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Nuclear news – week to 22 June

The second EPR reactor at China’s Taishan nuclear power plant is about to enter into commercial operation.

Pandemic.    COVID-19 Is Still Raging in Much of the World  South America Is Now Covid-19 Hot Spot, With Eight Times the World’s Death Rate.

Climate.Warming stripes show that climate change is here and now. Climate in a Fiery World.

NUCLEAR.  Not a lot is happening, probably  largely due to the pandemic.   There is, of course, the continued stream of articles in the mainstream media,extolling the virtues of new nuclear reactors –  most look like handouts from the industry, faithfully regurgitated by relatively ignorant journalists.  
A  leak at China’s showcase Taishan nuclear reactor has raised global concern for the industry. Radioactive leak at Chinese reactor could finish French nuclear exports.

A bit of good news – The pandemic has revived hope that a more sustainable world is possible.

INTERVIEW/ Daniel Ellsberg: Smart statesmen can make bad decisions leading to nuclear war. Biden and Putin agree: ‘Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. Why can’t world leaders agree that a nuclear war should never be fought?  ICAN chief urges Biden and Putin to push for deep cuts in nuclear arsenals, encourage China to back away from arms race.

‘Advanced” nuclear reactor designs – the latest version of nuclear wishful thinking.

Earth is now trapping an ‘unprecedented’ amount of heat, NASA says.

Julian Assange and the Collapse of the Rule of Law.

JAPAN. The Fukushima nuclear disaster and the Tokyo Olympics.

EUROPE. NATO’s hostility to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty is in conflict with its true goal – to become a non-nuclear alliance . NATO readies for a collective response to attacks in space.

UKFire at Hinkley Point C building site. We don’t need costly, slow, nuclear power: solar, wind, tidal and wave power can amply do the job. House-building plans thrown into doubt as doubts grow about Wylfa nuclear project.


CHINA. Is China covering up a nuclear leak? What actually happened at Taishan? French nuclear company and Chinese government once again have a problem with their much vaunted EPR nuclear reactor design. About the radiation leaks at Taishan nuclear power station. The public is always the last to know. Safety concerns on Taishan reactor, but China wants to be world’s nuclear leader by 2050.

RUSSIA. Collaboration between Russia and Europe finally cleans up the most dangerous nuclear ship in the Arctic..

FRANCE. Is the leak in a nuclear reactor in China due to a Framatome manufacturing defect ? Climate and weather hazards to France’s nuclear reactors in summer 2021.

IRAN. U.S. wants nuclear deal done before Iran’s new president takes power.

LIBYA. For the first time, drones autonomously attacked humans.

PAKISTAN. No need for nuclear arsenal once Kashmir issue is resolved: Pakistan PM.

AUSTRALIA. Nuclear waste storage facility legislation passes Senate. Racism on show in the Australian Senate. Premier Marshall must enforce South Australia’s legislation prohibiting nuclear waste dump. 

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Christina's notes | 2 Comments

The Taishan death blow

China’s EPR reactor accident should end French reactor projects

The Taishan death blow — Beyond Nuclear International Radioactive leak at Chinese reactor could finish French nuclear exports
By Stéphane Lhomme, Nuclear Observatory

If the opacity maintained by the Chinese regime prevents us, for the time being, from knowing the exact consequences of the radioactive leak involving the EPR no.1 reactor at Taishan, revealed on June 14 by CNN, it is, on the other hand, already possible to see how this unfolded and to recommend some next steps.

The fault in the fuel duct seals inside the Taishan EPR dates back to October 2020, that is to say, it had already been going on for more than eight months: the operators of the reactor — the Chinese and the French company Framatome — were perfectly well aware of the gravity of the situation and had jointly decided to hide the existence of the problem from not only the surrounding population but also from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Luckily, the information ended up seeping out via the American subsidiary of Framatome (Areva NP Inc.). This latter, likely after discussions with the CIA and the White House, happily informed CNN.

Indeed, now that the situation at the EPR at Taishan is known around the world, it will be difficult for the Chinese to continue to operate the reactor under conditions that are most likely beyond its “scope of authorized operational safety” — contrary to what Framatome claims in order not to offend the Chinese.

It is widely known publicly that China and the USA, the two biggest global powers, are huge geopolitical and economic rivals. It is clear that if the Taishan 1 EPR, and perhaps its twin, Taishan 2, must be shut down for an extended period, this will be an inconvenience for China, which occasionally lacks electricity in this region. Hence the guilty pleasure felt by the Americans in revealing the problem. 

But this will still remain only a limited problem for China where, contrary to what one sometimes reads or hears, nuclear power is a marginal energy source, consisting of less than 1% of the country’s energy consumption.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that the French nuclear industry will be the big loser in this affair, one that could represent a fatal blow for EDF’s EPR construction projects in France and overseas. Indeed, given that the EPR construction sites managed by the French — Areva in Finland, EDF in France and Great Britain — are veritable industrial and financial disasters, the promoters of the EPR reactor have been desperately clinging to the “good Chinese example”.

That is because the two EPRs at Taishan were built and brought on line (in December 2018 and September 2019 respectively) with “only” a few years delay and the cost overruns were officially limited to a few billion (according to China which, one must remember, is a dictatorship where “information” is totally controlled).

The situation currently unfolding in China demonstrates that, despite the alleged prowess of the Chinese nucleocrats, the Taishan EPRs are not going any better than those the French are trying desperately to build. This event will certainly sow enormous doubt among the few foreign leaders who are still considering ordering EPR reactors, despite all their setbacks. It is surely the straw that broke the camel’s back, or rather the radioactive leak that caused the (defective) EPR containment to overflow.

Likewise, this incident should motivate French political leaders (but also Finnish and British ones) to finally take responsibility and definitively halt EPR construction at Olkiluoto (Finland), Flamanville (France) and Hinkley Point (Great Britain), and to stop announcing future EPR projects in India and elsewhere.

June 22, 2021 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Safety concerns on Taishan reactor, but China wants to be world’s nuclear leader by 2050

China’s nuclear safety queried over Taishan reactor, but it wants to lead world by 2050 
SCMP,       Stephen Chen in Beijing, 21 June 21

  • Road map drawn up by the country’s nuclear experts sets series of goals to help it catch up with the West on safety
  • Increase in radioactivity in Taishan did not spread outside reactor, data showed, but Chinese nuclear industry trails in software and hardware

China aims to become a dominant player in the world nuclear market in less than 30 years and have the highest safety standards and lowest costs, a government advisory body has said.

For decades, China tried to catch up with safety standards in Western countries, led by the United States and France. But now China plans to challenge them, the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) said in a report published last Tuesday…….

by 2050, the road map describes China leading the setting of new industry standards for global nuclear power and taking “a bigger share in the international market”.

The increase in radioactivity in Taishan was caused by leaking fuel rods known as “leakers”       

They are still used by many nuclear power plants globally, but the US had by 2013 eradicated them from more than 90 per cent of its reactors, …….

The Taishan radioactivity was viewed in some quarters as an environmental threat that the Chinese government had tried to cover up.

China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration had posted the event on its website on April 7, but the scientists who produced the road map admitted that the country’s nuclear safety was not yet up to the standards in the West, even if its nuclear reactors had no safety incidents in the past three decades.

Safety improvements require cutting-edge technology such as computer programs simulating the operation of a reactor, and materials to make critical components. The Chinese nuclear industry is behind in both software and hardware, according to the report.

Chinese nuclear power companies have produced numerous software products for nuclear plant design, operation and safety evaluation, but did so in isolation, and their reliability and modelling of serious accidents had room for improvement, said senior nuclear safety scientist Huang Hongwen in the report commissioned by the CAE.

China has also been dependent on Western suppliers of some hardware components critical to safe operation of nuclear plants, according to the report.

“Some of our high-precision nuclear safety equipment is still in the hands of others,” Huang wrote.

The US government imposed a sanction – which remains in place – on the Chinese nuclear power industry in 2019, banning the sale of any nuclear-related technology or goods to China except in the event of an immediate environmental threat such as radioactive leakage. The US government said it was investigating the Taishan event………….

 Wang Junhao, president of Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, wrote in the journal Economic Theory and Business Management in April that the penalties for safety lapses were too light to act as a deterrent.

“When a hidden safety hazard was discovered by regulatory inspections, the financial loss was too small,” Wang said. “There must be greater punishments.”

June 22, 2021 Posted by | China, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission launches special investigation at Southern Georgia Vogtle 3 nuclear unit

U.S. NRC launches investigation at Southern Georgia Vogtle 3 nuclear unit, June 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said Monday it launched a special inspection at Southern Co’s (SO.N) Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia to identify what led to remediation work at the third unit, which is under construction.

The NRC said its team will focus on the electrical cable raceway system, which is designed to prevent a single event from disabling redundant safety-related equipment.

Southern has said the two units under construction at Vogtle, which are billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, were on track to enter service next year with Unit 3 in January and Unit 4 by its regulatory-approved in service date of November 2022. …………

When Georgia approved the Vogtle expansion in 2009, the two 1,117-megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 reactors were expected to cost about $14 billion and enter service in 2016 and 2017.

Some analysts estimate costs have ballooned to more than $27 billion due to delays related to a nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011 and the 2017 bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the project’s former contractor.

Southern estimated the capital cost for its 45.7% share of the new Vogtle reactors at about $8.7 billion.Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Marguerita Choy

June 22, 2021 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Racism on show in the Australian Senate

Senator Lidia Thorpe addressed the Senate today on the subject of the newly amended National Radioactive Waste Bill.

”…We need a new approach –  unequivocal rejection of this fundamentally flawed and deeply disrespectful Bill.

How can Labor acknowledge the traditional owners when you can support a Bill that will destroy women’s sacred sites? Labor you should stand up and vote this Bill down along with us”

Senator Thorpe spoke passionately and eloquently, explaining First Nation people’s stromg opposition to the planned nuclear waste dump.

And whaddya know – from the Gallery yelled an old white man, a Member of the House ofrReps, but not a member of this Chamber. Yes, Rowan Ramsey MP, yelled ”Bullshit”.

Just as well the Hon Ramsey is a white man, confronting a black woman. Otherwise, if it were the other way round, you can bet your boots that the interjector would have been expelled from the Gallery.

And here’s some of what Senator Thorpe said (inexact transcript):

” Greens speak up for the Barngarla people, oppose this Bill.   The clearly expressed opposition of Aboriginal people.  They strongly oppose the Wallerberdina site, and need to protect that sacred women’s site.  Today’s proposed amendment again paves way for radioactive dump on  this sacred site. The amendment puts all 3 sites back on the table.  None of these sites have the consent of the traditional owners. None of these traditional owners want their sacred sites degraded.The ”community” consent was conducted on the basis that only rate-payers could vote.  The Barngarla Aboriginal Corporation  commissioned an independent company to conduct a ballot, with the result – unanimous opposition.

Labor – you’re agreeing with the amendment so that the traditional owners can fight this plan in court. Is Labor going to pay for their lagal action? Stop pretending that you’re here for the first people in this country.  We say NO and we will continue to fight against the destruction of our country. Radioactive waste is something that will outlast you and this Parliament………We need a new pproach –  unequivocal rejection of this fundamentally flawed and deeply disrespectful Bill. How can Labor acknowledge the traditional owners when you can support a Bill that will destroy womeb’s sacred sites. Labor you should stand up and vote this Bill down along with us.

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No need for nuclear arsenal once Kashmir issue is resolved: Pakistan PM

, Business Standard, 20 June 21

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is “simply a deterrent” to protect the country and there will no longer be any need for it once the Kashmir issue is resolved, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said

Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is “simply a deterrent” to protect the country and there will no longer be any need for it once the Kashmir issue is resolved, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said as he asserted that if the Americans have the resolve and the will, the issue can be sorted out.

Pakistan has 165 nuclear warheads as of January this year and it appears to be expanding its nuclear arsenals, a study by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said last week. Pakistan had 160 nuclear warheads as of January last year, it said.”I don’t know where they’ve come up with this. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is simply a deterrent, to protect ourselves,” Prime Minister Khan said during an interview with the news programme Axios on HBO, which was reported by Dawn online.

Khan said that he was “not sure” whether it was growing. “As far as I know, it’s not an offensive thing. Any country which has a neighbour seven times its size would be worried.

He was responding to a question by the interviewer who asked, “Intelligence analysts say Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal anywhere in the world. Why?”

Khan went on to say that he was “completely against nuclear arms”.

“I always have been. We’ve had three wars against India and ever since we have had a nuclear deterrent, there has been no war between the two countries. We’ve had border skirmishes but we’ve never faced war.

“The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, the two neighbours would live as civilised people. We will not need to have nuclear deterrents,” the cricketer-turned-politician said.

To another question, Khan said that the US had a big responsibility when it came to Kashmir.

“If the Americans have the resolve and the will, [the Kashmir issue] can be sorted out,” he said.,,,,,,,,

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Pakistan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why can’t world leaders agree that a nuclear war should never be fought?

Why can’t world leaders agree that a nuclear war should never be fought? Guardian, Jane Kinninmont, 20 June 21,

Biden and Putin must persuade other nuclear states that such a conflict ‘should never be fought’  eeting last week, the US and Russian presidents issued a joint statement declaring: “a nuclear war should never be fought and could never be won”. This consciously echoes what Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev said in a landmark summit in 1985, when the US and USSR started to step up nuclear arms control, and gradually reduced the world’s fear of nuclear catastrophe.

Many reports of the Biden-Putin summit have not even mentioned this joint statement, because it sounds like simple common sense. Who wants a nuclear war?

Yet getting these words into a joint US-Russia statement has been surprisingly controversial and complicated. Experts who work on arms control, along with former world leaders, have been advocating for years for the “P5” – the five states that are legally recognised as nuclear powers, and who also wield vetoes on the UN security council – to reaffirm what Reagan and Gorbachev agreed during the cold war…..

Governments’ resistance to even saying that a nuclear war is unwinnable and should not be fought illustrates the big gap between nuclear weapons policy and public awareness of that policy. The dominant concepts about nuclear weapons are the notions of deterrence and “mutually assured destruction”.

These concepts suggest that everyone understands a nuclear war would have no winners – and that no leader would actually go as far as to use their nuclear weapons. They represent a balance of threats, a “too bad to use” equivalent of “too big to fail”, a last-resort insurance policy only there to cancel out your enemy’s nuclear option.

But government policy is more complicated than that, and more dangerous. Of the nine states with nuclear weapons, only China and India are willing to say that, in a conflict, they will not be the first country to use them: a policy known as “no first use”……………

June 22, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

House-building plans thrown into doubt as doubts grow about Wylfa nuclear project

Councillor secures debate amid Welsh language fears Sunday, 20 June 2021 – by Gareth Wyn Williams – Local democracy reporter,

An extraordinary meeting of Gwynedd Council has been called regarding the second homes housing crisis and Welsh language fears.

Backbench members have triggered a mechanism to call a full council meeting amid concerns over the existing Joint Local Development Plan (JLDP).

The document proposes why and where up to 7,184 new homes should be built across Anglesey and Gwynedd over the period up to 2026.

The plan was ratified separately by both authorities in 2017, with a scheduled monitoring review set to take place this year.

But after reaching the minimum allowed threshold of five councillors to trigger an extraordinary meeting of all 75 members, one Llyn councillor has called for a debate on the plans.

Even when Gwynedd Council approved the plan, the knife-edge decision was only made thanks to the casting vote by the council’s chair, facing much opposition due to concerns it would lead to a drop in the number of Welsh speakers in both counties.

Cllr Gruffydd Williams, the unaffiliated member for Nefyn, believes there is a need to go further than the scheduled review and asked councillors to also consider 12 recommendations raised by Porthmadog academic, Dr Simon Brooks, in a recent report on second homes and their impact on Welsh speaking communities.

He said: “When you take into account Brexit, Covid-19 and Wylfa Newydd, so many things have changed since the plan was adopted, house prices are shooting up and the plight of Welsh speaking communities looking more perilous than ever.

“I wanted to called this meeting, having already spoken to around 30 councillors, as I feel it’s only right that all members of Gwynedd, and Anglesey councils in fairness, are given a chance to have their say rather than all the burden being placed on the few that sit on the JLDP committee”

Cllr Williams noted: “It would be desirable to give particular priority, going past what is noted as the usual monitoring period within the plan itself and to submit proposals which correspond to Dr Simon Brooks’ report “Second Homes – Developing New Policies in Wales” which was commissioned by the Welsh Government.”

Adding that with any prospect of a major nuclear development on Anglesey looking more uncertain than ever, he argued that this should be taken into consideration as it was a major cornerstone of the plan when first ratified.

While Wylfa Newydd had been earmarked for a site near Cemaes in northern Anglesey, Gwynedd Council had also made arrangements for increased demand on housing in the Arfon area.

Anti-Nuclear group PAWB has long argued that both the JLDP and the North Wales Growth Plan were drawn up on the assumption that Wylfa B “would happen and that it would be a good thing.”……….The extraordinary meeting will be held next Monday, 28 June

June 22, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment