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Umm….. Are we the baddies?

Umm… Are We The Baddies?  https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2022/03/11/umm-are-we-the-baddies/

Reuters reports that Facebook and Instagram are now allowing calls for the death of Russians and Russian leaders in exemption from the platforms’ hate speech terms of service due to the war in Ukraine:

“Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy.”

Twitter has also altered its rules against incitement and death threats in the case of Russian leaders and military personnel, as Ben Norton explains here for Multipolarista.

Last month we also learned that Facebook is now allowing users to praise the Ukrainian neo-Nazi Azov Battalion because of the war, a move that is arguably the most liberal thing that has ever happened.

Western institutions everywhere are rejecting all things Russia with such a savage degree of xenophobia it really ought to shock anyone who was born after the 1800s. Everything from Russian athletes to Russian musicians to Russian-made films to Russian composers to Russian Netflix shows to lectures about Russian authors to Russian restaurants to Russian vodka to Russian-bred cats to Russian trees to dishes that sound a little too much like “Putin” have been cancelled to varying degrees around the western world.

Normally when the US and its allies are involved in a war they’ll at least pay lip service to the notion that they have nothing but good will for the people of the enemy nation, claiming they only oppose their oppressive rulers. With Russia it’s just a complete rejection of the entire culture, the entire ethnicity. It’s a widespread promotion of hatred for the actual people because of who they are.

These are the people who are being smashed with crushing economic sanctions while western pundits proclaim that “There are no more ‘innocent’ ‘neutral’ Russians anymore” and ask “At what point do you hold a people responsible for putting an evil despot in power?” This even as the Russian people are being arrested by the thousands in anti-war protests, putting to shame our own western society that has generally slept through war after war in the years since 9/11 while our militaries have been killing of millions of people.

And this is all over a war that the western empire knowingly provokedalmost certainly planned in advance, and appears to be doing everything possible to ensure that it continues. Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports that Washington is still to this day not engaging in any serious diplomacy with Moscow over this conflict, preferring to strangle Russia economically and pour weapons into Ukraine to make the war as painful and costly as possible. Both of these preferences just so happen to nicely complement the US empire’s goal of unipolar planetary hegemony.

Meanwhile the entire western political/media class seems to be doing everything it can to turn this from a regional proxy war into a very fast and radioactive World War 3. Calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which would require directly attacking the Russian military and risking a nuclear exchange in the resulting escalations, are now ubiquitous. Claims that more directly confrontational military aggressions against Russia won’t start a nuclear war (or that it’s worth the risk anyway) are becoming more and more common in western punditry. Democrats are braying for Russian blood while Republicans like Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney are attacking Democrats for being insufficiently hawkish and escalatory in this conflict, creating a horrifying dynamic where both parties are trying to out-hawk each other to score political points and nobody is calling for de-escalation and detente.

As luck would have it, US officials have also selected this precarious nuclear tightrope walk as the perfect time to begin hurling accusations that Russia is preparing a biological attack, potentially as a false flag blamed on Ukraine or the United States. This coincides with Victoria Nuland’s admission before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Ukraine has “biological research facilities” that the US is “quite concerned” might end up “falling into the hands of Russian forces”.

All of this on top of the unprecedented wave of authoritarian censorship that has been tearing through the US-centralized empire as our rulers work to quash dissident voices around the world. It certainly is interesting that the fight for freedom and democracy requires so much censorship, warmongering, xenophobia, propaganda and bloodlust.

It’s almost enough to make you wonder: are we the baddies?

I am of course only trying to make a point here. Geopolitical power struggles are not contested by opposing sides of heroes and baddies like a Marvel superhero movie, though you’d never know it from all the hero worship of Volodymyr Zelensky and the self-righteous posturing of mainstream westerners over this war. Vladimir Putin is no Peter Parker, but neither is Zelensky or Biden or any of the other empire managers overseeing this campaign to overwhelm all challengers to US global domination.

The power structure loosely centralized around the United States is without question the single most depraved and destructive on earth. No one else has spent the 21st century waging wars that have killed millions and displaced tens of millions. No one else is circling the planet with military bases and working to destroy any nation on earth which disobeys it. Not Russia. Not China. Nobody.

The hypocrisy, dishonesty and phoniness of this whole song and dance about Ukraine is one of the most distasteful things that I have ever witnessed. Rather than engaging in click-friendly Instagram activism with blue and yellow profile pics making risk-free criticisms of a foreign leader in a far off country who has nothing to do with us, perhaps we would be better served by a bit more introspection, and by a somewhat more difficult stance: intense scrutiny of the corruption and abuses running rampant in our own society.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

So many half-truths from Zelensky, and from the nuclear industry! The politics behind Ukraine’s alarming nuclear warnings

While Russia is clearly the aggressor and may be using the nuclear sites to stir anxiety in the West, Ukraine’s authorities have played their part in fanning the public’s fear……………

What cannot be localized is the way public statements spread alarm and confusion. “It’s a technique that any side can use,” Watts said. “But then it starts to create so many false scenarios, where you can’t really wade through the noise to know what is the actual severity of what’s going on at all.”

The politics behind Ukraine’s alarming nuclear warnings

Nuclear regulatory authorities do not share Kyiv’s assessment over the danger posed by Russian actions at nuclear plants. Politico  BY LOUISE GUILLOTKARL MATHIESEN AND ZIA WEISE, March 11, 2022  

Kyiv is grasping at every possible lever in its efforts to persuade the West that it too is threatened by Russia’s invasion — including repeated and at times exaggerated warnings of nuclear calamity for the rest of Europe.

Since the very first day of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, when Russian troops captured the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site in a firefight, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his officials have warned of a repeat of the explosion that spread radioactive fallout across Europe…………….

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s nuclear utility Energoatom said a power cut at the still-decommissioning Chernobyl site meant cooling systems would be shut off and “release of radioactive substances into the environment will occur. The wind can transfer the radioactive cloud to other regions of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and Europe.”

These declarations are part of a highly effective if — in the most recent Chernobyl case — alarmist Ukrainian media offensive to counter Russia’s barrage of missiles and false statements.

It is easy to see why Ukraine, frustrated by Europe’s continued purchases of Russian oil and refusal to implement a no-fly zone despite intense civilian bombing, reckons that it still needs to pile pressure on other Europeans to get their heads round the brutality of the Russian onslaught, and the dangers it poses. The problem is that the nuclear warnings have created a dilemma for Ukraine’s allies and nuclear safety authorities, and have triggered consternation from the image-conscious nuclear industry.

According to international and national nuclear authorities, Russia’s conduct is dangerous but Ukraine’s nuclear facilities do not pose an imminent Europe-wide threat. The situation is being treated with extreme seriousness but the design of modern nuclear facilities means most of the worst-case scenarios would lead to localized fallout — devastating for Ukraine but not a danger for wider Europe.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi has repeatedly expressed his concerns about nuclear safety as the conflict unfolds, but at no point has the organization warned of explicit and immediate danger outside Ukraine.

Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection said Wednesday that based on the information available about the situation at Chernobyl there was “no risk of radiological effects in Germany.” BelgianFinnish and Polish nuclear safety agencies put out similar statements.

In the most dramatic case of deliberate nuclear sabotage involving a massive explosion there is potential for unpredictable impacts that could affect other countries, said Lars van Dassen, executive director of the World Institute for Nuclear Security. “If there are bombs being thrown on nuclear reactors, then we have a new situation.”

With the Russian war effort increasingly frustrated, there are concerns from Western governments about the lengths to which Putin may go.

The Ukrainian government and nuclear utility Energoatom did not respond to requests for comment for this article……………

“In a lot of newsrooms around the world, if the key word ‘nuclear’ is used it creates a shockwave for media reporting,” Watts said.( Clint Watts, a distinguished research fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and former U.S. counterterrorism officer)

That has played out in the past two weeks, with headlines often responding to statements from Zelenskyy, his ministers or comments in three-times daily “war bulletins” sent to journalists. More sober assessments from the IAEA have often been less prominently placed. That leaves Ukraine’s allies with a difficult pathway to chart between supporting the besieged government in Kyiv and giving the public a clear assessment of the danger they face.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

While Russia is clearly the aggressor and may be using the nuclear sites to stir anxiety in the West, Ukraine’s authorities have played their part in fanning the public’s fear……………

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said last week “nothing extraordinary is happening at Ukrainian nuclear facilities right now.” He added that “Russia, as a country with a developed nuclear industry, is fully aware of the potential risks and intends to do everything to ensure proper safety there.”

Risk assessment

Some allies have begun directly contradicting the Ukrainians. 

Shortly after this week’s warning from Energoatom about the power cut to Chernobyl, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted a U.S. government analysis that “the loss of power does not pose a near-term risk of radiological release.”

Officials are also wary of downplaying risks in a fast moving, unpredictable conflict where information and motivations are hard to fully grasp. The instinct is to err on the side of extreme caution and even alarm when it comes to atomic power…….

Nuclear industry and safety experts have warned that accidents could happen as nuclear power plants are not designed to be operated in a war zone………………

Zelenskyy “said things that do not make sense about the Chernobyl site itself because the reactors have been shut down for 20 years,” said Valérie Faudon, general delegate of the French Nuclear Energy Society. While the situation made it understandable, she said, “this is not very responsible,” noting that the risk of a pan-European accident at Chernobyl “is very low and it would be localized.”

What cannot be localized is the way public statements spread alarm and confusion. “It’s a technique that any side can use,” Watts said. “But then it starts to create so many false scenarios, where you can’t really wade through the noise to know what is the actual severity of what’s going on at all.” https://www.politico.eu/article/politics-ukraine-alarm-nuclear-warning/

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ukraine war fills Pentagon’s, NATO allies’ war chests

“Over multiple administrations, Democrat and Republican, we have tried to minimize friction with Putin and with Russia, in the hopes that it wouldn’t exacerbate a problem….And I feel like that era is over,” said Slotkin, a former Pentagon official. “I think it’s a sea change for how both the Defense Department and the State Department should think about our presence in Europe.”

[N]ow there is a unique moment of bipartisanship that will allow the Pentagon to request and receive just about anything it wants, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said last week during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Congress is poised to approve $14 billion for Ukraine aid this week, including nearly $5 billion for additional troops in Europe and replenishing U.S. weapons already sent to Ukraine. The House passed the package Wednesday and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill by Friday.

Over multiple administrations, Democrat and Republican, we have tried to minimize friction with Putin and with Russia, in the hopes that it wouldn’t exacerbate a problem….And I feel like that era is over,” said Slotkin, a former Pentagon official. “I think it’s a sea change for how both the Defense Department and the State Department should think about our presence in Europe.”

Ukraine war fills Pentagon’s, NATO allies’ war chests https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/113283937/posts/3880404511, Rick Rozoff, Anti-bellum 

Stars and Stripes, March 10, 2022,

Congressional support for larger defense budget grows amid Ukraine invasion  The changing security landscape in Eastern Europe will “no doubt” increase next year’s defense budget, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at an event last week. Other Capitol Hill lawmakers say they are also prepared to funnel more money to the Pentagon as the U.S. rethinks its national security and defense posture.

“President [Joe] Biden needs to put a serious budget proposal forward to confront the real threats we face,” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said in a statement. “Russia is just one reason why defense spending needs to be higher. China and other nations are watching the seriousness and resolve of freedom-loving nations.”

Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has prompted other NATO countries to pledge additional funding for their armed services.

In a reversal of decades of post-Cold War policy, Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last month that his country would embark on a $110 billion rearming program. Poland announced last week that it will raise its spending on defense from 2% to 3% of the country’s gross domestic product. Leaders of France, Italy, Latvia and Romania have all vowed in recent days to boost their commitment to defense.

U.S. lawmakers authorized nearly $778 billion for defense spending for the 2022 fiscal year – $25 billion more than requested by the White House. The Biden administration has yet to submit its budget request for fiscal year 2023, which starts Oct. 1, but Smith said last week that the eventual spending plan will be “the most impactful and important budget that we’ve seen in the 25 years I’ve been in Congress.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he wants to see defense expenditures grow by at least 3% to 5%, adjusted for inflation….

[N]ow there is a unique moment of bipartisanship that will allow the Pentagon to request and receive just about anything it wants, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said last week during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Congress is poised to approve $14 billion for Ukraine aid this week, including nearly $5 billion for additional troops in Europe and replenishing U.S. weapons already sent to Ukraine. The House passed the package Wednesday and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill by Friday.

“Over multiple administrations, Democrat and Republican, we have tried to minimize friction with Putin and with Russia, in the hopes that it wouldn’t exacerbate a problem….And I feel like that era is over,” said Slotkin, a former Pentagon official. “I think it’s a sea change for how both the Defense Department and the State Department should think about our presence in Europe.”

March 12, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear facilities targeted in Russia’s war on Ukraine — RenewEconomy

Several nuclear facilities in Ukraine have been attacked by the Russian military, but there have not been any significant radiation releases … yet. The post Nuclear facilities targeted in Russia’s war on Ukraine appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Nuclear facilities targeted in Russia’s war on Ukraine — RenewEconomy


Jim Green 11 March 2022, RenewEconomy

Several nuclear facilities in Ukraine have been attacked by the Russian military over the past fortnight: a nuclear research facility at Kharkiv; two radioactive waste storage sites; the Chernobyl nuclear site (which no longer has operating reactors); and the operating Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Thankfully there have not been any significant radiation releases … yet.

The operating nuclear power plants pose by far the greatest risks. Ukraine has 15 power reactors located at four sites. Eight of the reactors are currently operating.

The Zaporizhzhia plant – the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, with six reactors — is under the control of the Russian military. At least one reactor is operating at each of the other three plants. The Russian military might fight to take control of these plants over the coming days and weeks.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The military assault on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on March 4 damaged the “reactor compartment building” of reactor #1, two artillery shells hit the dry storage facility containing spent nuclear fuel (without causing significant damage), a fire severely damaged a training building, and a laboratory building was damaged.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) reported that the reactor #6 transformer had been taken out of service and was undergoing emergency repair after damage to its cooling system was detected following the attack.

Two people were injured in the fire, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, while Ukraine’s nuclear utility Energoatom said that three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded.

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group said that it is “extremely disconcerting” that “damage has been reported to have occurred to unit 1 building, the gallery and grid infrastructure.”

The military assault on Zaporizhzhia drew worldwide condemnation. To say that it was reckless would be an understatement. Dr Edwin Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists summarised the risks:

“There are a number of events that could trigger a worst-case scenario involving a reactor core or spent fuel pool located in a war zone: An accidental – or intentional – strike could directly damage one or more reactors. An upstream dam failure could flood a reactor downstream. A fire could disable plant electrical systems. Personnel under duress could make serious mistakes. The bottom line: Any extended loss of power that interrupted cooling system operations that personnel could not contain has the potential to cause a Fukushima-like disaster.”

Dr Lyman notes that a Chernobyl-style catastrophe — a massive steam explosion and long-duration fire — is implausible, but that the “consequences of a nuclear accident at one of the four operational Ukrainian nuclear plants could be similar to that of Fukushima.”

The risks of the military attack were all the greater because one of the six reactors at Zaporizhzhia was operating at the time. SNRIU listed three reactors as operating on March 3 at 8am local time. The military attack began at 1am on March 4. SNRIU listed one reactor as operating on March 4 at 8am local time, with two reactors listed as operating from March 6, onwards.

Was Ukraine operating reactors because the electricity they produced was absolutely essential? Was the Ukrainian government hoping that continuing to operate reactors would minimise the risk of a military attack on the nuclear plant? How will the lessons learned from the Zaporizhzhia experience play out at the other three nuclear power plants?

Currently, Russian troops are using the Zaporizhzhia plant as a military base, presumably on the assumption that it won’t be attacked by Ukrainian forces. Energoatom said on March 9 that there were 50 units of heavy Russian equipment, 400 military staff and “lots of explosives and weapons” at the Zaporizhzhia plant. SNRIU said the Russian military is turning the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant “into a military facility, deploying heavy weapons in this territory to blackmail the entire world.”

Zaporizhzhia staff

Zaporizhzhia staff are currently operating the nuclear plant under Russian control: any action, including measures related to the technical operation of the reactors, requires approval from the Russian commander. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi noted that the arrangement violates one of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security, that “operating staff must be able to fulfil their safety and security duties and have the capacity to make decisions free of undue pressure”.

Dr Najmedin Meshkati, a nuclear safety expert at the University of Southern California, commented:

“War adversely affects the safety culture in a number of ways. Operators are stressed and fatigued and may be scared to death to speak out if something is going wrong. Then there is the maintenance of a plant, which may be compromised by lack of staff or unavailability of spare parts. Governance, regulation and oversight – all crucial for the safe running of a nuclear industry – are also disrupted, as is local infrastructure, such as the capability of local firefighters. In normal times you might have been able to extinguish the fire at Zaporizhzhia in five minutes. But in war, everything is harder.”

Zaporizhzhia staff are operating in three daily shifts according to SNRIU. There are problems with food availability and supply, SNRIU said. Ukrainian energy minister Herman Galushchenko said managers at the nuclear plant were being forced to record an address to be used as propaganda. “The employees of the station are physically and psychologically exhausted,” Galushchenko said.

Power supply

The IAEA reported on March 9 that the Zaporizhzhia site has four high-voltage (750 kV) offsite power lines plus an additional one on standby, but that it had been informed by the Ukrainian operator that two lines have been damaged and thus there are now two operating lines plus one on standby. The operator said that power requirements could be maintained with one line. “Nevertheless, this is another example of where the safety pillar to secure off-site power supply from the grid for all nuclear sites has been compromised,” Grossi said.

If grid power is lost, the adequacy of backup power generators to maintain essential cooling of reactors and spent fuel will depend on factors such as the integrity of the diesel fuel store, and the viability of securing further diesel fuel. The inability to run generators was one of the causes of the Fukushima disaster.

Dr Meshkati said:

“My biggest worry is that Ukraine suffers from a sustained power grid failure. The likelihood of this increases during a conflict, because pylons may come down under shelling or gas power plants might get damaged and cease to operate. And it is unlikely that Russian troops themselves will have fuel to keep these emergency generators going — they don’t seem to have enough fuel to run their own personnel carriers.”

Communications

Two people were injured in the fire, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, while Ukraine’s nuclear utility Energoatom said that three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded.

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group said that it is “extremely disconcerting” that “damage has been reported to have occurred to unit 1 building, the gallery and grid infrastructure.”

The military assault on Zaporizhzhia drew worldwide condemnation. To say that it was reckless would be an understatement. Dr Edwin Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists summarised the risks:

“There are a number of events that could trigger a worst-case scenario involving a reactor core or spent fuel pool located in a war zone: An accidental – or intentional – strike could directly damage one or more reactors. An upstream dam failure could flood a reactor downstream. A fire could disable plant electrical systems. Personnel under duress could make serious mistakes. The bottom line: Any extended loss of power that interrupted cooling system operations that personnel could not contain has the potential to cause a Fukushima-like disaster.”

Dr Lyman notes that a Chernobyl-style catastrophe — a massive steam explosion and long-duration fire — is implausible, but that the “consequences of a nuclear accident at one of the four operational Ukrainian nuclear plants could be similar to that of Fukushima.”

The risks of the military attack were all the greater because one of the six reactors at Zaporizhzhia was operating at the time. SNRIU listed three reactors as operating on March 3 at 8am local time. The military attack began at 1am on March 4. SNRIU listed one reactor as operating on March 4 at 8am local time, with two reactors listed as operating from March 6, onwards.

SNRIU said that its nuclear safety inspectors are not allowed to access the Zaporizhzhia plant due to the Russian troops deployed in the area.

SNRIU said that phone lines, email and fax were not functioning at Zaporizhzhia, with only some poor quality mobile phone service possible, so “reliable information from the site cannot be obtained through normal channels of communication”.

Grossi said that the “deteriorating situation regarding vital communications” between the regulator and the nuclear plant is a “source of deep concern, especially during an armed conflict that may jeopardise the country’s nuclear facilities at any time. Reliable communications between the regulator and the operator are a critical part of overall nuclear safety and security.”

The IAEA said on March 11: “It was not currently possible to deliver necessary spare parts, equipment and specialized personnel to the site to carry out planned repairs, and maintenance activities at Unit 1 had been reduced to the minimum level required by the plant operational procedures.”

Chernobyl

No reactors have operated at the Chernobyl site since the year 2000 but the site still has a large quantity of spent nuclear fuel, as well as the radioactive mess left by the 1986 disaster in reactor #4.

The Russian military took control of the Chernobyl site on February 24. Radiation levels were elevated due to heavy military equipment disturbing the contaminated dust around the site.

Russian occupiers have kept around 210 plant operators and guards at the Chernobyl site since February 24 without a new shift to relieve them. A relative of one worker told the BBC that the Russian military was willing to let them swap shifts, but that they could not guarantee their safety on the journey home, nor of workers travelling to take their place.

“All the staff are super exhausted and desperate. They doubt that anyone cares about them. Right now they don’t see anyone doing anything to rescue them,” the relative said.

According to the Ukrainian government, workers are being subjected “to psychological pressure and moral exhaustion” with “limited opportunities to communicate, move, and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work.”

Electricity supply lost 

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group warned on March 6 about the “current fragility of the electrical supplies to the site, with only one supply line out of three available and back-up diesel power having sufficient fuel supplies for only 48 hours”.

The situation worsened with the loss of power from a 750 kV high-voltage line to the area on March 9, thus disconnecting the site entirely from the grid. On-site emergency diesel generators were activated “to power systems important to safety”.

Energoatom said a loss of power made “it impossible to control the nuclear and radiation safety parameters at the facilities”, adding that repairs to restore the area’s power supply could not happen at the moment because of “combat operations in the region”.

Whether the spent fuel at Chernobyl is at risk due to the loss of power is debated. Energoatom said there are about 20,000 spent fuel assemblies at Chernobyl that could not be kept cool during a power outage and warned of the release of radioactive substances into the environment. The IAEA is less concerned, saying that it saw “no critical impact on safety” due to the low heat load and the volume of cooling water.

SNRIU said on March 10 that in the event of a total blackout, including loss of emergency power supply, staff responsible for spent fuel pools will lose the possibility of remote monitoring of the radiological situation in the storage facility rooms; remote control of the water level and temperature in the cooling pool; makeup of the cooling pool and its water treatment; fire alarm monitoring; and maintenance of required temperature in spent fuel buildings.

The IAEA said on March 10: “If emergency power was also to be lost, the regulator said it would still be possible for staff to monitor the water level and temperature of the spent fuel pool. But they would carry out this work under worsening radiation safety conditions due to a lack of ventilation at the facility. They would also not be able to follow operational radiation safety procedures.”

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia must observe a temporary ceasefire to enable repairs at the Chernobyl plant.

Reports on March 11 indicate that off-site power may have been restored to the Chernobyl site — the IAEA is seeking confirmation.

Grossi said: “From day to day, we are seeing a worsening situation at the Chornobyl NPP, especially for radiation safety, and for the staff managing the facility under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances.”

Grossi also said that in recent days the IAEA has lost remote data transmission from its safeguards systems at Chernobyl and also the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Why was Chernobyl seized?

Why was Chernobyl seized by the Russian military? Timothy Mousseau from the University of South Carolina writes:

“The reactor site’s industrial area is, in effect, a large parking lot suitable for staging an invading army’s thousands of vehicles. The power plant site also houses the main electrical grid switching network for the entire region. It’s possible to turn the lights off in Kyiv from here, even though the power plant itself has not generated any electricity since 2000, when the last of Chernobyl’s four reactors was shut down.

“Such control over the power supply likely has strategic importance, although Kyiv’s electrical needs could probably also be supplied via other nodes on the Ukrainian national power grid.

“The reactor site likely offers considerable protection from aerial attack, given the improbability that Ukrainian or other forces would risk combat on a site containing more than 5.3 million pounds (2.4 million kilograms) of radioactive spent nuclear fuel.”

Radioactive waste storage and disposal sites

Russian missiles hit a radioactive waste storage site near Kyiv on February 27. The IAEA said in a March 1 update:

“SNRIU said that all radioactive waste disposal facilities of the State Specialized Enterprise Radon were operating as usual, and the radiation monitoring systems did not indicate any deviations from normal values. On 27 February, the SNRIU informed the IAEA that missiles had hit the site of such a facility in the capital Kyiv, but there was no damage to the building and no reports of a radioactive release.”

The Kyiv radioactive waste storage site appears to be at least 1 km from any other human structures, suggesting the possibility of a deliberate strike.

Also on February 27, an electrical transformer was damaged at a radioactive waste storage site in Kharkiv, also without any reports of a radioactive release. According to SNRIU, a research reactor at the site has been shut down.

Grossi said:

“These two incidents highlight the very real risk that facilities with radioactive material will suffer damage during the conflict, with potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment. I urgently and strongly appeal to all parties to refrain from any military or other action that could threaten the safety and security of these facilities.”

The Kyiv and Kharkiv facilities typically hold disused radioactive sources and other low-level waste from hospitals and industry, the IAEA said, but do not contain high-level nuclear waste. However the Kharkiv site may also store spent nuclear fuel from the research reactor.

Other nuclear facilities

An Oncology Center in Kharkiv was destroyed by Russian shelling, jeopardising the safety and security of high-level radiation sources. Ex-Soviet states have been at the centre of global networks of nuclear theft and smuggling since the break-up of the Soviet Union, and there will undoubtedly be incidents of lost, stolen and smuggled nuclear materials arising from Russia’s war on Ukraine and the breakdown of national and international security arrangements.

SNRIU said on March 6 that there continued to be no communication with enterprises and institutions using Category 1-3 radiation sources in the eastern port city of Mariupol, including its Oncology Center, and that the safety and security of the radiation sources could not be confirmed. Such material can cause serious harm to people if not secured and managed properly, the IAEA noted.

SNRIU reported that a ‘Neutron Source‘ — a subcritical assembly with 37 nuclear fuel elements, controlled by a linear electron accelerator — at Kharkiv’s Institute of Physics and Technology was subjected to artillery fire on March 6. Ukraine claimed that the Russian military fired missiles from truck-mounted ‘Grad’ launchers, which do not have precise targeting. “Radiation condition on the playground is ok,” according to a reassuring if imprecise automatic translation of an SNRIU statement.

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group said in a March 6 statement that it is “very concerned about the safety of several research reactors as well as sites holding highly radioactive sources.”

SNRIU’s Acting Chair Oleh Korikov said on March 8:

“I have to state that so far, despite the active initiatives of the Ukrainian party, unfortunately, no diplomatic efforts of the IAEA and other international partners have led to real results in reducing or eliminating military risks at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. It is no exaggeration to note that today in Ukraine, due to the military aggression of the Russian Federation, the risks not only of radiation accidents of various scales, loss of control over radiation sources, but also unprecedented risks of global nuclear catastrophe have been created.”

In a letter to the IAEA, European Union Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson criticised Russia’s ongoing role on the IAEA’s Board of Governors. “I find it unacceptable that Russia can continue its privileged role at the IAEA in view of its irresponsible military actions on the ground in Ukraine,” she said.

Dr. Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia. Updates on the situation in Ukraine are being posted at https://nuclear.foe.org.au/ukraine

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Video analysis reveals Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear plant veered near disaster.

NPR, March 11, 2022: Last week’s assault by Russian forces on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was far more dangerous than initial assessments suggested, according to an analysis by NPR of video and photographs of the attack and its aftermath.

A thorough review of a four-hour, 21-minute security camera video of the attack reveals that Russian forces repeatedly fired heavy weapons in the direction of the plant’s massive reactor buildings, which housed dangerous nuclear fuel. Photos show that an administrative building directly in front of the reactor complex was shredded by Russian fire. And a video from inside the plant shows damage and a possible Russian shell that landed less than 250 feet from the Unit 2 reactor building.

The security camera footage also shows Russian troops haphazardly firing rocket-propelled grenades into the main administrative building at the plant and turning away Ukrainian firefighters even as a fire raged out of control in a nearby training building.

The evidence stands in stark contrast to early comments by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which while acknowledging the seriousness of the assault, emphasized that the action took place away from the reactors. In a news conference immediately after the attack, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi made reference to only a single projectile hitting a training building adjacent to the reactor complex.

“All the safety systems of the six reactors at the plant were not affected at all,” Grossi told reporters at the March 4 briefing.

In fact, the training building took multiple strikes, and it was hardly the only part of the site to take fire from Russian forces. The security footage supports claims by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator of damage at three other locations: the Unit 1 reactor building, the transformer at the Unit 6 reactor and the spent fuel pad, which is used to store nuclear waste. It also shows ordnance striking a high-voltage line outside the plant. The IAEA says two such lines were damaged in the attack.

“This video is very disturbing,” says Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists. While the types of reactors used at the plant are far safer than the one that exploded

n Chernobyl in 1986, the Russian attack could have triggered a meltdown similar to the kind that struck Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, he warns.”It’s completely insane to subject a nuclear plant to this kind of an assault,” Lyman says.

In a news conference on Thursday, Grossi said that he had met with Ukrainian and Russian officials but failed to reach an agreement to avoid future attacks on Ukraine’s other nuclear plants. “I’m aiming at having something relatively soon,” he told reporters in Vienna.

The assault

On March 3, the nuclear plant was preparing for a fight. A news release posted to its website just hours before the assault described the facility as operating normally, with its assigned Ukrainian military unit ready for combat.

The Russian decision to move on the plant was clearly premeditated, according to Leone Hadavi, an open-source analyst with the Centre for Information Resilience, who helped NPR review the video.”It was planned,” Hadavi says, and it involved around 10 armored vehicles as well as two tanks. That is far more firepower than would have been carried by, say, a reconnaissance mission that might have stumbled across the plant by chance.

Just before 11:30 p.m. local time, someone began livestreaming the plant’s security footage on its YouTube channel. The livestream rolled on as Russian forces began a slow and methodical advance on the plant. The column of armored vehicles, led by the tanks, used spotlights to cautiously approach the plant from the southeast along the main service road to the facility.

Around an hour and 20 minutes later, one of the two tanks that led the column was struck by a missile from Ukrainian forces and was disabled.

That marked the beginning of a fierce firefight that lasted for roughly two hours at the plant. Immediately after the tank was disabled, Russian forces returning fire appeared to hit a transmission line connected to the plant’s main electrical substation. The IAEA says two of four high-voltage lines were damaged in the attack. Lyman says that these lines are essential to safe operations at the plant……..

Based on photos and damage assessments by Ukrainian officials and the IAEA, Lyman says that the damage appears to have been to some of the less hardened points within the nuclear plant. Unlike office buildings and elevated walkways, the reactors themselves and their spent fuel are sealed within a thick steel containment vessel that would withstand a great deal of damage.

But he also says that the host of systems required to keep the reactors safe are not hardened against attack. Cooling systems rely on exterior pipework; backup generators are kept in relatively ordinary buildings; vital electrical yards are out in the open; and the plant’s control rooms are not designed to operate in a war zone……………. https://www.npr.org/2022/03/11/1085427380/ukraine-nuclear-power-plant-zaporizhzhia

March 12, 2022 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear tragedy hovers over Japan and region 11 years after tsunami and accident

Fukushima nuclear tragedy hovers over Japan and region 11 years after tsunami and accident,  By KARL WILSON in Sydney | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-03-11   On March 11, 2011, Japan recorded its biggest earthquake ever. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the north-eastern coast was followed by a deadly 40-meter tsunami that sent a wall of water crashing through ports and coastal regions, washing away everything in its path and killing more than 20,000 people.

As tragic as the earthquake and tsunami was, nothing prepared Japan or the world for the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that was built on the coast and was hit by the tsunami.

It triggered a nuclear disaster not seen since the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986, when there was an accident at the number four reactor largely originated from improper design and operation.

In Fukushima’s case, it was the product of nature – an earthquake followed by a tsunami. But the cost has been enormous.

The plant owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has said it could take another 30 years to retrieve undamaged fuel, remove resolidified melted fuel debris, disassemble the reactors, and dispose of contaminated cooling water.

The government has put the cost of decommissioning the four reactors at 8 trillion yen ($68.5 billion); but the Japan Center for Economic Research, a think tank, estimates the bill could be much more. Some estimates put the cleanup bill as high as $1 trillion.

Nearly 165,000 residents were evacuated from Fukushima and surrounding suburbs, but most have been allowed to return after a decade of decontamination. It is estimated that less than 30,000 do not intend to return.

As the cleanup continues, questions remain. And one major question – what to do with the one million tonnes of radioactive wastewater, now stored in 1,000 tanks on the site, which was used to cool the reactors.

The Japanese government would like to release the water into the Pacific Ocean, but this has caused a great deal of concern to the island nations scattered across the Pacific as well as some other Asian countries.

According to the IAEA, nuclear energy had been a strategic priority in Japan since the 1960s, supplying almost a third of the country’s electricity. The Fukushima disaster put an end to Japan’s nuclear energy program.

Today, less than five percent of Japan’s electricity is provided by nine nuclear power plants that remain operational. These plants too will be phased out.

The IAEA classified Fukushima as a “Level 7” nuclear accident, which means it had widespread health and environmental impacts.

There have only been two “Level 7” accidents in history. The first was at Chernobyl, often referred to as the world’s worst nuclear accident.

The accidents at both Chernobyl and Fukushima have also drawn comparisons to the accident at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, in the US. It was a “level 5” nuclear accident that took place on March 28, 1979.

Chernobyl had a higher death toll than Fukushima.

Within three months of the disaster, more than 30 people had died from acute radiation sickness. Today, scientists estimate that tens, perhaps even hundreds, of thousands of people were severely affected by the catastrophe.

The accident at Fukushima was not quite as devastating………http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202203/11/WS622b5578a310cdd39bc8c1fc_1.html

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What a Power Cutoff Could Mean for Chernobyl’s Nuclear Waste.

What a Power Cutoff Could Mean for Chernobyl’s Nuclear Waste. With no
working reactors, there is no risk of a meltdown. But the ruins from the
1986 disaster still pose considerable dangers.

The plant’s remaining
three reactors were eventually shut down, the last in 2000. The nuclear
fuel has been removed from all of them, and the turbines and other
equipment that generated power have mostly been removed. With no operating
reactors at the plant, there is no risk of a core meltdown as there would
be if an operating plant lost power and could no longer circulate water
through the reactor. This is what happened at the Fukushima reactors in
Japan in 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami wiped out backup power
systems.

But Chernobyl carries some other risks related to the large amount
of nuclear waste on site. If the water in storage tanks got so hot it
boiled off, the fuel would be exposed to the air and could catch fire.

That, too, was among the risks in the Fukushima disaster. The I.A.E.A. has
said that the used fuel assemblies at Chernobyl are old enough and have
decayed enough that circulating pumps are not needed to keep them safe.
“The heat load of the spent fuel storage pool and the volume of cooling
water contained in the pool is sufficient to maintain effective heat
removal without the need for electrical supply,” the agency said. New York Times 9th March 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/09/climate/chernobyl-nuclear-waste-power-outage.html

March 12, 2022 Posted by | safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Greenpeace statement on anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident

Greenpeace Japan released the following statement on the 11th anniversary
of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power
Station accident. Sam Annesley, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan:
“11 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima
Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that caused incredible damage. We offer our
deepest condolences to those who tragically lost their lives and our
sincere respect to those who, despite their deep sorrow, have persevered to
this day.

The example of the disaster-affected areas, which have continued
moving towards recovery over the past 11 years despite the unprecedented
crises of a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, has given us
great hope.

However, as the memories of the disaster and accident fade, we
are now faced with a serious problem that we must confront. There are still
59 nuclear reactors in Japan including those that are permanently shutdown.
As of the end of February 2022,10 of them have restarted operations.
Recently, the Japanese government and electric power companies are actively
promoting the notion that nuclear power plants are low carbon, and that
they will be one of the key solutions to decarbonization.

However, nuclearpower generation should never be a solution for decarbonization and climate
change. While nuclear power plants can generate tremendous amounts of
electricity, they also carry unfathomable risks. Such risks are not only
limited to natural disasters and humanitarian crises such as Fukushima, but
could also significantly escalate danger during conflicts, such as in the
case of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant situation in Ukraine earlier
this month.

 Greenpeace 11th March 2022

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jellyfish would inevitably force Australia’s nuclear submarines into shutdown, if fleet based in Brisbane

Jellyfish would ‘inevitably’ force nuclear submarines into shutdown if fleet based in Brisbane, expert says  

Leading marine scientist says Moreton Bay, one of three sites shortlisted, is bad choice due to risk to reactors if jellyfish sucked in. Guardian,  Ben Smee in Brisbane, @BenSmee, Fri 11 Mar 2022 .

Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines would “inevitably” be forced into an emergency reactor shutdown by swarms of jellyfish if the fleet was based in Brisbane, a leading marine scientist says.

The Australian government this week released a shortlist of three sites – Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong – as a potential east-coast home port for the nuclear submarine fleet, which will arrive in about 2036 under the Aukus partnership with the US and the UK.

The Queensland government has been cagey when asked whether it supports a base in Brisbane, a position described as “very strange” by the federal defence minister, Peter Dutton, whose electorate is in Brisbane…………

Jellyfish expert Lisa-ann Gershwin, a leading marine biologist, says Brisbane is “close to the absolute worst place” for a nuclear submarine base, due to the conditions in Moreton Bay and the frequent jellyfish blooms.

In 2006, the US nuclear-powered supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan was forced into an emergency reactor shutdown in Brisbane after it sucked more than 800kg of jellyfish into its condensers, hindering coolant from reaching the main reactors.

Picture if you will America’s biggest, most expensive, most fearsome, awesome supercarrier is on its maiden voyage,” Gershwin said.

“It comes into the port of Brisbane and it sucks in thousands of jellyfish. It was a very embarrassing situation for the American navy. Luckily there was no major accident, nothing happened, nothing exploded.

“But when you’re dealing with nuclear anything, you’ve got to be [more cautious].”

The phenomenon of jellyfish shutdowns is surprisingly common in any power plant that sucks in water as a coolant

Gershwin says any base for a submarine with an in-built nuclear reactor could not be enclosed like Moreton Bay, which is sheltered by Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island.

“Jellyfish act like plastic,” Gershwin said.

“If you’ve ever seen a pool filter that’s got a plastic wrapper caught, it clogs up … and floods all over the place because it’s not going through the filter. The water gets stopped by this ‘plastic’ and then the water can’t pass by that. Emergency shutdowns of power plants happen all the time, very frequently.”

Gershwin said that if Brisbane was used to base nuclear submarines, a jellyfish shutdown would be “inevitable”………

You’ve got to be really careful about where you put these things. Anywhere that you’ve got warm water, you’re going to have jellyfish. Moreton Bay is just sucked in with jellyfish.”

Brisbane ranked eighth of the sites considered by Defence as a potential submarine base in 2011, with Sydney listed as the best choice.………….   https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/11/jellyfish-nuclear-submarine-emergency-reactor-shutdown-brisbane-base-moreton-bay-australia

March 12, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, safety | Leave a comment

Fears are growing over nuclear safety at the Chernobyl nuclear plant as staff remain hostage

Fears are growing over nuclear safety at the Chernobyl nuclear plant as
staff remain hostage, the head of an international watchdog said. Rafael
Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) said there is no confirmation that power has been restored – and
said authorities have to “move fast” to help the situation. He told
reporters: “This in safeguard terms isn’t a good situation, we’re losing
information.” The IAEA chief said that communication with Chernobyl and
Zaporizhzhia had degraded and it was a cause for concern.

 Mirror 10th March 2022

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/breaking-growing-issue-nuclear-safety-26438970

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IAEA doubts that the attack on Kharkiv Institute was a serious radiation hazard.

 Russia has reportedly bombed a site in Ukraine which houses an
“experimental nuclear reactor”. The attack on the National Science Centre
Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology was reported in the early hours
of this morning. “

The State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine
announced that the facility was struck, damaging the exterior and possibly
numerous labs throughout the building,” reported the Kyiv Independent via
Twitter. The Kyiv Independent is an English language media outlet created
by journalists who say they were “fired from the Kyiv Post for defending
editorial independence”.

However, doubts have been expressed about the
amount of nuclear materials at the site. The International Atomic Energy
Agency IAEE has previously said the site’s “inventory of radioactive
material is very low” and kept at a “subcritical” state.

 Lincolnshire Live 11th March 2022

https://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/ukraine-morning-briefing-russia-bombs-6785872.wordpress.com/

March 12, 2022 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.

Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.

The 11 March marks the eleventh anniversary of the terrible accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.  With the world’s attention now focused on the dangers posed to nuclear plants by the conflict in Ukraine, Nuclear Free Local Authorities also want to highlight the dangers posed to coastal nuclear plants by the sea.

Operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was hit by two natural disasters, an earthquake closely followed by a tsunami, on 11 March 2011.  When the earthquake was detected, the reactors automatically shut down, cutting off the electricity supply; this in turn caused diesel electric generators to kick in to provide power to the essential coolant system. However, the 46-feet high tsunami which followed overwhelmed the sea defences, shutting off the generators and flooding reactors 1 to 4. Without coolant, a disaster unfolded with three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions and a release of radiation from reactors 1, 2, and 3.

Atmospheric radiation forced government authorities to evacuate 154,000 people from the surrounding area over a 20-mile radius; the accident was classed as a Level 7 incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale for its overall impact on neighbouring communities – the same designation given to the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986.  Radiation was carried in the air and in the oceans for many miles, and fishing in contaminated water remains prohibited to this day.

In a 2018 report, written for the NFLA by renowned independent radiation expert Dr Ian Fairlie, it was revealed that Japanese authorities attributed the deaths of nearly 2,000 people to the effects of the evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the Fukushima disaster, including at least 56 from related suicides, and evidenced the significantly increased rates of diseases, mental illness, despair and societal detachment amongst evacuees.

Many Japanese remain displaced from their original communities and are still fearful of the long-term health impact of radiation exposure, with a recent compensation case filed against TEPCO by six young adults who have suffered from thyroid cancer.

There is also the costly and problematic legacy of clean-up, including the millions of tons of seawater, used to cool the irreparable reactors and now contaminated and stored in barrels.  The Japanese government now intends to build an underwater pipe out to sea and discharge the radioactive water there. The NFLA stands in solidarity with the many Japanese who are bitterly opposed to the plans, especially the local fishing community.

NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, said: “British anti-nuclear activists will I am sure mark this anniversary sombrely. Although we see in Ukraine, nuclear power plants threatened by the conflict, we ignore at our peril the dangers posed to such facilities by our natural environment. 

“As at Fukushima, most British nuclear power plants have also been located on the coast.  Building is now underway at Hinkley Point C, and there are plans to develop further new large and smaller plants at various other sites by the sea, most notably at Sizewell and Bradwell.

The NFLA remains implacably opposed to any new nuclear plants, on grounds of cost and safety, and because of the toxic legacy of decommissioning and waste they bring. However, we must also oppose them because, although they damage our environment, in coming decades these plants might in turn be threatened by the sea.  Nuclear sites are being impacted by coastal erosion and rising sea levels caused by global heating, and military nuclear bases, including those where Trident missile submarines are based, are also under threat.”

“There has been recent excellent research on this subject and the NFLA is inviting all of those interested in the subject, particularly Councillors and anti-nuclear campaigners from coastal communities, to join us for a special webinar in April.”

Councillor Blackburn will be chairing the NFLA webinar ‘Might the sea have them? Climate change and coastal nuclear infrastructure’ on Wednesday 6 April, 6-7pm with Dr Sally Brown from Bournemouth University and NFLA Policy Advisor Pete Roche.

The link to book a place on the webinar can be found at:

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) very anxious about Chernobyl nuclear situation

 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is extremely
concerned by recent developments at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
(ChNPP) in Ukraine. The EBRD, which has been managing over €2.5 billion
in international funds to transform Chernobyl since 1995, believes that
recent events are putting in jeopardy the achievements of decades of
successful international collaboration to secure the site.

The Bank’s position on ChNPP is fully aligned with the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) and is based on the following safety and security
considerations: Uninterrupted power supply must be maintained for the
Chernobyl facilities.

Any loss of power is potentially a serious threat to
their nuclear safety. Since monitoring and control systems on site do not
work, operators will not be aware of possible risks. They must stay in
operation. The Chernobyl facilities have been operated by the same depleted
shift of employees for more than two weeks. Normal shift rotation as well
as supplies to operating staff must be ensured.

Any military action on site
is extremely dangerous for the old spent fuel storage facility housing
around 20000 RBMK fuel assemblies. Inspections by the Ukrainian regulator
and the IAEA must be allowed. Beyond Chernobyl, there are 15 VVER-type
units across Ukraine. They have a relatively weak containment and will not
withstand a direct hit, which may result in irreversible consequences. EBRD 11th March 2022https://www.ebrd.com/news/2022/ebrd-very-concerned-by-situation-at-chernobyl-nuclear-power-plant-.html

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Afghanistan, business and costs | Leave a comment

I was a nuclear missile operator. There have been more near-misses than the world knows

I was a nuclear missile operator. There have been more near-misses than the world knows        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/10/i-was-a-nuclear-missile-operator-there-have-been-more-near-misses-than-the-world-knows, Cole Smith

As a 22-year-old I controlled a warhead that could vaporize a metropolis. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the public is waking up again to the existential dangers of nuclear weapons

rom 2012 to 2017, I worked as a US air force nuclear missile operator. I was 22 when I started. Each time I descended into the missile silo, I had to be ready to launch, at a moment’s notice, a nuclear weapon that could wipe a city the size of New York off the face of the earth.

On the massive blast door of the launch control center, someone had painted a mural of a Domino’s pizza logo with the macabre caption, “World-wide delivery in 30 minutes or less or your next one is free.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, I’ve heard more discussions of nuclear war than I did in the entire nine years that I wore an air force uniform. I’m glad that people are finally discussing the existential dangers of nuclear weapons. There have been more near-misses than the world knows.

Greg Devlin was an airman assigned to an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) team in Arkansas in 1980. One night he responded to a leak in the missile’s fuel tank. A young airman working in an ICBM launch tube had accidentally dropped a socket from his toolkit; the socket fell down the silo, ricocheted, and pierced a hole in the stage-one fuel tank. The missile’s liquid fuel exploded. Devlin was thrown 60ft down an asphalt road and watched as a massive fireball rose overhead.

The ICBM had a nine-megaton warhead – the most powerful single nuclear weapon in American history – on top. When the missile exploded, the warhead was thrown into the woods, disappearing into the night.

“I was stunned and in pain but I knew the nuke hadn’t gone off,” Devlin told me, “because I remembered those stories from Hiroshima where people had been turned into little charcoal briquettes. I was alive. That’s how I knew the nuke didn’t detonate.” Although the nuclear warhead didn’t explode, the accident still claimed the life of one airman and injured 21 others, including Devlin.

When I was training as a nuclear missile operator, my instructor told me the story of what happened in Arkansas that night in 1980. It’s a famous story within the missile community. Stories like these were a way of impressing upon young officers the integrity required to be a good steward of these weapons and a warning of how quickly things can go wrong. That warning was very much on my mind as I began my first “alert” down in the claustrophobic underground missile silo that housed the launch control center.

But somewhere along my way to nearly 300 nuclear “alerts” – 24-hour shifts in command of a launch crew – I began to brush the story off as a scare tactic for rookies. Similarly, I think that after the end of the cold war, the general public allowed the threat of nuclear warfare to recede into the background. The threat simply didn’t feel real to new generations like it did to those who grew up huddling under their desks during nuclear attack drills in elementary school.

And the young crews who steward this nuclear arsenal today aren’t immune from the post-cold war malaise. In 2013, during my first year on crew, 11 ICBM officers were implicated in a drug scandal. The following year, 34 ICBM launch officers were implicated in a cheating scandal on their monthly proficiency exams.

Deborah Lee James, the secretary of the air force at the time, said, “This was a failure of integrity on the part of some of our airmen. It was not a failure of our nuclear mission.”

In this attempt to save face, Secretary James revealed a state of dissonance that every nuclear missile operator lives with. We are told, day in and day out, that our integrity is crucial to the deterrent value of nuclear weapons and helps make the world a safer place. But what man or woman of integrity could possibly launch a nuclear weapon?

As the war in Ukraine is reminding us, life with nuclear weapons is not safer or more peaceful. If you study nuclear warfare, you’ll learn about “megatons” and nuclear yields, stockpiles and budget expenditures. These numbers quantify the enormous danger of nuclear weapons but also, in rendering that danger abstract, obfuscate it.

Greg Devlin has a different set of numbers from his experience with missiles. “Since that explosion I’ve had 13 spine surgeries and two spinal stimulators. I lived the last decade of my life on morphine,” said Devlin.

Nuclear weapons turn the most important parts of life into nothing more than numbers – which is exactly the thought process needed for a society that believes that launching a nuclear missile is a viable solution to conflict. Because in the wake of a nuclear attack there will be no individuals, only numbers.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, incidents, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

UK love-in between Tories and Labour, on wasting billions of pounds on new nuclear reactors

Leslie Riddoch: THEY can melt down, contaminate a country and threaten air
and water resources across a continent. They are vulnerable to earthquake,
tsunami and war. Their energy is more expensive per unit than almost any
other kind.

Yet, listening to the love-in during Prime Ministers Questions,
it’s clear that nuclear energy is back and Johnson and Starmer are hooked
on the power of the atom to tackle the escalating energy crisis. Boris
Johnson blamed Labour for cancelling nuclear plants. Starmer
counter-claimed that Tory plants had more starts than a dodgy apprentice
(in so many words) but then listed nuclear in his own preferred energy mix.

Johnson pounced on this, proclaiming there is “more joy in heaven over
one sinner that repents” … no he couldn’t quite remember the whole
quote either. But his point was clear. Nuclear is supported by both main
Westminster parties and fresh billions will be wasted in a bid to build new
plants.

Even though no British money has gone into building nuclear power
plants for decades. Even though Hinkley C nuclear power station is a decade
late, wildly over-budget and won’t come into service till 2027 – if the
British Government finds new investors to “ease out” Chinese
state-backed group CGN.

Even though Sizewell C, if it’s ever built,
won’t produce electricity until the 2030s. Even though the average
nuclear plant can take 18 years in planning and construction, against a
tenth of that time for renewables.

And even though the unthinkable has
happened again – Chernobyl is at risk of meltdown because of a power cut.
Despite all this, Westminster hails nuclear energy as the green salvation
of the world as it struggles to make up for decades without an energy
policy or a care for this country’s energy security.

It’s the same old story. Any threat to the status quo justifies more investment in the status
quo.

But does Scotland need new nuclear? No, we emphatically do not. The
Forth/Tay offshore wind project alone significantly exceeds Scotland’s
entire electricity demand and if some of that energy can be converted into
use for transport, it could satisfy nearly all of Scotland’s entire
energy needs. And supply England. Even when Scotland becomes independent,
we will continue to green England with renewable energy at the best price
they’ll get anywhere.

With tidal and wave energy, heat pumps, local
community grids and district heating for home energy also in the mix,
Scotland should be laughing all the way to the Green Bank. The German
Institute for Economic Research examined 674 nuclear power plants built
across the world since 1951 and found the average plant made a loss of
€4.8 billion. Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science at
Harvard University and wrote recently in Scientific American: “The most
recent US nuclear power reactors were started in 2013 and are still not
finished.

What about small modular reactors (SMRs)? Rolls Royce says
smaller reactors can be constructed more cheaply, built in a factory,
transported in modules and fitted together “like meccano”. Neither
Johnson nor Starmer championed plans – also announced yesterday – for a
new Severn Tidal Barrage. Local councils are working together to get
electricity from the second biggest tidal range in the world which, if
successfully harnessed, could generate 7% of the UK’s total energy needs.
And yet, this is the 15th attempt in the past 200 years. What’s the
problem? According to Councillor Huw Thomas, the leader of Cardiff City
Council: “The UK Government has so far not lent its support … due to a
perceived requirement for high levels of public investment and concerns
over the environmental impact … in the Severn Estuary.”

 The National 10th March 2022

https://www.thenational.scot/politics/19981712.nuclear-energy-wont-work-scotland/

March 12, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment