinking; quite to the contrary, there are more European countries joining, with more to follow.”

October 24, 2020 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One hundred thousand years. Bure or the buried scandal of nuclear waste

France Culture 17th Oct 2020 The journalists Pierre Bonneau and Gaspard d’Allens publish “One hundred thousand years. Bure or the buried scandal of nuclear waste”, an edifying investigation in the form of a comic strip, a co-edition La Revue Dessinée and Le Seuil.

One hundred thousand years. Bure or the buried scandal of nuclear waste , it is the title of a comic strip published this week, a
comic resulting from the investigation of two journalists in this communeof the Meuse, which is the subject of a political battle virulent between the State and the inhabitants of the village and its surroundings for manyyears. How dangerous is nuclear waste? What is the limit between subjectivity and activism and why do a comic book survey?

October 24, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment