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Sorry, Elon

So, uh, there might be a serious wrench in Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars.

According to an alarming — though yet-to-be-peer-reviewed — new study, astronauts who underwent a crewed mission to the Red Planet would likely face devastating levels of radiation — even when wearing protective metal shields.

Bad Trip

In order to realistically examine how much cumulative radiation the astronauts would face, the scientists based their research on a 1,000-day crewed mission — 600 days of travel time, 400 days on the Martian surface — to our neighboring planet.

As New Scientist reports, the work was partially inspired by the gender gap in space radiation research. Most studies in the field have focused on male bodies — NASA, in fact, is only sending test dummies with female anatomies into space for the first time this year.

With that in mind, the scientists were sure to include comprehensive virtual models of both male and female anatomies in their study. These models were then mercilessly pelted with simulated cosmic radiation, including that caused by solar flares, and studied using particle-tracking software usually used in particle accelerator research. (It’s also worth noting that the model accounted for exposures with aluminum shielding and without.)

Radiation Station

And regarding whether such missions would be safe or not, the results were unfortunately in favor of “not.”

After surveying the impact of the 1,000-day simulated mission on over 40 of the digitally-modeled body parts and organs, the researchers determined that most of the individual organs examined contained radiation levels over one sievert — as New Scientist reports, most space agencies worldwide stipulate that no astronaut should be exposed to over one sievert of radiation throughout their entire career, while NASA maintains that 0.6 sieverts should be the max.

As the study has yet to be peer reviewed, none of this data is entirely certain. But if it ultimately checks out, humanity definitely has some protective measures to figure out before any astronauts — let alone a whole chunk of humanity — could safely make their way to Earth’s dusty red neighbor.

READ MORE:Mars astronauts would get unsafe radiation doses even with shielding [New Scientist]


August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, space travel | Leave a comment

UK nuclear to be branded green to lure investors

Treasury may classify reactors as eco-friendly to win pension fund backing for Sizewell C. The Government is set to rebrand nuclear power as green energy to lure reluctant investors to get behind Sizewell C.

Nuclear power is included in a draft report from the Treasury laying out which energy sources are classed as eco-friendly, a sources told The Mail on Sunday. This may clear the way for big City investors, including pension funds, to invest in nuclear power, such as the planned £20billion power station on the Suffolk

 Mail on Sunday 14th Aug 2022

August 14, 2022 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear war between two nations could spark global famine

A pall of smoke from burning cities would engulf Earth, causing worldwide crop failures, models show. Witze 15 Aug 22.

Even a small conflict in which two nations unleash nuclear weapons on each other could lead to worldwide famine, new research suggests. Soot from burning cities would encircle the planet and cool it by reflecting sunlight back into space. This in turn would cause global crop failures that — in a worst-case scenario — could put 5 billion people on the brink of death.

“A large percent of the people will be starving,” says Lili Xia, a climate scientist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who led the work. “It’s really bad.”

The research, published on 15 August in Nature Food1, is the latest in a decades-long thought experiment about the global consequences of nuclear war. It seems especially relevant today as Russia’s war against Ukraine has disrupted global food supplies, underscoring the far-reaching impacts of a regional conflict.

Scenarios big and small

Nuclear war comes with a range of lethal impacts, from killing people directly in atomic blasts to the lingering effects of radiation and other environmental pollution. Xia and her colleagues wanted to look at the consequences farther afield from the scene of war, to explore how people all around the planet could also suffer.

They modelled how climate would change in various parts of the world following a nuclear war, and how crops and fisheries would respond to those changes. The scientists analysed six war scenarios, each of which would put different amounts of soot into the atmosphere, and drop surface temperatures from anywhere between 1 and 16 °C. The effects could linger for a decade or more.

A nuclear war between India and Pakistan, perhaps triggered over the disputed Kashmir region, could loft between 5 million and 47 million tonnes of soot into the atmosphere, depending on how many warheads were deployed and cities destroyed. A full-out nuclear war between the United States and Russia could produce 150 million tonnes of soot. The globe-encircling pall would persist for years until the skies eventually cleared.

Using data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Xia’s team calculated how declining crop yields and fishery catches after a nuclear war would affect the number of calories available for people to eat. The scientists studied several options, such as whether people continued to raise livestock or whether they routed some or all crops meant for livestock to humans instead. The study assumed there would be some repurposing of biofuel crops for human consumption, and people would cut back on or eliminate food waste. It also assumed that international trade would stop as countries chose to feed people within their own borders rather than exporting food.

Xia notes that the study relies on many assumptions and simplifications about how the complex global food system would respond to a nuclear war. But the numbers are stark. For even the smallest war scenario, of an India–Pakistan conflict that results in 5 million tonnes of soot, calorie production across the planet could drop by 7% in the first five years after the war.

In a 47-million-tonnes-of-soot scenario, global average calories drop by up to 50%. In the worst case of a United States–Russia war, calorie production drops by 90% three to four years after the war.

‘Let’s move to Australia’

The nations most affected would be those at mid to high latitudes, which already have a short season for growing crops and which would cool more dramatically after a nuclear war than tropical regions would. The United Kingdom, for instance, would see sharper drops in food available than a country such as India that is located at lower latitudes. But France, which is a major exporter of food, would fare relatively well — at least in the lower-emission scenarios — because if trade were halted, it would have more food available for its own people.

Another less-affected nation is Australia. Isolated from trade in the wake of a nuclear war, Australia would rely mainly on wheat for food. And wheat would grow relatively well in the cooler climate induced by atmospheric soot. On the team’s map showing large portions of the world coloured red, for starvation, Australia gleams an untouched green, even in the severe war scenarios. “The first time I showed my son the map, the first reaction he had is ‘let’s move to Australia,’” Xia says.

The study is a useful step towards understanding the global food impacts of a regional nuclear war, says Deepak Ray, a food-security researcher at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul. But more work is needed to accurately simulate the complex mix of how crops are produced around the world, he says. For instance, the research took into consideration national crop production numbers, but reality is much more nuanced, with different crops being grown in different regions of a country for different purposes.

Nuclear war might seem less of a threat than it did during the cold war, but there are still nine countries with more than 12,000 nuclear warheads among them. Understanding the potential consequences of nuclear war in detail could help nations better assess the risks.

“It is rare to happen — but if it happens, it affects everyone,” Ray says. “These are dangerous things.”



August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Inside Lockheed Martin’s Sweeping Recruitment on College Campuses

Our investigation found this unfettered recruiting access to be part of a deeper and growing enmeshment between universities and the defense industry.

at many college STEM programs around the country have become pipelines for weapons contractors.

if you’re an engineering student at Georgia Tech, Lockheed is omnipresent.

Reader Supported News, Indigo Olivier/In These Times 14 august 22

To a casual observer, the Black Hawk and Sikorsky S-76 helicopters may have seemed incongruous landing next to the student union on the University of Connecticut’s pastoral green campus, but this particular Thursday in September 2018 was Lockheed Martin Day, and the aircraft were the main attraction.

A small group of students stood nearby, signs in hand, protesting Lockheed’s presence and informing others about a recent massacre.

Weeks earlier, 40 children had been killed when a Saudi-led coalition air strike dropped a 500-pound bomb on a school bus in northern Yemen. A CNN investigation found that Lockheed — the world’s largest weapons manufacturer — had sold the precision-guided munition to Saudi Arabia a year prior in a $110 billion arms deal brokered under former President Donald Trump.

Back in Storrs, Conn., Lockheed, which has a longstanding partnership with UConn, appeared on campus to recruit with TED-style talks, flight simulations, technology demos and on-the-spot interviews. A few lucky students took a helicopter flight around campus.

UConn is among at least a dozen universities that participate in Lockheed Martin Day, part of a sweeping national effort to establish defense industry recruitment pipelines in college STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. Dozens of campuses nationwide now have corporate partnerships with Lockheed and other weapons manufacturers.

Lockheed is the country’s single largest government contractor, producing Black Hawks, F-35 fighter jets, Javelin anti-tank systems and the Hellfire missiles found on Predator drones. With more than 114,000 employees, the company depends on a pool of highly skilled and highly specialized workers, complete with the ability to obtain proper security clearances when needed. In its most recent annual report, Lockheed tells investors, “We increasingly compete with commercial technology companies outside of the aerospace and defense industry for qualified technical, cyber and scientific positions as the number of qualified domestic engineers is decreasing and the number of cyber professionals is not keeping up with demand.”

Lockheed has hired more than 21,000 new employees since 2020 to replace retiring workers and keep up with turnover. Student pipelines are integral to the company’s talent acquisition strategy.

As tuition costs and student debt have skyrocketed, Lockheed has enticed students with scholarships, well paid internships and a student loan repayment program. When the pandemic made in-person recruitment more difficult, Lockheed expanded its virtual outreach — after one 2020 virtual hiring event, the company reported a 300% increase in offers and a 400% increase in job acceptances among the STEM scholarship program participants over the previous year.

And in a self-described effort to diversify its workforce and build an inclusive culture, Lockheed has also put new focus on financial support and recruitment at historically Black colleges and universities.

Lockheed’s recruitment efforts are intertwined with various types of “research partnerships.” Universities receive six- and seven-figure grants from Lockheed and other defense contractors — or even more massive sums from the Department of Defense — to work on basic and applied research, up to and including designs, prototypes and testing of weapons technology. A student might work on Lockheed-sponsored research as part of their course load, then intern over the summer at Lockheed, be officially recruited by Lockheed upon graduation and start working there immediately, with defense clearances already in place — sometimes continuing the same work. In 2020, Lockheed reported that more than 60% of graduating interns became full-time employees.

Lockheed is not alone among corporations or military contractors in its aggressive university outreach, but the expansive presence of private defense companies on campuses raises questions about the extent to which corporations — particularly those profiting from war — should influence student career trajectories. In April, student and community protesters at Tufts University shut down a General Dynamics recruiting event, then protested outside a Raytheon presentation later that month, chanting, “We see through your smoke and mirrors. You can’t have our engineers.”

Illah Nourbakhsh, an ethics professor at Carnegie Mellon University with a background in robotics, presents the question this way: “If you have a palette of possible futures for students, and you take some possible future, and you make it so shiny and exciting and amazing by pouring money on the marketing process of it that it overcomes any possible marketing done by alternatives that are more socially minded — do the kids have agency? Is it a fair, balanced field?

“Of course not.”

Lockheed did not respond by deadline to requests for comment on this article.

For more than a year, In These Times investigated the presence of Lockheed and other arms manufacturers on campuses, combing through company and university annual reports, IRS filings, LinkedIn profiles, budgets, legislative records and academic policies, as well as interviewing students and professors. Most students requested pseudonyms, indicated with asterisks*, so as not to adversely impact their career prospects. Several spoke positively of Lockheed.

“It’s probably what most engineers, especially in mechanical and aerospace who want to go into defense prospects, aspire to,” says Sam*, who graduated with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering in December 2021. “They’re one of the biggest defense contractors in this country, so you have the opportunity to work on very state-of-the-art technology.”

Other students believe putting their skills to military use is unethical.

Alan*, a December 2021 graduate in electrical engineering at the University of West Florida who is currently job-hunting while living with his parents, says he’s not looking at defense contractors and is instead holding out for a position that allows him to leave the Earth better than he found it. “When it comes to engineering, we do have a responsibility,” he says. “Every tool can be a weapon. … I don’t really feel like I need to be putting my gifts to make more bombs.”

Located near the world’s largest Air Force base in the Florida panhandle, the University of West Florida regularly hosts recruiters from the defense industry, including Lockheed. Alan says companies like Lockheed set up tables in student buildings to recruit in the hallways.

“I just walked past those tables,” he says, “but sometimes they’ll call you over. It’s kind of like going to the mall, and people want you to try their soap. It’s kind of annoying, but I get that they always need new people.”

Our investigation found this unfettered recruiting access to be part of a deeper and growing enmeshment between universities and the defense industry.

Decades of state disinvestment in public higher education have converged with a growing emphasis on sponsored research, and in an era of ballooning student debt, the billions in annual defense spending prop up university budgets and subsidize student educations. The result is that many college STEM programs around the country have become pipelines for weapons contractors……………………………….

Cameron Davis, who graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s in computer engineering in 2021, says, “A lot of people that I talk to aren’t 100% comfortable working on defense contracts, working on things that are basically going to kill people.” But, he adds, the lucrative pay of defense contractors “drives a lot of your moral disagreements with defense away.”

In 2019 and 2021, Lockheed was the university’s largest alumni employer, and the company has been one of Georgia Tech’s most frequent job interviewers since at least 2002.

“Even in my field — which isn’t even as defense-adjacent as aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering — companies like Raytheon will have dedicated programs to recruit people,” says Davis. “I’ve been in line with other companies at a career fair and defense contractors literally walk up to me in line and be like, ‘Hey, do you want to talk about helicopters or something?’”

“The corporate presence at Georgia Tech is a little bit overwhelming at times,”……………………………………….


Clifford Conner recalls his freshman year at Georgia Tech, in 1959, when the school was still segregated. He studied experimental psychology. When graduation approached, his professors — who also worked in the Lockheed Corporation’s Marietta office just north of Atlanta — said they could help him get a job at Lockheed. Conner accepted.

His work on the wing design of the C-5 Galaxy, then the largest military cargo plane in the world, took him to England, where he began reading a lot about the war in Vietnam. “I wasn’t under the spell of the American press,” Conner says. After a few years with Lockheed, he quit and joined the antiwar movement.

It took him another year to find a job at about a third of the salary he was making at Lockheed.

Conner went on to become a historian of science and a professor at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. His most recent book, The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump (2020), explores how the STEM fields have moved away from improving the human condition to advancing corporate and defense interests. He writes about the Bayh-Dole Act, which removed public-licensing restrictions in 1980 and “opened the floodgates to corporate investors seeking monopoly ownership of innovative technology.” The law allowed universities and nonprofits to file patents on projects funded with federal money, from weapons to pharmaceuticals. The rationale was to encourage commercial collaboration and underscore the idea that federally funded inventions should be used to support a free-market system.

“After the Bayh-Dole Act, the lines between corporate, university and government research were all blurred,” Conner tells In These Times.

Conner went on to become a historian of science and a professor at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. His most recent book, The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump (2020), explores how the STEM fields have moved away from improving the human condition to advancing corporate and defense interests. He writes about the Bayh-Dole Act, which removed public-licensing restrictions in 1980 and “opened the floodgates to corporate investors seeking monopoly ownership of innovative technology.” The law allowed universities and nonprofits to file patents on projects funded with federal money, from weapons to pharmaceuticals. The rationale was to encourage commercial collaboration and underscore the idea that federally funded inventions should be used to support a free-market system.

“After the Bayh-Dole Act, the lines between corporate, university and government research were all blurred,” Conner tells In These Times.

Georgia Tech’s applied research division, known as the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), now has four laboratories directly on Lockheed’s aeronautics campus in Marietta……………………………………

 publicly available CVs, résumés and job listings for student researchers at GTRI explicitly detail work on weapons technology……………………………

Unlike Europe, the United States does not provide universities with general funding to support basic research, or “research for the sake of research.” A 2019 analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for example, notes, “on average, one-third of R…D in OECD countries” is funded by “government block grants used at the discretion of higher education institutions” — but the United States does not have the same mechanism.

U.S. appropriations to public higher education, meanwhile, have declined significantly in the past two decades, while the research environment has seen universities performing an ever-larger share of the nation’s technology research. The Defense Department has been the third-largest source of federal research and development funding to universities for decades (after the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation).

But universities also seek out private-sector money to fund research directly, and the defense sector has been a willing donor.

In recent years, Lockheed has partnered with a network of more than 100 universities to advance hypersonics technology — weapons traveling so fast they’re undetectable by radar — and signed master research agreements for multi-year collaborations with Purdue, Texas A…M and Notre Dame in 2021.

While delivering technological innovations to defense companies, these partnerships also double as employment pipelines. The University of Colorado Boulder has collaborated on space systems with Lockheed for nearly two decades. In a statement on the university’s website, one Lockheed executive (and school alum) writes, “Lockheed Martin employs about 56,000 engineers and technicians, 35% of which could retire in the next few years. We must keep up a ‘talent pipeline’ to fill this pending gap: currently, our major source of talent is CU-Boulder.”


Nearly half of the nation’s discretionary budget goes toward military spending; of that money, one-third to one-half goes to private contractors, according to a 2021 analysis by military researcher William Hartung for Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

Today, 46 million Americans hold student debt totaling $1.7 trillion, which is the projected lifetime cost to U.S. taxpayers of Lockheed’s F-35 fighter jet program — the most expensive weapon system ever built………….

Lockheed is among a growing number of companies that offer student loan assistance to its employees. The company’s Invest In Me program offers incoming graduates a $150 monthly cash bonus for five years and a student loan refinancing program. Every year, Lockheed awards $10,000 scholarships to 200 students that may be renewed up to three times for a potential $40,000. Lockheed also lists 61 universities participating in its STEM scholarship program, projected to invest a minimum of $30 million over five years as part of a larger $460 million education and innovation initiative using gains from Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cuts.

In a 2015 survey by American Student Assistance, 53% of respondents said student debt was either a “deciding factor” or had a “considerable impact” on their career choice.

“Pushing people into higher education has been our labor policy,” explains Astra Taylor, a writer, filmmaker and co-founder of the Debt Collective, a debtors’ union with roots in Occupy Wall Street. “You’re indebting yourself for the privilege of being hired, and it gives companies this economic power because then they can say, ‘We can help relieve some of the economic pain that you’ve incurred to make yourself appealing to us.’”

Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Boeing all provide some form of student aid, such as scholarships and tuition reimbursement.


The private defense sector targets much of its financial support toward historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and students from minority groups as part of stated efforts toward workforce diversity and promoting STEM jobs among a demographic that is critically underrepresented in STEM fields. Lockheed’s website and annual report note that minority groups are the “fastest-growing segment in the labor market” and that recruitment through “internships, early talent identification, outlying educational programs, co-ops, apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships” is integral to building diverse employee pipelines.

This trend stirs up old controversies around military recruiting in communities of color.

 The Army has long targeted minority-majority high schools and HBCUs with its Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs and scholarships, to the extent that critics refer to it as a school-to-soldier pipeline. Without enlisting and the ensuing funding, many students wouldn’t receive a higher education. According to a 2016 report from the Brookings Institution, Black students hold an average of $7,400 more in student debt than their white counterparts upon graduating — a gap that widens to nearly $25,000 four years later. The Army leverages students’ predicaments to meet its recruiting goals.

Regardless, “the racial implications” of U.S. military actions “are hard to evade,” civil rights activist and Rep. John R. Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said at the outset of the Iraq War in 2003. “Would this be happening to [the Iraqis] if they were not nonwhite?” A Gallup poll at the time found 7 in 10 Black Americans opposed the war, while 8 in 10 white Americans favored it.

……………………………… Lockheed has started STEM education and recruiting initiatives at 20 minority serving institutions (MSIs), including 16 HBCUs. Of Lockheed’s 2021 scholarship recipients, 60% identified with a minority racial or ethnic group. In the 2020 to 2021 academic year, more than 40% of Lockheed’s early-career hires identified as people of color, with 450 coming from MSIs.

“Students who work in these spaces don’t know the gravity — are systematically made ignorant of the gravity — of participating in these systems,” says Myers……………………………………..

“You said that the CEO was an advocate for women and minorities,” a student organizer says during a recruitment presentation. “How does she maintain that role as head of a company that produces weapons which bomb and kill women and children in places like Palestine, Yemen, Libya and the Middle East?”

The recruiter responds: “I have no idea.”


Ultimately, Lockheed’s deep reach into higher education reflects national priorities.

Since 9/11, the United States has spent $8 trillion on war. In 2020, for the first time, federal funding to Lockheed surpassed that of the U.S. Department of Education, the federal agency tasked with dispensing scholarships and Pell grants. Biden requested $813 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2023, which includes the largest-ever allocation for research and development.

“Of course it’s the defense industries that have the ability to offer these favorable terms to people, because they’re also parasites on the public purse,” Astra Taylor says. “If these students weren’t worried about the cost of college, would they be as apt to take a job at a defense contractor versus doing something else in their community?”

Conner doesn’t fault students for taking jobs in the defense industry. “[They] realize that if they’re going to get a job when they graduate, it’s going to be at one of these places. And they can protest all they want, but they’ve got to be the spearpoint of a larger protest that involves the whole society.”

August 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Education, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The shadows grow longer in Fukushima

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily, 15 Aug 22,

As Tokyo tries to woo residents back, plans to dump toxic water pose more perils

For Setsuko Matsumoto, 71, there will be no return to her hometown in Fukushima prefecture-that is despite the determined efforts of the Japanese government to win her over to the idea that it is safe to do so. And that goes for the many like Matsumoto who cannot countenance how they can once again live in neighborhoods that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami more than a decade ago.

Having run a hair salon for almost 30 years in Futaba, a town 4 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Matsumoto believes the place has no future. The government would have her believe otherwise. On Aug 30, it will lift the last of the restrictions imposed that have prevented former residents from living in the region permanently. It claims radiation levels arising from the nuclear accident in March 2011 are now low enough to be deemed safe.

“I don’t think that the town will be able to go on, even with the return of some elderly residents,” says Matsumoto.

Although 11 years have passed since the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems were severely damaged in the disaster, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation, Matsumoto has her reasons for not moving back.

“Residing in Futaba is not an option for me,” she says. “The lack of shopping and medical care opportunities can’t be solved anytime soon and I don’t have a reason to relocate to a place with a worse living environment.”

Over the years, there have been sustained efforts-both from the top down and the bottom up-aimed at driving Fukushima’s reconstruction and revitalization. Seemingly limitless funds have been spent on that process, from the national government all the way down to township levels. These efforts are all bound up in the Japanese government’s economic and political ambitions to show the world that it has succeeded in managing the nuclear crisis.

Yet that strong desire to change Fukushima into something resembling its old form, or even something better, has encountered resistance from the likes of Matsumoto, who have lived with the effects of trauma for more than a decade.

As a result of the disaster, some 160,000 people like Matsumoto were evacuated from the Fukushima region. What the authorities had to contend with was a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the international scale of nuclear and radiological events. By the end of 2021, some 40,000 of them were still unable to return to their homes. But, with Futaba, the last of dozens of places ending their status as no-go zones, the government still faces a challenge in regaining the people’s trust.

In a survey conducted by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency and others, only 11.3 percent of respondents said they wanted to return to Futaba while more than 60 percent said they already decided not to return.

The town aims to attract 2,000 people back in the next five years but in a trial for overnight stays, beginning in January, has seen only 15 former residents have applied.

In a report in 2020, Miranda Schreurs, a professor and chair of environmental and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, argues that the situation in Fukushima remains precarious because problems like the removal of radioactively contaminated waste, and issues such as incineration, still need to be addressed.

“It will still take many years to win back confidence and trust in the government’s messages that the region is safe,” Schreurs says in the report, adding that intergenerational equity is also an issue. The next generations will be left with the burden of completing the highly dangerous and complex decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant, she said.

The plans for Fukushima’s future also bump up against the government’s divisive decision to proceed with a plan to discharge the radioactive water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean. The water has been used to cool the highly radioactive, damaged reactor cores and would be sufficient to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Under Tokyo’s schedule, the ocean disposal will begin next spring.

Those plans present another blow to those former Fukushima residents who may be wanting to return to their old communities……………………………………………

In Japan, the condemnations of official policy, along with petitions calling for the reversal of the decision, have been constant since the ocean discharge plan was confirmed by the government in April last year.

Among the environmental groups denouncing the plan is FoE Japan. In a statement, it says the Japanese government and TEPCO had much earlier made written commitments on the matter, that “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken”. However, the government still decided to go ahead with the ocean discharge without seeking advice from the parties involved, the statement says.

Civil society groups in the most-affected prefectures submitted a petition to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and TEPCO in March. Reaffirming their opposition to the release of the contaminated water, they demanded that the government pursue other alternatives. Consumer groups and fisheries associations are at the forefront of this action.

The petition has collected some 180,000 signatures from residents in prefectures such as Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi.

Under the government’s plan, the authorities will gradually discharge the still-contaminated water from next spring. Japan insists there are no alternatives to the ocean discharge. It says that by the end of 2022 there will be no space left at the site for storage. Moreover, after a treatment process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, the radioactive tritium-a radioactive isotope of hydrogen-will be the only radionuclide in the water and that it is harmless.

However, many environmental scientists and environmentalists are scathing in their condemnation of Japan’s narrative, saying it is misinformation aimed at creating a false impression that the consequences of the 2011 nuclear disaster are short-lived.

A report in 2020 by the environmental group Greenpeace says the narrative has been constructed to serve financial and political reasons.

“Long after the Yoshihide Suga (and Shinzo Abe) administrations are historical footnotes, the negative consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown will remain a present and constant threat most immediately to the people and environment of Fukushima, but also to the rest of Japan and internationally,” says the report, referring to Suga as the then prime minister whose government approved the disposal plan a year ago.

According to the Greenpeace report, there is no technical, engineering or legal barrier to securing storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is only a matter of political will and the decision is based on expediency-the cheapest option is ocean discharge.

“The discharge of wastewater from Fukushima is an act of contaminating the Pacific Ocean as well as the sea area of South Korea,” says Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, an advocacy group in Seoul.

“Many people in South Korea believe that Japan’s discharge of the Fukushima wastewater is a wrong policy that threatens the safety of both the sea and humans.”

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, says the Fukushima contaminated water issue comes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it is a form of pollution to international waters.

There are strong grounds for individual countries to file a legal challenge against Japan’s plan, Burnie says.

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference | Leave a comment

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant: assessing the seismic risks of extended operation

Since the NRC has sole authority over the radiological safety aspects of Diablo Canyon, this means that the plant owner will not have to spend a penny to strengthen its seismic protection, no matter what the state of California wants

Arguably, however, the NRC is not doing enough to reduce the risk that a severe earthquake could cause a Fukushima-like core meltdown and radiation release at Diablo Canyon.

Nature, By Edwin Lyman | August 15, 2022, In 2016, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced a historic agreement with labor and environmental groups to shut down the two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California by 2025 and replace its roughly 2,200 megawatts of electricity with low- and zero-carbon renewable energy, energy efficiency, and storage. Today, that agreement is in serious jeopardy after an academic study (underwritten in part by the nuclear industry), combined with a sustained and vocal public relations campaign waged by Diablo Canyon supporters (including a Tik-Tok influencer), have succeeded in raising doubts about the viability of the power replacement plan.

Growing concerns about climate change-related impacts on the reliability of the electrical grid have also prompted California governor Gavin Newsom to reconsider his position and seek to keep the plant open, at least in the short term. The US Energy Department’s Office of Nuclear Energy is also doing its part to keep Diablo Canyon open by relaxing the original financial qualification criteria and extending the application deadline by more than three months for its recently established Civil Nuclear Credit Program. This will make it possible for PG&E to apply for a first round of federal subsidies aimed at helping utilities keep nuclear power plants open.

Although there is some basis for the criticism that PG&E and the State of California are not acting quickly enough to ensure that enough carbon-free power will be available to replace all of Diablo Canyon’s output, the California Public Utilities Commission’s historic decision last year to procure 11,500 megawatts of clean energy resources by 2026, along with 4,000 megawatts of new capacity (mostly battery storage) added to the grid in the last year, should help address that concern. A recent analysis by Gridlab and Telos Energy also found that renewable energy could replace Diablo Canyon and supply 85 percent of California’s electricity by 2030, while keeping the power on for its 40 million residents—even under stressful conditions such as low hydropower generation,  retirements of fossil fuel-fired plants, and heatwaves similar to what caused rolling power outages in August 2020.

Nevertheless, the disagreement over the plant’s future has become a proxy for the larger debate over what role nuclear power should play in addressing climate change, given its safety and security risks. If PG&E’s original plan were to succeed, after all, it could undermine the nuclear advocates’ argument that nuclear power is an irreplaceable asset in all circumstances.

But if Diablo Canyon is to remain open beyond 2025, PG&E will have to address a number of difficult issues. First, the company will have to prepare a new 20-year license renewal application and submit it to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) before the expiration of Unit 1’s operating license in 2024. PG&E will also have to undertake extensive inspections and equipment upgrades that were indefinitely postponed after it made the decision to shut the plant, as discussed in a June 2022 meeting of the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. And finally, it must take a hard look at the vulnerability of the plant to earthquakes and consider the need to make seismic upgrades to minimize the risk to the public over the period of extended operation.

Conflicting information on the seismic question has been reported. A spokesperson for the California Public Utility Commission was quoted as saying that if PG&E were to resume the license renewal proceeding for the plant, it would need to make seismic upgrades. However, this statement is not consistent with the NRC’s current position. Following a review conducted in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, the agency concluded that no seismic upgrades at Diablo Canyon or any other US nuclear plants were necessary, because the health and safety risks to the public were acceptable. Since the NRC has sole authority over the radiological safety aspects of Diablo Canyon, this means that the plant owner will not have to spend a penny to strengthen its seismic protection, no matter what the state of California wants.

Arguably, however, the NRC is not doing enough to reduce the risk that a severe earthquake could cause a Fukushima-like core meltdown and radiation release at Diablo Canyon (or, for that matter, other seismically vulnerable nuclear plants in the country). The agency, as part of its drive to transform into a more “risk-informed” regulator, cites the low calculated radiological risk to the public from nuclear plant accidents to justify not taking action to increase safety across a wide range of areas, including seismic protection. But there’s a major problem with this approach: Assessing the seismic risk involves understanding both the uncertainties associated with nuclear accidents and the even larger unknowns encountered in trying to predict earthquake behavior. These uncertainties raise doubts whether the seismic risks can be calculated with sufficient precision to support the NRC’s complacency.

Although other nuclear plants are also seismically vulnerable, according to current information, the potential peak ground motion that the Diablo Canyon site may experience from an earthquake occurring every 10,000 years on average is far higher than any other US plant…………………………………………………

NRC requirements for protection against earthquakes.……………………………………………

The complicated history of Diablo Canyon’s seismic evaluations……………………………………..

Fukushima seismic reevaluations. The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident showed the world what can happen when a nuclear plant experiences a natural disaster more severe than it was designed to handle. In response to the accident, the NRC convened a task force to evaluate whether its nuclear safety requirements needed to be strengthened. In its report, the task force noted that “available seismic data and models show increased seismic hazard estimates for some operating nuclear power plant sites” and recommended that the NRC “order licensees to reevaluate the seismic and flooding hazards at their sites against current NRC requirements and guidance, and if necessary, update the design basis and SSCs important to safety to protect against the updated hazards.”

Although the NRC did accept part of the task force recommendation by directing all nuclear plants to “reevaluate the seismic and flooding hazards at their sites using present-day NRC requirements and guidance,” it did not adopt the task force’s proposed remedy: ……………………………………………………………..

Likelihood of earthquake-induced core damage at Diablo Canyon……………………………………………………………………………

The best way to reduce the risk of a spent fuel pool fire is to transfer most of the densely packed stored spent fuel in the pools to dry storage casks. If the Diablo Canyon units are decommissioned, this will be accomplished within several years after the units are shut down. But the NRC insists that the risks of densely packed spent fuel pool storage are acceptable and has refused to require licensees to expedite spent fuel transfer to dry casks. If the reactors continue to operate, PG&E will have no regulatory mandate to procure and load the additional dry casks needed to thin out the pools, prolonging the period at which the spent fuel pools will pose undue risks.

Despite the fairly high risk of core damage that PG&E’s seismic probabilistic risk assessment found, after reviewing the study the NRC took the position that the risks are acceptable and that “no modifications are warranted … because a potential cost-justified substantial safety improvement was not identified.” …………………………………………………………………..

Consequences of a severe accident at Diablo Canyon. What is at stake if there were a seismically induced core damage accident at Diablo Canyon?…………………………………………………………………

Potential modifications to reduce seismic risk.………………………………………………………………….

August 14, 2022 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

The Watchdog: Nuclear Regulatory Commission flunks this public records test

The Unit 2 reactor at Comanche Peak nuclear power plant outside Glen Rose, shown in a 2011 photo, was the site of a fire in 2021. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignored a records request from The Dallas Morning News.

By Dave Lieber The Dallas Morning News, 16 Aug 22,

I am a Three Mile Island baby.

What I mean is I was in college in 1979 when America’s first major nuclear plant accident occurred. I was 100 miles away. Had things gotten bad, and the wind changed …

Since then I’ve studied nuclear evacuation zones and how they are supposed to work.

That’s why I filed a federal Freedom of Information request one year ago seeking records of a June 7, 2021, fire inside the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant. The reactor is outside the city limits of Glen Rose, 60 miles southwest of downtown Dallas.

I wanted to test the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s response to an open records request. How forthcoming would this important but often overlooked federal agency be?

The answer is in. The NRC failed The Watchdog’s test. They ignored my request for a full year. It wasn’t until I contacted them last week and reminded that I had a year-old request that was unfilled that they reacted. Otherwise, I’m fairly certain that my request would have gone unanswered forever.

Grade? I give the NRC an “F” for this.

Original request

When I made the request on Aug. 23, 2021, some of the facts about the fire were already publicly known. There was a fire in the plant’s main transformer that was put out by the plant’s fire department. External fire departments were not called in.

After that, the plant’s Unit 2 was shut down for two weeks for repairs, and then it went back online.

Dallas Morning News reporter Marin Wolf did an excellent job covering the event in two stories.

What I didn’t know a year ago was that there would be a war between Russia and Ukraine, and that nuclear power plants would be used as strategic points of combat………………………………

Evacuation plans

The last study I made of the Comanche Peak evacuation plans was in 2011. I studied hundreds of pages of evacuation plans I received from the NRC through the Freedom of Information Act. Little details were somewhat alarming.

In the event of an evacuation, records stated that pets were not allowed in the “reception centers” outside the evacuation zones.

“Where possible, shelter livestock,” the plan stated. “Leave them with food and water.”

More advice: “Keep your car’s vents and windows closed while driving within 10 miles of the power plant. If you use your car air conditioning, set it on ‘inside’ or ‘maximum’ so it does not pull in outside air.”

“Residents are also advised to communicate with neighbors personally, rather than clogging phone lines.”

How would that happen if you’re in your car, with the vents closed, driving away?

It’s clear to me that chaos would ensue.

A bad battery

Four months after my initial FOIA request, I sent the NRC a note with the subject line “Missing in Action.”

“Hello, I’m wondering what happened to my August 2021 FOIA request — NRC-2021-000233.”

I received an acknowledgement of my letter — but no records.

Obviously, this could have gone on forever. Did the NRC forget me?

Finally, last week, I revealed my experiment to the NRC in a note: “It wasn’t so much that I was interested in the information as I was testing your obedience to the FOIA law. Well, the test is over.”

Only then did I receive 45 pages of records from the NRC’s regional office in Arlington.

Flipping through, I see the August 2021 fire is barely mentioned. The package does not contain any incident reports, which I had requested. The records sent to The Watchdog are about post-fire inspections.

One “non-cited violation” found that operators of the plant, which is owned by Vistra Energy, “failed to maintain batteries associated with the steam generator fill pumps.” Those pumps are part of the process used to create steam, which is converted into energy that ultimately yields electric power.

One battery was found to be dead, and the battery charger was missing, the inspection report stated.

That single violation was described in the report as being “of very low safety significance.”

Note that I requested any incident reports on the 2021 fire, but in the 45 pages, the word “fire” only appears 20 times……………….

This is yet another example of a federal agency failing to follow the tenets of the Freedom of Information Act. But how many federal agencies have their own evacuation plans designed to save lives in the event of a nuclear accident?

I’m a Three Mile Island baby, and this is serious stuff. In a world where nuclear plants become weapons of war, this is no time for secrets.

August 14, 2022 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Storage of nuclear wastes and of dead nuclear reactors is becoming a political nightmare

Beyond electricity production, the use of nuclear energy also creates
problems related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel and waste, which
brings an additional layer of complexity to the question. Storage of
nuclear fuel requires facilities in geological locations which must fulfil
demanding criteria.

There are only so many places which fulfil these
criteria. Furthermore, long-term fuel storage will create commitments (and
costs) for hundreds of years.

It is easy to imagine how nuclear waste
storage can easily turn into a political nightmare – one can look at the
options in Belgium where the neighboring Luxembourg quickly protested
against storage too close to the border between the two countries; or to
the United States where nuclear storage facilities are planned on
indigenous lands.

A new politics of waste is emerging – the power plants
themselves. As the IEA demands an urgent new round of investment in ageing
nuclear sites, what are we to do with the old ones? The UK newspaper the
Independent very recently ran a story about one such site, Douneray, in the
North of Scotland. It first opened in 1955 and ceased operations in 1994.
And yet, local campaign groups have never been as active. Why? As a 2020
report by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority puts it, the Douneray site
will be ready for other purposes in the year…2333. As old sites come to
an end, new politics of decommissioning begin.

PACCS research (accessed) 13th Aug 2022

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Seventy-five years after the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan, we remain perched on the precipice of unparalleled catastrophe.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission.

The Lessons We Haven’t Learned, The Progressive Magazine, BY HELEN CALDICOTT, AUGUST 3, 2020

In truth, the U.S. Department of Defense is a misnomer; it is actually the Department of War, Death, and Suicide. Hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money are spent annually by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation to create and build the most hideous weapons of destruction.

Brilliant people employed by these massive corporations, mostly men, are deploying their brainpower to devise better and more hideous ways of killing.  

”……………………………… What rained down on those two Japanese cities seventy-five years ago was destruction on a scale never seen before or since. People exposed within half a mile of the atomic fireball were seared to piles of smoking char in a fraction of a second as their internal organs boiled away. The small black bundles stuck to the streets and bridges and sidewalks of Hiroshima numbered in the thousands.

A little boy was reaching up to catch a red dragonfly with his hand against the blue sky when there was a blinding flash and he disappeared. He turned into gas and left his shadow behind on the pavement, a haunting relic later moved to the Hiroshima Museum. A woman was running while holding her baby; she and the baby were turned into a charcoal statue.

In all, about 120,000 people were killed immediately by the two bombs, and tens of thousands more died later due to radiation exposure.

In 1957, when I was eighteen, I read a book by Nevil Shute, an English novelist who ended up in Australia. On the Beach described how the city of Melbourne awaited a deadly cloud of radiation from a nuclear war that was triggered by an accident in the northern hemisphere, killing everything. Men drank their last gin and tonics in the Melbourne Club while the government dispensed cyanide capsules so parents could kill their children quickly to avoid the agonizing symptoms of radiation poisoning.

At the time, I was in medical school, where I learned about radiation biology—the classic experiments of Hermann J. Muller, who in the 1920s irradiated Drosophila fruit flies inducing genetic mutations and morphological abnormalities. Concurrently, the United States and the Soviet Union were testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, bombarding huge populations with radioactive fallout.

In my naiveté, I couldn’t understand what these men thought they were doing because the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation were well known in scientific circles. Madame Curie had died of aplastic anemia secondary to radium, an alpha emitter polluting her bones; her daughter died of leukemia, and many of the early radiologists who exposed themselves randomly to X-rays died from malignancies.

Einstein wrote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Robert Oppenheimer, watching the world’s first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, muttered to himself, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

The scientists knew that they had discovered the seeds of human destruction.

In my naiveté, I couldn’t understand what these men thought they were doing because the mutagenic and carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation were well known in scientific circles. Madame Curie had died of aplastic anemia secondary to radium, an alpha emitter polluting her bones; her daughter died of leukemia, and many of the early radiologists who exposed themselves randomly to X-rays died from malignancies.

Einstein wrote: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Robert Oppenheimer, watching the world’s first nuclear explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, muttered to himself, “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita.

The scientists knew that they had discovered the seeds of human destruction.

A nuclear “exchange” between these two superpowers would take little over one hour to complete. A twenty-megaton bomb (the equivalent of twenty million tons of TNT) would excavate a hole three-quarters of a mile wide and 800 feet deep, converting all buildings and people into radioactive fallout that would be shot up in the mushroom cloud. Within six miles in all directions every living thing would be vaporized. Twenty miles from the epicenter, huge fires would erupt, as winds of up to 500 miles per hour would suck people out of buildings and turn them into missiles traveling at 100 miles per hour. The fires would coalesce, incinerating much of the United States and causing most nuclear power plants to melt down, greatly exacerbating radioactive fallout.

Potentially billions of people would die hideously from acute radiation sickness, vomiting, and bleeding to death. As thick black radioactive smoke engulfed the stratosphere, the Earth would, over time, be plunged into another ice age—a “nuclear winter,” annihilating almost all living organisms.

Seventy-five years after the dawn of the nuclear age, we are as ready as ever to extinguish ourselves. The human race is clearly an evolutionary aberrant on a suicidal mission. Our planet is in the intensive care unit, approaching several terminal events.

Will we gradually burn and shrivel life on our wondrous Earth by emitting the ancient carbon stored over billions of years to drive our cars and power our industries, or will we end it suddenly by creating a global gas oven?

The International Energy Agency said recently that we only have six months left to avert the effects of global warming before it is too late. Earlier this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been.

In truth, the U.S. Department of Defense is a misnomer; it is actually the Department of War, Death, and Suicide. Hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money are spent annually by corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, and Raytheon Technologies Corporation to create and build the most hideous weapons of destruction.

President Donald Trump is right when he says we need to make friends with the Russians, for it is Russian bombs that might well annihilate the United States. Indeed, we need to foster friendship with all nations and reinvest the trillions of dollars spent on war, killing, and death, saving the ecosphere by powering the world with renewable energy including solar, wind, and geothermal, and planting trillions of trees.

Such a move would also free up billions of dollars that could be reallocated to such purposes as providing free medical care for all U.S. citizens, along with free education, housing for the homeless, and care for those with mental illness.

The United States needs to rise to its full moral and spiritual height and lead the world to sanity and survival. I know this is possible because, in the 1980s, millions of wonderful people rose up, nationally and internationally, in opposition to the arms race and the Cold War.

But what is the present reality in the United States?

There are 450 Minuteman III missiles operational on the Great Plains—in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. In each missile silo are two missileers, who control and launch the missiles which contain one or two hydrogen bombs. Planes armed with hydrogen bombs stand ready to take off at any moment, and nuclear submarines silently plow the oceans ready to launch.

Both the United States and Russia have nuclear weapons targeted at military facilities and population centers. Nuclear war could happen at any time, by accident or design. The late Stephen Hawking warned in 2014 that artificial intelligence, now being deployed by the military, could become so autonomous that it could start a nuclear war by itself.

This threat is largely ignored by politicians and the mainstream media, who continue to practice psychic numbing as we stumble blindly toward our demise.

 How come the physicists, engineers, and military personnel who have laced the world with nuclear weapons ready to launch never factored into their equations the probability that an immature, petulant man-baby could hold the trigger for our destruction in his hands?

August 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More shelling near Ukraine nuclear plant

The Advocate, By Natalia Zinets, August 16 2022,

Ukrainian and Russian-installed officials have reported shelling near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, with both sides blaming each other days after the world nuclear watchdog warned of disaster if the fighting does not stop.

Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations this month regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, which dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River……………………………

Nuclear experts fear fighting might damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or reactors…………………………………………

Reuters could not immediately verify battlefield reports.

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Ukraine, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Moldova ships in radiation pills as fighting rages near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine

euronews, By Ben Turner   15/08/2022 

Moldova has imported one million iodine pills as fighting rages around a nuclear power station in neighbouring Ukraine.

The eastern European country – with a population of 2.5 million people – insisted residents should not panic as it upped its stockpile of the tablets which can prevent radioactive elements building up in the body.

Shelling has intensified near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest of its kind in Europe – with the UN warning fighting could “lead to disaster”……………………………………..

in the event of a nuclear disaster, iodine pills will be first issued to people unable to evacuate or take shelter such as emergency workers, Moldova’s National Agency for Public Health said.

Moldovan authorities advise citizens to take cover in cellars or basements, or evacuate the area, in the event of a nuclear emergency. …………………….. more

August 14, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, health | Leave a comment

Ontario nuclear waste site selectors delay announcement until 2024

Nishnawbe Aski Nation chiefs opposed to storage site based on environmental grounds

Northern Ontario Business Staff, 15 Aug 22,

The site selectors for a proposed underground nuclear waste repository in Ontaro say they won’t make a decision on a preferred location until the fall of 2024.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is pushing back the naming of a site by one year, attributing it to a series of pandemic-related lockdowns that hampered their work in the selection process.

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation-Ignace area, an hour’s drive east of Dryden, in northwestern Ontario and the Saugeen Ojibway Nation-South Bruce area in southern Ontario are the two communities on the short list to host the deep geological repository.

Last week, 49 chiefs of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) passed a resolution at their annual conference in Timmins opposing plans to haul and store nuclear waste in the region. Though the potential site of the repository is not in NAN’s treaty area, leadership hold concerns about the downstream impact of such a facility in the waterways of their traditional territories……………………………………….

Since 2010, NWMO has been engaged in this process to find a permanent storage place for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel……………..

The organization said the plan will only proceed in a host area with “informed and willing hosts, where the municipality, First Nation and Métis communities, and others in the area are working together to implement it.”………………


August 14, 2022 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Governor of California proposes to extend life of last nuclear plant at cost of $1.4 billion

The bill would carve out an exemption from state regulations to allow operators to maintain operations at the plant without conducting extensive technical analysis of the environmental effects.

A joint statement from Environment California, Friends of the Earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council said legislators should reject Newsom’s new bill “out of hand.

Politico, By LARA KORTE, 08/12/2022

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed keeping open California’s last nuclear plant for up to another 10 years as the state wrestles with how to meet power demand while it reduces its reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

Plans to start closing the Diablo Canyon Power Plant over the next three years would be halted at a cost of up to $1.4 billion under draft legislation Newsom sent to legislators late Thursday, angering some of the governor’s environmentalist allies.

Diablo Canyon provides nearly a tenth of the state’s electrical power. Critics have long sought its closure for reasons that include the potential danger of a radiation leak because of earthquakes along the seismically active central coast of California. It was scheduled to close by 2025.

The proposed legislation would direct the California Public Utilities Commission to set a new closure date of Oct. 31, 2029 for one unit, and Oct. 31, 2030, for the other, according to the governor’s office. By 2026, regulators could consider an extension, but not beyond Oct. 31, 2035.

The bill would carve out an exemption from state regulations to allow operators to maintain operations at the plant without conducting extensive technical analysis of the environmental effects.

Extending the life of the nuclear plant would come at a cost. Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates the plant, applied to the U.S. Department of Energy’s $6 billion program to preserve the operations of nuclear power plants — though it’s unclear how much will be granted, or when. The language proposed by Newsom’s office this week would allow the state to grant PG&E a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to cover the costs of relicensing. Any extension would additionally require approvals by federal, state and local regulatory entities, the governor’s office said.

A joint statement from Environment California, Friends of the Earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council said legislators should reject Newsom’s new bill “out of hand.”

“The findings used to justify these extraordinary provisions include no citations to published studies by any California regulator or agency recommending a further life extension for Diablo Canyon because there are none,” the statement said. “With Governor Newsom and the legislature working to appropriate climate budget funds and advance ambitious climate legislation in the waning days of the legislative session, this proposal is a dangerous and costly distraction.” ……………………….. more

August 14, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

With its failing nuclear industry, France now an importer of power, no longer an exporter.

Sweden was the biggest net exporter of power in Europe during the first
half of 2022, overtaking France, according to a new report from EnAppSys.
France has long been a major exporter of power in the European market, with
a fleet of nuclear power stations generating a stable surplus of
electricity. However, that’s beginning to change, with France shifting from
a net exporter earlier in the year to a net importer.

This fall from grace
for France has, ironically, been blamed on its nuclear power station fleet,
which is beginning to show signs of age and unreliability. In fact, the
country has found several structural problems at its nuclear power
stations, which means it’s had to plug a significant gap in its electricity
supply with power generated elsewhere.

With France unlikely to be able to
fix its nuclear fleet anytime soon, it’s also unlikely to make it to the
top of the net power exporter list anytime soon either. Instead, the top
honour goes to Sweden, which exported a total of 16 TWh during the first
half of 2022. Most of that power, 7 TWh and 4 TWh, went to neighbours
Finland and Denmark, respectively.

However, the real story for the European
power export market is that Germany – a country commonly criticised for its
energy policies due to an overreliance on Russian gas – was Europe’s second
largest exporter in the first half of 2022. It exported 15.4 TWh, with
France taking the lion’s share. The UK also noticeably saw a change in its
fortunes in the first half of 2022, with the country going from a reliable
importer of electricity to a net exporter position, with power largely
flowing back to France. However, the UK still ended the six month period as
having imported 1.5% more power than exported.

Electrical Review 12th Aug 2022

August 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

How even small nuclear war would kill billions in apocalyptic famine By Mark Saunokonoko • Senior Journalist Aug 16, 2022,

Australia may be the best place in the world to shelter if nuclear war broke out, a study has predicted, although an “influx of refugees” from Asia and other regions would likely rush the country to try and survive the atomic holocaust.

Various apocalypse scenarios showed even a small nuclear war would cause devastating climate chaos, plunging the world into mass famine and starving billions to death.

The study estimated more than 2 billion people would die from a contained nuclear war between India and Pakistan, while more than 5 billion around the world would perish inside two years if the US and Russia launched thousands of nukes at each other.

Nuclear strikes on major cities and industrial areas would unleash massive firestorms, the peer-reviewed study said, injecting soot into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface and severely limiting food production.

Such catastrophic “soot loadings” would cause at least 10-15 years of disruption to global climate, researchers said.

As land and ocean food production faltered, and in the face of worsening hunger, the study said food exporting countries such as Australia would hunker down and hoard supplies.

“Wherever there’s scarcity, you start to see more conflicts,” Dr Ryan Heneghan, a co-author of the study from Queensland University of Technology, told

“Whether that makes Australia a (post-nuclear war) target, I don’t know.”

Being a food exporter and its location in the southern hemisphere, away from likely conflict zones, were the key factors that meant Australia was able to weather a nuclear catastrophe better than most, Heneghan said, with New Zealand not far behind.

“Australia has some resilience if there were drops in food productivity because of changes in climate caused by a nuclear war,” he said.

“We already produce more than enough food for our population.”

But waves of migrants would inevitably put “pressures” on any Australian stockpiles.

One factor not included in the models, but which could seriously affect Australia’s ability to cope, was the country’s lack of domestic fuel supplies, Heneghan said.

“Australia isn’t energy independent.

“So we would probably have shortages of fuel.”

Australia, the planet’s sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the US and Brazil, would face huge challenges trying to transport food from agricultural heartlands into big, densely populated urban centres, he said.

“Even though we might make enough food, we might not be able to move it to where it needs to go,” he said, calling that a “big caveat” to the study’s models.

Researchers modelled the impacts of six atmospheric soot-injection scenarios, based on one week of nuclear war, on crop and fish supplies and other livestock and food production.

Even if humans reduced food waste reduction and began to eat crops grown primarily as animal feed and biofuel, researchers predicted livestock and aquatic food production could not compensate for reduced crop output in most nations.

Any nuclear weapon detonation that produces more than 5 teragrams (5 trillion grams) of soot, such as 100 warheads fired between India and Pakistan, would likely cause mass food shortages in almost all countries, the study said.

A nuclear war between the US and Russia could send more than 150 teragrams of soot into the stratosphere.

The bushfires that swept across Australia in 2019-20 generated 0.3 – 1 teragrams of smoke, which swirled around the world and lingered for many months.

August 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, weapons and war | Leave a comment