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The Pentagon drums up its full-spectrum dominance with the story of the ”China threat”

Countering the “China Threat”–At What Price?   The Pentagon is upgrading its full-spectrum dominance, with China as the primary target. Organising Notesthe Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.By Koohan Paik-Mander     27 June 21

In early June 2021, in a classified directive to Pentagon officials, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin slammed the former Trump administration for talking big but never taking action to counter “the China threat.”

Austin made it clear that things would be different under President Biden. His “tough guy” rhetoric strikes just the right tone for a massive, costly, military-infrastructure overhaul that would render the conventional warfare of the twentieth century unrecognizable: more nukes, fewer troops, and an omnipotent 5G network.

The goal of this overhaul is to give the United States and its allies the ability to summon, at once, unmanned military forces to rain terror down on any spot in the world—a swarm of drones, hypersonic missiles, submarine torpedoes, and bombers—all with the ease of calling an Uber.

This game-changing metamorphosis of how wars are fought is already underway. It’s called the JADC2 (Joint All-Domain Command & Control), a globally networked, cloud-based command center, overseen by the recently anointed U.S. Space Force.

It was for this that the Space Force was created—not as a jokey Trump trifle.

However, targeting China with this new paradigm for mass destruction will not bring about global security. Even if it were to somehow not culminate in a nuclear conflict, the ecological and climate costs of commanding war from outer space would be devastating. And yet, ever-more-mammoth military preparations are being staged in ever-more-numerous locations on Earth.

President Biden is in lockstep with Austin’s anti-China mission. Much of Biden’s $715 billion Pentagon budget request for 2022 is for investment in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, micro-electronics, 5G technology, space-based systems, shipbuilding and nuclear “modernization” (read: expansion). The request seeks $28 billion to “modernize” the nuclear triad (the ability to launch nukes from land, sea, and air). The budget also includes the largest research-and-development request—$112 billion—in the history of the Pentagon.

Imagine that kind of support for healthcare.

Each line item is a deadly weapon, which, discretely, already carries terrifying implications. But, taken together, as part of the JADC2—an integrated, multi-dimensional system with machines responsible for pulling the trigger—the whole is far more chilling than the sum of the parts.

Among the types of missiles on Biden’s wish-list are some whose range exceeds the limits in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. But the INF Treaty is no longer in effect, after President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in August 2019, just four months before the creation of the Space Force. That means that Biden and Austin are now free to spend taxpayer money on these perilous weapons

Policy analyst Michael Klare has observed that this year’s budget subordinates all perceived threats to a single bogeyman-du-jour: China. War with China, specifically, means more nukes, long-range missiles, and unmanned weapons. These weapons are not just to be used by the United States, but are also for export to allies as well—much to the financial gain of weapons industrialists like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

For example, a declassified U.S. Department of Defense report from 2018 provides a directive to sell more arms to India, to “enhance India’s status as a Major Defense Partner,” and to “support India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier’s Group.” The essence of the Pentagon’s massive global vision is to construct, from the ground up, a hard and soft infrastructure upon which the newly created Space Force can operate.

Just as the continent-spanning interstate highway system was laid during the 1950s to ensure a profitable future for the automobile industry, this new infrastructure—comprised of 5G, artificial intelligence, rocket launchpads, missile tracking stations, satellites, nukes, and internet-connected fleets of unmanned ships, jets, subs, hypersonic, and other craft—will ensure a reliably profitable assembly-line output of arms for the weapons industry.

In tandem with the military infrastructure will come a continued expansion of associated security infrastructure, such as increased surveillance and data collection of every individual on the planet. As a former board member at Raytheon, Lloyd Austin is perfectly positioned to pull this off. In fact, during his first three months as defense secretary, he awarded over $2.36 billion in contracts to the missile manufacturer he once faithfully served………..

China Threat = Yellow Peril

The Pentagon has a billion dollars a year to spend on public relations, and vilifying China has become Lloyd Austin’s top priority. He paints a picture of urgency so dire that it seems the only way to meet the challenge is to fund his comprehensive Weapons New Deal.

Once the new military infrastructure is fully in place, the Space Force will be equipped to dominate the planet. Until now, the INF Treaty’s cap on missile range prevented the implementation of this vision, given the hemispheric distance between China and the United States. Now that the treaty is no longer in effect, however, the Indo-Pacific theater is the ideal geography to debut this new way of warfare that relies on satellites to deliver strikes clear to the opposite side of the planet.

Thousands of satellites are already in place; thousands more will follow, thanks to private efforts by the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The United States is currently working through the UN to standardize 5G internationally. Algorithms are now being written to remove human decision-making from warfare. Pacific reefs have already been dredged, forests razed, and protestors arrested on islands encircling China to make way for destroyer berths and rocket launchpads—nodes of the global war infrastructure.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

peace activist Sung-Hee Choi. [ in South Korea] points out that the THAAD system is made by Lockheed Martin and the associated radar is manufactured by Raytheon, where Austin previously served on the board. Choi adds that she is nervous about the intensifying military tension in her country and in northeast Asia: “I think recent anti-Asian hate is like a preparation for war against North Korea and China, just like when the Bush administration exploited anti-Muslim sentiments just before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.”…….

Pacific Pivot and the First Island Chain

Military planners have been nurturing this Rubicon moment with China for at least a decade, beginning when Obama announced his “Pacific Pivot” toward Asia. Since then, communities in the Asia-Pacific region have been confronted with elaborate, ecocidal preparations for full-scale war with China. Natural resources have been destroyed to construct a globe-sweeping, networked infrastructure of missile deployment and satellite tracking.

That was the first phase of laying the groundwork for 21st century warfare. Biden’s current request for funding will expand this strategic rebalance of military forces into its second phase……………………http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2021/06/countering-china-threatat-what-price.html

June 28, 2021 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Rising sea levels might mean the end for many nuclear power stations.

Perspective: Will Rising Seas Be Nuclear’s Achilles’ Heel? https://www.energyintel.com/pages/eig_article.aspx?DocId=1109371&NLID=104 27 June21,

Nuclear energy’s unique selling proposition (USP) of lower-carbon electricity production sits in the context of a much larger picture — that coastal nuclear will be one of the first, and most significant, casualties to ramping climate impact, argues Paul Dorfman, of the UCL Energy Institute, University College London. Because of this, Dorfman, who authored a report on the issue released this week, posits that nuclear, far from helping with our shared climate problem, may well add to it.

As the world heats, sea levels are rising at an accelerated rate — now estimated at 3 to 4 millimeters a year — as ice stored at the poles and in glaciers melts. A recent NASA study based on 25 years of satellite data found that the Arctic is melting so rapidly that it’s now 20% thinner than a decade ago, weakening a major source of the planet’s cooling.

The polar ice caps are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990s, with the high melt rate corresponding to the worst-case scenario for global heating set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This means that the planet will see a very significant rise in sea level, resulting in ramping annual coastal and inland flooding.

The melting Arctic ice cap is currently the biggest single contributor to sea-level rise, and already imperils coasts and coastal populations. In other words, a significant part of the Greenland Ice Sheet — which lost a record amount of ice in 2019 — is on the brink of a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable.

And the Antarctic (where more than half of Earth’s freshwater resources are held, representing by far the largest potential source for global sea-level rise under future warming conditions) is also threatened — with the likelihood that its long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically exceed that of other sources. Put simply, current fundamental scientific knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt concludes that sea-level rise is significantly faster than previously believed and likely to exceed up to 2.5 meters well within the 21st century.

And the Antarctic (where more than half of Earth’s freshwater resources are held, representing by far the largest potential source for global sea-level rise under future warming conditions) is also threatened — with the likelihood that its long-term sea-level contribution will dramatically exceed that of other sources. Put simply, current fundamental scientific knowledge of climate sensitivity and polar ice melt concludes that sea-level rise is significantly faster than previously believed and likely to exceed up to 2.5 meters well within the 21st century.

Unfortunately for coastal infrastructure, the effect of rising mean sea levels will be felt most profoundly during extreme storm conditions as strong winds and low atmospheric pressure bring about a temporary and localized increase in sea level known as a “storm surge.”

Recent published peer-reviewed scientific data point to much quicker and greater sea-level rise, faster, harder, more destructive storms, storm surges, and inland flooding. Yet the overwhelming majority of installed nuclear capacity began operation well before global heating was considered in design or construction.

Given ramping predictions for sea-level rise and climatic disturbance, nuclear will prove an important risk. This is because 41% of all nuclear power plants worldwide operate on the sea coast, making them vulnerable to increasing sea-level rise, storm intensity and storm surge-induced flooding. Inland nuclear installations may fare no better, as they face increasingly severe wildfire, with episodic flooding alternating with low river flow and raised water temperatures — the latter significantly impacting reactor cooling capacity and, hence, viability.

Since climate change will impact nuclear plant earlier and harder than industry, government or regulatory bodies may expect, necessary mitigation efforts imply significantly increased expense for nuclear construction, operation and decommissioning. Spent fuel management facilities will also be increasingly vulnerable to unanticipated climate-driven environmental events, involving significant risk to onsite high-, medium- and low-level nuclear waste stockpiles.

A key associated problem is that 516 million people worldwide live within a 50 mile (80 kilometer) radius of at least one operating nuclear power plant, and 20 million live within a 10 mile (16 km) radius — and so face health and safety risks from climate change-induced radiation contamination release events. Since at least 100 nuclear power stations are just a few meters above sea level and will be increasingly threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surge, there’s no question that nuclear stations are, quite literally, on the front line of climate change risk — and not in a good way.

A key associated problem is that 516 million people worldwide live within a 50 mile (80 kilometer) radius of at least one operating nuclear power plant, and 20 million live within a 10 mile (16 km) radius — and so face health and safety risks from climate change-induced radiation contamination release events. Since at least 100 nuclear power stations are just a few meters above sea level and will be increasingly threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surge, there’s no question that nuclear stations are, quite literally, on the front line of climate change risk — and not in a good way.

For example, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission concludes that the vast majority of US nuclear sites have already experienced flooding hazard beyond their design basis, and a recent US Army War College report states that nuclear power facilities are at “high risk” of temporary or permanent closure due to climate threats — with 60% of US nuclear capacity vulnerable to major risks including sea-level rise, severe storms, and cooling water shortages.

Recent climate impact data suggests the need for a substantive reassessment of nuclear’s role in net zero. In other words, nuclear’s lower-carbon electricity USP sits alongside the probability that coastal nuclear plants will be one of the first, and most significant, casualties of rising seas; with inland nuclear plants increasingly subject to intermittent flooding, loss of reactor cooling, and wildfire risk.

This unfortunate reality means that evolutionary modeled predictions of climate change impact on nuclear infrastructure must be accounted for, including the potential for rapidly changing extreme events, abrupt interactions and problematic feedbacks. Further comprehensive nuclear industry and regulatory risk assessments based on “all case” scenarios must be published and regularly updated as fundamental scientific climate impact evidence evolves. Such an approach must include costings for any necessary mitigation measures and a range of contingency plans for the swift onset of climate-driven severe weather.

June 28, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Increasing carbon emissions from uranium mining

 Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen 27th June 2021, The energy source of nuclear power is a mineral from the earth’s crust: uranium. An intricate system of industrial processes is required to convert the potential energy in this mineral into useful energy, and to manage the inevitable radioactive material wastes. During operation each nuclear power plant generates each year an amount of human-made radioactivty equivalent to about 1200 exploded Hiroshima atomic bombs. Without the process chain nuclear power would be impossible, and without nuclear power these processes would not exist.

The CO2 emission of these processes together form the specific CO2 emission inextricably coupled to nuclear power. The thermodynamic quality of the available uranium resources declines with time, because the highest quality resources are always mined first, for these offer the highest return on investments for the mining companies…


Declining thermodynamic quality of the resources results in an exponential rise of the specific energy and the coupled CO2 emission required to extract 1 kg of uranium from rock. At a given point the required extraction energy will equal the amount of useful energy that can be produced from 1 kg of uranium. Within the lifetime of new nuclear build uranium resources cannot be considered energy resources anymore, if the world uranium consumption remains at the present level. Meanwhile the coupled specific CO2 emission will grow as large as fossil-fuelled power.

 https://www.stormsmith.nl/reports.html

June 28, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Uranium | Leave a comment

U.S. militarisation of the Pacific

Countering the “China Threat”–At What Price?   The Pentagon is upgrading its full-spectrum dominance, with China as the primary target. Organising Notesthe Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.By Koohan Paik-Mander     27 June 21

”…………………. to accommodate the JADC2,   Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2)  even more expansive swaths of the ocean are being set aside for year-round military exercises.

The most egregious example is the MITT (Mariana Islands Training and Testing), a plan to transform over a million square miles of biodiverse ecosystems into the largest-ever range complex for bombing and firing practice. The impacted area would be larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico combined.

The largest multinational open-ocean military exercises in history will take place here, home to 26 species of cetaceans. The navy itself estimates that its activities will maim or kill over 81,000 whales and dolphins per year. And that doesn’t count the ecological casualties anticipated in other existing exercise ranges, such as those around Hawaii, California, Alaska, Australia, in the Sea of Japan, and in the Bay of Bengal.

For their part, thousands of residents of the Marianas are protesting the plan to turn their ancestral archipelago into a year-round war zone. Large portions of Guam and Tinian would become dedicated firing ranges, placed right next door to towns and neighborhoods. Practice-bombing on the islet of Farallon de Medinilla, a migratory-bird hotspot, will increase from 2,150 strikes a year to 6,000 strikes a year. And most tragically, the whole of the astonishingly pristine island of Pagan is slated to undergo perpetual full-spectrum assaults from air, land, and sea. The island is expected to endure continuous bombing from mortars and missiles, its wildlife damaged by sonar, torpedoes, hand grenades, reef-crushing amphibious landing practice, and countless experimental detonations. Because of the colonial status of the Mariana islanders, they have not been able to legally demand transparency and accountability from the U.S. government…………http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2021/06/countering-china-threatat-what-price.html

June 28, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation 

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation   Inside Climate News,  By Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker, June 27, 2021

Navajo uranium miners have died of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. They weren’t told of the risks, and they want compensation for radiation exposure continued.

”…………… Despite the stunning beauty of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the land is marred by a toxic history: a “horrible legacy” of uranium mining and processing that began in 1944, with the U.S. nuclear weapons program and has slowly killed Navajo miners and their families, littered the land with 523 abandoned mines and tainted pristine aquifers with radioactive ore and the dry air with radioactive dust. 

Harrison, 70, and his father Phil Harrison Sr., were both uranium miners. Harrison worked in the mines for only three months, but his father worked there for 20 years and died at 44 from lung cancer. The 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act presumes that an increased incidence of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses among the miners was caused by large doses of radiation and other airborne hazards they were exposed to. 

The Navajo fought for years to have this law enacted. To date, $2.5 billion in benefits have been paid out to 37,000 claimants—uranium miners and so-called “downwinders” affected by nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. 

Now, with the law scheduled to “sunset” in July 2022, another reckoning is at hand, as Harrison and other Navajo activists, downwinders, Catholic leaders and peace and environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists lobby Congress to extend the act and add new beneficiaries. Those include all uranium miners who have come down with cancer or respiratory illnesses since 1972 and thousands of additional downwinders in Nevada and Arizona.

“The tragic legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation continues to this day, perhaps to an extent that would not have occurred if it weren’t taking place in a rural American Indian community,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told a House Judiciary subcommittee in March. In prior testimony, he referred to the Navajo’s “horrible legacy,” and said that “past uranium activity has devastated Navajo families, traditions, and our Mother Earth.”

With the Biden administration making environmental racism a top priority, and pressure building to extend the radiation compensation act, an international campaign is gaining momentum to make “ecocide”—systematic and longlasting environmental devastation—a crime, like genocide, before the Internaitonal Criminal Court in the Hague. 

The United States is not among the 123 member nations of the court and thus would not be subject to sanction for environmental destruction in America, should ecocide eventually become a crime, in a process that could take seven years or more. But ecocide’s champions say that making it an international crime would have a powerful moral impact by associating environmental destruction with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes that are an affront to humanity at large. 

In their 1995 book “Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples,” Donald A. Grinde Jr. and Bruce E. Johansen wrote that Kerr-McGee opened the first uranium mine on the Navajo Nation in 1948: 

“There were no taxes at the time, no health, safety or pollution regulations, and few other jobs for the many Navajos recently home from service in World War II,” they wrote. “Labor was cheap. Thirty years after mining began, an increasing number of deaths from lung cancer made evident the fact Kerr-McGee had held miners’ lives as cheaply as their labor. As Navajo miners continued to die, children who played in water that had flowed over or through abandoned mines and tailing piles came home with burning sores.” 

In their 1995 book “Ecocide of Native America: Environmental Destruction of Indian Lands and Peoples,” Donald A. Grinde Jr. and Bruce E. Johansen wrote that Kerr-McGee opened the first uranium mine on the Navajo Nation in 1948: 

“There were no taxes at the time, no health, safety or pollution regulations, and few other jobs for the many Navajos recently home from service in World War II,” they wrote. “Labor was cheap. Thirty years after mining began, an increasing number of deaths from lung cancer made evident the fact Kerr-McGee had held miners’ lives as cheaply as their labor. As Navajo miners continued to die, children who played in water that had flowed over or through abandoned mines and tailing piles came home with burning sores.”

………Harrison points into the distance, where a few houses can be seen. “Probably around 300 miners from this area alone have passed on from lung disease or lung cancer,” Harrison said. “The fathers are gone from this area. … So it’s just the widows and the kids.”…………….. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27062021/nuclear-weapons-navajo-nation-uranium-mining-environmental-destruction-health/

June 28, 2021 Posted by | environment, indigenous issues, USA | Leave a comment

French corporation EDF will close down all 7 of its advanced gas-cooled reactor nuclear power stations in Britain within the next decade.

French-based global power developer EDF Energy vowed to put all seven of its advanced gas-cooled reactor nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom into the defueling and decommissioning stages within the next decade.

The company’s agreement with the UK government calls for shutting down the AGR stations by 2030. At that point EDF’s generating capacitywill consist of Sizewell B, HPC, potentially Sizewell C (currently under construction) and renewables including solar, onshore and offshore wind.

 Power Engineering 25th June 2021

June 28, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation   Inside Climate News,  By Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker, June 27, 2021  ”………………….‘Strong Evidence’ Links Uranium Mining to Lung Cancer

Uranium mining began in the Southwest in 1944, when the United States no longer wanted to depend on foreign sourcing of the uranium that was needed for nuclear research and weapons development as part of the Manhattan Project, the secret World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb. The federal government was the sole purchaser of uranium ore until 1971, but private companies operated the mines.

Navajo miners were not fully informed about the dangers of uranium mining specifically, despite the fact that scientists had concluded by the late 1930s that uranium mining caused lung cancer, even if debate existed about exactly why, according to a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The miners were not informed about the potential risks of their work.

The investigation focused on white miners, although mortality rates were reported for non-white miners. One study looked at 3,238 white miners, while a second involved 757 non-whites, mainly Navajos. The studies were performed without the consent of the workers. 

In both white and non-white cohorts, “strong evidence” was found for an increased incidence of lung cancer. In the study of 757 non-white miners, 10 deaths were expected, but 34 were documented, meaning researchers found more than three times the number of lung cancer deaths than they expected. 

Tommy Reed, 64, a member of the Navajo Radiation Victims Committee who began working in a uranium mine when he was in high school, said his father was one of the Navajo miners studied. 

“They studied my father and a lot of the men …  and ladies that were in the mines there,” Reed said. “My dad, like many other men that were (miners), spent nine months on a ventilator. How much more of our story can cut deep, where one can comprehend the struggle that we have?”

For Reed, extending the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act isn’t to place blame but to ensure that other miners, uranium workers and downwinders are compensated for illnesses related to radiation exposure. But if he had to place blame, Reed said, he would point to the federal agencies that allowed the mining to take place and the related illnesses to go undiagnosed and untreated. 

“They knew, and they had numbers on them. They studied, it’s on the books, there were human experimentations,” said Reed.

“We’re just five-finger people,” he said, using a Navajo word for human beings. “But these five-finger people are the ones that they relied on, the people that are most expendable.” 

In response to this legacy of environmental destruction, death and racism, the Navajo Nation Council passed the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005 to mandate that “no further damage to the culture, society and economy of the Navajo Nation occurs because of uranium processing until all adverse economic, environmental and human health effects from past uranium mining” have been eliminated or substantially reduced……………… https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27062021/nuclear-weapons-navajo-nation-uranium-mining-environmental-destruction-health/

June 28, 2021 Posted by | health, Uranium | Leave a comment

Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story, by Joe Lauria — Rise Up Times

“This is the end of the case against Julian Assange.” -Edward Snowden

Key Witness in US Case Against Assange Changes His Story, by Joe Lauria — Rise Up Times

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Is It Costing to Build Armageddon? by Bill Adamski and Jay Kvale  — Rise Up Times

“Demonstrating dramatic downsizing by way of example, both superpowers can jointly demand that the seven other nuclear states follow.”

What Is It Costing to Build Armageddon? by Bill Adamski and Jay Kvale  — Rise Up Times

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear fusion’s unlikely future, – too late for climate action

Fusion- next steps for the UK, 26 June 21, Nuclear fusion is being talked up as the next big energy thing- although it remains some way off and there are many technical and economic question marks. But Boris Johnson is evidently a fan. The UK government, keen to maintain headway in this field after the UK’s exit from Euratom, has set aside £222m for the development of new fusion technology. 

It has also asked local authorities to nominate potential sites for a prototype fusion plant, based on the MAST Tokamak developed at Culham in Oxfordshire. The Atomic Energy Authority will assess the sites before making recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Candidate sites for the ‘Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production’ (STEP) project include Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, Nottinghamshire and Aberthaw Power Station, near Barry, in Wales. With there being concerns about local job as coal plants close, new projects like this are obviously attractive, but the STEP programme is fairly leisurely, with a commercial-scale plant not being expected until 2040. 

The basic requirement for a viable fusion plant is to be able to sustain fusion reactions between relatively easily obtained hydrogen isotopes in a plasma of superhot gas for long enough to get more energy out than is needed to run the system. ITER, a very big 500MW rated conventional helical tokamak prototype, is being built with international support in France, but the STEP programme offers a possibly faster route using a much smaller spherical device. To make that viable you need higher power superconducting magnets to sustain/contain the plasma. The STEPs team have come up with a way to put thin layers of superconducting rare-earth barium copper oxide (ReBCO) on metal tape. The team says that the technology should be deployable in a test fusion pilot plant ‘in the early 2030s’. 

However, they are not alone. First Light, an Oxford University spin off company based in an industrial park in Oxford, are developing a novel inertia confinement system. And Canadian company General Fusion is to build and operate a demonstation Magnetised Target fusion plant plant at UKAEA’s Culham Campus near Oxford. It involves injecting hydrogen plasma into a liquid metal sphere, where it is compressed and heated so that fusion occurs. The company, which is backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, says its goal is to bring fusion energy to the world by the early 2030s. There are also pioneering projects underway in the USA and elsewhere – some with 2030 targets. Though there is some debate over target criteria and what counts as operational success- presumably a real total energy gain. And also debates over safety, security, environmental impacts and of course costs. 

It is very early days for these novel technologies, but there have been assessments made of health and safety risk factors in relation to ITER-type reactors, a key one being the creation of X and gamma ray activated containment materials from the powerful internal radiation fluxes.  So, as a Nature paper explained, even though they will be shorter lived than the waste produced by fission reactors, ITER-type plants will produce wastes that have to be dealt with, and will need shielding and careful access control to protect workers and the public. All of which will add to the cost. 

It is rare to see much in the way of convincing analysis of costs – with so many different still developing technologies and little work done yet on exactly how the neutron energy released by fusion reactors would be converted to electricity, it’s too early to say. ITER’s web site says that the average cost per kilowatt of electricity is expected to be similar to that from a nuclear fission plant ‘slightly more expensive at the beginning, when the technology is new, and less expensive as economies of scale bring the costs down’. 

However, there are other views: one study in 2018 put the estimated mid-range capital cost of an ITER-type commercial plant at roughly twice that from on shore wind, although it claimed that the average cost of energy would be similar, while it would be cheaper than wind when external (impact) costs were added. That is very surprising and seems to be based on the assumption that fusion plants’ external impacts would be tiny, whereas it has been argued that there could be significant issues e.g. from the release of radioactive tritium. 

The smaller inertia confinement systems may of course turn out to be cheaper since they do not need large complex energy-hungry magnetic containment systems. First Light has claimed that it could deliver a Levelised Cost Of Energy (LCOE) as low as $25/MWh compared with $100/MWh for conventional nuclear energy and up to $50/MWh for onshore wind. However, that is all very speculative, whereas one thing has been clear, year by year renewables like wind and especially solar PV are getting cheaper.

Despite all these uncertainties and concerns over technical and operational viability, there is a lot of optimism about fusion, for both ITER and for the national programmes going on in parallel. However, it sometime involves over-egged media attention alluding to imminent breakthroughs. In reality, ITERs development programme stretches out decades ahead, with the first test run maybe in 2035, but, even if all goes well, it seems from project planning reports that a commercial-scale ITER follow up is not likely to be available to feed power to the grid until well after 2050!  

However, some of smaller rival projects may beat it to the market. In that regard, the UK and USA are reputedly in something of a race and China and South Korea are also in the game. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. There have been some perhaps rather optimistic claims by developers. For example, in 2014 Lockheed claimed that for their ‘compact fusion’ programme they were aiming for a ‘prototype in 5 years, defence products in 10, clean power for the world in 20 years’. That raised some eyebrows.  It will probably take longer that that for any of the schemes. Possibly much longer. In which case there is no way that fusion can help deal with the urgent problem of climate change, which raises the question – why is so much being spent on it?  Perhaps $20 billion globally so far and at least that again now likely to be invested in new research programmes. 

It may be reasonable to mount smallish long-term programmes, since, at some point in the future, we may need a power source for deep space travel, not least to get access to the helium 3 from the asteroids in order to run fusion reactors: given its use for electric vehicles, we may run out of lithium for tritium production. But why bother with the huge effort to get fusion plants running on earth? We have the sun, a free fusion reactor in the sky, that delivers all the energy we could ever need, without charge. And the technology needed to use it is available now, not, at the very best for fusion, in a decade or two, and more likely not until 40 years on… 

Renew Extra Weekly 26th June 2021

https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/06/fusion-next-steps-for-uk.html

June 28, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology | 1 Comment

High school lobbyists ‘thrilled’ as Winnipeg unanimously supports ban on nuclear weapons, 

CBC News · Jun 27, 2021 Two Winnipeg high school students are “thrilled” after their campaign to get the city’s support for a ban on nuclear weapons got council’s unanimous backing.

“We were both thrilled because this is months and months of work,” Avinashpall Singh said of Thursday’s vote.

Singh and classmate Rooj Ali started working in March toward their goal of getting the City of Winnipeg’s support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as part of the youth-led International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Cities Appeal.

High school lobbyists ‘thrilled’ as Winnipeg unanimously supports ban on nuclear weapons, 

City joins 14 others across Canada in backing UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-city-council-supports-nuclear-ban-unanimously-1.6082203

CBC News · Jun 27, 2021 Two Winnipeg high school students are “thrilled” after their campaign to get the city’s support for a ban on nuclear weapons got council’s unanimous backing.

“We were both thrilled because this is months and months of work,” Avinashpall Singh said of Thursday’s vote.

Singh and classmate Rooj Ali started working in March toward their goal of getting the City of Winnipeg’s support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as part of the youth-led International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Cities Appeal.

That campaign looks to gain support at a municipal level for the first legally binding international agreement to ban nuclear weapons.

They got endorsements from organizations including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Rotary Club of Winnipeg and Manitoba’s Mennonite Central Committee, and gave presentations to city committees and councillors across Winnipeg — all while balancing homework and other commitments at River East Collegiate.

It’s a cause the students have been working on for years, they told CBC’s Weekend Morning Show host Stephanie Cram on Sunday.

“This cause is incredibly important for us because, among other things that our generation will be inheriting, it will still be a world still full of nuclear weapons. And so we aren’t going to stay silent as this happens,” Singh said.

“I think by far the most important reason is that [a nuclear incident] doesn’t have to be with intent. It could also be through an accident that something catastrophic could happen. And so [if we’re] trying to eliminate that risk totally, disarmament is the only guarantee toward that. No other solution exists.”

Ali says she hopes their achievement with city council inspires other young people to get involved in issues that matter to them.

“No cause or activism work is too impossible to achieve,” Ali said.

“The key to making change is to start. And we started this not knowing where it could end up, but we took it so far and we’re so happy for that.”

The move means Winnipeg joins 14 other Canadian cities, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, in support of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, the campaign’s website says.

However, while Canada has said it’s committed to nuclear disarmament, it has so far not signed the UN treaty.

Ali says that’s why getting Winnipeg’s support felt like such a win — it added one more city to the list of those willing to go on the record that it stands in support of the ban, and potentially sends a message to Ottawa.

“Not one city is going to make a difference,” she said.

“But when more cities do it — especially here in Canada, as Winnipeg joins the list — then hopefully we can turn that conversation up to the national level and make this a priority, because right now it’s not as discussed as it should be and that needs to change.”

The biggest issue is still awareness, so Ali and Singh’s work isn’t done yet. Next, they say they plan to take the campaign to other cities and municipalities in Manitoba and Canada. 

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Canada, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radioactive Waste Contaminates the Land and Water

The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation   Inside Climate News,  By Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker, June 27, 2021 ”……………Radioactive Waste Contaminates the Land and Water

Uranium is recovered from the earth in two ways. The first is conventional mining of the ore, in which miners dig the rock out of open pits that strip away the topsoil. The second, which is the most common extraction method in the United States, pumps chemicals into groundwater to dissolve uranium from the rock, known as “situ leaching.”

After the extraction, the ore is taken to mills, where it is crushed, ground up and dissolved to be solidified, dried and packaged.

Regardless of the extraction method, mining and milling uranium leaves behind radioactive waste that contaminates water and the land, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Waste from open pit mines is often left in piles outside the mine, while tailings from the milling process remain radioactive and contain hazardous chemicals. 

“Wind can blow radioactive dust from the wastes into populated areas and the wastes can contaminate surface water used for drinking. Some sites also have considerable groundwater contamination,” according to the EPA website. 

The EPA is conducting water studies at three areas on the reservation that have been affected by historical mining to “inform future investigations and potential cleanups by EPA and private parties.”

The Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education said in a June 2020 study that while high concentrations of uranium and arsenic may be found naturally in some areas, contamination is “especially troublesome on the Navajo Nation, where past (uranium) mining activity may have contaminated water supplies.”

Out of 82 unregulated wells sampled for the study, nine exceeded the maximum contaminant level for drinking water standards for uranium and 14 exceeded standards for arsenic. Because of these contaminants, a study published by the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology in March 2020 found that nearly 30 percent of Navajo homes had to rely on hauling water to meet their needs.

The lack of drinking water affects not only the Navajo living on the reservation, but their livestock and land usability, as well.

The EPA began investigating the effects of the uranium mines in the Cove region in January 2015, after a settlement from Tronox, a company spun off from Kerr-McGee in 2006, provided almost $4.4 billion for cleanup of more than 50 abandoned uranium mines. Forty-two of the mines are on or near the Navajo Nation, which received $45 million in the settlement, and 32 are in the Cove area, where more than 7 million tons of ore were mined, according to the EPA

The funds allowed for the assessment and cleanup of 230 of the 523 abandoned uranium mines across the reservation, which is ongoing. In the Northern Abandoned Uranium Mine Region, where the Cove Chapter is located, 121 of the 229 mines are targeted in the cleanup process.

Kerr-McGee was among the companies that extracted a total of 30 million tons of uranium ore from the Navajo land from 1944 until 1986. In his testimony in March before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Nez, the Navajo Nation president, said that “not a single one” of the 523 abandoned mines on Navajo lands “has been cleaned up properly.” https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27062021/nuclear-weapons-navajo-nation-uranium-mining-environmental-destruction-health/

June 28, 2021 Posted by | environment, indigenous issues, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Iran refuses to give nuclear site images to IAEA


Iran refuses to give nuclear site images to IAEA

Parisa Hafezi, DUBAI, June 27 (Reuters) – The speaker of Iran’s parliament said on Sunday Tehran will never hand over images from inside of some Iranian nuclear sites to the U.N. nuclear watchdog as a monitoring agreement with the agency had expired, Iranian state media reported.

“The agreement has expired … any of the information recorded will never be given to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the data and images will remain in the possession of Iran,” said Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.

The announcement could further complicate talks between Iran and six major powers on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal……………… https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/iran-says-nuclear-site-images-wont-be-given-iaea-deal-has-expired-2021-06-27/

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Iraq, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran says Nuclear Deal Salvageable But Will Not Negotiate Forever

Iran Says Nuclear Deal Salvageable But Will Not Negotiate Forever  NDTV, 27 June 21,

Iran and the US have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six powers that imposed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

Dubai: 

Iran said on Saturday it believes a reinstatement of its 2015 nuclear deal with major world powers is possible but warned that Tehran “will not negotiate forever”.

“Out of a steadfast commitment to salvage a deal that the US tried to torpedo, Iran has been the most active party in Vienna, proposing most drafts,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter, referring to talks aimed at reviving the nuclear deal.

Iran and the United States have been holding indirect talks on reviving the 2015 agreement between Tehran and six powers that imposed restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for lifting international sanctions. …………. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/iran-says-nuclear-deal-salvageable-but-will-not-negotiate-forever-2473303

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment