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Growing political opposition in Canada to Small Nuclear Reactors

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

For safety the 40 year limit on nuclear reactor’s life should be kept

Limiting life of nuclear plants to 40 years should be continued, November 26, 2020   Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, new nuclear safety regulations were created to impose a 40-year limit on the operational lifespan of nuclear reactors in Japan.The rule was designed to ensure decommissioning of aging reactors that are more vulnerable to accidents and make Japanese society less dependent on nuclear power.

But a provision that allows one extension of the legal lifespan by up to 20 years in exceptional cases, introduced in response to concerns about a power shortage, has been widely exploited to gain permission to extend operations years or even decades beyond the 40-year cap.

This troubling trend should not be ignored. The original principle should be maintained.

The municipal assembly of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, on Nov. 25 approved the restarts of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s (KEPCO) Takahama nuclear plant, which first went into service in the 1970s.

The move came four years after the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), a government agency to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants, gave the green light to plans to extend operations of these aging reactors, which went offline in 2011 following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

While the consent of the Takahama mayor, the Fukui prefectural assembly and the Fukui governor is still needed to bring the reactors back on stream, the municipal assembly’s approval is a first step toward operating a reactor that is more than 40 years old for the first time in Japan.

Behind the town assembly’s decision is the fact that the nuclear power plant has been supporting the local economy. But the move has raised the question of whether the assembly has given sufficient consideration to issues concerning the safety of local residents.

In a meeting to explain the plans to residents in Takahama held at the end of October, some attendees voiced concerns about the risk of multiple natural disasters disrupting traffic on the prefectural road designated to be used as part of the evacuation route in the event of serious accidents at the plant. There remain serious safety concerns as to the planned operations of the reactors.

Even more questionable is the government’s stance toward the issue.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration has vowed to reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power generation as much as possible by making all-out efforts to promote energy conservation and use of renewable energy sources.

But the Suga administration’s stance toward nuclear power generation is showing no notable difference from the policy of the previous government led by his predecessor, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Abe administration left decisions concerning reactor restarts to the NRA and the local governments involved and didn’t hesitate to bring reactors back online once the procedures for the step were completed.

In a sign that casts doubt on the administration’s commitment to reducing nuclear power generation, a senior official at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, an industry ministry body, has repeatedly visited the local governments of the host communities in Takahama to seek their consent for the plans.

In Fukui Prefecture, another aging reactor, the No. 3 unit of KEPCO’s Mihama nuclear power plant in Mihama, located along the coast of the Wakasa Bay, has been cleared by the NRA for operation beyond the 40-year legal lifespan. The Mihama town assembly is expected to decide on the restart in December.

KEPCO, which has been operating 11 reactors in Fukui Prefecture, including those at its Oi nuclear plant in the town of Oi, has decided to decommission four reactors at the Mihama and Oi plants. But it will still have seven reactors in service in the prefecture if the lives of three reactors are extended beyond the 40-year limit.

This means the local communities will continue being threatened by the safety risks posed by a concentration of reactors, which were underscored in a graphic way by the Fukushima calamity.

The government should demonstrate a clear commitment to scrapping aging reactors while supporting private-sector investment in renewable energy sources. It also should work with the local administrations in areas that have been dependent on nuclear plants for their economic well-being to carve out futures not dependent on atomic energy and provide policy support to their efforts to achieve the visions.

It is time for KEPCO to change its business strategy.

The utility is still halfway to its goal of regaining the public confidence that has been deeply undermined by a series of scandals including one in which company executives received gifts from a former top official at the Takahama municipal government.

The utility has promised the prefectural government to find a location outside the prefecture for an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at its nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture. But the outlook of this mission remains murky.

A responsible utility would pull the plug on the operations of aging reactors whose viability is in doubt economically as well as technologically and reinvent its business strategy accordingly.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

The new way to hide the money splurged on nuclear weapons – via Small Nuclear Reactors

December 10, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war | Leave a comment

With Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) Canada is back in the nuclear weapons business

Canada re-engages in the Nuclear Weapons Business with SMRs,  December 3, 2020, WWW.HILLTIMES.COM/2020/12/03/CANADA-RE-ENTERS-NUCLEAR-WEAPONS-BUSINESS-WITH-SMALL-MODULAR-REACTORS/274591

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan is expected to announce within weeks his government’s action plan for development of “small modular” nuclear reactors (SMRs).

SMR developers already control the federally-subsidized Chalk River Laboratories and other facilities owned by the crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).  Canada is now poised to play a supporting role in the global nuclear weapons business, much as it did during World War II.

Canada was part of the Manhattan project with the U.S. and U.K. to produce atomic bombs.  In 1943 the three countries agreed to build a facility in Canada to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.  Researchers who trained at the Chalk River Laboratories went on to launch weapons programs in the U.K. and France.  Chalk River provided plutonium for U.S. weapons until the 1960s.

Canada’s Nuclear Schizophrenia describes a long tradition of nuclear cooperation with the United States:  “For example, in the early 1950s, the U.S. Navy used Canadian technology to design a small reactor for powering its nuclear submarines.”  C.D. Howe, after creating AECL in 1952 to develop nuclear reactors and sell weapons plutonium, remarked that “we in Canada are not engaged in military development, but the work that we are doing at Chalk River is of importance to military developments.”

The uranium used in the 1945 Hiroshima bomb may have been mined and refined in Canada. According to Jim Harding’s book Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, from 1953 to 1969, all the uranium mined in Saskatchewan went to make U.S. nuclear weapons. Canada remains the world’s second-largest producer of uranium.  North America’s only currently operating uranium processing facility is owned by Cameco in Port Hope, Ontario.

Canada built India’s CIRUS reactor, which started up in 1960 and produced the plutonium for India’s first nuclear explosion in 1974. Canada also built Pakistan’s first nuclear reactor, which started up in 1972.  Although this reactor was not used to make weapons plutonium, it helped train the engineers who eventually exploded Pakistan’s first nuclear weapons in 1998.

In 2015 the Harper Government contracted a multi-national consortium called Canadian National Energy Alliance – now comprised of two U.S. companies, Fluor and Jacobs, along with Canada’s SNC-Lavalin – to operate AECL’s nuclear sites, the main one being at Chalk River.  Fluor operates the Savannah River Site, a South Carolina nuclear weapons facility, under contract to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).  Jacobs also has contracts at DOE weapons facilities and is part of a consortium that operates the U.K. Atomic Weapons Establishment.

Joe McBrearty
, the president of the consortium’s subsidiary that operates Chalk River and other federal nuclear sites, was a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine commander and then chief operating officer for the DOE’s nuclear laboratories between 2010 and 2019.

All three consortium partners have investments in SMRs and are ramping up research and development at AECL’s Chalk River facility. Some SMR designs would use uranium enriched to levels well beyond those in current reactors; others would use plutonium fuel; others would use fuel dissolved in molten salt.   All of these pose new and problematic weapons proliferation risks.

Rolls Royce, an original consortium partner that makes reactors for the U.K.’s nuclear submarines, is lead partner in a U.K. consortium (including SNC-Lavalin) that was recently funded by the U.K. government to advance that country’s SMR program.

A military bromance: SMRs to support and cross-subsidize the UK nuclear weapons program, says “Industry and government in the UK openly promote SMRs on the grounds that an SMR industry would support the nuclear weapons program (in particular the submarine program) by providing a pool of trained nuclear experts, and that in so doing an SMR industry will cross-subsidize the weapons program.” 

The article quotes a 2017 Rolls Royce study as follows: “expansion of a nuclear-capable skilled workforce through a civil nuclear UK SMR programme would relieve the Ministry of Defence of the burden of developing and retaining skills and capability.”

The SMR connection to weapons and submarines could hardly be clearer – without SMRs, the U.S. and U.K. will experience a shortage of trained engineers to maintain their nuclear weapons programs.

With the takeover of AECL’s Chalk River Laboratories by SMR developers, and growing federal government support for SMRs, Canada has become part of a global regime linking nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Uranium Film Festival 2020 – a huge success under difficult circumstances

December 10, 2020 Posted by | culture and arts, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

Iran’s President Rouhani ready to restore the nuclear deal

Rouhani: ‘No negotiations’ needed to restore Iran nuclear deal

President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same. By 

Maziar Motamedi,  9 Dec 2020Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.

Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. Ittakes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.

“And it’s not just about the US. The P4+1 can return to all their commitments and we will do the same,” he said in reference to France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia, the other signatories of the nuclear deal.

US President-elect Joe Biden and Europe have signalled that while they wish to restore the nuclear deal, they believe it needs to be renegotiated and extended.

Exactly a year after the US pulled out of the landmark deal and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran, Tehran gradually scaled back its commitments under the deal in five steps that it said are reversible.

Following the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran last month, the Iranian parliament, dominated by conservatives and hardliners, quickly passed a bill that aims to increase uranium enrichment and expel inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Rouhani administration has explicitly said it opposes the legislation and was not consulted in its drafting.

Rouhani said all the new advanced centrifuges that are being installed at the Natanz underground nuclear facilities can be switched off once all the signatories of the nuclear deal start fully implementing their commitments.

Earlier this week, France, Germany and the UK – together known as the E3 – issued a joint statement saying Iran’s plans for a further reduction of nuclear commitments are “deeply worrying” and go against the spirit of the accord.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Opponents of the Ohio bailout of nuclear industry want more than just a freeze on this law

December 10, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Thieves steal equipment from Russia’s nuclear war ‘doomsday’ plane.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Iran hastens nuclear legislation in response to the assassination of its nuclear scientist

Iran vows to build two new nuclear facilities, alarming observers   By Richard StoneDec. 8, 2020,

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

Greenhouse gas emissions transforming the Arctic into ‘an entirely different climate’

Guardian 8th Dec 2020.
The Arctic’s rapid transformation into a less frozen, hotter and
biologically altered place has been further exacerbated by a year of
wildfires, soaring temperatures and loss of ice, US scientists have
reported. The planet’s northern polar region recorded its second hottest
12-month period to September 2020, with the warmest temperatures since 1900
all now occurring within the past seven years, according to an annual
Arctic report card issued by the National Ocean and Atmospheric
Administration (Noaa). The Arctic is heating up at a rate around double
that of the global average, due to the human-caused climate crisis.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

Nuclear power industry stunned by Osaka District Court canceling central government approval for reactor restarts.

Japan Times 9th Dec 2020, A ruling Friday by the Osaka District Court canceling central government
approval for the operation of two reactors at the Oi nuclear plant run by
Kansai Electric Power Co. (Kepco), saying its calculations for standards
involving earthquake safety were flawed, has stunned the nuclear power
industry. The decision, which is the first of its kind, is likely to be
appealed and could still be overturned. But the result has resurrected
fundamental questions about nuclear power safety and the future role of the
energy source.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

Significant problems for UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent ,if U.S. Congress refuses to fund a next-generation warhead.

December 10, 2020 Posted by | politics international, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Four organisations join in legal action aimed at stopping the Flamanville nuclear power project

December 10, 2020 Posted by | France, Legal | Leave a comment

Botches and crisis in France’s nuclear energy system

December 10, 2020 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

European Commission excludes nuclear power from the EU’s proposed green finance taxonomy,

December 10, 2020 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment