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Expert opinion: why nuclear energy should not be included as sustainable in Europe’s green taxonomy financing.

BASE comments on the JRC report  https://www.base.bund.de/SharedDocs/Stellungnahmen/BASE/DE/2021/0714_base-fachstellungnahme-jrc-bericht.html   Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (Bundesamt für die Sicherheit der nuklearen Entsorgung)  14 july 21

Expert opinion on the report of the Joint Research Center “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the‛ do no significant harm ‛criteria of Regulation (EU) 2020/852‛ Taxonomy Regulation ‛”

There are numerous reasons why the use of nuclear power is not ecologically sustainable and why this form of energy generation is therefore not part of the taxonomy regulation of the European Union ( EU ) – this is the conclusion of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management ( BASE ).

The basis for this is a specialist opinion for the Federal Environment Ministry, in which the Federal Office for Radiation Protection was also involved.

BASE statement is a reaction to the report of the Joint Research Center.

The reason for this statement is the report of the so-called Joint Research Center, an EU directorate-general whose origin was nuclear research. This came to a positive assessment of nuclear power in March 2021:

According to this, the catalog of criteria of the so-called “do no significant harm” principle is met – an assessment that evaluates forms of energy production according to their environmental balance.

If the EU Commission followed this evaluation by the JRC and rated nuclear energy as an ecologically sustainable form of economic activity, it would also appear attractive as a corresponding form of financial investment and would be equated, for example, with renewable energies.

BASE statement is a reaction to the report of the Joint Research Center

The reason for this statement is the report of the so-called Joint Research Center, an EU directorate-general whose origin was nuclear research. This came to a positive assessment of nuclear power in March 2021:

According to this, the catalog of criteria of the so-called “do no significant harm” principle is met – an assessment that evaluates forms of energy production according to their environmental balance.

If the EU Commission followed this evaluation by the JRC and rated nuclear energy as an ecologically sustainable form of economic activity, it would also appear attractive as a corresponding form of financial investment and would be equated, for example, with renewable energies.

Serious nuclear accidents were not adequately assessed in the JRC report

Background: The evaluation of nuclear power is controversial at the European level. A group of technical experts came to the conclusion in 2020 that a decision in favor of the use of nuclear power as part of the taxonomy should not be made. Thereupon the Joint Research Center of the EU was commissioned to evaluate the atomic energy.

In its report, BASE now points out the following points that should be assessed negatively with regard to nuclear power:

  • failure to take into account the risk of major accidents,
  • unresolved repository – or disposal problems and
  • an insufficient consideration of subsequent loads for future generations.

As a result, the report comes to the following assessment:

“The JRC report only incompletely considers the consequences and risks of the use of nuclear energy for people and the environment as well as for subsequent generations or omits them in its assessment. Insofar as it deals with them, the principles of scientific work are sometimes not correctly taken into account. The JRC report thus provides an incomplete contribution with which the sustainability of the use of nuclear energy cannot be comprehensively assessed. “

Expert opinion (German)

Expert Response (English)

July 15, 2021 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Astronauts to Mars – a game of cancer-russian-roulette, especially dangerous to women

women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation.

the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

New Space Radiation Limits Needed for NASA Astronauts, Report Says, Scientific American, By Ramin Skibba on July 14, 2021 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/   Although meant to minimize risks to human health, the proposed new limits would still be exceeded by any conceivable near-future crewed voyage to MarsAstronaut Scott Kelly famously spent an entire year residing onboard the International Space Station (ISS), about 400 kilometers above Earth, and his NASA colleague Christina Koch spent nearly that long “on station.” Each returned to Earth with slightly atrophied muscles and other deleterious physiological effects from their extended stay in near-zero gravity.

But another, more insidious danger lurks for spacefarers, especially those who venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

Space is filled with invisible yet harmful radiation, most of it sourced from energetic particles ejected by the sun or from cosmic rays created in extreme astrophysical events across the universe. Such radiation can damage an organism’s DNA and other delicate cellular machinery. And the damage increases in proportion to exposure, which is drastically higher beyond the protective cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field (such as on notional voyages to the moon or Mars). Over time, the accrued cellular damage significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

To address the situation, at NASA’s request, a team of top scientists organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report in June recommending that the space agency adopt a maximum career-long limit of 600 millisieverts for the space radiation astronauts can receive. The sievert is a unit that measures the amount of radiation absorbed by a person—while accounting for the type of radiation and its impact on particular organs and tissues in the body—and is equivalent to one joule of energy per kilogram of mass. Scientists typically use the smaller (but still quite significant) quantity of the millisievert, or 0.001 sievert. Bananas, for instance, host minute quantities of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, but to ingest a millisievert’s worth, one would have to eat 10,000 bananas within a couple of hours.

Every current member of NASA’s astronaut corps has received less than 600 millisieverts during their orbital sojourns, and most, including Koch, have received much less and can thus safely return to space. But a year on the ISS still exposes them to more radiation than experienced by residents of Japan who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents of 2011.

Everybody is planning trips to the moon and Mars,” and these missions could have high radiation exposures, says Hedvig Hricak, lead author of the report and a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Using current spaceflight-proved technologies, long-distance voyages—especially to the Red Planet—would exceed the proposed threshold, she says.

That could be a big problem for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to send astronauts to the moon in preparation for future trips to Mars. Another problem for the space agency is that the epidemiological data it uses mostly come from a longevity study of Japanese survivors of atomic bomb blasts, as well as from the handful of astronauts and cosmonauts who have endured many months or even years in low-Earth orbit. NASA’s current space radiation limit, which was developed in 2014, involves a complicated risk assessment for cancer mortality that depends on age and sex, yet more relevant data are necessary, Hricak argues. In the atomic bomb survivor study, for instance, women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation. “But with the knowledge we presently have, we know we cannot make a comparison between high exposure versus chronic exposure,” Hricak says. “The environment is different. There are so many factors that are different.”

NASA wants to update its standards now because the agency is on the cusp of sending so many astronauts well beyond low-Earth orbit, where greater amounts of space radiation seem destined to exceed previously mandated exposure limits. Furthermore, Hricak says, having a single, universal radiation limit for all space travelers is operationally advantageous because of its simplicity. A universal limit could also be seen as a boon for female astronauts, [ Ed. a boon?when they still are more susceptible to cancer than men are?] who had a lower limit than men in the old system and therefore were barred from spending as many days in space as their male counterparts.

The new radiation limit proposed by Hricak and her team is linked to the risks to all organs of a 35-year-old woman—a demographic deemed most vulnerable in light of gender differences in the atomic bomb survivor data and the fact that younger people have higher radiation risks, partly because they have more time for cancers to develop. The goal of the radiation maximum is to keep an individual below a 3 percent risk of cancer mortality: in other words, with this radiation limit, at most three out of 100 astronauts would be expected to die of radiation-induced cancer in their lifetime.

“NASA uses standards to set spaceflight exposure limits to protect NASA astronauts’ health and performance, both in mission and after mission,” says Dave Francisco of NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer. He acknowledges that, while astronauts on Mars missions would benefit from the thin Martian atmosphere that provides some limited protection, “transit in deep space has the highest exposure levels.”

That means long-haul space trips come with the biggest risks. A stay on the lunar surface for six months or more—presuming, of course, that astronauts eventually have a presence there and do not spend most of their time in subsurface habitats—would involve nearly 200 millisieverts of exposure, a higher amount than an extended visit to the ISS. And an astronaut traveling to Mars would be exposed to even more radiation. Whether they reached the Red Planet through a lunar stopover or on a direct spaceflight, they could have experienced significant radiation exposure en route. Even before they embarked on the trip back home, they could have already exceeded the 600 millisievert limit. The entire voyage, which would likely last a couple of years, could involve well more than 1,000 millisieverts. So if astronauts—and not just robots—will be sent to Mars, NASA likely will need to request waivers for them,

Hricak says, although the exact process for obtaining a waiver has not yet been laid out.

The report’s proposal for a new radiation maximum is not without its critics. “For a mission to Mars, a 35-year-old woman right at that limit could have an over 10 percent chance of dying in 15 to 20 years. To me, this is like playing Russian roulette with the crew,” says Francis Cucinotta, a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and former radiation health officer at NASA. Despite the supposed benefits the new limits would have for female astronauts, he is concerned that the risks are particularly pronounced for younger women in space.

On the contrary, Hricak says, in its request for new limits, NASA has sought to be conservative. The European, Canadian, and Russian space agencies all currently have a higher maximum allowed dose of 1,000 millisieverts, while Japan’s limit is age- and sex-dependent like NASA’s current one, mainly because of a shared dependence on the atomic bomb survivor data.

But unlike someone in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion, the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

considering how little is known about various health risks from different kinds of space radiation, compared with radiation we are familiar with on Earth, researchers will surely continue with more studies like these to protect astronauts as much as possible. “I can tell you exactly how much exposure you’re going to get from a CT scan,” Hricak says, “but there are many uncertainties with space radiation.”….. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-space-radiation-limits-needed-for-nasa-astronauts-report-says/  

July 15, 2021 Posted by | radiation, Reference, space travel, Women | Leave a comment

UK government plan – residents on the hook in advance for costly Sizewell nuclear plan that will be useless to combat climate change

A remote area on England’s east coast, halfway between the seaside towns of Felixstowe and Lowestoft, is set to become the centre of debate about Britain’s future energy security. UK ministers are aiming to bring
forward legislation in the autumn to support the financing of a 3.2 gigawatt nuclear power station in Sizewell, East Suffolk….

Ministers have been in formal negotiations with EDF about how to fund the proposed £20bn Sizewell C
plant since December, and the government and the French state-backed utility have had discussions about replacing Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors for years.

However, the question of whether Britain should build more large plants took on added urgency last month, when EDF closed the 1.1GW Dungeness B station in Kent seven years early. It also raised the prospect that other reactors may also be decommissioned ahead of schedule, owing to problems with their graphite cores……….

“If there was [a capacity issue], what good is Sizewell going to do given it won’t come on line until 2034
according to EDF?” asks Stephen Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich. Nuclear sceptics have long argued that money would be better spent on clean energy technologies, such as
offshore wind, and reducing electricity demand through measures including insulation.

Under a RAB model, consumers would pay towards a new plant through their energy bills long before any electricity is generated. Opponents of the model warn that consumers would also be on the hook for
cost overruns.

 FT 14th July 2021

https://www.ft.com/content/3f2bfc76-5b74-437c-8b18-67f9cde991af

July 15, 2021 Posted by | climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Most Hanford nuclear cleanup workers exposed to hazardous materials: Washington state report

Most Hanford cleanup workers exposed to hazardous materials: Washington state report  https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/561893-most-hanford-workers-exposed-to-hazardous-materials-state-report

BY CELINE CASTRONUOVO – 07/07/21 More than half of all current and former workers involved in the Hanford Nuclear Reservation cleanup effort have said they were exposed to hazardous materials, according to a new report from the Washington state government.

The report, the last in a series from the Department of Commerce’s Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Board, found that 57 percent “of all current and former workers reported being in an exposure event,” with 32 percent saying they experienced “long-term exposure to hazardous materials.”

The 106-page document cited “deep concerns” among current and former workers about “compensation system processes and the healthcare system’s ability to meet workers’ needs,” and identified “deficiencies in continued engagement with workers after an initial assessment or diagnosis as a common obstacle for the Hanford workforce.”

The findings cap eight months of research by a state-commissioned board tasked with making recommendations on addressing the health needs of workers at the Hanford nuclear site.

The 560-square-mile area in Washington was used by the federal government from 1944 to 1987 to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons and missile warheads.

However, the state board noted that during this time, “many highly radioactive byproducts and waste chemicals were dumped directly into the ground or stored in subterranean multi-million-gallon underground storage areas known as tank farms.”

The Department of Energy’s mission at the site shifted from production to cleanup beginning in the late 1980s.

The site has come under increased scrutiny in recent years for its affect on health and the environment, with the Energy Department warning in April that it believed an underground tank at the facility was leaking waste produced by plutonium production.

The Hanford area is considered the most contaminated site of radioactive waste in the U.S.

The board’s final report on Wednesday offered a look at some of the long-term impacts of nuclear production and waste at the site, including incurable conditions like chronic beryllium disease, which leads to scarring of lung tissue.

The board said that “information sharing could be key to finding cures” to the disease and other chronic conditions developed from exposure to hazardous materials.

Other recommendations included the creation of a Hanford Healthy Energy Workers Center to “serve as a centralized clearinghouse for Hanford-specific health-related information that includes up-to-date scientific knowledge, research on emergent topics, exposure data analysis, medical surveillance data analysis and coordinated intergovernmental efforts for policy and advocacy.”

The board said greater access should be given to specialty and follow-up care, and urged health officials to improve “the quality of care available to Hanford workers both at the Hanford site and in the Tri-Cities area.”

July 15, 2021 Posted by | employment, health, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s government acknowledges that solar power will be cheaper than nuclear

Solar power eclipses nuclear energy in terms of costs, Asahi Shimbun, By SATOSHI SHINDEN/ Staff Writer, July 13, 2021   For businesses looking ahead to reduce costs, solar power would definitely seem to be the way to go. Households could possibly benefit as well.

A new estimate by the industry ministry on future costs of power generation found that solar power will eclipse nuclear energy in terms of costs as of 2030.

The finding, released July 12, is expected to have significant implications for the nation’s energy policy.

This is the first time for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to acknowledge that the cost to generate solar power will be lower than that for nuclear power.

The estimates were presented at a meeting of a working group of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy the same day.

Estimated costs for nuclear power came to close to the 12 yen level or more per kilowatt-hour as of 2030, about 1 yen higher than the previous estimate in 2015.

Costs for solar power ranged from the lower 8 yen level to close to 12 yen for businesses. The rate for homes was estimated at between the last half of the 9 yen level to the first half of the 14 yen level.

The government and electric utilities have continued to champion nuclear power generation even after the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, citing cost efficiency over other energy sources.

However, the latest estimates would seem to call the legitimacy of that argument into question and will likely have an impact on the government’s Basic Energy Plan, for which officials are working to revise.

 The Basic Energy Plan is updated almost every three years.

The industry ministry has finally acknowledged it can no longer maintain the position that nuclear power is the most economical source of energy,” noted Kenichi Oshima, a professor of environmental economics at Ryukoku University who studies the nation’s nuclear policy, referring to the latest findings about costs.

The estimated costs for generating electricity with nuclear energy have risen each time calculations were made.

The ministry was forced to include ballooning costs for decommissioning of nuclear reactors and decontaminating crippled facilities in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster…..

solar energy is getting cheaper.

The latest estimate for solar power was down from the previous calculation in 2015 because the costs of installing solar panels are dropping.

Charges for generating electricity are calculated as follows: the total cost of building a new power facility, operating it for decades and finally dismantling it divided by the overall amount of power produced during the period……  https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14394069

July 15, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics, renewable | Leave a comment

If you thought that space research had nothing to do with weapons – think again!

With all three Gunsmoke-J satellites on orbit, the Army is ready to test space-based targeting  C4ISR NETBy Nathan StroutTue Jul 13 2021, The Army is keen to use the vantage of space to find and target beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) threats. While satellite imagery has traditionally been a product of the intelligence community, the development of relatively affordable yet highly capable small satellites that can operate in low Earth orbit has convinced military leaders that it can play a tactical role on the battlefield.

In a demonstration last fall, the Army was able to show that it could take images from satellites on orbit down to Earth, process them with artificial intelligence to find threats, and deliver targeting data to weapon systems in about 20 seconds. That speed is opening a whole slew of possibilities to commanders, enabling them to “see” further down the battlefield in near real time than ever before.

That demonstration used images from commercial satellite constellations, but now the Army has its own trio of imagery satellites to further develop this capability. The Army’s Gunsmoke-J program has launched three cubesats to use “emerging advanced electronics to allow the use of dedicated intelligence assets to provide tactically actionable targeting data to war fighters on a responsive and persistent timeline,” according to an annual budget proposal. Gunsmoke-J is a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration conducted by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command and Assured Position Navigation and Timing/Space Cross Functional Team………..

“This deployment and same day launch of two separate Gunsmoke-J satellites is a major step toward demonstrating what we believe will be enabling tactical warfighter capability,” ……..
If the Gunsmoke experiments are successful, then this work could lead to future systems, which would enhance long-range precision fires in support of the war fighter.”   https://www.c4isrnet.com/battlefield-tech/space/2021/07/12/with-all-three-gunsmoke-j-satellites-on-orbit-the-army-is-ready-to-test-space-based-targeting/

July 15, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

July 14 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “New Republican-Only Conservative Climate Caucus Light On Science, Heavily Pro-Fossil Fuels” • A Conservative Climate Caucus has been formed with a roster of roughly 60 members. Their website is light on content, but it has enough to make a few early assessments. Their actions may pleasantly surprise me one day, but the start […]

July 14 Energy News — geoharvey

July 15, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spain’s nuclear regulator blocks permit for a uranium concentrate plant

 Spain’s nuclear regulator blocks permit for Salamanca. The board of
Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN), Spain’s Nuclear Safety Council, has
issued an unfavourable report that will block Berkeley Energia’s plans
for a uranium concentrate plant at its Salamanca project in Retortillo,
western Spain.

 Mining Magazine 13th July 2021

 https://www.miningmagazine.com/geomechanics-ground-control/news/1413748/spain%E2%80%99s-nuclear-regulator-blocks-permit-for-salamanca

July 15, 2021 Posted by | safety, Uranium | Leave a comment