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Nuclear news – week to 22 December

‘Tis the season to be jolly.  But, honestly, I can’t.  If you want to know what’s really going on in this human-species-afflicted planet, I recommend Radio Ecoshock.  Here you will learn about  Climate Collapse & The Plastic Plague

It’s not about some distant future problem. It’s about now, and how we are living on a trashed planet.  And we’re and adding more to this with all our festive junk and unnecessary gifts.

Having said that –    there are so many good people trying to clean up, and keep clean, our fragile planet.   For some examples – I recommend  99 Good News Stories From 2020 You Probably Didn’t Hear About.

Also, I am reading “The Good Germans – resisting the NAZIs  1933 – 1945“, by Catrine Clay. I find this book a very timely reminder that in very worst of modern times, there were so many people who saw evil being done, and resisted it, and also helped the persecuted, as best they could.

 

Sleepwalking Toward the Nuclear Precipice.

The insanity of nuclear power in space.

About writing about the nuclear crisis. We’re in a storytelling crisis”: Advice for writing on nuclear issues, from the author of “Fallout”.

Unveiling New Billboards: “Nukes Are Now Illegal!” (Nuclear Weapons) .

AUSTRALIA. 2020 in Australia – a successful year for resistance to nuclear pollution.

CANADA.  Canada’s Small Modular Nuclear Reactor ‘Action Plan’ banks on private sector nuclear pipe dreams.    NuScale exultant that their scam small nuclear reactors have conned the Canadian government.  Many Canadian organisations dispute the government’s plan for small nuclear reactors.

JAPAN.

75% of the Japanese public want Japan to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  Major Japan life insurers shun investing in nuclear weapons-linked firms.

Uninhabitable:   Booklet by citizen scientists uncovers true extent of radioactive contamination in Japan’s soil and food.

2 million yen ($19,300) incentive for families to move to near crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Investigation of mass alterations of data on nuclear safety by Japanese company.

Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita made it clear that spent nuclear fuel facility will not go ahead44 year old Mihama nuclear station, with waste disposal problem may be allowed to restart.  Nuclear waste plan spells doom for a Hokkaido fishing community.

UK. 

USA. 

CHINA.  China has 350 nuclear warheads, compared to USA and Russia’s many thousands of them.

RUSSIA.  Russian environmental defenders under attack.

IRAN.  World powers renew commitment to preserve Iran nuclear deal.   Iran’s Rouhani: No conditions or negotiations on nuclear deal.  Iran builds at underground nuclear plant.   Iran Rejects New UN Report over Nuclear Violations.  West yet to condemn Iranian nuclear scientist’s assassination.

US Navy nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine and 2 warships sail through Strait of Hormuz, (Persian Gulf-Gulf of Oman).

EUROPE.  European Leadership Network appeals to nuclear weapons States to reduce nuclear risks.

UKRAINE.  34 years later, food crops near Chernobyl still contain ionising radiation.

TURKEY.  Turkey’s unfinished nuclear plant already redundant.

DENMARK.  Big boasts for small nuclear reactors on ships – but are they a recipe for disaster?

JORDAN.   Did a research reactor in Jordan leak?

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactor unicorns for Canada

Canada’s SMR ‘Action Plan’ banks on private sector nuclear pipe dreams, Burgess Langshaw-Power / December 21, 2020  For many kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, Star Trek was a big part of our childhoods. The series is filled with strange new worlds, futurist politics, and advanced technology that is almost indistinguishable from magic. Yet even as a child I knew the show was a work of science fiction. Warp speed, transporters and phasers were all gadgets I could comprehend, but in my rational mind I knew they would never exist within my lifetime.

Unfortunately, recent announcements by Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan—a self-professed fan of science fiction—demonstrate that the government has yet to arrive at the same conclusion I did as a kid watching Star Trek.

On December 18, the Trudeau government launched Canada’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan, to great fanfare. This new action plan builds on the 2018 SMR Roadmap, which made the promise that, “SMRs are a re-scaling and repurposing of nuclear technology for wider markets. They represent a paradigm shift for nuclear reactor technology—analogous to the shift of steam engines from mineshafts into ships and vehicles, or the movement of computers from mainframe to desktop and then to laptop.”

This idea of a paradigm shift channels Star Trek-level aspirations, yet the new Action Plan is significantly more hesitant: “Small modular reactors (SMRs) could be a source of clean, safe and affordable energy, opening opportunities for a resilient, low-carbon future and capturing benefits for Canada and Canadians while supporting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples as essential enabling partners.”

In just two years, from the launch of the Roadmap to the announcement of the Action Plan, the government has gone from a paradigm shift to the possibility that SMRs could be a source of clean energy. It’s as though there is something else about SMRs that the government doesn’t want us to consider in more depth.

Before we go any further, what are SMRs, anyway? Well, it turns out that’s a very good question. In fact, the Globe and Mail notes that “SMR lacks a universally agreed definition, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regards it as a marketing rather than a technical term.” In other words, SMRs are a group of many different technologies, none of which have actually been proven or tested, with only one project proposed and no timeframe for its realization. None of the technologies currently under consideration have solved any major issues with nuclear energy, including the problem of high-level radioactive waste management, however some are less likely to have meltdown-like events and cannot produce isotopes for creating weapons.  

The Statement of Principles section of the Action Plan notes that, “Markets around the globe are signalling a need for smaller, simpler, and cheaper nuclear energy.” However, there is simply no evidence to support this claim. In fact, the polar opposite is true, with many major governments and large corporations exiting the nuclear sector entirely. Meanwhile, German experts have stated that, “SMRs are always going to be more expensive than bigger reactors due to lower power output at constant fixed costs, as safety measures and staffing requirements do not vary greatly compared to conventional reactors.”

The British press is even more blunt about the prospects of a more ‘tactile’ nuclear future: “There is no commercial case for giant new reactors in any developed country. They cannot meet post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima safety demands at viable cost and have been priced out of the global energy market. Precipitous falls in renewable costs over the last five years have rendered the technology effectively obsolete in the West.”

This doesn’t sound like a bold future to me………..

The theory is that SMRs will be cheaper and safer than conventional nuclear reactors. Again, German experts disagree on the cost front. In terms of levelized energy costs, says Nicolas Wendler of industry association Nuclear Technology Germany (KernD), SMRs will always be more expensive than big plants. Moreover, he says, “nuclear power plant owners have repeatedly rejected the idea that the nuclear exit be reversed, arguing the technology is no longer economically viable anyway.”

In the United States, some nuclear plants are being decommissioned early, while other projects are being cancelled at a huge financial loss. Why? They aren’t competitive. This does not even account for the fact that we have yet to successfully build even a single SMR. Yet, if we were to, how much would they cost? The record for delays and cost overruns in Canada is not positive, and nuclear facilities have an unusually poor record in this regard. After 1970, the average nuclear facility saw cost overruns exceed 241 percent (not including the added burden of construction delays).

This does not even begin to address the costs and hazards associated with cleaning up nuclear sites, such as expensive remediation projects now underway in the US and the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these failures and cost overruns sound a lot like the last major federal investment in the energy sector—the Trans Mountain pipeline fiasco.

There is no doubt Canada will need new energy sources for our clean energy transition to address the climate crisis. The Government of Canada claims, “At the same time, international experts are telling us that new nuclear energy, together with the full range of low-carbon technologies, are needed to combat global climate change and meet federal, provincial and territorial emissions targets for 2030 and 2050.”

However, international examples do not inspire confidence that nuclear needs to be a part of this solution. Germany is close to achieving half its energy supply from renewables excluding nuclear. In the UK, some estimates show that not including nuclear energy in the mix will save hundreds of millions of pounds and that the only justification for pursuing nuclear energy in the UK or France is to support a nuclear military strategy (which Canada obviously does not have).

At least the UK is putting its money where its mouth is, with over half a billion pounds invested into nuclear, while Canada’s new SMR Action plan includes precisely $0 of investment, as opposed to our new federal hydrogen strategy, which received $1.5 billion.

Why would we choose nuclear over other cheaper and readily available renewable technologies? It is true that there are still major flaws with renewables, but given that most SMRs are a decade away (at least), and the cost of solar has already dropped 89 percent in the last decade, it seems unlikely that SMRs—whenever they are ready—will be competitive.

One of the theoretical selling points is the deployment of SMRs in rural and remote communities to replace diesel. Yet, many Indigenous and northern communities have expressed trepidation towards SMRs dotting their territory, and are building solar arrays instead. Another argument is that SMRs could be used for industrial facilities such as those in the mining sector, or the Alberta oil sands (this was a terrible idea in the past, and its terrible idea now). However, others suggest that SMRs are only capable of, “ticking off the Financial and Consumer Services Commission’s checklist on how to spot a scam.”

Canada’s SMR Action Plan is nothing more than science fiction: idle dreams of an indefinite group of technologies which may be ready in a decade, with no financial support or investment by the government. In the meantime, renewable energy continues to leap ahead, mostly without any federal support.

One can only imagine how government investment, if effectively pursued, could push our renewable energy potential by the time the first SMRs are ready for deployment. Given these considerations, perhaps the reason this “Action Plan” is so empty, is that the federal government is in fact aware of how little potential SMRs hold. Like nuclear fusion, maybe SMRs will always be just around the corner. In which case, why bother launching this plan at all? Let’s save our time and investment for renewable energy projects that have viability today, not somewhere down the road.

Burgess Langshaw-Power is a former policy analyst currently completing his PhD in Global Governance at the Balsillie School, University of Waterloo. His policy expertise includes energy technologies, regulatory approvals, climate change, and energy infrastructure. Views expressed here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer. https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/canadas-smr-action-plan-banks-on-private-sector-nuclear-pipe-dreams

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

“Mutual admiration society” -between civilian and military nuclear experts

Civilian nuclear and military nuclear members of a “mutual admiration society” ~ Dr. Gordon Edwards,  https://concernedcitizens.net/2020/12/19/civilian-nuclear-and-military-nuclear-members-of-a-mutual-admiration-society/  Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, December 19, 2020

Civilian nuclear and military nuclear have always been friendly room-mates, members of a “mutual admiration” society. In today’s announcement of an SMR Action Plan, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said that nuclear power in Canada is a “home-grown” technology and referred to C. D. Howe’s role in this connection.  In fact C.D. Howe arranged for all Canadian uranium extracted from Canadian mines to be sold to the US military for use in tens of thousands of nuclear weapons from 1945 to 1965. C D Howe was also on the Committee that met in Washington DC in 1944 to approve the first nuclear reactors to be built in Canada (at Chalk River) as part of the ongoing effort to produce plutonium for use as a nuclear explosive. Mr. Howe approved of the policy of selling plutonium produced at Chalk River to the US military for weapons use, a practice that continued until 1975 and beyond. Plutonium from Chalk River was sent to Britain (it was the first sample of plutonium that Britain had ever obtained) just a few months before Britain detonated its first A-Bomb in the Monte Bello Islands off Australia.

To the best of my knowledge, no civilian nuclear power agency – not the Canadian Nuclear Association, nor the Canadian Nuclear Society, nor the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, nor Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, nor Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, NOBODY – has ever issued a clear statement denouncing nuclear weapons or even calling for a nuclear weapons free world. Most nuclear scientists and engineers feel a strong kinship and camaraderie with those who are in the nuclear weapons business. The same goes for those in the nuclear division of Natural Resources Canada. I remember on one occasion (prior to the exchange of nuclear tests between India and Pakistan) I expressed alarm at the fact that both neighbours are developing a nuclear war-fighting capability and a couple of senior civil servants said “Would that be so bad? Maybe that’s just what the world needs. More deterrence. Creates stability”

Despite regular denials from our puppet masters that civilian nuclear has nothing to do with military nuclear, it is clear that civilian nuclear (including the frankly discriminatory provisions of the NPT) has adopted an appeasement policy that will never succeed in bringing about a nuclear weapons free world. Why does Canada continue to sell uranium to countries that are in the process of investing hundreds of billions to improve and modernize the nuclear arsenals in utter defiance of the NPT, knowing that the vast bulk of Canadian uranium that is rejected from enrichment plants as DU end up as the raw material for producing plutonium for Bombs, and that the lion’s share of the explosive power – and the overwhelming share of the radioactive fallout – of every H-bomb comes from the fissioning of DU atoms that are freely accessed by the military even if they are the leftovers of “peaceful” fuel production for nuclear power plants?

“See ‘The Nuclear Fudge’ at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lK65S5eHRQ&feature=youtu.be“. This 16-minute W5 segment from the Regan era is very informative.   

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war | Leave a comment

75% of the Japanese public want Japan to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US Navy nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine and 2 warships sail through Strait of Hormuz, (Persian Gulf-Gulf of Oman)

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Iran, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Following huge bribery scandal, Energy Harbor still manipulating to keep nuclear bailout law

Energy Harbor seeks option of turning down HB6 nuclear bailout money, Cleveland.com  Dec 21, 2020;   Ohio. Energy Harbor is lobbying for Ohio lawmakers to let it choose whether it should be eligible for House Bill 6 nuclear bailout money,

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Energy Harbor is lobbying for state lawmakers to allow it to decide whether to accept more than $1 billion in House Bill 6 bailout money for its two nuclear power plants because a federal regulatory ruling might otherwise make the subsidies a liability, according to a top lawmaker.

It’s still unclear whether legislators will agree to the proposal, which is being crafted by House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, or whether they will pass any reforms to HB6 at all on Tuesday, expected to be the final day of the current legislative session.But it shows that Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy, is working behind the scenes to influence what reforms might be made to HB6, which is at the center of what authorities say is the largest bribery scheme in Ohio history. Federal authorities say $60 million in FirstEnergy bribery money was used to pass the law and keep it on the books.

Under the 2019 law, Energy Harbor’s Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants are set to get $150 million per year from ratepayers from 2021 until 2027. Energy Harbor officials have said without the bailout, they will have to close the plants, though they’ve offered no financial data to back their claims.

But after the HB6 scandal broke last summer, GOP lawmakers have been working on possible changes to the law — including requiring yearly audits to see how much money the nuclear plants need to break even, then adjusting accordingly the amount of subsidies paid to Energy Harbor.

The reason Energy Harbor might not want the money is that late last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that power generation companies that receive state subsidies (like the ones offered by HB6) can only sell their electricity in the region’s long-term, regional capacity market at a higher rate that what they would otherwise be able to charge. This “minimum offer price rule” would likely make it much harder for Energy Harbor to sell electricity from the two nuclear plants………..

House and Senate leaders are still working to craft an HB6 reform plan that has the votes to pass both chambers. The main reform plan, House Bill 798, would delay the start of the bailout until 2022 to provide time for an audit to be conducted.

When asked whether lawmakers were close to a deal, Seitz said, “That’s kind of above my pay grade.”

But if an HB6 reform proposal does move forward, Seitz said lawmakers critical of HB6 will have “a binary choice” to make.
“For those of you that would like to repeal House Bill 6 or would like to do other things with House Bill 6,” Seitz said, “Well, your choice is this or let House Bill 6 continue.”
State Rep. David Leland, a Columbus Democrat, criticized the proposal in a statement.

“Energy Harbor is a corporation under investigation for orchestrating the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history,” Leland said, “and now Republicans want to let it decide whether to take $1.3 billion straight out of the pockets of everyday Ohioans.” https://www.cleveland.com/open/2020/12/energy-harbor-seeks-option-of-turning-down-hb6-nuclear-bailout-money.html

December 22, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Legal, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Major Japan life insurers shun investing in nuclear weapons-linked firms

December 22, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, opposition to nuclear, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World powers renew commitment to preserve Iran nuclear deal

World powers renew commitment to preserve Iran nuclear deal
Remaining parties to landmark 2015 deal reaffirm commitment as Iran’s nuclear programme’s chief slams a Parliament bill.   
Aljazeera, Maziar Motamedi, 21 Dec 2020, Tehran, Iran – The remaining parties to a landmark nuclear deal they signed with Iran in 2015 have renewed their commitment to preserving the accord in an online meeting.

The foreign ministers of Iran, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia participated in a two-hour meeting chaired by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Monday.

In a tweet before the meeting, Borrell said the aim is to “re-emphasise our commitment to preserve” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal is formally known.

A joint statement following the meeting said the ministers “discussed that full and effective implementation of the JCPOA by all remains crucial and discussed the need to address ongoing implementation challenges, including on nuclear non-proliferation and sanctions lifting commitments”.

The foreign ministers recognised the deal, enshrined in Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council, as a “key element” in the global non-proliferation regime and a diplomatic achievement contributing to regional and international peace……..

US President-elect Joe Biden has promised to bring his country back into the deal and lift sanctions but has hinted that more negotiations are needed on Iran’s missiles programme and regional influence.

The European signatories of the nuclear deal have also made similar remarks, but Iran has categorically rejected any further negotiations, saying the nuclear deal must be implemented as negotiated and signed in 2015…………….. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/21/world-powers-renew-commitment-to-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment