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Lawsuit to prevent dangerous dismantling of San Onofre nuclear power station

Lawsuit looks to block dismantlement of Southern California’s San Onofre nuclear plant, Herald Mail Media Rob Nikolewski The San Diego Union-Tribune (TNS)  26 Feb 21, SAN DIEGO — An advocacy group based in Del Mar is taking the California Coastal Commission to court, looking to stop the dismantlement work underway at the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Officials with the Samuel Lawrence Foundation say the commission should not have granted a permit to Southern California Edison, the majority owner of the plant, to take down buildings and infrastructure at the plant.

“We felt compelled to file this lawsuit because the Coastal Commission really didn’t do what they are supposed to do as an agency to protect the public interest, to protect the environment and the coast,” said Chelsi Sparti, Samuel Lawrence Foundation associate director.

The nine-page suit has been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and assigned to Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff. An opposition brief from the Coastal Commission is expected to be filed in May and a trial is anticipated to begin in late June………

Among the issues Edison critics had with the permit centered on the planned demolition of two spent storage pools. Highly radioactive fuel rods were placed into the 40-feet-deep pools to be cooled before they being put into stainless steel canisters and then slowly moved to a “dry storage” facility at the north end of the plant.

Edison says the pools are not necessary now that all the canisters have been transferred to the dry storage facility but the Samuel Lawrence Foundation says the pools should remain in case something goes wrong.

“We need the ability to replace storage canisters as they degrade from age or damage,” foundation President Bart Ziegler said in a statement. “The only available facility is the spent fuel pool and the Coastal Commission is permitting the utility to destroy it.”

Edison told the commission that keeping the pools would “pose significant challenges” to decontaminate and dismantle the plant. Plus, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved amendments to the plant’s operating license requiring that no used-up fuel goes into the pools once the waste has been transferred to the dry storage facility.

The storage pools have not yet been demolished.

The Coastal Commission approved the permit on the condition that Edison establish an enhanced inspection and maintenance program for the canisters, which cumulatively hold 3.55 million pounds of used-up nuclear fuel, or waste, that helped power the facility.

The utility complied and last July, the commission approved the program on a 10-0 vote.

Starting in 2024, Edison agrees to inspect two spent fuel storage canisters every five years and inspect a test canister every 2 1/2 years. The program also calls for Edison to apply a metallic overlay on canisters, using robotic devices, in case canisters get scratched.

The permit, which lasts 20 years, includes a special condition that allows the commission by 2035 to revisit whether the storage site should be moved to another location in case of rising sea levels, earthquake risks, potential canister damage or other scenarios.

Despite the added measures, Coastal Commission members reluctantly approved the permit, saying their options were limited because the federal government has never opened a site where waste from commercial nuclear plants can be sent. About 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel has piled up at 121 sites in 35 states…….

The lawsuit says the commission’s decision violates the Coastal Act and “maximizes risk to life and property and threatens geologic stability along the bluffs” along the beach at San Onofre. The plant sits on an 85-acre chunk of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton owned by the Department of the Navy, overlooking the Pacific to its west and Interstate 5 to its east.  https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/nation/lawsuit-looks-to-block-dismantlement-of-southern-californias-san-onofre-nuclear-plant/article_e7b541ce-cfc4-5cb9-a923-cbb8263e728e.html

February 27, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Jennifer Granholm. new leader of USA’s Department of Energy gives clearly pro nuclear answers

26 Feb 21, Don Hancock of Southwest Research Information Center (SRIC) in Albuquerque, NM, has extracted Granholm’s answers to questions from U.S. Senators on nuclear weapons, nuclear power, and radioactive waste, during her confirmation to become President Biden’s Energy Secretary.

 

  Granholm Written Answers to Energy Committee Questions
NUCLEAR POWER Murkowski Question 14 How do you think advanced nuclear fits into a climate change mitigation strategy?
Answer 14: I believe advanced nuclear energy is an important and promising technology that we should pursue. If confirmed as Secretary I look forward to working with you to advance emissionfree technologies, including forms of advanced nuclear technology.
 Manchin Question 24: Do you believe that advanced nuclear technologies can become a significant contributor to a low-carbon energy future?
 Answer 24: Yes.
  Manchini Question 28: . How will you prioritize the role of nuclear energy technologies?
Answer 28: Nuclear energy provides more than 55% of our clean energy and nearly 30% globally, and it is critical to sustain this share of energy use to meet our carbon reduction goals. If confirmed as Secretary, I will work with the Department to continue to support the research, development, and demonstration of technologies to preserve our exis8ng fleet, deploy advanced reactor technologies, and expand nuclear energy to markets beyond electricity to meet our carbon reduction goals in the United States and globally  
  Manchin Question 29: What specific actions will you take to ensure the U.S. regains its global leadership in nuclear energy?
Answer 29: Many countries are looking at nuclear energy to meet their growing energy needs and are interested in technologies developed in the United States. If confirmed as Secretary, I will support the whole-of-government approach and work with my counterparts across the Interagency and with Congress to empower the U.S. nuclear industry to develop, demonstrate, and export American-made nuclear technology.
Manchin Question 35: Multiple nuclear reactors have closed over the past few years. How do you see the future of nuclear energy unfolding in the United States and internationally? What will be DOE’s contribution to the future of nuclear power during your tenure?
 Answer 35: If confirmed as Secretary, I will support robust research, development, and demonstration of advanced nuclear energy technology and seek to advance DOE’s work to commercialize this technology to build and empower American jobs. The Department’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) will speed the demonstration of a variety of U.S. advanced reactor designs to build a portfolio of new reactors. I will support the whole-of-government approach and work with my counterparts across the Governmental Interagency to empower the U.S. national laboratories, universities, and U.S. nuclear industry to develop, demonstrate, and export Americanmade nuclear technology     ………….. http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/356082/28401005/1612413087803/2+3+21+Granholm+Written+Answers+to+Energy+Committee+Questions.pdf?token=nLvj9reqU05J92y72vrSYaVPRAs%3D

February 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | 2 Comments

Radioactive dust over Europe – from France’s nuclear bomb tests in the Sahara!

ACRO 24th Feb 2021, Sahara sand cloud: radioactive pollution coming back like a boomerang. While the dust-laden winds from the Sahara fly over Europe again this week, analysis carried out by ACRO show that they contain residues of radioactive pollution dating from the atomic bomb tests carried out by France in the 60s.

https://www.acro.eu.org/nuage-de-sable-du-sahara-une-pollution-radioactive-qui-revient-comme-un-boomerang/

February 27, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, environment, France, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is it wise for the Biden administration to fund Small Nuclear Reactors?

February 27, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe – far from over, 10 years later

10 years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Briefing paper by Dr. Philip White, Feb. 2021     https://nuclear.foe.org.au/wp-content/uploads/White-2021-Fukushima10-BackgroundBriefing.pdf

From the introduction:

Ten years ago, three of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station suffered melt downs in the days following a Magnitude 9 earthquake that struck off the northeast coast of Japan on 11 March 2011. Along with the 1986 nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in the former Soviet Union, it was one of the two worst nuclear power accidents in history.

On the tenth anniversary, it is important that we remember what happened then and what has happened since. It is in the interests of those who caused the accident that we forget. We must refuse to do so, for the sake of the victims and to prevent more disasters in future.

The most important take-home message is that the disaster is far from over. In order to win the bid for the (now postponed) 2020 Olympics, then Prime Minister Abe asserted that the nuclear accident was ‘under control’. The government now calls the games (if they are ever held) ‘the recovery Olympics’, with the torch relay route running through Fukushima Prefecture. But despite the efforts of the Japanese Government and the nuclear industry to lull the Japanese public and the world into a false sense of security, the fact is that radioactive contamination remains and many people continue to suffer. Even where compensation is available, nothing can undo the damage done to people’s lives and to the environment.

It is also important to understand that the Fukushima Daichi nuclear accident was by no means the worst-case scenario for nuclear power. But for a few remarkable pieces of good fortune, the disaster could have been far worse.

This paper summarises some of the key issues. In brief:

  • thousands of people are still classified as evacuees;
  • they have not been adequately compensated;
  • the radioactive fallout is still a major problem;
  • decommissioning of the nuclear reactors will take decades and has barely begun;
  • the total cost of decommissioning, decontamination and compensation is astronomical;
  •  the culprits have not been punished; and
  • nuclear vested interests are back in charge of Japan’s energy policy.

 

February 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Dr Helen Caldicott: the truth about nuclear power — neither clean nor green 

February 27, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Why is the media fawning over nuclear businessman Bill Gates?

In a much-publicised interview he did on 60 Minutes Gates hyped up “advanced nuclear” fusion, SMRs and all the other tech marvels he is promoting. His interviewer, Anderson Cooper, completely ignorant of the subject, lapped it up, and failed to point out that none of these are proven technologies.

February 27, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, media, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australian federal and state governments keeping laws banning nuclear power, despite Murdoch pro nuc

Renew Economy 25th Feb 2021, State parliaments in NSW and Victoria have completed nuclear inquiries over the past two years but the governments of both states have no intention of repealing laws banning nuclear power.

The Morrison government established an inquiry into nuclear power in 2019 but made it clear that the federal ban would be retained regardless of the findings of the inquiry.

Nevertheless, supporters continue to campaign for the repeal of federal and state laws banning nuclear power. The Murdoch papers and Murdoch’s Sky News have ramped up their campaign to have those laws repealed.

https://reneweconomy.com.au/legislation-banning-nuclear-power-in-australia-should-be-retained/

February 27, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuees on return visits find radiation signs confusing

Radiation criteria sow confusion for evacuees,   https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/02/26/national/fukushima-radiation-criteria/, 25 Feb 21, New Year holiday, with people avoiding traveling back to see their relatives due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Roadside signs show the radiation levels of areas near the no-go zones put in place after meltdowns in 2011 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, reflecting the fact that, even after 10 years, Fukushima residents are unable to return to their homes.

The no-go zones, which are considered uninhabitable for the foreseeable future due to high radiation levels, stretch through six Fukushima towns and villages: Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao and Iitate. Parts of those zones are now designated as special reconstruction districts, where the government will concentrate its decontamination efforts so that residents can return to their homes in the future.

A decade after the tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster, decontaminating the areas damaged by the fallout is a crucial part of the reconstruction that will pave the way for evacuees to come back to their homes and resume the life they had before the disaster.

But two figures of radiation exposure levels — 20 millisieverts a year and 1 millisievert a year — that the government provides as safety criteria are causing confusion among residents, triggering criticism of what could be called a double standard.

One of the criteria for the government to lift evacuation orders is whether the area’s annual cumulative radiation level has become 20 millisieverts or below, based on a recommendation from the nongovernmental International Commission on Radiological Protection.

When there is a nuclear disaster similar to that at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the ICRP recommends that annual radiation exposure should be limited to between 20 to 100 millisieverts immediately after the disaster. It then recommends the exposure is lowered to between 1 to 20 millisieverts during the reconstruction period.

As the minimum recommended exposure level right after a disaster, the 20 millisieverts mark became the radiation level yardstick for the central government to order the evacuation of a certain area after the nuclear meltdowns.

Meanwhile, the government has set up a long-term decontamination goal of reducing the radiation levels of contaminated areas to an annual 1 millisievert and below. This is to keep a lifetime exposure level below 100 millisievert — the level at which it starts to affect one’s health.

Therefore, the government stipulated the annual 1 millisievert exposure level in its reconstruction policy plan for Fukushima approved by the Cabinet in July 2012. The Environment Ministry aims to keep radiation levels in the special reconstruction district under 1 millisievert as a long-term goal.

However, the no-go zones had been above 50 millisieverts on an annual basis immediately after the nuclear meltdowns. The radiation level is on the decline with natural attenuation of radioactive cesium as well as weathering effects, but there are still patches with high radiation levels.

Even within the no-go zones, there is no easy way to carry out decontamination. Typically it is done by mowing lawns, raking up fallen leaves, washing down roads and other surfaces with a high-pressure water hose, and wiping off the walls and roofs of buildings and housing.

“It’s not easy to bring down radiation levels to 1 millisievert or below just with decontamination,” said an Environment Ministry official in charge.

In Article 1 of the radiation decontamination legislation established after the nuclear disaster, it is stipulated that the purpose of decontamination is to “minimize the health risks of radioactive exposure as much as possible.”

Despite the criteria for easing evacuation orders and the long-term goal on bringing down radiation levels, it is unclear how the government can lower radiation levels to 1 millisievert after evacuation orders are lifted for no-go zones.

The two figures are creating a confusion among local residents, who are torn between the desire to return to their homes and concerns over the radiation level.

“I won’t feel safe until annual radiation levels are below 1 millisievert,” one resident said, while another said, “Can you say for sure that an annual exposure of 20 millisieverts won’t affect our health in the future?”

February 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Jennifer Granholm becomes U.S. Energy Secretary: the nuclear lobby is pleased, but not certain

Granholm becomes US energy secretary, WNN 26 February 2021  Jennifer Granholm has been sworn as the 16th US secretary of energy. …..  Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the US Nuclear Energy Institute, said Granholm will play a pivotal role…….

Judi Greenwald, executive director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, said the think tank is looking forward to working with Granholm and her team on the development, demonstration and deployment of the advanced nuclear reactors …

Granholm made no mention of nuclear power……in the article, nor in a video address released to coincide with the swearing-in…… https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Granholm-becomes-US-Energy-Secretary

February 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Yakama Nation, state of Washington and environmental groups call on Jennifer Granholm to reconsider nuclear waste rule

February 27, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear mess 2021 – the tasks ahead

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Then and Now, The Chemical Engineer 25th February 2021 by Geoff Gill 

“………..Decommissioning and contaminated water management

The work to decommission the plants, deal with contaminated water and solid waste, and remediate the affected areas is immense. A “Mid-and-Long Term Roadmap”2 was developed soon after the disaster to set out how this will be achieved. Also, to facilitate decommissioning units 1-6, and dealing with contaminated water, TEPCO announced, at the end of 2013 the establishment of an internal entity: the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company, which commenced operations in April 2014. The entire decommissioning process will take 30–40 years, and, as noted above, the volume of tasks is gigantic. Therefore, the Government of Japan and TEPCO have prioritised each task and set the goal to achieve them. Essentially, it is a continuous risk reduction activity to protect the people and the environment from the risks associated with radioactive substances by:

  • removing spent fuel and retrieval of fuel debris from the reactor buildings;
  • establishing measures to deal with contaminated water; and
  • establishing measures to deal with radioactive waste material.

Fuel removal from the reactor buildings

In the Fukushima Daiichi design of reactor, used and new fuel rod assemblies are stored in the upper part of the reactor. The used fuel rods are highly radioactive and continue to generate heat, and thus require continued cooling.

Depending on the degree of damage, the process of removing the fuel assemblies presents different challenges in each of the reactors. For example, one of the significant challenges is to firstly remove the large quantities of rubble caused by the hydrogen explosions. As noted above, reactors 5 and 6 were shut down at the time of the accident. The reactor cores were successfully cooled, and thus suffered no damage. Given that the conditions of the buildings and the equipment for storing the fuel are stable, and risks of causing any problem in the decommissioning process are estimated to be low compared to the other units, the fuel assemblies of units 5 and 6 continue to be safely stored in the spent fuel pool in each building for the time being. The next step will be to carefully remove the fuel from the fuel pools in units 5 and 6 without impact on fuel removal from units 1, 2 and 3.

All the remaining units are going through a number of stages to achieve fuel removal. They differ slightly for each unit, but essentially the stages are: survey of internal state, removal of rubble, installation of fuel handling facility, and removal of fuel. By way of example, the position regarding unit 3 is shown in Figure 3 [on original].

At unit 3, rubble removal and other work at the upper part of the reactor building, together with installation of a cover for fuel removal was completed in February 2018.

After all preparations were in place, work to remove the 566 fuel rod assemblies, including 52 non-irradiated fuel assemblies, began in April 2019. The process of fuel removal is shown diagrammatically in Figure 4.

The four stages are:

  • Fuel rod assemblies stored on fuel racks in the spent fuel pool are transferred in the water one at a time to transport casks, using fuel handling equipment;
  • after closing the cask cover and washing, a crane is used to lower the cask to ground level and load into a trailer;
  • the cask is transported to a common pool on the site; and
  • the fuel in the cask is stored in the common pool.

As of 8 January 2021, 468 assemblies including the 52 non-irradiated fuel assemblies had been removed from unit 3. Measurements of airborne contamination levels are being monitored in the surrounding environment throughout the fuel removal operations. The plan is that all fuel will have been removed from all of the reactor units by sometime during 2031.

Retrieval of fuel debris

At the time of the accident, units 1–3 were operating and had fuel rods loaded in the reactors. After the accident occurred, emergency power was lost, preventing further cooling of the cores. This resulted in overheating and melting of the fuel, together with other substances. Fuel debris refers to this melted fuel and other substances, which have subsequently cooled and solidified, and, of course, still remains dangerously radioactive. This clearly poses a very complex and difficult decommissioning challenge.

Currently the state inside the containment vessel is being confirmed, and various kinds of surveys are being conducted prior to retrieval of the debris. The current aim is to begin retrieval from the first unit (unit 2), and to gradually enlarge the scale of the retrieval. The retrieved fuel debris will be stored in the new storage facility that will be constructed within the site.

The distribution of debris between the pressure and containment vessels differs in each of the 3 units. By way of example, Figure 5 [on original] shows the current position in unit 2. Large amounts of debris are located in the bottom of the pressure vessel, with little in the containment vessel.

The investigation to capture the location of fuel debris inside unit 2 was conducted from 22 March–22 July 2016. This operation applied the muon transmission method, of which effectiveness was demonstrated in its appliance for locating the debris inside unit 1. (Muon transmission method is a technique that uses cosmic ray muons to generate three-dimensional images of volumes using information contained in the Coulomb scattering of the muons.) These operations used a small device developed through a project called “Development of Technology to Detect Fuel Debris inside the Reactor’’.

 Use of remote operations for decommissionings;
  • establishing measures to deal with contaminated water; and
  • establishing measures to deal with radioactive waste material.

…….. Understanding of the situation inside the stricken reactors was urgently needed following the accident in order to prevent the spread of damage and to mitigate

the disaster. Tasks had to be carried out in a very complicated, difficult and unpredictable environment. In particular, the environment inside the reactor buildings reached high radiation levels due to the spread of radioactive contamination. To reduce the risk of radiation exposure to operators, remote control technologies  have proved indispensable for examining the reactor buildings and subsequently for decommissioning work. Thus, remote control technology, including robot  technology has been heavily utilised in response to the accident. Figure 6 [on original]shows a typical configuration of remotely-controlled robotic systems for
decommissioning work.
Reducing the risks associated with contaminated water
Water has posed a very demanding challenge for the operators. The problem stems from groundwater flowing from the mountain side of the site toward the ocean.
This flows into the reactor buildings and becomes mixed with radioactive water accumulated in the buildings, increasing the amount of contaminated water already
 there. The solution to the contaminated water problem is being tackled through a three-pronged approach. These are redirecting groundwater from contamination
sources, removing contamination sources, and prevent leakage of contaminated water.
In order to achieve this, barriers have been installed on the land -side and sea-side of the plant. An impermeable barrier on the land-side has been achieved by
freezing the ground. The frozen soil “wall” (which has a circumference of about 1,500 m) has been achieved by piping chilled brine through pipes to a depth of 30 m,
which freezes the surrounding soil. On the sea-side, a wall has been constructed, consisting of 594 steel pipes (see Figure 7   -on original)………

Purification treatment of contaminated water and management of treated water…….

Treatment and disposal of solid radioactive waste
Waste materials resulting from the decommissioning work are sorted based on their radiation levels and are stored on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi
 Nuclear Power Station. Along with strict safety measures and studies on treatment and disposal methods, a solid waste storage management plan is drawn up
 based on waste generation forecasts for around the next ten years, so that measures to deal with waste materials will be carried out effectively

The storage management plan is updated once a year, while reviewing the waste generation forecasts, taking account of progress of the decommissioning work.

 The illustration in Figure 9 [on original] shows the various facilities planned for treatment and storage of solid waste. TEPCO’s Mid and Long Term Roadmap shows all these
facilities being completed by 2028. The amounts of waste generated are huge.

For example, the latest edition of the roadmap estimates the amount of solid waste which will be generated over the next 10 years to be 780,000 m3

 

February 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference | Leave a comment

Nuclear-weapons treaty the right way forward

February 27, 2021 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Jennifer Granholm seems more muted in her support for nuclear, compared to previous Energy Secretaries

Recent USA Energy Secretaries in USA have been strong promoters of the nuclear industry. Up until January 2021 it was Dan Brouillette, very keen on nuclear power. The two Energy Secretaries before that , Rick Perry, Ernest Moniz pretty well used the job as if they were employees of the nuclear industry

 

In that context, Biden’s new pick for Energy Secretary, Jennifer Granholm, seems much more muted in her support for nuclear 

Jennifer Granholm’s nuke priorities remain hazy,  https://www.postandcourier.com/aikenstandard/news/jennifer-granholms-nuke-priorities-remain-hazy/article_2c6c6f36-6240-11eb-9f33-b745c10da3cf.html  By Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com Feb 3, 2021

    • In written testimony provided to a Senate panel Wednesday, the new president’s pick to lead the Department of Energy said she would prioritize, among other things, American safety and security.

Doing so, Jennifer Granholm explained in a single paragraph, would mean focusing on the department’s offensive-and-defensive arm, the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the cleanup of Cold War artifacts – pockets of toxic waste, for example, trapped at sprawling installations like the Savannah River Site south of Aiken.

During her confirmation hearing this week, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the latter was discussed at decent length; the Hanford Site in Washington, notoriously difficult and expensive to remediate, was brought up several times, and Granholm pledged not to kick the can down the road. Some might argue such remarks are a rite of passage for Energy Department executives.

In written testimony provided to a Senate panel Wednesday, the new president’s pick to lead the Department of Energy said she would prioritize, among other things, American safety and security.

Doing so, Jennifer Granholm explained in a single paragraph, would mean focusing on the department’s offensive-and-defensive arm, the National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as the cleanup of Cold War artifacts – pockets of toxic waste, for example, trapped at sprawling installations like the Savannah River Site south of Aiken.

During her confirmation hearing this week, before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the latter was discussed at decent length; the Hanford Site in Washington, notoriously difficult and expensive to remediate, was brought up several times, and Granholm pledged not to kick the can down the road. Some might argue such remarks are a rite of passage for Energy Department executives.

The former – the National Nuclear Security Administration, its hefty budget and its myriad missions – was sparsely touched, even with Granholm cracking open the door.

The disconnect, though, didn’t catch observers off guard.

“Given the committee in which the confirmation hearing took place and the fact that she’s not yet up to speed on nuclear weapons issues, it’s no surprise that Gov. Granholm was not asked about key NNSA issues,” said Tom Clements, the director of Savannah River Site Watch, an organization that monitors a host of energy- and nuclear-related issues. “I assume she is receiving briefings on NNSA matters and will soon be fully conversant and able to make informed, sound decisions.”

The committee that handled Granholm’s nomination has jurisdiction over nuclear waste, not nuclear weapons – exactly why Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon broached Hanford and why Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada railed against Yucca Mountain.

“I wouldn’t want to read the tea leaves too much,” said Marylia Kelley, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, which tracks Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the nuclear-weapons complex, more broadly. “I do know that after the hearing I was left with questions.”

The hearing Wednesday, shy of three hours, served as a digestible introduction to Granholm, a two-time governor of Michigan, auto-industry adept and clean-energy advocate. The conversation was heavy on energy sources and fuels, climate change and job losses, a major concern for some lawmakers as President Joe Biden signs a flurry of environmental executive orders. Kelley, though, is anxious to see where the nominee stands on nuclear-weapons issues: new warheads, new cores, modernization spending and the like. Such topics are a rarity on governors’ desks.

“I am hopeful that our new energy secretary will bring a set of skills that will help her make difficult decisions under pressure in a logical and organized fashion,” Kelley said. She later added: “Of course, from my organization’s perspective, I will be looking toward the Energy Department being more skeptical about expanding pit production, both on the question of what we need and on the question of when we need it, and how much we’re going to spend on it and how we’re going to accomplish it. I’m looking for her to be skeptical.”

Indications of priority – what’s important, and how much – will unfurl in budget requests and related budget hearings, said Nickolas Roth, the director of the nuclear security program at the Stimson Center, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

“That’s where you usually get more into the weeds on this kind of stuff,” Roth said. His hope, he explained, “is that the Biden administration will look for ways to curtail a very expensive nuclear-weapons modernization program” and strike a better balance with the nonproliferation portfolio.

If confirmed, Granholm would take the reins at a department very much devoted to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration is the largest part of the budget when you figure that environmental management is related to the nuclear weapons mission,” Kelley said. “It’s the lion’s share of the budget, by far.”

The Energy Department’s fiscal year 2021 budget request added to $35.4 billion; the National Nuclear Security Administration earmark totaled $19.8 billion. Of that sum, a vast majority was for weapons activities. (Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, has branded the DOE as the NWD: Nuclear Weapons Department.)

In the weeks before the 2021 blueprint was unveiled, dozens of lawmakers, including three Palmetto State Republicans, lobbied then-President Donald Trump to funnel more money to the NNSA and its weapons work. Insufficient funding, the elected officials wrote, would risk U.S. national security and embolden “anti-nuclear Democrats who oppose your effort to rebuild our military,” a red meat appeal.

Clements, who leads SRS Watch, anticipates Granholm “will make tough decisions reshaping U.S. nuclear weapons policy in a way that increases our collective security while reducing financial costs and reducing reliance on nuclear weapons.”

That remains to be seen.

February 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Well-funded pro nuclear lobby has wishlist for Joe Biden

 

Is the Biden government going to buy these lies?   Nuclear –  clean? renewable?

February 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment