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Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club saw it coming – corruption is killing the nuclear industry

Friends of the Earth and Sierra club saw it coming

Public interest intervenors were prescient in their early assessments of the project. Friends of the Earth, which intervened before the Public Service Commission against the project in August 2008, noted SCANA’s disregard for energy efficiency and alternative forms of energy. That organization predicted that the project’s fate would be what the US Attorney’s Office affirmed in the August 18, 2021 indictment: “from the outset, the Project was characterized by cost overruns and significant delays.” Likewise, toward the end of the project in June 2017, just after Westinghouse declared bankruptcy, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club filed a formal complaint detailing why the project must be canceled. As money hemorrhaged, the owners made that earth-shaking decision a month later. And the mighty crash still reverberates.

With pursuit of large light-water reactors in the United States all but dead, the nuclear industry is now endlessly touting an array of “small modular reactors” and a dizzying menu of so-called “advanced reactors,” all of which exist only on paper. It’s unclear if there’s a path forward for this nuclear renaissance redux, and if there is, whether taxpayers will be put on the hook for financing some of it.

US attorney details illegal acts in construction projects, sealing the fate of the “nuclear renaissance”  https://thebulletin.org/2021/08/us-attorney-details-illegal-acts-at-construction-projects-sealing-the-fate-of-the-nuclear-renaissance/By Tom Clements | August 31, 2021

The ill-fated construction of new nuclear reactors in South Carolina—one of two such troubled Westinghouse reactor construction projects in the United States—was abruptly terminated on July 31, 2017, but the effort to determine legal accountability for the project’s colossal failure is only now hitting its stride.

The South Carolina legislature conducted hearings about the project’s collapse. But it has fallen to the United States Attorney for South Carolina to outline internal decisions that led to project abandonment—via court filings, plea agreements, and indictments. These filings are proving to be the best documentation so far of criminal behavior related to projects that were part of a much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” that began in the early-2000s but has since petered out in the United States.

On August 18, 2021, a second Westinghouse official was charged in a federal grand jury indictment filed with the court in Columbia, South Carolina. The charges outline “the scheme” to cover up key details about the problem-plagued project to construct two 1,100 megawatt (MW) Westinghouse AP1000 light-water reactors at the VC Summer site north of Columbia.

The project was initiated in May 2008 and gained final approval in February 2009.

According to the 18-page indictment, former Senior Vice President of New Plants and Major Projects Jeffrey Benjamin “had first-line responsibility for Westinghouse’s nuclear reactors worldwide.” He was charged, according to a news release, “with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.” On August 30, the US attorney’s office announced that Benjamin would be arraigned on August 31.

The indictment reveals important new information about how Benjamin and Westinghouse conspired to hide crucial information about reactor completion dates from the owners, the publicly held utility SCANA, now defunct, and its junior partner, the state-owned South Carolina Public Service Authority (known as Santee Cooper). It states that the defendant made “false and misleading statements” and “knowingly devised a scheme” to continue the project based on misrepresentations via Westinghouse to the owners, state regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission, investors, and ratepayers. Nervous SCANA officials played along with the inept cover-up efforts and passed on false and inaccurate information to regulators.

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September 4, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Hurricane Ida Forces Two Nuclear Plants in Louisiana to Shut Down or Reduce Power 


Hurricane Ida Forces Two Nuclear Plants in Louisiana to Shut Down or Reduce Power 
https://obrag.org/2021/09/hurricane-ida-forces-two-nuclear-plants-in-louisiana-to-shut-down-or-reduce-power/

by MICHAEL STEINBERG on SEPTEMBER 3, 2021 ·  Nuclear Shutdown News August 2021

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear industry, and highlights the efforts of those working to create a nuclear free world.

On August 29, 2021, 16 years to the day when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and environs, Hurricane Ida made landfall twice as a Category 4 storm. Its 150 mph winds raced through the Crescent City, and up cancer alley, by Baton Rouge, an area replete with petrochemical facilities whose surrounding African American populations have high rates of serious health care problems in the best of times.

Almost all of the Gulf coast’s offshore refineries were forced to shut down and a million or more lost electrical power, including all of New Orleans.

Complicating this catastrophe was the loss of two nuclear plants, both upriver from New Orleans and owned by Entergy Corporation. According to an 8-30 report by S &P Global, Entergy shut down its Waterford nuke plant on 8-29 “after off-site electrical power was lost because of Hurricane Ida.”

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the plant was disconnected from the electrical grid that day “per procedures as storm winds elevated.”

The following day, the River Bend nuclear plant, 25 miles north of New Orleans, “reduced power to 35% of capacity.” The unit reduced power at the request of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Entergy’s Mike Bowling said.

“The action was to preserve the integrity of the grid in the wake of Hurrican Ida” Bowling added.

At this point, when the lights will come on is anybody’s guess.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Disarmament: What the World can Learn from Africa

Although nuclear disarmament is a global aspiration, Africa teaches that influence on the global stage is best achieved through regional unity. The creation of multiple nuclear-weapons-free zones across the world will send a powerful message to nuclear-armed states who are currently not directly accountable to the conditions of the Ban Treaty. Other current nuclear-weapons-free zones include Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South-East Asia.

Africa: Nuclear Disarmament: What the World can Learn from Africa     https://allafrica.com/stories/202109030801.html, By Isabel Bosman, 3 Sept 21,

On 22 January 2021, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty) entered into force. Under the Ban Treaty, states are prohibited from ‘developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices’. The Ban Treaty is a culmination of decades-long global campaign efforts to end the development of nuclear weapons. But while its entry into force is widely celebrated, the real work is only just beginning.

The world’s nuclear-armed states oppose the Treaty, and uncertainty about the direction of nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea adds to the tension. Until such time as a nuclear-armed state decides to join the Ban Treaty, it is up to the world’s non-nuclear-armed states to continue leading disarmament campaigns. Having experienced the destructive power of nuclear weapons testing first-hand in the 1960s, African states are some of the oldest and most outspoken supporters of global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Africa’s commitment to nuclear disarmament holds two important lessons: Firstly, a world free of nuclear weapons begins at home. And secondly, if at first you do not succeed, shift the narrative.

African states are able to influence international opinion on nuclear disarmament partly because they have established a strong regime of disarmament and non-proliferation. The continent’s commitment to nuclear disarmament dates to 1964 and the adoption of the ‘Declaration on the Denuclearisation of Africa’ by the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union (AU). At present, this commitment is best embodied by the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (1996), also known as the Pelindaba Treaty. States party to the Pelindaba Treaty are prohibited from ‘conducting research on, developing, manufacturing, stockpiling, acquiring, possessing, or having control over any nuclear explosive device’. States are also not allowed to receive assistance to research or develop nuclear weapons.

The 12th anniversary of the Pelindaba Treaty’s entering into force was marked on 15 July 2021 (after being opened for signature 25 years ago). During an online event to commemorate this, Messaoud Baaliouamer, Executive Secretary of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), the implementing body of the Pelindaba Treaty, described it as ‘an important step towards the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime, the promotion of cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, complete disarmament, and the enhancement of regional peace and security’.

To date, the Pelindaba Treaty has been signed by 52 AU member states and ratified by 42. This uptake makes Africa the largest Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the world. Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), remarked at the same event that the Pelindaba Treaty is ‘testimony’ to Africa’s role as global leader on nuclear disarmament. High levels of commitment to the nuclear weapons ban on a continental level also meant that African states were able to play ‘a leading role in the negotiation, adoption, and promotion’ of the Ban Treaty.

African states’ determined approach was instrumental in ultimately creating the necessary momentum. Fihn noted that African countries have ‘repeatedly challenged the narrative advanced by nuclear-armed states’. The justification traditionally given by nuclear-armed states for possessing nuclear weapons is deterrence of conflict and ensuring ‘inter-State security’. This narrative is gradually being replaced by a humanitarian justification for banning nuclear weapons, which values human security over state security. This narrative has been growing in popularity and attention to the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons ‘has been more sustained than any other recent initiative to encourage renewed activity on nuclear disarmament’, according to Elizabeth Minor, a researcher at UK NGO Article 36.

The 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have not been forgotten. However, more than 75 years after the world witnessed the devastating effects of the atomic bomb, there are still over 13,000 nuclear weapons in existence. These are dispersed among the world’s nine nuclear weapons states: China, the USA, the UK, Russia, Israel, France, North Korea, India and Pakistan.

By setting an example through its legal instruments, and continuously promoting the humanitarian narrative, Africa can play an important role in realising a global nuclear weapons ban. African states can strengthen this position by also becoming party to the Ban Treaty. Considering the similarities between the Pelindaba Treaty and the Ban Treaty, signature and ratification should come easily. To date however, the Ban Treaty has been signed by 29 African states but only 9 have ratified it. The continent will be able to make a bigger impact by adopting the Ban Treaty at the same levels seen in the Pelindaba Treaty. This will re-affirm Africa’s commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation. More importantly, it will cement the continent’s reputation as not only a  a regional example, but an international example of commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Although nuclear disarmament is a global aspiration, Africa teaches that influence on the global stage is best achieved through regional unity. The creation of multiple nuclear-weapons-free zones across the world will send a powerful message to nuclear-armed states who are currently not directly accountable to the conditions of the Ban Treaty. Other current nuclear-weapons-free zones include Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and South-East Asia.

The world’s non-nuclear-armed states stand to gain the most from following Africa’s example. By ascribing to the humanitarian narrative to nuclear disarmament, non-nuclear-weapons states are able to exert moral pressure on nuclear-armed states – a position with significant weight in a debate in which these states were previously at a disadvantage due to the prevailing narrative. Reluctance to dismantle and the threat of expanding nuclear arsenals are but some of the challenges in the path to nuclear disarmament. But with the Ban Treaty now part of international law, nuclear policy will be affected by it whether states are party to it or not.only a regional example, but an international example of commitment to nuclear disarmament. But with the Ban Treaty now part of international law, nuclear policy will be affected by it whether states are party to it or not.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

We can reduce the nuclear danger, contacting politicians, joining Back from the Brink

 Danger of nuclear war increasing   https://www.heraldtimesonline.com/story/opinion/letters/2021/09/03/letter-danger-nuclear-war-increasing/5574644001/ Margaret Squires, Bloomington

Danger of nuclear war is rising. International tensions are growing, and Congress plans to spend billions to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal, including paying for weapons that will increase the chance of nuclear war–so-called “usable nukes” and vulnerable land-based missiles.

A nuclear exchange, begun by war, accident or cyber attack, would be devastating. Even a “small” nuclear war, using 3% of world nuclear arsenals, would kill over a quarter of the world’s population as clouds of debris block sunlight from food crops. War between the United States and Russia could extinguish life on Earth.

We can reduce our danger. We can contact Members of Congress and also support “Back from the Brink,” a national grassroots campaign working toward abolition of nuclear weapons and basic changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policy, such as seeking an agreement among nuclear powers to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, taking our weapons off hair-trigger alert and canceling the plan to “modernize” our nuclear arsenal.

Over 50 municipalities, four states, dozens of faith groups and many other organizations have passed resolutions endorsing this campaign. Such resolutions helped the Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980s to succeed. We can build strength to turn the tide of nuclear danger.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | ACTION, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Nuclear: What’s At Stake For Wildlife? – Webinar October 7.

 New nuclear power plants will cause irreparable loss to biodiversity and harm and destroy wild places and the creatures who live there. Existing nuclear power plants, uranium mines and proposed and actual radioactive
waste sites do similar damage. Wildlife protection helped defeat the proposed new nuclear power plant in Wales. Can the same tactic work to stop other new reactor projects and nuclear waste dumps that threaten similar damage? And are renewables any less harmful? We’ll be asking these questions and more at our webinar– New Nuclear: What’s At Stake For Wildlife?

Join us on Thursday, October 7, 7pm-8:30pm UK time, 2pm-3:30pm US Eastern time. Our guests include Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts; Juliet Davenport, founder of Good Energy; Jonathon Porritt, former directorof Friends of the Earth UK, and Diana Quick, actor and Stop Sizewell activist.

The discussion will be moderated by Beyond Nuclear’s Linda Pentz Gunter followed by questions from the audience. The event is co-hosted by Beyond Nuclear, Greater Manchester & District CND, Nuclear Free Local Authorities and Chernobyl Children’s Project UK. Register at the link below.

 https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xYfWjvQbREyRK_Y-H0nBow

September 4, 2021 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

Illinois nuclear subsidy law – too late for Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants

Time running out for Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants as Illinois Senate passes major energy bill, Utiliy Dive, Sept. 2, 2021 By Scott Van Voorhis   ”’……… 

  • Senate Bill 18 provides hundreds of millions in subsidies to keep the state’s nuclear power sector open, with Exelon preparing to shut down its Byron nuclear plant Sept. 13.
  • But the legislation, which still needs to pass the House, faces 11th hour hurdles: Gov. J.B. Pritzker, D, is raising objections to a key part of the plan dealing with the large Prairie State coal-fired plant.

……….The Illinois Senate’s clean energy package provides more than $600 million in subsidies for renewable power-related initiatives, and nearly $700 million over five years for the state’s struggling nuclear power sector.

However, Illinois’ governor has raised objections to a key piece of the deal, which would require the municipally-owned Prairie State coal-fired plant, the largest carbon emitting power plant in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, to shut down by 2045
ssed before Exelon moves ahead with its closure plans.

….. The governor’s objections raise the prospect of legislative negotiations going down to the wire, with roughly 10 days, or even less, for a final bill to get pa…….. Exelon, which owns six nuclear plants in the state, has said it plans to close its Byron plant on Sept. 13 unless the bill passes.

But the real deadline is even tighter than that, with the legislation needing to clear before Sept. 13 in order to keep the plant open, Exelon noted in a statement.

….. The governor’s objections raise the prospect of legislative negotiations going down to the wire, with roughly 10 days, or even less, for a final bill to get pa…….. Exelon, which owns six nuclear plants in the state, has said it plans to close its Byron plant on Sept. 13 unless the bill passes.

But the real deadline is even tighter than that, with the legislation needing to clear before Sept. 13 in order to keep the plant open, Exelon noted in a statement.

……. “To be clear, Byron will run out of fuel and will permanently shut down on September 13 unless legislation is enacted,” the spokesperson stated. “We have been clear that we cannot refuel Byron on September 13 or Dresden in November absent policy changes.”  ……………….. https://www.utilitydive.com/news/time-running-out-for-exelons-byron-and-dresden-nuclear-plants-as-illinois/605981/

September 4, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Virgin Galactic ‘ignored red warning light’ in Branson’s race against Bezos to be first billionaire to space

FAA currently investigating 11 July flight for veering off course https://www.independent.co.uk/space/virgin-galactic-branson-jeff-bezos-b1913228.html, Anthony Cuthbertson, 3 Sep 21,

Virgin Galactic is under investigation after veering off course and reportedly ignoring a red warning light during the 11 July flight that took billionaire Richard Branson to space.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) noted that the space craft “deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America” during the Unity 22 flight.

A report in The New Yorker, which first drew attention to the FAA investigation, also claimed that a red warning light flashed due to the flight path being too shallow.

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson’s Space Flight

The F.A.A. is investigating the ship’s off-course descent.
more https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-red-warning-light-on-richard-bransons-space-flight, By Nicholas Schmidle 3 Sept 21, On July 11th, nearly a minute into the rocket trip carrying Richard Branson, the British billionaire, to space, a yellow caution light appeared on the ship’s console. The craft was about twenty miles in the air above the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, and climbing, travelling more than twice the speed of sound. But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn’t fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent.

Riding rockets is dangerous stuff. Around 1.4 per cent of Russian, Soviet, and American crewed spaceflight missions have resulted in fatalities. The foremost commercial space companies—Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—must, over the coming years, bring that number down. Their profits depend on making frequent and safe human spaceflight a reality. “A private program can’t afford to lose anybody,” Branson has said.

And yet, perhaps more than any of its competitors, Branson’s company is already hard at work fashioning its identity as a luxury life-style brand. Virgin Galactic is marketing its space-tourism business but for the time being remains an experimental flight-test program. I’ve been covering this company for almost seven years, reporting on its triumphs and tragedies, and on the disconnect between its lofty rhetoric (“Virgin Galactic’s mission is to democratize space,” Branson has said) and its supersonic risks. This account was informed by discussions with eight people knowledgeable about the program.

Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle is unique among its competitors. Whereas SpaceX and Blue Origin operate traditional, vertical-launch rockets that are automated by engineers, Virgin Galactic uses a piloted, winged rocket ship. Every test flight is crewed, which makes each one a matter of life and death. (SpaceX, on the other hand, completed scores of launches before it flew with a human onboard; Blue Origin completed more than a dozen launches before it did the same.)

The success of Virgin Galactic’s program, therefore, will ultimately depend on its pilots, high-calibre but nonetheless fallible, making the right decisions and adjustments in specific moments—like when a yellow caution light comes on. Alerts on the console can be triggered by any number of issues. On the July 11th flight, with Branson on board, it was a trajectory problem, or what’s known as the “entry glide cone.” The ship uses rocket power to get into space, but glides back to Earth and lands on a runway, like the space shuttle would do. This method, mimicking water circling a drain, enables a controlled descent. But the ship must begin its descent within a specified, imaginary “cone” to have enough glide energy to reach its destination. The pilots basically weren’t flying steeply enough.

Not only was the ship’s trajectory endangering the mission, it was also imperilling the ship’s chances of staying inside its mandated airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the private space industry and sets aside airspace for each mission, seeking to prevent collisions with general air traffic, including commercial airliners, and to limit civilian casualties in the event of an accident. The regulator uses formulas detailed in a hundred-and-twenty-one-page document—including an equation for calculating expected casualties—to assess the safety of a given spaceflight. According to the F.A.A., an acceptable Ec, as the equation is called, involves no more than one expected casualty per ten thousand missions. The agency designates airspace for flights with that equation in mind.

The rocket motor on Virgin Galactic’s ship is programmed to burn for a minute. On July 11th, it had a few more seconds to go when a red light also appeared on the console: an entry glide-cone warning. This was a big deal. I once sat in on a meeting, in 2015, during which the pilots on the July 11th mission—Dave Mackay, a former Virgin Atlantic pilot and veteran of the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, and Mike Masucci, a retired Air Force pilot—and others discussed procedures for responding to an entry glide-cone warning. C. J. Sturckow, a former marine and nasa astronaut, said that a yellow light should “scare the shit out of you,” because “when it turns red it’s gonna be too late”; Masucci was less concerned about the yellow light but said, “Red should scare the crap out of you.” Based on pilot procedures, Mackay and Masucci had basically two options: implement immediate corrective action, or abort the rocket motor. According to multiple sources in the company, the safest way to respond to the warning would have been to abort. (A Virgin Galactic spokesperson disputed this contention.)

Aborting at that moment, however, would have dashed Branson’s hopes of beating his rival Bezos, whose flight was scheduled for later in the month, into space. Mackay and Masucci did not abort. Whether or not their decision was motivated by programmatic pressures and the hopes of their billionaire bankroller sitting in the back remains unclear. Virgin Galactic officials told me that the firm’s top priority is the safety of its crew and passengers. Branson, however, is known for his flamboyance and showmanship. On the morning of the flight, Branson, an outspoken environmentalist, appeared on the “livestream” arriving at the spaceport on a bicycle. But this turned out to be false: Branson did not pedal to work that day; the bike ride was filmed a week earlier and then made to look like it happened that morning. When Reuters called out the company, an anonymous official said, “We regret the error and any confusion it may have caused.”

Although Mackay and Masucci attempted to address their trajectory problem, it wasn’t enough. And now they were accelerating to Mach 3, with a red light glowing in the cockpit. Fortunately for Branson and the three other crew members in the back, the pilots got the ship into space and landed safely. But data retrieved from Flightradar24 shows the vehicle flying outside its designated airspace. An F.A.A. spokesperson confirmed that Virgin Galactic “deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance” and that an “investigation is ongoing.” A Virgin Galactic spokesperson acknowledged that the company did not initially notify the F.A.A. and that the craft flew outside its designated airspace for a minute and forty-one seconds—flights generally last about fifteen minutes—but said that the company was working with the F.A.A. to update procedures for alerting the agency.

Virgin Galactic has faced close calls and calamities in the past. In 2011, with the company contracting its flight-test program to Scaled Composites, a boutique aviation firm, a crash was narrowly averted when the spaceship got into an inverted spin. And in 2014 an accident killed one pilot, badly injured another, and left their spaceship in ruins. Two recent episodes are perhaps more revealing.

In July, 2018, Mackay and Masucci were conducting a test flight thirty miles above the Earth when the ship got away from them, spinning and tumbling in the thin air. Virgin Galactic’s lead test pilot and flight-test director, Mark Stucky, was monitoring the flight from mission control, fearful that if Mackay and Masucci didn’t steady the ship soon, their off-kilter descent could seriously damage the vehicle and put the pilots in danger. They landed safely, though a post-flight inspection exposed manufacturing defects that required months of repairs.ctic has faced

September 4, 2021 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

What’s next for the Iran nuclear deal?

Iran nuclear deal: What’s next for the JCPOA?

With a conservative government in Iran and Biden touting ‘other options’, restoring JCPOA will be difficult, analysts say, Aljazeera, By Ali Harb, 3 Sep 2021 Washington, DC – Tehran says it is seeking sanction relief; Washington says containing the Iranian nuclear programme is a national security priority.

And so, both countries maintained that they have an interest in reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. But six rounds of talks in Vienna earlier this year have failed to produce a path to restore the multilateral agreement.

The election of conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in Iran has further complicated the situation. Negotiations have been on ice since June with the Iranian government in transition. Last week, the Iranian parliament approved Raisi’s cabinet, but the parties are yet to set solid plans for resuming the negotiations.

With hardliners consolidating power in Iran and US President Joe Biden tackling multiple crises at home, analysts have said reviving the nuclear pact will be difficult.

Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American journalist and analyst, said she is pessimistic about the prospects of reinstating the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

A Raisi government run by ideologues and more interested in relations with China and Russia will not be rushing to negotiate with the US, she said.

“I’m prepared for the possibility that the return would not happen,” Mortazavi told Al Jazeera.

“And this is not only on the Iranian side, but it’s also the Biden administration. Joe Biden himself – even though he did promise a return to the JCPOA – it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to spend the political capital that is required for this return

Iran says all sanctions must go

As a candidate, Biden pledged to restore the deal that saw Iran curb its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions against its economy.

The administration says it seeks to make the deal “longer and stronger” and use it as a platform to address broader issues with Tehran, including Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional activities.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran agrees “in principle” to resuming the Vienna talks.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said Amirabdollahian told his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, that negotiations must “result in removing all sanctions on the country and fulfilling the rights of the Iranian people”…………………

Since 2015, Trump imposed more than 1,000 sanctions on Iran, and Biden added a few of his own.

The Biden administration has expressed willingness to remove some sanctions not officially labelled as nuclear. But Iran said it wants all sanctions revoked. And so, the two countries have to agree on the scope of sanction relief. Even then, sanctions cannot be undone with the stroke of a pen. Removing them can be a lengthy process that involves several government agencies…………………https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/3/iran-nuclear-deal-whats-next-for-the-jcpoa

September 4, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Daunting costs of nuclear clean-ups


Daunting nuclear cleanup costs, Partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island in the US cost about $1bn  
https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2021-09-02-letter-daunting-nuclear-cleanup-costs/ Peter Smulik  02 SEPTEMBER 2021- What every young South African needs to know now is how much it will cost their generation when it comes to cleaning up after nuclear power plants (“Nuclear build plan alarms energy analysts”, August 30).   Three Mile Island in the US is a case in point: after the partial reactor meltdown of March 28 1979 the cleanup started in August 1979 and only officially ended in December 1993, at a total cost of about $1bn. That was just unit 2, which developed the incident. A preliminary assessment estimated that the Three Mile Island accident caused a total of $2.4bn in property damages.

As for unit 1: in 2017 it was announced that operations would cease by 2019 due to financial pressure from cheap natural gas, unless legislators stepped in to keep it open. When it became clear that subsidy legislation would not pass any time soon Exelon decided to retire the plant, and Three Mile Island-1 was shut down by September 30 2019. Exelon says it will take nearly 60 years and a further $1.2bn to completely decommission the Dauphin County site.

Meanwhile, more than 240 organisations have demanded that these bailouts be omitted from the state budget and funds be directed to investing in carbon-free, nuclear-free clean energy.  Sixteen of the organisations are from Illinois, the most nuclear-reliant state in the US, which is considering a $700m Exelon nuclear bailout in upcoming state energy legislation.

These are facts, not pipedreams or pies in the sky. Enough said.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

South Korea developing a missile as powerful as a nuclear weapon

S Korea developing missile as powerful as nuclear weapon, Al Jazeera,  3 Sept 21,
Three-tonne missile designed to destroy underground facilities by penetrating tunnels to effectively nullify nuclear launches.  
South Korea is in the final stages of developing a surface-to-surface ballistic missile as powerful as a tactical nuclear warhead, Yonhap news agency reported, as the country unveiled budget proposals aimed at bolstering its defences against North Korea.

According to the report published on Thursday, the new weapon can carry a warhead of up to three tonnes with a flight range of 350 to 400 km (217 to 248 miles).

The missile is designed to destroy underground missile facilities and bases by penetrating underground tunnels to effectively nullify nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) ahead of their launches. The report said it can also reach all areas of North Korea if fired from around the inter-Korean border.

The project went ahead after the full lifting of US-imposed restrictions on missile development……….

The missile would be the latest in a tit-for-tat conventional missile race between the two Koreas…………

The defence plan also seeks to expand Seoul’s presence in space with an eye to deploy a new radar system to monitor space objects by the early 2030s.

Meanwhile, its Navy also plans to build more 3,000-tonne or larger submarines to replace ageing frigates with new ones with improved operational and combat capabilities.  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/3/s-korea-developing-missile-as-powerful-as-nuclear-weapon-report

September 4, 2021 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste – a heavy burden on the public of New Mexico


WIPP: New panels to dispose of nuclear waste
, Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus . 3 Sept 21, Two new spaces to hold nuclear waste were planned to be built at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and they could be slightly bigger to allow for equipment needed to handle higher radioactive waste.

The proposal for the new panels came as officials worked to replace disposal capacity they said was lost during an accidental radiological release in 2014.

In 2014, a mispackaged drum of waste in WIPP’s underground repository ruptured, releasing radiation into the air of the underground and contaminating multiple areas of the facility.

Storage space was lost in three panels where transuranic (TRU) waste – comprised of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities – is permanently disposed of, and officials believed the site would need two additional panels to replace the lost space……………………….

The new panels will also be separated by 300 feet of rock, compared with 200 feet for the additional panels, and abutment pillars to support the rock above and assist with ground control will be 400 feet wide compared to 200 feet in the past.

…………….. Joni Arends for Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety argued the DOE was holding multiple PMR processes at once, efforts that appeared rushed and creating a challenge for the public to keep track and provide adequate analysis.

………….. Along with the replacement panels, WIPP was also conducting a PMR for a new utility shaft which was hoped to be approved later this year after a temporary authorization (TA) to build the shaft was not renewed last year by NMED which cited rising COVID-19 infections at the site.

Meanwhile, a 10-year renewal of WIPP’s operations permit was ongoing with a decision from NMED expected to be issue next year.

“The burden on the public is becoming heavier and heavier,” Arends said. “I do need to make a comment that the burden the DOE is putting on the people of New Mexico is a heavy burden.” https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2021/09/03/new-panels-wipp-bigger-hold-more-radioactive-nuclear-waste/5689186001/

September 4, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment