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Nuclear lobby miserable, but Friends of the Earth relieved, that nuclear industry is excluded from the Green Zone at COP26 Climate Summit.

We’re barred from COP26’: nuclear industry complains after rejected applications Paul Dobson, August 19, 2021

The international nuclear energy industry has complained about being excluded from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow — prompting environmentalists to say it should have “no place” there.

In a letter to COP26 UK president, Alok Sharma, global trade body, the World Nuclear Association, said that every application made by nuclear groups for exhibits at the conference had been rejected.

This was “very disappointing”, the association told The Ferret. A Scottish environmental group, however, said that it was “right” to keep the nuclear industry out.

Nuclear power is seen by some as clean energy because they say it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases when producing electricity. But it has faced continual opposition from environmental groups due to high costs, complications with decommissioning and the need to dispose of radioactive waste.

The World Nuclear Association, which lists 183 nuclear companies as members, said it was “deeply concerned” that plans for nuclear exhibits in civil society’s Green Zone at COP26 had been turned down.

The Green Zone is billed as a space for organisations to host “workshops, panel discussions and keynote speeches” which “promote dialogue, awareness, education and commitments” on the climate crisis.  

The Cabinet Office COP26 unit said it had received “a huge level of interest” from groups wanting to be in the Green Zone. “Discussions are still ongoing”, stressed a spokesperson, pointing out that “limited capacity” meant not all applicants could be accommodated.

Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth ScotlandThe UK Government is managing the Green Zone, which will be located at the Glasgow Science Centre for the duration of the conference in November. Officials are determining which organisations will be granted space at the venue.

COP26, which stands for the UN’s 26th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, is being held at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC) in Glasgow between 1-12 November. It is widely viewed as the last chance for world leaders to reach an agreement which mitigates the worst impacts of the climate crisis. 

As part of the application process, organisations interested in making use of space in the Green Zone were required to provide details of their “sustainability or environmental policies”.

Businesses looking to host Green Zone events also had to be signed up to the Science Based Targets initiative and the Race to Zero campaign. These are UN schemes aimed at ensuring companies have “credible” plans to achieve net-zero emissions.

The Green Zone will be open to the general public and successful applicants could present to audiences of 200 people at a time.

Friends of the Earth Scotland criticised the criteria for getting a platform in the Green Zone as too weak. “But if they are keeping the nuclear industry out then they are definitely getting that bit right,” said the group’s director, Richard Dixon.

“Having failed with the ridiculous claim that nuclear is cheap, the latest wheeze from the nuclear industry is to tell us that nuclear reactors are the answer to climate change.”

There was an “very urgent” need to reduce emissions, Dixon argued. “The nuclear industry’s disastrous history of cost and time overruns show very clearly that what they offer would be too little, too expensive and far too late.”

The World Nuclear Association, however, insisted that nuclear power could help “meet increasing demand for low-carbon electricity”. Nuclear reactors could also play a role in “eliminating the use of fossil fuels in the production of glass and steel”, it said.

The association’s rejected exhibits would have made these points. They were also going to showcase plans to use nuclear energy in the future production of green hydrogen, which the industry says could be used as fuel to help decarbonise the economy.

The association hoped that the exclusion of its exhibits was not “indicative” of the way it will be treated throughout COP26. “It is very disappointing that no nuclear exhibits were selected for the UK’s Green Zone exhibition,” said an association spokesperson.

“More and urgent action is needed to advance the use of a broad range of low-carbon technologies, including nuclear, if we are to avoid the catastrophe that runaway climate change would cause.”

The association also confirmed that two unnamed UK-based nuclear trade associations have applied to be included in side events taking place within the UN-managed Blue Zone at COP26.

The Blue Zone will be inside the SEC alongside the main negotiations at the conference. Access will be limited to national delegations and accredited businesses and activist groups.

The two UK nuclear associations hope to be involved in panel discussions with what they consider “fellow clean energy groups”, including the renewables industry. 

The UN is set to publish a list of organisations participating in side events in the Blue Zone on 30 September.

In July, The Ferret revealed that 19 nuclear industry executives were among a host of companies, including major fossil fuel polluters, who were part of key UN climate negotiations in the lead up to COP26.

This story is the fourth of a series The Ferret is planning in the run-up to COP26 in November. Investigations have been supported by the European Climate Foundation, which cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained or expressed therein.


August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Arnie Gundersen writes to Bill Gates – about public funding for Gates’ false Natrium nuclear solution to climate change

History shows a legacy of failures in the pursuit of the sodium reactor fantasy. As Admiral Rickover said almost 70 years ago, sodium reactors are “expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair.

Mr. Gates, it’s time to face the music (and the facts) – your supposedly foolproof, sodium-cooled Natrium brainchild will encounter those same obstacles. In my fifty years of nuclear power expertise, I have learned that sooner or later, in any foolproof system, the fools are going to exceed the proofs. Now is the time to stop the Natrium marketing hype and instead use those precious public funds to pursue renewable energy options with a proven history of actually working inexpensively in a time frame that will prevent catastrophic climate change!

An Open Letter to Bill Gates About his Wyoming Atomic Reactor,
BY ARNIE GUNDERSEN      Dear Mr. Gates,

I am writing this open letter to you because I believe you have crossed the line by leveraging your fortune maneuvering State Governments and indeed the US Government to syphon precious taxpayer funds in support your latest atomic contrivance in Wyoming. How you spend your personal fortune is your decision and yours alone, but I question your zeal to leverage that fortune by securing additional public funds for an unproductive techno-solution[1] that claims to solve the climate crisis! Your latest technofix is the scheme to have taxpayers fund your new nuclear power concept in Wyoming, claiming that it will mitigate the climate crisis. It won’t!

Atomic power generation is not part of your skillset, but it is mine. The many facets of nuclear energy have been areas of my professional focus for the last 50 years. Beginning in 1971 with two nuclear engineering degrees, a Reactor Operator’s license, a corporate Senior Vice President position for an atomic licensee, a nuclear safety patent, two peer reviewed papers on radiation, and a best-selling book on Fukushima, nuclear power is in my wheelhouse, not yours.

Based on my experience, I am writing this public letter to express my fear that you have made a huge mistake by proposing to build a sodium-cooled small modular reactor (SMR) in Wyoming. Mr. Gates, your atomic power company Natrium (for the Latin word for sodium) is following in the footsteps of a seventy-year long record of sodium-cooled nuclear technological failures. Your plan to recycle those old failed attempts to resurrect liquid sodium yet again will siphon valuable public funds and research from much more inexpensive and proven renewable energy alternatives. Spending public funds on Natrium will make the global climate crisis worse, not better!

Let me explain why Natrium is doomed. As you probably have already been told, all present-day atomic reactors are cooled by water and are called Light Water Reactors (LWRs). Similarly, all US coal, oil, and gas-fired electric plants heat water, not exotic coolants. While some Small Modular Reactors concepts retain water cooling, Natrium’s proposed design deviates from this pattern by cooling the atomic chain reaction using an exotic coolant and specially designed steam generators to remove the atomic heat. Nuclear power concepts that do not use water for cooling are called Non-Light Water Reactors (or NLWRs), and Natrium claims that cooing with liquid sodium is safer and more reliable than traditional water-cooled reactors. What evidence exists to support that assertion?

World renowned energy economist Mycle Schneider calls Natrium and other proposed conceptual reactors “PowerPoint Reactors” as none are close to being fully designed yet all are being marketed as though their successful and safe operation were a fait accompli. According to Mycle Schneider, as reported in Politico EU:

All they have right now are basically PowerPoint reactors — it looks nice on the slide but they’re far from an operating pilot plant. We are more than a decade away from anything on the ground.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently completed an exhaustive, 140-page study of the supposed safety improvements claimed by NLWR manufactures like Natrium. Entitled Advanced Isn’t Always BetterUCS concludes:

“But a fundamental question remains: Is different actually better? The short answer is no. Nearly all of the NLWRs currently on the drawing board fail to provide significant enough improvements over LWRs to justify their considerable risks.”

Recently, the media and governors in western states have become enthralled with one NLWR design hyped by you and your publicity team at Natrium. Using your successes at Microsoft, you are now asking state and national governments to bankroll a “fast reactor” concept that is cooled by liquid sodium.

“Wyoming To Lead The Coal-To-Nuclear Transition

Interest for new nuclear plants is growing beyond Wyoming as states in the western region like Montana, Nebraska, Utah, Idaho and North Dakota reevaluate the role of nuclear energy – particularly applications for advanced nuclear reactors … the brainchild of Bill Gates, … has developed a 345 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system.”

The history of sodium as an atomic coolant does not support your grandiose claims for its success. Mr. Gates, the marketing hype associated with your latest “brainchild” ignores 70 years of failures using liquid sodium as an atomic reactor coolant. What follows are just a few examples of the monumental failures that have used liquid sodium that I am not so sure you have studied carefully before pressing for government funds in pursuit your idea.

According to Scientific American, liquid sodium “is no mere novelty; as dangerous as it is captivating…  Sodium has significant disadvantages. On contact with air, it burns; plunged into water, it explodes.”

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists goes even further stating:

Unfortunately, this pitch glossed over stubborn facts… because plutonium fast-breeder reactors use liquid metal coolants, such as liquid sodium, operating them safely is far more challenging and expensive than conventional reactors. When private industry tried in the early 1960s to operate its own commercial-sized fast-breeder, Fermi I, the benefits were negative. Barely three years after Fermi 1 came online, a partial fuel meltdown in 1966 brought it down… These facts, however, are rarely emphasized….”

In addition to the meltdown at Fermi 1, whose failure is highlighted in the book We Almost Lost Detroit, other sodium cooled reactors have failed in the United States and worldwide. Beginning in 1950, the Navy attempted to develop a sodium-cooled reactor for the Seawolf submarine. According to the American Nuclear Society, Admiral Rickover, the founder of the nuclear Navy, testified to Congress in 1957 stating:

“We went to full power on the Seawolf alongside the dock on August 20 of last year.  Shortly thereafter, she developed a small leak. It took us 3 months, working 24 hours a day, to locate and correct the leak. This is one of the serious difficulties in sodium plants.”

Rickover killed the Navy’s sodium powered reactor because of sodium leaks, sodium’s volatility and because sodium repairs take too long and radiation exposure to workers was too high. The problem of high radiation exposures to maintenance personnel while repairing inevitable sodium leaks was also highlighted by Rickover in that same 1957 testimony when he stated:

“Sodium becomes 30,000 times as radioactive as water. Furthermore, sodium has a half-life of 14.7 hours, while water has a half-life of about 8 seconds.”

Making rapid repairs in a sodium-cooled reactor is impossible because sodium becomes highly radioactive as it flows through the reactor core and it stays radioactive for weeks after shutdown. In contrast, water used to cool conventional reactors stays highly radioactive for about one minute.

After failed attempts to use liquid sodium on the Seawolf and on Fermi 1, nuclear zealots convinced the US Congress to subsidize yet another sodium-cooled reactor at Clinch River in Tennessee. The concept of a sodium reactor at Clinch River originated before the meltdown at Fermi 1, but was continued with huge government subsidies until 1984. Overcoming the safety issues presented by cooling atoms using liquid sodium led to delays and cost overruns that were certainly significant factors when the project was finally killed by Congress. However, serious, game-changing, safety concerns were also a factor in the cancelation of the project. According to The Rise and Demise of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Scientific American:

“In 1982 … the Energy Department videotaped safety tests it had conducted of how molten sodium might react once it came in contact with the reactor’s concrete containment structure. Concrete contains water crystals. Molten sodium reacts explosively when it comes in contact with oxygen, including oxygen contained in water. What the test demonstrated and the video showed was concrete exploding when it came in contact with liquid sodium.”

Even after the cancelation of the Clinch River fiasco, those same nuclear zealots continued to pursue the fantasy of a sodium-cooled reactor at the Monju site in Japan. Construction began in 1985 and about a decade later, the Monju sodium-cooled reactor was finally ready to operate. It did not operate long, however. After operating only 4 months, Monju had an emergency shutdown when the inevitable sodium leak caused an inevitable sodium fire.

According to a report issued by the Monju Construction Office entitled Sodium Leak at Monju-Causes and Consequences, the failure mode that caused the leak could not have been anticipated by Monju’s designers.

“On December 8, 1995, a sodium leak from the Secondary Heat Transport System (SHTS) occurred in a piping room of the reactor auxiliary building at Monju. The sodium leaked through a thermocouple temperature sensor due to the breakage of the well tube of the sensor installed near the outlet of the Intermediate Heat Exchanger (IHX) in SHTS Loop C… On the basis of the investigations, it was concluded that the breakage of the thermocouple well was caused by high cycle fatigue due to flow induced vibration in the direction of sodium flow.”

After ten years of construction, Monju’s four months of operation were followed by a fifteen year shutdown, Monju again restarted in 2010, but operated for less than a year when the equipment used for refueling fell into the reactor while a refueling was in progress. It never restarted. The simple fact is that the Monju sodium reactor took ten years to construct, ran intermittently for one year, and failed operate for twenty years. And then there is the matter of Japan’s government subsidized costs which exceeded $11 Billion USD.

“The move to shut the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor in Fukui prefecture west of Tokyo adds to a list of failed attempts around the world to make the technology commercially viable and potentially cut stockpiles of dangerous nuclear waste…. With Monju’s shutdown, Japan’s taxpayers are now left with an estimated bill of at least 375 billion yen ($3.2 billion) to decommission its reactor, on top of the 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) spent on the project.”

A half a world away from Japan, France generates 75% of its electricity for light water cooled atomic reactors and has also considered sodium reactors. Given the repeated failures of sodium-cooled technology in Japan and the US, and with the falling price of renewable power, in 2019 France chose not to pursue the path chosen by you and NatriumAccording to Reuters, France has decided to pull the plug on its sodium-cooled reactor designs for at least half a century!

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s CEA nuclear agency has dropped plans to build a prototype sodium-cooled nuclear reactor, it said on Friday, after decades of research and hundreds of millions of euros in development costs. Confirming a report in daily newspaper Le Monde, the state agency said it …is no longer planning to build a prototype in the short or medium term. “In the current energy market situation, the perspective of industrial development of fourth-generation reactors is not planned before the second half of this century,”

There are more reports I could outline but I think I have made my point! History shows a legacy of failures in the pursuit of the sodium reactor fantasy. As Admiral Rickover said almost 70 years ago, sodium reactors are “expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair.”

Mr. Gates, it’s time to face the music (and the facts) – your supposedly foolproof, sodium-cooled Natrium brainchild will encounter those same obstacles. In my fifty years of nuclear power expertise, I have learned that sooner or later, in any foolproof system, the fools are going to exceed the proofs. Now is the time to stop the Natrium marketing hype and instead use those precious public funds to pursue renewable energy options with a proven history of actually working inexpensively in a time frame that will prevent catastrophic climate change!


Arnold “Arnie” Gundersen

August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

The military-industrial complex had a successful Afghanistan war – better still than Vietnam. The next will be better, and by remote warfare.

For the military-industrial complex it (Vietnam) was a successful war. And they learned lessons from it.

For them the war ended too early. Profits fell.

In the words of George Orwell in the book 1984, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.”

Moreover, it is meant to be far away and beyond the attention of the citizenry.

The military-industrial complex keeps learning and profiting. Now it’s remote warfare instead of boots on the ground.

Successes in Afghanistan and Vietnam,   Crispin Hull,

  When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this is “not Saigon”, everyone rightly scoffed. It was a mirror image right down to near identical photos of US helicopters evacuating the embassy in Kabul just as in Saigon 46 years earlier – another delusional re-run of a failed US foreign policy. When will they ever learn?

But there is another way of looking at this. Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq were highly successful missions. If just depends on whose eyes you are looking through.

The big mistake is to imagine that the US mission in these countries was to ensure peace, liberty, democracy and prosperity for their people.

Some US entities learned a lot from Vietnam and applied it in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

This might sound a little off the planet, but we must go back to 1961 to get a clearer picture and quote Republican President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address:

“Until the latest of our world conflicts [World War II], the United States had no armaments industry. [Now] we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions . . . .

“Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. 

Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Alas, those in the “councils of government” did not heed the warning. To the contrary, they fell under the spell of the military-industrial complex. Subsequent Presidents, up to but not including Trump, have done its bidding and enriched the management and shareholders of the weapons makers and the vast array of suppliers of equipment, food, clothes and shelter to the military.

Those Presidents were all supporters of big military spending. Meanwhile, the corporations with labyrinthal efficiency set up their manufacturing and supply chains in as many congressional districts as they could. They plied their influence in the Washington beltway. None in the councils of government dared defy them.

The military-industrial complex and those elected in both parties and those in the bureaucracy symbiotically egged each other on to ramp up the US military presence in Vietnam.

The US spent $US1 trillion in today’s money in Vietnam. A great deal of that went in profits to US corporations. Only 17 per cent went to nation-building in Vietnam, and much of that went to US contractors.

For the military-industrial complex it was a successful war. And they learned lessons from it.

For them the war ended too early. Profits fell.

The main lessons for them were that Vietnam was a television war. The cameras went everywhere. It also required conscription. Those two things undermine public apathy. And public apathy is essential for the prosecution of a profitable war.

TV and conscription made for, in Eisenhower’s words, “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry”. So, for the military-industrial complex, the Vietnam war was a dismally short war.

In the words of George Orwell in the book 1984, “The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.”

Moreover, it is meant to be far away and beyond the attention of the citizenry.

Next time round, journalists would be embedded with (and controlled by) the military. There would be no conscription. There would be proud mothers and daughters, not angry ones. And the rest of the population would be oblivious, apathetic, inattentive and unknowledgeable.

The military-industrial complex had a very successful 20-year war in Afghanistan, greatly profiting from the $2 trillion the US spent there, and a similarly successful stint in Iraq.

The money did not go to the Vietnamese, the Iraqis or Afghans. It went to the likes of Lockheed and Halliburton.

The only President since Eisenhower to see and seek to stamp out the influence of the military-industrial complex was Trump.

Like Eisenhower, Trump did not come from the political establishment. He saw the wars as a waste of money and vowed to end them. When Obama tried to do the same in 2009, the military-industrial complex conned him into a “surge” of 17,000 more US troops.

Trump ended the Afghan war. It was about the only good thing he did in his presidency. It was never going to go smoothly. The military-industrial complex even conned President Joe Biden into believing that all the money it had wasted on training an Afghan army and police force would enable them to hold off the Taliban for a reasonable time for an evacuation. But there was nothing there. 

At these times we shake our head and look at the “cost” and wonder how it took so long to get out. We should look at it the other way. Who profited from the wars and why did the US (and Australia) take such a short time to go in?

The military-industrial complex keeps learning and profiting. Now it’s remote warfare instead of boots on the ground.

The citizenry must get alert to this. It should demand that the US stop its arms exports and prosecution of continuous war. And Australia’s citizenry do likewise.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Action on climate change is stalled by unwise spending on small nuclear reactors

So Who Is Advocating For SMRs & Why?   

So why are they doing this?

Because it allows them to defer governmental climate action while giving the appearance of climate action. They can pander to their least intelligent and wise supporters by asserting that renewables aren’t fit for purpose, while also not doing anything about the real problem because SMRs don’t exist in a modern, deployable, operable form yet.

the people asserting that SMRs are the primary or only answer to energy generation either don’t know what they are talking about, are actively dissembling or are intentionally delaying climate action. 

Small nuclear reactor advocates refuse to learn the lessons of the past,   While history doesn’t repeat, merely rhymes, SMRs are rhyming hard, Michael Barnard, 12 Aug 21,  Like hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors have been seeing a resurgence of interest lately. Much of that is driven by governmental policies and investments focusing on the technology. Much of it comes from the nuclear industry. And inevitably, some comes from entrepreneurs attempting to build a technology that they hope will take off in a major way, making them and their investors a lot of money.

Small modular reactors won’t achieve economies of manufacturing scale, won’t be faster to construct, forego efficiency of vertical scaling, won’t be cheaper, aren’t suitable for remote or brownfield coal sites, still face very large security costs, will still be costly and slow to decommission, and still require liability insurance caps. They don’t solve any of the problems that they purport to while intentionally choosing to be less efficient than they could be. They’ve existed since the 1950s and they aren’t any better now than they were then.

Most of the attention and funding is misguided at best, and actively hostile to climate action at worst.

There are a handful of differences between them and traditional nuclear generation reactors. The biggest one is that they are smaller, hence the ‘small’ and ‘medium’ in the names. They range from 0.068 MW to 500 MW in capacity, with the International Atomic Energy Association using small for up to 300 MW and medium for up to 700 MW.

Despite the buzz, this is not new technology. The first nuclear generation plant was a Russian 5 MW device that went live in 1954. Hundreds of small reactors have been built for nuclear powered vessels and as neutron sources. This is well trodden ground. Most of the innovations being touted were considered initially decades ago.

Continue reading

August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Renewables are beating nuclear

It’s Not a Competition, But Renewables Are Beating Nuclear Anyway,   Bloomberg Green  By Nathaniel Bullard19 August 2021,  Energy giant BP Plc has been publishing its annual review of global energy statistics for seven decades. (I’ve been reading it — and digesting its data — for about a fifth of that time.)
The latest edition published in July is, understandably, quite focused on the largest year-on-year decline in primary energy consumption since 1945. But there’s another finding worth noting: 2020 was the first year in which renewable power generation (excluding hydro) surpassed nuclear power generation.

……..with nuclear generation basically flat since the turn of the century and renewables continuing to grow, the latter caught the former in 2020.

[on original – graph showing dramatic rise in renewable energy,  uneven output of  nuclear]     Compare the shape of the renewables curve to nuclear’s. The perfectly smooth renewables curve is an aggregate of hundreds of geothermal plants, thousands of biomass turbines, a-third-of-a-million wind turbines, and more than a billion photovoltaic modules, installed across numerous global markets. It shows not a single annual decline in more than 50 years.
Nuclear is basically the opposite: a single technology with a small number of plants in an even smaller number of markets. Many discrete decisions — whether to embark on a massive expansion in one market, say, or to shut down generation for years in the wake of disaster — are visible in this chart. There, in 2011, is the Japanese nuclear fleet response to the Tōhoku earthquake and ensuing tsunami. And we don’t need to squint to see the shutdown of six plants last year in the U.S, Sweden, Russia, and France.

This is what the nuclear fleet’s growth trajectory looks like, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency: basically flat in the 21st century, with only four more plants operational now than in 2001.

Nuclear plants are also pretty old. Most were designed for a 40-year useful life, and a lot of them are approaching that age now—a full 45% are between the ages of 31 and 40. There are more nuclear plants older than 46 than there are those under 6.

……….  It takes years, sometimes a decade or more, to bring a nuclear plant into full operation, which means that there’s a significant lag between when construction starts and when the finished facility is connected to the grid. New nuclear construction in the U.S. is also running over schedule and over budget, for many reasons……….

August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

France returns high level nuclear waste to Germany (What happens to it then?)

France signs billion-euro deal to return nuclear waste to Germany, French nuclear group Orano has signed a contract worth more than 1 billion euros to return high-level nuclear waste processed in France to Germany by the end of 2024.

Orano announced on Thursday that a “package of deals” between electricity companies PreussenElektra, RWE, ENBW and Vattenfall had formalised an in-principle agreement made in June by the French and German governments.

For 44 years German electricity companies have sent spent nuclear fuel to Normandy for recycling.

Train convoys carrying the waste were regularly blocked by environmental activists, some of whom chained themselves to the tracks. 

Thorny issue

Under the agreement, which followed years of difficult negotiations, it is not medium-level German waste that will be returned, but high-level French waste from EDF power plants. 

Orano said this meant it would take less volume and less time to send the same level of radioactive waste back to Germany.

“In terms of mass and radioactivity, this does not change anything,” Orano said in a statement, describing the deal as a “fairly common practice of equivalence”.

A single train of 100 containers carrying the spent nuclear fuel is to be transported from Orano’s plant in La Hague, Normandy, to Germany within the next three years.

Under French law, nuclear waste that enters France for processing cannot remain in the country.

However Germany does not have a solution for the long-term management and storage of radioactive material.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | France, wastes | Leave a comment

France’s oldest nuclear reactors allowed to operate for another decade

France’s oldest nuclear reactors allowed to operate for another decade by:Amanda Morrow 

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has approved extending the lifetime of the country’s oldest nuclear reactors for a further 10 years.  Electricity operator EDF will be in charge of improving the safety of the 900 MWe plants, which were intended to run for 40 years but will now run for 50.

The reactors in question are the oldest of the French fleet, having been commissioned in the early 1980s. 

Approval for their continued service comes with several conditions, including that improvements be made to ensure that radioactivity remains confined in the event of an accident.

A first objective is to limit the impact of accidents, including serious ones such as a meltdown of the reactor core,” said ASN’s deputy director general Julien Collet.

Other concerns included protecting the plants against earthquakes, floods and extreme heat, as well as internal fire hazards. 

The reactors in question are Bugey (Ain), Blayais (Gironde), Chinon (Indre-et-Loire), Cruas (Ardèche), Dampierre (Loiret), Gravelines (Nord), Saint-Laurent (Loir-et-Cher) and Tricastin (Drôme). 

Staunch opposition

Following calls from environmental campaigners to shut down ageing nuclear reactors, France’s oldest plant, Fessenheim, was switched off last year.

However the evacuation of its combustible waste will continue until the summer of 2023, while the demolition of the site lay not be complete until 2040.

France derives nearly 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, a world record. It’s hoping to reduce this figure to 50 percent by 2035 to make more room for renewable energy.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

The final costly burden of Ontaria’s nuclear decommissioning will fall to the great-grandchildren of babies born in 2021

So yes, Ontario’s nuclear program will be a fiscal burden on Ontarians to the tune of around $40 billion CAD which will be spent through roughly 2135, finally being paid off by the great-grandchildren of babies born in 2021.

Ontario’s Unfunded Nuclear Decommissioning Liability Is In The $18-$27 Billion CAD Range   eTransport News, 12  Aug 21,  Late last year I worked up the likely amount of public money that would have to be thrown at the nuclear industry in order to successfully and safely decommission the 100 operational reactors and the now shut down ones. Unsurprisingly, the nuclear industry had been very optimistic in its estimates of decommissioning costs and timeframes, when the global empirical averages were trending to a billion USD and 100 years per reactor.

Recently I was asked by an Ontario journalist what I thought the likely situation in Ontario would be, and whether the decommissioning trusts were equally underfunded. I was unsurprised to find that Canada is in the same boat as the US, with highly optimistic schedule and cost projections which belie Canadian empirical experience with the CANDU reactor, and that the fund had nowhere near the money necessary for the job. Let’s run the numbers.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is the chunk of the provincial utility that was carved apart in the late 1990s by the Mike Harris Conservatives to handle generation alone. It operates 18 aging CANDU reactors across three sites: Bruce, Pickering, and Darlington.

OPG has a nuclear decommissioning fund of about $5 billion CAD or US$4 billion right now. If the experience of other countries on the actual cost of a billion USD per reactor and an actual timeline of decommissioning of a century holds true, and I see no reason why it doesn’t, that means that there is currently a $17.5 billion CAD gap in Ontario, in addition to the existing $19.3 billion CAD in debt still being serviced from their construction. When the government of the era split up the utility, it moved all of the debt off of the components and into general debt. One of the many appropriate and sensible things that the McGuinty Administration did in the 2000s, in addition to shutting down coal generation entirely, was to move the debt back into the utility and set about servicing it from utility bills.

Most of the reactors at Bruce Nuclear are aging out, with several over 40 years old and the remainder approaching 40. Darlington’s are around 30, so they have a bit of runway. Pickering’s reactors are going to be shut down in 2024 and 2025 and start decommissioning in 2028. While refurbishment could bridge Ontario’s for another 20 years in many cases, that’s expensive and typically won’t pass any economic viability assessment compared to alternatives.

The likelihood is that all reactors in Ontario will reach end of life by 2035, and be replaced by some combination of renewable energy and HVDC transmission from neighboring jurisdictions, with both Manitoba and Quebec having excellent, low-carbon hydroelectric to spare……………….

Nuclear decommissioning funding comes from reactors operating revenue. In the US, it’s 0.01 to 0.02 cents per kWh as a set aside. I wasn’t able to find the required set aside for Ontario’s fleet, but obviously they aren’t setting aside sufficient funds now, or have absurdly optimistic fund growth expectations. They only have a decade to set aside more money from operating reactors, and have only set aside $5 billion CAD after 50 years, so the most generous assumption is that they will set aside perhaps $7 billion CAD in the OPG fund by end of life of the reactors, and have a liability for decommissioning of $15.5 to $27 billion CAD. For the next step, let’s assume $20 billion CAD for the sake of round numbers.

Given the likelihood of all of Ontario’s reactors being off of the grid by 2035, with major decommissioning occurring every few years until then, the kWh generated by Ontario’s nuclear fleet from now through 2060 will be in the range of about 1000 TWh assuming there are no lengthy outages at any of the plants, which to be clear is an awful lot of low carbon electricity.

However, $20 billion is a big number too. It turns into about 19 cents per kWh if you only count electricity generated from today through end of life for the reactors. It’s obviously a lot lower if you calculated from beginning of the lifetime of the reactors. However you count it though, that’s only the unfunded Ontario liability, and it’s on top of subsidized security costs Canada and Ontario and municipalities bear, and it’s on top of the outstanding $19.3 billion in debt that has only been receiving servicing on the interest since the McGuinty government brought it back into the utility. It’s likely that the majority of that debt will be outstanding in 2035 still, as it has gone from $20 billion to $19.3 billion in the last 11 years, so expecting it to be gone by 2035 is not realistic.

So yes, Ontario’s nuclear program will be a fiscal burden on Ontarians to the tune of around $40 billion CAD which will be spent through roughly 2135, finally being paid off by the great-grandchildren of babies born in 2021.

Nuclear, the gift that keeps on giving.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Canada, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Canada’s nuclear reactors may not be fit for service

Canada’s nuclear reactors may not be fit for service,  Rabble ca,  Joyce Nelson, 11 Aug 21,  On July 13, Bruce Power announced that two reactors at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario had violated its operating license.

It had “higher than anticipated readings” of hydrogen-equivalent concentration (Heq) in pressure tubes in two units. Pressure tubes must not exceed the allowable limit of 120 parts per million of Heq. Each pressure tube in a reactor contains 12 bundles of uranium, which are the basis for the nuclear reaction, but the pressure tubes also contain the coolant that keeps the fuel from overheating and triggering a meltdown. Pressure tubes with high levels of Heq can develop cracks and fractures, thereby compromising a reactor’s safety.

As The Globe and Mail reported:

“In response to Bruce Power’s contraventions, on July 13, the CNSC [Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission] ordered the company, along with fellow CANDU [Canada Deuterium Uranium] operators Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and New Brunswick Power, to review the fitness for service of their pressure tubes and report back no later than the end of July.”

Aging reactors

Many of Canada’s aging CANDU reactors are older than their design-life for pressure tubes, which originally was designated as 210,000 effective full power hours (EFPH), or about 30 years.

When Hydro Quebec’s Gentilly-2 CANDU reactor reached that limit, it closed the plant.

As The Globe and Mail reported:

“Thierry Vandal, chief executive at the time, testified before Quebec’s national assembly that he considered 210,000 EFPH ‘the extreme limit’ beyond which his management team dared not go. ‘I would no more operate Gentilly-2 beyond 210,000 hours than I would climb onto an airplane that does not have its permits and that does not meet the standards,’ he said, according to a translated transcript.”

Under industry pressure, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission subsequently raised the limit to 247,000 EFPH in 2014, and then to 295,000 EFPH in 2018.
In 2018, the CNSC extended OPG’s license for its Pickering Nuclear Generating Station for 10 years. Rather than require that OPG replace aging pressure tubes, the regulator mandated more frequent inspections.
When asked how often pressure tubes are checked, retired nuclear scientist and radioactive chemistry expert Dr. Frank Greening answered by email:

“Pressure tubes are checked for their hydrogen/deuterium concentrations about every two years, but it’s a little more complex than that. Each CANDU unit contains about 400 tubes and each tube is about six meters in length. This means it’s next to impossible to check every tube at every location, so only about 10 tubes are checked at a time. In addition, corrosion and [hydrogen/deuterium] pickup are expected to be most significant at the hot, outlet end of each tube, so samples are usually restricted to this location.”

As a result of such limited inspections, the industry relies on mathematical models to predict how long the untested tubes can safely remain in service. But this modeling is not necessarily accurate, as evidenced by the July 13 “higher than anticipated readings” at Kincardine.

Indeed, in March 2021, The Globe reported:

“Documents obtained under the federal Access to Information Act by Ottawa researcher Ken Rubin, and provided to The Globe, show that since 2017, CNSC staffers had grown increasingly concerned about unreliable data arising from OPG’s inspections of pressure tubes…The whole method by which operators assessed fitness for service of pressure tubes had been called into question.”

Another Fukushima?………………….

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

Bill Gates and the corporates behind the fake solutions to climate change

Gates: the interests behind the fake solutions to climate change,   Navdanya International 02/04/2021    In Bill Gates’ vision, technology seems fated to fix every single damage that has been inflicted on our planet and climate change has recently been added to the list. But this is the same mentality that has taken us to the devastating stage we currently find ourselves in, while the only thing improving exponentially is the profits of the corporations taking advantage by selling these very technologies. It is necessary to step out of this technofix hysteria in order to reclaim a holistic vision based on real farmers, healthy and nutritious food, and on an agroecological model that does not impact on climate but, instead, helps to mitigate it. No fake burger can do that. The latest report from Navdanya International, “Bill Gates & his Fake Solutions to Climate Change“, details the reasons behind Bill and Melinda Gates’ attempts to focus the debate on miraculous technologies and the real interests behind its propaganda.

While Gates’ many investments are all seemingly justified by a noble humanitarian and environmental cause, the report shows that they actually allow him to impose his techno-solutionist strategy through direct influence over all types of global development protagonists.

But this game of billionaire profit-making and corporate partnerships is even clearer in one of Gates’ most prominent personal investment funds: Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The companies funded by Breakthrough are riddled with ex DuPont, Monsanto, PepsiCo, and Microsoft executives, revealing how the same corporations which precipitated our health and ecological crisis are now selling us back equally risky solutions to the problems they created in the first place………..

August 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) opposes plan for new nuclear power

Nersa gets green light to approve new nuclear power procurement, but Ts & Cs apply,   Fin24, 20 Aug 21
, A National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) committee has recommended that the regulator approve a plan to procure 2 500 MW of new nuclear power.

It will now be up to Nersa’s full board to make a decision on whether it agrees with the plan as set out by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in August last year.

At a meeting on Friday morning, Nersa’s electricity subcommittee was broadly supportive of Mantashe’s plan. This followed public hearings earlier in the year.  Liz McDaid, Parliamentary and energy advisor to the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), said that South Africans would now have to wait see what Nersa’s board decides.

If the board decides to concur with Mantahse’s determination, it will have to publish the reasons behind its decision, including the “suspensive conditions” mentioned in the meeting on Friday.

Outa is opposing the new nuclear build, saying it is “not affordable, not appropriate and should not be approved”. No requests for proposal have yet been issued for the new nuclear build. ……..

August 21, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Covid Defense Act – new Bill to prioritise U.S. health, vaccine spending over weapons spending !

New Bill Proposes Cutting Pentagon Spending to Fund Vaccines for Poor Nations,  Common Dreams 
“We can’t bomb our way out of a global pandemic,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, the sponsor of the legislation, “Shifting funds from weaponry and military contractors to producing Covid vaccines will save hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of lives around the world.”  

JAKE JOHNSON, August 20, 2021   Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin introduced legislation this week that would cut billions of dollars from the Pentagon’s massive budget and invest those funds in global coronavirus vaccination efforts, which are badly lagging as rich countries continue to hoard doses and rush ahead with booster shots.

The Covid Defense Act proposes transferring $9.6 billion in U.S. military spending to Covax—a global vaccination initiative led by the World Health Organization—to assist with the procurement of doses for the people of low-income nations. Thus far, just 1.3% of people in poor countries have received at least one vaccine dose.

In a press release, Pocan’s office said that the funding—which represents just 1.3% of the $740.5 billion in U.S. military spending approved for 2021—”could lead to an additional 1.8 billion Covid vaccine doses for lower-income countries in 2021 and early 2022.” If passed, Pocan’s office said, the new legislation could provide vaccine access to another 30% of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations………..

August 21, 2021 Posted by | health, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon

Pentagon Poised To Unveil, Demonstrate Classified Space Weapon

The push to declassify an existing space weapon is being spearheaded by Gen. John Hyten, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Breaking Defense, Theresa Hitchens, 20 Aug 21

Directed energy anti-satellite weapons for the future. (Lockheed Martin)

WASHINGTON: For months, top officials at the Defense Department have been working toward declassifying the existence of a secret space weapon program and providing a real-world demonstration of its capabilities, Breaking Defense has learned.

The effort — which sources say is being championed by Gen. John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff — is close enough to completion that there was a belief the anti-satellite technology might have been revealed at this year’s National Space Symposium, which kicks off next week.ampioned 

However, the crisis in Afghanistan appears to have put that on hold for now. Pulling the trigger on declassifying such a sensitive technology requires concurrence of the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, and a thumbs up from President Joe Biden, sources explain; with all arms of the national security apparatus pointed towards Kabul, that is almost certainly not going to happen next week. And until POTUS says yes, nothing is for certain, of course.

The system in question long has been cloaked in the blackest of black secrecy veils — developed as a so-called Special Access Program known only to a very few, very senior US government leaders. While exactly what capability could be unveiled is unclear, insiders say the reveal is likely to include a real-world demonstration of an active defense capability to degrade or destroy a target satellite and/or spacecraft.

At least, that is what has been on the table since last year — when officials in the Trump administration viewed revealing the technology as a capstone to the creation of Space Command and Space Force. The plan apparently had been to announce it at the 2020 Space Symposium, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the arrival of the Biden administration also led to a reevaluation of moving forward with the reveal.

Expert speculation on what could be used for the demonstration ranges from a terrestrially-based mobile laser used for blinding adversary reconnaissance sats to on-board, proximity triggered radio-frequency jammers on certain military satellites, to a high-powered microwave system that can zap electronics carried on maneuverable bodyguard satellites. However, experts and former officials interviewed by Breaking Defense say it probably does not involve a ground-based kinetic interceptor, a capability the US already demonstrated in the 2008 Burnt Frost satellite shoot-down.

Requests for comment to the offices of Hyten, Haines, and SPACECOM were not returned by deadline.

Many military space leaders believe that Space Force and Space Command must publicly demonstrate to Moscow and Beijing not just an ability to take out any space-based counterspace systems they may be developing or deploying, but also to attack the satellites they, like the US, rely upon for communications, positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Notably, the second-in-command of the Space Force recently foreshadowed movement in the long-running debate about declassification of all things related to national security space — a multifaceted and complex debate which has pitted advocates against upholders of the traditional culture of secrecy within DoD and the Intelligence Community.

“It is absolutely a true problem,” Gen. DT Thompson, deputy Space Force commander, responded to a question about over-classification during a July 28 Mitchell Institute event. “I wish we owned our own destiny in that regard, but we don’t — it’s part of a broader activity and we just have to work through that. What I will say is, I think we’re on the verge of a couple of significant steps.”

The Transparency Dilemma

In fact, Thompson’s comments represented only one of several comments, quietly dropped in speeches or interviews, from top military space officials pushing for declassification of high-end systems, following several years of a steadily intensifying drumbeat on the issue. A who’s-who list of top officers, DoD civilian leaders, and key members of Congress have for years been arguing that over-classification is harming the ability to convey the growing threat of foreign counterspace to lawmakers, the public and allied/partner nations — as well as the ability to cooperate with industry and foreign partners to mitigate those threats…………………

The central dilemma isn’t hard to understand, but the devil is in the details of solving it…………………… more

August 21, 2021 Posted by | space travel, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why Cosmic Radiation Could Foil Plans for Farming on Mars

Why Cosmic Radiation Could Foil Plans for Farming on Mars, New research suggests gamma rays stunt plant growth. Inside Science , August 20, 2021 – Karen Kwon,   Friday, August 20, 2021 –  — What would it take for humans to live on Mars? The first step is to successfully get people to the red planet, of course. Once there, the astronauts would face a task that could be even more difficult: figuring out how to survive in an environment that is vastly different from Earth’s. A new study demonstrates one of the challenges — Earth’s plants don’t grow as well when exposed to the level of radiation expected on Mars.

Wieger Wamelink, an ecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands who describes himself as a space farmer, has been frustrated by sci-fi depictions of growing plants on Mars. “What you often see is that they do it in a greenhouse,” he said, “but that doesn’t block the cosmic radiation,” which consists of high-energy particles that may alter the plants’ DNA. Mars lacks the same degree of protection from cosmic radiation that the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field provide. To prove his suspicion that cosmic radiation could be dangerous to plants, Wamelink decided to test the hypothesis himself.

First, Wamelink and his team had to recreate the cosmic radiation. The team settled on using gamma rays generated by radioactive cobalt, even though the actual cosmic radiation that bombards Mars’ surface consists of various types of radiation, including alpha and beta particles……………..

 Four weeks after germination, the scientists compared the two groups and saw that the leaves of the group exposed to gamma rays had abnormal shapes and colors. The weights of the plants also differed; the rye plants in the gamma-ray group weighed 48% less than the regular group, and the weight of the garden cress exposed to gamma rays was 32% lower than their unblasted counterparts. Wamelink suspects the weight difference is due to the gamma rays damaging the plants’ proteins and DNA. The results were published in the journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences this month…………….

August 21, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, space travel | Leave a comment

Russia, Germany, hope efforts to save Iran nuclear deal will be continued — Putin

Russia, Germany hope efforts to save Iran nuclear deal will be continued — Putin,  Tass, 20 Aug 21, The Russian leader also said he had informed Merkel about his telephone conversation with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on August 18   MOSCOW, August 20. /TASS/. Russia and Germany hope that efforts towards saving the Iran nuclear deal will be continued after a new government is formed in Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“When discussing the situation around the Iran nuclear deal, we with Mrs Chancellor expressed the hope that after a new government is formed in Iran, strenuous efforts will be continued to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he said.

Putin also said he had informed Merkel about his telephone conversation with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on August 18.

The JCPOA Joint Commission has had several offline meetings in Vienna since April to discuss prospects for the United States’ possible return to the deal and steps needed to ensure full and efficient compliance with the deal’s terms by all its signatories. The commission members continue to discuss ways of restoring the nuclear deal at informal meetings in various formats, including at an expert level. JCPOA participants also hold separate consultations with the US delegation without Iran’s participation. It was originally planned to finish consultations in late May and then – in early June…………

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment