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Softball match in Fukushima was intended to showcase ”recovery from nuclear disaster”, but that has fallen flat.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, was among those clinging to the hope that a softball match would help convince a worldwide TV audience that life in Fukushima had returned to normal. But the opening day of the Tokyo Games, held in the shadow of coronavirus, ended up conveying a different message: that collective trauma unleashed by a nuclear accident, and now by a global pandemic, was never going to be extinguished by the swing of a bat

The Games were supposed to be an opportunity to show the current status of Fukushima

No entry: symbolism in Fukushima as Olympics begin in empty stadium, Guardian,  Justin McCurry at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, Wed 21 Jul 2021 

Silence and sadness greets a softball match meant to signal the recovery of a city devastated by earthquake and tsunami in 2011

After a year’s delay and months of rancour, finally some Olympic sport. Few will remember the details of Yukiko Ueno’s opening pitch to Michelle Cox in Japan’s softball match against Australia in Fukushima on Wednesday morning. But her delivery, witnessed by the organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, signalled that the most bizarre Games of modern times really are happening.

Depending on how deep the world’s reserves of optimism run, the first action of the 2020 Games could mark a turning point for the troubled Olympics or, more likely, bring only ephemeral relief from the viral cloud that hangs over the host city, Tokyo.

There was, though, a symbolism to Japan’s 8-1 victory over Aussie Spirit that predates the pandemic by almost a decade. In one sense, Japan’s Olympic project came full circle at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, located in a region whose proximity to tragedy inspired its pitch for the “recovery Games”. Forty miles east of the stadium stands the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake triggered a towering tsunami that destroyed huge swaths of Japan’s north-east coast, killing more than 18,000 people and sweeping away entire towns.

The same waves crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering meltdowns in three of its reactors and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes while plant workers, firefighters and soldiers battled to cool the reactor cores. Ten years on, many are still unable or unwilling to return to their old neighbourhoods.

The decision to award Fukushima softball and baseball matches was intended to prove to the world that the wider region had recovered from the tsunami and the nuclear crisis was “under control,” as the then Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told the International Olympic Committee in 2013 in a last-ditch effort to rescue Tokyo’s bid. But the virus’s recent surge in the host nation, centred on Tokyo, meant that one convincing sign of recovery – the communal enjoyment of sport – was missing in Fukushima……….

The teams lined up for national anthems observed in near silence, watched by a large contingent of Japanese reporters and officials sheltering beneath a small section of the stadium not exposed to the blazing morning sunshine. After Uchibori overturned organisers’ plans to allow a limited number of spectators, hundreds of local volunteers were told their services were no longer needed. ………….

“The Games were supposed to be an opportunity to show the current status of Fukushima, and we had various plans in mind before the decision to ban spectators,” said Seiichi Anbai, the chairman of the Fukushima city softball association, according to the Kyodo news agency. “Our emotions are polarised because, considering the coronavirus situation, it is sort of understandable but at the same time, we wanted the Games to take place in front of an audience.”

A Fukushima hotelier, who asked not to be named, felt the region had been exploited. “They said they would put on the Olympics for the sake of Fukushima, but I don’t think many people here feel like that’s really happening,” she told the Guardian. “It all comes down to politics.”

“The government has taken advantage of Fukushima right from the start,” she added, referring to the decision to begin the Japan leg of the torch relay at J-Village, a football training complex that functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the damaged nuclear plant 12 miles away………

Fukushima has come a long way since wild animals roamed streets where atmospheric radiation made it too dangerous for residents to return. But its recovery will continue long after the softball and baseball Olympians have gone home.

In the next couple of years, the operator of Fukushima Daiichi – Tokyo Electric Power – will begin releasing more than a million tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean, a move opposed by local fishermen who have spent years repairing the reputational damage to their industry. The plant itself will take decades to decommission, and at a cost of billions of dollars.

Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, was among those clinging to the hope that a softball match would help convince a worldwide TV audience that life in Fukushima had returned to normal. But the opening day of the Tokyo Games, held in the shadow of coronavirus, ended up conveying a different message: that collective trauma unleashed by a nuclear accident, and now by a global pandemic, was never going to be extinguished by the swing of a bat.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Penis envy taken to extremes? Space billionaires and carbon emissions

Space tourism: environmental vandalism for the super

As billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson launch the first flights of their space tourism corporations, Dr Stuart Parkinson, SGR, takes a look at the climate impacts.

Responsible Science blog, 20 July 2021  The past few weeks have seen some frightening impacts of climate change – from record-breaking temperatures and major wildfires in western Canada and the USA to unprecedented floods in Germany and Belgium. The hottest temperature reliably recorded on the Earth’s surface – 54.4C – was logged in Death Valley in California on 9 July. [1] Scientists said the heatwave in Canada and the USA at the end of June was “virtually impossible” without human-induced climate change. [2] One thing that is especially striking is that these events are now happening in some of the wealthiest and weather-resilient nations of the world – but even that didn’t stop major death tolls.

The huge threat of global climate disruption is leading to ever more urgent calls for society to rapidly reduce its carbon emissions. It is also clear that technological change alone will not be enough to tackle the problem. A recent report by the Climate Change Committee – the UK government’s main advisory body on the issue – found that 62% of the necessary measures involve societal and behaviour change. [3] Avoiding air travel is one of the most effective changes individuals can make to cut this pollution. For example, the carbon footprint of a return flight from London to Hong Kong – seated in economy-class – is about 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) [4] – similar to a UK citizen’s average car use for over 10 months. [5] Research by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies indicates that a globally-sustainable lifestyle carbon footprint in 2020 was 3.9 tCO2e [6] – which gives a clear indication of just how much our society needs to reduce its impacts now (and this figure falls rapidly to 2.5t CO2e by 2030 and then much lower still for 2040 and 2050).

Against this backdrop, we have billionaires travelling in the inaugural flights of their space tourism corporations. On 11 July, Richard Branson flew in Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo craft, while on 20 July, Jeff Bezos travelled in Blue Origin’s New Shepard. These activities take the climate impacts of flying to considerably more damaging level.

Let’s look at the New Shepard space-craft. Prof Mike Berners-Lee of Lancaster University – a leading expert in carbon footprint analysis – has estimated that a single flight results in emissions of at least 330 tCO2e. [7] With four passengers, this means each one is responsible for over 82 tCO2e – over 20 times the sustainable level for a whole year! And note, this is a conservative estimate. It does not include the additional heating effects of emissions at high altitude, the carbon footprint of developing and manufacturing the space-craft, or the emissions of running the Blue Origin corporation. Furthermore, the fuel combination used by the latest generation of New Shepard craft now includes liquid hydrogen [8] – a higher carbon fuel than those used in Prof Berners-Lee’s calculations.

What about SpaceShipTwo? Although this craft emits markedly less direct carbon emissions per flight than New Shepard, as SGR discussed back in 2016, [9] it uses a fuel combination which emits significant levels of black carbon into the upper atmosphere. Research by the University of Colorado indicates that this can damage the stratospheric ozone layer – not only leading to higher levels of damaging ultra-violet radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, but also causing a global heating effect likely to be considerably greater than that from the carbon emissions alone.

And the aim of these journeys? A few minutes of ‘zero-gravity’ experience and a nice view. It is hard to see this as anything more than environmental vandalism for the super-rich.

Virgin Galactic claims to want to launch a “new age of clean and sustainable access to space” [10]– but they and the others in the space tourism industry clearly fail to understand the level of their own climate impacts, the rapidly increasing severity of the climate emergency, or the scale of action needed to cut carbon emissions to a sustainable level. If governments are serious about trying to prevent ‘dangerous’ climate change, then there is an important step to take immediately: ban space tourism.
 Dr Stuart Parkinson is Executive Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility. He has written on climate science and policy for 30 years, and holds a PhD in climate science.


July 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, space travel | 1 Comment

Moral Intelligence or Nuclear War, by Robert C. Koehler

“To declare that nuclear weapons can only “legally” be used in retaliation for a nuclear strike hardly leaves me feeling safe. Are we left with a world continually at war with itself, with our best hope being that all future wars will be waged legally and politely?”

Moral Intelligence or Nuclear War, by Robert C. Koehler — Rise Up Times

Moral Intelligence or Nuclear War, by Robert C. Koehler,  

We can no longer create a wasteland and call it peace.  

By ROBERT C. KOEHLER  Common Dreams  Rise UpTimes July 15, 2021  

Let’s dance at the border! One of these days, something will give—the rich, the powerful will suddenly look around cluelessly. What’s happening? Awareness will sweep across the planet: We are one, and life is sacred. This consciousness will even invade political life and what I call moral intelligence will find political traction.

This won’t mean that life suddenly becomes simple—anything but! The politics of today, nationally and internationally, is simple: somebody wins, somebody loses; war is inevitable, there are always several on the horizon, and the primary consequence of every war that is waged is that it spurs more wars, a fact that remains officially unnoticed; only some lives matter, those that don’t are collateral damage, illegal aliens or simply the enemy; nuclear weapons (ours, only ours) are justified, necessary and must be continually upgraded; national borders, however arbitrary, are sacred (the only thing that’s sacred); if these norms are challenged, the best response is mockery and cynicism.

The game of war has been going on sufficiently long—a dozen millennia or whatever—and is at its stopping point.

Transcending this mindset requires facing life in all its complexity, which is a necessary part of our personal lives. But could it be that facing the endless complexity of life is also politically possible? This seems to be the question I’ve been given to ponder—and cherish—as I step into my elder years. Come on! Politics requires simplistic public herding, does it not? You can’t steer a country without an enemy.

As a peace journalist, I usually begin by focusing on the media.   Consider this recent Washington Post piece regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Even though the article is critical of the Trump administration, which in 2018 “expanded the role of nuclear weapons by declaring for the first time that the United States would consider nuclear retaliation in the case of ‘significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” the article remains trapped, I fear, in linear, conventional thinking………..

the assumption that “the public” (whatever that is) would be focused on vengeance after a horrific cyberattack is simplistic, to say the least. The public—you, me, and perhaps everyone on the planet—would be in shock, wounded and grieving, and would be primarily focused on healing, help and the heroism of the many who gave their lives in rescue efforts. When I recall the days right after 9/11, what I think about are people lined up to donate blood, not shaking their fists in cartoonlike demands for vengeance against whomever.

But to slide such an assumption—the public is impulsive and stupid—into an article about nuclear weapons removes the possibility of bringing a larger awareness to the discussion, a public awareness that nuclear weapons should never be used and, indeed, should not exist, in our hands or anyone else’s. The Post appears not to want to go that far,….

I fear there are far deeper realities loose in the world: a military-industrial complex that will do whatever it can to prevent the world from transcending war; the possibility of a president in political trouble, seeing war (even the nuclear button) as a solution; and the hidden forces of the deep state, exerting pressures on political leaders the public will never know about.

To declare that nuclear weapons can only “legally” be used in retaliation for a nuclear strike hardly leaves me feeling safe. Are we left with a world continually at war with itself, with our best hope being that all future wars will be waged legally and politely?

Regarding nukes, the Post notes, the Obama administration’s guidance document declares that “the United States “will not intentionally target civilian populations or civilian objects.” And a former head of the U.S. Strategic Command under Obama told the Post the command had developed nuclear delivery “tactics and techniques to minimize collateral effects.”

“Minimized collateral damage” is a phrase you’d use only in regard to people whose lives didn’t matter. And if the weapons involved are nuclear, it sounds like a grotesque lie. All of which intensifies my outrage: We are one, and life is sacred. The game of war has been going on sufficiently long—a dozen millennia or whatever—and is at its stopping point. We can no longer create a wasteland and call it peace. The wasteland it is in our power to create is Planet Earth.

I know the human species has what it takes to reach beyond its artificial borders and refuse to let this happen. The time for the best of us to emerge is now.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Environmental degradation, illness, international tensions – small nuclear reactors had bad results in the Arctic

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors

the U.S. still has no coherent national strategy for nuclear waste disposal, and critics are asking what happens if Pele falls into enemy hands.

The US Army tried portable nuclear power at remote bases 60 years ago – it didn’t go well
Paul Bierman
Fellow of the Gund Institute for Environment, Professor of Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 21 July 21

In a tunnel 40 feet beneath the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, a Geiger counter screamed. It was 1964, the height of the Cold War. U.S. soldiers in the tunnel, 800 miles from the North Pole, were dismantling the Army’s first portable nuclear reactor.

Commanding Officer Joseph Franklin grabbed the radiation detector, ordered his men out and did a quick survey before retreating from the reactor.

He had spent about two minutes exposed to a radiation field he estimated at 2,000 rads per hour, enough to make a person ill. When he came home from Greenland, the Army sent Franklin to the Bethesda Naval Hospital. There, he set off a whole body radiation counter designed to assess victims of nuclear accidents. Franklin was radioactive.

The Army called the reactor portable, even at 330 tons, because it was built from pieces that each fit in a C-130 cargo plane. It was powering Camp Century, one of the military’s most unusual bases.

Camp Century was a series of tunnels built into the Greenland ice sheet and used for both military research and scientific projects. The military boasted that the nuclear reactor there, known as the PM-2A, needed just 44 pounds of uranium to replace a million or more gallons of diesel fuel. Heat from the reactor ran lights and equipment and allowed the 200 or so men at the camp as many hot showers as they wanted in that brutally cold environment.

The PM-2A was the third child in a family of eight Army reactors, several of them experiments in portable nuclear power.

A few were misfits. PM-3A, nicknamed Nukey Poo, was installed at the Navy base at Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound. It made a nuclear mess in the Antarctic, with 438 malfunctions in 10 years including a cracked and leaking containment vessel. SL-1, a stationary low-power nuclear reactor in Idaho, blew up during refueling, killing three men. SM-1 still sits 12 miles from the White House at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. It cost US$2 million to build and is expected to cost $68 million to clean up. The only truly mobile reactor, the ML-1never really worked.

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors.

Nearly 60 years after the PM-2A was installed and the ML-1 project abandoned, the U.S. military is exploring portable land-based nuclear reactors again.

In May 2021, the Pentagon requested $60 million for Project Pele. Its goal: Design and build, within five years, a small, truck-mounted portable nuclear reactor that could be flown to remote locations and war zones. It would be able to be powered up and down for transport within a few days.

The Navy has a long and mostly successful history of mobile nuclear power. The first two nuclear submarines, the Nautilus and the Skate, visited the North Pole in 1958, just before Camp Century was built. Two other nuclear submarines sank in the 1960s – their reactors sit quietly on the Atlantic Ocean floor along with two plutonium-containing nuclear torpedos. Portable reactors on land pose different challenges – any problems are not under thousands of feet of ocean water.

Those in favor of mobile nuclear power for the battlefield claim it will provide nearly unlimited, low-carbon energy without the need for vulnerable supply convoys. Others argue that the costs and risks outweigh the benefits. There are also concerns about nuclear proliferation if mobile reactors are able to avoid international inspection.

A leaking reactor on the Greenland ice sheet

The PM-2A was built in 18 months. It arrived at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland in July 1960 and was dragged 138 miles across the ice sheet in pieces and then assembled at Camp Century.

When the reactor went critical for the first time in October, the engineers turned it off immediately because the PM-2A leaked neutrons, which can harm people. The Army fashioned lead shields and built walls of 55-gallon drums filled with ice and sawdust trying to protect the operators from radiation.

The PM-2A ran for two years, making fossil fuel-free power and heat and far more neutrons than was safe.

Those stray neutrons caused trouble. Steel pipes and the reactor vessel grew increasingly radioactive over time, as did traces of sodium in the snow. Cooling water leaking from the reactor contained dozens of radioactive isotopes potentially exposing personnel to radiation and leaving a legacy in the ice.

When the reactor was dismantled for shipping, its metal pipes shed radioactive dust. Bulldozed snow that was once bathed in neutrons from the reactor released radioactive flakes of ice.

Franklin must have ingested some of the radioactive isotopes that the leaking neutrons made. In 2002, he had a cancerous prostate and kidney removed. By 2015, the cancer spread to his lungs and bones. He died of kidney cancer on March 8, 2017, as a retired, revered and decorated major general.

Camp Century’s radioactive legacy

Camp Century was shut down in 1967. During its eight-year life, scientists had used the base to drill down through the ice sheet and extract an ice core that my colleagues and I are still using today to reveal secrets of the ice sheet’s ancient past. Camp Century, its ice core and climate change are the focus of a book I am now writing.

The PM-2A was found to be highly radioactive and was buried in an Idaho nuclear waste dump. Army “hot waste” dumping records indicate it left radioactive cooling water buried in a sump in the Greenland ice sheet.

When scientists studying Camp Century in 2016 suggested that the warming climate now melting Greenland’s ice could expose the camp and its waste, including lead, fuel oil, PCBs and possibly radiation, by 2100, relations between the U.S, Denmark and Greenland grew tense. Who would be responsible for the cleanup and any environmental damage?

Portable nuclear reactors today

There are major differences between nuclear power production in the 1960s and today.

The Pele reactor’s fuel will be sealed in pellets the size of poppy seeds, and it will be air-cooled so there’s no radioactive coolant to dispose of.

Being able to produce energy with fewer greenhouse emissions is a positive in a warming world. The U.S. military’s liquid fuel use is close to all of Portugal’s or Peru’s. Not having to supply remote bases with as much fuel can also help protect lives in dangerous locations.

But, the U.S. still has no coherent national strategy for nuclear waste disposal, and critics are asking what happens if Pele falls into enemy hands. Researchers at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the National Academy of Sciences have previously questioned the risks of nuclear reactors being attacked by terrorists. As proposals for portable reactors undergo review over the coming months, these and other concerns will be drawing attention.

The U.S. military’s first attempts at land-based portable nuclear reactors didn’t work out well in terms of environmental contamination, cost, human health and international relations. That history is worth remembering as the military considers new mobile reactors.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, environment, history, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Huge carbon emissions of space tourism

Space tourism: rockets emit 100 times more CO₂ per passenger than flights – imagine a whole industry
Eloise Marais Associate Professor in Physical Geography, UCLJuly 19, 2021  

The commercial race to get tourists to space is heating up between Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On Sunday 11 July, Branson ascended 80 km to reach the edge of space in his piloted Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spaceplane. Bezos’ autonomous Blue Origin rocket is due to launch on July 20, coinciding with the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Though Bezos loses to Branson in time, he is set to reach higher altitudes (about 120 km). The launch will demonstrate his offering to very wealthy tourists: the opportunity to truly reach outer space. Both tour packages will provide passengers with a brief ten-minute frolic in zero gravity and glimpses of Earth from space. Not to be outdone, Elon Musk’s SpaceX will provide four to five days of orbital travel with its Crew Dragon capsule later in 2021.

What are the environmental consequences of a space tourism industry likely to be? Bezos boasts his Blue Origin rockets are greener than Branson’s VSS Unity. The Blue Engine 3 (BE-3) will launch Bezos, his brother and two guests into space using liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. VSS Unity used a hybrid propellant comprised of a solid carbon-based fuel, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB), and a liquid oxidant, nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The SpaceX Falcon series of reusable rockets will propel the Crew Dragon into orbit using liquid kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Burning these propellants provides the energy needed to launch rockets into space while also generating greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Large quantities of water vapour are produced by burning the BE-3 propellant, while combustion of both the VSS Unity and Falcon fuels produces CO₂, soot and some water vapour. The nitrogen-based oxidant used by VSS Unity also generates nitrogen oxides, compounds that contribute to air pollution closer to Earth.

Roughly two-thirds of the propellant exhaust is released into the stratosphere (12 km-50 km) and mesosphere (50 km-85 km), where it can persist for at least two to three years. The very high temperatures during launch and re-entry (when the protective heat shields of the returning crafts burn up) also convert stable nitrogen in the air into reactive nitrogen oxides.

These gases and particles have many negative effects on the atmosphere. In the stratosphere, nitrogen oxides and chemicals formed from the breakdown of water vapour convert ozone into oxygen, depleting the ozone layer which guards life on Earth against harmful UV radiation. Water vapour also produces stratospheric clouds that provide a surface for this reaction to occur at a faster pace than it otherwise would.

Space tourism and climate change

Exhaust emissions of CO₂ and soot trap heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Cooling of the atmosphere can also occur, as clouds formed from the emitted water vapour reflect incoming sunlight back to space. A depleted ozone layer would also absorb less incoming sunlight, and so heat the stratosphere less.

Figuring out the overall effect of rocket launches on the atmosphere will require detailed modelling, in order to account for these complex processes and the persistence of these pollutants in the upper atmosphere. Equally important is a clear understanding of how the space tourism industry will develop.

Virgin Galactic anticipates it will offer 400 spaceflights each year to the privileged few who can afford them. Blue Origin and SpaceX have yet to announce their plans. But globally, rocket launches wouldn’t need to increase by much from the current 100 or so performed each year to induce harmful effects that are competitive with other sources, like ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and CO₂ from aircraft.

During launch, rockets can emit between four and ten times more nitrogen oxides than Drax, the largest thermal power plant in the UK, over the same period. CO₂ emissions for the four or so tourists on a space flight will be between 50 and 100 times more than the one to three tonnes per passenger on a long-haul flight.

In order for international regulators to keep up with this nascent industry and control its pollution properly, scientists need a better understanding of the effect these billionaire astronauts will have on our planet’s atmosphere.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | climate change, space travel | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Power Plants No Use in Climate Crisis

Small Nuclear Power Plants No Use in Climate Crisis

Governments are investing in a new range of small nuclear power plants, with little chance they’ll ease the climate crisis.

July 20, 2021 by Climate News Network By Paul Brown

Claims that a new generation of so-called advanced, safe and easier-to-build nuclear reactors − small nuclear power plants − will be vital to combat climate change are an illusion, and the idea should be abandoned, says a group of scientists.

Their report, “Advanced” is not always better, published by the US Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), examines all the proposed new types of reactor under development in the US and fails to find any that could be developed in time to help deal with the urgent need to cut carbon emissions. The US government is spending $600 million on supporting these prototypes.

While the report goes into details only about the many designs of small and medium-sized reactors being developed by US companies, it is a serious blow to the worldwide nuclear industry because the technologies are all similar to those also being underwritten by taxpayers in Canada, the UK, Russia and China. This is a market the World Economic Forum claimed in January could be worth $300 billion by 2040.

Edwin Lyman, who wrote the report, and is the director of nuclear power safety in the UCS Climate and Energy Program, thinks the WEF estimate is extremely unlikely. He comments on nuclear power in general: “The technology has fundamental safety and security disadvantages compared with other low-carbon sources.

“Nuclear reactors and their associated facilities for fuel production and waste handling are vulnerable to catastrophic accidents and sabotage, and they can be misused to produce materials for nuclear weapons. The nuclear industry, policymakers, and regulators must address these shortcomings fully if the global use of nuclear power is to increase without posing unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and international peace and security.”

Cheaper options

Lyman says none of the new reactors appears to solve any of these problems. Also, he says, the industry’s claims that their designs could cost less, be built quickly, reduce the production of nuclear waste, use uranium more efficiently and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation have yet to be proved. The developers have also yet to demonstrate that the new generation of reactors has improved safety features enabling them to shut down quickly in the event of attack or accident.

Lyman examines the idea that reactors can be placed near cities or industry so that the waste heat from their electricity generation can be used in district heating or for industrial processes.

He says there is no evidence that the public would be keen on the idea of having nuclear power stations planted in their neighbourhoods.

Another of the industry’s ideas for using the power of the new nuclear stations to produce “green hydrogen” for use in transport or back-up energy production is technically feasible, but it seems likely that renewable energies like wind and solar could produce the hydrogen far more cheaply, the report says.

In reality the nuclear industry is shrinking in international importance and is likely to continue to do so, Lyman says. According to the International Energy Agency, at the end of 2010, there were 441 operating nuclear power reactors worldwide, with a total electrical power capacity of 375 gigawatts of electricity (GWe).

At the end of 2019, there were 443 operating reactors − only two more than in 2010 − with a total generating capacity of 392 GWe. This represented a decrease of over 20% in the share of global electricity demand met by nuclear energy compared with 2010.

Lyman says the US Department of Energy would be more sensible trying to address the outstanding safety, security and cost issues of existing light water reactors in the US, rather than attempting to commercialise new and unproven designs. If the idea is to tackle climate change, improving existing designs is a better bet.

The report notes that it is not just the US that is having trouble with nuclear technology: Europe is also suffering severe delays and cost overruns with new plants at Olkiluoto in FinlandFlamanville in France and Hinkley Point C in the UK.

Lyman’s comments might be of interest to the British government, which has just published its integrated review of defence and foreign policy.

Military link declared

In it the government linked the future of the civil and defence nuclear capabilities of the country, showing that a healthy civil sector was important for propping up the military. This is controversial because of the government’s decision announced in the same review to increase the number of nuclear warheads from 180 to 260, threatening an escalation of the international arms race.

Although Lyman does not mention it, there is a clear crossover between civil and nuclear industries in the US, the UK, China, Russia and France. This is made more obvious because of the few countries that have renounced nuclear weapons − for example only Germany, Italy and Spain have shown no interest in building any kind of nuclear station. This is simply because renewables are cheaper and produce low carbon power far more quickly.

But the link between civil and defence nuclear industries does explain why in the UK the government is spending £215m ($298m) on research and development into the civil use of the small medium reactors championed by a consortium headed by Rolls-Royce, which is also one of the country’s major defence contractors. Rolls-Royce wants to build 16 of these reactors in a factory and assemble them in various parts of the country. It is also looking to sell them into Europe to gain economies of scale.

Judging by the UCS analysis, this deployment of as yet unproven new nuclear technologies is unlikely to be in time to help the climate crisis – one of the claims that both the US and UK governments and Rolls-Royce itself are making. − Climate News Network

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Russia, U.S. to hold nuclear arms control talks

Russia, U.S. to hold nuclear arms control talks on July 28 – Kommersant   MOSCOW, July 20 (Reuters) – Russia and the United States have agreed to hold their first round of nuclear strategic stability talks on July 28 in Geneva, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at a summit in Geneva last month to embark on bilateral dialogue to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.Reporting by Maxim Rodionov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Heavens

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

Environment Working Group recommends stringent health-based standards for radiation exposure from wireless devices 

EWG study recommends stringent health-based standards for radiation exposure from wireless devices  Medical Network  News, 21 July 21, A peer-reviewed study by the Environmental Working Group recommends stringent health-based exposure standards for both children and adults for radiofrequency radiation emitted from wireless devices. EWG’s children’s guideline is the first of its kind and fills a gap left by federal regulators.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, relies on the methodology developed by the Environmental Protection Agency to assess human health risks arising from toxic chemical exposures. EWG scientists have applied the same methods to radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices, including cellphones and tablets.

EWG recommends the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, adjust its woefully outdated health standards for wireless radiation, last revised a quarter-century ago, well before wireless devices became ubiquitous, heavily used appliances synonymous with modern life. The recommendation draws on data from a landmark 2018 study from the National Toxicology Program, or NTP, one of the largest long-term studies on the health effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure.

EWG’s new guidelines, the first developed in the U.S. to focus on children’s health, recommend that children’s exposure overall be 200 to 400 lower than the whole-body exposure limit set by the FCC in 1996.

The EWG recommended limit for so-called whole-body Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, for children is 0.2 to 0.4 milliwatts per kilogram, or mW/kg. For adults, EWG recommends a whole-body SAR limit of 2 to 4 mW/kg, which is 20 to 40 times lower than the federal limit.

The FCC has not set a separate standard for children. Its standards for radiofrequency radiation set a maximum SAR of 0.08 watts per kilogram, or W/kg, for whole-body exposure and an SAR for localized spatial peak – the highest exposure level for a specific part of the body, such as the brain – of 1.6 W/kg for the general population.

The NTP studies examined the health effects of 2G and 3G wireless radiation and found there is “clear evidence” of a link between exposure to radiofrequency radiation and heart tumors in laboratory animals. Similar results were reported by a team of Italian scientists from the Ramazzini Institute.

Cellphone radiation was classified a “possible carcinogen” in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, a conclusion based on human epidemiological studies that found an increased risk of glioma, a malignant brain cancer, associated with cellphone use.

EWG scientists say that more research is needed on the health impacts of the latest generation of communication technologies, such as 5G. In the meantime, EWG’s recommendation for strict, lower exposure limits for all radiofrequency sources, especially for children………

“We have grave concerns over the outdated approach the federal government has relied on to study the health effects of cellphone radiation and set its current safety limit and advice for consumers,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Government guidelines are a quarter-century old and were established at a time when wireless devices were not a constant feature of the lives of nearly every American, including children.”…………

“The evidence shows that children absorb more radiofrequency radiation than adults, and the developing body of a child is more vulnerable to such effects,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s vice president for science investigations and co-author of the study.

“More research on the safety and sustainability of wireless technology is essential,” added Naidenko. “Meanwhile, there are simple steps everyone can take to protect their health, such as keeping wireless devices farther from their bodies.”……

EWG’s recommendation for limits for radiofrequency radiation exposure is its latest effort to advance the public dialogue about science-based standards that protect public health.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation | Leave a comment

Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy: How they built the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy: How they built the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant,, KELVIN S. RODOLFO 21 July 21, There is not enough space to list the multitude of construction errors inspector William Albert found at the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant

The following is the tenth in a series of excerpts from Kelvin Rodolfo’s ongoing book project Tilting at the Monster of Morong: Forays Against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and Global Nuclear Energy.Some history   A thoughtful congressman, Roilo Golez, once cautioned that the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant’s (BNPP) risks were magnified by a “national lack of a culture of safety that is observed in Japan, the United States, and Western Europe.” The BNPP has been accursed with that lack from the very beginning, and remains so today………….

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Indonesia, safety | Leave a comment

The impending cost of small nuclear reactors is a real worry, as Utah halves the number of reactors planned

Utah cooperative reduces size of next-gen nuclear SMR project in Idaho, Power Engineering By Rod Walton -7.21.2021   The size of a first-of-its-kind nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) power plant is being cut in half and perhaps leading some participating utilities to question the impending cost of the Idaho project.

Media outlets the Idaho Statesman and the Post Register have reported that Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a cooperative which received close to $1.3 billion in federal funding to pursue the SMR project last year, has decreased the size of the proposed plant, called the Carbon Free Power Project, from 12 to six small reactor modules.

UAMPS defended the move, saying it would cut capacity of the carbon-free generation only by about 138 to 462 MW. The project is to be built on property of the U.S. Idaho National Laboratory…….

It is not yet known if the reduction will raise the cost of SMR generation and push other members out of the deal. Last year, nearly a fourth of the 36 public utilities signed up to off-take the electricity backed out of the deal. The reason most cited for the withdrawals was cost concerns over the project. .

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

Energy-guzzling Bitcoin must be allied to dangerous costly nuclear power

Bitcoin Miners Embrace Nuclear Power , Yahoo Finance, Editor, 21 July 21,

”…..The worldwide cryptocurrency production sector is eating up an almost unfathomable amount of energy — as much as entire nations. As of now, Bitcoin mining ranks between Colombia (a country of 50 million people) and Bangladesh (population 163 million) in terms of energy consumption. All told, Bitcoin networks account for an incredible 0.32% of the world’s energy consumption…

The process of “mining” Bitcoin, while virtual, requires an enormous amount of resources because of the considerable computing power necessary to carry out the extremely complex calculations to solve the “proof-of-work” problems that make up the blockchain, the digital ledger that Bitcoin is built upon. Bitcoin is currently being singled out for its massive energy consumption over other cryptocurrencies, not only because it is more than twice the size of the next-most traded cryptocurrency, but because Bitcoin’s especially complex SHA-256 algorithm, which makes Bitcoin one of the most secure cryptocurrencies out there, also makes it one of the most energy-hungry. 

July 22, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, technology | Leave a comment

New Analysis Shows Japan Would Accept U.S. No First Use of Nuclear Weapons Policy

New Analysis Shows Japan Would Accept U.S. No First Use Policy

No First Use Would Decrease Risk of Nuclear War While Maintaining Nuclear Umbrella

Jul 21, 2021  As the Biden administration crafts its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the document laying out the administration’s proposed nuclear weapons doctrine, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today released new analysis that finds Japan would accept a U.S. policy to never use nuclear weapons first. The analysis makes the case for including a “no first use” policy in the forthcoming NPR.

Japan is part of a group of non-nuclear countries under the so-called U.S. nuclear “umbrella.” If any of the countries were attacked with nuclear weapons, the United States has pledged to retaliate. Japan would still have that guarantee under a U.S. no first use policy, which would declare that the U.S. would never be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

Although many U.S. officials and experts worry Japan might respond to a U.S. no first use declaration by withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and developing its own nuclear weapons, UCS found that there is virtually no chance Japan would make that decision.

“The Japanese government has carefully considered developing nuclear weapons in the past and found it was not in their national interest,” said Gregory Kulacki, UCS China project manager and a co-author of the report. “As the only country to have experienced wartime use of a nuclear weapon, the Japanese public has a deep understanding of the danger of nuclear war, the immorality of nuclear weapons, and a strong opposition to their development.”

President Biden has said he supports a no first use policy and promised U.S. voters his administration would consider it a priority when conducting its nuclear policy and defense reviews. In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) reintroduced legislation that would prohibit any U.S. president from launching nuclear weapons in a first strike.

“A no first use policy by the United States would maintain extended nuclear deterrence, while decreasing the chances that such action would ever be necessary by strengthening non-nuclear norms and significantly lowering the risk of accidental nuclear war,” said Kulacki.

Nuclear powers including China and India have already adopted no first use policies. The U.S. has pledged that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states under any circumstances as part of nuclear nonproliferation efforts.

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

The tally of North Korea’s nuclear weapons

Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does North Korea have in 2021? Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 

By Hans M. KristensenMatt Korda, July 21, 2021  orth Korea has made significant advances over the past two decades in developing a nuclear weapons arsenal. It has detonated six nuclear devices––one with a yield of well over 100 kilotons––and test-flown a variety of new ballistic missiles, several of which may be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets in Northeast Asia and potentially in the United States and Europe. However, there is considerable uncertainty about which of North Korea’s missiles have been fielded with an active operational nuclear capability.

It is widely assumed that North Korea has operational nuclear warheads for medium-range missiles. However, it is unclear whether it has managed to develop fully functioning nuclear warheads that can be delivered by long-range ballistic missiles and, following violent atmospheric reentry, detonate as planned. That said, just because North Korea has not yet publicly demonstrated a capability to deliver a functioning nuclear reentry vehicle on a long-range ballistic missile does not necessarily indicate that it is not working on developing one or could not field one in the future. It is clear from its development efforts and public statements that North Korea ultimately intends to field an operational nuclear arsenal capable of holding regional and US targets at risk.

Due to the lack of clarity surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, agencies and officials of the US intelligence community, as well as military commanders and nongovernmental experts, struggle to assess the program’s characteristics and capabilities. Based on publicly available information about North Korea’s fissile material production and missile posture, we cautiously estimate that North Korea might have produced sufficient fissile material to build 40 to 50 nuclear weapons and that it might possibly have assembled 10 to 20 warheads for delivery by medium-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea’s nuclear policy

North Korea declared a no-first-use policy following its fourth nuclear test in 2016; however, it diluted its statement with the caveat that it would not “be the first to use nuclear weapons […] as long as the hostile forces for aggression do not encroach upon its sovereignty”………………

Nuclear testing and warhead capabilities

After six nuclear tests––including two with moderate yields and one with a high yield––there is no longer any doubt that North Korea can build powerful nuclear explosive devices designed for different yields. ………………………..

Medium-range ballistic missiles

North Korea has developed three medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), all three of which are likely to be operational. This is the category of missile that is most likely to have an operational nuclear capability…………

Intercontinental ballistic missiles

The most dramatic development has been North Korea’s display and test-launching of large ballistic missiles that appear to have intercontinental range. North Korea has publicly shown five types of missiles in this category: the Taepo Dong-2, the Hwasong-13, the Hwasong-14, the Hwasong-15, and the Hwasong-16. These systems are in various stages of development, and some may simply be mockups or technology demonstrators…………………….

July 22, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Do Germany and the Netherlands want to say goodbye to US nuclear weapons? 

Do Germany and the Netherlands want to say goodbye to US nuclear weapons?  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Michal SmetanaMichal OndercoTom Etienne, July 21, 2021
 Does stationing US nuclear weapons in Europe still make sense? As of 2021, there remain about 100 B61 nuclear bombs stored at military bases in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey (Kristensen and Korda 2021). Deployed under NATO’s nuclear sharing policy, these air-deliverable weapons are supposed to serve as a tool of extended deterrence against Russia and assurance of European allies about the willingness of Washington to defend them with all means available.

Yet, there are new—and loud—voices on both sides of the Atlantic that question the need to continue this Cold War-era practice in the 21st century. While certainly not everyone agrees with the recent proposal by Harvard University’s Stephen Walt to “fold America’s nuclear umbrella” altogether (Walt 2021), many politicians in European hosting states advocate for at least an early removal of the remaining US bombs from their soil. Arguably, the debates over the future of US nuclear weapons in Europe are now of paramount importance given the attempts of the new US administration to balance its approach vis-à-vis Moscow (Squassoni 2021) and Europe’s ambition to seek strategic autonomy (Meijer and Brooks 2021)……… (subscribers only)

July 22, 2021 Posted by | Germany, politics international | Leave a comment

Pentagon review: What happens if ‘nuclear football’ is lost?

Pentagon review: What happens if ‘nuclear football’ is lost? Questions about security procedures arose after Jan. 6, when Vice President Mike Pence was escorted to safety along with a military aide carrying the backup communications system.. 6, when Vice President Mike Pence was escorted to safety along with a military aide carrying the backup communications system.

By The Associated Press  NBC News, 21 July 21, WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is taking a rare look at whether it is prepared to deal with the theft or compromise of the portable communications system nicknamed the “nuclear football,” which enables the president or a stand-in to order a nuclear attack.

In announcing the probe Tuesday, the Pentagon inspector general’s office did not disclose what precipitated it, but questions about security procedures arose in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Vice President Mike Pence was seen on security camera video being escorted to safety, along with a military aide carrying the backup “nuclear football,” as rioters entered the Capitol.

A backup system always accompanies the vice president so that he is able to communicate in the event the president cannot. The “football,” officially called the Presidential Emergency Satchel, enables communication with the office inside the Pentagon that transmits nuclear attack orders.

The inspector general’s office said its review began this month. It gave no timeline for completing it.

“The objective of this evaluation is to determine the extent that DoD processes and procedures are in place and adequate to alert DoD officials in the event that the Presidential Emergency Satchel is lost, stolen, or compromised,” Randolph R. Stone, an assistant inspector general, wrote in a July 19 letter to the director of the White House military office and the director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. “This evaluation will also determine the adequacy of the procedures the DoD has developed to respond to such an event.”

Two Democrats who had asked the Pentagon inspector general to review the matter, Reps. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and Jim Cooper of Tennessee, said in a joint statement that the Jan. 6 riot raised questions about whether the Pentagon was even aware that Pence’s “nuclear football” was potentially in danger of falling into the hand of insurrectionists………..

“U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for U.S. strategic deterrence and nuclear operations, was reportedly unaware that Vice President Pence, his military aide, and the nuclear football were all potentially in danger and only came to understand the gravity of the incident several weeks later when security camera footage was played as a video exhibit during the Senate impeachment trial,” they wrote.

July 22, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment