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Ukraine War Has No End in Sight

  Ukraine’s current status as a wartime non-Nato ally has strengthened a long-held goal of the US and Nato of neutralizing Russia as a long-term military threat to Europe — in short, by transforming Ukraine’s military into a de facto Nato proxy.

As things stand, the best Russia can hope for is a permanent state of conflict with Ukraine — which would accomplish the US goal of “weakening” Russia.

Neither Russia nor Nato knows where and how escalation would end.

https://www.energyintel.com/00000180-d669-d410-aba9-f66dbd120000, Author Scott Ritter, Washington, May 18, 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is grinding its way toward its inevitable conclusion, namely Russian control over the Donbas region. But this will not end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has expanded in scope and scale beyond the capabilities of the Russian military resources originally allocated. With no diplomatic off-ramp on the horizon, the war risks becoming a permanent state of conflict between Russia and Ukraine — with unknown consequences.

As the Ukraine conflict enters its third month, the Kremlin looks likely to achieve its major military objective of securing physical control over the eastern Donbas region. Peripheral territorial acquisition of the strategic southern city of Kherson, as well as a swath of territory connecting Crimea to the Donbas and the border of the Russian Federation, also looks likely.

While it seems clear that Ukraine will not be formally joining Nato any time soon, if ever, the reality is that the war has reforged the relationship between Ukraine and the trans-Atlantic alliance in a way that transforms the way the two entities work together. Ukraine’s current status as a wartime non-Nato ally has strengthened a long-held goal of the US and Nato of neutralizing Russia as a long-term military threat to Europe — in short, by transforming Ukraine’s military into a de facto Nato proxy.

Game Changer

Nato’s decision to arm Ukraine, combined with the willingness of several Nato nations to allow their territory to be used for training, has provided the Ukrainian military with the kind of strategic depth that was unimaginable when the war began on Feb. 24. The transition from supplying light anti-armor and anti-aircraft missiles to heavy weaponry such as artillery and armor has also enabled Ukraine to begin the process of reconstituting the heavy brigades that Russia is destroying in eastern Ukraine.

The creation of an impregnable Ukrainian strategic rear is a game changer. First and foremost, it provides Ukraine with the means to rearm, refit and re-equip its forces to Nato standards without fear of Russian intervention. This not only counters Russia’s stated military objective of “demilitarization” of Ukraine’s forces, but also steels the resolve of the Ukrainian government to reject any settlement that obliges them to embrace neutrality in perpetuity.

Russia’s efforts to disrupt the injection of Nato-provided supplies and material have proven haphazard at best. While warehouses containing military equipment have been identified and destroyed, Ukrainian units equipped with the latest US and Nato weapons are still appearing on the front lines. Likewise, while Russia has targeted Ukraine’s petroleum refining and storage capacity, the continued provision by Nato countries of refined petroleum products allows the Ukrainian military to remain mechanized. In short, while Russia will likely accomplish the objective of securing the Donbas and associated regions, unless it is willing to expand the scope and scale of its current interdiction efforts, it will not be able to bring to a successful conclusion its state of war with Ukraine.

Escalating Tensions

There currently is no identifiable diplomatic off-ramp for either Ukraine or Russia to end the conflict. Rather, all existing trends point to continued escalation. While Ukraine and Nato have constructed the strategic depth to allow Ukraine’s continued resistance, Russia’s current military configuration remains inadequate to the task of matching this mobilization. As things stand, the best Russia can hope for is a permanent state of conflict with Ukraine — which would accomplish the US goal of “weakening” Russia.

Add in expected pressures on Russia from Nato expansion in northern Europe (Finland and Sweden), and rising tensions involving Transnistria (a pro-Russian breakaway state between Ukraine and Moldova), and the current situation appears untenable for Russia without a broader mobilization of its military resources. While the outcome of any such action is impossible to predict, one thing is sure: Neither Russia nor Nato knows where and how such escalation would end.

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer whose service over a 20-plus-year career included tours of duty in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control agreements, serving on the staff of US Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Gulf War and later as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq from 1991-98. 

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May 21, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Seismic Concerns at Los Angeles Nuclear Laboratory and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production

Seismic Concerns at LANL and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production http://nuclearactive.org/, May 19th, 2022, Ongoing  Plutonium operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 are centered in the middle of the 36-square mile national nuclear weapons facility.  LANL is the only U.S. facility with the capabilities to fabricate plutonium triggers, or the fissile pits, for nuclear weapons.  However, Technical Area 55, or TA-55, is located within the complex Pajarito Fault Zone between two young, north – south running faults called the Guaje Mountain and    Rendija Canyon faults.  Visual evidence of faulting     can be found in the canyons to the north of TA-55.  http://nuclearactive.org/gilkeson/ see Seismic Documents.

The U.S. Department of Energy owns LANL.  It has plans for expansion of all things plutonium-pit production at the Plutonium Facility and at least five new support buildings at TA-55.  CCNS anticipates that DOE will continue its efforts to conceal and ignore the reality of the growing seismic threats of the young faults.

We witnessed similar efforts in the mid-2000s when DOE began to design a new super Walmart-sized Nuclear Facility within TA-55 next door to the Plutonium Facility.  DOE was so bold as to dig into the volcanic tuff with heavy equipment to prepare a pad for future construction.  http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/030510.html  In the end, public opposition and escalating costs forced the cancellation of its plans.  http://nuclearactive.org/livestreamed-nuclear-safety-board-hearing-on-february-21st-in-albuquerque/

Fabricating plutonium pits for nuclear weapons involves many steps – some using aqueous processes that result in water contaminated with radiation and hazardous materials.  That water is treated across the street from the Plutonium Facility at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility and for decades was discharged through an industrial outfall into Effluent Canyon.  Since November 2011, though, the treated water has been evaporated into the air at a mechanical evaporator.  

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency renewed the five-year industrial permit for LANL to discharge through Outfall 051 into Effluent Canyon.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-industrial-wastewater-permit-final-npdes-permit-no-nm0028355

We note that on May 11th, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and the Albuquerque Veterans for Peace, Chapter No. 63, appealed the EPA decision to permit the outfall and five others to the Environmental Appeals Board.  https://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/f22b4b245fab46c6852570e6004df1bd/ba987f24df0c356085258837004f3dcd

Then on May 5th, the New Mexico Environment Department approved for the first time a ground water discharge permit for not only for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, the outfall and Mechanical Evaporator, but for two large solar evaporative tanks, and a new low-level radioactive liquid waste treatment facility.  In addition, DOE plans to build a liquid waste treatment facility for the transuranic plutonium liquid waste.  https://www.env.nm.gov/public-notices/, go to Los Alamos County, and scroll down to DP-1132 where the draft permit is posted, but not the final permit.

These facilities are all in support of DOE’s plans for expanded plutonium pit production at LANL.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, safety, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The extent of American radiation exposure is larger than you think

U.S. nuclear bomb testing spread radiation across the vast majority of the country  https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2022/5/20/23125918/opinion-the-extent-of-american-radiation-exposure-nuclear-bomb-testing-reca By John LaForge, Readers’ Forum,  May 21, 2022


In a May 3 editorial board opinion “The steep price of America bombing its own people,” it says “the interior West of the United States” is “the only part of the nation exposed repeatedly, over many years, to fallout from nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States government.”

This is a gross underestimation of the nationwide extent of radioactive fallout spread from U.S. bomb testing in the atmosphere, fallout which, in fact, contaminated each and every county in the continental United States.

The board must certainly know of the groundbreaking October 1997 report by the National Cancer Institute, “Estimated Exposures and Thyroid Doses Received by the American People from Iodine-131 in Fallout Following Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests.”

This report notes in its executive summary and in multiple map illustrations that “Some radioiodine was deposited everywhere in the United States, with the highest deposits immediately downwind of the NTS (Nevada test site).”

The report notes that “Ninety nuclear tests … released about 150 million curies of iodine-131, mainly in the years 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957.” Of course beyond just iodine-131, there were dozens of other dangerous radioactive materials in the fallout. Radioiodine alone was studied because after being deposited on grass, it quickly contaminated cow’s milk and consequently the infants, children and adults that consumed the milk.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | NORTH AMERICA, radiation | Leave a comment

UK Public Accounts Committee warns on need to double-check on safety of aging nuclear reactors

Ageing nuclear reactors must be ‘double-checked’ for safety before
being kept going to ease energy crisis. Closure of seven nuclear reactors
by 2028 will ‘significantly reduce’ UK energy generation, the Public
Accounts Committee warns, and taxpayers face billions of pounds in extra
costs.

 iNews 20th May 2022

https://inews.co.uk/news/business/ageing-nuclear-reactors-double-checked-safety-ease-energy-crisis-costs-1640564

May 21, 2022 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee sets out the grim facts on costs of decommissioning nuclear reactors

Despite government already having had to provide additional funding of
£10.7 billion, there remains a strong likelihood that more taxpayers’
money will be required to meet the costs of decommissioning the seven
Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor nuclear power stations.

The Nuclear Liabilities Fund, which was set up to meet the decommissioning costs of these stations,
has not kept up with the increased costs of decommissioning or met its
investment targets. In response, government has chosen to top up the Fund
with taxpayers’ money, providing an injection of capital of £5.1 billion
in 2020–21 with a further £5.6 billion expected in 2021–22. HM
Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have
opted to maintain an investment strategy for the Fund whereby around 80% of
its assets are invested in the National Loans Fund currently earning
minimal returns.

Estimated decommissioning costs on the other hand have
almost doubled since March 2004, estimated at £23.5 billion in March 2021,
and there remains a significant risk that the costs could rise further
putting strain on the Fund.

 Public Accounts Committee 20th May 2022

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmpubacc/118/summary.html

May 21, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Costs of Hinkley Point C nuclear station predicted to balloon out

 France’s EDF has warned that the costs of the Hinkley Point C nuclear
power plant under construction in the south-west of England could balloon
by an additional £3bn, while it also warned of further delays because of
supply chain problems arising from Covid-19 lockdowns.

In a statement released late on Thursday evening, the French state-backed utility
estimated that the 3.2 gigawatt plant in Somerset could cost a total of
£25bn-£26bn compared to an estimate of £18bn when it received the
go-ahead in 2016.

It is now anticipated that the first of the two
next-generation European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) being installed at
Hinkley Point C will start generating electricity in June 2027 — a year
later than previously scheduled — but EDF added that the “risk of
further delay of the two units is assessed at 15 months”. EDF has been
forced to revise up the costs of the project on numerous occasions. At the
most recent revision in January 2021, it had estimated the total at £23bn.

EDF quotes costs in 2015 prices in order to maintain consistency for the
markets but the real bill will be even higher after accounting for
inflation. EDF stressed that the additional costs would not affect UK
consumers. The construction costs are being met by EDF and its junior
partner in the project, China’s CGN, in return for a 35-year contract
that guarantees a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity
produced, rising with inflation.

In a note sent to Hinkley Point C workers
on Thursday, the project’s managing director Stuart Crooks blamed
lockdowns during the pandemic, during which it had to reduce the number of
staff who could safely operate on site from about 5,000 to 1,500. “In
civil construction alone, having fewer people than planned means we lost in
excess of half a million individual days of critical work in 2020 and
2021,” he wrote. “Our supply chain was also hit hard and is still
impacted now. In April 2020, 180 suppliers were fully shut down, but even
as late as February this year, more than 60 suppliers were operating with
reduced productivity due to Covid.”

However, the further delays will not
surprise critics of the company. In France, EDF’s flagship Flamanville 3
plant, which will also use EPR technology, is running more than a decade
behind schedule and costs have also spiralled, sparking at one point a
rebuke by the French government as it ordered the group to address issues
with project management and industrial skills. At the same time as
suffering problems with new projects, EDF faces outages at several existing
reactors in France because of welding problems, sending nuclear output to
its lowest level in decades.

 FT 20th May 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/7cebc600-3bad-48f7-9b33-11fc7cedac32

May 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

UK nuclear power stations’ decommissioning cost soars to £23.5bn

UK nuclear power stations’ decommissioning cost soars to £23.5bn  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/20/uk-nuclear-power-stations-decommissioning-cost Failures in government’s investment strategy mean taxpayer has contributed £10.7bn in just two yearsm Sandra Laville Environment correspondent Fri 20 May 2022

The cost of decommissioning the UK’s seven ageing nuclear power stations has nearly doubled to £23.5bn and is likely to rise further, the public accounts committee has said.

The soaring costs of safely decommissioning the advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs), including Dungeness B, Hunterston B and Hinkley B, are being loaded on to the taxpayer, their report said.

Failures in the government’s investment strategy for the fund, which was set up to pay for the decommissioning, have led to the taxpayer topping it up by an additional £10.7bn in just two years.

The nuclear power stations are owned by EDF Energy and provide much of the UK’s nuclear power-generated electricity, which makes up 16% of the energy mix. But the stations are nearing the end of their lives and are scheduled to stop generating electricity during this decade.

The government has recently agreed that once the stations have been defuelled by EDF, which involves the removal of all the spent fuel from the reactor core and cooling ponds, ownership of the stations will be transferred to the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to complete decommissioning.

“The pace at which the stations can be defuelled could have a big impact on the costs, between £3.1bn and £8bn depending on the time taken,” the inquiry report said. “Successful defuelling will depend on all parties being ready and working together, including the NDA being ready to receive and dismantle the volume of fuel arriving at Sellafield. Any delays in the defuelling process could result in costs increasing substantially.

“The handover agreement does not appear to sufficiently ‘incentivise cost efficiency and ensure a smooth transfer of defuelled stations to the NDA’.”

The public accounts committee also said it had concerns over whether the NDA had the capacity to take on the seven AGR stations in addition to its other responsibilities, which includes decommissioning the older Magnox reactors.

It will cost the UK taxpayer £132bn to decommission all the UK’s civil nuclear sites and the work will not be completed for another 120 years, according to latest estimates.

Boris Johnson has pledged to build eight nuclear power stations in eight years. But the UK has no facility for permanently and safely storing the waste from past, present or future nuclear power stations. Most is currently stored at Sellafield, one of the most complex and hazardous nuclear sites in the world.


Nuclear Waste Services
, an arm of the government, is seeking a site to build a geological deposit facility deep underground for all the UK’s nuclear waste.

MPs on the public accounts committee said in their report on Friday the government must learn lessons from the rising costs of decommissioning the seven AGR reactors and be clear how the decommissioning of proposed new nuclear stations would be funded.

The seven stations were sold by the government to EDF in 2009, with the later agreement that the French company would remove the fuel from the stations when they closed, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority would take on the decommissioning of the sites. But the cost of decommissioning the seven AGR reactors that began to close last year, plus Sizewell B, has more than doubled from £12.6bn in 2004-05 to £23.5bn in 2020-21, the public accounts committee report said.

“There remain significant uncertainties that will need to be managed to prevent further increases in costs and ease pressures on the fund,” the report said. “The cost of defuelling will depend on the stations not closing significantly earlier than planned and how quickly they can be defuelled once electricity generation ceases.”

The public accounts committee, in a previous report, said the cost of decommissioning the older Magnox reactors – which were the first generation of UK nuclear stations – had increased by billions of pounds because of uncertainty over the condition of the sites and how to tackle the decommissioning.

The PAC report said the closure of seven nuclear stations by 2028 would have a significant impact on energy production, but EDF has said there can be no extensions to the life of the reactors while the UK waits for new generating capacity to come online.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | 1 Comment

Nuclear Fusion Is Already Facing a Fuel Crisis

It doesn’t even work yet, but nuclear fusion has encountered a shortage of tritium, the key fuel source for the most prominent experimental reactors

” …………………  Like many of the most prominent experimental nuclear fusion reactors, ITER relies on a steady supply of both deuterium and tritium for its experiments. Deuterium can be extracted from seawater, but tritium—a radioactive isotope of hydrogen—is incredibly rare.

Atmospheric levels peaked in the 1960s, before the ban on testing nuclear weapons, and according to the latest estimates there is less than 20 kg (44 pounds) of tritium on Earth right now. And as ITER drags on, years behind schedule and billions over budget, our best sources of tritium to fuel it and other experimental fusion reactors are slowly disappearing.

Right now, the tritium used in fusion experiments like ITER, and the smaller JET tokamak in the UK, comes from a very specific type of nuclear fission reactor called a heavy-water moderated reactor. But many of these reactors are reaching the end of their working life, and there are fewer than 30 left in operation worldwide—20 in Canada, four in South Korea, and two in Romania, each producing about 100 grams of tritium a year. (India has plans to build more, but it is unlikely to make its tritium available to fusion researchers.)

But this is not a viable long-term solution—the whole point of nuclear fusion is to provide a cleaner and safer alternative to traditional nuclear fission power. “It would be an absurdity to use dirty fission reactors to fuel ‘clean’ fusion reactors,” says Ernesto Mazzucato, a retired physicist who has been an outspoken critic of ITER, and nuclear fusion more generally, despite spending much of his working life studying tokamaks.

The second problem with tritium is that it decays quickly. It has a half-life of 12.3 years, which means that when ITER is ready to start deuterium-tritium operations (in, as it happens, about 12.3 years), half of the tritium available today will have decayed into helium-3. The problem will only get worse after ITER is switched on, when several more deuterium-tritium (D-T) successors are planned.

These twin forces have helped turn tritium from an unwanted byproduct of nuclear fission that had to be carefully disposed of into, by some estimates, the most expensive substance on Earth. It costs $30,000 per gram, and it’s estimated that working fusion reactors will need up to 200 kg of it a year. To make matters worse, tritium is also coveted by nuclear weapons programs, because it helps makes bombs more powerful—although militaries tend to make it themselves, because Canada, which has the bulk of the world’s tritium production capacity, refuses to sell it for nonpeaceful purposes.

…………………………………   the mainstream fusion community is still pinning its hopes on ITER, despite the potential supply problems for its key fuel. “Fusion is really, really difficult, and anything other than deuterium-tritium is going to be 100 times more difficult,” says Willms. “A century from now maybe we can talk about something else.”   https://www.wired.com/story/nuclear-fusion-is-already-facing-a-fuel-crisis/

May 21, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

Americans Divided on Nuclear Energy

News Gallup poll. BY LYDIA SAAD, 20 May 22

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • 51% of Americans favor, 47% oppose nuclear energy, similar to 2019
  • Recent views contrast with 2004 to 2015, when majorities backed it
  • Republicans and independents in favor, but not Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are evenly split on whether nuclear energy should be a source of electricity in the U.S., with 51% in favor and 47% opposed. Three years ago, the two camps were tied at 49%, while in 2016, the majority (54%) opposed nuclear power.

Americans’ relatively limited support for nuclear energy in recent years contrasts with more solid backing from 2004 to 2015, when majorities of between 53% and 62% favored it.

……………………….. As Gallup has found previously, support for nuclear energy also differs sharply by gender, while it varies modestly by education. Older adults are slightly more positive than those younger than 55, but differences by age have been less consistent over time.

  • Sixty-three percent of men versus 39% of women are in favor of using nuclear energy for electricity.
  • Support by education ranges from 57% of college graduates to 50% of those with some college experience and 45% of those with no college.
  • A 57% majority of adults 55 and older favor nuclear energy, compared with half of 18- to 34-year-olds and 45% of those aged 35 to 54.

……………………………….   https://news.gallup.com/poll/392831/americans-divided-nuclear-energy.aspx

May 21, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment

EU lawmakers move to block green investment label for gas and nuclear

By Kate Abnett,  BRUSSELS, May 20 (Reuters) – European Union lawmakers will attempt to block a plan to label gas and nuclear energy as sustainable investments as Europe wrestles with reducing its carbon dioxide emissions to address climate change.

The European Commission, which is the EU executive, this year proposed including gas and nuclear in the bloc’s sustainable finance taxonomy, a system for labelling climate-friendly investments.

“The European Commission has violated the spirit and letter of the law by labelling highly controversial and polluting energy sources as ‘sustainable’,” Green lawmaker Bas Eickhout, one of the signatories to a resolution to veto the rules, said.

The Commission proposal was arrived at after nearly two years of internal EU wrangling, and split opinion among members and lawmakers, who disagree on the green credentials of gas and nuclear.

The resolution brought by lawmakers said gas and nuclear could not be considered sustainable based on the underlying EU law on the taxonomy, and would cause confusion among investors.

EU lawmakers were not given “proper opportunity” to provide comments before the Commission published the proposal, it added.

By reserving the “green” label for only investments that are truly climate-friendly, the taxonomy was designed to help steer billions of euros into the low-carbon investments needed to meet EU climate goals.

………………….   At least half of parliament’s 705 lawmakers would need to reject the rules. Two committees will vote on the resolution next month, followed by the full assembly.

The rules could also be rejected by 20 of the EU’s 27 countries, a threshold seen as unlikely to be reached.  https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/eu-lawmakers-move-block-green-investment-label-gas-nuclear-2022-05-20/

May 21, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

France’s woes with nuclear power plants means more energy uncertainty for Europe

The utility cut its forecast as it realised that “stress corrosion” issues affecting some of its reactors will require more checks and repairs. Irish Examiner, THU, 19 MAY, 2022. LARS PAULSSON, JESPER STARN AND FRANCOIS DE BEAUPUY

The woes facing the nuclear power stations at France’s EDF — Europe’s largest electricity producer — will increase the pressure on war-hit European energy markets after the summer. 

EDF, which is the backbone of Europe’s integrated power system, cut its nuclear output target for a third time this year, the latest sign that Europe’s power crisis is worsening. 

Western Europe has for decades relied on exports of power from EDF’s nuclear stations. The cuts are another blow to European energy security just as the region is weaning itself off Russian supplies of everything from natural gas to coal and oil because of the war in Ukraine.

Less output from EDF is sending prices higher just as soaring inflation is pushing up costs for everything from petrol to food. It could get even worse in winter as France, traditionally an exporter of electricity, may be forced to import more from its neighbours.

French prices are the most expensive in Europe, with contracts for the period almost double levels in Germany. The utility cut its forecast as it realised that “stress corrosion” issues affecting some of its reactors will require more checks and repairs. The outlook for the following year remains unchanged for now, the firm said. 

“We fine-tuned the repairs to be made,” Regis Clement, deputy head of the company’s nuclear division, said during a media conference. “We’ve got to cut more pipes” to carry out further checks “and more repairs to handle”, he said.The big test will come when temperatures start to fall toward the end of the year. It won’t take many days of cold weather to jeopardise French power supplies, according to Emeric de Vigan, chief executive officer at French energy analysis firm Cor-e.“With such poor nuclear availability, if we reach 2 degrees Celsius below normal in the winter for a few days we could be in trouble, it would be really tight,” Mr de Vigan said. Paying customers and factories to lower consumption are steps that likely will need to be taken, he said. ……………….   https://www.irishexaminer.com/business/economy/arid-40876541.html

May 21, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics international, safety | Leave a comment

Five new plutonium buildings for Los Alamos National Laboratory, with the costly funding details rather obscure

Nuclear agency plans five new plutonium buildings at Los Alamos lab, Santa Fe New Mexican , By Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com, May 18, 2022  

As a further sign Los Alamos National Laboratory is inching toward its 2026 target for making 30 warhead triggers a year, nuclear security managers plan to construct five buildings in the lab’s plutonium complex over the next five years, in part to support that effort.

A new building would be funded annually, beginning in fiscal year 2023, with the aim of supporting production of the bomb cores, known as pits, and other plutonium operations, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s budget request for the coming year.

The total cost of the five buildings will be more than $240 million………………….

One critic of the lab’s pit production plans said each of the buildings was priced just under the $50 million threshold that would trigger a more rigorous congressional review.

That might allow the lab to change the office buildings into something else later for a different purpose, such as producing more pits, said Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group.

“No one ever talked about these costs before,” Mello said. “We don’t think this is the end of the surprises. There are more surprises to come.”

The federal budget for plutonium operations has climbed steeply in recent years, both at the lab and at Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where officials hope to make an additional 50 pits yearly by the mid-2030s.

Under the U.S. Department of Energy’s draft budget, the lab’s plutonium modernization funding would climb to $1.56 billion in 2023 from the current year’s $1 billion, more than a 50 percent increase.

At the same time, the nuclear security agency, an Energy Department branch, has proposed funneling $700 million this coming year toward converting Savannah River Site into a pit factory. That’s a sizable jump from the $475 million spent for that purpose in the last budget cycle………………….

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said federal officials want the lab’s pit plant to be able to produce up to 80 pits for short periods.

He contends the lab is likely to use this “surge capacity” given the longer time it will take for Savannah River to begin production……………..  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/nuclear-agency-plans-five-new-plutonium-buildings-at-los-alamos-lab/article_48acffdc-d5fb-11ec-985e-5b26a02df8f5.html

May 21, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s grip on Europe’s nuclear power industry – this is being ignored

Europe needs a plan in place for cutting ties with Russia’s nuclear
giant Rosatom, says 2021 Right Livelihood Award winner and co-chairman of
Ecodefense Vladimir Slivyak. With the European Union tightening its
sanctions against Russia, banning Russian imports of oil, gas, and coal has
emerged as one powerful tool to starve the Kremlin’s war machine of
funding it needs to continue its brutal aggression in Ukraine.

But one other major source of Russia’s revenue in Europe has largely remained
unnoticed: Russia’s supplies of nuclear fuel and services to European
nuclear power plants.

Seeking to close this gap in Europe’s concerted
action against the war in Ukraine and to provide a comprehensive picture of
the union’s reliance on Russian nuclear technology, environmentalists
Patricia Lorenz, of Friends of the Earth Europe, and Vladimir Slivyak, a
2021 Right Livelihood Award laureate and co-chairman of the Russian
environmental group Ecodefense, on Wednesday jointly presented Russian Grip
on EU Nuclear Power – an overview of Russia’s businesses and supply
chains serving the European nuclear market.

 Eco Defense 19th May 2022

May 21, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Opposition mounts against 25-year licence extension request from New Brunswick nuclear plant with no long-term waste disposal plan

By Cloe Logan National Observer May 20th 2022      Sitting on the Bay of Fundy, one of the seven wonders of North America, is the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station. New Brunswick Power hopes it will remain there a good long time: the company has asked for an unprecedented 25-year licence extension, prompting pushback during a recent round of public hearings.

Coming into operation in the 1980s, the station is one of four in Canada and the only nuclear power station outside of Ontario. Consisting of a singular CANDU reactor, a heavy-water reactor that generates power, Point Lepreau’s current licence renewal is reaching a close, so the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is required to grant a new one. The current term is five years, as was the one before that.

The request to operate until 2047 has raised concerns from numerous people, who say a shorter licence should be granted instead, and during that time, NB Power should focus on a decommissioning plan. So far, the CNSC has suggested a 20-year extension but will release its final decision before June 30, when the current licence expires. If the commission deems more information is needed, it could grant a short extension while deliberating, a spokesperson told Canada’s National Observer.

Many environmentalists oppose nuclear plants of any sort, insisting they stand in the way of cleaner and more sustainable renewable energy, such as wind. Although the CANDU reactor doesn’t directly produce carbon dioxide like oil or gas, the process produces harmful nuclear waste, and opponents say the cost and risk make it a poor solution to the climate crisis.

The concern around waste is top of mind for one Indigenous community — the Passamaquoddy, whose traditional territory includes Point Lepreau where the nuclear reactor is sited. Chief Hugh Akagi said at a public hearing in Saint John last week that a three-year extension would be more reasonable. As an intervenor through the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group (PRG), Akagi is deeply concerned about the nuclear waste resulting from the reactors. Nuclear waste is currently stored at Point Lepreau but will need to be moved elsewhere in the future. He notes there is no plan for long-term storage; the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is currently responsible for finding somewhere to bury the spent fuel but needs to convince a community to take on the responsibility.

The Passamaquoddy Tribe spans across New Brunswick and Maine’s borders and are a federally recognized group in the States but not in Canada. Although they don’t have First Nations status, the Passamoquoddy in New Brunswick have a government and have been seeking recognition for decades.The nation wasn’t consulted about storing nuclear waste on its land, which goes against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), the PRG stated. It pointed to Article 29.2, which says: “States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of Indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.”…………………………    https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/05/20/news/opposition-against-25-year-licence-extension-request-nb-nuclear-plant

May 21, 2022 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

From Russia with very expensive love – Karyn Maughan on South Africa’s bombed nuclear deal 

 https://www.biznews.com/global-investing/2022/05/19/nuclear-deal-russia 19th May 2022, by Michael Appel  

Jacob Zuma‘s presidency will be remembered for the wholesale looting of South Africa’s fiscus by him, his family, his friends the Guptas, and the political party he led – but also don’t forget how fiscus-destroyingly close we came to indebting future generations with a Russian nuclear deal.

In their new tell-all book, Nuclear: Inside South Africa’s Secret Deal, Karyn Maughan and Kirsten Pearson make the minutiae of the R1trn nuclear deal with Russia understandable and digestible. In this interview with Maughan, BizNews deputy editor Michael Appel seeks to better understand the dynamics behind the failed nuclear deal.

Plus, an update on the current state of Zuma’s arms deal corruption trial.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment